UN rights chief reports grave violations ahead of Myanmar elections


The lead-up to Myanmar's general election is marked by possible new crimes against humanity, discrimination of minority voters and a crackdown on civil society, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet reported on Monday.

"The November elections are an important opportunity for all parties to demonstrate their commitment to democratic norms. The current situation is disappointing," High Commissioner Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Several ethnic groups including the Rakhine and Rohingya increasingly face killings, displacement, arbitrary arrests, torture and destruction of property, she said.

"In some cases, they appear to have been targeted or attacked indiscriminately, which may constitute further war crimes or even crimes against humanity," Bachelet said.

In addition, she cited evidence indicating the burning of areas in the northern part of Myanmar's Rakhine state, and the removal of Rohingya village names from official maps.

Such acts could prevent displaced Rohingya from returning to their homes, Bachelet warned.

More than 1 million Rohingya Muslims have been living in camps in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar district after they fled persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar. Most of them fled a military crackdown in Rakhine state in August 2017, which the United Nations has termed a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing".

The vast majority of Rohingya have been stripped of voting rights and of the right to run for office, Bachelet said.

Looking ahead to the election, she also expressed alarm over the persecution of rights activists, journalists and those who criticise the government or the powerful army. (dpa)

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