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UN envoy bent on meeting Suu Kyi

Kuala Lumpur, June 5 (Reuters): UN special envoy Razali Ismail said he would insist on seeing detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi when he visits Myanmar tomorrow and called on Asian powers and Washington to put pressure on the ruling junta.

Razali seemed steeled for a showdown with Myanmar’s generals and asked for China, India, Japan and the US to throw their weight behind him.

“I am going and I am going to state my insistence that I will see Aung San Suu Kyi. If they are not cooperative, they will see what I can do,” he said.

Diplomats and Myanmar dissidents fear Suu Kyi, in custody now for six days, may have been injured in a clash between supporters and a pro-government group last week.

In Yangon, the International Committee of the Red Cross was trying to persuade the government to relent and let its officials meet Suu Kyi and other people detained.

“We informed the government of our desire to visit them. We are still following up on this,” an ICRC official said.

Razali has been envoy for more than three years but can count only minor victories in his mission to kickstart national reconciliation that could eventually bring democracy to a country whose government is shunned by all but its closest neighbours.

“I cannot do the job on my own, I have to have support. Regional players must come into action,” said Razali.

“I think the Americans have a big role to play,” he added.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace laureate and pro-democracy icon, has been held at undisclosed locations since her arrest despite international agencies’ efforts to see her and mounting calls for her release.

Yangon generals have denied reports Suu Kyi was hurt but said that four people were killed and 50 injured in the clash, and that Suu Kyi had been taken into “protective custody”.

The junta launched a sweeping crackdown on dissent following last Friday’s violence in the north of the country, where Suu Kyi was visiting supporters. Universities closed earlier this week will not be allowed to reopen until June 16.

Exiled dissidents say they believe Suu Kyi sustained head and shoulder injuries after her convoy was stopped on a road and set upon by truck-loads of government supporters wielding clubs. They also say many more were killed than the four the government has reported — perhaps as many as 75.

Razali despaired of the developments in Myanmar, known formerly as Burma.

“This is distressing, I am quite dejected,” he said. “This is a country with a long history of kings, princes and civilisation. Saner heads must begin to prevail. “The people of Myanmar are supposed to be religious, loving and devoted to pacificism. Surely the military people are also part of that tradition'”

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