U.S. Must Address Repressive Conditions in Burma – Change U.S. Policy
Burma's national elections, now just weeks away, provide an important moment to examine U.S. policy and relations with Burma. While Burma's reforms of five years ago were historic since U.S.-led pressure was lifted progress has not only slowed, it has been reversed in many areas, making it the #1 country in the world at the risk for genocide and mass atrocities.
Testifying today before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee Hearing: Burma’s Challenge: Democracy, Human Rights, Peace, and the Plight of the Rohingya, Former Congressman and President of United to End Genocide, Tom Andrews said,
"The November 8, 2015 elections have no chance of being free, fair, credible, inclusive, or transparent.
Hundreds of thousands of ethnic minority Rohingya Muslims who voted in the last elections will not be allowed to vote simply because of their ethnic and religious identity. Growing hate speech campaigns by radical Buddhists and newly passed laws discriminating against the Rohingya increase the risk of mass atrocities.
Whatever happens on the day of balloting, the fact that so many citizens or Burma are being systematically excluded and disenfranchised from voting – based on their ethnicity and religion – means that this election is not fair.
The U.S. government knows all of this. It has spoken out against the disenfranchisement, the hate speech campaigns, and the discrimination against the Rohingya. What is missing is action.
The elections provide an opportunity for the United States and the international community to put a spotlight on conditions in Burma. Burma's leaders seek international legitimacy and care what the world says about the elections. It is critical that the Obama Administration and the U.S. Congress be willing to speak the truth about conditions in Burma and act accordingly. Actions should include the imposition of sanctions against those individuals who are behind the egregious human rights violations that continue unabated in Burma."