Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, made the following statement about the President’s announcement today of new sanctions on the government of Burma:

“I welcome this additional step to keep Burma on the global agenda, but more needs to be done to hit the regime where it hurts – in the pocketbook – so the people of Burma can break free from the yoke of tyranny. To compel the regime to respect the human rights of its citizens, the international community must deprive the rapacious thugs currently in charge of Burma of ways to enrich themselves any more. My colleagues in Congress are considering legislation to tighten the U.S. sanctions regime even further, and I urge the President to work with other countries through the United Nations Security Council to gain a consensus on multilateral economic and political action that will help restore the rule of law to Burma.”

On Thursday Lantos introduced the Block Burmese JADE (Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act (H.R. 3890), which will crack down on the Burmese practice of avoiding U.S. sanctions by laundering gemstones through third countries before they are sold. The bill ban the importation of Burmese gems into the United States, freezes the assets of Burmese political and military leaders, prevents Burma from using U.S. financial institutions via third countries to launder the funds of those leaders or their immediate families, and prohibits Burmese officials involved in the violent suppression of protesters from receiving visas to the United States. The new sanctions will automatically renew each year until Burma becomes democratic.