Thursday 28 February 2013

Thirty Burma Army soldiers killed in clashes with SSPP/SSA

Source Shanherald, 26 Feb

Reliable reports said that during the last weeks of February, thirty Burmese government troops were killed in action in its clashes with the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA).

"Fighting on the 22 February was quite fierce and the Burma Army came to collect its deaths and wounded the following day. The casualty of the government troops was not less than thirty", according to a militia leader, who don't want to be named.

On 24 February, unexploded 60mm ammunition fired by the Burma Army exploded, due to the villagers' routine bushfire in preparation for land cultivation, during the night. The villagers said that the panic-ridden government troops responded by firing their weapons all night long.

"Before the Union Day of 12 February, the Burma Army demanded for the withdrawal of SSA troops from Loi Lang base, which was refused, subsequently leading to the reinforcement of its troops and seven armed clashes along the mountain ranges. Only on 22 February battle alone, the Burma Army had suffered 28 killed", according to an officer from SSA headquarters.

"According to our sources, the Burma Army causalities are 28 deaths and 14 wounded. We are only on defensive position and when young, inexperience Burmese soldiers advanced for they could not disobey orders, they were cut down. We have only a few wounded but must be careful not to be the targets of Burma Army's heavy artilleries, said one SSA frontline commander.

Even though President Thein Sein has recently ordered the government troops to stop the offensive, Light Infantry battalions 322, 315, 577, 574, 525 and Infantry battalions 33, 131, 295, with an estimate of one thousand troops are deployed in Tang Yang and Mong Hsu Townships, resulting in continued military tension.

More than 100 Rohingya rescued off Indonesian coast

Source DVB, 27 February 2013Ethnic Rohingya people from Myanmar wait inside a police truck for identification by immigration personnel in Lhokseumawe

Rohingya people from Burma wait inside a police truck for identification by immigration personnel in Lhokseumawe, Indonesia on 27 February 2013. (Reuters)

Fishermen have rescued more than 100 ethnic Rohingya asylum seekers from Burma who were found drifting in a wooden boat off western Indonesia, an official said Wednesday.

The 121 Rohingya, including six women and two children, were found adrift late Tuesday by fishermen around 25 kilometres (15 miles) from the village of Cot Trueng, on the northernmost tip of Sumatra island in Aceh province.

"Their boat ran out of petrol as they tried to sail from Myanmar [Burma] to Thailand," village chief Mukhtar Samsyah told AFP , adding that they had fled Burma to escape sectarian conflict.

He said the Rohingya were found in a weak condition but had recovered after being given food, water and a place to sleep.

"They've all been sent to an immigration detention centre in Lhokseumawe city," he said.

The UN considers the Rohingya, a stateless Muslim ethnic group, one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, while Burma views its roughly 800,000 Rohingya as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, denying them citizenship.

According to government statistics, Buddhist-Muslim unrest in Arakan has left at least 180 people dead and more than 110,000 displaced since June 2012.

Almost 6,000 Rohingya fleeing the violence have illegally entered Thai waters since October, the Thai army said earlier this month.

In late January, Thailand's navy blocked more than 200 Rohingya boat people from entering the kingdom as part of a new crackdown on the refugees, under which they will be given food and water but barred from landing if their boat is seaworthy.

The tougher stance came after Thai authorities said they were investigating allegations that army officials were involved in the trafficking of Rohingya.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees says regional effort needed to reduce Indian Ocean death toll

Source Reilefweb, 26 Feb

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, today reiterated his call for countries in the Asia Pacific region to work together to tackle a recent increase in lives being lost among people smuggled by boat in the Indian Ocean.

Based on media and other accounts, almost 500 people perished at sea during 2012 after their boats broke down or capsized – making the Indian Ocean one of the deadliest regions in the world for people fleeing their country by boat or being trafficked by smugglers.

"This is an alarmingly high number of lives lost, and begs a far more concerted effort by countries of the region both with regard to addressing the causes and to preventing lives being lost," Guterres said. "Push-backs, denial of disembarkation, and boats adrift for weeks will not solve a regional problem that clearly needs better, more joined-up, and more compassionate approaches by everyone. UNHCR is offering its expertise to help find answers. I urge everyone to make use of next month's gathering in Jakarta to seek better solutions in a coordinated way."

UNHCR will be facilitating a regional meeting in mid-March in Indonesia on irregular movements by sea in the Asia-Pacific.

On 22 February UNHCR voiced its concern about the large number of deaths at sea in the Indian Ocean in recent months, including from an incident in mid-February in which more than 30 people were picked up off the east coast of Sri Lanka – reportedly after some 90 of their fellow passengers had died during a journey of several weeks from the Bay of Bengal. UNHCR is seeking access to the survivors to assess their international protection needs.Those on board may be Rohingya from western Myanmar's Rakhine state or from refugee camps and makeshift sites in Bangladesh


For more information on this topic, please contact:

In Bangkok: Vivian Tan on mobile +66 818 270 280
In Geneva: Babar Baloch on mobile +41 79 557 9106

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Rapes by Burmese security forces 'may cause more strife' in troubled region

Source guardian, 26 Feb
Teenage victim describes how at least 13 women were raped overnight in Arakan state, which has been focus of ethnic riots
Over 90,000 Rohingya refugees have been displaced due to violence between Muslim Rohingya and Rakhine Buddhists in Burma, and many are seeking help in Bangladesh. Video from June 2012. Link to video: Rohingya refugees leave Burma to seek help in Bangladesh

At least 13 women, including teenagers, have been subjected to prolonged rape by Burmese security forces in a remote village in the western state of Arakan. Human rights groups have warned that the incident threatens to trigger further violence in a region where several waves of ethno-religious rioting since June last year have killed more than 1,000 people.

The women all belong to the Muslim Rohingya minority, which has borne the brunt of fighting between Muslim and Buddhist communities. One victim, an 18-year-old girl who cannot be named for security reasons, described how a group of uniformed soldiers from Burma's border security unit, known locally as NaSaKa, entered her house in northern Maungdaw township shortly after midnight on 20 February.

