Major Victory: Congress Slashes US Financial Flows to Burma's Regime, Ends Trade in Gems, Timber, and Banks

We usually don't send two messages in one week, but we wanted to tell you about a major victory that you accomplished!

Three months ago, when millions of Burma's people took the streets to demand human rights and democracy, the military regime responded with brutal force. We told you at that time that we all needed to stand up and be strong for the Burmese monks, students, and everyday people who risked their lives for values we share as Americans.

You did it!

Today, the US Senate passed legislation that slashes US financial flows to Burma's military regime. The bill makes it illegal to import precious gems and timber from Burma into the United States, and also makes it impossible for Burma's military regime to use American banks to hide or process their ill-gotten gains. This move follows similar legislation in the House of Representatives. These industries earn Burma's regime hundreds of millions per year, most likely from unsuspecting American consumers.

All told, the legislation will deny hundreds of millions of dollars per year to Burma's military regime.

We want to thank you, our 100 chapters throughout the United States, and hundreds of individuals and groups around the country for all of your hard work. Through phone calls, letters, faxes, and demonstrations you let the US Congress know that the American economy should not bankroll Burma's military regime, and because of your efforts they listened. We also want to thank active members of Congress from both political parties who answered your requests and worked so hard to make this happen.

Additionally, we want to acknowledge the principled stands taken by many American and international jewelers including Leber Jewelers, Tiffany, Bulgari, and Cartier as well as the Jewelers of America and the American Gem Trade Association. Each of these groups refuses to sell gems from Burma and/or supported this legislation.

We are not done yet -- we have much more work to do, including rallying leading voices around the world, building a strong international effort that includes millions of people, and pressing the United Nations Security Council to do its job.

For one moment though we'd like to pause and thank you again for your great teamwork, persistence, tenacity, and most importantly your passion for human rights. You just helped give a major holiday gift to the Burmese people's struggle for democracy.

Aung Din, Jeremy Woodrum, Jennifer Quigley, and Thelma Young

Support 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi and the struggle for freedom and democracy in Burma.

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