WASHINGTON -- Refugees International announced today that more than 50 NGOs and human rights organizations have signed on to its petition urging U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to call Myanmar's crimes against the Rohingya what they are: genocide.
As the petition states, "Now is the time to use the words that fit the crimes. U.S. leadership matters. We call upon you to demonstrate the moral leadership and courage necessary to push global action in the face of genocide."
Next month will mark three years since the Rohingya fled systematic violence on their doorstep in Myanmar. Even as the United Nations, Refugees International, the U.S. State Department itself, and many others have documented Myanmar's crimes, the world has yet to hold the country accountable.
"A genocide determination is not just a matter of semantics, but a vital step in bolstering global action and accountability," said Refugees International Senior Advocate for Human Rights Daniel Sullivan. "Without action, Rohingya have little hope of returning home, and those inside Myanmar remain at risk of genocide. The world cannot turn a blind eye."
On August 25, Refugees International will send the petition to Secretary Pompeo, with the backing of thousands of signatures and support of NGOs, to highlight the need for a genocide determination. Among the organizations are Fortify Rights, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, HIAS, Christian Solidarity Worldwide and many more.
This past April, Refugees International formally announced its position to call Myanmar's systematic violence and hateful rhetoric---revealing the government's egregious intent---against the Rohingya genocide. Such a determination will increase pressure and attention on Myanmar to help prevent further atrocities.
"After the Holocaust, the phrase 'never again' came to represent humanity's commitment to prevent genocide---a commitment that has all-too-often been honored in the breach," said Refugees International President Eric Schwartz. "But failures of prevention---whether in Rwanda, in Srebrenica, and Myanmar---do not diminish the critical importance of calling out this horrific crime. And in the case of Myanmar, such action now would deter ongoing atrocities against the Rohingya. I am heartened to see such support for the campaign to urge Secretary Pompeo to call Myanmar's crimes genocide. Now it is up to Secretary Pompeo to choose to be on the right side of history."