November 21, 2017 / 11:51 AM / 8 months ago

Myanmar operation against Rohingya has 'hallmarks of ethnic cleansing', U.S. Congress members say

YANGON (Reuters) - Members of U.S. Congress said on Tuesday they were disturbed by the harsh response of Myanmar’s security forces to attacks by militants in August which they said bore “all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing” against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

Rohingya refugees carry supplies at Kutupalong refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, November 20, 2017. REUTERS/Susana Vera

“We are profoundly disturbed by the violent and disproportionate response against the Rohingya by the military and local groups,” Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley told reporters in Yangon at the end of a visit to Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Merkley, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led the five-strong congressional delegation, which over the last few days met with people affected by the military crackdown on Rohingya Muslims which has forced more than 600,000 people to flee to Bangladesh.

In early November, U.S. lawmakers proposed targeted sanctions and travel restrictions on Myanmar military officials over the treatment of the Rohingya.

Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski; writing by Simon Lewis

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