Rohingya Genocide Ongoing after Six Years of Injustice

September 4th, 2023  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  9 minute read
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“We stand here before the international community, the [International Criminal Court (ICC)], and the [International Court of Justice (ICJ)] to convey our disappointment in the delayed pursuit of justice.”

Maung Sawyeddollah, founder of the Rohingya Students Network

In light of fresh atrocities committed by the Myanmar military since the 1 February 2021 attempted coup, 25 August marked the sixth anniversary of the Rohingya genocide committed by the same military in 2017. Yet, durable solutions for the Rohingya remain unresolved as long as the military junta is allowed to continue its terror campaign against the people of Myanmar with total impunity. Only until the military junta is held accountable for the crimes they committed and there is full restoration of civil and political rights of the Rohingya will a voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return to their homeland, Myanmar, be assured.

The Rohingya genocide is rooted in successive military regimes employing the same pattern of slaughter, institutional and structural repression, and persecution through policies, laws, and a range of military campaigns. In 1977, one of the campaigns carried out by the ex-dictator, General Ne Win, named “King Dragon Operation” of forced eviction and widespread brutality, rape, and murder, resulted in the exodus of over 280,000 Rohingya. Another terrorizing military campaign in 1992 drove as many as 250,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh, while a number of them were brutally killed and wounded. This was followed by another offensive, crimes against humanity, against the Rohingya in 2012 to drive them from their homes. Again, the “clearance operations” in 2017 forced over 800,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh. About 600,000 Rohingya remain in Rakhine State, Myanmar, confined to squalid camps and villages, living in apartheid-like conditions, being deprived of their rights and freedoms, and having their capacity to survive eroded.

The military’s decades-long propaganda campaigns promoting anti-Muslim rhetorics, disinformation tactics, and promotion of ultra-nationalism have sowed hatred, phobia and discrimination against Muslim communities across Myanmar but particularly targeting the Rohingya. However, since the people’s Spring Revolution in response to the military’s attempted coup, the attitude of the people in Myanmar toward the Rohingya community – and other ethnic communities – has seen a positive shift with many more people standing in solidarity with the Rohingya community.

In remembrance of the Rohingya genocide on 25 August, 356 civil society organizations issued a joint statement reaffirming their solidarity with the Rohingya community in the pursuit of justice and accountability for victims and survivors, and calling for an end to impunity for grave crimes perpetrated by the Myanmar military. Compared to the 45 organizations that signed the 2021 statement, this year‘s number indicates broader support from communities across Myanmar, including Bamar and Rakhine civil society organizations, who have joined in solidarity with the Rohingya.

The National Unity Government (NUG) has taken an initial step in its policy position on the Rohingya in Rakhine State to replace the discriminatory 1982 Citizenship Law with a new law. While it has not yet been put into action, this is a good start to recognize the Rohingya as an integral part of Myanmar and as Myanmar nationals. Recently, Rohingya representative U Aung Kyaw Moe has been appointed deputy human rights minister to the NUG. While the inclusion of the Rohingya community in ongoing political processes of the Spring Revolution movement has been slow and yet to be comprehensive, it is positive that the movement’s leading political forces such as the NUG have taken such concrete and significant steps to ensure inclusivity in decision-making. This type of action will lead it on a path to a better future for all communities in a new federal democratic Myanmar.

Rohingya themselves, as the rights holders, have organized themselves and amplified their voices to make sure they are heard and seen, and to have their rights recognized and respected. They are calling for inclusion, recognition, and changes and improvements in policy and attitude. Their voices remain strong across different channels and platforms, shaping and demanding their own future. This shows that there is always movement and that nothing is ever static. Wai Wai Nu, the founder of Women’s Peace Network, called to end impunity in her speech to mark the day, saying, “Calling for an end to all forms of impunity in Burma. That also means genuinely apologizing for denying the Rohingya genocide.” Another woman Rohingya human rights activist, Yasmin Ullah, also called on the international community, stating, “Lift up our community, provide comprehensive assistance.” Rohingya youth activist Maung Sawyeddollah, founder of the Rohingya Students Network, spoke at a rally of thousands of Rohingya refugees in a Cox’s Bazar camp, asserting their determination and demanding justice, “We are not victims; we are survivors demanding accountability.”  He expressed his disappointment in how slow the international justice mechanisms are, saying, “We stand here before the international community, the [International Criminal Court (ICC)], and the [International Court of Justice (ICJ)] to convey our disappointment in the delayed pursuit of justice.” In a statement released by the European Rohingya Council, the group also urged the international community to renew its long-standing commitment to justice and accountability, which has stalled in holding the Myanmar military accountable.

