Myanmar urged to release Rohingya held for traveling
30 members of persecuted community including 8 children were held on Sept. 26, Human Rights Watch says
Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday called for immediate release of "30 Rohingya Muslims" detained by the Myanmar authorities "for attempting to travel from Rakhine State to the city of Yangon."
“These 30 men, women, and children are being punished for simply seeking an escape from the daily brutality they’ve been subjected to for years,” said Brad Adams, HRW Asia director, in a released statement.
According to the rights group, the Rohingya were arrested by police on Sept. 26. Of them, 21 were later sentenced to two years in Pathein prison by a local court.
Eight children who were part of the group have been sent to a child detention center. “The youngest, a 5-year-old, is being held at Pathein prison with his mother,” the statement said.
“Myanmar authorities seem intent on persecuting Rohingya whether they stay at home or try to travel freely in the country,” the statement cited Adams as saying.
Calling for their immediate release, HRW said: “The government should lift all travel restrictions on ethnic Rohingya and repeal discriminatory regulations that limit their right to freedom of movement.”
On Oct. 4, the HRW said that the Ngapudaw Township court held just a one-day hearing of the detained Rohingya, denying them due process of law.
Rohingya frequently face arrest and prosecution for attempting to travel between townships or outside of Rakhine State, the HRW noted.
HRW records show that an estimated 600,000 Rohingya remain in Rakhine State subject to ongoing government persecution and violence.
“Those who remain in Myanmar are trapped in appalling conditions, confined to camps and villages without freedom of movement, and cut off from access to adequate food, medical care, education, and livelihoods,” it added.
“Myanmar authorities should lift all arbitrary restrictions on freedom of movement for Rohingya, repeal discriminatory regulations and local orders, and cease all official and unofficial practices that restrict their movement and livelihoods, such as arbitrary roadblocks and extortion systems,” HRW said calling for amendments to 1982 Citizenship Law in line with international standards.
“It’s a cruel irony that these Rohingya will be trading what was effectively confinement to open air detention in Rakhine State for confinement in a state prison in Pathein,” Adams said.
- Persecuted people
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.
Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).
More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."
Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.
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