Humanitarian chief Valerie Amos (centre), on a visit in December 2012 to the the Ma Gyee Myaing camp in Sittwe Town, Myanmar, where displaced from Rakhine state are hosted. Photo: UNOCHA/David Ohana
23 January 2014– The United Nations human rights and humanitarian chiefs on Thursday voiced deep concern about reports of alarming levels of violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state, including the killing of many civilians and a policeman, and called for an immediate investigation by the authorities.
The UN has received credible information that, on 9 January, eight Rohingya Muslim men were attacked and killed in Du Chee Yar Tan village by local Rakhine, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said in a news release.
This was followed by a clash on 13 January in the same village in which a police sergeant was captured and killed by the Rohingya villagers. Following this, on the same evening, at least 40 Rohingya Muslim men, women and children were killed in Du Chee Yar Tan village by police and local Rakhine. "I deplore the loss of life in Du Chee Yar Tan and call on the authorities to carry out a full, prompt and impartial investigation and ensure that victims and their families receive justice," said High Commissioner Navi Pillay, adding that her Office stands ready to support this process.
"By responding to these incidents quickly and decisively, the Government has an opportunity to show transparency and accountability, which will strengthen democracy and the rule of law in Myanmar," she stated.
OHCHR also noted there have been reports that 10 Rohingya men from the village have been detained and there are concerns for their treatment in detention.
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos also called on the Government to immediately launch an impartial investigation into these events and to respect the rights of those arrested and detained.
"I ask the Government of Myanmar to take all necessary measures to ensure the full protection of all civilians and to enable safe and continued access by humanitarian staff to the affected areas in order to assess needs and provide emergency assistance to all those affected by the recent violence," Ms. Amos added in a statement.
Last week, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, called on the Government to investigate reports of fatal clashes between security forces and Muslims in Rakhine state, where over 110,000 people have been uprooted in Buddhist-Muslim violence in the past 18 months.
Mr. Ojea Quintana said the human rights situation in Rakhine state is posing one of the most serious threats to the process of democratic reform and national reconciliation in Myanmar, which has seen the release of hundreds of prisoners of conscience, greater media freedom, an active Parliament and efforts to reach a ceasefire with various rebel groups.