|July 29, 2003
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|WASHINGTON, D.C.—PRESIDENT BUSH INVITES FALEOMAVAEGA TO WHITE HOUSE SIGNING IN THE OVAL OFFICE|
Faleomavaega announced today that President Bush invited him to the White
House for the signing of the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003.
Only five other members of Congress attended the signing held in the Oval
office on Monday July 28, 2003. These members included Senator John
McCain (R-AZ), Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Senator Mitch McConnell
(R-KY), Congressman Peter King (R-NY) and Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA).
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell also was in attendance.
“More than 51 Members of Congress in the U.S. House of Representatives co-sponsored this important piece of legislation to sanction the ruling Burmese military junta to strengthen Burma’s democratic forces and support and recognize the National League of Democracy as the legitimate representative of the Burmese people,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “Congressman Tom Lantos, Ranking Member of the House Committee on International Relations, introduced this legislation and I am proud to also be an original cosponsor.”
“As the Ranking Member of the International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, I am also honored that President Bush invited me to be one of only six members of Congress to participate in this historic signing. I also want to commend my good friend, Congressman Lantos, for his leadership and initiative. Congressman Lantos is the only member of Congress who is a holocaust survivor and he is firmly committed to promoting democracy and peace throughout the world and in the Asia Pacific region.”
“Since a military junta took power in September 1988 and inflicted a wide array of human rights abuses against the Burmese people including rape, forced and child labor, and the drafting of child-soldiers, the U.S. has imposed sanctions against the government. The Bush administration has called for international pressure on the government and Congress has also taken the matter very seriously by passing legislation which has now become Public Law 108-61,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“In brief, P.L. 108-61 authorizes the President to take such action as may be necessary to freeze funds and assets of the Burmese government until the military junta ends violations of human rights, stops the manufacturing and exporting of illegal drugs, and makes substantial progress in establishing a democratic government. The military junta continues to suppress political liberties and has jailed thousands, and this legislation requires Burma to address these issues if it wishes to be the beneficiary of U.S. aid.”
“Like my colleagues, I believe P.L. 108-61 is critical to maintaining peace and promoting democracy in the Asia Pacific region and I was honored to represent the people of American Samoa at this historic White House signing,” the Congressman concluded.
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