RI Welcomes Secretary Tillerson's Acknowledgement of Ethnic Cleansing in Myanmar, But Further Action is Still Needed

RI Welcomes Secretary Tillerson's Acknowledgement of Ethnic Cleansing in Myanmar, But Further Action is Still Needed

Refugees International welcomes U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's acknowledgement that ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya people is taking place in Myanmar. 

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Tillerson Must Take Action During Myanmar Visit

Tillerson Must Take Action During Myanmar Visit

As U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson prepares to visit Myanmar, he needs to send a strong message to Myanmar's government and military that violence against the Rohingya will not be tolerated. Failure of the government to take steps to end the violence should result in targeted sanctions against Myanmar's senior military leaders and military owned enterprises. 

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Earthquake Increases Humanitarian Needs in Iraq

Earthquake Increases Humanitarian Needs in Iraq

The earthquake that hit the Iran-Iraq border region this week creates even greater need for humanitarian assistance in Iraq. People made homeless by the earthquake join the more than three million Iraqis already displaced by years of conflict. The need for additional aid from donors, the United Nations, and humanitarian organizations is more urgent than ever.

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NGO Letter to Secretary Rex Tillerson on Yemen

Yemen is now the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, the man-made result of almost 1,000 days of war. As documented by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the war in Yemen has been marked by flagrant and repeated violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by all parties, including airstrikes, shelling, and other attacks on civilians, as well as unlawful restrictions on humanitarian access. 

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The Blockade of Yemen Must End

The Blockade of Yemen Must End

Refugees International calls on the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen and on the United States government to do everything in their power to open entry points into Yemen and  facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid.  Humanitarian aid has arguably never been more desperately needed, or more thoroughly blocked.

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President Trump Must Prioritize Rohingya Crisis In Southeast Asia Visit

President Trump Must Prioritize Rohingya Crisis In Southeast Asia Visit

As President Trump take parts in meetings and summits in Southeast Asia, he must address the ethnic cleansing of Myanmar’s Rohingya minority population by Myanmar’s security forces.

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Letter to the State Department and Treasury Department on Targeted Sanctions in Burma

November 2, 2017

The Honorable Rex Tillerson
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

The Honorable Steven Mnuchin
Secretary of the Treasury
U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20220

Re: Burma and Targeted Sanctions

Dear Secretaries Tillerson and Mnuchin,

The US government urgently needs to act to help address the grave human rights and humanitarian crisis that has resulted from the Burmese military’s brutal response to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA)’s August 25 attack on government posts in Burma’s Rakhine State.

As you know, since late August, Burmese security forces have waged a campaign of ethnic cleansing and committed numerous crimes against humanity against the Rohingya population, a long-persecuted ethnic and religious minority group predominantly in Rakhine State. In response to these abuses, more than 600,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh over the past two months.

Satellite images commissioned by independent organizations show hundreds of burned villages – and tens of thousands of torched buildings. Refugees have provided first-hand accounts of unfathomable brutality: soldiers burning infants alive, gang-raping women, shooting villagers fleeing their homes – violations that research by nongovernmental organizations has found to be widespread and systematic.

United Nations investigators who have conducted interviews of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have noted “a consistent, methodical pattern of actions resulting in gross human rights violations affecting hundreds of thousands of people.” The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, has called the scale and nature of the atrocities in Rakhine a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
Despite international condemnation, Burmese authorities continue to restrict access to the region for most international humanitarian organizations, a UN fact-finding mission, and independent media. The commander-in-chief of the Burmese military, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and other Burmese officials, refuse to acknowledge the atrocities their forces have committed.

We commend the U.S. government for the nearly $104 million in humanitarian assistance it has provided in fiscal year 2017, nearly $40 million of which was provided in direct response to the Rakhine State crisis, to displaced populations in Burma and refugees in neighboring countries. We also strongly support the State Department’s statement that “individuals or entities responsible for atrocities, including non-state actors and vigilantes, be held accountable.”

