OHCHR / MYANMAR UPDATE

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The UN Human Rights Office today warned that “intensified fighting in Rakhine State between the military and the Arakan Army, alongside tensions being fuelled between the Rohingya and ethnic Rakhine communities, pose a grave threat to the civilian population.” UNTV CH / OHCHR
Description

STORY: OHCHR / MYANMAR UPDATE
TRT: 3:39
SOURCE: UNTV CH / OHCHR
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 19 April 2024, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

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Shotlist

1. Wide shot, exterior, Palais des Nations
2. Wide shot, briefing room
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Jeremy Laurence, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“Intensified fighting in Rakhine State between the military and the Arakan Army, alongside tensions being fuelled between the Rohingya and ethnic Rakhine communities, pose a grave threat to the civilian population. There is a grave risk that past atrocities will be repeated.”
4. Wide shot, briefing room
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Jeremy Laurence, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“Rakhine State has once again become a battleground involving multiple actors, and civilians are paying a heavy price, with Rohingya at particular risk. What is particularly disturbing is that whereas in 2017, the Rohingya were targeted by one group, they are now trapped between two armed factions who have a track record of killing them. We must not allow the Rohingya to be targeted again.”
6. Wide shot, briefing room
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Jeremy Laurence, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“Facing defeat, the military has outrageously started to forcibly conscript, bribe and coerce Rohingya into joining their ranks. It is unconscionable that they should be targeted in this way, given the appalling events of six years ago, and the ongoing extreme discrimination against the Rohingya including the denial of citizenship. Some reports say the military is forcing the Rohingya recruits or villagers to burn ethnic Rakhine homes, buildings or villages. Ethnic Rakhine villagers have allegedly responded in kind by burning Rohingya villages. The UN Human Rights Office is trying to verify all reports received, a task complicated by a communications blackout throughout the State.”
8. Wide shot, briefing room
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Jeremy Laurence, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“Disinformation and propaganda are also rife, exemplified by claims that “Islamic terrorists” have taken Hindus and Buddhists hostage. This is the same kind of hateful narrative that fuelled communal violence in 2012 and the horrendous attacks against the Rohingya in 2017. Since the start of the year, the Arakan Army has positioned itself in and around Rohingya villages effectively inviting military attacks on Rohingya civilians.”
10. Wide shot, briefing room
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Jeremy Laurence, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“The alarm bells are ringing, and we must not allow there to be a repeat of the past. Countries with influence on the Myanmar military and armed groups involved must act now to protect all civilians in Rakhine State and prevent another episode of horrendous persecution of the Rohingya.”
12. Wide shot, briefing room

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Storyline

The UN Human Rights Office today warned that “intensified fighting in Rakhine State between the military and the Arakan Army, alongside tensions being fuelled between the Rohingya and ethnic Rakhine communities, pose a grave threat to the civilian population”.

“There is a grave risk that past atrocities will be repeated,” said Jeremy Laurence, Spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office, at a press briefing in Geneva.

Since the year-long informal ceasefire between the two sides broke down last November, 15 of Rakhine’s 17 townships have been affected by fighting, he said, adding that this resulted in hundreds of deaths and injuries, and took the number of displaced to well over 300,000.

“Rakhine State has once again become a battleground involving multiple actors, and civilians are paying a heavy price, with Rohingya at particular risk,” said the spokesperson, quoting the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk.

“What is particularly disturbing is that whereas in 2017, the Rohingya were targeted by one group, they are now trapped between two armed factions who have a track record of killing them. We must not allow the Rohingya to be targeted again,” said Laurence.

The military has been fast losing ground to the Arakan Army (AA) throughout northern and central Rakhine, he told reporters. “This has led to intensified fighting in the townships of Buthidaung and Maungdaw, ahead of an expected battle for the Rakhine State capital, Sittwe. The two townships are home to large Rohingya populations, putting them at grave risk.”

“Facing defeat, the military has outrageously started to forcibly conscript, bribe and coerce Rohingya into joining their ranks,” Laurence said. “It is unconscionable that they should be targeted in this way, given the appalling events of six years ago, and the ongoing extreme discrimination against the Rohingya including the denial of citizenship.”

He also told reporters that some reports say the military is forcing the Rohingya recruits or villagers to burn ethnic Rakhine homes, buildings or villages. “Ethnic Rakhine villagers have allegedly responded in kind by burning Rohingya villages. The UN Human Rights Office is trying to verify all reports received, a task complicated by a communications blackout throughout the State.”

Laurence said disinformation and propaganda are also rife, pointing to claims that “Islamic terrorists” have taken Hindus and Buddhists hostage. “This was the same kind of hateful narrative that fuelled communal violence in 2012 and the horrendous attacks against the Rohingya in 2017,” he said.

Since the start of the year, the AA has positioned itself in and around Rohingya villages effectively inviting military attacks on Rohingya civilians.

On 15 April, the Médecins Sans Frontières office and pharmacy were torched in Buthidaung, along with some 200 homes. Hundreds have fled and are reported to be taking refuge in a high school, the grounds of the former hospital, and along roads in Buthidaung town. “With both the Maungdaw and Buthidaung hospitals having been shut by the military in March and with the conflict intensifying, there is effectively no medical treatment in northern Rakhine,” the spokesperson said.

“The alarm bells are ringing, and we must not allow there to be a repeat of the past. Countries with influence on the Myanmar military and armed groups involved must act now to protect all civilians in Rakhine State and prevent another episode of horrendous persecution of the Rohingya.”

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact:

In Geneva:
Ravina Shamdasani: +41 22 917 9169 / ravina.shamdasani@un.org
Jeremy Laurence: +41 22 917 9383 / jeremy.laurence@un.org
Marta Hurtado: +41 22 917 9466 / marta.hurtadogomez@un.org

Tag and share - Twitter: @UNHumanRights and Facebook: unitednationshumanrights

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UNTV CH / OHCHR
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unifeed240419i
Subject Topical
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3198784