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      Burma exiles hail U.S. sanctions against Rangoon

         Reuters, Tuesday, April 22, 1997 at 03:43

          By Deborah Charles

          BANGKOK, April 22 (Reuter) - Exiled Burmese dissidents on 
Tuesday applauded a United States decision to impose economic sanctions 
on Burma, but there was no official comment from the military government 
in Rangoon.

          "Oh great, this is good news. We are very happy," said Aung 
Naing Oo, foreign affairs secretary for the students group, the All Burma 
Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF). The ABSDF and other exile groups in 
Thailand and elsewhere have urged the United States and other governments 
to stop investing in Burma because of human rights abuses there.

          Burma's ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) 
has been accused by human rights organisations, the United Nations and 
many Western governments of human rights      abuses like summary 
executions, using forced labour and employing repressive tactics against 
the opposition.

          "Since the SLORC came into power through a bloody military coup 
in 1988, they have enjoyed assistance from the business community, which 
has enabled them to consolidate power and accelerate their campaign of 
terror against the people of Burma," Aung Naing Oo told Reuters.

          The SLORC has also been condemned for failing to recognise the 
democratically elected government of the National League for Democracy 
(NLD) party co-founded by Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

          The U.S. State Department was due to announce economic 
sanctions on Burma later on Tuesday, an administration official said in 

          The sanctions will ban new U.S. investment in Burma. Several 
American companies have pulled out of Burma over the past few years due 
to pressure by human rights organisations. Major companies still doing 
business there include oil companies Unocal and Atlantic Richfield Co.

          Attempts to reach Burmese government officials were 
unsuccessful on Tuesday. Last week a Burmese government official told 
Reuters that U.S. sanctions were like a weapon aimed at destroying the 
human rights of the Burmese people.

          "If the U.S. is so genuinely concerned about the human rights 
of the Myanmar (Burmese) people, why is it so necessary to deprive one of 
the most essential rights of the Myanmar people -- the right to earn a 
living and support the family?" he asked.

          Suu Kyi, who served six years of house arrest for her outspoken 
attacks on the military government, could not be reached for comment. Her 
telephone line appeared to have been cut.

          In the past she has urged investors to stay away from Burma and 
has said she supported the idea of U.S. sanctions.
          The United States is the fourth-largest investor in Burma in 
terms of approved foreign investment.

          Diplomats said the sanctions would likely cause investors from 
the United States and other countries to be more cautious in coming to 
          "They'll have to think a lot harder. Some companies may decide 
not to come in. It adds political risk," one diplomat said.

       Copyright 1997, Reuters News Service