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Department Seal 10th Anniversary of the Free and Fair Election in Burma and the Urgent Need to Improve Democratic and Human Rights of the People of Burma
Senate Concurrent Resolution 113, U.S. Congress
Congressional Record, Pages S4025-6
Washington, DC, May 17, 2000

Mr. MOYNIHAN. Mr. President, the Senator from Kentucky and I rise today to submit, along with several of our distinguished colleagues, a resolution commemorating the 10th anniversary of free and fair elections in Burma.

On May 27, 1990, the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, won a majority of the parliamentary seats in the elections. This was a great victory for the champions of democracy and human rights in Burma. However, the Burmese military arbitrarily annulled the results and arrested Aung San Suu Kyi and hundreds of NLD members. Others were forced to flee, and the people's freedoms of assembly, speech and the press were severely restricted. Today, the steady erosion of human rights continues under the heavy hand of the military regime known as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). This resolution calls upon the SPDC to guarantee basic freedoms to its people; accept a political dialogue with the NLD and other Burmese political leaders; and to comply with human rights agreements and resolutions emanating from such bodies as the United Nations General Assembly, the European Union, and the International Labor Organization.

The struggle in Burma is not over. The 1999 Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for Burma identifies more than 1,300 people who continue to suffer as political prisoners. A recent study traced the distribution patterns of different HIV strains to paths of heroin traffic originating from the country. As a New York Times editorial wrote on March 16, 2000, `The cruelty of Burma is increasingly a regional problem that threatens to destabilize its Southeast Asian neighbors with refugees, narcotics and now AIDS.' I urge my colleagues to pass this important resolution.

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, on Monday, the Financial Times carried a story headlined `Burma Regime Has the Most Child Soldiers.' As Burma drives toward a goal of a half million man army, more than 50,000 children have been forced into military service, with orphans and street children the most vulnerable.

These are the facts of life in Burma that no longer surprise any of us who follow the region closely. Forced labor, forced relocations, arrests, detention, torture, even executions are more facts--repeated so often that it is easy to develop a tin ear to the unreal horrors these words convey about daily life in Burma. Add words like hunger, disease, and illiteracy -- add unemployment, injustice and drug trafficking, and you get the full picture of the misery the Rangoon regime has created.

As acute as Burma's pain is, this is not a day of mourning. Today is a celebration of wisdom and courage--a tribute to Burma's citizens who 10 years ago defied all risks and elected Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy [NLD] to lift the nation from a deep swamp of poverty, brutality and repression to the solid ground of democracy and prosperity.

The army may have stolen Burma's elections and her rightful past, but they will not be allowed to diminish our faith nor discourage our service to her future -- to Burma's freedom. For 10 years, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has honored the wisdom and courage of her constituents through countless acts of self-discipline, heroic judgment and profound humility. Treated with cruelty, especially during her husband's final days, her compassion has not withered. Imprisoned, isolated by house arrest, she finds strength to reach out for a peaceful, political dialog with her captors. Wounded with each report of a follower's detention or death, she does not scar with bitterness, she does not retreat from her destined course -- democracy.

Today, Senator Moynihan and I have introduced a resolution of support for that destiny--for the restoration of democracy. Joined by Senators Lott, Helms, Leahy, Ashcroft, Feinstein, Lugar, Durbin, Kennedy, Sarbanes and Wellstone, we are honored to have the opportunity to pay tribute to those who persevere in the noble quest for Burma's liberty.

In particular, let me offer my appreciation to the Members and friends of the NLD who work tirelessly for Burma's free future and, especially the guardian angel of our common cause, Michelle Bohanna.

SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 113 EXPRESSING THE SENSE OF THE CONGRESS IN RECOGNITION OF THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS IN BURMA AND THE URGENT NEED TO IMPROVE THE DEMOCRATIC AND HUMAN RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE OF BURMA

Mr. MOYNIHAN (for himself, Mr. McConnell, Mr. Lott, Mrs. Boxer, Mr. Feingold, Mr. Ashcroft, Mrs. Feinstein, Mr. Helms, Mr. Lugar, Mr. Durbin, Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Leahy, Mr. Wellstone, and Mr. Sarbanes) submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations:

S. Con. Res. 113

Whereas in 1988 thousands of Burmese citizens called for a democratic change in Burma and participated in peaceful demonstrations to achieve this result;

Whereas these demonstrations were brutally repressed by the Burmese military, resulting in the loss of hundreds of lives;

Whereas despite continued repression, the Burmese people turned out in record numbers to vote in elections deemed free and fair by international observers;

Whereas on May 27, 1990, the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi won more than 60 percent of the popular vote and 80 percent of the parliamentary seats in the elections;

Whereas the Burmese military rejected the results of the elections, placed Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and hundreds of members of the NLD under arrest, pressured members of the NLD to resign, and severely restricted freedom of assembly, speech, and the press;

Whereas 48,000,000 people in Burma continue to suffer gross violations of human rights, including the right to democracy, and economic deprivation under a military regime known as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC);

Whereas on September 16, 1998, the members of the NLD and other political parties who won the 1990 elections joined together to form the Committee Representing the People's Parliament (CRPP) as an interim mechanism to address human rights, economic and other conditions, and provide representation of the political views and voice of Members of Parliament elected to but denied office in 1990;

Whereas the United Nations General Assembly and Commission on Human Rights have condemned in nine consecutive resolutions the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities and the political opposition, and SPDC's record of forced labor, exploitation, and sexual violence against women;

Whereas the United States and the European Union Council of Foreign Ministers have similarly condemned conditions in Burma and officially imposed travel restrictions and other sanctions against the SPDC;

Whereas in May 1999, the International Labor Organization (ILO) condemned the SPDC for inflicting forced labor on the people and has banned the SPDC from participating in any ILO meetings;

Whereas the 1999 Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for Burma identifies more than 1,300 people who continue to suffer inhumane detention conditions as political prisoners in Burma;

Whereas the Department of State International Narcotics Control Report for 2000 determines that Burma is the second largest world-wide source of illicit opium and heroin and that there are continuing, reliable reports that Burmese officials are `involved in the drug business or are paid to allow the drug business to be conducted by others', conditions which pose a direct threat to United States national security interests; and

Whereas despite these massive violations of human rights and civil liberties and chronic economic deprivation, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and members of the NLD have continued to call for a peaceful political dialogue with the SPDC to achieve a democratic transition: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that--

(1) United States policy should strongly support the restoration of democracy in Burma, including implementation of the results of the free and fair elections of 1990;

(2) United States policy should continue to call upon the military regime in Burma known as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC)--

(A) to guarantee freedom of assembly, freedom of movement, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press for all Burmese citizens;

(B) to immediately accept a political dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the National League for Democracy (NLD), and ethic leaders to advance peace and reconciliation in Burma;

(C) to immediately and unconditionally release all detained Members elected to the 1990 parliament and other political prisoners; and

(D) to promptly and fully uphold the terms and conditions of all human rights and related resolutions passed by the United Nations General Assembly, the Commission on Human Rights, the International Labor Organization, and the European Union; and

(3) United States policy should sustain current economic and political sanctions against Burma as the appropriate means--

(A) to secure the restoration of democracy, human rights, and civil liberties in Burma; and

(B) to support United States national security counter-narcotics interests.

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