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Sanctions Bill Introduced in Senate
- Subject: Sanctions Bill Introduced in Senate
- From: maung@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Fri, 29 Dec 1995 17:03:00
STATEMENT OF SENATOR MCCONNELL
United States Senate
December 29, 1995
Mr. President, I rise today with Senators Moynihan, D'Amato and
Leahy to introduce the Burma Freedom And Democracy Act of 1995.
Early in December, prospects for democracy in Burma took a turn
for the worse. In a remarkable act of courage, Aung San Suu Kyi
and her colleagues in the National League for Democracy decided
not to participate in the National Convention orchestrated by
the State Law and Order Restoration Council. In announcing her
decision she said, "A country which is drawing up a constitution
that will decide the future of the state should have the
confidence of the people." This is a standard that SLORC cannot
Burma is not one step closer to democracy today than it was in
the immediate aftermath of the crackdown in 1988. Indeed, in
Aung San Suu Kyi's own words, "I have been released, that is
In fact, the situation continues to deteriorate. A recent report
filed by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Burma, Dr. Yokota, is a
fresh, sharp reminder of the level of despair and the brutality
suffered by the people of Burma at the hands of SLORC.
In lengthy remarks on December 8, I reviewed for my colleagues in
detail the Yokota report. Let me take a moment to briefly review
its most recent conclusions.
Virtually no improvements have occurred since the Spring report of
the Special Rapporteur. Dr. Yokota reported that the National
Convention "is not heading towards restoration of democracy" and
criticized SLORC for not affording him the opportunity to meet
with convention participants free from SLORC supervision.
But, those criticism were mild compared to his determinations with
regard to human rights and the quality of life for the average
A complex array of security laws are used to harass, intimidate
and afford SLORC soldiers sweeping powers of arrest and detention.
He charged the military with carrying out arbitrary killings,
rape, torture, forced porterage, forced labor, forced relocations
and confiscation of private property. He substantiated many
refugee claims that this pattern of abuse continues most
frequently "in border areas where the Army is engaged military
operations or where regional development projects are taking
place," he added, "many or the victims of such atrocious acts
belong to ethnic national populations, especially women, peasants,
daily wage earners and other peaceful civilians who do not have
enough money to avoid mistreatment by bribing."
If anyone had any doubts about the ruthless nature of the SLORC
regime,I encourage them to take a few minutes to read this report.
SLORC has now turned its attention to the rising influence of Suu
Kyi and her supporters. SLORC has cynically used the fact of her
release to attempt to demonstrate they are relaxing their grip on
power. Unfortunately, it is a sadistic charade.
Although, Suu Kyi has repeatedly called for a dialogue to
reconcile the nation, SLORC has rejected every attempt to include
her or the NLD in a credible political process. Last week Suu Kyi
was personally attacked in the official newspapers as a "traitor"
who should be "annihilated." When the NLD announced they would not
participate in the National Convention, senior officials woke up
to find their homes surrounded by soldiers and their movements
shadowed by military thugs.
In response to this assault on democracy and democratic activists,
members of the business community have made two arguments. First,
the allegations are exaggerations of the conditions. And, second.,
trade, investment and economic improvements will yield political
progress just as it has in China and Vietnam.
Mr. President, I urge the business community to read Dr. Yokota's
recent report and then consider an important difference in Burma.
In 1990 elections were held and the nation spoke with a strong
voice. Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy swept the
elections only to find the results brutally rejected by SLORC. We
cannot pretend those elections did not occur. We cannot turn our
back on the legitimate government of Burma. We should not trade
democracy for dollars in the pockets of a few companies interested
in investing in Burma.
Suu Kyi has been absolutely clear. She will welcome foreign
investment in her country just as soon as it makes real progress
The United States must take the lead in supporting not only her
courage but her objective which is nothing short of Burma's
liberty. It is clear U.N. Ambassador Albright understands the
importance of our role and the responsibilities of U.S. leadership
in securing democracy for Burma. In responding to the UN
Rapporteur's report and the subsequent General Assembly resolution
she spelled out the alternatives for SLORC: they must there must be
prompt and meaningful progress in political reforms including a
transition to an elected government or Burma will face further
Mr. President, I agree with the Ambassador's conclusions. However,
it is a position that the Administration has expressed for more
than a year. My definition of prompt differs from the
SLORC has had ample time and opportunity to demonstrate their
intent to in effect return to the barracks and leave the governing
of the country to democratically elected civilians. Burma waited
for decades to vote for the National League for Democracy. They
have waited for the past five years to benefit from the results of
that election. Burma has waited for its freedom long enough.
In past statements on Burma I have devoted a good deal of my
remarks to why a country so far away should matter to anyone here
in the United States. It is not just a matter of upholding the
principles of democracy and free markets -- principles that define
our history and national conscience. But, for many, those are
ideals that are difficult to transplant --it is difficult to see
why we should apply sanctions to further that cause.
The reason it is in our direct interest to secure democracy in
Burma relates to the surge in narcotics trafficking afflicting
every community in this nation. Burma is the source of more than
60% of the heroin coming into the United States. And, as the
Assistant Secretary of State for Asian Affairs has testified,
until there is a democratically elected government in Rangoon,
committed to a similar set of values, we will not see the active
cooperation necessary to bring a real halt to this problem. We
may see episodic efforts designed -- like Suu Kyi's release -- to
influence our perceptions of SLORC's intentions. But, we will
not see a serious effort to eradicate opium production unless we
can work with a government dedicated to our common agenda.
The credibility of a counternarcotics program directly relates to
the credibility of the government.
Let me conclude by thanking Senators Moynihan, Leahy and D'Amato
for joining me in this legislation. I appreciate my colleague on
the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations joining me in this
important effort. I understand the parliamentarian has decided
that this will be referred to the Banking Committee, so I am
grateful for the cosponsorship of the Chairman, Senator D'Amato.
But, I want to take a moment single out Senator Moynihan and his
long standing commitment to Suu Kyi's safe return to public life.
When we were members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in
1992 Senator Moynihan and I worked together to establish
conditions which must be met prior to our dispatching a U.S.
ambassador to Burma. Then as now, he has been articulate champion
for a noble cause.