November 21, 2017

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, made a short visit to Burma/Myanmar on November 16 where he met Aung San Suu Kyi. The visit had mixed results. Positively, Secretary Tillerson used the name “Rohingya,” upholding the consistent US policy of previous administrations. He also called on Burma to conduct an "independent investigation" into the crimes committed against the Rohingya. However, it must be made clearer that it should be an independent international investigation, led by the UN.

 

Despite not using the term "genocide" Tillerson did describe the actions of Burma's military as "crimes against humanity," a few degrees of severity just under a declaration of genocide. Unfortunately, on the negative end of the trip, Tillerson criticized "broad-based sanctions," essentially ruling it out as a possible threat; he did declare the possibility of “targeted sanctions" against those responsible for violence and crimes against the Rohingya.

 

Finally, Tillerson committed the US to doubling relief aid for refugees to $87 million which Burma Task Force has been urging. The US must do more than express condemnation and must translate promises of accountability into action.

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