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U.S. Lawmakers Propose Sanctions on Burma - 2003-06-04


U.S. lawmakers move to impose penalties on Burma, as concern mounts over the condition of detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Members of both the U.S. House and Senate Wednesday introduced measures that would ban Burmese imports, freeze U.S.-held assets, and bar Burmese government leaders from traveling in the United States.

Other proposals would obligate the United States to oppose loans to Burma by international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund.

Senator Mitch McConnell, who heads the Senate committee in charge of foreign aid, told fellow senators the United States must lead an international effort to stand up for democracy in Burma. He added the United States should also pressure other countries to impose sanctions on Burma.

There are growing reports that Aung San Suu Kyi was injured last Friday when pro-government demonstrators smashed the windshield of her car during clashes in the northern part of the country.

Neither officials nor diplomats have confirmed those reports, and Aung San Suu Kyi has not been heard from since the military took her into so-called "protective custody" after the violence.

The government has said four people died in the clashes between pro-democracy and pro-government protesters. But exiled Burmese dissidents say they believe the death toll is closer to 70 or 80.

One of Aung San Suu Kyi's top aides, Tin Oo, also is being detained. There also is no word on whether he was hurt in the clashes.

Dissidents and human rights groups have criticized the military government for not protecting the pro-democracy leaders. Officials in Rangoon have said Aung San Suu Kyi was detained for her own safety, and that she is in good health.

Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest last year after 19 months of captivity. She also was detained by the government for six years ending in 1995.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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