UNITED NATIONS (CNN) – U.N. envoy Ibrahim Gambari will brief the U.N. Security Council in an open session Friday on his recent visit to Myanmar, despite objections from the Chinese ambassador who wanted the briefing held behind closed doors.
The meeting comes after Myanmar\’s chief military leader, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, said on state television Thursday he would meet with detained Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi — provided she give up her calls for sanctions against the country.
The Myanmar government also invited the U.S. Charges d\’Affaires in Myanmar, Shari Villarosa, to meet with its leaders on Friday. They did not indicate what the agenda for the meeting would be, but U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said Villarosa\’s message would be “the same one we\’ve been giving publicly, and that\’s that they need to stop repressing their own people, that they need to engage in a dialogue with the opposition.”
“It shouldn\’t take the United States and the rest of the international community having to ask the government to engage their own people,” he told CNN International.
On Wednesday, Villarosa told CNN\’s Anderson Cooper the U.S. Embassy was concerned over the apparent disappearance of Buddhist monks.
“It\’s disturbing because we\’ve found many (monasteries) that have been vacated,” she said. “We\’ve found others that have military barricades around them. We\’ve seen a few that seem to be open again, but with a significantly reduced number of monks.”
Gambari met with ruling military junta leaders as well as Suu Kyi and other pro-democracy leaders last weekend. Suu Kyi has been held in varying degrees of detention for 12 out of the last 18 years since 1989, when her National League for Democracy won the country\’s first free multiparty elections. The military junta refused to hand over power.
Gambari on Thursday briefed U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who had sent him to Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, in the wake of the military\’s crackdown on peaceful demonstrations.
China\’s Ambassador to the United Nations Wang Guangya said he thought a briefing behind closed doors would allow for a more frank exchange between Gambari and council members. “My preference is that we should not have a format which might make Ambassador Gambari feel uncomfortable,” he said.
Wang also reiterated China\’s opposition to U.N. sanctions against Myanmar.
“It\’s a problem,” he said. “It\’s a crisis, but this does not constitute a threat in the (U.N.) charter definition to the region and to international peace and security.
“These problems, we believe, are basically internal. A solution for the Myanmar situation has to be found by the Myanmars themselves,” Wang said.
Nonetheless, the U.N. Human Rights Council is pushing for a fact-finding mission to Myanmar. The council passed a resolution on Tuesday condemning the repression of pro-democracy protests and “will be in a very strong position to convince the (Myanmar) government … to receive me,” U.N. envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro told CNN International.
Myanmar state media reported that 2,000 people were detained during the demonstrations and the crackdown, and that 700 have since been released. An emergency law imposed on September 25 banned the assembly of more than five people.
Meanwhile, police and soldiers are controlling the streets and checking everyone for cameras and cell phones, witnesses told CNN.
The official death toll is 10, but there are reports that hundreds of people were killed in the wake of the demonstrations led by Myanmar\’s Buddhist monks. Video of the protests have leaked from the tightly-controlled country and seem to contract Myanmar\’s foreign minister Nyan Win, who said the country\’s security personnel have “exercised utmost restraint.”
In one video, a man raises his hands above his head, as Myanmar security personnel beat him with sticks. The images show crowds of protesters loudly chanting and marching peacefully through Yangon until the Myanmar military descends, dispersing the crowds.
Loud orders from the military replace demonstrators\’ chants, the images show. Several protesters are wounded, one of them slumped in an alley, as a friend tends to him while staying out of sight.
Demonstrators who were detained are searched and loaded onto trucks by plainclothes men, apparently intelligence officers operating in their midst, the images show.
In Thailand, CNN interviewed a man who said he was a Myanmar army major who fled his country because of his conscience.
“When I heard monks had been shot dead on the streets, and that others had been shot too, I felt very upset,” he said. “As a Buddhist, I didn\’t want to see such killing.”
“”It\’s impossible that under the rule of the military regime, Myanmar will be prosperous and peaceful,” he said.