US Congressional Panel: End Persecution of Muslims in Burma

 Myanmar, Burma, The Irrawaddy, Rohingya, US, United States, Congress, House of Representatives, resolution, House Foreign Affairs Committee, Washington, Rakhine, Arakan State

Rohingya Muslims, displaced by communal violence in Arakan State, carry wood on a road outside Sittwe. (Photo: Reuters)

WASHINGTON — The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday called for an end to persecution of Burma’s minority Rohingya Muslims in one of the strongest US congressional criticisms yet of Burma’s reformist government.

The committee is charged with overseeing US foreign policy, and the resolution, which was passed unanimously, also urges the United States and the wider international community to press Burma to protect ethnic and religious minorities.

Burma’s ambassador to Washington rejected allegations of mistreatment against minorities and said the government won’t tolerate incitement to religious hatred.

The prospects of the full House taking up the resolution remain uncertain, but it reflects concern in Congress over the outbreaks of communal violence in the country as it shifts toward democracy after decades of direct military rule. It also underscores growing congressional skepticism over the Obama administration’s engagement policy.

Since mid-2012, close to 280 people, mostly Rohingya, have died in Buddhist-Muslim clashes in western Arakan State. Some 140,000 Rohingya have been forced into overcrowded camps, and tens of thousands have fled by boat.

Republican committee chairman Ed Royce said Burma can’t claim progress on reforms if it does not improve treatment of the stateless Rohingya. He said the US State Department should “take off the rose-colored glasses.”

“We cannot embrace diplomatic reconciliation with the government of Burma while human rights conditions in that country have deteriorated,” Royce said.

Burma has earned an end to its diplomatic isolation and sanctions relief by undertaking its most significant political and economic reforms in 50 years. Over the past two years, Burma has released hundreds of political prisoners and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been elected to Parliament.

There’s been bipartisan support for the US administration’s engagement with Burma, but the goodwill is starting to ebb.

The quasi-civilian government of President Thein Sein faces growing criticism, most recently over its expulsion from Arakan State of the aid agency Doctors Without Borders, which provides health services for 700,000 people there, including camp inmates.

On Monday, a US-based activist group led by a former Democratic congressman, Tom Andrews, reported after visiting the camps that Rohingya face a life-threatening lack of medical care and live in fear of attack. Andrews contended that combined with a climate of rising Buddhist nationalism, there are warning signs of genocide in Burma.

Burma Ambassador Kyaw Myo Htut rejected that report, saying the allegations in it were “completely groundless.” He said the government is “rendering necessary assistance and protection to ensure religious freedom in the nation.”

He also pushed back against criticism over the aid group’s expulsion.

“Termination of the activities of Doctors Without Borders was made in accordance with the desire of the people in Rakhine [Arakan] State,” the ambassador said in a statement to Associated Press.

2 Responses to US Congressional Panel: End Persecution of Muslims in Burma

  1. Burmese Government will not tolerate incitement to religious hatred is big joke and lie. Burmese top boss praised the hate monger Wirathu as son of Buddha and allowed him to preach hatred in the places where Rohingyas are living in tremendous fear. Rakhine people want NGO and MSF out of Rakhine, so that Rakhine can kill Rohingya as much as they can without knowledge of outside world. Majority of Rakhine want their kingdom back from Burma. Will Burmese Government allow them to do so?.

  2. To the United States Congress and Government,
    Please mind your own business.
    The House Foreign Affairs Committee has no right to tell peoples of Burma and Government to what you must do and what you shouldn’t do.
    You need to look at your face in the mirror before you’re going to criticize Burma for illegal Bengali migrants’ issue. You can see your face is dirtier than our Burmese face in the mirror.
    We Burmese peoples have duty to protect our land.

    We Burmese peoples are not against Muslim religion.
    We have Burmese ethnic minority Kaman Muslim in Rakhine state. Also Muslim Kaman ethnic does not recognized so called Rohingya as one of Burmese ethnics. All Burmese ethnics know who Rohingyas are and where they came from. Once, Bengali who has arrived in Rakhine state is automatically becoming Rohingya.

    Rohingyas are not Burmese ethnic and in fact they are Bengali ethnic from Chittagong, Bangladesh. Their first language is Chittagong Bengali language and even some of so called Rohingya could not speak Burmese or Rakhine languages. They are claiming Sittagong Bengali Language as Rohingya language.
    We can not accept the US House Foreign Affairs Committee’s criticisms and reject accusation of Tom Andrews.

    I must suggest to US Government and Rohingya sympathizers US Congress Men and Women for taking all illegal Bengali migrants from Rakhine state and Burma. Illegal Bengali migrant from Burma can create new ethnic identity as Rohingya in United State of America.

    No one has criticized Bangladeshi Government for failing to take-care of its Citizens who are living illegally in Rakhine State.
    Are US Congress Men and Women scaring of retribution by Muslims?

    US needs to stay away from illegal Bengali migrants problem in Burma. Burmese Government will deal illegal Bengali migrant problem by Burmese Immigration Law.
    Rakhine state is not Kosovo. We can not afford to lose even another one millimeter of Rakhine land to Bengali peoples. British had taken away Sittagong Hill Tracts from Rakhine state, Burma and given away like its own for to create East Pakistan (Bangladesh) State.
    British Colony Government had created huge wide range of problems for Burma. We don’t want another outsider come in and lecture us again.

    Please, US politicians must stop lecturing other sovereign state and start mind your business for sake of millions of poor American peoples.

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