"They took us separately to different places and tortured and raped us," she said, referring also to her mother and younger sister, 15. The ordeal lasted until dawn, she said. "They came in and out of the house at least 15 times. They also beat my mother with a gun and dragged her outside to the road and beat her to the ground."

According to the victim, 13 people in the village were assaulted. Chris Lewa, head of the Arakan Project, which has monitoring teams in Maungdaw township, said she had separately confirmed that at least 11 people were raped that night.

The incident comes eight months after the rape of a 26-year-old Buddhist woman by three Rohingya men triggered fierce rioting across Arakan state , and a state of emergency remains in place. Arakanese and Rohingya communities have clashed a number of times. Animosity toward the Muslim group is widespread among Arakanese, many of whom consider them to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

"Sexual violence by Nasaka against Rohingya women has been documented for many years," says Matthew Smith, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, adding that prosecutions are rare for rapes committed by security forces.

Khin Ohmar, founder of the Women's League of Burma, said that such ordeals terrorise the community. "I've heard of cases where rape survivors are kicked out of their village because the village head is so scared of retribution if they complain to the Burma army."

Rohingya Muslims Rohingya Muslim women and boys cross the Naf river into Bangladesh to escape sectarian violence in Arakan state, Burma, in June 2012. Photograph: Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images

She said that incidents like these happen "every time the army moves into remote areas", and that punishment is normally just transferral to another area "where rape continues but with different women". She thinks that the 20 February incident probably had its roots in "ethno-centric chauvinism and hatred" of the Rohingya.

Following the attacks, villagers fled into nearby forests and across the border into Bangladesh, said Lewa. The victim told the Guardian that she and the other women had received treatment at a local clinic. The extent of their injuries is unclear, although one 19-year-old woman is believed to be in a critical condition.

The protracted violence in Arakan state has left deep scars for communities on both sides. The UN estimates the number of people displaced since June to be around 120,000, the majority Rohingya.

There are fears however that the violence, which initially pitted Rohingya against Arakanese, is increasingly being demarcated along religious lines. Rioting broke out in Rangoon this week after a row over what local Buddhists claimed was the illegal construction of a mosque. The Norway-based Democratic Voice of Burma news organisation also reported last week that the government had placed a ban on all Muslims leaving the Arakanese town of Thandwe, although no official statement has been made.

Buddhist and Muslim communities in Arakan state have now been segregated. In the state capital of Sittwe, all but one Muslim district was razed and emptied last year; the last remaining quarter, Aung Mingalar, whose population swelled from 5,000 to 8,000 residents after fighting broke out, is now guarded by soldiers.

Following a visit to several camps for the displaced this month, UN envoy Tomas Quintana spoke of his concern about aid distribution and freedom of movement. Despite government assurances that displaced Rohingya could eventually return to their homes, Quintana said that stakeholders in Arakan state believed "the current settlements will become permanent".

The medical charity Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) has warned that its staff have received threats from local Arakanese when attempting to get aid to the Rohingya. "It's just awful intimidation and threats of violence from a small but vocal group, through phone calls and on social media," said Peter Paul de Groote, Head of Mission for MSF in Burma.

"Formal permission for access is not the main problem. A big obstacle for MSF is not having enough staff – doctors and other essential personnel are scared to work in Rakhine [Arakan] state." He added that with monsoon season approaching, "we can expect a real humanitarian problem".

OIC summit ignores Rohingya issue

Source thedailystar, 27 feb

We have learned that the 164-pragraph Final Communiqué discussed all the contentious issues facing the member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in its 12th summit held in the first week of February in Cairo recently. It is said that the summit focused on five areas: conflicts and disputes in the Islamic world; ways to combat religious intolerance and Islamophobia; humanitarian issues in the Islamic world; economic and trade cooperation between member states and promoting scientific and technological cooperation between Islamic countries.

However, we expected that the plight of the Rohingyas in Myanmar would be included in the agenda as a humanitarian issue but unfortunately it was ignored. Though the 4th Extraordinary OIC Summit held in Makkah in August 2012 dwelt on the issue and adopted a separate resolution on the situation of the Rohingyas calling upon the Myanmar regime to cease all kinds of discrimination against the minority community and ensure human rights. But it appears the resolution failed to make any significant improvement in the affected areas.

It is observed that Myanmar is not responding sincerely to the calls of Bangladesh in this connection.

We want a strong OIC which will play an effective role in solving crises in the Muslim world including the Rohingya issue.

Fighting between KIO and army continues in northeast Burma

Source bnionline, 25 Feb

Fighting between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and Burma military broke out last weekend near Sawlaw and Chipwe in northern Kachin state. The clashes started after government troops from Infantry Battalion 29 attacked the KIA Battalion 10 on Saturday. Chipwe, located north east of the Kachin state capital Myitkyina, is home to a small 2,000 MW dam built to supply electricity for the construction of the now officially suspended Myitsone dam.

According to locals, skirmishes between KIA units and the army also took place near Pangwa near the China/Burma border. Both Chipwe and Pangwa were former strongholds of the now officially defunct NDAK. For many years Pangwa was important for tax collection on the trade route between the Chinese city of Tengchong and Myitkyina, earning millions in annual revenues for the NDAK's chief Zahkung Ting Ying (also Za Khun Ting Ring).

Two Border Guard Force (BGF) units made of up of troops who were formerly part of the New Democratic Army Kachin (NDAK) were also seen fighting on the government side. It is unclear if there were any casualties from either side.

The latest fighting came days after senior Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) officials met with the Burmese government's top negotiator Aung Min in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai. The KIO representatives were part of a delegation from the Union National Federal Council (UNFC), a coalition of Burma's armed ethnic groups.

Although the talks that were sponsored by Japan's largest charity the Nippon Foundation were positive according to participants they failed to find a solution to the ongoing conflict in Kachin state.

