Thai PM to Burma: Stop violence against monks

TNA, Oct 9, 2007

Bangkok, Thailand -- Thailand's Prime Minister Gen. Surayud Chulanont said on Monday he had asked Burma's junta leader to end violence against Buddhist monks which he branded as the "wrong action".

Speaking at the prime minister's Meet the Press session at Government House, Gen. Surayud said he had sent a letter last week to Senior General Than Shwe, chairman of Burma's State Peace and Development Council, calling on the junta leader to halt violent actions against his country's Buddhist monks.

"As a Buddhist-majority country, Thailand cannot accept the use of violence against the Buddhist monks in a neighbouring country," the premier said, adding that what further action could be taken would depend on consultations among the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Thailand is a founding member.

"We want to see a dialogue between Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar's junta as the ASEAN had clearly stated earlier," the Thai premier said.

Last month Thailand and ASEAN expressed grave concern over the Burmese government's use of violence against demonstrators and called on it to exercise the utmost restraint and resume efforts to end street protests through peaceful means.

"Both Thailand and Burma, being predominantly Buddhist, share in the belief of nonviolence and tolerance. So, Thailand finds unacceptable the commission of violence and bodily harm to Buddhist monks and demonstrators," the Thai premier said on behalf of ASEAN in his address to the 62nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly being held in New York from September 22-29.

It came after almost two weeks of repression in which the Burmese authorities said 10 people were killed as the recent protests were dispersed. Diplomats and activists though say the number of dead was many times higher.

The military regime said it was still holding some 1,000 persons arrested during the protests -- including more than 100 Buddhist monks.

But foreign governments and dissidents fear the real number of detainees could be several times higher.