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UN urges Myanmar to grant rights to Rohingya

General Assembly's rights committee urges Myanmar to quell attacks on Rohingya minority and to free political prisoners.

Last updated: 20 Nov 2013 00:33
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The committee reiterated its serious concern about communal violence and other abuses of the Rohingya [Getty Images]

A United Nations committee has passed a resolution urging Myanmar to give the stateless Rohingya minority equal access to citizenship and to crack down on Buddist violence against them and other Muslims in the southeast Asian nation.

The General Assembly's human rights committee passed an annual resolution on Myanmar on Tuesday by consensus, welcoming the release of scores of political prisoners and Thein Sein's promise that all "prisoners of conscience" would be freed by the end of the year.

It urged the government "to continue the process and to fulfil its commitment to release them by the end of 2013, without conditions, and to ensure the full restoration of their rights and freedoms."

The resolution also expressed "concern about remaining human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests and detentions of political activists and human rights defenders, forced displacement, land confiscations, rape and other forms of sexual violence and torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment."

In the resolution, the 193-nation committee reiterated its serious concern about communal violence and other abuses of the Rohingya minority in Rakhine State.

The UN resolution, which will move to the full UN General Assembly, acknowledged "the scale of the reform effort undertaken" so far in Myanmar.

European and US envoys called on Myanmar to step up the reform efforts.US ambassador Samantha Power commented this week that progress has been made in Myanmar but added that there is more to do in the country which was ruled by a junta until 2011.

Myanmar, however, released 69 political prisoners last week.

Myanmar emerged from a half-century of military rule in 2011, but its transition to democracy has been marred by sectarian violence that has left more than 240 people dead and sent another 240,000 fleeing their homes, most of them Rohingya.

Many Myanmar Buddhists view the Rohingya as interlopers brought in by British colonialists from modern-day Bangladesh, but many Rohingya say they have lived in the country once known as Burma for hundreds of years.

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