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Burma & U.S. Congress (Amendment No

Subject: Burma & U.S. Congress (Amendment No. 2744)

Attn: Burma Newsreaders
Re: Burma & U.S. Congress (Amendment No. 2744)

    APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 1996 (Senate - September 21, 1995)  
                      AMENDMENT NO. 2744  
On page 104, strike lines 7 through 10 and insert the following:  
Sec. 570. None of the funds made available in this Act may be used
for  international narcotics control assistance under chapter 8 of
part I of the  Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, or crop substitution
assistance, directly for the Government of Burma unless the
Secretary of State certifies to the appropriate congressional
committees that any such programs are fully consistent with United
States human rights concerns in Burma and serve a vital United
States national interest. The President shall include in the annual
International Narcotics Control Strategy Report submitted under
chapter 8 of part I of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 a
description of the programs funded under this section.  
Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I rise in support of my colleague from
Arizona's amendment to restore authority for the State Department
to use funds for counter narcotics efforts and crop substitution
programs in Burma as long as the President certifies that any such
program is fully consistent with human rights concerns and serves
vital United States interests.  
Human rights is an issue of extreme importance and deep concern to
every Senator in this Chamber, and must remain a significant
element in our dealings around the world, and no Senator is more
committed to the issue than Senator McCain.  
His amendment is a commonsense amendment that gives the United
States the necessary flexibility to act in its interest in a nation
which provides 60 percent of the heroin smuggled into this country.
To prohibit counter narcotics efforts would be ill-advised and
Whatever our deep and abiding concern for human rights, it is
important to note, Mr. President, that Burma's most noted victim of
human rights violations, Aung San Suu Kyi, supports drug control
efforts in her country, and that, Mr. President, is the best
argument for support of the McCain amendment.  
We have three important objectives in Burma --democracy,
counternarcotics, and human rights. All three demand our attention
and our support; but common sense would tell us that we cannot
diminish potential success in any of these areas because of
specific failures in another as long as we are sensitive to the
impact of our actions on overall diplomatic progress.  
Mr. President, the State Department is well aware of congressional
concerns and I fully anticipate that it will conduct
counternarcotics efforts consistent with our overall international
policy and in consultation with the Congress.  

Without a strategy that addresses the heroin trade in Burma, we
have no effective antinarcotic program at all.  
I can well understand the Senate's desire to influence the Burmese
regime's treatment of the Burmese people. That treatment has been
abominable and well deserves our severe reproach. I visited Burma
last March and was exposed to a pretty representative sampling of
how abominable that treatment has been and continues to be.  
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's release was a very welcome development. But
in and of itself it does not represent evidence of political reform
or even an indication of progress toward an objective standard of
human rights in Burma. Burma has a very long way to go.  
I know the authors of this provision feel very strongly, as do I,
that the United States must actively support the cause of human
freedom in Burma, and make it unmistakably clear to Burma's State
Law and Order Restoration Council, the SLORC, that the United
States, indeed, all of the civilized world expect them to begin
respecting the will and the rights of the Burmese people.  
But what I have difficulty understanding is why we must refrain
from acting in our own national interest while we attempt to act in
the interest of the Burmese people. I could understand the
objective of this provision if it stated that no funds for drug
control could be made available directly to the SLORC. I would not
support this assistance either if the State Department were
proposing to simply provide money to the SLORC with the promise
that the SLORC would use it to eradicate poppy fields. It is quite
probable that such funds would be used by the SLORC to further
oppress ethnic minorities in Burma, like the Wa.  
But, Mr. President, that is not what the administration proposed to
do with this assistance. First, it is a relatively small amount of
money that we are talking about, with most of it going to the
efforts of the U.N. Drug Control Program [UNDCP] in Burma; $2
million would be provided to the U.N. to work with ethnic
minorities on crop substitution and other programs intended to
begin making some, although admittedly small, progress in reducing
poppy cultivation. None of that assistance would be funneled
through the SLORC.  
A limited--a very limited amount of assistance, $50 thousand, I  
believe--would be provided to train Burmese customs officials. But
I fail to see the harm in that, given that the amount is so small,
and the need for better Burmese control of drug smuggling at the
borders so obvious.  
Mr. President, $2 million isn't going to solve America's heroin
problem. But I do not see how we begin to get any control over that
problem absent some kind of program in Burma.  
Opium production in Burma has skyrocketed in recent years. It is,
by far, the largest heroin producing country in the world. Again,
60 percent of heroin in the United States originates in Burma.  
The enormous increase in heroin production globally has
substantially reduced the street price of heroin while
simultaneously increasing the purity, and consequently, the
lethality of the drug. Overdoses--fatal overdoses--have increased
rapidly in the United States.  
Sadly, as long as there is demand for heroin, we will never be able
to keep it out of all our children's hands. But if in Burma and
elsewhere our efforts make some progress in restricting the flow of
heroin to the United States, we will make the drug more expensive
and less readily available on our streets than it is today.  
Mr. President, before I conclude, I should also add that in
meetings attended by American Embassy officials in Rangoon, Daw
Aung San Suu Kyi, had no objections to counternarcotics programs in
Burma. While advising that the U.N. counternarcotics effort in
Burma be closely monitored--as it should be, she also understood
the importance of reducing poppy cultivation. Further, she observed
that the U.N. Burma program employs many prodemocracy supporters. 

I am convinced that the counternarcotics assistance envisioned for
Burma is consistent with our human rights goals in Burma. But, I
repeat, to ensure that it remains so, this amendment requires the
Secretary to certify that all the program which our assistance
would support are fully consistent with our human rights concerns
in Burma.  

Mr. President, I believe--as we have in many other countries--the
United States can advance or values and protect our national
interests in Burma simultaneously. They are not mutually exclusive,
and should not be treated so.  
I commend the Senator of Kentucky and also the Senator from Vermont
for their abiding concern for the rights of the people of Burma. I
understand the motive--the very decent motive--for authoring the
provision I seek to amend. My only concern is over this particular
approach to achieving a very worthy objective. So let us find a way
to advance the cause of freedom in Burma and reduce the flow of
heroin to the streets of America.  

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