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U.S. slaps more sanctions on Myanmar

/ Source: The Associated Press

The Treasury Department on Tuesday announced it was imposing financial sanctions against family members of the military-run government of Myanmar and individuals it identified as key members of the financial empire of Tay Za, an influential businessman in the country.

"The president has made clear that we will continue to take action against the military junta and those who prop it up so long as human rights violations continue and democracy is suppressed," said Adam Szubin, the director of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

He said the new order will tighten financial sanctions against associates of Tay Za, described by Szubin as "an arms dealer and financial henchman of Burma's repressive regime."

The new order was also aimed at family members of regime leaders and key individuals and businesses that are part of Tay Za's financial network.

It follows previous actions by the Bush administration to impose economic sanctions to express condemnation of the Myanmar government's crackdown on protestors. Before the new sanctions announced Tuesday, the administration had imposed sanctions on 30 individuals and seven entities connected with the ruling regime headed up by junta leader Senior Gen. Than Shwe.

"The actions of Than Shwe and his associates remain unacceptable to all those who value freedom," White House press secretary Dana Perino said in a statement Tuesday.

"In defiance of the unanimous call of the U.N. Security Council, the regime continues to keep (pro-democracy leader) Aung San Suu Kyi isolated and under house arrest, refuses to allow United Nations Special Advisor Ibrahim Gambari's return to Burma and continues to hunt down peaceful activists," Perino said.

Myanmar's crisis attracted world attention when Buddhist monks last September began leading the biggest anti-government protests in two decades. At least 30 people are believed to have been killed when the government suppressed the demonstrations and thousands were detained, although most have since been released.

Htoo companies targeted
The new order targets the Htoo Group of Companies, which carries out key projects on behalf of the military regime, including the purchase of military equipment and aircraft for the military of Myanmar, also known as Burma.

The designation on Tuesday will freeze any assets that the named individuals and companies have in U.S. financial institutions and it also prohibits any financial or commercial transactions between U.S. individuals and American firms with those named in the sanctions order.

Among the individuals named are Aung Thet Mann, a director of Tay Za's Htoo Group of Companies and the son of Gen. Thura Shwe Mann, a senior official in the Myanmar government.

The Treasury Department said in its announcement that Tay Za has used his business relationship with Aung Thet Mann to win favorable business contracts from the military-run government.

Treasury also designated Thiha, Tay Za's brother and business partner, and U Kyaw Thein, a director of Tay Za's business ventures in Singapore.

The companies designated were Myanmar Avia Export Co. Limited, a company Treasury said that Tay Za has used to purchase helicopters and aircraft for the military regime, and Ayer Shwe Wah Co. Limited and Pavo Aircraft Leasing in Singapore.

The four spouses of senior Myanmar government officials who were named were Khin Lay Thet, the wife of General Thura Shwe Mann; Myint Myint Ko, the wife of Construction Minister Saw Tun; Tin Lin Myint, the wife of Lt. General Ye Myint, and Myint Myint Soe, the wife of Foreign Affairs Minister Nyan Win.