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We also call on the international community, particularly China, ndia, and ASEAN countries to increase pressure on the SPDC to immediately cease its violence against unarmed peaceful protesters and to commence political dialogue focused on genuine reforms. We believe that the region's muted response on Burma for the past few weeks has emboldened the regime to be violent.

The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) violently reacted to the thousands of Burmese citizens and members of the Buddhist clergy that have peacefully gathered for the ninth consecutive day to protest the military regime’s oppressive rule. Riot police fired shots and beat monks and protesters, reportedly killing one and injuring many others.

The harsh crackdown follows multiple arrests of NLD members and activists, including two elected members of parliament, over the past two days.

The SPDC’s actions once again display blatant disregard for the basic rights of the Burmese people. In addition, the military regime has exhibited contempt for the country’s most revered spiritual authority by reacting to the monks’ prayers with violence.

The international community, currently represented at the UN General Assembly which opened this week in New York, should no longer tolerate the junta’s misrule. The UN Security Council as the UN’s most influential and powerful body, with the endorsement of the UNGA, must demonstrate its political will to address this violence before it escalates further and leads to further killings of unarmed civilians. A violent and bloody crackdown, on the heels of severe economic deterioration, will have serious impacts on regional security. Millions will be forced to flee Burma as political and economic refugees, with many becoming vulnerable to trafficking and transnational crime.

The SPDC must immediately cease all acts of violence against civilians. Further, it must engage in dialogue with Burma’s political forces, including the National League for Democracy (NLD) and all ethnic groups in Burma, in order to negotiate a political settlement to address the problems besieging the country.

The people of Burma have not given up their struggle for a peaceful settlement in their country despite the SPDC’s reign of terror. Theinternational community has a responsibility and imperative to ensure that their courage and sacrifice is not in vain.

Altsean-Burma

Published: 2010-05-19

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