US to declare Rohingya repression in Myanmar a 'genocide'

At least one member of Congress, Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, welcomed the anticipated step, as did Refugees International.

Associated PressUpdated: Monday, March 21, 2022, 04:47 PM IST
article-image
Myanmar refugees in India | Photo: AFP

The Biden administration intends to declare that Myanmar's years-long repression of the Rohingya Muslim population is a "genocide," U.S. officials said Sunday.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to make the long-anticipated designation on Monday at an event at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the move had not yet been publicly announced.

The designation does not in and of itself portend drastic new measures against Myanmar's military-led government, which has already been hit with multiple layers of U.S. sanctions since the campaign against the Rohingya ethnic minority began in the country's western Rakhine state in 2017.

But it could lead to additional international pressure on the government, which is already facing accusations of genocide at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Human rights groups and lawmakers have been pressing both the Trump and Biden administrations to make the designation.

At least one member of Congress, Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, welcomed the anticipated step, as did Refugees International.

"I applaud the Biden administration for finally recognizing the atrocities committed against the Rohingya as genocide," he said in a statement released immediately after the State Department announced that Blinken would deliver remarks on Myanmar at the Holocaust Museum on Monday and tour an exhibit entitled "Burma's Path to Genocide." Myanmar is also known as Burma.

"While this determination is long overdue, it is nevertheless a powerful and critically important step in holding this brutal regime to account," Merkley said. "Such processes must always be carried out objectively, consistently, and in a way that transcends geopolitical considerations." The humanitarian group Refugees International also praised the move. "The U.S. genocide declaration is a welcome and profoundly meaningful step," the group said in a statement. "It is also a solid sign of commitment to justice for all the people who continue to face abuses by the military junta to this very 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 atrocities like these will never be allowed to be buried unnoticed, no matter where they occur," he said.

More than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled from Buddhist-majority Myanmar to refugee camps in Bangladesh since August 2017, when the Myanmar military launched a clearance operation in response to attacks by a rebel group. Myanmar security forces have been accused of mass rapes, killings and the burning of thousands of homes.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

RECENT STORIES

Maharashtra: Five of family killed as container hits their car near Pune

Maharashtra: Five of family killed as container hits their car near Pune

Mumbai updates: 3 signal failures reported at CSMT; local trains on Central, Harbour line delayed

Mumbai updates: 3 signal failures reported at CSMT; local trains on Central, Harbour line delayed

Row over participation of child dressed as V D Savarkar in Kerala school's I-Day event

Row over participation of child dressed as V D Savarkar in Kerala school's I-Day event

Mumbai: Celebs missing, no big cash prize; Dahi Handi celebration with less pomp this year

Mumbai: Celebs missing, no big cash prize; Dahi Handi celebration with less pomp this year

Four wheels of express come off track after it hits goods train in Maharashtra's Gondia; no serious...

Four wheels of express come off track after it hits goods train in Maharashtra's Gondia; no serious...
epaper
Do you wish to receive daily Epaper on your WhatsApp for FREE?
NO
Yes