AJWS Endorses UN Report on Crimes against the Rohingya

Global Jewish human rights group endorses call for accountability from UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar

NEW YORK, NY – “In a welcome move, today’s report by the UN Fact-Finding Mission calls for Burma’s military leaders to be investigated for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed against the Rohingya community, and to account for crimes against other marginalized ethnic groups in Burma,” said Robert Bank, President and CEO of AJWS. “We endorse the UN’s demand for justice and urge the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Burma to the International Criminal Court.”

“A year has passed since the Burmese military launched its offensive against the Rohingya community, with soldiers raping and killing thousands, razing countless homes and forcing hundreds of thousands of Rohingya men, women and children to flee. The Burmese army committed these crimes, systematically documented in this latest UN report based on hundreds of interviews, and a range of documents, including satellite imagery, photographs, videos and expert opinions.

“For too long, the international community has borne witness to this tragedy unfolding before its eyes without acting forcefully. Now it is time to do more than name and shame key actors in the Burmese military: the global community must act, including bringing those responsible to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague.”

“As an American Jewish human rights organization, we will examine the actions of the U.S. government in light of this report’s findings. We urge the U.S. to be part of a global effort to seek a U.N. Security Council referral to the ICC and add high level military commanders, including the Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief, Min Aung Hlaing, and his Deputy Commander Soe Win to its sanctions list.

“But action cannot stop there.  While there must be justice for the Rohingya community, the crimes they suffered reflect a broader pattern of systematic abuse against other minority communities in Burma – specifically the Shan and the Kachin people — that fly in the face of international law and respect for human life and dignity. The oppression of these other ethnic minorities must also be redressed and be part of any future accountability effort for Burma.

“Finally, while it is clear Burma’s military needs to account for its actions, we cannot overlook the failings of the country’s civilian government. Today’s report highlights the role of Burma’s de facto civilian leader, Nobel Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, in her refusal to use either her political position or moral authority to stem and prevent the violence against the Rohingya or other ethnic minorities in Burma. In fact, the report finds that civilian authorities denied military wrongdoing, spread false narratives and shielded the military from investigation. In doing so, Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government contributed to the commission of these atrocities. We call on Aung San Suu Kyi to reverse this course of action immediately.

“As Jews who understand all too well from our history what happens when the world community does not stand up unequivocally in defense of oppressed minorities, we are gratified that the the UN has released this clear and indisputable evidence and urge the international community to act decisively for justice,” added Bank.




About American Jewish World Service (AJWS)

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) is the leading Jewish organization working to pursue justice and fight poverty in the developing world. By supporting hundreds of social change organizations in 19 countries, we respond to the most pressing issues of our time—from disasters, genocide and hunger to the persecution of women and minorities worldwide. With Jewish values and a global reach, AJWS is making a difference in millions of lives and bringing a more just and equitable world closer for all. Learn more at www.ajws.org.

About American Jewish World Service’s work in Burma

For more than 15 years, AJWS has supported the human rights of ethnic minorities in Burma, including the Rohingya people. AJWS provides direct financial support to more than 30 human rights organizations in Burma that have been working to advance the rights of minority ethnic groups and to create a truly pluralistic and democratic society. Please read more about our work in Burma here.


For More Information

If you are a member of the press and wish to obtain information about our work or speak to a member of our global team on deadline, please contact Tanyanika Davis, Director of Media Relations, at tdavis@ajws.org.