Segment 1 Of 2 Next Hearing Segment(2)
SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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HUMAN RIGHTS IN BURMA:
FIFTEEN YEARS POST MILITARY COUP
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM, NONPROLIFERATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED EIGHTH CONGRESS
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 OCTOBER 1 AND 2, 2003
Serial No. 10868
Printed for the use of the Committee on International Relations
Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.house.gov/internationalrelations
COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois, Chairman
JAMES A. LEACH, Iowa
DOUG BEREUTER, Nebraska
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey,
DAN BURTON, Indiana
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida
CASS BALLENGER, North Carolina
DANA ROHRABACHER, California
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California
PETER T. KING, New York
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio
AMO HOUGHTON, New York
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 JOHN M. McHUGH, New York
THOMAS G. TANCREDO, Colorado
RON PAUL, Texas
NICK SMITH, Michigan
JOSEPH R. PITTS, Pennsylvania
JEFF FLAKE, Arizona
JO ANN DAVIS, Virginia
MARK GREEN, Wisconsin
JERRY WELLER, Illinois
MIKE PENCE, Indiana
THADDEUS G. McCOTTER, Michigan
WILLIAM J. JANKLOW, South Dakota
KATHERINE HARRIS, Florida
TOM LANTOS, California
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
SHERROD BROWN, Ohio
BRAD SHERMAN, California
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
BARBARA LEE, California
JOSEPH CROWLEY, New York
JOSEPH M. HOEFFEL, Pennsylvania
EARL BLUMENAUER, Oregon
SHELLEY BERKLEY, Nevada
GRACE F. NAPOLITANO, California
ADAM B. SCHIFF, California
DIANE E. WATSON, California
ADAM SMITH, Washington
BETTY McCOLLUM, Minnesota
CHRIS BELL, Texas
THOMAS E. MOONEY, SR., Staff Director/General Counsel
ROBERT R. KING, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on International Terrorism, Nonproliferation
and Human Rights
ELTON GALLEGLY, California, Chairman
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey
DANA ROHRABACHER, California
PETER T. KING, New York
JOSEPH R. PITTS, Pennsylvania
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 MARK GREEN, Wisconsin
CASS BALLENGER, North Carolina
THOMAS G. TANCREDO, Colorado
NICK SMITH, Michigan
MIKE PENCE, Indiana
BRAD SHERMAN, California
JOSEPH CROWLEY, New York
SHELLEY BERKLEY, Nevada
GRACE NAPOLITANO, California
ADAM B. SCHIFF, California
DIANE E. WATSON, California
CHRIS BELL, Texas
BETTY McCOLLUM, Minnesota
RICHARD MEREU, Subcommittee Staff Director
RENEE AUSTELL, Subcommittee Professional Staff Member
DONALD MACDONALD, Democratic Professional Staff Member
JOSEPH WINDREM, Staff Associate
Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific
JAMES A. LEACH, Iowa, Chairman
DAN BURTON, Indiana
DOUG BEREUTER, Nebraska
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey
DANA ROHRABACHER, California
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio
RON PAUL, Texas
JEFF FLAKE, Arizona
JERRY WELLER, Illinois
THOMAS G. TANCREDO, Colorado
ENI F. H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
SHERROD BROWN, Ohio
EARL BLUMENAUER, Oregon
DIANE E. WATSON, California
ADAM SMITH, Washington
GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York
BRAD SHERMAN, California
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
JAMES W. MCCORMICK, Subcommittee Staff Director
LISA M. WILLIAMS, Democratic Professional Staff Member
DOUGLAS ANDERSON, Professional Staff Member & Counsel
TIERNEN MILLER, Staff Associate
C O N T E N T S
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October 1, 2003
October 2, 2003
Wunna Maung, National League for Democracy
Stephen Dun, World Aid
Michael Mitchell, Orion Strategies
Naw Musi, Burmese Refugee
Bo Hla-Tint, National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma
The Honorable Matthew Daley, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State
The Honorable Lorne W. Craner, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
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The Honorable Elton Gallegly, a Representative in Congress from the State of California, and Chairman, Subcommittee on International Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Human Rights: Prepared statements
Wunna Maung: Prepared statement
Stephen Dun: Prepared statement
Michael Mitchell: Prepared statement and material submitted for the record
Naw Musi: Prepared statement
Bo Hla-Tint: Prepared statement
The Honorable Matthew Daley: Prepared statement
The Honorable Lorne W. Craner: Prepared statement
The Honorable James A. Leach, a Representative in Congress from the State of Iowa, and Chairman, Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific: Prepared statements
Responses of Michael Mitchell, Orion Strategies, to questions asked by the Honorable Joseph R. Pitts, a Representative in Congress from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
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The Honorable Joseph R. Pitts: Prepared statement
Chin Human Rights Organization: Prepared statement
Letter to Congress from the Karenni National Progressive Party dated September 17, 2003
Letter to Congress from the Restoration Council of the Shan State dated September 10, 2003
Response of the Honorable Lorne W. Craner, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, to question asked by the Honorable Joseph R. Pitts
Responses of the Honorable Matthew Daley, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State, to questions asked by the Honorable Joseph R. Pitts
HUMAN RIGHTS IN BURMA:
FIFTEEN YEARS POST MILITARY COUP
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2003
House of Representatives,
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Subcommittee on International Terrorism,
Nonproliferation and Human Rights, and
Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific,
Committee on International Relations,
The Subcommittees met, pursuant to call, at 1:33 p.m. in Room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Elton Gallegly [Chairman of the Subcommittee on International Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Human Rights] presiding.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Today, the Subcommittee on International Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Human Rights and the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific are holding the first of two back-to-back hearings on the human rights situation in Burma. The second hearing on this subject in which we will hear from the Administration will take place tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. in this room.
The timing of this hearing is important not only because of the anniversary of the 1988 military coup which brought the current dictatorial regime to power, this hearing will also be the first occasion for the United States Congress to hear a firsthand account of the May 30th attack by the pro-government group on Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters.
The Subcommittees are privileged to hear from Wanna Maung, who was an eyewitness to the events on May 30. The attack left scores of Aung San Suu Kyi's supporters either dead or injured, and Aung San Suu Kyi and Tin Oo, the deputy leader of the opposition National Democratic League, were taken into custody.
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This violent attack is one more example of the brutality of the State Peace and Development Council, the military junta that has ruled the country since 1988. Their record represents a laundry list of some of the worst human rights practice in the world:
For instance, the regime regularly engages in violent repression of political opponents and ethic minorities, resulting in a huge overflow of refugees to neighboring countries, as well as a large number of internally displaced persons.
The regime has shown no respect for the elections of the democratic process. In the 1990 national elections, the National Democratic League won by 82 percent of the seats in parliament. Instead of peacefully transferring power, the government nullified the election results.
The regime has ignored even the most basic needs of its people, such as health care and adequate food. The regime has also done little to address the growing HIV/AIDs problem. Instead, it is spending an estimated 40 percent of its GDP on the military, which has doubled in size since the SPDC took power in 1988.
The Burmese government has one of the poorest records in the world in the area of human trafficking. Burma was one of 15 nations to be placed on the State Department's Tier III list, which is defined as a country whose government does not comply with even the minimum standards of Trafficking Victims Protection Act and is not making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Of those 15 countries, President Bush decided to impose sanctions on the three nationsBurma, North Korea and Cubabecause of their lack of progress on human trafficking. In deciding to go forward with sanctions, the Administration found that ''the Burmese military is directly involved in forced labor trafficking'' and has an inadequate record of combating trafficking for sexual exploitation.
In addition to this dismal human rights record, there is another issue that merits close attention by the United States and the international community. There are reports that Burma is attempting to obtain missiles and other arms from North Korea. This is part of a pattern of closer ties between the two countries. In addition, Burma is attempting to buy a nuclear reactor from Russia. Nuclear technology and North Korean missiles in the hands of tyrants of Rangoon are clearly a serious threat to the region and to the entire world.
Before I recognize Mr. Sherman, I understand he is on his way, and if he has an opening statement, we will take it as soon as he comes, but I want to take this time to particularly specifically thank my good friend, the Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee, Joe Pitts, for his interest in the plight of the Burmese and the work of his staff in preparation for this hearing. Joe, you have done a masterful job.
If Brad is not here, we will take his statement when he gets here, and if there is any other Member that would like to make a statement.
If you have a brief statement, that is fine. I will defer to Mr. Pitts. But anyone else who would like towell, we have Mr. Sherman. Do you have an opening statement, Brad?
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[The prepared statement of Mr. Gallegly follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE ELTON GALLEGLY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, AND CHAIRMAN, SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM, NONPROLIFERATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS
OCTOBER 1, 2003
Today, the Subcommittee on International Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Human Rights and the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific are holding the first of two back-to-back hearings on the human rights situation in Burma. The second hearing on this subject, in which we will hear from the Administration, will take place tomorrow morning.
The timing of this hearing is important not only because of the anniversary of the 1988 military coup which brought the current dictatorial regime to power. This hearing will be also be the first occasion for the United States Congress to hear a first-hand account of the May 30th attack by a pro-government group on Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters. The subcommittees are privileged to hear from Wanna Maung, who was an eyewitness to the events of May 30. The attack left scores of Aung San Suu Kyi's supporters either dead or injured, and Aung San Suu Kyi and Tin Oo, the deputy leader of the opposition National Democratic League, were taken into custody.
This violent attack is one more example of the brutality of the State Peace and Development Council, the military junta that has ruled the country since 1988. Their record represents a laundry list of some of the worst human rights practices in the world:
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For instance, the regime regularly engages in violent repression of political opponents and ethnic minorities, resulting a huge outflows of refugees to neighboring countries, as well as large numbers of internally displaced persons.
The regime has shown no respect for the elections or the democratic process. In the 1990 national elections, the National Democratic League won 82 percent of the seats in parliament. Instead of peacefully transferring power, the government nullified the election results.
The regime has ignored even the most basic needs of its people, such as health care or adequate food. The regime has also done little to address the growing HIV/AIDS problem. Instead, it is spending an estimated 40 percent of its GDP on the military, which has doubled in size since the SPDC took power in 1988.
The Burmese government has one of the poorest records in the world, in the area of human trafficking. Burma was one of fifteen nations to be placed on the State Department's Tier III list, which is defined as a country whose government does not comply with even the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and is not making significant efforts to bring itself in to compliance. Of those fifteen countries, President Bush decided to impose sanctions on three nationsBurma, North Korea and Cubabecause of their lack of progress on human trafficking. In deciding to go forward with sanctions, the Administration found that ''the Burmese military is directly involved in forced labor trafficking'' and has an inadequate record of combating trafficking for sexual exploitation.
In addition to this dismal human rights record, there is another issue that merits close attention by the United States and the international community. There are reports that Burma is attempting to obtain missiles and other arms from North Korea. This is part of a pattern of closer ties between these two countries. In addition, Burma is attempting to buy a nuclear reactor from Russia. Nuclear technology and North Korean missiles in the hands of the tyrants of Rangoon is clearly a serious threat to the region and the entire world.
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Before recognizing Mr. Sherman for an opening statement, I did want to thank the vice chairman of the subcommittee, Joe Pitts, for his interest in the plight of the Burmese people and his work and the work of his staff in preparation for this hearing.
I will now turn to Mr. Sherman, the Ranking Member on this subcommittee, for any remarks he may wish to make.
Mr. SHERMAN. Imagine that, I actually do.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Okay, we will go to Mr. Sherman, and then we will have a brief statement by Mr. Pitts, and anyone else that has a statement we will make it a part of the record of the hearing.
Mr. SHERMAN. I want to thank Chairman Gallegly and Leach for holding these hearings. Now we are actually having 2 days of hearings on the human rights situation in Burma, a country which has been denied democratic rule that it seemed so close to gaining a decade ago, and which has suffered under a cruel military dictatorship.
We use the name Burma, even though modern maps use the name Myanmar. We do this not because we are old-fashion, but because the name change was instituted by an illegitimate regime and we do not recognize it.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 We are here today to hear from representatives of NGOs and Burmese dissidents themselves who will give us their views on the current situation, and hopefully, an indication as to the right way for the United States to go forward with the rest of the civilized world.
Tomorrow morning, these two Subcommittees will reconvene again to hear testimony from the State Department, who will tell us, hopefully, how the department plans to proceed in dealing with the regime.
Burma's record on human rights is deplorable. I have got paragraphs here in this statement that describe that, but I am sure the witnesses will do a far better job than my hollow words are able to do. But I want to point out that the United States has comprehensive sanctions mandated by successive Administrations in congressional enactments, which ban virtually all economic engagement with the regime.
Yes, there is that important $300 million UNOCAL investment in natural gas drilling and pipelines. This began prior to the sanctions, and I am sure will be discussed by our Subcommittees.
In terms of hitting this regime and isolating it with economic sanctions, on balance the United States has done its job. I think the main job now is for the rest of the world to follow our lead, and put coffin nails in the coffin of this terrible regime.
President Bush should make sure that these Members further isolate the regime, and are given serious consideration at the APEC summit in Bangkok later this month.
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I also want to point out that Burma has over twice the population of Iraq. If we are to use military means with the sole or primary purpose of providing human rights and democracy to the downtrodden, then Burma could have been invaded at half the cost and brought democracy to twice the number of people. The invasion of Iraq can be justified, if at all, not by showing that Iraq had a terrible human rights record, and that the Iraqi people deserve democracy, it can be justified only by showing that the Saddam Hussein regime and its weapons posed a threat to the United States.
I am proud to co-sponsor the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act authored by my good friend, Ranking Member Tom Lantos, which would provide additional sanctions.
I also want to point out that our Committee should have hearings on markups on impasse the Iran Freedom and Democracy Act of which I am the author, the Syria Freedom and Democracy Act, which I believe is authored by our good friend, Elliot Engel, and we need a more effective Sudan Freedom and Democracy Act this year as well.
What we do vis-a-vis Burma cannot be viewed in isolation, but should be an overall effort to bring human rights and responsible militaryhuman rights to countries that do not have it now, and also to impose sanctions on those who engage in international terrorism and other actions hostile to the national security of the United States.
I look forward to hearing our witnesses, and thank you once again for holding these hearings.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. GALLEGLY. I thank the gentleman from California.
Mr. PITTS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for holding this very important and timely hearing to examine the current situation of human rights in Burma.
The witnesses here today, as well as organizations who have submitted statements for the record, will share only a glimpse of the horror experienced by the people of Burma at the hands of the military dictatorship.
As is clear from so many past and current reports, the situation is not getting better. The military dictators use forced labor, systematic rape, forced human land mine sweepers, destruction of villages, destruction of food sources in fields, and outright cold-blooded murder to impose its illegitimate reign over the people, and unfortunately, the regime is not held accountable for its widespread deliberate human rights violations against the people.
Sadly, the international community has failed to act strongly to make it clear to the miliary dictatorship that its time in power is coming to an end. And the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act is an important step in making clear the response of the United States Government to the violations of the Burmese government. The economic sanctions, the freezing of financial assets, the visa restrictions will help increase pressure on this regime. However, the international community needs to respond much more strongly. It is vital that the U.N. Security Council begin to address the many issues related to Burma.
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The human rights violations, its contribution to regional instability, its leading role in the drug production and trafficking, the regime's shocking attack in May against Aung San Suu Kyi, and the NLD members is a reflection of its basic character. And I strongly urge the regime to release Aung San Suu Kyi from detention and house arrest.
Over the years, there have been reported progress in establishing a United Nations-facilitated dialogue between the NLD, the regime and ethnic groups. Yet each time there seems to be progress the regime commits human rights violations and sets the talks about once again.
Recently, the military dictatorship released a road map for Burma that includes holding elections. The fact that the regime is proposing election is almost outrageous when it continues to ignore the legitimate results of the 1990 elections and imprisoned the democratically elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and the attacks on the people continue.
The plight of the IDPs must be addressed at the highest levels of our government, and by the U.N.
I want to commend our government support for programs assisting the refugees, the democracy groups. I am disappointed at the lack of assistance to IDPs. What is our government doing from those estimated one million people living their lives on the run in the jungles, having no access to food, medicine, clothes, even basic education?
And so while the world sits around debating whether or not Burma is important or whether or not pressures should be increased to continue tripartite dialogue, people in Burma are dying. Little children being raped and murdered by the Burmese military. Only decisive action will help.
