, The government-created Advisory Commission on Rakhine State noted in its final report in August 2017: “Freedom of movement is one of the most important issues hindering progress towards inter-communal harmony, economic growth and human development in Rakhine State.” The commission called for the government to ensure freedom of movement for all people in Rakhine State, regardless of religion, ethnicity, or citizenship status.  Danish Refugee Council, “Cash Based Programming Feasibility Assessment in Central Rakhine,” May 2015, p. 10. |
Myanmar officials have often invoked tensions between ethnic Rakhine and Muslim communities as the rationale for limiting Rohingya’s freedom to travel outside the camps. “The government was setting up internment camps, but no one noticed.” Just a year later, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) warned in an internal situation update to the UN resident coordinator that the camps “are in effect manifestations of what is increasingly recognized as a de facto government policy of confinement.” The report added: “[the] restrictions on movement … may now arguably be impacting the right to life.”.
At time of writing, Sittwe, with over 700 confirmed cases, had the highest number among townships nationwide. 76-77. In Kunarac, Kovac, and Vokovic, para. 102, October 2012, https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2484993-military-powerpoint-presentation-shown-at.html (accessed June 17, 2020). Rather than bring her to Sittwe General Hospital, the soldiers had her picked up by a village leader who brought her to the Thet Kae Pyin camp clinic.  Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Mohammed Amin, November 8, 2019. 1409-1410.  Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Kamal Ahmad, August 27, 2020. This section looks at additional crimes against humanity committed against the populations that have remained in Myanmar during comparatively peaceful periods.
Some were conducted in Burmese with English interpretation. “There is no chance to move freely.… We have nothing called freedom.”, Rohingya told Human Rights Watch that the restrictions placed on their lives have only tightened over the past eight years, particularly in the periods after the 2016 and 2017 violence, during which freedom of movement was steeply constrained.. Since November 2017, the Myanmar government has made claims about its readiness to repatriate Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh, yet authorities have shown no willingness to ensure safe, dignified, or voluntary returns. , Movement restrictions have given rise to a widespread system of bribes and extortion, carried out by both Myanmar authorities and the internal Camp Management Committees (see below).  “National Strategy on Resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Closure of IDP Camps,” 2019, Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, unofficial translation (copy on file with Human Rights Watch). , Ethnic Rakhine who donate blood to the Sittwe General Hospital blood bank often request their donation be earmarked for non-Muslim patients only, which the state hospital accepts. The Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (the “Apartheid Convention”), which came into force in 1973, states that apartheid is a crime against humanity. in “Fear and Hunger: Rohingya Aid Workers Describe Life Inside Rakhine,” November 16, 2017.  Internal January 2020 UN analysis on file with Human Rights Watch. “They’re in touch, they’re very informed,” a humanitarian aid worker based in Rakhine said.  Jane Perlez, “Ban on Doctors’ Group Imperils Muslim Minority in Myanmar,” New York Times, March 13, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/14/world/asia/myanmar-bans-doctors-without-borders.html (accessed August 20, 2019). The figure of 470,000 is reported by OCHA and Humanitarian Country Team, “Myanmar: Humanitarian Needs Overview 2020,” December 2019, https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/MMR_HNO_2020_FINAL_131219.pdf (accessed April 1, 2020).
, Access to livelihoods is further obstructed by threats from local authorities, Rakhine villagers, and Camp Management Committees.  IRC, “Poor Shelter Conditions: Threats to Health, Dignity and Safety,” June 2017.  UNHCR estimates that between 550,000 and 600,000 Rohingya remain in Rakhine State.
The situation is compounded by lack of privacy and a breakdown of usual community structures which can offer a form of protection from sexual harassment, violence, and early marriage.”.  Nottebohm Case (Liechtenstein v. Guatemala), Second Phase, International Court of Justice (ICJ), April 6, 1955, https://www.refworld.org/cases,ICJ,3ae6b7248.html (accessed July 9, 2020). , The concept of crimes against humanity dates to at least 1915 and was part of the 1945 Charter of the International Military Tribunal that created the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders.. The Rome Statute expanded the definition of persecution to include national, ethnic, cultural, gender, and “other grounds.” However, it also introduced a limitation on the application of the crime to only apply “in connection with” other ICC crimes. Res.  UNHCR, “Sexual and Gender-Based Violence against Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons,” May 2003.