The Biden administration has formally determined that violence committed against the Rohingya minority by Myanmar's military amounts to genocide and crimes against humanity, US officials told Reuters, a move that advocates say should bolster efforts to hold the junta that now runs Myanmar accountable.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will announce the decision on Monday at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, US officials said, which currently features an exhibit on the plight of the Rohingya. It comes nearly 14 months after he took office and pledged to conduct a new review of the violence.
Myanmar's armed forces launched a military operation in 2017 that forced at least 730,000 of the mainly Muslim Rohingya from their homes and into neighboring Bangladesh, where they recounted killings, mass rape and arson. In 2021, Myanmar's military seized power in a coup.
US officials and an outside law firm gathered evidence in an effort to acknowledge quickly the seriousness of the atrocities, but then-secretary of state Mike Pompeo declined to make a determination.
Blinken ordered his own "legal and factual analysis," the US officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity. The analysis concluded the Myanmar army is committing genocide and Washington believes the formal determination will increase international pressure to hold the junta accountable.
"It's going to make it harder for them to commit further abuses," said one senior State Department official.
Officials in Myanmar's embassy in Washington and a junta spokesperson did not immediately respond to emails requesting comment on Sunday.
Myanmar's military has denied committing genocide against the Rohingya, who are denied citizenship in Myanmar, and said it was conducting an operation against terrorists in 2017.