The Rohingya Crisis: Why a U.S. Genocide Determination Matters

August 13, 2020

This month marks three years since nearly 800,000 Rohingya women, men, and children fled horrific violence on their doorstep. Myanmar’s soldiers targeted Rohingya with systemic and widespread murder and rape and burned their villages to erase any evidence. The United Nations, the United States Holocaust Memorial MuseumRefugees International, the U.S. State Department itself, and many others have documented these atrocities. However, the United States has yet to call these crimes what they really are: genocide.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees live in cramped conditions in Bangladesh and are at high-risk of contracting COVID-19. Across the border in Myanmar, nearly 600,000 Rohingya remaining face an ongoing risk of genocide.

Refugees International and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum hosted a conversation about the Rohingya refugee crisis and why a U.S. genocide determination matters now. You’ll hear from Rohingya refugees and activists, genocide and human rights experts, and celebrities alike who say it’s time to #ActForRohingya and #CallItGenocide.


Sam Waterston is a well-known actor & a Refugees International emeritus board member. Sam is a long-time defender of refugee rights.


Wai Wai Nu is a Rohingya activist and former political prisoner in Myanmar. She is a fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, co-founder of Justice for Women, and the founder and director of the Women Peace Network Arakan.

Thomas Sadoski is an acclaimed actor most well-known for his role in The Newsroom and is a Refugees International emeritus board member. He has championed human rights issues with his platform and has notably shed light on the plight of the Rohingya.

Daniel Sullivan is the senior advocate for human rights at Refugees International where he focuses on the Rohingya crisis.

Yasmin Ullah is a Rohingya activist and refugee born in Myanmar. She is the president of Rohingya Human Rights Network.


A genocide determination is not just a matter of semantics. It is essential to bolster the international community’s resolve to say, “never again,” and to hold perpetrators accountable.

Refugees International launched a petition urging U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to call Myanmar’s crimes against the Rohingya genocide. We will deliver the petition to Secretary Pompeo ahead of August 25—the three-year mark of the coordinated attacks that displaced 800,000 Rohingya from their homes.