Today’s genocide determination is a significant and long-overdue step towards achieving justice for the Rohingya people. This is not just an important acknowledgment of the atrocities that have been committed against the Rohingya people, but a signal to all who commit these heinous abuses that the international community is watching. While we are encouraged by today’s genocide determination and the Biden Administration’s past efforts to hold the perpetrators of the 2021 coup and ongoing human rights abuses accountable, we know more can and must be done. So today we renew our call to the U.S. Congress to take up and pass the BURMA Act (S. 2937/ H.R. 5497) without delay, strengthen sanctions against the Burmese military, take further action to strongly increase support for international justice initiatives, and bolster support for the hundreds of thousands of refugees forced to flee the genocide. In the wake of the February 2021 coup, it is all too clear that the atrocities committed by the Burmese military have become entrenched and that their actions grow more brazen by the day. Today’s determination makes it all the more urgent that the U.S. government also seeks accountability for abuses that other ethnic minorities continue to suffer throughout Burma.
In 2019, JCPA’s member organizations unanimously voted to declare that the atrocities perpetrated against the Rohingya people constitute a genocide—the first time the Jewish community has issued a genocide determination before the United States government. As a cofounder and active member of the Jewish Rohingya Justice Network, JCPA and its partners worked for years to secure this long-overdue genocide determination for the Rohingya people.
Rabbi David Wirtschafter, a representative of the Jewish Rohingya Justice Network added:
“For many in the Jewish community, the cruelty and inhumanity faced by the Rohingya people is painfully reminiscent of the persecution suffered by Jews throughout history. We cannot remain silent. When we say ‘never again,’ we mean ‘never again’ for anyone, anywhere. Though there is much more work to do on the path to justice for the Rohingya people, we are thankful that the Biden Administration is taking this important step today.”