Legislation authored by U.S. Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) to highlight the persistent injustices in Burma passed the U.S. Senate today. The bipartisan resolution (S.Res.480) condemns the continued persecution of Burmese democracy leader Daw Aung Suu Kyi, her supporters, and the citizens of Burma. It also calls on the military regime in Burma to permit a credible and fair election process and the transition to civilian, democratic rule. The following Senators joined Senator Gregg in cosponsoring this legislation: Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Bob Bennett (R-UT), Sam Brownback (R-KS), and Susan Collins (R-ME).
Senator Gregg stated, "I regret that the military regime in Burma continues to display a complete and total disinterest in positive relations with the United States, and credible and fair elections for the people of Burma. The election rules that were recently announced by this regime leave no opportunity for legitimate political dialogue because they prevent key stakeholders from participating, making the upcoming elections a charade. Despite the regime's vicious efforts to undermine the National League for Democracy (NLD), the NLD will forever remain a political party dedicated to democratic values and the voice of freedom in Burma.
"I will continue working with my Senate colleagues to send a clear message that the U.S. expects the military regime to dramatically expand political participation and create an environment free from fear and intimidation before we will consider elections in Burma as anything but a farce. I also expect Secretary of State Clinton to engage with governments and organizations that can bring about positive change for the people of Burma, including China, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and even the United Nations Security Council."
The National League for Democracy (NLD) won a resounding electoral victory in 1990, but the military that has controlled Burma since 1962 refused to cede power. NLD leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been imprisoned in Burma for 14 of the last 19 years, and many members of the NLD have been jailed, tortured, or killed. Last month, the military regime in Burma released an election law that excludes Suu Kyi and those that have opposed the military regime from participating in elections that will be set for later this year, including ethnic leaders, student leaders, human rights activists, and other democracy leaders.