Rights group claims evidence of official discriminatory policies in Myanmar

[JURIST] Fortify Rights [advocacy website], an independent human rights group based in Southeast Asia, issued a 79-page report [text, PDF] on Tuesday claiming evidence the Myanmar government ordered policy discrimination against Rohingya Muslims [Al Jazeera backgrounder]. The report is based on 12 leaked official documents going back to 1993, which reveal explicit government policies imposing restrictions on movement, marriage, childbirth, home repairs and construction of houses of worship, and other aspects of everyday life for the Rohingya. Additionally, confidential enforcement guidelines empower security forces to use abusive methods to implement "population control" measures. The basis for discrimination [BBC report] by the Buddhist-majority government against the Rohingya Muslims is the official recognition of the Rohingya as foreign migrants, not citizens, and a general fear that the Muslim family size may overcome the Buddhist majority in the country.

A history of domestic prosecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar [JURIST news archive] is well publicized, but Tuesday's report is the first time that official document evidence has been released, according to the executive director of Fortify Rights Matthew Smith. In January a team of UN humanitarian experts led by Valerie Amos [official website] called for an immediate investigation into alarming levels of violence in the Rakhine state last month, which resulted in the killings [BBC report] of at least 40 Rohingya Muslims. Also last month Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] urged [JURIST report] Thailand to end human trafficking of Rohingya asylum-seekers. Last October the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar [official website], Tomas Ojea Quintana, warned [JURIST report] that sectarian violence is contributing to wider anti-Muslim sentiments in Myanmar, threatening the positive changes undertaken by the country in the past two years.

 

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