Friday, 23 November 2007

Rohingya issue raised in Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand : The issue of Rohingyas living for a long time in Thailand was raised by the Thai National Human Rights Commission in a seminar held in Thailand on November15-16.
Bangkok, Thailand : The issue of Rohingyas living for a long time in Thailand was raised by the Thai National Human Rights Commission in a seminar held in Thailand on November15-16.

Dr. Khunying Amphon Meesuj presented a keynote address on Rohingyas living in Thailand in the seminar.

Enayet Ullah, the executive member of the Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand (BRAT) spoke in the meeting about the BRAT activity in Thailand.

The discussion on Rohingya was held in the office of the Thai National Human Rights Commission, Meeting Room No. 501. The meeting was attended by professors from various universities of Thailand, Thai immigration officials, the Thai police, experts on migrant workers in Thailand from Burma, Thai National Security Council, students from different universities in Thailand, members of the International Jurist Committee, members of the stateless watch, Dr. San Aung, the Thai based National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, or NCGUB and members of BRAT.

At the meeting BRAT members went into the situation of Rohingyas in Thailand and the problem they face in their country of origin in Burma and abroad including Thailand .

BRAT urged the Thai authorities to provide temporary shelter to refugees of the Rohingya community in Thailand otherwise their cases should be handed over to the UNHCR.

After the meeting, the Thai National Human Rights Commission will include the findings on the condition of Rohingyas in their annual report to the Thai Interior Ministry and UNHCR.

The participants at the meeting decided to meet again on the issue in March 2008, under the supervision of the Thai National Human Rights Commission, Dr. Aapron said.

Source from bnionline, 19 November 2007  
 

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

All Burma Democratic Force of Malaysia's Media Release: A Memorandum to the Government of Singapore

Source from, The Malaysian Bar, 22 October 2007

All Burma Democratic Force's Media Release: A Memorandum to the Government of SingaporeOn behalf of all Burmese national regardless of race and religion, we, at the All Burma Democratic Force (ABDF), Malaysia that is an umbrella organization of different ethnic, religious and political organization of Burma, which include National League for Democracy (liberated Area) led by Dr. Naing Linn, National Democratic Party for Human Rights (NDPHR) exile, Malaysia, Democratic Federation of Burma (DFB), Malaysia, All Burma Muslims Organization (ABMO), Malaysia, Burmese students and youths forces and peace loving people strongly condemn the Government of Singapore for extending supports to the brutal military regime of Burma that has been cracking down against peaceful demonstrators and so urge upon Singapore to immediately cancel your supportive hands over the regime in order to settle the crises in Burma urgently.

We notified that Singapore Inc companies have been some of the biggest investors in and supporters of Burma’s military junta, while its government, in the rare times it is asked, suggests a softly-softly diplomatic approach toward the junta. Tiny Singapore ranks alongside China and Thailand as Burma’s biggest trading partners. It is collectively known as Singapore Inc, they gather around the $150 billion state-owned investment house Temasek Holdings, controlled by Singapore's long-ruling Lee family. With an estimated $3 billion invested in Burma (and more than $20 billion in Australia). When it comes to Burma, Singapore pockets the high morals it likes to wave at the West.

Moreover, Singapore is a crucial manager and supplier to the junta, and Burma's economy through hotels, airlines, military equipment and training, crowd control equipment and sophisticated telecommunications monitoring devices, the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, (GIC), has invested heavily in the Myanmar Fund, an investment company set up to promote and finance investments in Burma. Lo Hsing Han's Asia World Co. also has shares in the Myanmar Fund.

Singaporean companies also have provided computers and communications equipment for Burma’s defence ministry and army, while upgrading the junta's ability to communicate with regional commanders - so crucial as protesters take to the streets of 20 cities in Burma, while your (Singapore) government has provided the equipment for a "cyber war centre" to monitor dissident activity, while training Burma's secret police, whose sole job appears to be ensuring democracy groups are crushed.

Mention may be made that Lo Hsing Han controls a heroin empire and one of Burma's biggest companies, Asia World, which the US Drug Enforcement Agency describes as a front for his drug trafficking. Asia World controls toll roads, industrial parks and trading companies, while Lo Hsing Han is tied with half of Singapore’s investment in Burma. Lo Hsing Han is a drug lord, an ethnic Chinese, from Burma's traditionally Chinese-populated and opium-rich Kokang region in the country's east, bordering China.

All these have been highly encouraging to commit repeated crime against humanity and against is own people. Singapore is the main responsible country for the state terrorism of Burmese regime because, the international community is calling upon the regime for immediate reform in the country and also requesting neighboring countries of Burma to review their policies towards regime as well.

The brutalities of the Burmese regime is not new phenomenon in the region but taking place for decades to which Singapore would open its eyes and ears for the welfare of innocent civilians who are the victims of gross human rights violations.

In the recent day, the regime has imposed sever restrictions on the movement of civilian including monks, activists, human rights defenders, peace loving people and religious leaders and that has intentionally bringing starvation, while brutally and crucially killed numbers of peaceful demonstrators. The regime is also systematizing women, children, young generation and aged old people in serious ways, monks and religious leaders were severely beaten up with the buds of guns as non-sense who do not have religious belief and commonsense at all.

In order to stop violence and to have peaceful settlement in Burma, Mr. Ibrahim Gambari, the appointed UN envoy visited Burma and neighboring countries. But your government did not show positive views with the UN Envoy and the International Calls. It is seemingly showing support to militarization and totalitarianism in Burma, while the regime is intentionally neglecting the calls of international community and world leaders for economic and political reforms in Burma and to release all political prisoners including Daw Aung Sann Suu, the only imprisoned Nobel Laureate of the world. This regime has along history of violent reactions to peaceful demonstrations and involved in gross human rights abuses against its own nationals, particularly against the ethnic and religious minorities like Rohingya, Chin, Kachin, Karen, Shan, Mon, Pa-Oo, Palong, Muslims, Christians, Hindus and etc.

For us, it is the time for Singapore that must immediately freeze the bank accounts of regime’s members and boycott diplomatic relationship in order to restore democracy in Burma unless the regime engage in dialogue with Burma's political forces, including the National League for Democracy (NLD) and all ethnic groups in Burma; to take initiative to alleviate economic hardship and introduce serious reforms, ensuring human rights, peace, justice and freedom for all regardless of race, religion, color and etc.

These kinds of fascist and brutal behaviors of the regime and your supports are well known to the world and this Burmese regime is recognized as the worst regime which is totally not acceptable anyone in the world.

The Burmese regime is a threat to the regional and international peace and security as it does not respect the human rights and violates the universal declaration of human rights and international human rights mechanisms.

It is, therefore, we urge upon the Government of Singapore to immediately review its policies and to cut off all kinds of supports to the Burmese military. In case of failure to chance your motives, you may face serious problems in the future as we will not give up our rightful and legitimate struggle for the restoration of democracy and human rights in Burma, ending the brutal state terrorism of the regime; and we may urge upon the UN Security Council (UNSC) and international community to take action against the supporting countries of the regime.

We also call upon the UNSC to send UN Peace keeping forces in Burma rather than sending UN envoy as the situation is deteriorating day by day. China and Russia must warn Burmese regime that they would support full consideration of the situation there by the Security Council, as well as adoption of a Council’s Resolution on the same issue.

We also call on the international community, particularly China, India, and ASEAN countries to increase pressure on the SPDC to immediately cease its violence against unarmed peaceful protesters and to commence political dialogue focused on genuine reforms.

All Burma Democratic Force (ABDF), Malaysia is an umbrella organization of different organizations of different races and religions.

