[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index
U.S. Learns toward Sanction on Burm
- Subject: U.S. Learns toward Sanction on Burm
- From: waterly@xxxxxxxxx
- Date: Fri, 18 Apr 1997 19:00:00
Subject: U.S. Learns toward Sanction on Burma
Agence France Presse
April 18, 1997 18:00 GMT
HEADLINE: US leans toward sanctions on Burma
BYLINE: Sarah Jackson-Han
DATELINE: WASHINGTON, April 17
The United States sent a strong signal this week it may soon impose
investment sanctions on Burma, as an influential senator pressed for action
aimed at penalizing human rights abuses there.
In the first such warning by a top US official, Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright cautioned Burma's ruling junta Tuesday they were "on notice that,
unless the clouds of repression are lifted, they will face investment sanctions
under US law."
Intensive high-level deliberations are ongoing about invoking a 1996 law
permitting a ban on new US investment in Burma in the event of a worsening
crackdown on dissent, according to another senior official.
"Our policy with Burma has not been one of tolerance," Deputy Assistant
Secretary of State for Jeffrey Bader told a Senate panel on Thursday, conceding
nonetheless that pressure on Burmese dissidents was escalating.
The law, signed by President Bill Clinton last September, authorizes him to
outlaw new US investment in the Southeast Asian country if its nine-year-old
junta arrests, harms, or exiles opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi or suppresses
her followers on a large scale.
"Obviously I think those conditions have been met," Republican Senator Mitch
McConnell, chairman of a key foreign funding committee and a sponsor of a much
tougher Burma sanctions bill last year, told AFP on Thursday.
McConnell's sanctions bill, vigorously opposed by US oil companies operating
in Burma, suffered a narrow defeat in the Senate last July.
McConnell said he planned to pursue "strong congressional action" against
Burma's ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) again, but
added: "We don't know where the votes will be."
He declined to elaborate, but sources following the issue say the
administration fears a tougher sanctions bill might garner substantially more
support this year and wants to act quickly to head off such an effort.
All but a few cabinet officials reportedly support invoking the discretionary
ban on new investment contained in current law rather than risking the
possibility that Congress might pass a broader, binding provision.
Popular support for a tougher US line against Burma has meanwhile
increased. A half-dozen cities and one state, Massachusetts, have passed laws
banning municipal contracts with firms that do business in Burma, and several
others may follow suit.
In its annual human rights report issued January 30, the State Department
said Burma's military dictatorship had stepped up its "severe repression" of
human rights in 1996.
And earlier this week in Geneva, the UN Commission on Human Rights voiced
deep concern at SLORC abuses including torture, secret trials, forced labor, and
oppression of religious and ethnic minorities.
US officials also say the SLORC is doing little to combat the international
drugs trade, with 60 percent of heroin in the United States believed the
originate in Burma.
The threat of a US investment ban hasn't gone unnoticed in Burma. In
Bangkok, a SLORC official attacked the proposed sanction as "a weapon of
Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize-winner who spent six years under house
arrest, has called repeatedly for international economic sanctions against the