Over one year ago, Burma’s military launched a coup that slammed the door shut on Burma’s recent democratic opening. “Today, we see a Burma that is unrecognizable from the country we knew one year ago.” said Craig Hart, USAID Deputy Administrator for Asia, in recent Congressional testimony. “Despite significant obstacles, the people of Burma have not given up, and we stand with them in support of democracy.”
Following the coup, USAID shifted $42.4 million in assistance from activities that would have benefited the government to direct support of the people of Burma. This includes providing life-saving services for those fighting COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. USAID also provides urgent humanitarian assistance to hundreds of thousands of conflict-affected and displaced people across Burma, a difficult challenge given the regime’s severe restrictions on access for impartial humanitarian organizations.
Since the coup, the regime has killed over 1,600 people — among them children, journalists, and aid workers — and arrested thousands more. “Violence is escalating, and the polarization between the regime and the diverse groups opposing the coup and the regime is intensifying,” warned Deputy Administrator Hart.
The restoration of the path to democracy is USAID’s overarching priority in Burma. USAID partners with democratic stakeholders to build a common vision for an inclusive, multiparty democracy. These partners include the pro-democracy movement, ethnic organizations, civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations, both secular and religious; and like-minded members of the private sector.
To preserve what little democratic space remains, USAID provides grants to independent media houses and journalists to help maintain the free flow of information despite a deteriorating media environment.
USAID partners are working closely with local communities to equip pro-democracy activists, human rights defenders, journalists and ethnic minorities to strengthen their peaceful struggle for a democratic future. USAID is providing support to human rights defenders and pro-democracy groups. Through this work, USAID is helping equip civil society with the tools they need to respond to human rights violations and prevent future mass atrocities.
USAID joins the global chorus condemning the coup, military violence, and unjust detentions of people from all walks of life who have protested the brutal repression of Burma’s military. USAID will continue to look for new opportunities to support the people of Burma as they work to regain their freedoms.