A young girl sings on the phone to comfort her grandmother and her younger brother. Sounds sweet. But what’s piercing about the scene is that the girl has made it safely to the US; her family members are trapped in a camp for internally displaced people, surrounded by land mines. They are Rohingya Muslims, innocent targets of ethnic cleansing. While a small minority of Muslim militants have attacked security forces, the military reaction is wildly disproportionate. More than 500,000 thousand people, half their population, have fled to neighboring Bangladesh.
The rest are stuck, terrified, or have become victims of brutal genocide. It’s hard to know exactly what’s happening, because the army has barred access to the press. Human Rights Watch satellite images show scorched landscape and the almost-total destruction of 214 villages. The U.N. estimates that at least 1000 civilians, including children, have been killed.
Nicholas Kristof wrote in the New York Times, “Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the widow who defied Myanmar’s dictators, endured a total of 15 years of house arrest and led a campaign for democracy, was a hero of modern times. Yet today Daw Suu, as the effective leader of Myanmar, is chief apologist for this ethnic cleansing.”
Pope Francis has condemned the killing, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote the country’s leader: “If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep.” Ken Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch adds: “We applauded Aung San Suu Kyi when she received her Nobel Prize because she symbolized courage in the face of tyranny. Now that she’s in power, she symbolizes cowardly complicity in the deadly tyranny being visited on the Rohingya.”
The worst news: the Burmese army wrecking the atrocities and genocide is funded by American dollars. Here’s where we come in and what we can do:
1. Call the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and say your state in order to be connected with your senator.
2. Either in person or on their voicemail – encourage support of Senate Amendment 607 to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Be sure to mention your opposition to any U.S. military assistance to Burma’s army. Leave your name, number, and city of residence to indicate that you live in the senator’s state.
3. Read the Human Rights Watch Report: http://www.hrw.org/news/2017/09/17/burma-targeted-sanctions-arms-embargo-needed
Presented by Kathy Coffey