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Senators Mark 20th Anniversary of Burmese Election, Condemn Continuing Repression


Location: Washington, DC

A bipartisan group of Senators -- including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senators Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Judd Gregg (R-NH), John McCain (R-AZ), and Sam Brownback (R-KS) -- issued the following statement today, on the twentieth anniversary of the last general election in Burma:

"Twenty years ago today, the people of Burma bravely sought to exercise their universal human right to elect a government of their own choosing and handed a landslide victory to their country's major opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Rather than honoring the democratic will of the people of Burma as it had promised, however, the ruling military junta refused to surrender power and instead launched a campaign of repression that continues to this day.

"On the twentieth anniversary of this election, we reaffirm our conviction that the people of Burma deserve the freedom to choose their future for themselves. We condemn the continuing dictatorship imposed by the junta and call on its ruling generals to release all prisoners of conscience immediately and unconditionally, and to begin a genuine political dialogue with opposition and ethnic groups and leaders, including with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

"We also condemn the recent election laws adopted by the junta to perpetuate its rule and weaken the opposition. These election laws--which required the NLD to expel its imprisoned members in order to register--confirm that the vote that the junta has promised later this year represents yet another a mockery of the democratic process in Burma.

"Rather than accept the junta's outrageous election laws, the NLD is now forced into dissolution. While we recognize that this was a painful decision for the NLD's leaders, we applaud and honor their courage in upholding the principles that have guided their efforts since the party's founding. While the NLD may have lost its legal status in Burma, it has not lost its legitimacy in the eyes of millions in Burma and around the world. Indeed, that is a power far beyond the reach of the junta.

"The junta's recent actions should prompt the President to exercise the authority provided to him by Section 5 of the 2008 Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act to impose targeted banking sanctions against the regime and its leaders. We also urge the Obama administration to nominate a Special Representative and Policy Coordinator to Burma, as required by law.

"We remain convinced that the day will come when freedom returns to Burma and the voice of the people of Burma -- as expressed on May 27, 1990 -- is at last honored. Until that day comes, however, we pledge to stand in solidarity with the people of Burma and support all peaceful efforts to restore democracy there

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