Blinken labels Myanmar’s Rohingya repression genocide
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday labeled Myanmar’s Rohingya repression a genocide.
Blinken, in remarks at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, said he came to the determination after evaluating a “factual assessment and legal analysis” from the State Department that pulled together documentation from a number of sources.
“I have determined that members of the Burmese military committed genocide and crimes against humanity against Rohingya,” Blinken said.
“It’s a decision that I reached based on reviewing a factual assessment and legal analysis prepared by the State Department, which included detailed documentation by a range of independent, impartial sources, including human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as our own rigorous fact-finding,” he added.
The secretary said the assault on the Rohingya was “widespread and systematic.”
“The attack against Rohingya was widespread and systematic, which is crucial for reaching a determination of crimes against humanity,” Blinken said.
He said evidence illustrates that there was a “clear intent behind these mass atrocities,” which was “to destroy Rohingya, in whole or in part.” He pointed to accounts from defected soldiers, racial slurs shouted by individuals in the Burmese military and “soldiers who bragged about their plans on social media,” among other pieces of evidence.
Blinken also read accounts from victims of the genocide, including individuals who were raped and physically assaulted.
The secretary’s comments came one day after Reuters reported that the Biden administration would formally declare that the Myanmar military’s violence against the Rohingya was a genocide and constituted crimes against humanity.
Myanmar’s military initiated an undertaking in 2017 that forced at least 730,000 Rohingya to leave their homes and enter Bangladesh, according to Reuters. The military ultimately seized power through a coup in 2021, just days after President Biden took office.
Blinken on Monday said the Burmese military is now targeting anyone it views as “opposing or undermining its repressive rule.”
“Since the coup, we’ve seen the Burmese military use many of the same tactics, only now the military is targeting anyone it sees as opposing or undermining its repressive rule: student protestors, pro-democracy activists, striking workers, journalists, health workers,” Blinken said.
Before Monday, U.S. officials had labeled the acts committed against the Rohingya as “ethnic cleansing,” according to Reuters. Two years ago, State Department analyses did not find a determination regarding the violent acts.
The U.S. labeling of the Rohingya repression as a genocide marked the eighth time since the Holocaust that the U.S. has determined that a genocide took place, Blinken noted.
He made the comment while announcing that the U.S. is contributing almost $1 million in additional funding for a United Nations investigation of Myanmar.