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Discrimination Ahead of Polls to Blame For Rights Decline in Myanmar

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Human rights in Myanmar backtracked in key areas in 2015 despite November elections widely seen as free and fair, according to a report released Wednesday, which counted discrimination ahead of the vote and restrictions on freedom of expression among the worst violations in the country.
In its annual report on the state of the world’s human rights, London-based Amnesty International noted “an alarming rise” in religious intolerance in the country, particularly against Muslims, in the lead up to the polls that saw the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) claim the majority of seats in parliament.
“Although widely praised as being credible and transparent, the elections were otherwise marred by the disenfranchisement of minority groups and ongoing restrictions on freedom of expression,” the report said.
“The authorities failed to address incitement to discrimination and violence based on national, racial and religious hatred,” it said.
Myanmar’s parliament adopted four laws aimed at “protecting race and religion” which were originally proposed by hardline Buddhist nationalist groups, despite containing provisions that Amnesty said violate human rights, including on religious and gender grounds.
People who spoke out against discrimination and rising religious intolerance faced retaliation from state and non-state actors, the report said.

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