US House condemns Myanmar coup, urges freeing of detainees

The U.S. House on Friday condemned the military takeover in Myanmar, demanding the country’s junta release all the people it has detained and allow journalists to work freely.

Myanmar’s generals must allow the elected Parliament unseated by the Feb. 1 coup to resume its work, lawmakers said in a resolution.

“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,” Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat, said of separate legislation approved Thursday, committing the U.S. to work with Asia states to restore democracy in Burma. Burma is another name for Myanmar.

The U.S. Congress was signaling its “steadfast support for the Burmese people, their democratically elected leaders in detention, and the future of a democratic Burma,” Connolly said in a statement.

Myanmar’s military rounded up political and elected leaders on Feb. 1, hours before members of a newly elected parliament were due to take their seats. The coup interrupted a young, internationally backed democracy in the country, after a half-century of authoritarian, isolated military rule.

Security forces since the coup have killed dozens and detained more than 2,000 people, according to the count of a human rights group, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

At least 38 journalists were among those detained. That includes Thein Zaw of the Associated Press. Security forces took him into custody Feb. 27 as he covered a protest.

Friday’s resolution calls on Myanmar’s military leaders to allow press freedom and “unfettered reporting from local, national and international media.”

Rep. Andy Levin, a Michigan Democrat, introduced Friday’s resolution. It passed 398-14, with Republicans casting all 14 opposing votes.

The United Nations, United States and other governments and international organizations have called for reversal of the coup.

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