Friday 24 October 2008

Memo to AI by Rohingya Refugees Committee from Malaysia

By NDPHR(exile), 24 October  2008…
A Memorandum
Amnesty International

We, the Rohingya refugees from different areas in Malaysia stress our great expectation over the Amnesty International (AI) Malaysia that the agency will pave a role to find durable solution for our plights which have been kept behind the bar and inadequate protection. It is also a decades of failure in the advancement of advocacy.

 Today, we wish to call upon Amnesty International (AI) Malaysia to take proactive steps to advocate the causes of marginalized Rohingya refugees and to encourage United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and world bodies to pay attention to the long standing problems of Rohingyas in order to ensure their basic and fundamental human rights which were set forth by the United Nations Charters and Conventions.

while submitting a memo by area base Rohingya refugees from Malaysia

We are the people who love peace, justice, freedom and harmony for the people of the world regardless of race, religion, color, sex and cultural orientation. But, the military regime of Burma made us as the worst victims of human rights violation, not only in Burma but also in its neighboring countries, particularly its allied states such as Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand and etc.

Rohingya are oppressed, displaced, treated as intruders and pushed into danger of extinction. Rohingyas rights to citizenship were denied, lands and possession were confiscated, freedom of movement, worship, thought and assembly are restricted, rights of marriage and education are banned, arbitrary arrest, widespread, rape, racial discrimination, extortion, and forced labor, violence, torture and extrajudicial killings are very common against Rohingya. Due to such kinds of brutal behaviors, atrocities, ethnic cleansing and religious discrimination of Burmese military regime, we (Rohingya) were compelled to take refuge in different parts of the world. An unspecific numbers of Burmese Rohingya have arrived in Malaysia.

Despite being the victims of inhumane pogrom, our cases have been kept behind the bar, while discriminations from various quarters are triggered against our people as well. Meanwhile, we are living in sub-human condition. We don’t have food to eat, place to stay, work to employ, cloth to wear and medicine to treat. Our children are passing lives in extreme vulnerability. They are underway to unexpected exploitation. Our women are being marginalized. Many of our people are being trafficked by smugglers.

Due to unavoidable circumstances and deprivation of fundamental human rights of refugees, many Rohingya refugees have begun secondary migration to find a safe place, whether in the river, sea, ocean and mountains or jungles. Of them, some managed to reach in Australia whose refugee status were granted by the new Prime Minister of Australia and many are still remain missing on their way to destination of safe place.

On the other hand, many Rohingya refugees got arrested in hand of Malaysian authorities and were deported to Thai-Malaysia border under the Malaysian Laws. But these vulnerable souls were sold to fishing boat or trafficked in different places for slavery for whom no information is coming out at all.

Rohingya refugee patients are being treated as people of rich countries at Malaysian hospital, which is totally unbearable for them as they don’t have regular work or permitted works to earn money for their survivals. Their children are barred from going to public schools whose rights are neglected by concerned quarters as well.

Refugee Status for the Rohingya refugees is not determined as non-Rohingya refugees from Burma. Rohingyas are given Prima-facie status that is not eligible for resettlement to a third country. Besides this, the document that issued by UNHCR for the Rohingya refugees is mentioned as Artificial Temporary Protection Card, which is quite different from other refugees. It has also mentioned that they can go back in their country of origin, if there were peace. This card not used in Malaysia and not recognized by international agencies or refugee resettling countries.

Meanwhile, the Rohingya refugees are branded to those who do not fall under that group of people to whom humanitarian assistance would be provided and considered as those whose permanent solution should be sought.

However, the Rohingya refugees are sure that they cannot go back to their country, unless their fundamental rights to citizenship are ensured. It is well known to the world that the Rohingyas are the only people in South and Southeast Asia who are the victims of consecutive harassments.

Being a main regime of refugees, UNHCR in Malaysia plays discriminatory roles against Rohingya refugees and pushing them to an assimilative system of Malayzation with some baseless relationship with Malays and their religious belief. When Rohingya refugees face confrontation with Police, Rela and Immigration, the agency remain silent and when any refugee reports to UNHCR hotline about arrest, the receiver only says that report received and does not take any action. When refugees reach to detention camp, UNHCR ask refugees to provide detainee number and location, where refugee cannot access at all. It means that Rohingya refugees would work for themselves as UNHCR does not interest to protect them.

Questions may made here that if Rohingya refugees can access to get release of refugees and manage to fulfill their needs, what would be the role of UNHCR for the protection of Rohingya refugees and what are the roles of Amnesty International and other human rights groups in focusing insincerity of UNHCR officials in Malaysia and to find durable solution to the plights of Rohingya refugees.

