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GJC’s statement on the situation in Rakhine State, Myanmar

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 9, 2017

[NEW YORK, NY] – In light of ongoing violence in Rakhine State, the Global Justice Center issues the following statement:

The Global Justice Center calls for the immediate cessation of all acts of violence and the protection of civilian populations in Rakhine State. The Myanmar government must swiftly investigate credible reports of horrific crimes and human rights abuses against civilians in Rakhine State, including acts by its own military and security forces, and provide meaningful punishment, redress and reparations for violations. The government must allow investigators access to Rakhine State and cooperate fully with international investigations, including the UN Fact-finding Mission authorized by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2017. Further, the government must ensure the safety of all civilians, including the Rohingya population, and facilitate humanitarian access and aid to affected communities.

Myanmar’s military and security forces have long engaged in campaigns of repression and violence against the country’s ethnic minorities, including Karen, Kachin, Shan and Rohingya. As the recent report from the Kofi Annan-led Advisory Commission on Rakhine State found, the situation in the state represents a development, human rights and security crisis requiring swift action. Furthermore, as the Commission found, at the root of this crisis is “deeply-rooted historical grievances, shaped by the experience of violence, injustice and neglect” between the people of Rakhine and the central government, as well as the various ethnic groups in Rakhine State. This has been exacerbated by protracted and persistent discrimination and restrictions against the Rohingya. Widespread human rights abuses in the state by military and security forces may amount to crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. Myanmar is a party to the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide and it, along with the international community, must act on genocide once a serious risk is known.

Resolution to the situation in Rakhine state will require multi-faceted, concerted action and implementation of the recommendations from the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State are an important starting point. Myanmar must also ensure compliance with its obligations under international law, including human rights and humanitarian law, as well as the Genocide Convention. More broadly, the government needs to address issues facing the country as a whole in order to complete its transition to democracy. This includes: reform of the 2008 Constitution which places the military outside civilian oversight and promotes a culture of impunity; an end to, and accountability for, decades of armed conflict characterized by human rights abuses against ethnic minorities, including rape as a weapon of war; and the repeal of discriminatory laws and policies. Finally, the international community must support the government of Myanmar in this process and comply with its own obligations under international law.

For more information contact:

Stephanie Olszewski (New York), Global Justice Center, solszewski@globaljusticecenter.net +1.212.725.6530 ext. 211