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Engel, Levin, Chabot, Cardin, Young Lead Congressional Support for Free and Fair Elections for Burma

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.), both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have joined with Congressmen Andy Levin (D-Mich.-09) and Steve Chabot (R-Ohio-01), both members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Congressman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.-16), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in introducing a bicameral, bipartisan resolution urging the Burmese government to allow for “free, fair, inclusive, transparent, participatory and credible elections in Burma” this November. The lawmakers call on President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to support Burma’s ongoing transition to democracy and “condemn any action taken by the government, political parties, military, or Union Election Commission to limit civil society participation in the election.” It also calls on the administration to “ensure that United States-based social media companies, including Facebook, not allow their platforms to be used as vehicles for spreading misinformation or advocating violence or voter intimidation to suppress voter participation.”

“Burma has experienced one of the most severe human rights atrocities in modern history. Now there is a concerted attempt to disenfranchise the Rohingya and other minority groups in Burma by shutting them out of the democratic process,” said Senator Cardin. “Given these efforts, I am proud to introduce this bipartisan resolution, which recognizes that this election is a critical juncture in Burma’s democratic transition, one that must include the right to vote for all Burmese people. The United States must stand in support of efforts for a more peaceful and democratic future for Burma in which all people’s human rights are respected.”

“Given the horrific human rights abuses that have occurred in Burma, it is critical that the Rohingya Muslim minority be included in the election process this November. The United States supports efforts for a free, fair, inclusive, and transparent election,” said Senator Young. “This is especially important to the Burmese population in my state of Indiana, which is home to the largest Burmese population in the United States, and the third largest group of the Rohingya in the United States living in Fort Wayne.” 

“With this resolution, we offer our full support to the Burmese people as they continue the often dangerous but essential work of democratizing their country and achieving sustainable peace and human rights for all,” said Congressman Levin. “The genocide of the Rohingya, the continued oppression of religious and ethnic minorities, the silencing of government critics and more have marred recent years. These elections represent a critical juncture. We urge the Burmese government to hold free, fair, inclusive, transparent, participatory, and credible elections, and we urge our own president and State Department to work with us in support of a real democratic transition in Burma.”

“As a longtime advocate for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in Burma, I believe that free and fair elections in Burma are a necessary step in the country’s democratic transition,” said Congressman Chabot. “We, in the United States Congress, will continue to strongly advocate for a legitimate election. Furthermore, a fully participatory process, that is inclusive of all people that are, or should be, citizens of Burma is critical to addressing the longstanding human rights violations of the Burmese military and bringing peace to the country. I would like to thank my colleagues for working together in a bipartisan, bicameral manner to present a unified message that the United States stands with the people of Burma.”

“Burma’s 2015 general elections marked a significant turning point in the country’s trajectory. Yet Burma’s fledgling democratic experiment, with the military still wielding so much control, has been wracked by tragedy, including genocide of the Rohingya and ongoing abuses of ethnic minorities. Burma’s upcoming elections in November are a critical opportunity to take a step toward a democracy where all citizens can be protected and enfranchised,” said Chairman Engel. “With this resolution, the U.S. Congress again stands with the people of Burma, recognizing the faithful work of civil society over many years. I urge the Burmese government to do everything in its power to ensure free and fair elections, to enable the participation of all of Burma’s ethnic groups, and to act decisively to combat hate speech and political violence. Once again, the world is watching.”

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