The military junta in Burma has reportedly cut the only telephone line at the headquarters of the National League for Democracy, or N-L-D. That opposition party is led by Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner who has been under house arrest for most of the past seventeen years. According to media reports, more than fifty other phone services - mostly mobile phones used by N-L-D members and other activists - have been cut in an apparent attempt by Burmese authorities to curb the spread of information about pro-democracy rallies.
Since late August, Burma's military junta arrested more than one-hundred-fifty dissidents for leading protests against increasing fuel prices and deteriorating living conditions. Those arrested include leaders of the Eighty-Eight Generation Students Group. That group is made up of former student leaders who led an uprising against military rule in 1988. The United States has called for the immediate release of the jailed activists.
President George W. Bush says the Burmese junta should end its crackdown on those exercising their right to peaceful dissent:<!-- IMAGE -->
"We must press the regime in Burma to stop arresting and harassing and assaulting pro-democracy activists for organizing or participating in peaceful demonstrations. The Burmese regime must release these activists immediately. It must stop its intimidation of these citizens who are promoting democracy and human rights. It must release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi."
The United States has also called on Burma's military government to end attacks on civilians in ethnic minority areas and lift restrictions on humanitarian organizations. Burmese military forces have reportedly committed a number of abuses in these areas, including killings, beatings, torture, forced labor, forced relocations, and rapes of Chin, Karen, Karenni, Rohingya, Shan, Mon, and other ethnic groups.
The U.S. is calling for the Burmese government to engage in meaningful dialogue with the leaders of Burma's democracy movement and ethnic minority groups and take tangible steps toward a transition to civilian, democratic rule.