Ros-Lehtinen Expresses Concern about Atrocities in Burma, Possible Connections to North Korea, and Secretary Clinton Trip

Tuesday, November 29, 2011
(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of House Foreign Affairs Committee, commented today on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s upcoming trip to Burma, the first visit by a U.S. Secretary of State in more than 50 years. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“The release of some political prisoners in Burma and the return of democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi to the political process are limited but welcome developments. However, the Burmese Junta’s atrocities, systematic human rights violations, and pursuit and proliferation of dangerous weapons continue unabated. I am concerned that the visit of the Secretary of State sends the wrong signal to the Burmese military thugs that cosmetic actions, or mere ‘flickers of progress’ as President Obama recently spoke about, are sufficient for the U.S. to engage the regime.

“Ethnic Kachin refugees arriving recently in Louisiana report a renewed Burmese army offensive in October, where chemical weapons, such as yellow rain, were utilized, causing blistering, dizziness and vomiting. Gang rapes of women, usually in front of their children, are also reported, as is the torture and crucifixion of Kachin Christian pastors. These atrocities certainly snuff out ‘the flickers of progress’ that President Obama spoke about in Bali two weeks ago.

“Further, reported sightings of North Koreans in remote minority areas deepen concerns that the North Korean regime is aiding and abetting the Burmese junta in its efforts to acquire contraband weapons, including for the possible development of a nuclear program. Any ‘flickers of progress’ would certainly be further overshadowed by more weapons proliferation by the regime.

“Secretary Clinton’s visit represents a monumental overture to an outlaw regime whose DNA remains fundamentally brutal. The enforcement of tough sanctions, as championed by the late Tom Lantos and me through the Block Burmese JADE Act, is needed to bring about the needed political change in Burma.”

NOTE: The Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act was signed into law in July 2008. The bill restricts the import of gem stones from Burma and strengthens sanctions against the regime. Ros-Lehtinen was the lead Republican sponsor of the legislation.
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