At the end of last week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., joined with other members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee to urge President Joe Biden to help preserve democracy in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
Rubio joined U.S. Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., Bob Menendez, D-NJ, and Jim Risch, R-Idaho, in leading the letter.
On February 1, the Burmese armed forces, also known as Tatmadaw, overturned the results of Burma’s November 2020 elections. They seized power in a military coup and detained the country’s democratically elected leaders, including State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint. Previously, multiple international bodies, as well as investigators associated with the U.S. Department of State, have determined that there is evidence that the military-led abuses against the Rohingya people in Burma constitute crimes against humanity and genocide.
In a letter, the senators outline key steps for the Biden administration to take in its efforts related to Burma:
- Urge the immediate release of political prisoners, journalists, and members of civil society detained in association with the military coup
- Impose targeted sanctions on the senior leadership of the Tatmadaw and other military-affiliated individuals
- Push for multilateral economic and diplomatic pressure with our European and Indo-Pacific allies
- Press for quick and serious United Nations consideration of the situation in Burma using the United States’ position on the U.N. Security Council
- Remain engaged with partners in Burma, particularly civil society organizations
- Urge protection of the roughly 600,000 ethnic-Rohingya who still live in Rakhine State inside Burma
“Given the Tatmadaw’s long history of human rights violations and suppression of democracy, there is no reason to believe Burma’s military leaders will return the country to democratic rule without strong and sustained international pressure,” the senators wrote. “We thank you for your leadership on this matter and stand ready to work with you to respond to this grave turn of events in Burma.”
U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Ben Cardin, D-Mary., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Tim Kaine, D-Va., Jeff Merkley, D-Oreg., Jack Reed, D-RI, Brian Schatz, D-Hi., Thom Tillis, R-NC, and Chris Van Hollen, D-Mary., also signed the letter.