Saturday 31 March 2012

Thailand: Displaced Views

To see video link of "NHK-Japan report on Rohingya" on 30 March 2012-

Chinese crackdown targets Burmese

Source from DVB, 30 March 2012
Published: 30 March 2012Refugees board a vehicle as they return to Myanmar from the border town of Nansan, China's Yunnan province
Refugees board a vehicle as they return to Burma from the border town of Nansan in China's Yunnan province on 31 August 2009. (Reuters)
About 800 undocumented Burmese migrants in China’s Yunnan province have been arrested this month in what locals claim is the largest crackdown on the population by the police.
Aung Kyaw Zaw, Burmese resident in Ruili and Jiegao townships said the crackdown started during the middle of March following the murder of a Chinese police officer and a local woman who runs a money exchange operation.
“As far as I remember, the intensive crackdown started around March 14th and has simmered down in the past few days, but it’s still going on,” said Aung Kyaw Zaw.

The police cited the recent surge in crime as justification for the crackdown, says the resident.
Local officials claim that Burmese hit men from Shan stat, who were paid by a Chinese national to carry out the murder, killed the police officer in Ruili. No one has been charged or arrested concerning the murder of the business owner; however, local residents largely blame the crime on the migrant population.
Following the incidents, Yunnan’s police learnt there were about 30,000 undocumented Burmese migrant workers in the region, which led them to initiate the crackdown.

Friday 30 March 2012

In-depth: What next for Myanmar? MYANMAR: What next for the Rohingyas?

Source from IRIN, 29 Mar 2012
BANGKOK, 29 March 2012 (IRIN) - As Myanmar gears up for a by-election on 1 April, experts and community leaders are divided over what the ongoing reforms may hold for the Rohingya people, a stateless Muslim ethnic group living in the country's Northern Rakhine State.

Only a fraction of the Rohingyas who have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh are registered

Candidate and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has highlighted ethnic conflicts as the country's most urgent problem. In January the government signed a ceasefire with ethnic Karen rebels in southern Burma to halt one of the world's longest running civil wars.

But to the frustration of Nurul Islam, president of the London-based Arakan Rohingya National Organization, "There is no change of attitude of the new civilian government of U Thein Sein towards Rohingya people; there is no sign of change in the human rights situation of Rohingya people. Persecution against them is actually greater than before."


The Rohingya are not legally recognized in Myanmar and struggle with a lack of access to healthcare, food and education.

There are some 800,000 stateless Muslims, mostly Rohingyas, who form 90 percent of the population of northern Rakhine State, which borders Bangladesh and includes the townships of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung.

Known as Arakan State in British colonial times, in 1989 the ruling military junta changed its name to Rakhine State to reflect the dominant ethnic group, the Rakhine Buddhists. Communal violence between Muslims and Buddhists has led to periodic large-scale riots, forcing hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas to flee to Bangladesh.

The heavily populated (295 persons per square kilometre compared to 80 persons nationwide), primarily rural and disaster-prone zone suffers from a consistently high rate of global acute malnutrition that exceeds the World Health Organization emergency threshold of 15 percent, according to the European Community Humanitarian Office.

In early 2011, the UN World Food Programme reported 45 percent of surveyed households in Northern Rakhine State as “severely food insecure”, compared to 38 percent in 2009.

Some 200,000 Rohingya have fled west from Myanmar into neighbouring Bangladesh. Almost 30,000 are documented and living in two government camps, assisted by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), but hundreds of thousands more have been living illegally nearby since the Bangladeshi government stopped registering arrivals.


Given the unprecedented pace of change in Myanmar, Eric Paulsen, co-founder of the Malaysia-based human rights and law reform NGO, Lawyers for Liberty, has advised Rohingyas to make the most of the current political opening.

Rohingya activists have long demanded recognition as a national ethnic group with full citizenship by birthright, but Paulsen thinks they should push for naturalization.

"Naturalized citizenship is not on a par with national ethnic group recognition, but at present it remains the most realistic and workable solution to their statelessness," Paulsen recently wrote.

