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Commission Meets with Residents of Strife-Torn Rakhine

By Asia Pacific Forum  •  November 6, 2013

Representatives of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission have met with community leaders and other residents of riot-torn Rakhine State.

Radio Free Asia reported that the Commission members urged the importance of containing communal violence in a bid to uphold human rights, following the deadly clashes that occurred last year.

“Whenever there is violence, human rights are violated. So we must not fight each other,” Sit Mying, Secretary of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, told an audience of ethnic majority Rakhine Buddhists and minority Rohingya Muslims in the capital, Sittwe.

Clashes between the two groups last year in the north-western state of Myanmar left more than 200 people dead and 140,000 displaced, mostly Rohingya Muslims who are seen by many in Myanmar as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.

Speaking to the gathering of about 300 representatives of civil society organizations, political parties, government service providers and community leaders, Sit Mying urged an end to the fighting.

“We told them that the nation will develop only if there is stability and the rule of law and if there are no riots or other clashes in the country,” Sit Mying told RFA’s Myanmar Service in an interview.

At the meeting, the Commission also discussed the rights set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and provided guidance on how to submit complaints of human rights violations to the Commission.

Participants asked questions about freedom of religion and citizenship issues in the Buddhist-majority country, where the Rohingyas are denied official recognition, Sit Mying said.

“On the question of citizenship, we are going to contact the relevant government ministry. Then we will tell them what local residents have said to us on this issue and will urge the ministry’s officials to follow up.”

Myanmar’s 1982 citizenship law recognizes only those families who had settled in the country before independence from Britain in 1948. However, many of the 800,000 Rohingyas who live in Rakhine State say they have lived there for generations.

Sit Mying said that Commission members also visited two refugee camps in Rakhine State.

View the original article here.

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This post is in: NHRC Monitor

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