As Kerry Heads to Burma, 72 Lawmakers Call for Change in US Policy

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Burmese President Thein Sein at the Asean Summit in Brunei last year. (Photo: Simon Roughneen / The Irrawaddy)

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Burmese President Thein Sein at the Asean Summit in Brunei last year. (Photo: Simon Roughneen / The Irrawaddy)

As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visits Burma this weekend, 72 members of Congress sent a letter calling for him to undertake a “significant recalibration” of American foreign policy towards Burma in order to prevent further “backsliding” on past commitments to reform.

The letter notes that 140,000 Rohingya Muslims remain displaced in camps some describe as concentration camps and that the government has restricted access to health care. It further criticizes the government for seemingly stoking anti-Muslim sentiment that recently spread to Burma’s second largest city and for direct abuses, including rape, by the Burmese military in Kachin and Shan states.

The letter specifically urges Secretary Kerry and American foreign policymakers to use the visit’s platform to convey to the leaders of Burma that further human rights abuses and atrocities against the Burmese people will seriously damage U.S.—Burma relations.

The 72 Members of Congress call for Secretary Kerry to use all available tools to sanction those that have been found responsible for committing rights violations, including ceasing all American concessions until reforms are made.

Read the letter: