US House: Myanmar crimes against Rohingya ‘genocide’
Resolution overwhelmingly clears chamber 394-1
Michael Hernandez, Washington DC On 14.12.2018
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation Thursday labeling as “genocide” Myanmar’s ongoing crimes against the country’s minority Muslim Rohingya population.
The resolution cleared the chamber 394-1.
Steve Chabot, who introduced the legislation, said in a statement after its passage that he asked fellow lawmakers to “affirm that the Burmese military’s actions were genocide against the Rohingya people and that the Burmese government’s imprisonment of two Reuters journalists is patently unjust,” using the U.S.’s preferred name for Myanmar.
“I applaud my colleagues for standing with me and passing this important humanitarian legislation,” he said. In addition to formally considering the attacks to be genocide, it condemns attacks on civilians by Myanmar’s military and security forces.
It also calls on Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint to pardon a pair of Reuters journalists who have been imprisoned for their work in exposing the massacres against the Rohingya.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have been imprisoned for over a year. While Chabot’s resolution directly labels Myanmar’s acts “genocide,” the State Department continues to refrain from labeling the actions as such.
Spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters earlier this week that while the department currently considers the violence, which includes mass rapes, destruction and killing to be ethnic cleansing, it “in no way prejudices any potential further analysis on whether mass atrocities have taken place, including genocide or crimes against humanity.
“Our efforts have been and remain focused on steps that will improve the situation for Rohingya refugees and all people in Burma and as well as promoting accountability for those that were responsible for these atrocities,” he said.
A UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar found the country’s military guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity including rape, gang rape, sexual slavery, forced nudity, mutilations, torture, persecution, and enslavement.
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).