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Congressman Engel supports resolution condemning ethnic cleansing of Rohingya

DHAKA, Dec 7, 2017 (BSS) - Congressman Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has extended strong support to a resolution that condemns the ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas and called for immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar's Rakhine State.

"This measure condemns the horrific actions of the military and security forces, calls for an immediate cessation of this violence, and urges the restoration of humanitarian access," he said in US congress on Thursday, according to a message received here today.

Taking the floor in the House to speak on the resolution, Engel urged Aung San Suu Kyi to take quick measurers for restoration of humanitarian access to Myanmar's Rakhine State and to exercise her moral leadership to end the crisis.

"Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this measure and I yield myself as much time as I might consume," he said.

However, the resolution rejects the "Army's claim that what's taking place in Burma is a so-called counterterrorism measure-that's nonsense. It's a textbook ethnic cleansing, that's what it is".

He said the Burmese military and security forces are waging a brutal campaign of violence against unarmed civilians-including women and children-killing, raping, and destroying lives and livelihoods.

"The Rohingya people have been marginalized for decades, but the unthinkable violence and human suffering since August is ethnic cleansing, pure and simple-a description the Trump Administration now agrees with, although they were far too slow to say so-and possibly even genocide," he added.

Engel said over the past four months, more than 600,000 men, women, and children have fled to neighboring Bangladesh to find refuge in a country with tremendous needs of its own.

"This is more than 10 times the number of refugees the Administration will allow into the United States this year-the same Administration that ended America's participation in the UN effort to develop a Global Compact on Migration".

He said the US should do more since Bangladesh deserves deep gratitude for opening its doors to the Rohingya at a time when the US government slams the door shut.

"The governments of Burma and Bangladesh have struck a deal to begin repatriating Rohingya next month, but it's not yet clear that anyone is interested in returning right now," he told the House.

Regarding new arrivals of Myanmar nationals in Bangladesh each day, on fishing boats, he said they are leaving Burma out of fear and they are leaving because they are hungry and they are leaving because they know if they stay, they will die.

"The Burmese government has not yet set appropriate conditions for the voluntary, dignified and safe return-including allowing an independent United Nations fact-finding mission and addressing citizenship issues," the US congressman added.

He said the US should also encourage other governments to stay engaged and continue to address the pressing needs of these refugees-needs that will only grow as long as this situation remains unresolved.

"Lastly, we must also urge our own Administration to hold members of the Burmese military and security forces accountable for these atrocities, and I have introduced sanctions legislation to do just that," he said.