For Media Contact:
Mr. Mohammad Sadek (English) Tel: 0163094599
Dr. Naing Linn (Burmese & English) Tel: 0123788408
Mr. Aung Kyaw Moe (Bahasa Melayu) Tel: 012-2430774

Sunday, 30 September 2007

‘Loving kindness’ will beat the generals

Source Almendron, 29 Sept 2007

By Maung Zarni, founder of the Free Burma Coalition and a visiting research fellow at Oxford (THE TIMES, 29/09/07):

As the events unfolded this week in Rangoon, my mind wandered back to the bedtime stories my great-grandmother told me of a bloody encounter in the 1930s in my native Mandalay. It was between the world-conquering power of the British Raj and the soft power of the world-renouncers, the peaceful and unarmed Buddhist monks and nuns, 17 of whom were mown down. How gallantly they had stood up to the British Raj on behalf of Burma’s poor, she said.
Were she alive today, Granny would recognise the instant crackdown, the baton blows, machinegun bursts, pools of blood, public outrage – and perhaps the downfall of the hated regime.

The involvement of monks in politics goes back to before the colonial era in Burma. Buddhism and its monasteries have for centuries been the catalystic force that mobilised the masses against unjust rulers. Buddhism has deep roots in both rural and urban Burma; it is the bond that unites the main groups: the dominant Burmese, the Shans, the Mons, the Karens and the Arakanese; the monasteries are the meeting places where the rich and the powerful meet the poor and the downtrodden.
Because most monks are drawn primarily not from urban elite families but rather from rural Burma, one of the most likely outcomes of the present “monks power” movement is the political awakening of rural communities that had hitherto remained untapped by the Western-inspired, urban-middle-class, pro-democracy opposition.

This coming together of Burma’s urban and rural communities will be deeply significant. The “Metta (or Loving Kindness) Army” of Buddhist monks that we have seen on our television screens snaking through the city streets have posed the greatest challenge to the Armed Forces since their creation in 1941. And to judge from the relatively low number of casualties since the protests began a month ago – as opposed to 3,000 killed in the 1988 popular uprising against General Ne Win – this revolt has proved itself both potent and pacifying.

The vocation of the Buddhist Order is certainly other-worldly. But in their role as citizens, their agenda is unequivocal: democracy. A protesting monk poignantly summed it up: “I’d rather have democracy for our people than nirvana for myself.” For the monks, democracy will mean the right to change the rulers peacefully and to improve the economic conditions of the people.

Since the bloody crackdown of 1988 the great majority of Burmese people have shifted their attention to other-worldly matters. Their immediate realities teach them to be more mindful of Buddhist teaching: all life is suffering. A cursory look at everyday survival would suffice: poverty, oppression, institutionalised abuse of power, endemic corruption and related moral decay, loss of regional standing as a country, malnutrition, ill-health, ineffectual education, ecological degradation and the wasting of natural resources such as timber, oil and natural gas. That is why, crucially, other local ethnic communities of Christian, Muslim, and other non-Buddhist faiths have thrown in their lot with the monks.

Like the Buddhist order, the rank and file of the Armed Forces is primarily drawn from poor farming communities or urban working classes. The greatest tragedy is that the machinegun-toting rural sons in green or grey uniform are shooting and killing their brethren in saffron, brown or orange robes, armed only with Metta Suttra or the prayer for Universal Loving Kindness.

Yet when we hear reports from other protest areas that troops are refusing to fire at their own brethren, one smells a sea change in the institutional culture of the junta’s war machine. This is despite images in the media of the top echelons of the officer corps ostentatiously making Buddhist offerings or paying respect to senior abbots; or the junta’s spin-doctors desperately telling the public that the saffron-robed protesters are “bogus monks” in the service of Western neo-imperialists.

Given Burma’s staunch support from Beijing, with its unquenchable thirst for Burma’s energy resources, as well as the support of the veto-wielding Russia, the international community has so far not been powerful enough to strong-arm the “bogus Buddhists” in power to find a peaceful resolution. But now the monks’ movement has successfully put Burma at the top of the UN agenda.
In the days to come the junta is likely to continue to show restraint and to make sure that people stay at home so it does not have to resort to force. Any shows of greater brutality will persuade China to cooperate more seriously with the West.

No matter how the current crisis on the streets is resolved, one thing is clear. Burma has changed. The public will reject resoundingly any false claims from the junta of “democratisation” when legitimate and peaceful political parties are not allowed to operate freely; or claims of “economic development” when there is no sign of reform. The monks are winning. A new dawn is on the horizon.

 

Saturday, 29 September 2007

3,000 rally to support Myanmar protests

Source fromnadir.org, 29 Sept 2007

KUALA LUMPUR: About 3,000 refugees, migrant workers and activists dressed in red marched to the Myanmar embassy here to hand over a memorandum urging the military rulers to settle the current crisis in the country.

Members of the All Burmese Democratic Force Malaysia staging a demostration outside the Myanmar Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. - 28 September, 2007

Led by a group called the All Burma Democratic Force (ABDF), the peaceful demonstration started at about 9.30am and ended at noon yesterday.
The ABDF is an umbrella group of different organisations of different races and religions, including the Myanmar Ethnic Rohingyas Human Rights Organisation Malaysia, National League for Democracy (Liberated Area) Malaysia and Zomi National Congress Malaysia.

Peaceful demo: Protesters sitting outside the Myanmar embassy in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.

On Thursday, many Malaysians received SMSes urging them to wear red in a show of solidarity with the protesters in Myanmar.
ABDF vice-chairman Mohammad Sadek said the group’s secretary-general Aung Kyaw Moe handed a two-page memorandum to the embassy’s minister-counsellor Win Myint at 10am.

Myanmar demonstrators fill a street as they hold up placards condemning the violent crackdown by the ruling junta, during a protest in front of the Myanmar embassy in downtown Kuala Lumpur. - 28 September, 2007

Protesters carried placards condemning the regime, with words like “Stop Torture”, “Evil Junta – Don’t Want”, “Don’t Kill Our Monks” and “Stop Fire”.
A police officer said the group did not have a permit to organise the demonstration, but as long as it was peaceful, they were allowed to carry on with the march to express their frustration.

The shadow of Myanmar protesters cast on the ground as they link their hand march through to China’s embassy during the demonstration in Kuala Lumpur. - 28 September, 2007

About 50 policemen and Federal Reserve Unit personnel were on stand-by.
Local non-governmental organisations such as Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), Youth for Change, Amnesty International and Parti Sosialis Malaysia also supported the march.

Myanmarese demonstrators shout slogans during the protest during the demonstration in Kuala Lumpur. - 28 September, 2007

Mohammad Sadek said the memorandum, among other things, urged the UN Security Council to convene an emergency meeting to examine the deteriorating situation in Myanmar.

He said China and Russia must warn the regime that they would support the Security Council’s evaluation of the situation as well as adopt the council’s resolution.
“Therefore, we also marched to both embassies,” he added.

Mohammad Sadek said they also wanted the regime to release all political prisoners, including Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, and to alleviate economic hardship and introduce serious reforms that ensured human rights, peace, justice and freedom.
In PENANG, about 70 monks staged a peaceful protest at the Malaysian Buddhist Association yesterday to express their unhappiness over the violent crackdown on monks in Myanmar.


3,000 rally at Myanmar Embassy (updated)
By MANJIT KAUR
KUALA LUMPUR: About 3,000 refugees, migrant workers and activists, all dressed in red, marched to the Myanmar Embassy here to hand over a memorandum urging the regime to settle the current crisis in the country.

Myanmar protesters and supporters offer prayers outside the Myanmar Embassy in Kuala Lumpur during a demonstration Friday.

Led by a group called All Burma Democratic Force (ABDF), the peaceful demonstration started at about 9.30am and ended at noon Friday. The ABDF is an umbrella establishment of different organisations of different races and religions.

ABDF vice-chairman Mohammad Sadek said the group’s secretary-general Aung Kyaw Moe handed over a two-page memorandum to the embassy’s minister-counsellor Win Myint at 10am.
Joining the demonstration were several other groups including the Myanmar Ethnic Rohingyas Human Rights Organisation Malaysia, National League for Democracy (Liberated Area) Malaysia and Zomi National Congress Malaysia.

