On International Women’s Day, Angelina Jolie and Senator John McCain are appealing to Americans to come together to defend human rights and American leadership in the world — specifically with regard to the recent increase in violence and atrocities being committed against the Rohingya Muslims.
In a co-written op-ed for the New York Times, Jolie and McCain outline the human rights issue at hand and urge Americans and the U.S. government to take action.
“Around the world, there is profound concern that America is giving up the mantle of global leadership,” they write. “Our steady retreat over the past decade has contributed to a wide array of complex global challenges — a dangerous erosion of the rule of law, gross human rights violations and the decline of the rules-based international order that was designed in the aftermath of two world wars to prevent conflict and deter mass atrocities.”
Jolie, 42, and McCain, 81, cite a lack of diplomacy in Myanmar, formerly Burma, that has led to 680,000 Rohingya Muslims being forced to flee “a systematic military campaign of killings, arson, rape and other mass atrocities amounting to ethnic cleansing.”
They add: “According to recent reports, many survivors are still not getting proper assistance because of a lack of funding for gender-based-violence programs. Addressing these shortfalls and taking steps to protect Rohingya refugee women and girls from further sexual violence should be a priority for the United States and like-minded countries. We must also take urgent steps to get medical care and assistance to Rohingya families in desperate need in Rakhine State in Myanmar.”
Jolie and McCain urge the passing of the Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act, a bill sponsored by Senator McCain, which would impose sanctions on Burmese military and security forces responsible for the violence and also support efforts to properly investigate human rights violations.
“While politics have left Americans deeply divided, we can all unite around the belief that a commitment to freedom, justice and human rights has distinguished the United States as a great nation,” they write. “Our failure to hold accountable those who commit mass atrocities and human rights abuses will lead to more violence and instability.”