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Expressing the Sense of Congress Regarding the Immediate and Unconditional Release of Daw Aung San Suu Kui

Floor Speech

Location: Unknown



Mr. KING of New York. Madam Speaker, I am proud to stand today in support of H. Con. Res. 200. Let me thank at the outset Mr. Smith for the work he has done for so many years for the cause of human rights in so many countries, often at great risk to himself. I thank him for that, and we all admire him for his tenacity. I have a special regard for the chairman of the committee, Mr. Lantos, who is cosponsoring this resolution with me and has been such an outspoken advocate of freedom and human rights in Burma for so many years. Even when it is not on the television screens and the eyes of the world are not watching, Mr. Lantos has been there, dedicating himself to this issue; and I have been privileged to be able to work with him on this.

Madam Speaker, as terrible as the atrocities have been in Burma over the past 6 to 7 weeks, the fact is this is unfortunately merely an extension of the type of tyrannical behavior which has characterized the junta in Burma for almost two decades now. This is a junta which tramples upon human rights. They use rape and torture and murder as an instrument of policy.

When we see the hundreds of innocent, freedom-loving people who have been murdered over the past several weeks, who have been tortured and arrested and abused, when we see the innocent Buddhist monks who have been shot down, when we see that communication into and out of Burma has been shut off by the junta, we can only assume the worst.

That is why it is incumbent upon the international community to speak with one voice, as we are speaking with one voice here in Congress. This is not a Republican or Democratic issue, or majority or minority issue. It is a world issue, an issue of human rights. For all of these years Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been in prison or under house arrest and now imprisoned again, she has become a symbol of that fight. When we talk about symbols, often we forget these are real human beings who are paying the price for being symbols of freedom and justice and who are willing to put their lives and their freedom on the line.

That is why this resolution calls for her release and the release of all of the political prisoners and an end to the repressive actions of the Burmese junta. In saying this, as Mr. Lantos and Mr. Smith have said, yes, the United States has been at the forefront of this. But it is so important for neighboring countries now to step forward, especially China and India.

When we think of China, which is going to be hosting the Olympic Games and is trying to clean up its image in the eyes of the world, is attempting to project itself as a true country on the world scene, the fact is if China continues in any way to support Burma, to be silent in the face of what the junta is doing, it really puts a cloud and a tarnish over whatever image China is attempting to establish for itself. And that will be kept in mind by world governments as we approach the Olympic Games next year. So it is essential that China step forward and work with the world community, work with the United States, work with the United Nations, work with countries in the region to put pressure on the junta in Burma to ease, stop and, end its oppressive tactics.

As Mr. Lantos said, we are also sending a very clear signal to the military leaders, the officers, in Burma who are part of this junta, telling them that the world will hold them responsible for what they do. The world will hold them accountable.

As Mr. Lantos knows better than anyone in this House, we saw what happened when military leaders in Germany felt they could go forward and do what they were ordered to do and carry out those atrocities against innocent people. Nuremburg showed that is not a permissible defense. Similarly, it will not be a permissible and acceptable defense for the military leaders in Burma who continue to carry out these atrocities. They just can't say, We were following orders.

So our message to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is that we stand with you. Our message to the Buddhist monks is we stand with you. Our message to the oppressed people of Burma is that we stand with you. And our message to the Government of China is we are watching what you are going to do as far as putting pressure on the junta. And our message to the military leaders in Burma is the world is watching you and will hold you accountable and will know what you did. You will face justice when this is over, depending on whether you did the right or you continued to carry out the atrocities ordered upon you.

So with that, I strongly urge the adoption of H. Con. Res. 200. I applaud the fact that the House of Representatives is speaking with one voice. We have put partisanship aside. We stand as one and have put differences aside. I thank Mr. Lantos and Mr. Smith for the leadership they have shown over the years. I urge adoption of the concurrent resolution.


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