Segment 2 Of 2 Previous Hearing Segment(1)
SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 113 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 HUMAN RIGHTS IN BURMA:
FIFTEEN YEARS POST MILITARY COUP
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2003
House of Representatives,
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 8:30 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. Call the Subcommittee on International Relations Nonproliferation and Human Rights to order. Today the Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Nonproliferation and Human Rights and the Subcommittee on Asia and Pacific are holding a second of two hearings on the human rights situation in Burma. During the first hearing, we heard from private witnesses including political opponents of the current military regime, members of oppressed ethnic groups and an expert on human rights in Burma. In the second hearing, we will hear the perspective of the State Department regarding what is happening in Burma.
Page 114 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Yesterday we heard specific information on the nature of the military regime in Burma, including a firsthand account of the May 30 attack by government-backed group on Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters. The witnesses also discussed the target of ethnic minorities, the oppression of political opponents, the failure of the regime to address the growing HIV, AIDS problems, and the involvement of the regime in the illegal drug trade and human trafficking. This morning I look forward to exploring United States Government policy with respect to the horrendous human rights problems in Burma and how we can more effectively help the people in that country.
I am especially eager to hear more from our government and how we can convince other nations in the region to join us in placing greater pressure on the Burmese military regime to respect basic human rights. It is my understanding that Mr. Sherman is en route and we will move on with the hearing. And we will allow Mr. Sherman an opening statement when he arrives. Did you have anything Mr. Pitts?
[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 2, 2003
Today, the Subcommittee on International Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Human Rights and the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific are holding the second of two hearings on the human rights situation in Burma.
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During the first hearing, we heard from private witnesses, including political opponents of the current military regime, members of oppressed ethnic groups and an expert on human rights abuses in Burma. In this second hearing, we will hear the perspective of the State Department regarding what is happening in Burma.
Yesterday, we heard specific information on the nature of the military regime in Burma, including a first-hand account of the May 30th attack by a government-backed group on Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters. The witnesses also discussed the targeting of ethnic minorities, the repression of political opponents, the failure of the regime to address the growing HIV/AIDS problem and the involvement of the regime in the illegal drug trade and human trafficking.
This morning, I look forward to exploring U.S. government policy with respect to the horrendous human rights problems in Burma and how we can more effectively help the people of that country. I am especially eager to hear what more our government can do to convince other nations in the region to join us in placing greater pressure on the Burmese military regime to respect basic human rights.
Now, I would like to recognize Mr. Sherman for an opening statement.
Mr. PITTS. Yes, briefly, Mr. Chairman. I have three statements from other ethnic groups I would like to enter to the record as a continuation of yesterday.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Without objection, we will make them a part of the record of the hearing.
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Mr. PITTS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for the hearing very much. We appreciate your leadership on this. And I would like to reiterate for the Administration officials my concerns about the lack of assistance to the IDPs of Burma. And I just received a report a couple weeks ago, 30 Karin families in the Pawn district fled to the Thai border as a result of an offensive carried out again by the military in Burma. And the plight of the IDP should be addressed I think at the highest levels of our government and other governments in the UN. And I want to commend our government support for programs assisting refugees and democracy groups. But I think we should do more for the plight of the IDPs. And welcome the witnesses from the Administration. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GALLEGLY. I thank the gentleman and certainly want to reiterate the appreciation I have for his yeoman's job in addressing this issue bringing this significant issue to the attention of this Committee. Joe, you are truly to be commended and we appreciate your ongoing work. This morning, our first witness is Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt Daley. Mr. Daley has served the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs as Deputy Assistant Secretary since August 2001. After joining the U.S. Foreign Service in 1976, he was detailed to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and was involved in many arms control negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland.
More recently, he served as special assistant to the Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Public Affairs, Director of the Office of the Philippines Affairs, and is Deputy Chief of Mission of the American Embassies in Bangkok, Thailand and also New Delhi, India. As a reminder, I know that it is difficult to try to get your comments in 5 minutes but we will try to do that and then we are going to have hopefully many questions. So Mr. Daley, welcome this morning.
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STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE MATTHEW DALEY, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY, BUREAU OF EAST ASIAN AND PACIFIC AFFAIRS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Mr. DALEY. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. I will try to get quickly through my remarks, although I was urged to drag them out so my colleague, Lorne Craner would have time to get here, but let me proceed as expeditiously if I can. And if I am taking too much time, I will hear from you. I begin by noting that we note the transfer of Aung San Suu Kyi to her residence. We were concerned about her health. The health questions have been answered for the moment, but many key questions remain unanswered. Will ordinary Burmese journalists, diplomats and others have free access to her? Is she going to be free to travel? Will her colleagues who were incarcerated after the May 30 attack on her motorcade be released? There are other questions that predate May 30.
Will the SPDC allow a meaningful role to the National League of Democracy in shaping the political evolution of Burma? What approach will be taken to the emerging humanitarian crisis? Will the NLD be allowed to resume its activities and its offices reopened?
We are not able to answer these questions today, Mr. Chairman. Our concern about a hunger strike, let me address very quickly. We had received information we thought credible that Aung San Suu Kyi was on a hunger strike. We acted upon it immediately and sounded the alarm. The ICRC subsequently was able to see her and reported that she was in good health. And on the day of her visit, she was not on a hunger strike, but then they noted they couldn't speak for either the past or the present.
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In this connection, the allegation was made that our raising the alarm was intended to divert attention from the road map that had been announced from Prime Minister Khin Nyunt. That simply is not correct. I will address the road map later in my remarks. The fundamental political problem is that Aung San Suu Kyi, her colleagues are under detention and there is no ability to for democracy to function in Burma today and to play the role that democracy can play in addressing these other problems.
Mr. Chairman, we have been active on many fronts to deal with the empty promises that the SPDC has made in regard to the transition to democracy and improving human rights. On July 28, as you know, President Bush signed the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 and a companion Executive Order. Taken together, they impose measures that place a ban on the import of all Burmese products, a freeze on the assets of certain Burmese institutions and a ban on the export of financial services to Burma. These measures immediately disrupted the economy, particularly affecting industries that rely on exports to the United States. The garment sector was hardest hit and the junta has been unable or unwilling to assist affected businesses or their employees. The prohibition on financial services created instant difficulties for foreign Embassies, government agencies, NGOs and other institutions that are reliant on the U.S. financial system for trade facilitation and dollar remittent services.
Among the many businesses that have been affected are the tourist industry. Travelers are unable to use traveler checks or credit cards that are denominated in dollars. As of August 1, the latest information the Treasury Department has provided to us, the asset freeze has captured $680,000. These measures were put in place to send a clear signal to the junta to release Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners and to move down the path to democracy.
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We hoped, by reducing hard currency available to the regime, to exert pressure on them. This approach may be less successful if Burma succeeds in shifting its trade to other currencies. Unfortunately, the sanctions also affect ordinary Burmese. I note that some international NGOs have expressed concern about the destruction of the already troubled export sectors, especially the garment sector and their concern that it will lead to significant unemployment, a spike of economic migrants seeking illegal work inside of Burma or over the border in Thailand or China.
Within the first monthswithin the first couple months, we estimate that 40,000 garment sector workers lost their jobs. In the long-term the garment sector will probably lose about 100,000 jobs. Noes have expressed the concern to us that some of these women are seeking employment in the flourishing illegal sex and entertainment industries in Burma and on the Thai-Burma border. These effects are most unfortunate, but Burma's greatest misfortune is the junta's misrule and suffering of the Burmese people. We also believe, Mr. Chairman, that the effect of these particular sanctions may be irreversible given that the garment industry in Burma was already under question because of the impending end of quotas under the WTO agreement.
It is unlikely, we think, that even if we lift the sanctions that those factories and jobs will return to Burma. We persevere in our effort to have multilateral approaches to the SPDC. Secretary Powell is active in the ASEAN post-ministerial conference and ASEAN regional forum. We continue to call for lifting all the restrictions, all of our policy goals. We note that former Indonesian foreign minister Ali Alatas visited Rangoon as part of ASEAN's effort to deal with the circumstances in Burma. And we made clear to ASEAN that those circumstances as they exist today negatively affect international perceptions of Burma, international perceptions of ASEAN and the other individual ASEAN States.
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It has already complicated our efforts to make progress on a trade and investment framework agreement with ASEAN. ASEAN invited Burma to join it, in part, to encourage it to adopt international norms and Burma has failed to do that. The international community, Mr. Chairman, with a few exceptions, has voiced strong support for our goals. I have seen real movement toward improving the human rights situation in Burma and democracy. We work particularly closely with our counterparts, Japan, European Union and Canada and continue to work with them today.
We have a dialogue with other countries in the region, including China and India, and we encourage to join the rest of the international community in articulating our goals and dealing with the regime. I note that a broad array of countries from Asia, including China, supported the release of Aung San Suu Kyi in the statement that was released in connection with the Asian Europe meeting in July. Mr. Chairman, interest was expressed in China's relationship with Burma. It has undergone a radical transformation in the past decade as previously Sinophobic Burma turned to China for arms, investment, assistance and trade.
China, in turn, has gained important strategic access and influence in an area that in the past was largely inaccessible to it. Beyond its strategic access, China is active in economic development, investment and trade. Its counternarcotics efforts in law enforcement and development assistance in the opium-producing regions that are beyond the direct control of the direct SPDC far exceed our own modest support for the U.N. office of drugs and crime projects in Burma. But China's increased role could also be harnessed for change in Burma. We hope China will encourage reform, even as it differs sharply with us on tactics. It prefers a quiet behind-the-scenes effort and it rejects sanctions. I would like to add a brief observation, Mr. Chairman, on Burma's relationship with North Korea.
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The DPRK, along with China, Russia and a few other countries, has a military supply relationship with Burma. We are mindful that North Korea has a proclivity for ignoring international norms and concerns about regional stability to sell arms including missile systems. An extra measure of concern thus attaches to transactions that involve Burma. Burma is fully aware of our concerns on this score. Our own relations with Burma are obviously under increasing strain. Nonetheless, we have received effective cooperation from the SPDC on issues that involve counterterrorism. Our request for enhanced security at our Embassy in Rangoon were addressed effectively and promptly. Rangoon is continuing to facilitate our efforts to account for the American servicemen who lost their lives in the Second World War and whose remains were not recovered. We remain in dialogue with Rangoon with regard to circumstances that would permit us to be more active in addressing the challenge of HIV, AIDS in Burma and in neighboring countries.
At present our funding for HIV, AIDS assistance in Burma is limited to independent international Noes. We provide no funds directly or indirectly to the government itself. We obviously have some important policy differences on foreign policy and domestic policy in Burma. In those areas such as the treatment of Iraq and multi-lateral fora, Burma has expressed its views clearly, but it has not launched or taken the initiative to try and complicate our purposes. In recent decades, Burma, has generally kept a low profile in multi lateral meetings. The dimensions of the narcotics in the golden triangle have changed in important ways. The production of opium in Burma has declined significantly in the last 5 years. In 1998, it was estimated at 1,750 metric tons. This year, the estimates place opium production at only 484 metric tons.
Surveys indicate that the heroin produced in Burmese opium is of comparatively small importance in the United States heroin market today. I mean, Burmese heroin appears to account for less than 10 percent of heroin sold in the United States. Trying to dredge up past statistics, 5 to 10 years ago, 12 years ago, my guess it would have been well over 50 percent. Although the methamphetamines that are produced in Burma do not enter the United States in significant numbers, they do pose a significant threat to countries of the region, especially Thailand, an important American ally.
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The President determined again this year that Burma had failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere to its obligations under international counternarcotics agreements. Our current level of activity in Burma on the narcotics issue is limited for both legal and policy reasons. Mr. Chairman, I think it is impossible to understand the nature of the narcotics problem in Burma without also addressing the ethnic minority and the insurgence aspects. The opium growing and methamphetamine production problem is centered geographically in ethnic areas where the writ of the Rangoon government does not substantially prevail.
In the Shan State, the United Wa State Army, the major narcotics syndicate in southeast Asia fields an unusually well equipped Army of over 20,000 men. While there are additional steps Rangoon could and should take in the area of law enforcement that would complicate the life of the United Wa State Army, there is no alternative in the near term to eliminate UWSA opium and meth production short of major military operations that would be problematic from a number of perspectives including a number of American perspectives. We realize, therefore, that resolving the narcotics problem within the borders of Burma is going to take time and it is going to involve activities such as crop substitution. It will also require the active participation of neighboring States that thus far have not halted the flow from their countries of the essential chemicals to the narcotics organizations and narcotics production.
