Nay Pyi Taw, Nov 21 (IANS) Amnesty International on Tuesday accused Myanmar of imposing a system of apartheid on the Rohingya Muslim minority, saying that an institutionalised system of discrimination constitutes a crime against humanity.
The human rights group released a report after a two-year investigation of the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, reports Efe news.
Amnesty said the Rohingya were “trapped in a vicious system of state-sponsored, institutionalised discrimination” that “severely restricts virtually all aspects of Rohingyas’ lives”, including confining them to a “ghetto-like existence”.
“The Myanmar authorities are keeping Rohingya women, men and children segregated and cowed in a dehumanising system of apartheid,” Anna Neistat, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research, said in a statement.
The organisation noted that the repression against the Rohingyas has intensified “dramatically” since 2012 when the sectarian conflict between the Buddhist and Rohingya communities broke out in Rakhine.
The state-sponsored discriminatory measures involve “an intricate web of national laws” that restrict Rohingyas rights to freedom of movement, hinder their access to employment, healthcare or education, and deny them citizenship and necessary identification documents.
The rights group added that such measures prevent the Rohingyas, who fled the country, from returning to Myanmar, including about 700,000 Rohingyas who sought refuge in Bangladesh after the Myanmar military carried out several operations in 2016 and 2017 in Rakhine in response to the Rohingya insurgents’ attacks.
“This system appears designed to make Rohingyas’ lives as hopeless and humiliating as possible,” Neistat added in the note, describing the military campaign as “ethnic cleansing”.
According to the human rights NGO, the Myanmar authorities are legally obliged to dismantle the apartheid system, which is considered a crime against humanity, and bring those responsible for such acts to justice.
Amnesty International’s latest statement echoes the international outcry including that of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that described the situation as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
About a million Rohingyas lived in Rakhine before the recent military operations that led to their exodus to refugee camps in Bangladesh.
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