VOA Burmese Service contributed to this report
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation aimed at advancing efforts to hold senior Myanmar leaders accountable for crimes committed against Rohingya and other ethnic minorities.
The BURMA act was approved on Tuesday and now goes to the Senate for consideration.
"Journalists, activists and anyone who is willing to use their voice to call out wrong doing must be protected. That is why Congresswoman Ann Wagner and I introduced the Burma Political Prisoners Assistance Act, Rep. Andy Levin (D) said. "This bill calls for the release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Burma and directs our State Department to bolster its works to achieve this act."
Amnesty International urged the Senate to act on the legislation.
"Over two years have passed since the world witnessed atrocities committed against Rohingya women, men, and children. Yet the U.S. Congress has so far failed to speak with a united voice on the issue. Further inaction by the U.S. sets a terrible precedent for other countries and risks emboldening the Myanmar military to continue committing crimes across the country," Amnesty International USA's Asia Pacific Advocacy Manger Francisco Bencosme said.
Last month, A U.N. fact-finding mission concluded that the Myanmar military intended to perpetrate genocide on ethnic Rohingya Muslims when it drove hundreds of thousands of them from the country in 2017.
More than 700,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar's northern Rakhine state in August and September 2017, after attacks by Rohingya militants against state security forces led to military reprisals. They continue to seek shelter in a refugee camp in neighboring Bangladesh.