From Rep. Don Manzullo (R., 16th District)…
[WASHINGTON] – Congressman Don Manzullo (R-IL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia & the Pacific, today said political reforms implemented in Burma the past year are encouraging, but the United States and its allies must proceed cautiously to ensure the changes continue.
Manzullo, who chaired a subcommittee hearing on Burma today, said he was pleased earlier this year with Burma’s release of hundreds of political prisoners, as well as the election of Nobel Peace Prize winner and legendary opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League of Democracy party that won 43 of 45 open seats in Parliament. But with 600 political prisoners remaining behind bars and 93 percent of Burma’s legislative body continuing to be controlled by the military junta, are the reforms real or just modest window dressing, Manzullo asked?
“I commend the Administration for returning an Ambassador to Burma and for USAID’s reopening of its mission there. More than anything, we need Americans on the ground assessing what is actually happening,” Manzullo said. “But now, we face the next step in this journey, and it is my sincere hope that these actions in Burma are the beginning of real, meaningful political reconciliation. However, let’s not lose sight of the reality that Burma has endured 50 years of military dictatorship, and those in power will not give up this power overnight.”
In June 2011, Chairman Manzullo held an unprecedented oversight hearing exploring the oppressive nature of the Burmese military junta. The hearing featured taped testimony from Aung San Suu Kyi for the first time ever in Congress.