BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Saturday, 29 September 2007, 21:45 GMT 22:45 UK
New protests on Rangoon streets
Military vehicle in Rangoon, 28 Sept, 2007

Several hundred people have held protests in Burma's main city of Rangoon, despite three days of crackdowns on pro-democracy protests.

Protesters chanted slogans before being baton-charged by security forces, and at least two were severely beaten, eyewitnesses said.

In the central town of Pakokku hundreds of monks reportedly led a peaceful march of thousands of demonstrators.

The protests came as UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari arrived in Rangoon.

He is now in the new Burmese capital, Naypyidaw, for key talks with the country's ruling generals.

BBC diplomatic correspondent James Robbins says Mr Gambari's visit is being watched intently by governments around the world.

UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband held talks with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Afterwards, Mr Yang stressed that his government was urging all sides in Burma to show restraint, so that bloodshed could be avoided and normal life restored.

Our correspondent says China - Burma's closest trading partner - is seen as having played a pivotal role in persuading the Burmese military authorities to grant a visa to Mr Gambari.

Affront

Eyewitnesses said that after gathering in the centre of Rangoon, protesters were now dispersing and the streets were back to normal.

Burmese soldiers on the streets of Rangoon (28 September 2007)

Some eyewitnesses told the BBC that more than 1,000 people demonstrated against the government.

This is considerably fewer than at the height of the protests.

But the BBC's Chris Hogg in neighbouring Thailand says that even small protests in such a tightly controlled society are an affront to the government.

State television had earlier announced that peace and stability had returned to Burma and that a pro-government rally had been held in the northern state of Kachin.

There were isolated reports of new violence.

UK Ambassador Mark Canning told the BBC there was an extremely heavy military presence and he saw a couple of severe beatings of protesters, one a middle-aged woman.

There were also reports of at least three protests elsewhere - in Mandalay, Sittwe and Pakokku.

In Pakokku, there was no visible security presence, as the monks appeared to have struck a deal with the local authorities allowing them to march as long as the protest was peaceful, AFP news agency said.

Talks

Burma has now seen almost two weeks of sustained anti-government protests, and three days of tough crackdowns on the protesters by the military.

The cork has been put in the bottle, but the pressures are still there
Mark Canning
UK ambassador

Internet links, which the government cut to stem the flow of information about the protests, are reported to be working intermittently.

It is not clear whether the security forces have been directly targeting protesters or just shooting warning shots to disperse the crowds, but Burmese officials said nine people were killed on Thursday.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he believed the loss of life had been "far greater".

Monks, who were initially at the vanguard of the protests, have been arrested or confined to their monasteries.

'Future trouble'

It is not clear which members of the government Mr Gambari will be allowed to meet, though the White House said he should be allowed to meet "anyone he wants", including opposition figurehead Aung San Suu Kyi.

Religious sites sealed off by troops in Rangoon

He is being encouraged to persuade the government to hold a dialogue with the protesters, our correspondent says, but few expect him to have much success.

Mr Canning said there were deep underlying political and economic reasons for the protests which would not go away so easily.

"Even if they're crushed off the streets temporarily, these are forces that are going to cause things like this to happen at some time in the future," he said.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Undercover reporter speaks from inside Burma



RELATED BBC LINKS

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific