[JURIST] The military government of Myanmar [JURIST news archive] Tuesday banned public gatherings of more than five people and imposed a curfew in response to anti-government protests [BBC Q&A]. These measures come the day after the government threatened [JURIST report] to punish the demonstration leaders. The protests are being led by Buddhist monks who object to rights abuses by the government, including the detention of demonstrators who peacefully protested a sharp rise in fuel prices in August. Tens of thousands of citizens have joined the marching monks in what has become the largest demonstration in the country since a pro-democracy uprising in 1988. In August, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official website] issued a statement urging Myanmar [JURIST report] to immediately release demonstrators, saying that allowing citizens to peacefully express themselves will help foster both democracy and reconciliation. AP has more.
Also Tuesday, US President George W. Bush announced during a speech [PDF text; JURIST report] at the UN General Assembly that the US would impose economic sanctions against Myanmar. The sanctions would come in addition to the current visa ban on alleged perpetrators of human rights [JURIST news archive] abuses. Myanmar has been governed without a constitution since the military regime took power in 1988. Talks on a new national charter [JURIST report] have been underway for 14 years. It is not yet clear who will draft the actual constitution or how that process will occur, but the Myanmar government has pledged to put the resulting document to a vote in a national referendum.