Myanmar's crackdown on Rohingya, a majority Muslim population, is a genocide, according to two new reports released on Monday – a resolution that the Trump government has failed to make even after an exhaustive investigative report has been released. September documented the atrocities in frightening detail.
The government's silence on genocide is particularly notable because the International Law and Politics Group, one of the two groups that committed genocide on Monday, has been working with the US State Department on the government's investigative report. The PILPG has examined the same evidence as the US Department of State and made its own legal analysis to reach its conclusion on Monday.
But the US did not use the term genocide. Instead, it is said that thousands of Rohingya have been slaughtered and more than 700,000 refugees have been driven across the border to Bangladesh. This is an ethnic cleansing.
The United States and other countries have agreed never to commit genocide and to take steps to prevent it from killing, harming, or seeking to prevent births or crimes under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide Deaths defines children of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group with the intention of embarrassing them, in whole or in part, to annihilate them. Ethnic cleansing, which is not defined in the same way by international law, is considered to be a lesser charge and defined as the expulsion of one of these groups by force in this area.
The second report from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum warned that the Rohingya remaining in Myanmar are still at risk of genocide, and called on the international community to prevent future atrocities and bring those responsible to justice.
The two organizations are now affiliated to the United Nations, which concluded in August that the violence was a genocide, and recommended a criminal investigation. So far, the United Nations Human Rights Council has set up an independent investigation mechanism for the collection and analysis of evidence. However, no military officials in Myanmar have been punished outside of US and European Union sanctions for fewer than a dozen officers and units.
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has denied any wrongdoing, defended its actions as a legitimate anti-terrorist operation, and dismissed the international outcry as meddling in its internal affairs.
But the violence has now been extensively described in gruesome detail. While the Rohingya have been discriminated against for years, including by denying their citizenship, Myanmar has increasingly harassed and detained them since 2012. The military also began to relocate more security forces to the northern Rakhine State, where the majority of Rohingya lives in the northwest of the country.
Then, last August, these troops launched a brutal attack on several Rohingya villages that lasted for days. There were mass murders, rape and gang rapes; Maiming in pregnant women and newborns; Burns and drowning of children; and religious sites, houses and food were destroyed.
"The scale and severity of the attacks and abuses … suggest that it was not just targeted in the minds of the perpetrators, but also to eradicate the Rohingya, "PILPG said in her new report. "The violence against the Rohingya in the north of the Rakhine state was well planned, widespread and systematic, aimed at terrorizing the Rohingya, defenseless them and ensuring that they were removed from Myanmar – either through expulsion or death . "
Based on interviews with 1024 randomly selected Rohingya refugees living in camps in Bangladesh, their report was commissioned by the US State Department and quietly released the results in September.
While many expected a genocide decision to be made then, it did not happen. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said at the time: "There were no court sentences expressed because this was not the purpose of the report," leaving the door open for future decision.
More than two months later, the government has still not announced whether the violence is genocide.
The PILPG, however, took the step on Monday to publish its own legal analysis, stating that the Myanmar military committed genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
"There is good reason to believe that genocide was committed because the Rohingya are a protected group under the terms of the Genocide Law and Rohingya was subjected to a variety of prohibited acts that underlie the genocide Rohingya as a protected group, "says the analysis.
The State Department did not respond to a request from ABC News, but it has made it clear in the past that it maintains its determination of ethnic cleansing.
Paul Williams, co-founder of the PILPG, who presented her findings on Monday, said the group would "not cross the line," line into politics "and comment on the provision Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"Lawyers, we will never be disappointed," he said, laughing. "We operate in an environment where we focus on the facts, the law and policymakers, and policymakers pick up on policy makers and do not add qualified input to a range of other inputs."
Among the possible "submissions" is the role of China, which was sanctioned by Myanmar as an American, European and Canadian prosecutor. While Myanmar maintains long-standing relations with China, the US hoped to bring it into its sphere of influence after the military agreed to hold elections and share power with a civilian government in 2012. Since then, some US officials have pushed the patience with Myanmar to avoid pressure back into China's orbit.
But calling the crimes of the military as genocide could actually urge the Chinese people to do more, says Naomi Kikoler, deputy director of the Simon Skjodt Center of the Holocaust Memorial Museum for the Prevention of Genocide.
"The more we call crimes what they are, the more we need to force a conversation about genocide. The harder it becomes for the Chinese to take a stand, unfortunately this undermines efforts to protect the Rohingya in the future. Therefore, I would not neglect the importance of calling the crimes geopolitically what they are, "she told reporters on Monday.
The Holocaust Memorial Museum also refused to criticize the administration, even though it did not exactly – call it genocide.
"We shared our findings with the State Department and have been in dialogue with them for many years," said Kikoler. "We are, of course, dismayed that the" threats to the Rohingya "warnings have been ignored not only by the US government but also by other governments."
Kikoler and Tun Khin, President of the Burmese Rohingya Organization (UK), warned that the 500,000 Rohingya who remain in the country are in danger and are experiencing restrictions on their movements, ability to work and more.
"Every day, Rohingyas face killings and mass atrocities in our country," Khin said. "It is important that the US government and others go along with a stronger action, and they have to – say" genocide. "
Faced with this danger, the US and dozens of relief groups have warned that the Bangladeshi Rohingya refugees should not be repatriated to Myanmar, even though the Chinese-mediated deal between the two countries initiated this process. While the Bangladeshi returned the day the first refugees returned, it is unclear whether they have given up the plan altogether.
The repatriation plan triggered protests among Rohingya refugees demanding justice and a safe and voluntary return. Among those remaining in the Rakhine state, several dozen have attempted to flee to Malaysia by boat only to be captured by the security forces in Myanmar and returned to camp.