Religious freedom needs to be a priority in U.S. foreign policy!
When Burma came out of 60 years of military rule, many were hopeful that religious freedom conditions would improve as the military began a power sharing agreement with the civilian government. In 2015, former political prisoner and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi became the civilian leader of this majority Buddhist country. Buddhist nationalism has continued to grow with radical monks using hate speech to incite violence against Muslims, Christians, and other religious minorities. On August 25, 2017, the Burma military led a brutal attack on Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine state forcing over 700,000 to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi has not condemned the violence.
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Patriot Voices Executive Director Nadine Maenza recently visited Burma with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in her capacity as a Commissioner. Just weeks ago, she also visited the refugee camps in Bangladesh in her own capacity, where over 1 million Rohingya's live in slum type conditions. Most she met shared the stories of how the military came in the middle of the night, attacked their families, burned down their homes (sometimes with elderly or sick family still inside), often raping the girls and women. Most had a family member killed during those few days; a husband, wife, sister, brother, parent, even children. The United Nations has said this violence has "hallmarks of Genocide," with the U.S. government calling it "ethnic cleansing." USCIRF has recommended that the U.S. government consider the designation of "Crimes against Humanity" or even "Genocide." This is certainly one of the worst acts of violence in recent history. The military continues to commit violence against the Muslims that remain in Rakhine state and elsewhere, but also against Christians in the ethnic areas like the Kachin State, the Shin State, and around the country.
Last year, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill condemning the violence that added sanctions on businesses run by the military and even individual sanctions on the military leaders who oversaw the violence. The U.S. Senate has refused to act. Currently, there are bills in both the House and the Senate. Let's raise awareness of this situation and ask Congress to pass these important bills condemning the violence and holding the military accountable.
- Ask the U.S. Senate to support the Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act of 2019 (S. 1186) introduced by U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore)
- And the U. S House of Representatives to support The Burma United through Rigorous Military Accountability Act (H.R. 3190) introduced by Representative Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Eliot L. Engel (D-NY).
If we do nothing, we are sending a chilling message to the world that governments can commit the worst atrocities against their own people with no repercussions.
It takes just 2 minutes using this tool to send an email to your U.S. Representative and Senators asking them to pass these bill condemning the religious based violence in Burma. Religious freedom should be a priority in U.S. foreign policy!
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