In the face of undeterred repression by the Burmese military junta, the U.S. is targeting the assets of regime members and their cronies who have grown rich while the Burmese people suffer under their misrule. Individuals who have been singled out by the U.S. for sanctions include Steven Law and his father Lo Hsing Han, also known as the Godfather of Heroin. Lo Hsing Han has been one of the world's key heroin traffickers dating back to the early 1970s. Mr. Law joined his father's drug empire in the 1990s and has since become one of the wealthiest individuals in Burma, and a close associate of senior regime officials. The U.S. has also sanctioned Mr. Law's wife Cecilia Ng and various companies for providing support to the military junta of Burma.
Additional U.S. sanctions have been applied to two Burmese hotel chains owned by regime crony Tay Za . He is a Burmese business tycoon and arms dealer with close ties to Burma's military junta. This is the second round of sanctions aimed at Tay Za's business network.
The situation in Burma, said President Bush, remains deplorable. The regime has rejected calls for its own people and the international community to begin a dialogue with the opposition and ethnic minority groups. Arrests and secret trials of peaceful political activists continue.
The Burmese government has cracked down hard on the press since the pro-democracy demonstrations in August and September. Most recently, editor of the Myanmar Nation weekly journal Thet Zin and manager Sein Win Maung were arrested. Officials confiscated a United Nations human rights report and videos of the anti-government protests.
Concerted international pressure, said President Bush, is needed to achieve a genuine transition to democracy in Burma. It is essential that Burma's neighbors and other countries in Southeast Asia urge Burma to release quickly all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi to end military offensives and human rights abuses against ethnic minorities; and to begin a genuine transition to democracy in response to the aspirations of the Burmese people.