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Afghanistan and Burma top global ranking of Peoples Under Threat, Sri Lanka and Pakistan show major rises

25 February 2008

Embargoed until February 27 2008 (01.00 GMT)

Worsening violence and continuing conflict have put Afghanistan and Burma as the two top Asian countries in a 2008 global ranking of Peoples under Threat, says Minority Rights Group International (MRG) as it launches the first ever online database of the world’s minorities and indigenous peoples.

Pakistan and Sri Lanka are the two Asian states where the situation has significantly deteriorated in the last year and both top the list of countries that have shown major rises compared to 2007.

In the 2008 rankings Afghanistan is in 4th place and Burma in 5th place. Pakistan leads the list of countries that have shown a major rise since the previous year closely followed by Sri Lanka, which has jumped 3 places since 2007 and is listed in 11th place.

“The deteriorating security situation in these four countries has led to mass repression of minorities and a pattern of gross human rights violations,” Mark Lattimer, Executive Director of MRG says.

In Burma, demonstrations by Buddhist monks and the subsequent crackdown made the international headlines during 2007, but the continuing violent repression of minorities was barely reported. At least two UN experts have drawn attention to serious human rights violations targeting ethnic groups including the Karen, Rohingya and Shan, MRG’s survey says.

Afghanistan reportedly faced its most violent year since the US led invasion as NATO forces struggle to guarantee security outside of the capital. Increasing tribal violence and killings have had a significant toll on all communities.

Pakistan has risen significantly in the rankings this year. “The fall-out from military intervention in Afghanistan continues to spread to Pakistan,” says Lattimer, “and is now engulfing whole new communities in the threat of violent conflict.”

“Sri Lanka in 2007 faced a serious human rights and humanitarian crisis propelled by a return to war and breakdown of law and order. In almost all the cases of grave human rights abuses including killings, disappearances and torture, it is mostly ethnic Tamils and Muslims who are worst affected,” he adds.

Nepal is also ranked in the list of top 20 countries where peoples are most under threat.

Notes to editors

  • The Peoples under Threat survey seeks to identify those peoples or groups that are most under threat of genocide, mass killing or other systematic violent repression in 2008.
  • The survey is part of MRG’s newly launched online World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples, a unique database compiled by expert researchers and set to become the first port of call for up to date information on the world’s minorities and indigenous peoples.
  • Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is a non governmental organisation working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples worldwide.

For more information and to arrange interviews with:

  • Mark Lattimer, MRG Executive Director
  • On Pakistan, Samia Liaquat Ali Khan, Head of Programmes
  • On Sri Lanka, Farah Mihlar

Contact the MRG Press Office on [email protected].