Sending Office: Honorable Sander M. Levin
Dingell, Espaillat, Jackson Lee, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Krishnamoorthi, McGovern, Meeks, Norton, Pocan, Raskin, Schakowsky, Wagner
Two reporters from Reuters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who had exposed specific incidents of brutality and violence against Burma’s Rohingya population, were sentenced earlier this month to seven years in prison by a Burmese court for violating state secrets
laws in what has been widely reported as a sham process. This is nothing less than an effort to suppress the truth.
A recent fact-finding mission of the United Nations spells out what is undeniable – that Burma’s Rohingya Muslim population has been subjected to “systemic oppression” culminating in so-called clearance operations that “targeted and terrorized the entire
Rohingya population.” The UN report called for Burma’s (also known as Myanmar) military leaders to be investigated and prosecuted on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes related to the atrocities committed against the Rohingya.
Reporting this reality should not lead to incarceration. We must send a clear and emphatic message from Congress that the jailed reporters be freed immediately and without condition – and that the leader of Burma’s civilian government, Aung San Suu Kyi,
use her authority to order a presidential amnesty to make it happen.
I met personally with Suu Kyi a few years ago as part of a delegation led by Nancy Pelosi. Her story of not only perseverance but triumph over oppression was an inspiration to all of us.
Some have preached patience with Suu Kyi, noting that she does not have direct authority over Burma’s military. However, her government has been worse than silent in the face of genocide, too often excusing it or denying it. The UN report stated that she
failed to use her position or moral authority to protect the Rohingya, and that civilian authorities have instead “spread false narratives” about the atrocities.
During her September 13 remarks at the World Economic Forum in Vietnam, Suu Kyi said “there are of course ways in which with hindsight I think the situation could have been handled better.” She went on to say that “we believe that for the sake of long-term
stability and security, we have to be fair to all sides.” These statements drastically understate the magnitude of the crimes against humanity that were occurring and are a message of minimisation.
It is vital for Suu Kyi to call upon that strength to openly address the brutal repression of Burma’s Rohingya Muslims. It is within her power to free two reporters imprisoned for revealing the truth about the treatment of the Rohingya and the House of Representatives
should call on her to exercise that authority.
Please join me in sending this vital message of supporting freedom over repression by cosponsoring this resolution.
The text of the resolution may be viewed online on my website.
For more information or to cosponsor the resolution, please contact Haig Hovsepian (firstname.lastname@example.org / x54961)
Sander M. Levin
Member of Congress
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