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email sen mcconnell
- Subject: email sen mcconnell
- From: cd@xxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Sun, 26 May 1996 03:01:00
from Dawn Star, Paris
resending excellent Mcconnell text, deserves attention, please email
senator's office to thank him for continuing to pressure administation
now. Did Senator Dodd speak, he is on the committee??
Email Sen McConnell : Senator@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
good luck strikers!
Headline: Case for Burma sanctions
Keywords: May crackdown, National League for Democracy (NLD), Aung San
Suu Kyi, human rights, Senator Mitch McConnell, Senate Appropriations
Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Burma Freedom and Democracy Act of
1995, Senator Moynihan, Senator Leahy, US Congress, Internet
communications from refugee compounds, General Bo Mya, foreign investment
in Burma, forced labour, Slorc crimes, 1996 International Narcotics
Control Report, heroin, opium, drugs, Khun Sa, Slorc gulag, death
railway, Bush Administration « failure », Dr Yokota, John Pilger,
investment by US companies, Bishop Desmond Tutu
Date: May 24 1996
Source: The Nation, senator@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, chairman of the Senate
Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations addressed a
hearing on Wednesday of the Burma Freedom and Democracy Act of
1995. The following is the full text of his speech :
« There is an obvious sense of emergency in Burma given the ominous
developments in the last 72 hours. Over the past several months,
I have characterised the situation in Burma as deteriorating I
believe it is now in free fall virtually anything could happen.
« According to wire stories, in the past 72 hours, over 80 members
of the National League for Democracy (NLD) have been arrested a
move designed to preempt their participation in a May 26
parliamentary conference called by Aung San Suu Kyi. Making
matters worse, all foreign journalists have had their visas revoked.
« By way of background, the committee should be aware that in late
March, the NLD formally requested, in writing, that the State Law
and Order Restoration Council (Slorc) convene the parliament
elected in 1990. The request was ignored.
« The National League for Democracy moved forward and called all
elected members of Rangoon to Suu Kyi's compound to discuss
Burma's future. I think it is worth noting that Slorc members
elected in 1990 were also invited to the conference. At every
turn, the NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi have reached out and engaged
in peaceful, inclusive politics. The result: intelligence chief
Lt Gen Khin Nyunt, denounced the gathering as "destructionists,
lackeys of the colonialists and traitors who are disrupting
efforts to implement political, economic and social objectives."
I believe we have reached a crisis point in Burma. The
committee's swift action on my bill will assure Suu Kyi and the
NLD that the US Congress stands with them in democracy's hour of
« Over the past year, I have received letters, faxes, even
Internet communications from refugee compounds on Thailand's
borders, military camps deep in Burma's jungle, and from student
groups, and democracy advocates around the world. They all echo
the appeal in an urgent letter I received last week from General
Bo Mya, a leader of the Karen people and member of the National
Coalition Government of the Union of Burma. He wrote, "I
understand that the US Congress will be taking up the question of
whether to invoke economic sanctions on Burma. I want to urge
each and every member to support this proposal.
"Despite our repeated attempts at opening a dialogue that will
address the political problems, Slorc has completely disregarded
our overtures. Violence and murder is the only thing Slorc
understands. Let me be clear: foreign investment in Burma is
directly supporting and strengthening the military junta. Each
dollar that foreign companies bring into Burma serves to buy the
guns, buy the bullets and pay the soldiers that are killing my
people and keeping the rest of Burma oppressed."
I come before the Committee today to present two compelling
reasons why this is the time to move forward to impose sanctions
on Burma -it serves US interests and it is in the interests of 43
million citizens of Burma who suffer at the hands of the State
Law and Order Restoration Council.
Let me turn first to American interests. The 1996 International
Narcotics Control Report makes the following points:
1. Burma is the world's largest producer of opium and heroin.
2. Opium production has doubled since SLORC seized power in 1988.
3. Burma is the source of over 60 per cent of heroin seized on US
4. Slorc is making less and less effort to crack down on
trafficking - in fact there has been an 80 per cent drop in
seizures and the government currently is offering safe haven to
Khun Sa, the region's most notorious narc-warlord.
Now, keep in mind this is a regime with nearly 400,000 armed
soldiers, evidence that if they wanted to make an effort to crack
down on trafficking there is no question they have the power to
Let me turn to the second reason we must support sanctions - the
rights of 43 million Burmese citizens.
