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Patterns of Anti-Muslim Violence in Burma: A Call for Accountability and Prevention

An August 2013 Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) report expresses concern over the escalating violence in Burma against the Rohingya, a Muslim group long subject to persecution in the country, as well as other Muslims.

The Burmese government is not adequately protecting its people from violence and other human rights violations, and in a number of instances government officials have in fact perpetrated these crimes. Even the leaders of Burma’s democracy movement have largely remained silent about the violence. The response of the international community has been inadequate and therefore unsuccessful in eliciting the necessary reforms.

The escalating and unhampered violence, combined with widespread hate speech and impunity, are, the report warns, “ingredients for potential catastrophic violence in the future, including potential crimes against humanity and/or genocide.”

The report calls for a number of actions to deescalate the current violence and prevent future outbreaks. Within Burma, PHR is pressing for institutional reforms that will create long term accountability mechanisms, specifically a fair, transparent and independent judiciary, and the replacement by parliament of oppressive laws with ones that reflect internationally recognized norms. They also advocate for the removal and prosecution of all officials who commit or facilitate human rights violations, immediate access to victims for humanitarian aid organizations and journalists, and an internal campaign to dispel hate speech.

PHR urges international actors to prioritize the protection of human rights when designing foreign policy toward Burma and to protect refugees by refusing to return them to Burma if they would face violence or persecution there.

The report calls on all parties, both internal and external, to publicly denounce the violence, counter the rampant hate speech, and provide support for equal rights, accountability and respect for all religious and ethnic groups.

To learn more read the executive summary (external link) or the full report (external link).