Crowley Spearheads Introduction of Bipartisan bill to Renew Sanctions on Burma's Military Regime

May 11, 2010 Issues: Foreign Affairs

Washington, D.C. – Today, a bi-partisan coalition of members of the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Congressman Joe Crowley, introduced legislation to renew sanctions on Burma's military regime.  The move comes two weeks after the European Union extended its own sanctions on Burma for another year. Following is the text of Congressman Crowley's statement upon introduction:

"I am proud to join with so many of my colleagues in introducing this bipartisan extension of the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act.  It is abundantly clear that we need tougher and a more robust application of sanctions on Burma, and we need to start soon because the Burmese regime continues to commit crimes against humanity and war crimes against its people.

“Many of us in this Congress, as well as credible human rights organizations, have been saying this for years, but now even the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma has said that it is highly likely the regime has committed crimes.  This is a regime that has destroyed or forced the abandonment of 3,500 villages, raped countless ethnic minority women and recruited thousands of child soldiers.  There is no shortage of evidence of these crimes – which continue to this day.  It is my hope the Administration will support the United Nations' findings, both by acknowledging the Burmese regime is committing crimes against humanity and by seeking a strong international investigation.

“I am also concerned that the Burmese military regime has completely rejected true cooperation with the legitimate leaders of Burma – Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy.  The regime recently released a new constitution and electoral law that makes it impossible for Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi to run for office.  The Burmese regime's "laws" makes a mockery of constitutionalism, and for that reason Aung San Suu Kyi's political party is simply not able to register to participate in the election.

“We must stand with Aung San Suu Kyi and the legitimate leaders of Burma and show our support through concrete actions – by implementing tougher sanctions and action on crimes against humanity – moves that have real teeth.  When I led the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act, which was signed into law in 2008, I believed the Administration should use the measure to implement tough sanctions – now is the time for that implementation to begin.   

“Lastly, I would like to convey a message to Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Burma: the people and Congress of the United States stand with you.  We will not waver in our support for your struggle. 

“Aung San Suu Kyi has appealed to the world to support the fight for human rights and democracy, stating ‘Please, use your liberty to promote ours.’ It is time for us to re-double our efforts for a better, more democratic Burma, and I urge my colleagues to join me in the expeditious passage of this legislation."

Congressman Crowley is a six-term member on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs and a member of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.  Congressman Crowley has a long track-record advocating for human rights in Burma, most recently spearheading the effort to award Aung San Suu Kyi the Congressional Gold Medal and to secure passage of the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act.