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house Bill H.R. 3190

Should Congress Impose Sanctions on the Burma’s Military in Response to the Rohingya Genocide?

Argument in favor

The Burmese military’s horrific violence against the Rohingya ethnic minority in Burma constitutes genocide, and should be labeled as such by Congress. The U.S. should call these acts what they are and impose appropriate sanctions against the Burmese military. It should also endeavor to ensure that Burma’s gem and jade industries aren’t used to fund the military’s genocidal acts.

jimK's Opinion
···
09/23/2019
If the Burmese Military is receiving tax payer dollars and engaging in gross human rights violations, than it would be appropriate to make continued aid conditional to assurances that our aid is not being used to support those human rights violations. It would be a much stronger case if we engaged allied members of the world community to endorse and support this and other more ‘punitive’ sanctions. We need to be team players in the world community for actions such as these and in addressing global concerns. We should not be the enforcer that simply bullies other nations into submission because we can. Too much hate, too much distrust, too much lack of trust if we alone prescribe what is ‘right’ for the world.
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Francisco's Opinion
···
09/23/2019
The United States is one of many countries that occupy this planet!! We have created a world body called the UN to deal with global concerns! Taking unilateral action to interfere with the internal problems of other nations only creates enmity with other nations!! We should strengthen the United Nations so that they can apply pressure and deploy assistance to member nations!! We are presently too involved in destruction of the Earth in order to give our American Industrial Complex funds from a war economy and the ill gotten gains from invasions and de-stabilization of the world’s countries!! We must become responsible members of the Earth by listening to scientists and our youth who want to be able to have a healthy environment to live in!! Greta Thunberg is right!! We are destroying our planet!! Congressional measures should be consistent. I am a Buddhist and the measures contemplated against the Myanmar military in terms of withdrawing aide is a great idea! We should have this policy against all human rights violators , especially Israel and Saudi Arabia for the attacks and deaths of millions of People in The Middle East!! But more importantly we must participate and adhere to international processes for dealing with rogue governments that kill their own people!! We must not become rogue ourselves as is evident in our regime change policies to give billionaires the ill- gotten gains of invasion!!
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burrkitty's Opinion
···
09/23/2019
I don’t know much about this, but anything that prohibits the expansion of the American military is a good thing in my book. STOP THE EXPANSION OF AMERICAN IMPERIALISM! We have turned in to the bloody Empire. STOP THE SEVEN UNAUTHORIZED WARS! Or is it eight now...? I can hardly keep up with them all anymore. Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Niger. The new one is Saudi Arabia. So eight now. QUIT IT ALREADY!
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Argument opposed

The Burmese government denies that its actions against the Rohingya were genocide. The country’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, a democratic icon, should be trusted to make the appropriate judgments regarding the military’s actions. Instead of condemning the Burmese government, the U.S. should work with it to stabilize the country and bridge the divides between Burma’s various ethnic groups.

Terry's Opinion
···
09/23/2019
No. How about we put sanctions on these liberal socialist hypocrite Democrats.
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Gypsy's Opinion
···
09/23/2019
Francisco has said it all. That would be why we are part of the United Nations. Allow them to do the job they were entrusted to do. We should stay out of that and petition the U. N. for the people’s needs.
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Leon's Opinion
···
09/23/2019
We are not the world’s police force. I’d support a statement from Congress but no new targeted restrictions that often hurt those we say we want to protect.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Foreign Relations
  • The house Passed September 24th, 2019
    Roll Call Vote 394 Yea / 21 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Foreign Affairs
    IntroducedJune 11th, 2019

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What is House Bill H.R. 3190?

This bill — the BURMA Act — would impose sanctions on the Burmese military in reponse to the genocide of the Rohingya people. Specifically, this bill would: 1) prohibit the expansion of American military assistance to Burma until reforms take place; 2) require reporting on crimes against humanity, including war crimes and genocide; 3) impose trade, visa, and financial restrictions against those responsible for the Rohingya genocide; 4) support investigations to support war criminals’ eventual prosecution; and 5) promote reforms to limit the Burmese military’s stranglehold on Burma’s natural resources. 

