US silent as ethnic cleansing continues in Myanmar
The Rohingya Muslims if Myanmar are being systematically driven from their homes by the Myanmar military, making them refugees in their own country.
Most human rights groups are referring to the campaign as ethnic cleansing. But it doesn't appear to matter to the US government what is happening to the Rohingyas, as the Trump administration maintains a studied indifference to what is happening there.
Not wanting to undermine the Asian country’s democratic hero, the U.S. is cautiously criticizing what looks like a forced exodus of more than a quarter-million Rohingya in the last two weeks as Myanmar’s military responds with hammer force to insurgent attacks.
But neither the Trump administration nor lawmakers are readying sanctions or levying real pressure on Aung San Suu Kyi’s government. And a bill making its way through Congress even talks about enhancing U.S.-Myanmar military cooperation.
“Further normalization of the military-to-military relationship with Burma is the last thing we should be doing right now,” said Walter Lohman, Asia program director at the right-leaning Heritage Foundation. “What a terrible signal to be sending.”
Human rights groups are equally appalled. The U.N. says 290,000 Rohingya have fled from Myanmar, the country also known as Burma, into neighboring Bangladesh since Aug. 25. It is the biggest flight of the long-suppressed minority in a generation. The Rohingya are denied citizenship in Myanmar and widely hated by majority Buddhists who regard them as illegal immigrants, although many have lived in the ethnically diverse Southeast Asian nation for generations.
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which has previously warned of the risk of a genocide in Myanmar, says the widespread destruction of homes and villages suggests “an effort to ethnically cleanse the region of its Rohingya population and to prevent their eventual return.”
As with most tales of oppression, there are two sides to the story. The Rohingyas are employing terrorism to press the government for their rights. In fact, this latest round of oppressive actions by the government came after a terrorist attack on a military base.
But the disproprotionate response by the Myanmar military and a deliberate effort to sweep the country clean of Rohingyas - not to mention the innocents killed, raped, and driven out of their ancestral homes - is overkill.
What's even more troubling is the silence of former Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. You would think a human rights activist would speak out forcefully against the abuses by the military. But she apparently is playing politics with the issue as she would become very unpopular if she spoke out on behalf of the Rohingyas.
That tragedy unfolding in Asia can be halted if the US were to exert its influence. But there appear to be larger strategic concerns on the mind of the US government, so the mass exodus will continue.