RVISION November 22, 2017

The Rohingya people in Myanmar are trapped in a vicious system of state-sponsored, institutionalised discrimination that amounts to apartheid, said Amnesty International today as it publishes a major new analysis into the root causes of the current crisis in Rakhine State.

“Caged without a roof” puts into context the recent wave of violence in Myanmar, when the security forces killed Rohingya people, torched whole villages to the ground, and drove more than 600,000 to flee across the border into Bangladesh.

The Myanmar authorities are keeping Rohingya women, men and children segregated and cowed in a dehumanising system of apartheid. Their rights are violated daily and the repression has only intensified in recent years.

The two-year investigation reveals how authorities severely restrict virtually all aspects of Rohingyas’ lives in Rakhine State and have confined them to what amounts to a ghetto-like existence where they struggle to access healthcare, education or in some areas even to leave their villages. The current situation meets every requirement of the legal definition of the crime against humanity of apartheid.

“The Myanmar authorities are keeping Rohingya women, men and children segregated and cowed in a dehumanising system of apartheid. Their rights are violated daily and the repression has only intensified in recent years,” said Anna Neistat, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research.

“This system appears designed to make Rohingyas’ lives as hopeless and humiliating as possible. The security forces’ brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing in the past three months is just another extreme manifestation of this appalling attitude.

“Although these rights violations may not be as visible as those that have hit the headlines in recent months, they are just as horrific. The root causes of the current crisis must be addressed to end the cycle of abuse and make it possible for Rohingya refugees to return to a situation where their rights and dignity are respected.”

While Rohingya have faced systematic, government-sponsored discrimination in Myanmar for decades, Amnesty International’s investigation reveals how such repression has intensified dramatically since 2012, when violence between Buddhist and Muslim communities swept the state.

Rohingya in Rakhine State are essentially sealed off from the outside world and face severe restrictions on their freedom of movement that confine them to their villages and townships. These restrictions are put in place through an intricate web of national laws, “local orders” and policies implemented by state officials displaying openly racist behaviour.

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