Burma’s Path to Genocide

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s online exhibition Burma’s Path to Genocide shows how years of escalating exclusion and persecution of the Rohingya at the hands of the Burmese military eventually resulted in genocide. The website launched in May 2020.

For decades, the Burmese military has persecuted its Rohingya population, a Muslim minority in the largely Buddhist country. The exhibition shows how the Rohingya went from being citizens at the country’s founding in 1948, to persecuted outcasts today as Burma evolved into an increasingly ethno-nationalistic state with citizenship based on religion and ethnicity. By August 2017, the Burmese military’s long history of violence against the Rohingya escalated into brutal mass killings, sexual violence, and displacement. The website explores this history and illustrates the impact that systemic persecution and the violence of 2017 have had on nine individuals.

Exhibition curator Greg Constantine made 16 trips to the region over 14 years to document the Rohingya’s plight. His photographs and the eyewitness testimonies he collected are the backbone of the online exhibition. The website is divided into five chapters detailing the history of the Rohingya in Burma. Most chapters feature a short film explaining the history or highlighting moving footage of the Rohingya. The voices of Rohingya are weaved throughout each of the chapters and featured in six personal stories.

The Museum made this history accessible and meaningful to general audiences through easy-to-understand language, most at a 9th grade reading level or below, and a streamlined and visually impactful website, designed around the images and words of the Rohingya.