Rohingyas in Myanmar live under apartheid, says Amnesty

Amnesty International says Rohingyas live under a system of ‘apartheid’ in Myanmar, which constitutes a crime against humanity.

Published : 21 Nov 2017, 07:56 AM
Updated : 21 Nov 2017, 07:56 AM

The Myanmar state has institutionally discriminated and segregated the Rohingyas and other Muslim communities from the rest of the country, the organisation said on Tuesday in a report following a two-year investigation.

“Amnesty International has concluded, after careful consideration of the factual findings presented in this report, that these laws, policies and practices form part of a systematic attack against a civilian population and that crimes committed within the context of this attack constitute crimes against humanity as defined in international law,” it said.

According to the report, almost every aspect of Rohingyas’ lives has been restricted and their rights are ‘routinely violated’.

Amnesty says the 1982 Citizenship Law is used in a discriminatory manner to strip the minority of citizenship rights and status en masse and has led to racial animosity.

Authorities have also actively deprived Rohingyas of necessary identity and residency documentation, it said.

The report pointed to difficulties in registering newborns and the practice of deleting people from official residency lists if they are not home in times of mandatory annual ‘household inspections’. 

The state has also tightened restrictions on movement since 2012 and put up arbitrary restrictions to accessing healthcare, the report said.

State-sponsored education has not reached the population because Rohingyas are not allowed to attend the same schools as ethnic Rakhine children and because government teachers refuse to teach them.

Muslim communities in Rakhine are prevented from free practice of their faith, with restrictions on public gathering prevents them from worshiping together, Amnesty said. On the whole they face systematic political and social exclusion.

“Almost every institution of the state, at the township, district, state and even Myanmar-wide levels, is involved in the discrimination and segregation of the Rohingya community and Muslims generally in Rakhine State,” the report said. 

“The situation must not be allowed to continue. It is not just unacceptable and unlawful, it is unconscionable. The government, and the international community, cannot expect to address the plight of Rohingya refugees from Rakhine State without tackling its root causes, and particularly the systematic violations that have gone on for years, and are still ongoing, in the state itself.”

Failure to address these problems will only lead to greater suffering and risks instigating further conflict, Amnesty added.

The rights group has recommended the adoption of a comprehensive action plan to combat discrimination and segregation, the review of laws, regulations, policies and practices to remove discriminatory standards and legal accountability for crimes against humanity and other violations of rights.

Amnesty International called upon the international community to hold Myanmar to account for these violations and ensure aid, development projects and financial assistance in Rakhine is ‘explicitly conditioned on non-discrimination, non-segregation and equality’.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher