Protesters Rally Outside Myanmar Embassy in Tel Aviv

Most demonstrators Myanmar nationals working in Israel; government urges Myanmar gov't to refrain from harming protesters.

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Dozens of protesters gathered Monday at Myanmar's embassy in Tel Aviv to protest the recent crackdown on dissidents by the country's military government.

The protesters, most of them Myanmar nationals working in Israel, carried signs reading "Stop killing civilians" and "Demolish the military government in Burma," and called on the regime to free student leaders and political prisoners jailed for their part in demonstrations.

"We are against the military government," said protester Aungo Naing Win. "The junta," he said, "has arrested political prisoners, demonstrators, Buddhist monks...everybody."

Public anger in Myanmar ignited August 19 after the government hiked fuel prices, and the outrage quickly turned into mass protests after Buddhist monks joined in. Soldiers responded last week by opening fire on unarmed demonstrators, killing at least 10 people by the government's account. Dissident groups say at least 200 people may have died.

Governments across the world have called on the junta to find a peaceful end to the crisis.

Israel has urged the government of Myanmar to demonstrate restraint and refrain from harming demonstrators, the Foreign Ministry said last Saturday in its first official statement on the unfolding crisis in the South East Asian country.

The ministry summoned Myanmar's ambassador to Israel last week to clarify reports of troops opening fire on dissidents.

The officials who met with the ambassador of Myanmar, also known as Burma, delivered a curt message stating that Israel is hoping that calm is renewed and that security forces do not employ violence against demonstrators.

Israel "has no form of leverage to apply on Burma," a ministry official told Haaretz. Whereas some diplomats favor condemning Myanmar's treatment of demonstrators, others believe there is no reason for Israel to become involved.

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