In an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 394-1, the US House of Representatives on Thursday, in a non-binding resolution, declared the crime against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar as a genocide.
Such a move by the US House of Representatives comes months after the State Department released a report on alleged widespread acts of violence against the Rohingya in the northern Rakhine state of Myanmar, which the lawmakers rued had failed to label these atrocities as genocide.
The atrocities have driven more than 7,00,000 Rohingya from their homes to Bangladesh, bringing the total Rohingya refugee population there to nearly 10 lakh.
"The United States has a moral obligation to call these crimes genocide. Failing to do so gives the perpetrators cover and hinders efforts to bring those accountable to justice. With this resolution, the House fulfils its part of that duty," Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said.
"The measure also accomplishes a number of other important goals: It provides a thorough accounting of the crisis, calls out the complicit Burmese government, urges the Secretary of State to join us in formally declaring genocide and promotes multilateral agreement on that declaration," Royce said.
Following the resolution, Royce urged the US government to put more pressure on the Burmese government.
"We want the pressure to be felt and this message to be heard in Burma that the United States is going on record (on) the finding of genocide so that these atrocities stop," he said.
"It's not only sanctions, but also increasing the pressure internally. One of the things we have to do is use social media, radio, television to tell the people inside the country what is actually happening. Because their government is giving them disinformation," Royce said.
The Burma Task Force welcomed the House resolution.
"The House of Representatives has now officially adopted the position that the ongoing policies of mass violence and displacement against the Rohingya by the Myanmar government constitute genocide, bringing the US closer to the emerging international consensus on the issue," it said.