*McConnell, Feinstein call for renewed sanctions against Burmese junta*
U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on Thursday called on their colleagues to quickly approve their legislation to renew sanctions against the Burmese government. In addition to Senators McConnell and Feinstein, the bipartisan bill, "The Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act," has 57 cosponsors.
The McConnell/Feinstein bill calls for the renewal of sanctions against the Burmese regime, which include an import ban on Burmese goods entering the U.S. and visa restrictions on officials from the dictatorial regime that currently holds Burma in its grip - the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).
"Every dollar we keep out of the hands of this junta is one less dollar it can use to fund the conscription of children, its nuclear program, and the war it has waged against its own people for nearly two decades," said Senator McConnell. "The purpose of sanctions is to change behavior. The changes we seek, in partnership with the Burmese people, are these: concrete, irreversible steps toward reconciliation and democratization that include the full, unfettered participation of the National League for Democracy and ethnic minorities; ending attacks on ethnic minorities; and the immediate, unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. The regime also needs to know that a sham Constitutional process and token prisoner releases will not be regarded by anyone as progress toward these goals."
"Now is not the time to lift the import ban on Burma," Senator Feinstein said. "The military junta has continued a campaign of brutality and violence against the people of this country, and has essentially failed to make even the smallest steps towards a freer and more democratic society. I remain hopeful that the situation on the ground in Burma will improve, but I do not believe that the sanctions should be lifted until this regime can demonstrate real progress - ending human rights violations; releasing all political prisoners, including democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi; and allowing for the freedom of speech and press. The legislation to renew the import ban has broad, bipartisan support, and I believe it should become law."
Senators McConnell and Feinstein added, "we urge our colleagues to act quickly - as we have done in the past - in considering and passing this important legislation."