Protecting human rightsshould be one of the main concerns of a country. Whether it is protecting humanrights of citizens of their own country or helping protect the rights ofcitizens of another country, it should be one of the tops concerns. Humanrights are very important because they are supposed to protect individuals fromgovernments or other entities that will try to violate their human rights. Nationshave the obligation and responsibility of looking after the basic needs oftheir citizens and to protect some of their freedoms them have. Human rightsare for everyone no matter what their status is.
They are guaranteedinternationally according to the Universal Declarations of Human Rights, whichwas approved by the United Nations General Assembly. Human rights are protectedby law, cannot be taken away, they focus on respecting the dignity of humans,and they protect both individuals and groups. However, human rights are notalways protected and can be violated. Myanmar is a goodexample of how citizen’s human rights can be violated. Myanmar is apredominately Buddhist country.
There is a small amount of other religions inMyanmar. One of these religions that are in the minority are Muslims. ManyMuslims in Myanmar are not allowed to vote and many are denied citizenship. Onegroup of people that have been constantly suffering are the Rohingya from theRakhine state of Myanmar, a western state of Myanmar. The Rohingya arepredominately Muslim with very few of them being Hindu. There has always beentension between the Rohingyas and the Buddhists.
This tension has led toviolence on different occasions. This violence has caused the nationalistBuddhist to go after the Rohingyas. The Rohingyas have their own distinctethnicity. They have their own culture and language.
However, they claim thatthey have a connection to the Rakhine State that goes back many years. Manypeople believe the United States has an obligation to respond to thishumanitarian crisis that is occurring. Many countries look to the United Stateswhen they have crisis because the U.S. are the leaders of the free world. IsMyanmar important to United States’ international human rights policies? Ibelieve Myanmar is important to the United States’ international human rightspolicies because according to the U.S. Department of State, the promotion ofhuman rights is an important national interest.
Issues in Myanmar After many decades of isolation, Myanmar introduced manysignificant reforms since 2011 that has affected the country economically andpolitically. The National League for Democracy, which is an opposition party ofMyanmar, brought back the formal political process. In the elections of 2015,the National League for Democracy won by a landslide and gave the party themajority to both chambers of parliament, even though important ministries inMyanmar has continued to be dominated by the military (Xu and Albert). Inresponse to this new government and change, many world powers have liftedinternational sanctions. The United States and Myanmar’s diplomaticrelationship has relaxed since this election. However, the concerns of the roleof the military in Myanmar’s domestic affairs are still present.
Concerns ofhow the government of Myanmar treats the Rohingya Muslims, who are ethnicminorities, is a main concern. The Rohingya Muslism ofthe Rakhine State, who were declared as stateless by the Citizenship Law of1982, have faced the brunt of persecution. In June of 2012, violence broke outbetween the Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslism. At least 200 people weremurdered and hundreds of thousands of people were driven from their homes dueto the violence that broke out (Xu and Albert).
The Human Rights Watch releaseda report in 2013 that made accusations that the Myanmar authorities committedcrimes against humanity. They accused the authorities of ethnic cleansingagainst the Rohingya. In Myanmar, the population of the Rohingya is around onemillion.
Unfortunately, the Rohingya are continually denied citizenship of theRakhine state. They also continue to consider the Rohingya as illegalimmigrants from Bangladesh. Thousands of Rohingya have fled Myanmar and haveshowed up in Bangladesh in order to seek shelter from the violence. They havealso used boats to flee to other neighboring countries. Unfortunately, inspring of 2015, these countries ordered their navies to refuse the refugeestrying to come in, which causes thousands of refugees stuck at sea. In May 2015,Indonesia and Malaysia finally agreed to let in the refugees, with the help ofpressure from the international community, until they could find another homein another country.
Even though Myanmar agreed with other countries to send outsmaller number of migrants, the government of Myanmar denies that they have anyconnection to the reason why the Rohingyas are fleeing Myanmar. Aung San Suu Kyi, theleader of the National League of Democracy and State Counsellor, has not spokenout much of the violence and the persecution that is going on in Myanmar (Xuand Albert). Many people believe that if Aung San Suu Kyi would have addressedthe situation of the Rohingyas would have caused her to lose the nationalelections of 2015. Even though Rohingya Muslims were not allowed to vote in thenational elections of 2015 and candidates that were Muslim were not allowed torun in the elections, the way the Rohingyas are treasted and the relationshipbetween the Buddhists and the Muslims continue to be controversial politicalissues. U.S. Policy TowardsHuman RightsWhen the United Stateswas founded over 200 years ago, one of the key founding features was to protecthuman rights.
