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Blinken to declare Myanmar repression of Rohingya a ‘genocide’ in speech at US Holocaust Museum

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken gestures as he speaks during a press conference with Moldova's president at the Presidential Palace in Chisinau, on March 6, 2022. (Olivier Douliery/ Pool/ AFP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken gestures as he speaks during a press conference with Moldova's president at the Presidential Palace in Chisinau, on March 6, 2022. (Olivier Douliery/ Pool/ AFP)

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration intends to declare that Myanmar’s years-long repression of the Rohingya Muslim population is a “genocide,” US officials say.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to make the long-anticipated designation tomorrow at an event at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, according to the officials who speak on condition of anonymity because the move has not yet been publicly announced.

The designation does not in and of itself portend drastic new measures against Myanmar’s military-led government, which has already been hit with multiple layers of US sanctions since the campaign against the Rohingya ethnic minority began in the country’s western Rakhine state in 2017.

But it could lead to additional international pressure on the government, which is already facing accusations of genocide at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Human rights groups and lawmakers had been pressing both the Trump and Biden administrations to make the designation.

At least one member of Congress, Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, welcomes the anticipated step.

“I applaud the Biden administration for finally recognizing the atrocities committed against the Rohingya as genocide,” he says in a statement released immediately after the State Department announced that Blinken would deliver remarks on Myanmar at the Holocaust Museum tomorrow and tour an exhibit entitled “Burma’s Path to Genocide.” Myanmar is also known as Burma.

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