September 25, 2007 in Nation/World

Myanmar regime threatens monks who led protests

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review
Associated Press photo

Buddhist monks march in protest Monday against the military government in Yangon, Myanmar. Associated Press
(Full-size photo)

U.S. sanctions planned

» NEW YORK – President Bush plans to announce toughened sanctions today to build pressure against the military government in Myanmar, his national security adviser said.

» Bush plans to use a speech at the U.N. General Assembly to outline the new efforts to force the military rulers to accede to the demands of a democracy movement, security adviser Stephen Hadley said.

» The sanctions will include efforts to limit travel and financial transactions by key Myanmar government members and their families.

Los Angeles Times

YANGON, Myanmar – Myanmar’s military government issued a threat Monday to the Buddhist monks who led 100,000 people marching in the strongest protests against the repressive regime in two decades.

The warning suggests the junta is under increasing pressure to crack down on or compromise with a reinvigorated democracy movement. Authorities did not stop the protests Monday, even as they built to a scale and fervor that rivaled the pro-democracy uprising of 1988 when the military fired on peaceful crowds and killed thousands. The government has been handling the monks gingerly, wary of angering ordinary citizens in this devout, predominantly Buddhist nation.

However, on Monday night the country’s religious affairs minister appeared on state television to accuse the monks of being manipulated by the regime’s domestic and foreign enemies. Meeting with senior monks at Yangon’s Kaba Aye Pagoda, Brig. Gen. Thura Myint Maung said the protesting monks represented just 2 percent of the country’s population. He suggested that if senior monks did not restrain them, the government would act according to its own regulations, which he did not detail.

Current protests began Aug. 19 after the government sharply raised fuel prices in what is one of Asia’s poorest countries. But they are based in deep-rooted dissatisfaction with the repressive military government that has ruled the country in one form or another since 1962.

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