In response to the Myanmar military’s alleged widespread and systematic abuses against the Rohingya people, U.S. lawmakers yesterday took a significant step towards passing new measures that would hold Myanmar’s military accountable and target their economic interests, according to a Global Witness statement.
The U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Foreign Affairs voted to approve H.R. 5819, the Burma Unified through Rigorous Military Accountability Act of 2018 (BURMA Act of 2018). The bill imposes targeted sanctions and travel restrictions on senior Myanmar military officials believed responsible for human rights abuses against the Rohingya people. The bill also limits military cooperation between the U.S. and Myanmar, supports economic and security sector reform, and encourages the continued transition of power to a civilian government.
Additionally, the bill includes a section intended to empower the civilian government in Myanmar by encouraging reform of the gemstone industry. The bill creates transparency and due diligence screening criteria for Myanmar companies producing or selling gemstone for the U.S. market and for companies importing Myanmar gemstones to the U.S. These criteria exclude companies connected to the Myanmar military.