RAKHINE – A leading international human rights group has accused the Burmese government of running an apartheid regime against Rohingya Muslims, segregating them for years in an “open-air prison”.
“The Myanmar [Burma] authorities are keeping Rohingya women, men and children segregated and cowed in a dehumanizing system of apartheid. Their rights are violated daily,” said Anna Neistat, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research, The Telegraph reported.
“Although these rights violations may not be as visible as those that have hit the headlines in recent months, they are just as horrific,” she added.
Titled “Caged without a Roof,” the 110-page report follows a two-year Amnesty investigation into the ghetto-like Rohingya Muslim existence in Rakhine state.
According to Amnesty, the report put into context the recent wave of violence against the religious community, forcing over 600,000 to flee their homes in northern Burma to Bangladesh to escape death and rape.
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The repression of the Rohingya has intensified dramatically since 2012 when violence between Burma’s majority Buddhist and Muslim communities swept across the state.
Ever since, the Rohingya Muslims were locked down in their villages and displacement camps, according to activists.
Stories of abuse and travel restrictions were shared by Rohingya men, including one who witnessed abuse when his bus was stopped by police.
“There were four police in total, two of them beat the guys with a cane on their backs, shoulders, and thighs. Another slapped the lady four or five times with his hand…After that they took them to the police station,” he said.
Ongoing repression, travel restrictions, and life-threatening barriers led to an armed, disorganized, group of Rohingya insurgents who attacked security checkpoints on August 25, triggering ruthless “ethnic cleansing.”
Neistat called for the cycle of abuse to end, to allow Rohingya refugees to return home and live with dignity and to be granted citizenship rights.
“Rakhine state is a crime scene. This was the case long before the vicious campaign of military violence of the last three months,” said Neistat.