Mass killing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar is 'genocide', says US

11:55 PM | 21 Mar, 2022
Mass killing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar is 'genocide', says US
Source: InsideTechWorld (Twitter)

WASHINGTON – The United States on Monday declared the mass killing of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar to be a “genocide”.

“The United States has concluded that genocide has been committed seven times. Today marks the eighth. I have determined that members of the Burmese military committed genocide and crimes against humanity,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced at the Holocaust Memorial Museum. 

In his speech, Blinken pointed to multiple parallels between the Myanmar military’s campaign to wipe out the Rohingya and the Holocaust, the slaughter of Rwandan Tutsi and other genocides.

“The attack against Rohingya was widespread and systematic, which was crucial for reaching a determination of crimes against humanity,” Blinken said. “The evidence also points to a clear intent behind these mass atrocities, the intent to destroy Rohingya in whole or in part.”

In making its genocide designation, US investigators talked to more than 1,000 Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh, after having been displaced by the violence in 2016 or 2017. Blinken said three quarters of those interviewed said that “they personally witnessed members of the military kill someone.

“More than half witnessed acts of sexual violence. One in five witnessed a mass casualty event – that is the killing or injury of more than 100 people in a single incident,” he said.

The designation will not bring substantial new economic measures against Myanmar’s military-led government, as the US has already imposed multiple layers of sanctions since the campaign against the Rohingya began in the country’s western Rakhine state in 2016.

However, Blinken said the US would be contributing nearly $1m in additional funding to the Genocide Convention for Myanmar, established by the UN human rights council in 2018, and would share information to support the Gambia’s case against Myanmar under the Genocide Convention before the UN’s international court of justice in The Hague.

“By formally declaring a genocide took place against the Rohingya the US is firmly acknowledging the scope and horror of the junta’s violence,” Kyaw Win, the executive director of the Burma Human Rights Network, said. He added: “This declaration must be followed by further action. A military that commits genocide and launches a coup to overthrow a democratically elected government has no place in the civilised world.”

More than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled from Buddhist-majority Myanmar to refugee camps in Bangladesh since October 2016, 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.