The acting president of Myanmar’s civilian National Unity Government (NUG) has applauded the passage of the Burma Act through the US Congress – authorizing non-lethal aid to resistance forces – as a major victory in the struggle for democracy.
“The Burma Act will provide much-needed hope and support to the struggling people of our country,” Acting President Duwa Lashi La said in a statement on Friday. He thanked the US Congress, the Burmese diaspora and those of good conscience across the US who worked to get the bill approved.
“We look forward to President Biden soon signing it into law,” Duwa Lashi La said.
The Senate passed the Burma Act, part of the National Defense Authorization Act, to provide aid to the NUG and its affiliates organizations, including the National Unity Consultative Council, its people’s defense forces (PDFs) and ethnic armed organizations. But the authorized aid does not include arms. The act also aims to expand sanctions against the regime and its related businesses.
The legislation aims to prevent the junta gaining legitimacy and weapons and block its businesses from operating internationally. It now needs to be signed into law by US President Joe Biden.
The congressional approval was welcomed by pro-democracy forces as another blow against the junta after ASEAN’s exclusion of junta chief Min Aung Hlaing from its summit.
“It is a very positive bill … for the first time, officially and legally, the bill includes support for PDFs and ethnic revolutionary organizations. It will be very helpful for the revolution,” NUG spokesman U Kyaw Zaw told The Irrawaddy on Friday.
He said the NUG will work to implement the bill with the US government and Congress.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners rights group, the junta has killed at least 2,604 people and arrested more than 16,500 since the February 2021 coup.