SHJ Condemns Ethnic Cleansing in Myanmar; Urges Support for Victims

SHJ Condemns Ethnic Cleansing in Myanmar; Urges Support for Victims



 As Humanistic Jews, we deplore the horrific violence against the Rohingya, a Muslim minority oppressed by the military government of Myanmar (formerly called Burma) and the target of a long Islamophobic campaign by Buddhist nationalists. While we recognize that insurgent attacks on police posts and an army base in the northern Rakhine state on August 25, 2017 led to the current crisis, the military’s response has been grossly disproportionate, focusing on terrorizing, torturing and harming innocent civilians including women and children. According to the United Nations, Myanmar’s treatment of its Muslim Rohingya minority appears to be a “textbook example” of ethnic cleansing.[1]As of September 25, 2017, an estimated 436,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar.[2]According to Human Rights Watch, satellite analysis shows that at least 200 Rohingya villages have been burned to the ground since the offensive began.[3]Thousands of Rohingya  are suffering in refugee camps in Bangladesh where there is not enough food or medical aid. According to the International Rescue Committee, nearly 120,000 Rohingya are displaced in camps and villages within Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where humanitarian operations have been restricted by the Government.[4]


As Humanistic Jews, whose history includes the Holocaust and fleeing pogroms, we cannot sit idly by while a minority group is subjected to ethnic cleansing, torture, humiliation and unspeakable violence. We call on all political and religious leaders to condemn this new horrifying example of religious persecution at a time when Muslims are under threat around the world. We urge individuals to speak out for the human rights of the Rohingya and to spur their leaders to act. 


As Humanistic Jews, we have a moral obligation to ensure that national and international organizations have adequate resources and commitment to assist displaced people and refugees fleeing armed conflict, repression or religious and ethnic persecution.  As such, the Society for Humanistic Judaism encourages individuals to contribute to one of these organizations, or any other that is sending aid and advocating a peaceful political solution to this refugee crisis:

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency,

International Rescue Committee, 

American Jewish World Service,











October 2017