Currently, there is legislation in the House that would impose new, tough sanctions on the Burmese military elite. The sanctions would cut off the illegal gem trade and freeze the bank accounts of the top 25 Burmese elite (these sanctions will NOT hurt the Burmese people; they are targeted at the elite specifically). Passing this bill would RADICALLY CHANGE the international situation by cutting off the financial lifeline of the Burmese regime, making them more vulnerable to outside pressure.
The House bill, called the Block Burmese JADE Act of 2007, is currently being held up because there is not enough constituent pressure. We need you to contact your district representative and ask them to co-sponsor the JADE Act.
Please email and call your rep., asking them to co-sponsor legislation. You can find your rep. below.
- Tell the staffer you want their representatives to move the Block Burmese JADE Act of 2007 out of the Ways and Means Committee and onto the House floor.
- Tell them that it is absolutely essential that this must happen before this Friday's deadline, as the Burmese people cannot wait any more time for change.
- Give her/him proof that this policy works. It cuts off hundreds of millions of dollars to the regime and will specifically target the top generals' finances. It will cut off the gem trade and freeze the bank accounts of the 25 ruling generals and businessmen.
-Mention that the military junta still deserves sanctions. On top of brutally crushing thousands of peaceful demonstrators, including monks, the military regime has destroyed more than 3,000 villages. It has forcibly displaced more than half a million people inside Burma as well as causing a million refugees to flee across the border to neighboring countries and has made no efforts to move toward democracy.
- Let her/him know it is important to send a strong signal to the regime that the US government will continue to keep American money out the hands of the junta. - This is not the only action being taken against Burma. On top of many diplomatic efforts, the EU has imposed new sanctions, as well as Australia, and even Japan has decreased aid to Burma.
The legislation, sponsored by Congressman Lantos (D-NY), had already passed through the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Once it goes through your committee, it will be overwhelmingly passed by the house. You need to help push this through committee NOW.
Here are the main things the Block Burmese JADE Act will accomplish:
1) Most importantly, it gives the Treasury Department the authority to freeze the money of Burma's top generals and their business allies in banks throughout the world. Currently, the U.S. blocks 25 Burmese generals and businessmen from operating in the U.S. In November, their assets were frozen by the Treasury Department. However, the ruling elite keep the bulk of their money outside of the U.S., mainly in Singapore. To make these sanctions effective, the Treasury Department needs the authority to freeze the money in these accounts. This is precisely what the Burmese JADE Act would do. Passing this act would substantially weaken the junta's economic viability and make them more vulnerable to international pressure.
2) Secondly, this act would close loopholes in existing sanctions that allow the sale of illegal gems, cutting off hundreds of millions of dollars to the junta each year.
Burma has one of the worst human rights records in the world including:
* The military has amassed the largest population of child soldiers in the world, estimated at 70,000. A recent Human Rights Watch report said some of the military's recruits were only 10 years old.
* In the eastern part of the country, the junta has destroyed over 3,000 ethnic villages. During the military's incursions, women are systematically raped and others are taken as sexual slaves for officers. As a result of the attacks, 1.5 million Burmese refugees live along the Thailand-Burma border and 500,000 more are internally displaced.
* The military operates a system of forced labor, enslaving just under 900,000 a year.
* Over 1,200 political prisoners languish in Burma's prisons, including the world's only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi who won the 1990 popular, democratic elections.
This past September, during Burma's "Saffron Revolution," peaceful protesters risked everything - their homes, occupations, and lives - to stand up for two principal American values: freedom and democracy. I urge you to stand with these brave protesters and move the Block Burmese JADE Act of 2007 out of the Ways and Means Committee and onto the House floor by this Friday.