INQUIRY 2019-20

Inquiry 2019-20
Preventing Genocide and Mass Atrocities in Myanmar

They are an ethnic Muslim minority who practice a Sufi-inflected variation of Sunni Islam. There an estimated 3.5 million Rohingya worldwide.

The Rohingya trace their origins in the Myanmar region to the fifteenth century, when thousands of Muslims came to the former Arakan Kingdom. Many others arrived during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when Rakhine was governed by colonial rule as part of British India. Since independence in 1948, successive governments in Burma, renamed Myanmar in 1989, have refuted the Rohingya’s historical claims and denied the group recognition as one of the country’s 135 official ethnic groups. The Rohingya are considered illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, even though many trace their roots in Myanmar back centuries.

They are currently classified as ‘stateless’ by the United Nations, because the government refuses to grant them citizenship

The Rohingya have been systematically discriminated against for several decades in Myanmar. Discriminatory policies of Myanmar’s government since the late 1970s have compelled hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya to flee their homes in the predominantly Buddhist country. Most have crossed by land into Bangladesh, while others have taken to the sea to reach Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.

The very term “Rohingya” is disavowed by Myanmar's government, who contend that the group are recent, and illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

The group accounts for nearly a third of the population in Rakhine State.

Rakhine State is Myanmar’s least developed state, with a poverty rate of 78 percent, compared to the 37.5 percent national average, according to World Bank estimates. Widespread poverty, poor infrastructure, and a lack of employment opportunities in Rakhine have exacerbated the cleavage between Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya.

In 2017, over 640,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh as a result of a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. Nearly 400 Rohingya villages were destroyed, with four in ten villages having been completely razed to the ground.  Six Myanmar military bases have been built on the sites of destroyed villages.

 A 2019 UN-appointed independent panel has concluded “that the evidence that infers genocidal intent on the part of the State…has strengthened, that there is a serious risk that genocidal actions may occur or recur”.

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, told the United Nations Human Rights Council in October 2019 that Myanmar had “done nothing to dismantle the system of violence and persecution” against the Rohingya who live in the “same dire circumstances that they did, prior to the events of August 2017”.

The 600,000 mainly-Muslim Rohingya still in Myanmar “remain the target” of Government efforts to remove them from the country, the expert panel insisted. The threats the Rohingya minority face include a “continuation of hate speech” and discrimination that affects their ability to work, attend school, seek medical care “or even pray and congregate”, the report notes.

Humanitarian access remains severely restricted by the State, and all those involved in the violence – among them, the Tatmadaw State military and the Arakan separatist army – have been responsible for “indiscriminate…heavy artillery fire, gunfire and landmines in civilian areas” linked to the displacement of some 65,000 people across northern Rakhine and southern Chin states.

What can and should be done to prevent a re-occurrence of ethnic cleaning, mass atrocities and genocide against the Rohingya in Myanmar?

 Discussions will focus on seven major areas:


  • Representation
  • Policies
  • National and International Laws
  • History and Narrative


  • Military and armed separatist groups
  • International Intervention and the Responsibility to Protect
  • Regional Cooperation and Borders


  • Reconstruction
  • Building the economy
  • De-linking the military and economic projects
  • Humanitarian Assistance

Minority Rights and Representation

  • Representation
  • Religious Nationalism
  • Ethnic policies and territory


  • National and Local reconciliation
  • History and Narrative
  • Remembrance and Memorialization


  • Repatriation
  • Relocation
  • Rights of the displaced nationally and internationally

Human Rights

  • Protection
  • Advocacy
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Humanitarian Assistance






Connor Elliott


Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO)


Jennifer Frye

Connor Elliott

Columbia Prep

National League for Democracy (NLD)


Ingyin Khine

Alejandra Macaya


Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA)

El Puente

Chidiebele(Chi-Chi) Ikpeazu



Tatmadaw (Deep State)

Boston Latin

Sebastian Tringale

Jed Starr

Columbia Prep



Jacob Kirsch

Janya Gambhir



Columbia Prep






Haitong Du


Boston Latin

United Kingdom



Adam Foster


Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)

Boston Latin


Alex Smith


Human Rights NGO Consortium


Julia Shufro


Little Village



Andres Borjas