U.S. House of Representatives Passes Sanctions on Burma (A)
On July 15, members of the U.S. House of Representatives joined their colleagues in the U.S. Senate in voting overwhelmingly (418 to 2) to enact new sanctions against Burma’s military regime. The legislation bans all imports from Burma, places a freeze on the regime’s assets in the U.S., requires the U.S. to vote against loans to the regime from the World Bank or IMF, and expands a ban on travel to the U.S. by members of the regime and its cronies. President George W. Bush is expected to sign the bill into law.”These are tough measures but no tougher than Burma’s ruling thugs deserve,” said Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), top Democrat on the International Relations Committee and sponsor of the bill. Last month, the Bush Administration announced it also plans to ban remittances to Burma. These new U.S. measures will further squeeze the regime of Than Shwe financially. Under increasing U.S. pressure, Japan, Burma’s largest foreign donor, announced freezing of its financial assistance to Rangoon. Likewise, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) put increased diplomatic and political pressure on Rangoon to free Aung San Suu Kyi and to begin democratization in Burma, breaking with its long-standing policy tradition of not interfering in “the internal matters” of a member nation.”We thank the U.S. Government, politicians and citizens in supporting these pro-democracy measures. The European Union should — and can — do more to help expedite Burma’s democratic transition,” said Aung Din, a Free Burma activist. “But this must be only the first step in a broader effort for regime change in Rangoon.” Burma’s regime has continually defied calls from the United Nations and from the world’s political leaders for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and her fellow party members currently behind bars in Burma. It has refused to honor the results of the 1990 elections in which Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide.
This is the third time Suu Kyi has been placed under arrest by the junta since the 1990 general election. On May 30, Suu Kyi surviving an alleged assassination attempt in which scores of members of her political party the National League for Democracy (NLD) were killed.
According to Amnesty International, “torture has become an institution” in Burma. Despite efforts by the junta to repress this truth, Suu Kyi and the NLD have spoken out about the routine detention, rape, torture, forced relocation and murder of Burmese citizens.
“These sanctions are a step in the right direction, they are a strong, essential pillar of our country’s pro-democracy movement. The U.S.-led sanctions weaken the regime financially and further inspire the Burmese democrats to persevere in their arduous fight for freedom,” comments Free Burma Coalition’s founder, Zar Ni.
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See Trillium Asset Management’s Burma page.
Free Burma Coalition