Washington, DC – As the one-year anniversary of the February 1, 2021 military coup against democratically-elected leadership in Burma approaches, Congressmen Gregory Meeks (NY-05), Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Steve Chabot (OH-01), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia, and Nonproliferation, and Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Senate East Asia and Pacific Subcommittee, and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today led their colleagues calling for the United States to take action regarding Burma’s deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation. Since the 2021 coup, the Burmese military, also known as the Tatmadaw, has been engaged in an all-out assault against political opponents, journalists, health workers, and civilians, killing at least 1,500 people, including children, and arresting more than 11,000 people. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees counts nearly 300,000 internally displaced people inside Burma since the coup, with 25,000 having fled across borders to neighboring countries.
“Many of the current military junta leaders were also the organizers and perpetrators of the atrocities carried out against the Rohingya minority in 2017 — atrocities that constitute genocide. There is no reason to believe that these brutal leaders will change course as long as they remain in power,” write the lawmakers in their letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “The United States must prepare and implement a whole-of-government approach towards Burma, in coordination with partners and allies, with the goal of pressing for a restoration of Burma’s path to democracy as well as pursuing justice for the crimes committed against civilians, journalists, and political opponents.”
Other co-signers of the letter include Representatives Ami Bera (CA-07) and Ann Wagner (OH-02), and Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).
A copy of the letter can be found HERE.
Specifically, the lawmakers requested that the United States take the following actions:
- Coordinate with foreign governments, as well as private business, to cut off remaining revenue streams, financial flows, and assets to the Burmese military;
- Ensure existing and future sanctions are enforced to the fullest extent possible;
- Work to convene an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council and seek an enforceable, universal arms embargo against the Burmese military;
- Urge partners and allies, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Burma is a member, not to recognize or legitimize the military junta;
- Issue a formal determination on the question of whether the military’s crimes against the Burmese people, dating back to 2017 and through the coup period, constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide; and
- Provide increased humanitarian assistance and assistance for civil society, journalists, and those who support democracy in Burma.