Thu Jun 15, 2017 5:58PM
A Rohingya boy stands in a refugee camp outside Kyaukpyu in Rakhine State, Myanmar, on May 18, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)
A UN human rights investigator says Myanmar should guarantee the rights and medical care of children from the persecuted Rohingya Muslim community detained in an army crackdown across the troubled Rakhine State.
Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in the Swiss city of Geneva on Thursday, Yanghee Lee, the world body’s special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, said that children should not be “arbitrarily deprived of their liberty.”
She went onto say that Myanmar’s government should guarantee their right to timely proceedings.
“I remind the government that children should be detained strictly as a last resort, for the shortest appropriate period of time, and must be treated with humanity and respect in a manner which takes into account their age,” said Lee.
The rights expert also demanded that the Myanmar government probe the death of a child who died in police custody in February.
She also regretted that the government did not report the death until last week. Elsewhere in her remarks, Lee also called on Myanmar to “fully cooperate” with a recently established UN fact-finding mission to investigate the alleged human rights violations by the military.
The UN special rapporteur on Myanmar, Yanghee Lee (C), arrives for a press conference in Yangon on January 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Reuters revealed in March, citing a previously unreleased police document, that children as young as 10 were among hundreds of men detained on charges of consorting with Rohingya Muslims.
Nearly 75,000 people have fled from the Muslim-majority northern part of Rakhine to Bangladesh since Myanmar’s military launched a crackdown there in October 2016, according to the UN.
The crackdown was launched after a deadly attack on the country’s border guards on October 9 left nine policemen dead. The government blamed the Rohingya for the assault.
There have been numerous accounts by eyewitnesses of summary executions, rapes and arson attacks against Muslims since the crackdown began. The military has blocked access to Rakhine and banned journalists and aid workers from entering the zone.
The United Nations has warned that the ongoing human rights violations against the Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine could be tantamount to “crimes against humanity.”
The government denies full citizenship to the 1.1 million-strong Rohingya population, branding them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Rohingya Muslims are believed to be a community of ancient lineage in Myanmar.
According to the UN, the Rohingya Muslims are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. Rakhine has been the scene of communal violence at the hands of Buddhist extremists since 2012.
Hundreds of people have been killed and tens of thousands have been forced from their homes to live in squalid camps in dire conditions in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.##