By Josh Leach on September 27, 2019
In the evening of Tuesday, September 24, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in overwhelming numbers to pass the Burma Unified through Rigorous Military Accountability (BURMA) Act of 2019 (H.R. 3190). This bill would provide long-overdue accountability for the Burmese military’s genocidal expulsion of the Rohingya people in August 2017 and numerous war crimes against other ethnic groups.
Through imposing targeted sanctions on military officials and military-owned assets and companies in Burma, the bill would also cut off sources of profit that the Burmese military uses to fund its atrocities. The House’s decision to approve these measures is in line with the repeated recommendations of Rohingya leaders and UN human rights observers, who urge the financial isolation of the Burmese military.
The 394 votes in favor of the BURMA Act in the House demonstrate the breadth of bipartisan support for measures to hold the Burmese military accountable. The bill was passed with votes from hundreds of members of both major parties, coming from all parts of the country. Moreover, public support for this bill is only increasing with time. Several offices that opposed similar measures in a previous vote in 2018, came out in favor this time.
This massive show of support sends a clear message to the Senate that the U.S. public demands action on the Burmese military’s atrocities. No one should be allowed to profit from genocide, and U.S. companies should not be doing business with militaries responsible for gross human rights violations. While passage of the bill by the House is a positive step, it will not become law until it is also passed by the Senate and signed by the President. UUSC supporters can contact your senators today to ask them to pass equivalent legislation, imposing targeted sanctions on Burmese officials complicit in crimes against humanity.
UUSC supporters have taken action in favor of the BURMA Act in the House and the similar Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act in the Senate each time they have been introduced in the last two Congresses. Tuesday’s historic vote shows that these efforts, in coalition with our Burmese partners and allies in the U.S., have helped to make a difference. Congress should unite swiftly to pass these long-awaited measures into law.
Photo Credit: Azimul Hassan
About UUSC: Guided by the belief that all people have inherent worth and dignity, UUSC advances human rights globally by partnering with affected communities who are confronting injustice, mobilizing to challenge oppressive systems, and inspiring and sustaining spiritually grounded activism for justice. We invite you to join us in this journey toward realizing a better future!