US First Lady Laura Bush charged Tuesday that Burma’s junta had not enacted even “minimal” democratic reforms, as the White House said it was weighing possible new sanctions on the military regime.
Laura Bush’s denunciation came one day after she met at the White House with the UN envoy for Burma, Ibrahim Gambari, who also sat down with US National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley to discuss the country Washington calls Burma.
“Burma’s general Than Shwe and his associates are failing to meet even the minimal expectations set out by the unanimous membership of the UN Security Council on October 11, 2007,” the US first lady said in a statement.
“These include the release of all political prisoners, commencement of a genuine dialogue with democratic activists led by Aung San Suu Kyi, and address of political and human rights issues,” she said.
On December 11, US President George W. Bush had warned that failure to release democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and other detainees could trigger a US-led effort to tighten international sanctions on Burma’s military regime.
“The president’s statement of the 11th stands. The administration is looking at different ways to continue to put pressure on the junta. These could include additional financial sanctions or other measures,” said US National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe.
Laura Bush’s comments came days after the UN Human Rights Council put fresh pressure on Burma by asking special envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro to stage a second mission to investigate abuses during the junta’s September crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
At least 31 people were killed and 74 missing in the suppression of protests that were led by Buddhist monks, according to a UN report.
“The junta has made no meaningful attempt to meet and talk with democratic activists. Instead it has continued to harass and detain them,” Laura Bush said.
“The junta leaders continue to sell the country’s natural resources to enrich themselves. While they reject international calls for a democratic transition, they have put Burma in shambles and placed its people in a perilous state,” she said.
“Children are being trafficked and subject to forced recruitment into the military, citizens are fleeing the country to seek work and basic healthcare, meanwhile infectious diseases, including Aids and malaria, continue to spread unchecked,” said Laura Bush.