UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has said Myanmar’s future depends on addressing the root causes of the crisis with immediate cessation of the systemic discrimination.
“Its people deserve a return to democracy, an end to impunity and the immediate cessation of the systemic discrimination that has persecuted minorities – in particular the Rohingya - for decades,” she said on Tuesday in Geneva.
While giving update at the 50th session of the Human Rights Council on Myanmar, Bachelet also called for continued support to the efforts underway to pursue accountability for the ongoing and past serious human rights violations, as well as alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity, through all available tracks.
She urged all Member States, particularly those with the highest-level access and influence, to intensify their pressure on the military leadership.
“Available measures include placing increased restrictions targeting military-controlled financial holdings and business interests, and limiting their access to foreign currencies to restrict their ability to purchase military equipment and supplies,” Bachelet said.
In Rakhine State, she said, the situation is critical, with the Arakan Army and Tatmadaw seemingly on the verge of renewing armed conflict.
Since last November, there have been regular ripples of violence between the two parties and public verbal exchanges have been increasingly hostile.
“Members of the Rohingya Muslim community are caught in the middle,” ,” Bachelet said, adding that there have been no concrete and systematic efforts to work with the Rohingya to solve the longstanding human rights abuses, discrimination and exclusionary practices that have plagued their communities for decades.
Added to this, she said, conditions in Rakhine State remain far from adequate for Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh, or for those who have been living in internal displacement camps in Myanmar for 10 years now, to return to their homes.
Instead, the military has continued to use hostile and derogatory language to threaten and marginalize the Rohingya and to implement strict discriminatory limitations on their movement.
In the past weeks, Bachelet said, over 300 Rohingya have been arrested for traveling, what they call, ‘illegally’ outside their communities. “Hundreds have been prosecuted and sentenced to prison terms up to two years for exercising their basic right to freedom of movement.”
On 21 May, she said, another boat capsized near the coast of Pathein township, just south of Rakhine State, resulting in at least 17 deaths, many of whom were children.
UNHCR has reported that since the beginning of the year, at least 630 Rohingya have attempted desperate sea journeys to escape violence, the vast majority women and children, Bachelet said.
Since her last update to this Council in February this year, the human rights situation in Myanmar has continued to rapidly decline.
Still suffering from the devastating consequences of the February 2021 military coup, the people of Myanmar remain trapped in a cycle of poverty and displacement, human rights violations and abuses.
Since February 2021, at least 1,900 killings by the military have been reported. The humanitarian situation is dire.
One million individuals have been registered by the UN as internally displaced while some 14 million remain in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
The military coup has crippled Myanmar’s economy, with millions losing their jobs or sources of income in the last year. The value of the national currency has plummeted, and prices of essential goods have surged.
Despite the commitments made by the military to ASEAN, she said, senseless violence in Myanmar has intensified, with scant provision for civilian protection or respect for international human rights and humanitarian laws by the military.