Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this resolution, which points out that the smoke screen of a sham constitution and a bogus referendum is not a path leading to free Burma.
It seems a particularly callous decision for the Burmese junta to go forward with its planned referendum on May 10, just 1 week after a tropical cyclone devastated the people of that nation. The generals, by ignoring the almost 4,000 dead and 100,000 homeless, are concerned only about their narrow political agenda.
We in Congress offer our heartfelt condolences to those in Burma who lost family and friends in this tragic natural disaster. We urge the junta to immediately lift its irrational restrictions on international humanitarian organizations operating inside Burma. Only then can they provide the emergency relief necessary for the suffering people of this country.
The generals in Rangoon, however, have cynically determined that time is on their side. They are convinced that, while the world's attention turns away from the bloody events of last fall to other crises in other parts of the world, they can carry on business as usual oppressing their people. That business includes implementing plans for the May 10 referendum on their undemocratic constitution. This constitution ignores the will of the people of Burma as expressed in the streets of Rangoon and other cities last fall. This one-sided constitution seeks to legitimize military dictatorship rule. The current junta seized power by crushing a mass democracy uprising over two decades ago. We and the people of Burma will commemorate the 20th anniversary of that uprising on August 8, the very date the Beijing Olympics begins. On that date, advocates of a free Burma will hold activities around the world to remind the Burmese generals and their Beijing allies that the torch of Miss Liberty shines brighter than any Olympic torch.
The generals have turned to a sham constitutional provision in an effort to ignore the international call for a genuine dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and members of the opposition and minority groups. The goal of that dialogue is to achieve "inclusive national reconciliation." This call for dialogue was contained in the statement released by the U.N. Security Council President on October 11, 2007, with the unanimous consent of all members of the council.
Instead of heeding the urgings of the international community, however, these generals have brazenly continued their roundup of those involved in the Saffron Revolution last fall, including Buddhist monks, and they have put them in jail. They have also refused to release Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners.
The Burmese junta treated the U.N. special envoy to Burma with disdain during his last visit. They refused him access to the top leadership and flatly rejected his offer of independent monitoring of the referendum vote. The U.N. envoy himself has admitted the visit did not yield any tangible results.
The junta's attitude of brazen indifference following its bloody suppression of the Saffron Revolution cannot stand unchallenged by the world community.
This Congress must raise strong objection to the junta's cynical plan to try to maintain rule through a sham constitution.
I urge that my colleagues stand for a free Burma by voicing vigorous support of this resolution.
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