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Expressing Sense of Congress Regarding the Immediate and Unconditional Release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

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Location: Washington, DC

EXPRESSING SENSE OF CONGRESS REGARDING THE IMMEDIATE AND UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE OF DAW AUNG SAN SUU KYI -- (House of Representatives - October 02, 2007)

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Ms. PELOSI. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time and thank him for his leadership in bringing this resolution to the
floor. I thank him for mentioning my name in the same breath with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. You compliment me, Mr. Chairman. You and I know that the sacrifice she has been making for so many years is incomparable, really, in the world.

For many years, many of us, Chris Smith, Dana Rohrabacher, John Porter when he was here, worked on this issue for a very long time. John Porter and Chairman Lantos co-chaired the Human Rights Caucus, and the issue of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and repression in Burma was and has been an important priority for them.

So today we are coming together again following this horrible crackdown in Burma, and I am pleased to rise in support of the resolution condemning that crackdown on the peaceful protesters in Burma and calling for the immediate release of Burma's democracy leader, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. I thank Mr. Lantos for bringing this resolution to the floor.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for many decades has been a leader on this issue. She won the last democratic election in 1990 and has spent the last decade under house arrest away from her husband and her two children. Who in the world could have the courage and strength that she has had? When her husband was ill and was in the United Kingdom for his treatment, she could not visit him. When he passed away, she could not attend his funeral. Imagine the personal sacrifice of this great leader. Imagine the turmoil within her. But she understood that the democracy for all of the people of Burma was more important than the personal needs that she had for her family. What greatness.

She has seen her supporters beaten, tortured and killed; and, yet, she has never responded with hatred and violence. All she ever asked for was peaceful dialogue.

Others have mentioned some of the provisions of the legislation, and I think it is important to continue to mention them: condemn the crackdown. Mr. King particularly emphasized the role of China in all of this. And, yes, we should act in a bipartisan way, Mr. King.

This resolution demands that the People's Republic of China and other countries that provide political and economic support for Burma's military junta end such support.

This resolution firmly insists that Burma's military regime begin a meaningful tripartite political dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the National League for Democracy, and ethnic nationalities; demands the immediate unconditional release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, detained monks and other political prisoners and prisoners of conscience; calls on governments around the world, including the nations of the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, to severely tighten their sanctions regime against Burma; calls on the United Nations Security Council to immediately pass a resolution imposing multilateral sanctions on Burma's military regime.

Of course, this cannot happen without China's cooperation on the Security Council. That is why their role is so important. It is also important because of the role they have played in propping up the junta. I am disappointed but not surprised that China is using its veto power at the United Nations Security Council to block the condemnation of the recent crackdown. For many years, the Chinese Government has helped prop up the Burmese, I think of them as thugs, but the Burmese regime, by blocking multilateral sanctions and providing substantial economic and military assistance to the Burmese Government.

China is Burma's largest trading partner, and it is estimated that China controls more than 60 percent of the Burmese economy and has provided close to $3 billion in military aid since the early 1990s.

Simply said, the Burmese regime would not have the strength and power that it has absent the support of China. We're calling on China to use its influence to bring about a political negotiation with the pro-democracy activists. This is a golden opportunity for China to show that it can be a force for peace and stability in the world.

In the last few weeks, we all know that we've seen an extraordinary turn of events in Burma. This has been there for a long time. The repression has been there for a long time, but in these last few weeks, courageous people led by Buddhist monks have taken to the streets to stand up to a corrupt, illegitimate military regime that has repressed the country for nearly 20 years.

The ruthless crackdown is outrageous, and the international community must not stand by while peaceful protesters are arrested, beaten and murdered.

Let there be no doubt that the United States stands with the freedom-seeking people of Burma in their just cause.

President Bush is to be commended for supporting tougher sanctions on those responsible for the gross violations of human rights. We can and should go further in bringing diplomatic pressure to bear on the regime. I know we all look forward to working closely with the President on this as we go forward.

And so I again commend Aung San Suu Kyi as years ago, she called on individuals, organizations and governments to support Burma's democracy movement, and at that time, she said please use your liberty to promote ours.

Today, on the floor of the United States House of Representatives, we are doing just that. I commend Aung San Suu Kyi for her courage and her leadership. The people of Burma are rising up and demanding their country back. The world must meet this challenge to our conscience.

I thank again Mr. Lantos and Mr. Smith and all of my colleagues, in a bipartisan way, in support of democracy in Burma.

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