UN rights chief warns of “spiral of violence” in Myanmar’s Rakhine state

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Myanmar must strengthen effort to diffuse tension – UN special adviser

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 30 (APP): The Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has expressed alarm over reports of serious rights violations in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state that cite allegations of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and sexual violence, and a renewed spike in hate speech, including on social media.

OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani told reporters that UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has said the Government needs to condemn such inflammatory “potentially very dangerous” rhetoric no matter who is responsible. Failing this, she said there is a real risk that it could exacerbate the current spiral of violence.

Rohingya Muslims, a minority group, have been under attack from Buddhist  extremists for years now.

On Oct. 9, OHCHR received reports that three Border Guard police posts  in Maungdaw and Rathidaung, also part of the Rakhine State, were attacked during security operations. The High Commissioner “unequivocally condemns the reported use of violence by armed individuals in northern Rakhine state, and recognizes that this is not something the authorities can ignore.”

However, Ms. Shamdasani added that it is “essential” that the
Government’s attempts to restore security are “firmly grounded in
international human rights laws and standards,” and are recognized by the affected population.

Likewise, offensives in Kachin and Northern Shan state continue to cause  human rights violations and displacement.

“Protection of civilians and unfettered humanitarian access to
conflict affected areas is critical,” underscored the UN rights chief.

“Measures that may heighten the vulnerability or pose threats to the
safety and security of internally displaced people, such as requiring internally displaced persons (IDPs) to cross conflict lines “must be avoided,” he added. The UN rights Office also stressed that the authorities must respect international humanitarian law and the rights of IDPs, pointing out that continued failure to do so would draw a sharp response from the international community.

The High Commissioner also regretted that, beyond the formation of the  Advisory Commission on Rakhine state led by Kofi Annan, the Government has largely failed to act on the recommendations made in an OHCHR report in June on the situation of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar.

The report documented a wide range of human rights violations and abuses  against the Rohingya, including arbitrary deprivation of nationality, severe restrictions on freedom of movement, threats to life and security, denial of rights to health and education, forced labour, sexual violence and limitations to political rights, among others. It also raised the possibility that the pattern of violations against the Rohingya may amount to crimes against humanity.