Myanmar: UN rights expert urges Government to probe reports of Muslim deaths in clashes

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Tomás Ojea Quintana. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

17 January 2014 – A United Nations human rights expert today called on the Myanmar Government to investigate reports of fatal clashes between security forces and Muslims in a village in Rakhine state, where over 110,000 people have been uprooted in Buddhist-Muslim violence in the past 18 month.

“If deaths and injuries have occurred, the Myanmar Government must, under international law, conduct a prompt, effective and impartial investigation and hold the perpetrators of any human rights violations to account,” UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar Tomás Ojea Quintana said in a statement. “Quick and transparent action can help to prevent further violence.”

The UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which provides money for both sudden-onset and chronically neglected crises, today released $5.5 million to allow UN agencies in Myanmar to maintain humanitarian operations in Rakhine and Kachin states to support thousands of families displaced by fighting.

Mr. Ojea Quintana said he has received reports of Rohingya Muslims being killed and injured as well as a security official being killed following a security operation in Du Chee Yar Tan village in Maungdaw, and of Rohingya men, women and children being arrested following the clashes.

“Myanmar authorities must respect the due process rights of anyone arrested and detained, which includes access to legal counsel, and address the specific risks faced by women and children in detention,” he stressed.

“Given the previous concerns I have raised about torture and ill-treatment of persons in detention in Maungdaw, I urge the authorities to provide access to independent monitoring groups to assess the treatment of those being detained.”

In his last report to the UN General Assembly in October, Mr. Ojea Quintana said the serious human rights situation in Rakhine state is posing one of the most serious threats to the process of democratic reform and national reconciliation in Myanmar, which has seen the release of hundreds of prisoners of conscience, greater media freedom, an active Parliament and efforts to reach a ceasefire with various rebel groups.

Inter-communal violence erupted in the Rakhine state in June 2012, when 75,000 people were uprooted. A further 36,000 were displaced by a second wave of riots in October of that year.

Special Rapporteurs serve in an independent and unpaid capacity and report to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, by whom they are appointed.


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