Moreover, Mr. Chairman, I think it is important that we appreciate it is going to require progress on national reconciliation to reduce the perceived need by some ethnic groups to maintain their own military forces, forces that are funded by the proceeds of narcotics trafficking. I would like to underscore that not all of the various ethnic groups and organizations are involved in the narcotics trade. I certainly do not want to tar very many decent people and organizations with that brush.
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Mr. Chairman in response to the events of May 30, many countries have joined us in denouncing the SPDC and calling for democracy in Burma. To date, none have adopted an investment ban, import ban or financial services ban as has the United States. We continue our conversations with our partners in the international community and particularly the European union and other European states that are not part of the EU in an effort to make these measures as multi lateral as possible and thus increase their effectiveness.
Whatever the effect of sanctions, Burma and its people desperately need economic policy reform. And this is the subject I think is beyond the reach of the expertise of the SPDC military group. Economic reforms are essential to curb inflation, provide a civilian employment and higher standards of living. While the SPDC has been active in infrastructure development projects and probably judges that the international community doesn't appreciate these efforts, these infrastructure projects have had other effects. They produce pressure for forced labor. It is a century-old practice. And they have diverted funds that we think would be better used for education and for health.
When meaningful political change comes to Burma, the international community will be quick to extend a robust and generous helping hand. Some have asked us for our thoughts on the recent shifts in the makeup of the SPDC. Frankly, we don't have any. We are not concerned with who occupies what position. We are concerned about the policies they actually implement. We are seeking new avenues of progress through multi lateral institutions, Mr. Chairman. Our representative, our permanent representative at the United Nations, Ambassador Negroponte raised the situation in Burma at the Security Council in July and we are now exploring how best to deal with this challenge in a multinational fora including the Security Council.
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To this end, we stay in close contact with the secretary General's special envoy Ambassador Razali Ismail, who is now in Rangoon. And we look forward to having a report from Ambassador Razali on the results of his mission. I would note that he has encouraged the international community to allow the SPDC time to make progress on its own road map for change in Burma, once again offering the generals an opening to bring positive change to the country. I will be interested to see if that remains his view after he leaves Burma.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to close with the observation on the question of road maps that none of these road maps can be meaningful unless the Democratic opposition, including the NLD and including representatives of the ethnic minorities are allowed to play a meaningful role. The debate that has to take place right now in Burma is a debate on broad constitutional issues. It cannot be a debate that takes place only with the participation of the military and their allies and the civilian sector. The NLD has made plain to us that there will be an important role for the military institution in the future of Burma. And we know that national reconciliation will also entail national forgiveness for past actions. These are not principles that we can elaborate in detail for the Burmese. They must be able to do it and it must be an inclusive process. There can be no plan, no road map, no convention to consider a new Constitution, no genuine political dialogue without Aung San Suu Kyi and members of the NLD, many of whom remain under arrest in circumstances that are not well known to us or the international community. Mr. Chairman, let me conclude my remarks at that point. Thank you very much.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you Mr. Daley.
[The prepared statement Mr. Daley follows:]
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PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE MATTHEW DALEY, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY, BUREAU OF EAST ASIAN AND PACIFIC AFFAIRS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Thank you Mr. Chairman for the opportunity to speak today.
I wish to begin by noting the transfer of Aung San Suu Kyi to her residence and the reports that she recovered quickly from surgery. At the same time, we need to suspend judgment on the exact import of this step. Many key questions remain unanswered. Will ordinary Burmese, foreign diplomats, journalists and others have free access to her? Will Aung San Suu Kyi be free to travel? Will her colleagues who were incarcerated after the May 30 attack on her motorcade be released? To these questions, I would add others that predated May 30. Will the State Peace and Development Council provide for a meaningful role for the National League of Democracy in shaping the political evolution of Burma? What approach will be taken to national reconciliation, dealing with Burma's emerging humanitarian crisis, its health emergency and its economy? We will not be able to answer these questions today.
Mr. Chairman, our concern at the end of August about the possibility of Aung San Suu Kyi being on a hunger strike was effectively addressed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which was able to visit her on September 6. The ICRC reported that she was not then on a hunger strike and was ''in good health,'' but allowed that they could not say whether that included ''the past and the present.'' Our expression of concern prompted suspicion and allegations that we were attempting to divert attention from the ''roadmap'' that had just been announced by Prime Minister Khin Nyunt. Those suspicions were simply wrong. There was no connection between the two issues. I will address the roadmap later in my remarks.
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However, the fundamental problem remains that Aung San Suu Kyi, her colleagues and other political dissidents remain under detention. As best we can determine, her circumstances today are those of house arrest, while many NLD leaders who were arrested following the May 30 attack on her motorcade are in prison. Our position remains unambiguously clear: Aung San Suu Kyi and all others who have been detained for nothing more than peacefully exercising such fundamental rights as the expression of their political views must be released immediately. The offices of the National League for Democracy should be reopened, and all Burmese allowed to voice their views and participate freely in the political process of their country.
We have taken an active role on many fronts to address the many empty promises made by the SPDC with regard to a transition to democracy and improving human rights. On July 28, President Bush signed both the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 and a companion Executive Order. Together they impose measures including placing a ban on the import of all Burmese products, a freeze of the assets of certain Burmese institutions, and a ban on the exportation of financial services to Burma. These measures immediately disrupted the economy in Burma, particularly affecting industries reliant on exports to the United States. The garment sector was hardest hit and the junta has been unable or unwilling to assist affected businesses or their employees. The prohibition on financial services created instant difficulties for businesses, government agencies, foreign embassies, NGOs and other institutions reliant on the U.S. financial system for trade facilitation and dollar remittance services. The tourist industry has been affected, with travelers unable to use credit cards or U.S. dollar travelers' checks. As of August 1, the asset freeze had captured $680,000.
The measures now in place send a clear signal to the junta to release Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners and move down the path to democracy. By reducing the hard currency available to the SPDC, we hope to exert pressure on them to restore democracy and bring an end to their extensive human rights abuses. This approach may become less effective if Burma succeeds in shifting its trade to other currencies. Unfortunately, the sanctions also affect ordinary Burmese. I note that some international NGOs have expressed concern that the destruction of already troubled export industries, especially the garment sector, will lead to significant unemployment and a spike in economic migrants seeking illegal work inside Burma or over the border in Thailand or China. Within the first month of sanctions, we estimate that more than 40,000 garment sector jobs were lost. In the long term, the garment sector will likely lose 100,000 jobs, most of which are filled by young women. We have credible reports that the concern voiced by some INGOs concerning the fate of these women is well founded and that some have entered the flourishing illegal sex and ''entertainment'' industries. Such effects are unfortunate, but Burma's greatest misfortune is the junta's misrule and the suffering of all the Burmese people, every day, under this military dictatorship. Much of the garment industry in Burma was already threatened by the impending end of quotas under the WTO's Agreement on Textiles and Clothing in 2005. It is therefore unlikely that the textile companies and their associated employment will return to Burma even if we elect to lift sanctions at some future point.
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We persevere in our efforts to develop multilateral approaches to the SPDC. Following an unprecedented statement by ASEAN at its meeting in June in support of national reconciliation and dialogue and calling for the lifting of restrictions on Aung San Suu Kyi, we have continued a dialogue with key ASEAN member states. We note that former Indonesian Foreign Minister, Ali Alatas has recently visited Rangoon as part of ASEAN's effort to deal with the circumstances in Burma. We have made clear to ASEAN that the circumstances that exist in Burma today affect negatively international perceptions of ASEAN and of the individual ASEAN states. It has already complicated our efforts to make progress on a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with ASEAN. ASEAN invited Burma to join ASEAN in part to encourage it to adopt international norms; Burma has failed to do so.
Meanwhile, Thailand has proposed a ''roadmap'' toward democracy, envisioning the participation of the democratic opposition. However, I must stress the importance of seeing concrete steps taken with full participation of the democratic opposition and a real time frame established for a return to democracy in Burma. The international community, with a few exceptions, has strongly supported our goals of seeing real movement toward and real improvement in the human rights situation in Burma. We work particularly closely with our counterparts in Japan, the European Union, and Canada, and we are working with them on appropriate next steps. We continue to have dialogue with other countries in the region including China and India, encouraging them to join the rest of the international community in calling for Aung San Suu Kyi's release and for the junta to take concrete steps that would demonstrate its commitment to national reconciliation in Burma. I note that a broad array of countries from Asia, including China, supported the release of Aung San Suu Kyi in a statement released in conjunction with the Asia-Europe Meeting in July.
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China's relationship with Burma has undergone a radical transformation in the past decade as previously Sinophobic Burma has turned to China for arms, investment, assistance and trade. China, in turn, has gained important strategic access to and influence in an area that in the past was largely inaccessible to it. Beyond its strategic access, China is active in economic development, investment and trade. Its counter-narcotics efforts in law enforcement and development assistance in the opium producing regions beyond the direct control of the SPDC far exceed our own modest support for UN Office of Drugs and Crime projects in Burma. But China's increased role could also be harnessed as a force for change in Burma. We hope China too will encourage reform even as it differs sharply with us on tactics, preferring a quiet, behind-the-scenes effort, while rejecting sanctions.
I would also like to add a brief observation on Burma's relationship with North Korea. The DPRK, along with China, Russia, and a few other countries have a military supply relationship with Burma. We are mindful that North Korea has a proclivity for ignoring international norms and concerns for regional stability in its effort to sell arms, including missile systems. An extra measure of concern thus attaches to transactions that involve North Korea. Burma is fully aware of these concerns.
Our own relations with Burma are obviously under increasing strain. Nonetheless, we have received effective cooperation from the SPDC on issues involving counter-terrorism. Our requests for enhanced security at our Embassy in Rangoon were addressed effectively and promptly. Rangoon has continued to facilitate our efforts to account for the American servicemen who lost their lives during the Second World War. We remain in dialogue with Rangoon regarding the circumstances that would permit us to be more active in addressing the challenge of HIV/AIDS in Burma and in neighboring countries. At present our funding of HIV/AIDS assistance activities in Burma is limited to independent, international NGOs, and we provide no funds directly or indirectly to the government itself. We obviously have differences with Burma on some important foreign policy issues. In those areas, such as the treatment in multilateral fora of Iraq, Burma has expressed its views without launching efforts that would complicate our own diplomatic initiatives. Burma in recent decades has generally kept a low profile in multilateral fora.
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The dimensions of the narcotics problem in the Golden Triangle have changed in important ways. The production of opium has declined significantly in Burma over the last five years. In 1998, it was an estimated 1750 metric tons; this year, recent estimates place production at only 484 metric tons. Surveys indicate that heroin produced from Burmese opium is of comparatively small importance in the U.S. heroin market. By that I mean that Burmese heroin appears to account for less than ten percent of heroin sold in the U.S. Although methamphetamines produced in Burma also do not enter the United States in significant numbers, they do pose a significant threat to the countries of the region, especially Thailand, an important American ally. The President determined again this year that Burma had failed demonstrably during the previous twelve months to adhere to its obligations under international counter-narcotics agreements. Our current level of activity in Burma on the narcotics issue is limited for both legal and policy reasons.
It is impossible to understand the nature of the narcotics problem in Burma without addressing the ethnic insurgent aspects. The opium growing and methamphetamine production problem is centered geographically in ethnic areas where the writ of the Rangoon government does not substantially prevail. In the Shan State, the United Wa State Army, the major narcotics syndicate in Southeast Asia fields an unusually well equipped army of over 20,000 men. While there are additional steps that Rangoon could take in the area of law enforcement that would complicate the life of the UWSA, there is no way in the near term to eliminate UWSA opium and meth production short of major military operations that would be problematic from a number of perspectives. We understand, therefore, that resolving the narcotics problem within the borders of Burma will take time and involve activities such as crop substitution and will require the active support of neighboring states that thus far have not halted the flow from their countries of essential chemicals to the narcotics organizations. It will also require progress on national reconciliation to reduce the perceived need by some ethnic groups to maintain their own military forces that are funded by the proceeds of narcotics trafficking.
