Written evidence from U.S. Campaign for Burma and 81 Diaspora Organizations (MYA0033)
The United States Campaign for Burma (USCB) is a U.S.-based membership organization dedicated to empowering grassroots activists around the world to rally for human rights and bring an end to the military dictatorship in Burma/Myanmar. Through public education, leadership development initiatives, conferences, and advocacy campaigns at the local, national, and international levels, USCB partners with our global supporters, including thousands of Burmese dissidents-in-exile, to promote freedom, democracy, and human rights in Burma/Myanmar and raise awareness about the egregious human rights violations committed by Myanmar’s military regime. This submission is on behalf of Burma’s 81 ethnic diaspora and solidarity organizations from 13 countries, as listed below.
- The United Kingdom (UK) should sanction Myanmar’s military leaders, military-owned companies, including Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), and the military’s business associates, to include Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise.
- The UK should intervene in the matter of The Gambia v. Myanmar before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to help ensure justice and hold the military accountable.
- As the Penholder on Myanmar at the UN Security Council, the UK must do more to overcome the political disagreements paralyzing the Security Council and catalyze a meaningful, comprehensive, and multi-faceted international response to the crisis, including by drafting and immediately bringing to a vote a Security Council resolution to end the violence in Myanmar, refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and impose an arms embargo.
- Humanitarian aid is crucial and the UK should support efforts to reach Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees with critical food and medical assistance.
- The UK should increase dialogue with ASEAN to help the region understand what its neighbors in Myanmar are facing, stress the role peace plays in regional economic stability, and encourage stronger action from ASEAN to execute the five-point consensus reached at the April Emergency Summit.
- Upholding the norm of non-refoulement should be a priority in discussions with Myanmar’s neighbors to help end pushbacks and increase protection for those fleeing violence.
Sanctions and Pressures
- We, the ethnic diaspora of Burma, recognize the UK’s steps to sanction Myanmar’s military leaders and military-owned companies that fund the regime. While sanctioning Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) and Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL) helps to limit the financial resources of the military, we believe further action is required to financially cut off the regime as one strategy to limit their violent campaign against people across Myanmar.
- UK Parliament should increase sanctions against the military to include MOGE, as well as all high-ranking military officials and their cronies. Military leadership and their partners enrich themselves by using force and violence to gain control of the natural resources of the country, which should be owned by and provide benefit to the people.
- By cutting off military access to financial resources, the military will be unable to continue buying the weapons that it is using to target peaceful civilians. Limiting the military’s financial resources may also result in more defections of soldiers.
Addressing Ongoing Military Violence
- The military continues to act with impunity due to inaction by the international community. We believe that to end violence and support justice and redress for the victims of military abuses in Myanmar, the world must send a strong message that the continued mass atrocities, war crimes, and genocide will no longer be tolerated. The military is emboldened by years of inaction; now is the time to act.
- The UK should intervene in The Gambia v. Myanmar at the ICJ, a supportive measure already taken by Canada and The Kingdom of the Netherlands. If the case is successful at the ICJ, the military will not only be held accountable, but they will think twice about committing human rights violations in the future. This action will benefit not only the Rohingya, but all people across Myanmar who face similar abuses such as rape, torture, and destruction of property.
- Seeking justice means holding perpetrators accountable for their war crimes and crimes against humanity. We believe a referral of Myanmar to the ICC will also serve to bring about justice in Myanmar and give victims an important platform to share their stories. Redress for civilians will not be possible without existing mechanisms for justice being utilized to the fullest extent and/or the formation of an ad hoc international tribunal.
- In addition to efforts to seek justice, the UK should support humanitarian efforts across Myanmar to provide for civilians impacted by the armed conflict. Food, medicine, and medical care are in short supply across the country. The UN World Food Programme estimates up to 3.4 million additional people will become food insecure by the end of October 2021 if action is not taken. This includes the estimated 20,000 internally displaced persons created since the coup. The Ethnic Health Committee requests international support in order for those in border regions to receive necessary medical assistance, which is particularly critical during the time of COVID-19.
International and Regional Actions
- As the Penholder on Myanmar at the UN Security Council, the UK has a great responsibility to address the actions in Myanmar. There have been no UNSC resolutions since the coup and the Presidential Statement (S/PRST/2021/5) on 10 March 2021 condemning the coup has done nothing to stop the military’s violent campaign against its people. As of 18 May 2021, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners reports 805 people have been confirmed killed since the coup began. We believe now is the time for action and the UK should put pen to paper and develop resolutions for UNSC consideration that call for action on Myanmar.
- An international arms embargo is needed in order to stop the military’s access to weapons. This strategy is supported by over 200 civil society organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and international nongovernmental organizations, and will help stop the violent campaigns seen across the country. There is evidence of attacks on Chin, Karen, Kachin, and Shan states.
