U.S. Findings of Mass Killings in Myanmar Must Lead to Action

Refugees International welcomes the public release of the U.S. State Department’s report on its investigation into atrocities committed by the Myanmar government against the Rohingya minority. Findings of a “well-planned and coordinated” campaign of mass killings and endemic rape must lead to concerted actions including targeted sanctions and accountability measures.

The State Department investigation is the most comprehensive investigation of the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya to date. The investigation corroborates what Refugees International and others have documented. Surveys taken as part of the State Department investigation show that most Rohingya survivors witnessed at least one killing and half witnessed sexual violence. While the report does not state that genocide or crimes against humanity took place, the investigation documents atrocities consistent with these crimes. The investigation builds on the UN Fact Finding Mission report from a month ago that called for Myanmar’s military leaders to be investigated and prosecuted for crimes against humanity and genocide. 

Refugees International has repeatedly called for the State Department report’s public release, a call echoed by several Members of Congress. It is a welcome and necessary move. But what is truly needed now from the United States is leadership from the top. The administration must now take deliberate action. 

First, President Trump should clearly condemn Myanmar’s military leaders before the United Nations General Assembly. Second, the president and Secretary Pompeo should work alongside other world leaders in New York to impose a UN arms embargo on Myanmar’s military and targeted sanctions on military leaders responsible for abuses, as well as pursuing referral to the International Criminal Court and other measures designed to achieve international accountability. Third, President Trump should announce a senior American official dedicated to coordinating U.S. and international responses to Myanmar’s horrific crimes. 

Continued silence from the top, especially in light of the U.S. government’s own findings, is simply unacceptable.