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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

Burma’s Muslim Rohingya minority has faced severe discrimination and persecution, escalating violence, forced statelessness, and myriad restrictions at the hands of the state. In recent years, the Rohingya population has suffered mass atrocities, including crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. The Simon-Skjodt Center has expressed concern about the mounting evidence of genocide against the Rohingya. Two recent waves of brutally violent campaigns by the Burmese military against Rohingya civilians—marked by mass killings, sexual violence, and forced displacement—resulted in one of the fastest-growing refugee crises of our time. As of November 15, 2017 an estimated 600,000 Rohingya have fled from Burma to Bangladesh since August 2017.

A recent 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, including crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, and details the mounting evidence of genocide against this group.

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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 crimes against humanity or ethnic cleansing have taken place against Rohingya victims, defying statements of high-level United Nations officials that mass atrocities likely have taken place. The joint report analyzes the reaction of the international community to the mass atrocities, which has been mixed. The report stresses that support for Burma’s democratic leadership and condemnation of the Burmese military’s mass atrocities are not mutually exclusive, and are in fact reinforcing elements of a policy that promotes civilian protection, accountability, and democracy.

The Simon-Skjdot Center is concerned about the severity and scope of the mass atrocities committed against the Rohingya population, as well as the dim prospects for future reconciliation. The lack of accountability thus far for these grave human rights violations could fuel the risk of future atrocities. 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.

This latest episode of violence is a sharp escalation of long-running, state-led persecution and attacks by the Burmese military and other security forces on the Rohingya population.