- We ask that the UK coordinate with the US and other European Union counterparts to develop support for international action. Strength in numbers from like-minded states will allow for tangible actions.
- As an ASEAN Dialogue Partner, the UK can play an important role in helping ASEAN understand the current situation in Myanmar and look at the reality of what their neighbors are suffering under the military. Regional economic stability is under threat during a time when the pandemic has already created poor economic conditions in the region. ASEAN leaders should recognize that if they work with the people of Myanmar, and not the military, everyone will benefit as there is greater opportunity when peace exists.
- We also encourage UK dialogue with Myanmar’s border countries regarding the right to seek protection and the international prohibition against refoulement. Thailand, Laos, China, India, and Bangladesh should open their borders for those fleeing violence and allow for UNHCR and others to help take in refugees. Reports confirm that Thai officials pushed villagers fleeing military airstrikes back across the border to Myanmar, as part of a broader policy to block new arrivals. Over 10,000 have fled Myanmar and we ask the UK to call on neighboring countries to end pushbacks.
- We urge the UK to take strong and concerted action on multiple fronts, including: imposing targeted economic sanctions against a broad range of actors; coordinating international and regional action, including a global arms embargo; ensuring international and regional accountability for the military’s gross human rights violations; and spearheading decisive action at the Security Council.
Supporting Organizations from Burma’s Ethnic Diaspora
Albany Karen Community, USA
American Baptist Churches USA
Arakan Institute for Peace and Development, USA
Arakan Rohingya Union, USA
Burma Task Force, USA
Calgary Karen Community Association (CKCA), Canada
California Shan Society, USA
Canadian Rohingya Development Initiative
Chin Community of Washington, DC Area, USA
Dallas Ft. Worth Karen community, TX, USA
Dallas Karen Baptist Church, TX, USA
DEEKU, the Karenni Community, USA
Edmonton Karen Community Youth Organization European Karen Network
Finland Karen Culture Association, Finland
Global Movement for Myanmar Democracy
International Karen Organisation, Australia
Justice for All, USA
Kachin National Organization USA
Kansas Karenni community, KS, USA
Karen American Association of Wisconsin, USA
Karen Association of Huron, SD, USA
Karen Community in Netherlands
Karen Community of Akron, OH, USA
Karen Community of Canada (KCC)
Karen Community of Czech Republic
Karen Community of Finland
Karen Community of Hamilton, Canada
Karen Community of Iowa, IA, USA
Karen Community of Ireland
Karen Community of Israel
Karen Community of Kansas City, KS & MO, USA
Karen Community of Kitchener & Waterloo, Canada
Karen Community of Leamington, Canada
Karen Community of Lethbridge, Canada
Karen Community of London, Canada
Karen Community of Minnesota, MN, USA
Karen Community of North Carolina, NC, USA
Karen Community of Norway
Karen Community of Ottawa, Canada
Karen Community of Regina, Canada
Karen community of Rochestet, Canada
Karen Community of Rock Island, IL, USA
Karen Community of Saskatoon, Canada
Karen Community of Syracuse, USA
Karen Community of Thunderbay, Canada
Karen Community of Toronto, Canada
Karen Community of Windsor, Canada
Karen Community of Winnipeg, Canada
Karen Community Society of British Columbia, Canada
Karen Organization of America, USA
Karen Swedish Community (KSC), Sweden
Karen Thai Group, Thailand
Karen Youth Education Pathways, Washington, DC
Karen Youth Networks
Karen Youth of Norway
Karen Youth of Toronto, Canada
Karen Youth Organization, Thailand
Karenni American Association, St. Paul, MN, USA
Karenni Community of Bowling Green, KY, USA
Karenni community of Des Moines, IA, USA
Karenni Community of Georgia, GA, USA
Karenni community of Indianapolis, IN, USA
Karenni Community of Massachusetts, MA, USA
Karenni community of Minnesota, MN, USA
Karenni Community of Missouri, MO, USA
Karenni Community of New York, NY, USA
Karenni Community of North Carolina, NC, USA
Karenni Community of Portland, OR, USA
Karenni Community of Taxes, TX, USA
Karenni Community of Wisconsin, WI, USA
Karenni Society of Minnesota, MN, USA
Korea Karen Organization
Korea Karen Youth Organization
Oversea Karen Organization Japan
Rohingya American Society (RAS), Milwaukee, WI, USA
Rohingya Cultural Center of Chicago, IL, USA
Rohingya Society of Greater Nashua, NH, USA
The Burmese Rohingya Association of North America
United States Campaign for Burma
Utica Karen Community, USA
World Rohingya Organization, Jackson Height, NY, USA