Burma Sanctions Extended by Congress (click to view PDF)

(August 2, 2012, Washington, DC) Today the House of Representatives and Senate both unanimously approved the extension of economic sanctions against Burma for one year, and sent it to the White House for the signature of President Obama.

For Immediate Release August 2, 2012 Media Contact: Aung Din at (202) 234 8022

The U.S. Campaign for Burma, today welcomes and supports the unanimous decision of the U.S. Congress to extend sanctions against the ruling elite, military and cronies who control the Southeast Asian country of Burma and continue to commit crimes against humanity against ethnic minorities under a system of impunity. House Resolution 5986 (HR 5986) which encompassed a one-year renewal of import restrictions contained in the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003, the renewal of the African Growth Opportunity Act and CAFTADR was approved by unanimous consent today.

“Congress has sent a clear strong signal to Burma’s ruling regime, sanctions will remain in place while political prisoners remain behind bars, military attacks and human rights abuses against ethnic minority civilians persist, and until genuine national reconciliation, justice and accountability are achieved,” says Jennifer Quigley, Advocacy Director of the U.S. Campaign for Burma. “While some reforms have been undertaken by President Thein Sein, Congress recognizes much more needs to be done. Renewal of the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act demonstrates the need to focus on ethnic minority rights and genuine democratic reform and freedom,” 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 import restrictions including gems, 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 restriction, which effectively stop the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars every year to the generals’ and cronies’ 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 significantly and does not satisfy the concerns of the United States.

On July 11, 2012 President Obama lifted the ban on investment and financial transactions in Burma through a Presidential waiver. As US Campaign for Burma, Freedom House, Physicians for Human Rights and United to End Genocide stated following President Obama’s decision, “We express grave concern regarding the U.S. government’s decision to allow investments into businesses connected to the Burmese regime that are corrupt and help to fuel human rights violations. As it stands now, investment in many of the most attractive sectors of the Burmese economy is likely to worsen the human rights situation while directly benefitting individuals and entities responsible for rights abuses, who contribute to corruption, or are otherwise acting to obstruct political reform.

While much international attention has been paid to the reform efforts underway, little focus has been paid to the problems that persist and the new concerns that have arisen. Hundreds of political prisoners remain behind bars. Burma’s military continues to commit human rights abuses against ethnic minority civilians and blocks humanitarian aid access to those displaced by attacks. The economy remains firmly under the control of Burma’s ruling elite including the military, state-owned enterprises, cronies. Burma must undertake additional reform that benefits all people in Burma before further sanctions should be lifted.

Vew the press release on renewed import sanctions at Senator Mitch McConnell's website.