Monday 30 December 2013

Siam Voices 2013 review – Part 3: The Rohingya, unwelcomed and ignored

Source Siam Voices, 29 Dec

In the third part of our Siam Voices 2013 year in review series, we highlight the plight of Southeast Asia's most persecuted refugees, the Rohingya. In Thailand, it seems that they are particularly unwelcomed by authorities.

Photographs by Greg Constantine showing the plight of Burma's Rohingya people, projected on the exterior walls of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. An estimated 30,000 Rohingyas have fled the country sectarian violence since July 2012, thousands of them arriving in Thailand. Pic: AP.

Ever since neighboring Myanmar has gradually opened up to the world politically and economically in the past few, it has also unearthed the animosity of some against the Rohingya people, an ethnic muslim minority that has been denied citizenship for decades. This animosity grew into hateful violence when deadly riots in Rakhine state in 2012 (andlater in other places) displaced over 100,000 Rohingyas.

Many thousands are fleeing Myanmar in overcrowded and fragile vessels, often operated by human traffickers. Preferred destinations – that is if they make it through the Andaman Sea – are Malaysia and Indonesia, but more often than not they either involuntarily arrive in Thailand or are being intercepted by Thai authorities. During the low tide months between October to February, almost 6,000 Rohingyas according to Thai authorities have entered Thai territory.

Because the Thai state regards them as illegal economic immigrants rather than persecuted refugees, they're repeatedly refused asylum and in most cases the Thai authorities are sticking to the policy they euphemistically call "helping on": intercepted refugee vessels are given food, medicine and additional fuel before towed out to sea again on their way elsewhere. Should a boat be deemed unsafe, they will be deported back to Myanmar. There have been past allegations against Thai officials that these boats have been simply set adrift or evenremoved their engines - as happened again in February this year – with little inquiry and thus consequences.

This year, reports of human trafficking involvement by Thai officials emerged over the months during and following the waves of refugee boats passing Thailand's coastlines. It started with one of them carrying 73 migrants found on New Year's Day, but instead of the usual procedure they were split up and put on other boats. As it turns out, according to an investigation by the BBC, members of the Thai Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) had sold these people off to human traffickers. An internal investigation found no wrongdoing by their own officers, but has nonetheless transferred two accused ISOC officers out of the South.

However, the allegations did not die down over the course of the year as two investigative reports by Reuters in particular (here and here) have put more weight on these, accompanied most recently by calls to Thailand from the United Nations and the United States to investigate these claims - none of which have taken place so far despite repeated pledges by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra so far. The same empty-handed result happened after areported shooting incident in late February during a botched boat transfer killed at least two refugees. Again, calls for a probe were met – like in any other case – with deafening silence. Additionally, around 800 refugees were found in illegal human trafficking camps in south Thailand in January.

Those refugees that were being sheltered in Thailand faced no better conditions. In the summer months, around 2,000 Rohingya were detained in 24 stations across the country mostly located in the South under vastly differing standards. Some were overcrowded and caused the detainees to riot, others were regularly made accessible for human traffickersto lure refugees out. Thai authorities have discussed expanding or building new detention facilities, but this was met with resistance by local residents. The fate of these men, women and children is still to this day unresolved as a deadline by the Thai government to find third-party countries taking them on passed on July 26 with no result, thus leaving them in legal limbo.

The Rohingya issue and the (reported mis-)handling by Thai authorities – largely underreported in the domestic media and thus mostly met with indifference by the general public – is slowly becoming a national shame. But judging by its actions it appears little will change about that attitude: a formerly highly-regarded forensic expert reheated her old claimthat some Rohingya might be involved in the insurgency in the deep south and a Thai minister even accused them to be "feigning pitifulness" for the media.

In general, the Thai authorities seemed to be more concerned with its own image rather that the wellbeing of the refugees, as evident just last week when the Royal Thai Navy filed a lawsuit against two journalists from Phuket Wan- who have been diligently reporting on this issue - for defamation and even resorted to invoke the Computer Crimes Act (see yesterday's part), even though these two journalists had been merely quoting from the aforementionedReuters' story. The lawsuit has been met with criticism, including from the UN.

Supreme Commander Tanasak Patimapragorn once accused the international community of leaving Thailand alone to deal with the Rohingya refugees, (perhaps willingly?) oblivious to the fact that Thai authorities have largely denied international aid and refugee organizations access to them. So the question Thailand has to ask itself for the coming year is not what the world can do for Thailand, but rather what Thailand can do to help the Rohingyas?

