Biden administration rules Myanmar army committed genocide against Rohingya

Myanmar's military genocide against the Rohingya minority

March 22, 2022: -The Biden administration has determined that violence committed against the Rohingya minority by Myanmar’s military amounts to genocide and crimes against humanity. U.S. officials told Reuters, a move which advocates say should bolster efforts to hold the junta that runs Myanmar accountable.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is going to announce the decision on Monday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., U.S. officials said, which currently features an exhibit on the plight of the Rohingya. It comes almost 14 months after he took office and pledged to conduct a new review of the violence.

Myanmar’s armed forces are launching a military operation in 2017 that forced nearly 730,000 of the Muslim Rohingya from their homes and into neighboring Bangladesh, where they recount the killing, mass rape, and arson. In 2021, Myanmar’s military seized power in a coup.

U.S. officials and an outside law firm quickly gathered evidence to acknowledge the atrocities’ seriousness, but then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to decide.

Blinken ordered his own “legal and factual analysis,” the U.S. officials told Reuters on anonymity. The analysis concluded the Myanmar army is committing genocide, and Washington is believing the formal determination will increase international pressure to hold the junta accountable.

“It will make it harder for them to commit further abuses,” said one senior State Department official.

Myanmar’s military has denied committing genocide against the Rohingya, who are denied citizenship in Myanmar, and said it was conducting an operation against terrorists in 2017.

A U.N. fact-finding mission concluded in 2018 that the military’s campaign included “genocidal acts.” Still, Washington referred to the atrocities as “ethnic cleansing,” a term that has no legal definition under international criminal law.

“It’s signaling to the world and especially to victims and survivors within the Rohingya community and more broadly than the United States recognizes the gravity of what’s happening,” a second senior State Department official said of Blinken’s announcement.

A genocide determination does not unleash punitive U.S. action automatically.

Since the Cold War, the State Department has used the term six times to describe massacres in Bosnia, Rwanda, Iraq, and Darfur, the Islamic State’s attacks on Yazidis and different minorities, and most recently last year, more than China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslims. China denies the genocide claims.

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