We, the Women’s Peace Network, welcome the US government’s determination today that the crimes committed against Rohingya amount to genocide and crimes against humanity.
Made by a leading stakeholder of the international community, this genocide determination serves as a key step in holding the Myanmar military accountable.
We trust the US government that its decisive act today will not overshadow the generational pain and suffering to which Rohingya and many other victims and survivors of mass atrocities have long been subjected.
As reported by the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, as well as human rights organisations and advocates for years, the Myanmar military’s widespread and strategic use of violence in 2016 and 2017 are a few of the many attacks of genocide its forces have perpetrated against this ethnic minority and indigenous group.
At serious risk of facing further atrocities, the Rohingya remaining in Myanmar continue to live under genocidal policies and apartheid-like conditions, [and are] systematically denied citizenship, freedom of movement, and other fundamental human rights.
Rohingya and many other ethnic minority communities across the country are still at risk of further brutalities, including sexual and gender-based violence as a weapon of war. Among them, women and girls in particular continue to suffer from stigma, discrimination and other acts of communal violence without access to any form of protection or recourse to justice.
Therefore, we call on the US government to follow its genocide determination with rigorous and concerted actions to bring justice for the victims and survivors of genocide and other mass atrocities. These actions must also be fulfilled immediately as the perpetrators of such crimes launched the 1 February attempted coup last year and have since then unleashed a brutal campaign of terror across Myanmar.
As the first step, the US government should continue to bolster the accountability efforts of ongoing international justice processes, which include the International Court of Justice case of The Gambia v Myanmar.
As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the US must also ensure that a resolution that refers the case of Myanmar to the International Criminal Court, imposes a global arms embargo on the country, and issues further economic sanctions and financial penalties on the junta and its related businesses, particularly the Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise, is adopted immediately.
In addition, the US government should implement a victim and women-centered approach in bringing justice and accountability to Rohingya. This should include a long-term strategy for the rehabilitation and repatriation of the Rohingya people as a whole, a plan for reparations, and the provision of direct material and financial support to the community and its civil society for, among others, their health, livelihood and education.
We also call on other international governments to follow the US’ leadership in making a genocide determination for Rohingya and to take additional actions individually and jointly to hold the Myanmar military accountable.
Myanmar’s National Unity Government in particular should publicly recognise the crimes committed against the Rohingya as genocide and work to hold all actors involved in this crime accountable. The NUG should further meaningfully engage with the Rohingya to implement a comprehensive plan for transitional and restorative justice, as well as reconciliation; and restore the equal rights of Rohingya, including by recognising the community as an ethnic and indigenous group of the country and its members as Myanmar citizens.
Today, the US government’s genocide determination is a historic step for Rohingya and their future in Myanmar. We now hope that such momentous words of “never again” will be followed by equally momentous actions.