Muslims face ‘systematic discrimination’ in Myanmar – UN Envoy

More than 100,000 minority Rohingya Muslims held in camps due to violence by Buddhist extremists face ‘systematic discriminisation’, according to the new United Nations Human Rights Envoy for Myanmar, Yanghee Lee.

On July 26, Lee spoke after a 10-day fact-finding mission to the region where she applauded the country’s development in human rights but warned there was a danger of ‘backtracking’ by the government elected in 2011, according to The Associated Press.  She visited western Rakhine state during her visit where violence between the two religious communities has caused the deaths of 280 people and left 140,000 homeless – most of them Muslims now living in slum camps. Myanmar is majority Buddhist and the Muslims are denied citizenship.

Lee said: “By virtue of their legal status (or lack of), the Muslim community has faced and continues to face systematic discrimination, which include restrictions in the freedom of movement, restrictions in access to land, food, water, education and health care, and restrictions on marriages and birth registration.”

“The situation is deplorable,” she added, and referred to the fact that camp residents had no access to basic services. This poor health care had caused deaths, such as from pregnancy-related issues suffered by Muslim women.

Lee expressed concern about media coverage inciting violence in the country and new laws protecting the Buddhist majority which would limit the civil rights of the Muslims.

The findings of the UN Envoy will be presented to the United Nations General Assembly later this year.