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Burmese monks tell of military repression -

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Burmese monks tell of military repression

Broadcast: 01/10/2007

Reporter: Karen Percy

Eyewitness accounts of the repression by the Burmese military regime from three monks fleeing the


TONY JONES: The United Nations envoy to Burma has been told the country's ruling General Than Shwe
will meet him tomorrow to discuss the regime's bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.

Burma's generals today lifted blockades in the country's major cities, a sign that they're once
again in complete control. Now those involved in the protests are on the run, fearing reprisals and
taking refuge in neighbouring countries.

The ABC's Karen Percy spoke to three monks who spent three days fleeing from Rangoon to Mae Sot on
the Thai-Burma border. And a warning - this report contains disturbing images.

KAREN PERCY: At the checkpoint in the Thai town of Mae Sot, Burmese residents dash across the
bridge. They've been granted a day pass to enter the country and they're in a hurry to sell their
produce in local markets and to buy goods they can't get in their homeland. Among the visitors
today are three monks who were part of the protests in the capital, Rangoon. They are among the
first to get out of Burma, fleeing a harsh crackdown against their colleagues.

MONK: When I first started protesting, I was not afraid, but when problems began I was scared and

KAREN PERCY: They spent three days avoiding the military to get here. They don't have any money and
they're not sure what they'll do next. They don't want to be named for fear of reprisals.

MONK: We are not getting involved in politics. Our donors and benefactors face hardship, and that
is why we are sending our loving kindness to them. We are just trying to help them. We just want

KAREN PERCY: Activist group operating outside of Burma released images today of dead people they
say are monks.

MONK: I want our demands to be fulfilled. I want peace. The best thing is to have balance and
equality and harmony.

KAREN PERCY: The streets of Rangoon have been quiet in recent days, with the protests seemingly
quashed for now, the military junta seems to have eased security. But these monks say their
colleagues who remain inside won't give up.

The UN's envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, has been in Burma since Saturday, trying to negotiate between the
generals and pro-democracy hero, Aung San Suu Kyi. He spent more than an hour with her at the
weekend, just as he did in November last year. But he's yet to meet the head of the junta, Than

KHIN OHMAR, EXILED ACTIVIST: Everybody has a very high expectation of his visit. Hoping that there
is some concrete outcome from his talk with the generals will be announced very soon.

KAREN PERCY: The Burmese military has a permanent presence here because of the large numbers of
displaced people in the region and because of the armed ethnic group which operate in the nearby
mountains. There are reports that the number of soldiers has been increased in this area in recent

There are many Burmese communities living inside Thailand all the way along the border. An
estimated 130,000 live in refugee camps. Most fled the 1988 pro-democracy uprising. The Thai
authorities worry that if the junta over the border continues its hard line, the authorities here
will be dealing with the problems for decades to come. Karen Percy, Lateline.