Myanmar accuses foreigners of ruining country

By
October 4, 2007 04:10

Soldiers carry on nocturnal raids to snare people suspected of joining last month's pro-democracy uprising.

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Myanmar accuses foreigners of ruining country

myanmar cnn 224.88. (photo credit: AP Photo/via CNN)

Myanmar's military rulers on Thursday accused foreign governments of trying to destroy the country while soldiers reportedly carried on nocturnal raids to snare people suspected of joining last month's pro-democracy uprising. Soldiers maintained a visible presence on the streets of Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city, where an eerie quiet has returned after last month's deadly crackdown on the biggest anti-regime rebellion in nearly two decades. With Internet access to the outside world blocked, state-controlled newspapers churned out the government's version of the country's crisis and filled pages with propaganda slogans, such as "We favor stability. We favor peace," and "We oppose unrest and violence." Critics from the international community and foreign media were dismissed as "liars attempting to destroy the nation" - one of many bold-faced slogans covering The New Light of Myanmar newspaper's back page Thursday. While propaganda is routine in Myanmar, the renewed attacks on foreigners was the junta's way of showing citizens that it was back in control and it was business as usual. A foreign aid worker said his staff had told him that soldiers are continuing to raid homes at night to arrest people who took part in the demonstration. But neighbors are alerting each other if they see troops coming, he said. He had no other details. The worker, who did not wish to be identified for fear of being expelled from the country, said he had heard from various sources that up to 8,000 people may have been rounded up around Yangon. This could not be independently confirmed but dissident groups have said that up to 6,000 people have been arrested since troops put down the uprising on Sept. 26 and 27 when they opened fire on crowds. The government says 10 people were killed but dissident groups say up to 200 people died in the crackdown on demonstrators who were largely led by Buddhist monks. State-run newspapers made no mention of Buddhist monks being detained or of soldiers dragging people from their homes in nighttime raids. Instead, coverage was devoted to pro-government rallies that have been held in stadiums around the country in recent days, such as one in the southeastern town of Myiek that New Light of Myanmar said was attended by 36,000 people. Critics say the rallies are shams, filled with people ordered to attend by authorities. Among those detained in recent says was a UN Development Program employee, Myint Nwe Moe, and her husband, brother-in-law and driver, the UN agency said. Three other UN staffers were detained and subsequently released, said Charles Petrie, the UN humanitarian chief in Myanmar. Despite its appearance of control, the junta's grip may weaken over time, an analyst said. "Maybe the government can control this for the next weeks, months, maybe a year or so," David Steinberg, a Myanmar expert at Georgetown University in Washington, told The Associated Press. "But eventually there will be some spark that will set things off and they (the people) will become more and more violent over time," he said in an interview in Singapore. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday in New York that his special envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, had delivered "the strongest possible message" to Myanmar's military leaders about their bloody crackdown on democracy activists, but added that he could not call his four-day trip a success. Gambari is to brief Ban on Thursday. Ban will then discuss Myanmar with the Security Council on Friday. China, Myanmar's closest ally, praised the meeting between Myanmar junta leader Senior Gen. Than Shwe and Gambari, and appealed to all parties in the country to remain calm and resume stability "as soon as possible." Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said in a statement that Beijing has "made its own efforts to support the UN secretary-general and his Myanmar special envoy's negotiations." It did not elaborate. Myanmar has been under military rule since 1962. The current junta came to power after snuffing out a 1988 pro-democracy movement against the previous military dictatorship, killing at least 3,000 people in process. The generals called elections in 1990 but refused to give up power when pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party won. She has spent nearly 12 of the last 18 years under house arrest. Suu Kyi's lakeside home remained heavily guarded Thursday.


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