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Last Updated: Friday, 7 December 2007, 13:00 GMT
HRW report details Burma violence
By Jonathan Head
BBC News, Bangkok

Monks protest in Rangoon, 25 September
The crackdown on the protests sparked an international outcry
The New York-based group Human Rights Watch has published a detailed account of the suppression of anti-government protests in Burma earlier this year.

The report states that at least 20 people died when troops opened fire on protesters, but concludes that the total must be much higher.

Unusually it makes no recommendations to the Burmese government.

It says Burma's rulers have been so unresponsive to the many previous calls for change that this would be futile.

Instead it makes recommendations to all those who might have some influence over the Burmese generals, particularly China, India and South-East Asian nations.

Key role of militia

Human Rights Watch says it conducted about 100 interviews with eyewitnesses to try to piece together what happened in Burma during August and September.

The chronology of events it recounts is familiar enough, but there are important new details that paint a grim picture of a state determined to crush its opponents by any means.

The 129-page report highlights the role played by the government's own mass organisation, the USDA, and its sinister militia known as Swan Arr Shin, in attacking protesters, alongside regular troops and police.

It details methods of torture used on detainees.

Some were hung upside down and beaten; thousands were held in makeshift detention centres that were so unsanitary the conditions killed some inmates, it says.

The report also mentions other incidents of violent repression that it cannot confirm because no eyewitnesses have yet been able to speak about them.

It expresses great concern over the hundreds still reported missing by their families.

It concludes with a plea for sanctions to be imposed by the UN Security Council until there is a credible improvement in the human rights situation in Burma.


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