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Democracy campaigners defy warning -

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TONY JONES: The military junta in Burma is coming under increasing pressure from the international
community not to take violent action against demonstrators.

Tens of thousands of monks and civilians have again taken to the streets of Rangoon, defying
government warnings not to protest.

Today's rally finished without incident, but as soon as after the crowd had dispersed, truckloads
of armed police took to the streets of the former capital.

South East Asia correspondent Karen Percy reports.

KAREN PERCY: Thousands of monks and their supporters defied repeated threats from the junta. They
gathered at the Shwedagon pagoda in Rangoon and marched through the city streets, just as they've
done for the past eight days. They shouted "democracy, democracy" as they marched. The junta has
shifted its position in the past day from one of tolerance to one of impatience. It sent a clear
message last night via the government-controlled media. The religious minister's actions showed
difference to the country's most senior monk bus his words were a warning, that his government
would use the security law against them if the protests didn't stop. There are reports that the
country's security forces are trying to infiltrate the protests and are readying for a showdown.
But it seems the monks won't back down. They want the government to start negotiating on freeing
political prisoners lowering fuel costs which are hurting people everywhere. They also want an
apology for harsh action taken in protests earlier this month when soldiers beat monks and used
tear gas against them.

ALEXANDER DOWNER, FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER: They've shown enormous courage in a country which has a
military leadership which is only too willing to crack down on any dissent.

KAREN PERCY: Political activists, inside and outside Burma, want the international community to
act.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: I appreciate the strong statements made by the European Union, by the United
States and others. And obviously we take a very strong view ourselves. But I think the voices that
the Burmese military leadership hear, the louder ones, are the voices of China and India.

KAREN PERCY: China always pursues a policy of not interfering in other countries' domestic affairs.

JIANG YU, CHINESE GOVERNMENT SPOKESWOMAN: We believe the Burmese government and its people can
solve these current problems properly.

KAREN PERCY: The United States has been one of the most vocal critics.

TOM CASEY, US STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: They've been asking, basically, for the kinds of rights
that you would expect and hope any government would be able to afford them. Certainly they are
trying to exercise their right to free speech, which should be guaranteed in any society.

KAREN PERCY: US-backed sanctions have failed to sway the generals in the past, new ones are
unlikely to worry them now. The protest leaders say their campaign is getting support from the
country's grassroots, but the military junta sees a political plot being driven by dissidents
inside and outside the country. As such, many fear that it's not a matter of if the generals act,
but when. Karen Percy, Lateline.