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ICC Note: Though it is unclear whether this lawsuit filed in the United States will be successful on behalf of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, the fact that there is enough evidence to file the case tarnishes the international image of Myanmar’s current president, leading up to national elections in November. 

By Aljazeera staff reporter

10/05/2015 Myanmar (Aljazeera America)

Muslim rights activists have filed a lawsuit in the United States against Myanmar President Thein Sein, accusing him and several ministers of human rights abuses against minority Rohingyas, just a few weeks before an historic general election.

The complaint filed in Manhattan federal court accused Thein Sein and top officials of planning and instigating “hate crimes and discrimination amounting to genocide.”

According to the plaintiffs, Muslim Rohingya are “subjected to genocide, torture, arbitrary detention, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” by officials controlled by Thein Sein and his ministers.

Myanmar’s government spokesman was not immediately available for comment, and did not respond to emailed requests.

Myanmar does not consider the Rohingya to be citizens, rendering them effectively stateless, while denying that it discriminates against them or that they are fleeing persecution.

A tide of anti-Muslim sentiment swept through the country a year after the military ended its rule in 2011, morphing into communal violence.

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.

During the flare up of the boat people crisis in Asia in May, Myanmar denied that its treatment of the Rohingya caused their exodus.

Religious and ethnic tensions are intensifying ahead of Nov. 8 elections in Myanmar. The government has barred most Rohingyas from voting and registering as candidates, drawing criticism from western countries and undercutting Myanmar’s efforts to portray the poll as its first free and fair election in 25 years.

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