UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM STATEMENT ON THE VIOLENCE AGAINST BURMA'S ROHINGYA POPULATION
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is horrified by the ongoing attacks on Rohingya civilians in Rakhine State, western Burma, and calls on the Burmese government to immediately cease its military operations in the region. According to reports, this campaign includes the widespread and systematic targeting of Rohingya with killing, rape, torture, and forced displacement. The Museum reiterates its deep concern about these ongoing mass atrocities, including the risk of genocide.
"These current attacks on Rohingya follow decades of state-led persecution and dehumanization," warned Cameron Hudson, director of the Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide. "Government efforts to deny Rohingya citizenship rights, restrict their freedom of movement and the practice of their faith, and deny their basic human rights have all been identified as leading precursors to a genocide." The Museum first warned of the risk of genocide against the Rohingya population in 2015, following an investigation in Rakhine State.
Reports of the widespread destruction of homes and villages suggest an effort to ethnically cleanse the region of its Rohingya population and to prevent their eventual return. Since August 25, an estimated 270,000 have fled, seeking safety in neighboring Bangladesh, adding to the more than 74,000 who fled a similar outbreak of violence against Rohingya last fall.
Burma's military is the primary perpetrator of the recent atrocities against Rohingya, aided by a growing number of ethnic Rakhine civilians participating in the attacks as well, but ultimate responsibility for de-escalating the current cycle of violence and protecting the lives and freedom of Burma’s minority populations rests with the country’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.
In 2012, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum awarded Aung San Suu Kyi the Elie Wiesel Award, its highest honor, reserved for those prominent individuals whose actions advance the Museum's vision of a world where people confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. Today, these ideals appear absent in the defense of Burma's Rohingya population. We now implore her to use her position in government and her even more powerful voice to uphold those very ideals and work to stop the longstanding persecution and violence that threaten the very existence of Rohingya in Burma.
A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hate, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. Its far-reaching educational programs and global impact are made possible by generous donors. For more information visit, ushmm.org.