Washington -- President Bush reached further into his administration's limited arsenal of sanctions to apply against Myanmar yesterday by targeting additional senior officials and supporters. He also called on China and India to join international efforts to promote human rights and democracy in the military-run Southeast Asian nation formerly called Burma.
With his wife, Laura, who has taken a very public interest in the nation's political conditions, at his side, Bush said, "The people of Burma are showing great courage in the face of immense repression. They are appealing for our help. We must not turn a deaf ear to their cries."
The measures announced yesterday follow two earlier efforts to put financial pressure on the leaders of Myanmar and have shown no signs of forcing the military junta into easing its grip on the country.
The steps Bush announced will freeze any U.S. assets of 16 additional government leaders and financial supporters. Fourteen were listed under previous sanctions, as well as five Burmese companies and two from Singapore.
He also moved to tighten restrictions on trade with Myanmar involving certain sophisticated computers and equipment that can be used for civilian and military purposes.
The military regime that has ruled the country for 45 years has come under new pressure during the past month from demonstrations led by Buddhist monks and from diplomatic efforts originating in Washington and at the United Nations.
The special U.N. envoy to Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, has failed to gain promises from the junta leader, Gen. Than Shwe, to stop the bloody repression of activists and other citizens who have taken part in street protests.
Derek Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said that sanctions aimed at individual leaders and their supporters served to make life a little less comfortable for them without making it more difficult for average citizens.
Bush, speaking to reporters in the White House Diplomatic Reception Room, praised the European Union and Australia for also imposing targeted sanctions on individuals in Myanmar, and said he had asked "other countries to review their own laws and policies."
Mitchell said that India has been investing in natural resources in Myanmar and that China has invested there and sells military equipment to the government.
James Gerstenzang writes for the Los Angeles Times.