Racism and Human Rights


Human Rights Watch publications that address issues of discrimination based on race, caste, ethnicity, and other forms of descent.


Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh: The Search for a Lasting Solution, August 1997.
Between July 20 and 22, 1997, the Bangladesh government forcibly repatriated some 400 refugees belonging to the Rohingya minority of Burma's northern Arakan state. Some of the arrivals reported that forced labor, arbitrary taxation, and the confiscation of Muslim property were continuing in northern Arakan, despite the UNHCR's presence. (C907) 15 pp., $3.00


Burmese Refugees in Bangladesh: Still No Durable Solution, May 2000
In this report, Human Rights Watch describes the key obstacles to the satisfactory resolution of the Rohingya refugee problem. Any resolution must comply with international human rights standards, including those guaranteeing protection of the rights of refugees. In 1991 and 1992, some 250,000 Rohingya sought refuge in Bangladesh, and though most of these returned under a repatriation program arranged by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 22,000 remain in camps. More than 100,000 additional Rohingya who have entered the country since 1991 now live in precarious circumstances in Bangladesh outside the camps with no formal documentation as refugees. Though conditions in the camps have reportedly improved, refugees living there continue to suffer abuses, including beatings and other forms of physical abuse, and in the past have been coerced by camp administrators trying to force their return to Burma. The report updates the situation of the Rohingya in northern Arakan and illustrates how they continue to face discrimination, forced labor, and arbitrary confiscation of their property by the Burmese government. The government also refuses to consider recognizing the Rohingya's claim to Burmese citizenship. Lack of citizenship restricts the freedom of the Rohingya to travel outside and within the country, to partake in public service, or pursue some types of higher education. (C1203) 29pp., $5.00

Living in Limbo: Burmese Rohingyas in Malaysia, August 2000
After fleeing systematic discrimination, forced labor, and other abuses in Burma, ethnic Rohingya in Malaysia face a whole new set of abuses in Malaysia. These include beatings, extortion, and arbitrary detention. The refugees are forced to live in poverty and constant fear of expulsion from the country. The 78-page report, "Living in Limbo: Burmese Rohingyas in Malaysia," details the treatment of Rohingya exiles in Malaysia. Denied legal recognition as refugees, Rohingya children are often not permitted to attend school, and many are denied health care. They are also at constant risk of arrest. Malaysian government officials detain and deport even those persons the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has recognized as refugees. In Malaysia's immigration detention camps, out of the eye of domestic and international monitors, detainees have been robbed and beaten. Former detainees interviewed by Human Rights Watch claimed that food and medical care is grossly inadequate in some detention centers, and that some detainees had died as a result. Children have been detained with unrelated adults, separated from their families, and deported alone to the Thai border. From the moment of their arrest to their expulsion, the Rohingya are vulnerable to demands for bribes by government officials. (C1204) 78pp., $7.00

No Safety in Burma, No Sanctuary in Thailand, July 1997.
This report documents the continued systematic violation of internationally recognized human rights by the Burmese military against ethnic minority villagers in Burma's Karen, Mon and Shan States during 1996 and 1997. It also catalogues the treatment by the Thai authorities of those who fled these abuses and sought refuge in Thailand. (C906) 27 pp., $5.00

The Mon: Persecuted in Burma, Forced Back from Thailand, December 1994
This report documents the continued systematic violation of internationally recognized human rights committed by the Burmese army in 1993-1994 against one of Burma's main ethnic minorities, the Mon. (C614) 23 pp., $3.00/1.95

China - Hong Kong

Abuses against Vietnamese Asylum Seekers in the Final Days of the Comprehensive Plan of Action, March 1997
Before the changeover to Chinese rule, China increasingly exercised its authority over the territory on a number of issues and directed, for instance, that all the Vietnamese be cleared from Hong Kong before July 1. Such pressure spurred the Hong Kong government to redouble its efforts to resolve the Vietnamese situation, which embroiled the territory in controversy for over twenty years. (C902) 22 pp., $3.00/1.95

China - Tibet

Tibet Since 1950: Silence Prison or Exile, May 2000
The bleak reality of Tibet under Chinese control, as never before seen in print. Through photographs, history, personal interviews and stories, Tibet Since 1950 looks beyond Tibet's Shangri-la image to the impact of Chinese political repression on Tibetan lives. Fifty years of direct Chinese government control has altered every aspect of the culture, politics, economy, and religion in Tibet. The manifestations of repressive rule are evident in the extensive prison network used to detain those perceived as challenging the Chinese government, and in the often-extreme measures used to keep protests in check. Tibet Since 1950 contains rare photographs of Chinese crackdowns on Tibetan demonstrations and first-hand accounts from Tibetans living in exile of why they chose to leave. It looks at the destruction of Tibetan religious institutions in the past and the more subtle damage still being done today. The volume includes a discussion of Tibetan prisons by Steve Marshall and a consideration of Tibet as myth and reality by Orville Schell, renowned journalist and China scholar. Produced in cooperation with Aperture Foundation.
ISBN 089381-794-5 184 pages plus 2 eight-page gatefolds, $40.00

Profiles of Tibetan Exiles, September 1999
This report profiles five Tibetans living in exile in Dharamsala, India. All are originally from areas in what Tibetans call "eastern Tibet" and Chinese call the Tibetan regions of Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai, and Yunnan provinces. All became involved in political activities through discussions at state schools or academies; all were arrested and detained by Chinese security forces for possession or circulation of published materials about the Dalai Lama or Tibetan independence; and some were tortured. (C1105) 29pp., $5.00