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In response to the events of May 30, a great many countries have joined in denouncing the SPDC and calling for democracy in Burma. However, none have yet adopted an investment ban, import ban or financial services ban as has the United States. We continue our conversations with our partners in the international community, in particular the European Union, in an effort to make these measures as multilateral as possible and, thus, increase their effectiveness.
Whatever the effects of sanctions, Burma and its people desperately need economic policy reform, a subject that often seems to be beyond the reach of military expertise. Economic reforms are necessary to curb inflation, provide civilian employment and higher standards of living. The SPDC has indeed been active in infrastructure development projects and perhaps judges that the international community has not sufficiently appreciated its efforts. But such expenditures have had other effects, such as producing pressures for forced labor, a centuries old practice in the area, and taking funds that would be better used for education and health. When meaningful political change comes to Burma, the international community will be quick to extend a robust and generous helping hand. Some have asked us for our thoughts on the recent shifts in the makeup of the SPDC. These changes will only be meaningful if they are accompanied by a meaningful change in policies. The hopes of the Burmese people for freedom and democracy have been put on hold for too many years. The United States and the world call on the junta in Rangoon to make good on its pledges to fulfill these hopes.
The Administration also seeks new avenues to progress in Burma through multilateral institutions. Ambassador Negroponte raised the situation in Burma at the United Nations Security Council in July. We are now exploring how best to deal with this challenge in multinational fora, including the UN Security Council. To this end, we stay in close contact with the Secretary General's Special Envoy for Burma, Ambassador Razali Ismail, as he seeks to encourage the development of a dialogue in Rangoon. I note that Ambassador Razali recently encouraged the international community to allow the SPDC time to make progress on its own ''roadmap'' for change in Burma, once again offering the generals an opening to bring positive change to their country. Ambassador Razali has just departed Burma and we look forward to receiving a readout on his mission. But I wish to reiterate that the immediate release and full participation of Aung San Suu Kyi and the other leaders of the NLD will be of paramount importance to the success of any such roadmap. The democratic opposition, including the NLD and the representatives of the ethnic minorities, must be allowed to play their indispensable role in Burma's future. To be meaningful, any roadmap will have to have a timeframe. In all of this, we are realists. We know that democracy and human rights will not be achieved in the coming weeks. We know also, as the NLD has made plain to us, that there will be an important role for the military institution in the future of Burma. We know that national reconciliation will also entail national forgiveness for past actions. But these are not principles that we can elaborate in detail for Burma. The Burmese themselves must elaborate them. But this must be an inclusive process.
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There can be no plan, no roadmap, no convention to consider a new constitution, and no genuine political dialogue without Aung San Suu Kyi, the representatives of the National League for Democracy, and other members of the democratic opposition currently held under house arrest or in prison along with the other political prisoners.
Mr. GALLEGLY. And I apologize to the Committee, but I just received notice I have been summoned to the Intelligence Committee and a lot of things are happening, as you know. And after I introduce Mr. Craner, I will turn the gavel over to Mr. Pitts, who is more than capable to address this issue and I appreciate your understanding. At this time, as I said I would like to welcome Assistant Secretary Lorne Craner. Mr. Craner was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor on June 4, 2001. Mr. Craner coordinates U.S. foreign policy and programs that support the promotion and protection of human rights and democracy worldwide.
Prior to his appointment, he served as President of the International Republican Institute, which conducts programs outside the United States to promote democracy, free markets and the rule of law. He served as the President of IRI from 1995 until assuming his current appointment.
Welcome, Mr. Craner and for Mr. Daley's sake and Mr. Craner, anything that you have beyond the summarizing of your statement will be placed in the record in its entirety, without objection.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE LORNE W. CRANER, ASSISTANT SECRETARY, BUREAU OF DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND LABOR
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Mr. CRANER. Let me apologize for being a little late this morning. I want to thank all of you for scheduling this hearing. I read the accounts both from my staff and the newspapers of yesterday's hearing, and everything you are doing to keep attention focused on these egregious rights abuses is very much appreciated, both in the Administration and I know also in Burma. I can assure you this morning of the great interest of the President and Secretary of State in these issues. I was in New York last week and had the opportunity to know that both of them were pushing the Burma issue very, very hard in their meetings up there. I know you are short on time today. I therefore ask that my written statement be submitted in place of my opening statement in the interest of going straight to questions.
[The prepared statement of Lorne Craner follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE LORNE W. CRANER, ASSISTANT SECRETARY, BUREAU OF DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND LABOR
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittees, I know that the press of legislative business is heavy this late in the session, so I want to begin by expressing a special thanks to the Committee for holding this hearing. I appreciate the time on the Committee's calendar because we believe that it is important to keep up the unprecedented momentum that has been generated within the international community to press for change in Burma. We believe the hearing is helpful. Currently, we are preparing for the U.N. General Assembly meetings in New York and the APEC meetings in Thailand. Both offer opportunities to reiterate our demand for change.
My message to you today is to reiterate this Administration's unwavering commitment to support the long-suffering people of Burma as they battle for democracy, improved human rights, and freedom. As President Bush said when he signed the Burmese Freedom & Democracy Act of 2003 and notified Congress by letter and Executive Order that he was extending sanctions:
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''The U.S. will not waiver from its commitment to the cause of democracy and human rights in Burma. The U.S. has raised the situation in Burma at the UN Security Council and will do so again as developments warrant. The world must make clearthrough word and deedthat the people of Burma, like people everywhere, deserve to live in dignity and freedom, under leadership of their own choosing.''
President Bush also cited Burma in his Captive Nations Proclamation and his statement in support of Victims of Torture on United Nations International Day, when he said, ''Notorious human rights abusers, including . . . Burma . . ., have long sought to shield their abuses from the eyes of the world by staging elaborate deceptions and denying access to international human rights monitors.''
Exactly three months ago I testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and expressed my outrage and disgust at the actions taken by the illegitimate Burmese regime. Unfortunately, serious problems remain and even intensified and I have no good news to report to you today.
Last week marked the 100th day that Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained in prison with virtually no access to visitors. You have heard it before but I will emphasize it again: the generals must release immediately and unconditionally Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners languishing in Burma's jails and begin to take concrete steps toward true democracy. We will settle for nothing less.
There is unprecedented within both the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. Government to intensify pressure on the regime. We have taken the lead in instituting new sanctions against the regime and Mr. Daley from the Department's East Asia and Pacific Bureau will be updating you on their implementation. Our efforts also have succeeded in galvanizing members of the international community to join ussome publicly and others privatelyin pressuring the Burmese regime. We are still urging more concrete action from other nations, especially Burma's neighbors in the region.
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Over the past months, our worst fears for democracy in Burma have been realized. We have always doubted the sincerity of the junta's claim to desire a peaceful transition to democracy. Now we know our doubts were justified. The junta's orchestration of the ambush of Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters on May 30, her imprisonment, and the junta's refusal to account fully for what happened that day leaves no room for debate. The junta calling itself the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) rules through fear and brutality with complete disregard for the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the hopes and welfare of the Burmese people. Their recent actions make clear the depths to which these thugs will sink to retain power. Our response has been equally clear.
The SPDC's renewed campaign of violence and repression against the National League for Democracy (NLD) and Aung San Suu Kyi shows the junta's blatant disregard for the basic rights of the Burmese people and the desire of the international community to see those rights protected. The most recent crackdown is just one link in a long chain of appalling behavior toward the people and the nation that the military regime claims to be protecting.
The SPDC's disregard for human rights and democracy extends to almost every conceivable category of violation. The junta suppresses political dissent by censorship, persecution, beatings, disappearances and imprisonment. It harasses ethnic minorities through brutal campaigns against civilians. It sharply curtails religious freedom. It subjects its people to forced labor. It recruits children to serve in the military contrary to international law and then brutalizes them.
The litany of abuse endured by civilians in ethnic minority regions is especially deplorable. We remain deeply troubled by widespread and brutal rapes, torture, murders, forced relocations, forced labor, confiscation of property and suppression of religious freedom in Burma's ethnic minority regions. The violation of the human rights of these individuals belonging to minority groups has devastating effects on individuals, their families and communities but also has regional and international implications.
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The oppression of the Burmese junta places huge burdens on its neighbors. Victims of the brutal abuses listed above and those fleeing economic oppression continue to stream into Thailand, Bangladesh, India and other countries in the region for refuge. Thailand hosts more than 140,000 Burmese in refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border and its Burmese migrant population is estimated to be nearly one million people.
We remain deeply concerned for the vulnerable Burmese population living in Thailand and we support them in every way possible. We have encouraged Thailand to improve its migrant worker policies, to move toward acknowledging bona fide refugees among their Burmese migrant population, and at a minimum, to become a Party to the 1967 UN Protocol to the 1951 Refugee Convention.
With funding from the Burma earmark, we support many Burmese democracy groups in Thailand. U.S. Government-funded programs focus on democracy and capacity-building activities and the collection and dissemination of information on democracy and human rights. We also provide scholarships to send Burmese students to Thailand or the U.S. to study law and governance. All these USG funds are used to promote democracy in Burma and prepare many of Burma's future leaders for good governance after transition.
The widespread use of forced labor by the SPDC has been an ongoing concern to the United States and the International Labor Organization (ILO). Forced labor is one of the most egregious violations of worker rights. Since the ILO's request to its constituents in December 2000 that they review their relations with Burma in light of the system of forced labor, the ILO has been trying to work with the SPDC to eliminate forced labor. But as the ILO liaison officer in Burma said recently, forced labor continues to be a serious problem especially in border areas controlled by the military.
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The SPDC has tried to appease the international community through slow increases in the level of cooperation with the ILO, but this has yet to lead to any serious action to combat the problem. In May, the SPDC and the ILO agreed on a plan of action to eliminate forced labor, which if implemented in good faith could have produced some substantive progress. But the International Labor Conference decided in June that the climate of uncertainty and intimidation created by the events of May 30 did not provide an environment in which the plan could be implemented in a credible manner. Forced labor is yet another area in which the SPDC continues to evade its responsibility to protect the basic rights of the people of Burma and shows disdain for the rule of law.
Our recent report on Trafficking in Persons sheds further light on the problem and the Burmese regime's insufficient response. Burma is a Tier 3 country in the 2003 Report issued under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. On September 9th, the President imposed sanctions pursuant to that law.
The SPDC's practices of using child soldiers contrary to international law are egregious. In October 2002, Human Rights Watch estimated that nearly 20% of Burma's army of 350,000 were under 18: as many as 70,000 youths, some as young as eleven. It also reported, based on evidence provided by those who had fled Burma, that these boys are often kidnapped from bus stations, local markets, and other public places, and forced to fight against rebel insurgencies armed with machine guns, grenades, and land mines, often under the forced influence of amphetamines and alcohol. Boys who refused to train or fight are reportedly beaten, whipped, or otherwise tortured, sometimes to death. It is impossible, at this time, to verify these reports inside Burma. However, my bureau is working with our embassy officers in the field to plan for special investigative attention to high priority human rights issues in Burma, including the brutal use of child soldiers by the Burmese military. We will do what we can to continue to shed light on these atrocities.
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In addition to special reporting, we are working through multilateral channels to make progress in combating the use of child soldiers. The U.S. has recently ratified the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. We also consistently co-sponsor resolutions on Burma at the UN General Assembly and the UN Commission on Human Rights that condemn the deplorable human rights situation in Burma and call for an end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers contrary to international law. The U.S. also recently supported a UN Security Council resolution that calls upon ''all parties to armed conflict, who are recruiting or using children in violation of the international obligations applicable to them, to immediately halt such recruitment or use of children.'' It should also be noted that some ethnic minority rebel groups in Burma have also been reported to force children to take up arms, especially the Wa which have the largest ethnic army.
The Burmese regime systematically represses religious freedom, with the secret policy infiltrating virtually all religious groups and repressing the rights of religious freedom for believers of many faiths. Buddhist clergy are restricted from promoting human rights and religious freedom, minority religions are prohibited from constructing new places of worship, and minority Christian groups have had their churches destroyed and clergy arrested.