It is true that the religious status of Rohingya refugees do not have similarity with Malays which is same similar to other religions such as Roman Catholic, Baptist and Seven-day Adventist in Christianity, Mahayana and Theravada in Buddhism, Brahman, Vishnu and Chuddar in Hinduism. Besides, these, the Rohingya refugees are adjustable and mixable with other people and culture, keeping their original tradition and standard. But, now, they are pushed by UNHCR to accept Malay tradition, standard and culture following religious sub-class.

It is also true that there is no law for the protection of refugees in Malaysia and thus the Rohingya refugees are facing security problems and passing lives in the circle of arrest, detention, deportation; and hopeless and hapless in the host country with various depressions. Although, Malaysia ratified two of UN’s conventions such Convention on the Right of Child (CRC) and Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the country has yet to plan to ratify refugee convention in order to avoid floodgate for illegal immigrants.

Under these situations, the Rohingya refugees are treated as illegal immigrants in Malaysia, while UNHCR is pushing us to find temporary solution like Pilipino Muslims in Sabah.

This example is strong life evidence that local integration is impossible for Rohingya refugees in Malaysia, while the result of human rights abuses in Burma is also the evidence that they cannot be repatriated to their country of origin. Meanwhile the only option of resettlement in a third country with full refugee status is left from the mandates of Refugees Conventions.

We also would like to express our concern over the deprivation of our rights to identification of our vulnerabilities and plights; and thus we are not given chance to meet our obligation, which was set forth by United Nations Resolution.

The United Nations resolution also declared that October 24 is United Nations Day. For the occasion of this respected day, we call upon the Amnesty International:-

  1. To encourage UNHCR to provide adequate protection for Rohingya refugees in Malaysia in order to find permanent solution like non-Rohingya refugees who were recognized by the agency;
  2. To put pressure on UNHCR to regularize Refugee Status Determination (RSD) and Resettlement (RST) process for Rohingya refugees without further delay;
  3. To mobilize UNHCR to declare the full refugee status of Rohingya refugees who are registered with UNHCR and holding UNHCR TP Card and to issue the card as equal as non-Rohingya Burmese refugees;
  4. To manage UNHCR to improve respect and implementation of basic human rights for the Rohingya refugees, providing food, shelter, clothes, medication, protection, financial assistance, protection and education as soon as possible as they are underway to danger of uncertainty, which should be continued till their resettlement in a third country;
  5. To encourage UNHCR to eliminate improper sources providing, illogical exampling, undocumented responding and telephone threat to refugees, while eradicating the doubtful under table payments for UNHCR facilities;
  6. To uphold an international campaign for the Rohingya refugees in Malaysia and to produce particular report on them in order to advocate the causes of forgotten Rohingya refugees and to find durable solution for them.
  7. To bring the issue of Rohingya refugees before the United Nations Meeting as the Rohingyas are the neediest refugees for equal treatment of UNHCR in Malaysia and in need of resettlement in third country which is warranted by the situation here.

Thank you,


Mohammad Sadek Habibur Rahman
Program Coordinator General Coordinator
Arakan Rohingya Refugee Committee (ARRC)
Tel: 016 3094599 Tel: 0122595185/0166948977

Friday 10 October 2008

Secret file-Home Minister's briefing (excerpts)

Source from Mizzima, 8 Oct 2008

Though officially confidential, but widely leaked to the outside world, the following are excerpts of Home Minister Major General Maung Oo's briefing given during a recent departmental meeting. The speech sheds light on his – and the junta's – analysis of the world order and international relations, including views on the opposition in Burma, economic sanctions and the United Nations.
Police to the forefront

After the September unrest, the international community pointed out that the suppression of riots by the army ran contrary to international law. There used to be only three militarily ruled countries in whole world, Pakistan, Sudan and Myanmar. Now there remains only Myanmar. Under these circumstances, the Home Ministry is now solely responsible for the suppression of all domestic riots and maintaining law and order throughout the entire country. Thus we have to regroup, reconstitute and rearm the riot police battalions. I went to a shooting range in person and checked all the arms, ammunition, equipment and crowd control gear supplied to these forces. In the coming two years, we can say our Ministry will come to the forefront of crowd control and law and order maintenance. In the functioning and responsibilities of the Ministry, matters of law and order will be tackled by police and the General Administration Department (GA), economic offences will be handled by the Bureau of Special Investigations (BSI) and law enforcement will be addressed by the Prison Department. All of these matters are known by departmental heads, though female officers in our Ministry are presently uninformed.

