UPDATED 11:28 AM PT — Tues. Sept. 25, 2018
The United States is wrapping-up its investigation into the crisis in Myanmar a year after a military crackdown sent over 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing into neighboring Bangladesh.
The State Department quietly released its results of the investigation Monday night, just hours after United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley announced the U.S. was nearly doubling aid to the displaced minority with an additional $185 million for refugees.
“The fact-finding mission came out and gave pure examples of what’s happened. These weren’t terrorists. This was the military that did this to them. These people just want a place to live. That’s all that they want and that’s not happening right now. The United States – I just announced to the group – we are giving another $185 million to help with protection, water, sanitation, as well as making sure that some sort of psychosocial support and all of those things can help those that were affected in Rakhine State.” — UN Ambassador Nikki Haley
The report came after officials interviewed over 1,000 Rohingya men and women in Bangladesh, who fled Rakhine State following the military crackdown.
According to U.S. officials, the insurgent attack — which triggered the crisis last August — was just an excuse as the scope of the military campaign demonstrated pre-existing plans to terrorize the community and drive them out.
The report detailed widespread sexual assault, the killing of small children and mass graves the U.S. has previously characterized as “ethnic cleansing.”
The latest report steers clear of accusing Myanmar of outright genocide, but does accuse the military of “planned and coordinated” atrocities against the Rohingya.
Calling the crackdown on the Muslim minority a “genocide” or “crimes against humanity’ would carry legal ramifications, which the State Department shied away from.
The report was released after National Security Adviser John Bolton said the U.S. will no longer cooperate with the International Criminal Court. The ICC had recently been pushing to exercise its authority in the crisis.
“The preliminary examination may take in account a number of alleged coercive acts having resulted in forced displacement of the Rohingya people,”explained ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. “This includes deprivation of fundamental rights, killing, sexual violence, enforced disappearance, destruction and looting.”
However, State Department officials are saying the report’s lack of a stance on “genocide” or “crimes against humanity” was not related to Bolton’s’ speech.
While the U.S. may not use its investigation to boost the efforts of the ICC, it could be used to justify further sanctions against Myanmar and punitive measures against Myanmar authorities.