In the hardest congressional criticism of the Myanmar government, the US House of Representatives has heavily slammed "ethnic cleansing" of Rohingya Muslims and called for an immediate cessation of attacks on the minorities in the northern Rakhine state of the Buddhist-majority country.Â
The resolution, passed by the House on Tuesday, urged instant restitution of humanitarian access to the Rakhine state where conflict has forced over 600,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh.
"This slaughter must end, and our resolution ought to send a strong message to Burmese leaders that their commitment to restoring democracy will be judged by their respect for the individual rights and freedoms of all people living within Burma's borders, no matter their faith or ethnicity," House Democratic Whip Steny H Hoyer said in a statement.
The resolution was introduced by Congressmen Joe Crowley and Eliot Engel and condemned, what it called the "horrific actions" of the military and security forces, asking for an immediate termination of violence.
"It also calls for Aung San Suu Kyi (Myanmar's de facto leader) to exercise moral leadership, something that's needed now more than ever," Engel said in his remarks on the House floor.
"We reject the Army's claims that what's taking place in Burma is a so-called counterterrorism measure -- that's nonsense. It's a textbook ethnic cleansing, that's what it is," Engel said.
"We should also encourage other governments to stay engaged and continue to address the pressing needs of these refugees' needs that will only grow as long as this situation remains unresolved," he said.
"Bangladesh deserves our deep gratitude for opening its doors to the Rohingya at a time when our government slams the door shut," Engel said.
"The governments of Burma and Bangladesh have struck a deal to begin repatriating Rohingya next month, but it's not yet clear that anyone is interested in returning right now," he said.
Betty McCollum, the Congresswoman who visited the refugee camps in Bangladesh in November said that as Congressional fact-finding mission has noted their visits to refugee camps and conversations with survivors made it clear that the persecution of the Rohingya people in Burma's Rakhine State is a "severe humanitarian crisis that demands robust" American leadership.
"This resolution is an important first step in demonstrating that Congress will not tolerate human rights abuses against Rohingyas. As our delegation saw, there is a path forward. The Burmese government and military must fully implement the recommendations of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's advisory commission," McCollum said.
My visits to refugee camps and conversations with survivors demonstrated that the persecution of the #Rohingya is a severe humanitarian crisis that demands robust American leadership. H. Con. Res. 90 is an important first step. Learn more â†’ https://t.co/3KUnSWe2tj pic.twitter.com/6kIk5FeeNGâ€” Rep. Betty McCollum (@BettyMcCollum04) December 5, 2017
Meanwhile in Geneva, at a special session on Myanmar by United Nations Human Rights Council, the US called for all actors to play a constructive role in resolving the human rights situation and hold perpetrators of human rights violations accountable.
"The United States urges an immediate end to violence, restoration of the rule of law, countrywide access for the UN Fact-Finding Mission, immediate humanitarian and media access to affected areas, and guaranteed and verifiably safe, voluntary, and dignified return for those who want to return to their homes," State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said.
Respect for human rights of all peoples is a fundamental element of democracy and the US stands ready to support the elected civilian government in its efforts to achieve peace, stability, and prosperity for all of Burma, she said in a statement.Â
(With PTI inputs)