WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman James P. McGovern, Chairman of the House Rules Committee and a leading congressional advocate for human rights, issued the following statement on the military coup d’état in Burma (Myanmar) and the related detention of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyii, President U Win Myint and an unknown number of other civilians:
“I am appalled but not surprised by the Burmese Armed Forces’ (Tatmadaw) brazen attack on democracy in Burma. The military’s illegitimate seizure of all levers of government power and the detention of duly elected leaders and other civilians confirms my old fear that their supposed commitment to a democratic transition was a façade for maintaining their own power.
“The idea that the Tatmadaw is somehow protecting democracy by suspending it for the next year is absurd – a throwback to the military dictatorships of the 20th century that have no place in today’s world. The only acceptable outcome to this coup d’état is for the military to relinquish the power they have seized. All those detained must be released immediately and unconditionally and the military must refrain from any violence against civilians in the coming days and weeks.
“I appreciate that President Biden has committed to a whole-of-government review of relations between the United States and Burma. Our engagement must be grounded in human rights. We must coordinate with like-minded governments and use all available authorities to support and empower pro-democracy actors, unions and civil society, while curtailing the military’s economic power and its ability to wage war on minority ethnic communities. Above all our response must not further harm the Burmese people who are already suffering from poverty and discrimination, COVID-19, and decades of conflict.
“Burma’s democratic transition has been fragile and far from perfect from the start. But we in the international community must not permit backsliding. America is seeing in our own country the damage done by false allegations of elections fraud. We must insist that Burma’s military leadership respect the outcome of its November elections, just as we insist on the same here at home.”