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Burmese Military shoot two Rohingya man // Para-military and Rakhine beat up a Rohingya unconscious in Maungdaw

Compile by Habib,
Burmese Military shoot two Rohingya man
Telephonic information from reliable source It is known that Myanmar army (Military) who are camped at the Rakhine village to the east of Nurulla Village, Maungdaw township fired two (20 innocent Rohingya man mentioned below.
The two Rohingya villagers went to the forest for firewood to cook rice with some villager which is 2 miles far to the east from their village at about 2.00pm (local time) of 25 Feb, were shoot to death at about 3:30pm..
The next day, 26th Feb 2013 at 7:00,am, the villagers went to the forest and brought back the two dead bodies to the village and informed Maungdaw police camp and Magin Chaung Na Sa Ka camp. However, no action has been taken so far.
The two victims are identified as;
(1) Mohammed Roshid-32 s/o Lal Meya  from Nurulla Village around 4 miles south of Maungdaw, was shot under the right  
ear and took out the left eye.
(2) Mohammed Sayed-42 s/o Amir Hamza from Nurulla village, was cut both legs and hands.
Hlun Tin (Paramilitary) and Rakhine beat up a Rohingya unconscious in Maungdaw
Source Mayupress, 24 Feb

Last 21 February night at about 09 PM, numbers of Rakhine youths gather and shouted near the gate of Mohammad Gani, 42 years old, an educated Rohingya person in Boumo Para, Maungdaw. He shut down all his windows and doors of home for his family safety and to be free of attack. Unfortunately, the Rakhine terrorists entered his home jointly with arm force Hlun Tin. When they tried to rape his daughters and wife, Mohammad Gani requested them not to do. Then they hit critically and brought him altogether.

The Rakhine took him a picture with a camera by making him to hold a gallon of kerosene and lighter as he went to torch up Rakhine Village. But the officer of Intelligent Police (Sarapa) found that he was innocent to the created false event then released him. He is still senseless with severe pain and injured.

The doctor said to his relatives as one of his vital organs damage by severe hitting. It is not sure that he will be recovered to normal healthy one. This is daily tragedy life of Rohingya inside Arakan, Burma

Australian RISE Media release: Calls for urgent Intervention into Rohingya refugees detained in Thailand

Source RISE, 26 Feb

RISE: Refugees, survivors and ex-detainees is the first organisation in Australia governed and run by members of the refugee and asylum seeker community in Australia. Our organisation consists of more than 200 members from over 30 communities in Australia. Among them are members of the Rohingya community in Australia. We have sent a request letter to Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra on 20 Feb 2013, calling for urgent intervention on the matter of Rohingya refugees in Thailand.
Due to ongoing genocidal attacks against the Rohingya people and additional contributing factors to their confinement and starvation by local authorities and the central government in Myanmar, the number of Rohingya people fleeing by boat has increased in the last few months. Boats landing in southern Thailand have increased to more than 2000 although the official estimate is only about 1700 from January 2013.
RISE is therefore shocked to hear about cases of severely traumatised and oppressed Rohingya refugee survivors who have been subjected to further trauma after being arrested in Thailand in the past weeks as they have arrived in the south of Thailand.
RISE is also shocked by the human trafficking measures used against the Rohingya refugees during such a humanitarian crisis. It should be noted that currently, trafficking out of Rohingya is the only alternative to persecution for Rohingya people.
RISE has received news from reliable sources, that these Rohingya men, women and children have been separated and sent to more than 20 different locations, made up mostly of Immigration Detention Centres (IDC) in Thailand. UNHCR pays regular visits to these refugees, but are yet to conduct refugee processing and determination of their status.
While Thai NGOs and governmental organisations are now providing food and other necessities there is still a huge shortfall in provision of services. Rohingya women and children placed in community-based social centres, still face a lack of adequate amenities and wash-rooms. Meanwhile, the Rohingya men held separately, in Thai IDCs are subject to overcrowding and confinement – conditions which can have serious health implications.
RISE welcomes the Thai national human rights commission (NHRC) for greater advocacy work for the rights of Rohingya as well as recent humanitarian steps taken by the Yingluck government regarding some newly arrived Rohingya boat arrivals. However, while the Thai Immigration Act regards Rohingya refugee migrants as illegal, RISE wishes to call upon all parties concerned to take appropriate measures to end this crisis.
RISE strongly recommends that the UNHCR regularise its process of recognition of persecuted de-facto stateless Rohingya refugees who face persecution due to their race and religion, and that the Australian government with other signatories to the UN refugee convention include this portion of refugees into its intake quota.

70 Rohingyas languish in detention in Srilanka with nowhere to go

Source Sundaytimes, 24 Feb

A severely persecuted minority in Myanmar which fears repatriation while no other country wants them�

By Skanda Gunasekara.��Pic by Nilan Maligaspe

The Government is burdened with the task of feeding and clothing 70 Rohingya people whom no country wants to accept as their citizens.�The 68 men and two boys aged 12 and 14 years are from the State of "Rohang" in Myanmar, and are commonly referred to as Rohingya Muslims. The United Nations (UN) says they are one of the most persecuted minority people in Myanmar, and many have fled across the border to either Bangladesh or Thailand. The Sino-Tibetans are the majority population in Myanmar.

Some of the Rohingya people at the Mirihana detention centre.

The first batch of 37 Rohingya people have remained in the Mirihana Detention Centre since February 2, Controller General of Immigration and Emigration told the Sunday Times. A further batch of 33 was lodged there a week ago, following their rescue from the high seas, he said. The Centre comes under his purview.

These "people with nowhere to go" are clothed and fed at State expense, until relevant State agencies work to resolve their citizenship status. An External Affairs Ministry (EAM) source who spoke on grounds of anonymity, said they had raised issue with the Myanmar embassy in Colombo about the status of the 70 persons. "We have had no response to our first inquiry about the 37 or the 33 who were rescued thereafter," he said. Hence, the EAM brought the matter to the attention of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Other diplomats in Colombo said the move was not surprising, as the Yangon government did not recognise the Rohingyas.

