U.S. formally recognized Myanmar’s violence against Rohingya as genocide

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Anti-coup protesters are shown running around their makeshift barricade as they make a defense line during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar, in March 2021.

The United States has officially determined that violence committed against the Rohingya minority by Myanmar’s military amounts to genocide and crimes against humanity, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has announced.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on Monday, accused Myanmar’s military of carrying out a genocide and crimes against humanity in 2016 and 2017.

Blinken said it was only the eighth time in history that the U.S. had determined a genocide had occurred, and he hoped the announcement would help the Rohingya on their path out of the conflict.

“Today’s determination is one step on that path – as it tells Rohingya, and victims in particular, that the United States government recognizes the gravity of the atrocities committed against them,” Blinken said. “And it reaffirms Rohingyas’ human rights and dignity – something the Burmese military has tried to destroy.”

Blinken said he arrived at his decision based on a State Department factual assessment and legal analysis, which included a report on two periods of violence in Rakhine State in 2016 and 2017.

The report, based on a survey of more than one thousand Rohingya refugees who had fled to Bangladesh, found that the military killed, raped and tortured people and razed villages.

Blinken said the results showed that the abuses weren’t isolated but rather part of a widespread and systemic pattern of violence against Rohingya.

“The evidence also points to a clear intent behind these mass atrocities – the intent to destroy Rohingya, in whole or in part,” he added.

More than 9,000 Rohingya were killed in the 2017 attacks, the report concluded.

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