The alleged ethinc cleansing of Rohingya people has become an issue of global concern. In a resolution on Tuesday, the US House of Representatives on Wednesday condemned the alleged “ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya Muslims. The House also called on the leadership of Myanmar to stop attacks on the minorities in Rakhine state of the country, where unrest has forced over 600,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh and also in parts of India. This is the strongest criticism of the ruling administration of the Buddhist-majority country – Myanmar. Here are highlights of the resolution:
- The resolution urged for immediate restoration of humanitarian access to Rakhine state. “This slaughter must end, and our resolution ought to send a strong message to Burmese leaders that their commitment to restoring democracy will be judged by their respect for the individual rights and freedoms of all people living within Burma’s borders, no matter their faith or ethnicity,” Democratic party whip in the House Steny H Hoyer said.
- The resolution was introduced by Congressmen Joe Crowley and Eliot Engel, condemning the “horrific actions” of Myanmar’s military and security forces and calling for an immediate cessation of violence.
- The resolution also calls for Aung San Suu Kyi (Myanmar’s de facto leader) to exercise moral leadership, something that’s needed
now more than ever, Engel said, adding “We reject the Army’s claims that what’s taking place in
Burma is a so-called counterterrorism measure — that’s nonsense. It’s a textbook ethnic cleansing, that’s what it
- Engel further said, “We should also encourage other governments to stay engaged and continue to address the pressing needs of these
refugees’ needs that will only grow as long as this situation remains unresolved.”
- Congresswoman Betty McCollum, who had visited the refugee camps in Bangladesh last month, said, “This resolution is an important first step in demonstrating that Congress will not tolerate human rights abuses against Rohingyas. As our delegation saw, there is a
path forward. The Burmese government and military must fully implement the recommendations of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s advisory commission.”
- Engel said, “Bangladesh deserves our deep gratitude for opening its doors to the Rohingya at a time when our government slams the
door shut…The governments of Burma and Bangladesh have struck a deal to begin repatriating Rohingya next month, but it’s not
yet clear that anyone is interested in returning right now.”
- State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said: The US urges an immediate end to violence, restoration of the rule of law, countrywide access for the UN Fact-Finding Mission, immediate humanitarian and media access to affected areas, and guaranteed and verifiably safe, voluntary, and dignified return for those who want to return to their homes.
- Congressman Steve Chabot said: Rohingyas had long been at the fringe of Burmese society and it is no secret that the Burmese military regards them as outsiders who don’t belong in Burma at all. He alleged, “That is why they used attacks in August, by a rogue group of Rohingya, as a pretext to terrorise the entire Rohingya population.”
- Chabbot further alleged, “Together, these atrocities amount to what has been called a ‘textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
The UN estimates that over 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled across the border into Bangladesh, triggering a grave humanitarian crisis in the country.