WASHINGTON: The US State Department informed Congress on Thursday that Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims continue to face extrajudicial killings, deaths in police custody, rape, arbitrary detentions, torture and mistreatment in detention.
The department’s country report on human rights also told US lawmakers that government and security officials, acting in conjunction with Rakhine and Rohingya criminal elements, smuggle thousands of Rohingyas out of the country, often for profit.
In Rakhine, the native state of the Rohingya, authorities require Muslims to obtain a permit to marry, a step not required of others.
Rohingya Muslims also overwhelmingly faced systematic denial of due process and fair trial rights, according to the report.
In July last year, the government disbanded the NaSaKa, a notorious security force responsible for gross human rights violations against Muslims. But security or government officials have not yet been investigated or held to account.
Prison conditions in Rakhine were among the worst, with reports of hundreds of Rohingya arbitrarily detained and denied due process, widespread mistreatment of detainees, and dozens of deaths in custody.
Authorities in Rakhine state made no meaningful efforts to help Rohingya and other Muslims displaced by violence to return to their homes and continued to enforce disproportionate restrictions on their movement, the report said.
As a result, tens of thousands of internally displaced persons remained confined in camps and were stopped by security forces from leaving in order to gain access to livelihood, markets, food, places of worship, and other services.
This policy further entrenched the increasingly permanent segregation of the Rohingya and Rakhine communities.
Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2015