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Myanmar minorities victims of sectarian violence: AI

Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Thursday stated [press release] that the violence against minority Rohingyas [BBC backgrounder] and other Muslim has increased since a state of emergency was declared [NYT report] in the western Myanmar State Rakhine. Benjamin Zawacki, Amnesty International's Myanmar Researcher, commented that "Declaring a state of emergency is not a license to commit human rights violations." AI reported that the government of Myanmar [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] has violated international standards by detaining hundreds of men and boys and subjecting them to ill-treatment. Numerous reports have alleged other human rights violations by security forces and Rakhine Buddhists including rape, destruction of property and unlawful killings. The country is still restricting access by international agencies and rights groups to the country, leading to a discrepancy in reports detailing the number of victims since the state of emergency declaration in mid-June. Between 50,000 and 90,000 have been reported to be displaced during the unrest in the western part of the country. AI urged the country to either charge the detainees with internationally recognized offenses or to release them immediately. The rights group also added that the number of political prisoners is on the rise despite the country's previous amnesties [JURIST report].

Myanmar has been unsuccessful in resolving the sectarian violence prevalent in the country despite attempts by its President Thein Sein [BBC profile; official website, in Burmese] to bring peace to the communities. Last week spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) [official website] Melissa Fleming reported that 10 UN staff and aid workers have been arrested [JURIST report] in the northwestern Rakhine state and three of them are facing unknown criminal charges. In June, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged [JURIST report] the Chinese government to provide basic food and shelter needs to refugees from Myanmar after finding refugee abuse. Earlier in June, HRW also called on [JURIST report] Bangladesh to open its borders to Myanmar refugees a day after it demanded Myanmar ensure the safety of communities in the Arakan State subject to the violence between Arakan Buddhists and ethnic Rohingya Muslims. In March, HRW reported [JURIST report] that violence and rights abuses continue in Myanmar's northern state of Kachin due to the conflict between Myanmar's armed forces and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) [BBC backgrounder]. During the same month, Tomas Ojea Quintana [official profile], the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar urged [JURIST report] the country to ensure the protection of human rights. In November, Human rights group Partners Relief and Development [advocacy website] issued [JURIST report] a report [text, PDF, graphic content] which alleged that the army may be committing war crimes including torture and forced labor against ethnic communities in Kachin state.

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