Chittagong, Bangladesh: US Congressman Christopher Smith has introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives, calling on Burma’s military regime to immediately recognize the Rohingya people as “full and equal citizens of Burma”, today, according to a press release of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) and Burmese Rohingya Organization UK (BROUK).

US Congressman Christopher Smith also called to lift all restrictions on movement, marriage and access to education and health, press release stated.

The resolution also calls for an end to the regime’s campaign of religious and ethnic persecution “amounting to crimes against humanity throughout Burma”.

“This legislation underscores the plight and human rights abuses endured by the Rohingyas with the hope and expectation that the light of scrutiny will result in new actions by the many governments that can and should provide assistance and refuge to the Rohingyas. It is an international call to action to alleviate their suffering and persecution in every way that we can,” the Congressman Smith is speaking about today’s resolution.

In addition to highlighting the suffering of the Rohingyas in Burma, the resolution urges the government of Bangladesh to address “the dire humanitarian conditions and food insecurity in the makeshift camps” along its border with Burma, in co-operation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and to “desist from forcing unregistered Rohingya to return to Burma”.

It also highlights the situation of Rohingyas in Saudi Arabia, and urges the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to allow Rohingyas “access to education and livelihoods”.

Addressing about Burma’s crimes against humanity, the resolution urges the United States Government to “proactively support” the recommendation by the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burma for the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry.

Congressman Smith had met Maung Htun Khin, President of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK), earlier this year, during a visit to Washington DC, organized by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

“This is an extremely important resolution, not only for the Rohingya people but for all the people of Burma. We are in full support of the call for a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate crimes against humanity committed by the regime against its people, and we are grateful to Congressman Smith for his support,” according to Maung Tun Khin, President of BROUK.

“We are delighted that Congressman Smith has introduced this very important resolution, which is the first time the plight of the Rohingyas has been given such attention. We hope that the regime in Burma will sit up, listen, end the cruel and dehumanizing treatment of the Rohingya people and restore their citizenship. We hope the Bangladeshi government will take action to improve the plight of Rohingya refugees, and that the United States will make the Rohingyas’ situation a priority,” CSW’s East Asia Team Leader Benedict Rogers said.

A politician from Maungdaw said Kaladan News, “We thank to US Congressman and House of Representatives for calling the resolution on Burma regime for Rohingya community. If US Congressman and House of Representatives keep this resolution alive it will be great help to oppress Rohingya community in home land and exile.” 

According to the Amnesty International report, ”Myanmar: The Rohingya Minority: Fundamental Rights Denied” stated that,” The Rohingyas, the Muslim ethnic minority, who live in northern Arakan State, western Burma, continue to suffer from several forms of restrictions and human rights violations. The Rohingyas’ freedom of movement is severely restricted and the vast majority of them have effectively been denied Burmese citizenship. They are also subjected to various forms of extortion and arbitrary taxation; land confiscation; forced eviction and house destruction; and financial restrictions on marriage. Rohingyas continue to be used as forced labourers on roads and at military camps, although the amount of forced labour in northern Arakan State has decreased over the last decade.”

“These practices, in addition to violating other basic human rights of the Rohingyas, are discriminatory towards the Rohingya population as they do not appear to be imposed in the same manner and at the same level on other ethnic nationalities in Rakhine State, or in the country as a whole,” the report stated.

“It is in the interests of all the people of Burma to include and involve and welcome the Rohingya as full and equal citizens and as allies in the democracy movement. Burma cannot be a true democracy, respectful of human rights, if when the time comes for freedom, the Rohingya continue to be denied citizenship, marginalised, oppressed and alienated. Freedom for Burma must mean freedom for its entire people. Human rights are universal if they are to mean anything,” according to the report of “In an age of intolerance, solidarity inspires’ Rohingya refugees in a Bangladeshi camp” by CSW’s East Asia Team Leader Benedict Rogers.