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MRG’s statement to the 16th session of the UN Human Rights Council

16 March 2011

Honourable Chairperson,

Minority Rights Group International would like to draw the attention of the members of this esteemed council to research it has carried out in post-conflict or failed state scenarios, which shows that members of ethnic or religious minorities can be at particular risk of targeted abuses.

In a recent report on Somalia MRG research found that ethnic minorities such as Bantu, Benadiri, Gaboye or occupational groups, are being subjected to a previously unreported pattern of gross human rights violations including summary executions, reported beheadings and rape. The international community, the Transitional Federal Government, Puntland and Somaliland authorities must ensure the advancement and protection of Somali minority rights to equality and non-discrimination, equal access to justice and public participation.

In Sri Lanka nearly two years into the end of the armed conflict human rights violations against ethnic Tamils continue unabated in a climate of impunity. Freedom of expression, association, movement and the right to return are being violated in the country’s northern province. A recent report by MRG also shows how minorities, including the country’s 8 percent Muslims, are marginalised in post-war development and the government has made no major effort to strengthen political participation of minorities by offering them greater political autonomy – a long-standing demand of Tamils and Muslims.

In Iraq, the state has failed to protect ethnic and religious minorities, including Yezidis, Christians, Shabak and Turkmen, from large-scale militant attacks over the past four years, resulting in hundreds of fatalities and putting thousands under threat. These include attacks on places of worship, truck bombs in minority villages and threats and killings aimed at purging minorities from their places of residence.

While in these cases we call for national level constitutional guarantees of minority rights protection we also ask for increased and systematic scrutiny by the Council through regular sessions and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process.

We would also like to highlight a situation where the conditions for religious minorities is grave and calls for immediate action.

In Pakistan, the situation for minorities is of serious concern to us. We condemn the recent assassination of the Minister of Minorities Shabhaz Bhatti. We call on the government of Pakistan to ensure his killers do not enjoy impunity and are brought to justice.

We call on the Pakistani government to increase security for religious minorities and send out a clear message that those perpetrating attacks against minorities will not go unpunished.