US demands immediate halt to Myanmar crackdown | world | Hindustan Times
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US demands immediate halt to Myanmar crackdown

world Updated: Sep 27, 2007 20:36 IST
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The White House demanded on Thursday that Myanmar's military government immediately halt an intensifying crackdown against protesters in the biggest anti-junta demonstrations in nearly 20 years.

"The Burmese government should not stand in the way of its people's desire for freedom," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said. "They must stop this violence against peaceful protesters now."

Nine protesters were killed in Myanmar's main city on Thursday when soldiers and police fired on crowds protesting decades of military rule and economic hardship, state media said.

Witnesses said scores of protesters had been wounded or beaten in at least three or four incidents around Yangon after soldiers told residents they had 10 minutes to clear the city center streets or risk getting shot.

US President George W Bush used his annual UN General Assembly speech on Tuesday to announce new sanctions against the Myanmar government and urged the United Nations and other countries to keep up pressure on Myanmar's military rulers.

The United States has been pushing for years for Myanmar to free Nobel laureate and pro-democracy politician Aung San Suu Kyi and has led a campaign of isolation until the junta allows political reform, including her release.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said news reports and pictures coming out of Myanmar "highlighted what an outrageous situation it is."

"We want to see continued stepped-up international pressure on Myanmar," he told a White House briefing. "The world is watching. We also need the world acting."

He said the Treasury Department would soon detail and begin enforcement of the financial sanctions that Bush had outlined.