Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offered praise Wednesday for the Biden administration over its response to the military coup in Myanmar.
McConnell, who has spoken extensively with deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi over the past several years, touted moves the White House and State Department have taken to address the coup, including slapping sanctions on companies that support the ruling military junta and calling out human rights abuses.
“I have been in close touch with the Biden administration on Burma, discussing how to best support opposition to the junta while standing up new targeted sanctions and export licensing bans to hit the leaders of the military coup where it hurts: in the wallet. And I’ve been encouraged by the administration’s swift response,” McConnell said at a virtual discussion hosted by the conservative Heritage Foundation.
“Now the junta is listed alongside regimes like the ones in China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba and Syria, and subject to the strictest military end-user controls. The United States has marked the junta’s most prominent generals and holding companies for additional crippling prohibitions,” he said.
The praise comes as McConnell and President Biden find themselves at loggerheads over a slew of issues, including infrastructure, the need for a commission to study the Jan. 6 insurrection and more.
However, McConnell’s stance as a longtime advocate for democracy in Myanmar, also known as Burma, closely aligns his views with those of Biden’s White House.
The Biden administration has repeatedly panned the Feb. 1 coup that ousted Suu Kyi and imposed a harsh military rule in the country.
McConnell encouraged further action by the Biden administration beyond sanctions, including corralling support at the United Nations and among allies for the exiled, democratically elected government of Myanmar.
“They’re waiting for the international community to join in wider condemnation of this forced military rule, and to recognize and support the democratically-elected National Unity Government. They’re waiting for the UN Security Council to overcome its most intransigent members and levy serious sanctions and arms embargoes of its own. And they’re waiting for much needed humanitarian aid for the growing number of internally displaced persons along the border with Thailand,” McConnell said.
“But unfortunately, to Moscow or Beijing, military intimidation and brutal suppression of dissent, including dissolving opposition political parties, aren’t outrageous violations of fundamental norms,” he added. “So if consensus cannot be found at the UN Security Council, then the United States and its Democratic partners should force China or Russia to veto measures intended to restore democracy in Burma, clarifying for the world who stands with the people of Burma on the right side of history.”
More than 4,300 people in Myanmar have been arrested, charged or sentenced, and more than 825 have been killed by the junta since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.