FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 15, 2003
Contact: Jeremy Woodrum, 202-547-5985; 202-246-7924 (cell)
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES PASSES SANCTIONS ON BURMA
Bill Will Be Strongest International Action
Yet To Support Burma's Democratic Struggle
WASHINGTON - Joining their colleagues in the U.S. Senate, Members
of the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (418 to
2) today to enact new sanctions against Burma's military regime.
The legislation bans all imports from Burma, places a freeze on
the regime's assets in the U.S., requires the U.S. to vote against
loans to the regime from the World Bank or IMF, and expands a ban
on travel to the U.S. by members of the regime and its cronies Like
the Senate version of the sanctions bill, the House legislation
enjoyed bipartisan support. President George W. Bush is expected
to sign the bill into law.
"These are tough measures but no tougher than Burma's ruling
thugs deserve," said Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), top Democrat on
the International Relations Committee and sponsor of the bill.
Last month, the Bush Administration announced it also plans to
ban remittances to Burma. These new U.S. measures will further squeeze
the regime of Than Shwe financially. Under increasing U.S. pressure,
Japan, Burma's largest foreign donor, announced freezing of its
financial assis-tance to Rangoon. Likewise, the Association of South
East Asian Nations (ASEAN) put increased diplomatic and political
pressure on Rangoon to free Aung San Suu Kyi and to begin democratization
in Burma, breaking with its long-standing policy tradition of not
interfering in "the internal matters" of a member nation.
"We thank the U.S. Government, politicians and citizens in
supporting these pro-democracy measures. The European Union should
-- and can -- do more to help expedite Burma's democratic transition,"
said Aung Din, a Free Burma activist. "But this must be only
the first step in a broader effort for regime change in Rangoon."
Burma's regime has continually defied calls from the United Nations
and from the world's political leaders for the release of Aung San
Suu Kyi and her fellow party members currently behind bars in Burma
and has refused to honor the results of the 1990 elections in which
Aung San Suu Kyi's party won a landslide.
"These sanctions are a step in the right
direction, they are a strong, essential pillar of our country's
pro-democracy movement. The U.S.-led sanctions weaken the regime
financially and further inspire the Burmese democrats to persevere
in their arduous fight for freedom," comments Free Burma Coalition's
founder, Zar Ni.