25 January 2014 - Fatal clashes between security forces and Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine state have uprooted over 110,000 people in Buddhist-Muslim violence in the past 18 months.
Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist nation of 60 million people, has been grappling with sectarian violence for nearly two years.
The Rohingya, a muslim minority with their own language, Rohingya, are among the most persecuted minorities in the world. Myanmar's government considers its estimated 800,000 Rohingya to be foreigners while many citizens see them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and view them with hostility.
The United Nations human rights and humanitarian chiefs have voiced their deep concern about reports of alarming levels of violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, including the killing of many civilians and a policeman, and called for an immediate investigation by the authorities.
The UN has received credible information that, on 9 January, eight Rohingya Muslim men were attacked and killed in Du Chee Yar Tan village by local Rakhine. This was followed by a clash on 13 January in the same village in which a police sergeant was captured and killed by the Rohingya villagers. Following this, on the same evening, at least 40 Rohingya Muslim men, women and children were killed in Du Chee Yar Tan village by police and local Rakhine.
“I deplore the loss of life in Du Chee Yar Tan and call on the authorities to carry out a full, prompt and impartial investigation and ensure that victims and their families receive justice. My Office stands ready to support this process”, said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a statement.
“By responding to these incidents quickly and decisively, the Government has an opportunity to show transparency and accountability, which will strengthen democracy and the rule of law in Myanmar,” the High Commissioner said.
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos also called on the Government to immediately launch an impartial investigation into these events and to respect the rights of those arrested and detained.
“I ask the Government of Myanmar to take all necessary measures to ensure the full protection of all civilians and to enable safe and continued access by humanitarian staff to the affected areas in order to assess needs and provide emergency assistance to all those affected by the recent violence,” Ms. Amos added in a statement.
The human rights situation in Rakhine state is posing one of the most serious threats to the process of democratic reform and national reconciliation in Myanmar.
UNRIC:s related links:
UNRIC Library Backgrounder – Myanmar: http://www.unric.org/html/english/library/backgrounders/myanmar_eng.pdf
UN expert on Myanmar calls on Government to clarify reports of clashes in northern Rakhine State (17 January 2014): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=14178&LangID=E
UN Human Rights, country page – Myanmar: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/MMIndex.aspx
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