May 23 2007
Washington, DC – Mrs. Laura Bush today joined U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), and a bipartisan group of women Senators for the kickoff event for a new Senate Women's Caucus on Burma.
Also on hand for the event were Paula Dobriansky, Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, and Shari Villarosa, U.S. Chargé d'Affaires, Union of Burma.
“I applaud senators from both sides of the aisle for coming together to address Burma,” said Mrs. Bush. “Against the backdrop of ongoing human rights violations, I add my voice to theirs in urging the restoration of a democratic government and the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in Burma, including Aung San Suu Kyi.”
“The Senate Women's Caucus on Burma has a simple mission -- to shine a light on one of the most critical human rights situation in the world today. I truly believe that the women of the United States Senate have a special obligation to speak out on this issue. And so I am very pleased that we have been joined in this effort by the First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Bush,” Senator Feinstein said. “And today, we have come together to express our solidarity with Burma's democratic leader and a remarkable woman, Aung San Suu Kyi, and to find out what we can do to raise awareness about the situation in Burma and to restore democratic government to the Burmese people."
“Aung San Suu Kyi has dedicated her life and sacrificed herself for the cause of democracy in her country," Senator Hutchison said. “As the embodiment of democracy for the world, Congress must take a stand against this injustice. The women of the Senate are working together across the aisle to advocate for democracy in Burma and the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. We are engaged on this issue, and now we need the United Nations and other democracies around the world the help us put pressure on Burma to reform itself and stop the murder, oppression and imprisonment of critics of the ruling regime.”
At the event, Caucus Co-Chairs Feinstein and Hutchison announced that the Caucus members have signed a joint letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, urging him to press for the immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners in Burma. The Burmese military junta has had Nobel laureate Suu Kyi under house arrest for most of the past 17 years.
The Caucus members also urged their colleagues to support a joint resolution that will be introduced by Senators Feinstein and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to renew a complete ban on imports from Burma for another year. The Senate voted unanimously to renew these sanctions last year and this year's joint resolution already has a bipartisan group of 31 co-sponsors.
The following is the text of the letter sent to Secretary-General Ban by the members of the new Women's Caucus on Burma, which includes Co-Chairs Feinstein and Hutchison, and Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Blanche Lambert Lincoln (D-Neb.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.):
May 23, 2007
The Honorable Ban Ki-moon
New York, New York
Dear Mr. Secretary General:
As members of the United States Senate and the Women's Caucus on Burma, we are writing to urge you to press for the immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners in Burma to begin a process of national reconciliation that may lead to a peaceful transition to a democratic government.
A Nobel Peace Prize laureate and leader of the National League for Democracy, Suu Kyi has spent the better part of the past seventeen years under house arrest. We are deeply concerned that when her present sentence expires on May 27, 2007, it will be extended with no release date in sight. We are also reminded that May 30th commemorates the fourth anniversary of the assassination attempt on her life in 2003.
Suu Kyi has dedicated her life to a peaceful, non-violent movement for democracy in Burma. We urge your personal engagement and sustained attention to resolving this urgent matter including helping to establish concrete timetables for democratic progress in Burma as a first step towards resolving the differences between Burma and the international community.
We look forward to the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and the beginning of a new future for all the citizens of Burma.
Senator Dianne Feinstein
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison
Senator Barbara Boxer
Senator Maria Cantwell
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
Senator Susan Collins
Senator Elizabeth Dole
Senator Amy Klobuchar
Senator Mary Landrieu
Senator Blanche Lambert Lincoln
Senator Claire McCaskill
Senator Barbara Mikulski
Senator Lisa Murkowski
Senator Patty Murray
Senator Olympia Snowe
Senator Debbie Stabenow