Press Release

July 17, 2019
Cardin Says Designating Burmese Military Leaders As Human Rights Violators Must Be Followed Up with Stronger Actions
"We need more than visa bans to signal that the U.S. will not allow those complicit in human rights violations to live with impunity."

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement in response to State Department publicly designating senior Burmese military officials as responsible for gross human rights violations, including in extrajudicial killings in Burma’s northern Rakhine State, during the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya.

“This marks an important step in holding accountable those responsible for the atrocities carried out against the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities in Burma. It was the right decision to designate Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing, Deputy Commander-in-Chief Soe Win, Brigadier General Than Oo, and Brigadier General Aung Aung. But the U.S. response cannot stop here. We need more than visa bans as a signal that the U.S. will not allow those complicit in human rights violations to live with impunity. I continue to urge the State Department to issue a legal determination for the systematic atrocities committed against the Rohingya by the Burmese military.

“At this important moment, I also would urge my Senate colleagues to support the bill I have introduced with Senator Todd Young — the Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act.  Our bipartisan legislation would further today’s actions by requiring a list from the President of senior Burmese military and security officials who knowingly played a direct and significant role in committing gross violations of human rights in Burma. Our bill mandates that the Secretary of State deny visas, and the Secretary of Homeland Security deny entry to the U.S., for individuals included in the list. These actions would be combined with Treasury to sanction and block the property of those individuals. 

“A similar version of this critically important legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives on June 11. Speaking with one voice, we must stand up for the rights of Burma’s ethnic minorities, especially those who have fled the country, and ensure that conditions are established to allow for the safe, voluntary, and dignified return of the Rohingya to their home.”