Australia announces sanctions on Myanmar leaders

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CANBERRA, Oct 24 (Reuters) Australia today announced financial sanctions against Myanmar's ruling generals and their families following a violent crackdown on pro-democracy supporters last month.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the measures would apply to 418 individuals, including Senior General and State Peace and Development Council Chairman Than Shwe.

''Australia has consistently urged the Burmese regime to work towards genuine democratic reform and national reconciliation, and to afford all Burmese citizens international standards of human rights,'' Downer said in a statement.

''Along with Australia's long-standing tight visa restrictions and ban on defence exports, these new measures are designed to put further pressure on the regime and its supporters, while avoiding harm to the people of Burma.'' The suppression of the Buddhist monk-led street protests in Myanmar last month killed 10 people, according to the military junta that rules Myanmar. Western governments say the toll was probably much higher.

Australia said the measures would prohibit transactions involving the transfer of funds or payments to listed Burmese regime figures and supporters without the approval of Australia's central bank.

''They are the strongest financial measures available under existing Australian legislation against countries or individuals that are not subject to UN Security Council sanctions,'' Downer said.

REUTERS ARB KP1120

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