After warning Aung San Suu Kyi and her party of meeting with ‘tragic ends,' it now wants an apology from them.

The military rulers of Myanmar appear to be taking a harder line toward the pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her party three months after her release from house arrest, focussing on the opposition's support for continued punitive sanctions against the government.

After warning earlier that Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi and her party could meet “tragic ends” if they continued to support economic and political sanctions, the government demanded over the weekend, through the State-controlled news media, that the party apologise for acting against what it said were the interests of the nation.

Soon after her release in November, Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, said she would consider supporting the relaxation of sanctions, which have become the focus of debate overseas since the end of her latest seven-year term of house arrest and the election of a nominally civilian government a week earlier.

The new government, which consists overwhelmingly of current or former members of the armed forces, is widely seen as a means to maintain nearly half a century of military control of Myanmar, the former Burma.

Two weeks ago, Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), issued a statement reconfirming its opposition to the lifting of sanctions and rebutting a widespread view that they harm the people of Myanmar more than the ruling generals.

“Recently there have been calls for the removal of sanctions,” the statement said. “It can be asserted that these measures do not hurt the public at large.”

It blamed “misguided government policies” for the country's hardships and said: “Targeted sanctions serve as a warning that acts contrary to basic norms of justice and human rights cannot be committed with impunity.”

American sanctions ban most trade and investment in Myanmar by American companies. Canada, Australia and the European Union have imposed similar prohibitions.

Critics of sanctions also argue that their effectiveness is compromised by continued investment from China, India, Thailand, Singapore and other Asian nations.

Stongest statement

In its strongest statement about the democratic opposition since Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi's release, the government said last week, “If Daw Suu Kyi and NLD keep going to the wrong way, ignoring the fact that today's Myanmar is marching to a new era, new system and new political platforms paving the way for democracy, they will meet their tragic ends.”

The statement, in The New Light of Myanmar, a government newspaper, did not elaborate on the nature of the “tragic ends.”

Last week, the United States called on Myanmar to ensure that no harm comes to Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi.

“We remain concerned about Aung San Suu Kyi's safety,” said a State Department spokesman, Philip J. Crowley.

Articles in the State-controlled news media demanded that Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi and her party “mend their ways, begging public pardon for the acts they have breached in their interests, at the expense of the nation and the people.”

It insisted that Myanmar's democratic opposition, which often sets the tone for Western policies, was responsible for any hardships the sanctions cause.— © New York Times News Service

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