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Public Statements

Approving Renewal of Import Restrcitions Against Burma

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.J. Res. 66, 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 and Democracy Act, legislation that I co-authored with my friend, the late Tom Lantos. President Bush signed this bill into law and Congress has 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.

The 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 and child labor. Moreover, the Burmese regime has more child soldiers than any other country and has destroyed more than 3,700 ethnic villages, displaced approximately 2,000,000 people, more than 600,000 of which are internally displaced, and has taken nearly 2,000 political prisoners.

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, the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act (P.L. 110-286) was signed into law, which bans the importation of Burmese gems into the United States and freezes the assets of Burmese political and military leaders. While these steps are significant, others must 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.

While I applaud the confirmation of Derek Mitchell as Special Coordinator for Burma, there are additional provisions of the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act that have yet to be implemented. I urge the Obama Administration to call for a UN Commission of Inquiry on Burma to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity. This Commission is necessary to prevent further killings and to encourage a meaningful political dialogue.

I urge adoption of the resolution.

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