The tight schedule of the Minister

I'd like to tell you my daily routine in the Ministry. I have to read all inward letters and clear them all starting from 5:30 a.m. Then I study what are the significant developments of the day. Then I go for a briefing and arrive back at the office between 1:30 and 2 p.m. In the afternoon I have to again go for a briefing and clear all letters received. In the meantime, I have to attend any meetings that might be scheduled. The cabinet meeting regularly convenes from 12:30-1 p.m.

International community impact on lay society

All of today's dynamics in international relations converge in Burma's domestic situation. All domestic movements regarding politics, economics, social policy, administrative issues and sports, to name but some, are based on these international ideas and philosophies. People of Burma (laymen) launch their movements against the government, in line with the international community, when accusations of the international community against the government reach them. Commoners (laymen) mean men, women, monks, nuns and workers. We need to know the basic international political situation to deal with all of these 54 million people, the population of Burma, as they are moving along these lines.

United States or China?

In today's world, you can see permanent U.S. hegemony and supremacy. In the U.S. camp we can find the U.K. and France. In the past, there was a Western camp led by the U.S., U.K., Australia and West Germany. Now there is a separate entity, the European Union, consisting, unlike the previous grouping, of 27 European countries. The E.U. joins a Western camp, now inclusive of Japan, led by the U.S.; a Russia group comprising the 15 new republics of the erstwhile former Soviet Union; the African Union in Africa, and; Middle Eastern Arab States. But there is also a new group comprised of India, China and Russia. This is a brief background of today's world order. You can see the E.U. has joined with the U.S. led camp. This is none of our business, but Myanmar has become a target, as our country is militarily ruled and they view our country as a cart. All issues can be put on it [the cart], meaning that Myanmar becomes a focal point for all of them. In other words, some people from the international community exploit this situation and use Burma as a scapegoat. As for ASEAN, China and India, they can't compete and challenge with the mighty U.S. in both politics and economics. Even China, Russia and India cannot individually challenge the dominating power of the U.S. So, these three countries join together to counter and balance U.S. hegemony. On the other hand, the U.S. camp consists of the U.S., E.U., Japan and Korea. In our vicinity, you can see Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, each a member of ASEAN, siding with the U.S. camp. Only Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam remain in line with us. So we must side with China. You might think that your Minister is talking of siding with China based on China's favor shown toward the ruling government and our good relations with China. No, in today's world, no country can stay aloof from other countries. In the U.S.'s plan to contain Burma there is the U.S. group and E.U. group. On the other hand, there is also an ASEAN group and Russia group. The U.S., England, France, Germany and Italy are included in the U.S. led Group. I'd like to explain to you briefly why we have to side with China. No nation can invade another country, regardless of her size, wealth and might. Such an action can be remedied by the U.N. There are 192 member countries in the U.N. and there are many councils and U.N. agencies as well. For instance, the U.N. Security Council (UNSC), a social agency, labor issue agency and UNESCO for education. In other words, there are only three possible foundations for international motions, security, economics and social policy. Of these three motions, those who study the current world situation can see what motion the U.S. is playing against Burma.

Taiwan and China

The U.S. seeks to contain and encircle China by maintaining a naval base in Taiwan. Burma's official position is to recognize a One China policy, a single country including Taiwan. The main issue and permanent issue is the Taiwan issue. Japan, one of China's neighbors, also has a U.S. naval base. Japan is pro-U.S. and will do whatever is dictated to them by the U.S., black or white. In the Korean peninsula, there is a North Korea and South Korea. South Korea also has a U.S. naval base and is a pro-U.S. country. There is a U.S. Armed Forces headquarters based in the heartland of South Korea's capital, Seoul. Singapore is also pro-U.S. and a lackey of the U.S. Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand have U.S. bases on their soil too. Only Burma remains neutral from U.S. influence in the region. Bangladesh too survives with U.S. aid and support from the U.S. Navy.

India and the CIA

Bangladesh and India are non-left, non-right countries. Though they are democratic countries, there are no NGOs (non-governmental organizations). Pakistan is also a lackey of the U.S. and both India and Pakistan are nuclear power countries. Afghanistan became a foothold for the U.S. under the pretext of the War Against Terror. In adjacent Tibet, China wrested control and occupied the region after the Dalai Lama fled into exile. This region is always a hotspot for U.S. foreign policy. Another adjacent country, Mongolia, witnessed its first ever anti-China protest. We can say the CIA has infiltrated this country. I mean only Burma remains neutral in U.S.'s China containment policy, both economically and politically. Buying gas is also part of this game. Plans to build a Yunnan-Mandalay-India road and the construction of the Kyaukphyu deep water port are part of a scheme to improve access to resources throughout the region. We have agreed to build the Tavoy seaport, which links to Thailand. Burma becomes a target for some other countries because of these seaports and natural gas reserves. The current energy crisis is caused by the U.S. No matter what the oil production from OPEC and the Middle East, the U.S. is the only country exploring oil and gas, the U.S. is the sole country whose companies are extracting and refining crude oil. The marketing of oil and gas is also monopolized by the U.S. Frankly speaking the U.S. is engaged in speculating on both oil and gas. So, they are exploiting the current energy crisis for the benefit of national political interest, economics and the social privilege of established groups.

