August 15, 2018, Washington, D.C.—On August 25, 2017, a wave of violence was unleashed against the Rohingya people in Rakhine state, Burma. In the nearly one year since those attacks, the global response to this crisis has been shameful. In a new report, The Rohingya Crisis: The Shameful Global Response to Genocide and the Assault on Religious Freedom, the Religious Freedom Institute highlights this crisis and puts forward a call to action.
The atrocities committed against the Rohingya were of the worst kinds imaginable. As mounting evidence has made clear, the attacks were more than just a response to provocation by armed Rohingya, but were carried out with planning and were the outgrowth of long-standing religious hostilities and tensions.
“What I heard firsthand from Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh of children ripped from their parent’s arms is among the worst I have witnessed in my career,” said Kent Hill, Executive Director of the Religious Freedom Institute. “The world faces a grave challenge. Will it stand aside as it did in Rwanda and the Balkans (for far too long) when genocide and ethnic cleansing were occurring? Or will it put meaningful and effective pressure on the government of Burma and the military, to end the campaign of Burman Buddhist nationalism, one which subjugates some minorities to a second-class status and excludes others from full citizenship?”
These violations of religious freedom and acts of genocide against the Rohingya of Burma cannot go unanswered. The failure to respond to earlier violence against the Rohingya allowed the atrocities of 2017 to occur. There are now new signs of similar targeting of other minority groups, particularly in Kachin state.
The international community, individual governments, and faith leaders and their congregants around the world, must not be silent in the face of such a blatant assault on religious freedom and such a violent act of genocide.
In his forward to the report, Benedict Rogers, East Asia Team Leader, CSW and an RFI Senior Fellow, said, “Drawing on a range of sources, [this report] tells a story of an unfolding ethnic cleansing, perhaps a genocide, with a clear religious as well as racial dimension. It should serve as a powerful reminder to policy-makers of the severity of this tragedy, and ensure that we do not allow this crisis to be forgotten or impunity to reign.”
The Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) works to secure religious freedom for everyone, everywhere. The RFI is a non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Washington, D.C.
Media Contact: Jeremy P. Barker