It is critical that the U.S. government respond to the severity and scope of the Burmese military’s ethnic cleansing campaign with effective action. To this end, we urge the administration to immediately and robustly impose targeted economic sanctions authorized under the 2008 JADE Act and the 2016 Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

Under the JADE Act, the president is empowered to issue travel restrictions and financial sanctions against Burmese military officials and their immediate family members if they are “involved in…gross violations of human rights in Burma or in the commission of other human rights abuses.” Steps taken by the previous administration to lift sanctions did not unravel existing authorities but only waived them, and, according to recent State Department releases, some JADE Act authorities are currently in use, such as the ban on current and former Burmese military officials traveling to the United States. The administration should move to robustly and vigorously employ the remaining authorities.

In addition to the JADE Act, the administration should exercise its authority granted under the Global Magnitsky Act, which allows for the levying of travel restrictions and financial sanctions against individuals responsible for acts of significant corruption and gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against individuals who seek “to obtain, exercise, defend, or promote internationally recognized human rights and freedoms, such as the freedom of religion.” Given that the Burmese military’s actions against the Rohingya people are motivated at least in part on religious grounds, the Global Magnitsky Act is applicable.

Given the systemic nature of the crimes being perpetrated against the Rohingya people, it is important that sanctions designations levied under either the JADE Act or Global Magnitsky Act target appropriately senior officials who likely ordered criminal acts or appear to have been criminally responsible as a matter of command responsibility. Command responsibility would encompass those senior-most members of the Burmese security forces who knew or had reason to know that their subordinates were committing extrajudicial killings, rape, arson and other abuses, and failed to take all necessary and reasonable steps to prevent such abuses or punish those responsible.

As you recently said, Secretary Tillerson, “the world cannot just sit idly by and be witness to these atrocities.” The JADE Act and Global Magnitsky Act provide the executive branch with tools for action. The United States should employ them to the fullest to prevent dire consequences for Burma’s future and send an unmistakable signal to the rest of the world.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

Human Rights Watch
Human Rights First
AFL-CIO
ALTSEAN-Burma
Ameinu (Our People)
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain
American Jewish Committee
American Jewish World Service
Anti-Defamation League
Association Suisse Birmanie
Boat People SOS
Buddhist Global Relief
Burma Action Ireland
Burma Campaign UK
Burma Human Rights Network
Burma Task Force
Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK
Center for Justice & Accountability
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Congregation Tehillah
CREDO
Emgage Action
Estonian American National Council
Equal Rights Trust
Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR-USA)
Freedom House
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Fortify Rights
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

Global Progressive Hub
Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College
Info Birmanie
Institute for Asian Democracy
Interfaith Center of New York
International Campaign for the Rohingya
International State Crime Initiative
Investors Against Genocide
Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights
JACOB: The Jewish Alliance of Concern Over Burma
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Joint Baltic American National Committee
Jubilee Campaign USA Inc
Just Foreign Policy
Magnitsky Act Initiative
Muslim Bar Association of New York
Muslim Public Affairs Council
Partners Relief & Development
Physicians for Human Rights
Refugees International
Society for Threatened Peoples - Germany
STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities
The Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders
The Network of Spiritual Progressives
T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Viet Tan
Win Without War

 

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InterAction letter to Budget Committee Members

As members and partners of InterAction, the nation’s leading advocate for international relief, global health, and development programs, we write to urge that you protect poverty-focused and lifesaving international assistance in any budget deal for FY 2018.

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RI Statement on the New White House Policy Restricting Refugee Admissions

RI Statement on the New White House Policy Restricting Refugee Admissions

Refugees International issued a statement following the Trump Administration's decision to resume the refugee admissions program with a range of additional security requirements. The Administration is adopting a new and near-total ban on admission of refugees from 11 nationality groups – groups which have in recent years represented a high percentage if not most of the refugees who have arrived in the United States.  RI finds the Administration's action to be a cynical and tragic manipulation of administrative process and an action that conflicts with U.S. values and interests.

