Calling on the Government of Burma to Release Burmese Journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo

Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 11, 2018
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LEVIN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this resolution calling for the release of the two journalists imprisoned after investigating attacks against the Rohingya ethnic minority in Burma, also known as Myanmar.

As I said in the resolution I introduced in early September calling for their release: ``The Burmese police captain involved in their arrest reportedly admitted during the trial that his superior ordered him to entrap the journalists.''

The atrocities committed against the Rohingya--mass killings; rape perpetrated on a massive scale; whole villages burned to the ground, with people being burned alive in their homes; and over 700,000 fleeing the violence to neighboring Bangladesh--have been so extreme that the United Nations issued a report earlier this year calling for Burma's military leaders to be investigated and prosecuted on the charges of genocide. There can be no doubt about the culpability of Burma's military in the oppression and violence inflicted on the Rohingya.

I had the privilege of meeting Aung San Suu Kyi a few years ago as part of a delegation led by Nancy Pelosi, joining in admiration for her perseverance and triumph over oppression. There has been a hesitation by some to criticize Suu Kyi, worrying that it could make it more likely the military would take over the civilian government she leads. But her words and actions in the face of what, in reality, has been genocide have been deeply disturbing, contrary to her past example as a beacon of freedom.

In 2017, the late John McCain and Richard Durbin introduced in the Senate and I introduced in the House a resolution that encouraged ``Aung San Suu Kyi to live up to her inspiring words upon receiving the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize with respect to ethnic reconciliation in Burma, and in particular to address the historic and brutal repression of the Rohingya in Rakhine State.''

Unfortunately, that resolution was not acted upon.

When Aung San Suu Kyi later said: ``We believe that, for the sake of long-term stability and security, we have to be fair to all sides,'' it was a disturbing message of minimization.

Suu Kyi later said: ``In a way we can say that we understand our country better than any other country does, and I'm sure you will say the same of yours, that you understand your country better than anybody else.''

As Bishop Desmond Tutu said in a letter to Suu Kyi: ``My dear sister: If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep.''

This resolution speaks out against the genocide and crimes against humanity that occurred in Rakhine State. All of humanity must speak out clearly and decisively.

Mr. Speaker, I urge unanimous support for this resolution.