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Press Release on Welcoming Continua

National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma


								December 11, 1997

Welcoming Continuation of U.S Sanctions

We, the democratic forces on the Thai-Burma border, warmly welcome the
decision by President Bill Clinton to continue U.S. trade sanctions against
the military dictatorship of Burma, led by the Burmese Senior Gen. Than
Shwe. The sanctions prohibit new U.S. investments in Burma (renamed Myanmar
by the Burmese military dictatorship). As a result of the sanctions, many
U.S. companies have pulled out their business operations in the country,
hurting principally the members of the military dictatorship who are
controlling all the major business operations in Burma. Formerly, the
dictatorship was known by its acronym as SLORC. In November, it started to
assume a new euphemistic name, the State Peace and Development Council or

The U.S. sanctions were imposed in May this year, after years of protests
by the West over the military dictatorship's severe repression of the
democratic movement in the country, led by Nobel Peace laureate Daw Aung
San Suu Kyi, and wide-spread human rights violations, especially against
the ethnic nationalities and religious minorities. One of the reasons for
the continuation of the sanctions is the refusal by the regime to make
positive changes for democratization. Another is its failure to effectively
suppress the narcotic production in the country, which has been a source of
more than 60% of the heroin entering the U.S.

The imposition of trade sanctions by the U.S. was followed by the European
Union with the withdrawal of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP),
which is the E.U. equivalent of the MFN status used by the U.S.

The ASEAN accepted Burma as its member in July this year, in spite of
repeated requests by the West to delay the membership. Not long after, the
economies of most of the ASEAN countries suffered a downturn and rapidly
slid towards a free fall, principally due to the flight of foreign

While we do not have any conclusive evidence to link the two events, we are
much concerned that the membership of the Burmese military dictatorship in
ASEAN may adversely affect the recovery efforts of the countries affected
by the economic downturn, in one way or another.