US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a news conference on Wednesday, that the US is “very actively” looking to designate the ongoing repression of the Rohingya population of Myanmar as a “genocide,”
“We continue also to look actively at determinations of what are the actions taken in Myanmar and whether they constitute genocide and that’s something we’re looking at very actively right now,” Blinken added in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital.
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in Myanmar in 2012.
More than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women, and children, fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar’s forces launched a violent crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, including killings, beatings, rape, and burning down homes.
Blinken said the situation in Myanmar after the military coup this February has “gotten worse,” calling for the release of those detained by the junta regime, including deposed State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.
“I think it’s going to be very important in the weeks and months ahead to look at what additional steps and measures we can take individually, collectively to pressure the regime to put the country back on a democratic trajectory,” Blinken said.
“The long and short of it is we have to look at what additional steps, measures could be taken to move things in a better direction and that’s something that we’re looking at,” Blinken told a joint news conference alongside Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah.
According to Blinken, additional measures may include sanctions to pressure the Southeast Asian nation’s military leaders to return to a “democratic trajectory.”