Leading global Jewish human rights group urges Senators to protect Burma’s minority groups
Rori Kramer, Director of Government Affairs for American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the leading global Jewish human rights organization, issued the following statement as the U.S. Congress failed to include language promoting justice and accountability for ethnic minorities in Burma (Myanmar) in the National Defense Authorization Act:
“We are deeply disappointed that the U.S. Senate leadership failed to act on ending human rights violations in Burma by passing up a chance to include demands for justice and accountability for the Rohingya, Kachin, Shan, Karen, Chin, Rakhine and many other ethnic minorities in Myanmar in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The House of Representatives, on the other hand, showed overwhelming bipartisan support and leadership earlier this year by passing the BURMA Act, 394 to 21 and by including strong similar language in their version of the NDAA. Such legislative language is crucial to ending persecution and discrimination against the Rohingya, Shan, Karen, Kachin, Chin, Rakhine and other ethnic groups in Burma. By excluding mention of Burma’s ethnic minorities in the final version of the legislation, the Senate failed to do the right thing and stand with the Rohingya people seeking justice for the atrocities they have experienced.
The legislation passed by the House would have sent a strong message to the Burmese government by sanctioning leaders of the Burmese military for their participation in atrocities; demanding safe, dignified, and voluntary repatriation of Rohingya refugees; and, promoting efforts to achieve justice for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
We applaud the U.S. House for repeatedly championing this issue; we thank Representatives Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Steve Chabot (R-OH) for their moral leadership to advance justice for the Rohingya people.
The Senate now has a pressing responsibility to support the Rohingya people and ethnic minorities in Burma in their pursuit of justice and accountability. Senators must pass similar legislation without delay and send a clear, unified message to the Burmese military that the United States will not stay silent in the face of genocide and other atrocities. We also thank the champions of this legislation in the Senate, Senators Cardin (D-MD) and Young (R-IN) and others for their efforts to include the Burma bill in the NDAA.
As the leading global Jewish organization supporting human rights in Burma, we will not stand by while the Rohingya people are targeted for genocide. We know from our own history the importance of speaking out unequivocally to defend minorities facing state-sanctioned hate and violence. We will continue to work with all ethnic and religious minorities in Burma to address the culture of impunity that has fostered years of human rights violations and mass atrocities.
About American Jewish World Service’s work in Burma
For more than 17 years, AJWS has supported the human rights of ethnic minorities in Burma, including the Rohingya people. AJWS provides direct financial support to more than 30 human rights organizations in Burma that have been working to advance the rights of minority ethnic groups and to create a truly pluralistic and democratic society. Please read more about our work in Burma here.
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