Politics by other Means: Attacks Against Christians in India, October 1999
The Indian government failed to prevent increasing violence against Christians and exploited communal tensions for political ends. Attacks against Christians throughout the country increased significantly since the Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian People's Party, known as the BJP) began its rule at the center in March 1998. They include the killings of priests, the raping of nuns, and the physical destruction of Christian institutions, schools, churches, colleges, and cemeteries. Thousands of Christians were also forced to convert to Hinduism. (C1106) 37pp., $5.00

Broken People:Caste Violence Against India's "Untouchables", March 1999
Some 160 million people in India live a precarious existence, shunned by much of society because of their rank as "untouchables" or Dalits--literally meaning "broken" people--at the bottom of India's caste system. Dalits are denied access to land, forced to work in degrading conditions, and routinely abused, even killed, at the hands of the police and of higher-caste groups that enjoy the state's protection. Dalit women are frequent victims of sexual abuse. Many Dalit communities are joining movements to claim their rights, but in response, state and private actors have engaged in a pattern of repression to preserve the status quo. (2289) 310pp. $20.00

Rape in Kashmir: A Crime of War, May 1993
Since January 1990, the north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir had been the site of a brutal conflict between Indian security forces and armed Muslim insurgents demanding independence or accession to Pakistan. This report documents the use of rape as a means of targeting women whom the security forces accused of being militant sympathizers, and in raping them, how the forces attempted to punish and humiliate an entire community. (C509) 19 pp., $3.00/1.95

Rape for Profit: Trafficking of Nepali Girls and Women to India's Brothels, June 1995
Hundreds of thousands of women and children are employed in Indian brothels--many of them lured or kidnapped from Nepal and sold into conditions of virtual slavery. Both the Indian and Nepali governments are complicit in the abuses suffered by trafficking victims. (155X) 96 pp., $7.00/5.95

The Small Hands of Slavery: Bonded Child Labor in India, September 1996
At least fifteen million children work as bonded laborers in India. Whether chained to carpet looms, sweating in silver smithies, or working in the field from dawn until dusk, these children endure miserable lives. Bonded child labor is outlawed by international and Indian law, and many grass-roots organizations, including children's advocates and low-caste and tribal groups, oppose the practice of bonded labor and other forms of contemporary slavery. Nonetheless, debt bondage is tolerated by large segments of society and the government has failed utterly to end it. (172X) 190 pp., $15.00/12.95


Human Rights and Pro-Independence Actions in Irian Jaya, December 1998
Over the last three decades, support for independence in Irian Jaya (called West Papua by supporters of independence), fueled by resentment of Indonesian rule, loss of ancestral land to development projects, and the influx of migrants from elsewhere in the country, has taken the form of both an armed guerrilla movement and generally non-violent attempts to raise the West Papuan flag. Under anti-guerrilla military operations, civilians have suffered a wide range of abuses. (C1008) 17pp., $3.00

The Damaging Debate on Rapes of Ethnic Chinese Women, September 1998
(C1005), 12pp., $3.00

Communal Violence in West Kalimantan, December 1997
This report documents the conflict that erupted in late 1996 and early 1997 between indigenous Dayak people and immigrants from the island of Madura. Major questions remained unanswered almost a year later about how the conflict spread and about army and police actions that may have exacerbated the conflict. (C910) 140 pp., $5.00/2.95


Owed Justice: Thai Women Trafficked into Debt Bondage in Japan September 2000
Thousands of Thai women are "trafficked" every year into Japan, where many of them endure slavery-like conditions in the Japanese sex industry, Human Rights Watch said in a this new report. According to the 227-page report, "Owed Justice: Thai Women Trafficked into Debt Bondage in Japan," the women are typically promised lucrative jobs by traffickers in Thailand, but arrive in Japan to find themselves trapped in "debt." To repay these exorbitant sums - usually US$25,000 to US$40,000 - they must work for months, or even years, without pay, under highly coercive and abusive conditions. Japanese officials have publicly expressed their concern for the victims of trafficking. But over the course of a six-year investigation in both Japan and Thailand, Human Rights Watch found that the Japanese government has taken no concrete steps to stamp out the practice.The report notes that both the Japanese and Thai governments are participating in the drafting of a United Nations anti-trafficking protocol that will influence governments' response to trafficking in persons worldwide. The negotiations resume next month, and Human Rights Watch calls on the Japanese and Thai governments, as well as all other participating states, to ensure that the protocol includes strong provisions for the protection of the human rights and physical safety of trafficking victims. (2521) 228pp., $15.00


Crackdown in Inner Mongolia, June 1991
Documents in this report reveal in remarkable detail the history of a movement in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region of China to promote Mongolian ethnic identity and struggle against Han domination. The report also analyzes the impact of appalling abuses inflicted on the region during the Cultural Revolution, when by the Party's own admission, 790,000 people were detained, 22,000 detainees died, and 120,000 were maimed. (0359) 36 pp., $5.00/2.95


Persecuted Minorities and Writers in Pakistan September 1993
Government efforts to Islamicize Pakistan's civil and criminal law, which began in earnest in the early 1980s, have dangerously undermined fundamental rights of freedom of religion and expression, and have led to serious abuses against the country's religious minorities. (C513) 22 pp., $3.00/1.95


A Modern Form of Slavery: Trafficking of Burmese Women and Girls into Brothels in Thailand
December 1993
Thousands of Burmese women and girls are trafficked into Thai brothels every year where they work under conditions tantamount to slavery. They face wrongful arrest as illegal immigrants if they try to escape or if the brothels are raided by Thai police, and if arrested may be subjected to further sexual abuse in Thai detention centers. Thai police and border patrol officials are involved in both the trafficking and the brothel operations, but they routinely escape punishment as, for the most part, do brothel agents, owners, pimps and clients. (107X) 160 pp., $15.00/12.95

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