Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, last night at about this time we passed a Burma sanctions bill 97 to 1, which I hope sent a strong message to the thugs who are running the country at the moment that somedayand hopefully someday soonthey will have to honor the results of the 1990 election, won overwhelmingly by Aung San Suu Kyi and her party.
As I suspect the military junta may be trying to decipher what took place in Washington yesterday, I thought I would take a moment or two to help them out.
The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly condemned and sanctioned the State Peace and Development Council, SPDC, for its May 30 attack against Suu Kyi and her supporters and for its continued repressive actions that violate the human rights and dignity of the people of Burma.
I also had an opportunity to talk today to Secretary Colin Powell, who is going out to Phnom Penh to the ASEAN Regional Forum next week, and I think they can anticipate a strong message from him when he is out in the region at that time.
Fifty-seven Senators cosponsored the legislation that passed last night to impose an import ban, expand visa restrictions, and freeze SPDC assets in the United States. Ninety-seven Senators voted to repudiate the actions of the Burmese junta.
This was a vote for freedom in Burma that demonstrated unequivocal support for Suu Kyi and all democrats in that country.
The generals in Rangoon should take note that a provision was included in the bill that guarantees that every year Burma will come up for discussion and debate in Congress. Every single year, we will have an opportunity to take a look at the fate of freedom in that country.
It is my hope we will not need that opportunity. It is my hope that Suu Kyi and other democrats will be governing Burma and that the only debate on the floor will be about the level of foreign assistance America should provide to a newly free Burma.
If this hope is not realized, within a year we will again discuss the persistent rapes of minority girls and women, the use of child and forced labor, and the manufacturing and trafficking of narcotics.
If the junta continues its repressive rule, we will again examine the number of political prisoners languishing in Burmese jails, efforts taken to counter an exploding HIV/AIDS infection rate, and opportunities to further democracy and the rule of law throughout the country.
If, however, American leadership translates into a full court press on junta, we might be able to celebrate a new dawn for democracy for the people of Burma.
The comments of Secretary of State Colin Powell in the Wall Street Journal today are both welcomed and promising.
As I indicated earlier, he is going to the ASEAN regional meeting next week, and I think the regime in Burma is going to hear a good deal more about the U.S. position on their behavior and activities.
He said this:
By attacking Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters, the Burmese junta has finally and definitively rejected the efforts of the outside world to bring Burma back into the international community. Indeed, their refusal of the work of Ambassador Razali and of the rights of Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters could not be clearer. Our response must be equally clear if the thugs who now rule Burma are to understand that their failure to restore democracy will only bring more and more pressure against them and their supporters.
Secretary Powell must work tirelessly to secure the release of Suu Kyi and all other democrats who continue to be detained by the SPDC. U.N. Special Envoy Razali's brief meeting with her does not assuage my fears that she is under intense pressure or that her supporters continue to be tortured or killed. She and her supporters should be released immediately and unconditionally.
In the future, it might behoove Razali to temper his enthusiastic comments to more accurately reflect the climate of fear in Burma. He failed to secure Suu Kyi's release, and I am surprised that he did not say more to condemn the outrageous actions of the thugs in Rangoon.
Let me close by thanking my colleaguesand their staffsfor their support of this legislation. I could ask for no better allies than Senators FEINSTEIN and MCCAIN on this issue, and I look forward to continue to work with them to free Suu Kyi and bring democracy to Burma. Senators FRIST, LUGAR, BIDEN, BAUCUS, GRASSLEY, HAGEL, and BROWNBACK also deserve recognition for their support of freedom in Burma. The people of Burma will count on our support in the futureand we should not, and must not, fail them.
Mr. President, I ask that a copy of Secretary Powell's op-ed and an editorial from today's Baltimore Sun on Burma be printed in the RECORD.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, also the Travel Goods Association of America today came out for the legislation and for an import ban as well. This is an important organization related to this whole issue of import restrictionsan organization that potentially would benefit from continuing imports from Burma. But they said they don't want to make money off of this regime. They, too, have announced their support for a ban today.
I ask unanimous consent that a press release indicating their support be printed in the RECORD.