U.S. Representatives Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), senior Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; and Edward R. Royce (R-Calif.), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; introduced H.Res. 1091 yesterday. This legislation calls for the release of the Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were unjustly sentenced earlier this month, and states the House's position that the atrocities committed by the Burmese military against the Rohingya were genocide.
Original cosponsors include: Reps. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), and Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.).
"I remain absolutely horrified at the crimes the Burmese military committed against the Rohingya last Fall and the Burmese civilian government's decision to wrongfully imprison Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo," Chabot said. "These journalists were imprisoned and silenced on trumped up charges for attempting to verify the facts of this genocide. As a co-chair of the House Freedom of the Press Caucus, I am deeply disturbed that any journalist, much less ones from a highly respected news agency like Reuters, would face such shameful treatment. I join my colleagues in calling for their immediate release and urge the Trump Administration to continue to work toward that end. I also believe that it is time we call these atrocities against the Rohingya what they are: genocide. Pre-planned murders, gang rapes, the burning of villages, and many other gruesome and heinous crimes that cannot be discussed in a civilized setting make this self-evident. If this determination wasn't obvious before, the recent report from the State Department on the crimes should leave little doubt in anyone's mind. The perpetrators must be held accountable."
"The Burmese government's repression of free speech and colonial-era laws limiting a free press are inconsistent with democracy or the ideals that, for years, Aung San Suu Kyi's National League of Democracy party has championed," Engel said. "Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were framed for reporting on what we know to be crimes against humanity that have all the hallmarks of genocide. A credible and competent international court should immediately prosecute Tatmadaw leaders for their complicity in these crimes. Professional journalism serves as a powerful tool against authoritarianism, tyranny and abuse. These journalists should be celebrated as heroes of justice, not silenced as traitors. I am proud to be the lead Democratic cosponsor of this resolution calling on State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint to pardon these journalists."
"The Burmese military is engaging in horrific violence against Rohingya men, women and children," Royce said. "Their actions amount to genocide. And now two Reuters reporters are being held by the Burmese government for trying to shed a light on Burma's vicious and hateful actions. I am pleased to support Rep. Chabot's bill, which rightly calls on Burma to release these journalists."
Click here to view the State Department's report and click here to view the U.N. Independent Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar's report.