Throughout Burma, there is no freedom of association, no freedom of expression, no freedom of the press. Well over 1,000 political prisoners languish in Burma's jails and the arrests and unlawful detentions continue. We need to keep the most disturbing fact at the front of our minds: these individuals, mostly students, teachers and lawyers, were unjustly arrestedoften arbitrarilyand are being held under abhorrent conditions for peaceably promoting democracy and freedom. In addition to Aung San Suu Kyi, at least 100 NLD supporters were detained, or are missing or dead after the incident in late May. NLD leaders both young and old were targeted in this assault. Today, we continue to fear for the welfare of senior leader U Tin Oo and other senior NLD leaders under detention. We will not forget any of these extremely brave individuals who put their lives on the line over the past two decades to stand for justice, democracy, freedom, rule of law and the right to be heard. We, together with the international community, have pressed for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners at every opportunity. We will continue to do so until every prisoner is released to live a life in freedom and peace.
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The State Department also will continue to report honestly and accurately on the crimes of the SPDC in our reports on human rights, religious freedom, and trafficking in persons. The truth will not be hidden. The oppression of an entire nation must not stand.
The international community must pull together as never before to put an end to the unchecked abuse perpetrated by this illegitimate and brutal junta. The generals must learn that such appalling behavior will deny them the benefits of participation in the global community and eventually will deny them the ability to maintain the power that they so consistently abuse and that they stole from the legitimate democratic leadership of Burma in 1990.
I'd like to close where I began, by emphasizing that this Administration is unwavering in its commitment to support the long-suffering people of Burma as they battle for democracy, improved human rights, and freedom. When President Bush signed the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act he acknowledged that the act was the result of close cooperation between the Administration and Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. We appreciate Congressional resolutions and statements that call for democratic change and human rights in Burma. We want to work closely with Congress to speak with a unified voice so that there can be no doubt that it is U.S. policy that the generals must release immediately and unconditionally Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners languishing in Burma's jails and begin to take concrete steps toward true democracy. Again, we expect nothing less.
Mr. PITTS [presiding]. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Gentlelady from Minnesota, are there any questions?
Page 139 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Ms. MCCOLLUM. Thank you, Mr. Chair. Part of what is at times alarming is the amount of refugees that are trapped in Burma who would very much like to escape the terrible oppression and disrespect to their dignity as individuals. Yet the Thai government isfeels it is at a saturation point. And the Thai government tries to keepI am interpreting it as an open line of communication because they would like to see the situation resolved, changed, so they are in a very unusual predicament. What is the international community and what is the United States Government doing to support Thailand in this refugee buildup?
Mr. DALEY. Thailand today hosts approximately 140,000 displaced persons and refugees in camps that are distributed for the most part along the Thai Burmese border. The main multi lateral mechanism trying to help Thailand deal with that is through the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, that office, which we help fund to a considerable extent as do other members in the international community. Certainly we can't claim credit for it all.
We also provide well over $5 million of assistance from our democracy and human rights funds, from our refugee moneys and from our agency for international development moneys to help support this population in different aspects of their well-being, whether it is health, nutrition, clothing and so forth. And we have done that for a very considerable period of time. We also resettled Burmese refugees who have expressed an interest of resettlement in the United States. And we have had more than adequate resources in terms of resettlement numbers and the accompanying dollars to take those who express an interest in coming here. And we work with other international partners, such as Australia, Canada, various European countries on the resettlement aspects of the effort.
Page 140 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Some of the assistance that we provide goes to organizations which try to provide as difficult as it is, services to displaced personsinternally displaced persons within Burma. That is not easy because of the terrain and it is not easy because of the fighting and the potential for encountering narcotics traffickers or one kind of unpleasantness or another. It is a very major challenge.
Ms. MCCOLLUM. Thank you. I am concerned that we do what we can to help Thailand in this, because it is one of the few countries in the area which many individuals to find themselves in governments that do not support human rights and commit horrific crimes against their own population flee to. I am from St. Paul, Minnesota. We have a large Hmong population. Many, many of my constituents came through Thailand and Thailand has been facing this when you accumulate the amount of refugees that have been going through for a long time and they would also like to see their own country grow and prosper.
I have a question also on one of the sources of humanitarian relief and self-development that you mentioned, and that is the education opportunities that are afforded some individuals that are refugees from Burma. And I am wondering how that is going. My question is because I also serve on the Education Committee. And we are having horrific problems and challenges with our higher education institutions in getting student visas approved, even for people to come back and finish college in which they have started. If you are a physician, you go home for 6 months, sometimes you can't get back in to finish your medical school. Is there any preferential treatment that is given these refugees or are they in the same mix as all the other international students?
Mr. DALEY. Ms. McCollum, first, I take and I have no quarrel with your point that it is very important for us to support Thailand as it deals with not only refugee population and displaced persons from Burma, but from other areas in the region as well. We are going through a very difficult patch on processing visas. It is a subject where we havean area where we have considerably improved and toughened the issues for visa process. The process is a much lengthier process. I think the main distinction between the ordinary person abroad who would want to come here for education and someone from the Burmese population that has made its way to Thailand is that we are in a better position to provide funding to the refugee population in various guises that would not be available to people who don't meet that category or that definition.
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And I would have to provide youI don't have the data now on how many people we sponsor each year, but I would be happy to get that information and send it to you and to the Committee.
Mr. PITTS. The lady has a follow-up question?
Ms. MCCOLLUM. I am sorry, Mr. Daley. It is not a question of financial aid to the students. It is a question of process. It is a question of getting a visa application to attend a university or school here in the United States. It is a question of the higher education institutions having been given an unfunded mandate by the Department of Homeland Security and all kinds of vail threats that they don't comply. They are having problems with the students' visas being approved and then their responsibility for tracking the student once they are here.
My question was, is our government giving international students preferential treatment when they are part of the programs that you described that are targeted toward promoting democracy and our form of capitalist economic government to those students or maybe you are not aware?
Mr. DALEY. Let me try again. You have pinpointed some very real problems in the visa process, particularly for educational institutions that function on a firm time schedule. With respect to the people that were promoting for democracy and are part of our programs, we probably do a better job because we are involved in the process earlier and we get their applications going through the system earlier so they probably have in that senseI wouldn't say preferential treatment, but they are dealt with and subjected to less arbitrary delays. But there is not a day that goes by when I do not receive a very well grounded and loud complaint from somebody I have known personally for some period of time on the problems occasioned by very decent people not getting visas in a timely way everyday.
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Mr. PITTS. The Chair thanks the lady. The gentleman from Ohio.
Mr. CHABOT. Thank you. Secretary Daley, I might say an aside, when I married my wife 30 years ago, her maiden name was Daly without the E and I was interested in politics at the time, and we always thought that would have been a better name to go with than the name I was stuck with, considering the mayor of Chicago who was very popular at the time. In any event, my question is this: If Aung San Suu Kyi had become the leader of Burma, as she certainly should have, since she won the election in 1990, what type of leadership do you think that she would have carried out for Burma and what changes in the country might we have seen and what could we see if the peoples' will were actually what happened in Burma?
Mr. DALEY. I think, sir, the changes would have been enormous, because and I hope I don't get involved in a dispute with my colleague here. I think that democracy and human rights, sir, are not the same thing. One can have a system where majority rule prevails and minority rights are trampled upon. But I don't think that there is any prospect for improving the issues of minority rights unless you have a democracy. I think it is essential. And so to begin with, her coming to having the results of the election go the way they should have and been honored would have produced a much more open political system that would created, I think, enhanced possibilities for national reconciliation between the different peoples of Burma. And that would be of enormous of importance in a lot of other areas such as the narcotics area.
Secondly, had her government come to powerhad a governmentshe was not actually a candidate for office herself. But had the NLD been able to form a government, the international community would have made, very, very significant efforts to assist with Burma's economic development, with its health problems, the whole range of problems. We would have been there in a major way. I think our strategic interests would have benefited because Burma, in its isolation, would not have turned to other countries that, quite frankly, do not place the same emphasis as we on democracy, on human rights and countries which may have their own strategic objectives that are not necessarily the same as ours. It would have been an enormously different circumstance.
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Mr. CRANER. The only thing I would add is you have to consider what a naturally wealthy country Burma is. There is no reason for Burma's economy to be in the miserable shape it is in today except the policies of its government. And I think had Aung San Suu Kyi or those around her been leading the government, the people of Burma would be much, much better off economically. I think they have a much better sense on how to handle the country's economy. In addition to all the aid that would have been given, you would have found a country that, on its own, naturally is quite capable of having an excellent economy.
Mr. CHABOT. Sounds quite a bit like Iraq.
Mr. CRANER. It has a huge amount of potential that is being squandered.
Mr. CHABOT. Thank you very much. I yield back the balance of my time, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. LEACH. Let me express my great appreciation for your leadership on these Burmese issues. I know of no more sensitive country circumstance in the world in which more good could come to a country if its leaders shifted gears than Burma. And the fact that they have not is a tragedy for the world. We all watch Burma with great affection and closeness and sadness. And I think we are all obligated as citizens of the world to express our concerns for the human rights dilemma, and certainly for the symbol of that dilemma, Aung San Suu Kyi.
Page 144 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 In any regard, I just want to indicate that we are very appreciative of the good leadership at the State Department on this issue. Mr. Daley, you are well known to this Committee and we are very much appreciative. And Mr. Craner, you are welcome as well. And I can think of few things that American foreign policy could turn more swiftly than on a series of political developments in Burma. And I think there is no country in the world more desirous of shifting policy than the United States, but nothing can occur until the Burmese change themselves, and that is up to the Burmese to do. And so we watch with great care and great interest. Thank you.
Mr. PITTS. Do you have any questions?
Mr. LEACH. No, I don't have any questions.
Mr. PITTS. Mr. Daley, we heard testimony that there are over 1 million internally displaced people in Burma who cannot flee to refugee camps, both because of the hostile environment or because the Burmese troops are blocking their way. Can you detail what our government is doing to provide cross border humanitarian assistance to these people? Are we doing anything? If so, what? Can we do more?
Mr. DALEY. Mr. Pitts, there is a fair amount of traffic across the border in both directions, and I believe that some of the assistance, humanitarian assistance which we provide in Thailand does end up benefiting some of the populations inside of Burma. I doubt very much that it is in any way adequate to the challenge that is faced. The nature of our current relationship with the Burmese government is such I doubt we would have their cooperation in running major programs. And most of the funding in this area actually, I believe, goes from Secretary Craner's bureau to the National Endowment for Democracy. And I am reluctant to detail or identify the groups that are involved in that, because I would not inadvertently want to complicate their ability to continue their work.
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Mr. PITTS. Mr. Craner, do you want to elaborate?
Mr. CRANER. The funding that is provided on the border, mainly my bureau covers a range of activities on efforts to keep people informed of what is actually going on in their own country and the outside world. We also offer scholarships for people to come the United States, Great Britain and other places, and to maintain the ability of the NLD in the liberated areas as they call them to continue to function and basically to try to keep them in shape in addition as a political party as best we can to teach the functionings of internal democracy within parties.
And finally, I would say to enable them to continue planning for the day when Burma is a free country and it can live up to its potential.
Mr. PITTS. So there are groups that we do provide funding for who do work with IDPs; is that correct?
Mr. CRANER. Groups that we provide funding to that work with refugees on the border and also work with people inside, but I don't want to mislead you. We are not able to provide a great amount of funding within Burma for IDPs because of the thinking we have on working on inside Burma. And also, I think more importantly, because of the conditions inside Burma itself.
Mr. PITTS. If you could provide the Committee with a list of the groups that you provide funding for. What is our position regarding the humanitarian groups that go into Burma with humanitarian aid? Do we condemn those groups? What is our position, our government's position on that?
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Mr. CRANER. We don't condemn those groups. Much of the assistance we provide enables humanitarian and Democratic groups to work inside Burma, so they are not condemned.
Mr. DALEY. Mr. Chairman, I would add that we do make a distinction between groups that are involved in purely humanitarian activity and groups that are involved in supplying insurgent forces. We stay away from the latter. I thinkone thing we have not done and I would not try to hazard a guess is what the outcome would be would be to seek to provide humanitarian assistance ourselves with the consent of the authorities in Rangoon.
Mr. PITTS. Let me just explore that a little further. What if the humanitarian groups just provide security for themselves, to protect themselves and their borders to go in and deliver food and medicine. Do we frown on that?
