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Introduction

The Plight of the Rohingya

A Persecuted Minority Next

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have flooded into southern Bangladesh. The north-south highway between Cox's Bazar and Teknaf is a steady flow of Rohingya refugees, September 2017. —Greg Constantine, US Holocaust Memorial Museum

The Rohingya are a Muslim minority group in Burma. They have faced a long history of severe discrimination and persecution, violence, denial of citizenship, and numerous restrictions at the hands of Burmese authorities. The Museum has, since 2015, been sounding the alarm about the potential risk of genocide and other mass atrocities being perpetrated against the Rohingya. These warnings have gone largely unheeded.  

Most recently, the Rohingya population has suffered mass atrocities—including crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing—and there is mounting evidence of genocide. An estimated 700,000 Rohingya have fled from Burma to Bangladesh since August 2017, where they live in overcrowded camps. These latest episodes of violence are a sharp escalation of the long-running, state-led persecution and attacks by the Burmese military and other security forces on the Rohingya population.

A joint report by the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide and Fortify Rights documents the mass atrocities committed against Rohingya civilians by the Burmese military, and details the evidence of genocide against this group. The report stresses that supporting Burma’s democratic leadership while simultaneously condemning the Burmese military’s mass atrocities are not contradictory courses of action. They are two crucial elements of a strategy to promote civilian protection, accountability, and democracy.

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Title: "They Tried to Kill Us All," Atrocity Crimes against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State, Myanmar

Authors: Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, Fortify Rights

Published: November 2017

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Previous reports:
May 2015 report on the Plight of Rohingya in Burma (PDF)
September 2015 update (PDF)

Burma’s leaders have denied that mass atrocities have been committed against Rohingya victims, contradicting the statements of high-level United Nations officials, including a UN Fact-Finding Mission that concluded in August 2018 that senior Burmese military officials should be investigated and prosecuted for genocide and other crimes.

In September 2018, the United Nations Human Rights Council mandated the creation of an independent investigative mechanism to collect, preserve, and analyze evidence of atrocity crimes in Burma. The Simon-Skjodt Center is concerned about the potential for future atrocities against those Rohingya remaining in Burma. Efforts must be taken to prevent atrocities, protect vulnerable communities, and advance justice and accountability for the Rohingya.  

The Center is also concerned about the plight of those displaced. Thus far, conditions in Rakhine State, Burma, are not safe enough to facilitate safe, voluntary returns of those who fled to Bangladesh—yet extending the displacement of Rohingya in Bangladesh will only solidify the Burmese military’s campaign of ethnic cleansing.