Human rights watch groups praise new legislation

06/10/2021 Washington, DC (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that a bipartisan group of members of Congress and senators on Tuesday evening introduced a law to sanction the Burmese military for human rights violations, allow humanitarian funding and promote democracy in Myanmar. The bill, introduced by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), already enjoys broad bipartisan support around Capitol Hill.

The law allows for targeted sanctions against those who helped organize the February 1 coup and who, in the months that followed, cracked down on human rights. The Burmese army, or Tatmadaw, has been engaged in serious human rights violations for decades, especially against the country’s ethnic and religious minorities. In the months following the coup, the Tatmadaw killed over 1,100 civilians and imprisoned over 7,000 others.

In addition, the bill creates a legal framework to support the pro-democracy movement in Myanmar. This includes the authorization to ban the importation of gemstones from Burma to the United States and the creation of a new position in the State Department to coordinate American and international efforts on Burma.

On a humanitarian level, the bill authorizes support for civil society and humanitarian efforts in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Thailand, “and the surrounding region” where a severe humanitarian crisis is developing as the Tatmadaw displaces hundreds. thousands of Burmese from their homes. Some analysts pointed out that the language did not specifically include language support efforts in Malaysia and India, which currently host hundreds of thousands of refugees.

The bill also puts pressure on the State Department to determine whether Tatmadaw’s campaign against the predominantly Muslim Rohingya population constitutes genocide, as claimed by the UN and many deprived watchdog bodies. ‘man.

“The United States must do more to support and protect the Burmese people and send a clear signal to the Burmese military”, said Meeks, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee and introduced the bill in the House. Cardin, who introduced a complementary bill in the Senate, agreed, saying “The United States must not be indifferent to the fate of Burma… We stand in solidarity with the Burmese people and condemn the violence that has been perpetrated against them.

HR5497 in the House and S.2937 in the Senate, the bill is known as the Birma Unified through Rigorous Military Accountability (BURMA) Act of 2021. Burma is an alternate name for Myanmar.

Human rights watchdogs and minority groups have praised the legislation. “As the Tatmadaw continues its campaign of violence against its own people, the Burma law shows that the international community has not forgotten its commitment to the people of Myanmar,” said Zo Tum Hmung, executive director of the Chin Association of Maryland, an advocacy group. “We appreciate the efforts of Congressman Meeks and Senator Cardin on this issue and hope that it passes quickly with broad bipartisan support.”

The ICC and the Chin Association of Maryland have been working together over the past few weeks, holding meetings on Capitol Hill to garner support for the bill.

“The international community must vigorously reject the Tatmadaw”, said Jay Church, ICC’s advocacy manager for Southeast Asia. “As the Tatmadaw fights for international recognition, bills like the BURMA Act help remind the world of the true nature of the Tatmadaw. He has embarked on a decades-long campaign to eradicate minority ethnic and religious communities from the country. He must be stopped before he can do any more damage.

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