Myanmar lifts curfew, ban on assembly after crackdown


YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar’s military rulers Saturday lifted a curfew and ended a ban on assembly, which were imposed last month during a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protests. The relaxing of restrictions imposed Sept. 25 was announced from government vehicles driven through the streets of Myanmar’s largest city and former capital, Yangon.

It was not immediately clear if the restrictions were also lifted in Mandalay, another major city and focus of last month’s anti-government demonstrations. The lifting of the 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew and ban on gatherings of more than five people indicates the junta believes it has stamped out a massive pro-democracy uprising that was sparked in August by public anger at a sharp rise in fuel prices. In Washington, White House press secretary Dana Perino said Saturday’s announcement was “a bad sign that the regime now feels confident that it has cleared the monasteries of dissidents by either jailing them or sending them to their home villages, and arrested all the major players in the demonstrations and sent into hiding or exile those they have not captured.”

Perino urged the junta to enter talks with detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and invite U.N. Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari to return. “What we need are signs of serious intent to move toward a democratic transition.”