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WASHINGTON: The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed legislation on Thursday to impose targeted sanctions and travel restrictions on senior Burmese military officials responsible for human rights atrocities against the Rohingya people.

The legislation was joint written by two senior lawmakers, Senator John McCain, a Republican who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Ben Cardin, a senior Democrat in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. About a dozen lawmakers from both Republican and Democratic parties sponsored the resolution.

The authors described the passage of their resolution as the first step in the direction to hold accountable the senior military officials responsible for the slaughter and displacement of more than 680,000 innocent Rohingya men, women and children.

The Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act would prohibit certain military cooperation with the Burmese military until the US Departments of State and Defence can certify that officials have halted the violence.

The bill would also support economic and security sector reform, and encourage Burma’s successful transition of power to a civilian government.

“The scale of human rights abuses against the Rohingya people and other minority communities in Burma has been staggering,” said Senator McCain. “The United States has a moral obligation to do all it can to prevent mass atrocities and ethnic cleansing — and to make clear to those responsible that their actions will not be tolerated,” he added.

“It makes clear that the United States will not stand for continued atrocities and will support all Burmese peoples in their struggle for freedom and democracy.”

Senator Cardin hoped the legislation would help “recalibrate US policy and engagement with Burma in light of the genocide and crimes against humanity that have taken place over the past several months against the Rohingya.”

Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2018