Global human rights group Unitarian Universalist Service Committee is urging the U.S. Senate to oppose a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that authorizes an expansion of US-Myanmar military ties.
UUSC's call comes in the backdrop of increasing demonstrations across Asia against Myanmar's treatment of ethnic Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine province.
UUSC said in a statement that the U.S. defense bill would further enable attacks against that country’s Rohingya minority civilians by the Burmese military – attacks that have caused a major humanitarian crisis in Myanmar and neighboring Bangladesh where, latest news reports say, nearly 300,000 Rohingya have fled in the last two weeks. That bill is expected to be up for a floor vote on Tuesday.
Tom Andrews, UUSC's President and CEO and a former Member of the U.S. Congress, alternately urged in a statement Saturday, "We ask all Senators to support Senate Amendment 607 to the NDAA that has been introduced by Senators Markey, Gardner and Cardin."
That bipartisan amendment would cut off military assistance to Myanmar.
The U.S. rights groups has already sent letters to Sen. McCain’s Burma bill, to UNHRC urging a resolution calling for an end to conflict in Rakhine State.
Friday UUSC's Andrews joined with other rights agency leaders in sending a letter to Senator McCain's office, urging McCain to strip Section 1262 from his bill. Co-signers to the letter included Robert Bank, President and CEO, American Jewish World Service, Rob Berschinski, Senior Vice President for Policy, Human Rights First, Margaret Huang, Executive Director, Amnesty International USA, Sarah Margon, Washington Director, Human Rights Watch, Stephen Rickard, Director, Open Society Policy Center, and Eric P. Schwartz, President, Refugees International.
As well, UUSC has joined with other partners and international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) to send a letter to the United Nations Human Rights Council, asking UNHRC to pass a resolution on Myanmar that calls for an end to attacks on civilians, full access for humanitarian aid, and independent observers.
The letter also calls for an extension to the U.N.'s Burma Fact Finding Mission on the Rohingya crisis, given Myanmar's refusal to grant permission to the mission.
Andrews previously served as a member of the House Armed Services Committee.