Geneva: Burmese Rohingya Organization UK (BROUK) has participated in a panel discussion on the Rohingya crisis on Human Rights in Burma at the UN Human Rights Council held on March18, in Geneva, said Tun Khin, the president of BROUK. “At the side event, Ms Yanghee Lee, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma, Ms Chris Lewa Director of Arakan Project and Lilianne Fan, Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute’s Humanitarian Policy Group and Tun Khin, the President, the Burmese Rohingya Organization UK spoke at the 28th Session UN Human Rights Council.”
The panel was organized by the International Peace Bureau as a side event, Tun Khin said.
In the side event, UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee warned that the country is backsliding. She witnessed the ongoing discriminatory restrictions on the freedom of movement of Muslim IDPs, which also impacts other basic fundamental rights. She stated that the expiry at the end of March 2015 of the temporary white cards held by many Rohingyas as identity documentation raises more uncertainties and further increases their vulnerability. She highlighted that there have still been no credible investigations into the serious human rights violations that took place in 2012 and 2014.
Tun Khin described how a combination of violent human rights abuses, repressive government policies and the creation of a humanitarian crisis are all part of a systematic plan by President Thein Sein’s government to drive the Rohingya out of Burma.
He also called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to personally take the lead in negotiating unrestricted humanitarian access in Rakhine State and called for the Human Rights Council Resolution on Burma to include the creation of a UN Commission of Inquiry into human rights violations and government policies against the Rohingya.
But, Ms Chris Lewa denounced the citizenship verification process and the cancellation of white cards, which could lead to a total exclusion of the Rohingya in Myanmar. The withdrawal of the temporary ID cards (white cards) issued under the 1949 Burma Residents Registration Act goes far beyond denial of their right to vote and risks leaving them without any legal documentation and even the right to reside in Myanmar. This appears to be a tactic to force Rohingyas to go through the citizenship verification exercise by self-identifying as Bengali, which most refuse.
Lilianne Fan presented an analysis of the humanitarian consequences of the protracted human rights and statelessness crisis in Rakhine. 70% of Rohingya have no access to safe water and sanitation and in some districts there is only one doctor per 160,000 people. Less than 5malnutrition is almost two times higher than the national rate, vaccinations were dangerously low and women and girls were vulnerable to gender based violence. However, humanitarian aid faced serious obstacles from both communities and government, according to Ahamed Jamal, the BROUK secretary.