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Rohingya Facing 'Apartheid' Regime: Rights Body

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Discriminatory laws contribute to 'state-sponsored' cycle of violence towards Rohingya, says Amnesty International.

Rohingya Muslim population in Myanmar has been subjected to long-term discrimination and persecution that amounts to “dehumanizing apartheid,” an international human rights body said on Tuesday.

In a major new analysis into the root causes of the current crisis in western Rakhine State, the Amnesty International said the Rohingya have long faced discrimination due to the laws and regulations set by Myanmar.

“The discrimination is systematic as it is rooted in the country’s laws. The Myanmar government regards Rohingya as outsiders,” Elise Tillet, member of Amnesty International’s Myanmar research team, said at a news conference in Jakarta.

Since Aug. 25, an estimated 620,000 Rohingya have crossed from Myanmar's western state of Rakhine into Bangladesh, according to the UN.

The refugees are fleeing a military operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages. According to Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown.

The organization found a continuous cycle of violence seemingly “state-sponsored” by Myanmar.

“The violence is focused on eliminating a certain race which is not considered as native citizens, and that sort of ethnic cleansing is what Rohingya are facing,” Tillet explained.

The report also detailed the suffocating restrictions exerted by the government and military forces of Myanmar towards the Rohingya community, who require permission to travel between cities.

“They impose a curfew between 6 p.m. (1130GMT) to 6 a.m. (2330GMT), limiting their access and movements in times of emergency,” Tillet continued.

The probe also found systematic discrimination preventing the Rohingya community to freely practice their religion, as the rules do not permit the assembly of more than four people.

“The Rohingya in Rakhine cannot conduct congregational prayers due to the strict rules in the region,” Tillet concluded.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Last October, following attacks on border posts in Rakhine's Maungdaw district, security forces launched a five-month crackdown in which, according to Rohingya groups, around 400 people were killed.

The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

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