Several local NGOs also came out in support of the Myanmar people. Among them were Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), Youth for Change, Amnesty International and Parti Sosialis Malaysia.
Protesters were seen carrying placards condemning the regime, with words like “stop torture”, “Evil Junta - Don’t Want”, “Don’t Kill Our Monks” and “Stop Fire”.
On standby were some 150 policemen and personnel from the Federal Reserve Unit.
A police officer, pointing out that the group did not have a permit to organise the demonstration, said they were nonetheless allowed to proceed as long as it was a peaceful demonstration with no untoward incidences.

According to ABDF’s Mohammad, who has been in the country for more than a year, the memorandum also urged the United Nations Security Council to convene an emergency meeting to examine the deteriorating political situation in Myanmar.
He said, the ABDF encouraged China and Russia to warn the regime that both countries would support the UN Security Council’s full consideration of the situation as well as adopt the council’s resolution.
“Therefore we also marched to both embassies while shouting ‘we want democracy’,” he added.
He said they also wanted the regime to release all political prisoners including democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, and to alleviate economic hardship and introduce serious reforms that ensured human rights, peace, justice and freedom for all races and religions.

Among the protesters was a mother of two Moe Moe, 40, who has been in the country for the past 13 years.
The seamstress brought along her sons Daren and Kang, aged six and one year old respectively, to show support for her countrymen.
Also seen were a few senior citizens. The protesters also pasted newspaper clippings on the situation reported by the local media on their shirts.
The demonstration caused slight traffic congestion at Jalan Ampang, with some people slowing down their vehicles to see what the commotion was all about.


Saturday, 21 July 2007

The Situation of Rohingya in Thailand

Source from Kaladan Press,  20 July 2007

At first I would like to express my Salam and sincere thanks to all participants including Br. Nurul Islam, Director of National Reconciliation Program (NRP) and Euro- Burma Office Mr. Ham Yawnghwe, the respected Rohingya elder Mr. Abul Fayas and Honourable Professor Surat for organizing this workshop. I feel honoured today  for this opportunity to attend this meeting and make my presentation on the situation ofRohingya living in Thailand.
Some of the distinguished speakers have already spoken on the situation ofRohingya people in many countries of the world. Due to human rights violations against them bulk of the Rohingyas have to leave their homeland to save their lives. The situation has been serious after the enactment of so called Burma Citizenship law in 1982 by dictator Ne Win making the Rohingya stateless in their historical homeland. There are about 10 to 15,000 Rohingyas living in Thailand without any kind of legal status with uncertain future.
Generally their situation is as follows:
  1. There  are  some  Rohingyas  in  the  refugee  camp  near  Thai  Burma border  in Measod area. Their condition is relatively better in terms of security.
  2. Some of the Rohingyas are living by trading particularly in Maesod town, Bangkok and Ranong.
  3. A few Rohingyas are working as daily labourers  in Bangkok and other big cities. Of them some are working in the factory as security guards.
  4. A small number of them are surviving by selling flowers on the road sites of the big cities or at the traffic signal points which is usually very dangerous.
  5. A small number of our people are doing street vendors. The security agencies seldom arrest and deport them. Recently the Royal Thai Police had handed over a group of such people to the SPDC forces.
  6. There are still some people who are working as daily labourers in fisheries, particularly in Ranong.
Some of the problems being faced by the Rohingyas in Thailand
They face the arrests and deportation of the Thai police. Sometimes, they face humiliation from the local people. Some Thai people think that, being people from Burma, we are their historical enemy. They used to point out the times of Burmese king Boying Nong (Boren Nong) and Along Paya who had once occupied their country (Thailand). Having no documents, we are unable to travel within Thailand and to send our children to Thai schools even for basic education. These problems need to be addressed as early as possible.
In this horrific situation we have established the Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand (BRAT) to alleviate the sufferings of Rohingya in Thailand. Amidst various difficulties BRAT is carrying on its activities. BRAT maintains keep in touch with many organizations and individuals, including Thai National Human Rights Commission. With the help of TNHRC, we could present and discuss our problems with Thai Interior Ministry, UNHCR, Law Faculty of Thammasart University and many others –
For your information the Aims and Objects of the BRAT are:
  1. To create mutual understanding with Thai societies and other ethnic groups from Burma.
  2. To establish the  Rohingya's  rights  in their homeland and to work for the protection of those who are taking refuge in foreign countries like Thailand.
  3. To strengthen the national reconciliation process among all the peoples of Burma, including those in Arakan.
  4. To create an effective network among the Rohingya community to help in peaceful co-existence program.
  5. To strengthen Burma's democracy movement to establish peace, justice, and equality in the country.
BRAT'S weakness:
  1. Lack of educated people in the organization.
  2. Financial problem to run the network.
  3. Lack of documents to travel across Thailand to carry on the activities.
Again I draw your attention to redress our plights, particularly to the problem of legal status for our temporary stay in Thailand, and for our children's education. We are also soliciting your help and cooperation in our activities
Thank you very much.
This paper was submitted at First Rohingya Consultation: Working together to find a solution, on 2-3 August 2006, Sigha Dum Conference Room, Faculty of Political science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, Organized by Centre for Social Development, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, In cooperation with the National Reconciliation Programme (NRP).

Thursday, 31 May 2007

Russia is going to build nuclear research centre in Myanmar

A next round of talks on the construction of a nuclear research centre in Myanmar with Russia’s assistance will be held in this in Asian country in the second half of this year, the press service of Atomstroieksport company told ITAR-TASS on Wednesday.

"By that time a procedure is to be determined for the preparation of a contract for the construction of the centre, the cost of which is estimated at 200-400 million euros,” it said.
An intergovernmental agreement on cooperation between the Russian Federal Agency for Nuclear Energy (Rosatom) and the Ministry of Science and Technology of Myanmar was signed in Moscow two weeks ago.
Atomstroieksport’s first vice president Alexander Glukhov said that the "agreement envisaged cooperation in design and the construction in Myanmar of a nuclear research centre by specialists of our company”.

The centre is to have a 10-megawatt research light water reactor in which 20 percent enriched uranium 235 will be used as fuel.
The center “will carry out a complex of work in the filed of nuclear physics and biotechnology and to produce a wide spectrum of pharmaceuticals for medicine”.
The center will be complete with an installation for recycling and burial of radioactive waste.
"Such centres are usually built during five years.”

Rosatom’s experts earlier said that the centre in Myanmar would be under the control and guarantee of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
About 350 specialists from Myanmar will be trained in Russia in nuclear technology.
"Russian specialists have a large experience in building such centres in 12 countries,” Atomstroi’s experts said.

CRPP warns military over crackdown on protests

DVB, 30 May 2007

Burma’s Committee Representing the People’s Parliament warned the military yesterday over recent crackdowns on peaceful public protests.

CRPP secretary U Aye Thar Aung told DVB that the opposition would hold the military government responsible for any violence against prayer campaigners or demonstrators.

"We would like to warn the [State Peace and Development Council] authorities that, if they are going to act like thugs and use violent methods against peaceful movements, the consequences will be their own responsibility," U Aye Thar Aung said.
In the past two months more than 60 activists and politicians have been abducted or arrested by unidentified people after attending prayer campaigns for the release of democracy icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi or public protests.

The military has denied any responsibility for the arrests, claiming they were the work of- the people'.
"The SPDC, which has said it is going to construct a democratic country, is using a lot of different methods to limit, prevent and stop political parties . . . such acts contradict what they have said," U Aye Thar Aung said.

Saturday, 28 April 2007

New China-Burma road open – Myo Gyi

The near 100-kilometre new road connecting China and Burma was opened yesterday. Known as the Ledo Road , portions of it dates back to World War II.

Officials from the two countries, local ethnic leaders and representative of Kachin Special Region I and II attended the inaugural ceremony of the road held in Karpaiti, Kachin. The road stretches from Tengchone in Yunan province in the extreme south-western region of China, to Warshaung in Kachin state, Burma .
The 96- kilometre asphalt road which cost 200 million Yuan has been under construction since 2004. Road building equipment from Yunan and 6,000 Chinese workers were on the job. By Chinese standards the road is in the grade II category.

A trip along the old Warshaung Road, not negotiable in the rainy season, took eight hours. Along the new road it will take only three hours from Tengchone to Warshaung.

