Bipartisan letter urges Trump administration to encourage southeast Asian countries to push for international humanitarian commitments from the Burmese government


Washington (November 14, 2018) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Ranking Member of its East Asia Subcommittee, led a bipartisan letter today with 15 Senate colleagues to Vice President Mike Pence encouraging him to raise the humanitarian crisis faced by the Rohingya community in Burma and Bangladesh during his engagements at the East Asia Summit this week in Singapore.  The letter highlights not only the ongoing crisis perpetuated by the Burmese military’s assault last year of Rohingya villages in Burma, but also a recent agreement between the governments of Burma and Bangladesh to repatriate Rohingya refugees from camps in Bangladesh as early as this week, an action that many agree could put the Rohingya in further risk. The Senators stressed that the Vice President’s diplomatic engagements with countries belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) can play an important role in discouraging the repatriation, promoting international humanitarian access to areas affected by the conflict in Burma, and accountability for victims of the horrific attacks that occurred last year.


“Your trip presents a clear opportunity to promote the values and ideals in which Americans strongly believe,” write the Senators in the letter to Vice President Pence. “Silence and inaction in the face of atrocities is not acceptable. The United States is not responsible for the atrocities in Burma, but we will be judged by how we respond. As such, we urge you to encourage ASEAN member states to play a more constructive role in addressing the plight of the Rohingya…”


A copy of the letter can be found HERE


The letter was also signed by Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc,), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Susan Collins, (R-Maine), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).