The Siam Voices 2013 year in review series continues tomorrow. Read the previous parts here: Part 1: Politics - Part 2: Lèse Majesté & the media

About the author:
Saksith Saiyasombut is a Thai blogger and freelance foreign correspondent. He writes about Thai politics and current affairs since 2010 and reports for international news media like Channel NewsAsia. Read his full bio on

Saturday 28 December 2013

POGROM AGAINST ROHINGYAS IN MYANMAR : A strong case for UN intervention

Source newagebd, 24 Dec
by Dr Habib Siddiqui

A fireman begins to clean up a burnt down market after riots broke out in Lashio in eastern Myanmar�s Shan state on May 30, 2013. � AFP photo/ Ye Aung ThuA fireman begins to clean up a burnt down market after riots broke out in Lashio in eastern Myanmar�s Shan state on May 30, 2013. � AFP photo/ Ye Aung Thu

THE Rohingya people, who mostly live in the western Rakhine state of Myanmar, are the most persecuted people in our time. The Rohingyas are denied every right in this Buddhist-majority country simply because of their Muslim faith and ethnicity which is at variance with the dominant race and religion. Not a single of the 30 clauses of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, enshrined in the United Nations, of which Myanmar is a member state, is honoured by the racist government in this den of hatred, intolerance and bigotry.
Although the ancestors of the Rohingyas have been the bhumiputras or first settlers to the silver crescent of the Arakan (now named Rakhine state to obliterate its Islamic connection), bordering Bangladesh, from time immemorial, they were declared stateless in their own country by President Ne Win. Dr Aye Kyaw (now deceased), a Rakhine Buddhist academic, who lived in New York, was behind this xenophobic law to uproot the Rohingya, the second largest ethnic community in the Rakhine state. They are wrongly portrayed as 'Bengalis' or 'Chittagonians'. The denial of citizenship rights has led to all kinds of persecution of the Rohingya people known to mankind. They are unable to obtain passports or visas, own land or hold government jobs. They cannot get access to higher education. Even to move from one part of the locality to another, they require special permission. Myanmar law prohibits them from having more than two children per family. They are also taxed for everything, even for owning chicken and goats.
In my study of ethnic and religious minorities around the world, I have not found a single community that has been suffering more than this unfortunate people — the Rohingyas of Burma. Their condition inside Myanmar has simply worsened since May 28 of last year. As amatter of fact, many of the Rohingyas would say that they were able to survive those earlier (i.e. pre-2012) practices of unfathomed inhumanity displayed by the Buddhist majority people against them. But now they have lost almost everything. They live in cages. Their homes, businesses, schools, madrassahs, orphanages, and mosques have all been systematically demolished in a planned way, all with the blessing of the government — local and central.
The United Nations and other organisations have reported atrocities against the Rohingya. An April report by the non-profit Human Rights Watch detailed what it called 'a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims in Arakan State since June 2012.' The report described an ongoing humanitarian crisis and the role of the Burmese government, local authorities and Buddhist monks in the terror and forced relocation of more than 125,000 Rohingya and other Muslims (that number has now grown to more than 140,000). It said that tens of thousands of displaced Muslims had been denied access to humanitarian aid and been unable to return home. They are forced to live in cages with little freedom to move around and fetch for their survival. In a 2012 report to the UN Human Rights Council, a UN-appointed independent observer said he had received 'consistent and credible allegations of a wide range of human rights violations...including "sweeps" against Muslim villages, arbitrary detentions, sexual assault and torture.'
I wish with all the media attention the situation had improved for the suffering Rohingyas. But it has not. Even the Organisation of Islamic Conferences was denied access to visit Muslim camps last year. Just as it happened during cyclone Nargis that hit the Rakhine state in 2008, relief items donated by Muslim countries and aid agencies continue to be distributed amply within the Rakhine Buddhists while the same are denied to the Rohingya Muslims by the state authorities. They are starving to death. Many of them are fed tainted food and spoiled grains. Many are risking their lives to find refuge elsewhere.
President Thein Sein has openly said he does not want the Rohingyas living in his Buddhist country. And what is so disheartening is that even when these Rohingyas are killed in genocidal campaigns inside Myanmar, their neighbours to the west and east won't accept them as refugees. Most of the Rohingyas have now settled for a life of insecurity as unwanted refugees in many parts of our world.