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The U.S. community, the international community need to press for the immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi, the immediate and unconditional release of all political and religious prisoners, send monitors to Burma, pursue prosecution of those responsible for these crimes against humanity, and press for the immediate end to the deportation of democracy groups back to certain death in Burma, and strongly press for recognition of a democratically-elected government in Burma.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank the witnesses for coming all the way from Thailand. This is being webcast. Many, many people will see this around the world in Southeast Asia. Thank you very much for coming and being with us today.
Mr. GALLEGLY. I thank the gentlemen.
Our first witness is Mr. Wunna Maung, who is a member of the youth wing of the National League for Democracy, the main opposition political party in Burma.
Mr. Maung worked on the security team of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Aung San Suu Kyi, and the leadership of the NLD as they traveled throughout the country in early 2003. During his service, he witnessed firsthand the May 30, 2003, massacre in which scores of NLD members were brutally beaten to death. He narrowly escaped the massacre and is one of only a few people who successfully fled Burma in order to speak to the world about what happened on that day.
Welcome, Mr. Maung.
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STATEMENT OF WUNNA MAUNG, NATIONAL LEAGUE FOR DEMOCRACY
Mr. MAUNG. [Through interpreter.] Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak today. I am particularly thankful to Congressman Tom Lantos, Peter King, and others who helped make the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 possible. I am also grateful to Chairman Gallegly, Vice Chairman Mr. Pitts, and Chairman Mr. Leach for making this hearing possible.
I am 26 years old, and I a member of the youth wing of the National League for Democracy from Mandalay Division. Part of my responsibility is to take charge of the security for my leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, Mandalay Division.
Wherever Aung San Suu Kyi went, she was greeted by thousands of people. People everywhere loved Aung San Suu Kyi. This is because they arethey want democracy.
Even before we embarked on our journey, we were already hearing news about the military government and local authorities tryingproviding weapons training to some of the attacks, but Aung San Suu Kyi told us to avoid any mannerisms that would provoke them. Aung San Suu Kyi told us carefully that never to fight back, never to retaliate, even if they try to attack you or kill you.
At around 8:30 on the 30 of May when our group led by Aung San Suu Kyi was between Tabayin and Sagaing at Kyi Village, they started to attack us there. Our carmy car, the car I riding in was just two cars behind Aung San Suu Kyi's car. And just when we were crossing Kyi Village, there was two peopletwo persons dressed as monks and they came out to stop the car, and that is the time when a colleague in charge went out and the two persons said, ''We have been waiting for you for so long. Please ask Daw Suu to give us a speech.''
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That was then when about four or five trucks came from behind, and when the trucks were near us, I could see members of the Union Solidarity and Development Association come down and they were shouting that, ''You pessimists, you henchmen, you rely on external elements.'' And that isand then that is when they started chanting slogans, and this USDA or the Union Solidary and Development Association, the tool of the military government.
That is when the villagers shouted back, the USDA members started attacking the villagers with wooden clubs, iron rods and iron spikes, and theyand within a few minutes the attack started to turn toward us. Although we were quite defenseless, we stood there quite bravely, and we listened. According to Aung San Suu Kyi's words, we never responded in any kind.
As per Aung San Suu Kyi's instruct, we did not fight back, but we stood around Aung San Suu Kyi's car in different layers and we used our body to protect her, and that was when at the same time I saw other cars from our National League for Democracy being attacked by other people. The attackers were seem to be drunk, and I realize that they were trying to eliminate us altogether.
At about this time they broke open the car windows with iron rods, and right in front of my eyes Baba U Tin Oo, which means Uncle U Tin Oo, the vice chairman of NLD, came down from the car, and one of the attackers hit him at the back and then several others dragged him away.
These attackers also attacked women, and not only they ripped off their sarongs and blouses, and while they were bloodied and lying on the grounds, they grabbed their hair, hit their heads against the ground, and they were saying ''Kill, die, die,'' and it wasI was hearing these voices in quite a fearful manner.
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And while the bloody massacre was going on, I can never forget the scene and I do not think I will ever forget that.
The attackers approached Aung San Suu Kyi gradually, and the people who were standing on the left side of the car, they startedthey were attacked first, and I saw my fellow members of the NLD fell one after another. And even though the others were not defending them, my colleagues were being hit with sticks and stabbed with iron spikes.
That was when the windows of Aung San Suu Kyi's car was broken, and the driver just drove away the car, and it was what saved Aung San Suu Kyi. If Aung San Suu Kyi was remained there, she would have been killed.
Fortunately, I was on the right side of the car, and when the car drove away, I could run away, and flee from the scene.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Maung follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF WUNNA MAUNG, NATIONAL LEAGUE FOR DEMOCRACY
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak today. I'd like to especially thank Congressmen Tom Lantos, Peter King, and others for their support for the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003. I also want to thank Chairman Gallegly, Vice Chairman Pitts, and Chairman Leach for organizing this hearing.
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I am 26 years old, and I am a member of the youth wing of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Mandalay, Burma's second largest city. As part of my responsibilities, I served as a security officer for the leader of our party, Aung San Suu Kyi, whom we call Daw Suu.
Daw Suu traveled by vehicle caravan during speaking tours throughout early 2003. In the caravan, there were 1015 vehicles and hundreds of motorcycles. Altogether, we estimate that there were about 600 people traveling with us.
Whenever we traveled, tens of thousands of people showed up to see Daw Suu. The people were very excited, because we admire Daw Suu very much, and because the people want democracy.
Whenever we stopped the caravan, I and my security team members created a two-layered security perimeter around the caravan. I always helped to form the outer layer of the perimeter.
Before our journey, we heard many rumors that local officials of the military regime were training their troops with blunt weapons, including clubs, spears, and iron spikes. For this reason, Daw Suu advised us to absolutely avoid any words or behavior that might lead to confrontation with any member of the military. She told us that if we were attacked, we must not fight back. Even if we are struck or killed, she said, we should absolutely not fight back.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 On May 29th at 9:00 am, our cars began our daily journey. Our party arrived at Sagaing, about 12 miles outside of Mandalay, at about 10: 30 am. Before entering Sagaing, we witnessed about 600 people holdings sides that read, ''We don't want people who don't support the USDA''. The USDA is the political arm of the military regime. Standing behind these people was a large crowd of people welcoming our party, yelling, ''Long live Aung San Suu Kyi''. We did not stop, but continued onward.
At about 6:00 pm, we reached the entrance to another town, Monywa. Tens of thousands of people showed up to meet Daw Suu and the NLD members, and we could not even reach the middle of town for another three hours. Tired after a long day, we all decided to sleep for the night.
The next day, we traveled further, stopping along the way to establish NLD offices and hang up our billboards. We stopped in one town so that Daw Suu could give words of encouragement to the family of an elected member of parliament who is still imprisoned. At this point, our scout car rode ahead, but didn't return. We sent ahead motorcycles to scout out, but they also did not return.
At about 8:30, we reached a place, near Kyi Village, between Saingpyin and Tabayin, where the attacks began. I was riding in a car two positions behind Daw Suu's car. After passing Kyi Village, two Buddhist monks blocked the way stopping the vehicle in which Daw Suu was riding. One of my colleagues exited from his car, and asked why the monks were blocking the road. The two monks said ''We have been waiting for a long time for you. Ask Daw Suu to give a speech.''
As my colleague tried to respond, four trucks, full of people, quickly drove toward our caravan, yelling, ''Oppose those relying on external forces . . .''
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When local villagers yelled in response, the USDA members began to brutally attack the villagers with iron spikes, bars, and wooden clubs they had brought with them. After a few minutes, the USDA attackers turned to our caravan. We watched helplessly, and tried to show courage.
Because we had been told to never use violence, we tried to protect Daw Suu's car by surrounding her with our bodies in two layers. As we waited, all of the cars behind us were being attacked, and the USDA members beat the NLD members mercilessly. The attackers appeared to be either on drugs or drunk.
The USDA members struck down everyone, including youths and women. They used the iron rods to strike inside the cars. I saw the attackers beat U Tin Oo and hit him on the head before they dragged him away. He had a wound on his head and was bleeding.
The attackers beat women and pulled off their blouses and sarongs. When victims, covered in blood, fell to the ground, the attackers grabbed their hair and pounded their heads on the pavement until their bodies stopped moving. The whole time, the attackers were screaming the words ''Die die die . . .'' There was so much blood. I still cannot get rid of the sight of people, covered in blood, being beaten mercilessly to death.
As the USDA members approached Daw Suu's car, we braced ourselves for the attacks. The attackers first beat the outer ring of my colleagues on the left side of Daw Suu's car, and smashed the glass windows of the car. As my colleagues fell one by one, the attackers then started beating the inner ring of security. The attackers hit my colleagues ferociously, because they knew we would not fight back. I was lucky and was not struck because I stood on the right side of the car.
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I would like to stress that during the attacks, we never fought back.
After the attackers broke the windows on Daw Suu's car, the driver sped off. She escaped beating, because she did not get out of the car. If she did, the attackers would have killed her.
As Daw Suu's car left, we also ran away. People fled on motorcycle and foot. We ran as far as we could, but we grew tired. We flagged down a car and tried to drive away with 18 people crammed inside, but the USDA members were waiting for us, blocking the way and beating people who had fled earlier.
We were trapped. Since we had nowhere to go, we drove off the road and got stuck in a ditch. Fortunately, there were some woods nearby. Altogether, we counted 97 people hiding in the woods, and we all slept there overnight.
Two of those hiding with us turned out to be part of the gang that had attacked us. They told us they had been ordered to do so by the USDA. They explained, ''We had never done such a thing in our life and since we could not bear to do such a thing, we came fleeing with you.''
The next morning, we all slowly approached the main road, at about 5:00 am. Shortly thereafter, we heard several gunshots. The military regime's police, from their cars, were firing at our motorcycles.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Since the police were firing at anyone who used the road, we walked across rice fields until we reached a village where local people allowed us to stay for the night. We exchanged clothes with some others the next day, and continued walking. Along the way, we met some other USDA members, who told us that they had been paid 800 kyats, and given meals and liquor in exchange for beating up a group of people. The USDA members had not realized that the people they were going to beat up were NLD members.
I arrived in the United States a couple of weeks ago. I would like to say that the people of Burma very much admire the people of the United States. We know the United States stands for freedom, and we greatly appreciate everything you have done for us. The people of Burma are defianttheir will is strong, and they want change. We are not victims, but freedom fighters, and will continue our struggle.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you very much, Mr. Maung.
Our second panelist is Mr. Steven Dun, an ethnic Karen who was born in Rangoon. In 1974, due to ethnic persecution, then 10 years old, Mr. Dun and his family fled the Karen State for the Thia-Burma border. Mr. Dun served as a teacher in a Karen school, and later taught basic survival skills to local populations.
While recuperating from a boating accident which left Mr. Dun paralyzed from the waist down, the Burmese army overran Karen bases and Mr. Dun was forced to flee the country. Since that time Mr. Dun has assisted in setting up data communications and continues to advocate on behalf of the Karen and the other ethnic peoples of Burma.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Welcome, Mr. Dun.
STATEMENT OF STEPHEN DUN, WORLD AID
Mr. DUN. Thank you, Chairman Gallegly, Vice Chairman Pitts, and other Members. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before the Subcommittees regarding the human rights situation in Burma.
My name is Stephen Dun and I am an ethnic Karen. My home is in Burma, in the Karen State, but I can no longer return. I now work with World Aid, a nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian aid, such as food and medical supplies to the internally displaced persons of Burma.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Mr. Dun, if we could maybeJoe, if you could just move one of the other microphones over temporarily we are having a little problem there. We have great staff. We can accomplish anything.
Mr. DUN. Thank you.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you.
Mr. DUN. So continuing, I want to thank you for the recent passage of the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act that is applying most needed pressure on the military regime. The people of Burma very much appreciate your help, and are comforted by the fact that we have not been forgotten.
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All the people are Burma are captives in their own country. Burma was once a rich country, but has descended into poverty due to the corruption and brutal policies of the military regime. Burma now has least developed country status and is ranked one of the world's 10 poorest nations. Under the military regime, Burma has plunged into an economic crisis.
The military regime attacks, kills, rapes and terrorizes the ethnic people of Burma, resulting in the current 600,000 to one million internally displaced persons, or the IDPs. They have been systematically driven from their homes, farms, and villages by the Burmese military in brutal campaigns of looting, rape, torture, and murder.
Burma army troops are constantly trying to undermine the survival of the population. In many areas they launch military operations under the growing and harvesting seasons. The burn fields of rice just when it is ready for harvesting. They plant land mines at entrances to fields and around water sources so that it is impossible for people to tend their fields.
The IDPs are hunted and killed and animals. Those who are captured are forced to be porters, human shields, and land mine sweepers, or human land mine sweepers. Women and girls are raped, sometimes gang raped until they are dead. Men, women, and children are often shot on the spot. Many of them are rounded up like cattle and forced to move to relocation camps controlled by the Burma army. Those who live in hiding must be ready to flee at a moment's notice or be shot.
I would like to submit this photograph today of an 8-year-old girl who was shot in the abdomen by the Burma army. She is sitting next to a 15-year-old girl here who was shot in the arm on October 30, 2002. Six civilians were shot that day just because they happened to be in their fields. One civilian was killed, and this letter 8-year-old girl barely survived, and the bullet is still lodged in her abdomen. This girl faces each day with great fear and tremendous dread that she may be shot again.
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Unfortunately, the military regime of Burma is unrelenting in its mission to oppress and control all of Burma. Their brutality is similar to that of all oppressive dictatorships. The regime has escalated its military build-up. It has been supplied arms by various countries, including China and Russia.
The Chinese arms manufacturer, Norinco, has provided billions of dollars of weapons. This is the same company which has been sanctioned by the United States for assisting in Iran's missile program.
In July 2001, the regime brought 10 MiG29 fighter jets from Russia for $130 million. The $40 million down payment was transferred in the same week that Burma received its initial share of royalties, approximately about $100 million, from Thailand's state oil company for gas from the Yadana pipeline, which is the UNOCAL and TOTAO project there. This pipeline carries gas from Burma to Thailand, and was built with forced labor.
While health and education programs suffer, the generals have begun a program to build a 10 megawatt nuclear research reactor to be built by the ministry for atomic energy of the Russian Federation.
In light of the horrific human rights violations, the economic instability, HIV/AIDS and health crisis, the current security concerns, the Burma army's argument that no one should interfere with its internal affairs is meaningless. The international community, or allies in Southeast Asia and the United States need to take serious action on Burma. We recommend the following actions for the United States Government and the international community.
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One, continue to press for tripartite dialogue. The dialogue should include Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy, the ethnic groups, and representatives of the military regime. Though Aung San Suu Kyi may be released, that alone is not sufficient progress. This will only take us back to the status quo of the pre-May attempt of Daw Suu's life. The United States and international community must insist that measurable progress toward freedom and democracy is made. This effort should be raised at the U.N. Security Council.
Two, provide financial assistance for humanitarian relief to the IDPs, and persuade neighboring countries not to block, but to allow desperately needed humanitarian assistance for the IDPs. This would include food, medicine, clothes, and educational supplies.
Presently, despite the regime's efforts to eradicate relief efforts, it is important to note that there are ongoing procedures and mechanisms in place that allow for effective monitoring of humanitarian relief to IDPs.
Three, encourage neighboring countries to allow pro-democracy Burma and ethnic groups to freely conduct their non-violent activities in these countries. This is building a foundation for a future free Burma by strengthening civil society.
Four, establish a U.N. Security Council commission on Burma to ensure that detailed steps with defined consequences for noncompliance be taken on a specific schedule to restore democracy. This commission should examine patterns of duplicity whereby the military regime continues brutal policies without attracting international attention.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 For example, whenever the military is about to launch a major offensive in the rural areas against ethnic populations, they create a distraction in the cities, so that the press loses sight of the horrific violations. On May 6, 2002, the regime released Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest. Simultaneously the Burma Army 88th division launched a heavy offensive on the Dooplaya district in Karen State.
Thank you again for letting me bring to your attention the situation in Burma and its needs. I wish to extend a special thanks to those Americans who have selflessly and with full knowledge of the risks put their lives in danger and freely brought help, hope and love to the oppressed of Burma, thereby withholding what President Bush recently stated, ''The liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift to humanity.''
