Rakhine state is home to the Rohingya Muslim minority, who are labeled “Bengali” by government figures. Many government officials brand the Rohingya Muslims as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh even though many can trace their ancestry back generations in Myanmar. Rohingya and other Muslims have faced torture, neglect, and repression in Myanmar for many years. A large number of Rohingyas are believed to have been killed and tens of thousands displaced in attacks by extremists who call themselves Buddhists. 140,000 people, mainly Rohingyas, have been trapped in grim displacement camps since they were driven from their homes by waves of Buddhist violence in 2012. The violence against Muslims triggered an influx of refugees into neighboring countries, namely Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
On June 20, the UN human rights office said Rohingyas in the Southeast Asian country were subject to multiple and aggravated forms of human rights violations, including citizenship denial, forced labor and sexual violence. The United Nations says the Myanmar government should immediately end the deep discrimination practiced against the Rohingya.
The world body said it had found "a pattern of gross human rights violations against the Rohingya... which suggest a widespread or systematic attack... in turn giving rise to the possible commission of crimes against humanity if established in a court of law.”
“My visit to Rakhine state, unfortunately, confirmed that the situation on the ground has yet to significantly change," said Yanghee Lee, the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, during a Friday press conference in the country's southern city of Yangon after a 12-day visit to the Buddhist-majority nation. She also called for the improvement of living conditions in the cramped and decrepit camps for Rohingya and other Muslims in the western state, stressing that putting an end to “institutionalized discrimination against Muslim communities in the state” must be “an urgent priority.” Lee further said, “The continuing restrictions on the freedom of movement of the Rohingya and Kaman communities cannot be justified on any grounds of security or maintaining stability.”