UN envoy to meet Myanmar junta boss today

Yangon, October 1:

UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari, sent to Myanmar to express outrage over the crackdown on anti-government protests, has been forced to wait until tomorrow to meet junta leader Than Shwe, the regime said.

Gambari made his second trip in two days to the country’s new and remote capital Naypyidaw, hoping to see the reclusive general. But officials said he was taken elsewhere for a political workshop instead.

The secretive regime, which in the past has often frustrated efforts by other UN envoys to visit the country, is facing intense international criticism over its suppression of the protests, which left 13 dead and hundreds arrested.

Gambari was allowed to meet detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi for more than an hour yesterday in Yangon to discuss anti-government protests that have rumbled since mid-August but turned into a mass movement last week.

But after going to Naypyidaw with hopes of meeting the junta leader today, the envoy was taken on a government trip to Lashio, nearly 400 km northeast of the capital, for a workshop on EU-Asian relations.

He would return to the capital tomorrow to meet Than Shwe, the official said.

Rights groups and diplomats are still coming to grips with the scope of the crackdown, trying to learn more about the hundreds of people arrested.

The Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners that monitor’s Myanmar’s prisons, estimates that up to 1,500 people were locked up last week. “At least 85 protest leaders, over 1,000 monks, and between 300 and 400 students and activists were arrested,” said AAPP joint secretary Bo Kyi, adding that the detainees were subject to harsh conditions.

Japan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka also arrived yesterday to probe the killing of a Japanese journalist by troops during a pro-democracy protest on Thursday.

The body of Kenji Nagai bore signs that he was shot at point-blank range and died almost instantly, according to his employer, who saw his remains.

Crackdown internal matter: India

NEW DELHI: India’s new army chief on Monday called a bloody crackdown by Myanmar’s military junta against pro-democracy protests an “internal matter.” India’s army, which is battling numerous insurgencies in the remote northeast bordering Myanmar, favours a “good relationship” with the military junta, said army chief Deepak Kapoor, who took charge on Sunday. “We have a good relationship going with Myanmar and I am sure we will try and maintain that,” Kapoor told reporters in New Delhi, adding the turmoil in Myanmar was “an internal matter.” — AFP