UNHCR's acting resident representative in Colombo, Jenniger Pagonis told the Sunday Times, "we have now sought permission to interview those in detention. This is to determine whether they are indeed Myanmar nationals. However, we have learnt from other accounts, that they do not wish to return to their country."

The saga of the 33 "persons with nowhere to go" came after the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) received a radio signal that a fishing craft had rescued a fisherman from a boat in distress. SLN spokesman P.K. Warnakulasuriya said "We immediately dispatched SLNS Sagara, and rescued 32 persons from the high seas, 250 nautical miles off Sri Lanka's east coast, returning to Galle after a nine-and-half-hour voyage." The survivors were then handed over to the Police.

The Police found they had a communications problem, as none of them spoke English. Helping out was the Ven. Maligawila Assagi Thera of the Gnanobasa Temple at Lower Dickson Road, Galle, acting as interpreter, through whom the Police were able to piece together a story with several gaps.

Only a few among the 33 spoke a little Burmese. They told Ven. Assagi that their boat began to drift after the engines failed. They had food stocks only for a month, but they had drifted for a further five weeks. Whenever someone died, they had thrown the body overboard. The count was 98 including two organisers of the voyage. While some claimed they were headed for Malaysia, it was later established that their destination was Australia.

Ven Assagi Thera told the Sunday Times, "the survivors are all labourers with Grade 4 education at most. After leaving Myanmar, they claimed they were spotted by the Thai Navy, forcing them to change course. They had planned to complete their voyage in 20 to 25 days."

Galle Magistrate U.S. Kalansuriya ordered the 17 survivors sent to the Detention Centre, when produced by the police. "Our role was over when we sent them to the Centre," Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Prashantha Jayakody said. �On February 2, the SLN rescued another 138 persons from the high seas, of who, 37 were Rohingyas.

(Additional reporting by�D.G.Sugathapala)


Saturday 23 February 2013

MP hits back at official denial of Rohingya

Source DVB, 22 Feb
 22 February 2013MP-Shwe Maung
Shwe Maung represents Buthidaung constituency in northern Arakan state. (DVB)

A member of parliament has fired back at claims that Rohingya Muslims do not exist in Burma, after a senior government minister allegedly accused the group of fabricating its history in a parliamentary discussion on Wednesday.

It follows media reports that the Deputy Immigration Minister, Kyaw Kyaw Win, on Wednesday formally denied the existence of a Rohingya race in Burma, referring to a stateless Muslim minority isolated near the Bangladeshi border.

But Shwe Maung, who is a native Rohingya, slammed the allegations, quoted in the English-language version of Burma's state media outlet the New Light of Myanmar, as historically and factually inaccurate.

"We should not simply deny there are no Rohingya, if we do that it would be irresponsible, we need a study," said the MP, who represents Buthidaung constituency in northern Arakan state.

Shwe Maung is one of only two Rohingya MPs in parliament, both of whom represent the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in Maungdaw district. In recent months, he has played an increasingly vocal role in defending the stateless minority, which is broadly viewed as "illegal Bengali immigrants" and denied citizenship by the government.

It follows two bouts of vicious sectarian clashes between Arakanese Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya in western Burma last year, which prompted senior politicians – many from the military and USDP – to call for the group to be exiled to a third country.

But Shwe Maung told DVB that he is leading a parliamentary initiative, along with two other MPs from Maungdaw district, to promote the rights of Rohingyas. He explained that they have called on the speaker of the lower house of parliament, Shwe Mann, to set up an investigative commission to establish whether or not Rohingyas exist in Burma.

"We [also] shared a separate report with our colleagues and MPs and I've received a lot of positive and constructive remarks," he said. "We focused on the facts and documents, especially printed by government media and the ministry of information. Based on that most of the MPs are impressed and agree that there are Rohingya [in Burma]."

Shwe Maung cited historical research carried out prior to the British colonisation of Burma in 1824, which formally recognised some 30,000 "Rohingya" Muslims living in Arakan state. Both Burma's first president and prime minister, Sao Shwe Thaik and U Nu respectively, reportedly recognised the Rohingya as one of the country's "indigenous races".

They were later stripped of their citizenship by former military dictator Ne Win.

"During my recent visit to Sittwe I have seen a lot of families with birth certificates with the ethnic name Rohingya, but still [some are] denying [them]," he said, dismissing allegations that "Bengalis" are migrating into Arakan state.

"People are not coming in, people are going out," he said. "In [our language] Burmese Rakhine Muslims are called Rohingya – they are the Muslim people who live in Arakan."

He also accused the English-version of the New Light of misrepresenting Wednesday's parliamentary discussion.

"[Kyaw Kyaw Win] did not mention there is no Rohingya in Myanmar, but it appeared in the [English-language] media," Shwe Muang.

In fact, the Burmese version of the New Light, quoted Kyaw Kyaw Win as saying "there have been cross-border relations since the ancient times", although he added that Arakanese Muslims were not recognised as natives in the 1973 census. But many government representatives, including the President's Office Director Zaw Htay, seized the opportunity to slate the Rohingya on social media.

Although Shwe Maung's increasingly vocal activism represents a significant shift in the USDP's notorious reputation for silencing dissent, some analysts question its implications for Burma's political transition.

"I think it says more about the USDP, which is a party that people joined because it gave them a position of influence rather than a party with a particular ideology," Mark Farmaner from Burma Campaign UK told DVB.

"I don't think it says much about parliament, which is constitutionally almost powerless. I think it can give people a voice they didn't have before; and some MPs are using that to represent their constituents whereas others are using it to promote their own self-interests."

Farmaner added that it was "unfortunate" that Aung San Suu Kyi's party – the National League for Democracy (NLD) – has still failed to come out more strongly on the Rohingya issue.

But Shwe Maung insists that he will continue to "carry the voices of his constituents" to parliament. He added that he is not necessarily pushing for Rohingyas to be recognised as "indigenous peoples" in Burma, but that their basic human rights must be respected.

"For the time being the most important thing is the people. People are living with a lack of food, they cannot move, they cannot access the market, they cannot access aid from the international community."