This bill would also include a statement of policy with regard to Burma, stating that it’s U.S. policy to “support a complete transition to democracy and genuine national reconciliation in Burma” through “calibrated engagement.” The guiding principles of this strategy would include: 

  • Promotion of constitutional reforms;
  • Development of a representative political system;
  • Accountability for human rights abuses against the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities;
  • Regularized free and fair elections;
  • Professional military, security, and police forces operating under civil control; and
  • Strengthening respect for and protection of human rights and religious freedom.

This bill would also express the sense of Congress on a number of issues. It would call on the Burmese government to ensure the safe and voluntary return of all who were displaced from their homes and ensure that refugees’ rights their relocation be consistent with international principles. It would also express that promoting freedom of the press in Burma requires the reform of laws that undermine press freedom, including the colonial-era one under which the government unjustly detained two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. It would also call on the administration should use authorities under the Global Magnitsky Act to sanction the applicable people in Burma for human rights abuses, significant corruption, and equivalent crimes. 

Finally, this bill would include a number of provisions in regard to the governance of the Burmese mining and gemstone sector. First, it would express the sense of Congress that the State Dept. or the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) should provide the Burmese mining sector with technical assistance to reform the gem industry. It would also require the Secretary of State to publish and maintain a list of all Burmese entities that meet the criteria outlined in the Myanmar Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative regarding beneficial ownership and other metrics related to transparency to create a “white list” that U.S. gem importers should seek to import from. 

This bill’s full title is the Burma Unified through Rigorous Military Accountability Act of 2019.

Impact

Congress; State Dept.; U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); Secretary of State; Congress’ sentiments regarding Burma and the Rohingya; Burma; the Rohingya; the Burmese gem and jade industries; U.S. importers importing gems and jade from Burma; and whitelisting of certain Burmese gem and jade companies from which American companies should import gems and jade.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 3190

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to impose sanctions on the Burmese military in response to the genocide of the Rohingya people

“Since August of 2017, the Burmese military has inflicted horrific violence against the Rohingya in Burma's Rakhine State, and today is using the same tactics against the Kachin and other ethnic minorities. The BURMA Act passed the House with overwhelming support last year because of bipartisan conviction that we must hold the military and security forces of Burma accountable for the horrific genocide they carried out against the Rohingya and the horrors they continue to inflict on other ethnic minorities in the country today. I am proud to re-introduce the bipartisan BURMA Act this Congress. We will not rest until there is justice.”

After this bill unanimously passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Engel said

“The Rohingya who have been suffering at the hands of the Burmese military since the horrific attacks in 2017 shouldn’t have to wait for justice any longer. Meanwhile, the military is waging similar violence against other minorities, employing the cruel and inhumane tactics the Burmese army has used for decades. There needs to be relief from the violence and suffering. There needs to be accountability for those who have carried out the genocide against the Rohingya and ongoing horrors against other ethnic minorities. My legislation would provide new tools to help reach those goals. I hope this bill moves swiftly through the House and if it reaches the Senate, I hope that body’s leadership will see the dire need to get this measure across the finish line.”

Original cosponsor Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), former Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, adds

“It has been nearly two years since the Burmese military committed crimes against humanity and genocide against the Rohingya in Rakhine State, Burma. Since then there has been little accountability for these actions which have left nearly 700,000 Rohingya men, women and children languishing in refugee camps in Bangladesh without hope of returning to their homes. Chairman Engel and I introduced the BURMA Act in the last Congress because we believe there must be consequences for the Burmese military’s barbaric atrocities; today we continue the effort to hold the perpetrators accountable.”