Who would have thought that we would witness such serious violations against a people some 65 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the UN General Assembly?
Of particular concern is the unfettered role played by Wirathu, the abbot of historically influential Mandalay Ma-soe-yein monastery and his 969 anti-Muslim movements, which sanctifies eliminitionist policies against the Muslims. Despite Wirathu's outspoken propagation of violent aggression toward Muslims in Burma, government leaders have publicly called him peaceful and good. Demanding the expulsion of all Muslims from Burma, these monks urge the local population to sever all relations with not only the Muslims, but also with what are described as their 'sympathisers'. Labelled as national traitors, those Buddhists who associate with Muslims also face intimidation and violence. The hateful rhetoric of the radical monks and the '969' campaign is ominously reminiscent of the hateful propaganda directed at the Tutsi population and their sympathisers in the lead-up to and during the Rwandan genocide, let alone the Nazi-led holocaust more than half a century earlier.
Equally problematic is the fact that national and local security forces have been allowed to perpetuate severe human rights abuses and brutal persecution against Muslims with impunity.
In my detailed analysis of the events since last year, drawing upon field reports and eyewitness accounts from inside Myanmar, I have concluded that the Rohingyas of Myanmar are facing genocide, and nothing short of it. The elimination of the Rohingya and other Muslim minorities there has sadly become a national project enjoying widespread support within the Buddhist community — home and abroad. Deplorably, even Aung Saan Suu Kyi appears to be a party to this crime! It is high time for the world community to stop this process before it is too late.
On December 14, the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, hosted the first international conference in the United States on the plight of the Rohingya people of Myanmar — 'Stop Genocide and Restore Rohingyas' Citizenship Rights in Myanmar'. It was jointly hosted by the Burmese Rohingya American Friendship Association and the Rohingya Concern International in collaboration with the ethnic studies programme at the university. Amongst others I was invited to speak at the conference.
The conference opened with a welcome speech from BRAFA's chairman Shaukhat Kyaw Soe Aung (MSK Jilani) and Dr Chia Vang of the ethnic studies programme at the university. The programme was conducted by Mohiuddin Yosuf, president of the RCI and chief coordinator of the conference organising committee. Amongst others, the speakers included Professor Greg Stanton of the Genocide Watch (George Mason University), Nurul Islam of ARNO (UK), Sheikh Ziad Hamdan of Islamic Society of Milwaukee, Professor Abid Bahar from Montreal (Canada), and Dr Nora Rowley of the Vulnerable Population Health and Well-Being.
In his speech, Professor Stanton discussed the obvious similarities faced by the Rohingyas of Myanmar with those of Tutsis in Rwanda. They are victims of eight stages of genocide — classification, symbolisation, dehumanisation, organisation, polarisation, preparation, extermination and denial. 'The first stage of genocide is classification, where you classify a whole group of people as somehow outside the citizenship of the country,' said Stanton. 'One of the things we've learned about genocide is it's a process, not an event... And these early warning signs are ones to take very seriously.'
In her speech, Dr Rowley shared eyewitness accounts of suffering of the Rohingya people in which the government continues to play its evil role towards elimination of this persecuted people. Professor Bahar discussed history of the Rohingya people and shared his encounter with them as a field researcher in the late 1970s.
The conference participants called upon the government of Myanmar to (1) restore full citizenship rights of all the stateless Rohingya minorities living inside Burma and to all those who were forced to seek a life of unwanted refugee outside as a result of government-orchestrated violence against them; (2) stop persecution, discrimination and dehumanising of Muslims, including repealing laws and policies that enact or contribute to the persecution of Muslims and other targeted groups within Myanmar; (3) crack down on anti-Muslim violence against Rohingya and other Muslims; (4) allow an international independent investigation of the anti-Muslim violence; (5) stop the criminal activities of Buddhist monk Wirathu and his 969 movement, and punish them for causing suffering of the Muslim victims; (6) guarantee safety and security of the Rohingya people and other minority Muslims and Christians living inside Myanmar; (7) compensate for the loss of lives and properties of all those affected by the cleansing pogroms since May 28, 2012; (8) allow for relocation of the victims to their original places; (9) allow unfettered access of the international UN agencies, non-government organisations, including the OIC, to closely monitor the violence prone Rakhine state and allow them to aid the Muslim victims.
The conference participants called upon UN Security Council to authorise armed 

