Where There is Police, There is Persecution Government Security Forces and Human Rights Abuses in Myanmar’s Northern Rakhine State
In Rakhine State, in western Myanmar, the government has committed human rights violations against the population for decades, including forced evictions, arbitrary detention, restrictions on freedom of movement, denial of the right to citizenship, and discrimination in access to health care, work, housing, and basic amenities. These violations have continued after the transition to the current democratically-elected government, and they have affected all ethnic minorities in the state. Human rights violations perpetrated by the government are an often-overlooked root cause of the anti-Muslim violence that wracked the region in 2012, and they continue to be an obstacle to reconciliation and economic development
Between November 2015 and May 2016, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) documented the manner in which the minority Rohingya population in the state are particularly targeted for these violations, and charted the effect the violations have on the health and livelihood of an already impoverished population. PHR found that restrictions on movement, forced labor, nighttime raids, land confiscations, and the consequential extortion, taxation, and bribes have severe impacts on households in Rakhine State. Land confiscations from the predominantly agrarian population take away a resource that is crucial for generating income and producing food. Extortion (being forced to pay bribes to security forces) can remove a significant proportion of this needy population’s income. As a result, households may not be able to afford to buy enough food, send children to school, or travel for medical care. The onerous restrictions on movement further limit people’s ability to access medical care and to transport crops to sell in the market. Moreover, these rights abuses cause poor health outcomes.
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