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) supports this bill. Its Director of Government Affairs, Rori Kramer, says: 

“As the leading global Jewish organization supporting human rights in Burma, we know the importance of addressing Burma’s culture of impunity that has allowed decade after decade of mass atrocities and human rights violations. Moreover, we cannot stand by when the Rohingya people are being targeted for genocide because we know from our own history that those who are silent are complicit in their oppression… By passing this bipartisan legislation, Congress will send a clear signal that the U.S. government is committed to redressing the wrongs perpetrated against all ethnic minorities in Burma, as well as the most extreme crimes committed against the Rohingya people. We must hold the perpetrators to account for their actions. Since the Burmese military launched a massive genocidal campaign against the Rohingya people in August 2017, more than 700,000 Rohingya people have been forced to flee their home country to escape horrific violence—simply because of their ethnicity and religion. The U.S. Congress should send a clear message to the Burmese military and the global community that the United States will not stay silent in the face of genocide and other atrocities. Both chambers of Congress must now pass the legislation to help restore the citizenship rights and dignity of the Rohingya people. This legislation also would apply pressure on the Burmese government to conduct inclusive negotiations—with the full participation of Rohingya leaders—to ensure a safe repatriation process and resolution to this crisis.”

Vice President Mike Pence has expressed sympathy for the Rohingya, stating:

‘‘This is a tragedy that has touched the hearts of millions of Americans. The violence and persecution by military and vigilantes that resulted in driving 700,000 Rohingya to Bangladesh is without excuse.’’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also expressed his assessment that the Rohingya in Burma were subjected to ethnic cleansing, stating on August 25, 2018:

“A year ago, following deadly militant attacks, security forces responded by launching abhorrent ethnic cleansing of ethnic Rohingya in Burma… The U.S. will continue to hold those responsible accountable. The military must respect human rights for Burma’s democracy to succeed.’’

However, despite Pence’s and Pompeo’s declarations, the Trump administration has shied away from applying the designation of “genocide” to the Rohingya. In a 2018 report, the State Dept. found that the military “targeted civilians indiscriminately and often with extreme brutality," but declined to label the events of 2017 a genocide. 

Myanmar, which has denied UN investigators and ICC prosecutors into its territory, denies accusations that the Rohingya were victims of genocide or ethnic cleansing. It labels the military crackdown as a response to “terrorists” from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army who attacked police posts.

This legislation has passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee by voice vote with the support of 53 bipartisan cosponsors, including 40 Democrats and 13 Republicans. The FY2020 NDAA also includes this legislation. Global Witness, Jewish World Watch, and American Jewish World Service (AJWS) support this legislation.

Last Congress, this bill passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee by voice vote with the support of 82 bipartisan cosponsors, including 53 Democrats and 29 Republicans. It also passed the House last Congress as a floor amendment to the NDAA, but the provision wasn’t taken up by the Senate and ultimately didn’t become law.

Previous legislation on the Rohingya genocide hasn’t passed due to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to bring the Senate versions to a vote. McConnell is a close ally of Aung San Suu Kyi, a 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner who was once glorified for her pro-democracy advocacy. As Burma’s de facto leader (she can’t become president because she has children who are foreign nationals) since 2016, Suu Kyi has largely defended the military’s conduct.

In 2017, Rep. Chabot argued that this bill’s sanctions would give Suu Kyi more leverage with the military, observing, "We would be able to work with her perhaps to relieve sanctions once in place if the military does reform itself and does certainly cease the hostilities and the atrocities that have occurred.”


Of NoteBeginning on August 25, 2017, the Burmese military and security forces, along with civilian mobs, carried out widespread attacks, rapes, killings, and the burning of villages throughout Rakhine State, resulting in approximately 730,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh.

In spring 2018, the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) conducted a survey of the firsthand experiences of 1,024 Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar District, Bangladesh. The survey’s goal was to document the atrocities committed against residents of Burma’s northern Rakhine State during the course of violence in the years 2016-2018. The survey found that the vast majority of Rohingya refugees experienced or directly witnessed extreme violence and the destruction of their homes, most often perpetrated by the Burmese military. The survey’s key findings were: 