The 'Humanism' currently followed by the U.S. can be translated as individualism. They use this individualism for promoting human rights and democracy issues in the interference of other countries' internal affairs through the instigation of anti-government forces under the cloak of democracy and human rights.

Economic Sanctions

Under sanctions imposed by the U.S., there is a travel ban on us, a ban on the use of U.S. banks for money transfers and a trade embargo. All of these are the product of U.S. domestic law. We don't need to comply with these sanctions. We cannot use U.S. banks to transfer U.S. dollars to other countries for the purpose of payment. They ban exports to and imports from the U.S. All of these actions are made under U.S. law. We don't need to abide by these laws. But regarding the UNSC, there was a Presidential Statement issued on this issue. There are five permanent members in the UNSC. The 10 non-permanent members are from the 192 member states, minus the five permanent countries, and serve a two year term once in fifty years. One representative is assigned to be President of the Security Council for a term of one month at a time. The five permanent countries are the U.S., U.K., France, Russia and China, which enjoy veto rights. The motions were timed to be submitted with this one-month Presidential post in collaboration with the International Labor Organization and UNESCO. Two Presidential Statements have been issued. Presidential Statements are non-binding and only urge, remind and warn member states of the duties.

Black sheep at the U.N.

Though it is not yet serious, they [U.S. led bloc] seek to take action against Burma, like a black sheep, through the U.N. mechanism. The end of our seven-step Roadmap will begin in early 2010, now only one-and-a-half years away. We must hand over power to a civilian government within this timeframe. We are facing pressure through the U.N. in this regard. Concerning international pressure, the government is facing a crisis. In the current policy objective, we will move in accordance with the changing situation, but we cannot change our policies and principles.

How we see NGOs

There are currently about 42 NGOs in Burma. We don't know what stuff they are doing and how they were brought into Burma without the knowledge of anyone. They imported six Toyota Land Cruisers but we don't know through which funds. A more serious matter is the importing of communication sets for communication with international bodies without the knowledge of the government. They must seek approval of the government by going through the Trade Council (TC) in bringing such equipment into the country. They brought in these cars and communication sets without permission. When the government exposed these violations and sought to seize all contraband items, they instead took them out of the country without surrendering the items to the government. Even diplomats imported tarpaulins without going through the TC. Sometimes they went through the TC in importing stuff, but claimed things as personal items which they then sometimes redistributed or resold. Yet they accuse the government of reselling relief supplies. In fact, according to the current situation, our country is self-sufficient in rice. According to the statistics given by our subordinates, the State can supply enough rice daily to over 60,000 people (61,699). But the international community didn't recognize this fact. They didn't accept it when we told them to stop providing instant foodstuffs, biscuits and drinking water. But no one came when we asked for building materials. All these expenses were spent by these NGOs at their own will, for which they submitted their accounts themselves. Yet when the government asked for badly needed building materials, they provided just tarpaulins.

What of the KNU?

The KNU can be merged into the regular army at any time. They have already drafted a constitution in accordance with federal principles and posted it on the Internet. And there is also an exile government established with Sein Win. The only thing they don't have is territory.

Intelligence agency under the Home Ministry

We are under the surveillance of the Military Affairs Security (MAS-former Military Intelligence) on all the news we supply. I want to say to all of you that we are under constant watch. We cannot hide from them in anything we do. Besides the four intelligence sources, merchants and traders also act as sources of information, as they might have some communication channels and access to cover (protection). They provide undercover intelligence input.

What is the NLD?

In the current domestic situation, I'd like to repeat that the opposition party NLD is holding a line of opposing the constitution being sponsored by the government. We don't care about the NLD, but there are three embassies – the U.S., U.K. and France – behind them. These embassies are providing them financial support, training and information, besides facilitating communication with the U.N. There are three different groups of NLD. The first one looks to establish a parallel party in accordance to and within the (approved) constitutional framework and relevant election laws. The second one is adhering to the 1990 general election result, maintaining an oppositionist stance. And the last one always assumes an anti-government posture. What happens next will be determined in the next one-and-a-half years. When an all civilian government has been installed in Burma, all those who are disliked (by the top brass) will be fired or forced to retire.