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house Bill H. Res. 1091

Should the House Condemn the Burmese Gov't Genocide of the Rohingya & Call For the Release of Journalists?

Argument in favor

The Rohingya have been subject to extreme violence that qualifies as genocide, which Congress needs to formally acknowledge. The imprisonment of journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were only doing their jobs by reporting on a mass killing, is similarly a human rights violation that Congress needs to call on Burma to rectify.

Shannon 's Opinion
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12/13/2018
If countries are killing their own people and keeping our journalists captive this legislation should be passed. The USA is a country of freedom of speech and not one of secrets. It’s just the right thing to do.
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Robert 's Opinion
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12/13/2018
Is it a sign of the times that this question even needs to be asked?
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Gerald's Opinion
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12/13/2018
Wherever and whenever it's discovered we have a moral obligation to call out those who act immorally. This includes our own individual one.
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Argument opposed

The Burmese government has made its position on Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo very clear, and Congress simply calling on Burma to release them won’t make a difference. Similarly, merely calling the Burmese military’s crimes against the Rohingya genocide won’t do anything to help the Rohingya people.

Chickie's Opinion
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12/13/2018
Why ‘Nay’? How can our House of Representatives call for a vote against the Burmese government for genocide and crimes against reporters, when our very own ‘Individual 1’, has named the press as the “enemy of the people”? When, due to his personal financial interests and that of his family, #45 will not call out Saudi Arabian Royal Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud for ordering the murder, of Washington Post reporter, Jamal Khashoogi. #45 and his administration have ruined the reputation of the US. It is up to our current leaders, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Congressman Kevin McCarthy, (R-CA), as well as the incoming Democratic House Majority Leader, to restore our country’s reputation. It is time, not to ‘Make America Great Again’, where we are led by a vitriol of hate, racism, threats and fear, but to be the United States of America.
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Mark's Opinion
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12/14/2018
We are not the worlds police. As disturbing as these things are, we have a plethora of domestic issues to deal with.
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Jim2423's Opinion
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12/13/2018
Maybe we should mind our own business. We have our own isssues to addresses.
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simple resolution Progress


  • The house Passed December 13th, 2018
    Roll Call Vote 394 Yea / 1 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Foreign Affairs
    IntroducedSeptember 27th, 2018

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What is House Bill H. Res. 1091?

This resolution would express the sense of the House that atrocities committed against the Rohingya by the Burmese military and security forces since August 2017 are genocide. The resolution would also call for the Burmese government to immediately release journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo from prison and pardon both them and other political prisoners.

As a simple resolution, this legislation is non-binding and wouldn’t advance beyond the House if passed.

Impact

Congress; Burma; and the Rohingya.

Cost of House Bill H. Res. 1091

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable. However, the CBO has previously estimated that bills of this kind would have no significant effect on the federal budget.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) introduced this bill to call for the release of the Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and state Congress’ position that the Burmese military’s actions against the Rohingya were genocide:

“I remain absolutely horrified at the crimes the Burmese military committed against the Rohingya last Fall and the Burmese civilian government’s decision to wrongfully imprison Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. These journalists were imprisoned and silenced on trumped up charges for attempting to verify the facts of this genocide. As a co-chair of the House Freedom of the Press Caucus, I am deeply disturbed that any journalist, much less ones from a highly respected news agency like Reuters, would face such shameful treatment. I join my colleagues in calling for their immediate release and urge the Trump Administration to continue to work toward that end. I also believe that it is time we call these atrocities against the Rohingya what they are: genocide. Pre-planned murders, gang rapes, the burning of villages, and many other gruesome and heinous crimes that cannot be discussed in a civilized setting make this self-evident. If this determination wasn’t obvious before, the recent report from the State Department on the crimes should leave little doubt in anyone’s mind. The perpetrators must be held accountable.”

Cosponsor Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) adds that Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw See Oo were framed, and should be celebrated as heroes, rather than jailed, for doing important reporting work:

“The Burmese government’s repression of free speech and colonial-era laws limiting a free press are inconsistent with democracy or the ideals that, for years, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League of Democracy party has championed. Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were framed for reporting on what we know to be crimes against humanity that have all the hallmarks of genocide. A credible and competent international court should immediately prosecute Tatmadaw leaders for their complicity in these crimes. Professional journalism serves as a powerful tool against authoritarianism, tyranny and abuse. These journalists should be celebrated as heroes of justice, not silenced as traitors. I am proud to be the lead Democratic cosponsor of this resolution calling on State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint to pardon these journalists.”

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

‘‘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.’’

Vice President Pence has also expressed his support for the journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, tweeting:

“Wa Lone & Kyaw Soe Oo should be commended—not imprisoned—for their work exposing human rights violations [and] mass killings. Freedom of religion [and] freedom of the press are essential to a strong democracy.’

