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Abuses against Rohingya ‘may constitute crimes against humanity’ says United Nations Rapporteur

By Burma Campaign UK
March 14, 2014

Burma Campaign UK today welcomed the latest report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma. The Rapporteur concluded that: “The pattern of widespread and systematic human rights violations in Rakhine State may constitute crimes against humanity as defined under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”


He went on to state that: “During his latest visit to Rakhine State, the Special Rapporteur saw no improvements in the human rights situation. Instead, as time passes without clear action at the State and Union level to address the widespread discrimination and human rights violations occurring there, the situation continues to worsen from an already dire state.”

The Special Rapporteur also backed calls made by Burma Campaign UK, the European Burma Network and many other human rights organisations for an international investigation the massacre at Du Chee Yar Tan in January.

The Special Rapporteur stated that: “the organisers of hate campaigns and the instigators of violence continue to act with impunity”, that: “Local and central authorities are not intervening to fulfil their obligations under international human rights law”, that: “no credible investigation has taken place to uncover the human rights violations that have occurred there”, and that: “domestic investigations have so far failed to satisfactorily address…serious allegations.” The Special Rapporteur therefore: “Calls on the Human Rights Council to work with the government to establish a credible investigation to uncover the truth of what happened in Du Chee Yar Tan on 13 and 14 January 2014 and hold anyone responsible for human rights violations to account.”  The British government has repeatedly refused to support international investigations into human rights abuses against the Rohingya, or into other human rights abuses including rape and sexual violence.

“The British government must now support an international investigation into human rights violations in Rakhine State,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “The United Nations have confirmed what human rights organisations have been saying, that crimes against humanity have taken place against the Rohingya. This has happened after the reform process began.”

The Special Rapporteur also makes a record 95 specific recommendations for action needed to improve human rights in Burma, and highlighted significant ongoing human rights abuses in Burma and the failure of the government of Burma to end these abuses.

Key concerns raised regarding human rights abuses include:

“…people are still being arrested and imprisoned for their peaceful political activities..”

“The Special Rapporteur remains concerned over the ongoing practice of torture in places of detention in Myanmar and the absence of accountability.”

“The Special Rapporteur has also continued to receive allegations from Kachin and Northern Shan State that the military are arbitrarily detaining and torturing, during interrogation, young men suspected of belonging to ethnic armed groups.”

“…no action has been taken on the Special Rapporteur’s previous recommendation for an investigation into allegations of torture in Buthidaung prison.” (68 Rohingya prisoners are believed to have been tortured to death)

“..there is a long way to go before Myanmar has a free, uncensored and unhindered press.”

“The laws of the land do not apply equally to all; and the laws do not afford adequate protection to fundamental human rights, including freedom of opinion and expression.”

“…journalists described the prevailing climate of uncertainty and fear of arrest and intimidation…”

“Laws that have previously been used to violate the right to freedom of opinion and expression remain on the books.”

“The Special Rapporteur is concerned that the government of Burma is not fulfilling its international human rights obligation to tackle incitement to violence based on national, racial, or religious hatred.”

“The Special Rapporteur has continued to receive allegations of serious human rights violations accompanying military offensives. This includes allegations that over 100 women and girls have been raped by the army since 2010, and reports of 47 cases of gang rape and 28 women dying as a result of their injuries…”

“Discriminatory and stringent restrictions on freedom of movement for Muslim populations remain in place.”

“…there has been little progress so far in introducing fundamental reforms to the judiciary…”

“…out of 16 laws originally identified as in need of reform…only one of these has so far been repealed…”

“…there is no progress in tackling the impunity under which the military forces currently operate.”

“…the military retains a prevailing role in the life and institutions of Myanmar.”

“…the rule of law cannot yet be said to exist in Myanmar.”

“A change of mind-set still needs to take place within all levels of government to allow civil society, political parties and a free media to flourish beyond the limited freedoms that have currently been granted.”

The Special Rapporteur also highlighted the continuing detention of political prisoners, and called for the government of Burma to: “…upgrade the status of the (Political Prisoner Review) Committee to enable it to investigate suspected cases of prisoners of conscience…”  Burma Campaign UK has been campaigning for such a step.

“This report highlights very serious ongoing human rights abuses which violate international law, and contrasts significantly with the rosy picture that the British government and others try to present about Burma,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK.

The Special Rapporteur’s latest report is available at:
A report examining how, in stark contrast to the United Nations Special Rapporteur, the British government downplays human rights violations in Burma in its own reports, is available at:http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk/index.php/news-and-reports/burma-briefing/title/downplaying-human-rights-abuses-in-burma