Two years ago, Burma’s security forces engaged in a brutal attack against hundreds of thousands of unarmed men, women, and children in a grossly disproportionate response to attacks by militants on security posts in northern Rakhine State. The Burmese military’s horrific atrocities against Rohingya villagers caused an exodus of more than 740,000 Rohingya to Bangladesh in actions that constituted ethnic cleansing.
Rakhine State is not the only place in Burma where the military has committed violations of human rights against the Burmese people over the past seventy years. The lack of accountability and civilian oversight of the military means that military abuses continue today in Rakhine State, as well as Kachin and Shan States and elsewhere in Burma. We call upon all those involved to respect human rights, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and engage in political dialogue to pursue peace.
We appreciate the Government of Bangladesh’s ongoing generosity in hosting these refugees. The United States is the leading contributor of humanitarian assistance in response to the Rohingya crisis, providing nearly $542 million since the outbreak of violence in August 2017. We continue to call on others to join us in contributing to this humanitarian response.
Our thoughts are with the victims of these abuses and the more than one million refugees who have been forced to find refuge in Bangladesh. Justice and accountability are essential for Burma’s efforts to build a strong, peaceful, secure, and prosperous democracy. We continue to call on others to support efforts to promote justice and facilitate conditions for voluntary return.
As August also marks the two years since the release of the Kofi Annan-led Advisory Commission on Rakhine State’s report and recommendations, many of which concern the institutional discrimination against Rohingya that continues to this day. We continue to encourage the Burmese government to implement the Advisory Commission’s recommendations, which offer the best path forward for Burma and all the people of Rakhine State, as well as all those who fled. We continue to work with international organizations to encourage Burma to create the conditions that would allow for the voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return of refugees to their places of origin or other places of their choosing.