Washington: Ahead of Myanmar President Thein Sein`s landmark visit to the US next week, a powerful American lawmaker on Friday introduced a legislation in the Congress to renew sanctions on the South East Asian nation.
The introduction of renewal of the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act, by Congressman Joe Crowley, would continue to the ban on imports from Myanmar, particularly gems. It is co-sponsored by Congressman Peter King.
"I remain very concerned about human rights violations in Burma, including violence against ethnic nationalities, the use of rape as a weapon of war and brutal attacks on Muslim minorities - including women and children," Crowley said.
"I supported the Administration`s initial policy of `action for action` and I have urged them to not waiver from that policy. My focus is on keeping the ban on the import of gems in place," he said in a statement.
Each year, Congress must vote to renew certain sanctions on Burma as part of the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act during a 90 day period beginning in May.
Signed into law in 2003, the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act strengthened existing US sanctions by banning imports from Myanmar, including gems.
Together, the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act and the Block Burmese JADE Act have prevented hundreds of millions of dollars from getting into the hands of Myanmar`s military leaders.
Obama will host Thein Sein, a former general, to the White House on May 20. Thein Sein`s upcoming historic visit, the first by a top leader from the country since 1966, follows the US president`s own visit to Myanmar in November.
The US has suspended most sanctions on Myanmar as part of a diplomatic drive the Asian nation launched in 2009 to provide incentives for reforms.