The United States is considering tougher actions against the Myanmar military and other perpetrators who carried out atrocities against the Rohingya people, said US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Samuel D Brownback.
The US labeled the atrocities on Rohingya Muslim minority a clear case of “ethnic cleansing”, he said adding that investigations into the horrible violence are moving forward.
The US diplomat was addressing a press conference in American Center in Dhaka yesterday after he visited Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar.
He talked to the victims and heard their tragic and terrible stories.
In reply to a question at the press conference, he said, “People in congress and administration are talking about it… You will see more actions forward.”
In December, the US imposed sanctions on 13 “serious human rights abusers and corrupt actors” including Maj Gen Maung Maung Soe of Myanmar Army.
Ambassador Brownback arrived in Bangladesh on Wednesday.
Describing his experience of visiting Cox's Bazar camps, he said every one of the randomly selected children told him they had seen a close family member either stabbed or shot or killed in front of them.
“One child said she saw both of her grandparents shot and killed. It's horrible violence. Mother has seen her 12-year-old daughter cut in front of her,” the US envoy said.
An imam was beaten and forced to witness the raping of women, he added.
Mentioning the US stance on this issue, Brownback said, “...fact-finding... and investigations into the incidents of atrocities by Myanmar military are going on which will be followed by direct actions.”
And everyone said they faced the brutality and torture as they were Muslims, he added.
He compared these atrocities to the Darfur genocide and said the US had sponsored a resolution against such brutal acts at the UN.
“The perpetrators should not get away with what they had done to the Rohingya people. They must be held accountable for this 'terrible, organized violence unleashed against the religious minority,” Brownback said.
He mentioned that the US Vice President Mike Pence expressed his deep concern over the issue while talking to him over the phone on Wednesday. Previously the US Secretary of State Tillerson had also termed it ethnic cleansing, he mentioned.
The Ambassador at Large appreciated the Bangladesh government for providing shelter to tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees who fled their homes in Rakhaine state since the beginning of the military crackdown on August 25.
In reply to a question, US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Bernicat said the US is in favour of safe, dignified and voluntary repatriation of the Rohingyas.
She stressed the need for ensuring a conducive environment of the repatriated Rohingya and suggested that independent observers and media should be allowed to visit Rakhine State after the beginning of the repatriation process.