ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Junta steps up propanganda
Myanmar's military government stepped up its propaganda machine Thursday, calling foreign critics "liars" and filling state-controlled media with positive spin on its crushing of pro-democracy protesters.
About 200 riot police were posted near the lakeside home of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, two dozen inside her compound and two patrol boats watching from the water.
Soldiers were visible presence on the streets of Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city, the site of much of the deadly crackdown.
With Internet access to the outside world blocked, state-controlled newspapers churned out the government's version of the country's crisis and filled pages with propaganda slogans, such as "We favor stability. We favor peace," and "We oppose unrest and violence."
Critics from the international community and foreign media were dismissed as "liars attempting to destroy the nation."
Coverage was devoted to pro-government rallies that held in stadiums around the country in recent days. Critics say the rallies are shams filled with people ordered to attend by authorities.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday in New York that his special envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, had delivered "the strongest possible message" to Myanmar's military leaders about their bloody crackdown on democracy activists, but added that he couldn't call Gambari's four-day trip "a success."
Gambari is to brief Ban on Thursday. Ban will then discuss Myanmar with the Security Council on Friday.
China, a veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council and a close ally of Myanmar, praised Gambari's meeting with Myanmar's rulers as positive.
"It is a beneficial step that Mr. Gambari deeply exchanged ideas' with Myanmar's leaders on the situation," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said in a statement posted Thursday on the ministry's Web site. "We give a positive evaluation of the efforts made jointly by Myanmar's leaders and Mr. Gambari.
"The Chinese side has noticed that the situation of Myanmar has in recent days calmed down. This is the result of joint efforts of relevant parties of Myanmar and the international community," Liu said. "The Chinese side wishes that the situation will further develop in a positive direction."
Anti-junta demonstrations broke out in mid-August over a fuel price hike, then ballooned when monks took the lead last month. But the military crushed the protests a week ago with bullets, tear gas and clubs. The government said 10 people were killed, but dissident groups put the death toll at up to 200 and say 6,000 people were detained, including thousands of monks.
A U.N. Development Program employee, Myint Nwe Moe, and her husband, brother-in-law and driver were among those detained, the U.N. agency said. Three other U.N. staffers were detained and subsequently released, said Charles Petrie, the U.N. humanitarian chief in Myanmar.
In Brussels, European Union nations agreed to expand sanctions against the military regime. Diplomats said extra sanctions would include an expanded visa ban for members of the military junta, a wider ban on investment and a ban on trade in metals, timber and gemstones.
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