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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
January 4, 2008

Statement by Mrs. Laura Bush

Today, January 4, is the 60th anniversary of Burma's independence. Instead of celebrating their freedom, the Burmese people live in fear, poverty, and oppression under General Than Shwe and his military regime. These generals have plundered Burma's economy and rich natural resources, and a once-prosperous nation now has the lowest GDP per person among ASEAN countries. Hundreds of innocent people remain in jail - and more continue to be arrested - for exercising their rights to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. An untold number of Buddhist monks have been banished from their monasteries. Reports suggest that the Burmese army is now massing in eastern Burma, preparing for a renewed military onslaught against Burma's ethnic minorities. Past offensives have resulted in killings and rapes of civilians, forced labor, crop burnings, and mass relocations.

President Bush and I ask all nations to join in condemning the military junta for its shameful abuses of basic human rights. We urge the regime to fulfill its promises to the United Nations Security Council, and to take more than token steps toward meaningful dialogue with Burma's opposition. General Than Shwe must release Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratic leaders, so they can begin the process of national reconciliation. Meanwhile, the United States stands with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all those working to make sure that by the next January 4, the people of Burma will celebrate real independence.

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