US to declare Myanmar Rohingya crackdown ‘genocide’
This designation does not in itself portend drastic new measures against Myanmar’s military-led government, which has already been hit with multiple levels of US sanctions since the start of the campaign against the Rohingya ethnic minority in Rakhine State. , in the west of the country, in 2017.
But this could lead to additional international pressure on the government, which is already accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Human rights groups and lawmakers have lobbied the Trump and Biden administrations to make the designation.
At least one congressman, Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, hailed the planned step, as did Refugees International.
“I commend the Biden administration for finally acknowledging the atrocities against the Rohingya as genocide,” he said in a statement released immediately after the State Department announced that Blinken would deliver a speech on the Myanmar at the Holocaust Museum on Monday and would visit an exhibit called ‘Burma’s Path to Genocide. Myanmar is also known as Burma.
“While this resolve is long overdue, it is nonetheless a powerful and critically important step in holding this brutal regime to account,” Merkley said. “These processes must always be conducted objectively, consistently and in a way that transcends geopolitical considerations.”
The humanitarian group Refugees International also welcomed the decision. “The US genocide declaration is a welcome and deeply significant step,” the group said in a statement. “It is also a strong sign of commitment to justice for all those who continue to face the abuses of the military junta until today.”
Merkley called on the administration to continue the pressure campaign on Myanmar by imposing additional sanctions on the government to include its oil and gas sectors. “America must lead the world to make it clear that such atrocities can never be buried unnoticed, no matter where they occur,” he said.
More than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar to refugee camps in bangladesh since August 2017, when the Myanmar military launched a mine-clearing operation in response to attacks by a rebel group. Myanmar’s security forces have been accused of mass rapes, murders and burning down thousands of homes.