The ceremony was attended by the Chinese delegation led by the vice-governor of Yunan province while the Burmese delegation was headed by the commander of Northern military Command General Ohn Myint.
The road is a part of the 225 miles Ledo Road constructed in 1941 by Western Allies to connect Kuming, China and Ledo in Assam, India for sending supplies to the Chinese as an alternative to the Burma Road which was cut off by the Japanese in 1942. It was renamed Stilwell Road i n early 1945 at the suggestion of Chiang Kai-shek because it was built on the directions of General Stilwell.

Friday, 30 March 2007

Rohingya Refugees from Burma Mistreated in Bangladesh, Thailand Also Forcing Asylum Seekers Back into Burma

 Source from HRW, 28 March 2007
 
(New York) - Rohingya refugees from Burma living in Bangladesh face an increased risk of mistreatment and are being denied access to necessary humanitarian aid by the Bangladeshi authorities, endangering thousands of civilians and compelling many to seek refuge in nearby countries, Human Rights Watch said today.
“The Bangladeshi government is ignoring its obligations to protect Rohingya refugees and permit international relief agencies to assist with the humanitarian needs of Rohingya refugees,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “This shameful situation has dragged on for many years and is now causing secondary migration flows to countries as far away as Thailand and Malaysia.”

In early March Bangladeshi authorities destroyed a large part of a refugee settlement called “Tal” which housed over 6,000 Rohingya refugees from Burma at Teknaf, south of Cox’s Bazaar, close to the border with Burma. No alternative shelter was provided for the people being displaced.

Refugees in this makeshift camp had been living in a small piece of land close to a main road with limited access to food, social services and international assistance since October 2004, when Bangladeshi authorities had evicted them from rented homes because they classified them as undocumented people from Burma instead of refugees. Bangladeshi authorities shifted part of the “Tal” camp to extend the nearby highway. Large numbers of homes have been destroyed and there is a critical lack of basic services.
Abuses by Bangladeshi law enforcement agencies are reported to be widespread in and around Rohingya refugee camps, including reports of sexual violence against women. In the two official refugee camps of Nayapara and Kutupalong, people are routinely punished for traveling outside the camp to find food or money and often must resort to selling meager rations to corrupt camp officials or outside merchants. Authorities refuse to permit permanent structures to be built in the camps as a way of encouraging refugees to return home. Children are denied access to education. The provision of health services and access to medicines is also limited by the authorities, as are work and livelihood opportunities inside the camp.
Bangladeshi authorities are also limiting access of Rohingya refugees to international aid. Aid groups such as UNHCR and MSF are only permitted to retain low staff levels and limited programs, and are regularly frustrated by local Bangladeshi authorities from instituting projects that make the camps more established and provide regular services.

“The Bangladeshi government should be helping needy refugees instead of making life difficult for them,” said Adams. “It should work with international humanitarian agencies to create safe spaces and basic services for people fleeing persecution in Burma. This is just basic decency.”

Since October 2006, more than 2,000 Rohingyas from Bangladesh and Burma have arrived in nearly 40 fishing boats in southern Thailand, many reportedly trying to make their way to Malaysia. These Rohingya refugees and migrants have been shifted by the Thai authorities from Phang Nga and Ranong provinces in southern Thailand to Mae Sot in Tak province, and then forced into Burma, where they are subject to detention and ill-treatment. On March 10, 67 Rohingya men were forced back into Burma by the Thai military to an area controlled by the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), a pro-Burmese government armed group. Most of the men have since returned to Thailand. On March 23, Thai authorities arrested another 56 Rohingya men around Mae Sot and deported them to the same DKBA area on March 24.
Under the 1951 Refugees Convention, this constitutes “refoulement,” as the men were forcibly returned to a territory from which they had “a well founded fear of persecution” and to which their return would constitute a threat to their lives and freedom.
Some of the deported men have since returned to Thailand. Human Rights Watch has grave concerns for their safety as they are undocumented and without access to basic services from international relief agencies, and subject to arrest by local Thai security officers. Human Rights Watch called on the Thai government to allow UNHCR to access detainees and returned men to determine their status and whether they are eligible for refugee protection in Thailand.

There are currently an estimated 10,000 Rohingya refugees registered with the UNHCR in Malaysia. Thousands more are living as unregistered migrant laborers. Many are abused and exploited by unsavory employers, officials in the Immigration Department, the police and other Malaysian authorities. Much of this migration is facilitated by organized criminal networks and trafficking groups, which further endangers people traveling to other countries.

“The Rohingya have been caught between a hammer and anvil for over a decade in desperate circumstance, with Bangladesh making it difficult for them to seek refuge and Burma continuing to abuse the rights of the Muslim minority in Arakan State,” Adams said. “These abuses have forced thousands of Rohingya to flee to neighboring countries to seek refuge.”

There are an estimated 26,000 Rohingya in Bangladesh living in two desperate and squalid camps at Cox’s Bazaar, called Kutupalong and Nayapara, but there are also an estimated 100,000 unregistered Rohingya living in Bangladesh near the border with Burma.

Over 250,000 Rohingya Muslims from western Burma were forced into Bangladesh by the Burmese military in 1992 in a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Arakan State. Since then thousands of people have been detained in crowded refugee camps in Bangladesh and tens of thousands have been repatriated to Burma to face further repression. There are widespread allegations of religious persecution, use of forced labor and denial of citizenship of many Rohingya forced to return to Burma since 1996.

Many have fled again to Bangladesh to seek work or shelter, or flee from Burmese military oppression, and some are forced across the border by Burmese security forces. In the past few months, abuses against Rohingya in Arakan State has continued, including strict registration laws that continue to deny Rohingya citizenship, restrictions on movement, land confiscation and forced evictions to make way for Buddhist Burmese settlements, widespread forced labor in infrastructure projects and closure of some mosques, including nine in North Buthidaung Township of Western Arakan State in the last half of 2006.

Saturday, 3 March 2007

Burmese Democratic Forces formed a broad based Political forum in Malaysia

Source from http://www.bangladesh-web.com/

Friday March 02 2007 11:55:25 AM BDT

Mohammad Sadek

Kuala Lumpur, Feb. 26, 2007: Malaysia based Burmese democratic forces formed a broad based political representing body All Burma Democratic Force (ABDF) in Malaysia in order to serve the causes of Burmese people in exile and to achieve the goal of democratic transition in Burma.

The organization was formed on February 25, 2007, consisting of 9 Burmese organiations in Malaysia that includes National League for Democracy (NLD-LA), Allaince of Burmese Refugees in Malaysia (ABRM), Burma Refugee Organization (BRO), National Democratic Party for Human Rights (exile) NDPHR-exile Malaysia, Democratic Federation of Burma (DFB), Chin National League for Solidarity (CNLS), Christian Clinic Central Committee (CCCC), Rohingya Organization and individual youth leaders.

This body is dedicated to help all Burmese citizens in term of race and religion that does not have any discriminative policy towards any race and religion as some of the self claimed democratic organizations from Burma in exile maintain discriminative policy towards race and religion, said Ko Thuya Aung from ABRM.

However, the current ABDF is free from outside influence and does not respect racism and nepotism that only to concquire democracy, human rights, peace and justice in Burma as it is the common goal for all Burmese nationals.

The ABDF believe that is the broad based representing body can work very effectively in Malaysia for all kinds of Burmese Democracy actitivities as it respect equal rights for all including Muslims as it is their birth rights¡¨.

Ko Maung Thein from the DFB mentioned that ¡§all of the Burmese democracy movement would bring in a single platform to achieve the common goal of democracy in Burma¡¨.

At the same time, several participants from different organizations expressed their solidarity to work together and shoulder to shoulder, while reprsentative from the NDPHR-exile in Malaysia expressed some utilization policies to strengthen the movement from the sigle platform.

