Mr. Speaker, the world was rightfully shocked and outraged this past fall by reports of midnight raids on temples in Burma and televised images of monks and other peaceful demonstrators being shot down on the streets and arrested.
Appeals for human decency and restraint have fallen on deaf ears with regard to Burma's generals. It is thus time to send them a message that they understand, a message that is loud and clear.
The international community must no longer subsidize the leaders of this immoral regime by trading in the commodities they peddle on international markets. This rainbow coalition of contraband products for sale by the military junta has included red rubies, white opium, green jade and brown timber.
The legislation put forward today sends a simple, but clear and strong message: It will not be business as usual for the people in Rangoon until they stop their suppression of their own people in the nation of Burma.
Is there any Member here today who has any doubts about making economic sanctions against the current Rangoon regime permanent and hard hitting? This legislation has the full support of leaders of the American gem industry. They have seen the necessity of putting principle ahead of money and profit when it comes to the actions of the Burmese rogue regime.
And this legislation also seeks to put the blame squarely on the backs of those who have earned it, the ruling generals and their families, and not on the backs of the Burmese people who have already suffered too much.
It calls for frozen bank accounts for the generals, an ending to money laundering by the ruling junta, and no visas to the United States for those involved in the continuing acts of repression and no visas for their immediate families.
The urgency with which we are here today in view of this issue of the restoration of the democratic rights to the people of Burma is demonstrated by the fact that already over 240 Members of this House of Representatives have agreed to cosponsor legislation giving official Congressional recognition to Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Burma democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
H.R. 4286, introduced December 5 by Mr. Manzullo and Mr. Crowley, would award a Congressional Gold Medal to Aung San Suu Kyi in recognition of her courageous and unwavering commitment to peace, nonviolence, human rights, and democracy in Burma.
There is no clearer indication than this legislation of the solidarity that exists between the people of the United States and the good people of Burma on the issues of human rights and democracy.
This legislation is also fully in keeping with administration policy. In a statement made on October 19, following the latest series of bloody and tragic events, President Bush announced an executive order imposing additional sanctions on Burmese leaders and entities. The President also instructed the Commerce Department to tighten export control and regulation over Burma. On that occasion, the President noted that "Burmese leaders continue to defy the world's just demands to stop their vicious persecution. They continue to dismiss calls to begin peaceful dialogue aimed at national reconciliation. Most of all, they continue to reject the clear will of the Burmese people who wish to live in freedom under leaders of their choosing."
The President concluded with these observations: "The people of Burma are showing great courage in the face of immense repression. They are appealing for our help. We must