Mr. DALEY. Mr. Chairman, when peopleif you mean by security bearing arms in a war zone, we would not want to be involved in funding that activity. I would note that that kind of activity would put the groups in question potentially at cross purposes with Thai law and regulation and create hazards for Thailand and thus jeopardize the ability of other groups that are not involved with weaponry and such to continue their humanitarian mission. And so, yes, we would frown on that, sir.
Mr. PITTS. Yesterday we received testimony what the ethnic minority leaders described as crimes against humanity, basically ethnic cleansing. What is the State Department's view on this and whether or not the systematic attacks against ethnic minorities constitute, according to the international definition, genocide? What is the State Department's view?
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Mr. CRANER. Mr. Chairman, we do not seewe do not have the information available yet to be able to say that these crimes and their crimes rise to the level of genocide. As of earlier this year, we are aggressively seeking to gather information both on the rape issue and now on the child soldiers issue, including working with some on this Committee to see if we can gather enough information to be able to make that kind of judgment.
Obviously, the process of gathering information inside Burma is very, very difficult. But what we are doing is working with people on the border as they come out to try and gather that kind of information that would enable us to make a more informed judgment.
Mr. PITTS. I have a stack of reports here from the ethnic minorities on systematic rape and other atrocities. We would be happy to provide these to you. Have you met with the organizations that work with these ethnic minorities?
Mr. CRANER. Absolutely. A member of my staff has out there earlier this year and I suspect she has all of those in her office.
Mr. PITTS. And that is not enough documentation for you?
Mr. CRANER. She was also able to interview people on the border.
Mr. PITTS. And that is not enough documentation?
Page 148 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. CRANER. Not to be able to say that it is genocide, no.
Mr. PITTS. All right. Just to conclude, the United States is preparing for the U.N. security council action. Are we preparing for action on Burma and will the United States request an open session of the U.N. Security Council briefing by U.N. Ambassador Ismail on his assessment of the current situation in Burma?
Mr. DALEY. Mr. Chairman, about 6 weeks ago, we were actively involved in trying to make it possible for that to happen, and we are in discussions with other members of the security council and with the senior leadership of the United Nations in New York. There was opposition to doing that and we were not able to go beyond the subject being raised by Ambassador Negroponte in his capacity as the United States representative. More recently, Ambassador Razali Ismail suggested to us that this is not a good time to raise it in the United Nations security council. He wanted to take his trip to Burma, have his meetings and he is there now. When he returns, we look forward to talking to him.
But again, as I mentioned in my prepared remarks, trying to deal with this issue in the security council is one of the options that we are keeping under active review.
Mr. PITTS. Mr. Craner?
Mr. CRANER. Nothing to add.
Mr. PITTS. Could you elaborate who in the U.N. resisted and whywhat were the reasons?
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Mr. DALEY. Mr. Chairman, if you indulge me, I would rather not answer that question because we hope to turn some of those countries around and naming them now might complicate the process of getting them to take a different posture in the future.
Mr. PITTS. Could you provide us with a list of actions and at what level they will take place at which you will raise these issues with the UN?
Mr. DALEY. I can do so in kind of broad general terms, and I can see what additional information I can gather. I will be going to New York tomorrow, which is the principal focus of my activities.
Mr. PITTS. One final thing. When I was in Thailand in January, the announcement by the prime minister that they were closing down the democracy activist offices occurred, can you elaborate on what our government has done or the State Department as far as the issue of the Thai prime minister's crackdown on the democracy and humanitarian groups. Have we raised these issues with the Thai government?
Mr. DALEY. We continue to have a dialogue with the Thai government on not only the democracy groups but the plight of nonpolitical individuals from other countries that are in Thailand. It is more than a staple of our discussions. I would note, for example, that yesterday, the Committee and the government learned of a particular problem that Dr. Cynthia's clinic is experiencing. We are through our Embassy in Chiang Mai immediately in touch with her directly to discuss exactly what was going on and the nature of the problem. And on the same day, wethat is Thursday, today, Bangkok's 12 hours ahead of us, we raised the question with senior levels in the foreign ministry.
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As particular problems come up, we try to work with the Thai government to try and find solutions to them.
Mr. PITTS. Thank you. Any other questions? Gentlelady from Minnesota.
Ms. MCCOLLUM. Thank you, Mr. Chair. I recently put in a bill to normalize trade relations with Laos, one of the four countries we have diplomatic relations but we have no trade relations. And from the testimony, I heard testimony yesterday and listening carefully to what you said and what is in some of the written testimony, I want to first make clear that Laos is a repressive government. It has many violations of human rights. It has some Hmong refugees in the forested area, which I am very concerned about. But from my conversations with Ambassador Hartwick on that, Laos looks like it is a muchit is much further along right now in working toward religious freedom and having an open dialogue and being more transparent and more open to criticism on how they should improve their human rights than Burma is.
We currently have normalized trade relations with Burma. Has there been any discussion about changing that?
Mr. DALEY. Ms. McCollum, the Administration very much appreciates your introducing the legislation because in the case of Laos, we see normal trade relations as one of the avenues that is going to help open up the country and help mitigate the very bad circumstances that exist on a number of fronts there. So we see this as a mechanism to achieve our objectives.
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In the case of Burma, we have stopped the import of all Burmese products on a commercial basis, so we don't have trade from Burma to the United States. Exports from the United States to Burma, with the exception of arms, are generally allowed, but that is a relatively small trade. It is something on the order of $10 million a year.
Ms. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Chairman, just one other follow up dealing with trade. Sometimes actions have totally unintended consequences. And so some of the actions that we have taken with trade in Burma affecting the textile industry appears to have had a very, very unintended consequence of putting women in particular out of work and putting them into the occupation of becoming a sex worker out of total lack of desperation. Are we, as a government, as a people who care about human rights and women's rights, are we developing ways in which to reach out to these women, in particular, to turn that around, offer them hope and opportunity? I know we have challenges with the government, but if those women in particular, make it to Thailand, are we extending extra effort not punishing them for what they did to feed themselves and to feed their families, but helping them to turn their lives around?
Mr. DALEY. Two-part answer: First, if they do make it to Thailand, we will be very sympathetic and try to do whatever we can to help them through the kinds of programs that we have in place now. They will not be subject to discrimination because of steps that they may have taken and extremes to feed themselves and their families. Within Burma, some of our best information on this subject comes from international Noes that have been active in the specific neighborhoods where the textile industry has been predominantly located and we have received some very good reporting from them on this. It is my hope that within the relatively near future that we will receive some ideas from them on steps that can be taken directly to address the plight of these women, but we don't have that.
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Ms. MCCOLLUM. Thank you gentlemen. Thank you so much, Mr. Chair. And I really appreciate your comments on Laos although that is not the purpose of the hearing and pleasure to work with you on that. I concur with your view of thatwhat is happening there. Indonesia and the Philippines have been more forceful for pressing for Aung San Suu Kyi's release than the rest of ASEAN, especially Thailand. As President Bush prepares to head to Bangkok for the upcoming APEC summit, are we sending positive feedback to the Indonesians and Filipinos. What are we doing to pressure the Thai government? Do you know is the President planning to say anything about Burma during his ASEAN trip?
Mr. DALEY. With respect to Indonesia and the Philippines, we have been in an active dialogue that has been conducted not only at the working levels, at level, but this is the subject that the Secretary of State and the President have raised in their bilateral meetings and in multi lateral fora. Specifically, the President will raise this topic when he goes to Thailand. I would phrase our approach a little bit differently. I think we have to try to work with and support Thailand rather than to pressure them. I don't think an approach to pressuring Thailand is going to help us achieve the objectives we want. So I would use a different way of describing what it is we want to do, but I assure you that this is going to be a very important item on the President's agenda when he goes to Bangkok in his meetings with the Thai prime minister and others in Thailand who are in a position to be helpful.
Mr. PITTS. What diplomatic measures are we taking in the U.N. with Russia and China, Moscow and Beijing to raise the issue of Burma?
Mr. DALEY. The focus is on getting an updated resolution from the general assembly that will deal with Burma in a very strong forthright fashion. With respect to Russia, our principal concernRussia has notlet me say, Russia has not been an obstacle to addressing this issue in a serious way in New York. Our actual highest priority concern with the Russians has been the shipment of advanced fighter aircraft to Burma and the apparent plan to sell a nuclear research reactor to Burma. We continue to look at that and we want to be absolutely certain that any such facility would not be directly usable for nuclear weapons and that it would be subject to the full panoply of international economic and energy safeguards.
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Mr. PITTS. Thank you. And you have been generous with your time and we want to wrap this up, just to follow up, Mr. Craner, when will you issue a report or decide on the issue of human rights abuses occurring in Burma? You are looking at the evidence. Do you have a time line in mind?
Mr. CRANER. As you know, we issue reports regularly. The most recent was posted on the Web about the rape issue. If you are asking what is my timetable to be able to tell you again it is a genocide or not. The answer is when I have the information to do that. I can't tell you it will be a week from now or a month from now or 3 months from now. If you are asking when I can declare a genocide, the answer is when I possess the information that enables me to do that.
Mr. PITTS. And will you talk directly to the representatives of the ethnic groups that go in and out of Burma or come from Burma? I talked to eye witnesses, when I was there, of slave labor by the thousands. I talked to the ladies who did the rape report. Are you in direct contact?
Mr. CRANER. I am in direct contact with them, not only on this job, but the previous job I had where I was trained to help them. As you know, in our annual human rights report, and again in my testimony today and in a speech I gave in February and testimony I gave 3 months ago on the Senate side, we have been very, very forthright and very, very honest about stating all the travesties and the disgusting practices that go inside of Burma. So we have notcertainly not held our fire on those issues.
Page 154 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. PITTS. We had testimony and pictures of children who had been shot, 8-year-old little girl, I think it was. There are a number of them who need medical attention. If we seek to bring them over for medical attention if it can be accomplished, would the State Department assist in facilitating that for medical assistance?
Mr. CRANER. Of course.
Mr. PITTS. We will submit the rest of the questions for the record if you would respond in writing. Thank you very much for your testimony and for what you are doing on behalf of the situation in Burma. And at this time, we will adjourn the hearing.
[Whereupon, at 9:30 a.m., the Subcommittees were adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE JAMES A. LEACH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF IOWA, AND CHAIRMAN, SUBCOMMITTEE ON ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
OCTOBER 1, 2003
Let me express my appreciation to Chairman Gallegly and Representative Pitts for their leadership in holding this important series of hearings on the deplorable situation in Burma. Let me also extend a warm welcome to our witnesses today, most particularly the Burmese freedom activists, all of whom were forced to flee that country because of the repressive policies of the military regime. We honor your leadership and stand with you in a common determination to bring decent democratic governance and national reconciliation to Burma.
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As this hearing demonstrates, what happens to Burma and the peoples of this extraordinary country matters deeply to America and affects the interests of the United States. Broadly speaking, our primary interests will of course continue to be focused on human rights, democracy, refugee assistance, and an end to Burmese production and trafficking of illicit narcotics. However, we also seek to reach out to the Burmese people with humanitarian assistance, including medical interventions to help stem the devastating spread of HIV/AIDS. In addition, Burma's uniquely rich biodiversity is jeopardized by ongoing civil conflict and the regime's naked exploitation of its natural resources.
Then there is the regional security dimension. Burma occupies an important strategic crossroads in East Asia, sandwiched between China and India, the world's two most populous countries. A stable and democratic Burma is not only less likely to be a source of tension and conflict in the region, but is also more likely to be an asset to our friends in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The great tragedy of the current circumstance is that in the early 1960s Burma was potentially the most prosperous country in Southeast Asia. Today, after forty years of military misrule, its economy is in a shambles, health and educational services are in precipitous decline, while its citizens continue to suffer human rights abuses and repression. The vexing dilemma for the United States and other interested outside parties is how to craft policies that can best help the people of Burma to move forward toward democracy and national reconciliation, as well as economic and social development.
At this time, we have chosen the route of economic sanction and diplomatic isolation. However, there are no guarantees that this policy will be effective. On the other hand, attempts by ASEAN and others at constructive engagement with the military regime have proven singularly ineffective.
