HRW urges Myanmar to end ‘abusive restriction’ on Rohingyas

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Nay Pyi Taw, March 30 (IANS) The Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Wednesday urged Myanmar to put an end to “abusive restrictions” on the ethnic Rohingya Muslim minority in the western Rakhine state.

The statement from the international non-governmental organization comes as the new Myanmar President Htin Kyaw was sworn-in Wednesday morning as the first elected civilian president in more than 50 years at a ceremony held in the parliament in Nay Pyi Taw.

Outgoing President Thein Sein on Tuesday lifted the state of emergency imposed in the Rakhine since 2012, owing to sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslims.

“President Thein Sein’s last minute repeal of Arakan state’s emergency puts the new government on a firm footing to ensure basic freedoms for the long persecuted Rohingya minority,” Efe quoted Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director, as saying in a statement.

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The order came after the regional government declared tensions between the two religious groups did not pose a threat to local communities, The New Light of Myanmar daily had reported on Tuesday.

“It’s now up to the new government to work with local officials and security forces to ensure that ending the emergency translates into real improved respect for the rights of all the state’s people,” he added.

Since the conflict erupted early 2012, around 150,000 Rohingyas have been displaced and live in 67 camps and have been denied freedom of movement.

Moreover, at least 160 people, mostly Rohingyas, have died in the clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in the region.

The Myanmar government does not recognise the Rohingyas as citizens, considering them as illegal “Bangladeshi” immigrants.

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They also have limited access to education and are often subjected to arbitrary detention and taxation, forced labour, and confiscation of property, according to HRW.

“The state of emergency was only one element of a repressive apparatus that effectively segregated the Rohingya population and denied them basic services. Removing these draconian measures is needed to reach a long-term resolution of the Rohingya crisis, which affects everyone in the Arakan State,” Robertson stressed.

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