US calls Myanmar expulsion of UN representative outrageous and an insult

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The Independent Online

The United States condemned Myanmar's expulsion yesterday of the top UN diplomat in the country, its human rights representative.

"This outrageous action ... is an insult to the United Nations and the international community," Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said yesterday.

The ruling military junta acted against UN resident coordinator Charles Petrie one day before the arrival of UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari to promote talks between the government and the pro-democracy opposition. Gambari also planned to press for the release of people detained in last month's crackdown on Buddhist monks and other opponents of the junta that rules Myanmar, also known as Burma.

"The junta needs to allow the ICRC into the country, release political prisoners and stop detaining its citizens who are peacefully protesting the repressive regime," Johndroe said.

The ICRC is the International Committee of the Red Cross, based in Switzerland.

"Further, reports that the junta has restricted Internet access again are very troubling," Johndroe said. "They are trying to hide their atrocities from the world."

The military rulers made known their wish that Petrie end his assignment in a note handed to foreign diplomats and UN representatives, said UN Information Center spokesman Aye Win, speaking by telephone from the country's largest city, Yangon.

Gambari met last month with junta leader Senior Gen. Than Shwe. He also met twice with detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel prize laureate.