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Blinken: Myanmar repression of Muslim Rohingya is genocide

WASHINGTON (AP) — Violent repression of the largely Muslim Rohingya population in Myanmar amounts to genocide, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday, a declaration intended to both generate international pressure and lay the groundwork for potential legal action.

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Authorities made the determination based on confirmed accounts of mass atrocities on civilians by Myanmar’s military in a widespread and systematic campaign against the ethnic minority, Blinken said in a speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

It is the eighth time since the Holocaust that the U.S. has concluded a genocide has occurred. The secretary of state noted the importance of calling attention to inhumanity even as horrific attacks occur elsewhere in the world, including Ukraine.

“Yes, we stand with the people of Ukraine,” he said. “And we must also stand with people who are suffering atrocities in other places.”

The government of Myanmar, also known as Burma, is already under multiple layers of U.S. sanctions since a military coup ousted the democratically elected government in February 2021. Thousands of civilians throughout the country have been killed and imprisoned as part of ongoing repression of anyone opposed to the ruling junta.

The determination that a genocide has occurred could lead other nations to increase pressure on the government, which is already facing accusations of genocide at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

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“As we lay the foundation for future accountability, we’re also working to stop the military’s ongoing atrocities, and support the people of Burma as they strive to put the country back on the path to democracy,” Blinken said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Blinken’s announcement “emphasizes, especially to victims and survivors, that the United States recognizes the gravity of these crimes.”

“Our view is that shining a light on the crimes of Burma’s military will increase international pressure, make it harder for them to commit further abuses,” she said.

Rohingya, from Muslim Myanmar’s western Rakhine state, faced systematic persecution at the hands of the Buddhist majority for decades under both the military junta that ruled the nation for decades as well as the democratically-elected government.

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More than 700,000 Rohingya have fled from Buddhist-majority Myanmar to refugee camps in Bangladesh since August 2017, when the military launched an operation aimed at clearing them from the country following attacks by a rebel group.

US says Myanmar repression of Muslim Rohingya is genocide  The Associated Press – en Español

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