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WASHINGTON – The Biden administration has formally determined that violence committed against the Rohingya minority by Myanmar’s military amounts to genocide and crimes against humanity. US officials shared the announcement with Reuters, in a move which could see economic sanctions stepped up against Myanmar and make it politically very difficult for fashion retailers to continue sourcing from the country.

Some fashion retailers have already stopped sourcing from Myanmar in protest at the military regime.

The Danish retailer Bestseller revealed late last year that it will not be placing orders in the troubled Southeast Asian nation until it has conducted an impact assessment and engaged in dialogue with labour experts, trade unions and other stakeholders with a “clear focus on the wellbeing on garment workers.”

The likes of H&M and Primark have continued to source in the country. NGOs and rights groups appear split on whether fashion should stick by Myanmar or boycott the country.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will publicly announce the genocide determination at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington this week.

“I applaud the Biden administration for finally recognizing the atrocities committed against the Rohingya as genocide. While this determination is long overdue, it is nevertheless a powerful and critically important step in holding this brutal regime to account,” Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said.

America, the Oregon Democrat said, “must lead the world to make it clear that atrocities like these will never be allowed to be buried unnoticed, no matter where they occur.”

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