Rohingyas in Myanmar Live Under Apartheid, Says Amnesty

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Myanmar has subjected Rohingya Muslims to long-term discrimination and persecution that amounts to “dehumanizing apartheid,” Amnesty International said Tuesday.

Amnesty International compiled two years’ worth of interviews and evidence in its report, detailing how Rohingya lived within Myanmar, where they were subjected to a “vicious system of state-sponsored, institutionalized discrimination that amounts to apartheid,” meeting the international legal definition of a crime against humanity.

Amnesty’s report said the discrimination had worsened considerably in the last five years.

Amnesty International’s report cautioned that economic development of Rakhine should not be a tool of further discrimination. Myanmar has supported an international expert panel’s recommendations on developing the impoverished state, but the same report urged Myanmar to grant citizenship and ensure that other rights of Rohingya were protected.

“The international community must wake up to this daily nightmare and face the reality of what has been happening in Rakhine State for years,” said Anna Neistat, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research. “While development is an important part of the solution, it cannot be done in a way which further entrenches discrimination. The international community, and in particular donors, must ensure that their engagement does not make them complicit in these violations.”

The Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar have long faced severe discrimination and have been the targets of intensified violence since 2012.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees have fled recent violence in Myanmar since August this year when the military started a crackdown on the Muslim minority.

The UN top human rights official has accused Myanmar of carrying out “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing” against Rohingya Muslims.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said in September the military’s “brutal” security campaign was in clear violation of international law, and cited what he called refugees’ consistent accounts of widespread extrajudicial killings, rape and other atrocities.

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