More than 125,000 people, mostly from the Rohingya minority, were uprooted in last year's violence and many are still denied humanitarian aid.

Tags: , ,

Rohingyas not ‘illegal immigrants’ in Myanmar, say Nobel laureates

Source Mizzima, 21 Feb
The charge that the Rohingya are illegal immigrants to Myanmar is false, say Jose Ramos-Horta and Muhammed Yunus, respectively the 1996 and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winners.
On November 20, 2012, President Ramos-Horta (left) visited the Yunus Centre and Grameen Bank with fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus. (Photo:
"There is evidence that the Rohingya have been in present-day Myanmar since the 8th century," they said, writing for the Huffington Post. "It is incontrovertible that Muslim communities have existed in [Rakhine] State since the 15th century, added to by descendants of Bengalis migrating to Arakan [Rakhine] during colonial times."

The comments by Ramos-Horta, the former President of Timor-Leste, and Bangladeshi banker and philanthropist Yunus are sure to raise eyebrows in Myanmar where historical facts surrounding the origin of the Rohingya community are hotly contested.

"The minority Muslim Rohingya continue to suffer unspeakable persecution, with more than 1,000 killed and hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes just in recent months, apparently with the complicity and protection of security forces," the laureates wrote.

Ramos-Horta and Yunus also criticized Myanmar's 1982 Citizenship Law which failed to recognize the Rohingyas as citizens of the country, and condemned the travel, marriage and reproduction restrictions imposed on the Rohingyas by the State. The pair called for the Myanmar government to protect the Rohingyas and welcome them as full citizens of the country.

The outspoken support for the Muslim Rohingya minority group comes in stark contrast to the silence and refusal to become embroiled in the situation of a fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate—Myanmar's own Aung San Suu Kyi.

It also contrasts with a comment made by Deputy Immigration and Population Minister Kyaw Kyaw Win who, speaking at the House of Representatives in Naypyitaw on Thursday, said that "there is no so-called Rohingya ethnic race in Myanmar," according to a report in the state-run media.

Myanmar asylum seekers say they floated 25 days, and 97 died before rescue in Sri Lanka

Source foxnews, 22 Feb

Myanmar asylum seekers rescued by Sri Lanka's navy last week say they floated for 25 days at sea and 97 people died of starvation after Thailand's navy intercepted them and forcibly removed their boat's engine. The Thai navy has denied the allegation.

Thirty-two men and a boy now held at an immigration detention center near Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo, were rescued last Saturday when their dilapidated wooden vessel began sinking while making a perilous journey to Malaysia.

All are Rohingya Muslims who face heavy discrimination in Myanmar, and say they do not want to return there.

The survivors were suffering from serious dehydration when they were rescued about 400 kilometers (250 miles) off Sri Lanka's east coast. The Sri Lankan navy said they were alerted to the sinking vessel by a fisherman.

"The journey was dangerous, but we had to do that ... as we fear for our lives, no jobs, and big fighting" in Myanmar, one of the survivors, Shofiulla, told The Associated Press.

Sectarian violence in western Myanmar has killed hundreds of people and displaced 100,000 more since last June. The Rohingya speak a Bengali dialect and resemble Bangladeshis, with darker skin than most people in Myanmar, which is mostly Buddhist. They are widely regarded as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

The United Nations estimates the Rohingya population in Myanmar at 800,000, but the Myanmar government does not recognize them as one of the country's 135 ethnic groups. Most are denied citizenship and have no passports, though many of their families have lived in the country for generations. Bangladesh also refuses to accept them as citizens.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees expressed concern Friday over the rising number of deaths of Rohingya at sea and urged Myanmar's government to promote reconciliation in conflict-hit Rakhine state and ensure them basic living conditions and eventual access to citizenship.

While commending the Sri Lankan navy's quick response, UNHCR also said there are continuing reports of some countries in the region putting boat people back to sea. It asked countries to "keep their borders open to people in need of international protection ... (and) offer them temporary assistance and protection until durable solutions can be found."

Shofiulla, 24, said 130 people were on the boat when the journey to Malaysia began on Jan. 10. Each had paid $465.

After 10 days' travel, he said the boat reached the Thai border and two boats from the Thai navy intercepted them. Shofiulla said the navy personnel took their engine.

"Then we (had) no food, no rations ... no water. We drank only sea water," he said, adding that the bodies of the 97 who died over the next 25 days were put into the sea.

Col. Thanathip Sawangsaeng, a Thailand Defense Ministry spokesman, denied the allegations.

"This is absolutely not true. The Thai navy officers would have not done that," he said, adding that similar accusations have arisen in the past, including claims that the Thai navy had abused refugees. "The Royal Thai Navy commander has previously made it clear that the Thai officers have treated the boat people according to humanitarian principles." "There are two approaches in handling the Rohingya: giving them food and help before letting them carry on their sea journey or prosecute them for illegal entry. However, it's not possible that the Thai navy would have done what they were alleged of doing."

The Thai army said last month that it had suspended two senior officers pending an investigation into their alleged involvement in trafficking Rohingya people from Myanmar to other countries.

Shofiulla said he is a second-year student studying microbiology, but that his university was closed last July after the violence erupted. "We can't go back to our country ... our government kills Muslims ... we are afraid to go back. We want to go to a safe place," said Shofiulla, who appeared to be the only English-speaking person in the group.

He said they wanted to go to Malaysia to find jobs, following in the footsteps of others from his village. He said 25 people were now in the detention center while eight others were still hospitalized.

Sri Lankan Immigration and Emigration Controller Chulananda Perera said his department has informed Myanmar's embassy in Colombo and is seeking its cooperation in identifying the survivors to begin the process of sending them back but has not received a response.

There was no immediate comment from the embassy.


Associated Press writer Thanyarat Doksone in Bangkok, Thailand, contributed to this report.

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Religious attack in Rangoon wreaks havoc on local community

Source DVB,
 21 Februaryruins
A screenshot of a Muslim school in Thaketa township, Rangoon after being assaulted by a mob on 18 February 2013. (DVB)

A local Burmese community has been left terrified after an angry mob of 300 Buddhists viciously attacked a Muslim school and several businesses in a suburb outside Rangoon earlier this week, according to local sources.

