Vastavam web: In the face of widespread “atrocities” against ethnic Rohingya people in Myanmar, the United States has been cautiously stepping up pressure on that country’s army, while taking care to avoid endangering the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi.As the US takes a more active role in the region several American delegations have passed through in recent weeks Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to travel to Myanmar on Wednesday to meet Suu Kyi, the nation’s leader, as well as army chief General Min Aung Hlaing.Tillerson is expected to adopt a firm tone with military leaders there, whom he has deemed “responsible” for the crisis facing the Rohingya, an embattled Muslim minority that has seen more than 600,000 of its members flee to neighboring Bangladesh in two and a half months.
The United Nations has denounced the campaign, including allegations of killings and mass rape, as “ethnic cleansing.” Recently returned from Myanmar and the overflowing refugee camps in Bangladesh, Simon Henshaw, the State Department official responsible for refugee and migration issues, said the scene in the camps was “shocking.” “The scale of the refugee crisis is immense,” he said, adding: “The conditions are tough. People are suffering.”But it is unclear what steps the United States might take. Up to now, the State Department has merely strengthened a few punitive measures aimed at Myanmar’s army.
The initial condemnations were “important,” Sarah Margon of the organization Human Rights Watch told AFP, “but they stopped and there has been very little concrete action since then.” She called for targeted economic sanctions meant to bring an end to “some of the most brutal and horrific atrocities that have been seen in years.””The bill is an important, although belated, first step in pushing the Myanmar military to end the violence in Rakhine state,” said Joshua Kurlantzick of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. Now, he said, other parts of the government “should take action as well.” The State Department has not ruled out supporting further sanctions.