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Ban Says UN to Raise Pressure on Myanmar Junta to Open Society

By Bill Varner, Bloomberg, Oct 31, 2007

United Nations -- United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said his special envoy's visit this weekend to Myanmar would increase pressure on the country's military government to release political prisoners and move toward democracy.

<< UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon

Ibrahim Gambari will make his second visit in as many months to Myanmar from Nov. 3 to 8, the world body said today. The announcement came amid reports of new street protests in Myanmar by monks.

Gambari will have to achieve ``substantively different results,'' Ban told reporters at the UN in New York. ``Our goal is that he will facilitate dialogue between government and opposition leaders and more democratic measures by the Myanmar government, including the release of all detained students and demonstrators and open up their society as soon as possible.''

More than 100 monks took to the streets to protest against the junta, the first demonstration since a crackdown in September, the Associated Press reported, citing two of the participants. The monks marched without incident for a short distance from Shwegu Pagoda in the town of Pakokku, 627 kilometers (390 miles) northwest of Yangon, AP reported, citing unidentified demonstrators.

The military has ruled Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, since 1962. The UN says the regime has a record of widespread and systematic human rights violations including torture, summary executions and the recruitment of child soldiers.

International condemnation of the junta swelled after it deployed soldiers last month to crush the biggest anti- government protests in almost 20 years, killing as many as 110 protesters.

Meeting With Suu Kyi

Gambari's visit to Myanmar last month led to Labor Minister Aung Kyi's meeting last week with Suu Kyi at a state guesthouse. Suu Kyi, 62, has spent almost 12 years in detention since the junta rejected the results of parliamentary elections in 1990 won by her National League for Democracy.

Ban said he would give Gambari instructions on his message to the junta when they meet on Nov. 2 in Istanbul. The UN said that once in Myanmar, Gambari would ``consult with a broad range of representatives of Myanmar society, including all the groups which he was not able to see last time.''

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