Thursday 28 May 2009

Thailand’s Rohingya ‘deterrence’ breaks refugee obligations

Source from burmanewscasts, 27 May 2009
Thailand’s denial of entry to Burmese Rohingya refugees violates international legal obligations towards asylum seekers, claims the first full report into the mistreatment of Rohingya refugees in Thailand.

International outrage was sparked in January this year when photographs emerged of Thailand’s treatment of the Rohingya ‘boat people’, the majority of whom had fled Burma’s western Arakan state and sailed to Thailand.

The Rohingya, a Muslim minority, don’t have a citizenship of any country, and thousands are believed to have left Burma, many in the direction of Thailand’s southern coast.

According to the report released yesterday by Human Rights Watch, Rohingyas arriving on the Thai coast have been held on isolated islands with limited access from staff at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

“Steadily increasing numbers of Rohingya arriving in southern Thailand have sparked a deterrence policy that violates Thailand’s international legal obligations towards asylum seekers,” said the report, entitled Perilous Plight.

Thai authorities were found to have towed Rohingya boats back to sea with little supplies, a move which is in violation of international laws on refugees.

“Any refugees or migrant workers actually entering the country can’t be immediately dragged back to the sea; they have to be processed by the law and dealt with accordingly,” said David Mathieson, Burma consultant at Human Rights Watch.

Earlier this year, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva acknowledged the towing of Rohingya refugees out to open sea, following denial from a navy chief that the allegations “were even possible”.

He added that it wasn’t in line with the authorities’ policy and that those responsible would be brought to account if enough evidence was found.

“Most Rohingyas see Thailand as a transit point, they don’t want to stay in Thailand; they want to go to Malaysia,” said Mathieson.

Thailand has reportedly claimed the Rohingyas are economic refugees, and a threat to national security.

Proposals to set up temporary holding centres have been dismissed, and they remain unrecognised as refugees, asylum seekers or undocumented migrants.

“There are actually very low numbers of Rohingya in Thailand as far as we know compared to other nationalities from Burma,” said Mathieson.

“Some people say that there’s 20,000 Rohingya in Thailand but I would say it is significantly less than that, just a few thousand.”

Burma has repeatedly claimed the Rohingya are originally from Bangladesh, not Burma, and have denied them citizenship or status as an ethnic minority. (JEG's: correct, in the old days in the 1500s, 1700s but the ones we are dealing with right now were born in Burma therefore they are Burmese with all the human rights entitlements)

Most of the Rohingyas in Arakan state rely on international aid organisations for survival.

Reporting by Rosalie Smith


Statement In 19th Anniversary of Landslide Victory of 1990 Election In Burma

by NDPHR(exile)
Statement In 19th Anniversary of Landslide Victory of 1990 Election
In Burma 

Today is the memorial day of 1990 landslide victory in which the people of Burma showed their immense supports in voting towards people elected democratic government.
It was May 27, 1990, that will never come again but nobody can forget that day’s victory in which at least 82% of total constituency won by the NLD, including the Rohingya’s NDPHR. But the regime is continuously denying the election result and trying to have Sham Election in 2010 with a view to legitimate military power.

Despite, making power transition, the regime banned all the elected parties accept NLD and arrested dozens of MPs together with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who is being kept continuous arrest.
After long term illegal detention, the regime brought her before military court and going to be sentenced 5 years imprisonment with fabricated charge.
Meanwhile, the act of regime is unbearable to the people of Burma, which is also violate both international and domestic laws. People do not have moth to voice on anything and so they are victimized by various means.
Therefore, we call upon the SPDC;
  1. To immediate set free of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners including others ethnic leaders and U Kyaw Min @ Shamsul Anwar Haq, the ethnic Rohingya leader and MP of NDPHR.
  2. To cease all kins of human rights violations. Particularly, the ethnic minorities like Rohingya in Arakan state, through removing all kind of restrictions and stopping new model village settlements, and abuses.
Beside this, we would like to propose to ASEAN, UNSC and ICJ to take practical action on Junta’s as no verbal sanctions could be enhanced with democratic changes.

This statement is endorsed By,
-National Democratic Party For Human Rights (NDPHR) exile, Southeast Asia
Regional Office, Malaysia.
-All Burma Democratic Forces (ABDF), Malaysia
-Democratic Federation Of Burma (DFB), Malaysia
-Arakan Rohingya Refugee Committee (ARRC), Malaysia
For further information: +(60) 12 2595185   / +(60) 16 3094599

Friday 15 May 2009

Myanmar’s Suu Kyi charged over U.S. intruder

Source from news services, 14 May 2009

Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was charged Thursday with violating the terms of her house arrest after an American man swam across a lake to sneak into her home, her lawyer said. 