[The prepared statement of Mr. Dun follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF STEPHEN DUN, WORLD AID
Thank you for the opportunity to testify before the House International Relations Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Human Rights Subcommittee on Asia and The Pacific and to bring this message to you and the Subcommittee Members regarding the human rights situation in Burma. My name is Stephen Dun and I am an ethnic Karen. My home is in Burma, in the Karen State, but I can no longer return. I now work with World Aid, a non-profit organization that provides humanitarian aid, such as food and medical supplies to the Internally Displaced Persons of Burma.
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I would like to thank you and the Members of the House and Senate who voted to pass the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act that is applying much needed pressure on the military regime. Your courage and compassion sets an example for all of us and is a tremendous encouragement. The people of Burma as well as expatriates are very grateful that our people have not been forgotten. We are also very glad that Japan has suspended economic aid and we hope that the European Union will move quickly to stand with the United States to help bring about the change in Burma from a military dictatorship to a democracy that represents all the peoples of Burma.
All the people of Burma are captives in their own countryboth the urban population, which is mostly made up of the Burman ethnic group, as well as the rural population, which is mostly made up of ethnic peoples. Burma was once a rich country, but it has descended into poverty due to corruption and the brutal policies of the Burmese military regime. The regime prospers from the production of narcotics. Through their proxy armies they control one of the world's leading sources of opium and heroin and lead the region in amphetamine production (CIA World Factbook, 2003). Half the national budget goes towards military spending, while education and public health services have been severely under-funded. The people of Burma suffer in unbearable poverty and starvation. Education and health care systems do not exist for the general public. Only families of people in high-level government positions can get these services. There is also an escalating economic crisis, with recent limits set by the central bank on cash withdrawals and suspension of credit card services (Agence France-Presse, February 17th 2003). The Association of South East Asian Nations has become greatly concerned. Even China, which is a great ally of the military regime, has voiced concern regarding the economic crisis and regional instability (Inter Press Services, September 2nd 2003).
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In spite of its current placating words and promises, the military regime in Burma has continued to perpetuate brutal and oppressive policies. In fact, since the May 6th 2002 release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, the atrocities have escalated, as can be seen in the recent attempt on her life. The military regime is still holding Aung San Suu Kyi a prisoner and continues to commit atrocities throughout the country with impunity. This is a cruel a regime that daily commits acts of terror against its own people.
The people of Burma have been living under this military regime for decades and thousands have sacrificed their lives in the effort to restore democracy and human rights. We hang on by a thread of hope that the free nations of the world will assist us and restore our rightfully elected leaders, our land, and our human dignity. We long to be the free, democratic and prosperous nation we once were. We will never give up that dream, but we need your help.
The military regime attacks, kills, rapes and terrorizes the ethnic people of Burma resulting in the current 600,000 to 1 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). They have been systematically driven from their homes, farms and villages by the Burmese military in brutal campaigns of looting, rape, torture and murder. Burma Army troops are constantly trying to undermine the survival of the population. In many areas, they launch military operations during the growing and harvesting seasons. In addition they often burn fields of rice, just when they are ready for harvesting. Further they plant landmines at entrances to fields and around water sources, so that it is impossible for people to tend their fields (Karen Human Rights Group, 1999).
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Living in the rugged hills in areas near the border with Thailand, IDPs are hunted and killed like animals by the military thugs. Those who are captured are forced to be porters, human shields and human landmine-sweepers. Women and girls are raped, sometimes gang-raped until they are dead. Men, women and children are often shot on the spot. Many of them are rounded up like cattle and forced to move to relocation camps controlled by the Burma Army. Those who live in hiding must be ready to flee at a moment's notice if they are discovered. IDPs trying to cross into Thailand often find the crossing dangerous and difficult, due to the increased presence of Burma army patrols and the growing reluctance of Thai officials to even allow them across the border. There are now well over 100,000 refugees living in camps along the Thai-Burma border and over one million undocumented migrant workers.
I would like to submit for the Record this photograph of an eight-year-old girl who was shot in the stomach by the Burma Army; she is sitting next to a fifteen-year-old girl who was shot in the arm on October 30, 2002. Six civilians were shot that day, simply because they happened to be seen by a Burma Army Patrol while they were working in their fields. One died and this little eight-year-old girl barely survivedthe bullet is still lodged in her abdomen. This photo was taken in January2003, by a relief organization that assists IDPs in the most dangerous areas inside Burma. These children survived the shooting but they face each day with great fear and tremendous dread that they may be shot again.
As I look at this little girl's eyes, I see the pain and also the determination of the people of Burma, the people who suffer the most, the people who are our future. Their situation grows bleaker every day. How can any one allow these children to suffer like this? In addition to the atrocities, IDPs now face starvation. They lack food, medicine, educational opportunities and physical security. The depredations created by the Burmese military have reached a humanitarian crisis of major proportions.
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Yet, in the face of this oppression and humanitarian crisis, the ethnic peoples have not given up and are doing their best to help their people. The pro-democracy resistance groups, although badly outnumbered, continue to try to protect their people and they try to provide relief through their social welfare offices and other organizations such as the committee for Internally Displaced Karen and Karenni people (CIDKP and CIDKNP), the Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) and the Free Burma Rangers (FBR). These groups make every effort to provide emergency relief, leadership, and capacity building to the IDPs despite extreme difficulty. Their desire is simply to help the people of Burma by bringing relief and hope.
I recently received a report from a relief team leader after a May 2003 mission to the IDPs of Burma. It is an eyewitness report from the ground and a call to prayer, thought and action:
''As we were treating IDPs in Karen state at a recently burned village, deeper inside Burma Aung San Suu Kyi had just been arrested and many of her supporters murdered. Ethnic or Burman, no one is safe from the terror of the dictators of Burma. We have helped to treat and pray for women who have been raped by soldiers of the Burma Army, children who were shot, parents who saw their children thrown into a fire and many others who have endured evil. They screamed for help but no one came to save them. The world knows these things are happening. In this world actions fall into two categories: acceptable and unacceptable. Raping little girls, murdering civilians and burning villages is unacceptable. If these things are truly unacceptable what must we do as individuals and nations? Now is the time that all people must choose where they stand, with the people of Burma or with the dictators. In the face of evil we will not flee, we will act with love, with prayer and with our lives.''
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Unfortunately, the military regime of Burma is unrelenting in its mission to oppress and control all of Burma; their brutality is similar to that of all oppressive dictatorships and if left unchecked, this regime could force the world into having to face another Afghanistan, Iraq, or North Korea. Under such regimes, military aggression is used not only to oppress the people within the country, but also to become a force that eventually could threaten neighboring countries and the international community.
The Burma regime's military build-up is escalating. In July 2001 the regime bought 10 MiG-29 fighter jets from Russia for $130 million. The $40 million down payment was transferred in the same week that Burma received its initial share of royalties (approximately $100 million) from Thailand's state oil company for gas from the Yadana pipeline (Bangkok Post, July 17th 2001). The pipeline provides natural gas from the Andaman Sea through the Tenasserim region of Burma and into Thailand. This pipeline was built with forced labor. In addition, while health and education programs suffer, the generals have begun a program to build a 10MW Russian nuclear research reactor, to be built by the Ministry for Atomic Energy of the Russian Federation (Minatom) for the military regime's Ministry of Science and Technology (Nuclear Threat Initiative 2002, May 15th). Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, Richard Lugar, recently wrote about these concerns in the Washington Post. A 10 MW reactor, although small, would be capable of producing both nuclear power and waste.
This military buildup creates a severe risk for the people of Burma and its neighbors. Burma does not have the technological support system to safely operate a nuclear power plant. Even basic services such as a dependable electric supply do not exist. It is a nuclear disaster waiting to happen. It is cause for concern for the whole region. Furthermore, the possibility of the Burma regime exporting fission material for dirty bombs will be great. There is no peaceful reason why the junta should seek to go nuclear. The junta's excuse is that the reactor will produce radioisotopes for medical and research purposes. It is important to note that the regime's program came under the international spotlight recently after two Pakistani nuclear scientists, Dr. Suleiman Asad and Dr. Muhammad Ali Muktar with long experience at two of their country's most secret nuclear installations, appeared in Burma after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States (The Washington Times, December 10th 2001). In addition to the aircraft purchase and nuclear program, the military regime has spent billions on Chinese weapons, and has a relationship with the Chinese arms manufacturer Norinco. This is the same arms manufacturer that has been sanctioned by the United States for assisting the Iranian government's missile program.
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The priorities of the Burma military regime are terribly distorted since military and industrial procurement rank higher than the people's basic needs for survival. The military regime's actions affect the whole region and are likely to create even more crises in the future. In light of the horrific human rights violations, the economic instability, HIV/AIDS and health crises, and current security concerns, the Burma army's argument that no one should interfere with its internal affairs is meaningless. The international community, our allies in South East Asia and the United States need to take serious action on Burma.
I would like to recommend the following actions for the United States government and the international community:
1. Continue to press for tri-partite dialoguethe dialogue should include Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy, the ethnic groups, and representatives of the military regime. Though Aung San Suu Kyi must be released, that alone is not sufficient progress. This will only take us back to the status quo of the pre-May attempt on Daw Suu's life. The United States and the international community must insist that measurable progress towards freedom and democracy is made. This effort should be raised at the UN Security Council.
2. Provide financial assistance for humanitarian relief to the IDPs and persuade neighboring countries not to block, but to allow, desperately needed humanitarian assistance for the IDPs. This would include food, medicine, clothes and educational supplies. Presently, despite the regime's efforts to eradicate relief efforts, it is important to note that there are ongoing procedures and mechanisms in place that allow for effective monitoring of humanitarian relief to IDPs. Both relief and the building up of democratic structures are crucial now and for a future Burma.
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3. Encourage neighboring countries to allow pro-democracy Burman and ethnic groups to freely conduct their non-violent activities in these countries. This is building a foundation for a future free Burma by strengthening civil society.
4. Establish a UN Security Council commission on Burma to ensure that detailed steps with defined consequences for noncompliance be taken on a specific schedule to restore democracy. This commission should examine patterns of duplicity whereby the military regime continues brutal policies without attracting international attention. For example, whenever the military is about to launch a major offensive in the rural areas against the ethnic populations, they create a distraction in the cities, so that the press loses sight of the horrific violations. On May 6th 2002, the regime released Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest. Simultaneously the Burma Army 88th division launched a heavy offensive on the Dooplaya district in Karen State.
The people of Burma are very resilient and resourceful. At one time, we had one of the highest levels of education in Southeast Asia. All it will take is removing the yoke of oppression, and providing a window for re-growth. We can become a strong ally. We have the natural resources. We just have to allow the human capacity to bloom.
Thank you again for allowing me to testify regarding the situation in Burma and the needs of the people. I wish to extend a special thank you to the hundreds of Americans who have selflessly and freely brought help, hope and love to the oppressed people of Burma. They uphold President Bush's recent statement, ''The liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift to humanity''.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 References
Burma Transnational Issues, CIA World Factbook. Retrieved September 15, 2003 on the world wide web at: http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/bm.html#Issues
de Borchgrave, A. (2001, December 10th) Al Qaeda's Nuclear Agenda Verified. The Washington Times
Ehrlich, R. S. (2001, August 28th) U.S. F16 Warplanes to Thailand and Russian MiG-29 Jet Fighters to Burma. European Press Network.
Human Rights Trends in Rural and Eastern Burma (1999, June 29th) Briefing Notes, Karen Human Rights Group. Retrieved September 15, 2003, on the world wide web at: http://www.ibiblio.org/freeburma/humanrights/khrg/archive/khrg99/hrbrief.html
Jagan, L. (2003 September 2) China Gives Burma Support But Also Urges Change. Inter Press Services.
Myanmar banks suspend credit card services (2003, February 17th) Agence France-Presse
Myanmar Research Reactor Project Approved (2002, May 15th). Nuclear Threat Initiative. Retrieved September 15, 2003 on the world wide web at: www.nti.org/db/nisprofs/russia/exports/general/nuexdev.htm
Rangoon free to spend gas money on anything it wants. (2001 July 17th) Bangkok Post.
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Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you very much, Mr. Dun.
Our next witness is Michael Mitchell. Mr. Mitchell is a founding partner of Orion Strategies, a public relations firm in Washington, DC. He has worked with Burmese democracy groups since 1993, when he became program director for the International Relations Institutes Burma project. He was also a founding member of the Burma Media Association, an organization to protect journalists and discuss the role of freedom of the press in a democratic society.
In addition, Mr. Mitchell was director of congressional relations at the Department of State in the Counter-Narcotics Bureau during the first Bush Administration, and also worked for Senator Mitch McConnell. In 1999, Mr. Mitchell was awarded the Order of Freedom by the Mongolian government for his work assisting that country in its transition to a democracy.
Welcome, Mr. Mitchell.
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL MITCHELL, ORION STRATEGIES
Mr. MITCHELL. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and Members of this Committee. It is truly an honor to be here and especially on a panel with our other distinguished speakers.
It was just 2 months ago when this Congress gave concrete expression to its collective outrage at the Burmese military regime by passing the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act. The measures contained in this legislation have hit the regime hard, but we and others must do more if Burmese democracy activists are to achieve their goal of removing the odious regime that is ruling their country and replacing it with a democracy stolen from them decades ago.
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The massacre of over 100 NLD members and the near murder of Suu Kyi on the night of May 30th should offer final proof that this regime is fundamentally evil and has absolutely no interest, none, in compromise and will never voluntarily cede power.
The junta is vulnerable, and I do not believe their grip on power is secure. Burmese democracy activists are not asking for the 82nd Airborne. They are able and willing to fight their own battles. What they are asking for is support from the international community that includes a comprehensive sanction scheme and further isolation of the regime.
Burma must matter to us because until the political stalemate in that country is resolved and the NLD is allowed to take power it will remain a failed state ruled by tyrants whose oppression serves to destabilize Southeast Asia, and affect us here at home.
I would like to make some observations.
First, the constructive engagement approach that many countries favored is a complete, complete failure. Engagement will only enrich the regime's coffers and embolden their tyranny.
Second, our goal in Burma should be nothing short of doing all we can to support the nonviolent democracy movement in their quest and ours for regime change.
Third, sanctions work, but by themselves will not remove the junta from power. However, they are a strategic necessity in order to cut off the ability of the regime to finance its instruments of terror.
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Fourth, the military might rule Burma, but this does not translate into public support. They are no stronger than the regimes of Ceausescu, Milosovich or Suharto that now reside in the ashcan of history.
Burma's democracy movement is broad, it is deep, and it extends well beyond Aung San Suu Kyi. We need to provide those fighting for democracy and human rights the same political, moral and appropriate financial support that was given to Polish dock workers, Hungarian democracy activists, Russian refuseniks, and the young Yugoslav freedom fighters who succeeded in tearing down the Milosovich regime.
There are several initiative United States should undertake to assist the Burmese democracy movement, and I would be happy to expand on each one during our Q&S session, but briefly summarizing.
One, we must make Burma a diplomatic priority. At every opportunity, at many different levels, internationally the Department of State and other agencies must forcefully communicate our Burma policy and use an appropriate mix of dialogue, coaxing cajoling, and when necessary, hardball pressure to support the movement.
The President has a great opportunity when he visits Thailand later this month to participate in the APEC meetings. He should use Bangkok much as two American presidents used Berlin. President Kennedy symbolically placed every American at the site of those isolated in that beleaguered city. President Reagan's challenge to General Secretary Gorbachev tore down a wall that divided Europe and ended Communism. President Bush should use Bangkok to speak directly to the Burmese people and let them know that they are not alone; that even during the darkness they are enduring they must continue their fight, and as they do their part in the struggle for freedom we will do our.
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We must also work to have a full court press within the U.N. Security Council. The time for sending U.N. envoys to visit the regime has long since past, serves little purpose, and only creates the illusion of action or progress.
Three, the increase in funding for democracy groups.
Four, we could bolster broadcasts into Burma of RFA and VOA.
Five, I think we should make Burma an ASEAN problem. ASEAN must be made to realize that when the grouping is spending more time trying to deal with the latest crisis created by the junta instead of focusing on regional issues, they have a problem, and they need to deal with it.
I am dismayed by the policy that Thai Prime Minister Thaksin is pursuing with regard to Burma. Thailand is one of our oldest friends in the region. The actions by Prime Minister Thaksin to close down offices of Burmese democracy groups dedicated to promoting nonviolence and collecting information on human rights abuses is nothing short of alarming.
Just today I have received a report that the Thais are seeking to shut a hospital and deport registered migrant workers, including health workers, caring for IDPs.
