DEMOCRACY IN MYANMAR
UN says rights violations of Myanmar’s Rohingyas may amount to crimes against humanity
Democracy in Myanmar
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A Rohingya woman sits with her children in their temporary shelter next to the Baw Du Pha internal displacement camp in Sittwe, Myanmar, on May 17, after a fire destroyed 56 homes.
Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images
A Rohingya woman sits with her children in their temporary shelter next to the Baw Du Pha internal displacement camp in Sittwe, Myanmar, on May 17, after a fire destroyed 56 homes. Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images
Widespread ongoing human rights violations against Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya minority could amount to crimes against humanity, according to a new report issued on Monday by the UN’s human rights watchdog.
The report, requested by the UN Human Rights Council in July 2015, documents a wide range of human rights violations and abuses suffered by the Rohingya, including “arbitrary deprivation of nationality, severe restrictions on freedom of movement, threats to life and security, denial of rights to health and education, forced labour, sexual violence, and limitations to their political rights, among other violations”.
“The report raises the possibility that the pattern of violations against the Rohingya may amount to crimes against humanity,” said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, in a statement.
However, Myanmar’s Special Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi told the visiting UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, Yanghee Lee, the government would continue to avoid using the term Rohingya, used by the community to identify itself.
Mr. al-Hussein urged Myanmar’s government to “take concrete steps to end systematic discrimination and ongoing human rights violations” against the 1.1 million-strong Rohingya Muslim community and other minorities.
Four years after sectarian violence in northern Rakhine state, incited by ultra-nationalist Buddhist organisations, some 120,000 Rohingya and Kaman Muslims are still living in camps for internally displaced persons. Myanmarese nationals portray the Rohingya as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.
A series of discriminatory policies and directives by local authorities in Rakhine targeting the Rohingya, known as “local orders”, have been in place for many years. Rohingya children have not been issued birth certificates since the 1990s.
“Arbitrary arrest and detention of Rohingya remains widespread. Arrests are often carried out without grounds, formal processing or charges, until release is secured by payment of a bribe,” the UN reported. “For those formally charged, fair trial guarantees are often not respected.” 
Some Rohingyas have found refuge in India.
Mr. al-Hussein called on Myanmar to initiate a programme of legal and policy measures to address the scope and pattern of violations against minority communities, in this statement.
The UN report on Myanmar and the government’s response can be accessed here.
The UN Special Rapporteur, Ms. Lee, is reviled by Myanmarese nationalists, according to the Myanmar Times newspaper.
Myanmarese officials claim the use of the term Rohingya aggravates tensions, Reuters reports.
UPDATE
by Tom Hussain
20 June 2016 - last edited 20 June 2016
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