US: Myanmar must end violence against demonstrators

The United States demanded Thursday that Myanmar's military rulers end an "outrageous" and deadly crackdown on anti-government protestors and called for more global pressure on the junta.

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

US President George W. Bush was expected to issue a statement later calling for increased global pressure on Myanmar, while the US Treasury Department was due to release a list of individuals there targeted by new US sanctions.

But US officials declined to criticize China and India, Myanmar's giant neighbors, over braking diplomatic efforts to bring about change there.

"I think it's clear that the president wants increased international pressure on Burma," spokesman Tony Fratto said, pointing to Bush's warnings to the junta in his speech this week to the UN General Assembly.

"I also expect the Treasury dept soon to move on their role in imposing some sanctions with respect to Burma," he said, referring to travel restrictions and financial sanctions that Bush announced in New York.

"We must see continued stepped up international pressure on Burma," said Fratto, who called the crackdown on anti-government protests there "an outrageous situation."

"The world is watching, we also need the world acting and that's why we're going to continue to work with our partners in the international community and the other countries on the UN Security Council to continue work to step up pressure on Burma until they change their practices," he said.

Fratto also declared that the United States would continue to call the country "Burma" in a show of support for pro-democracy activists there.

"We choose not to use the language of a totalitarian dictatorial regime that oppresses its people," he said. "And we have freedom of speech here, maybe they don't."

His comments were in line with the US State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency, which pointedly note that the 1989 name change never won approval from the country's legislators.

"The democratically elected but never convened parliament of 1990 does not recognize the name change, and the democratic opposition continues to use the name 'Burma.' Due to consistent support for the democratically elected leaders, the US government likewise uses 'Burma,'" the State Department website says.

The CIA "World Fact Book" notes that the new name is a derivative of the Burmese short-form name Myanma Naingngandaw.

Earlier, security forces in the country formerly known as Burma swept through the heart of the capital city Yangon, arresting hundreds of people and firing warning shots as they intensified a violent crackdown on anti-government demonstrators.

At least 50,000 people, many of them youths and students, swarmed into Yangon undeterred by the deaths of at least four protesters, including three Buddhist monks, the day before, repeatedly defying orders to disperse.

Reports were sketchy after a chaotic six hours of protests, but witnesses and diplomats said at least four people were shot, including a Japanese video journalist who was killed.

It was the 10th straight day that large protests have erupted against the ruling junta, which caused outrage in this impoverished Southeast Asian nation by doubling fuel prices on August 15.

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