  • Most Rohingya witnessed a killing, two-thirds witnessed an injury, and half witnessed sexual violence.
  • Rohingya identified the Burmese military as a perpetrator in 84 percent of the killings or injuries they witnessed. 
  • Three-quarters of respondents saw members of the army kill someone, and the same proportion say they witnessed the army destroying huts or whole villages. Police, unidentified security forces, and armed civilians carried out the rest of the observed killings.
  • One-fifth of all respondents witnessed a mass-casualty event of killings or injuries (either in their villages or as they fled) with more than 100 victims.
  • 45 percent of refugees witnessed a rape, the majority of which were committed, in whole or part, by the army. Overall, nearly 40 percent of refugees saw members of the Burmese security services — either police or military — commit rapes. 18 percent of refugees saw members of the Burmese security services commit gang rapes.
  • Members of the security services, as well as non-Rohingya civilians in some cases, targeted children and pregnant women.
  • Those who were left behind because they were elderly, sick, or otherwise infirm were frequently found dead when their relatives returned to check on them.

The INR survey conclusively found that the violence committed against the Rohingya in Rakhine State was extreme, large-scale, widespread, and geared toward terrorizing the population and driving the Rohingya out.

In September 2018, a United Nations independent international fact-finding mission came to the same conclusions as the IHR survey. In its report, the mission reported that there were “consistent patterns of serious human rights violations and abuses” in Kachin, Rakhine, and Shan States, in addition to serious violations of international humanitarian law.. The UN report identified security forces, particularly the military, as the primary perpetrators of violence.

Global Witness reports that both the Burmese jade and ruby industries suffer from widespread secrecy, corruption, smuggling, and conflict. The House Committee on Foreign Affairs finds that illicit trafficking in Burmese gemstones “deprives the people of Burma and the civilian government of critical revenue and instead benefits military-linked entities, non-state armed groups, and transnational organized criminal networks.”


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Suvra Kanti Das)

AKA

Burma Unified through Rigorous Military Accountability Act of 2019

Official Title

To authorize humanitarian assistance and impose sanctions with respect to human rights abuses in Burma, and for other purposes.

