The President Joe Biden-led United States administration is slated to declare Myanmar’s year-long repression of the Rohingya Muslim population as ‘genocide’, The Associated Press reported on March 20. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken intends to make the long-anticipated destination on March 21 at an event at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, AP quoted officials as saying. Since the campaign against the Rohingya ethnic minority commenced in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state in 2017, the US has slapped the Asian country with heavy layers of sanctions.
While human rights activists and legislators have been pressing both the Biden and Trump regime to make the declaration, experts have calculated an additional international pressure on the government which is already witnessing a flurry of charges at the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
US to declare Rohingya repression in Myanmar a ‘genocide’ today
“I applaud the Biden administration for finally recognising the atrocities committed against the Rohingya as genocide,” Congress, Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon said welcoming the anticipated step. Also, the State Department announced that Blinken would deliver remarks on Myanmar at the Holocaust Museum 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 Senator added.
Further, Merkley called on the administration to continue the pressure campaign on Myanmar by imposing additional sanctions on the government including 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,” AP quoted Merkley as saying.
The humanitarian aid group, Refugees International, has also welcomed the move stating, “The U.S. genocide declaration is a welcome and profoundly meaningful step.”
“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,” the group’s official statement read.
Rohingya conflict in Myanmar
A brutal counterinsurgency operation by Myanmar’s military in 2017, during their coup d’état, drove nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to neighbouring Bangladesh. Having fled from Buddhist-majority Myanmar, Rohingya Muslims were compelled to form their refugee camps in Bangladesh, a Muslim majority country.
In response to Myanmar’s military’s clearance mission and attacks by local rebel groups, Rohingya Muslims have reported numerous incidents of crimes, including mass rapes, conversion, killings and demolition of their localities.