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Congressmen and Senators Urge Obama to Highlight Human Rights in Burma

ICC Note: Although President Obama's trip to Burma is now complete, the following statements by various Congressional leaders offer some insight into the ongoing human rights violations taking place in the formerly militaristic dictatorship. This includes violence and even military operations against the predominantly Christian Chin, Karen, and Kachin ethnic groups. Unfortunately President Obama choose not to highlight these issues during his visit, the first of its kind for any U.S. president. 

11/22/2012 Washington D.C. (franks.house.gov) - Today, Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ), along with twenty colleagues from the Senate and House, including Senators Rubio (R-FL) and Wyden (D-OR), and Congressmen Wolf (R-VA) and Pitts (R-PA), sent a letter to President Obama urging him to underscore current human rights atrocities in Burma that threaten future peace and stability, including the cessation of violence against the Kachin, Rohingya, and Chin people.

Congressman Trent Franks:

"Burma desperately needs serious political dialogue within the framework of a robust peace process to resolve ongoing ethnic and religious conflict. The overwhelming bipartisanship on our letter to President Obama demonstrates that the U.S. foreign policy 'Asia Pivot' must not forget the importance of including legitimate ethnic and democracy leaders in our negotiations with the Burmese government. The outcome of Burma's ethnic and religious crisis will be the ultimate indicator of the long-term stability of Burma's emerging democracy.

Senator Ron Wyden:

“Burma has made progress on the path to freedom and democracy. However, the recent spike in ethnic violence shows that there’s a long way to go before Burma is a truly democratic country,” Senator Ron Wyden said. “President Obama can use his historic trip to Burma to call for genuine dialogue between Burma’s ethnic minorities and the government so that a lasting, mutually acceptable solution can be achieved.”

Senator Marco Rubio:

“The recent political reforms in Burma are a promising sign of democratization but the U.S. must continue to advocate for the rights of all ethnic and religious groups within Burmese society. As the U.S. and Burma work on strengthening our bilateral relationship, the respect of human rights will always be a top priority for the U.S.”

Congressman Frank Wolf:

“The promotion of human rights must be a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy,” Rep. Wolf said. “In his famous Constitution Day speech, President Ronald Reagan described our founding documents as a ‘covenant we have made not only with our ourselves, but with all of mankind.’ We risk breaking that covenant with the people of Burma if we do not champion their cause during this critical time.”

Congressman Joseph Pitts:

“Burma is in need of further and ongoing dialogues to establish peace. The ongoing ethnic and violation on multiple fronts is proof of that. President Obama’s visit carries significant weight in establishing the United States' interest in establishing this peace, but it cannot legitimately do so without advocating that all parties be involved and be represented equally in all dialogues. I am glad to have participated in this bipartisan advocacy, and I hope that President Obama heads our concerns for the good of all the victims in this troubled land.”

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