Rohingya Refugees Express Excitement Over U.S. Recognition of Myanmar Genocide

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh on Monday welcomed the United States’ announcement that it considers the violent crackdown on their predominantly Muslim ethnic group in Myanmar a genocide.

As news of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s announcement spread through the sprawling camps in the Cox’s Bazar district that are now home to around 1 million Rohingya, many locals expressed excitement.

“We are very happy with the declaration of the genocide; many thanks,” said Sala Uddin, 60, who lives in Kutupalong camp.

“It’s been 60 years since 1962 that the Myanmar government has been torturing us and many other communities, including the Rohingya,” he said. “I think a path of action by the international community against Myanmar has opened up because of the statement.”

The United States took the decision on Monday to call the crackdown a genocide based on confirmed accounts of mass atrocities against civilians by Myanmar’s military in a widespread and systematic campaign against the Rohingya, Blinken said in a statement. a speech at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Imtiaz Ahmed, director of the Center for Genocide Studies at the University of Dhaka, said the declaration was “a positive step”, but that it would be important to see what actions and “concrete steps” would follow.

“It is not enough to say that genocide has been committed in Myanmar against the Rohingyas. I think we have to see what would come out of that statement,” Ahmed said.

He said it was too early to say how the new development would ensure recognition of Rohingya refugees, who have long been denied citizenship in Myanmar, and that fundamental questions remained how and when they would return to Myanmar.

He also said the harsh US economic sanction against Myanmar could be the next outcome. He said it was also important to see if the United States would be interested in supporting the International Court of Justice in The Hague, where Myanmar is facing a trial proposed by The Gambia.

Myanmar’s government is already under multiple layers of US sanctions since a military coup toppled the democratically elected government in February 2021. Thousands of civilians across the country have been killed and imprisoned in the crackdown. continues from anyone opposed to the ruling junta.

Currently, Bangladesh hosts more than one million Rohingya refugees. More than 700,000 Rohingya have fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar to refugee camps in Bangladesh since August 2017, when the military launched an operation to drive them out of the country following attacks by a rebel group.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has repeatedly said that their repatriation to Myanmar was the solution to the crisis, but that Bangladesh would not force them out of Bangladesh.

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