Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims are routinely denied citizenship, healthcare, education, and freedom of movement, Amnesty International said in a report released on Tuesday, accusing the government of practising apartheid.
Amnesty International on Tuesday said hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing persecution in Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh want to return home.
“They want to go back to Myanmar with dignity, with legal status, citizenship rights,’’ Laura Haigh, a researcher at Amnesty International, said.
Haigh noted through the interviews she conducted with Rohingya people in both Myanmar and Bangladesh.
“They said Myanmar is their home. It’s the place where they were born; where their parents too were born,’’ Haigh added.
The rights group was speaking in Bangkok at the launch of their report titled “Caged Without A Roof,” which accuses the Myanmar authorities of systematic discrimination at the level of apartheid.
The rights watchdog’s report, based on a two-year investigation, said systematic discrimination was “clearly linked to their ethnic (or racial) identity, and therefore legally constitutes apartheid, a crime against humanity under international law.”
The minority Muslim population of about 1.1 million is denied citizenship under Myanmar’s 1982 Citizenship Law, while the government referred to them as “Bengali,” to infer that they are interlopers from Bangladesh.
Amnesty International documented national laws and local orders that restrict nearly all aspects of Rohingya’s lives and which it said were enforced by arbitrary arrests, beatings, and extrajudicial killings.
Rohingya are regularly denied access to healthcare facilities in Rakhine state, where most live, and restrictions on movement, including curfews, inhibit their abilities to earn money, visit family, or practise their religion.
Amnesty International revealed a “deliberate campaign” by the government to strip Rohingya of what little identification documents they possess, making it cumbersome to register newborn babies.
It added that they also delete their names from official records if people were not home for “population checks.”
The human rights monitor warned that this would make it “virtually impossible” for Rohingya refugees to return to their homes.