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UN to Myanmar: Repeal laws discriminating against Rohingyas

  • Published at 06:59 pm February 27th, 2020
MYANMAR-ROHINGYA/TIMELINE
File photo: Rohingya refugees stretch their hands to receive aid distributed by local organisations at Balukhali makeshift refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, September 14, 2017 Reuters

UN rights chief makes recommendations in report on Rohingyas, other minorities in Myanmar

Myanmar should repeal and review laws and policies that discriminate against the Rohingyas based on their ethnicity, religion, language and culture, said Michelle Bachelet, United Nations high commissioner for human rights.

“Review and repeal laws and policies that perpetuate discrimination on the basis of ethnic, religious, linguistic or cultural identity, including, but not limited to, those on citizenship, the four ‘race and religion’ laws, and laws perpetuating economic exclusion of minorities, such as in relation to land and natural resources,” she said in her report on Rohingyas, other minorities in Myanmar submitted at the 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday.

“The concept of ‘national races’ should be revoked to allow for self-identification on ethnic, religious and linguistic grounds for all official and legal purposes,” she added in her recommendations for the government of Myanmar, religious leaders and communities, and social media platforms active in Myanmar with respect to the Rohingya community.  

“Myanmar stands at a critical point in its democratic transition. The 2020 general elections, the renewed initiative for constitutional reform and the ongoing peace process present important opportunities to address the root causes of human rights violations against minorities and to shape a common vision for the future,” said the UN rights chief in her 17-page report.

“Fundamentally, this requires an immediate cessation of ongoing violations, an end to systemic impunity, and comprehensive State reforms on democratic federal lines that removes the control of the military and ensures its accountability to elected civilian authorities,” she said.

Bachelet urged Myanmar to ratify all outstanding international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

“Enact a comprehensive anti-discrimination law, and adopt related policies and programmes,” she asked Myanmar.

She also asked Naypyidaw to address the root causes in order to resolve the Rohingya crisis.

The UN high commissioner called upon the religious leaders and religious communities in Myanmar to systematically, promptly and firmly condemn any incident of incitement to religious hatred against the Rohingyas, other Muslims and other religious minorities, by speaking out against intolerance, discriminatory stereotyping and instances of hate speech.

She urged social media platforms active in Myanmar to strengthen efforts  to monitor and respond to incitement to violence, particularly against the Rohingyas and other religious minorities, while protecting freedom of expression and access to information, including by significantly increasing the number of content reviewers able to review in Burmese and other ethnic languages trained in human rights.

Bachelet asked the international community to continue supporting accountability efforts at the international level, supporting civil society organizations, in particular through provision of urgent interim relief for victims and witnesses who engage with international accountability efforts and may require protection and psychosocial and legal assistance.

The international community should provide the resources required for humanitarian actors and ensure that all foreign business and investment operations in Myanmar are fully transparent and conform to the highest international standards, including the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, she said.

She also asked for increased support to grassroots initiatives aimed at national reconciliation and social cohesion, including those that bring communities and groups together to build foundations of a peaceful coexistence.

UNHCHR recommendation


- Concept of national races should be revoked


 - Reforms needed to remove control of military, make it accountable to civilian authorities


 - Root causes of Rohingya crisis need to be addressed


 - Religious leaders should promptly and firmly condemn incidents of incitement to religious hatred


 - International community should continue supporting accountability efforts