Ambassador Chris Lu
U.S. Representative for UN Management and Reform
October 21, 2022
I want to thank you for your patience and thank Georgetown for hosting this very timely event to address human rights and accountability in Burma. I especially want to thank the brave activists for their moving testimony this morning and more importantly, for the work that you are doing on the ground.
In August, we commemorated the fifth anniversary of the horrific 2017 campaign against Rohingya, during which members of the Burmese military committed genocide and crimes against humanity. Many of these same military forces participated in the coup and they continue to repress, physically abuse, and kill the people of Burma in a blatant attempt to extinguish Burma’s democratic future.
The regime’s executions of pro-democracy and opposition leaders in July shows their complete disregard for the lives of the Burmese people. This violence has exacerbated the worsening humanitarian situation, particularly for ethnic and religious minority communities, including Rohingya, which continue to remain among the most vulnerable and marginalized people in the country.
We in the United States, are deeply troubled by the ongoing reports of human rights abuses, including the increase in gender-based violence. Women and girls in areas where fighting is ongoing are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence, arbitrary detention, and forced labor. The United States continues to call for an immediate end to violence along and accountability and justice for all victims.
The U.S. has provided more than $1.7 billion to assist those affected by the crisis in Burma, Bangladesh, and elsewhere in the region, remaining the largest single donor of life-saving humanitarian assistance.
We provide support to the UN’s Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM), which has a mandate to collect, consolidate, preserve, and analyze evidence of the most serious international crimes and violations of international law committed in Burma – as well as to prepare files to facilitate fair and independent criminal proceedings in national, regional, and international courts or tribunals that may have future jurisdiction over these crimes. This support includes providing IIMM with $2 million of funding to strengthen its capacity to conduct open-source investigations and enhance its capacity to protect victims and witnesses.
And we are working with the Rohingya community to help document the atrocities and abuses committed against them and we stand ready to support a holistic transitional justice process to address the long history of atrocities and abuses against Rohingya, a process that respects the demands of victims for truth, reparation, justice, and non-recurrence – once that becomes viable.
Secretary Blinken has made clear that the United States, “supports measures by the UN Security Council to promote justice and accountability for the military’s actions in line with its mandate to promote international peace and security, and in this vein, … would support a UN Security Council referral of the situation in Burma to the International Criminal Court.”
Preventing the recurrence of atrocities, addressing the needs of victims, and ensuring that those responsible for atrocities are held accountable are essential to addressing the military’s continued impunity for human rights abuses and to ensure a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic Burma that respects the human rights of all.
I want to thank you Ambassador again, for convening this session, and thank all the participants, including my colleagues in the UK and Czech Mission.
Thank you for having me.