BURMA SANCTIONS EXTENDED by SENATE and SAILS through to the WHITE HOUSE for OBAMA’s Signature (click to view PDF)

July 22, 2010
Washington, DC
Media Contact: Aung Din at (202) 234 8022

(Washington, DC) One week after members of the House of Representatives unanimously approved the extension of economic sanctions against generals in Burma; their fellow lawmakers in the Senate today overwhelmingly approved the measure with a vote of (99-1), and sent it to the White House for the signature of President Obama. Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) voted in favor of the resolution and Senator Michael Enzi (R-WY) is the only senator who voted against it.

The U.S. Campaign for Burma, a leading coalition of Burmese activists in exile and American human rights campaigners working to promote freedom, justice and democracy in Burma, today welcomes and supports the unanimous decision of the U.S. Senate to extend sanctions against the military junta that rules the Southeast Asian country of Burma with guns, threats and oppression, and conducts crimes against humanity under a system of impunity. The House Joint Resolution 83 (H.J. RES. 83), the renewal of import restrictions contained in the “Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003” and an identical resolution of the one approved by the House yesterday, was introduced by Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), cosponsored by 66 additional Senators, the largest amount of co-sponsorship the legislation has ever received, and approved by unanimous consent today.

“I am very proud of my country’s Members of Congress. No matter how the regime attempts to manipulate the world, they do not fall for the regime’s act. Their support for Aung San Suu Kyi, the National League for Democracy and ethnic minorities are consistent and stronger than ever,” says Jennifer Quigley, Advocacy Director of the U.S. Campaign for Burma. “To continue to cut the economic lifeline of generals who abuse the citizens of Burma is essential and that is what the U.S. Congress is responsibly and effectively doing,” Jennifer Quigley continues.

In 2003, after the regime’s failed assassination attempt against Aung San Suu Kyi during her organizational tour in Depayin, in middle Burma, in which pro-junta thugs attacked, beat, and killed members of her party, the U.S. Congress imposed strong and comprehensive sanctions on the junta by passing the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act. Measures included in the Act are an import restrictions, a ban on loan and assistance from international financial institutions, freezing assets of the junta and their families, expansion of the visa ban to members of the junta, its militia, and those responsible for killing Aung San Suu Kyi’s supporters. The import restrictions, which effectively stop the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars every year to the generals’ pockets, is the only measure required to renew annually. Since 2003, the U.S. Congress has never failed to extend the measure as the situation in Burma has not improved and does not satisfy the concerns of the United States.

While putting Aung San Suu Kyi and over 2,100 democracy activists and Buddhist monks in prison, and continuing an aggressive military campaign against ethnic minorities, the junta has been trying to finalize its plan to create a permanent military dictatorship through a sham constitution and a showcase election this year. Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) that won a landslide victory in the 1990 election, and its allied ethnic political parties decided to boycott the election and call on the international community to not recognize it. Aung San Suu Kyi, NLD and ethnic allies have called for the junta to stop its unilateral action and start negotiations with democracy forces through a tripartite dialogue between the military, NLD and ethnic representatives. 

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