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House Passes Bipartisan Protect Democracy in Burma Act

Today, the House of Representatives passed the Protect Democracy in Burma Act of 2021, bipartisan legislation introduced by Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA), President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Representative David Price (D-NC), Chairman of the House Democracy Partnership Majority, and Representative Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Co-Chairman of the House Democracy Partnership Minority. The legislation demonstrates bipartisan congressional concern with the military coup inBurma. It was considered and reported to the full House bu the Committee on Foreign Affairs in February, 2021.


“Min Aung Hlaing has put his political ambitions before his country and people. This military coup has not only set back the country’s democratic trajectory but also snuffed the hopes of the Burmese people for a better future,” Connolly said. “The United States and international community have roundly condemned the military’s actions and taken various steps in response. With this bill, Congress too signals its steadfast support for the Burmese people, their democratically elected leaders in detention, and the future of a democratic Burma. ”


“We all looked on in incredible shock at the Burmese military's naked power grab following the country's free and fair election of a civilian-led government. It is clear the Tatmadaw recognized – and harshly rejected – the Burmese people's repudiation of its leadership, and this is the disturbing result,” said Price. “The very foundation of Burmese democracy and, consequently, the country’s international standing, hangs in the balance. Congress must act swiftly to engage with our international partners to condemn the military coup and support a meaningful democratic transition that the people of  Burma demand.”


“Self-governance and respect for the rule of law is at the cornerstone of any democracy,”  said Buchanan. The military coup in Burma is a clear attack on these core principles and is a devastating setback for the Southeastern Asian nation. Congress must continue its steadfast support of the Burmese people and their democratically-elected leaders.”


It is estimated 26 million people voted in the country’s 3rd nationwide parliamentary elections, and the National League of Democracy won in a landslide in what had been determined as free and fair elections. Unfortunately, on February 1, 2021, Burma’s military seized control of government in a coup d’état and detained democratically elected leaders and State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. 


The Protect Democracy in Burma Act would establish as policy of the United States to engage with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and their member states to condemn the coup, urge the unconditional release of detained leaders and civil society members, and support a return to democratic transition. It also instructs the United States Government to use its voice, vote, and influence at the United Nations to hold accountable those responsible for the coup. Finally, the legislation states as the sense of Congress that the Burmese military has effectively nullified international collaboration aimed at strengthening the country’s Parliament, to include its friendship with the House Democracy Partnership.


The House Democracy Partnership (HDP) works directly with parliaments around the world to support the development of effective, independent, and responsive legislative institutions.  HDP approved a legislative strengthening partnership with Burma in 2016. Price and Connolly joined the first congressional delegation, which was organized by HDP, to meet with the new civilian-led government, led by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, and civil society leaders in May 2016.


Text of the resolution is available  here.

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