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/* Written Fri 8 May 11:00am 1998 by drunoo@xxxxxxxxxxxx in igc:reg.burma */
/* -------------" Time to rally behind Masschusetts "----------- */

In the State of Massachusetts, USA, a corporate-funded body,
National Foreign Trade Council(NTFC), has recently filed a Lawsuit
against Burma selective purchasing law. The NTFC has been
challenging the constitutional validity of the Massachusetts Burma
Law, it has been reported.

Regarding sanction for Burma, there are selective purchasing laws
enacted by various States and Counties throughout United States. 
In addition, there has been Burma Sanction Bill enacted by the federal 
Government of the United States. As the present situation stands, 
there has been a possibility of US Government lifting sanction 
"on the condition" that the dialogues in Burma started. In this 
context, we need to recognize that the political opportunism of 
NTFC pressuring upon the Massachusetts Burma Law.

In USA, selective purchasing laws in particular have been effective
- much more than the federal sanction laws - in bringing about
pressures on the businesses that dealing with dictatorial regimes.
It also appears that, from activists point of view, such local
sanction campaigns are more feasible and have a greater feeling of 
impact because of the campaigns' local focus. For example, a local
activist can simply walk into the Mayor or Govenor's office and
then request to enact such legislation: there is no means to do such
action at the federal level. It is also much easier to mobilise the
grassroots support for such campaign. It is of no doubt that these
campaigns have served to promote greater awareness about Burma
amongst the local population.

The question of constitutional validity for such law appears to be
quite complex and the outcome of the Lawsuit may not be known for
quite some times. However, from our part, a parallel legislative
move can be made at the federal level to maintain pressure on
Burmese regime.

The current dispute is being portrayed as the contest for power
between State and Federal legislatures. In my personal view, the
activists have made initiatives at the local level because of the
frustration about federal sanctions. It may be about the right time
to revise(amend) the federal sanction bill in accordance with new
developments in Burma. Such revision should also carefully balance
between the business interests of the United States and the progress
for democracy in Burma.

Firstly, the legislation should prohibit the US companies dealing
with illegal entities in Burma - specifically SLORC/SPDC. No
prohibition should be made to companies if they go through the
elected representatives, i.e. Executive Committee of National League 
for Democracy. Such legislative measures on companies will be 
consistent with the 1997 UN General Resolution on Burma.

Secondly, the legislation should introduce the code of practice for
US companies that may be operating in Burma. In particular, the
greater scrutiny against the use of forced labour, monitoring about
environmental guidelines, safeguards against corruption etc. must be
included in the code of practice.

I shall be supportive and most appreciative if any group or
individuals in USA to begin lobbying to Senators/Representatives
regarding the proposed revision(amendment) to the federal Burma
sanction bill. Since I reside in Australia, I cannot lobby those US
Senators/Representatives effectively -- though I could perhaps write
letters to State Department and Senate Foreign Relation Committee.
The initiative for such legislation has to come from our friends 
who live in USA.

More importantly, our friends in Massachusetts deserve our
supports - lets continue focussing on the situation in

With best regards, U Ne Oo.
!                     drunoo@xxxxxxxxxxxx                         !
!          http://www.physics.adelaide.edu.au/~uneoo              !
!                    ***** NOW ALSO ON *****                      !
! http://freeburma.org/ (A one stop homepage for all Burma info.) !
/* Endreport */