Myanmar's Rohingya may be victims of 'crimes against humanity': UN
published : 20 Jun 2016 at 18:45
GENEVA - Widespread and ongoing violations against Myanmar's Muslim Rohingya minority, including denial of citizenship, forced labour and sexual violence, could amount to crimes against humanity, the United Nations warned on Monday.
Muslim Rohingya children pictured near charred shelters following a fire that gutted Bawdupa camp near Sittwe, Myanmar, on May 3, 2016
In a report on the human rights situation for minorities in Myanmar, the UN human rights office said it had found "a pattern of gross violations against the Rohingya... [which] suggest a widespread or systematic attack... in turn giving rise to the possible commission of crimes against humanity if established in a court of law."
The report was published amid hope that Myanmar's new government, steered by Aung San Suu Kyi and her pro-democracy party, will address deep hatreds in western Rakhine State, where tens of thousands of Rohingya are confined to squalid displacement camps after waves of deadly unrest with Buddhists in 2012.
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said he was "encouraged" by statements by the new government in recent weeks. But he warned that it had "inherited a situation where laws and policies are in place that are designed to deny fundamental rights to minorities, and where impunity for serious violations against such communities has encouraged further violence against them".
"It will not be easy to reverse such entrenched discrimination," he said in a statement, insisting that "it must be a top priority to halt ongoing violations and prevent further ones taking place against Myanmar's ethnic and religious minorities".
During its year-long probe, his office found there had been "an alarming increase" in incitement to hatred and religious intolerance by ultra-nationalist Buddhist organisations in the country against the Rohingya.
The report called on Myanmar to order an independent investigation into all the alleged violations, and a comprehensive inquiry into the situation of minorities in the country.
"We stand ready to support the government of Myanmar in ensuring a successful transition to a society based firmly on the rule of law and the protection of human rights for all," Mr Zeid said.