I opened with General Bo Mya's plea on behalf of his people. If
anyone questions Slorc's brutality, I urge them to read the
catalogue of crimes collected in the reports filed by Dr Yokota,
the special envoy assigned by the United Nations to examine
conditions in Burma. Rape, detentions, killings, forced labour,
relocations are just a few of the tools Slorc routinely uses to
secure their power.
Dr Yokota provides a grim but objective assessment of conditions
in Burma today - an assessment recently corroborated in a British
documentary [by journalist John Pilger]. Video footage broadcast
last week shows children -eight to ten years old - building a (death)
railway which will transport soldiers and equipment to a
construction site for an international pipeline. In one
horrendous scene, the camera man had to stop filming to pull a
child out from under a mud slide which had nearly buried him.
The question hangs in the air-how many children have not been
rescued? How many have died in what one reporter calls "Asia's gulag"?
There is no doubt that investment by US companies subsidies the
regime responsible for these outrageous abuses.
The Committee is scheduled to hear from witnesses who will make
the case that they are innocent of these charges - they
contribute to community development needs by funding schools,
clinics and roads all of which improve the quality of life where
They will also make the argument that our Asean partners will not
support a strategy of escalating isolation. A tougher line will
only result in a loss of market share to our foreign competition.
They also argue that economic progress will yield political
results - that Burma is like China or Vietnam. I am a vocal
advocate of MFN for China and have strongly supported normalising
ties with Vietnam. In both instances, we have used the economic
wedge to pry open access to totally closed societies. Trade is an
important tool because it is our only tool. Moreover, it is clear
that the benefits of economic liberalisation are enjoyed by
millions of people.
Aung San Suu Kyi responded to these arguments in an interview
last week, when she said, "Any investment made now is very much
against the interests of the people of Burma because most of the
investments coming in are coming through the same privileged
group which is getting richer and richer and more and more intent
upon clinging to power.
Unlike China or Vietnam, in Burma millions of people turned out
to vote for Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for
Democracy. The NLD claimed 82 per cent of the vote. The fact that
they were robbed of the reward of free and fair elections defines
American's opportunity and obligation.
I believe the appropriate analogy with Burma is not Vietnam or
China but South Africa. When two other senators and I introduced
sanctions in 1986, we heard the same arguments we are hearing
today. US investment is a positive catalyst for change, and that
withdrawing will hurt not help the average citizen.
Not so, says Bishop Desmond Tutu. In a recent letter to the Bay
Area Round -table he said, "The victory over apartheid in South
Africa bears eloquent testimony to the effectiveness of
It is time for the United States to correct course - to
demonstrate leadership. We must recognise that our [Burma] policy
has not only failed, but been costly.
The failure began with the Bush Administration which only took
modest steps to isolate Slorc after the 1998 crackdown, Suu Kyi's
arrest and denial of the results of the 1990 elections.
The failure has been compounded by the current administration.
Twice, this administration has dispatched senior officials to
Rangoon demanding improvements in narcotics trafficking,
democracy and human rights. Twice, Slorc called our bluff,
immediately rounding up and jailing democracy activists
-launching attacks on ethnic camps generating thousands of
refugees. I have recently heard that the Administration may send
yet another delegation to Rangoon to demonstrate their interest
and preempt this congressional sanctions effort. I am deeply
concerned that more hollow posturing will only exact retribution
if not a death sentence for dozens more democracy activists.
Is it any wonder our Asean partners have been reluctant to
support a call for sanctions? I doubt any Asian leader is
convinced we would stay the course. However, I believe Asian
nations can be persuaded it is their long term interest to join
in a strong, sustained initiative because of their deep concerns
about the rapidly expanding political, economic and military ties
between China and Burma. Over the past few years, the region has
witnessed what amounts to the colonisation of Burma, a serious
threat to security and stability from every leader's perspective.
Slorc is now convinced it will pay no price for recalcitrance and
repression. Just as they have increased the pressure ,on Suu Kyi
and the democracy movement, it is time for us to increase
pressure on Slorc.
The United States must cut off a principal source of Slorc's
funds by banning US investment, now ranked third among nations.
We should vote against any international institution lending.
And, we should prohibit Slorc officials who impede the
restoration of democracy from touring the United States.
That is the heart of the Burma Freedom and Democracy Act which I
am pleased that Senator D'Amato, Senator Moynihan and Senator
Leahy co-sponsored. Since her release from six years of house
arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi has emphatically opposed foreign
investment and repeatedly called upon the international community
to take firm steps to implement the results of the 1990
The bill before your committee responds to her call. It is my
hope the Committee will report out the legislation promptly.
Nothing less than Burma's freedom hangs in the balance of your
Send your comments to : senator@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx