Myanmar army slammed for abuses of non-Rohingya minorities

By: Euan Black - Posted on: June 14, 2017 | Current Affairs

In a new report, Amnesty International says the systematic abuses that have drawn international attention in Rakhine state are also occurring against ethnic minorities elsewhere in the country

Rohingya women gather as they attend the ceremony to mark International Women’s Day at the Thet Kel Pyin internally displaced persons camp near Sittwe, Rakhine State, Myanmar, 08 March 2017. Photo: EPA/Lynn Bo Bo

Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims are not the only ethnic community in the country suffering from abuse at the hands of the authorities, according to a new report from the human rights group Amnesty International.

“The international community is familiar with the appalling abuses suffered by the Rohingya minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, but in Kachin and northern Shan States we found a similarly shocking pattern in the Army’s targeting of other ethnic minorities,” Matthew Wells, senior crisis advisor at Amnesty, says in the report.

“Almost 100,000 people have been torn away from their homes and farms due to conflict and human rights violations in northern Myanmar.”

Based on interviews with more than 140 people on the ground between March and May 2017, the report, entitled ‘All the Civilians Suffer’: Conflict, Displacement and Abuse in Northern Myanmar, reveals that the Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw, have carried out torture and execution against numerous ethnic minority groups, often denying humanitarian access to the areas where they live.

The report also found that the Tatmadaw had routinely used civilians as human shields and deployed landmines in their ongoing conflict with various ethnic armed groups.

After Harakah al-Yaqin carried out attacks on border guard posts in Rakhine State in October 2016, human rights groups say the military indiscriminately murdered and raped innocent civilians. Since then, the plight of the Rohingya has dominated international news coverage of Myanmar, with many international observers calling out state counselor Aung San Suu Kyi for her seeming inability to rein in the military.

The Amnesty report comes just a day after the UN decided to dismiss its regional and humanitarian coordinator for Myanmar, Renata Lok-Dessallien, reportedly for failing to prioritise human rights. The UN is expected to present an update on its fact-finding mission into human rights abuses in Rakhine state to the Human Rights Council in September 2017 and a full report in March 2018.