President George W. Bush has signed legislation renewing the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003. The law, enacted in response to Burma's continued refusal to democratize, extends a pre-existing ban on all imports from Burma to the United States. These sanctions are just one component of the U.S. strategy to press for change in Burma. They complement U.S. efforts to build international consensus on the need for change in Burma, and to unify the U.N. Security Council behind measures to address the transnational threats emerging from junta misrule.
In a written statement, the White House says "The United States watches in deep dismay as a country of Burma's beauty and potential deteriorates under the oppressive weight of the. . . .military junta." The statement says, Burma "slides deeper into self-imposed isolation and misrule, the democratic opposition and ethnic minority groups continue to be shut out of the political process, and Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest."
Aung San Suu Kyi, the founder of Burma's National League for Democracy and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has been detained since 2003 when thugs affiliated with the Burmese government brutally attacked her convoy. She has spent the majority of the past fifteen years in detention.
Aung San Suu Kyi is one of at least one-thousand-one-hundred people the Burmese junta imprisoned for the peaceful expression of their political views. These political prisoners include National League for Democracy vice-chairman, U Tin Oo and Hkun Htun Oo, leader of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said "A country that was once the jewel of Southeast Asia is now out of step with the entire modern experience of its region":
"A once thriving economy has collapsed. Universities that once attracted the best Asian minds are locked shut. The Burmese regime is now literally retreating into the depths of the country, closing its people off from the world and robbing them of their future."
Ms. Rice said that as long as the people of Burma remain oppressed "there can be no business as usual in Southeast Asia."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.