On 6th April the U.S. House of Representatives finally passed the BURMA Act (H.R.5497), which calls for action on justice and accountability, increased aid to IDPs, activists and others, and more sanctions to target revenue to the military. The BURMA Act received bipartisan support.
The passing of the BURMA Act came after significant lobbying by members of communities from Burma in the USA, and US and international civil society organisations.
Since the attempted military coup on 1st February 2021, the USA has shown a lack of leadership in mobilising international action to promote human rights and democracy in Burma. The pace of implementation of sanctions has been too slow and too limited, and there has been insufficient support for cross-border aid. Despite a recent determination of genocide against the Rohingya, no practical action on accountability has followed. The USA has not used its diplomatic weight internationally to persuade more countries to adopt arms embargoes.
The USA has taken no action to stop the flow of gas revenue to the Burmese military, one of the biggest sources of revenue to the military. While the European Union has taken action by sanctioning MOGE, the Biden administration seems more concerned about Chevron’s profits and not inconveniencing Thailand than taking effective action to cut funding to a military which is committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
The BURMA Act (S.2937) now faces an uncertain future in the Senate due to the lack of support from key Republicans, in particular Senator Mitch McConnell, and Senator Todd Young. It is not clear why these two Senators are refusing to support the BURMA Act and ensure it is voted on in the Senate. The lack of bipartisan support as a result of their actions is protecting the Burmese military from effective action which could cut the flow of revenue and arms and help saves lives.
“In the UN Security Council, Russia and China use their veto power to block action against the Burmese military. Senators McConnell and Young are the Russia and China of the US Senate, protecting the Burmese military against action to cut their supply of money and arms,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “At the present time American companies can’t sell arms to the Burmese military but they can provide the military with revenue which they use to buy arms from Russia. No-one in the Biden administration has explained why they think this policy makes sense.”
Burma Campaign UK is calling on its supporters and members of the public worldwide to email the two Senators calling on them to stop blocking the BURMA Act.