For the past 15 years, American sanctions on Burma (also known as Myanmar) have prevented almost all American businesses from being complicit to massive human rights abuses and atrocities in the Southeast Asian nation.
Forced labor, systematic rape, child labor, extrajudicial killings, political prisoners and massive displacement have all been perpetrated by Burma's military regime. Just this month, a 48-year-old grandmother, "Ngwa Wi" (pseudonym), was held captive in a church by soldiers from Burma's military forces, who beat, stabbed and raped her repeatedly for three days.
Many abuses like this have been fueled or caused by foreign business in Burma and the soldiers who raped Ngwa Wi were working on a nearby foreign-owned dam project. But most American businesses have largely avoided such complicity in abuses like this because of the sanctions.
But this is all about to change. The Obama Administration announced on May 17 that it plans to suspend critical American sanctions on Burma, and let American companies do business in Burma without any oversight to prevent human rights abuses.
If American sanctions on Burma disappear, American-owned projects will fuel even more abuses like rape, murder, and even modern-day slavery -- and create thousands more Ngwa Wis. The Obama Administration is knowingly putting hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people at risk of losing their lives and their livelihood in exchange for American profits.
Please join me and many other human rights advocates from Burma in calling on U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton not to suspend American sanctions on Burma without putting legally binding safeguards in place to prevent American business from fueling atrocities and abuses.
For more information on the kinds of abuses and attacks take place because of foreign business in Burma, see the recent work of the Kachin Women's Association documenting the abduction and rape of 48-year-old grandmother "Ngwa Wi" by Burmese soldiers working on a foreign-owned dam project in Kachin State.