Women's Burma Caucus Calls on International Community to Keep up Press on Military Junta

Washington, DC – The Senate Women’s Caucus on Burma, led by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), today expressed solidarity with the tens of thousands of pro-democracy protestors who have taken to the streets in recent days to speak out against the country’s illegitimate military junta. The bipartisan group of women Senators applauded President Bush for his remarks before the United Nations on Tuesday, where he called for new international sanctions against the despotic regime. The Senators also implored the international community, including neighboring Asian countries like China, India, Russia, Japan and members of ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) to keep up pressure on the military junta to restore democracy in Burma. The Senate Women’s Caucus on Burma, which was launched in May this year, includes Co-Chairs Feinstein and Hutchison, and Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Blanche Lambert Lincoln (D-Neb.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). The following is a joint statement issued by the Senate Women’s Caucus on Burma: “Over the past several days, we have witnessed an historic opportunity to advance the cause of freedom in Burma. Led by courageous Buddhist monks, tens of thousands of Burmese citizens have taken to the streets in the largest pro-democracy demonstrations seen since 1988. They have taken to the streets to demand the restoration of a democratic government that respects human rights and the rule of law. Some have begun to call this burgeoning freedom movement the ‘Saffron Revolution’. On Tuesday, President Bush spoke before the United Nations, calling for a new round of international sanctions against Burma. By targeting the members of the ruling State Peace and Development Council and their financial backers, these sanctions will increase the pressure on the regime to refrain from violence and negotiate a political settlement with the democratic opposition. We, the members of the United States Senate Women’s Caucus on Burma, applaud President Bush for speaking out on behalf of the people of Burma – and for these new sanctions. The Caucus praises First Lady Laura Bush for her efforts to raise awareness about the situation in Burma, and for her steadfast support for a free and democratic Burma. We also express our solidarity with the brave men and women who are making their voices heard on the streets of Rangoon and in villages across the country. We call on the military regime to release immediately and unconditionally all political prisoners, including the leader of the National League for Democracy Aung San Suu Kyi. It’s time to begin a true dialogue on national reconciliation with all parties. But we must also keep a watchful eye on the Burmese Generals who rule Burma with an iron fist. In 1988, the military junta engaged in a brutal crackdown on peaceful democratic protests that resulted in the loss of 3,000 innocent lives. They must know that the international community is united with – and stands in favor of -- the legitimate aspirations of the people of Burma. In particular, we call on those countries with the closest ties to Burma – China, India, Russia, Japan, and the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – to publicly make clear that the regime should reject violence and embrace a peaceful political settlement. The people of Burma have for too long paid the price of tyranny and oppression. So we must keep up international pressure until real progress is made towards the cause of freedom and democracy.”