Crowley Hails Passage of Bipartisan Bill to Renew Sanctions on Burma’s Military Regime

July 20, 2011
Press Release

Washington, D.C. — Today, Congressman Joe Crowley, hailed passage of H.J. Res. 66, legislation to renew sanctions on Burma’s military regime. Spearheaded by Crowley and a bipartisan coalition of members of the U.S. House of Representatives, this resolution will continue the ban on all imports from Burma as part of the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act. Crowley has a long track-record advocating for human rights in Burma, most recently leading the effort to award Aung San Suu Kyi the Congressional Gold Medal and securing passage of the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act.

“Together, the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act and the Burmese Jade Act have prevented hundreds of millions of dollars from getting into the hands of the Burmese military apparatus,” said Congressman Crowley. “By passing these bills into law and renewing them this year, we have ensured that the 65 million people of Burma see the United States as an ally in their struggle for human rights and have sent a clear signal to others around the world that the U.S. will not turn a blind eye to crimes against humanity.”

Burma is ruled by one of the world’s most brutal governments, guilty of raping, torturing and killing innocent Burmese citizens. Last week, Human Rights Watch released a report documenting how villagers are subjected to summary executions, torture and being used as “human shields” during conflict. Women in Burma live in constant fear of rape by military soldiers, considered by military leaders to be a tactic of war used to torment and intimidate entire populations. Earlier this month, Burmese soldiers carried out four more rapes against ethnic civilians – the innocent victims were all different ages, and one was as young as 12 years-old. As a result of thousands of brutal rapes and other abuses, Burmese villagers continue to flee their homes into the jungle where they live as refugees or internally displaced. 

Burma’s democratic leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi inspired the creation of the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act. While Suu Kyi is no longer under formal house arrest, Burma’s military regime has repeatedly threatened her in an attempt to intimidate her into silence. Suu Kyi has called on people throughout the world to take action and maintain sanctions on Burma’s regime. 

In addition to renewing sanctions through the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act, Crowley has also strongly urged the Administration to fully implement the Block Burmese Jade Act and work proactively to establish an international investigation into crimes against humanity committed by the Burmese military.

“We should be doing all we can to expand these sanctions into an even greater multilateral effort to support the Burmese people,” said Crowley. “The Burmese leadership is clearly carrying out crimes against humanity. The sooner these abuses are investigated, the sooner they will end.”

Congressman Crowley is a seven-term representative from the 7th Congressional District of New York, which includes sections of Queens and the Bronx. He is a member of the Ways and Means Committee and is a chief deputy whip in the Democratic leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives.