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Int’l monitors needed in Rakhine State: AI

Burma’s government should ensure full and unfettered humanitarian access to displaced people and conduct an impartial investigation into recent violence in Arakan (Rakhine) State, Amnesty International (AI) said in a statement on Monday.

Rohingya refugee women stand by their homes in Cox's Bazar District, Bangladesh, on June 7, 2011. Conditions in this makeshift refugee camp site are difficult -- in addition to high rates of malnutrition, residents deal with crowding and poor sanitation. Photo: U.S.State DepartmentThe government should also aim to replace the state of emergency in Rakhine State at the earliest opportunity, facilitate international monitors, and address decades of systemic discrimination against the Rohingya, who are stateless people, said the nongovernment humanitarian group.
The widespread violence in at least eight areas that began on June 8 has reduced considerably, it said, but human rights abuses continue to take place among the Buddhist Rakhine, Muslim Rakhine, and Muslim Rohingya communities, as well as by state security forces, especially in Maungdaw and Rathidaung.
According to the government, at least 50 people have been killed, and over 30,000 displaced by the violence.  Several thousand homes have been destroyed.
The basic humanitarian needs of the people must be met immediately, as many still lack adequate food, water, shelter, and medical attention, said AI.  

“The Myanmar authorities should allow local and international aid agencies full and unhindered access to all displaced persons—including an estimated 1,500 persons illegally denied refuge across the border last week by Bangladesh,” it said.
It said on Monday that Bangladesh border guards similarly detained at least 150 Rohingya men who were trying to enter Bangladesh in small boats on the Naf River.  They were fleeing a wave of mostly arbitrary arrests by Burmese border forces and the army since June 15 in Maungdaw, said AI.
The state of emergency in Rakhine State should be lifted at the earliest opportunity, it said, and a team of international monitors, possibly comprised of Asean nationals, should be invited to the relevant areas.
Given that the Rakhine and Rohingya communities are also divided on religious lines, monitors should endeavor to ensure that religious freedom is not restricted in the name of achieving inter-ethnic peace, it cautioned.
Amnesty International said “systemic discrimination” against the Rohingya characterizes decades of state policy in Burma.  

“Tens of thousands of Rohingyas were forcibly displaced by security forces in 1991-1992,” it said. “Despite being a state party to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, Myanmar continues to deny Rohingya children the right to a nationality. Refused citizenship the under the 1982 Citizenship Act, the ethnic and religious minority is restricted to various degrees in their rights to study, work, travel, marry, practice their religion, and receive health services.”
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 19 June 2012 14:11 )  

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