The humanitarian and political situation is deteriorating in Burma. U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey says, "The situation in Burma remains bleak." Violence against ethnic minorities continues, resulting in more than five-hundred-thousand internally displaced persons, approximately two-hundred-thousand refugees in Thailand, Malaysia, India and Bangladesh, continuing complaints of forced labor, increasing narcotics flows across borders, and approximately one-thousand-one-hundred political prisoners in custody.<!-- IMAGE -->
The political prisoners include Aung San Suu Kyi (AWN SAN SOO CHEE), the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy, or N-L-D. The ruling military junta refused to recognize the N-L-D's victory in parliamentary elections held in 1990 and continues to harass and jail N-L-D leaders. Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for the majority of the past seventeen years, and she remains incommunicado. Other high profile political prisoners include National League for Democracy vice-chairman U Tin Oo (OO TIN 00) and Hkun Htun Oo (KOON TOON OO), leader of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says, "A country that was once the jewel of Southeast Asia is now out of step with the entire modern experience of its region":
"A once thriving economy has collapsed, universities that once attracted the best Asian minds are locked shut. The Burmese regime is now literally retreating into the depths of the country, closing its people off from the world and robbing them of their future."
President George W. Bush says, "The people of Burma live in the darkness of tyranny - but the light of freedom shines in their hearts." He says the Burmese "want their liberty - and one day, they will have it."