Six, we could ask Japan to do more. Primarily, they could take a role in sponsoring a tough Burma resolution at the upcoming U.N. Human Rights Conference.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 And seven, you could maintain congressional involvement, and to each and everyone of you I ask to stay engaged and articulate support for the Burmese democracy movement on a regular basis, to visit government officials, and ensure that the Administration is doing all it can to carry out the provisions of the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act.
In conclusion, I want to speak to one activist, Min Ko Naing, who has spent the last 12 years in jail, solitary confinement, only rarely does he have human contact. His sentence for participating in the democracy movement expired long ago, but he remains imprisoned.
The junta has offered him a deal. If you sign a statement renouncing all political activity and denouncing the NLD, you can walk free. He has refused. Imagine anyone of us in this room being in the same situation, and I ask what would you do.
Min Ko Naing's courage should inspire us because the strength of his convictions are shared with thousands of Burmese, and that is why one day, it might not be tomorrow or a month from tomorrow, but some day freedom will come this tortured land.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Mitchell follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT AND MATERIAL SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD BY MICHAEL MITCHELL, ORION STRATEGIES
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I want to thank you for the opportunity to testify. It was just two months ago when this Congress voiced its collective outrage at the Burmese military regime and passed the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act that President Bush signed on July 28, 2003. By many accounts, the measures contained in this legislation have hit the regime hard. This hearing comes at a critical time. The U.S. has taken far reaching actions, but much more is necessaryfrom the U.S. and our alliesif Burmese democracy activists are to achieve their goal of removing one of the world's most odious regimes and replacing it with the democracy that was stolen from them decades ago.
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At this point, I believe any hope of a dialogue between the regime and Burma's democratic forces, led by imprisoned Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, is dead. In fact, the junta has never shown any interest in seeking negotiations to break the political impasse between their regime and Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD)a political movement that was chosen by an overwhelming electoral victory in 1990 to run the country. Suu Kyi's cyclic arrest and re-arrest is nothing more than a cynical ploy to manipulate the international community and the United Nations (U.N.) into believing that political negotiation is taking place while crushing internal dissent. The massacre of over 100 NLD members and the near murder of Suu Kyi on the night of May 30th should offer final proof that this regime, fundamentally evil as it is, has absolutely no interestnonein giving up power. Therefore, we must now focus our efforts on strategies and programs that will gain the release of Suu Kyi and strengthen Burma's internal movement. The junta is vulnerable and I do not believe their grip on power is secure. Burma's democracy activists are not asking for the 82nd Airborne. They are able and willing to fight their own battles. What they are asking for is support from the international community that includes a comprehensive sanctions scheme and further isolation of the regime. These elements, when combined with a nonviolent grassroots civic mobilization of the population, hold the most promise of sweeping the junta aside and bringing the NLD to power.
We have critical, strategic priorities throughout Southeast Asia. Dealing with North Korea's nuclear brinksmanship, the ongoing war against terror groups in the region, China and Taiwan, as well as social ills such as HIV/AIDS are demanding, ongoing issues. We might ask ourselves, what is the strategic relevance of what happens in Burma? I believe the answer to that question is that until the political stalemate in Burma is resolved and the NLD is allowed to take power, Burma will remain a failed state ruled by tyrants whose oppression serves to destabilize Southeast Asia and affect us here at home. The regime's involvement in promoting and protecting drug trafficking and narco-kingpins serves to flood the region with methamphetamines and our streets with high-grade heroin. President Bush stated that Burma is a national security threat to the U.S. in his communication to Congress that Burma was not cooperating with us on counter-narcotics issues.
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The junta's deliberate lack of health care and education to stem the HIV/AIDS epidemic makes Burma a regional epicenter for the spread of this disease. The regime can spend $100 million to purchase MiG-29 fighters from Russia and pay Ukraine $50 million for T72 tanks, yet budget barely $40,000 on AIDS. After all, if people are fighting this disease, they cannot be fighting the regime. The junta is responsible for sending waves of refugees over Burma's borders into neighboring states as they flee horrific human rights abuses. The actions of the Burmese regime are responsible for tens of millions of dollars in costs to neighboring states as they are forced to pick up the tab for the economic and social costs of human rights abuses, AIDS, sex trafficking of children and women, increased crime, and corruption within their borders.
It also bears mentioning that the junta has contracted with Russia for a nuclear reactor allegedly for research purposes. This should alarm usand Burma's neighbors. There is simply no reason for the country to have any type of nuclear program. The regime should not be trusted with any amount of radioactive material. The junta's closed society, track record of breaking basic international agreements they have ratified (such as the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child), and complete disregard for international institutions immediately casts into question their motives in developing a nuclear program.
Conversely, realizing the Burmese peoples' desire for a democratic Burma would play a pivotal role in providing stability and economic growth in a region rife with ethnic tensions, border disputes, terrorist threats, and undergoing major social challenges.
I WOULD LIKE TO MAKE SOME OBSERVATIONS:
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First: The ''constructive engagement'' approach that many countries favored, especially Japan, Thailand, and Malaysia, in dealing with the junta, is a complete failure. The notion that this regime would change through international handholding and assimilation into groups such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was fantasy at best. The bottom line is this regime, led by General Than Swe will, just as Pol Pot's in Cambodia, or Kim Jong Il's North Korea, use any means including intimidation, torture, violence and murder to stay in power.
Second: We should not seek accommodation or negotiation with this junta; our goal should be nothing short of doing all we can to support Burma's non-violent democracy movement in their quest, and ours, for regime change. Passage of the Burma Freedom and Democracy Act is a first step in this direction and codified this policy. This goal must not change even if Suu Kyi is released tomorrow.
Third: Sanctions work, but they are one part of a three-step strategy. Sanctions by themselves will not remove the junta from power. However, they are a strategic necessity in order to cut off the ability of the regime to finance its instruments of terrorsuch as the military, intelligence service and street level enforcers and informers. It will not be easy for the regime to make up the estimated $350 million in legal exports that our sanctions regime will cost them. Diplomatic activity, both within the region, and within international organizations such as the U.N. will also play a critical role in maintaining pressure on the military junta.
Fourth: The military might rule Burma, but this does not translate into public support. It depends on violence, terror, and allegiances based on spoils and graft, not on ideological commitment, to survive. This includes the creation of criminal groupssuch as the one that attacked Suu Kyi's convoyfor enforcement muscle.
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Within the Burma army there is support for the democracy movement. For example, in 1990, areas surrounding most military bases where soldiers and their families live, voted for NLD parliamentarians. Even today, military officers and soldiers risk severe punishment as they listen to BBC, VOA, RFA, and Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) broadcasts. What keeps the army together is less dedication to the regime, than terror of what might happen if a person steps out of line. Desertion and suicide are rampant and the army now has the world's largest number of child soldiers. As we saw in 1988 when large numbers of officers and the military stood with the protesters during that national uprising, this does not lead to a stable, dependable military. History has shown that dictatorships and authoritarian governments are inherently unstable and do not last. For example, the Soviet Union is now gone. The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) as the junta calls itself is no stronger than the regimes of Ceausescu, Milosovich, or Suharto that now reside in the ashcan of history.
STEPS TO FREEDOM
In Burma there are freedom fighters who match in every way the courage and bravery of the men and women who have sacrificed to make our country what it is today. The democracy movement is broad, it is deep, and extends well beyond Suu Kyi. Because Burma is a closed society, we do not hear of the incredible bravery of individuals who, many times working in small groups, strike at the regime by disseminating anti-government leaflets, newspapers such as the New Era Journal (funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)), or stage hit-and-run demonstrations. Recently, political prisoners staged a hunger strike to protest the arrest of Suu Kyi. Their actions will no doubt add to their sentences and result in more torture.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Although the U.S. has enacted a comprehensive sanctions regime, this should represent only the most recent step in our assistance to Burma's freedom activists. The U.S. commitment to Burma's democracy movement should extend far beyond the actions we have thus far taken. We need to provide those fighting for democracy and human rights the same political, moral, and appropriate financial support that was given to Polish dockworkers, Hungarian democracy activists, Russian refuseniks, and the young Yugoslav freedom fighters who succeeded in tearing down Milosovich's regime.
There are several initiatives the U.S. must undertake to assist the Burmese democracy movement. We must:
Make Burma a diplomatic priority: At every opportunity, at many different levels with regional states, European countries and organizations, international financial institutions, and other interested parties the Department of State must forcefully communicate our Burma policy and use an appropriate mix of coaxing, cajoling, and when necessary hardball pressure to support Burma's democratic movement. This will be especially true with China. Burma needs to be a continuing agenda item in our discussions with Beijing.
At this moment, I think we are saying all the right things, but we need to be stronger with our actions.
The President has a great opportunity when he visits Thailand later this month to participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings. I urge you to ask that he use Bangkok much as two American presidents used Berlin. It was President Kennedy who symbolically placed every American at the side of those isolated in that beleaguered city. President Reagan's challenge to Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev tore down a wall that divided Europe and ended Communism. President Bush should use Bangkok to speak directly to the Burmese people and let them know they are not alone, that even during the darkness they are enduring they must continue their fight and as they do their part in the struggle for freedom we will do ours. Following this up with high-level discussions on Burma with APEC members will be critical to demonstrating our seriousness and rallying international pressure against the regime.
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Full court press within the U.N. Security Council: The U.S. should act now and, possibly in conjunction with Britain, bring Burma before the U.N. Security Council. A tough resolution that includes sanctions with a prohibition on arms sales will serve to tighten the noose around the regime. Moreover, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan must use his position to work with the Security Council to place Burma on the agenda. The time for sending U.N. envoys to visit the regime has long since passed, serve little purpose, and only create the illusion of action or ''progress.'' This regime has spurred the U.N.'s call. The U.N. should respond through the Security Councilnow. Failure to do so will demonstrate the impotence of the world body in dealing with such countries and serve as tacit acknowledgement to other regimes that the actions of Burma's junta represent an acceptable standard of conduct.
Increase Funding for Democracy Groups: Congress made available approximately six million dollars last year for refugee assistance and democracy-building activities. This figure, at a minimum, should be doubled with the emphasis being placed on strengthening the infrastructure of groups working inside Burma. NED has considerable experience funding groups in closed societies. Funds should be channeled directly to NED for this purpose. Activists in Burma can use technology to increase their communications with each other. Books, pamphlets and training manuals on non-violent struggle, called ''political defiance'' by the Burmese, are critical to their efforts.
Bolster Broadcasting into Burma: RFA and VOA are critical links to the Burmese people. Millions each day defy the regime and listen to these broadcaststhis from a RFA listener''Radio Free Asia's news broadcasts are invaluableit is like a pot of pure drinking water from which we can quench our thirst for knowledge and information.'' Additional staff and broadcast times would serve to lay bare the propaganda this regime uses to justify its existence.
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Make Burma an ASEAN problem: Malaysia and Thailand along with other members hoped the integration of Burma into ASEAN would promote national reconciliation and democratic development. Unfortunately, this approach has failed. The regime's spurring of Indonesian envoy Ali Alatis is the latest embarrassment it has brought to ASEAN. Indications that Suu Kyi and her release will be on the ASEAN agenda at the Bali summit next week are welcome, but her release should not divert attention from the overriding issue of democracy in Burma.
The actions of the military junta are draining economic growth from regional states, promoting the spread of HIV/AIDS throughout Asia, protecting indicted drug smugglers and flooding Thailand with methamphetamines and heroin that eventually makes its way to our shores. At each ASEAN meeting our diplomats attend, the U.S. must insist that Burma be a top agenda item. The ASEAN statement calling for Suu Kyi's release following the regional meetings in Cambodia was welcome. However, ASEAN must be made to realize that when the grouping is spending more time trying to deal with the latest crisis created by the junta instead of focusing on plans to promote economic growth, fight the war on terror, and develop collective solutions to the region's social problems, that is not good for ASEAN or each of its individual members. ASEAN now needs to put significant, meaningful pressure on the regime. Ejecting the regime or at the very least suspending their membership would be a powerful statement of ASEAN's determination to deal with their Burma problem.
I am dismayed by the policy that Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is pursuing with regard to Burma. Thailand is one of our oldest friends in the region. The actions by Prime Minister Thaksin to close down offices of Burmese democracy groups dedicated to promoting nonviolence and collecting information on human rights abuses is alarming. Thai authorities are seeking to silence Burmese activists through the arbitrary detention of Burmese exiles, calls by Thai authorities to Burmese groups demanding they cease their activities, and pressuring ethnic groups such as the Karen, Karenni and Shan to sign fictitious peace agreements with the junta. Several humanitarian organization have reported that Thai authorities are seeking to restrict assistance (medical supplies and food) to internally displaced persons in Burma fleeing the scorched earth policy the junta uses against ethnic groups.
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The actions of the Thaksin government represent a turnaround from previous policies that sought to protect refugees and allowed political exiles an avenue to communicate with the international community. I hope Prime Minister Thaksin would consider the economic and social damage Burma's military junta is inflicting on Thailand and take an aggressive role to support those Burmese and ethnic groups advocating democratic change. It is in Thailand's self interest to demand reforms in Burma. A free and democratic Burma will mean a huge market for Thai products while smoothing the way for negotiations and direct action on common border problems. Thailand would no longer have to prepare for Burmese attacks on Thai military and civilian targets that have occurred so many times in the past.
Towards this end, the U.S. can enhance the ability of Thai authorities in combating cross-border drug trafficking. A positive step in this direction would be offering to resume the successful interdiction campaign code named BAKER TORCH. According to sources in Thailand, this operation proved successful in boosting the ability of the Thai military and law enforcement to fight drug trafficking.
Ask Japan to do more: The Japanese government has suspended its overseas development assistance to Burma. Japan is/was Burma's largest foreign aid donor. Japan can play a critical role within the region in pressing the regime on democratic reformsif they want. We must engage with Japan to permanently suspend all its ODA until the NLD is allowed to assume power. A step that the Japanese might consider would be to assist in forming a ''contact group'' with regional states to address common concerns and push the regime for democratic reforms. They can also take a leading role in sponsoring a tough Burma resolution at the upcoming U.N. Human Rights Conference.
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Maintain congressional involvement: You have an important role to play. Members need to stay engaged and articulate support for the Burmese democracy movement on a regular basis to visiting government officials, elected representatives, and ensure that the administration is doing all it can to carry out the provisions articulated in the Burma Freedom and Democracy Act. Questions to administration officials at relevant hearings are important to convey the priority you place on assisting the Burmese freedom movement. Members should not hesitate to go to the Houseor Senatefloor with statements on the latest developments in Burma. Your words resonate in Asia and offer hope to the Burmese people. I would also encourage Members on overseas travel to convey our policy towards the regime to their hosts.
THE TRUTH ABOUT MAY 30TH
I would now like to talk briefly about the events surrounding the attack against Suu Kyi and her NLD members on the evening of May 30th in Depayin Township. The military regime has invested substantial political capital in trying to portray this massacre as a riot instigated by NLD members traveling with Suu Kyi against local junta supporters. They have dispatched their representatives to foreign capitals delivering the message that ''it was Suu Kyi's fault.'' From the overwhelming evidence we have, this is clearly a lie.
The assault was a carefully planned attack against the Nobel Peace Prize recipient that, according to first-hand accounts, resulted in the murder of upwards of 100 people who were clubbed to death or impaled on iron rods. Scores of others were severely beaten and women accompanying Suu Kyi were dragged off and raped. The culprits were several hundred thugs recruited from jails and members of the regime's local political apparatus who were directed by high-level SPDC officers. We now know exactly what happened and the names of those responsible for organizing the assault thanks to the courage of many people in Burma who risked their lives to make sure the truth was made known to the international community. These murders lie squarely on the shoulders of Gen. Than Swe who ordered the attack and his subordinates who carried it out. Their names are Brigadier General Thura Myint Maung and chairman of the junta's district branch, Lt. Col. Myint Lwin. A local village leader, Thein Aung, also played a key role in the massacre. I would like to enter into the record a report by RFA that documents this attack. The military regime, like the Soviet Union and other tyrannical regimes, believe they can brainwash their people and the international community with fictional accounts they hope to turn into official history. We must not allow this to happen.
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I want to close by saying that we as Americans can learn much from freedom activists in Burma. I am always amazed by their determination and bravery to carry out actions against the regime they know most likely will result in their arrest, certain torture, and perhaps death. I have known several activists who have given their lives for a free Burma; more will die making this same sacrifice.
