WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ranking Member and Chairman, respectively, of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee that oversees human rights and democracy, joined Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) issuing the following statement commemorating the third anniversary of the Burmese military’s genocide against the Rohingya minority in Burma’s Rakhine State:
“Today, August 25, marks three years since the Burmese military undertook a campaign of systemic violence against the Rohingya people in Burma’s Rakhine State, forcing more than 740,000 people to flee their homes and cross into Bangladesh to seek safety. There are now more than one million refugees living in Bangladesh, while thousands more remain displaced from their homes and in need of humanitarian assistance in Burma.
“The Rohingya deserve meaningful justice and accountability for the terrible crimes committed against them, as do Burma’s other ethnic minorities who the Burmese military has terrorized for decades. We call for an end to the cycle of impunity for gross human rights violations committed by the Burmese military. The Burmese government must act to address the root causes of the crisis in Rakhine State, which must include restoring Rohingya citizenship and guaranteeing access to fundamental rights and freedoms.
“We urge countries in the region to ensure that all those fleeing persecution from Burma be treated with the respect their humanity deserves and that their rights be protected. We applaud the Government of Bangladesh and its people for generously extending safe haven to the Rohingya refugees living within its borders. While the primary responsibility for addressing the Rohingya crisis lies with Burma, more can and should be done to support the refugees until they are able to safely return to Burma. We also urge the Bangladeshi authorities to lift internet and telecommunication restrictions in Rohingya camps; halt any relocation efforts to Bhasan Char until international assessments have determined the island is safe and that adequate services can be provided; and grant the Rohingya with rights, including protection from refoulement, access to livelihoods and formal education, and freedom of movement.
“As members of Congress, we have worked to advance bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would sanction leaders of the Burmese military; demand safe, dignified, and voluntary repatriation of Rohingya refugees; demand accountability for persecuted ethnic and religious minorities in the country; and promote efforts to achieve justice for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. This legislation passed the House twice with overwhelmingly bipartisan support. We urge our colleagues to work with us to ensure that similar legislation is passed in the Senate and signed into law.
“Finally, we call on the administration to use all the tools at its disposal to defend the rights and dignity of the Rohingya people and other ethnic minorities in Burma and to hold accountable the perpetrators of crimes against them.”