Vienna, 9 August 2012 Press release

Spindelegger expresses concern about oppression of minorities in Myanmar

Vienna, 9 August 2012 – “The difficult situation of the minorities in Rohingya is alarming. Massive discrimination of the ethnic and religious minorities in Rakhine State are leading to continuing armed conflict and bloodshed”, Austrian Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said in response to the most recent reports about violent attacks on the Rohingya minority in the eastern part of Myanmar.

“Austria has always defended national, ethnic and religious minorities and as a member of the UN Human Rights Council we are supporting minority rights. I call upon the government of Myanmar to take every effort to put an end to violence. Crimes committed must not remain unpunished, and these conflicts need to be thoroughly accounted for”, Spindelegger continued.

“Even though the political reforms that have been initiated and the release of political prisoners give reason for hope, the situation of the people in Myanmar remains very difficult. The basis for lasting reconciliation and peaceful coexistence of the different ethnic and religious communities still needs to be built. The reforms that are required to strengthen the rule of law and to accelerate the democratisation process must not be postponed any longer”, the Foreign Minister concluded.  

The Muslim Rohingya people in Myanmar is estimated to be 700,000 strong; the majority of them live in Rakhine State where martial law was declared in June after unrest had claimed the lives of more than 90 people. The Rohingya people suffer serious state discrimination; they are not recognised as citizens of the country, are not allowed to acquire land, to marry or leave the country without a special permit. The UN Special Envoy visited Myanmar between 30 July and 4 August and his report about his findings will be discussed at the 67th General Assembly this autumn.

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