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Letter to Ibrahim Gambari, Under-Secretary General of the United Nations for Political Affairs, Re: Release of Aung San Suu Kyi and Improved Conditions for Burmese Women and Girls

Senate Women's Caucus on Burma Calls for Release of Aung San Suu Kyi and Improved Conditions for Burmese Women and Girls

- Bipartisan group of women senators commemorate International Women's Day -

The Senate Women's Caucus on Burma, led by Co-Chairs Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), today called for the release of Burma's democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and improved conditions for the women and girls of Burma.

Following is the text of the letter sent by the Senate Women's Caucus on Burma to Ibrahim Gambari, the UN Special Envoy to Burma:

March 11, 2008

The Honorable Ibrahim Gambari
Under-Secretary General of the United Nations
for Political Affairs
United Nations
First Avenue at 46th Street
New York, New York 10017

Dear Mr. Gambari:

On March 8, 2008, millions of people from around the world will gather to honor and pay tribute to the lives and accomplishments of women and girls on International Women's Day.

As you continue your efforts to push Burma's ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) for a credible and inclusive dialogue on national reconciliation and restoration of democracy, we encourage you to mark International Women's Day by highlighting the plight of women and girls in Burma.

We urge you to call for:

* The immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners, including the more than 130 women who were arrested during the Saffron Revolution;
* Greater participation by women in Burma's political process;
* The elimination of rape as an instrument of war and human trafficking and the arrest and prosecution of those who have condoned and committed such acts;
* Full access for the Red Cross to all Burmese prisons; and
* The removal of restrictions on international organizations who conduct health and other humanitarian assistance programs.

As members of the United States Women's Caucus on Burma, we are saddened that our friend and sister, Aung San Suu Kyi, will spend the day under house arrest - and that the women of Burma will continue to face a sustained campaign of oppression and violence at the hands of the SPDC.

Indeed, the military junta's record of abuse against women and girls is extensive and deeply troubling:

* Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and leader of the National League for Democracy, has spent most of the past 18 years in prison or under house arrest. In 2003, she survived an assassination attempt by pro-government thugs.
* More than 130 women were arrested by the regime during last fall's Saffron Revolution. The International Committee of the Red Cross continues to be barred from visiting these women and other political prisoners.
* Rape is commonly used as an instrument of war by the Burmese military;
* Human trafficking of women and girls is rampant;
* Severe restrictions on international humanitarian organizations have prevented them from providing much needed assistance, particularly to women and girls Burmese women suffer from a maternal mortality rate of 230 per 100,000.

We must not remain silent in the face of such dire crimes and violent behavior. The people of Burma have suffered long enough.

We once again express our solidarity with Aung San Suu Kyi and the women and girls of Burma. We look forward to a future International Women's Day when we can join them in celebrating their new found freedom and equality.

We appreciate your attention to this request and we look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

- Senator Dianne Feinstein
- Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison
- Senator Barbara Boxer
- Senator Maria Cantwell
- Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
- Senator Susan Collins
- Senator Elizabeth Dole
- Senator Amy Klobuchar
- Senator Mary Landrieu
- Senator Blanche Lambert Lincoln
- Senator Claire McCaskill
- Senator Barbara Mikulski
- Senator Lisa Murkowski
- Senator Patty Murray
- Senator Olympia Snowe
- Senator Debbie Stabenow


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