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Tell Congress: Pass the Burma Act of 2017

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"Do everything in your power to stop the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people. Pass the Burma Act of 2017. "

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    Tell Congress: Pass the Burma Act of 2017

    Since late August, the Burmese military has been executing a horrific, systematic ethnic cleansing campaign, using brutality, rape and murder, against the Rohingya people – a Muslim minority in the Buddhist-majority country. Over 604,000 refugees have poured into neighboring Bangladesh to flee the violence.1

    The United States has a long history of engagement in Burma – it was only last year that the U.S. fully lifted the sweeping, decades-old economic sanctions against the military regime.2 The sanctions were an imperfect but by-and-large successful effort by the U.S. and the international community to pressure Burma to make democratic reforms. From 2011 to 2016, the United States engaged in the process of reducing and ultimately removing sanctions both as part of a geopolitical strategy against China and to capitalize on the new markets made possible by improved trade relations with Burma.

    The progress that Burma has made over the past several decades is due in large part to economic sanctions – we know they work. In this moment of crisis for the Rohingya people, it would be inhumane and unacceptable for Congress to stand idly by. A bipartisan group of lawmakers have recently introduced legislation to address this atrocity, but it needs more support to move forward.

    Tell Congress: Do everything you can to stop the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people. Pass the Burma Act of 2017.

    The Burma Act of 2017 would hit top officials in the military government in the only way that they will understand – through aggressive sanctions that will hit their pocketbooks. We must build grassroots support for this crucial legislation now.

    Just last week, the U.S. Holocaust Museum released a report verifying that the Burmese Army is marching toward committing genocide against the Rohingya people.3 The Burma Act of 2017 would impose financial sanctions and visa bans on senior military officials in Burma. This means that U.S. banks and other financial institutions would be barred from holding their blood money, their children would be prohibited from attending U.S. colleges, and it would stop the U.S. military from providing security assistance to these war criminals.4

    The Muslim Rohingya have long been hated in a majority-Buddhist country, with conflict going back decades to the two groups fighting on different sides of World War II. At the end of August, a handful of Rohingya militants mounted an attack, and the Burmese army has responded with a systematic campaign of murder that experts describe a “textbook example” of ethnic cleansing. More than 288 villages have been burned, and bodies are still washing up on the shore of the Bay of Bengal.5

    Yet still, many in Myanmar insist nothing is going on – or it is somehow deserved. In the face of such attitudes, Congress’s failure to take action is unacceptable.

    Tell Congress: Do everything you can to stop the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people. Pass the Burma Act of 2017.

    At this pivotal moment, our leaders have a choice: respond decisively to one of the most pressing humanitarian crises in the world today by standing with those fleeing persecution and violence or turn their backs and be judged by history. We need to put pressure on Congress now to make sure they make the right choice.

    Tell Congress: Do everything you can to stop the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people. Pass the Burma Act of 2017.

    Thank you for standing against genocide.

    References:

    1. Bethany Hines, “Rohingya refugees need your help,” CNN, Nov. 13, 2017.
    2. Nyshka Chandran, “US considers slapping sanctions back on Myanmar a year after removing them,” CNBC, Oct. 24, 2017.
    3. Poppy McPherson,“US Holocaust Museum says evidence of genocide against Rohingya in Myanmar,” The Guardian, Nov. 14, 2017.
    4. Leigh Ann Caldwell and Abigail Williams, “Senators Propose Sanctions on Myanmar but Path Forward Rests With McConnell,” NBC News, Nov. 2, 2017.
    5. Hannah Beech, “Across Myanmar, Denial of Ethnic Cleansing and Loathing of Rohingya,” The New York Times, Oct. 24, 2017.
    6. Ibid.