HOUSE EXPECTED TO PASS HOLT, BERMAN, ROS-LEHTINEN RESOLUTION REJECTING BURMESE MILITARY JUNTA'S CONSTITUTION
The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday is expected to pass a Congressional Resolution that calls for the United Nations Security Council not to accept the constitution, written by the Burmese military junta or to recognize the outcome of the May 10 constitutional referendum. Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) introduced the resolution with original cosponsorship from House Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) and Leading Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). The U.S. Campaign for Burma voiced its support for the resolution. The vote will come after a devastating cyclone in Burma last weekend, in which nearly 4,000 people were killed and tens of thousands are missing. There are reports of a slow response by the military regime to help the Burmese people.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Burmese people today. Despite this horrific natural disaster, the Burmese Junta has announced it will go ahead with its scheduled constitutional referendum on Saturday. This referendum is a sham, a farce, fake, pretend, bogus, fraudulent, spurious, and phony," Holt said. Use whatever words you want, but it is important the United States stands strong with the people of Burma, stands for true democracy, and stands firmly against this justification for a power grab" Holt said. "This resolution sends a strong signal to the people of Burma that we stand with them in their struggle for democracy."
"As Burma recovers from the cyclone's devastation, it is appropriate that we not only show our sympathy for the overwhelming loss of lives, but also continue to stand with Burma's people in their aspirations for political and economic reform," Chairman Berman said. "More than natural disasters of the moment, however high their toll may be, the heavy yoke of the Burmese military has victimized the people of Burma for more than 20 years. By passing this resolution, we condemn the scheduled referendum for the sham that it is and urge Burmese rulers instead to engage in a real dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic representatives to bring Burma toward a true democratic future."
The resolution denounces the one-sided, undemocratic, and illegitimate constitution drafting process and referendum by the Burmese military junta, known as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), insists the SPDC engage in a tripartite dialogue with democracy forces led by Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic representatives, and demands the immediate and unconditional releases of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners. It also urges President Bush to call for the UN Security Council to not accept and recognize the SPDC's constitution, pass a binding resolution which will enforce the SPDC to comply with recommendations made by the UN, and impose a global arms embargo.
Holt and 50 cosponsors introduced the resolution after the SPDC rejected all recommendations made by the United Nations: establishing an all-party inclusive transparent process of constitution writing; establishing a meaningful and time-bound dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi; releasing all political prisoners; establishing a broad-based poverty alleviation commission, opening an office in Rangoon for the UN Special Envoy; and accepting UN assistance to help ensure the referendum is free and fair.
"We laud Representatives Holt, Berman, Ros-Lehtinen and the other 48 cosponsors for the passage of this important resolution condemning the military junta's illegitimate constitution and referendum, which is designed to enshrine military rule in Burma," says Aung Din, Executive Director of the U.S. Campaign for Burma. "Passage of this resolution comes at an important time, as the regime announced it will go ahead the referendum as scheduled, even though several thousand people were killed and hundreds of thousands are homeless from the devastation of Cyclone Nargis. The People of Burma with this great show of support and solidarity will reject this sham constitution at any cost."