US Foreign Affairs Committee urges State Department to label Myanmar atrocities ‘genocide’

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 25, 2017 a Rohingya Muslim refugee stands outside a shelter inside the Thankhali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP)
(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 25, 2017 a Rohingya Muslim refugee stands outside a shelter inside the Thankhali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP)

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs urged the U.S. State Department to label the atrocities committed against the Rohingya by the Burmese military a genocide, according to an announcement released yesterday on their website.

A bipartisan group of members, led by committee chairman Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, sent a letter on Feb. 15, calling on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “to make a formal determination acknowledging the full extent of these crimes.”

“The United States must not be ambiguous in the face of such appalling violations of human rights,” the letter reads.

While the State Department released a report in August titled Documentation of Atrocities in Northern Rakhine State, which detailed violence perpetrated by Burmese military and security forces on the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities, it fell short of referring to those actions as “genocide.”

A month later, the United Nations Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar released its own report, concluding that the 2017 “clearance operations” by the Myanmar military in Northern Rakhine State likely amounted to “crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide.”

In quick succession, the US Holocaust Museum and the Public International Law and Policy Group (PILPG) then released their own reports arguing that the Myanmar military committed genocide against the Rohingya minority.

While the Feb. 15 letter represents the first time the Foreign Affairs Committee has addressed the issue, the U.S. House of Representatives as a whole passed a resolution in December calling these crimes genocide and asking the State Department to make a determination.

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