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Bush increases pressure on Myanmar's junta

  • Story Highlights
  • U.S. sanctions expanded to more members of junta, their associates
  • Bush calls on other nations to step up pressure on Myanmar
  • Pro-democracy protests began in Myanmar after fuel prices raised 500 percent
  • Myanmar says 3,000 people involved in protests arrested
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush on Friday set new sanctions against members of Myanmar's military junta and their associates in response to the junta's violent crackdown on democracy protesters.

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President Bush announces new sanctions on Myanmar's ruling junta on Friday.

"We must not turn a deaf ear to their cries," Bush said of those who have taken to the streets for democracy in the Southeast Asian nation.

In late September, the U.S. Treasury Department announced it was freezing the assets of 14 senior members of the government of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. Also, the State Department imposed travel restrictions against the same junta leaders.

Bush said Friday he was expanding those sanctions to include 11 more members of the ruling junta. In addition, 12 individuals associated with Myanmar's government will face U.S. sanctions.

"Burma's rulers continue to defy the world's just demand to stop their vicious persecution," Bush said in explaining the additional sanctions.

Bush praised nations that have joined in sanctions on Myanmar and asked others to join in the effort to hasten democratic reforms in the country.

Pro-democracy protesters took to the streets of Myanmar in August after the government raised fuel prices as much as 500 percent. Nearly a month later, Buddhist monks took the lead in the protests and defied military orders that they stop.

The protests reached their height on September 27, when at least nine people, including a Japanese photojournalists, were killed by government troops.

Myanmar's ruling junta said earlier this week almost 3,000 people were arrested in connection with the protests that began in August. Almost 500 people were still being held, the junta said, and others accused of participating in the protests were still being sought.

Bush called on the junta to release political prisoners and negotiate with the democratic opposition, threatening to increase U.S. pressure if that does not occur.

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"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.

On Thursday, the State Department announced new sanctions on Myanmar for not doing enough to combat human trafficking, saying the Myanmar government is directly involved in forced labor and reportedly drafts children into the nation's military. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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