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On the third anniversary of the brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing, senators urged action to support Rohingya community

Miami, FL — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and a group of bipartisan colleagues sending a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging the Trump Administration to take additional actions to support the Rohingya community, to hold accountable those responsible of the brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing conducted by the Burmese military , and to refer to these crimes by their proper term: genocide.
 
Joining Rubio and Merkley in sending the letter were Senators, Ed Markey (D-MA), Todd Young (R-IN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Susan Collins (R-ME), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
 
“Since August 25, 2017, close to 800,000 Rohingya have fled violence in Burma by escaping into neighboring Bangladesh,” the senators wrote. “Most of them are living in refugee camps in horrific conditions, joining hundreds of thousands of other Rohingya forced to flee from Burma due to decades of government-sanctioned violence. Throughout this time, the systemic campaign of violence against the Rohingya has been well-documented by the State Department and many others. The Burmese military has murdered thousands of Rohingya, committed widespread rape and sexual violence, destroyed hundreds of villages, thrown children and babies into fires, and used mass graves to attempt to conceal their reprehensible crimes.
 
“We urge you and President Trump to speak out forcefully and publicly about these atrocities, acknowledging the gravity of the crimes with a determination of crimes against humanity and genocide,” the senators continued. “The Rohingya people continue to face real and imminent risk, and the United States should act today to demonstrate global leadership and stand boldly against these genocidal tactics that have no place in civilized society.”
 
Last week, 33 preeminent legal and human rights experts called on the Trump administration to make a determination that genocide has been committed against the Rohingya population.   
 
Rubio is the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations’ Subcommittee that oversees human rights.
 
The full text of the letter is below. 
 
Dear Secretary Pompeo:
  
On the third anniversary of the brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing conducted by the Burmese military against the Rohingya, we urge the administration to take additional action to support the Rohingya community, to hold accountable those responsible for the atrocities, and to refer to these crimes by their proper term: genocide.
 
As you know, since August 25, 2017, close to 800,000 Rohingya have fled violence in Burma by escaping into neighboring Bangladesh. Most of them are living in refugee camps in horrific conditions, joining hundreds of thousands of other Rohingya forced to flee from Burma due to decades of government-sanctioned violence. Throughout this time, the systemic campaign of violence against the Rohingya has been well-documented by the State Department and many others. The Burmese military has murdered thousands of Rohingya, committed widespread rape and sexual violence, destroyed hundreds of villages, thrown children and babies into fires, and used mass graves to attempt to conceal their reprehensible crimes.
 
We believe strongly in a democratic, inclusive, and prosperous Burma. We are proud that the United States has been the largest contributor to the humanitarian response to this crisis, a reflection of the generosity of the American people and our historic leadership in defending human rights. However, the situation remains grave as abuses continue, Bangladesh tires of the strain on its own resources, and COVID-19 fuels new suffering within the displaced communities. Three years of this horror is three years too many.
 
We urge you and President Trump to speak out forcefully and publicly about these atrocities, acknowledging the gravity of the crimes with a determination of crimes against humanity and genocide. A genocide determination would properly recognize the scale and severity of atrocities committed against the Rohingya, open the door to additional actions to hold Burmese leadership responsible for their inexcusable behavior, help to prevent further atrocities in an environment of ongoing high risk, and galvanize international aid and attention at a time of donor fatigue. This determination would demonstrate U.S. leadership and moral authority in a region where China’s reach continues to expand.
 
The atrocities in Burma constitute genocide by any reasonable definition of the word, including the United Nations 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and U.S. law, which defines genocide in 18 U.S.C. 1091 as “violent attacks with the specific intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.” This view is widely shared in the international community, as well as by important voices like the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Refugees International, and the Public International Law and Policy Group, which the State Department relied on in documenting the horrors committed against the Rohingya. The Rohingya people continue to face real and imminent risk and the United States should act today to demonstrate global leadership and stand boldly against these genocidal tactics that have no place in civilized society.
 
Sincerely,