WASHINGTON — U.S. officials are preparing a recommendation for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to declare that “ethnic cleansing” is occurring against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims. That assessment would raise pressure on the Trump administration and U.S. lawmakers to consider new sanctions on a country that had been lauded for its democratic transition.
Tillerson could receive the recommendation as early as this week, said officials familiar with the process. He will then decide whether to adopt the advice of his agency’s policy experts and lawyers.
A declaration of “ethnic cleansing” by the top U.S. diplomat would mark a reversal of fortune in American relations with the country also known as Burma, whose civilian government has been under the leadership of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi for more than a year. But Suu Kyi and her government allies have little control over Myanmar’s still powerful military, which is blamed for a brutal crackdown on Muslims in Rakhine State that has caused more than 600,000 refugees to flee to Bangladesh.
The State Department declined to comment.