US researchers: Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar facing genocide
A group of US researchers say Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar are facing a grave humanitarian situation, and have warned of a possible genocide there.
Staff from Washington’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide visited Myanmar in March to investigate the conditions in which the Rohingyas live and the threats they are facing.
According to their report, released recently, Rohingya Muslims are the target of rampant hate speech and restrictions on their freedom of movement.
“We left Burma [Myanmar] deeply concerned that so many preconditions for genocide are already in place. With a recent history of mass atrocities and within a pervasive climate of hatred and fear, the Rohingya may once again become the target of mass atrocities, including genocide,” the group said.
US Center for the Prevention of Genocide: “We left [Myanmar] deeply concerned that so many preconditions for genocide are already in place.”
The group said the early warning signs of future mass atrocities included various acts targeting the Rohingya people such as physical violence against individuals, homes and businesses; physical segregation from other ethnic groups; widespread and unbridled hate speech; destruction of Rohingya mosques; and sexual violence against the minority group.
Myanmar will hold elections at the end of this year and the report predicts that the polls could ignite mass violence against the Rohingya.
“Such a spark could be the national elections planned for the fall of 2015. Elections are sometimes trigger points for increased violence, especially in places marked by past violence and long-term oppression,” it warned.
The group said that long-term strategies are required to counter rampant hate against the Rohingya.
It called on the Myanmar government to adopt a variety of measures including ending discriminatory laws and policies targeting the Rohingya people; investigating attacks committed against them in line with international legal standards; and providing full cooperation to humanitarian assistance organizations, governments and other agencies making efforts to help the minority group.
The group urged the international community to establish an office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Myanmar and prepare new UN sanctions targeting funders and organizers of anti-Rohingya and anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar.
Rohingya and other Muslims have faced torture, neglect, and repression in Myanmar for many years. A large number of Rohingyas are believed to have been killed and tens of thousands displaced in attacks by extremists who call themselves Buddhists.
Myanmar’s government refuses to recognize Rohingya Muslims as citizens and labels them as “illegal” immigrants.
Rohingya Muslims have been denied Myanmar citizenship since a new citizenship law was enacted in 1982, and there have been a number of attacks on Rohingyas over the past year.
Rohingya Muslims have been denied Myanmar citizenship since a new citizenship law was enacted in 1982.
The violence that originally targeted Rohingya Muslims in western Myanmar have spread to other parts of the country, where Muslims who have been granted citizenship are being attacked, according to reports.
Most of Myanmar’s 1.1 million ethnic Rohingya Muslims in the western state of Rakhine are deprived of citizenship rights due to the policy of discrimination that has denied them the right of citizenship and made them vulnerable to acts of violence and persecution, expulsion, and displacement.
The Myanmar government has so far refused to extricate the stateless Rohingyas from their citizenship limbo, despite international pressure to give them a legal status.
Myanmar’s government has been accused of failing to protect the Muslim minority.
In November, US President Barack Obama raised the issue of human rights violations against the Rohingya in his meeting with Myanmar’s President Thein Sein in the Southeast Asian nation’s capital Naypyitaw.
US President Barack Obama (L) speaks during a bilateral meeting with Myanmar’s President Thein Sein (R) at the presidential palace in Naypyidaw, Myanmar on November 13, 2014.
He said that Washington is “deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Rakhine State and the treatment of the Rohingya and other Muslim communities, who continue to endure discrimination and abuse.”