The legal proceedings to find accountability that are currently underway — the lawsuit in the Argentinean Federal Court, the universal jurisdiction submissions in Germany and Turkey, the ongoing Gambia vs Myanmar case at the ICJ and the investigation by the ICC — are hopeful steps, but such international  justice processes do not deter the Myanmar military from continuing its crimes against the Rohingya and other communities across Myanmar. Nonetheless, the Myanmar military can no longer sweep its own crimes under the carpet. The activism of the Rohingya community is advancing; what they need is tangible support to realize their aspirations to become an equal and integral part of Myanmar society.

Together with Rohingya brothers and sisters, the people of Myanmar are making efforts to hold the Myanmar military accountable for their crimes of genocide against the Rohingya and crimes against humanity and war crimes against other communities as well as taking necessary steps to build an inclusive federal democratic Myanmar. The ending of the ongoing genocide against the Rohingya in Rakhine and its non-repetition cannot be assured or guaranteed unless the genocidal Myanmar military is held accountable and the international community lives up to their promises of “never again” by lending all support necessary to achieve justice for the Rohingya community.

While such justice and accountability mechanisms are crucial and indispensable and need support, it is also equally important that the international community supports the building of a new political system in Myanmar. This system must guarantee the full restoration of Rohingya’s civil, political, economic, and cultural rights including the right to citizenship and identity, and prevent further discrimination and persecution.


[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term ‘Myanmar’ in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of ‘Myanmar’ rather than ‘Burma’ without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten. Thus, under certain circumstances, ‘Burma’ is used.

Resources from the past week


Statements and Press Releases

Ensure Justice for Rohingya, End Military’s Impunity for Genocide: Restore Rohingya’s Citizenship and Rights, Coordinate Support for Refugees

By 356 Organizations

The International Community Must Act Now to Stop the Ongoing Genocide of Rohingya and Other Muslim Minorities in Myanmar

By Burma Human Rights Network

Rohingya Leading The Way On Justice For Genocide – But We Need The Support Of The International Community

By Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK

551 Civil Society Organisations Urge ASEAN and Dialogue Partner Defence Ministers to Cancel ‘Counter-terrorism’ Training to be Hosted by Myanmar Military Junta and Russia

By Defend Myanmar Democracy, FORUM-ASIA and Progressive Voice

Rohingya Remember Sixth Genocide Remembrance Day: Protracted Justice, Accountability of Myanmar’s Genocide Stalled

By European Rohingya Council

The World Must Stand Up for the Rohingya – Lest We Forget!

By Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

The Pursuit of Justice for Rohingya – Six Years On

By Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar

B20 Summit Partners Supplied Arms and Equipment to Myanmar Military, Including after Coup Attempt

By Justice For Myanmar

JFM Welcomes US Action to Block the Myanmar Junta’s Access to Jet Fuel

By Justice For Myanmar

6th Commemoration of the Rohingya Genocide: A Call for Justice and Action

By Myanmar Campaign Network

Statement on the 6th Anniversary of the Atrocities Committed against the Rohingya People in 2017

By National Unity Government of Myanmar

Comment by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk on Myanmar

By Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Refugees International Statement on Sixth Rohingya Genocide Remembrance Day

By Refugees International

Rohingya Genocide Victims and Survivors Need Justice

By Special Advisory Council for Myanmar

Six Years Since the Rohingya Refugee Influx in Bangladesh, UNHCR Appeals for Sustained Support and Solutions

By United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Secretary-General Calls for Comprehensive Solutions to Address Discrimination, Violence in Myanmar on Sixth Anniversary of Rohingya Displacement

By United Nations Secretary-General

The Sixth Anniversary of Genocide Against Rohingya

By United States Department of State

Expanding Burma Sanctions Authorities and Imposing Sanctions on Additional Jet Fuel Suppliers

By United States Department of State

Treasury Expands Burma-Related Sanctions and Designates Additional Jet Fuel Suppliers in Burma

By United States Department of the Treasury

Statement on Rohingya Genocide Remembrance Day 

By Women’s Peace Network



TRIANGLE in ASEAN Quarterly Briefing Note: Myanmar

By International Labour Organization

Progressive Voice is a participatory, rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 transitioning to a rights-based policy research and advocacy organization called Progressive Voice. For further information, please see our press release “Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice.”