Minority Rights Group International
UN Human Rights Council, 32nd session
GD country reports and oral updates (item 2)
29 June 2016
Speaker: Mr. Glenn Payot
Mr. President, Mr. High Commissioner,
MRG would like to echo some of the concerns expressed in your report on minorities in Burma/Myanmar. Minority rights and freedom of religion must be placed at the heart of the country’s first civilian-led government in over half a century. Curbing ethnic violence in northern Burma and ending the persecution of the Rohingya minority should be at the top of the agenda.
Military abuses against ethnic Ta’ang, Kachin and Shan communities in northern Burma have left a stain on the country’s much-lauded democratic transition. Testimony collected from local human rights groups suggests that the Burmese army has targeted unarmed civilians, torched villages and committed other egregious human rights violations in the past few months.
The Burmese army has continued to launch assaults on minority communities in northern Shan and Kachin states. Reports of torture, forced labour, theft and destruction of property should be fully and impartially investigated. A trend of extra-judicial violence and impunity involving the Burmese army and marginalized minority communities risks continuing under the new government’s tenure unless crimes are investigated in a transparent and accountable manner.
The persecution of Burma’s stateless Rohingya minority must also be addressed as a matter of urgency. In the Rakhine state, dozens of thousands of Muslims remain in unsanitary displacement camps without access to healthcare, education and employment. The recent lift of the state of emergency must be followed up with concrete action to ensure freedom of movement and basic rights, including citizenship for Rohingyas, and to promote communal reconciliation. The government should demonstrate its will to solve this issue by actively cooperating with the UNHCR and take measures in line with its #iBelong campaign to end statelessness, which concerns over 800,000 persons in Burma – mainly Rohingya – representing almost a fourth of the stateless population in the world.
The new government has a historic opportunity to end decades of state-backed abuses against one of the world’s most isolated communities. It must not go to waste.
I thank you.