Young leads bipartisan effort for tangible actions to stop ethnic cleansing in Burma

U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) led a bipartisan congressional call for concrete actions to be taken toward ending the Burmese government’s campaign of ethnic cleansing carried out against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

In an Oct. 20 letter to United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, Young noted that the Burmese military has engaged in arson, murder and rape to drive more than 500,000 people from the Rakhine state into Bangladesh.

Young serves as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy, and Environmental Policy. He was joined in crafting the letter by U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), the ranking member of the subcommittee.

The letter, which was signed by a bipartisan group of 21 senators, applauds Haley’s efforts to raise awareness about the issue by calling on members of the UN Security Council to support the Burmese government’s efforts to respect the rights of communities in the Rakhine State and throughout Burma.

“We must now implement tangible actions against the Burmese government to end the violence, help the Burmese people and make clear that there will be consequences for those who commit such atrocities against civilians,” the letter states.

“More specifically, we join you in demanding that the Burmese government immediately end its ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya; permit safe access to Burma for journalists, humanitarians, and United Nations fact-finding mission personnel; and work to address the root of this conflict by affirming support for the report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.”

The senators also stressed the need for the removal and prosecution of individuals responsible for the violence.

Young and Merkley called for the suspension of all international military weapon transfers to the Burmese military and for multilateral sanctions against Burmese military officials responsible for human rights abuses.

“We also ask that you request the United Nations launch an investigation to document human rights abuses that will facilitate holding perpetrators in the Burmese government and its security forces accountable,” the senators wrote, encouraging Haley and Secretary General Antonio Guterres to travel to Burma and Bangladesh to bring attention to the crisis.

The lawmakers urged Haley to push for a strong United Nations Security Council resolution condemning the ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya.

Further, to build on the Department of State’s current efforts, the senators urged President Donald Trump to use his existing authorities to appoint a special representative and policy coordinator with the rank of ambassador to coordinate U.S. policy in Burma.