Updated: August 11, 2021 05:52 AM GMT
Rohingya refugees enter Bangladesh through Shah Porir Dwip island in Cox’s Bazar district on Sept. 30, 2017, after a brutal clampdown by Myanmar's military. (Photo: Stephan Uttom/UCA News)
More than 90 rights groups have pressed the United States to declare that the Myanmar military committed genocide against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine.
In a joint letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Aug. 10, the groups — including Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Refugees International and the Arakan Institute for Peace and Human Rights — urged the US administration to publicly state that Myanmar had committed genocide and crimes against humanity against the Rohingya.
The call came on the fourth anniversary of the Rohingya exodus from Myanmar following the military crackdown in August 2017 that caused more than 700,000 people to flee their homes and take refuge in camps in Bangladesh.
“As the fourth anniversary of the brutal campaign against the Rohingya approaches — and with the ongoing risk of further atrocities — we urge you to publicly announce your determination and to refer to the crimes by their proper name: crimes against humanity and genocide,” the letter states.
Myanmar has been named along with China in the State Department’s annual report to Congress on countries where there is risk of atrocities being committed.
The US, however, is still avoiding use of the term "genocide" despite the UN Fact-Finding Mission claiming that the Myanmar military committed four of the five acts constituting genocide against the Rohingya.
After a careful and thorough analysis of available facts, it is clear that the situation in northern Rakhine state constitutes ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya
It said Min Aung Hlaing, leader of the Feb. 1 coup, and five other senior generals should be prosecuted for genocide and crimes against humanity.
“After a careful and thorough analysis of available facts, it is clear that the situation in northern Rakhine state constitutes ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya,” then secretary of state Rex Tillerson said in November 2017.
“We believe the information and assessments produced so far compels the United States, in its capacity as a government and not as a court, to publicly express its view that genocide has been committed and may be continuing against the Rohingya of Myanmar,” the groups said.
They said the Feb. 1 coup by the same military that perpetrated abuses against the Rohingya, and the ongoing abuses by the military against other ethnic groups and the Myanmar population in general, only underscore the importance of recognizing the military’s past crimes for what they are.
Washington’s determination of genocide and crimes against humanity would subject Myanmar and its military to much needed international scrutiny at a time of increased risk of atrocities against other ethnic minority groups such as the Kachin, Karen and Shan.
The rights groups say such a determination would be wholly consistent with the findings of the Department of State, which concluded that the attacks on the Rohingya were “well-planned and coordinated” and that they were “extreme, large-scale, widespread and seemingly geared toward both terrorizing the population and driving out the Rohingya residents.”
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