 in Myanmar by a UN force under Chapter Seven of the UN Charter; the mandate must include protection of Rohingya civilians and humanitarian workers and a no-fly zone over the Rakhine state; the rules of Engagement must be robust and include aggressive prevention of killing. They urged the major military powers (e.g. the US, Russia and the UK) to provide leadership, logistics, airlift, communications, and financing. In the event that Myanmar won't permit entry, the conference called for suspension of its UN membership.
They also called upon the International Criminal Court in The Hague to prosecute Wirathu and other instigators of crimes against humanity. They also urged the Veto powers to enforce harsh measures against the political and military leaders of Myanmar for lack of progress in matters of human rights and restoration of citizenship rights of the Rohingya people.
Dr Habib Siddiqui, a peace and rights activist, writes from Pennsylvania.

Thursday 12 December 2013

Glimmer of hope for the Rohingya on Human Rights Day

Source Thehill, 11 Dec

By Dr. Wakar Uddin

As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of United Nations' Office of the High Commissioner's Human Rights Day (Dec. 10) and the 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this week, the U.S. House of Representatives continues to take on an issue that shows our increasing need to stand against the human rights violations that continue to plague many despite signs of progress.

The Rohingya Muslims, a small Burmese minority community, currently facing what many human rights authorities have called an "ethnic cleansing" look toward the U.S. House with a glimmer of hope this week as the House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific holds a markup session on House Resolution 418 entitled "Urging the Government of Burma to end the persecution of the Rohingya people and respect internationally recognized human rights for all ethnic and religious minority groups within Burma."

The story of the persecuted Muslim Rohingya has gone largely untold. Comprising less than 10 percent of the population of Burma, the Rohingya are an Islamic ethnic group in the majority Buddhist Burma. In mid-2012, longstanding prejudices exploded into full-blown sectarian violence and massacre. Various instances of violent crimes committed by Buddhist individuals, including the destruction of Muslim homes and businesses, have caused more than 400,000 Rohingya to flee. The targeted violence has become so grave that the Rohingya have been recognized by the United Nations as one of the world's most persecuted minorities. After more than a year's worth of persecution, there has at last been an initiative to recognize and call to accountability the powers that can prevent further harm through House Resolution 418.

Currently, the Rohingya minority is not recognized as a legitimate ethnic community and has had to endure the complete disregard of the government. Institutionalized marginalization such as this persistent non-recognition has led to increased sectarian violence against the Rohingya people in Burma.

The most prominent world powers should always be committed to upholding the principles of basic human rights, but the practicality of this ideal has presented problems for international leaders who must consider the political consequences of such a commitment. Burma has gained much international praise for abandoning an autocratic military junta and transitioning into a democracy. The world has reacted by lifting sanctions and preparing for normalized diplomatic relations with a country that has been isolated for decades. The human rights abuses occurring in Burma have meanwhile been lost in the shuffle, seemingly given a pass by the international community simply because the nation has promised democratic reform. We must bring new light to the fundamental abuses of human rights on this historical day.

Today, the international community can increase public awareness to bring further scrutiny to the atrocities that have occurred in Burma and hold them accountable. A government that calls itself a democracy remains disingenuous to this cause if the voices of an entire community are systematically shut out.

The Rohingya have been the victims of violence and institutionalized discrimination that has gone unmitigated and unpunished by a government that seems content to allow such acts to be carried out. While Buddhist mobs rampantly destroy the lives of the Rohingya and untold numbers are forced to flee or face death, security forces have been observed standing idle or even encouraging aggression. The motivation and willingness of the Burmese government to protect its own people will be of paramount importance if widespread change regarding minority populations is to take hold. Unfortunately, there has been little indication that such perceptions exist within the transitional government. Together the international community can change the perception of the Burmese government and save the Rohingya people from a volatile and life threatening environment.

Should the situation continue to be ignored, the hostile environment surrounding the Rohingya will continue to worsen and the possibility of full scale ethnic cleansing will rise. The world has already suffered the consequences of complacency when dealing with previous instances of ethnic conflict. The time to act is long overdue.

On the 20th anniversary of human rights day, I call on the international community to apply consistent political pressure on the Burmese government to end the persecution of the Rohingya and extend them full citizenship rights. Furthermore, coming a day before the markup session on Resolution 418, Human Rights Day is a prime opportunity for the US Government, through the continued development of Resolution 418, to insist that Burma recognize the suffering its own people and take measures in enforcing security for them. Together we can fight for the fundamental human rights of the Rohingya people and fight for the true institution of democracy in Burma.

Uddin is director general of the Arakan Rohingya Union.

Burmese toddler drowns as refugee boat sinks en route to Christmas Island

Source DVB, 10 Dec

Three asylum seekers including a toddler died when their Australia-bound boat sank in rough seas off Indonesia's Java island but 29 others were rescued, police said Tuesday.

Hundreds of asylum seekers have died trying to make the sea voyage to Australia in recent years, and Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said the sinking highlighted the dangers of people-smuggling.

The vessel had been carrying 32 people – including members of the Rohingya Muslim minority from Burma, officially known as Myanmar, Iranians and a Bangladeshi – who wanted to reach the Australian territory of Christmas Island, police said.

But the small, wooden vessel sank off West Java province early Monday after being battered by big waves, provincial police spokesman Martinus Sitompul told AFP.

"Fishermen found the boat off Ciawi beach in Garut district," he said.

The Bangladeshi asylum seeker and two from Burma – including a two-year-old – drowned but the other 29 were rescued by the fishermen and handed over to immigration authorities, he said.

