USCIRF Welcomes State Department’s Determination of Genocide Committed by Burmese Military Against Rohingya


Date:                        March 21, 2022


Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) applauds the announcement by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken that the Biden Administration has determined that the atrocities committed by the Burmese military, known as the Tatmadaw, against the Rohingya constitute genocide and crimes against humanity.

USCIRF has been advocating for this determination since the escalation of violence in 2017,” said USCIRF Chair Nadine Maenza. “The Rohingya have been targeted for decades by Burmese authorities—the Tatmadaw in particular. This determination provides recognition to the Rohingya and acknowledges the severity of the atrocities that occurred, which is an important step towards achieving justice.

In 2017, the Burmese military escalated attacks on Rohingya. The Tatmadaw perpetrated mass killings and rapes against the Rohingya in Rakhine State, forcing over 745,000 to flee to Bangladesh within days. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya and other religious minorities have continued to flee due to violence. On February 1, 2021, the military seized the institutions of the state and placed General Hlaing in effective control of the country. Since the coup, the Tatmadaw have employed similar tactics used on the Rohingya against all ethnic and religious communities. Amid the continuing violence, there are several ongoing accountability processes for alleged international crimes against the Rohingya, including at the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, and in Argentina’s justice system under the principle of universal jurisdiction. 

"In his announcement of the genocide determination at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Secretary Blinken noted pertinent similarities in the atrocities committed by the Tatmadaw against the Rohingya to those committed by the Nazis against the Jews—including longstanding denial of basic citizenship rights for the Rohingya,” said USCIRF Commissioner Anurima Bhargava. “Now that the U.S. government has acknowledged the gravity of these crimes, it must actively support efforts to hold Burmese officials accountable, including through the international legal system.

In May 2020, USCIRF held a hearing Ending Genocide – U.S. Government Genocide Determinations and Next Steps, which highlighted the importance of a genocide determination to the Rohingya community. USCIRF’s follow up hearing on Accountability for Perpetrators, hosted in July 2021, explored opportunities for justice for genocide and crimes against humanity. USCIRF’s November 2021 Country Update on Burma further details religious freedom conditions in the country since the coup.


The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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