Urge the House to Pass Bill Supporting Rohingya Human Rights
The ongoing violence and persecution against the Rohingya people of Myanmar has become increasingly dire in recent months, yet it remains largely overlooked in the public eye, says an MPAC release. It adds: The recently introduced House Resolution 418 urges the government of Burma to end the persecution of the Rohingya people and to respect internationally recognized human rights for all ethnic and religious minority groups within Burma.
Introduced by Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) last month, the resolution has already garnered support from 19 members of Congress from the both sides of the aisle and awaits passage in the House Foreign Relations Committee, but needs 31 more in order to qualify for a vote on the House floor. Now is the time for all people of conscience who value human rights and religious freedom to contact their elected officials to urge them to support this resolution and send a message to the government of Myanmar.
Among the forms of human rights abuses committed by the Burmese government are: denying them citizenship, not recognizing the Rohingya as an official minority, dictating a two-child policy for them and state-police raiding and killing Rohingya in their villages indiscriminately. Adding to the travesty is the fact that this crisis is underreported due to the complicity of the Burmese government with Buddhist aggressors which ultimately does not allow human rights groups to verify the number of those killed and quantify the tragedy in numbers. With Burmese President Thein Sein denying the atrocities, the struggle of the Rohingya people continues unabated.
The crisis has spilled over to neighboring states, including Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia where Rohingya refugees have fled as a result of the ongoing violence and persecution they face in their homeland. More than 140,000 Rohingya have risked their lives and their families to reach save havens, only to be placed in detention camps along the Thai border, be subjected to human trafficking or be returned to their persecutors.
H. Res. 418 highlights the Burmese government’s denial of the Rohingya’s persecution and urges Sein to recognize and address this injustice. The resolution reads in part, “the Burma Citizenship Law of 1982 has long excluded from approved ethnic groups the Rohingya people, despite many having lived in northern Rakhine state for generations, and has thereby rendered Rohingyas stateless and vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.”
Beyond the resolution, the state of the Rohingya should be added to the Atrocities Prevention Board’s agenda. Under the mandate of the board , “the intelligence community will collect and analyze information that allows [us] to better anticipate, understand and counter atrocity threats.” Increased data collection and analysis is helpful in gaining more exposure and understanding the threats on the ground.
Additionally, in 2013, the Obama administration lifted targeted sanctions on Myanmar to support democratic reforms. If however, Sein continues to remain complicit in human rights abuses against the Rohingya, the US should consider re-issuing those sanctions.
We urge Congress to pass this bill considering our interests in preserving human rights, promoting security in the region and supporting inclusive democracies. The challenge to passing H. Res 418 is not opposition; it is lack of awareness that the bill even exists. The lack of media exposure of the crisis and bill makes it increasingly difficult to pressure members of Congress to support it.
Call members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and urge them to co-sponsor H. Res 418. We need a total of 50 co-sponsors to get the bill on the House floor for a vote and currently there are 19 co-sponsors. Thank those members who have already co-sponsored the bill and urge remaining members to support the bill by co-sponsoring it.
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