September 26, 2007
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Rep. Peter King (R-NY) announced committee passage of a resolution (H.Con.Res.200) that denounces the violence and human rights violations in Burma and calls for the immediate release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The bill passed unanimously through the Foreign Affairs Committee and is scheduled to come soon to the House floor for a vote.
“In recent days, we have seen the courageous people of Burma stand up and risk everything to secure democracy and basic human rights for their country,” said Lantos, who is the founding co-chairman of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus and the author of the U.S. law maintaining economic sanctions on Burma’s military regime.
“These peaceful protestors, who are willing to risk life and limb for their belief in a free society, are heroes, and deserve the full backing of the international community. I call on Rangoon to provide UN Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari unrestricted access to all political prisoners and religious leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and areas where violence has erupted. Additionally, China must use its influence with the ruling junta to end the violence, and the UN Security Council must resist the efforts any member state that would allow repression and fear to win the day, and quickly pass a resolution supporting the Burmese people’s inevitable march to freedom,” Lantos said.
“Burma’s record on human rights is atrocious,” said King. “It is time that the international community steps in to impose sanctions until democracy is restored and the violence ends. Unfortunately, countries like China are impeding our efforts to achieve these goals by refusing to cooperate within the U.N. Security Council.”
The legislation urges the military regime in Burma to immediately release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the democratically elected leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party who has been held under house arrest since 1990 by the Burmese military junta. It also calls for an immediate end to attacks against ethnic minority civilians and expresses support for democracy. Finally, it urges China and other countries that provide support to Burma’s military junta to use their influence to restore democracy and end the violence.
H. Con. Res. 200 sends a strong message to the Burmese government that the violence must end and democracy must be restored. The military junta has turned peaceful protest into violence – killing several protestors and injuring hundreds, many of whom are Buddhist monks. The protests began in response to the government’s August 19th cancellation of fuel subsidies. On September 24th, some 100,000 people marched in what is considered the largest anti-government demonstrations to take place in two decades.