I want to speak to one activist, Min Ko Naing, who has spent the last 12 years in jailsolitary confinementonly rarely does he have human contact. His sentence for participating in the democracy movement expired long ago but he remains imprisoned. The junta has offered him a deal: ''If you sign a statement renouncing all political activity and denouncing the NLD, you can walk free.'' He has refused. Imagine any one of us in this room being in the same situation. I ask, ''What would you do?''
Min Ko Naing's courage should inspire us, because the strength of his convictions are shared by thousands of Burmese and that is why one dayit might not be tomorrow, or a month from tomorrowbut some day freedom will come to this tortured land.
[NOTE: A copyrighted article submitted for the record that appeared in The Washington Post on September 28, 2003 entitled ''Seeds of Trouble From Burma,'' by Richard G. Lugar, is not reprinted here but is available in the records of the Committee on International Relations' Subcommittee on International Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Human Rights.]
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THAI-BURMESE BORDER SITUATION/MAE SOT
DR. CYNTHIA S CLINIC TARGETED BY THAI GOVERNMENT S CRACKDOWN ON MIGRANT WORKERS
The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUMASIA) is deeply concerned by a report that Dr. Cyntai Maung s Mae Tao Clinic in Mae Sot District of Tak Province, which is the main provider of healthcare service to asylum seekers and migrants on the Thai-Burmese border, may have to close down as a result of the Thai Government s crackdown on migrant workers.
On 29 September Mae Tao Clinic was inspected by Thai authorities. Officials from Mae Sot District Office and the Immigration Department, who were accompanied by armed police and intelligence officers, told Dr. Cynthia that she should prepare for the arrest and deportation of medics and school teachers who have previously been registered as migrant workers with the Ministry of Labor. This warning came after the Thai Government passed a cabinet resolution in August prohibiting 12,161 registered migrant workers from renewing their work permits. As a result, more than 100 medics and school teachers at Mae Tao Clinic could no longer stay in Thailand after their work permits expired on 25 September. This may include Dr. Cynthia herself. Although she has now lived in exile in Thailand for 15 years, Dr. Cynthia has no official papers and is effectively stateless.
Regardless of their significant contribution to the community of asylum seekers and migrants on the Thai-Burmese border, which has no sufficient access to formal healthcare system provided by the Thai Government, Thai authorities have started to signal the possibility that medics and school teachers at Mae Tai Clinic could possibly be subject to arrest and deportation. This action, if pursued by Thai authorities, will cause serious impact on vital healthcare service for asylum seekers and migrants on the Thai-Burmese border. Mae Tao Clinic treats 150 patients a day, delivers 10 to 20 babies a month, trains 30 medics a year and provides prenatal checkups, childhood immunizations and education about nutrition, sanitation and family planning. Its five doctors and 123 other medical staffs treat everything from diarrhea to gunshot wounds for almost free of charge. For that, Dr. Cynthia has won numerous international prizes including a Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership and remains among her own people the likeliest candidate for sainthood after Aung San Suu Kyi.
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FORUMASIA also fears for the safety and welfare of those medics and school teachers if they are deported from Thailand into the hand of Burmese authorities. According to the memorandum of understanding between the Thai Government and its Burmese counterpart signed in June, the deportation of migrant workers from Thailand will now mean that they are to be handed over to Burmese authorities. FORUMASIA is worried that medics and school teachers from Mae Tao Clinic will be singled out by Burma s ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) if they are sent to the Holding Center in Myawaddy, opposite Mae Sot. The fact that they have provided to asylum seekers and migrants could have constituted the ground for the SPDC to regard them as state enemies , which could possibly lead to severe persecution and maltreatment including torture and execution. The SPDC has held a longstanding malicious opinion against Dr. Cynthia and her staffs, calling them absconders, insurgents and terrorists.
For Further information or comments contact: Sunai Phasuk, FORUMASIA Spokesperson on +66 (0)1 6323052
Mr. MITCHELL. Mr. Chairman, I also have several inserts for the record which I would like to follow my testimony.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Without objection, they will be made a part of the record in their entirety.
Our next witness is Ms. Naw Musi. Ms Musi is an ethnic Karen from Burma. However, she spent most of her life in a refugee camp in Thailand.
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She graduated from high school in the refugee camps and taught in the same school. While teaching in the camp, Ms. Musi co-founded the Karen Student's Network Group.
Ms. Musi has worked as the coordinator of the Women's Rights Project of EarthRights International, a Washington-based human rights organization with offices in Thailand. As the coordinator, she conducted a women's rights training in the refugee camps and documented women's human rights abuses committed by the Burmese military regime.
In addition, she has served as an intern for Refugees International, and is currently a student at Hardwick College.
Welcome. We await your testimony.
STATEMENT OF NAW MUSI, BURMESE REFUGEE
Ms. MUSI. First of all, I would like to thank Chairman Gallegly, Chairman Pitts, and Chairman Leach, for giving me this important opportunities to speak on behalf of millions of people in my country, especially for those who by no means could reach this floor to tell us the story of their lives under the most brutal and racist military regimes.
My name is Naw Musi, and I am ethnic Karen from Burma. i was born in Delta region. However, I grew up in refugee camp along the Thi-Burma border as my parents were fleeing from the persecution by the military government.
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We are all aware of what happened to Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters on May 30, 2003. I think it is important that this Committee is also informed on what else has been happening simultaneously in and around the time Thai-Burma order to the ethnic people of Burma.
Recent reports from human rights and aid organizations along the Thai-Burma border indicate that the human rights situation is getting worse not only in Rangoon, but also it is worsening in frontiers that ethnic minorities call home. As a result of the ongoing war in minority group areas and deteriorating economic conditions in Burma, more than two million people have fled Burma to Thailand, excluding people who fled to India and Bangladesh. An estimated 1.5 million more remain inside Burma as internally displaced people. Of the population that fled Burma, approximately 155,000 reside in refugee camps in Thailand and Bangladesh, and several million more are forced to leave as illegal migrant workers in Thailand, Bangladesh, India, China and Malaysia.
Mr. Chairman, while working with EarthRights International in Thailand as a Women's Rights Project Coordinator, I have documented hundreds of women's human rights abuses committed by the military regime; most of the stories are hard to hear.
Women, in particular, are singled out as human shields and mine sweepers during their tenure as forced laborers, as the regime's army believe that they are less likely to draw enemy fire, thus treating them as if they are expendable. These women are often subject to such abuses, including systematic rape, at the hand of the soldiers.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 For thousands of women from Burma ethnic minority groups, our social, economic and cultural rights are diminished by our refugee status, or to be even more precise, if we are forced to flee our country due to oppression and persecution to Thailand, we are not even acknowledged the status of refugees as Thailand has not signed the Refugees Convention.
Socially, we are a people without a country. Economically, we are people without livelihood. And culturally, we are people without a community.
The Burmese regime has destroyed tens of thousands of villages deliberately in areas that were more home to members of ethnic minorities.
Mr. Chairman, the regime's use of ethnic cleansing policy against the minority, namely, the Karen, Karenni, and Shan on its eastern border and the Rohingya on its western, are well documented and qualify the regime to be held accountable for crimes against humanity. Ethnic cleansing, rape as an official tool of repression, heroin and HIV/AIDS as primary export, and slave labor are only some of the crimes to mention under international law. Thousands upon thousands of civilians have died and continue to die on the course of this over-50 years unacknowledged civil war.
It has also become clear to the world that rape is used expressly against non-Burma ethnic women as a weapon of war. This was most recently documented by Refugees International in their report.
Burma today has reached the highest state of emergency in its chaotic political history. The current situation in my country is a test for the international community to challenge Burma's pretend commitment to the cause of peace, freedom, and justice. It is also a challenge for us, the people of Burma, to continue our resistance and never give up on the hopethe hope for Burma as a free and prosperous country where diversity presents the beauty and uniqueness through the peoples and the cultures in Burma.
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As a refugee from Burma, I would like to make four recommendations to help bring change in Burma.
First of all, I would like to thank Senator McConnell, Feinstein, and Congressman Joe Pitts, Tom Lantos, Henry Hyde and Peter King and other Members of Congress for passing this legislation, sanction against military regimes. By supporting this legislation, a clear message was sent to the people of Burma that their struggle, our struggle for freedom is well supported.
We would like to ask the United States again, not only symbolly put sanction on Burma, but also help pressure the neighboring countries in the ASEAN states to cooperate with the U.S. on sanctions.
Second, the United States should press the United Nation Security Council to immediately take action on Burma by citing the urgent need of a nationwide cease fire, including tripartite dialogue, and the United States should provide leadership there.
Third, the United States should consider earmarking fund for internally displaced people. We have heard rumors that the United States is unlikely to do so. There are over one million people in Burma running for their lives in the jungle like animals; they urgency need help, perhaps more than refugees who are currently in Thailand.
Finally, the United States should continue to pressure Thailand to allow refugees to enter Thailand, and give them assistance and protection. We do not want to cause the problem for the Thais, but we have nowhere else to go. We are running for our lives.
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Thank you very much for all your support and leadership on this issue, and we hope you continue to help us until freedom, justice and peace come to Burma. Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Musi follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF NAW MUSI, BURMESE REFUGEE
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for giving me this important opportunity to speak on behalf of millions of people in my country, especially for those who, by no means, could reach this floor to tell us the stories of their lives under the most brutal and racist military regime.
I thank Senators McConnell and Feinstein, and the members of the United States Senate as well as the Congress, particularly Congressman Joe Pitts, Tom Lantos, Henry Hyde, Peter King and other colleagues, for working so hard to get the Burma Freedom and Democracy Act passed. By supporting this legislation, a clear message was sent to the people of Burma that their struggle, our struggle, for freedom is well supported.
My name is Naw Mu Si and I am an ethnic Karen from Burma. I was born in the Delta Region. However, I actually grew up in the refugee camp along the Thai-Burma border as my parents were fleeing from the persecution by the military government. I went to school in the refugee camp called Hway K'loke until I finished my high school in 1995.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 We are all aware of what happened to the pro-democracy leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters, on May 30, 2003. I think it is important that this Committee is also informed on what else has been happening simultaneously in and around the Thai-Burma border to the ethnic people of Burma.
Recent reports from human rights and aid organizations along the Thai-Burma border indicate that the human rights situation is getting worse not only in Rangoon, but also it is worsening in frontiers that ethnic minorities call home. My family, my father and siblings, continue to live in the refugee camp as well as inside Burmese forests.
As a result of the ongoing war in minority group areas and deteriorating economic conditions in Burma, more than two millions people have fled Burma to Thailand excluding people who fled to India and Bangladesh and an estimated 1.5 million more remain inside Burma as internally displaced people. Of the population that fled Burma, approximately 155,000 reside in refugee camps in Thailand and Bangladesh and several million more are forced to live as illegal migrant workers in Thailand, Bangladesh, India, China, and Malaysia.
Mr. Chairman, while working with EarthRights International in Thailand as a Women's Rights Project Coordinator, I have documented hundreds of women's human rights abuses committed by the military regime; most of the stories are hard to hear. Women, in particular, are singled out as human shields and mine sweepers during their tenure as forced laborers, as the regime's army, the Tatmadaw, believe they are less likely to draw enemy fire, thus treating them as if they are expendable. Furthermore, women conscripted as forced laborers are sometimes required to perform twenty-four-hour guard duty, since they are deemed unfit for any other work. These women, as many other women engaged in forced labor, are often subject to sexual abuse including systematic rape at the hands of the soldiers.
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For thousands of women from Burma's ethnic minority groups, our social, economic, and cultural rights are diminished by our refugee status. Or, to be even more precise, if we are forced to flee our country due to oppression and persecution to Thailand, we are not even acknowledged the status of refugees, as Thailand has not signed the refugee convention. Socially, we are people without a country; economically, we are people without livelihoods; and culturally, we are people without a community. We cannot teach our children properly, and there is no chance to develop and propagate our culture. We cannot feed our families, and must rely on the well-meaning but insubstantial donations of kind-hearted NGOs. As this esteemed body well knows, human rights must go hand in hand with regular access to meals.
The Burmese regime has destroyed tens of thousands of villages deliberately in areas that were home to members of ethnic minorities. Mr. Chairman, the regime's use of ethnic cleansing policies against the minorities namely the Karen, Karenni, and Shan on its eastern border and the Rohingya on its western border, are well documented and qualify the regime to be held accountable for crimes against humanity. Ethnic cleansing, rape as an official tool of repression, heroin and HIV/AIDS as primary exports, and slave labor are only some of the crimes to mention under international law. Thousands upon thousands of civilians have died and continue to die in the course of this over-50-year old unacknowledged civil war.
It has also become clear to the world that rape is used expressly against non-Burman ethnic women as a weapon of war. This was most recently documented by Refugees International in their report, No Safe Place. In addition to the ever increasing number of refugees in the camps along the Thai-Burma border, the estimated one million or more internally displaced persons (IDPs) whose condition of existence is even below that of the poorest of human beingsillustrates the depth of humanitarian crisis in Burma. On a daily basis, these IDPs are literally hunted down like animals by the repressive Burmese army. The Public Health authority in Thailand complained repeatedly that illegal Burmese migrant workers are the human carriers of infectious and communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. The information that I have mentioned above is the result of military rule in Burma for decades.
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Burma today has reached the highest state of emergency in its chaotic political history. The current situation in my country is a test for the international community to challenge Burma's pretend commitment to the cause of peace, freedom, and justice. It is also a challenge for us, the people of Burma, to continue our resistance and to never give up on the hopethe hope for Burma as a free and prosperous country where diversity presents the beauty and uniqueness through the peoples and the cultures in Burma.
As a refugee from Burma, I would like to make four recommendations to help bring change to Burma. First, on behalf of the people in Burma, I would like to thank the United States for passing legislation increasing economic sanctions against Burma's military regime. So, we would like to ask the United States again to not only simply put sanctions on Burma but also help pressure the neighboring countries in the ASEAN States to cooperate with the US on sanctions.
Second, the United States should press the United Nations Security Council to immediately take action on Burma by citing the urgent need for a nation-wide ceasefire; the United States should provide leadership here.
Third, the United States should consider earmarking funds for Internally Displaced People. We have heard rumors that the United States is unlikely to do so. There are over one million people in Burma running for their lives in the jungles like animals; they urgently need help, perhaps, more than refugees who are currently in Thailand.
Finally, the United States should continue to pressure Thailand to allow refugees to enter Thailand and give them assistance and protection. We don't want to cause problems for the Thais, but we have nowhere else to go. We are running for our lives.
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Thank you very much for all of your support and leadership on this issue. We hope you continue to help us until Freedom, Peace and Justice are achieved in Burma.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you very much, Ms. Musi.
Our final witness is Mr. Bo Hla-Tint. Mr. Hla-Tint was born in Burma and played a leading role during the 1988 nationwide demonstrations that brought down the military-dominated Burmese Socialist Program Party government. He was arrested the day after the election, or the miliary coup on September 18, 1988. After he was released, he joined the National League for Democracy.
In May 1990, he was elected to the parliament as a representative of the NLD. As a result of the military's refusal to honor the election results, the legitimately elected representatives formed a new provisional government in the liberated areas of Burma.
Mr. Bo Hla-Tint was chosen as a representative of that new government. He became a cabinet minster in December 1990. He continues to advocate for the restoration of democracy and human rights in Burma.
We welcome you today for your comments.
STATEMENT OF BO HLA-TINT, NATIONAL COALITION GOVERNMENT OF THE UNION OF BURMA
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. HLA-TINT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and it is great privilege for me to be here today in front of you and the Committee.
On behalf of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma and the people of Burma, I would like to express our gratitude and appreciation to you, Chairman Hyde, Chairman Leach, and all Members of the board of Committees, and Vice Chairman Pitts as well, at the same time all staff member of these Committees to making this timely and important hearing happen today. I also thanks for the kind assistant you have given to Wunna Maung and other NLD assistance to be here today.
I should also take this opportunity to mention our thanks to the U.S. State Department, especially Bureau of Asia Pacific, and Burma Desk, and Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok for their tireless effort in bringing NLD witnesses here.
I must also take, like other panelists here, this opportunity to express our heartful appreciation to all Members of the U.S. Congress for passing the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003, and President Bush and his Administration not only for signing the bill, but also for its commitment to take immediate effective measures when Burma is in need.
The majority of Burmese people in Burma, except the military junta and its cronies, fully support the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003, and strongly believe that it will have a direct impact on the generous and Rangoon and bring the democratic light to Burma.
Mr. Chairman, since I have already submitted my written testimony and recommendation, after pondering the latest political and human right situation in Burma for the record, and also the other people already outlined what is going on in Burma, I just would like to add up some situation and some points here.