It follows news that hundreds of Buddhist nationalists launched a violent assault on a religious school in Thaketa township on Sunday, after it applied for permission to have its roof repaired. Reports suggest that the mob believed the building was being developed into a mosque.

On Monday, the mob returned to ransack businesses and homes, including hurling bricks and abuse at petrified locals. The violence has spread fear and confusion among local Muslims, who say they have never before had any problems with their Buddhist neighbours. Most of the people DVB interviewed did not believe that the vandals had come from the local community.

"Some [shady-looking] characters arrived in a truck – about three or four of them jumped out carrying sticks, blended into the crowd and began shouting stuff," a local witness told DVB. "Then a whistle blew from the truck and the three guys in the crowd yelled "get them!" and rallied the crowd [to attack]."

Many local families told DVB they are still too afraid to sleep in their homes and don't understand why their community was attacked. Over 20 families reportedly fled the area, even though riot police were quickly deployed on the ground.

"We were afraid so we left," explained a 35-year-old mother. "At night the children don't sleep, they don't study. When I leave them at school now they are still shaking with fear."

A spokesperson for the Islamic Religious Affairs Council Myanmar told DVB that the Muslim school had recently sought approval to renovate its roof, but because the structure had exceeded its permitted height by five feet, the municipal authority subsequently withdrew its authorisation. Rumours then quickly circulated that the school was being built into a mosque.

"I assume they misunderstood about the building – [Muslims] are required to wash themselves before reading the religious text so there are water taps [wash rooms] in Muslim schools," said Wunna Shwe. "And according to our religious teachings – we have to pray at the prayer time."

Police confirmed to DVB that four people were detained after the violence – none of which were identified as locals – but were released on Thursday. But Wunna Shwe insisted that both residents and outsiders were likely involved in the violence, which has the potential to trigger further religious tensions in the capital.

Reports suggest that local media, as well as prominent public personalities, played a role in stirring the hostilities. In an article published on 17 December, The Voice Weekly published accusations that a mosque was being developed and quoted inflammatory remarks by the controversial monk Wirathu, who has repeatedly spearheaded Islamophobic campaigns in Burma.

"It is true. [Muslims] are sneakily building mosques at night time," he told the The Voice Weekly. "There are plenty of those mosques in Burma containing cellars and tunnels underneath like military bases."

The article was later removed without explanation.

Over the past year, Burma has come under international scrutiny for its treatment of Muslim residents – notably the stateless Rohingya in western Burma, who clashed with local Buddhists in two bouts of violence last year. But this is the first major episode of religious violence to spill into the heart of the capital, which also hosts a large Muslim population.

"Burma has been a country where people of different religious beliefs live together in harmony and it is sad to see we have to be like this to each other when we are living in the age of openness and transparency; what everyone longed for," said Wunna Shwe.

-Aye Nai contributed reporting.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Burmese Authority supplies guns to Rakhine Second Time in Northern Maungdaw

Source Mayupress, 20 Feb

Edited By Mohamed Farooq

The Burmese government supplies ten guns to each Rakhine village on 16 February 2013 in Northern Maungdaw. The Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) and Rakhine National Development Party (RNDP) formed a youth group having a leader to every Rakhine village who are under training with gun and long swords to attack Rohingya at any time.

Rakhine can move and carry their activities openly as there are no barriers and attachments from government. The Rakhine terrorists target to rise up third massacre of Rohingya within their water festival will held in April. The president of RNDP and Member of Parliament, Dr. Aye Maung stated about the third violence in the Parliament of Burma.

Rakhine terrorists are well trained up and ready to attack Rohingya again in their desired time. The Rakhine terrorists and Burmese authority aim to root out all the Rohingya from the land of Arakan and make free Muslim Zone. Not only in Arakan (known as Rakhine state) but also has every corner of Burma resumed to destroy Muslim by extremist Buddhist with the full support of government policy.

Horror at Sea: 98 Bodies Thrown Overboard as Boatpeople Perish from Thirst, Starvation

Source Phuketwan, 19 Feb
PHUKET: Survivors of a Burmese deathship, saved after two months adrift, have told of throwing 98 bodies overboard as their fellow companions perished.

The 31 men and a boy who were rescued 463 kilometres from land by the Sri Lankan Navy said they originally set sail two months ago from northern Burma for Indonesia or Australia.

Instead, the suspected Rohingya found themselves languishing on the Indian Ocean, dying one by one of thirst or starvation or dehydration in a nightmare voyage.

The rescue of survivors is likely to throw into sharp media focus the core cause - Burma's ethnic cleansing of its Muslim minority Rohingya - and the lack of an international policy to stop the slaughter.

''They said they had carried food and water for only one month and they had been in the sea for two months after the ship engine stalled,'' police spokesman Prishantha Jayakody told Reuters in Colombo, Sri Lanka's capital.

''Their captain and 97 others have died due to dehydration and starvation. They also said they had thrown the dead bodies into the sea.''

Thousands of boatpeople have set out in record numbers, since October especially, to sail past Phuket to sanctuary in Malaysia, knowing that many boats sink but determined to sail because life in Burma can't get any worse.

The saga of the people rescued off Sri Lanka this week adds a new and horrible dimension of death by thirst and starvation at sea.

Most of the boats leaving from northern Burma still carry just men and boys but boats departing from further south around the troubled township of Sittwe now also carry women and children.

Two boatloads of Rohingya have fetched up off Phuket in recent weeks. The first, apprehended off southern Phuket on January 1, carried women and 10 children aged under 10.

They were taken ashore on compassionate grounds, trucked north quickly and put bach on another boat by authorities within 48 hours.

The second boatload consisting of 205 men and boys was apprehended off Racha island, south of Phuket, on Janauary 29, and ''helped on'' straight away by the Royal Thai Navy with extra water.

The word has since reached the people smuggling brokers in Burma that Thailand is no longer bringing boatpeople to shore, sticking instead to its ''help on'' policy.

