McConnell on Burma: “Work Isn’t Over” For Friends of Democracy
‘The NUG’s efforts deserve the full support of the world’s oldest democracy. The pro-democracy movement must know that the United States continues to stand with them, and that we are ready to support the hard work of national reconciliation still ahead.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Burma:
“The military junta that seized power from Burma’s democratically-elected leaders back in February has kept up its campaign of brutal and violent repression.
“More than eight hundred people are now dead, and more than 5,000 others have been detained on various charges of resistance.
“Just today, the longtime leader of Burma’s democracy movement and my friend, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, stood for the beginning of a show trial.
“Other senior members of the National League for Democracy are awaiting their own appearances before the sham court. And many more protesters, journalists, and activists are filling Burma’s prisons to the brim.
“Several foreigners have been among the detained, including the Australian economist Sean Turnell, and two American journalists: Nathan Maung and Danny Fenster. The State Department has reported that both U.S. citizens were denied consular access. Mr. Maung reportedly even endured torture during his detention.
“The people of Burma are well-acquainted with the brutality of the Tatmadaw’s military rule. But the wider international community is receiving a sobering reminder of the challenges facing the country’s pro-democracy movement, and of the junta’s willingness to flout even the most basic international norms and treaty obligations.
“I appreciate the continued attention the Biden Administration is giving this crisis.
“Over the weekend, I was particularly encouraged by the G-7 leaders’ joint condemnation of the junta, and by the reiteration of a shared commitment to shutting off the flow of any assistance funds that might help the military further its repression.
“Of course, for friends of democracy – including the United States – there is more to be done to translate words into action.
“It’s time to expand the sanctions aimed at the military to include the infamous cronies who continue to make common cause with the Tatmadaw.
“It’s time for Burma’s neighbors and key trading partners to join these sanctions efforts and commit to providing increased humanitarian access and assistance, particularly from Thailand.
“It’s time for greater international scrutiny of the markets for jade and rare earth metals that give the military and other bad actors ripe targets for exploitation.
“And it’s time for international bodies like the U.N. Security Council to put Burma on the agenda and force the Tatmadaw’s supporters to defend the brutal regime in the light of day.
“So our work isn’t over. But there is reason for optimism.
“Burma’s ethnic minorities – diverse and often divided – have united behind the representative National Unity Government in peaceful opposition to military rule. And the NUG continues to broaden and deepen this coalition.
“Earlier this month, the NUG announced its policy on the status of Rohingya Muslims in the western state of Rakhine, pledging accountability for those responsible for years of violent persecution and committing to greater inclusion for all of Burma’s ethnic minorities.
“This statement represents months of work to build a cohesive, inclusive, and representative government, and the best path toward national reconciliation and justice for victims of the Tatmadaw’s violence.
“The NUG’s efforts deserve the full support of the world’s oldest democracy. The pro-democracy movement must know that the United States continues to stand with them, and that we are ready to support the hard work of national reconciliation still ahead.”
Related Issues: Burma