August 24, 2022
On August 25, 2022, we mark the 5th anniversary of the Burmese military’s genocide of the Rohingya, a religious and ethnic minority in Burma. These horrific attacks killed thousands of Rohingya men, women, and children. Over 700,000 Rohingya were forced to flee Burma and seek safety in neighboring countries, where they still face dire conditions as refugees. The approximately 600,000 Rohingya remaining in Burma face an ongoing risk of genocide. On this day we stand in solidarity with Rohingya victims and survivors and reaffirm our support of their efforts to pursue justice for the mass atrocities committed against their community, and establish a safe future in their rightful home.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum determined in 2018 that these attacks constituted genocide and crimes against humanity. The genocide was the escalation of decades of systematic discrimination and violence against the Rohingya. This included the stripping of their Burmese citizenship and their gradual erasure from the social and political makeup of the country.
On March 21, 2022, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to announce the official United States determination that the crimes committed by the Burmese military against the Rohingya constitute genocide and crimes against humanity.
“Five years after the genocide, the Rohingya community faces a precarious future,” said Naomi Kikoler, director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide. “Those living within the country face ongoing threats, and those who have fled abroad cannot return until the risk of genocide has abated. The ‘path out of genocide’—described by Secretary Blinken during his March announcement—can only be pursued if the world backs accountability efforts, including those led by Rohingya themselves. The US and other governments must redouble their efforts to support Rohingya, hold perpetrators of the genocide accountable, and make sure Rohingya and others can forge a peaceful future in Burma.”
The genocide’s consequences for the Rohingya, Burma, and the region will be felt for generations. There has been no restoration of their citizenship rights, nor revocation of discriminatory policies including restrictions on freedom of movement. This risk has grown since February of 2021 when the military—the very group responsible for the genocide against the Rohingya—launched a coup overthrowing the civilian government. Seemingly emboldened by never facing true accountability, Burma’s military has plunged the country—including the Rohingya and other ethnic and religious groups it has historically targeted—into even more severe danger. They have killed and imprisoned protestors, political opposition leaders, and others who demand a peaceful future in Burma. Mass atrocity risks facing the Rohingya and many others will remain high as long as the military tries to exert its control over the country.
Visit our online exhibition, Burma’s Path to Genocide, which explores how the Rohingya went from citizens to outsiders—and became targets of a campaign of genocide.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum teaches that the Holocaust was preventable and that by heeding warning signs and taking early action, individuals and governments can save lives. With this knowledge, the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide works to do for the victims of genocide today what the world failed to do for the Jews of Europe in the 1930s and 1940s.
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