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Hence there is no alternative at this time but for the U.S. and other concerned members of the international community to continue to find ways to increase the pressure on the ruling Burmese junta, including family members and supporters. Only then will there be a credible prospect that the regime will release Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as other political prisoners, and engage with the National League for Democracy and the ethnic minorities to bring about national reconciliation and urgently needed domestic reforms.
RESPONSES OF MICHAEL MITCHELL, ORION STRATEGIES, TO QUESTIONS ASKED BY THE HONORABLE JOSEPH R. PITTS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
Mr. Pitts' Question:
How have the policies of the government of India either helped or hindered the prospects for democracy in Burma?
Mr. Mitchell's Response:
India's long-standing policy of providing assistance to democracy activists (both monetarily and politically) seems to have ended. India has a long border and many security concerns with Burma. They are also deeply concerned about the influence of Chinese military and economic cooperation with the Rangoon regime and China's desire to project power into the Indian Ocean. China has provided military credits to maintain and update Burma's port facilities and operates a naval radar station on Burmese soil that monitors the strategic Straits of Malacca.
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India has long touted itself as the world's largest democracy. However, their walking away from Burma's democracy movement and building political and economic bridges to the regime is certainly not in the finest traditions of Mahatma Gandhi. Moreover, India has sometimes sought to keep U.S. activists and non-government organizations (NGOs) involved in working with the Burmese democracy movement out of India by withholding visas. It is recommended that the issue of Burma become an integrated part of our ongoing diplomatic dialogue with Delhi. India can play a catalytic role in fostering and promoting the Burmese democracy movement and bringing permanent change that will bring peace, human rights and democracy to that country. Unfortunately, as it stands now it is moving in the opposite direction.
Mr. Pitts' Question:
What role should the United Nations play in resolving the conflict in Burma?
Mr. Mitchell's Response:
More than three years ago, Razali Ismail was designated the Special Envoy to help broker an agreement that would bring an end to the political impasse in Burma. Since that time, there has not been any progress made in fostering a transition to democracy. In fact, the country is now worse off than at any time in Burma's history. The bottom line is that the regime has absolutely no interest-none-in giving up any power to the democratically elected National League for Democracy (NLD). Their actions have spoken volumes as to their intentions. Today, after the massacre of over 100 NLD members on May 30th, and the near murder and arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, the days of trying to negotiate with the regime should be over.
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I am disappointed to say that Razali's actions have provided cover for the regime on a number of fronts to carry out their brutal repression against the democracy movement. For example, his visits create the illusion of a political ''dialogue;'' protect the junta from tough action by states and international organizations through his continual urgings to give ''dialogue a chance;'' and violated his mandate of neutrality by voicing his endorsement of a political ''road map'' offered by junta member Khin Nyunt-while the leader of the Burma's democracy movement, Aung San Suu Kyi, sits in jail. This is the same ''road map'' Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD) walked away from in 1995 because the plan was so heavily titled to enshrine permanent military control over the country. His approval of this plan is outrageous. Razali's silence after the massacre of more than 100 NLD members on the night of May 30th continues to be deafening. He conveniently has overlooked any mentioning of their fate or condemned the regime for this barbaric action preferring instead to divert international attention to the release of Suu Kyi. Razali has compromised his mission through his collective actions and leaves one to seriously question if he has placed his business interest with the generals before the interests of the Burmese democracy movement.
We need to keep in mind the context of the re-release from house arrest of Suu Kyi when Razali first began his mission. This was not due to the junta's efforts at finally beginning a meaningful dialogue. It stands not as a measure of Razali's negotiating skill. It represents yet another cynical attempt at manipulating the international community into believing that political progress is being made in Burma and economic ties and foreign aid be restored.
We need to move beyond Special Envoys. We need a strong U.N. General Assembly resolution that directly empowers the Secretary General to take a decisive role in using all the resources of the U.N., including the Security Council and the instruments at its disposal, including sanctions, to enforce the will of the international community in recognizing the results of the 1990 elections.
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Mr. Pitts' Question:
What is your perspective on the testimony from the Administration officials regarding the current situation in Burma?
Mr. Mitchell's Response:
I am puzzled by Deputy Assistant Secretary Daley's reference in his testimony to the impact of U.S. sanctions on Burma's migrant workers and the sex trade. Although carefully worded, it leaves the impression that the U.S. Congress's legislation and President Bush's policy are responsible for any job losses that occur due to the imposition of economic sanctions and driving some women into the sex trade. To the best of my knowledge, there are no factually accurate numbers on job losses due to the U.S. taking action against the regime. According to labor union representatives with contacts in Rangoon, no such numbers exist. The military junta has a long history of pumping out statistics that have absolutely no basis in fact to try and cloud a true understanding of the sorry state of the Burmese economy or trumpeting a political point.
Information coming from non-government organizations, although able to provide vignettes on the impact of sanctions, would not be able to thoroughly document the social impact of the U.S. sanctions and issue accurate numbers without substantial effort over a longer period of time. It is spurious to believe that economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. are driving women into the sex trade industry. According to the Department of State's Trafficking In Person's Report, Burma's regime is listed as a Tier III country. A Tier III designation meaning ''Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards [of the Act] and are not making significant efforts to do so.'' This from the report:
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''The Government of Burma does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. The military is directly involved in forced labor trafficking. The ILO's attempts to work with the government to address forced labor abuses have had only limited success. Burma's failure to make progress on forced labor more than offsets the government's improving, but still inadequate, record of combating trafficking for sexual exploitation.''
Clearly, Burma's trafficking problems stem not from any U.S. economic sanctions, but from the regime's destruction of the Burmese economy and their decision to allow and support both forced labor and the sexual trafficking of women and children.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE JOSEPH R. PITTS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
OCTOBER 2, 2003
Mr. Chairman, 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 it 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 landmine sweepers, destruction of villages, destruction of food sources and fields, and cold-blooded murder to impose its illegitimate reign over the people. 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 military dictatorship that its time in power is coming to an end.
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The Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 is an important step in making clear the response of the United States government to the violations of the Burmese government. The economic sanctions, freezing of financial assets, and visa restrictions help increase the pressure on this regime. However, the international community needs to respond much more strongly. It is vital the United Nations Security Council begin to address the many issues related to Burma and the current ruling regime: human rights violations, its contribution to regional instability, its leading role in drug production and trafficking, its inaction to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, and other issues.
The regime's shocking attack in May against Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD members is a reflection of its basic character. I strongly urge the regime to release Aung San Suu Kyi from detention and house arrest. Over the years, there has been reported ''progress'' in establishing a United Nations-facilitated dialogue between the NLD, the regime, and the ethnic groups. Yet, each time there seems to be progress, the regime commits human rights violations and sets the talks back once again. Recently, the military dictatorship released a road map for Burma that includes holding elections. This road map is just one more step to attempt to fool the world into thinking the military thugs might be making progress, when it is simply another delaying tactic to maintain its hold on power. The fact that the regime is proposing democratic elections is outrageous when it continues to ignore the legitimate results of the 1990 elections and imprison the democratically elected leader of the country.
Earlier this year, I traveled to the Thai-Burma border to visit refugees and hear their stories. It was heartbreaking. The conditions of life that these refugees have fled, and their stories of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who remain inside of Burma are shocking. In Thailand, my delegation met with organizations working with refugees along the Thai-Burma border and with the Internally Displaced People (IDPs) inside the jungles of Burma. The situation in Burma is dire, and I would not hesitate to call it, according to international legal definitions, genocide. In Article 2 of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, genocide is defined as ''any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.'' Reports make clear that the ironically-named State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) of Burma, the ruling military junta, has engaged in a deliberate policy to eliminate the ethnic minorities. Sadly, the international community has turned a deaf ear to the cries of the ethnic minorities, the refugees, the IDPs, the democracy activists. There are a large number of organizations that carefully track the violations in Burma so there is no shortage of evidence of the human rights abuses the SPDC commits. The Karen Human Rights Group, the Shan Human Rights Foundation, the Shan Women's Action Network, the Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, Christians Concerned for Burma, Partners Relief and Development, and many other Burma groups produce reports of current and past atrocities committed by the SPDC. The stack of reports I have with me today only represents a fraction of what is available.
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In the refugee camps north of Mae Sot, Thailand, my delegation and with Karen refugees, Christians, Buddhists, and Muslims who all had fled the attacks of the SPDC on their communities. We saw landmine victims, orphans and school children, who all had suffered from the actions of the SPDC. Our visit with the refugee orphans was both heart-wrenching and a delight. It was a delight to see these young children and to hear the songs they sang to us, but it was heart-wrenching to hear the amount of tragedy in these young lives. One group of four children, the oldest was 12, had lost their father; their mother could not take care of them so she brought them to the orphanage. An eight-year-old boy, who could not smile, had lost both parents, was then trafficked across the border to Thailand, somehow escaped from his ''owners,'' and reached the safety of the refugee camps. It is heartbreaking to know that many of the young children, including the orphans, in the refugee camps had watched family or community members being killed by the SPDC, wounded or killed by landmine explosions, raped, or even burned alive.
The attacks on the people continue. I recently received a report that on September 11, 2003, 30 Karen families from Paan District fled to the Thai border as a result of an offensive being carried out by Burmese military troops.
The plight of the IDPs must be addressed at the highest levels of our government, other governments and the United Nations. I commend our government's support for programs assisting the refugees and democracy groups. However, I am dismayed at our lack of assistance to the IDPs. What is our government doing to help the estimated one million people living their lives on the run in the jungles, the people who have no access to food, medicine, clothes, or even a basic education? While the world sits around debating whether or not Burma is important, or whether or not pressure should be increased to continue the tri-partite dialogue, people in Burma are dying. Little children are deliberately being raped and murdered by the Burmese military. What will help? Decisive action.
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The U.S. and the international community need to press for the immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and 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, press for the immediate end to deportation of democracy groups back to certain death in Burma, press strongly for the recognition of the democratically elected government of Burma, and send international peacekeepers to Burma.
Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing on human rights in Burma. I look forward to hearing from our distinguished witnesses.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE JAMES A. LEACH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF IOWA, AND CHAIRMAN, SUBCOMMITTEE ON ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
OCTOBER 2, 2003
Let me express my appreciation to Chairman Gallegly and Representative Pitts for the leadership in holding this important series of hearings on the deplorable situation in Burma. I would also like to extend a warm welcome to Deputy Assistant Secretary Daley, who is an old friend of the Asia Subcommittee, as well as Assistant Secretary Craner.
I have no formal opening statement but would like to make a few brief comments.
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We are all of course deeply concerned for the health of Aung San Suu Kyi after her recent surgery. We hope to receive an update on her condition later from UN Special Envoy Razali Ismail.
The failure of the regime to release this courageous leader during Ambassador Razali's visit, however, would appear to be yet another signal to ASEAN and the broader world community that the current Burmese regime has no interest in complying with minimal international standards of conduct.
More broadly, if history is a guide I fear that recent developments in Burmaincluding the August leadership reshuffle, the junta's unveiling of a so-called ''Roadmap to Democracy,'' and the late September transfer of Suu Kyi to house arrestare simply cosmetic actions designed by the regime to ease mounting international condemnation.
Over the next few weeks, there may be an opportunity for the U.S. to leverage our presidency of the UN Security Council, as well as the pending ASEAN and APEC leader meetings, to turn up the heat on the Burmese regime. From a Congressional perspective, the world community should be unambiguous and steadfast in its demand that the junta release Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners, as well as establish a credible timetable for the return of democracy. Likewise, it is also critical that the regime allow the democratic opposition and the ethnic minorities to play their essential role in addressing the urgent socio-economic and governance crises afflicting the country today.
In the near term, the question is whether diplomatic efforts to deepen and broaden multilateral pressure on the Burmese military will prove successful and, if so, when they will begin to take their toll on this odious regime. To the extent sanctions begin to show a significant impact, will Burma's military leaders be able to reach out to their neighbors - particularly China, India, and Thailand - for sustenance and support? If the tottering economy takes a turn for the worse, is region and the world prepared for the possibility of a deepening humanitarian crisis in Burma in the not too distant future? And in this context, how does the U.S. balance its commitment to support democracy and national reconciliation in Burma with our interests in counterterrorism, stemming the flow of illicit narcotics, and providing humanitarian relief to Burma's beleaguered citizens.
