UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Tuesday urged [press release] people to refrain from violence against Myanmar security forces, for authorities to adhere to human rights law, and for authorities to prohibit use of provocative media usage in the northern regions of Rakhine state. According to Zeid, the acts of violence committed in northern Rakhine against Myanmar security forces could have been “predicted and could have been prevented” due to “decades of persistent and systematic human rights violations [which] have almost certainly contributed to the nurturing of violent extremism.” Allegations by the State Counselor’s Office insinuate that international aid workers help or support the violence, which, according to Zeid, “place [international aid organizations’] staff in danger and may make it impossible for them to deliver essential aid.” In order to ensure that security forces adhere to human right laws, Zeid implore state authorities to instruct them to “refrain from using disproportionate force, minimize damage and injuries, and respect the right to life.” According to Zeid, since the outbreak of violence in northern Rakhine in October 2016, thousands of Rohingya have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh, with as many as 5,200 fleeing just last week.
Human rights has been on the forefront of Myanmar’s new democratic government since ending a decades-old military rule. In November the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees urged [JURIST report] the Myanmar government to take immediate action in addressing human rights and humanitarian concerns in the northern part of the Rakhine state. In February UN Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng said [JURIST report] that the violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state could amount to crimes against humanity. In March the UN Human Rights Council [official website] passed a resolution to investigate [JURIST report] potential human rights violations in Myanmar. However, in August the Myanmar government found [JURIST report] no crimes against humanity were committed during the violence in Rakhine last year.