Congress Passes Bill Banning Burmese Imports

In a move intended to convince the military junta ruling Burma to release pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, both the Senate and the House last week overwhelmingly passed bills to ban Burmese imports for the next three years. President Bush is expected to sign the bill, issuing a statement from the White House that read, “This legislation sends a clear message to the Burmese regime that their continued detention of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and their assaults on freedom cannot stand,” according to the Washington Post. European nations have also imposed economic sanctions against Burma (also known as Myanmar), and Japan has indicated it will halt further aid to the country, according to the Post.

On May 30, as many as 70 of her supporters were killed, and Suu Kyi as well as other leaders of the National League for Democracy were arrested. Burma’s military government announced today that it has freed more than 90 pro-democracy supporters arrested with Suu Kyi since June 26, but made no mention of releasing Suu Kyi, according to Voice of America. Suu Kyi is still being held by the ruling junta, though a UN envoy was allowed to see her and reports she appears uninjured. Suu Kyi also endured house arrest from 1989 to 1995 after she emerged as a leader of the opposition movement. The military regime refused to honor the results of the 1990 election, where Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) garnered an overwhelming majority of the popular vote.

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VOA News 7/17/03, 7/23/03; Reuters 7/17/03; Washington Post 7/17/03

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