October 20, 2020

The Honorable Michael R. Pompeo
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Pompeo,

We write to you as 35 organizations deeply concerned about the plight of the Rohingya people. We are grateful that the United States will be co-hosting a global donor conference this month to rally support for the ongoing immense humanitarian needs in Burma and Bangladesh for this persecuted ethnic and religious minority. We urge you to use this moment not only to increase humanitarian funding but to publicly acknowledge the reality of what has happened to the Rohingya people and call it genocide. 

Such a step would not only acknowledge the truth of what has happened but would also help to rally further humanitarian assistance. It would also demonstrate solidarity with the governments of Bangladesh and other refugee hosting countries, signaling the United States is committed both to accountability and supporting conditions for safe and voluntary return when conditions so permit.

Finally, a genocide determination would send a sense of urgency to spur the kind of multi-lateral diplomatic engagement and pressure needed to ensure that Burma refrains from committing further atrocities against ethnic and religious minorities and, ultimately, creates the conditions conducive to the safe, voluntary, informed, and sustainable return of Rohingya refugees to their place of origin.

Recognition of the nature of what happened to the Rohingya is steadily growing. In August, as the world marked three years from the mass expulsion of the Rohingya from Burma, we delivered a petition to you signed by some 9,000 individuals and supported by more than 80 organizations. The petition urged you to publicly determine that the state of Burma has committed genocide and crimes against humanity against the Rohingya people. That call has been echoed by bi-partisan Members of Congress, legal and human rights experts, and numerous faith-based organizations. 

The evidence of genocide and crimes against humanity is clear and convincing and has been amply documented by the UN Fact-finding mission, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, independent human rights groups, and your own State Department.

As the State Department takes the world stage to kick off the international Rohingya donor conference, this reality must be acknowledged and the opportunity to galvanize international support must not be lost. U.S. leadership matters. Now is the time to call it genocide. 

Should you have any questions about this letter, please feel free to be in touch with Daniel Sullivan (daniel@refugeesinterntional.org).


Arakan Rohingya Development Association – Australia
Arakan Rohingya National Organization
Arakan Rohingya Union
Burma Campaign UK
Burma Human Rights Network
Burma Rohingya Association of Japan
Burma Rohingya Organization UK
Burma Task Force
Burmese Rohingya Association of North America
Burmese Rohingya Community in Denmark
Canadian Burmese Rohingya Organization
Canadian Rohingya Development Initiative
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
European Rohingya Council
Fortify Rights
Genocide Watch
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
Global Witness
Institute for Asian Democracy
International Campaign for the Rohingya
International State Crime Initiative (ISCI), Queen Mary University of London
Jewish World Watch
Justice for All
Progressive Voice
Refugees International
Restless Beings
Rohingya Association of Canada
Rohingya Human Rights Network
Rohingya Human Rights Monitoring Network
Rohingya Khobor
Rohingya Society in Malaysia
Rohingya Youth for Legal Action
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee