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Situation for minorities has deteriorated fastest in Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the last year – new report

20 March 2007

Pakistan and Sri Lanka lead a global ranking of countries where the situation for minorities has significantly deteriorated in the last year, Minority Rights Group International says in a new report to be launched at the UN in New York on Tuesday.

The two countries have shown the biggest rise in this year’s ranking of ‘Peoples under threat’, which is a major highlight of the international human rights group’s annual State of the World’s Minorities report.

Sri Lanka has jumped 47 places since the previous year and is now in the top 20 list of countries where minority communities are most under threat in 2007.

The breakdown of the cease-fire and intense fighting between government forces and the main rebel groups have left close to a hundred thousand people displaced. Most are from ethnic minority communities.

Minority Tamils and Muslims are not only caught up in fighting between government and rebel forces but are specifically targeted for human rights abuses including abductions and disappearances because of their minority status.

“The human rights situation in Sri Lanka is deteriorating by the day. Reports of killings, disappearances and abductions are increasing and these reports are predominantly coming from minority communities,” Mark Lattimer, MRG’s Director says.

“The worrying factor in Sri Lanka is that multiple perpetrators are operating in a climate of fear and insecurity and little is being done by the government to address the situation,” Lattimer adds.

In Pakistan minority communities including Ahmadis, Hindus, Baluchis, Mohhajirs, Pashtuns and Sindhis, continue to be oppressed amidst rising religious tension and state repression.

“Pakistan’s cooperation in the war on terror has resulted in virtual impunity against the human rights violations committed by them,” Ishbel Matheson, MRG’s spokesperson says.

“Both Pakistan and Afghanistan are key allies in the US’s war on terror and both are countries where the situation for minorities is worsening,” she adds.

Burma, Philippines and Nepal are the other Asian countries in the top 20 list.

“The recent political developments in Nepal offer much hope. However it is crucial that all minorities, specially Dalits, are included in peace building and constitution making in Nepal,” Lattimer says.

Indonesia provides an encouraging example for Asia, its move down the ranks propelled by more democratic elections, greater decentralisation and the success of the peace process in Aceh which held through 2006.

The main 2007 list of peoples under threat is led by Somalia, Iraq and Sudan. The top 20 list includes 6 Asian countries and 10 African states.

Notes to editors

  • 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.
  • The report will be launched at a press conference at the UN in New York on Tuesday, 20th March at 10:30 a.m.
  • Details of minority groups in each of these countries can be found in the ‘Peoples under threat’ rankings attached with this release.
  • Interview opportunities are available with: Ishbel Matheson, MRG spokesperson in New York; Mark Lattimer, MRG’s Director, in Geneva. Specialist interviews with MRG experts on particular regions or countries can also be arranged

For more information or arrange interviews, please contact the MRG Press Office on [email protected].