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Mr. Chairman, it has been 15 years now that Burmese people had clearly expressed their wish to end the military rule and change Burma into a democratic nation. They did it through a nationwide anti-military dictatorship demonstration, which were brutally cracked down the authorities, killing thousands of peaceful demonstrators in the process, and through the 1990 election, the result of which have not yet to be recognized by the regime until today.
And it has been until today that the National League for Democracy, the party I belong to led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, won a landslide victory, but the miliary to this date continue to illegitimately rule the country against the will of the people.
It is therefore not a surprise that there is no rule of law and respects for human rights, and political, economic and social stability and progress. The country is plagued by corruption and mismanagement, and violations of the fundamental rights of the people such as freedom of expression, assembly, association, and to choose their own government.
So despite these undesirable circumstances to Aung San Suu Kyi and our party leadership have patiently worked for many years for a negotiated political settlement and reconciliation in our country. But the nonviolent effort has failed because, only because the military has not shown any political will up to now.
Instead, the General in Rangoon treated Aung San Suu Kyi and other NLD leaders, members of parliament and supporter as a criminal or enemy of the states. As of today, 38 MP elects stay in jail or under the executive including Aung San Suu Kyi are in prison and under house arrest. About 60 MP elects have already passed away, 27 MP elects have been forced to stay in exile, like me, and the rest of the MP elect under the surveillance and daily threat by local authority to resign from their membership and MP positions.
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Mr. Chairman, the May 30th premeditated attack or state-sponsored terrorism against Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD motorcade Kyi Village near Tabayin, and consequent actions by the SPDC clearly indicates that the home grown national reconciliation process facilitated by the United Nation is no longer honored.
It was only yesterday, September 30th, that the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan told the U.N. General Assembly, and I quote:
''Unless the parties concerned are able to engage in substantial political dialogue, the international community will have to conclude that the home grown national reconciliation process no longer exists, and it would then be up to the General Assembly to determine how the United Nations should respond.''
The General refused to cooperate with anyone so far, including the United Nation. It is a threat to peace, particularly in the region.
So given these and other situation mentioned by other colleagues, we strongly believe that this is time for the United Nation and the international community to step up its effort to bring Burma issue to the United Nations Security Council.
In this regards, I would like to call on the United States Congress and the government and its allies to facilitate an international drive for democratization in Burma and to pave the way for the United Nations Security Council to consider all measures available in its power to implement resolution passed by the UNGA resolution.
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Mr. Chairman, the prospect of horror and hope hang on a delicate balance. The world must choose between the horrors of a failed regime and brighter hopes for the people of Burma. The world cannot stand by and do nothing while dangers gather that shed more blood in the days ahead. And to friends of Burma in the United States of America, you have the power to make the right decision.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Hla-Tint follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF BO HLA-TINT, NATIONAL COALITION GOVERNMENT OF THE UNION OF BURMA
Members of the United States Congress,
Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the people of Burma and the Council of Ministers of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, I would like to thank Chairman Hyde, Chairman Leach, Chairman Gallegly and members of the House International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, Subcommittee on International Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Human Rights for holding this joint hearing on Burma. This is a very important and timely hearing given the deteriorating human rights situation and continuing political turmoil in my country.
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I am deeply grateful to Chairman Hyde, Chairman Gallegly, Chairman Leach, and staff members of the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific and the Subcommittee on International Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Human Rights for rendering their kind assistance to Wunna Maung and other witnesses of the National league for Democracy (NLD), so that they can appear before this hearing. At this point, let me thank the U S Department of State, especially the Burma Desk, the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, and the US Embassy in Bangkok for their tireless efforts in bringing NLD members here.
May I also take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to all the members of the United States Congress who sponsored, co-sponsored and voted for the ''Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 (H.R. 2330)''. I strongly believe that this legislation is an important source of strength to our democratic forces inside and out of Burma. It will accomplish the bill's original goal of supporting and recognizing the NL D, the party which I proudly represent, as the legitimate representative of the Burmese people.
Members of the Congress,
The situation in Burma today is one where a discredited and illegitimate military, which has governed by brute force without tolerating any kind of freedom for the past 15 years, is having to come up with ways to help overcome international pressure for political liberalization and national reconciliation in the country.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 The surge in international pressure on the Burmese military regime, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) came after it decided to use force to end growing popular support for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, general secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD) whose victory has yet to be honored by the ruling Burmese generals.
The SPDC accepts no law of morality and has no limit to their violent acts against people. The regime's human rights record continued to be extremely poor. There are numerous serious abuses committed by the military troops, including extrajudicial killings, rape, forced relocation, forced labor, and conscription of child soldiers. Ethnic nationalities in remote areas along the borders of Burma are victimized mostly from those atrocities and blatant abuses while pro-democracy and human rights activists and politicians across Burma are under constant threat of arrest, torture and are targets of intimidation, harassment, and abuse. When the military cannot stop politicians from being politically active, they go after their relatives. It is not a surprise to hear brothers and sisters of politicians losing their government jobs, children barred from attending certain classes, and the list goes on and on. One of the worst cases is the Tabayin Massacre, also known as Black Friday.
On 30 May this year, when the entourage of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi left tens of thousands of well wishers in Monywa to head for another Upper Burma city, it came under attack by about 5,000 soldiers, police, and thugs associated with the military who were armed with iron rods, bamboo stakes, and wooden staves and laying in wait at Kyi Ywa near Tabayin. The well-orchestrated attack carried out with military precision left scores of NLD members and supporters dead. Diplomats visiting the scene of the massacre after the attack confirmed they found signs of ''great violence,'' including bloody clothing, numerous homemade weapons and smashed headlights and mirrors corroborating eyewitness reports of a premeditated ambush.
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Following the attack, the generals closed down NLD offices and arrested all NLD leaders, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and there were reports that the generals were planning to charge Daw Aung San Suu Kyi with ''high treason''. But as international pressure mounted calling for her release, the military said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was under ''protective custody.'' SPDC Foreign Minister U Win Aung said in June that the protective custody order was temporary and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi would be released after the situation returned to normal. ''When we are saying on the record that it is temporary then it will be temporary,'' but the Nobel Laureate continues to be under detention today.
It has been more than three months since the premeditated ambush on NLD members and supporters on 30 May. But the authorities are continuing to hunt down and imprison NLD members who were part of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's entourage and many are in hiding to avoid arrest. People who suffered injuries are not getting proper treatment because they are in hiding.
Meanwhile, the military junta is using devious attempts to cover up the truth about the Tabayin massacre. Since the middle of June, residents of villages near the site of the massacre were moved out, nobody knows where. Soldiers in disguise, police, and members of the rogue organization Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) with their families have moved into the villages pretending to be the inhabitants there.
One USDA high official revealed that since international organizations would be arriving to investigate the massacre, all evidence was to be erased completely.
People arrested in connection with the Tabayin massacre were forced to sign confessions that they were under instructions from the NLD leaders to instigate the people to come out and demonstrate against the junta, that they were not attacked by the SPDC, but had faced a brawl with local people, and that they were not harmed seriously during the brawl.
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Throughout the country, activists for freedom and democracy are also being rounded up and arrested. Before Tabayin, there were more than 1,300 political prisoners. During and after Tabayin, 241 were arrested and 40 were released. So, about 200 more were arrested. Twenty-five MPs were arrested for the Tabayin incident, bringing the total of imprisoned elected representatives to 38.
The generals have also been secretly approaching some NLD leaders under house arrest persuading them to run the NLD without Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Vice Chairmen U Tin Oo and U Lwin.
There is also no sign that the junta is about to release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The state owned media are also carrying series of derogatory attacks on the NLD and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
The NLD and the people remain active to the extent possible. The NLD members including NLD MPs signed an open letter to Senior General Than Shwe requesting
(1) The immediate release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all NLD members from imprisonment and incarceration
(2) The reopening of NLD offices
(3) The constitution an independent inquiry commission to compile an accurate list of those who died, were injured, and those who are missing as a result of the Tabayin episode.
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(4) The convening of the Parliament in accordance with SLORC's 1990 Elections Law and strictly adhere to the resolutions passed by the United Nations General Assembly with regard to Burma.
The elected NLD representatives also sent a letter to UN Secretary General calling on him to see that the Burma resolutions and recommendations of the General Assembly, the Security Council, and other agencies of the United Nations are complied with and implemented. They also made a humble request that the case of Burma be brought before the notice of the Security Council for necessary action.
The political parties inside and even seven armed ethnic organizations that had signed cease fire agreements also released statements showing their contempt for the current situation and calling for dialogue and national reconciliation.
Members of the Congress,
The Burmese military have gone too far this time. Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN, also broke their long-standing rule of non-interference and have pressed Rangoon for Aung San Suu Kyi's release. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir had even suggested expelling Burma from ASEAN, and Japan, the United States, and the European Union have imposed sanctions and/or withheld development assistance to the Burmese military.
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It is under these circumstances that the generals have announced changes in the SPDC and the Cabinet. The Cabinet is now headed by Gen Khin Nyunt as the prime minister, who lost his influential Secretary-1 position in the SPDC and whose position as the Chief of Defense Services Intelligence is yet unknown.
As his first political initiative as prime minister, Gen Khin Nyunt announced to the world a seven-point ''roadmap'' through which, he claimed, his government would bring ''disciplined democracy'' to Burma.
The international community and diplomats who have dealt with the Burmese generals feel that Gen Khin Nyunt is a ''moderate'' among the hardliners and that he would be flexible enough to work with the international community.
But, the fact is, as far as giving democracy to the people is concerned, there are no moderates among the top generals. They may differ in their approaches when dealing with the international community but their objective of maintaining military control over the political future of the country remains the same. Hence, the only way to convert the generals into becoming true moderates is for the international and Burmese communities to act concertedly to show that a military-dominated Burma is unacceptable and the best future for the military in Burma is through genuine democracy.
This being the case, the ''roadmap'' proposed by Gen Khin Nyunt which intends to go through a process where a National Convention convened by the military plays a pivotal and crucial role is somewhat dubious. Nothing is different in the ''roadmap'' from the military-domination plan that has been ongoing since the generals came to power in 1989. The so-called National Convention had also been stalled since 1996 because the NLD was expelled by the generals after the party had walked out in protest of the convention's ''undemocratic'' composition and procedural styles and the generals had refused to negotiate with the NLD over the issues.
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The main concern of the NLD and other major political parties like the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy which won the second highest number of seats in Parliament is the military's ''104 principles'' and other rulings which made sure that the new constitution being drafted allows only former military officers to be president with absolute powers, gives the military the right to stage a coup, and military officers to be people with commanding powers in local regions as well. In other words, the new constitution will legitimize military domination of Burmese politics, or to choose the term preferred by the generals, ''disciplined democracy.''
The National Convention drafting the constitution was also overwhelmed by military-appointed delegates with elected representatives constituting some 15 percent of the participants. Procedural rules at the convention did not leave room for elected representatives to include their opinions in the constitution being drafted.
NLD leaders will not rejoin the National Convention without reforms made to it. Similarly, the chairman of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy has also declared that without any changes made, the party would not take part in the SPDC's National Convention.
Hence, any constitution passed by the National Convention without the active participation of the people's representatives will have no legitimacy.
Members of the Congress,
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 We, the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, and the National Council of the Union of Burma, an umbrella group of ethnic and democratic organizations, believe that for Burma to enjoy human rights and to move towards democracy, a roadmap initiated by the United Nations with strong support by the international community and which honors democratic will of Burmese people as reflected in the 1990 elections, fulfills the aspiration of the ethnic nationalities of Burma, and takes into account the role of the armed forces in national building during the transition period is essential. The progress of the roadmap can be assured by benchmarks and specific timeframes guaranteed by the international community. For the achievement of the roadmap, immediate and unconditional release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other NLD executives, and a declaration of nationwide cease-fire are needed before the roadmap is started.
The past year has witnessed power consolidation efforts of SPDC Chairman Senior General Than Shwe, who diplomatic circles in Rangoon believe masterminded the Tabayin massacre. With Than Shwe showing a penchant to demolish rather than negotiate with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD, it becomes crystal clear that the SPDC's ''roadmap'' is not designed to bring democracy to the country.
At best, we are now back to square one in Burma. We are now talking again about freedom from arrest, rather than dialogue and national reconciliation. At this moment, there is a serious political crisis in Burma. Notwithstanding a barrage of international condemnations as well as punitive actions, the military regime continues to ignore the growing tensions within the country.
If unresolved, it is highly likely that the pent-up frustrations inside and outside the country will dissipate the chances of national reconciliation and can even deteriorate further into unnecessary confrontations and dangerous violence that could destabilize the whole region.
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The idea of a political dialogue taking place through a home-grown process is no longer valid in the present political context. Hence, in light of such a situation, I sincerely believe that intervention from the international community is urgently needed to help Burma avert the impending confrontation and bloodshed. And, that intervention should come in the form of a comprehensive road map for national reconciliation and democratization in Burma as I have explained before.
Members of the Congress,
The latest action taken by the SPDC is tantamount to a threat to the authority of the United Nations, and a threat to peace in the region. The SPDC has been defying international opinion and ignoring UN resolutions passed by consecutive UN General Assemblies. It is time for the United Nations to consider the issue of Burma at its Security Council. Therefore, we like to call on the United States Congress and Government, and its allies to facilitate the international drive for democratization in Burma and to pave the way for the UN Security Council to discuss the situation in Burma contingent upon the report of Secretary General, and to consider all measures available in the power of the Security Council to implement resolutions passed by successive UNGA sessions.
Members of the Congress,
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The prospects of horror and hope hang on a delicate balance. The world must choose between the horrors of a failed regime and brighter hopes for the people of Burma. The world cannot stand by and do nothing while dangers gather that more blood may be shed in the days ahead. And, to friends of Burma in the United States of America, you have the power to make the right decision.
Thank you very much.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you very much.
Mr. Maung, before the attacks, how many people were attending Aung San Suu Kyi's rallies around the country, and what was the mood in the various towns where she traveled? Do the people strongly support the NLD?
Mr. MAUNG. [Through interpreter.] Everywhere she went in every quarter people would come out and welcome her, and the numbers ranged from anywhere from thousands to hundred thousands, and she always gets very good support from the people.
Mr. GALLEGLY. And do the people there, do they strongly support the NLD?
Mr. MAUNG. The majority of the people are in support of Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy.
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. GALLEGLY. On May 30th, the day of the terrible massacre, do you know how many people were killed, and do you know if any of the elected members of the parliament were killed or injured?
The INTERPRETER. The number of people killed, he doesn't know exactly, but he said after, later, after the incident he learned it was between 70 and 100, but the actual person he know that died around him, he knows exactly three of them died near around him. One of them was the car driver. And he said the reason because the numberdifficult to know the exact number is because people were being beaten and on the roads. Everybody was flat on the road, the people who got beaten. And if somebody was still moving the peoplethe attackers would say ''That person is still moving. Hit him.'' And they would keep hitting these people until they stopped moving.
And then so at that moment it would be difficult to know the exact number.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Does he know if any of them were members of the parliament.
The INTERPRETER. Sorry about that. He did say that he is not sure if any of them killed were any members of parliament.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you.
Mr. Hla-Tint, do you have any indication that the number of rapes committed by the Burmese military has declined as a result of the global attention and the reporting of these atrocities throughout the world
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Mr. HLA-TINT. According to our
Mr. GALLEGLY. Could we move the microphone over, please.
Mr. HLA-TINT. Mr. Chairman, according to our report in rural area the rape cases have stayed continuous, especially in Karen and Karenni areas even though it is a little bit decline in the urban area, because of the international attention. But we are very much learn that the rape cases stay continue in the rural area around the borders.
Mr. GALLEGLY. So you would say that there is at least some movement as a result of international and global knowledge of the atrocities?
Mr. HLA-TINT. The military trying to take some sort of superficial action saying to theamong the soldiers not to do this kind of activities, but actually this is uncontrollable when they reach to the front line area. So the things that is going on even though the military distribute some instruction not to involve in that kind of things in the army.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you.
Mr. SHERMAN. Thank you. Apologize, I had an urgent message from my office. I thank the panelists for being here.
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I think we have all seen reasons why the United States should act even more effectively to isolate this regime. Pardon me if I seem selfish, but what affects my district directly is the cultivation of poppy and the importation of heroin, and we have seen circumstances where one government is allowing the production of heroin, and we change the government, and then the new government allows the production of heroin.