Suu Kyi, 63, whose latest detention period was set to end May 27, could face a prison term of up to five years if convicted, said lawyer Hla Myo Myint. The trial is scheduled to start Monday at a special court at Yangon's notorious Insein Prison, where she was arraigned Thursday.

The Noble Peace laureate's National League for Democracy won a huge victory in 1990 polls only to be denied power by the military, which has ruled the former Burma since 1962. The 63-year-old has already spent more than 13 of the last 19 years — including the past six — in detention without trial for her nonviolent promotion of democracy, despite international pressure for her release.

Intruder's motives unclear The American man, who has been identified as 53-year-old John William Yettaw, was arrested last week for allegedly swimming across a lake to secretly enter Suu Kyi's home and staying there for two days. His motives remain unclear.
He was charged at Thursday's hearing with illegally entering a restricted zone, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and breaking immigration laws, which is punishable by up to one year behind bars, said the lawyer.

Human rights groups said they feared the trial would be used to justify another extension of Suu Kyi's yearslong detention despite international demands for her release. Her latest six-year detention is due to expire on May 27.
In the past the junta has found reasons to extend her periods of house arrest, which international jurists say is illegal even under Myanmar's own law.

The regime appears bent on ensuring that general elections scheduled for next year are carried out without any significant opposition by pro-democracy groups that say the balloting will merely perpetuate military rule under a democratic guise.

'Wretched American'
Kyi Win, another lawyer for Suu Kyi, said the opposition leader did not invite the man to her home and in fact told the man to leave. He said the incident was merely a breach of the normally tight security authorities impose on Suu Kyi and her household.
"Everyone is very angry with this wretched American. He is the cause of all these problems," Suu Kyi's lawyer Kyi Win told reporters. "He's a fool."

Image: John William Yettaw being questioned
Myanmar News Agency via AFP - Getty Images
U.S. citizen John William Yettaw talking to the second secretary consul of the U.S. embassy Colin P. Surst and surrounded by Myanmar officials and special police officers.
U.S. consular chief Colin Furst was allowed to visit Yettaw, of Falcon, Missouri, for the first time on Wednesday.

"He seemed to be in good spirits and in good health," U.S. Embassy spokesman Richard Mei reported Thursday. Mei was not present at the arraignment and said he did not immediately have additional details.
"I know that John is harmless and not politically motivated in any way. He did not want to cause Suu Kyi any trouble," his stepson Paul Nedrow wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. He said he was concerned over his stepfather's health since he was a diabetic and the ailment "could cause him to become disoriented and confused and be unable to make wise choices for himself."

State television Thursday said Yettaw had served two years in the military and listed his occupations as "student, clinical psychology, Forest Institution."

Arrest 'gravely concerning'
Earlier Thursday, armed police drove Suu Kyi and two women who live with her to Insein Prison. The two women, who have lived with Suu Kyi since she was last detained in 2003, were also charged with the same offense, lawyers said.

"This is a non-bailable case, but we will fight for bail," Hla Myo Myint told reporters outside the prison after Suu Kyi and Yettaw were charged.
Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith described Suu Kyi's arrest as "gravely concerning" and called for her immediate release.

National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, which describes itself as the country's government-in-exile, said the junta was using the incident to extend Suu Kyi's detention.
"It is nothing more than a political ploy to hoodwink the international community so that it can keep (Suu Kyi) under lock and key while the military maneuvers its way to election victory on 2010," the group's Prime Minister Sein Win was quoted as saying in a statement.

Suu Kyi has recently been ill, suffering from dehydration and low blood pressure. Her condition improved this week after a visit from a doctor who administered an intravenous drip, said Nyan Win, the spokesman of her National League for Democracy Party, who is part of a team of three lawyers hoping to represent her.
"Please tell them (reporters) I am well," Kyi Win quoted Suu Kyi as saying. But he added: "I am very concerned about Suu Kyi's health, even though she said she is well."

More on Myanmar   |  Suu Kyi
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Burmese Opposition Groups In Malaysia Demonstrate At Burmese Embassy

Today, 9:50am (local time), a peaceful demonstration at Burmese embassy ( No.8C, Jalan Ampang Hilir, KL), was held by NDPHR-exile in Malaysia with 15 Rohingya activists.

In their statement, they condemn over the sophisticated charged of Suu Kyi under violation of detention act, human rights abuses against Rohingya population in Arakan state including model villages settlement by removing the original existence of Rohingya, force labor and forceful eviction of prisoners, and prevention of reconstruction and relief building in Irrawaddy delta. But their statement was put into the mail-box of the embassy the result of no incharge out from the embassy.

