The atrocities committed against the Kachin by the Burmese Army may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity and should be zealously investigated and prosecuted as the evidence warrants, wrote Republican Senator Trent Franks in the Washington Times last week.
The Arizona Republican, who is co-chairman of the International Religious Freedom Caucus, wrote that the plight of the Kachin is often overlooked by the international community, and that humanitarian conditions are seriously deteriorating in Kachin State and Kachin refugee camps.
“The US must be careful to take no action that could be interpreted as endorsement of any misconduct or human rights lapses by the Burmese government or President Thein Sein, particularly while the Burmese government is still dominated by the military with a very brutal past,” he opined.
“President Obama should call for a withdrawal of Burmese troops and the establishment of meaningful political dialogue and a peace process that will result in a political solution for the conflict in Kachin State,” he said.
Sen. Franks also noted that recent reports indicate that Burmese security forces have been complicit with Rakhine Buddhists in carrying out brutal attacks against the Rohingya people.
“Violence by the Burma Army against the Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State also continues with impunity and the Burmese government has failed to end what increasingly appears to be a campaign to forcibly displace thousands of Rohingya,” he wrote.
“Both the Rohingya and Kachin desperately need full access to humanitarian aid for internally displaced peoples and refugees. Indeed, now is the time for the US to ensure the plight of vulnerable Rohingya are not forgotten and stress that this crisis against Burma’s Muslim population will threaten future democracy measures within Burma,” he said.
Currently serving his fourth term in the US Congress, Franks is a Baptist Christian and in addition to co-chairing the International Religious Freedom Caucus, he is an Executive Committee Member of the Tom Lantos Congressional Human Rights Commission.
In 2008, Congress passed the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act, which banned the importation of rubies and jade from Burma into the United States.
The US has recently eased many economic sanctions on Burma in light of a process of reform under President Thein Sein. However, the JADE act remains in place.