Tens of thousands of people joined Buddhist monks on marches in Myanmar’s former capital on Monday in the biggest demonstration against the ruling generals since they crushed student-led protests nearly 20 years ago.”I’m very excited and frankly I’m worried too,” a teacher said as she watched the massed opposition in Yangon to 45 years of army rule that has impoverished the Southeast Asian nation of 53 million people.
A senior U.S. official said President George W. Bush would announce new sanctions against Myanmar’s rulers and call for support for political change in the country formerly known as Burma during a speech at the United Nations on Tuesday.
The European Union urged Myanmar’s military junta to show the “utmost restraint” in dealing with the demonstrations.
“We hope that the regime will use this opportunity to launch a process of real political reform,” said Cristina Gallach, spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.
Brig Gen Thura Myint Maung, minister for religion, warned them not to break Buddhist “rules and regulations” as Rangoon saw the largest march yet.
He blamed the protests on “destructive elements” opposed to peace in Burma.
President George W Bush is set to announce fresh US sanctions on Burmese leaders, the White House says.
The sanctions, which will include a ban on US visas, will be announced during Mr Bush’s speech at the United Nations on Tuesday, US National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said.
The military government has so far showed restraint against the protests.