Conditions Worsening in Burma, Urge Tougher US Policy: Lawmakers

Conditions Worsening in Burma

U.S Secretary of State John Kerry and the Burmese President Thein Sein at the Asean Summit in Brunei last year. (photo: Simon Roughneen / The Irrawaddy)

WASHINGTON – More than 70 U.S. lawmakers say conditions in Burma have taken a sharp turn for the worse and want Secretary of State John Kerry to warn its government that could seriously damage bilateral relations.

In a letter to Kerry obtained by The Associated Press on Friday, the House members, both Democrats and Republicans, say that sectarian violence has spread, and that President TheinSein’s government seems to be catering to and stoking anti-Muslim sentiment. They also voice concern about military abuses against ethnic minorities, the recent jailing of journalists, and the need for constitutional reform.

The Obama administration has counted its support for former pariah state Burma’s shift from direct military rule as one of its principal foreign policy achievements, but the letter reflects mounting congressional concern over the direction the Southeast Asian nation has taken after Washington suspended its toughest sanctions in 2012.

The lawmakers call on Kerry to sanction those complicit in abuses and atrocities, and not make further concessions to the reformist government unless there’s serious progress.

“Just as the beginning of the reform process required a calibrated reassessment of U.S. policy three years ago, recent disturbing developments call for a significant recalibration now,” the letter says.

Kerry is expected to visit Burma for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum being held in Naypyidaw on Aug. 10, and also hold bilateral meetings with Burmese officials.

The letter is dated Thursday. Signatories include Democrat Rep. Joe Crowley, a prominent congressional voice on Burma, and Republican Rep. Steve Chabot, who chairs a House panel that oversees policy toward Asia, and the top-ranking members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Last week another key congressional voice, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, called for Burma to reform its constitution to allow opposition leader Aung San SuuKyi to run for president and for the military to submit to civilian rule. But he also supported U.S. engagement with Burma’s military.

5 Responses to Conditions Worsening in Burma, Urge Tougher US Policy: Lawmakers

  1. China is countering the American attempt to pivot in Asia very effectively. The Chinese now control the nine-dashed-line in the South China Seas and three countries in mainland Southeast Asia; Laos, Cambodia and Burma. They are also backing the latest Thai military junta. ASEAN is pretty much dismantled by China.
    People in Burma don’t want to talk about the Dragon in the room for three reasons:
    1. Fear (of the PLA and UWSA)
    2. Shame (Burmese want to be proud of their country that is now owned by the Chinese)
    3. Corruption (just ask Than Shwe and Tay Za and all these rich people)
    4. Chinese propaganda (the entertainment industry is brain-washed by the Chinese, and the anti-Rohingya movement was instigated by pro-Chinese anti-West elements to divert attention away from the Chinese invasion of Burma)

  2. Unwavering support for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her selfless devotion towards enabling Burma to rejoin the family of free nations. Changing clause # 436 of the Burmese military’s constitution might have some domino affect. Strictly, only freely elected (not selected) Representatives should change or modify Burma’s only legal constitution , written in 1947–48. Hopefully a true Federal Union of Burma will emerge with a Central Govt., made up of representatives from the different States and Divisional Governments. Not State Govt.s appointed by the central Govt. as in U Nu’s time.

  3. McConnell sums it up. Main issue here is for Aung San Suu Kyi to be president so that she can reliably rectify all the necessary rules and laws and contracts which she will then ask the people of the country to “honor” as she does with the Latpadaung farmers. As snakes can see each other’s legs, current guys will smile and nod and then they will default as one consistant feature of Burmese military has been trachery. Even enticement to the junior brass with “American” technology and shining killing implements could not sway the balance now, shame!

    This round, Than Shwe has won already.

  4. US Law makers should think of why United States gave -two -ex USCG Missile Frigates to Bangladesh very recently.WHY?

    US Law makers has to talk John Kerry -Tell Bangladesh to think of birth control,stop crossing the border illegally and stop illegal supporting to the Islamic criminals inside Burma from Islamic groups by hondi.

    Burma will not allow dangerous camel nose in Burmese tent.

  5. US should cooperate with military and change their mind set to democracy.
    Burmese military should be given traning in US same as before. Present constitution should make way to become Aung San Suu Kyi as president so that real rule of law and other democratic principles will follow as soon.

    No more violence within the country, Muslims and Buddhists are living in this country side by side since the centuries ago. All minorits groups
    shall be treated fairly in every respect.

    US need to present in the Indian Ocean so that there can not to owrry of
    power rising from China within the region. Geo-politically Burma is very strategic in this region so Arakan Zone should be developed by western power so that democratic systrem can be saved.

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