Morrison said no request was or had been made for Australian assistance, by either passengers onboard the vessel or the Indonesian authorities involved in the rescue.

"This further loss of life is as tragic as all those that preceded it in similar circumstances, and we extend sympathies to the families of those affected," Morrison said.

"It is especially tragic as these deaths were needless and avoidable."

While Australia would meet its obligations regarding the safety of life at sea, Morrison said that did not mean there was a "safety net" for voyages undertaken on people-smuggling boats.

"This latest incident highlights once again the fatal consequences of people-smuggling, particularly in this most dangerous time of the year," he said, referring to the annual monsoon season.

Asylum-seeker boat arrivals have dropped dramatically under the new conservative government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, which has retained the policy of the former administration of sending all boatpeople to Papua New Guinea or Nauru for permanent resettlement.

But there has been a recent spike, with close to 200 people arriving on four boats in the week up to December 6.

Monday 9 December 2013

Missing Rohingya asylum seekers found on Christmas Island

Source SMH, 5 Dec

Authorities will investigate how 27 asylum seekers evaded detection to land on Christmas Island, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says.

The group is believed to have reached the island late on Monday or early on Tuesday. The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service was informed of their presence about 2.40pm on Thursday.

Scott Morrison giving a briefing in Sydney.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Tamara Dean.

They told authorities their boat sank, and are believed to have spent three days camped out on a beach unnoticed, eating crabs and coconuts to survive.


All 27 people on the boat had been accounted for after a search by Australian Federal Police, Mr Morrison told reporters at his weekly Operation Sovereign Borders press briefing on Friday.

One man was in hospital with minor injuries.

Dolly Beach

Dolly Beach: where the asylum seekers had been camping. Photo: Supplied

''This has been an unusual incident that raises a number of questions that will be the subject of a standard post-incident operational assessment to ensure that any lessons learnt from this incident are incorporated into future practice,'' Mr Morrison said.

''We should never forget that this is a very big ocean in that vicinity. These are very small vessels.''

Asked how the vessel managed to reach the island undetected, Operation Sovereign Borders Commander Lieutenant-General Angus Campbell also mentioned the size of the ocean and the "very small wooden craft".

"We do have radar capability on both our vessels and at Christmas Island. But depending on the nature of the general weather conditions and the sea swell, the size of the craft, it is possible but rare to see these sorts of incidents arise," General Campbell said.

He has directed the commander of Border Protection Command "to undertake an assessment of our procedures, disposition and capabilities to mitigate where possible such surprises".

Australian federal police had searched heavy jungle on Christmas Island on Friday for a group of 8 missing asylum seekers after initially finding the remainder of the group.

The asylum seekers are believed to have camped undetected on the beach after their boat sank off Christmas Island.

The asylum seeker boat is believed to be one of four boats to have arrived at the island in the past five days.

Christmas Island councillor Gordon Thomson said two vessels arrived in the past 24 hours, while another carrying about 30 passengers was intercepted off Christmas Island on Sunday.

The 27 Rohingya asylum seekers are believed to have spent three days camped out on a Christmas Island beach unnoticed, eating crabs and coconuts to survive.

A spokesman for Immigration minister Scott Morrison said no passengers on the boat "are believed to have been lost at sea".

Of the group, 19 were initially accounted for by the Immigration Minister's spokesman in a rare press release issued about midnight on Thursday.

Eight people including two crew are housed at the Phosphate Hill facility in the care of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, the spokesman said. One person is in the Christmas Island Hospital in a stable condition "after sustaining minor injuries" and five "are currently being escorted by AFP officers for transfer to the Phosphate Hill facility".

"A further nine other persons are believed to be in heavy jungle approximately 50 minutes' walk away from the nearest road," the Immigration Minister's spokesman had said.

Christmas Island councillor Mr Thomson said the asylum seekers had been camping on Dolly Beach for three days.

"They walked [out] along a very steep track for about six kilometres. They found themselves on one of our main roads where they were seen and police and custom officers scrambled to pick them up."

Thousands of Rohingya, a Muslim minority group in Myanmar, have fled persecution and oppression since last year.

Labor's immigration spokesman Richard Marles said the government was failing to uphold its promise to bring the "discipline and focus of a targeted military operation" to the asylum seeker issue.

"The question today is with all of that focus and discipline how is it possible that a boat arrived on Christmas Island without detection?" Mr Marles said.

"How is it possible that asylum seekers could be on Christmas Island since Monday without the government knowing about it?

"What is clear is the government is not in control."

Read more:

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Amritsar lawyer to take up case of nine Rohingya Muslims stranded in India

Source timesofIndia, 3 Dec

AMRITSAR: Moved by the plight of a nine-member Rohingya Muslim family which was recently released from Amritsar jail, a local lawyerand human rights activist has taken up their issue with the Myanmar government to seek justice for them.

