“They Want Us All To Go Away”
Early Warning Signs of Genocide in Burma
In March 2015, staff from the Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide traveled to Burma to investigate threats facing the Rohingya people, a Muslim minority that has been the target of rampant hate speech, the denial of citizenship, and restrictions on the freedom of movement. These and a host of other human rights violations have put this population at grave risk for additional mass atrocities and even genocide.
In Burma, we visited internment camps and spoke with Rohingya who have been violently displaced from their homes. We also met with Rohingya who are living in cordoned-off ghettos, separated from their Buddhist neighbors, most of whom belong to the Rakhine ethnic group.
We saw firsthand the Rohingya’s physical segregation, which has resulted in a modern form of apartheid, and the devastating impact that official policies of persecution are having on them. When asked what the Burmese government wants to do with them, one Rohingya advocate replied, “They want us all to go away.”
We left Burma deeply concerned that so many preconditions for genocide are already in place, but felt there was still an opportunity to prevent this devastating outcome. Our report, "They Want Us All to Go Away," Early Warning Sugns of Genocide in Burma and our update sounded the alarm about the need for urgent action to address these warning signs and prevent future atrocities, including genocide, from occurring.
“They Tried to Kill us All”
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 had fled from Burma to Bangladesh since August 2017.
A November 2017 joint report by the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide and Fortify Rights, "They Tried to Kill Us All," Atrocity Crimes against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State, Myanmar, 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.
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.