FINALLY. As I’ve been covering and tweeting for months, the Myanmar army has been committing atrocities on the Rohingya minority, basically to the point to eliminate the people from the planet.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has finally declared these atrocities as ethnic cleansing, which is exactly what is going on.

Tillerson has taken his time doing this, but he is thorough man and wanted all the facts. So after he did that, he stated that “it is clear that the situation in northern Rakhine state constitutes ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya.”

Now, I don’t think it will have any legal standing, but it’s awesome that we have finally stood up for the persecuted people. David Bosco at Indiana University’s School of Global and International Studies told The Washington Post that “these things come down to the politics of it” and “it’s really just a question of whether that helps generate a pressure for action.”

Human rights groups celebrated Tillerson’s announcement:

Matthew Smith, co-founder of Fortify Rights, a human rights organization working in Burma, said Tillerson’s statement was nevertheless a significant step toward holding Burmese officials accountable.

“The civilian and military authorities are aligned in their outright denials and crude whitewashing,” said Smith. “Ethnic cleansing is as reprehensible as genocide and crimes against humanity.”

Not lost on Rohingya commentators was the symbolic significance of Tillerson’s statement coinciding with the International Criminal Court’s sentencing of former Bosnia Serb commander Ratko Mladic, convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity.

“The U.S. government should find more facts to declare the persecution against Rohingya is genocide,” said Ro Nay San Lwin, a prominent Rohingya blogger and activist based in Europe. “Myanmar’s military commanders must be punished as Ratko Mladic was.”

[Ratko Mladic is a former Bosnian Serb general who was just convicted of genocide and war crimes against Bosinian Muslims. He was sentenced to life in prison]

The conflict has been going on for the longest time. Myanmar do not consider the Rohingya citizens and treat them like animals. In order to do anything they need permission from the government. They even need permission to have more than two kids. Most of them reside in Rakhine State, located in western Myanmar.

Everything exploded last year after Rohingya attacked a Myanmar post after reports emerged “that the military had been deploying an alarming number of troops to the northern part of the state, causing concern among local populations and independent observers — including the U.N. rights rapporteur to Myanmar, Yanghee Lee — that the heightened security measures could further inflame tensions.”

It didn’t end well for the Rohingya, but they refused to give up and attempted to take on the fully armed military in August.

Myanmar responded with more force and over 600,000 Rohingya have escaped to Bangladesh since then.

It doesn’t help that Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace prize dissident who captured the hearts and minds of many, hasn’t done anything to help these people. She remained silent for a long time as the military attacked the Rohingya.

Suu Kyi and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a press conference on Sunday to reveal a plan to allow Myanmar and Bangladesh end this crisis. This plan includes “cease-fire, repatriation of refugees and talks on a long-term solution.” How about starting off with treating them like human beings and respecting their human rights? Just a thought.

Human rights groups and the United Nations have done their best to get these people’s stories out, sharing what they had to endure. This included raping women and small girls. They have gathered the men in villages, sticking them in huts, and setting it on fire. The military have even beheaded people. The military has even thrown babies into fires.


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