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UN Rights Expert to Probe Burma's Repression

The United Nations human rights expert on Burma will travel to the country next month in an effort to verify allegations of abuse during the recent government crackdown on demonstrators. From VOA's New York Bureau, Mona Ghuneim reports.

Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro says he has received worrying reports about the Burmese government's response to the protests, which began in mid-August after a steep rise in fuel prices.

Pinheiro says there are allegations of excessive force by the military, but the number of casualties cannot yet be verified. He says there are reports that between 30 and 40 monks and 50 to 70 civilians have been killed and some 200 have been beaten.

He says the Burmese government reports that two-thousand 675 people have been released from detention since the crackdown.

According to Pinheiro, the repression in Burma continues. "I have reports that the chase of bystanders or people involved in the manifestations continues. I think that the situation of fear prevails. I don't think that the repression has finished," he said.

Pinheiro says reports of deaths, torture and disappearances of those taken into custody continue to come in. He says his trip to Burma next month, ahead of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' summit, will address these reports, and he will submit his findings to the UN Human Rights Council in December.