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September 2019 E-Advocacy: E-advocacy for September 2019: Support the survival, safety, and restoration of rights for the Rohingya people
According to the United Nations, the Rohingya people are “the most persecuted minority in the world.” Helping them is a moral imperative. Click here to urge Congress to condemn the genocide, hold those responsible accountable, and support the survival, safety, and restoration of rights for the Rohingya people.
The Rohingya people are an ethnic group that live in the Rakhine State in Burma (also known as Myanmar). Most of them are Muslim. The Rohingya people arrived in a coastal area in the 1430s, and remained after the area was conquered by the Burmese Empire in 1784 and by the British in 1824.
Under British rule, other Muslims from Bengal (a former providence of India) arrived in Burma as migrant workers, increasing the Muslim presence in the area. Britain promised the Rohingya people a state of their own if they aided the British during WWII. However, after the war, it failed to follow through on that promise. In 1948, Burma gained independence from Britain. The Burmese government did not create a Muslim state.
Moreover, it refused to recognize the Rohingya people. They are excluded from Burma’s constitution and denied citizenship, along with access to an education or social services. As a result, they are considered stateless. Burma also regulates their right to marry, and limits the number of children they can have. Since 1962, the Burmese army has targeted the Rohingya people.
In 2017, violence against the Rohingya people escalated. The Burmese military destroyed their houses, raped women, and made mass arrests—engaging in genocide. Approximately 700,000 people fled to nearby Bangladesh, joining the 300,000 that were already living there, in the world’s largest refugee camp.
More humanitarian aid is needed. According to Amnesty International, the Rohingya people who remain in Myanmar live in a “dehumanizing apartheid regime.” The UN has accused Myanmar of ethnic cleansing.
According to the Religious Action Center, in April 2019, two Senators introduced the bi-partisan Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act (S.1186); in June, two Representatives introduced the likewise bipartisan BURMA Act of 2019 (H.R.3190). Together, this legislation would promote democracy and human rights in Burma by implementing sanctions, providing humanitarian assistance, and ensuring that the rights of Rohingya are restored before any repatriation efforts.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the BURMA Act of 2019 out of committee on June 20, 2019, and sent it to the full House of Representatives for consideration. The Senate Foreign Relations committee should do the same, and both chambers should immediately pass this legislation. Click here to urge our senators and representatives to do so.