Last week, the Biden administration formally announced its determination that violence committed against the Rohingya by Myanmar’s military (the Tatmadaw) amounts to genocide and crimes against humanity. In response, the following statement is attributable to Lindsey Green, MA, program officer, Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones, at Physicians for Human Rights (PHR):
“PHR welcomes the Biden administration’s formal determination that violence perpetrated by the Tatmadaw against Myanmar’s Rohingya minority constitutes genocide and crimes against humanity. The U.S. government’s acknowledgement of and future action on this issue are important steps toward justice for the Rohingya and a commitment to ensure meaningful accountability for crimes committed in Myanmar.
“It is past time the international community acknowledge the systematic violence perpetrated against the Rohingya as a coordinated effort to expel them from their homeland, and that the Rohingya see justice and accountability for those most responsible. For 15 years, PHR has used science and medicine to document and call attention to human rights abuses in Myanmar. Through medical evaluations and first-hand accounts from Rohingya survivors, we have corroborated evidence of widespread and systematic violence, including sexual and gender-based violence, burning of villages, shootings, and beatings, targeting the Rohingya in northern Rakhine state since August 2017. Thousands have been killed and more than 740,000 people have been forced to flee their homes due to years of persecution, abuse, and ethnic violence.
“The need for intervention by the international community to stop the ongoing military coup and end violence against all people in Myanmar, including the Rohingya, is paramount. This determination is a major step, not only in further validating the crimes committed against the Rohingya, but also because it initiates a number of more severe consequences and policy actions that the United States is obligated to pursue. PHR urges the U.S. government to hold Myanmar’s security forces accountable for their brutal crimes by passing the BURMA Act, continue to issue robust political and economic sanctions against military leaders and their affiliated entities, and supporting international efforts for justice and accountability for genocide.
“Most critically, the Rohingya community must lead in the process of determining what remedies, including repatriations, rehabilitation, and mental health and trauma-related support are owed to them for the violations they have endured. No one government or intergovernmental organization can accurately assess the severe trauma, life-changing disabilities, and immeasurable losses the Rohingya have experienced. It is imperative their voices be centered in this process now and in the future.”
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.