UN envoy heads to a Yangon under military siege
Yangon (AsiaNews) – UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari, is heading to Myanmar while groups of pro democracy students prepare to take to the streets in a challenge to the military junta’s ban. Internet links seem to have been restored.
This morning Gambari, who spent the night in Singapore, declared that he hoped in “fruitful visit”, and to meet with general in chief Than Shwe, Buddhist authorities and democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Gambari siad he was carrying with him a message from Secretary general Ban Ki-moon, outlining the written in conjunction with the Security Council and Asean ( Association of south east Asian nations).
Meanwhile groups of protesters have promised that they will take to the streets again today despite the security forces violent repression which in recent days has left at least 13 dead. A death toll which according to Western Diplomats is in reality far higher.
Military road blocks and check points have been increased in Yangon. The city’s two army divisions have been reinforced by a third from Pago, north east of the Yangon. The two main pagoda’s Shewdagong and Sule, the starting point and culmination of the protest marches, are surrounded by soldiers and military vehicles. At least 10 monasteries are under strict army surveillance to prevent Buddhist monks from taking part in the demonstrations. Yesterday the heavy military presence on the ground and the cruelty of their response to the crowds reduced the intensity of the demonstrations. Only an estimated ten thousand participated. In Mandalay about one thousand young people on motorcycles ran a road block, while police shot at them with rubber bullets.
In the meantime worldwide, demonstrations are taking place calling for the downfall of the junta, the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and democracy for Myanmar. In Thailand, Singapore, Seoul, Delhi, Hong Kong, Manila vigils have been held, complete with slogans, banners, posters and prayers. The rev. Sik Kok Kwong, Buddhist leader in Hong Kong has condemned the junta for having killed monks as they sought to defend democracy and better living conditions for the Burmese population. “They have spilled the blood of Buddha. This is why they will be thrown in into the deepest pit of hell”, he said.
Internet connections were re-established today, or so it seems. Yesterday connections were cut, thus reducing the possibility that the young, employed and students send on news videos or photos of the ongoing repression in the country.