UN rights chief warns Myanmar leaders on violence

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GENEVA, Sep 26 (Reuters) United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour warned Myanmar's military rulers today they could face an international court over violence against anti-government protesters.

Arbour, a former prosecutor for international criminal tribunals on Yugoslavia and Rwanda, said the Myanmar authorities should allow peaceful expression of dissent and abide by UN-backed human rights law in handling demonstrators.

''The use of excessive force and all forms of arbitrary detention of peaceful protesters are strictly prohibited under international law,'' she said in a statement issued from her Geneva office.

Arbour said all states must respect fundamental human rights ''in all circumstances''.

These included freedom from arbitrary killing, from arbitrary arrest and detention, and from torture, cruel or inhuman treatment, as well as freedom of thought, conscience and religion, she said.

''The denial of these rights may constitute international crimes and could invoke individual criminal responsibility,'' Arbour said.

She issued her statement after sources said two Buddhist monks and a civilian were killed during attempts by the authorities to quell the biggest anti-junta protests in 20 years.

The statement said she was ''gravely concerned'' about the well-being and safety of the demonstrators.


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