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Holocaust Museum: Rohingya Persecution Could Lead To Genocide. By Roger Algase

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Genocide is a powerful word which brings back memories of the Holocaust, with its gas chambers and extermination camps aimed at wiping out every single Jewish man, woman and child from the face of the earth. Burma does not have gas chambers or a "final solution" for its Rohingya population.

But Burma's state sponsored persecution of and incitement to violence against this Muslim minority by extremist, well politically connected Buddhist monks may be indications of impending genocide none the less.

Who says so? The U.S. Holocaust Museum does, according to a May 7 Washington Post report: U. S. Holocaust Museum says this Muslim community could face genocide

I quote from the Washington Post story:

"The official American institution memorializing the Holocaust sounded the alarm this week on the threat of a genocide facing beleaguered Rohingya of Burma, one of the world's most neglcted communities. A report published by the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, a wing of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, charted the persecution, violence and systematic discrimination endured by this Muslim minority, and warned that it was a 'population at grave risk for additional mass atrocities and even genocide'.

For the full report, see:

See also the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: Holocaust researchers warn against impending genocide in Burma (May 4)

Not only the Holocaust Museum, but also one of the world's best known Holocaust survivors, George Soros, has repeated the same theme. The Guardian, in its May 31 article, writes:

Burma rejects 'unbalanced' Rohingya remarks by Nobel Prize winners


"Others who criticized Burma's policies in Oslo included philanthropist George Soros, who escaped Nazi-occupied Hungary and said that there were 'alarming' parallels between the plight of the Rohingya and the Nazi genocide."

What are these warning signs of a possible impending genocide against the Rohingya?

The Holocaust Museum report, entitled: Early Warning Signs Of Genocide in Burma, lists no fewer than 19 of these indications, with possible parallels to the Nazi persecution of the Jews (mine, these are not specified in the report) in brackets.

I will list only the first 8:

- Physical violence targeted against Rohingya people, homes and businesses [Pogroms?]

- Physical segregation of the Rohingya from members of other ethnic groups [Ghettos?]

- Blockage of humanitarian assistance, especially healthcare [ Concentration camps?]

- Deplorable living conditions for those displaced from their homes [Concentration camps?]

- Rampant and unchecked hate speech against Rohingya and other Muslims [Julius Streicher and Der Stuermer?]

- Restrictions on movement [Ghettos?]

- Stripping of citizenship [The 1935 Nuremberg laws, among many other anti-Jewish measures, stripped the German Jews of citizenship. The Rohingyas' citizenship was taken away in Burma by law in 1982]

- Destruction of mosques, onerous processes for Rohingya to maintain or fix mosques, and other restrictions on freedom of religion [Some historians believe that the actual Nazi genocide against the Jews, as opposed to "mere" persecution, began with Kristallnacht, in November, 1938, when synagogues throughout Germany were destroyed.]

Whether one agrees or not with the comparisons that I (not specifically the report) have suggested may exist with Nazi Germany, no objective person reading this report could possibly claim that the thousands of Rohingya who are now trapped on boats seeking to escape from Burma are anything other than refugees, or that only Burma's internal affairs are at issue.

There is another disturbing parallel. Just as almost all countries of the world, including but not limited to the US and Canada, were reluctant to take in more than a small number of the desperate Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution in Europe, few if any countries appear to be interested in providing refuge to the Rohingya.

See The New York Times: The latest on Rohingya: Australia Won't Take in Migrants (May 21)

And how many Rohingya has the US taken in so far? How many does it plan to? Given the scale and intensity of the persecution they have suffered to date, and signs of a possible impending genocide of the members of this group who are still living in Burma, these are questions well worth asking.
Roger Algase is a New York Attorney and graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School who has been helping skilled and professional immigrants obtain work visas and green cards for more than 30 years. Roger believes that the most important service an immigration lawyer can provide, in addition to thorough knowledge of the law, is devotion to the welfare of his or her clients. His email address is

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Updated 06-01-2015 at 09:45 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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