By Never Again Coalition
Burma’s path to democracy was violently interrupted by the military’s illegal seizure of power on February 1st. Eight months have passed and the conditions in Burma continue to deteriorate. The people of Burma have not given up hope though and it is imperative for the United States to stand with them.
While we welcomed the Biden Administration's actions thus far to hold the perpetrators of the coup responsible, we know that without further action, the junta's brutal and relentless attacks against civilian populations will continue. It's past time for the U.S. to strengthen efforts and hold the military accountable for all the abuses and atrocities it has committed.
We are very appreciative of Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory W. Meeks, and House Foreign Affairs Asia-Pacific Subcommittee Ranking Member Steve Chabot for their leadership, and of all cosponsors, for the introduction of the Burma Unified through Rigorous Military Accountability Act (BURMA Act). This legislation is a crucial step in establishing a U.S. strategy to support the democratic aspirations of civilians in Burma and a path to peace, justice, and equality for all of its people.
The BURMA Act will create concrete measures to support the people of Burma’s aspirations for an inclusive democracy and help bring accountability to the Rohingya people and other marginalized communities in Burma by:
Authorizing regional humanitarian assistance for displaced populations including Rohingya refugees and provide support for civil society organizations, democracy activists, and independent media;
Authorizing sanctions against the military and its allies, laying out parameters for licenses and waivers to sanctions to minimize the humanitarian impact on the people of Burma while ensuring the U.S. sanctions regime against Burma is focused on the military regime’s economic interests;
Establishing a Special Coordinator for Burmese Democracy to help coordinate U.S. policy on Burma and be a point of contact in multilateral efforts; and
Requiring the State Department to determine whether the Burmese security forces committed genocide against the Rohingya, whether security forces committed war crimes or crimes against humanity since the coup, and to provide technical assistance to hold perpetrators of human rights abuses accountable.
The people of Burma have shown incredible courage in their unwavering efforts to bring about genuine democracy that is truly representative. We welcome the introduction of the BURMA Act and call on Congress to swiftly pass this crucial legislation.
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