It may be mentioned that the ABDF is the first broad based political organization in Malaysia that is expeced to represent the causes of suffering Burmese in home and exile, particularly in Malaysia. ##

For further information, please contact at:
E-mail: sadek_brefugee@yahoo.com
Tel: +6 (0)16 3094599

Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Burma may move to abolish Christianity – Gary Lane

January 29: Rangoon: There are new concerns in Burma that the government is trying to destroy Christianity.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports that an internal government document lays the foundation for eradicating the faith, including arresting anyone caught evangelizing.

This kind of persecution has been going for years in Burma, also known as Myanmar.
In 2005, CBN News met with Christians in Burma. These Burmese Christians sang praise songs; they worshiped openly and freely in a government-approved church in Rangoon.

But most Burmese Christians don’t share their freedom. Government officials have shut down churches in this capital city and have disallowed the construction of new church buildings. The number of bibles allowed for import is limited and in-country printing of bibles and Christian literature is restricted.
Public evangelism is prohibited in Burma, but that hasn’t stopped this group of young Christians from sharing the gospel. Among them is a man we call David. His name has been changed to protect him from possible persecution.

David told CBN news he and several other team members recently visited a Buddhist village of 2,000 families. They were attacked when a crowd gathered to listen to praise songs the evangelists were singing.
“Some Buddhist monks came and started shouting, ‘don’t worship God here – he has nothing to do with us,’” David said. “They said we were trying to establish Christianity in the village and they did not want it. The monks and others threw stones at us. They hit us like a hard rain. Some of us were hit in the cheek, the neck and the forehead.”

Despite David’s experience, evangelists say many Burmese are open to the gospel. In 2005, 83 percent of the Burmese people said they were Buddhist – about nine percent were Christian. The church is growing here among Protestants and independents at a rate of about five percent each year.

David said he would like to return to the village where he and the other young Christians were attacked with stones. He says he will press on despite the risk of hostile crowds or government arrest. “It is dangerous, but God gives us strength deep inside and boldness to move forward,” he said.

