Myanmar military committed genocide against Rohingya, US says

WASHINGTON — Amid a war in Ukraine and atrocities in Ethiopia, the United States on Monday formally accused Myanmar of committing genoci...


WASHINGTON — Amid a war in Ukraine and atrocities in Ethiopia, the United States on Monday formally accused Myanmar of committing genocide against its minority Rohingya population.

“The day will come when those responsible for these appalling acts will be held accountable,” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, which is present evidence decades of discrimination and abuse against Rohingya Muslims by the Myanmar military.

Violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State culminated in August 2017 with a campaign of mass rape, burning and drowning of entire families that killed more than 9,000 people and forced nearly a million people to flee the country.

It was the eighth time the United States has issued an official genocide declaration, pledging to support international investigations to hold perpetrators accountable and likely prompting additional sanctions or other penalties to isolate Myanmar’s military government.

Messages left at the Myanmar Embassy in Washington on Monday did not receive an immediate response.

Officials who “bear the greatest responsibility for atrocities” will continue to face stiff penalties, Blinken said.

He did not mention any sanctions against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate who was the de facto ruler of Myanmar at the time of the 2017 massacres and had dismissed charges of genocide. Ms Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested in a coup in February 2021. Since then, Myanmar’s military, known as the Tatmadaw, has violently suppressed civilians across the country, killing at least 1 670 people and arresting more than 12,000.

The designation bolsters international charges of genocide that have been leveled against the leaders who ordered the atrocities against the Rohingya, some of whom Blinken said remain in power in Myanmar.

Canada, France, Turkey and other US allies have previously declared the 2017 rampage a genocide. Gambia, acting on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which has 57 members, filed a lawsuit against Myanmar in 2019 before the International Court of Justice, accusing Myanmar of violating the Genocide Convention.

Monday’s statement “adds an additional layer to the already rather damning accusations against Myanmar for atrocities committed against the Rohingya”, it said. Oumar BaAssistant Professor of Government at Cornell University and expert on the international criminal justice system.

Noting the possible guilt of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, Mr. Ba added: “We must, however, be careful not to attribute these crimes solely to the Myanmar military junta.

Blinken said the Biden administration would continue to provide humanitarian aid to Rohingya refugees, the majority of whom fled to neighboring Bangladesh, and would send $1 million to a UN fact-finding mission which gathers evidence on the worst cases of atrocities in Myanmar since 2011.

American investigators conducted their own investigation in the violence, interviewing more than 1,000 refugees who reported widespread and systematic attacks. More than half of Rohingyas surveyed had witnessed sexual assaults and three-quarters said they had seen killings at the hands of the military. One in five Rohingya respondents witnessed a mass casualty event, in which more than 100 people were killed or injured, Blinken said, citing the report.

“The evidence also points to a clear intent behind these mass atrocities – the intent to destroy the Rohingya,” Blinken said.

The State Department refrained from declaring the atrocities committed in Myanmar to be genocide when it published the results in 2018, in part to maintain an alliance with the government and unbalance neighboring China in the region. More than two years later, at the end of the Trump administration, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the systemic abuse and detention Muslim Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region of China as an act of genocide.

The Biden administration has also resisted declaring atrocities in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray province as genocide, although Mr. Blinken has notified of cases of ethnic cleansing against civilians there. And just last week, Mr. Blinken said he believed that war crimes had been committed by Russian forces in their invasion of Ukraine, but said investigators still have not officially concluded this.

Yet Mr. Blinken mentioned the two conflicts on Monday. Shortly after his speech, the State Department also announced that it had named Sudan’s Central Reserve Police as human rights violators after accusations of rape, torture and other abuses were brought against him. pro-democracy protesters surfaced from late last year, including as recently as last week.

“Over the past few weeks, as I’ve spoken with diplomats around the world about Ukraine, I’ve also heard a constant refrain,” Blinken said. “A lot of them say, ‘Yes, we stand with the Ukrainian people. But we must also stand with people who suffer atrocities in other places.

At one point, he stopped reading his speech, displayed on a teleprompter. “It’s painful even to read these accounts,” he said after detailing some of the abuses against the Rohingya. “I ask each of you who are listening: put yourself in their shoes. Imagine it was your own child.

Mr. Blinken’s speech comes nearly 89 years to the day after the opening of the first Nazi concentration camp, in Dachau, Germany, where his father-in-law, Samuel Pisar, was held until freed by American troops near the end of World War II. Mr. Pisar’s experiences helped shape Mr. Blinken’s zeal for the defense of human rights and democracy in foreign policy.

“This pain reverberates outward, from individual victims and survivors to loved ones, friends, entire communities,” he said. “We must also remember to consider these individuals as more than victims, but rather as full human beings.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Myanmar military committed genocide against Rohingya, US says
Myanmar military committed genocide against Rohingya, US says
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