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Congressional Junket to Burma

Reply-To: "W. Kesavatana-Dohrs" <dohrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

Chicago Tribune

Sunday, Jan. 19, 1997

DC Journal Column

by Mike Dorning and Mary Jacoby


Remember Burma, the Southeast Asian country where a military dictatorship
overturned the results of a 1990 election and began a brutal campaign
against pro-democracy activists?

The regime's human rights abuses were highlighted when pro-democracy
leader Aung San Suu Kyi received the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.

Well, Burmese official media report that a four-member congressional
delegation led by Rep. J. Dennis Hastert, Republican from Yorkville (IL),
visited in December to dine with leaders of the regime, including Gen.
Maung Aye, vice chairman of the euphemistically named State Law and Order
Restoration Council.

The U.S. government slapped a visa ban on members of that council in
retaliation for their arrest in September of hundreds of democracy

The congressional leaders' meetings have infuriated some human rights
activists, including Chicagoan Donald Erickson, a local coordinator for
the Free Burma Coalition.

"He was the guest of one of the hard-liners.  That regime is one of the
most brutal governments in the world," Erickson said.

Although the congressional team officially was on the December trip to
investigate the drug trade (and, indeed, it's a good place to go for
information, since the military regime is suspected of complicity with
heroin smuggling), the delegation also visited the controversial Yadana
gas pieline in Burma.

Charges from human rights groups that slave labor is being used to build
infrastructure for the pipeline has inspired a protest campaign against
Unocal, a California-based energy conglomerate with a stake in the


Further information for inquiring minds:

These four Reps. were the guests of Gen. Maung Aye:

Dennis Hastert (IL) 708-406-1114, 202-225-2976, dhastert@xxxxxxxxxxxx

Tom DeLay (TX) 713-240-3700, 202-225-5951

Bill Paxon (NY) 716-742-1600, 716-634-2324, 202-225-5265,

Deborah Price (OH) 614-469-5614, 202-225-2015, pryce15@xxxxxxxxxxxx

One might ask:

Why did they go?  What was their agenda?  Why as guests of the butcher
Gen. Maung Aye?

Did they meet with any representitives of the duly elected NLD?

Who paid for the trip?  Exactly who?  What did the payer get in exchange
for paying for the trip?

Did they know that the top State Dept. official on counternarcotics
(Robert Gelbard) has labelled the SLORC "Part of the (heroin) problem?"
That the International Herald Tribune says "Drugs and Chinese weapons are
the junta's lifelines."?

Get the answers, then write your response to your local newspaper.  Let us
know what you come up with.