Australia imposes Myanmar sanctions

Activists launch protests on the anniversary of Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest.

    Gambari is on a six-nation regional tour to meet leaders who could influence Myanmar [EPA]

    Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has come under increasing international pressure over a violent suppression of Buddhist monk-led street protests last month, whick killed 10 people, according to official media.
    Western governments say the toll was probably much higher.

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    Australia said its sanctions would prohibit transactions involving the transfer of funds or payments to the listed Myanmar leaders and supporters without the approval of Australia's central bank.
    "They are the strongest financial measures available under existing Australian legislation against countries or individuals that are not subject to UN Security Council sanctions," Downer said.
    Myanmar had earlier in the week invited Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, a UN human rights investigator, to visit the country after barring him four years ago.

    The government on Tuesday also agreed to bring Ibrahim Gambari, the UN mediator who visited the country immediately after the crackdown, back to the country for talks early in November.


    Gambari, currently on a six-nation Asian tour, "expects to visit Myanmar in the first week of November as the Myanmar government agreed to bring forward his standing invitation to the country," Michele Montas, a UN spokeswoman, said.


    Last week Gambari said that he had been invited to return to Myanmar in the third week of November, but the US and its European allies made it clear that they wanted the UN emissary back in Myanmar as soon as possible.


    The UN Security Council on October 11 condemned the military government's crackdown and called for the "early release of all political prisoners and remaining detainees" to pave the way for national reconciliation and a transition to democracy.


    Acitivists on Wednesday launched international protests demanding the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's pro-democracy leader, on the 12th anniversary of the Nobel laureate's house arrest.




    About 20 people carried banners and chanted "Free Aung San Suu Kyi" for half an hour outside the Chinese embassy in the Thai capital, Bangkok, one in a series of demonstrations planned in 12 cities worldwide.


    Ko Htwe, one of the protesters, said: "We want China to exercise its influence over the Burmese generals. We want China to impose economic sanctions against Burma."


    In Sydney,  Australia, 10 Myanmar refugees launched a two-day hunger strike outside the Chinese consulate to demand that Beijing stop supporting the military government, Maung Maung Than, a spokesman for the Australian Coalition for Democracy in Burma, said.


    Amnesty International is among a coalition of groups that organised Wednesday's rallies, which were planned for Bangkok, Sydney, London, Paris, Berlin, Dublin, Vienna, Washington, Toronto, New York, Brasilia and Cape Town.


    Kate Allen, Amnesty's UK director, said: "Because the pictures have stopped coming out of Burma the media have turned away from this crisis. But the torture, the arrests and the killings all go on."


    Shwe, Myanmar's senior general, has made a heavily conditioned offer to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi, but so far no known talks have taken place.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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