The Fund for Global Human Rights welcomes the U.S. government’s determination that members of Myanmar’s military committed genocidal acts and crimes against humanity against the country’s Rohingya minority in 2016 and 2017.
More than five years ago, the Burmese military unleashed a new round of atrocities against ethnic Rohingya communities in Myanmar. Over 9,000 Rohingya were killed, and nearly a million more were displaced by the shocking violence. According to the U.S. report, which relies on the firsthand testimony of more than 1,000 Rohingya refugees, three-quarters of those interviewed saw members of the Burmese military commit murder. More than half witnessed sexual violence.
Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken finally called these unspeakable acts what they were: genocide.
“The attack against Rohingya was widespread and systemic,” said Blinken in a speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. “The evidence also points to a clear intent behind these mass atrocities – the intent to destroy Rohingya, in whole or in part.”
The Rohingya, and all ethnic minorities in Myanmar, deserve equal rights and respect. This official determination is an important—if long overdue—step toward justice for Rohingya victims and accountability for the criminal perpetrators. It validates and gives name to the devastating pain that the Rohingya have experienced at the hands of the Burmese military.
However, this designation is not merely a matter for the historical record. The horrific crimes perpetrated against the Rohingya were not standalone atrocities—the same pattern of violence, oppression, and impunity continues today.
In February 2021, the Burmese military overthrew Myanmar’s democratically elected civilian government and installed a military junta. Since then, the ruling regime has cracked down on political opposition, civil society, and ethnic minorities across the country. Over 1,000 people are confirmed to have been killed by junta soldiers, and nearly 13,000 have been arbitrarily arrested. The number of internally displaced people has doubled. The military’s unsparing use of heavy artillery and air support to target civilians provides clear evidence that the junta continues to violate humanitarian standards and international criminal law.
We echo the words of Myanmar’s National Unity Government: “Justice and accountability must follow this determination.”
Since 2014, The Fund has been proud to support Burmese civil society. Throughout years of conflict, we’ve sustained grassroots activists and organizations working with Rohingya communities to document human rights violations, addressing the root causes through research and analysis, and fostering solidarity across ethnic lines through joint advocacy efforts and trainings that bring communities together. Learn more about out work in Myanmar.