Since the 2021 military coup in Burma, the regime has escalated its brutality against those who aspire to a more democratic future. It has killed thousands of men, women and children, conducted airstrikes that have destroyed schools and places of worship and internally displaced over 1.6 million civilians.
The worsening situation in Burma represents a serious human rights crisis and increasingly a threat to regional stability, declared Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Melissa Brown in recent Congressional testimony.
To resolve the crisis in Burma, “we must push Burma's military regime to reverse course,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Brown:
“Sanctions are an important tool to promote accountability and inflict high costs on the regime for its human rights abuses and atrocities. Since the coup, we have imposed sanctions on numerous leaders of the military led State Administration Council. We have intensified our focus on key income streams that fund the regime's repression.”
“The designations of the state owned banks are severely restricting the regime's access to foreign currency, and they eliminated a channel used to purchase weapons,” noted Deputy Assistant Secretary Brown:
“We are fully prepared to intensify actions in these areas if the regime continues to inflict violence and repression on its own people. The attacks and violence must stop.”
The United States has led on the coordination of sanctions with its allies and partners, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the European Union, among others.
In addition to economic pressure, diplomacy remains important to isolating the regime and denying it international credibility, said Deputy Assistant Secretary Brown:
“President Biden underscored the importance of democracy in Burma during the ASEAN related summits in Cambodia last year. Vice President Harris, of course, did the same in Indonesia. ... Secretary of State Blinken, Counselor Chollet and other members of our leadership continue to conduct intense diplomacy on Burma, including with Indonesia as the ASEAN chair.”
The United States remains deeply committed to resolving the crisis in Burma and returning the country to a path toward democracy and respect for human rights.