WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered remarks in the House of Representatives in support of his legislation that would hold accountable those responsible for violence against the Rohingya people and other ethnic minorities in Burma. The measure was previously part of Rep. Engel’s BURMA Act, which was approved by the Foreign Affairs Committee last week. In an overwhelming bipartisan vote, the House approved the measure as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.
Representative Engel’s floor remarks follow:
“Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
“Let me say that since August of 2017, the Burmese military has inflicted horrific violence against the Rohingya in Burma’s Rakhine State, and is today using the same tactics against the Kachin.
“The result? Seven hundred thousand refugees. I didn’t get that wrong, it’s 700,000 refugees pushed into Bangladesh—80 percent are women and children—many of whom are now victims of horrific gender-based violence. It’s the sort of treatment ethnic minorities have endured there for decades.
“This is a man-made crisis—ethnic cleansing, perhaps genocide. And to date, there has been no accountability.
“This measure would change that. It would limit U.S. military-to-military assistance with the Burmese military until we see progress on human rights and accountability. It would authorize tough financial sanctions and visa bans against military and security forces involved in human rights abuses, promote transparency, and push reform in the Burmese gem sector—a target of corrupt military influence. And it requires the Secretary of State to determine what, in addition to ethnic cleansing, might have occurred.
“This body has long stood on the side of freedom, democracy, and human rights in Burma. I urge all members to join me today in doing the same thing by supporting this measure.
“And I reserve the balance of my time.”
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