Over the past two weeks, 270,000 Rohingya have fled their homes and livelihoods to Bangladesh to escape violence in western Burma. These stateless, Muslim people have been subjected to decades of discrimination at the hands of the government. In recent days, there have been widespread reports of indiscriminate killings, rapes, and destruction of whole villages after clashes between armed groups and the Burmese military. The images that have escaped of weeping families carrying what belongings they can muster and aerial images of burned down villages are deeply upsetting. However, we may never truly know the extent of this humanitarian tragedy because the government has not allowed journalists and independent humanitarian organizations access to these areas.
We cannot stay silent in the face of these disturbing reports and unprecedented displacement of a quarter of a million people. I am proud to join bipartisan Senate colleagues in introducing a resolution that condemns these horrific acts of violence and displacement against innocent Rohingya and calls on the Government of Burma to allow unrestricted access to UN fact-finding missions and humanitarian organizations delivering much-needed aid. Over the past decade we have seen inspiring change within Burma’s political system as a repressive dictatorship has given way to a more open political system now under the leadership of a former opponent of the regime. I hope the Government of Burma will take seriously the concerns raised by the international community and begin down the path of reconciliation that allows for a brighter future for all peoples across Burma.