Research raised worldwide awareness of the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine State and highlighted possible stages in a process of genocide.

Impacts

  • Professor Penny Green, Dr Thomas McManus and Alicia de la Cour Venning at the International State Crime Initiative (ISCI) found and publicised evidence of how Myanmar Rohingya were being persecuted in Rakhine State.
  • The researchers have helped reframe global understanding of the persecution of the Rohingya through two reports, downloaded more than 50,000 times.
  • Briefings were given to the United Nations, the UK government, human rights and humanitarian organisations and charities, and more than 500 media outlets including CNN, Sky News and the BBC.
  • A November 2017 report of the UK Foreign Affairs Committee inquiry into Violence in Rakhine State referenced the research seven times, including its assertion of what was argued fit with stages in what may be a 'genocidal persecution stretching back over 30 years'.
  • ISCI evidence prompted the commissioning of a major documentary, Myanmar's Killing Fields, aired on Channel 4 in the UK, PBS in the US, and Australia's SBS in 2018.

"The work undertaken by the International State Crime Initiative has played an absolutely crucial part in helping us get a major documentary on the Rohingya commissioned for PBS, Channel 4 and SBS, because our conversations demonstrated solid well-researched proof of a state-organised campaign of persecution against the Rohingya going back years." (Evan Williams, filmmaker and producer of Myanmar's Killing Fields)

About the research

Nearly one million Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh to escape persecution in Myanmar's Rakhine State. Since the latest escalation in August 2017, 360 villages have been burned down and a daily average of over 10,000 Rohingya refugees are crossing into Bangladesh.

While researching responses to corruption and state violence in 2014, the researchers noticed and then gathered data which in their view began to indicate a genocidal process. Further exploring this, in 2017 they returned to the region and added evidence from interviews with Rohingya refugees in Bangladeshi camps. Together these data support the idea that the plight of the Rohingya of Rakhine State may well be formally classified as genocide.

Supported by this research and documentation, international opinion has now shifted with many journalists, organisations and politicians describing the situation as genocide or potentially genocide, including the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar. This term has important geopolitical ramifications.

"Naming the Rohingya crisis as ‘genocide’ rather than 'a humanitarian crisis' or 'ethnic cleansing' is vital because it carries crucial implications for intervention," says Professor Penny Green. "Only if a determination of genocide is made are the world's nations obliged under the 1951 UN Genocide Convention to intervene, prevent and punish."