Page last updated at 23:19 GMT, Friday, 5 October 2007 00:19 UK

UN envoy describes Burma 'abuse'

Aung San Suu Kyi (L) with UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari as shown on Burmese TV, 04/10
Burmese TV showed rare images of the opposition leader

The UN's envoy to Burma has voiced concern about arbitrary arrests and rights abuses said to be continuing after widespread protests.

Ibrahim Gambari warned Burma's military rulers their actions could have "serious international repercussions".

He was briefing the UN Security Council after a four-day visit to Burma, where he met senior generals and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

At least 10 people were killed in the crackdown after last week's protests.

Mr Gambari said he feared the real death toll could be much higher.

'Abhorrent' actions

He said there was great concern over reports of night-time raids, arbitrary arrests, mass relocations and beatings "being committed by security and non-uniformed elements".

[The Burmese people] have suffered too much for too long
Ibrahim Gambari
UN envoy to Burma

"To delay the prospect of a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Myanmar [the official name for Burma] is to deny to those who deserve it the most - the people of Myanmar," he said.

"They have suffered too much for too long."

Mr Gambari said later there was a consensus within the Security Council that the status quo in Burma was "unacceptable".

He told the BBC he hoped to return to Burma soon and that the key to progress was getting the two sides to talk to each other.

"There's been so much mistrust on both sides because... for a long time, and I think to some extent now, the generals did not want, until now, they didn't even want to talk to Aung San Suu Kyi, she didn't particularly want to talk to them," he said.

'Cautiously encouraged'

Monks demonstrating in Rangoon, 25/10
Monks became the focal point of the protests

Meanwhile, Burmese state TV broadcast an image of Ms Suu Kyi for the first time in years on Friday.

Earlier, reports suggested that General Than Shwe, the head of the ruling junta, had agreed in principle to meet the detained pro-democracy leader.

He insisted that Ms Suu Kyi must give up her calls for international sanctions to be imposed against the regime, state media reported.

Mr Gambari said he was "cautiously encouraged" by the news and called for "maximum flexibility" from both sides.

"It's their country, it's their people that are suffering and I believe there's a window of opportunity there which should be seized by both Aung San Suu Kyi and senior General Than Shwe," he said.

In a separate development, the most senior US diplomat in Burma, Shari Villarosa, met the junta's foreign minister in the capital of Naypyidaw.

The US state department said the meeting was not productive.

The US has been among the most vocal critics of the junta, and threatened a Security Council resolution imposing sanctions.

But the Burmese ambassador to the UN, Kyaw Tint Swe, called for "patience, time and space", insisting the situation in his country was not a threat to regional security.

Mr Kyaw confirmed there had been many arrests after the protests, but said 2,095 people had now been released - including 722 Buddhist monks.

He promised that more releases would follow.

The monks became the focal point of the protests, which saw tens of thousands of people take to the streets.

BBC sources in Burma say as many as 10,000 people - many of them monks - were rounded up for interrogation following the protests.

video and audio news
Ibrahim Gambari briefs the UN Security Council

Living in fear in Burma
05 Oct 07 |  Asia-Pacific


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