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Rohingya crisis: US lawmakers call for sanctions against Myanmar's Army, suspension of military aid

Washington: A bipartisan group of 21 American Senators have called for sanctions against Myanmar and suspension of military aid in the wake of more than 500,000 Rohingyas fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh due to alleged human rights violations by the security forces.

Rohingya Musllims fleeing from Myanmar. Reuters

Rohingya Muslims fleeing from Myanmar. Reuters

In a letter to Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, the Senators called on Myanmar government to immediately end its ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingyas, permit safe access to Myanmar for journalists, humanitarians, and United Nations fact-finding mission personnel; and work to address the root of this conflict by affirming support for the report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State led by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan.

The bipartisan letter by members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was signed by 21 senators. The letter calls for "tangible actions against the Myanmarese government to end the violence, help the Myanmarese people, and make clear that there will be consequences for those who commit such atrocities against civilians."

The signatories of the letter include senators Todd Young, Jeff Merkley, Susan Collins, Ben Cardin, Thom Tillis, Patty Murray, Marco Rubio.

The senators believe that the Myanmarese government will not take the steps without significant international pressure.

They have urged Haley to work to suspend all international military weapons transfers to the Myanmar's military and to impose strong multilateral sanctions against specific senior military officials associated with the gross human rights abuses.

"We also ask that you request the United Nations to launch an investigation to document human rights abuses that will facilitate holding perpetrators in the Myanmarese government and its security forces accountable," the letter said.

"To accomplish these objectives, we encourage you and Secretary General Antonio Guterres to travel to Myanmar and Bangladesh to bring attention to this crisis. We also ask you to push for a strong United Nations Security Council resolution condemning the ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya," it said.

Early this week, a bipartisan group of as many as 41 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling on the United States to take significant actions to stop the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas in Myanmar.

In the letter, lawmakers asked the US take further diplomatic steps to bring the persecution of the Rohingya people to an end by declining to grant any visas to members of Myanmar's security services until humanitarian access is granted to those displaced in Myanmar.

They also urged the Secretary of State to utilise existing sanctions laws with respect to those engaged in human rights abuses, and encouraging countries to suspend arms sales to Myanmar.

The letter also urges the Trump administration to support the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State that carried out a year-long study into conflict in the area.
"We ask that you take meaningful steps with respect to the Myanmarese military and other entities engaged in abuses," the lawmakers said.

"At a minimum, we trust that you will suspend all waivers of visa ineligibility pursuant to the Block Burmese Jade Act until the military allows unfettered humanitarian access to internally displaced persons in northern Rakhine State," they said.


Updated Date: Oct 21, 2017 14:07 PM

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