Military clampdown quiets protests in Burma
Following weeks of pro-democracy demonstrations, Burma's cities were quiet Saturday, as soldiers patrolled the streets and the clampdown on demonstrators continued.
The military is said to be barring monks from leaving monasteries in large groups. Troops were stationed on nearly each corner of the country's two largest cities, Rangoon and Mandalay as the clampdown on demonstrators continued. Soldiers and police fired warning shots to scatter the few protesters who ventured out, correspondents said.
Shopping malls, grocery stores and public parks were closed and few people dared to venture out of their homes. Many dissidents said they were resigned to defeat without international intervention.
As people around the world took to the streets to protest the clampdown, a United Nations envoy arrived in Burma, also known as Myanmar, to meet with the military junta in the hopes he can persuade the regime to end the violence against anti-government protesters.
Ibrahim Gambari arrived at the Rangoon airport and was being briefed by UN officials. He wastaken to Naypyidaw, where the country's military leaders are based.
Heis the first outsider to meet with the junta since mass protests began in a number of cities last month.
The White House on Friday called on Burmese authorities to let Gambari meet with whomever he wants, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for more than a decade.
However, Western diplomats said Gambari's schedule was set by the government and likely would not include meetings with pro-democracy figures, such as Suu Kyi.
Monks led protests
The rallies saw thousands of monks and their supporters fill the streets daily for about a week before troops, backing 45 years of military rule, began a crackdown last Monday.
Soldiers have used guns, batons and tear gas to disperse protesters.
Emmanuel Goué of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) said the military will not allow people on the streets in groups of five or more.
"One person was arrested just because he was behind a computer playing a game," Goué told CBC Newsworld. "This man was arrested probably because officials are suspicious about communications."
Foreign journalists have been largely barred from the country. Internet service was cut on Friday, although some residents reported it had been restored for a time early Saturday.
The Burmese government says 10 people have died during demonstrations over the past few days, but diplomats say they believe the death toll is much higher.
Among the dead is a Japanese journalist killed Thursday. Video images from Rangoon showed a soldier pointing a gun at him while he lay on the pavement holding up his camera.
French demonstrators hit streets
In France, demonstrators showed their support on Saturday for the pro-democracy movement and the Burmese monks who started it. Thousands of people gathered in Paris to rally around Burma's exiled prime minister.
"Western countries must put pressure, lots of pressure now," saidSein Win, Burmese Opposition leader
"More than what they are doing. And send a message, a very strong message that they have to stop what they are doing and start co-operating."
In Germany, a rally for peace was held outside the Chinese Embassy, where demonstrators carried banners encouraging democracy.
Demonstrators in Thailand marched outside the Burmese Embassy, urging the military dictatorship to stop its clampdown.
In Calgary, members of the 500-strong Burmese community also offered their their support.
"Burma is our first home. And these people have no way out," said Cham Tolk"And that's why we want to speak out on behalf of our people."