Anti-Genocide Group Calls for Change in Obama Burma Policy

Anti-Genocide Group Calls for Change in Obama Burma Policy at Congressional Human Rights Hearing

Points to Ominous Signs of Ethnic Cleansing & Genocide

Pointing to reliable reports of ethnic cleansing and warning signs of genocide against the Rohingya ethnic minority in western Burma, and escalating military attacks against the Kachin minority in eastern Burma, former Congressman Tom Andrews, President of United to End Genocide, told members of Congress at a hearing on Burma today that they should challenge and reset the Obama administration’s Burma policy. “The Administration’s approach of ‘gentle persuasion and positive reinforcement’ is woefully inadequate in light of an increasingly brutal reality in Burma. The truth is being obscured in Washington by the good news story of last year’s reforms that led to Aung San Suu Kyi’s election to Parliament.” “The United States played a key role in generating the international pressure necessary to make historic change in Burma possible. Abandoning this leverage prematurely is jeopardizing the movement forward, condemning those who continue to suffer in Burma to more of the same.” Focusing his remarks on what Congress should be doing to stop the backwards slide in Burma, Andrews noted, “Congress needs to ask the administration if the lifting of most forms of pressure on the regime combined with a visit by the President of the United States last November might have sent a signal to some that violence, discrimination, systematic human rights violations and official disenfranchisement in Burma may, indeed, be acceptable.” “Congress must exercise its oversight role that includes a focus on the ongoing killing of civilians, restrictions of humanitarian aid, the military’s attacks and gross human rights violations in Kachin State, the severe plight for Rohingyas in Rakhine State, the widespread displacement caused by pandemic land grabbing, the dominance of the military over civilian authorities, and political prisoners that remain behind bars.” “It is imperative that the U.S. government be clear that continued abuses will be met with consequences and that rewards given up to this point truly are ALSO “reversible”. This is currently not the case.” Andrews concluded saying, “I understand the desire to declare Burma a success story. But, success isn’t marked by removing sanctions—it’s marked by lasting change for the people of Burma who have endured endless suffering under a brutal military regime. Let us reward genuine progress but let us not condemn the people of Burma to the consequences of a long oppressive military regime that is suddenly freed of accountability and consequences for its behavior.”