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U.S. House of Representatives Unanimously Extends Sanctions on Burma’s Military Junta (click to view PDF)

July 14, 2010
Washington, DC
Media Contact: Jennifer Quigley at (202) 234-8022

(Washington, DC) 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. House of Representative 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, was introduced by Congressmen Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Peter King (R-NY), cosponsored by 20 additional House Members and approved by a voice vote today.

“The U.S. Congress is sending a clear message to the junta. Sanctions will not be lifted until and unless there are real changes in Burma including the immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners, and the establishment of a meaningful political dialogue,” says Aung Din, a former political prisoner and the Executive Director of the U.S. Campaign for Burma. “This is also a clear signal that the U.S. Congress will not recognize the junta’s sham election or its outcome,” Aung Din 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. An identical resolution has been introduced in the Senate and cosponsored by 68 Senators, led by Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Dianne Feinstein (DCA). The Senate companion bill is expected to be voted on soon. 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.