California Congressman-elect Dana Rohrabacher illegally entered Burma on Tuesday and promised more than 800 anti-government Burmese students receiving military training that he would seek U.S. support for their struggle for democracy.
“I admire you. I admire your courage, and I admire your goals for your country,” Rohrabacher said while standing in an open field near the Thai-Burmese border, which he had crossed without permission. A Republican with conservative backing, Rohrabacher won election Nov. 8 in a heavily Republican Orange and Los Angeles county district.
“We know the people of Burma need democracy just like the people of the United States,” Rohrabacher said, vowing to “carry (the students’) message out to the United States and the world.”
Jack Wheeler, a professional adventurer and champion of conservative causes who was escorting Rohrabacher on the trip, said he expects President-elect George Bush to give aid to the students if Burma’s military government fails to hold multi-party elections as promised.
Rohrabacher’s audience of more than 800 dissident students joined minority hill tribe guerrillas for protection and military training after army Gen. Saw Maung seized power Sept. 18 and suppressed pro-democracy demonstrations that had threatened Burma’s authoritarian government.