Washington (September 13, 2017) – Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), Ranking Member and Chair of the East Asia Subcommittee, today thanked Armed Services Committee leadership John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) for agreeing to include their amendment that strikes language from the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have expanded military-to-military engagement with the government of Burma. Amid reports of a brutal human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, burning of villages, massacres, and rape against the Rohingya by Burmese security forces, Senators Markey, Gardner and Cardin introduced Senate Amendment 607 to the National Defense Authorization Act to strike the section of the bill that would have expanded the U.S.-Burmese military relationship. They were joined by co-sponsors Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).
“The hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people fighting for their lives have allies in the United States Congress and among the American people, and I’m pleased our amendment has made it into the NDAA legislation advancing through the Senate,” said Senator Cardin. “The United States must continue to work on improving and bolstering our relationship with Burma, but we can never tolerate such gross violations of human rights.”
“We are pleased that Senators McCain and Reed worked with us to ensure that Burma is not rewarded with expanded military cooperation while its military engages in systematic attacks against Rohingya civilians,” said Senator Markey. “We cannot give Burma’s military additional tools that they could use against their own people. Now is the time for the international community to shine a spotlight on the plight of the 370,000 Rohingya who are subject to violence that the United Nations human rights chief has called ‘a textbook example of ethnic cleansing’.”
“I was glad to work with my colleagues across the aisle to advance this amendment,” said Senator Gardner. “The horrific violence against the ethnic Rohingya minority is unacceptable. I urge the Burmese government to ensure immediate and unfettered humanitarian access to all affected areas in Rakhine State and to hold the Burmese military accountable for any and all international human rights violations. The Burmese government and military are moving in the wrong direction and I hope this action sends a strong message to Naypidaw.”