Approving the Renewal of Import Restrictions Contained in the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act (H.J. Res. 83)

By:  Pete King
Date: July 22, 2010
Location: Washington, DC

* Mr. KING of New York. Madam Speaker, today I rise in support of H.J. Res. 83, a resolution approving the renewal of import restrictions contained in the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act (P.L. 108-61). I am proud to have once again introduced this legislation this year with the gentleman from New York, Mr. Crowley.

* In 2003 Congress passed the Burmese Freedom & Democracy Act, legislation that I co-authored with my friend, the late Tom Lantos. President Bush signed this bill into law and we have reauthorized these import restrictions every year since. The legislation bans imports from Burma and the issuance of visas to those officials affiliated with the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), the military junta that rules Burma and brutally represses its people. This law also bans U.S. financial transactions that involve individuals or entities connected with the SPDC.

* These sanctions are critically important to keeping the pressure on the Burmese junta. The government continues to have one of the worst human rights record in the world and routinely violates the rights of Burmese citizens, including the systematic use of rape as a weapon of war, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, as well as slave and child labor. The Burmese regime has destroyed more than 3,500 ethnic villages, displaced approximately 2,000,000 Burmese people, more than 500,000 of which are internally displaced, and arrested approximately 2,100 individuals for expressing critical opinions of the government. And it continues to detain Aung San Suu Kyi, the head of the National League for Democracy and the democratically elected leader of Burma.

* We must continue to stand with the Burmese people and expose the despicable and reprehensible actions of the SPDC. Sanctions are critical to putting pressure on the junta. In 2008, Congress passed and President Bush signed into law Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act (P.L. 110-286) which bans the importation of Burmese gems into the United States and freezes the assets of Burmese political and military leaders. But we still need others to follow ours and the EU's lead. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) must impose multilateral sanctions against Burma's military regime including a complete arms embargo.

* Finally, it is my hope that the Obama Administration promptly implements all the provisions of the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act, appoints a Special Coordinator for Burma, and supports the establishment of UNSC Commission of Inquiry on Burma.

* I urge adoption of the resolution.

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