The statement is as below;

photo of demonstrate by NDPHR with 15 activists
Demonstrate by NDPHR banner with 15 activists

Ref: NDPHR (SEA-R) 1990/2009/001
Date: May 15, 2009

Statement on Burmese Atrocities against Rohingya Arakanese in Burma

On behalf of Burmese people regardless of race, religion, color and culture, we strongly condemn the ruling State Peace & Development Council (SPDC), the Burmese military regime for mis-charged of people elected and democracy icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi under sophisticated act of violation of detention and its inhuman behaviors towards the indigenous Rohingya ethnic minority of Burma’s Arakan, State victims of human rights abuses and natural disasters.
holding playcards by activists
Showing playcards by activists 

The regime have been installing the worst proportion of inhuman pogrom against ethnic minorities in Burma, particularly of the Rohingyas in western border of Burma through  out the forced labor, force eviction, forced extortion, forced extermination, forced relocation, torture, extra judicial killings, rape, model village settlement,  restriction on their movement from one place to another, restriction on freedom of worship, thought, education, marriage, family development, business development and etc.

The tyrannies of Burmese regime are well documented by the world bodies including the United Nations Human Rights Commission and Government of the United States of America and etc. As it, the international community has called upon the SPDC to stop atrocities against the people of Burma and to bring changes to favor for the wills of people and to restore peace and stability inline of human dignity and sustainable economy in the country. But, the regime is repeatedly maintaining by ignoring the calls and denying its brutalities towards Rohingya Arakanese and other ethnic minorities, which is not only within the state but also in various regional summits and forum including in the latest 14th ASEAN Summit and Bali Process in March and April 2009 respectively.

In recent month of May and April 2009, Military had confiscated every possible belongings and properties of Rohingyas to substitute with new settlers in several villages. About 40 villages are under way to remove from both Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships. It is a planned strategy to replace non-Rohingyas in Rohingya dominated areas like before, in order to exterminate them from their original land and to prove non-existence of Rohingya population in certain area and to ignore the root causes of Rohingya as well.
Being a member state of International Labor Organization (ILO), Burma has been ignoring the call of ILO in particular and International community in general, while using the widespread forced labor against conventions, including forceful eviction of prisoners.

Burma is the only country that engages bulk of force labor in Arakan State in model village settlement, construction of roads, pagodas, military camps, fencing, irrigation, environment, embankment and carrying of military equipments.

All these inhumanity is only doing against the Rohingyas in the presence of different Non-Governmental Organization, International NGOs, including UN Refugee and Food Agencies.
Meanwhile, the regime is not a legitimate Government, which is abusing power to push the people in circle of danger with violation of both international and domestic laws.

On the other hand, the regime is widely cultivating poppy in its occupied places with a view to develop drug addictions and to buy sophisticated weapons to kill its own people, whilst misusing the country vast natural resource at all.
Burmese military regime is being shameful for the South Asia and Southeast Asian Regional Bodies which is also a threat to the regions from regime’s Nuclear Ambition.
Being an illegitimate gang of military, how can it deny the existence of an original indigenous group of the country in front of regional representatives and how can it deny the real history. Meanwhile, the regime cares nothing in the regions.
From these perspectives, the Burmese regime is found active in denial of regional mechanisms on human rights which also undoubtedly shameful for entire regions.

Therefore, we request upon the regional bodies, particularly ASEAN, SAARC and their members states to boycott regime’s participation in regional summits, forums and other kinds of regional activities with a view to put pressure to bring immediate changes in country, ceasing all kinds of atrocities against ethnic minorities, especially the Rohingyas in Arakan State, Burma. We also request ASEAN and SAARC to bring military ruler before International Court of Justice for further actions of its inhumane pogrom.

As the above mentions, we urge upon SPDC:
  1. To immediately set free of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners including ethnic leaders like U Kyaw Min MP of NDPHR;
  2. To cease unconditionally all kinds of human rights abuses against ethnic Rohingya Arakanese;
  3. To confess unconditionally the ongoing brutalities in Burma before the international community’s intervention in order to ensure human dignity;
  4. To immediately bring an end of military dictatorship in order to bring democratic changes in the country for the welfare of people and country as well;
  5. To halt forced labor, mobilization of child soldiers, model village settlement in Rohingya dominated areas and all kinds of human rights abuses against Rohingya.
  6. To allow international agency to set up reconstruction of relief building for victims of cyclone nargis in Irrewaddy delta and other affected areas of natural disaster in the country.
Executive Committee
National Democratic Party for Human Rights (NDPHR) Exile
South East Asia Regional Office
PO BOX-11882, 50760 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Phone:   +(60) 12 2595185   /   +(60) 16 3094599