By Katie Ingegneri on August 25, 2021
Four years ago, in August 2017, the Burma (Myanmar) military launched a campaign of terror and violence against the Rohingya people, a Muslim minority. Persecution of the Rohingya people had taken place in various forms over the previous decades, but August 2017 marks the beginning of a campaign that led to mass killings, human rights violations, and displacement of approximately a million Rohingya people to Bangladesh, forming the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar.
Many Rohingya leaders, human rights groups, and other justice advocates pushed for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, under President Trump, to make a genocide determination, but it never materialized. Earlier in 2021, the United States government under President Biden appeared to move forward with the genocide determination, with current Secretary of State Antony Blinken reviewing the case on behalf of the government.
As a Presidential candidate, Joe Biden pushed for genocide determinations for China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims, but stopped short of describing the human rights violations of the Rohingya people as “genocide”—even as the case has reached the International Court of Justice, and the Myanmar military was described as having “genocidal intent” by the United Nations.
The United States government calling the atrocities against the Rohingya people “genocide” will greatly advance their cause, and that of their allies, who seek justice for the treatment they have endured. And now that the Myanmar military has seized power in a coup as of February 2021, it is ever more imperative that they are held to international standards of human rights and freedom.
UUSC has joined coalitions urging Secretary Blinken to support a designation of genocide and crimes against humanity.
You can help support these efforts by following and amplifying the #CallItGenocide hashtag on Twitter—as related to the Rohingya—and contacting your elected representatives. You can also learn more and join with others by exploring the U.S. Holocaust Museum’s virtual exhibit, “Burma’s Path to Genocide,” which we’ve assembled a discussion guide to accompany, and watch the panel UUSC hosted with experts in September 2020.
About UUSC: Guided by the belief that all people have inherent worth and dignity, UUSC advances human rights globally by partnering with affected communities who are confronting injustice, mobilizing to challenge oppressive systems, and inspiring and sustaining spiritually grounded activism for justice. We invite you to join us in this journey toward realizing a better future!
Image Credit: iStock – Joel Carillet