September 30, 2005

Myanmar junta dismisses Tutu, Havel rights report

YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar has dismissed a report backed by
Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu and former Czech President
Vaclav Havel arguing for the U.N. Security Council to take
action against the junta due to its human rights record.

"The report portrays Myanmar in the most negative light.
There is no basis whatsoever to its claims," the Foreign
Ministry said in a statement carried by all state-owned
newspapers on Friday.

"It is based on misinformation by a few remaining
insurgents and foreign-funded expatriates who are now fearful
that they will soon be irrelevant when Myanmar crosses the
threshold to a new era."

Myanmar, or Burma as it used to be called, has been under
military rule since 1962, during which time it has defied
outside pressure to restore civilian administration.

The current junta, which seized power in 1988, has locked
up political opponents, including democracy icon Aung San Suu
Kyi, and been accused of a wide variety of human rights abuses,
including forced labor and the use of child soldiers.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice branded Yangon an
"outpost of tyranny" earlier this year, even though the
generals insist they are restoring civilian rule gradually
through a seven-step "roadmap to democracy."

Suu Kyi's opposition National League for Democracy wants
the government to heed the report, saying it is a "a sincere
and pragmatic approach to solving problems facing Myanmar."

Analysts say the U.N. Security Council is unlikely to get
involved in Myanmar given the relations Yangon's generals have
with veto-wielding permanent members China and Russia, both of
them major arms suppliers to Myanmar.