Washington, DC – The U.S. Senate approved legislation that would impose economic sanctions on Burma, including a ban of imports from that nation, for the next three years. This legislation, which is designed to encourage Burma to improve its record on democracy and human rights, was passed earlier this week by the House of Representatives and now goes to the President for his signature.
On May 30, 2003, Burmese democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and several of her National League for Democracy (NLD) colleagues came under attack by paramilitary thugs and were subsequently detained by the ruling military junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). Since then, with the exception of a brief visit by the U.N. Special Envoy to Burma, Razali Ismail, Suu Kyi has reportedly been held incommunicado in the notorious Insein Prison.
In the weeks following the detention of Suu Kyi, the Senate passed legislation, sponsored by Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), similar to the legislation passed today. The original legislation would have imposed economic sanctions indefinitely, while the bill passed today includes a three year sunset. The following is the statement of Senator Feinstein:
"The events of May 30 clearly indicate that the military junta has no intention of adhering to its commitment to engage the NLD in a substantive dialogue on political reform and national reconciliation.
Today’s action puts the United States Congress firmly on record in support of Suu Kyi’s immediate release and the legitimate democratic aspirations of the Burmese people as expressed by the 1990 parliamentary elections, decisively won by the NLD.
Now, I call on the international community, in particular ASEAN and the United Nations, to follow Congress’ lead and take action to bring pressure to bear on the SPDC. A united effort is critical if for sanctions to be most effective. The regime must know that the world speaks with one voice and its days are numbered."
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