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US House passes resolution condemning 'ethnic cleansing' in Myanmar

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives [official website] voted 423-3 [roll call] on Wednesday to approveH. Con. Res. 90 [text, PDF] condemning "ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya and calling for an end to the attacks in and an immediate restoration of humanitarian access to the state of Rakhine in Burma." The resolution, submitted by Representative Joseph Crowley [official website] of New York, also called on President Donald Trump [official profile] to impose sanctions members of the Myanmar military and security forces for human rights abuses.

The resolution begins by highlighting that the Rohingya people have lost, "with the support of the Burmese Government," their civil and political rights to a point in recent decades that they have become a "stateless" people. It then refers to the recent actions of the Myanmar military, security forces and "private mobs" resulting in the displacement of over 600,000 [JURIST report] Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh, and quoted an Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] report finding that: "Myanmar security forces are setting northern Rakhine State ablaze in a targeted campaign to push the Rohingya people out of Myanmar."

The resolution also endorsed characterization [JURIST report] of the actions as "grossly disproportionate [to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation army attacks on government military targets in Rakhine]" and as a "'textbook example of ethnic cleansing" offered by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein [official profile]. While acknowledging the the attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army as equally unwarranted and condemning the same, the measure says that those attacks did not justify the unrestrained response that has resulted in severe human rights violations, murderous ethnic cleansing, and atrocities against civilians. The House further noted the failure of Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian government to address the violence and reiterated US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's call to stop [Reuters report] the violence and persecution.

The House expressed appreciation and admiration for the government of Bangladesh "for providing refuge to those fleeing violence and attacks" and pledged of $32 million in humanitarian assistance "to address the urgent needs of Rohingya fleeing violence from Rakhine State into Bangladesh, as well as the needs of internally displaced persons in Rakhine State and host communities in Bangladesh."

In closing, the House called on the Myanmar military, security forces, and the government at large to allow unimpeded humanitarian access to refugees and internally displaced persons and permit refugees to voluntarily return to the country without undue restriction.

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