Human rights group to Senate: Do the right thing for Rohingya
Proposal to expand military aid to Burma will worsen Rohingya crisis in Burma
Jan Dragin, Dragin Communications, 24/7, 011 339 236-0679
Shayna Lewis, UUSC, 617-301-4333
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.— Thursday, September 14, 2017— As Senate deliberations continue today on the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) human rights advocates continued to push for the Senate to drop the original bill’s controversial provision to expand U.S. military funding to Burma (Myanmar).
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Andrews said, “We appreciate Senator McCain’s commitment to drop the expansion of military support to Burma as the Burmese military continues its brutal campaign to ethnically cleanse the Rohingya from its country.”
McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in his press statement late Tuesday that he “can no longer support expanding military-to-military cooperation [with Burma] given the worsening humanitarian crisis and human rights crackdown against the Rohingya people, and will seek to remove this language when the Senate begins debating the NDAA.”
The Cambridge, Mass.-based UUSC is a longtime advocate for human rights in Burma and particularly for those of the Muslim Rohingya, one of the world’s most persecuted people.
A former Congressman from Maine who served on the House Armed Services Committee, Andrews said, “We and our human rights partners have been watching Washington’s responses to the Rohingya crisis very closely. We’ve been urging more aggressive U.S. action pressing Burma to stop one of the world’s most severe humanitarian crises.”
Andrews also praised members of the Senate who had introduced an amendment to the proposed defense bill to stop the expansion. “Senators Ed Markey, Cory Gardner and Ben Cardin provided the leadership necessary to challenge the shortsighted provision that would have done the wrong thing at precisely the wrong time.
“Most of all, we are deeply appreciative of all the Americans who reached out to Senators on behalf of the Rohingya of Burma. Your voices – on behalf of the voiceless – are being heard on Capitol Hill,” he said.
As Burmese military continue to brutalize and kill Rohingya civilians and torch villages in northern Rakhine state, nearly 400,000 Rohingya have fled across the border to burgeoning camps in Bangladesh. “This unconscionable action by the country’s military has now produced not just one but two humanitarian disasters: one in Burma, the other in Bangladesh,” Andrews said.