You have the power to make sure that the US continues to push for an end to atrocities in Burma. By calling your congressmen and asking them to support the renewal of sanctions on Burma, you can offer your support for the people of Burma.
Each year, the House of Representatives and Senate must vote to renew the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act (BFDA); a bill that keeps an import ban Burma. The sanctions are the last piece of leverage the US has to push the Burmese military regime towards real and lasting change. We need to renew these sanctions to ensure that hundreds of millions of American dollars don’t end up in the hands of the oppressive and corrupt military junta. More importantly, renewing the BFDA sends the message that the US government and its citizens care about protecting the human rights of the Burmese people and will stand up for those rights.
While Daw Aung San Suu Kyi may be free, there are still hundreds of political prisoners that are behind bars in Burma. Moreover, the military is still committing innumerable human rights violations and attack ethnic minority communities. The regime continues to violate international human rights codes through its rampant use of torture, sexual violence, forced labor, forced portering and illegal confiscation of land and displacement of innocent civilians. We need to send the message that until irreversible change has come to Burma, and all of its people are protected from human rights violations and abuse, we cannot and will not lift sanctions on Burma.
Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) who co-sponsored the bill recognize that the Burmese government has a lot to accomplish before it can claim to have reformed. “Over the past year, we have seen some remarkable changes in Burma after years of violence and repression…But the government of Burma still has a lot of work to do to demonstrate to us, the international community and, above all, the people of Burma that it is truly committed to reform, democratization and national reconciliation” Feinstein said.
McConnell issued a similar sentiment, stating, “The Burmese government still has not met all the necessary conditions to justify a complete repeal of all existing sanctions. Despite the unmistakable progress made by the Burmese government, now is not the time to end our ability either to encourage further governmental reform or to revisit sanctions if necessary. ” The bill has continuously garnered support across party lines because it signifies an ideal that all people can and should unite under; protecting the human rights of innocent people.
In a country like the US where political participation is not only permitted, but encouraged, it’s incredibly important for us to lend our voices to protect those who have been silenced.
What you can do:
- Check your Senators’ voting history on Burma at our Congressional Scorecard Map.
- Please take a few minutes out of your day to call your Senators and ask them to renew sanctions and the BFDA. It’s not as scary as it seems and we have a step by step guide to make it easy.