This GOP Leader Protects A Country Accused Of Genocide From Sanctions

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The U.N. has accused Myanmar's military of carrying out ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims. But Aung San Suu Kyi is not worried. She has friends in high places.

It's been over a year Myanmar launched a brutal army crackdown targeting the Rohingya Muslim communitys.

The crackdown soon spiraled into an ethnic cleansing campaign. The death toll is difficult to determine as Myanmar also tried to stop independent media organizations from entering Rakhine, the state where all the violence unfolded. Despite that, international journalists were able to record reports of murder, torture and mass rapes.

Meanwhile, since August 2017, at least 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to neighboring Bangladesh.

Soon after the crackdown was launched, the United States, a long-time ally of Myanmar, vowed to hold the Southeast Asian nation accountable.

Over a year down the lane, nothing substantial has happened, even as the military operation continues.

Politico reports the United States has imposed economic sanctions on just one Myanmar military leader.

Just one -- for displacing 700,000 Rohingya Muslims.

In 12 months, U.S. Congress has failed to pass any sort of legislation to penalize the country. Even efforts to limit U.S.-Myanmar military ties are constantly being stalled, Politico added.

And the reason might be the friendship between Myanmar's de-facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and a powerful Republican leader: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The bond between the two developed when Myanmar was under military rule. McConnell worked for 30 years to try to bring democracy to Myanmar. During that time, he corresponded with Aung San Suu Kyi, who was put under house arrest for advocating democracy.

The most important point in their relationship came in 2012, when McConnell went to visit Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon. It was widely regarded as an "emotional moment" in the media.

Then, after becoming the State Counselor of Myanmar in 2016, Aung San Suu Kyi also came to the United States to meet McConnell.

However, it has now emerged that McConnell might be using, rather quietly, his influence in the U.S. government to try to save his friend's administration, which is complicit in the genocidal campaign against Rohingya Muslims, from well-deserved sanctions.

In July, Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin denounced the removal of sanctions against Myanmar in a defense bill.

“The House bill contained five provisions restricting security engagement with Burma, imposing sanctions on Burmese officials responsible for human rights abuses and requiring the State Department to make a determination on whether the atrocities committed against the Rohingya people, a minority, constituted ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity or genocide,” the Illinois Democrat said.

He suggested a Senate leader was responsible for the removal and it is believed that leader is most likely McConnell.

“The Senate Majority Leader insisted that there be no Burma sanctions in the NDAA,” a House aide told Washington, D.C.-based newspaper Roll Call after Durbin's speech.

McConnell's office didn't address Durbin's statement. However, in August, the Republican leader defended Aung San Suu Kyi's silence over the Rohingya genocide, saying "she does not have the powers necessary to stop military actions."

Granted, the Myanmar military still calls the shots in Myanmar and democracy is the country has turned out to be a complete farce, Aung San Suu Kyi has not even made the effort to acknowledge the atrocities against Rohingya Muslims. In fact, she worked as an accomplice in the military crackdown after suggesting to ban the term "Rohingya" and accusing international journalists of spreading false information.

Even if Aung San Suu Kyi's government is not directly responsible for the atrocities against Rohingya Muslims, it is complicit.

Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Win McNamee/Getty Images

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