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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 20, 1997


Pursuant to section 570(b) of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 1997 (Public Law 104-208) (the "Act"), I hereby report to the Congress that I have determined and certified that the Government of Burma has, after September 30, 1996, committed large-scale repression of the democratic opposition in Burma. Further, pursuant to section 204(b) of the Inter-national Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1703(b)) (IEEPA) and section 301 of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1631), I hereby report that I have exercised my statutory authority to declare a national emergency to respond to the actions and policies of the Government of Burma and have issued an Executive order prohibiting United States persons from new investment in Burma.

The order prohibits United States persons from engaging in any of the following activities after its issuance:

Consistent with the terms of section 570(b) of the Act, the order does not prohibit the entry into, performance of, or financing of most contracts for the purchase or sale of goods, services, or technology. For purposes of the order, the term "resources" is broadly defined to include such things as natural, agricultural, commercial, financial, industrial, and human resources. However, not-for-profit educational, health, or other humanitarian programs or activities are not considered to constitute economic development of resources located in Burma. In accordance with section 570(b), the prohibition on an activity that constitutes a new investment applies if such activity is undertaken pursuant to an agreement, or pursuant to the exercise of rights under an agreement that is entered into with the Government of Burma or a non-governmental entity in Burma, on or after the effective date of the Executive order.

My Administration will continue to consult and express our concerns about developments in Burma with the Burmese authorities as well as leaders of ASEAN, Japan, the European Union, and other countries having major political, security, trading, and investment interests in Burma and seek multilateral consensus to bring about democratic reform and improve human rights in that country. I have, accordingly, delegated to the Secretary of State the responsibilities in this regard under section 570(c) and (d) of the Act.

The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is authorized to issue regulations in exercise of my authorities under IEEPA and section 570(b) of the Act to implement this prohibition on new investment. All Federal agencies are also directed to take actions within their authority to carry out the provisions of the Executive order.

I have taken these steps in response to a deepening pattern of severe repression by the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) in Burma. During the past 7 months, the SLORC has arrested and detained large numbers of students and opposition supporters, sentenced dozens to long-term imprisonment, and prevented the expression of political views by the democratic opposition, including Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD). It is my judgment that recent actions by the regime in Rangoon constitute large-scale repression of the democratic opposition committed by the Government of Burma within the meaning of section 570(b) of the Act.

The Burmese authorities also have committed serious abuses in their recent military campaign against Burma's Karen minority, forcibly conscripting civilians and compelling thousands to flee into Thailand. Moreover, Burma remains the world,s leading producer of opium and heroin, with official tolerance of drug trafficking and traffickers in defiance of the views of the international community.

I believe that the actions and policies of the SLORC regime constitute an extraordinary and unusual threat to the security and stability of the region, and therefore to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.

It is in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States to seek an end to abuses of human rights in Burma and to support efforts to achieve democratic reform. Progress on these issues would promote regional peace and stability and would be in the political, security, and economic interests of the United States.

The steps I take today demonstrate my Administration's resolve to support the people of Burma, who made clear their commitment to human rights and democracy in 1990 elections, the results of which the regime chose to disregard.

I am also pleased to note that the Administration and the Congress speak with one voice on this issue, as reflected in executive-legislative cooperation in the enactment of section 570 of the Foreign Operations Act. I look forward to continued close consultation with the Congress on efforts to promote human rights and democracy in Burma.

In conclusion, I emphasize that Burma's international isolation is not an inevitability, and that the authorities in Rangoon retain the ability to secure improvements in relations with the United States as well as with the international community. In this respect, I once again call on the SLORC to lift restrictions on Aung San Suu Kyi and the political opposition, to respect the rights of free expression, assembly, and association, and to undertake a dialogue that includes leaders of the NLD and the ethnic minorities and that deals with the political future of Burma.

In the weeks and months to come, my Administration will continue to monitor and assess action on these issues, paying careful attention to the report of the U.N. Special Rapporteur appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Commission and the report of the U.N. Secretary General on the results of his good offices mandate. Thus, I urge the regime in Rangoon to cooperate fully with those two important U.N. initiatives on Burma.

I am enclosing a copy of the Executive order that I have issued. The order is effective at 12:01 a.m., eastern daylight time, May 21, 1997.



May 20, 1997.

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