Chairman Meeks, Senator Cardin, and Rep. Chabot Introduce BURMA Act

October 5th, 2021  •  Author: House Foreign Affairs Committee  •  3 minute read
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Washington, DC – Today, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), House Foreign Affairs Asia-Pacific Subcommittee Ranking Member Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) introduced the “Burma Unified through Rigorous Military Accountability Act of 2021” or BURMA Act.  

The legislation condemns the actions taken by the Burmese military during its February 1 coup d’état and its aftermath. By authorizing targeted sanctions against the Burmese military, the State Administrative Council, as well as their affiliated entities and conglomerates, the bill holds accountable those responsible for the perpetration of the coup and the ensuing atrocities that have claimed over a thousand lives. In light of the growing crisis in Burma, the legislation also authorizes support for civil society and humanitarian assistance and calls on the State Department to issue a genocide determination for the persecution of the Rohingya. 

“It has been eight long months since the Burmese military staged its illegal and illegitimate coup, reversing years of reform and Burma’s fragile transition to democracy. Despite diplomatic pressure from the United States and the international community, the Burmese military has refused to cease its violence, release those unjustly detained, or participate in meaningful dialogue with local stakeholders. The United States must do more to support and protect the Burmese people and send a clear signal to the Burmese military,” said Chairman Meeks. 

“The Burmese military’s coup in February, and the ongoing atrocities that have followed, continue to be a direct attack on the people of Burma and their basic desire for self-government. Self-government is not some sort of temporary arrangement or gift from the military. The people of Burma have had enough of military rule and, to their credit, have courageously stood up for their legitimate democratic aspirations. As a longtime champion of human rights in Burma, I’m proud to join Chairman Meeks to introduce this legislation which will authorize a forceful response to these heinous crimes,” said Representative Chabot. 

“As the death toll continues to rise, the United States must not be indifferent to Burma’s fate. Horrible atrocities have been committed against minority groups, including the Rohingya, which has led more than one million to flee as refugees. Our bicameral legislation aims to hold responsible the military leaders and others who have ravaged this nation and committed crimes against humanity. We stand in solidarity with the people of Burma and condemn the violence that has been perpetrated against them,” said Senator Cardin. 

A copy of the BURMA Act of 2021 can be found here. Key elements of the legislation include: 

  • Authorization to impose sanctions on individuals and entities who helped stage the February 1 coup d’état and are responsible for the subsequent repression of fundamental freedoms, human rights abuses, use of indiscriminate violence towards civilians, and other gross atrocities. 
  • Authorization to prohibit the import of precious and semi-precious gemstones from Burma into the United States. 
  • Authorization for a new position at the State Department, a Special Coordinator for Burmese Democracy, to promote an international effort to impose and enforce multilateral sanctions on Burma and coordinate United States Government interagency efforts on Burma. 
  • Authorization for support to civil society and for humanitarian assistance in Burma, Bangladesh, Thailand, and the surrounding region. 
  • Call for the Department of State to make a genocide determination with regards to the persecution of the Rohingya. 
  • Call for the United States to pressure the United Nations to take more decisive action with regards to Burma. 

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