May 17, 2007 / 11:55 PM / 12 years ago

White House: Myanmar "brutal," wants Suu Kyi freed

A protester holds a picture of Myanmar democracy and Nobel laureate icon Aung San Suu Kyi during a rally in Manila, August 15, 2006. The White House on Thursday criticized the military rulers of Myanmar as becoming "more brutal" and called for the release of Suu Kyi. REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Thursday criticized the military rulers of Myanmar as becoming “more brutal” and called for the release of Nobel laureate and democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi.

In renewing U.S. sanctions on Myanmar, President George W. Bush was showing “serious concern over the continued deterioration of the situation in Burma and his determination to stand with those who are struggling to end tyranny in that country,” the White House said in a statement.

Suu Kyi, 61, who has spent more than 11 of the past 17 years under some form of detention, should be released “immediately and unconditionally,” the White House said.

“In recent weeks, the Burmese junta has stepped up its attacks on ethnic populations, producing even greater refugee flows,” the White House said.

Peaceful democracy activists have been harassed and detained, and students seeking to pray for the release of political prisoners, including Suu Kyi, have been arrested, the White House said.

“As the 17th anniversary of the 1990 elections approaches, it is clear that the junta is becoming only more brutal, more repressive, and more indifferent to the concerns of its neighbors and the international community,” the White House said.

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