Government inaction shows unwillingness to address Rohingya issues

26/10/2016
Press release

(Paris, Bangkok) More than six months after taking power, Burma’s new government, led by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party, has failed to adequately address the long-standing discriminatory and abusive practices against Rohingya in Rakhine State, FIDH and its member organization ALTSEAN-Burma said in a new briefing paper released today.

“After more than six months in power, the NLD-led government’s inaction on Rohingya issues is extremely worrisome. The government could have taken meaningful legal and political steps to address the plight of Rohingya but it has failed to do so. This shows a blatant unwillingness to tackle the root causes of their persecution.”

Dimitris Christopoulos, FIDH President

The NLD has made no attempt to remove the legal obstacles that seriously restrict the fundamental rights of Rohingya. This includes the failure to officially repeal orders from local authorities, decreed under previous military governments between 1993 and 2009, which impose restrictions on freedom of movement, marriage, childbirth, access to basic services, and livelihood opportunities for Rohingya.

Parliament, dominated by NLD lawmakers, and the executive branch, headed by President Htin Kyaw and State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, have also failed to take any action towards the review and amendment of the 1982 Citizenship Law. The law is not in line with international standards and restricts access to citizenship for Rohingya. Instead of encouraging a parliamentary review of the 1982 Citizenship Law, the government has pursued the previous administration’s flawed approach to the issue of Rohingya citizenship and resurrected a pilot citizenship verification process for stateless Muslims, including Rohingya. Regrettably, the government has also decided to follow the previous administration’s official policy of avoiding the use of the term ‘Rohingya.’

Since the new government took office, reports of human rights violations committed by security forces against Rohingya in Rakhine State have continued to surface. A fresh outbreak of violence in northern Rakhine State in October 2016 underscored the decades-old pattern of persecution against Rohingya and impunity of those responsible. In addition, the situation in IDP camps in Rakhine State remains dire. About 120,000 IDPs, the vast majority of whom are Rohingya, remain in IDP camps across Rakhine State.

“The NLD-led government’s half-baked policies towards Rohingya have clearly failed to ease tensions and promote stability in Rakhine State. A new, bold, human rights-centered approach is urgently needed to deal with the plight of Rohingya.”

Debbie Stothard, ALTSEAN-Burma Coordinator and FIDH Secretary-General

In their briefing paper, FIDH and ALTSEAN-Burma make numerous concrete recommendations to the Myanmar government to address the situation of Rohingya in Rakhine State. FIDH and ALTSEAN-Burma also call for a renewal of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar and the establishment of a Myanmar country office with a full mandate for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Press contacts
Mr. Arthur Manet (French, English, Spanish) - Tel: +33 672284294 (Paris)
Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) - Tel: +66 886117722 (Bangkok)
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