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Rohingya Crisis: GBV Policy and Advocacy Task Team Inter-agency Briefing Paper

Rohingya Crisis: GBV Policy and Advocacy Task Team Inter-agency Briefing Paper

The Policy and Advocacy Task Team of the Gender-based Violence Area of Responsibility (GBV AoR) recognizes the continuing generosity of the Government and people of Bangladesh in keeping their borders open to the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing conflict and violence in Myanmar.

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Ambassador Nikki Haley’s Trip to Africa: Background and Recommendations

Ambassador Nikki Haley’s Trip to Africa: Background and Recommendations

Refugees International welcomes Ambassador Nikki Haley’s visits to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), South Sudan, and Ethiopia this week and next, as well as her commitment to U.S. support for refugee assistance and protection in Africa. By visiting these countries, all of which are facing urgent humanitarian challenges, Ambassador Haley is playing an important and constructive role on these issues.  

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's Comments on the Rohingya Crisis: Statement by Refugees International President Eric Schwartz

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's Comments on the Rohingya Crisis: Statement by Refugees International President Eric Schwartz

Refugees International welcomes Secretary of State Tillerson’s October 18 statement on the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, and, in particular, his comment that “the world can’t just stand idly by and be witness to the atrocities being reported in the area.” But in fact, the world can stand idly by, as can the United States, and for nearly two months, that is largely what has occurred. 

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Statement on the Liberation of Raqqa, Syria

Statement on the Liberation of Raqqa, Syria

In response to the declaration that Raqqa, in northern Syria, has been retaken from ISIS, Refugees International urges all forces and authorities in the newly-liberated area to make the protection and rights of civilians their highest priority.

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Open Letter to Permanent Representatives to the UN: Recommendations on the Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security (WPS)

As we approach the 17th anniversary of the adoption of SCR 1325 (2000) and the annual Security Council open debate on women, peace and security (WPS), we take this opportunity to reiterate the fundamental principles enshrined in the WPS agenda and urge each Member State to more consistently promote and abide by them.

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Making the Global Compact on Refugees Work for All Women and Girls

Making the Global Compact on Refugees Work for All Women and Girls

Approximately half of the total number of refugees are women or girls. To meet the promise of the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants, the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) and its Programme of Action must specifically address their rights and needs at every stage of displacement.

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Testimony by Daniel Sullivan on Ethnic Cleansing in Myanmar

Testimony by Daniel Sullivan on Ethnic Cleansing in Myanmar

On September 27, 2017, Refugees International Senior Advocate for Human Rights Daniel Sullivan testified before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific in a hearing titled "Burma’s Brutal Campaign Against the Rohingya."

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Myanmar: Global Appeal for UN Action

Myanmar: Global Appeal for UN Action

We, a global coalition of 88 civil society organizations, urgently call upon UN member states to take immediate steps to address the human rights abuses and humanitarian catastrophe engulfing Myanmar’s ethnic Rohingya population.

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Refugees International Statement on Proposed Refugee Resettlement Cuts

Refugees International Statement on Proposed Refugee Resettlement Cuts

Refugees International is deeply disappointed by the Trump Administration’s reported decision to propose a U.S. refugee resettlement ceiling of only 45,000 for FY2018.

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Refugees International Condemns the Massacre in Kamanyola

Refugees International Condemns the Massacre in Kamanyola

Refugees International condemns the September 15, 2017 massacre in the Kamanyola transit site in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, in which at least 39 Burundians were killed. Among the victims were 15 women, with another 100 people wounded. RI also regrets the loss of a Congolese soldier who was also killed.

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President Trump Must Address Ethnic Cleansing and Crimes against Humanity in Myanmar

President Trump Must Address Ethnic Cleansing and Crimes against Humanity in Myanmar

During his upcoming address to the United Nations General Assembly, President Donald Trump must demand strong measures to end the ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity being perpetrated by the Myanmar military against the Rohingya people, especially in light of the escalated violence over the past three weeks. 

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