Last week, I went to Burma and Bangladesh to see firsthand the systematic campaign of violence and discrimination against the Rohingya people. Their villages were burned to the ground and the countless reports of rape, starvation, and mass killings have been horrifying. I heard stories that made my heart break. A woman told me about how the Myanmar military killed her husband and baby son right in front of her eyes. When I asked about the burned villages, two young women came forward to show their scars from the burns. Something must be done.
First, we must demand access by the official UN fact-finding mission, NGOs, and the press to North Rakhine to verify the devastation and discourage even more exploitation. Second, we must require that those in the Myanmar military responsible for crimes against humanity be held personally accountable in an international tribunal. Third, if any Rohingya choose to return to Myanmar, the process of repatriation must be monitored by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Fourth, the Rohingya prison camps in Myanmar must be closed and all Rohingya must be free to travel, work, send their kids to school, access to health care, and gain citizenship. Fifth, this human rights tragedy should remind us that even in the twenty-first century the fires of fear and hatred always linger and can never be ignored.