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Burma's Long Path Toward Genocide


Secretary of State Antony Blinken tours the "Burma's Path To Genocide" exhibit at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, March 21, 2022, in Washington.

On March 21, Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared that the Burmese military government committed genocide against the Rohingya minority.

Burma's Long Path Toward Genocide
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On March 21, Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared that the Burmese military government committed genocide against the Rohingya minority.

There is such a thing as a path to genocide. “That’s the groundwork for genocide, the fact that it is laid far in advance, over years, even decades, through a steady process of dehumanization and demonization,” said Secretary Blinken. “The Rohingya, who had been an integral part of Burma’s society for generations, saw their rights, saw their citizenship methodically stripped away.”

In 1962, the Burmese military staged a coup and soon thereafter began to demonize and persecute Rohingya and other ethnic minorities. The government stripped Rohingya of their citizenship, conducted campaigns of terror, rape and murder against them and destroyed their communities; then forced them into camps for the displaced. There were strong parallels between events in Burma that historically led to genocide elsewhere, said Secretary Blinken. “Rohingya were compared to fleas, to thorns, to an invasive species, just as Tutsis were compared to cockroaches, and Jews to rats and parasites.”

"And while today’s determination of genocide and crimes against humanity is focused on Rohingya, it’s also important to recognize that for decades the Burmese military has committed killings, rape, and other atrocities against members of other ethnic and religious minority groups. Reports of these abuses are widespread; they’re well documented. They’ve occurred in states across Burma.”

The United States strongly supports the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, as it collects, preserves, and analyzes evidence of the most serious international crimes in Burma.

“Even as we lay the foundation for future accountability, we’re also working to stop the military’s ongoing atrocities, press for the release of all those unjustly detained, support the people of Burma as they strive to put the country back on the track to democracy,” said Secretary Blinken.

“The United States also continues to provide significant support to help meet the immediate humanitarian needs of Rohingya and all affected by their persecution – nearly $1.6 billion since 2017 for everything from shelter and education, specialized mental health and psychosocial support for the victims of trauma.”

“The case files are growing. The Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar alone has collected more than 1.5 million items of evidence and information, including witness testimonies, documents, messages, photos, videos, geospatial imagery, social media pages,” said Secretary Blinken. “The day will come when those responsible for these appalling acts will have to answer for them.”

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