India is now believed to have adopted the same policy. Australia, on the other hand, has the equivalent of a ''pushback'' policy designed to repel boatloads of queue-jumping would-be immigrants.

Thailand dropped that ''pushback'' policy in 2009 after hundreds of Rohingya perished at sea off Indonesia and India's Andaman and Nicobar islands.

Without an international approach to force Burma to end the violence against the stateless Rohingya and grant them some basic rights, the horrors at sea will continue.

Radicalisation Creates Ethnic Conflict Between Rohingya Muslims, Buddhists

Source News blaze, 17 Feb
'Rohingya Muslim Community Refugees' (RMCR)s are actually Myanmar (Burma) Muslim Community Refugees. These Refugees have a population around 800,000 in Myanmar and they are regarded as illegal aliens, who came from Bangladesh to steal scarce land. They are branded illegal infiltrators by the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (GRUM), and have been denied basic civil rights and deprived of citizenship under a 1984 law, which excluded them as one of the country's 135 ethnic groups.

Bangladesh Denies Recognition

Rohingya Refugees in unhygienic makeshift camp
View of an unhygienic makeshift camp on the outskirts of Delhi, India.
Photo: Shib Shankar Chatterjee

The Government of the Peoples' Republic of Bangladesh rejects recognition of these refugees as their bona-fide citizens and denies them entry into Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan of present Pakistan State, popularly known as - Purbo Bango or Purbo Bangla). The refugees face official discrimination, a strategy encouraged by the previous Burmese junta regime to enlist popular support among other groups.

These Myanmar refugees allege that they fled from their home-state - Rakhine (previously Arakan) State of Myanmar in the years - 1978, 1991 to 1992, 2009, 2012 and took shelter in various registered (by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, known as - UNHCR) and unregistered refugee camps due to systematic kidnapping, raping, torturing, killing and religious persecution by the Myanmarese frontier international border guards.

"Actually, just after World War II (1939 to 1945) the first wave of RMCR arrived in British control undivided India's Undivided Bengal Province, after Japanese soldiers committed myriad acts of inhumane torture, rape, murder on thousands in the Rohingya Muslim Community. At that time, around 22,000 Rohingyas fled from their Arakan State region and were believed to have crossed over the present Burma-Bangladesh international boundary and entered into British ruled Bengal Province to escape the violence. The flow of Rohingyas happened once again after frequent carnage by the Burmese and Japanese forces. At that time it was about 40,000, who took shelter to Chittagong District region of present Bangladesh," according to United Nations records.

Rohingya Refugees wash clothes, bathe, take drinking-water from this tube-well
Residents wash their clothes, bathe and take drinking-water from this tube-well in their unhygienic makeshift camp on the outskirts of Delhi, India.
Photo: Shib Shankar Chatterjee

The Most Forgotten People

The South Asian writer-cum-expert, Subir Bhaumik, wrote in an article, "The Buddhist Rakhines and the world's most forgotten people - Rohingya Muslims, have a long tradition of yawning enmity, which goes back to the sturdy flood of Religious Muslim immigrants from Bengal's Chittagong region into Arakan province, movement that was persuaded by the English. Thousands of Thousands Rakhines and Rohingya died in clashes in Arakan Province in the year, 1942, that is, during the World War-II. The Japanese also massacred large number of RMC peoples because; the community peoples supported the English."

According to UNHCR records, Government of Peoples' Republic of Bangladesh, other Indian Intelligence Sources and various Rohingya organizations claimed, "Since 1978, the areas like - Teknaf, Ukhia of Cox's Bazar district of Bangladesh have been dotted under huge stress due to unabated illegal Burmese Refugees. The huge wave of Myanmar illegal infiltrators illegally entered into those areas in February, 1978 to 1979, because of the infamous Burmese Army Operation, namely - Nagamin Sit Sin Yay (that is, 'Dragon King')." As a result of this, around 250,000 to 300,000 refugees took shelter illegally in those areas of Bangladesh. It is said that later almost all the refugees returned to their nation in 1979.

Encouraging The Rohingya

Rohingya Refugee warms herself and cooks food
Rabia Khatun (52) warms herself and cooks food in front of a fire in her makeshift camp on the outskirts of Delhi, India.
Photo: Shib Shankar Chatterjee

During the regime of General Ziaur Rahman, President of Bangladesh from 21st April, 1977 to 30th May, 1981, the Rohingyas were encouraged to take shelter in Bangladesh and to raise an armed struggle against the military-led Government of the Republic of the Union of Burma. When General Rahman's wife became Prime Minister of Bangladesh, between 20th March, 1991 and 30th March, 1996, she also encouraged the Rohingya to settle in Bangladesh.

As a result, large numbers of Myanmar Rohingya Refugees illegally crossed over the Myanmar-Bangladesh International Border from 1991 to 1992, when they faced oppression and ill treatment, including abuse, forced labour, harassment, rape, arbitrary land seizure, destruction of property, execution, persecution, and more, by the Myanmarese Junta Government.

Myanmar Operations Pyi Thaya and Na-Sa-Ka

4 year old Rohingya Refugee child
4-year-old Yasmin standing in her makeshift camp on the outskirts of Delhi, India.
Photo: Shib Shankar Chatterjee

During July, 1991 to 1992, Myanmar launched Operation Pyi Thaya (Clean & Beautiful Nation) and Operation Na-Sa-Ka. About 250,000 to 270,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh and took shelter in 20 refugee camps. Of those, about 50,000 refugees returned to Burma in 1993, and around 230,000 from 1994 to December, 1995, after the Governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement in April, 1992 for the 'safe voluntary' return of Rohingya refugees.

Then, between 1996-1997, around 25,000 Rohingya refugee illegally entered Bangladesh, but at that time, the Government of Bangladesh denied them refugee status. Another ethnic conflict broke out in Myanmar's State of Rakhine, in 2009 and again in June, 2012, causing, many Rohingya people to try to take shelter in Bangladesh. The Government of Bangladesh refused to accept any Rohingya refugees for "fragile economic, social and environmental reasons."

