USCIRF Urges Justice for the Rohingya People on Third Anniversary of Genocidal Campaign

August 25, 2020

Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today marked the third anniversary of the Burmese military’s violent and brutal campaign against the Rohingya people that continues to this day.

“Three years after the beginning of the genocidal campaign against the Rohingya people, the Burmese government has done almost nothing to hold the military accountable or make conditions safe for the Rohingya to return to their homes,” USCIRF Commissioner Nadine Maenza stated. “Refugee camps are not a long-term solution for the Rohingya people. The United States and the international community must reinvigorate and catalyze efforts to permit the Rohingya to return to their home in Burma as full citizens.”

On August 25, 2017, the Burmese military launched a genocidal campaign allegedly targeting insurgents in Rakhine State. The United Nations Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar has documented instances of Burmese military units involved in indiscriminate killings of civilians, mass rape, and arbitrary detentions. According to the UN Refugee Agency, more than 740,000 Rohingya refugees fled to camps in Bangladesh, while another 120,000 are displaced internally. In December 2019, the Treasury Department imposed financial sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act against four senior Burmese military generals, including Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing, due to their command responsibility for atrocities in Rakhine State.

“USCIRF urges the State Department to hold the Burmese Government accountable and  call its actions against the Rohingya what they are: genocide and crimes against humanity,” noted USCIRF Vice Chair Anurima Bhargava. “The United States and the international community must also take steps to curb the hate and violence being perpetuated against the Rohingya — then and now — through social media and technology.” 

In its 2020 Annual Report, USCIRF called upon the administration to use its authority under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and the International Religious Freedom Act to impose targeted sanctions on Burmese officials responsible for severe religious freedom violations against Rohingya Muslims. In March 2020, USCIRF released a factsheet about ongoing cases against the Burmese government globally.

USCIRF will hold a webinar about Rohingya refugees on August 27, 2020.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at [email protected] or Danielle Ashbahian at [email protected].

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