Amnesty: Myanmar's treatment of Rohingya amounts to 'apartheid'

Amnesty: Myanmar's treatment of Rohingya amounts to 'apartheid'

Amnesty: Myanmar's treatment of Rohingya amounts to 'apartheid'

Stung by global criticism and accusations of ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, Myanmar's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has said Rohingyas who can prove they were resident in Myanmar would be accepted back.

The organisation released a report in Bangkok titled Caged Without A Roof, which detailed widespread discrimination in place even before the violence that has driven 600,000 Rohingyas to Bangladesh.

Once a cease-fire is seen to be working, Wang said talks between Myanmar and Bangladesh should find a workable solution for the return of refugees, and the final phase should be to work toward a long-term solution based on poverty alleviation.

"This system appears created to make Rohingyas' lives as hopeless and humiliating as possible".

Amnesty's report said the discrimination had worsened considerably in the past five years.

Several townships in Rakhine State restrict Rohingya from accessing the nearest hospitals, with access to better equipped facilities at Sittwe General Hospital in cases of medical emergencies requiring prior approval from authorities.

And in the few health centres that do accept Rohingyas, Amnesty said they are kept in "Muslim wards" where they are often forced to pay bribes to call family members or purchase food from outside vendors.

The group also called for the global community to take measures against such discriminations. HALLMARKS OF ETHNIC CLEANSING While a top United Nations official has described the military's actions as a textbook case of "ethnic cleansing", U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on a visit to Myanmar last week refused to label it as such. "We hope to reach an agreement", the official said.

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Suu Kyi made the comments Monday in a speech in the capital Naypyitaw, which is hosting a biennial meeting of Asian foreign ministers and European Union officials. The crisis in northern Rakhine could affect development finance and investor sentiment, although the direct economic impact appears to have been largely localized so far, the International Monetary Fund said.

According to the report, 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.

"Kids can't go to school with ethnic Rakhine children, which means essentially their futures are robbed of them because they can't study, build a better life for themselves", Amnesty researcher Laura Haigh told the ABC. Though members of the ethnic minority first arrived generations ago, Rohingya were stripped of their citizenship in 1982, denying them nearly all rights and rendering them stateless.

Two attacks by Rohingya militants in October 2016 and August 2017 sparked brutal "clearance operations" by the army, BGP and ethnic Rakhine vigilantes. "We are profoundly disturbed by the violent and disproportionate response against the Rohingya by the military and local groups", he said.

Government officials, including Ms Suu Kyi, met European leaders in Naypyidaw on Tuesday.

"Stopping the violence, stopping the flow of refugees and (guaranteeing) full humanitarian access to Rakhine state and safe, sustainable repatriation of the refugees is going to be needed", said Federica Mogherini, the high representative for European Union foreign policy.

"We hope that this would result in an MOU signed quickly, which would enable us to start the safe and voluntarily return of all of those who have gone across the border", Suu Kyi said.

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