The United States, on Monday, 21 March, officially declared that the violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority that was committed by Myanmar's military amounts to genocide, adding that there was clear evidence of an attempt to "destroy" the community.
Speaking at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken cited the killings of thousands, forcing almost a million people to flee Myanmar in the years 2016 and 2017.
"Beyond the Holocaust, the United States has concluded that genocide was committed seven times," he continued.
Blinken added, "Today marks the eighth, because I’ve determined that members of the Burmese military committed genocide and crimes against humanity against Rohingya," reported media agency Al Jazeera.
He said that the "attack against Rohingya" was systematic and widespread, which is important for "reaching a determination of crimes against humanity."
Blinken claimed that there was evidence of the Myanmar military having “a clear intent behind these mass atrocities", which was "the intent to destroy Rohingya, in whole or in part”.
He also cited a series of testimonies from the minority and the Myanmar soldiers who had defected, along with military officials' social media posts and certain racial remarks yelled during these attacks.
Since 2012, more than one million Rohingya refugees have fled their homes in Rakhine.
Although the announcement revolved around Rohingya, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated, "It’s also important to recognise that for decades, the Burmese military has committed killings, rape and other atrocities against members of other ethnic and religious minority groups,” according to Al Jazeera.
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The US secretary of state also said that Min Aung Hlaing, Myanmar army chief and alleged mastermind of genocide against the Rohingya community, was the leader of the 2021 coup, which overthrew the country's elected government.
Blinken stated that the determination followed a "factual assessment and legal analysis prepared by the State Department" and "included detailed documentation by a range of independent, impartial sources, including human rights organisations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch."
"The military is targeting anyone it sees as opposing or undermining its repressive rule," Blinken said, referring to Aung San Suu Kyi's removal, calling her a 'democracy champion'.
He also claimed that the military leaders who committed “genocidal campaign against Rohingya… were the same military leaders who overthrew Burma’s democratically elected government," reported Al Jazeera.
Myanmar's armed forces had launched a massive military operation in 2017 that had forced some 730,000 of majorly Muslim Rohingya community from their homes into neighbouring countries. In 2021, the nation's military acquired power in a coup.
A case had been opened against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice in 2019, which was further complicated by last year's coup ousting civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her government. It, in turn, triggered mass protests.
(With inputs from AFP and Aljazeera.)