Monday, 15 January 2007

Chronology for Rohingya (Arakanese) in Burma

Source from cidcm, 10 Jan 2007 
by Minorities At Risk Project

Date(s) Item
May 1990 The opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi won 392 of the 485 seats in national parliamentary elections. The Burmese Socialist Program Party (BSPP), registered under a new name, the National Unity Party (NUP) won only 10 seats. The remainder of the seats were allocated to 23 other parties. Parties representing ethnic groups achieved particular success: the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy won 23 seats, and the Rakhine Democracy League 11. Despite efforts by the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) to weaken known leaders and eliminate dissidents, 93 parties presented a total of 2,297 candidates to contest the 485 constituencies.
Jul 1990 The SLORC announced that the recent election was only intended to produce a constituent assembly, which is to draft a constitution providing a strong government, under the direction of a national convention to be established by the SLORC.
Aug 1990 Troops killed four protestors at an anti-government protest at Mandalay, commemorating the deaths of thousands of demonstrators at the hands of the armed forces in 1988.
Dec 1990 Opposition politicians agreed with the Democratic Alliance of Burma, a 21-member organization uniting ethnic rebel forces with student dissidents and monks, to form the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB). The aims of the NCGUB are to wage a war with the military rulers and to establish a true democratic government.
May 1, 1991 - May 31, 1990 Two Muslim groups -- the All-Burma Muslim Union (ABMU) and the Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front (ARIF) B said they were ready to join forces with the DAB "to fight the military shoulder to shoulder" in response to what they say is a campaign of repression by the Rangoon military government. A joint statement said thousands of Muslims have fled their villages to neighboring India, Bangladesh, and Thailand in recent months: "[The government] objective is to subjugate and absorb the indigenous races, to stamp out Islam and to establish militarism in the country" (Reuters, 05/06/91). The ABMU and the ARIF would be the first Muslim groups to join the alliance. Their joint statement also indicated that in November about 30,000 Muslims were uprooted from villages in the western coastal state of Arakan and some have crossed the border to the Chittagong area of Bangladesh. Mosques in Rangoon and other towns have been turned into storehouses. The two groups called for the immediate transfer of power to the NLD.
Jun 1, 1991 - Jun 30, 1990 Thousands of Burmese Muslims known as Rohingya are entering Bangladesh illegally each month to escape alleged persecution by the Rangoon authorities (Reuters, 06/14/91). "Our youths are being herded to labor camps, crops are seized and movements of the Muslims are being restricted", Zafar Alam, a leader of the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO) told reporters in Chittagong. The worst persecution was reported in the Muslim-majority Arakan province, where "even mosques were demolished for making the new military barracks". One refugee activist said, "we are in close contact with other organizations such as the All Burma Muslim Union (ABMU) and Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front (ARIF) for the establishment of people's rights and political freedom". Bangladeshi intelligence sources said 200,000 Muslims had been forced from their homes by Burmese soldiers in the past six months.
Jul 1991 At a secret camp deep in the jungle, run by the RSO, young Muslims are training to make war on the Buddhist military government of Burma. The goal of the rebels, calling themselves Mujahideen, is to restore the once-independent Muslim homeland of Arakan on Burma's west coast. It was an independent Muslim kingdom from 1430 to 1784 and now is the only Muslim majority province in Burma (The Associated Press, 07/01/91). Arakan's Muslims are called Rohingya, from Rohang, the ancient name of Arakan. Guerrilla leaders accuse Burmese Buddhists of massacring 200,000 Muslims in the last 50 years. Anti-Muslim activities have increased under the current military regime.
Dec 1991 Burmese soldiers, massed at the border with Bangladesh, have traded gunfire with Muslim rebels and reports indicate that at least 15 people were killed (The Associated Press, 12/26/91). Meanwhile, Muslim rebels belonging to the RSO attacked a Burmese customs forward port and kidnaped eight guards. Relations between Bangladesh and Burma cooled recently after the influx of about 50,000 Muslim refugees into Bangladesh. The Bangladesh Foreign Office summoned the Burmese Ambassador for the second time in less than a week to protest troop buildups along the border. Bangladesh shares a 175-mile strip of border with Burma. The Burmese government claims that Muslim insurgents operate from Bangladeshi territory -- a charge Dhaka denies.
Jan 1992 Although Burmese Muslims have fled into Bangladesh before, they say this time the military junta is determined to drive them out once and for all (Sunday Telegraph, 01/26/92). Although Bangladesh has said it will not forcibly return any refugees, it does want Burma to accept any that do go back. Burma insists that it will only accept genuine Burmese citizens. A few newspapers in Dhaka have begun calling for a military attack to defend fellow Muslims and to pay Burma back for a border raid on December 21 that left one Bangladeshi solider dead and several others wounded.
Feb 1992 Burma says the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the Voice of America (VOA) dish out fancy versions of the "Rohingya Fable". It states that "lately the Rohingya fable from the Rakhine (Arakan) state has been invoked in the programmes of such broadcasting stations as the BBC and VOA. Actually, it is not a new story at all, but a very old and well-known story which is being dished out by these malicious foreign broadcasting stations in new and fancy packaging" (Voice of Myanmar, Rangoon Home Service 0713 gmt 02/07/92, BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 02/08/92). Bangladesh has appealed to the UN and the international community for emergency relief to support the Rohingya refugees. Responding to the call, the UNHCR has already released $100,000 from the emergency fund. A team from the UNHCR is now in Bangladesh making an assessment and meeting senior Dhaka officials.
Mar 1992 Bangladeshi military sources state that Burma is reinforcing its border to stop more than 170,000 Muslims driven into Bangladesh by the army from returning home (Washington Times, 03/10/92). Malaysia has urged its fellow members in the ASEAN to reverse its non-confrontational stance towards Burma. ASEAN has been resisting strong pressure from Western countries to impose economic sanctions on Burma to protest Rangoon's dismal human rights record. Kuala Lumpur has called the attention of other Muslim countries and the UN to the refugee plight, likening them to the Palestinians. In a letter to the UN Secretary General, Iranian Foreign Minister Velayati calls on the UN to halt the "genocide" of Burmese Muslims by the military government. He urges the UN to set the stage for the recognition of the political and social rights of Burmese Muslims as well as the return of those Muslims living as refugees in Bangladesh (Arab Press Service Organization, 03/14/92). Amnesty International urged Burma's rulers to halt a campaign of terror and violence against Muslims that has caused tens of thousands to flee the country. The report stated that "Muslim men have been rounded up in large numbers and pressed into forced labor for the military, often as porters". They are ill fed and abused. Many are reported to have been beaten to death when they became too weak to carry their loads. Muslim women [have been] raped...". According to Amnesty International, more than 200,000 Muslims have fled Burma to Bangladesh since 1991 when the anti-Muslim campaign began (The Associated Press, 03/19/92).
Apr 1, 1992 - Apr 30, 2004 200 people were killed when government troops opened fire at a mosque in Arakan on April 5. Bangladeshi officials quoted refugee Azizul Huq as saying, "Our only offense was that we used the closed-down mosque as the venue for our prayers", marking the end of Ramadan, a month-long period of fasting (Inter Press Service, 04/09/92). Further signs that the purge against the Muslims is continuing is the appearance of 20,000 Muslims from Burma's eastern provinces seeking refuge in rebel-held territories near the Thai border. "The plight of Muslims in eastern Burma is as serious as that confronting the Rohingyas in Arakan state in the West", Colonel Tin Maung That, head of the All-Burma Muslim Union told reporters at the border. Jan Eliasson, the visiting UN envoy, was given assurances by Rangoon that it was prepared to accept the return of the refugees back to their homeland in Arakan. Burma had earlier refused to take back the refugees insisting the Rohingyas, natives of Arakan, were aliens, not Burmese citizens. But Rohingya leaders are doubtful the scheme would work. "In 1974 and in 1978, our people went back under a similar situation with U.N. help, but our fate did not change, so I am pessimistic about the chances of success this time", said Younus, President of the RSO. He asserted that the Rohingya would only return if the Rangoon government guaranteed their citizenship and protection of their religious and political rights (IPS, 04/09/92). During a visit to China, the Iranian Foreign Minister raised the issue of Burmese refugees with his counterpart and noted the world of Islam's sensitivity towards Myanmar Muslim refugees. Bangladesh and Burma opened talks on the future of more than 212,000 Muslim refugees who have fled Burma since March, 1991. The Foreign Minister of Burma, Ohn Gyaw, lead a 14-member delegation to the talks. Burma says most of the refugees are actually illegal immigrants and that it will not take them back unless they can prove Burmese citizenship (The Associated Press, 04/24/92). An agreement was reached on repatriation that would begin next month. The hardline General Saw Maung was ousted last week as the head of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) by the more pragmatic General Than Shwe. The new leader has promised another constitution in six months. Even with a new constitution, there are doubts that the junta, thought to be still under the control of General Ne Win, Burma's veteran leader, will bow to democracy.
May 1992 Four Muslim groups have joined the Democratic Alliance of Burma (DAB) (The Nation, 05/19/92). The groups are: the Central Rohingya Jammatul Ulama, the Ittehadul Mujahiddial, the Rohingya Islamic Liberation Organization, and the Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front. Tin Maung That of the ABMU criticized the agreement between Rangoon and Dhaka on the repatriation of the refugees. He said the repatriation should be monitored by the UNHCR, "otherwise history will repeat itself".
Jul 1992 On June 19, Burmese soldiers beat elected MP Mohammed Ilyas to death after he refused to try to persuade fellow Muslims taking refuge in Bangladesh to return home. The troops ordered Ilyas, a member of the Human Rights and Democracy Party, and four others to cross into Bangladesh and try to persuade Burmese refugees to return (Washington Times, 07/06/92). Some Burmese refugees are smuggling guns into their camps to prevent officials from repatriating them, and Bangladesh is taking steps to isolate the "troublemakers" (The Associated Press, 07/20/92). A Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry official stated that "Anti-repatriation miscreants are intimidating those who are willing to go". Bangladeshi officials state that the return of 270,000 Muslim refugees to Burma has stalled again after Burmese authorities refused to allow the UNHCR to monitor the process (07/24/92).
