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US Senate Renews Import Sanctions on Burma

The U.S. Senate voted 93 to one to extend import sanctions on Burma for another year, citing that country's suppression of human rights and political dissent. VOA's Deborah Tate reports from Capitol Hill.

The import sanctions are aimed at sending a message to Burma, where the military regime, known as the State Peace and Development Council, or SPDC, refuses to hand over power to a government elected in 1990, and where democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest.

"These sanctions will continue to show the SPDC that the United States stands squarely with the long-suffering people of Burma and against this brutal regime," said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the top Republican in the Senate and a chief sponsor of the measure.

"We will not remain silent," said Senator Diane Feinstein, a California Democrat and a co-sponsor. "We will not remain still until Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners are released, and democratic government is restored in Burma."

Feinstein said some 1,300 political prisoners remain in Burmese jails. She highlighted other aspects of the country's poor human rights record.

"The practice of rape as a form of repression has been sanctioned by the Burmese military," she said. "Use of forced labor is widespread. Human trafficking is rampant."

The sanctions bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives Monday, now goes to President Bush for his expected signature.

Import sanctions were first imposed on Burma under a 2003 law.

The United States also imposes an arms embargo against Burma, along with restrictions on exports and financial transactions.