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Myanmar crackdown: Global reaction

  • Story Highlights
  • U.N. to send special envoy to Myanmar amid reports of crackdown
  • World leaders condemn events in Myanmar, call on regime to desist from force
  • UK PM Brown underscores that any trampling on human rights not acceptable
  • Pres. Bush says Tuesday that the U.S. will increase sanctions
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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is "urgently dispatching" a special envoy to Myanmar, a statement from his office said Wednesday, following reports of violent clashes in that country between security forces and protesters.

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Protests at the crackdown have taken place overseas, including one outside the Myanmar embassy, London.

"He calls on the senior leadership of the country to cooperate fully with this mission in order to take advantage of the willingness of the United Nations to assist in the process of a national reconciliation through dialogue," said a U.N. statement.

The envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, is scheduled to lead a briefing on the situation in Myanmar for the U.N. Security Council Wednesday afternoon.

"Noting reports of the use of force and of arrests and beatings, the secretary-general calls again on authorities to exercise utmost restraint toward the peaceful demonstrations taking place, as such action can only undermine the prospects for peace, prosperity and stability in Myanmar," Ban's statement said.

There's been no official word yet if the military junta ruling Myanmar will accept the offer from the U.N. secretary-general.

Speaking at the Labour Party conference Wednesday, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown underscored that any trampling on human rights would not be accepted.

"The whole world is now watching Burma and this illegal and oppressive regime should know that the whole world will hold it to account," he said.

U.S. President George W. Bush, speaking to the U.N. General Assembly's annual session Tuesday before the crackdown, said his administration would impose stiffer sanctions against the country's military regime.

"The United States will tighten economic sanctions on the leaders of the regime and their financial backers. We will impose an expanded visa ban on those responsible for the most egregious violations of human rights, as well as their family members," he said.

"We will continue to support the efforts of humanitarian groups working to alleviate suffering in Burma (the country's traditional name) and urge the United Nations and all nations to use their diplomatic and economic leverage to help the Burmese people reclaim their freedom."

His comments were echoed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, also at the U.N. General Assembly. "I'm deeply concerned about the situation in Burma and Myanmar, and I would like to appeal for the peaceful, spontaneous demonstrations which are expressing just political and social concerns that they not be repressed by force in any way," Sarkozy said.

Soe Aung, National Council of the Union of Burma spokesman, called for the world to take action.

"There should be some action -- decisive action -- taken by the international community. At least there should be an urgent meeting of the Security Council level," he said.

Aung also commented that the demonstrators do not seem content to back down.

"The monks are very determined that they are going to go ahead with the demonstrations unless their demands are met," he said.

Such demands include an apology from ministry authorities for the mistreatment of monks in central Myanmar, a reduction in the price of gasoline -- which originally sparked protests in late August -- and the release of protesters detained since demonstrations began, Aung said. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad.

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"We are concerned about the situation, particularly now, because we see a worsening of the political situation and that is affecting the well-being of the people of Burma.

"We have urged Mr. Gambari and he plans to visit Burma as soon as possible," Khalilzad said, referring to Ibrahim Gambari, the U.N. special envoy to Burma. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About George W. BushIbrahim GambariSoe AungNicolas Sarkozy

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