The Arakan Rohingya National Organization is pursuing full recognition and is unhappy about a perceived lack of support. "Obviously she [Aung San Suu Kyi] is ignoring the Rohingya problem, a key human rights issue in Burma," said Islam.

"However, still the Rohingyas have high expectations of her. Rather than avoiding the Rohingya people and their problem, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi should take all measures to formally accommodate Rohingya into the family of the Union of Burma, with full ethnic and citizenship rights, as one of the many ethnic nationalities of the country."

Tin Soe, the editor of the Bangladesh-based Rohingya newsgroup, Kaladan Press Network, noted that elections do not necessarily equate democracy, without which Rohingyas cannot gain legal recognition.

"We Rohingya will fight for our rights in the parliament if democracy comes to Burma," Soe told IRIN. "Then we will lobby the parliament, hold demonstrations, show them the results of our fact finding. Now you basically have the armed forces still in power - with them you cannot do anything."

Repatriation fears

Following Myanmar's transition from military to a nominally civilian government in 2010, many Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh were briefly hopeful, but soon disappointed.

"After the 2010 election the Rohingya situation is going from worse to worse," said Soe. Rohingyas were given voting rights in the 2010 elections and promised citizenship if they voted for the military regime's representatives, he added.

Life on the run for Rohingyas

"Citizenship is still not restored," said Islam. "Killing, rape, harassment, torture and atrocious crimes of border security forces and armed forces have increased. The humiliating restrictions on their freedom of movement, education, marriage, trade and business still remain imposed."

The Bangladeshi government has sought support for repatriating Rohingya refugees to Myanmar and according to Bangladeshi media, representatives of the Burmese government have said the country is ready to "take" them back.

"The refugees are against repatriation because conditions in Northern Rakhine State have not improved at all, so the announcement has created a new panic in the [Bangladeshi] camps," said Chris Lewa, who monitors the Rohingya situation for the Arakan Project, an NGO advocating Rohingya issues in Myanmar.

"They don't know what will happen," Lewa said. "The fear is there that harassment in the camps [to force repatriation] may happen again soon."


For more, visit IRIN's in-depth: What next for Myanmar?

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Rohingya Bonafide citizen issue by NDPP

Rohingya Bonafide citizen issue 
by current Rohingya party National Democratic Party for Development-NDPP, 24 March 2012


Sunday 18 March 2012

Asia's New Boat People

Source from, 17 March 2012

A Muslim minority group unrecognized by Burma's military regime has sparked a diplomatic flurry, as they take to the high seas to escape persecution.
Rohingya asylum-seekers aboard a Thai Navy vessel, December 2008. Photo courtesy of Thai Navy.
Rohingya asylum-seekers aboard a Thai Navy vessel, December 2008. Photo courtesy of Thai Navy.
BANGKOK—Burma's Muslim Rohingya minority are routinely persecuted by powerful local officials in the northern state of Rakhine, the Rohingya and their advocates say.

"In Rakhine state, it is as if martial law has been imposed," a Rohingya refugee now living in Malaysia said in an interview.

"The Rohingya have to get permission from local authorities just to go from one village to another."

Permits for movement between villages are usually only issued for periods of seven days to people needing to seek medical treatment, the refugee said.

"Additionally, one has to have his travel documents stamped at each stage of the journey."

The refugee said the Muslim minority group—which Burma has refused to recognize as citizens, saying they are from Bangladesh—is also vulnerable to forced, unpaid labor for the military.

"On top of all these restrictions, we have to worry about being taken away by the military to serve as porters in their military operations," he said.

"They also take away our cattle, goats, and ducks when they come into our villages, and if they cannot get 'donations' they beat up the villagers."

Vulnerable group

Faced with a lack of legal status and the threat of persecution, thousands of Rohingya have left Burma in recent years.

Rights groups say they are particularly vulnerable to human traffickers, and their case is now being taken up by the Bali Process, a human-smuggling summit involving more than 40 regional nations.

