Abuses against Muslims in Myanmar erode human rights progress: Amnesty

Amnesty International says attacks against Muslims including minority group Rohingiyas increased after emergency.

Web Desk July 20, 2012

Followed by six weeks of violence against Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, Amnesty International said on Thursday that “declaring a state of emergency is not a license to commit human rights violations.”

Amnesty International said that targeted attacks against Muslims including a minority group Rohingiyas have increased after an emergency was declared on June 10, in the Rakhine State.

The organisation further said that communal violence has also continued.

A state of emergency was declared following an outbreak of communal violence among the Buddhist Rakhine, Muslim Rakhine, and Muslim Rohingya communities.

As a result of the communal violence, Myanmar’s border security force (nasaka), the army and the police rounded up hundreds of men who were kept in isolation and some were mistreated.

Amnesty International further said that the arrests that were made violated rights to liberty and freedom as they were discriminatory – mostly based on religious grounds. The organisation also voiced its concern that the arrests made must meet “international standards of fairness and must not include the imposition of death penalty.”

Amnesty International’s Myanmar Researcher Benjamin Zawacki said, “In six weeks, Myanmar has not only added to a long litany of human rights violations against the Rohingya, but has also done an about-turn on the situation of political imprisonment.”

“After more than a year of prisoner amnesties and releases, the overall number of political prisoners in Myanmar is again on the rise.”

The organisation also received reports of incidents of human rights abuse, including physical abuse, rape, destruction of property, and unlawful killings – carried out by both Rakhine Buddhists and security forces. “The authorities should stop these acts and prevent others from occurring,” said Amnesty.

According to Myanmar’s National Human Rights Commission, at least 78 people were killed on July 11, but the unofficial estimates surpass 100. While the number of people displaced stand between 50,000 and 90,000.

“The human rights and humanitarian needs of those affected by the violence depend on the presence of monitors and aid workers,” said Zawacki. “The Myanmar authorities are compounding the error by exacerbating the suffering of those displaced by the violence and violations.”

Amnesty International has called on Myanmar’s parliament to amend or repeal the 1982 Citizenship Law to ensure that Rohingyas are no longer stateless. “Under international human rights law and standards, no one may be left or rendered stateless. For too long Myanmar’s human rights record has been marred by the continued denial of citizenship for Rohingyas and a host of discriminatory practices against them,” said Zawacki.

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