American Jewish World Service (AJWS) calls on the U.S. Secretaries of State and Treasury and the U.S. Congress to act
Tracey Gurd, Senior Director of Civil and Political Rights and Advocacy at American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the leading global Jewish human rights organization, issued the following statement on the third anniversary of the mass exodus of over 740,000 Rohingya people as a direct result of the Burmese military’s systemic genocidal violence against this ethnic minority:.
“This week the world marks three years since the Burmese military initiated a genocidal campaign against the Rohingya people, razing villages, killing civilians including children, and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes and their country. More than 740,000 fled to neighboring Bangladesh, where they now live in impoverished conditions in the world’s largest refugee camp, joining around 300,000 Rohingya people dislocated from previous Burmese military campaigns. Today, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people remain in Burma (Myanmar), living in fear of ongoing conflict and without access to necessary humanitarian aid or basic freedoms.
“We applaud the courageous and resilient Rohingya activists and genocide survivors who have been leading the fight to hold perpetrators to account and demand justice for the horrific crimes committed against their communities. And we are proud to stand with those in Burma, Bangladesh, and around the globe who continue the pursuit of justice, and whose efforts have seen early progress at the International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court in this past year. Mounting evidence indicates that the Burmese military committed genocide on the Rohingya people, and the military’s campaign of violence continue to haunt ethnic minority and other marginalized communities throughout the country.
“We believe that only in a democratic and pluralistic Burma, will the Rohingya people – and all ethnic minorities –be able to realize their full human rights and be treated with dignity.
“As the leading global Jewish human rights organization supporting the human rights of ethnic minorities in Burma, including the Rohingya people, we demand that the Burmese government restore Rohingya citizenship and take concrete steps towards creating a conducive environment in Burma to support a voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return of Rohingya refugees.
“Bangladesh has born a tremendous burden in hosting Rohingya refugees with inadequate international financial support. While international donors must step up, Bangladesh must also do more to ensure that basic freedoms are not restricted. We ask that the government lift its internet blackout in the camps, allow Rohingya civil society to organize, and cease any plans to relocated refugees to the flood- and cyclone-prone island of Bhasan Char.
“We call on the U.S. Government to use all available tools to defend the rights and dignity of the Rohingya people and other ethnic minorities in Burma. The Secretaries of State and Treasury must act decisively to hold accountable the perpetrators of these unspeakable crimes, beyond the limited visa denials and financial sanctions already imposed. And the U.S. Senate must act now to pass important legislation that would further these goals, as well.
“As a Jewish organization, we refuse to be silent in the face of ongoing genocide. The words, ‘Never Again’ mean no genocide ever again, against anyone. We will continue to stand with and advocate on behalf of the Rohingya and ethnic minorities in Burma.”
About American Jewish World Service’s work in Burma
For more than 17 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.
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