WASHINGTON—Today, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs unanimously approved Ranking Member Eliot L. Engel’s legislation to hold accountable those responsible for the ongoing violence against the Rohingya people in Burma. The BURMA Act, which Representative Engel introduced earlier this week along with a bipartisan group of 66 cosponsors, would authorize tough financial sanctions and visa bans against military and security forces involved in abuses of the Rohingya, the Kachin, and other ethnic groups that have endured decades of violence and suffering at the hands of military authorities in Burma.
“The Rohingya crisis is man-made. It is ethnic cleansing, many believe it is genocide. Nothing has been done to hold perpetrators accountable. The Burmese civilian government has become more closed, not more open, since this tragedy. And meanwhile the Trump Administration seems reticent to hold perpetrators accountable and publicly call for justice,” said Rep. Engel at today’s markup of the legislation. “That’s unacceptable. It’s a betrayal of our values. When we see this sort of abuse, there must be consequences.”
In Depth: The BURMA Act
- Provide authorities to carry out financial sanctions and visa bans against military and security forces complicit in abuses of the Rohinyga, the Kachin, the Chin, the Karen, and other ethnic groups.
- Limit American military engagement with Burma’s military until evidence of significant progress on accountability, civilian control, and adherence to human rights.
- Encourage civil society and civilian government reform efforts in Burma’s gemstone sector by developing a “white list” of entities in Burma that do meet international standards on transparency, human rights, and environmental protection.
- Require a determination from the Secretary of State on what has occurred beyond ethnic cleansing, such as crimes against humanity or genocide, and report to Congress on those findings.
- Call on the civilian government of Burma to do what is in its power to help stop this crisis, such as reforming the 1982 citizenship law that would restore rights to many of the Rohingya who were disenfranchised.
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