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 that:

“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.’’

Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the quasi-civilian administration that took over Burma in 2016, has defended the jailing of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who she says were “not jailed because they were journalists,” but rather because they had broken the Official Secrets Act. “If anyone feels that there has been a miscarriage of justice, I would like them to point it out.”

This bill has the support of 11 cosponsors, including seven Republicans and four Democrats PEN America and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) also support this bill.


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.

On December 12, 2017, journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested by Burmese security forces in a suburb of Yangon. They remain in custody to date. On September 3, 2018, Yangon Northern District Judge Ye Lwin ruled that Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo breached the colonial-era Official Secrets Act during their investigation into the massacre in Inn Din and sentenced them each to seven years in prison with hard labor, despite admissions by the police under oath in court that the documents in question were planted with the journalists as a front for their arrest.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

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

Official Title

Calling on the Government of Burma to release Burmese journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo sentenced to seven years imprisonment after investigating attacks against civilians by Burma's military and security forces, and for other purposes.

    If countries are killing their own people and keeping our journalists captive this legislation should be passed. The USA is a country of freedom of speech and not one of secrets. It’s just the right thing to do.
    Like (33)
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    Why ‘Nay’? How can our House of Representatives call for a vote against the Burmese government for genocide and crimes against reporters, when our very own ‘Individual 1’, has named the press as the “enemy of the people”? When, due to his personal financial interests and that of his family, #45 will not call out Saudi Arabian Royal Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud for ordering the murder, of Washington Post reporter, Jamal Khashoogi. #45 and his administration have ruined the reputation of the US. It is up to our current leaders, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Congressman Kevin McCarthy, (R-CA), as well as the incoming Democratic House Majority Leader, to restore our country’s reputation. It is time, not to ‘Make America Great Again’, where we are led by a vitriol of hate, racism, threats and fear, but to be the United States of America.
    Like (45)
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    Is it a sign of the times that this question even needs to be asked?
    Like (21)
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    Wherever and whenever it's discovered we have a moral obligation to call out those who act immorally. This includes our own individual one.
    Like (13)
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    The US should be making every effort diplomatically to publicly call out the Burmese government's isolation, abuse, and genocidal atrocities against the Rohingya people. The House should have voted on this issue long ago. They should do it as soon as possible. The State Dept should also see doing everything they can to help the Rohingya also of course. The United States' lack of leadership with regard to helping those people is shameful.
    Like (11)
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    BURMESE ROHINGYA GENOCIDE IS A HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION The Rohingya have been subject to extreme violence that qualifies as genocide, which Congress needs to formally acknowledge. The imprisonment of journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were only doing their jobs by reporting on a mass killing, is similarly a human rights violation that Congress needs to call on Burma to rectify. SneakyPete. YES IT IS. 12*13*18.....
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    We are not the worlds police. As disturbing as these things are, we have a plethora of domestic issues to deal with.
    Like (7)
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    Maybe we should mind our own business. We have our own isssues to addresses.
    Like (6)
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    Why has this not been done yet?
    Like (4)
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    Condemning doesn’t do anything useful. If we want things to be different, send in the military, apply economic sanctions, open diplomatic negotiations, any number of things. Telling them “We don’t like what you’re doing.” isn’t helpful.
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    Call for the release of the journalists. “Shame, shame on you” for genocide isn’t exactly a deterrent.
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    Yes, the actions of the Burmese government should be condemned and the journalists released and pardoned. That said, all interactions should be cut off with them and they should be left to their own devices. We, and no other country have control on how they run their country, but we can choose not to interact with them if they choose to have barbaric practices.
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    Congress do your job and reflect our values in the decisions you are making. Kissing up and following the moron is not serving our country and our democracy well.
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    Let’s have a moral compass here...
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    When being against genocide and supporting a free press is controversial, you are veering towards fascism. I’m a voter in Ohio’s 12th congressional district and I support this bill.
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    Condemn genocide. Demand release of journalists. Stop the cruel crimes
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    Genocide is to be condemned wherever and whenever it occurs. Same with suppression of a free press and incarceration of journalists.
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    First we must oppose our own country’s violation of human rights. Return children to families and close detention centers. Then we can oppose the actions of other countries.
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    Yes, but you may as well wait for January and the Democrats to have the House back, because the Republicans only care about the RICH!
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    Genocide is one of the most serious crimes ever known. If people are being killed systematically then there is a problem, which along with this there should be a least a military intervention to rescue these people to prevent further casualties. Also if they are holding journalists against their will then the U.S. government should pressure them to let them go. Intervening in situations like these is the right thing to do and should be done more often.
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