A coalition of Muslim groups in the U.S has filed a law suit in New York against Myanmar President Thein Sein and other government officials for alleged crimes and Human Rights abuses against the Rohingya minority. The law suit has been filed due to allegations that the Rohingya Muslims are targets of hate crimes amounting to “genocide” which is supported and actioned by monks and the Thein Sein government. The suit comes a month ahead of Myanmar elections and a test of the state’s democratic processes.
The complaint, filed on Thursday, asks a United States Magistrate court to issue summonses to Sein, Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin and other officials under the ‘U.S Alien Tort Statute,’ which has been used in the past by foreign citizens who want reparations from human rights violations committed outside of the United States.
The rise of Islamic intolerance has swept through the country after the military junta ended in 2011, creating violence between cultures and religions.
At least 200 people were killed and more than 140,000, mainly Rohingyas, were displaced in fighting between Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar’s western Rakhine State.
The suit alleges the Rohingya “are primary targets of hate crimes and discrimination amounting to genocide fueled by extremist nationalist Buddhist monks and Thein Sein government.”
“Since 1962, the Burman Buddhist supremacist government of Myanmar has ruled with an exclusionary, authoritarian ideology,” which aims to exclude that Rohingyas from basic civil rights including citizenship. This is due to a large Buddhist majority that are allegedly ‘brutally persecuting’ Rohingya Muslims because of their faith and ethnicity which has resulted in large numbers to flee the country and causing a regional migrant crisis. The Burma Task Force, a coalition of 19 Muslim groups are examples of those who fled Myanmar for the U.S.
They claim in the suit that they and their relatives “were subjected to genocide, torture, arbitrary detention, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the officials”.
The government will have a chance to respond to the lawsuit once it is served. It typically takes at least a few months for a judge to decide whether a case may proceed. However a spokesperson for the Myanmarian President has already dismissed the law suit on Monday stating that “Myanmar is not a vassal to America. There’s no reason why Myanmar would go and face the lawsuit of a federal court in America,”
Myanmar, which emerged in 2011 from half a century of military rule, is due to hold highly anticipated elections next month.