PLIGHT OF MUSLIMS IN BURMA


Dear Mr. Hagel:

As per this news:

http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=120687

Last month you met with Burma’s defense minister, Lt. Gen. Wai Lwin, and we wish to register our concerns that such engagement may not serve the best interests of all the people of Burma/Myanamar. Only a day or two before your meeting, another mob set fire to a village of Burmese Muslims and rendered them homeless.

In numerous similar attacks over the last year, the police either stand by or join in the violence and in general the government of Myanmar has shown support for violent extremism inspired by nationalist Buddhist leaders.

As you know, the government has maintained laws restricting the religious freedom of the Muslim population, rendering the Muslim Rohingya people stateless and facing threats of expulsion. The current and past leaders of Myanmar have stated their wish to expel the Muslim population and the current census is excluding them, maintaining their difficult stateless status.

Putting restrictions on international relief agencies, the government of Myanmar will not even allow those displaced by frequent attacks to have permanent housing. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced and fled as refugees adding to the challenge to regional stability.

Given the Administration’s strategy of engagement with Burma, how are you working to ensure that military will protect the rights of all residents of their country, as integral to reform?Were the Rohingya mentioned during the meeting with the Defense Minister?

Given the very serious concerns regarding the Jim Crow style laws and ethnic cleansing in Burma, we would like to see the US aggressively promote progress on the human rights front before promoting deals with oil companies and others seeking to invest in new markets. We ask thatall minorities in Burmabe given full rights and equal opportunities.

Sincerely

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