Myanmar should address discrimination against Muslim minorities – UN experts

2 April 2007

A group of United Nations human rights experts today called on the Government of Myanmar to address discrimination against members of the Muslim minority in North Rakhine state.

The 1982 Citizenship Law denies Myanmar citizenship to the members of the Muslim minority in North Rakhine State, generally known as the Rohingyas, according to a joint statement released by six independent human rights experts.

This “has seriously curtailed the full exercise of their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and led to various discriminatory practices,” the statement said, citing severe restrictions on freedom of movement; various forms of extortion and arbitrary taxation; land confiscation and forced evictions; restricted access to medical care, food and adequate housing; forced labour; and restrictions on marriages.

“As a consequence, thousands have fled to neighbouring countries, in turn creating complex humanitarian situations in the region,” said the experts, calling on Myanmar to take urgent measures to eliminate discriminatory practices against the Muslim minority in North Rakhine state, and to ensure that no further discrimination is carried out against members of the community.

“We remind the Government of its obligation to protect all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction from any form of discrimination,” they said.

The Government was urged to repeal or amend the 1982 Citizenship Law to ensure compliance of its legislation with the country’s international human rights obligations.

The statement was issued jointly by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro; the Independent Expert on minority issues, Gay McDougall; the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Doudou Diène; the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Miloon Kothari; the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler; and the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Paul Hunt.


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