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Hun Sen Calls on Burma to End Crackdown

Prime Minister Hun Sen Wednesday called on the Burmese junta to end its crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators and monks, following violence that has left many protesters dead.

Hun Sen urged the junta "to have maximum patience, not use force to crack down on the demonstrators, and to continue its effort for national reconciliation by solving these issues through respect of human rights, democratization, and peace."

The public call was significant. Asean countries have a longstanding policy not to meddle in the affairs of their neighbors, and Hun Sen has good relations with the military leadership of Burma.

Burmese dissidents say at least 200 people were killed in crackdowns since last week.

The forces of Hun Sen have not been above clashing with Cambodia's monks in the past. Demonstrations in 1998 led to the beating of several monks, and clergy of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom in Cambodia and Vietnam regularly complain of abuse.

Hun Sen "should have told [the junta]…that we want Burma to respect the law and democracy," opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Wednesday. "Even in the past, the Phnom Penh government has not respected democracy and free speech."

Chan Savet, an investigator for the rights group Adhoc said Cambodia should continue its pressure on Burma to respect human rights.

Hun Sen said he had spoken to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong about releasing pro-democracy activists, including Aung San Suu Kyi, Agence France-Presse reported. Singapore is the chair of Asean this year.

Hun Sen sent a letter to Burmese leader Senior General Than Shwe, he said, but did elaborate, AFP reported.