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Royingya issue mars Burma’s human rights progress: AI

Six weeks after a state of emergency was declared in Burma’s Rakhine State, targeted attacks and other violations by security forces against minority Rohingyas and Muslims have increased, Amnesty International said today.
amnesty-international-logoCommunal violence in the state has also continued, the organization said.
“Declaring a state of emergency is not a license to commit human rights violations,” said Benjamin Zawacki, an Amnesty International Burma researcher.  

“It is the duty of security forces to defend the rights of everyone – without exception or discrimination – from abuses by others, while abiding by human rights standards themselves,”he said.
The government declared a state of emergency in Rakhine State on June 10, following an outbreak of communal violence the previous week among groups of Buddhist Rakhine, Muslim Rakhine, and Muslim Rohingya communities. It remains in effect in several areas.
In past weeks, the Border Security Force, army, and police have conducted massive sweeps in areas that are heavily populated by Rohingyas, said AI.  Hundreds of mostly men and boys have been detained, with nearly all held incommunicado and some subjected to ill-treatment, said the group.
AI said that while the restoration of order, security, and the protection of human rights are necessary, most arrests appear to have been arbitrary and discriminatory, violating the rights to liberty and to freedom from discrimination on grounds of religion.
“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,” Zawacki said.
“After more than a year of prisoner amnesties and releases, the overall number of political prisoners in Myanmar is again on the rise.”
AI said that anyone arrested since June 10 should be either charged with an internationally recognized offence and be remanded by an independent court, or released. Any judicial proceedings must meet international standards of fairness and must not include the imposition of the death penalty, it said.
Amnesty International said it has also received credible reports by other human rights abuses against Rohingyas and other Rakhine Muslims – including physical abuse, rape, destruction of property, and unlawful killings – carried out by both Rakhine Buddhists and security forces.

Burma’s National Human Rights Commission said on July 11 that at least 78 people have been killed since the violence began, but unofficial estimates exceed 100.

Between 50,000 and 90,000 people – with lower figures coming from the government and higher ones from UN agencies – are estimated to have been displaced, said AI.
The discrepancy between the figures is largely due to the Burmese authorities allowing extremely limited access to independent and international monitors as well as humanitarian aid workers, it said.
“The human rights and humanitarian needs of those affected by the violence depend on the presence of monitors and aid workers,” Zawacki said.
 “The Myanmar authorities are compounding the error by exacerbating the suffering of those displaced by the violence and violations.”
Amnesty International called on the Parliament to amend or repeal the 1982 Citizenship Law and to ensure that Rohingyas are no longer stateless citizens.

“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.
Last Updated ( Friday, 20 July 2012 12:45 )  

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