Talking to TOI, advocate Ajay Virmani said he took up the issue with Myanmar's attorney general Tu Chin during a conference on human rights in New Delhi. Chin is also a cabinet minister in Myanmar. "These people have no future in India. What will be their status after their one-year visa expires? We have to fight for their rights," said Virmani.

On November 15, Rohingya Muslim Noor Hussain along with his wife and seven children were freed from Amritsar jail but had no where to go as Mayanmar had refused to recognize them as their citizens. They were later adopted by the family of Milkha Singh of Mujjpur village in Tarn Taran district on humanitarian grounds.

According to reports, Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar are one of the most persecuted communities there. Myanmar government maintains that Rohingyas had migrated from the Indian sub-continent and denies them citizenship and other basic rights. "Besides Myanmar government, I will also take up the case of Rohingya Muslims at international level," Virmani stated.

Sunday 1 December 2013

Unspeakable extortion and harassment by village administrator and armies in Buthidaung Township

Source Burmatimes November 30, 2013

Burma Times – A religious teacher from Kin Daung Village said on the condition of anonymity that the military personalsfrom battalion 551 under the Dabru Chaung brigade, village administrator and their abettors are extorting, threatening and harassing to the villagers in different area inside and out side the kin Daung village tract under Buthidaung Township. The administrator of kin Daung village who lives in Dum Pine Buddhist village is collecting money 2000 or 3000 or 5000kyats from the villagers according to their status today on 30 NOV 2013. In this case his some puppets are helping to him in collecting the cash.

Cunningly The administrator shows different reasons to the villagers when collecting cash from them such as district peace & development council (Ka Ya Ka ) and City peace and development council ( Ma Ya Ka) ordered to him to provide some cash or something etc. in deed they are selling the higher authorities name to for the extortion. If anybody try to refuse to pay the amount as they are very impoverished the administrator threaten of mentioning about torturing of the authority. So the villagers feel fear as soon as they heard the two names and they cannot go to Ka Ya Ka or Ma Ya Ka to know about the truth as they are Rohingya Muslim and illiterate. Through this way the administrator and his main abettor Saddek son of Kamal aged 45years from lay Mryo village under Kin Daung village tract are taking advantages of villagers being illiterate and Rohingya and looting hundred thousands of kin Daung villagers' money.

The teacher also said, they administrator and his main abettor are taking big amount like minimum 20,000kyats to 60,0000kyats from the villagers for their new born baby 

 process which Na Sa Ka taught them before. If the villagers are unable to provide the amount as they are very poor ,at that time the stooges of administrator and military personals pay them some money on interests which they later take back from the villagers through harassment and torturing . In fact the village administrator and military personal are using Rohingya to make their earning sources. Besides they are also taking extortion from those daily workers who used to go to Bangladesh for earning.

Head strongly, the administrator set some stooges of him in the said village to get the regular information of some villagers and some other labors of the village arrival from Bangladesh so that he could threaten to them and extort cash. In addition the armies who are on duty at Saing Daung water fall are also extorting 20,000kyats per thousandbamboo poles. The stooges of the authority also showing their help of drama to the poor villagers,i.e they are helping to the villagers by provide the cash of interest promptly when the villagers couldn't see anything to get back their bamboos from the armies. But the poor villagers couldn't understand what may happen with them later due to taking the interest money. if any villagers failed to pay up the amount including interests in due time which they borrowed from the stooges then the stooges started harassing to the villagers such as beating, forcefully taking money from them by the help of the authority and call them to the battalion to torture .

And they forced the villagers to sell out their houses to pay up the amount. But still they cannot pay up full amount as the amount increased with interest. Ultimately  they become bankrupt that obliged them to leave the country empty handed . There are hundreds of different villagers who had to leave the country for being insolvent. Here I am mentioning some poor villagers' name who had left the country within present and last year. They are

1.       Sayed Kasim       son of   Hadura                south of kin daung village

2.       Samiullah             son of   Adumunaf           so as above

3.       Ahmedullah        son of  Shobbir                  so as above

4.       Md Hossain        son of Shunameah            so as above

5.       Zayed Hossain   son of Adunabi                   so as above

6.       Kala meah           son of Bodiya                    mid block of kin daung village

7.       Adurahman        son of MD Hossain             so as above

8.       Md hossain         son of Alizuhar                   south of kn daung village, etc

The teacher also sadly said that the government authorities are surprising decreasing the Rohingya population from Aarkan state (now Rakhine state) by using systematic and unnoticeable way.