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We look forward to your testimony and your responses to these and other questions.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF CHIN HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION
The Chin Human Rights Organization is an independent non-governmental human rights organization. We aim to protect and promote human rights among the Chin people, and to contribute to the movement for the restoration of democracy and human rights in Burma. Founded in 1995, CHRO has worked to document the human rights situations of the Chin people in Burma's western region. CHRO's reports have been cited by the US State Department, Amnesty International and the International Labor Organization.
CHRO wishes to express its gratitude for the opportunity to deliver this submission to this important hearing. The United States has always been at the forefront of support for democracy and human rights in Burma. We are grateful for the State Department's annual reports on International Religious Freedom on Burma, which have been highlighting the suffering of persecuted religious minorities. Especially, CHRO considers the promulgation of Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 a very important impetus for the achievement of democracy and human rights in Burma.
Despite recent cosmetic changes that have taken place in Rangoon, human rights conditions among Burma's ethnic people, including the Chin people continue to remain a matter of grave concern. In fact, human rights conditions of the Chin people have become worse and the number of displaced persons and refugees has increased in recent years. Until the incident of May 30 in which the regime launched an orchestrated campaign of terror and violence against the NLD, the regime has enjoyed international applauds for 'progresses' it had made in initiating national reconciliation. However, this has not been accompanied by a parallel improvement in the areas of human rights. Under the reign of the State Peace and Development Council, the Chin people have continued to experience untold miseries and hardships as a result of the systematic abuse of their fundamental human rights.
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There is a direct link between the growing abuse against the Chin people and the increase in militarization of the Chin areas. In the last fifteen years since the regime took over power, the number of army battalions stationed in Chin State has increased up to 10 times. This increase has been accompanied by the rapid acceleration in the level of human rights abuses across Chin State. The kind of human rights violations suffered by the Chins today are the same as those that have been extensively reported among ethnic Karen, Shan, and Karenni on the eastern border. These violations manifest in the forms of arbitrary arrest and detention, forced labor, tortures, rape and extrajudicial executions. Moreover, the overwhelming percentage of Christians among the Chin people has also attracted abuses in the form of religious persecution. Today, religious persecution is a matter of primary concern among the Chin people. Since 1999, the US State Department has singled out Burma as a country that systematically violates religious freedom.(see footnote 1) The annual reports have cited a significant amount of cases of religious persecution involving the Chin people.
Religious persecution poses a matter of grave concern among the Chin people. Chin Human Rights Organization, since 1995, has documented a range of human rights abuses by the military regime against the Chin people, including violations of religious freedom.
Christian religion takes a deep root in the Chin society. Since the first Chin conversion in the late 1900 following the arrival of American Baptist missionaries to the Chin Hills, Christianity gradually became accepted by a large majority of the Chin populations, who had practiced traditional animism for centuries. After a century since then, Christianity has grown up to be almost a second culture of the Chin people.(see footnote 2) Chin people today claim that more than 90 percent of Chins are Christians. Because of the overwhelming importance of Christianity among the Chins, the junta which strongly identifies itself with Buddhism and has been preoccupied with building national unity has been trying to promote Buddhism over Christianity in Chin State with the belief that once the Chins are converted to Buddhism they can be easily subjugated. For this reason, the regime has resorted to persecuting the Chins, a drastic action that involves arbitrarily removing Christian crosses erected by churches on hilltops throughout Chin State and openly directing and supporting coerced conversions of Christians into Buddhism. The regime has also destroyed several Church buildings. For example on February 20, 2000, Captain Khin Maung Myint ordered the destruction of a Chin Christian Church at Min Tha village in Tamu Township of Magwe Division, an area mostly populated by the Chins and is adjacent to the Chin State. In the same township on July 13, 2001, the same army officer forced villagers to destroy a United Pentecostal Church in Ton Kyaw village. Captain Khin Maung Myint gave similar order to destroy an Assembly of God Church building in Chauk Nat Kyi village in Tamu Township.(see footnote 3)
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Through the Hill Buddhist Mission, a program directly sponsored by the military regime, Buddhist monks have migrated to the Chin State. In every town and major villages in Chin State, the regime has established a Buddhist pagoda and station monks who are closely working with local army battalions. Buddhist pagodas are often built in places where Christian monuments such as crosses have formerly stood, and Christians have been either forced to donate money or forced to build the pagodas.(see footnote 4)
The regime is putting close scrutiny on preachers and evangelists, and in many instances has made effort to censor the contents of sermons delivered by Christian pastors and ministers. Citing the risk of security, authorities have either not permitted or arbitrarily set the number of people who could attend religious festivals and conferences. Moreover, the regime has still not permitted the printing and publication of Bible, forcing Chin Christians to smuggle Bibles in from abroad. In several instances, army authorities have confiscated Chin-language Bibles imported from India, and burnt or destroyed them.(see footnote 5) Construction of new church buildings is prohibited and Christians must obtain prior authorization for even renovation of church buildings. These are all in stark contrast to the freedoms enjoyed by monks and Buddhists whose activities are openly supported and encouraged by authorities. Several reports documented by CHRO show that army patrols have deliberately use Church compounds for shelter and camps, and have purposefully disturbed Church services by entering into Churches during Sunday worship services.
The regime has also targeted Christian leaders by falsely implicating and accusing them of supporting anti-government groups, and has jailed and tortured many pastors. Pastor Grace, a woman Baptist minister was accused of providing accommodation to Chin rebels and sentenced to 2 years in prison with hard labor in 2001.(see footnote 6) In remote villages and other rural areas in Chin State, army units on patrols have frequently mistreated, assaulted and tortured Christian pastors.
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Coerced conversions of Christian families and children have also been reported in several parts of Chin State. Those who convert to Buddhism were exempted from forced labor and given special privileges. Local authorities have frequently recruited Christian children under the pretext of giving them formal education in cities. As recently as early this year, five Christian children, between the ages of 7 and 18 years old from Matupi township of Chin State who had been placed in monasteries in Rangoon escaped confinement in Buddhist temples where they have been forced to follow Buddhist teachings.
Restriction on the use and teaching of Chin language
Under the military regime, the teaching of Chin language in school is prohibited. In elementary schools, the permitted level of teaching Chin language is grade 2. Publications of textbooks in Chin are not provided for by the government and Christian churches are forced to bear the burden of supplying these texts. Chin school teachers of all levels of high school in Chin State are instructed to use Burmese as a medium of communication with their students. This measure has greatly diminished the level of understanding by the students in school and has served to downgrade student performance. Since mid 1990s, the new curriculum has incorporated Civic as a separate subject for students. The subject is entirely drawn from the perspectives of Burmese or Burman culture and history, and students have complained about the lack of substance that reflects Chin perspectives in the subject. This has also been seen as an open attempt to assimilate the Chin youth into mainstream Burman culture.
Because of the limited number of government school available for the Chin populations in Chin State, communities in rural villages have set up private schools to allow the children access to primary education. Unsupported by the government, villages have to seek their own means of running the school by contributing money and resources for the schools. However, since 1998, the regime has banned these self-support private schools(see footnote 7) , depriving many children in rural communities of primary education. It should be noted that because these private schools are not under direct control of the government, they were able to offer alternative learning in Chin language. Restriction on the learning of Chin language has already taken its toll on the Chin youths. A high percentage of Chin teenagers are not able to read and write in their own language. This has been exacerbated by the fact that many Chin children no longer appreciate their own language and had instead chosen to use Burmese.
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Burma has claimed that it has outlawed the practice of forced labor in 2001. However, independent investigations into this claim have found the pervasiveness and the continued use of forced labor in the Chin State. Local army battalions have routinely exacted forced labor from villagers and rural communities in building roads, army camps development infrastructures and agricultural projects. In major townships of Chin state such as Hakha, Falam, Matupi and Thantlang, civilians are being routinely forced to work at government tea plantation farms(see footnote 8). Major Ngwe Toe of Light Infantry Battalion 266, who is in charge of a new township development in Ruazua in central Chin State have ordered a dozen villages to contribute money and human labor to construct high school, hospital and army base in Ruazua. During the entire year of 2002, these villages were forced to participate in the forced labor in Ruazua. Refugees fleeing into India have told that the pervasiveness of forced labor in their areas have left them no time to work for their own survival. Army unit on patrol have recruited villagers to porter army supplies and ammunitions over mountains and jungles.
The Chin people are not represented in the state or central administration under the military regime. After the regime nullified the results of the 1990 elections, all Chin political parties were declared illegal. These political parties include the Chin National League for Democracy, the Mara Peoples Party and Zomi National Congress Party. Subsequent crackdowns on political dissidents have forced 3 of the 13 Chin Members of Parliament to flee the country while 2 others were arrested and imprisoned for several years. Since early 1990s, the entire Chin populations have forced to live under virtual curfew. Dozens of civilians accused of supporting, Chin National Front, underground movement were arrested, tortured and imprisoned under the Unlawful Association Act. Civilians charged under this act are routinely tortured in interrogating chambers. According to a former a woman prisoner, she was humiliated, tortured and deprived of food and sleep for one week before she was arbitrarily sentenced to 3 years in prison.(see footnote 9) Since the May 30 incident, authorities have crackdown on local NLD leaderships who were responsible for welcoming Aung San Suu Kyi during her trip to Chin State in April 2003. According to reports, on May 4, 2 NLD leaders in Matupi township were arrested by military intelligence and were sentenced to 11 years in prison.
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In this submission, CHRO wishes to highlight the particularly grave situations of Chin refugees and to draw the special attention of the Subcommittee. In the year since the military regime took over power in 1988, more than 50,000 Chin refugees have fled to India, Bangladesh and Malaysia. At least 50,000 Chin refugees have lived in Mizoram State of northeast India. Neither the Government of India nor the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has recognized them as refugees. As a result Chin refugees have frequently been forced back to Burma. Since July 19, 2003 a campaign by local youth groups, with the cooperation of State authorities have resulted in the forcible evictions return of thousands of Chin refugees to Burma. As of this week, at least 6000 people have been forcibly returned to Burma. India has also closed down its border with Burma to prevent returnees from sneaking back into the country.
We are very alarmed by the ongoing evictions and deportation of Chin refugees in India. There is an urgent need for intervention in the ongoing deportation of Chin refugees. Refugees International has recently petitioned the Prime Minister of India requesting him to stop the repatriation and to allow the UNHCR access to Mizoram to help care for the protection and humanitarian needs of Chin refugees. CHRO strongly requests the United States Committee for Refugees and other international agencies concerned with refugees to urgently take measures to prevent the ongoing evictions and deportations of Chin refugees in India.
The need for protection of Chin refugees in Malaysia is no less important. Over the past few years, close to 5000 Chin refugees have also sought sanctuary in Malaysia. Like the Chin refugees in India, they are identified as 'illegals' and risk frequent arrest and deportation by Malaysian authorities. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has recognized only a very small fraction of Chin refugees.
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The problems faced by Burma's ethnic groups, including the Chin people are the direct consequence of military rule and its campaign of State terrorism directed primarily against the ethnic people who constitute more than 40% of the country's population. Today, the Chin people and all the ethnic people are fighting for our very survival as a people. Our cultural, ethnic and religious identities are being rapidly eroded, and our very survival as a people being threatened by the policies of ethnic cleansing relentlessly conducted by the military regime. The sufferings of the ethnic nationalities could only be remedied through fundamental change in the political system, a change that would allow the ethnic people equitable representation in the decision-making process of the country. Time is passing and innocent lives are being lost. The international community needs to take effective and urgent actions on Burma before the problems develop into an irreversible stage.
LETTER TO CONGRESS FROM THE KARENNI NATIONAL PROGRESSIVE PARTY DATED SEPTEMBER 17, 2003
The Congress of the United States of America,
|Karenni National Progressive Party
|September 17, 2003.
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On behalf of the Karenni National Progressive Party and the Karenni people, I would like to take this great opportunity to thank you for what you have to address the situation in Burma. I have been following up what you are doing for the people of Burma.
There are fifty thousands Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Karenni State due to the forced relocation program by the Burmese regime known as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). Under this program tens of thousands of Karenni people have lost their homes and land. The IDPs have been hiding in the jungle with no food and no medicines. There is also no access to education. Human rights violations committed by the Burma Army in the Karenni State continue unabated. Forced labor and forced portering continue despite the warnings from the International Labour Organiztion (ILO).
