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UN Myanmar expert: Fatal shooting of Rohingya women the latest product of impunity

GENEVA (11 June 2013) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, today said that the fatal shooting last week of three Rohingya women participating in a peaceful protest in Rakhine State is the latest shocking example of how law enforcement officials operate with complete impunity there.

The Special Rapporteur’s comments come ahead of an expected statement on Myanmar this week by the President of the Human Rights Council.

Mr Ojea Quintana said: “The human rights violations being committed against the Rohingya in Rakhine State are widespread and systematic and there continues to be absolutely no accountability for what is occurring there. There is no way of glossing over this state of affairs with the genuine progress that is being made in other areas.”

The women died on 4 June when the police reportedly fired indiscriminately into a crowd of Rohingyas who were demonstrating against the proposed location of new shelters in Pa Rein village, following the destruction of their homes during the inter-communal violence last year. Three men and two women were also reportedly injured.

“The Government of Myanmar has an obligation to conduct prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into incidents such as these, and to hold those responsible to account,” the Special Rapporteur said. “However, since the violence in Rakhine State first erupted last June, I have seen absolutely no evidence that the Government is fulfilling this obligation.”

Mr Ojea Quintana said he had received consistent and credible allegations of a wide range of human rights violations being committed against the Rohingya and wider Muslim population in Rakhine State.

“Allegations include ‘sweeps’ of Muslim villages where men and boys are arbitrarily detained, tortured in detention and then denied their due process rights, including access to legal counsel and a fair trial. Muslim women in these villages are left increasingly vulnerable to rape and sexual violence by security officials conducting these ‘sweeps’ as the men seek to escape arbitrary detention,” the Special Rapporteur said.

“In my report to the Human Rights Council in March, I said that if the Rakhine Investigation Commission fails to properly address allegations of human rights violations, I will offer my support to the Government to pursue further investigations. I reiterate my offer of support to the Government to address the impunity which is enabling widespread and systematic human rights violations to continue against the most vulnerable of all ethnic minority groups in Myanmar.”

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur latest report on Myanmar: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session22/A.HRC.22.58_AUV.pdf

Mr. Tomás Ojea Quintana (Argentina) was appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council in May 2008. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page – Myanmar: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/MMIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Daniel Collinge (+41 22 928 9173 / dcollinge@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Liz Throssell (+41 22 917 9434/ ethrossell@ohchr.org) or Cecile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310/cpouilly@ohchr.org)
UN Human Rights – Media Unit

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