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Rohingya Muslims disproportionately victimized–groups

The body of a Rohingya man killed with his
hands bound. The body was one of 18 Rohingya corpses, including that of a boy,
dumped by police outside Sittwe on June 13. All the bodies showed grievous
wounds. Police ordered local residents to bury the bodies in a mass grave that
was shown to Human Rights Watch. | Text and photo courtesy of Human Rights
Watch
Newsdesk.Asia
June 30, 2013
The Burmese government is accused of aggravating the abuse committed
against Rohingya Muslims in the ongoing violence gripping the minority group
and the Buddhist ethnic Rahkine people.
Over 70
groups have signed a petition calling on the Burmese government to step in and
end the violence that have ‘disproportionately victimized’ the stateless
Rohingya Muslims.
The groups
also challenged Burma to “answer allegations of crimes against humanity being
perpetrated by state actors against the Rohingya.” Some officials, they said,
are also allegedly “siphoning off humanitarian supplies.”
“In its
treatment of the Rohingya, Myanmar has violated the right to life, the right to
be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,
the right to liberty and freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, the right
to nationality, the right to food and shelter including the fundamental right
to be free from hunger and the right to the highest attainable standard of
health,” said the groups.
Signing the
petitions are Human Rights Watch, Burma Partnership, Journalists for Human
Rights of Sudan, Refugee Council of Australia,Rohingya Society of Malaysia, US
Campaign for Burma, Burma Campaign UK, among others.
The fighting
was sparked by the reported rape and murder of a Buddhist woman which was
followed by the massacre of massacre of ten Muslims travelling in Rakhine State
on June 3 2012. A spate of attacks followed since, with reported casualties and
deaths from both sides.
As Rohingya
Muslims were outnumbered by the Rahkines–reportedly aided by state agents–they
fled to Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka where they were also
largely refused request for asylum.
“Although
both the Rakhine and Rohingya communities committed violence in June, the
Rohingya
were
disproportionately victimized, including by security forces. Furthermore,
discriminatory laws and practices against the Rohingya by the Burmese
authorities, underpinned by their lack of citizenship, and their mistreatment
in third countries remain matters of concern,” the group said.
The riverine
Rohingya village of Zailya Para in Minbya Township burns after attacks by
Arakanese mobs in October 2012. | Text and photo courtesy of Human Rights Watch
The groups
said the violence perpetrated against the Rohingya “instigated and has been
sustained by relentless anti-Rohingya speech and campaigning by government
officials and local leaders that often amounted to incitement.”
“Government
officials and local leaders have repeatedly characterised the Rohingya as
illegal immigrants, branded non-Muslims who trade with or assist Rohingya as
traitors, and encouraged campaigns against aid workers assisting displaced
Rohingya, which has created an environment in which acute violence against this
vulnerable group is seen as acceptable and even desirable,” they said.
There are
about 140,000 people who were displaced by the violence in Rahkine State and
most of them are Rohingya Muslims now suffering from “lack of adequate shelter,
food and clean water, medicine, education, latrines and sanitation, and
livelihoods.”
The
involvement of government officials in the persecution of the Rohingya Muslims,
the group said, have hampered the delivery of humanitarian.
The groups are calling the Burma government to:
• Facilitate
unimpeded humanitarian access to all those affected by conflict regardless of
registration status, and take effective action against those who intimidate
humanitarian agencies.
• Produce a
plan for reconciliation, end movement restrictions, and ensure safe voluntary
returns.
• Provide
protection to all people living in Rakhine State, end impunity, prosecute all
perpetrators of violence and other abuses through a fair judicial system,
arrange for immediate release of those who have been arbitrarily detained and
provide adequate redress to all victims of violence and injustice.
• Invite the
UNOffice of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish an office.
• Review the
1982 Citizenship Act and other discriminatory laws and practices to ensure that
all persons have equal rights and equal access to citizenship and are not
discriminated against on grounds of ethnicity.
The groups
also called on the refugee recipient countries to “protect all refugees and
asylum seekers from Myanmar, taking into into account the acute and specific
protection needs of stateless Rohingya,” and to “desist from arbitrarily
detaining Rohingya refugees and asylum seekers and attempting to return them to
Myanmar in violation of the principle of non-refoulement.”| NewsDesk