The Biden administration formally determined that the military of Myanmar has been committing genocide against the country’s Rohingya minority.
CNBC reported that U.S. officials said that the Myanmarese military has been perpetrating acts of violence that amount to genocide and “crimes against humanity.” The Biden administration formally recognizing these acts as genocide will make it easier for the international community to hold Myanmar’s ruling junta accountable.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to announce the decision on Monday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. The Holocaust Memorial Museum is currently hosting a special exhibit on the plight of the Rohingya people.
The atrocities being carried out on the Rohingya date back to 2017 when Myanmar’s armed forces launched an operation that forced nearly 750,000 Rohingya from their homes and into the neighboring country of Bangladesh.
In Bangladesh, the Rohingya people fell victim to mass rape, murder, and arson.
A senior official in the U.S. State Department said that formally designating the plight of the Rohingya as “genocide” will “make it harder for them to commit further abuses [against the Rohingya].”
Myanmar’s military has previously denied committing acts of genocide against the predominantly Muslim Rohingya. It has insisted that operations were carried out against terrorists in the region where the Rohingya historically reside.
In 2018, the United Nations concluded that the military’s campaign against the Rohingya included “genocidal acts.”
Another senior official in the State Department said that Blinken’s announcement on Monday will galvanize the international community to come to the aid of the Rohingya people.
The official said, “It’s really signaling to the world and especially to victims and survivors within the Rohingya community and more broadly than the United States recognizes the gravity of what’s happening.”
The first official echoed this sentiment by saying: “It’s going to enhance our position as we try to build international support to try to prevent further atrocities and hold those accountable.”
That said, a determination of genocide does not automatically initiate punitive action by the United States.
Just days after Joe Biden was sworn into office, the Myanmarese military staged a coup and seized control of the country.
The coup, led by Commander in Chief Min Aung Hlaing, quickly suppressed a public uprising and killed more than 1,600 people in the process.
In response to the coup, the United States and its Western allies sanctioned the military junta that took power but has been unable to convince them to relinquish power and restore democratic role.