08/07/2008, 00.00
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Myanmar, Laura Bush visits Nargis refugees and calls for sanctions against military junta

Tomorrow, the country recalls the massacre in August of 1988, when the military junta slaughtered 3,000 people asking for democracy and human rights. The U.S. first lady asks various countries, including China, to support the United States in sanctions against the ruling dictatorship.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) - First lady Laura Bush has asked a number of countries, including China, to support the U.S. government in sanctions against the military junta in the former Burma, on the occasion of a visit to refugee camps on the border between Myanmar and Thailand.

Tomorrow, amid tight security measures, the country will remember the twentieth anniversary (8-8-88) of the massacre carried out by the military dictatorship, with the bloody repression of a popular demonstration asking for democracy and human rights in Myanmar, which left more than 3,000 dead. The wife of the U.S. president, who is accompanying her husband on his last trip to Asia as head of state, visited the refugee camps of Mae La, and the patients at a health clinic run by a woman known as the "Mother Teresa of Burma". She was escorted by a group of women. In the refugee camps, the first lady was able to see the living conditions of the more than 38,000 refugees hosted in the center, most of whom belong to the Karen ethnic minority and have been affected by the massacres, rapes, and raids carried out by the ruling military junta.

The civil and political repression carried out by the Burmese dictatorship has caused more than 140,000 people to flee. They are now being accommodated in the help centers set up along the border; another 30,000 have been accepted into various other countries, 21,000 of these finding asylum in the United States.

Last Tuesday, the Myanmar visit of the UN envoy for human rights ended: Tomas Ojea Quintana was able to witness the living conditions of the refugees in the areas struck by cyclone Nargis. He then toured the "Insein" prison in Yangon, famous as the main detention center for the more than 2,000 political dissidents in the country. He is thought to have asked the military junta to respect international law, with special reference to the most sensitive topics: forced labor, the violent repression of pro-democracy groups, the persecution of ethnic minorities, and imprisonment for "political" or ideological crimes.

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