UN expert urges world not to forget discrimination against Myanmar’s Muslims

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UNITED NATIONS, Oct 29 (APP): The U.N. Special Rapporteur on
human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, called upon the international community not to forget about ongoing human rights challenges in
the South-East nation, especially increasing unrest and discrimination against Muslim communities.
In a briefing to the the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee,
which handles social and humanitarian affairs as well as human rights issues, she also pointed out continued detention of political prisoners
and the constitutional guarantee of 25 per cent of seats in Parliament
to the military.
At the same time, Ms. Lee praised recent progress but urged
stakeholders to remember that much remains to be done.
“The international community has a responsibility to continue
to encourage the changes needed to ensure that everyone in Myanmar
can access their fundamental human rights – regardless of their
race, religion, ethnicity, socio-economic status or location,”
the Rapporteur said.
Civilians and children continue to suffer amid escalating
conflict in Shan, Kachin and Kayin states, and humanitarian
access to these locations is more difficult than it has been
in recent years.
Meanwhile, in Rakhine state, the continued discrimination
against the Rohingya and other Muslim communities has affected
peoples’ fundamental rights. She pressed for removal of all
discriminatory orders, policies, and practices, she said.
The expert expressed alarm over other developments in
Rakhine state, including the murder of nine police officers
on Oct. 9.
The resulting security operations led to multiple
allegations of serious human rights violations, including
torture and ill-treatment during interrogations, summary
executions, arbitrary arrest and destruction of mosques
and houses in Muslim villages. Some 3,000 people from the
Rakhine community and up to 12,000 Muslims have fled
their homes.
“I am also extremely concerned that humanitarian
programmes providing health, food, education, and
nutrition assistance have been suspended and access
by humanitarian and other groups has not be granted,”
Ms. Lee remarked.
She welcomed the release of 200 prisoners by the new
government, but expressed concern for the remaining 200
still in detention. Both Ms. Lee and her predecessors
have advocated for legal reform, but many people continue
to be arrested under outdated laws, even under the new
Government.
“Peace will be a pre-requisite for the long-term
progress of Myanmar,” she added, referring to the talks
between the Government and armed groups at the Panglong
Conference which was held in August of this year.
“Unfortunately, on the ground, peace still feels
remote and communities still fear attacks, abductions,
and abuses.”