In August 2017, the Burmese military expelled thousands of Rohingya people from their homes through a campaign of violence and terror. These atrocities brought to a head decades of official government policies aimed at erasing the Rohingya identity and excluding Rohingya people from public life. There is only one word that accurately describes actions intended to destroy a people in whole or in part: genocide.
Yet—to this day, the U.S. government still refuses to officially use the word genocide to describe what is happening to the Rohingya people. The failure of such a powerful and influential government to use this term poses a serious roadblock to efforts of Rohingya survivors and advocates around the world to seek justice. To advance the cause of accountability, the U.S. State Department must issue a formal genocide determination.
Our friends at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum have launched a virtual exhibit that lays out the full story of the Burmese government’s guilt and complicity in the attempted destruction of the Rohinya people. By documenting decades of systematic erasure, hate speech and violence, the exhibit is a powerful testimony to the reality of the genocide—as well as the strength and endurance of the Rohingya people.
Here, you can find a UUSC discussion and action guide to accompany the exhibit. Community groups can organize digital sessions to work through the Holocaust Museum’s exhibit, learn about the experience of the Rohingya people in Burma, and take collective action to urge the U.S. State Department to declare that the Burmese military has committed genocide.
Both UUSC and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum were born in response to Nazi Germany’s attempt to annihilate the Jewish people—the quintessential modern genocide. This shared history calls us to work together again to oppose and prevent contemporary genocides wherever they occur. Learn more and take action here.
September 24, 2020 Panel
This panel discussion we presented on September 24, 2020 explores the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in tandem with UUSC’s discussion guide. Panelists include: Andrea Gittleman, Senior Program Manager, Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide; Greg Constantine, Photographer and Curator of “Burma’s Path to Genocide”; Wai Wai Nu, Rohingya human rights activist and Founder/ Director of the Yangon-based organization, Women’s Peace Network; and David Angeles, UUSC Senior Partnership Officer for Crisis Response.
Header Photo Credit: Hazar Taha Turan / Shutterstock.com