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U.S. can do more on justice for Rohingya
A US State Department report, released on Monday, has merely reconfirmed what the world community has been insisting for long: Myanmar’s military waged a well-planned and coordinated campaign of mass killings, gang rapes and other atrocities against the hapless Rohingya Muslim minority.

The 20-page report has made it abundantly clear that the violence in northern Rakhine state was extreme, large-scale, widespread and seemingly geared towards both terrorising the population and driving out the Rohingya residents. The scale of the military’s operations indicates they were well planned and coordinated.

Survivors have come out with harrowing details about soldiers killing infants and small children, shooting of unarmed men and victims buried alive or thrown into pits of mass graves. They have also mentioned about widespread sexual assault by Myanmar’s military of Rohingya women, often carried out in public.

One witness even described about four Rohingya girls who were abducted, tied up with ropes, raped for three days and left half dead, as per the report. As many as 82 per cent of the refugees had stated they personally witnessed killings.

Just a month ago, United Nations investigators had issued their own report clearly blaming Myanmar’s military of acting with genocidal intent and calling for the country’s commander-in-chief and five generals to be prosecuted under international law.

The International Criminal Court too has rightly stated that it has jurisdiction over the crisis because of the cross-border nature of the deportations of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh.

As the deportation of the Rohingya amounted to a cross-border crime, the court certainly has the right to pursue the issue further.

Even today, the Rohingya people remain traumatised and yearn for safety and justice. The death toll from the crackdown runs into thousands.

Accountability matters and whoever in Myanmar is responsible for such cruel crimes against the Rohingya population should be forced to face justice. 

It is true that the US government on Aug.17 imposed sanctions on four military and police commanders and two army units but the action is too mild considering the extent of the atrocities. Also, Myanmar’s military chief, Min Aung Hlaing, was spared.

It is unfortunate that the US State Department report has failed to describe the merciless crackdown as genocide or crimes against humanity. The guarded response by the Trump administration only goes to prove that Washington has failed to take a tougher stand, which is what the situation warrants.

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