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22 December 2010

One Hundred Tenth Congress
of the
United States of America
Begun and held at the City of Washington on Thursday,
the third day of January, two thousand and eight

An Act

To impose sanctions on officials of the State Peace and Development Council in Burma, to amend the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 to exempt humanitarian assistance from United States sanctions on Burma, to prohibit the importation of gemstones from Burma, or that originate in Burma, to promote a coordinated international effort to restore civilian democratic rule to Burma, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE (Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act of 2008’’.

Congress makes the following findings:
(1) Beginning on August 19, 2007, hundreds of thousands of citizens of Burma, including thousands of Buddhist monks and students, participated in peaceful demonstrations against rapidly deteriorating living conditions and the violent and repressive policies of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), the ruling military regime in Burma—
(A) to demand the release of all political prisoners, including 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu
Kyi; and
(B) to urge the regime to engage in meaningful dialogue to pursue national reconciliation.

(2) The Burmese regime responded to these peaceful protests with a violent crackdown leading to the reported killing of approximately 200 people, including a Japanese photojournalist, and hundreds of injuries. Human rights groups further estimate that over 2,000 individuals have been detained, arrested, imprisoned, beaten, tortured, or otherwise intimidated as part of this crackdown. Burmese military, police, and their affiliates in the Union Solidarity Development Association (USDA) perpetrated almost all of these abuses. The Burmese regime continues to detain, torture, and otherwise intimidate those individuals whom it believes participated in or led the protests and it has closed down or otherwise limited access to several monasteries and temples that played key roles in the peaceful protests.

(3) The Department of State’s 2006 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices found that the SPDC—
(A) routinely restricts freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement;
(B) traffics in persons;
(C) discriminates against women and ethnic minorities;
(D) forcibly recruits child soldiers and child labor; and
(E) commits other serious violations of human rights, including extrajudicial killings, custodial deaths, disappearances,
rape, torture, abuse of prisoners and detainees, and the imprisonment of citizens arbitrarily for political motives.

(4) Aung San Suu Kyi has been arbitrarily imprisoned or held under house arrest for more than 12 years.

(5) In October 2007, President Bush announced a new Executive Order to tighten economic sanctions against Burma and block property and travel to the United States by certain senior leaders of the SPDC, individuals who provide financial backing for the SPDC, and individuals responsible for human rights violations and impeding democracy in Burma. Additional names were added in updates done on October 19, 2007, and February 5, 2008. However, only 38 discrete individuals and 13 discrete companies have been designated under those sanctions,
once aliases and companies with similar names were removed. By contrast, the Australian Government identified
more than 400 individuals and entities subject to its sanctions applied in the wake of the 2007 violence. The European Union’s regulations to implement sanctions against Burma have identified more than 400 individuals among the leadership of government, the military, and the USDA, along with nearly 1300 state and military-run companies potentially subject to its sanctions.

(6) The Burmese regime and its supporters finance their ongoing violations of human rights, undemocratic policies, and military activities in part through financial transactions, travel, and trade involving the United States, including the sale of petroleum products, gemstones and hardwoods.

(7) In 2006, the Burmese regime earned more than $500 million from oil and gas projects, over $500 million from sale of hardwoods, and in excess of $300 million from the sale of rubies and jade. At least $500 million of the $2.16 billion earned in 2006 from Burma’s two natural gas pipelines, one of which is 28 percent owned by a United States company, went to the Burmese regime. The regime has earned smaller amounts from oil and gas exploration and non-operational pipelines but United States investors are not involved in those transactions. Industry sources estimate that over $100 million annually in Burmese rubies and jade enters the United States.

Burma’s official statistics report that Burma exported $500 million in hardwoods in 2006 but NGOs estimate the true figure to exceed $900 million. Reliable statistics on the amount of hardwoods imported into the United States from Burma in the form of finished products are not available, in part due to widespread illegal logging and smuggling.

(8) The SPDC seeks to evade the sanctions imposed in the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003. Millions of dollars in gemstones that are exported from Burma ultimately enter the United States, but the Burmese regime attempts to conceal the origin of the gemstones in an effort to evade sanctions. For example, according to gem industry experts, over 90 percent of the world’s ruby supply originates in Burma but only 3 percent of the rubies entering the United States are claimed to be of Burmese origin. The value of Burmese gemstones is predominantly based on their original quality and geological origin, rather than the labor involved in cutting and polishing the gemstones.

(9) According to hardwood industry experts, Burma is home to approximately 60 percent of the world’s native teak reserves.

More than 1⁄4 of the world’s internationally traded teak originates from Burma, and hardwood sales, mainly of teak, represent more than 11 percent of Burma’s official foreign exchange earnings.

(10) The SPDC owns a majority stake in virtually all enterprises responsible for the extraction and trade of Burmese
natural resources, including all mining operations, the Myanmar Timber Enterprise, the Myanmar Gems Enterprise,
the Myanmar Pearl Enterprise, and the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise. Virtually all profits from these enterprises
enrich the SPDC.

(11) On October 11, 2007, the United Nations Security Council, with the consent of the People’s Republic of China, issued a statement condemning the violence in Burma, urging the release of all political prisoners, and calling on the SPDC to enter into a United Nations-mediated dialogue with its political opposition.

(12) The United Nations special envoy Ibrahim Gambari traveled to Burma from September 29, 2007, through October 2, 2007, holding meetings with SPDC leader General Than Shwe and democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi in an effort to promote dialogue between the SPDC and democracy advocates.

(13) The leaders of the SPDC will have a greater incentive to cooperate with diplomatic efforts by the United Nations, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and the People’s Republic of China if they come under targeted economic pressure that denies them access to personal wealth and sources of revenue.

(14) On the night of May 2, 2008, through the morning of May 3, 2008, tropical cyclone Nargis struck the coast of
Burma, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of Burmese.

(15) The response to the cyclone by Burma’s military leaders illustrates their fundamental lack of concern for the
welfare of the Burmese people. The regime did little to warn citizens of the cyclone, did not provide adequate humanitarian assistance to address basic needs and prevent loss of life, and continues to fail to provide life-protecting and life-sustaining services to its people.

(16) The international community responded immediately to the cyclone and attempted to provide humanitarian assistance. More than 30 disaster assessment teams from 18 different nations and the United Nations arrived in the region, but the Burmese regime denied them permission to enter the country. Eventually visas were granted to aid workers, but the regime continues to severely limit their ability to provide assistance in the affected areas.

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