MAUNG HLA MYINT is a special reporter for Burma Times from Maung Daw

Thursday 28 November 2013

Aung San Suu Kyi is turning a blind eye to human rights in the name of politics

Source theguardian, 27 Nov
The Burmese politician's visit to Australia will spark praise from politicians – an unhelpful distraction from the extremely serious abuses taking place against Muslims in her homeland
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.Aung San Suu Kyi. Photograph: Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty Images

Burmese politician and international celebrity Aung San Suu Kyi flew into Sydney yesterday to begin a brief tour of Australia, during which time she will meet the prime minister and other members of the government.

If her recent visits to Europe are anything to go by, the Nobel laureate's arrival will be a triumphal affair involving inevitable cheering crowds, mutual congratulation and much rhetoric about shared values on display. Politicians will no doubt wish to associate themselves with her image and bask in her fading effulgence, while ordinary Australians will very probably receive the heroine of Burma's democracy movement with open arms.

Yet for all the deserved plaudits she will receive from her hosts, the sheer spectacle of her visit may amount to an unhelpful distraction from extremely serious abuses taking place in her homeland; indeed it may even seem unwarranted, given that the smiling icon has betrayed some of her country's most vulnerable people.

The Rohingya of west Burma are the most needy, despised and endangered ethnic group in the country. The Muslim minority is stateless (unwanted by both Burma and Bangladesh), impoverished and has been subjected to at least three brutal pogroms over the past 40 years, two of them directly at the hands of Burmese government forces. The latest bout of extreme anti-Rohingya persecution in the country's restive Rakhine state, where the group is remains subjected to ethnic cleansing, endures to this day.

When asked about the plight of Muslims during her recent visit to the UK, Suu Kyi told BBC journalist Mishal Husain that there was "no ethnic cleansing" and equivocated about the suffering of both Buddhists and Muslims in a manner that at least one other writer found "chilling" to watch.

For the record, there is no parity. Muslims in general, and the Rohingya in particular, have suffered far more from inter-religious clashes over the past two years, during which time children in Meiktila, Central Burma, were burnt alive and well over 100,000 Rohingya have been confined to squalid camps where they are systematically denied aid and where disease is rife. There have been organised attacks on the minority that amounted to crimes against humanity committed by ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, whom Suu Kyi is keen to remind us are suffering too – from fear, not mass slaughter.

I have visited the Rohingya IDP camps twice this year, and been informed about a variety of abuses perpetrated against the inmates by police and government forces since June last year, including rape and murder. Human rights reports confirm these allegations. Conditions in parts of the camps, as well as the emotional torment endured by its inhabitants, were wrenching to witness.

The Rohingya are edging closer to a final disaster that could amount, in the eyes of several authoritative analysts, to genocide. Yet "mother Suu" remains virtually silent, no doubt in part because the recognition of this people's plight would amount to political suicide in a country where racial prejudices run deep. The Rakhines have demonstrated their position on the Rohingya with total clarity: through mob attacks and arson; their hatred of the Rohingya has been evident for decades.

If her failure on the Rohingya issue isn't bad enough, Suu Kyi has also neglected to defend poor Burmese farmers in Sagaing Division in the wake of a violent, government-backed crackdown on protests at the Letpadaung Copper mine there last year, in which campaigning monks were allegedly burnt in their sleep by police. Having headed an official panel which produced a report recommending that the project should go ahead, she lectured protesters on the folly of their resistance against the multi-billion-dollar, Chinese-backed project which will result in a loss of livelihood, displacement and serious water pollution for local people. The panel also effectively endorsed police impunity, despite the use of white phosphorous against peaceful protesters.

By contrast, Suu Kyi has been outspoken on the need to change the national constitution, which was authored by the old military elite, and widely-regarded as having been designed to prevent her from occupying the office of president. She will be sure to ask for Australia's support in pressuring Burma to change the charter.

It seems impossible to resist the impression that "the Lady" is a paragon no more – and certainly no human rights defender, as she herself reminded journalists recently. Rather, she has begun to act like any other politician: single-mindedly pursuing an agenda, making expedient decisions with one eye on electoral politics, the other on kingmakers in Naypyidaw and the domestic political economy.

Australians welcoming her today would do well to remember this, even as media celebration reigns and the lonely, deserted Rohingya stumble toward their collective grave.

