The Biden administration has officially determined that Myanmar’s military has been committing genocide by oppressing the Rohingya minority in the country. According to a CNBC report, U.S. officials affirm that Myanmar’s military is carrying out acts of violence that are ‘crimes against humanity’. U.S. recognition will make it much easier for the international community to hold Myanmar’s leaders accountable.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be announcing his decision to reexamine the violence Rohingya people are facing at the Holocaust Memorial Museum on Monday. Currently, the museum is hosting an exhibit to highlight the conditions the Rohingya people are living in.
Myanmar’s military launched an operation back in 2017, where nearly 750,000 Rohingya, mostly Muslims, were forced to leave their homes and flee to the neighboring country of Bangladesh, where they were faced with further atrocities like murder, arson and mass rape.
In the past, Myanmar’s armed forces have always maintained that they are not committing genocide against the Rohingya. They insisted the operations were conducted against terrorists who were hiding in the area inhabited by the Rohingya. With the assistance of a UN fact-finding mission in 2018, the United Nations reached the conclusion that the military operations against the Rohingya were “acts of genocide.”
Senior officials from the State Department believe that Antony Blinken’s announcement will encourage the international community to act in favor of the Rohingya people. The United States’ recognition of the gravity of the atrocities may galvanize the world and give hope to the survivors and victims among the Rohingya community. It will also enhance the United States’ position as they build global support to prevent such atrocities and hold those responsible for such crimes accountable.
A genocide determination does not automatically trigger punitive U.S. action. It’s the sixth time the State Department has officially shown such determination and used terms like “genocidal acts” when describing mass killings. An open condemnation by the U.S. stating that crimes against humanity were committed could be helpful in holding the generals accountable for genocide.