Is Ms. Suu Kyi, does she have the political power or popularity should we have democracy in Burma, to turn to communities that are making millions and in some cases tens of millions of dollars and tell folks to stop growing heroin? Will she have the power to have that writ operate in the minority communities where the governments in Rangoon has always had difficulty enforcing its position?
I would like especially Mr. Dun, but others who may have qualifications here to respond to the question of my constituents, which is, if we are able to get democracy in Burma, does that mean the end of heroin production, even in those areas where independent minority armies have traditionally operated? Mr. Dun.
Mr. DUN. Mr. Chairman, I can speak for our experience in the Karen state where in areas that we do control there is no, almost none of the drugthere is no drug growing, and there is very little drug trafficking because we haveit is culturally for us, we have a very strong thing against drugs because we have seenopium especiallybecause we have seen the effects and it is culturally unacceptable in our culture.
So it is possible that if there was a freeif democracy was restored to Burma, there is a chance that a lot can be done to stymie the flow of illegal drugs
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Mr. HLA-TINT. Mr. Chairman, the drug problem you mention is consequence of political instability in Burma, and the consecutive governments, the SPDC government as well as the current military regime is not solution, and they never pay attention to really resolve the drug problem in Burma because they are part of the problem. They themself are part of the problem.
For ourself, in 1993, the United War State Party, UWSP, leaders from the UWSP, came to the NCGUB and told us that they are willing to quit the drug opium production and they are very willing to do so, but they want to have the right system from the international community. So since that time we have been working with Chairman Ben Hillman office to resolve this problem effectively.
So what we believe is that Aung San Suu Kyi and the new democratic government will able toexactly they will able to resolve the problem immediately and effectively within the appropriate time frame. Because of CRPP, the Community Representing People Parliament already discussed seriously and they have a committee how to resolve this drug problem if the NDL able to take office immediately.
Mr. SHERMAN. And when Ms. Suu Kyi and her party campaign, particularly in the areas, and when I say campaign, I realize not in the American sense since that is not allowed, but how much is done to publicize in opium growing areas that democracy means the end of opium production?
Mr. HLA-TINT. Thank you, sir.
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Because of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi ability to travel around the country has been limited, especially to those areas, she never been allowed to be in the Wa State, it is main opium-producing area, so that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi try to be in Shan State, but very difficult to reach to the Wa State and people to tell how democracy and of the drug, you know, problem will be, you know, coincide.
Mr. SHERMAN. Let me shift to another area of question. I am sure my colleagues will tell me when I have gone on too long.
Perhaps one of the witnesses could respond as to why the Thi government has taken such a conciliatory approach to Rangoon. Are they getting anything in terms of economic interests, and is there any other benefit to the Thai regime?
Mr. MITCHELL. Mr. Sherman, let me take a first crack at that. It is interesting to watch with Prime Minister Thaksin the pivoting I think we are seeing in Thai policy as far as what is going on along the border.
I think he, the Prime Minister has made a decision, taken a decision that it is in Thailand's own self-interest to warm relations with the regime. Perhaps he believes that with a requisite amount of hand holding, you know, a lot of the problems that exist not only between Thailand and Burma, because much of that order is not demarcated, many times the Burmese have shelled Thai military positions. They have shot down Thai helicopters. They have killed Thai soldiers. There is scarcely probably a month goes by when there is not some incident along that border area that involves the Burmese coming over and taking action against the Thais.
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And perhaps the Prime Minister thinks that the best way to deal with this is, you know, is to take a high road rather than get tough road.
But it is certainly of great concern when the actions that he takes against the democracy groups that are in Thailand that are dedicated to nonviolence, that are distributing and collecting information on human rights abuses to disseminate to the international community, when he decides to close those offices down.
This latest report about the closure of a hospital that Mr. Rohrabacher might even know of, Dr. Cynthia, is extremely alarming, and it also has implications for displaced people inside the country, because they were helping many of those IDPs with getting medical assistance.
Mr. SHERMAN. Let me interrupt. When Burmese troops engage the Thais, is that because they are entering Thai territory to wage war against dissidents or to terrify Burmese refugees? Or is this a border conflict where the Burmese soldiers are simply asserting Burmese sovereignty over acreage that Thailand claims?
In other words, is it the presence of Burmese refugees and/or guerrillas that inspires the Burmese army to come into Thailand or is it just a disagreement as to where Thailand starts and Burma ends?
Mr. MITCHELL. Well, the Burmese will tell you that they are taking action because of so-called guerrillas. But many of these cross-border actions are taken against refugee camps that are in Thai territory. They are well known. They are well demarcated, certain unarmed. And you will see cross-border raids by not only the Burma military but also their surrogates.
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They have something called the DKBA, the Democratic Koran Buddhist Army that is a surrogate of the Burma army that does much of their dirty work.
But, you know, certainly having the Thai military on the other side has never deterred them before from coming across the border.
Mr. SHERMAN. So their target is Burmese dissidents, but the Burmese military is unwilling to respect Thai sovereignty even when the border is demarcated?
Mr. MITCHELL. I think, sir, the despise Thai sovereignty. I do not think they recognize it.
Mr. SHERMAN. Over certain disputed acreage or just in general?
Mr. MITCHELL. Just in general.
Mr. SHERMAN. An interesting approach to take toward a neighboring country.
My time has expired. Thank you.
Mr. MITCHELL. I agree.
Mr. ROHRABACHER [presiding]. That button, I was pushing the mute button. Let me make sure I turn off Mr. Sherman's button.
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Is Dr. Cynthia still operating or did they close her down?
Mr. MITCHELL. When I was over in Thailand several months ago, she washer facility was open, sir. The latest alert that I received this morning was that she is in dangerher facility is in danger of being closed.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. By the Thai government as a gift to the Burmese dictatorship?
Mr. MITCHELL. I wouldit certainlyit certainly would help the dictatorship, yes, sir.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. That is a very sad commentary on the people who runwho would do that. If that comes about, let us note for the record that I visited Dr. Cynthia's hospital, and visited Dr. Cynthia on several occasions. She is the Albert Schweitzer of this generation in that she is out on her own quite a bit, and way out exposed to diseases and exposed to all kinds of hardships and dangers, and yet she has continued to provide humanitarian assistance, medical care for some of the world's most needy people, and very admirable human being.
I think that anyone who would try to clamp down on her activities is putting themselves by their actions in the category of bad people.
Mr. MITCHELL. Congressmen, I have just beenI have just been notified that on September 20th the Thai government did come to her clinic and ask her to shut it down. So that in factthat order has in fact been given.
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Mr. ROHRABACHER. I will write a note to the President when he goes to Thailand, or if I go to Thailand with him, I will express that the Thai people who run the Thai government should put themselves in the category of being good people rather than bad people, because bad people attack humanitarians like Dr. Cynthia. Good people support the activities of humanitarians like Dr. Cynthia.
I would like toa little bit about the heroin regime and heroin trading that we heard about. Is there anyone here on the panel who believes that the government of Burma is not deeply involved with the drug trade themselves?
So in other words, all of you would agree that the Burmese government itself is involved with the drug trade?
Mr. MITCHELL. Could I give an example, sir?
Mr. ROHRABACHER. You go right for it.
Mr. MITCHELL. Oftentimes I would interviewthere is a lot of deserter that come across the border, deserters from the Burma army, and I had an opportunity to interview many of them, and you eventually get to the question of narcotics trafficking. And they will tell you in no uncertain terms about heroin, opium and heroin caravans that they have guarded, the transfer of money that went from them on up to their commanding officer, and then their commanding officer goes to Rangoon, and in the variousyou know, the various amounts that were split up along the way.
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Now, oftentimes you will hear from Administration and other officials that the Burmese governmentthat there is no real proof that they are involved in narcotics trafficking, but certainly the amount of precursor chemicals that are coming across their borders, with the nature of their military, and the system that is in place, none of that could be happening along the border, none of it could be happening without General Than Shwe, General Khin Nyunt and the others that are the head of the SPDC saying yes.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Right. And I take it that the Burmese government doesthey may not control all the countryside, but they control the roads, do they not? And the heroin does not just by magic disappear from the fields and appear in Brad's district, for example. I has to go over road and onto a ship, and through many different functions that are controlled in the original part, in the beginning of the process by the Burmese dictatorship.
Mr. MITCHELL. And let us not forget that there is people wanted under Federal indictment in New York City for heroin smuggling that are under the regime's protection in Rangoon right now; number one, Khun Sa, who was head of the United Woh State Army, and he was given asylum by the regime to allegedly retire. He was allowed to move to regime, stays in a government guest house. His new businesses include a trucking enterprise.
So surprise, surprise. He sits in Rangoon and trucks his heroin wherever he wants to.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. For the record, let us state that there are many people in the United States Congress who believe that the Burmese dictatorship are right up to their eyeballs in the drug trade, and that it does not have to be proven to us, you know, with 100 percent certainty that every member of the Burmese dictatorship is involved in the drug trade, but there is such substantial evidence that the drug trade could not benefit, that we take it for granted that they are. Only people who are naive are holding back from that assessment, or people who do not want to have to act upon something as volatile as that.
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So with the control of the heroin, let me ask about the control of the Burmese regime. Maybe someone can enlighten me as to what role the Chinese are playing in this. The Chinese, I understand, just gave a $200 million loan guarantee to the government in Rangoon.
Are there Chinese military advisors with the Burmese military? And I understand the Burmese military is equipped totally with Chinese weaponry. Is that all correct?
Mr. DUN. That is correct, Mr. Chairman. In fact, they are also building up their navy, giving them these coastal vessels with Chinese officers to train the Burmese navy. And so also on KoKo Island the radar installation, and they call it ELANT, electronic intelligence gathering unit on KoKo Island also has some advisors there.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Okay. The Chinese, they have Chinese military advisors with the Burmese army?
Mr. DUN. Correct.
Mr. HLA-TINT. Yes, Mr. Chairman, and we, according to our report, there are joint military operation, military training, especially paratroop training, helicopter fighting, jets training are providing by the Chinese military officer in Burma, and other radar station has been established on the Hiji Island in the Burmese water. It is also Chinese technology, and 200 million loan you have been mention is to use by the Chinese company to have Burmese and they have sectors; that is, you know, when the chairman, Senior General Hantry visited to China.
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Mr. ROHRABACHER. Well, let us note then that you have a regime that isthat logic would tell us, and evidence tells us is deeply involved in the heroin trade. That regime, a gangster regime thus also is being supported, dramatically supported by the Communist Chinese government, so they are selling out their country, the regime is selling out Burma to Communist China, and is involved in drug trade.
Now, I cannot think of anything worse than that, and the fact that someone wants to please that regime and in doing so will close up a humanitarian hospital operation headed by someone like Dr. Cynthia shows you that there is true evil in this world, and we are talking about evil.
Now, if there is any example of evil on this planet, you can find it in the government that controls the people of Burma today. It behooves the people of the United States who would like to be a positive force in this planet to do everything we can to help the people of Burma.
I am very proud, at least, that we have more economic sanctions. I pushed for economic sanctions for a long time. Finally, we have tougher economic sanctions. Let us note that we wouldit would be something very good, would it not, if our other European allies and Japan would join us in having stricter economic controls over things that would help this regime?
Do you have any comment on our European allies or Japan?
Mr. HLA-TINT. Very recently I have been visited to Tokyo, and meeting with the foreign ministry official. The Japanese foreign ministry promise us that they already suspended all the ODA assistance to the regime, and they will never resume until or unless the military engage the political dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi after mediating, and condition of release of her.
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Mr. ROHRABACHER. Right. Aung San Suu Kyi is currently under house arrest again after spending 19 months after house arrest prior to that, and having spent so much time and being under surveillance and under the control of the regime. This isas I say, this is probably the most demonstratably evil regime on this planet.
I am very pleased that the Chairman has decided to focus on this, and Mr. Pitt has spent considerable time; very happy that this Subcommittee has held this hearing in order to draw the attention of our colleagues to this horror story that the people of Burma are having to go through.
One last question of Mr. Dun. What recommendations would you give the United States Government in regard to providing humanitarian support for Burmese people who are displaced inside Burma and outside of Burma?
Mr. DUN. Mr. Chairman, the first thing and the most important thing right now I think the United States can definitely do is to encourage Thailand to continue the good work of supporting humanitarian aid in the past to the IDPs.
I would like to relate a little incident that happened on the 17th of this month just before I came the first time when the hearing was cancelled. I called Pastor Robert, the chairman of the Karen Refugee Committee, and he related that because of the Burmese army attacks, 35 families had35 IDP families had crossmanaged to cross over the border, not across the board, over the border into Thailand, and were in need of severein need of food and shelter.
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But the refugee committee was not able to take the supplies over to them because the Thai army would notthey were under orders not to let any humanitarian cross over. But the local Thai headman, village headman said to thewent over to the Thai army and said that, ''I will vouch for these people. These people will not become a problem for Thailand or for you,'' meaning the Thai army.
So because of that some humanitarian aid was able to go these 35 families or 136 people.
So Thailand has the heart and has the resources to provide or help with humanitarian aid if the United States could only encourage them to continue doing that instead of trying to work with the military regime. That would be the best thing the United States could do right now.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. I hope the people in Thailand, the government of Thailand is listening to the words that are being expressed here because certainly the people of the United States in the past have respected Thailand for its ability to help people who are coming across its border.
Thailand has a history of helping refugees. That is probably one of the most admirable records of any country of the world. And let us never forget that they have taken in refugees from all over around their borders were tyranny, whether it is Laos, or Cambodia, or Burma.
Page 96 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. DUN. Right.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. And let us hope that the current government lives up to that tradition because that is one of the reasons we have such high respect for Thailand is that they have had this heart in the past, and we would hope that they would continue, that the current government would continue that tradition. To the degree they go away from it, they risk losing their respect of those of us who have been their best friends.
One last note before I turn over to Joe Crowley for his questions. If we have a message today, I have been involved with Burma for many years as most of you know, and it is about time that those young people who serve in the military of Burma get the message that the government that they are propping up with their guns is selling out their country, not only the heroin dealers and the gangsters around the world, but to the Chinese, and it is time that the young people and the patriots who are in the Burmese army quit providing themselves as the instruments of repression for this dictatorship, and instead do the right thing, which has been done in Romania and other countries which overthrew their dictatorships, it is those young people in the Burmese army, those young officers who see the corruption, and the betrayal of their country by their leaders, they need to turn on those people, turn on the government, turn on their own leaders, and side with their families and the Burmese people and overthrow this regime and side for democracy. If they do that, they will be heros throughout the world, and they will get lots of support from the United States.
Mr. Crowley, would you like to have your question and answer peloid?
Mr. CROWLEY. Thank you, Mr. Rohrabacher.
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Thank you for your comments just now, and I want to thank Chairman Gallegly for holding this hearing today. Particularly I want to thank the panelists before us, those born in this country and those born in Burma, especially those who are from Burma directly.
I had the opportunity recently to meet with constituents who are expatriates of Burma, and was given firsthand accounts of life as it exists in Burma today, as well as a good rundown in terms of how things stand politically in Burma.
And I want to thank you all for your testimony, and I say that again because it was made very clear to me that anyone who speaks out against the current regime in Burma exposes him or herself to not being able to return to Burma, being denied access, as well as their family members coming under duress in Burma because of what is said here in the United States.
So I also would like to thank your families for having the courage to have produced people like yourselves who are willing to speak out against injustice in your homeland.
I also today coincidentally had an opportunity to co-chair a parliamentary exchange with the People's Republic of China, and I used that opportunity to bring up the issue of Burma, and it was interesting in terms of the response that I received.
After having talked about a number of countries in which we are trying to work together to bring to a further cooperation, one specifically, for instance, North Korea, where there was a good amount of dialogue between the two bodies of parliament.
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When the issue of Burma came up, as I brought it up, I will try to give you a succinct answer to what was really was a succinct answer to me, I am going to make it short, but the response from the Chinese was that they have good relations with the Myanmar government, and that this was an internal problem, and therefore they did not want to comment any further on it.
That was the extent of the dialogue between ourselves this morning and members of the Chinese parliament who are here today, and I imagine that that is representative of the Chinese government's position with our State Department, with our government, and that is their official policy. And I think that is unfortunate that they are not willing to discuss any further their connection with the Burmese regime.
I would note, and it has been made for the record already, that I support, am very supportive of the actions taken so far against the Burmese government, but just to note the Chinese have given aid to Burma totaling $350 million most recently. They have announced that. And that, coincidentally, is almost the same amount of money that the United States had exported to Burma in 2002, some $356 million worth of imports.
