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Published:October 22nd, 2007 11:04 EST
Bush Announces Additional Sanctions Against Burmese Junta

Bush Announces Additional Sanctions Against Burmese Junta

By SOP newswire

Washington -- Saying “business as usual” in Burma is “unacceptable,” President Bush announced an expansion of U.S. sanctions against the country's military rulers and their associates, accusing them of perpetrating “ongoing atrocities” against the pro-democracy opposition.

The new measures include the designation of 11 junta leaders for sanctions by the Treasury Department and 12 additional individuals and entities under an executive order signed by the president.

The executive order also expands the authority of the Treasury Department to designate for sanction individuals “responsible for human rights abuses as well as public corruption and those who provide material and financial backing to these individuals or to the government of Burma.”

Bush also said the Commerce Department is tightening its export control regulations for Burma.

The new sanctions are in addition to measures imposed by the administration September 27, soon after the violent crackdown against pro-democracy forces began.

“We will continue to review our policies and consider additional measures if Burma's leaders do not end the brutal repression of their own people whose only offense is the desire to live in freedom,” Bush said October 19. (See transcript.)

The president commended countries around the world who also have responded to the atrocities in Burma by imposing sanctions, cutting assistance and speaking out against the regime.

“I ask other countries to review their own laws and policies, especially Burma's closest neighbors -- China, India, and others in the region,” Bush said.

The president urged Burma's military leaders to act upon their stated desire for reconciliation with the opposition, saying a “good way to start” would be to provide international organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross with access to political prisoners, allow detained opposition leaders to communicate with one another and permit the United States' special envoy to Burma, Ibrahim Gambari, to enter the country.

Bush said reconciliation ultimately will require the release of all of Burma's political prisoners and the beginning of negotiations between the junta and the opposition under U.N. auspices.

The Burmese people are showing “great courage in the face of immense repression,” Bush said. “They are appealing for our help.  We must not turn a deaf ear to their cries.”

In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment October 17, a State Department official said the United States is trying to maintain “maximum pressure” on the Burmese military regime through bilateral and multilateral means.

Scot Marciel, who is deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said the junta must “end the repression, release the prisoners, and initiate a genuine dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and the democratic opposition, and with the ethnic minority group, that leads to a peaceful transition to civilian, democratic rule.”

This is the strategy that Aung San Suu Kyi and other Burmese democracy activists, “both within Burma and without, have said they want,” Marciel said.

The official said it is important for the international community to do all it can to support Gambari's efforts to foster negotiations between the junta and the democratic opposition.

“While we remain deeply skeptical about the regime's actual intentions toward a dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and the ethnic minorities, we intend to pursue vigorously any possible opening,” Marciel said, adding that Gambari has so far been the only international figure who has been able to gain access to both the regime leadership and Aung San Suu Kyi.

There is no “easy solution” to easing the junta's four-decade-old grip of absolute power over the country, Marciel said.  “Meeting this challenge will require a concerted international effort, especially from those countries in the region with the most extensive ties and leverage with the regime.”

He said India's rhetorical support for broad-based and inclusive national reconciliation is “undercut by actions, such as its announcement to invest over $100 million in a transportation development project in western Burma.”

Likewise, while China facilitated Gambari's September 29-October 2 visit to Burma, “we believe China can and must do more, and we will continue to press Beijing to do so,” he said.  The official urged Beijing to support an additional visit and to use its influence with the junta to secure the release of detainees and the initiation of a “genuine dialogue” with pro-democracy leaders and ethnic minority representatives.

The full text of Deputy Assistant Secretary Marciel's testimony can be found at the House Foreign Affairs Committee Web site.

The full text of the executive order on additional sanctions on Burma is available on the White House Web site.

The full texts of a Treasury Department press release on additional sanctions on Burma and a White House fact sheet are available on USINFO.

For more stories on Burma, see U.S. Support for Democracy in Burma.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

By Stephen Kaufman
USINFO Staff Writer

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