March 11, 2021

Van Hollen, Merkley, Young, Durbin Lead Senate Resolution Condemning Coup in Burma, Laying Out Coordinated International Response to Rohingya Genocide

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen  (D-MD) joined Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Todd Young (R-IN), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and a group of 12 colleagues in introducing a bipartisan resolution to condemn the military coup in Burma and subsequent violence against citizens calling for democracy, as well as the systematic campaign of persecution and atrocities against the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities. The resolution calls for a genocide determination from the Department of State and lays out a plan for a coordinated, international response to the disturbing humanitarian crisis in Burma and neighboring states.

The introduction comes amid escalating violence and instability in Burma following the overthrowing of the democratically elected government of Burma by the Burmese army—which has, least temporarily, returned the same army responsible for the genocidal persecution of the Rohingya people to a greater position of power and authority.

The senators’ resolution would officially condemn the February 1, 2021 military coup; denounce the institutionalized and pervasive discrimination against the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities in Burma, which has resulted in the genocide and forced displacement of 740,000 people; and urge Secretary of State Blinken to issue a formal determination designating those actions as genocide. In addition, the resolution calls on the Burmese authorities to allow journalists, human rights organizations, United Nations monitors, and humanitarian actors safe full access to every part of the country in order to ensure that humanitarian needs are being met and citizens, including ethnic minorities, are protected.

The resolution would also address concerning recent reports that Rohingya refugees adrift at sea are being refused safe disembarkation or being moved into holding camps, and provide a framework for a coordinated international response to the genocide. That framework includes governments of neighboring countries providing immediate, direct cross-border assistance, and Bangladesh and other countries in the region providing safe harbor for those fleeing persecution from the Burmese military. The resolution would urge the Government of Bangladesh to grant the United Nations access to conduct independent assessments of conditions in Bhasan Char and verify that any relocation of Rohingya refugees to the island is voluntary and consensual, and call on international organizations, host governments, and donor nations to support improved access for Rohingya refugees to basic services, education, and livelihood opportunities.

Van Hollen, Merkley, Young, and Durbin were joined in today’s introduction by U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Susan Collins (R-ME), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

The full text of the resolution is available here.