The Cable

Aung San Suu Kyi testifies via video

Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi testified before the U.S. Congress for the first time ever today, via video, and called on the U.S. Congress to take a more active and clear-eyed look at the lack of democratic progress in Burma. "What I would like to urge is that you look at what ...

Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi testified before the U.S. Congress for the first time ever today, via video, and called on the U.S. Congress to take a more active and clear-eyed look at the lack of democratic progress in Burma.

"What I would like to urge is that you look at what is happening in Burma in the light of the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution, the recent one, which came out in March," she said, "This resolution covers all the needs of Burma today, all the political needs, let me say, of Burma today. The requests, the urgings, the demands of this resolution are very much in line with what we in Burma think is needed to start Burma along the genuine process of democratization. So, if you are to consider this resolution very, very closely, and then, if you were to look at the present situation in Burma, you would have a very good idea of how far we are along the path to democracy, if we have started on that path at all."

She referred to the resolution to highlight the issues of political prisoners, freedom of association and information, independence of the judiciary, and the right of the U.N. human rights rapporteur to visit Burma. She called on the U.S. Congress to help ensure that the provisions of the U.N. Human Rights Council resolution are met and that a commission of inquiry into the human rights situation in Burma is established.

"True friends are those who share your values and who understand why you hold onto these values in spite of all the difficulties you have to face," she said. "With the help and support of true friends, I’m sure we will be able to trade the path of democracy, not easily, and perhaps not as quickly as we would like. But surely, and steadily."

In live testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Asia Subcommittee, Aung Din, the executive director of U.S. Campaign for Burma, called on the U.S. government to get tougher with the Burmese regime and enforce sanctions more strictly.

"I support the United States policy of engaging with the regime while maintaining sanctions. But, as I have reminded from the beginning, engagement should have a time frame, clear benchmarks and it should involve an appropriate measure to respond for any development," he said. "However, as of today, the existing sanctions are still not fully implemented yet, the engagement remains open ended, and I don’t see any effort by the U.S. government to exercise the pressure in a more effective and well-coordinated way. The regime knows very well how to manipulate the current form of engagement."

Subcommittee Chairman Don Manzullo (R-IL) opened the hearing by noting the lack of progress in U.S.-Burma relations despite the Obama administration’s engagement policy.

"Since the Obama Administration began its policy of pragmatic engagement in 2009, U.S. relations with Burma have not changed," he said. "If proponents of pragmatic engagement are correct, then Burmese leaders should recognize this unprecedented opportunity being offered by the Obama Administration and seek to improve relations with the U.S. by demonstrating tangible change.  Unfortunately, this is not the case."

 Twitter: @joshrogin

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