State of the World's Minorities 2007
Somalia is the world's most dangerous country
for minority communities and has overtaken Iraq to top a global ranking
of countries where minorities are most under threat, Minority Rights Group
International (MRG) says in a new global survey.
Fierce fighting and the threat of state repression
have seen Somalia, Iraq and Sudan lead this year's ranking of 'Peoples
under Threat', which is a major feature of MRG's annual 'State of the
World's Minorities' report. Last year Iraq led the list and Somalia was
in third place.
'A new government in Somalia has raised hopes
for democracy, but it is also a uniquely dangerous time. There is the
spectre of a return of large-scale clan violence - and groups that supported
the old order are now under tremendous threat," Mark Lattimer, Director
of MRG says.
Key allies of the US in its 'war on terror',
including the governments of Pakistan, Turkey and Israel, intensified
repression of particular ethnic communities in 2006. Pakistan is in the
top 20 list and Turkey and Israel/OT have both shown major rises in the
"US allies have managed to barter their
support for the war on terror in return for having their human rights
record ignored," says Lattimer.
"The debate continues to rage about whether
the 'war on terror' has made the world a safer place for the West, but
it has certainly made it a much more dangerous place for minorities,"
According to the report one of the main spill-offs
of the war on terror has been the rise in Islamaphobia in the EU including
the UK - affecting millions of ethnic Arab and South Asian and other Muslim
African States make up more than half of the
top 20 list. Sudan is third in the list - a consequence of the continuing
appalling levels of violence in Darfur, targeted at farmers such as Zaghawa,
Masalit and Fur tribes, by government forces and Arab militia (Janjaweed),
and the continuing failure of the international community to find ways
of stopping the violence.
Iraq continues to see targeted killings of people
from minority groups including Christians, Yezidis and Mandaeans. Other
minority groups in Iraq face daily violence, torture and political assimilation,
which has led to an exodus of these communities from the country.
Another major riser in the rankings is Turkey
where tensions surrounding the EU accession process are driving a growth
in virulent religious and nationalist extremism. These were thrust into
the international spotlight by the murder of Turkish-Armenian human rights
lawyer Hrant Dink in late December 2006. But the biggest jump of all is
Sri Lanka which saw a return to conflict last year and which moved 47
places since 2006 to be ranked 14th in 2007. Minority Tamils and Muslims
are not only caught up in fighting between government and rebel forces
but are targeted for human rights abuses including abductions and disappearances
because of their minority status. Afghanistan, Burma and Thailand are
other Asian countries leading the list.
"In three-quarters of the world's conflicts,
the killing is now targeted at particular ethnic or religious groups.
Because they are usually minorities their suffering is largely ignored,"
"International leaders must wake up to
the fact that many of today's conflicts, particularly in Africa, are the
result of decades of economic marginalization of minorities and indigenous
Notes to editors
Minority Rights Group International
(MRG) is a non governmental organisation working to secure the rights
of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples
The report will be launched at a press conference
at the UN in New York on Tuesday, 20th March at 10:30 a.m.
Details of minority groups in each of these
countries can be found in the 'Peoples under threat' rankings attached
with this release.
Interview opportunities are available with:
Ishbel Matheson, MRG spokesperson in New York
Mark Lattimer, MRG's Director, in Geneva
Specialist interviews with MRG experts on particular regions or countries
can also be arranged
State of the World's Minorities 2007
For more information or arrange interviews please
contact Farah Mihlar or Emma Eastwood on +44 2074224205 (office) or +447870596863/
00447989699984 (mobile) or firstname.lastname@example.org