One of the main goals of U.S. foreign policy has been to promotethe respect for human rights that have been represented in the UniversalDeclaration of Human Rights (“Human Rights”). The United States accepts that inorder to secure the peace in a nation, human rights must exist.
According tothe U.S., human rights also helps avert aggression from occurring, promote therule of law, strengthen weak democracies, combat crime and corruption, and preventthe breakout of humanitarian crises (“Human Rights”).Since theUnited States believes that it is an important national interest to promotehuman rights, one of the things United States seeks to do is to makegovernments accountable to uphold the obligations they have according to thehuman rights norms and international human rights instruments (“Human Rights”). TheUnited States also want to promote that human rights should be respected muchmore than it is now. Some of these human rights that should have more respectinclude freedom of the press, freedom of expression, and rights of women andchildren. The United States also wishes to hold countries accountable, promotethe rule of law, and change cultures of impunity (“Human Rights”).
Anotherthing that the United States wishes to do is help efforts of strengthening andreforming the office United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and theUnited Nation Commission on Human Rights (“Human Rights”).According tothe Bureauof Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL), there are three keyprinciples that should be applied to the work that is done on human rights. The first key principle is the strive that the DRL has in order to find outthe truth and to learn the facts in every human rights investigation they areresponsible for. They also have the obligation to give reports on theconditions of countries, and to make speeches and cast votes in the UnitedNations.
The secondkey principle of the DRL is that they are required to take positions that areconsistent with past, present, and future abuses (“Human Rights”). When it comes to abuses that havehappened in the past, the DRL wants to hold countries accountable. In order tocease the abuses that is still occurring, the DRL uses an “inside-outside” approach.This “inside-outside” approach combines vigorous external focus on concerns ofhuman rights with support from internal reform (“Human Rights”). In order toprevent abuses from occurring in the future, the DRL advocates for earlywarning and preventive diplomacy (“Human Rights”).
The DRL makes sure that themilitary and security assistance programs are given proper training over humanrights. They also conduct communication with other governments about humanrights issues. With the help of international campaigns, the DRL are alsopassionate about advocating for women’s rights. These international campaignsare used to promote political participation and full equality for women. TheDRL and important allies of the United States have also coordinated U.S. policyon human rights. The Bureau also focuses on important issues and cases with thehelp of diplomatic and public means.
The third and last keyprinciple of the DRL is that they have partnerships with multilateralinstitutions, organizations, and governments that are altogether committed tothe fight for human rights. These multilateral alliances put the DRL at anadvantage because it helps put more focus and attention on these human rightsissues occurring around the world and it also seeks to correct the wrongdoingsof these countries. At annual meetings of the many international human rightsorganization, U.S. delegations receive support from the bureau by technical andfinancial means. On a regular basis, the DRL holds consolations with NativeAmerican tribes to make sure their rights are being protected. They also serveas the Secretary’s principle advisor when it comes to international humanrights of indigenous people (“Human Rights”).
The DRL and the UN HighCommissioner on Human Rights maintain a relationship in order to help fight forhuman rights around the world. In order to hold countries accountable forviolating human rights, the bureau believes there should be a creation of aneffective multilateral human rights mechanism and also the creations ofinstitutions (“Human Rights”). According to these threeprinciples of the DRL, the United States does have an obligation to protectMyanmar. These three principles also show that Myanmar is important to theUnited States’ international human rights policies.
The United States clearlysays that it is important to their national interest to promote human rights. Theybelieve that it very important to hold countries accountable when they violatetheir own citizen’s human rights. Human rights should be respected no matterwhat. It what keeps people from have some form of freedom from theirgovernment. If human rights did not exist, there would be no sense of moralityor respect for life. The world would be very chaotic. The world has alreadyseen the abuse of human rights with the Armenian Genocide and Adolf Hitler and theHolocaust.
The world knows the outcome of both of these events: many peoplelost their lives because there was a total disregard for human rights and theywere of different backgrounds. The protection of human rights is very importantand should be protected at all cost. At the 72ndSession of the UN General Assembly in New York in September 2017, the UnitedStates announced that they would be providing $32 million in humanitarianassistance (“U.S.
