WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley — a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a leading voice on supporting democracy and human rights in Burma — issued the following statement after the Burmese military executed four pro-democracy leaders:
“The execution of revered pro-democracy leaders Ko Jimmy, Phyo Zayar Thaw, Hla Myo Aung, and Aung Thura Zaw following sham trials is appalling and tragically confirms that the junta’s brutality knows no bounds. Since its illegal coup on February 1, 2021, the Burmese military has killed the over 2,000 of its own civilians.
“The international community must bring all pressure to bear to end the junta’s horrific violence against its own people and restore democracy to Burma. In light of these murders, the Senate must immediately pass the BURMA Act to impose further sanctions on the junta. In the meantime, the Biden Administration should use the tools it has in place now to impose additional sanctions – especially on military leaders who have not yet been held accountable, those who are responsible for the deaths of these democracy activists, and the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, which is providing revenue to the junta.
“There are also diplomatic steps to take to fully isolate the Burmese regime. The United States and our partners must continue to further elevate the profile of the National Unity Government. And the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should suspend or expel Burma from the group and not recognize any elections held by the junta under military rule.
“A year and a half after the violent overthrow of Burma’s democracy, it is abundantly clear that the country’s military leadership is only growing more ruthless. We must stop this tragic trajectory before even more innocent lives are lost and pro-democracy voices silenced.”
In 2017, Merkley led the first congressional delegation to Burma and Bangladesh to investigate the Rohingya genocide.