Oct 1992 A second group of refugees -- 63 members of 12 families -- was sent to Burma. In April, Dhaka and Rangoon signed an agreement to start the repatriation on May 15, but the deal remained ineffective, largely because most of the refugees insisted they would not go back without UNHCR supervision. Burma rejected this condition.
Nov 1993 About 30,000 refugees are reported to have fled Bangladeshi camps to avoid repatriation to Burma. "We are worried by the sudden spate in slipping out, especially after Rangoon signed an agreement on Friday allowing the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to supervise repatriation of the Rohingya Muslims on their side", one Bangladeshi official said (Reuters, 11/08/93). Some 46,000 refugees have returned home since the repatriation began in September, 1992.
Jan 1994 The police report that Muslim refugees battled villagers with spears and knives near their camp in southeast Bangladesh, leaving at least 20 people injured. The fighting erupted after villagers chased a refugee, suspected of being involved in robberies.
Feb 1994 For the first time, the junta permitted a foreign visitor, US representative Bill Richardson (D-N.M.) to meet with Aung San Suu Kai. Richardson, a UN official, and a New York Times reporter meet twice with Ms. Suu Kyi. The Representative delivered a letter to her from President Clinton expressing the President's continued support for the democratic movement in Myanmar. Richardson also met with Lt. General Khin Nyunt, Burma's military intelligence chief.
Mar 1994 More than 100 Burmese Muslims crossed into Bangladesh, jeopardizing efforts to repatriate more than 200,000 refugees. New arrivals are likely to make it difficult to convince the remaining refugees to return to Myanmar (Reuters, 03/08/94).
May 1994 Press reports from Bangladesh indicate that the army and Muslim insurgents have stepped up activities in the north-west province of Arakan, which borders Bangladesh. Five soldiers and two guerrillas were killed earlier this month in separate engagements (United Press International, 05/25/94).
Feb 1995 The repatriation of some 250,000 Burmese refugees has been gaining momentum and is expected to end shortly, the Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh said. (Agence France Presse, 02/02/95). Since last year, about 150,000 refugees have returned.
Feb 21, 1995 Another 543 Myanmar Muslims returned home from Bangladesh. Since, September of 1992, 162,440 Muslims have returned to Burma (Xinhua News Agency, 02/21/95).
Mar 1995 Muslims at Three-Pagoda pass and nearby villages at the Thai-Burmese border have been banned from staging gatherings of more than five people for religious purposes. This is the first time that such a small number of Muslims have been banned from meeting for religious purposes (Reuter Textline: Bangkok Post, 03/31/95).
Apr 1995 Another 1470 Rohingya Muslims have left Bangladesh to return home (Xinhua News Agency, 04/01/95).
Apr 18, 1995 Members of the All Burma Muslim Union (ABMU) and the Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front (ARIF) have pledged to report the maltreatment of Muslims in Burma to the Overseas Islamic Countries and to the International Islamic Organization. ABMU chairman Abdul Razak states that the SLORC has been violating the basic human rights of Muslim communities through actions such as occupying mosques. Further, a number of mosques in towns along the Kyaidon-Myawaddy route have reportedly been demolished in order to construct roads. The ABMU says that Muslims in Burma are not allowed to assume important government posts, to enter the army, and to own land in certain towns (Reuter Textline: Bangkok Post, 04/18/95).
Apr 26, 1995 Almost 800 Myanmar Muslims who fled Rakhine (Arakan) state into Bangladesh in 1991 have returned to Burma under a 1992 agreement between the Burmese and Bangladeshi governments (Xinhua News Agency, 04/26/95).
May 1995 Muslims in Burma claim that they are being unlawfully taxed for animals that are slaughtered on the holy feast day of Eid Al Adha. The feast day marks the end of a three month fasting period by Islamic communities. As it is a religious rite, Muslims worldwide are exempted from paying taxes when they sacrifice animals on the feast day. In 1994, the SLORC decided to levy a tax on each animal killed. It is estimated that some 25,000 cows and buffaloes and around 200,000 goats and sheep are sacrificed across Burma (Reuter Textline: Bangkok Post, 05/10/95). The US State Department's 1994 Report on Human Rights Practices in Burma indicates that in early May, the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO) detonated a number of bombs in towns and villages near the western border of Arakan State. There were several deaths and injuries. The report also notes that it is very difficult for Muslim groups to obtain permission to build mosques. There are reported to be more than 5000 mosques in Burma, although the most recent one was built in 1975. The military government has also been accused of removing cemeteries from urban areas, despite the religious concerns of various minorities. The State Department says that in March of 1994, four trustees of a Muslim cemetery were arrested in Mandalay when they protested the destruction of a historic graveyard and religious buildings (03/95).
Jun 1995 Bangladesh fears that up to 10,000 Rohingya Muslims may have slipped out of refugee camps and spread out across the country. Of the more than 250,000 Rohingya refugees that fled to Bangladesh in 1991, only about 58,000 remain in nine UN-run refugee camps. Recent efforts to repatriate the remaining refugees have stalled due to Burmese government claims that Bangladeshis are also being infiltrated into Burma with the refugees (UPI, 06/26/95; Asiaweek, 07/21/95).
Jul 1995 The Rohingya National Alliance (RNA) says that the recent release of jailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will pave the way for national reconciliation. The RNA was recently formed from the merger of two rival Muslim groups, the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO), and the Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front (ARIF) (Reuters, 07/13/95).
Oct 1995 Around 200 Rohingya Muslims returned home from Bangladesh, bringing the total to 193,000 out of an estimated 250,000 (Xinhua News Agency, 10/14/95).
Nov 1995 Two Muslim groups, the All Burma Muslim Union and the Arakan Liberation Party, have been expelled from the Democratic Alliance of Burma (DAB), the umbrella group of parties that oppose the country's military dictatorship. The two Muslim parties were among a group of five organizations that were ousted for reportedly signing ceasefire agreements with the SLORC (Japan Economic Newswire, 11/15/95).
Dec 1995 205 Muslims have returned home from Bangladesh. So far, more than 195,000 of the estimated 250,000 Muslims that fled Burma in 1991 have returned home (Xinhua News Agency, 12/13/95).
Apr 1996 Over 300 Rohingyas have tried to flee Burma in the past week. Some 30 Muslims caught at the Bangladesh border will be sent back. Seventeen others who were also trying to flee died during their attempts (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Reuters, 04/21/96).
May 1996 Myanmar and Bangladesh hold their 20th high-level coordination meeting on the repatriation of Burmese Muslim refugees. Since 1992, some 197,000 refugees have been repatriated from Bangladesh to Burma (Xinhua News Agency, 05/20/96).
Jun 1996 An influx of Burmese Rohingyas into Bangladesh has been underway since March. The UNHCR says some 5500 Muslims have entered Bangladesh; other estimates put the figure as high as 10,000. The Rohingyas assert that they are subject to forced labor and torture in Burma. Some 700 have been deported (Reuters, 06/02/96).
Aug 1996 Twenty-eight non-governmental organizations in Malaysia including the Malaysian MuslimYouth Movement and the Burma Solidarity Group Malaysia protest the chairman of the SLORC’s visit to Malaysia due to the country’s human rights abuses (Agence France Presse, 08/14/96).
Sep 1996 Burmese border security forces, officially known as Nasaka, have reportedly planted mines along the border with Bangladesh to check cross-border violations. Officials of the Bangladesh Rifles protested the planting of the mines and the deaths that have resulted while meeting with their Burmese counterparts (Agence France Presse, 09/02/96).
Jan 1997 Bangladesh and Burma agree to complete the repatriation of the remaining 26,000 Rohingya refugees by March 31. The agreement was reached after a senior-level meeting in Bangladesh in early January (BBC, 01/10/97).
Jan 15, 1997 Representatives of fifteen ethnic groups from across Burma, including the Rohingya Muslims, attended a meeting in Karen-held territory. The groups signed the Mae Tha Raw Hta agreement which calls for the establishment of a democratic, federal union in Burma. Among those present at the meeting were representatives of the Wa, Karenni, Kachin, and Mon groups with whom the ruling junta has signed ceasefire agreements over the last few years. The delegates also expressed support for Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), and for the need for a tripartite dialogue between the Burmese regime, the NLD, and ethnic groups. The State Law and Order Restoration Council’s (SLORC) efforts to draft a new constitution were described as a "sham" (Inter Press Service, 02/12/97)
Feb 1997 Seventeen ethnic rebel factions including Rohingya Muslim groups meet in Karen-controlled territory under the banner of the newly-revived National Democratic Front (NDF). The NDF fought against the military in the 1970s and 1980s until the KIA signed a cease-fire agreement with the government in 1992 . A spokesman says that several rebel groups are set to renege on their cease-fire deals and resume fighting. Reports indicate that the government has launched a military offensive in Karen areas to stop the groups from reuniting (Inter Press Service, 02/12/97; Reuters, 02/06/97).
Feb 1997 The Rohingya repatriation was slowed last year after reports indicated that the refugees that returned to Burma were subject to violence and other abuses. Bangladesh also allegedly forced back some Rohingyas which it believes are economic migrants rather than refugees. In April last year, 15 Rohingyas drowned near Teknaf when their boat capsized after Bangladeshi security forces ordered them back to Burma (US Department of State Human Rights Country Reports, 02/97).
Mar 1997 Religious conflict has been growing in Myanmar since the middle of the month and officials tightened security on March 21 after an attack on a mosque in the capital, Rangoon. Mandalay, the second largest city, is still under a nighttime curfew imposed last weekend when Buddhist monks went on a rampage, attacking eight mosques and starting street protests. The unrest in Mandalay allegedly began after reports of an attempted rape of a girl by Muslim men. At least three people have been killed and around 100 monks arrested. The All-Burma Muslim Union, a group associated with Burmese exile groups based on the Burmese-Thai border, accuses the government of being behind the latest Buddhist- Muslim strife. It says the military regime has systematically caused trouble for Muslims. Burma's BuddhistYouth Wing asserts that officials made up the rape story to cover up protests over the custodial deaths of 16 monks. The military has denied the Youths’ claim, stating that the unrest was a politically motivated attempt to stall Burma's entry in ASEAN (Agence France Presse, 03/25/97; BBC, 03/21/97; New York Times, 03/2497).
