(WASHINGTON) The U.S. House today unanimously approved a resolution authored by Congressman Don Manzullo (R-IL) condemning the fraudulent Nov. 7 election in Burma that reinforced the rule of the military junta in the Southeast Asia nation.
Manzullo, Republican leader of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment, said the ruling military junta’s claim of receiving 80 percent of the vote “comes from the barrel of a gun.” As the election returns were coming in to Burma, junta troops engaged in shootouts with ethnic minority forces in border areas, sending tens of thousands of refugees fleeing into Thailand, Manzullo said.
“Artillery fire even flew over the border, injuring refugees, Thai civilians and Thai soldiers on the Thai side,” Manzullo said. “This raises the whole question of the value of engagement with a regime that hunts down refugees and shells its neighbor in the aftermath of bogus elections.”
To view Manzullo’s floor speech on the bill, click here
In his speech, Manzullo lauded last weekend’s release of Nobel Peace Prize winner and democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been held under house arrest in Burma for the past 7 years and under some form of detention the last 15 of 21 years. Manzullo cautioned, however, that the junta has treated Aung San Suu Kyi like a political yo-yo, releasing her and re-arresting her whenever it has served the regime’s political whims.
“And we cannot forget there are another 2,200 political prisoners still languishing in the Burmese gulag, including brave monks and ordinary citizens from the Saffron Revolution of three years ago,” Manzullo said. “Until these others are free, Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma are not free. It is time to fully implement the sanctions and other provisions of the Block Burma JADE Act that Congress passed overwhelmingly.”
The release of Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of Burma’s revolutionary hero General Aung San, leaves just one Nobel Peace Prize laureate behind bars – Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. Manzullo called on China to immediately release Xiaobo.
“Governments that fear lone voices of conscience like Aung San Suu Kyi and Liu Xiaobo can never be truly secure,” Manzullo said.
Manzullo, a longtime champion of freedom and human rights in Burma and other countries, previously co-authored a bill that was signed into law in 2008 awarding Aung San Suu Kyi the Congressional Gold Medal for her brave fight for democracy in Burma. Manzullo has also kept pressure on the military junta in Burma by working annually to renew economic sanctions against them. Manzullo is also a member of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China that monitors human rights and rule of law violations in China.