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US, UK slam Myanmar over Suu Kyi sentencing

August 11, 2009 19:16 IST

The United States and the United Kingdom on Tuesday led global condemnation of the sentencing of Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown pressing for United Nations sanctions on the country's military junta.

A court in Myanmar found Suu Kyi guilty of violating an internal security law and sentenced her to three years in prison with hard labour, but it was commuted to 18 months of house arrest by the country's military supremo.

"She (Suu Kyi) should not have been tried and she should not have been convicted," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is in Congo on a visit, said. "We continue to call for her release," she said.

"I am both saddened and angry at the verdict today, following the sham trial of Aung San Suu Kyi," Brown said while condemning the ruling as 'monstrous'. "I have always made it clear that the United Kingdom would respond positively to any signs of progress on democratic reforms in Burma. But with the generals explicitly rejecting that course today, the international community must take action," Brown said.

The UK PM said the verdict showed that Myanmar's military leaders are "determined to act with total disregard" for international law and opinion. He called for the UN Security Council to impose a world-wide embargo on the sale of arms to the Myanmar junta.

"The European Union has agreed to impose tough new sanctions targeting the economic interests of the regime," Brown said. "I also believe that the UN Security Council -- whose will has been flouted -- must also now respond resolutely and impose a world-wide ban on the sale of arms to the regime."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy also issued a scathing statement and pressed for sanctions on the junta. "This political trial had just one aim: to prevent Madame Aung San Suu Kyi from leading her fight in favour of a free and democratic Burma," he said. "The president is asking the European Union to respond quickly by adopting new sanctions against the Burmese regime," said a statement from Sarkozy's office.

The new measures "must in particular target the resources that they directly profit from, in the wood and ruby sector," the statement added. Other European leaders also sharply condemned Suu Kyi's sentencing. Sweden issued a statement on behalf of the EU, saying the verdict continued two decades of violations of international law by Myanmar's military junta, the AP reported.

The statement said the EU will respond with "additional targeted measures against those responsible for the verdict (and) will further reinforce its restrictive measures" against Myanmar's economy.

Amnesty International secretary general Irene Khan said Suu Kyi should never have been arrested in the first place.

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