United to End Genocide, a U.S. based human rights advocacy group, called for a robust and immediate search and rescue operation of Rohingya victims still at sea following the announcement of that the governments of Indonesia and Malaysia will accept 7,000 Rohingya fleeing the threat of genocide in Burma. Accepting victims is not enough – they need to be found and rescued.
“The announcement that desperate Rohingya floating in the sea will no longer be pushed off shore by regional governments is a welcome but small and insufficient step in the right direction”, said former U.S. Congressman Tom Andrews, President of United to End Genocide, who recently returned from Burma and Malaysia where he met with families of Rohingya who fled Burma by boat.
“These victims of brutality in Burma need to be found and brought to safety by a robust and immediate search and rescue operation and not left to float in dangerous boats awaiting their fate. They are still waiting.
The U.S. government and others should offer any assistance required to save the Rohingya and use whatever influence they have to push countries in the region to act responsibly. Without immediate action, the international community will share the blame for the death of untold numbers of desperate people.
But it is also vitally important to stop the root cause of this crisis -- the persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority in western Burma. As long as the government of Burma continues its policies of persecution of the Rohingya, and fails to protect them from attack, the number of victims will continue to rise.
Burma has repeatedly denied the Rohingya citizenship, restricted their ability to work, attend school, have access to health care, get married or even have children. Adding fuel to the crisis, Burma’s parliament passed legislation this week increasing restrictions, making conditions for the Rohingya and others in Burma even more dire.
If the Obama administration truly wants to end the crisis at sea, it should take a clear public stand against the government of Burma’s repression of the Rohingya, sanctions against those behind the violence, degrade Burma’s Trafficking in Persons designation, and end the movement toward greater military-to-military relations.”
Andrews is available for interviews. Contact Erik Leaver, [email protected], 202-556-2130.
Andrew’s colleague, Dan Sullivan, will be testifying at a briefing by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, “A People Adrift – Mass Graves, Human Trafficking, and Combatting Warning Signs of Genocide in Burma” on Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 3pm in 402 Cannon House Office Building. For more information: http://tlhrc.house.gov/hearing_notice.asp?id=1283