Crowley Statement on Today's Hearing on U.S. Policy Towards Burma

Oct 21, 2009 Issues: Foreign Affairs

Washington, D.C. —Congressman Crowley (D-Queens, Bronx) delivered the following remarks at today’s hearing “U.S. Policy Towards Burma” by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs:

“Thank you Chairman Berman and Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen for organizing today’s hearing on Burma.  There is no partisanship when it comes to seeing Democracy established in Burma and today's hearing is further evidence that Democrats and Republicans alike are committed to the cause.

“Just over a year ago, the United States Congress voted to award Aung San Suu Kyi the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress’ highest civilian honor.  I spearheaded this effort not only to honor Suu Kyi's tireless efforts to bring freedom to her people, but to shed light on the horrible atrocities being committed against the Burmese people by the ruling military junta. And, I am sad to say that at the same time the U.S. Mint is finalizing the medal for Aung San Suu Kyi, the displacement of refugees, the destruction of villages and the raping of women continues in Burma.

“The Obama Administration is well aware of the need to step up global pressure on the military junta. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell have been at the forefront of the Administration's efforts and oversaw the recent completion of a policy review on Burma.  I am pleased that the results of the policy review are to combine continuing sanctions with an effort to ramp up talks with the military regime.  While many are unsure whether these talks will work, including the Administration, it is worth trying.  Importantly, Aung San Suu Kyi herself has endorsed this initiative.

“It is important, however, to establish a framework for these talks, including whether they will include benchmarks, time-lines, and the possibility for concrete results.  It is a real possibility that the military regime will try and use ongoing talks to buy time, in order to proceed with a sham election they have scheduled for next year.  Today's hearing will shed some light on next steps, and I look forward to hearing from our panel of experts and to continuing to work hand-in-hand.”

Congressman Crowley has a long track-record advocating for democracy in Burma, and most recently spearheaded the effort to award Aung San Suu Kyi the Congressional Gold Medal. Congressman Crowley is a six-term member on the Committee on Foreign Affairs and a member of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.