A United Nations official in September described the military actions as a textbook case of "ethnic cleansing", but until now the USA has avoided the term.
Earlier, the foreign ministers of Asian and European countries, in general, agreed in many areas on Rohingya issue and asked for immediate cessation of hostilities, halting of outflow, early return of externally displaced Rohingyas from Bangladesh.
Human rights groups have for months documented horrendous atrocities Myanmar forces carried out against the ethnic minority Rohingya Muslim groups, including gang rape, torture, and murder. "It's not possible in any negotiation", a senior Bangladesh official told a Bangladesh news agency. They criticized the United States for dragging its feet on declaring the campaign ethnic cleansing, despite the top U.N. human rights official branding it as such over two months ago.
Interesting that when Muslims all-but-eradicate Christianity and Judaism from the lands of their birth, nobody says a word - but when Christians or Buddhists try to regain control of their territorial integrity by showing Muslims the door, it's called "ethnic cleansing". "The time for outrage and condemnation has passed". "Now we have to start working", Foreign Minister Ali told a Bangladesh TV channel.
The statement in theory opens up a menu of sanctions or other punishments that the United States can take against the government of Myanmar.
Myanmar had been under broad Western sanctions for almost thirty years until 2016, when President Barack Obama rolled back US economic sanctions after the country formed its first democratically-elected civilian government - though the military still retains significant residual power after decades of rule.
Myanmar's government has claimed that the Rohingya made a decision to burn their own villages and then willingly self-deported to Bangladesh en masse - more than 600,000 have fled in the last three months - but that claim has been widely disputed and debunked by reporters on the ground.
"We're calling for an arms embargo and targeted sanctions against officials responsible for this system".
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the ongoing violence that has claimed the lives of thousands of Rohingya Muslims and driven many more from their homes must be stopped. Despite widespread worldwide condemnation, the violence has not abated.
According to several experts, Myanmar might have agreed to Bangladesh's proposal of Rohingya repatriation as the country faced tremendous pressure from worldwide communities. "Without urgent action, there's a high risk of more mass atrocities".
"In the case of the Rohingya, this is so severe that it amounts to a widespread and systemic attack on a civilian population, which is clearly linked to their ethnic (or racial) identity, and therefore legally constitutes apartheid, a crime against humanity under worldwide law", Amnesty said. On Tuesday, Myanmar's national security adviser, in an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, went so far as to suggest that the testimony of victims of the violent crackdown could be part of a plot to discredit the government.
Moreover, the U.S. diplomatic sources quoted by CNN, indicate that the term "ethnic cleansing" may not mean much to the State Department, as it is a "descriptive term" that does entail any legal consequences and is unlikely to affect the USA relationships with the Myanmar government.