The Rohingya drew global attention this year when the Thai military was accused of towing the boats of as many as 1,000 asylum-seekers out to sea and leaving them to drift at the mercy of the currents without adequate food and water.

Hundreds of thousands have fled to refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh or attempted the perilous sea crossing to Southeast Asia.

But talks between Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith and Burmese police chief Brigadier-General Khin Yi ended with little more than a reiteration of the Burmese government's refusal to recognize the Rohingya as Burmese.

Australia has pledged U.S. $3.2 million to aid programs set up for the Rohingya.

Local officials blamed

U Min Lwin Oo, a lawyer with the Asian Human Rights Commission, said orders imposing restrictions on the Rohingya, who are concentrated near the border with Bangladesh, are issued by local district and township authorities rather than the central government.

"The township local authorities have lot of leeway to do what they want," he said.

"We have found documents and papers which give the township local authorities the right to issue orders without receiving authorizations from the federal center."

These include "such things as requiring foreigners or persons suspected of being foreigners, whether they are government officials or not, to apply for permission in advance before they plan to travel."

"Also there are specific regulations requiring those persons to apply for permission from the local townships to get married and have marriage ceremonies," U Min Lwin Oo added.

A stark contrast

And Thailand-based rights activist Chris Leewa, who founded the nonprofit Arakan Project to raise the profile of the Rohingya, said the group is fragmented and disempowered through lack of education.

This is in stark contrast with the days of Rohingya political ascendancy during the U Nu government of the 1950s, which saw a number of high-profile Muslims enter the cabinet, with official support for the Rohingya language.

"There is very little advocacy done on the Rohingya people," she said.

"There are very few educated Rohingyas, and they do not know how to do things systematically," she said.

"On top of that they are not able to build up unity amongst themselves. The human rights organizations active in the Southeast Asian region are also not interested in the Rohingya issue."

Thousands of refugees

The Rohingya are denied citizenship under the laws of mainly Buddhist Burma, and rights groups say they face official repression and poverty.

More than 100,000 live in Bangladesh in refugee camps registered with the United Nations refugee agency.

In 1992, 250,000 Rohingya, around one-third of their total population, fled over Burma’s border into Bangladesh, citing persecution in Burma.

Rights advocates estimate that the number of Rohingya fleeing the Burma-Bangladesh border area to seek a better life elsewhere has increased from hundreds to thousands over the last five years.

The Rohingya take to the sea for a dangerous voyage in boats, putting their lives in the hands of human traffickers and facing brutal treatment by the Thai and Malaysian navies when they arrive, activists say.

According to Amnesty International, the Rohingyas’ freedom of movement is severely restricted, with the vast majority having been effectively denied Burmese citizenship.

"They are also subjected to various forms of extortion and arbitrary taxation; land confiscation; forced eviction and house destruction; and financial restrictions on marriage," the group said in a recent report.

"Rohingyas continue to be used as forced laborers on roads and at military camps, although the amount of forced labor in northern Rakhine state has decreased over the last decade."

Diverse roots

A senior Burmese senior official recent described the Rohingya as “ugly as ogres” and insisted that they should not be described as Burmese nationals.

The Rohingyas themselves say they are Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan traders, who migrated to Burma as early as the 7th century A.D. But their ethnic identity isn't widely recognized.

"These people were not known as Rohingyas in the past," rights lawyer U Min Lwin Oo said.

"When Burma was under [British] colonial rule, these people came in from India to various parts of Burma to work as seasonal laborers. Most of these people were from the areas that are adjacent to the borders with India and Bangladesh."

{mosgoogle}"If we look into the evidence of the past, we will not find these people specifically classified as Rohingyas. We will find them as being classified as Bengalis. What I can assume is that after Burma became independent those people living in Burma started to classify themselves as Rohingyas," he added.

Embattled Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has promised a full investigation into Thailand's treatment of Rohingya refugees, thousands of whom are also grouped in camps on the Thai-Burma border. He has also called for a regional solution.

Original reporting by Zaw Moe Kyaw for RFA's Burmese service. Director: Nancy Shwe. Translated by Soe Thinn. Written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.