Myanmar monk makes phone appeal to backers in NY

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NEW YORK, Oct 6 (Reuters) A leader of the Buddhist monks who have led street protests in Myanmar urged Americans to press for more international action to pressure the military junta toward dialogue with the opposition.

Speaking by phone from an undisclosed location in Myanmar to a public meeting at the Asia Society in New York, the monk was identified by organizers as ''U Gambira,'' a name he took as leader of a group calling itself the All Burma Monks Alliance.

''The military junta is still arresting people at the Buddhist monasteries every night and every day,'' the monk was quoted as saying by Aung Din, a former political prisoner who translated the monk's remarks to the audience in New York.

''He said there are many soldiers surrounding the Buddhist monasteries and also in the streets,'' Aung Din said.

The UN Security Council heard a report from special envoy Ibrahim Gambari earlier yesterday in which he warned of international consequences from the harsh crackdown in the former Burma.

But China, a close ally of Myanmar, and the United States clashed over whether the international community should take any action through the UN Security Council.

Aung Din said the monk, who is in hiding, welcomed a resolution by the UN Human Rights Council this week deploring beatings, killings and arbitrary detentions during the recent unrest and calling for an investigation into the violations.

''He says that they are aware of the action by the international community but he feels this is not enough to stop the violence in Burma,'' Aung Din said.

''They hear about action of the international community and he welcomes the action of the Human Rights Council but he feels these are not enough. He would like to have the international community be more active, more effective and more responsive.'' ''International assistance is needed urgently because the military junta is trying every brutal method of keeping on to power,'' Aung Din quoted the monk as saying.

SECURITY COUNCIL ACTION Aung Din, who is policy director of the US Campaign for Burma, said the Security Council should pass a resolution calling for an end to repression of demonstrators, the release of political prisoners and the start of dialogue.

''We also want the UN Security Council to impose targeted sanctions against the military junta, which include an arms embargo, a travel ban on top generals and their family members, and a ban on investment,'' Aung Din said in his own speech.

Aung Din said he believed more than 200 protesters, including monks and students, had been killed in the protests -- far more than the dozen deaths reported by the government.

Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, UN special rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar, said he was hopeful about international action given the strong consensus at the Human Rights Council, where even China and Russia agreed to the resolution.

Pinheiro has been denied a visa to visit Myanmar for four years but he said he was still hoping to go and that there were positive signs despite the resistance of China and Russia toward a Security Council resolution.

''Let's not despair at this moment,'' he told the meeting.

''I can't guarantee that something positive will happen but I think that we are living at a moment where things are moving and perhaps this famous 'international community' will have some effect.'' REUTERS PD BST0915

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