Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today voiced his support for the Administration’s tightening of financial and travel sanctions on key Burmese leaders in response to the ongoing demonstrations in Burma.

“Tens of thousands of courageous Burmese have taken to the streets in nonviolent protests against Burma’s undemocratic and brutal military regime,” Lantos said. “The President has taken appropriate action to support these brave demonstrators by further restricting the ability of Burma’s despicable leadership to travel and spend their ill-gotten cash freely.”

“As the people of Burma risk everything to stand up for their most fundamental rights, all responsible leaders of the world should join this call for peaceful change in Burma. In particular, the members of the UN Security Council, the ASEAN countries and other influential countries such as India must take this important stand for human rights and democracy. ”

Chairman Lantos also warned Burma’s leadership against a violent response that would echo the 1988 government crackdown in which thousands of protesters were killed. “The international community must be united in making clear to Burma’s military thugs that they will face dire consequences if they make the terrible mistake of cracking down and spilling the blood of innocent lives,” he said. “If they are again on the wrong side of history, they must understand that they will be hunted down and dragged before an international tribunal to be tried for crimes against humanity.”

“The right choice is for the Burmese regime to respond to the needs and demands of its people,” Lantos noted. “It should begin the process of meaningful political dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the national League for Democracy, and ethnic minorities.”

Tomorrow the House Foreign Affairs Committee will consider legislation (H. Con. Res. 200) calling on the Burmese regime to immediately and unconditionally release Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi and other detained political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and urging the regime to begin the long-overdue process of restoring democracy to Burma.