U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum launches Burma’s Path to Genocide online exhibition
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is launching a new online exhibition, “Burma’s Path to Genocide,” which shows how years of escalating exclusion and persecution of the Rohingya at the hands of the Burmese military eventually resulted in genocide.
For decades, the Burmese military has persecuted its Rohingya population, a Muslim minority in the largely Buddhist country. The exhibition shows how the Rohingya went from being citizens at the country’s founding in 1948, to persecuted outcasts today as Burma evolved into an increasingly ethno-nationalistic state with citizenship based on religion and ethnicity. By August 2017, the Burmese military’s long history of violence against the Rohingya escalated into brutal mass killings, sexual violence, and displacement. The Museum has raised concerns about the risk of genocide facing the Rohingya since 2013 and determined in 2018 that there was compelling evidence that the Burmese military committed genocide against them.
“We launched this exhibition to give voice to the victims and help establish the historical record as the Burmese government denies the genocide against the Rohingya,” said Naomi Kikoler, director of the Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide. “There has been no significant improvement in the Rohingya’s status. Those who remain in Burma face an ongoing risk of genocide as do the one million refugees in Bangladesh should they return home.”
“The Burmese government has attempted to silence and erase the Rohingya people,” said Greg Constantine, the exhibition’s curator. Over 14 years, Constantine has made 16 trips to the region to document the Rohingya’s plight. His photographs and the eyewitness testimonies he collected are featured throughout the exhibition. “This exhibition attempts to highlight the Rohingya community’s history and humanity,” continued Constantine. “We hope their stories in their own voices will help people gain a better understanding of who the Rohingya people are and the atrocities they have endured.”
“It is meaningful for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to create this historic exhibition to highlight the genocide that we have suffered,” said Tun Khin, president of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK. “We have been persecuted by the Burmese government, policy by policy, in a slow march toward genocide that is seeking to destroy us. People need to know that genocide still happens in the 21st century, and through this exhibition people will be able to understand what we have endured. It is powerful to know that we are not forgotten.”
The exhibition can be found at www.ushmm.org/burma-genocide