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UUSC President & CEO Tom Andrews Says No to Senate Defense Bill Authorizing Expanded Burma Military Support, Yes to Senate Amendment 607 Calling for Protections of Brutalized Rohingya

“We ask for all Senators to support Senate Amendment 607 to the National Defense Authorization Act that has been introduced by Senators Markey, Gardner and Cardin.”

“The United States can be doing much more to stop the systematic brutality being inflicted on many thousands of the Rohingya ethnic minority in Burma.  At the very least, the U.S. should not be making things worse.

“That is precisely what will happen if next week the Senate passes Amendment 607, a defense authorization bill that will expand U.S. military ties to the military of Burma – a military that continues to lay the building blocks of genocide by engaging in systematic, brutal attacks against the Rohingya.

“Today, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and John McCain (R-AZ) introduced a Senate resolution condemning the Burmese military’s violence against innocent members of the Rohingya ethnic minority, which we applaud. But their resolution will be undermined by the Senate if it passes the entire defense bill that Senator McCain’s committee will put on the floor for a vote next week As it is, that Section 1262 of the NDAA bill that McCain’s committee will introduce also includes a provision for the expansion of military-to-military engagement with the government of Burma.

“Over the past several days some 125,000 of the ethnic Rohingya population have been forced to run for their lives into neighboring Bangladesh from homes and villages destroyed by the military.

“Bangladesh Border Guards reported seeing machine guns and mortars fired by Burma’s military at those trying to flee. Hundreds of Rohingya are dead and untold numbers are being denied life-saving humanitarian aid. Many are stuck on the border where landmines were recently buried.

“A United Nations investigation earlier this year found that the military’s previous human rights violations were so systematic and widespread that they likely amount to crimes against humanity, and Burma refuses to admit an international fact-finding mission into the country to investigate these claims.

“Burma military chief Min Aung Hlaing continues to oversee disproportionate and devastating military operations that have been marked by widespread reports of arbitrary killings and burned villages.

“For the U.S. to strengthen ties to a military as it kills defenseless people, destroys their villages and denies them humanitarian aid would be unconscionable.”

“We ask for all Senators to support Senate Amendment 607 to the National Defense Authorization Act that has been introduced by Senators Markey, Gardner and Cardin.”

 

Note this post was updated for clarity on September 11, 2017.