CFI Joins Groups in Urging Congress to Speak Out on Burma’s Persecution of Rohingya Muslims

April 25, 2014

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) has joined 11 religious and human rights leaders and organizations in urging House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) to bring to the floor for a vote a resolution urging the government of Burma to respect international human rights standards and end its persecution of Rohingya Muslims and other ethnic and religious minorities.

H.Res. 418, sponsored by Rep. James McGovern (D-MA), also calls on the United States and the international community to apply consistent pressure on Burma to end such discrimination.

More than 800,000 Rohingya live in Burma but, due to ongoing violence, at least 140,000 have been internally displaced, and hundreds of thousands more have fled to neighboring countries such as Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. The Burma Citizenship law of 1982 excludes Rohingyas from recognized status as an ethnic group, leaving them stateless and vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Rohingyas in Burma have faced severe legal, economic, and social discrimination, including restrictions on travel outside their villages of residence; limitations on access to education and prohibition from working as civil servants; and arbitrary arrests and forced labor. Unfortunately, the situation has only deteriorated since violence broke out in 2012.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously approved H.Res. 418 on March 25, 2014, but the full House has not yet taken action. Burma is currently taking a census, which makes this resolution all the more time-sensitive.

As we in the coalition write in our letter:

“The passage of H.Res. 418 at this crucial time of the census will send a clear message to the Burmese government that they must provide equal protection, citizenship rights, and human rights for the Rohingya who are facing continued atrocities at the hands of the Burmese government and extremist Buddhist groups. … The international community has failed to speak out on behalf of the Rohingya for fear of disturbing Burma’s transition to democracy. The preservation of democracy is not a legitimate cause for remaining silent on such extreme human rights violations.”

You can download our letter here