On March 21, 2022, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., declared that Myanmar’s military has committed genocide against the Rohingya minority. At present the Holocaust Museum features an exhibition on the atrocities against Burma’s Rohingya population.
According to Blinken, the U.S. has examined evidence showing a clear intent to destroy the Rohingya with reports of killings, mass rape and arson.
Blinken characterized the attacks against Rohingya “widespread and systematic.”
Blinken said the administration’s determination was based on a review by the U.S. State Department of documents collected by organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and independent research by the U.S. government.
Blinken’s declaration marked the eighth time the U.S. has made a formal genocide declaration, committing to supporting international investigations to hold violators accountable and most likely leading to additional sanctions or other penalties to isolate Myanmar’s military-led government.
In 2019, Gambia, on behalf of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation, brought a petition against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice , accusing Myanmar of violating the United Nations’ Genocide Convention. In January 2020, the Court ordered the Myanmar government to take all measures to prevent the commission of genocide. On February 28, 2022, the Court announced that the public hearings on the preliminary objections raised by Myanmar in the case were concluded. As a result, the Court has started its deliberations.
In March 2017, the U.N. Human Rights Council started a fact-finding mission to investigate human rights violations committed by Burma’s military against the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities in the country. In September 2018, it released its report. The mission determined that crimes against humanity had been committed in Rakhine, Shan, and Kachin States. It found that there is “sufficient information to warrant the investigation and prosecution” of senior military officials in order to determine their culpability for genocide.
In September 2018, the U.S. State Department issued the findings of a survey.11 The survey emphasized the crimes committed in Rakhine State. It showed that the vast majority of Rohingya refugees who fled from Burma to Bangladesh had witnessed extreme forms of violence, and that the Burmese military was identified as the perpetrator in most cases. US officials characterized the violence “ethnic cleansing”.
Blinken said the Biden administration would continue to furnish humanitarian aid to Rohingya refugees, most of whom have fled to neighboring Bangladesh. According to Blinken, the U.S. would send $1 million to a U.N. fact-finding mission that is collecting evidence on the atrocities.
Since the alleged atrocities in Myanmar’s Rakhine State peaked in August 2017, the Myanmar’s military and political leaders have not incurred any meaningful consequences.
U.S. government legal experts have examined the status of Rohingya since the Trump administration. The delay in the determination had met with criticism from both inside and outside the government.
The U.S. declaration that a genocide has occurred could result in other countries increasing the pressure on the Myanmar government.
The next issue of the IELR will have a more comprehensive discussion of the genocide declaration.
 Myanmar Rohingya violence is genocide, US says, BBC, Mar. 21, 2022.
 Lara Jakes, Myanmar’s Military Committed Genocide Against Rohingya, U.S. Says, N.Y. Times, Mar. 21, 2022.
 Ben Fox, Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Myanmar repression of Muslim Rohingya is genocide, PBS, Mar. 21, 2022.
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