|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
October 3, 2007
Mrs. Bush's Statement to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs
Dear Senator Boxer and Senator Murkowski,
Thank you for inviting me to submit a statement for today's hearing of the East Asia Subcommittee. And thank you for the United States Senate's investigation into the dire situation in Burma.
I am deeply concerned about the Burmese people. The military regime's crackdown on protesting monks and peaceful democracy activists is shameful. Video footage now coming out of Burma confirms what our charg reports: that the abuse of protesters is more brutal than initially described, and that there are likely many more fatalities than the 10 confirmed by the military regime.
Last week, President Bush announced tightened economic sanctions directed against senior members of the regime, as well as an expanded visa ban on individuals responsible for violations of human rights. The ban applies to those who aid, abet, and benefit from the regime's efforts to impede Burma's transition to democracy, along with their family members. Last Thursday, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that it will freeze the assets of 14 senior members of the Burmese junta; the same leaders will be subject to travel restrictions imposed by the U.S. Department of State.
The U.N.'s special envoy on Burma, Ibrahim Gambari, met yesterday with General Than Shwe and other leaders of the military regime. Earlier this week, Mr. Gambari met twice with Aung San Suu Kyi: the leader of Burma's National League for Democracy party, which was overwhelmingly elected to govern the nation in 1990. Mr. Gambari will report to the United Nations Security Council later this week. We urge the Security Council to issue a clear resolution that calls for the release of Burmese political prisoners, an end to the regime's crackdown, and a real dialogue that leads to a peaceful transition to democracy. The United States believes it is time for General Than Shwe and the junta to step aside, and to make way for a unified Burma governed by legitimate leaders.
We urge other governments to join the United States in condemning the junta's use of violence, and in working toward freedom for Burma. Thank you to the members of the United States Senate for dedicating your attention to this very important issue.