Humanitarian Assistance inResponse to the Crisis in Rakhine State, Burma”). One of the main goals of the 72ndSession of the General Assembly was to spread awareness and support of ongoinginstances that are in need of humanitarian assistance, especially for peoplethat are fleeing and the communities that are hosting these refugees. Thishumanitarian assistance would be used to help the needs of the Rohingya thatare fleeing the violence that is occurring against them in their state ofRakhine in Myanmar to Bangladesh. This aid would also be given to the peoplethat are displaced internally from different communities within the RakhineState and also given to the communities in Bangladesh that are hosting theRohingya. This new funding thatwas announced by the United States brings humanitarian assistance to close to$95 million in the 2017 fiscal year (“U.S.Humanitarian Assistance in Response to the Crisis in Rakhine State, Burma”). The funding will beused on the people that are displaced throughout Myanmar and to refugees fromMyanmar.
The funding and assistance the United States is giving shows that theUnited States is committed to help spread awareness of the amount of sufferingthat the Rohingyas are experiencing and to make sure their needs are being met.The government of Bangladesh is assisting the United States in this matter tomake sure the humanitarian assistance reaches the Rohingyas in need.Unfortunately,many of the resources that the local authorities and humanitarian agencies havebeen running very low due to the large number of refugees that are coming in todifferent regions at a very rapid pace. The additional support of the UnitedStates will help these local authorities and humanitarian agencies that tighton resources. This additional support includes emergency shelters, foodsecurity, nutritional, health, and psychosocial assistance, water, sanitationand hygiene, disaster and crisis risk reduction (“U.
S. Humanitarian Assistance in Response to theCrisis in Rakhine State, Burma”). On top of the humanitarian assistance thatthe United States is providing, the United States is showing support to all thegroups, such as the United Nations and NGOs, and that are providing assistanceto the Rohingya cause. The United States encourages other parties and donors toprovide additional humanitarian assistance to the Rohingyas. In Octoberof 2017, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke out against the issue andannounced that the United States would not remain silent with all theatrocities that are occurring in Myanmar (Crawford). He also explained how theUnited States holds the military leadership of Myanmar accountable for thetragic events that are unfolding in the Rakhine state.
Tillerson also states,”What’s most important to us is the world cannot just stand idly by and bewitness to the atrocities that are being reported in that area” (Crawford). Afterseeing many news outlets report on the killings of Rohingyas, burning ofRohingya villages, and the squalid living conditions of the refugee camps, Tillersonbelieves that the Myanmar military should be held the most accountable and hasthe biggest responsibility in resolving the crisis. Tillerson stated, “If thesereports are true, someone is going to be help to account for that. It is up tothe military leadership of Myanmar to decide what directions they want to playin the future of Myanmar” (Crawford). Conclusion Humanitarian efforts shouldalways be important to every country and must be taken seriously. There shouldbe strong support of the United States’ decision to lift sanctions in order tosupport the Rohingyas in Myanmar.
Many have thought that the reimpositions ofsanctions would create a lot of damage to the democratic process of Myanmar.However, many have ditched this view after the new government showed what theywere really like. The United States,along with other countries, must continue their ongoing efforts to help out theRohingyas. Expressionconcerns and condemning world leaders is simply not enough. Direct actions mustbe taken in order to deal with this unfortunate situation in Rakhine, Myanmar.Leaders around the world should call on Myanmar’s government in order to takecertain measure to combat this humanitarian crisis.
The United States, with thehelp of the United Nations, should be the primary nation that leads thishumanitarian effort. One thing that United States needs to demand of theMyanmar government is to cease all violent military actions in the country. TheUnited States should also demand that Myanmar publically criticize the militaryand militia groups for the persecutions of the Rohingyas. Another thing thatneeds to be demanded of Myanmar is to allow complete humanitarian access inorder to provide aid. A political dialogue between the Myanmar government andthe Rohingya must be established. Ifthings continue being the same for the Rohingyas in Myanmar, Myanmar will neverbe able to get rid of the ugly scares of hatred and discrimination that wasaimed towards the Rohingyas. The international community will also continue tobe affected by this and will see it’s unfortunate effect if nothing is done.