December 19, 2007

US approved sanctions against Myanmar

The US Senate approved sanctions against Myanmar's multi-million dollar gemstone industry to punish the military regime over its deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protests. The Burma Democracy Promotion Act outlaws the import of gems and timber from Myanmar and imposes fresh financial sanctions and travel restrictions on the junta's leaders and their associates. The legislation also creates a position of special representative and policy coordinator for Myanmar who would work with the Southeast Asian nation's neighbors and the European Union to press for change in the country.

The House of Representatives passed similar legislation last week, but it needs to vote on the Senate version because it was amended. The final bill would then go to US President George W. Bush for his signature. Last week, Bush threatened to spearhead a global campaign to step up sanctions against Myanmar if it continues to ignore calls for a democratic transition. At least 31 people were killed and 74 went missing in the suppression in September of peaceful protests led by Buddhist monks, according to a UN report.

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