GENEVA (29 August 2017) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Tuesday expressed alarm at the violence and the incitement to further violence in the north of Rakhine State since the attacks on security forces in three northern townships of the state on Friday. He urged all sides to renounce the use of violence and called on State authorities to ensure they operate in line with their obligations under international human rights law.
“I utterly condemn the violent attacks on security personnel, which have led to the loss of many lives and the displacement of thousands of people,” High Commissioner Zeid said. “Unfortunately, what we feared appears to be occurring. Decades of persistent and systematic human rights violations, including the very violent security responses to the attacks since October 2016, have almost certainly contributed to the nurturing of violent extremism, with everyone ultimately losing.”
“This turn of events is deplorable. It was predicted and could have been prevented.”
The High Commissioner warned all sides against further fuelling the violence. He called on the political leadership to condemn the inflammatory rhetoric and incitement to hatred that is proliferating, including on social media. Zeid also expressed concern about claims by the State Counsellor’s Office that international aid workers were complicit in or supporting the attacks.
“Such statements are irresponsible and only serve to increase fears and the potential for further violence,” he said. “I am extremely concerned that the unsupported allegations against international aid organizations place their staff in danger and may make it impossible for them to deliver essential aid.”
High Commissioner Zeid said the perpetrators of the attacks on security personnel must be brought to justice, as must those who have been attacking the civilian population. All this must occur with full respect for international human rights law. State authorities should issue clear instructions to security forces to refrain from using disproportionate force, minimize damage and injuries and respect the right to life. Those who use excessive force must be held accountable. Zeid also called on the authorities to facilitate humanitarian access to the affected areas.
“The State has a duty to protect those within its territory – without discrimination,” Zeid said.
“I call on the Government of Myanmar to follow the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, headed by Kofi Annan, for an integrated and calibrated response to the situation in Rakhine State, to address rather than sacrifice human rights concerns in the interests of maintaining peace and order.”
High Commissioner Zeid also expressed concern that more than 8,700 Rohingya Muslims have fled from Myanmar into Bangladesh since the attacks, adding to the tens of thousands who have been arriving in Bangladesh since October 2016. He appealed to the international community to help Bangladesh cope with the refugee influx.
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