Washington, DC – Yesterday, House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul delivered the following opening statement at a full committee hearing titled, “Unfolding the Crisis in Burma.” 

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-Opening Remarks as Delivered-

“I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman for calling this important hearing today and staying on focus on Burma and these horrific acts in the aftermath of the latest coup.

 This committee has always stood with the Burmese people in their struggle to free themselves from military rule; to protect their human rights; and to secure democracy.

I’m grateful we’ve continued that spirit of bipartisanship by passing multiple pieces of legislation already this year. And I look forward to taking more action to hold the Burmese military accountable.

 Not as Republicans and Democrats, but as Americans conducting a foreign policy consistent with our values. 

Just a few months ago, the people of Burma had a flawed but functioning democracy. Today, they live under a reign of terror, with their democratic freedoms being stolen away.  

Since this latest coup on February 1st, we’ve seen what can only be described as a military committing mass murder against its own people it is supposed to protect. The latest estimates place the death toll at well over 700 civilians killed throughout Burma.

In addition to this violence, the Burmese people are suffering through mass arrests, nighttime raids, communications blackouts, and widespread intimidation of the press. It’s all designed to crush their spirits and their will to resist.

Incredibly, it’s not working. The people of Burma continue to take to the streets, inspiring the world with their resolve to regain the democracy that their military stole.

The United States will continue to stand with them, and today’s hearing will guide our next steps. 

To begin, we need to tighten our sanctions against the regime, against the military for their brutal human rights violations during this coup, as well as their prior genocide against the Rohingya.

In addition, if we want to achieve any meaningful purpose at the United Nations, we need to understand the motivations of Russia, which is drawing closer to the Burmese military. And we need to understand the motivations of the Chinese Communist Party, which wants to extend its Belt and Road Initiative through Burma to the Indian Ocean.

And most of all, we need to make sure we are doing all we can for the brave people of Burma who are risking their lives to stand up for their rights.

People like Burma’s Ambassador to the United Nations, who has spoken out against the regime that has taken over his country’s government – at a huge risk to himself and his family. Mr. Ambassador, it’s quite an honor to have you with us today, and your bravery inspires us.

I’d also like to thank Ambassador Currie and Ms. Ohmar for joining us today to discuss our next steps to respond to this horrible coup, and with that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.