Action Needed By U.S. After UN Reports Abuse of Burma’s Rohingya

Praises the Use of the Term "Rohingya" By Top UN Human Rights Official Despite Government Pressure

Urges President Obama to #JustSayTheirName in November trip to Burma

(Washington, D.C.) United to End Genocide, an advocacy group dedicated to ending genocide and mass atrocities, today urged the Obama administration to take action in light of a report by the top UN Human Rights official of deplorable and worsening conditions facing the Rohingya ethnic minority in Burma. They called on President Obama to issue a strong response to the report and act to stop the “march genocide in Burma” that has cost untold numbers of lives and threatens hundreds of thousands.

The group also praised Yanghee Lee for saying the name of the Rohingya, in defiance of pressure from the government of Burma, in her first report to the UN General Assembly.

“Incredibly, governments of the world are bending to pressure by the Thein Sein government of Burma to no longer use the term “Rohingya” when referring to the Rohingya ethnic minority,” said United to End Genocide President Tom Andrews, "Even Secretary of State John Kerry obliged the government by not mentioning the Rohingya by name when he last visited Burma."

“As President Obama prepares to make his second trip to Burma in November, he should follow the Special Rapporteur’s lead, speak out against the systematic abuse of the Rohingya and just say their name when he does so. It is more than just a name. It is 1.3 million people being persecuted and a culture in danger of being erased in Burma.”

“The Rohingya are the most oppressed people in the world. It is outrageous that they are restricted not only in their basic rights to marry, have children, or seek education, but even in the most basic right to self-identify. I applaud the Special Rapporteur for calling the Rohingya by the name by which they choose to identify and for shining a light on this travesty. Now it is time for President Obama to stand up for the Rohingya by speaking truth to power when he travels to Burma and say publicly the name Rohingya when he does so.”

United to End Genocide recently launched a public campaign urging President Obama to “Just Say Their Name – Rohingya”. The #JustSayTheirName campaign features a petition and Instagram images urging President Obama to “Say Rohingya” during his November visit to Burma. For more information please go to:


An estimated 1.3 million Rohingya live in Burma including some 140,000 living in displacement camps following violence since 2012. The Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority has faced decades of persecution including ongoing restrictions in their ability to marry, have children, travel, and seek education. The Government of Burma denies that Rohingya exist calling them illegal “Bengali” immigrants and has urged foreign officials not to use the name Rohingya. The right to self-identification is a central principle of international human rights law.

Yanghee Lee was appointed UN Special Rapporteur for Myanmar (Burma) in June 2014 and made her first official visit to Burma in July 2014 when she described condition in the camps for Rohingya as “deplorable”. According to recent estimates, over 100,000 Rohingya have fled Burma by boat and hundreds are believed to have drowned.