Colorado Reps. Ken Buck and Lauren Boebert were among a small group of Republican members of the House of Representatives who on Friday voted to oppose a nonbinding resolution condemning the military coup in Myanmar.
The House passed H. Res. 134, which condemned the violent military takeover of the Southeast Asian country that began on Feb. 1, on an overwhelming 398-14 vote, with 182 Republicans joining 216 Democrats in approving the resolution. But 14 GOP House members, including Buck, Boebert and other figures on the party’s right flank — including Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia — voted against the measure.
Last month, military forces arrested Myanmar’s democratically-elected leaders, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and declared a year-long state of emergency, bringing an end to a decade-long period of democratic transition that followed the country’s rule by a military dictatorship between 1988 and 2011. Myanmar was formerly known as Burma. More than 224 people have been killed in protests against the February coup, and thousands of others have been arrested, according to one human-rights group.
The resolution passed by the House condemned the coup, demanded that Myanmar’s military release political prisoners and “return to power all members of the civilian government,” and called on President Joe Biden to work with the international community to reinstate sanctions on the military regime.
Boebert’s office indicated that the congresswoman’s objection to the resolution concerned a brief provision calling on Biden to “ensure that United States-based social media companies, including Facebook, not allow their platforms to be used as vehicles for disinformation campaigns or advocating violence against the Burmese people.”
“The bill called on Big Tech to be the arbiter of truth,” Ben Stout, Boebert’s communications director, wrote in an email to Newsline. “Big Tech censorship is out of control and they have proven they can’t be trusted with such authorities.”
A spokesperson for Buck did not respond to a request for comment. Buck, the top Republican on a House antitrust subcommittee, has been an outspoken critic of technology giants like Google and Facebook and has called for more regulatory and legislative action to address what he calls the companies’ monopolistic practices.
Human-rights groups have long accused Facebook of not doing enough to combat propaganda and hate speech linked to what the United Nations describes as a campaign of genocide against Myanmar’s Rohingya people. “Myanmar military personnel … turned the social network into a tool for ethnic cleansing,” the New York Times reported in 2018, shortly after the company banned more than 20 individuals and groups associated with the country’s military from its platform.
Last month, news of the Myanmar coup was widely celebrated by adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory, who believed that a similar event would restore former President Donald Trump to power on March 4. “It’s going to be like Myanmar,” one Trump supporter told CNN.
Boebert — who told an interviewer in May 2020 that she hoped QAnon “is real, because it only means America is getting stronger and better,” but has since disavowed the movement — faced criticism over her own rhetoric in the run-up to the violent takeover of the U.S. Capitol by right-wing rioters on Jan. 6.