United States labeled Myanmar military operation a ‘ethnic cleansing’

Vastavam web: The United States on Wednesday labeled the Myanmar military operation against the Rohingya population “ethnic cleansing” and threatened targeted sanctions against those responsible for what it described as “horrendous atrocities.”“The United States will also pursue accountability through U.S. law, including possible targeted sanctions” against those responsible for the alleged abuses, which have driven hundreds of thousands of Rohingya into neighboring Bangladesh, Tillerson said.
The United States shifted its stance in part to raise pressure on Myanmar’s military and civilian leaders, who have shared power for the past two years under an uneasy arrangement after decades of military rule, to address the crisis.More than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Rakhine state in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, mostly to neighboring Bangladesh, since the crackdown, which followed the insurgent attacks.
“These abuses by some among the Burmese military, security forces, and local vigilantes have caused tremendous suffering and forced hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children to flee their homes in Burma to seek refuge in Bangladesh,” Tillerson said.Myanmar’s 2-year-old government, led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, has faced heavy international criticism for its response to the crisis, though it has no control over the generals with whom it has to share power.The term “ethnic cleansing” is not defined in international or U.S. law and does not inherently carry specific consequences, a second senior U.S. official said on the call.
He said the United States was analyzing whether the events in Myanmar constituted genocide or crimes against humanity, which would violate international law, but said it has made no determination on either and that this would take time to assess.The United States has sought to balance its wish to nurture the civilian government in Myanmar, where it has been competing for influence with China, with its desire to hold the military accountable for the abuses. U.S. officials also worry that the mistreatment of the Rohingya Muslim minority may fuel radicalism.Pressure had mounted for a tougher U.S. response to the Rohingya crisis before President Donald Trump’s first visit to Asia this month to attend a summit of Southeast Asian countries, including Myanmar, in Manila.