The SPDC's plan to build dams across the Salween river will displace thousands of Karenni and will also destroy forests and wild life in eastern Karenni. Half of the Karenni State will be under the water if the dams are constructed. These dams are only the most recent actions that the dictators of Burma have taken against us.
We have the right to protect ourselves, our people and our land from the attacks of the Burma army and to provide emergency assistance to the thousands of IDPs. The evil we are facing is many times stronger than us and we need your help. In the meantime, we will not give up trying to help our people and would like to request humanitarian assistance for the IDPs and for your help to keep the door open help these people.
May God bless you for your good work of helping the oppressed people of Burma.
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|Aung Than Lay, Vice-Chairman.
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, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
Mr. Pitts' Question:
What further information would be helpful in furthering the report the State Department plans to issue regarding whether or not the widespread human rights abuses occurring in Burma constitute ethnic cleansing or genocide?
Mr. Craner's Response:
The Department of State is in the process of preparing its comprehensive Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2003, which will include a detailed description of human rights practices in Burma and other countries. With respect to Burma, the Bush Administration is deeply concerned by the widespread human rights abuses occurring in that country. We are especially concerned about the numerous reports of rape, torture, extra-judicial killing, forced labor, forced relocation, and other human rights abuses by the Burmese military against ethnic minority civilians.
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The State Peace and Development Council is one of the most repressive regimes in the world. It engages in serious and systematic human rights abuses against the people of Burma. Although such abuses are especially severe for ethnic groups that maintain armed resistance to the regime, the regime deals brutally with all who oppose its grip on power. We do not, however, have evidence that these human rights abuses, as serious and reprehensible as they are, are being undertaken with the specific intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. We are thus not in a position to assert that the Government of Burma has engaged in genocide, as the United States defines that term under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
The Department is continuing to monitor carefully the human rights situation in Burma. We will continue to report fully the abuses we uncover there.
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, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
Mr. Pitts' Question:
For Subcommittee Member and staff use, please provide a comprehensive list of organizations or individuals receiving funding from the U.S. government for work with internally displaced persons (IDPs) inside Burma.
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Mr. Daley's Response:
The United States does not fund organizations or individuals for work inside Burma among IDPs.
Some projects operating along the Thailand-Burma border, including health and educational programs, do provide spillover benefits to those still in Burma.
Mr. Pitts' Question:
For Subcommittee Member and staff use, please provide a comprehensive list of organizations or individuals receiving funding from the U.S. government for work on democracy development, civil society development, and refugee programs.
Mr. Daley's Response:
From the Burma earmark (ESF funds):
International Rescue Committee
International Organization for Migration
National Endowment for Democracy
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American Center for International Labor Solidarity/Federation of Trade Unions-Burma
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development
Assistance Association for Political Prisoners
Burma Lawyers' Council
Burma Relief Center
Burmese Women's Union
Chin Human Rights Organization
Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People
Democratic Party for a New Society
Friends Without Borders
Human Rights Education Institute of Burma
Human Rights Foundation of Monland
International Republican Institute/Political Defiance Committee
International Republican Institute/National League for Democracy-Liberated Areas
Irrawaddy Publishing Group
Karen Information Center
National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma
National Council of the Union of Burma
National Council of the Union of Burma-Foreign Affairs Committee
National Democratic Institute for International Affairs
National Health and Education Committee
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Shan Herald Agency for News
Shan Human Rights Foundation
Shan Women's Action Network
Women's League of Burma
Women's Rights and Welfare Association of Burma
Open Society Institute
World Education/World Learning Consortium
From Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) funds:
American Refugee Committee
International Committee of the Red Cross
International Rescue Committee
MHD (Malteser Germany)
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Mr. Pitts' Question:
What are the immediate and long-term actions the Administration will be taking at the United Nations and with the international community in order to address the overall situation in Burma and implement assistance programs to the IDPs inside Burma?
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Mr. Daley's Response:
Respect for internationally recognized human rights and the restoration of democracy are our primary goals in Burma. We focus our energies bilaterally and multilaterally in bringing those goals to fruition and ameliorating the situation for all people of Burma, including those currently displaced. There is concern that the growing humanitarian crisis in Burma affects all ethnic groups.
The immediate U.S. policy objective in Burma is to encourage a genuine dialogue on democratic political reform, including securing the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and the re-opening of all NLD offices. Following the May 30 ambush on Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD convoy, the United States redoubled efforts to encourage all countries with a major interest in Burma, particularly Burma's immediate neighbors and members of ASEAN, to use their influence to convince the junta to undertake these immediate steps. It is in the interest of Burma's neighbors and other ASEAN countries, and in the interest of regional stability, to press the SPDC for a more constructive position on political dialogue, economic reform, and the institution of rule of law. Many countries in the region have expressed concern and agree that the SPDC must work with the democratic opposition in order to effect a smooth transition.
We will also continue to rally the international community to support the U.N. Secretary General in his efforts to start genuine talks on a political transition in Burma. Specifically, we will use every useful opportunity available in regional forums and at the U.N. to secure support for Special Envoy Razali and Special Rapporteur Pinheiro. The United States co-sponsored the annual resolution on Burma at the 2003 U.N. General Assembly and supports the efforts of the International Labor Organization to deal effectively with the severe forced labor problems in Burma.
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We remain very concerned about the situation faced by the internally displaced persons in Burma. We support the work of international organizations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Labor Organization that have access to these areas.
Mr. Pitts' Question:
When was the most recent time the issue of Burma was raised by the U.S. government at the United Nations? At what level was the issue raised, by whom, and what was raised?
Mr. Daley's Response:
The United States has co-sponsored the 2003 UN General Assembly resolution on Burma. The resolution calls attention specifically to the events of May 30 and the need for international participation in an investigation of the incident. It also expresses grave concern for the ongoing detention of Aung San Suu Kyi. U.S. negotiators, including Ambassador-level representatives, were involved in negotiation on the crafting of this text, and its subsequent adoption by consensus. A U.S. public delegate raised Burma under the Human Rights agenda item in the Third Committee on November 10. Deputy Assistant Secretary Daley discussed Burma with UN Special Rapporteur Paulo Sergio Pinheiro in November and December.
Our Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Negroponte raised Burma at the Security Council on July 16. He reported on our meetings with Special Envoy Razali Ismail and expressed our concerns for the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi, the closure of the offices of the National League for Democracy, and the terrible events of May 30. Embassy officials meet regularly with Ambassador Razali in Kuala Lumpur.
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Mr. Pitts' Question:
In one statement during the hearing it was said that there are individuals wanted in New York City for heroin smuggling who are now receiving protection in Rangoon. What is the State Department's response to this information and what is the U.S. doing to press Rangoon to send the criminals back to the U.S. for prosecution?
Mr. Daley's Response:
Several Burmese nationals are wanted on Federal drug violations in the Eastern District of New York. Among them is Wei Hsueh-Kang, the leader of the dominant heroin trafficking group in Southeast Asia, the United Wa State Army. Wei Hsueh-Kang is one of the senior-level commanders of the United Wa State Army, which has 20,000 well-equipped troops.
The Department of State, through its Narcotics Rewards Program, offers rewards of up to $5,000,000 for information leading to the arrest or conviction of major drug traffickers like Wei Hsueh-Kang.
In addition, through our Embassy in Rangoon, we have urged the Government of Burma to take action against major drug traffickers and their organizations and to render fugitives from U.S. justice to us for prosecution. However, some of the cases may now be so old that successful prosecution could be problematic. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which maintains an office in Rangoon, makes efforts to encourage greater cooperation from the Government of Burma.
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Mr. Pitts' Question:
What reports substantiate the claims that an estimated 40,000 garment workers lost their jobs from U.S. sanctions? In addition, what reports substantiate the claims that those garment workers are seeking employment in the illegal sex and entertainment industries in Thailand as a direct result of U.S. sanctions? How many workers were actually traced moving willingly from the garment sector to the sex industry?
Mr. Daley's Response:
Our sanctions on Burma are intended to press the junta to move toward national reconciliation and democracy. The government denies human rights and has produced only economic decline for a country that was once a star economy of Southeast Asia. As a result of the government's mismanagement, Burmese citizens face a number of social ills, including trafficking in persons, displaced people, poverty, limited employment opportunities and terrible health conditions. We reject any implication that the plight of the Burmese is the ''fault'' of U.S. sanctions. The fault lies with the junta.
Conversations with factory owners and representatives of non-governmental organizations in Burma led us to estimate the loss of 40,000 jobs in the wake of the imposition of the import ban in August 2003. One non-governmental organization in Rangoon expressed concern, based on interviews, that former garment workers would have limited employment opportunity and might turn to work in the sex industry or be forced or duped into prostitution by traffickers. We do not have a figure for how many women may have moved willingly or unwillingly into the sex industry. Due to the illicit nature of the sex industry, tracing workers moving into that area is problematic. A visiting U.S. official spoke with two women in Rangoon who became prostitutes after losing garment factory jobs.
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United States policy and actions toward Burma, including sanctions, seek to achieve meaningful steps toward reform in a number of areas, including greater respect for human rights, the development of democracy, and progress on countering trafficking in persons and narcotics.
Mr. Pitts' Question:
What concerns has the U.S. government raised with the Chinese government about Chinese officials' role in supporting the military dictatorship in Burma? What was the most recent date these issues were raised and at what level? What is the highest level of interaction between the U.S. government and the Chinese government regarding U.S. concerns relating to China and Burma?
Mr. Daley's Response:
The United States consults on Burma with all concerned countries on a regular basis. China has important interests in neighboring Burma and can contribute to resolution of the problems there. China has publicly called on Burma to make progress toward national reconciliation.
The President raised our concerns in Burma with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during a meeting on December 9. Deputy Assistant Secretary Daley raised Burma in a December 11 meeting in Beijing.
Page 183 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 Mr. Pitts' Question:
When, and at what level, will the U.S. government request that the UN Security Council be briefed on the issues in Burma?
Mr. Daley's Response:
In July U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Negroponte briefed the Security Council on our discussions with U.N. Special Envoy Razali concerning Burma. The timing of another briefing is under consideration.
Mr. Pitts' Question:
At what level have U.S. concerns been raised with Thai officials regarding current Thai policies toward refugees, humanitarian organizations, and democracy groups assisting the people of Burma?
Mr. Daley's Response:
We have regular discussions with Thailand on Burma at all levels. The President discussed the situation in Burma with Prime Minister Thaksin most recently in October. Secretary Powell talked about Burma with Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart during the same visit.
Mr. Pitts' Question:
Page 184 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 2 Of 2 What is the most recent date you traveled to Burma? How is your office in particular implementing the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act?
Mr. Daley's Response:
Deputy Assistant Secretary Daley last visited Burma in April 2003 and met with Aung San Suu Kyi on April 27, 2003.
The Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs continues its efforts to ensure that our sanctions policy is administered fully. We work closely with colleagues in the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Homeland Security in implementation of the provisions of the Act.
We remain engaged with all concerned countries noting the important roles each can play in urging reform by the State Peace and Development Council.
We have already submitted to Congress the first of three reports required by the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act. This report covered our support for democracy activists in Burma.
(Footnote 1 return)
2002 US Department of State's International Religious Freedom Report on Burma http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2002/13868.htm
(Footnote 2 return)
Excerpts from the upcoming CHRO's report on abuses of religious freedom entitled ''Religious Persecution: A Campaign of Ethnocide Against Chin Christians in Burma''
(Footnote 3 return)
Copies of these reports (in Burmese versions), are available upon request.
(Footnote 4 return)
For detailed information, see www.chro.org under Religious persecution report
(Footnote 5 return)
See for example Rhododendron Volume III, No VI. Junta Orders Burning Of 16,000 Bibles, Halts Church Construction
(Footnote 6 return)
Rhododendron News Vol. IV No. IV JulyAugust 2001 www.chro.org
(Footnote 7 return)
See a copy of SPDC order at www.chro.org Rhododendron VOL.I No. VI December 1998
(Footnote 8 return)
Oral statement of Salai Za Uk Ling, Editor of Rhododendron News at the 21st session of United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations, 23 July 2003, Geneva, Switzerland.
(Footnote 9 return)
Rhododendron VOL.V No.I JANUARYFEBRUARY 2002, www.chro.org