So the Chinese are actually stepping up their assistance to Burma as they see it being reduced from countries around the world, including the United States.
What can we do that we are not doing right now? What steps can the United States do to pressure the Chinese to release or to bring pressure to bear on the Burmese government to release prisoners of conscious, political prisoners, and to get movement in terms of opening up the Burmese government? Would anyone like to start with that
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Mr. HLA-TINT. Yes, the areasa lot of areas the United States Government or congressional leadership can help in terms of the Chinese relation with the democratic movement because at the U.N. level we had our representative to the U.N. always trying to approach through the Chinese mission, but they always just listen, and they never make any comments about Burma, and they always said is that they will bring it back to Beijing, and then let us know.
So that the way you have been asking the question to the counter-MPs from China is one area we can continue, the congressional leadership can continue. But if the congressional leadership as well as the government have used their power to convince the Chinese authority in Beijing to address about the Burma or to convince the military regime in Burma by their own way, not by the western way or United States way, but their own way if it used the economics and being a big naval to convince them for open and to engage and do dialogue with the democratic movement, that would be very much, you know, helpful for the movement.
At the same time we always seeking to have a direct opportunity to talk with the leadership in Beijing, party leadership or government leadership, if, you know, the movement had been provided by that kind of assistance or create opportunity to directly to talk with them, we would very much appreciate for.
Mr. MITCHELL. Mr. Crowley, you raised an absolutely fascinating question just because there is so many different dynamics that are at play, not only regional but sort of geostrategic when it comes to China because they are very, very interested in having power projection into the Indian Ocean, and I think they look at Burma as giving them that capability.
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To get to the heart of your question though, in order toone thing that the Chinese might respond to is the fact that there is an absolutely horrific HIV/AIDS problem, and Burma is the epicenter of that problem. And the Burmese regime, I think, takes concerted steps to make sure there is an HIV/AIDS problem because the more people that are fighting aids the fewer people there are that can fight this regime.
Of course, AIDS cannot be confined to any one country, it spills out, and it is taking a horrific toll on Thailand, India, and China as well. There is an epidemic in large part because of the lack of adequate health care in Burma, in China, and I do not believe that thehow should I say itI do not believe that when it comes to the individual person in China, it does not raise too much concern when, you know, there is death centers, et cetera. What the Chinese do respond to is the fact that it is actually going to cost the central government money, and it is large amount of money. It is going to be billions of dollars on their health care system.
And so perhaps taking that tact to talk to them about how this epidemic fostered by the regime in their country impacts China and actually the stability of China, maybe that is a cord that can be resonance there.
Mr. CROWLEY. And I yield back.
Mr. PENCE [presiding]. Thank you, Mr. Crowley, and I want to associate myself with Mr. Crowley's thoughtful observations about the courage represented at this table. It is a very humbling thing for this Member of Congress and I think every Member of Congress who is here to appreciate the personal courage and integrity that is represented at this table, and I am grateful for that and humbled by it.
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My questions very specifically have to do with the issue of war crimes in the Karen State, and I would specifically, given Ms. Musi's testimony and personal experiences, would welcome your comments on that, although I would welcome equally to hear from Mr. Dun. And specifically, it would be the question beginning with Ms. Musi.
Your work with the Karen students network group, do you believe that Burma's military regime is committing what can be defined by international standards as war crimes in the Karen state? If so, what would they be?
And are they of a type that this Congress and specifically this Subcommittee should encourage some sort of international review or tribunal or even prosecution of the regime or aspects of the regime that have committed these crimes in the Karen state? And if you can be as specific as possible beginning with Ms. Musi, I would be very grateful.
Ms. MUSI. I will try. If I understand your question correctly, I believe that the militaryI believe that what the military committed in our Karen area isit is more crime against humanity, because whenever the military went into the village there has nothing to do with the villagers. They kill the villagers, and burn down all the houses, and kill the people whenever they see, and deliberately burn all the foods and the barns that the villagers has already planted.
And then also, when they see the women, they rape the women on their ways, and then also, they also try to do whatever they can to the people so that the people cannot resist them anything.
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Imagine, one has to imagine why the military has to go all the way to climb up all the highest mountains. We are the hilly people. The villages are staying where the Karen people, the ethnic people are living are mostly in hilly regions. And then they have to go all the way, they are buying weapons for lots of money, they are using lots of monies just to buy weapons, and to ask the villagers again to go to all these hillyclimb up, imagine like this monsoon, rainy season, they have to climb up to those villagers and just to kill all those people, innocent people.
And I cannotI do not take it for this, and I do not understand why the military regimes do this. And I think the villagers are doingstaying there, and by going there and attack the villagers, it is already againstcrime against humanity, and by killing those people, and then by also destroy all the villagers and the life. Now the villagers are living like animals and living on thewith wild vegetable and sometimes they are starving, and also they have healththey do not have health care, Medicare, and then they also live in the very poorest of human being.
So I would think, personally I think that what the military has done do our people is crimes against humanity. I am sorry, if you are not clear, maybe you can ask more specific.
Mr. PENCE. I am very clear, and I am grateful for your clarity.
Mr. Dun, would you add anything to that response?
Page 103 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. DUN. Mr. Pence, again, I show you this picture. This little girl was shot in the abdomen. The bullet is still in there. It healed up. But she lives every day by thinking when am I going to be shot again. You can just see it in her eyes there.
This other 15-year-old girl was shot in her arm. She survived, but you can see the scars there.
And I can also send to you later on pictures that were taken of a massacre of children, and I do not need to explain much because the pictures speak for themselves, and I think that is definitely proof of crimes against humanity or war crimes.
Mr. MITCHELL. And Mr. Pence, just to very quickly add.
Mr. PENCE. Yes, please.
Mr. MITCHELL. These are not just isolated acts, you know, an accident happens here, there is an act here and an act here. This is a coordinated campaign ofyou know, we saw it is Bosnia, ethnic cleansing if you will. This is a coordinated campaign orchestrated at the very highest levels of the junta that is being carried out against these people.
So legal minds will have to sort out where that fits in, but it is definitely a carefully coordinated, orchestrated, planned, and executed campaign.
Mr. PENCE. I want to thank all the panelists. I am going to yield to Mr. Pitts whose background and commitment to Burma is well established. Thank you for your candor and I am just extremely grateful for your willingness on this ignominious anniversary to come before Congress and help this Subcommittee and help the American people understand the urgency of your cause. God bless you.
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Mr. PITTS [presiding]. Thank you, Michael, and thank you for your testimony. I want to continue. Mr. Dun, we have heard reports that the Burmese military ordered the rapes of the women in order to purify the race.
Would you expound on that? Is that part of this ethnic cleansing mentality you are talking about?
Mr. DUN. Yes. We have had radio intercepts of the orders from the high command down to the battalion level where they have these prize list. If their soldiers are able to marry a headman, the daughter of a headman, then they have a certain number that is given to them, a prize that is given to them. And if it is a teacher, then the prize is a little bit lower, but they tried tothey tried to encourage their soldiers to haveto marry the different ethnic girls so that it will be a purification of race they call it.
But in the last case, if they are not able to marry any girl, they are encouraged to rape the ethnic girls because the end product, which is the child, will be mixed and will be on its way to, again, race purification.
Mr. PITTS. That is incredible.
The little girl whose photo you showed suffering from the bullet wound, what would it take to get help to a little child like that, you know, the proper care that she might need? Would you expound on that?
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Mr. DUN. Yes. She is now in a village calledshe is inside about 15 to 20 kilometers in inland in the country.
Mr. PITTS. Into Burma.
Mr. DUN. In Burma, correct. And the first step would be to bring her to the border, trying to avoid the various Burma army patrols and outposts. Once we cross over, we would have to negotiate with the Thai army on the border and border police for her to allow her to come into Thailand.
Then the next step would be for her to obtain legal papers if the intent is to bring her to the states here. But oneone problem we should also be aware of is that once she comes here she will not be able to go back, because of the high profile she may have, and the intent of the Burmese regime to get back at her, or those connected with her.
So those are the steps. Bring her to the border, try to avoid the Burma army, get legalhave the Thai allow her to come into Thailand, get her legal papers, and get her out of the states, and medical assistance.
Mr. PITTS. Now, would you, and I do not want to go too long here, but Mr. Dun, would you explain a little more the situation facing the IDPs inside Burma?
For instance, there are those who take medical care, other aid, food, and they discuss the needs for security. Can you explain that?
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Mr. DUN. The IDPs are now in an area where the Burma army is very active, and without a security element for these groups to go and take humanitarian aid to these people, it would be almost suicide. So there has to be some sort of security element where they at least are able to provide some sort of delaying action so that the humanitarian groups can evaluate out of the area when they come in contact with the Burma army.
The Burma army is veryit is one of their main goals to not let any humanitarian aid come into the people so that they can effectively wipe out any resistance or any attempt to survive in those areas.
Mr. PITTS. Thank you.
Mike Mitchell, what is your response to the U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's statement regarding Burma democracy by 2006?
Mr. MITCHELL. To be honest, it is extreme disappointment. Why 2006? I thought that the matter was settled in 1990, when 80 percent of the electoral victory went to the Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy. I see no need in pushing this off until 2006. All it does is buy the regime another couple of years, and after that it is going to be another couple of years, and we have seen this on and on and on.
And envoys have been sent. Ambassador Razali has shuttled back and forth for 3 years now. Unfortunately, he has got nothing to show for it.
Page 107 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 And so let us just bring this to where it needs to be. It is time to start kicking the Burma can down the road. Both the region and the United Nations have to deal with it, let us deal with it now. There is nothing that is going to change between now and 2006. We know the nature of this regime. The people that are sitting at this table have spoken quite eloquently in a very horrible way about it, and os let us deal with it now, and let us take it to the U.N. Security Council, and let us take to ASEAN and its member countries, and those of interest in trying to do the right thing there and bring democracy to that land.
Mr. PITTS. Could you speak briefly about India's policy toward Burma, how it impacts the ethnic minorities, and what your recommendation as far as our United States policy should be in talking to India?
Mr. MITCHELL. Yes, absolutely. It is interesting because we focus so much on Thailand. You know, India has sort of gotten a free pass here, and they definitely over the past several years, they have taken a strategic decision to move away from supporting the democracy movement, which they did very, very vigorously during the 1990s, and now are reaching out to the regime, seeking accommodation with the regime, and that takes many different forms, in loans, for example, economic development projects along the border. They have also not taken as heavy a hand in trying to stifle the Burmese that are in India in their activities in outreach to both inside Burma and the international community, but that is certainly going on.
And I think some policy recommendations as far asthat we could take, of course, in looking at the context of, you know, India is very worried about China, and their access to the Indian Ocean, and power projection there is thatis to bring up when Indian officials come here, that, you know, where the United States is with regard to democracy in Burma, and in countries, most of all, if you are going to call yourself a democracy, then democracy has shared values, and that, you know, among those are as basic as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and you cannot just believe in it in your country and not for the other guy.
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And I think that goes as much for India as it does for us. And so, you know, encouraging them to take a harder line. It is in everybody's national interestthe regime there is inherently unstable, and it is spreading. It is like a malignant tumor there. And so, you know, the sooner people could start dealing with the problem and dealing with the regime the sooner that we could bring about a system where there is economic growth, democracy, and most of all a peaceful region.
Mr. PITTS. Thank you.
A question for Mr. Wunna Maung. What information do you have regarding the condition of Aung San Suu Kyi and Tin Oo in the present incarceration.
The INTERPRETER. Mr. Maung said as far as Aung San Suu Kyi is concerned, she was just recently released fordischarged from hospital where she underwent some surgery. There has been no details about it, about what surgery that was, but she has been back home and she has been reported as meeting with U.S. Special Envoy Razali a day ago. That is as far as he knows.
But as far as U Tin Oh, the vice chairman is concerned, we do not reallyhe does not really have much information on that, although it is reported that he is still in a prison where it is a children's prison or someoh, sorry, sorry, the prison in Kalley.
Mr. PITTS. Before the attacks, how many people were attending Aung San Suu Kyi's rallies around the country, and what was the mood of the people as you traveled?
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The INTERPRETER. He said peoplewherever she sent people were very, very happy. One of the main reasons was because they sort of equate Daw San Suu's arrival there as getting democracy. And he said wherever he saw people being very, very happy to see Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
Mr. PITTS. Thank you.
Finally for Ms. Musi and Mr. La-Tint. Ms. Musi, you said that you felt that war crimes were being committed against the Karen people by the military dictatorship, and that perhaps some sort of international tribunal should be called for.
Do you think that there should be a international presence in the Karen State or in the areas where there is this ethnic cleaning going on? Should we call for international observers or U.N. observers to try to accomplish a cease fire, to monitor what is going on there?
Could you speak a little bit more about that?
Ms. MUSI. Mr. Chairman, we would be happy, more than happy if we could have the international community to come and observe the situation there. And then because the situation in ethnic areasbecause I do not mean that only ethic area, because I am just from ethnic Karen, that is why I present the KarenI talk about the area that I am familiar with.
Page 110 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 So we would love to have because the military went there and there is no onethe people cannot resist it, and if we have the international community there, and then do, and provide the protection, and cease fire, and then also not only this, we would love to havecreate the international community to press more the United Nations Security Council to press the military regime and the democracy, and to have the tripartite dialogue with the people there.
Mr. PITTS. Mr. Hla-Tint, do you want to speak?
Mr. HLA-TINT. Yes, Mr. Chairman, it is a very neat the international economy should be in sight the problems area of the ethnic minorities or ethnic nationalities in Burma, but the thing we have to realize is that, first of all, the military must stop their atrocities in those region until and unless they have agree with the international community to make a nationwide cease fire, and to agree, you know, to allow the international monitoring or observation forces to free to act in those area, not only for the cease fire, but also that to the humanitarian needs of those needy people that would be very great.
But we have to be very systematically according to the situation, and the militarywe should not underestimate the military regime easily.
Mr. PITTS. And just to clarify, are the Karen people struggling because they want their own country, or do they want autonomy under a national, you know, Federal Burma? What is going on there with that struggle
Mr. HLA-TINT. Yes, I myself have been walking with the Karen and all other ethical national before more than 10 years now, and ourall of our aim is to have a federal, democratic Federal union after ending up the military rule in Burma. Even the Karenni, previously the Karenni people always claim they have been, they are separate, their independent state, they want to be recognized in the past, they have been very independent, but now after walking these years with us they have become very committed for the Federal union, and they are not only expecting to be part of the Federal union, but also they are taking very active initiative to become the Federal union.
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So all the Karenni and all ethnic nationalities fully agree with the democratic Federal union as a future of Burma.
Mr. PITTS. We have received reports that there is also a type of slave labor that is practiced among some of the ethnic minorities by the military dictatorship. I do not know what state, if it is Karen, or Karenni or where it is.
Is that accurate? Is there actually conscripted labor, people made slaves by the military dictatorship to build dams or whatever they are doing in those area? Would you explain?
Mr. HLA-TINT. Yes, Mr. Chairman. In three areas, they have been forcibly conscripting the ethic young people for the army. The first area they have been forcibly conscription in those area like assemble, you know, after movie or local movie theater. The young people and student have been arrested to become a soldier, young solider.
So now we have more than 75,000 child soldiers in Burma forcibly conscripted by the Burmese army.
And another area is, you are right that whenever the dry season offensive they launch in the ethnic resistant area, ethnic area like Karen, Karenni and Shan State, they always use the local people as a forced labor and military porter to carry their arms and ammunition, and to provide all these army's necessity as a slave labor. So that in this second area, and that area they have been using this, they have been driving out those people because in terms ofthey callits policy is spoken policy. They want to cut the resistant movement information, support lines, more support and human resource, so that these area people has been deliberately driven out by the army. That is why the increasing amount of the internally displaced people are mounting up.
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Mr. PITTS. Thank you very much for your responses, for your testimony, for your courage and your commitment to your people, human rights in Burma. Those buzzers that you heard are calling us to a vote on the Floor, so we are going to have to adjourn.
We will convene tomorrow morning for a second hearing, continuation of a hearing on Burma at 8:30, and at the hearing we will be receiving testimony from the U.S. Administration on their views on Burma's human rights situation.
So thank you very much for coming, and at this time the hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 3:39 p.m., the Subcommittees were recessed, to reconvene at 8:30, Thursday, October 2, 2003.]
Next Hearing Segment(2)