Aug 25, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the third anniversary of the start of the violent campaign that displaced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya from Burma to Bangladesh, Congressmen James P. McGovern (D-MA) and Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), Co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the U.S. Congress, issued the following statement:
“Three years ago today the Burmese military began a violent campaign against the Rohingya people in Burma’s Rakhine state, forcing more than 740,000 to flee their country seeking safety. Now more a million Rohingya refugees live in Bangladesh and the Rohingya who remain in Burma face a precarious existence. The Burmese government has not addressed the root causes of the crisis in Rakhine State, including restrictions on Rohingya citizenship and deeply rooted impunity, and armed conflict has escalated in Rakhine and other states. This situation must not continue.
“As members of Congress, we have supported bipartisan, bicameral legislation to sanction leaders of the Burmese military; support safe, dignified, and voluntary repatriation of Rohingya refugees; and foster justice and accountability for the Rohingya and other ethnic and religious minorities persecuted for decades by the Tatmadaw. The BURMA Act passed the House twice with an overwhelming show of bipartisan support. The Senate should now act.
“We strongly support the leading role the U.S. government has played in providing humanitarian relief to Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi host communities, including as the largest provider of humanitarian assistance in Cox’s Bazar, and we call on other nations to continue and increase their support. We urge the Administration to make full use of existing sanctions authorities against officials responsible for grave rights abuses and corruption, and to leverage diplomacy on behalf of long-term solutions grounded in respect for the rights and dignity of the Rohingya people and other ethnic minorities in Burma.
“The Rohingya people deserve a safe and secure future. We must renew our commitment to ensuring that future.”
The bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, composed of members of the U.S. House of Representatives, promotes, defends and advocates for international human rights, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human rights instruments.