Markey calls for additional determination related to atrocities carried out by the Burmese military since the 2021 coup, stronger U.S. leadership to hold perpetrators accountable


Washington (March 21, 2022) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations East Asia and Pacific Subcommittee, released the following statement upon Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s announcement that the United States has formally declared the crimes, beginning in 2017, committed against the Rohingya people by the Burmese military, also known as the Tatmadaw, as genocide and crimes against humanity. In March 2021, Senator Markey chaired a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations East Asia and Pacific Subcommittee on “The U.S. Response to the Coup in Burma” where he reiterated his call for the administration to make a genocide determination. Most recently, in January 2022, on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the coup in Burma, Senator Markey led a bipartisan, bicameral letter to the administration asking them to make a formal determination as to whether genocide or war crimes have been committed by the military in Burma.



“Today the United States finally recognizes the crimes committed by the Burmese military against the Rohingya people as genocide. Recognizing these crimes for what they are is an important step on the path to accountability and justice for the Rohingya people,” said Senator Markey. “It is equally important that we recognize that the same military leaders who organized and perpetrated genocide and crimes against humanity against the Rohingya have also carried out horrific atrocities against many others inside Burma in the name of the coup against democratically elected leaders of Burma in 2021. I call on the administration to clearly condemn these atrocities as war crimes and crimes against humanity.


“The United States must prepare and implement a whole-of-government approach towards Burma, in coordination with partners and allies, to press for a restoration of Burma’s path to democracy and to pursue justice for the crimes committed against civilians, journalists, and political opponents,” Senator Markey continued. “This must include stronger sanctions, including stopping the cash flow from oil and gas into the Burmese military’s coffers. Just as fossil fuels fund Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, Burma’s military uses revenue from foreign investment in its oil and gas sector to tighten its undemocratic grip on power. The U.S. must also seek a United Nations Security Council Resolution on this issue to include a universal arms embargo against Burma, and increase humanitarian assistance to those who have fled these atrocities, including those in Bangladesh, Thailand, and India. If the Burmese military junta is able to escape justice for their atrocities dating back to 2017 there will be no end to the suffering of the Burmese people. ”


Senator Markey’s recent leadership on Burma:


  • In December 2018, Senator Markey led a bipartisan resolution calling on the Trump administration to make a determination as to whether the crimes committed by the Burmese military amounted to genocide.
  • In June 2019, Senator Markey introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Accountability for Sexual and Gender-based Violence as a Tool in Conflict Act, which calls upon the State Department to make sexual and gender-based violence, including against the Rohingya, part of the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. 
  • In April 2021, Markey reintroduced the Rohingya Genocide Determination Act in 2020, legislation that calls for the United States government to make a determination as to whether the crimes carried out by the Burmese military against the Rohingya constitute genocide.