Tuesday 26 November 2013

In Burma, There is No ‘Communal Violence’

Source foreignpolicyjournal, 

November 25, 2013

Displacement and discrimination continue to affect Rohingya (Evangelos Petratos EU/ECHO January 2013)

Displacement and discrimination continue to affect Rohingya (Evangelos Petratos EU/ECHO January 2013)

On November 12, the United Nations General Assemblyreleased its draft annual resolution against Burma, calling on the Burmese government to address 2013 "communalviolence." The terms "communal violence," "sectarian violence," and "inter-communal violence" have become go-to descriptors of attacks against Muslims in Burma. Insofar as they are used to describe specific incidents during the June and October 2012 attacks in Arakan State, the terms are to some degree accurate. But the blanket use of these terms to describe ongoing anti-Muslim attacks throughout Burma is inaccurate and even incendiary. It normalizes the misconception that in 2013, Muslims as a community have been both victims and perpetrators. In Burma's anti-Muslim climate, this misconception helps legitimize campaigns against Muslims and distract attention away from the government's complicity in these campaigns.

Ethnic and religious relations in Burma, and in Arakan State in particular, are to be sure incredibly complex, grounded in years of mistrust, inequality, abusive government intervention, and propaganda. Even so, this year's attacks have not been "communal." Communal violence is a term describing violence between two groups, for instance, two ethnic groups or two religious groups. The two or more participating groups are both perpetrators and victims of violence. But in Burma over the past year, Muslims have not been perpetrators. Muslims have been and continue to be clear victims of vicious Buddhist-led rhetorical, media, legal, political, and religious campaigns designed to marginalize, disenfranchise, and withhold justice from them.

The use of the terms "communal," "inter-communal," etc. is destructive in two ways: 1) it creates and allows for misunderstandings about the nature and source of anti-Muslim violence, and 2) it provides cover for the government's role in violence by directing public attention to the claims of Muslims and Buddhists instead of to the discriminatory legal and political context that capacitates violence. Both of these effects of bad discourse undermine genuine conflict resolution.

By ascribing labels like "communal" to the Muslims crisis, the media and international actors discursively alter the reality of the crisis, falsely shaping public opinion and policy. If the crisis is viewed as "communal" or "inter-communal," it can be partially cast as a crisis where all groups share blame. Real victims of the crisis are then treated as less deserving of justice and legal redress than they otherwise would be because they are perceived to be culpable participants, at least in terms of their ethnic/religious associations.

Describing these affairs as "communal" also distracts fromthe weight of the Burmese government's ethno-religious agenda, grounded in the ideology that those who are not Burmese and not Buddhist are less worthy of membership in the national identity. The government has perpetuated its ethno-religious agenda through legal discrimination and explicit violence against minority Muslims for years.

Burma's 1978 "Dragon King" operation is a helpful lens to understand the government's discriminatory agenda. During the operation, a government witch-hunting program scrutinizing the legality of Rohingya and other minorities degenerated into killings, sexual violence, and destruction by the government and the local Arakan population. 200,000 Rohingya were driven out of Burma. Occasional coordinated attacks against Rohingya and other Muslims continued throughout the 2000's.

Historic discrimination against Muslims allowed government security forces, during nearly all of the 2012 and 2013 attacks, to stand by and watch, and in many cases, participate in the violence against Muslims with impunity.

Anti-Muslim attacks since June 2012 have been systematic and pre-planned, fueled by insidious government and monastic anti-Islamic pamphlets and rhetoric. President Thein Sein, a strident defender of Burma's infamously anti-Muslim monk Wirathu, has himself announced that the "only solution" for the crisis is for the Rohingya to be moved en masse out of the country or into camps. In Arakan State, he has achieved his goal to some degree – nearly 140,000 Rohingya have been imprisoned in camps and tens of thousands have fled since 2012. The government has repeatedly recognized the organized nature of the attacks, but has chosen not to intervene, even with prior intelligence. This is in large part because the attacks are in lock step with the government's ethno-religious ideology, and because, according to some experts, the attacks empower government force and authority during the so-called transition to civilian rule.

Calling the attacks "communal" is bad discourse and has the power to normalize the belief that fault lies within the two communities, rather than outside of those communities. The UN and other international actors have become enthusiastic advocates for the Burmese government to help "soothe over" ethno-religious tensions, which they view to be the primary cause of the "inter-communal" violence. But the Burmese government, far from being an agent capable of soothing over ethno-religious tensions, is the key perpetrator of anti-Muslim discrimination, a tried-and-true master of ethno-religious conflict; it has successfully played this role for decades.

Bad discourse provides an excuse for international actors to avoid addressing the difficult, deep structural problems that are most influential in fueling violence and enabling it to continue: systemic impunity, legal discrimination, and government policy and complicity. Given these structural problems, even if social tensions were to be suddenly "soothed over," Burma's crisis would not be resolved. The roots of violence are hardly found in the local Buddhist and Muslim communities alone.

It is a fool's errand to attempt to resolve anti-Muslim violence in Burma without recognizing and addressing the government's role. Properly identifying the Muslim crisis for what it is – systemic and widespread attacks against a marginalized minority capacitated by the government – is the first and imperative step toward genuine resolution. 

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