Deputy U.S. Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council
New York, New York
June 13, 2022
Special Envoy Heyzer, thank you for presentation today and your work to meet with all parties, push for implementation of the ASEAN 5-point consensus, and facilitate humanitarian access to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in the country.
In the 17 months since the military coup derailed Myanmar’s democratic transition, we have seen the regime escalate a brutal crackdown on the people of Myanmar, killing over 1,900 – including women and children – displacing over half a million from their homes, detaining thousands, and reportedly torturing and committing sexual violence against those in custody. There are also reports of the jailing and denial of medical treatment to over a dozen mentally and physically disabled persons. The regime has shown no sign of willingness to negotiate and continues its attempts to consolidate power at the expense of the people of Myanmar.
Unfortunately, those who led the military’s coup are many of the same individuals responsible for abuses against members of Myanmar’s religious and ethnic minority groups, including genocide and crimes against humanity against Rohingya. Ongoing actions to violently suppress dissent and exert control are a continuation of the Burmese military’s history of atrocities against the people of Myanmar.
In March, Secretary Blinken determined members of Myanmar’s military committed genocide and crimes against humanity against Rohingya. We see it in the segregation of Rohingya into internally displaced persons camps in Rakhine State, the requirement that all Rohingya households register with the government and Myanmar’s 1982 citizenship law, which effectively excluded Rohingya from citizenship and denied them full political rights.
The United States stands up for religious freedom for Rohingya and people around the world. We will keep working alongside other governments, multilateral organizations, and civil society to do so.
We remain the global leader in our response to the Rohingya crisis. We are supporting efforts to provide justice and accountability for Rohingya, including by supporting the work of the UN’s Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar.
We are deeply troubled by the ongoing reports of human rights abuses, including the increase in gender-based violence. The increased violence and ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic have enhanced the risks faced by women and girls across Myanmar. Women and girls in areas where fighting is ongoing are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence, arbitrary detention, and forced labor. The United States continues to call for an immediate end to the violence along with accountability and justice for the victims.
We continue to pursue multiple channels to provide humanitarian assistance and COVID-19 vaccines. We work closely with international organizations and regional partners to ensure our aid reaches all those in need, without discrimination. We have been horrified that the regime blocked the delivery of humanitarian aid, while targeting medical and aid workers. Therefore, we are supporting efforts by ASEAN, the UN, and other key partners to facilitate the effective delivery of aid.
The military coup and horrific violence in Myanmar have closed the door for large-scale voluntary, safe return of refugees to Myanmar. Conditions conducive to the voluntary, sustainable, and dignified return of Rohingyas to Rakhine State are those that we have called for since the coup – a cessation of violence, respect for the will and interests of the people of Myanmar, and a return to the democratic path.