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US lawmakers launch congressional caucus on Myanmar to bolster support for pro-democracy fighters

Chaired by Democrat Betty McCollum of Minnesota and Republican Bill Huizenga from Michigan, the bipartisan caucus aims to bolster congressional support for people in Myanmar fighting against the junta, which deposed the Southeast Asian nation’s democratically-elected leaders on February 1, 2021.

Congressional caucuses are groups of members of Congress who meet to coordinate on common legislative goals. There are often hundreds of caucuses in a given congressional session, though some are more active than others.

“This caucus will serve as an important conduit for Burmese communities across the United States and look for ways to support human rights and democratic representation for the people of Burma,” Huizenga said on Thursday, using Myanmar’s former name of Burma.

The two co-chairs also added in a press release that the caucus will “address and advocate for issues directly impacting Burma, the Burmese people, and Burmese communities … across the United States”.

The humanitarian crisis in the country is at a level that urgently needs attention from congressional leaders, they said.

On Wednesday, the ruling junta extended a state of emergency that has been in place since 2021 – months after a shock offensive by armed ethnic groups took territory near China’s border formerly under the military’s control.

The United Nations estimates that 2.3 million people have been displaced in Myanmar since the coup, and thousands have been killed, as the junta’s forces continue to fight militias allied with a shadow government and ethnic minority armies.

In response to the crisis, the US Congress passed the Burma Act in 2022, which authorises technical and non-lethal aid for Myanmar’s ethnic armed groups, the opposition shadow government and