    If the Burmese Military is receiving tax payer dollars and engaging in gross human rights violations, than it would be appropriate to make continued aid conditional to assurances that our aid is not being used to support those human rights violations. It would be a much stronger case if we engaged allied members of the world community to endorse and support this and other more ‘punitive’ sanctions. We need to be team players in the world community for actions such as these and in addressing global concerns. We should not be the enforcer that simply bullies other nations into submission because we can. Too much hate, too much distrust, too much lack of trust if we alone prescribe what is ‘right’ for the world.
    Like (62)
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    No. How about we put sanctions on these liberal socialist hypocrite Democrats.
    Like (18)
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    The United States is one of many countries that occupy this planet!! We have created a world body called the UN to deal with global concerns! Taking unilateral action to interfere with the internal problems of other nations only creates enmity with other nations!! We should strengthen the United Nations so that they can apply pressure and deploy assistance to member nations!! We are presently too involved in destruction of the Earth in order to give our American Industrial Complex funds from a war economy and the ill gotten gains from invasions and de-stabilization of the world’s countries!! We must become responsible members of the Earth by listening to scientists and our youth who want to be able to have a healthy environment to live in!! Greta Thunberg is right!! We are destroying our planet!! Congressional measures should be consistent. I am a Buddhist and the measures contemplated against the Myanmar military in terms of withdrawing aide is a great idea! We should have this policy against all human rights violators , especially Israel and Saudi Arabia for the attacks and deaths of millions of People in The Middle East!! But more importantly we must participate and adhere to international processes for dealing with rogue governments that kill their own people!! We must not become rogue ourselves as is evident in our regime change policies to give billionaires the ill- gotten gains of invasion!!
    Like (27)
    Follow
    Share
    I don’t know much about this, but anything that prohibits the expansion of the American military is a good thing in my book. STOP THE EXPANSION OF AMERICAN IMPERIALISM! We have turned in to the bloody Empire. STOP THE SEVEN UNAUTHORIZED WARS! Or is it eight now...? I can hardly keep up with them all anymore. Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Niger. The new one is Saudi Arabia. So eight now. QUIT IT ALREADY!
    Like (23)
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    Yes. This would be a light but needed punishment for inhumane treatment.
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    Francisco has said it all. That would be why we are part of the United Nations. Allow them to do the job they were entrusted to do. We should stay out of that and petition the U. N. for the people’s needs.
    Like (8)
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    We are not the world’s police force. I’d support a statement from Congress but no new targeted restrictions that often hurt those we say we want to protect.
    Like (6)
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    Yes, we should do what we can about Burma and the Rohingya. But it would be hypocritical not to point out that the US Is making migrants suffer unspeakable horrors, has children in cages, that trump is selling sacred tribal lands to his cronies for oil drilling, that trump is running pipeline over Native American lands, that trump is bankrupting farmers and other workers over tariffs.
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    The Burmese military’s horrific violence against the Rohingya ethnic minority in Burma constitutes genocide, and should be labeled as such by Congress. The U.S. should call these acts what they are and impose appropriate sanctions against the Burmese military. It should also endeavor to ensure that Burma’s gem and jade industries aren’t used to fund the military’s genocidal acts.
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    Less than two years since the world outrage over the mass atrocities committed against the Rohingya population, the Myanmar military is again committing horrific abuses against ethnic groups in Rakhine State. The new operations in Rakhine State show an unrepentant, unreformed and unaccountable military terrorizing civilians and committing widespread violations as a deliberate tactic, according to Amnesty International. Evidence gathered from interviews, photographs and satellite imagery indicate troops are instigating violent clashes, carrying out extrajudicial executions, conducting arbitrary arrests, torturing prisoners and destroying historical sites, Evidence gathered from interviews, photographs and satellite imagery indicate troops are instigating violent clashes, carrying out extrajudicial executions, conducting arbitrary arrests, torturing prisoners and destroying historical sites, according to the report called "No-one can protect us." While the military campaign has been directed at quashing an Arakan rebellion, the vulnerable Rohingya population is also a target as well as other Buddhists and Christians. According to the report, a military helicopter opened fire on Rohingya laborers cutting bamboo on April 3, killing at least six men and boys and injuring at least 13 others. Amnesty International estimates about 30,000 people have been displaced by the conflict since January. Nearly all humanitarian aid has been blocked, and as both sides continue to destroy farmland and harvests, human rights groups are warning of a "looming food insecurity crisis."
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    I agree with my Congressman on this one. Im hoping the crazed left nutcases didn't add any of thier vote buying scams to the bill tho.
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    Why is this even a question? If anyone is involved in a genocide we should do everything we can to stop them.
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    Congress needs to pay attention to itself and start policing itself - Congress especially House Democrats is national disgrace and they have harmed America. I traded them as enemy combatants. Bring one fo the Squad to my face and see what happens! Tiemto get tough on this bullshit. DEMOCRATS OW AMERIC 4 MORE YEARS OF TRUMP BECAUSE THEY STOLE IT FROM AMERICA!
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    DEFINITELY! THIS IS GENOCIDE AND JUST AS BAD A WHAT THE NAZIS DID. WE WENT TO WAR OVER THAT!
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    Absolutely
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    Thank you for supporting this bill.
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    Yes, the United States must continue to stand against oppression and genocide. What the Burmese have done to the Rohingya is abominable and will only continue mass migrations which we're seeing across the globe, causing other problems in other countries. We need to speak and act to stabilize countries such as Burma, because now Bangladesh is going to have population control issues trying to take care of these refugees.
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    Do it!
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    The Burmese military’s horrific violence against the Rohingya ethnic minority in Burma constitutes genocide, and should be labeled as such by Congress. The U.S. should call these acts what they are and impose appropriate sanctions against the Burmese military. It should also endeavor to ensure that Burma’s gem and jade industries aren’t used to fund the military’s genocidal acts.
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    Forget for just a moment that the United States has a vested financial interest in the outcome. Let's also ignore for just for a little while that the U.S. may be the de facto "Guardian of the World". Also: Pretend that the holocaust is a myth or never happened. Instead: Contemplate briefly on the intense and enduring psychological pain that every good person in the world shall endure while watching these horrors unfold, perhaps "_Live_" on network news.
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