Thursday, October 22, 2015

Subcommittee Hearing: Burma’s Challenge: Democracy, Human Rights, Peace, and the Plight of the Rohingya

The US sub-committee hearing on Burma at the House can be viewed by clicking here.
Mr. Tom Andrews of the United to End Genocide also spoke in the event, which can be read by clicking here.

Here below is a brief message that he sent me:


In two-and-a-half weeks, Burma will hold what government authorities in Burma describe as "democratic" elections.

Yesterday, thanks to the attention you've helped us raise in the media and in Congress about the plight of the Rohingya, I was invited to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee.

My message was clear: Burma's elections have no chance of being free, fair, credible, inclusive, or transparent because of the repression of the Rohingya and other minorities.

Tom Andrews testifies before Congress.

Whatever happens on the day of balloting, the fact that so many people in Burma are being systematically excluded and disenfranchised from voting – based on their ethnicity and religion – means that this election is not fair.

Hundreds of thousands of ethnic minority Rohingya Muslims who voted in the last election will not be allowed to vote simply because of their ethnic and religious identity. Growing hate speech campaigns by radical Buddhists and newly passed laws discriminating against the Rohingya increase the risk of mass atrocities.

The U.S. government knows all of this. It has spoken out against the disenfranchisement, the hate speech campaigns, and the discrimination against the Rohingya. What is missing is action.

And thanks to your support, yesterday I was able to stand in front of Congress and demand it.

Our message was heard. From the kind words from Congressman Joe Crowley to the powerful statement from Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA):

  "Many are looking at Burma's upcoming elections to gauge that troubled country's progress.

But a better yardstick is the country's abhorrent treatment of the minority Rohingya Muslims, probably the most persecuted minority group in the world."

It is critical that the Obama administration and the U.S. Congress be willing to speak the truth about conditions in Burma and act accordingly. Thanks to you, we are seeing more and more lawmakers be willing to speak that truth and stand for the Rohingya.

The stakes are high for the Rohingya of Burma and we have a long way to go, but we are making progress and getting through.

I'll keep you in the loop as we move forward up to Burma's national election and beyond. Your support means a great deal to the Rohingya and all minorities under attack in Burma.

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