Apr 1997 Since mid-March, attacks by Buddhist monks have spread from the northern city of Mandalay to the capital Rangoon, the central towns of Pegu and Prome and most recently Toungoo, a small railway town some 200 kms from Rangoon. A curfew remains in force in Mandalay and the army is patrolling the streets in many cities. In Mandalay alone, 18 mosques were destroyed and Muslim-owned businesses and property vandalized. Copies of the Koran were burnt. The last time anti-Muslim riots took place was during the peak of the pro-democracy movement in 1988. It appears that the junta is willing to turn a blind eye to the disturbances as hundreds of monks, many wielding batons and sticks, have been allowed to freely roam the streets, attack and ransack mosques, and clamber atop minarets (Inter Press Service, 04/09/97).
Apr 18, 1997 A Thai Member of Parliament expresses concern over the recent large influx of Burmese Muslims into Thailand. He believes the Foreign Ministry should try to solve the problem of Muslim migrants from Burma by requesting assistance from Thailand's Muslim neighbors (The Nation, 04/18/97).
Apr 30, 1997 Human Rights Watch contends that in several cases the UNHCR has failed to provide information on the SLORC’s abuses against returning Muslim refugees. The HRW says that while the UN body had evidence that some Rohingya from Burma were arrested by Burmese authorities or "disappeared" when they returned from Bangladesh in 1992 and 1996, it did not provide exiles in Bangladesh with that information (Inter Press Service, 04/30/97).
May 1997 The Malaysian MuslimYouth Movement protests against what it says is the SLORC’s actions to suppress the Burmese Muslim community and it urges the Malaysian government to defer its entry into ASEAN (Asia Pulse, 05/2897).
May 27, 1997 Reports indicate that since March at least 30 mosques and Muslim properties have been attacked in Burma (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 05/27/97).
Jun 1997 More than 3,000 Burmese Muslims have crossed the border into Bangladesh, alleging that Burmese authorities are engaging in a fresh wave of atrocities against minority groups. The new arrivals are from the border towns of Maungdaw and Buthiadong (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 06/28/97).
Jul 1997 Bangladesh forcibly returns some 212 Rohingyas housed in its Kutupalong refugee camp to Burma. The group is the latest of some 7500 people who have been singled out to be sent back. According to the UNHCR, only two of the families agreed to return home . Bangladeshi anti-riot police used tear gas and rubber bullets to stop the refugees’ protests against being forcibly repatriated. One Muslim refugee told a UNHCR official that he preferred to die rather than return to Burma (Inter Press Service, 07/2297).
Jul 24, 1997 Bangladeshi officials have postponed a scheduled repatriation of some 200 Rohingyas amid growing unrest in two frontier camps over claims that refugees were being returned against their will. The current repatriation resumed amid reports of fresh attempts by Burmese Muslims to enter Bangladesh. Bangladesh has stepped up surveillance along the frontier to prevent a fresh influx. The US Committee for Refugees says that some 15,000 Muslims have reportedly entered the country in the past year despite efforts to keep them out, and Bangladesh has barred UNHCR officials and non-governmental organizations from assisting them (Agence France Presse, 07/24/97).
Jul 26, 1997 Malaysia says that Burma’s government should take action to stop the alleged harassment of the country’s Muslim minority in an effort to reassure its Islamic partners in ASEAN (e.g. Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia) (Japan Economic Newswire, 07/26/97).
Jul 31, 1997 Bangladesh will ask Burma to extend a deadline for repatriating 7000 Burmese Muslim refugees due to unrest and a wave of hunger strikes by refugees who oppose their repatriation. The government had earlier said that 7000 of the 20,000 refugees cleared for repatriation in the Kutupalong and Noapara camps would be sent home by the August 15 deadline set by Burma. Dhaka also rejected a UNHCR request to settle the refugees in Bangladesh (Agence France Presse, 07/30-31/97).
Aug 1997 A group representing Burmese Muslims who fled alleged persecution in Burma contends that more refugees will flow into Bangladesh unless their security could be guaranteed. The Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO) claims that up to 14,000 new Burmese Muslims had already crossed the border into Bangladesh since June because of persecution from the security forces and for "economic" reasons. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) puts the number of Rohingyas at 7000, while the Bangladesh government officially puts their numbers at "several thousand." The UNHCR describes the new Rohingya arrivals as both "economic and political" migrants (Agence France Presse, 08/03/97).
Aug 8, 1997 Some Rohingya refugees in Bangladeshi camps state that they will not return home until there is a democratic system in Burma. Some reports indicate that the refugees are receiving military training in the camps. A new organization, the Mama Democratic Rohingya Refugee Committee, has been established in Bangladesh to pursue the refugees’ demands (Guardian, 08/08/97).
Aug 16, 1997 The repatriation of some 7000 of the 21,000 Burmese Muslim refugees still in Bangladesh is uncertain after the expiry of yesterday’s deadline set by Rangoon. The repatriation, which started July 20, was stalled by violent protests by the refugees after a few hundred were forcibly deported (Agence France Presse, 08/16/97).
Aug 26, 1997 Canada and the US have imposed economic sanctions against Burma due to its human rights record (British Broadcasting Corporation, 08/26/97).
Oct 1997 Amnesty International calls for fresh international support for Bangladesh to help look after the Burmese Rohingya refugees (Agence France Presse, 10/09/97).
Jan 1998 Officials of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees are rushing to Dhaka for talks with the government and armed refugees from neighboring Myanmar who have seized Noapara camp in southeastern Bangladesh. The armed refugees are thought to be members of the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO), an insurgent group in Myanmar, which is reportedly backed by several Bangladeshi Muslim fundamentalist groups. The official Bangladesh news agency recently reported that 10 "Pakistani-financed" insurgent groups from Arakan were operating in the area (Agence France Presse, 01/23/98).
Jan 26, 1998 Three people are killed in a clash between the RSO and Burmese security forces near the border with Bangladesh (AAP Newsfeed, 01/26/98).
Mar 1998 Some 64 Rohingyas are jailed after clashing with police and setting fire to part of the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh. The police raided the camp and arrested the militants who had seized control of the camp several days ago (Agence France Presse, 03/07/98).
Apr 1998 Myanmar and Bangladesh agree to set up a joint commission to bolster political and economic ties between the two neighboring countries (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 04/17/98).
Jun 1998 Germany provides $350,000 in aid for the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh (Agence France Presse, 06/15/98).
Jun 19, 1998 Amnesty International claims that the SLORC is responsible for extrajudicial killings, forcible relocations, and torture against ethnic minorities (M2 Presswire, 06/19/98).
Jul 1998 The Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM) will continue to render humanitarian aid and services at the international level despite the country’s economic downturn. The ABIM aid has been giving aid to Cambodia and Vietnam but the organization has been having difficulty in trying to help the Rohingyas in Myanmar (Malaysia General News, 07/03/98).
Dec 1998 Burmese opposition groups state that twenty-three ethnic and political organizations attend a seminar on National Solidarity at Thoo Mwe Klo in Karen territory from December 12 to 14. The organizations signed an agreement that calls for the abolishment of the military government, the establishment of a democratic, federal union, the convening of the parliament based on the NLD electoral victory in 1990, and a ban on foreign investment until the regime changes. A Coordinating and Organizing Committee is formed to implement the organizations’ decisions. Among those who sign the agreement are the All Burma Muslim Union, the Muslim Liberation Organization, the Arakan League for Democracy, the Arakan Liberation Party, the Chin National Front, the Chin NLD, the Karen National Union, the Shan Democratic Union, the ABSDF, and representatives of the Wa, Palaung, and Lau ethnic groups (British Broadcasting Corporation, 12/21/98).
Dec 22, 1998 The repatriation of Rohingya refugees staying in Bangladesh has been stalled again less than one month after it was resumed in late November. Burma recently conveyed to Bangladesh that it could not take back the refugees during Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims across the world. Bangladesh insisted that it would continue the repatriation process in accordance with the agreement reached earlier between the two sides (Xinhua News Agency, 12/22/98).
Mar 1999 Jane’s Intelligence Review states that India’s intelligence organization, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), aided Burmese rebel groups in acquiring arms from Khmer Rouge members in Thailand for nearly two years. The groups include the Chin National Army, the Karen National Union, and the Arakan Army (03/01/99).
Apr 1999 The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) proposes that the Bangladesh government launch some income-generating projects for the over 22,000 Rohingyas rather than keeping them in refugee camps. It says that these camps will receive less aid as it is being diverted to help refugees in Kosovo, Yugoslavia (The Independent, 04/22/99).
Jun 1999 Five minority groups still fighting the Burmese junta meet in Karen territory near the Thai-Burma to form an alliance. After two days of meetings, the groups agree to cooperate on military, intelligence, and political issues to unify the groups. Hosted by the Karen National Union, the meeting is also attended by the Shan State Army, the Arakan Liberation Party, the Karenni National Progressive Party and the Chin National Front. A commander of the Shan State Army says that the rebels are outnumbered 10 to 1 by the Burmese forces (Agence France Presse, 06/16/99).
Jul 1999 Burma’s Foreign Minister U Win Aung ends a three-day official visit to Bangladesh during which both countries agreed to build a bridge over a river to facilitate border trade. The two neighbors also decided to establish a joint commission to speed up the settlement of disputes, including the repatriation of all Myanmar Muslim refugees who had fled to Bangladesh alleging persecution at home (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 07/19/99).
Jul 30, 1999 The repatriation of the Rohingya refugees appears uncertain again after Burma’s Foreign Minister refuses to give Bangladesh concrete assurances that they will return home. Bangladesh expects all the refugees to be repatriated by the end of the year. Since November of last year, Burma has only been accepting 50 refugees a week (Inter Press Service, 07/30/99).