House Resolution 1091 Declares Horrific Treatment of Rohingya a Genocide and Calls on State Department to Issue Legal Determination
WASHINGTON, DC— Today, the Burma Task Force applauds U.S. House of Representatives for voting in favor of H.R. 1091, a bipartisan measure that declares the Burmese military’s atrocities against the Rohingya Muslim minority genocide. The House of Representatives has now officially adopted the position that the ongoing policies of mass violence and displacement against the Rohingya by the Myanmar government constitute genocide, bringing the U.S. closer to the emerging international consensus on the issue.
Importantly, H.Res. 1091 also calls for the release of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were unjustly convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison, and states the House’s official policy position that the atrocities committed by the Burmese military against the Rohingya were genocide. It also urges Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to make a legal determination on the matter. Burma Task Force has urged President Donald Trump and Secretary Pompeo to declare the Rohingya crisis a genocide and reimpose previous U.S. sanctions that led to increase democratic reforms in Burma but were lifted by President Obama in late 2016.
Rohingya Muslims have suffered discrimination and violence for generations at the hands of the Burmese government. In August 2017, such violence escalated to unprecedented levels with unmitigated torture, rape, and murder forcing more than 800,000 Rohingyas to flee to neighboring Bangladesh refugee camps while another 500,000 are waiting to be allowed into Bangladesh. The Burmese military has now turned their violence against other ethnic minorities targeting Kachin Christians in Northern Burma, burning and bombing their churches and destroying their livelihoods.
The State Department recently released its report on the atrocities in Northern Rakhine State in Burma which identifies Burma’s military as the main actor that “waged a planned, coordinated campaign of mass killings, gang rapes and other atrocities against the Southeast Asian nation’s Rohingya Muslim minority.” The report highlights the religious persecution of Rohingyas stating “Refugees reported that the perpetrators of the violence singled out community or religious leaders as their targets in some areas. Thirty percent of the respondents reported they witnessed explicitly religious targeting or harassment. Respondents also detailed cases of the military’s desecration of sacred texts, and some saw soldiers burning or urinating on Korans.”
“We are hopeful that this resolution prompts the Trump Administration to properly and resolutely address the Burma Genocide. In a time when some of America's most prominent corporations, like Facebook and Twitter, are aiding and abetting genocide in Burma, it is good to see the U.S. government moving in the right direction,” said Malik Mujahid, Chair of Burma Task Force. “A declaration of genocide by the U.S. should force the international community to fully investigate the atrocities against the Rohingya because justice will be a deterrent to future mass killings. It will help ensure that the safe and dignified return of the Rohingya to their homeland will include restoration of villages and their citizenship rights.”
Founded in 2012 and representing a coalition of 38 U.S. and Canadian Organizations, Burma Task Force is the only organization fully dedicated to ending the genocide in Burma.