4/25/2022 The United States Commission on International Religious Freedoms (USCIRF) has for the third year…
In solidarity with Burmese diaspora groups, Burma Task Force warmly welcomes the bipartisan decision to pass the Burma Act in the House of Representatives. This vote comes only a few weeks after the US Government formally recognized the Rohingya Genocide, after several years of delay.
Since the same Burmese military that perpetrated the genocide also seized power in a brutal coup last year, we hope that the Senate will recognize the urgency of this crisis, and act decisively, as their Burmese constituents have been imploring them to do. This important legislation needs to pass both houses of Congress and be signed into law as soon as possible.
In addition to imposing some sanctions, the House bill authorizes over $450 million in humanitarian aid and support for the pro-democracy movement in Myanmar over five years. The bill creates a coordinator position to oversee Myanmar policy in the US. It calls for the US to push the issue more effectively at the United Nations. It also calls for support for international justice mechanisms.
Since 2012, Burma Task Force has worked to raise awareness of genocidal policies in Burma, also known as Myanmar. A program of the human rights advocacy organization Justice for All, Burma Task Force calls for the Burma Act to lead to even more robust sanctions, including sanctions targeting the oil and gas sector controlled by the Burmese military.
“We have all seen how quickly Europe has imposed unprecedented sanctions on the Russian government and elites tied to President Putin, following the recent illegal invasion of Ukraine,” observed Burma Task Force Chairman Malik Mujahid. “In the case of Burma, we are confronting another state sponsor of terror, the Burmese military, which is responsible for a genocide as well as an anti-democratic coup. And yet action has been delayed again and again. Will our government finally face the double standards and understand the need for action? This vote lets us hope that our leaders are learning their lessons.”
As in Europe, there is resistance to sanctioning oil and gas. However, in this case, the United States does not buy oil and gas from Burma. The decision should not be difficult, especially since major oil and gas companies have already announced their intentions to leave Burma.
“The Senate legislation (S. 2937) has not received a single Republican co-sponsor. This is difficult for us to comprehend,” added Burma Task Force Program Associate Sharifah Shakirah, who also directs the Rohingya Women Development Network. “All of us refugees hope to return to our homeland in Burma, and we hope that we will see the US Government support all actions to make this dream into reality.”