US officials told Reuters the administration of US President Joe Biden has formally concluded that violence perpetrated by Myanmar’s military against the Rohingya minority amounted to genocide and crimes against humanity, a move that advocates say should boost efforts to do hold the junta that now rules Myanmar to account. .
US officials said Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will announce the decision Monday at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, which currently houses an exhibit on the plight of the Rohingya.
It comes nearly 14 months after Biden took office and promised a new review of violence.
Myanmar’s armed forces launched a military operation in 2017, forcing at least 730,000 Rohingya, most of whom are Muslim, from their homes to neighboring Bangladesh, where they spoke of murder, gang rape and arson. In 2021, the Myanmar military seized power in a coup.
US officials and an outside law firm gathered evidence in an effort to quickly acknowledge the gravity of the atrocities, but then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to make a decision.
US officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity that Blinken ordered his own “legal and factual analysis” which concluded that the Myanmar military committed genocide.
Washington believes the official decision will increase international pressure to hold the Military Council accountable.
“It will make it more difficult for them to commit further abuses,” a senior State Department official said.
Officials at the Myanmar embassy in Washington and a spokesman for the military council did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment on Sunday.
Myanmar’s military has denied committing genocide against the Rohingya, who are also deprived of Myanmar citizenship, saying it carried out an operation against terrorists in 2017.
A UN fact-finding mission concluded in 2018 that the military campaign included “acts of genocide,” but Washington at the time referred to the atrocities as “ethnic cleansing,” a term that has no legal definition in international criminal law. .