AWARDING THE CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL TO DAW AUNG SAN SUU KYI -- (Senate - April 24, 2008)
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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I rise today to note Senate passage of H.R. 4286, legislation that would award the Congressional Gold Medal to the jailed prodemocracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. The bill now goes to the President for his signature.
I am pleased to report that this legislation has enjoyed broad bipartisan support. Once again I am joined in this effort by my friend, the senior Senator from California. Senator Feinstein and I introduced this legislation and it has 76 cosponsors. In this regard, I would like to thank Rich Harper of Senator Feinstein's staff and Lucy Bean of my staff for their work on the bill.
When first established in 1776, the Congressional Gold Medal was given to military leaders for their achievements in battle. Since that time, it has become America's highest civilian honor, having been bestowed upon great friends of freedom such as Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr. Granting Suu Kyi the Gold Medal would continue that same tradition of honoring heroism in the defense of liberty.
For more than 20 years, Suu Kyi's support for justice and democracy has placed her at odds with the tyranny and oppression of the Burmese junta, the State Peace and Development Council, SPDC. She and her supporters have combated the brutality of the junta with peaceful protest and resistance. She has chosen dignity as her weapon, and she has found allies around the world to aid her in her struggle.
Despite the efforts of Suu Kyi and her allies, the SPDC will soon place a sham constitution before the people of Burma for an up-or-down vote. This might sound democratic, but no one is fooled. This proposed constitution includes language that would forbid Suu Kyi from holding public office. Criticism of the document is a criminal offense. The true intent behind the proposed constitution is not the expansion of democratic principles. Its true purpose is to legitimize and make permanent the military junta and its brutal tyranny.
By awarding Suu Kyi the Congressional Gold Medal, we in Congress are letting the world know that the American people stand with Suu Kyi and the freedom-loving people of Burma and against the junta and the illegitimate charter it is propounding.
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