According to US sources, the Biden administration plans to designate Myanmar’s years-long suppression of the Rohingya Muslim people a “genocide.”
According to sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the action had not yet been officially revealed, Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to make the long-awaited designation on Monday during a ceremony at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The designation does not automatically imply further harsh penalties against Myanmar’s military-led government, which has already been slammed with many levels of US sanctions since the campaign against the Rohingya ethnic minority in the country’s western Rakhine state began in 2017.
However, it may increase international pressure on the government, which is already facing genocide allegations at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Both the Trump and Biden administrations have been pressed to make the designation by human rights organizations and politicians.
At least one member of Congress, Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley, as well as Refugees International, applauded the planned move.
“I applaud the Biden administration for finally recognizing the atrocities committed against the Rohingya as genocide,” he said in a statement released shortly after the State Department announced that Blinken would speak about Myanmar on Monday at the Holocaust Museum and tour an exhibit titled “Burma’s Path to Genocide.” Myanmar, often known as Burma, is a country in Southeast Asia.
“While this decision is long delayed, it is nevertheless a significant and vital step in holding this terrible dictatorship accountable,” Merkley said. “These processes must always be conducted objectively, consistently, and in a manner that is independent of geopolitical considerations.”
Refugees International, a humanitarian organization, hailed the action as well. In a statement, the organization stated, “The United States’ genocide proclamation is a welcome and deeply significant move.” “It’s also a strong statement of dedication to justice for all those who have been subjected to atrocities by the military junta up until now.”
Merkley urged the administration to keep up the pressure on Myanmar by slapping new sanctions on the government, including those targeting the country’s oil and gas industries. “America must lead the world in stating unequivocally that crimes like this will never go unrecognized, no matter where they occur,” he added.
Since August 2017, when the Myanmar military started a clearing operation in response to assaults by a rebel group, more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to refugee camps in Bangladesh. Myanmar’s security forces have been accused of rapes in the hundreds, as well as deaths and house fires.