The US government should designate the violence against the Rohingya in Myanmar a Genocide
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For decades the government and military of Myanmar, also known as Burma, have been carrying out systematic violence against the Rohingya, an ethnic and religious minority group, with the goal of removing them from Myanmar to create a “pure” Buddhist nation.
The UN human-rights chief has called the current violence a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
The United States Holocaust Museum has published a report saying there is “mounting evidence” of genocide in Myanmar.
As with past genocides, the groundwork for the current violence was laid in the 1982 Burma Citizenship Law that refused to recognize the Rohingya, who are a Muslim minority in a predominantly Buddhist country, as citizens. Stripped of their citizenship, they have been the target of many episodes of violence by military and civilian groups.
The current violence unleashed upon Rohingya civilians by the Burmese military has reached shocking proportions. As of Wednesday, 11/15/2017, The Guardian reports that “Close to one million Rohingya have been pushed out of their homes in northern Rakhine state into neighbouring Bangladesh following “coordinated” attacks on villages that included mass killings, gang-rape and arson.”
Entire villages are being destroyed: civilians are trapped inside buildings that are set ablaze, burning them alive; sexual violence is a widespread and deliberate tactic to terrorize, humiliate, and destroy; mothers are forced to watch in helpless horror as their children are murdered in monstrous ways. Those who escape are fleeing across the river border to Bangladesh with nothing more than the clothing they wear and bearing injuries that testify to unspeakable violence and suffering. Most of these refugees are women and children.
On November 15, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson addressed the press alongside Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Tillerson called for a full and independent investigation into the situation in Rakhine state, saying ”We are very concerned by reports of widespread atrocities committed by Myanmar security forces… What we know occurred in Rakhine state ... has a number of characteristics of crimes against humanity," he added. "Whether it meets all the criteria of ethnic cleansing we continue to determine ourselves." We declare that this is not enough.
For a people who have been called the "world’s most persecuted minority" suffering from "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” time is running out. As citizens of the most powerful nation and leader on the global stage, we call upon our senators and representatives to respond to the “mounting evidence” of genocide in Myanmar by formally designating it as genocide in accordance with U.S. law, the GENOCIDE CONVENTION IMPLEMENTATION ACT OF 1987. We further call upon them to lead the international community in designating this as genocide and acting to stop it.
After the Holocaust we vowed to never again sit idly by while a genocide happened. It is happening again. Now is the time to act, before it is too late.
For information on how close the U.S. government is to using this kind of legal designation, see Vox's article: "The US is on the verge of calling out Myanmar for ethnic cleansing": https://www.vox.com/world/2017/10/30/16554544/myanmar-rohingya-ethnic-cleansing-suu-kyi
Follow the latest news on Twitter #rohingya: https://twitter.com/hashtag/rohingya
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