The “poisonous rhetoric” of world leaders including United States Donald Trump has normalised the discrimination of minorities like the Rohingya in Myanmar, according to a damning Amnesty International report.
In its annual assessment of human rights in 159 countries around the world, the group said the massacre of the Rohingya was a consequence of a society encouraged to hate by world leaders such as Trump and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.
Nearly 690,000 Rohingya have fled the state of Rakhine as a result of what has been described as “ethnic cleansing” by the military, with 6,500 of them left trapped on a strip of unclaimed land between Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Salil Shetty, the secretary general of Amnesty, said the violence in Myanmar was the “ultimate consequence of a society encouraged to hate, scapegoat and fear minorities”. “Throughout 2017, millions across the world experienced the bitter fruits of a rising politics of demonisation,” said the report, launched in the US for the first time yesterday.
Amnesty also criticised the “transparently hateful” treatment of Muslims by Trump, in light of his move to ban travel from several Muslim-majority countries in January last year. Shetty said the travel ban had “set the scene for a year in which leaders took the politics of hate to its most dangerous conclusion”.
The nationwide crackdown on drugs in the Phillipines by Duterte was also heavily criticised in the Amnesty report, with 3,000 people having died in anti-drug operations since he took office in 2006.
Last week he was criticised by another human rights group, Human Rights Watch, for saying that his troops should shoot female rebels in the genitals to render them “useless”. Amnesty has named him on a list of the “worst performing world leaders” on human rights, alongside Trump, Russian President Vladimir Puton and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Human rights in the US have gone backwards under Trump, the report said, noting his ambivalent attitude to waterboarding and other interrogation techniques. They, along with the rest of the international community, have also been accused of failing to respond to “crimes against humanity” in other parts of the world, including Syria and Yemen.
Millions were having their rights “callously undermined” by leaders who have failed to take action, with the European refugee crisis treated “with a blend of evasion and outright callousness”, the Amnesty report added.
It also noted concerns about free speech, following the arrests of journalists in Myanmar, Egypt and China, and Amnesty staff in Turkey. But the report did note several reasons to be optimistic for the rest of the year, with survivors of the Florida school shooting campaigning for greater gun control and the #MeToo movement cited as examples of how people are “taking back the initiative”. (The Sun)