United Nations Reports

Rohingya Refugee with baby grandson
With his grand-daughter, Abdul Matleb (55) plays with his new born grandson, Muhammad Hassan outside his makeshift camp on the outskirts of Delhi, India.
Photo: Shib Shankar Chatterjee

According to various UN reports, "Tal camp set up in the year - 2002 at Teknaf Upazila under Cox's Bazar district again it relocated at Leda Bazar Camp."

Around 34,000 Muslim refugees created a new camp known as Kutupalong, between 2009-2010. At the same time, the UN report says there were around 300,000 undocumented stateless Rohingya Muslim minority refugees, whom Myanmar had refused recognition as Myanmar citizens for many years. They had taken shelter and were staying illegally around Cox's Bazar, Bandarban and Chittagong districts of Bangladesh, one of the poorest areas in Bangladesh.

Kutupalong and Nayapara in Cox's Bazar district had 29,000 registered refugees (11,500 in Kutupalong and 17,500 in Nayapara). These registered Rohingya refugees obtained UNHCR official 'refugee status' and had been living in the UNHCR camps. 20,000 were unregistered in Kutapalong and another 10,000 unregistered in Leda Bazar camp near Nayapara in Cox's Bazar district, living in private camps in unhygienic conditions.

Rohingya Refugee cooking food for her children
Zamila Begum (33) busy cooking food for her children in her makeshift camp on the outskirts of Delhi, India.
Photo: Shib Shankar Chatterjee

The United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP) reports, "About 200,000 to 400,000 Rohingya Muslim refugee spontaneously had settled across the Cox's Bazar district of Bangladesh in June, 2010, while in June, 2012, there are around 92,000 refugees once again fled from their native areas Arakan State after ethnic conflict occurred between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslim Community, but Myanmar Government in this connection stated about 52,000 Rohingya peoples fled from the nation after the ethnic clash broke out."

According to the Rohingya Muslim Community leaders, "It is fact that a number of factors linked to legal, political, economic and social aspects had persuaded the Rohingyas to cross the Bangladesh-Myanmar international border and entered into Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Pakistan, India, Thailand, Australia, and in various Middle East and European countries in a scattered way. Out of about the 2.5-million Rohingya Muslims, around 2-million were claimed to be living outside their country of origin, Burma. But, in this context, Bangladesh always took a silent spectator's role."

Under the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the Muslim refugees are not refugees.

Bangladesh Not A Signatory To Refugee Convention

3 year old Rohingya Refugee child
3-year-old Sajida stands in front of her makeshift camp on the outskirts of Delhi, India.
Photo: Shib Shankar Chatterjee

Bangladesh is not a signatory to the United Nations Convention (UNC), neither has it ratified the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951 or its Protocol of 1967. Under the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951 or its Protocol of 1967, the Muslim refugees are not refugees. Because, under the above UNC, in order to be eligible for the status of a refugee, there should be 'well founded fear of persecution by the nation, but Myanmar's violence in Arakan State is a purely domestic law and order issue.

Myanmar Crimes Against Rohingya

The crimes against the Rohingya peoples were described as follows, "The Myanmar Government, under the military leadership of General Ne Win (who took control over Myanmar state through a military coup on 2nd March, 1962 and ruled the Burmese Government) ethnically cleansed the Rohingya Muslim Minority Community People and denied us all types of fundamental rights and status of Burma. We were declared stateless and not a single Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was honoured."

Rohingya Refugee describes horror incidents
Sexagenarian Imam Hussain describes horror incidents to his relative, at his makeshift camp on the outskirts of Delhi, India.
Photo: Shib Shankar Chatterjee

"We have been facing Restriction of Movement or Travel, on Education, Restriction on Ability to work, on Marriage, Prevention of reproduction and forced abortion, Depopulation of Rohingya community, Registration of births and deaths in families and even of domestic animals (cattle etcetera) and the associated extortion, Denial of Citizenship, Confiscation of residency/citizenship cards, Land Confiscation, Arbitrary Taxation and Extortion, Forced Eviction, Arbitrary arrest, Torture, Extra-judicial killing, Execution, Forced Labor, Ethnic discrimination, Religious persecution, Violence and rape aganist Rohingya Women and Elders, Destruction of homes, offices, schools, mosques, sites and shrines, etcetera."

Supporting these facts, Haroon Habib, the renowned Bangladeshi journalist, stated, "Bangladesh couldn't hold a new arrival of infiltrators due to her population boom, scarcity or shortage of lands and fragile economy. At present, most of the illegal refugees have reportedly merged with the local populace and huge chunk of them is said to be moved to South Asian countries like - India, Pakistan and Afghanistan and the West Asian nations as well on fake Bangladeshi passports."

"Myanmar has the largest Rohingya Muslim Community population in the world - around 800,000, while another 250,000 are in Bangladesh and hundreds of thousands more are scattered around the world, primarily the Middle East," a United Nations report says. The Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission says in their reports, "There are 200,000 unregistered or undocumented RMCR."

Nowhere Peoples

Rohingya Refugees return to camp after working
Dildar Miyanh (37) and Muhammad Haroon (44) return to their makeshift camp in the evening on the outskirts of Delhi, India, after their day work to earn two-meals-a-day for their family.
Photo: Shib Shankar Chatterjee

The nowhere peoples, who look like Bengalis and speak a dialect that is close to the language spoken in Teknaf, Ukhia and Cox's Bazar and Chittagong region of Chittagong district of Bangladesh, also present felt, admitted and spoke, "Over the last two decades, public support in Bangladesh has significantly diminished, which also added to ensuing governments to be less sensitive to us. Because, the peoples of Bangladesh think we are being backed and equipped by Jamaat-i-Islami of Bangladesh, which party always and viciously opposed the Liberation War of Bangladesh, 1971.

The Begum Khaleda Zia-led Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), uses us as a vote-bank during election periods, is always encouraging us (that is, a major portion of the RMMCPs) to fight against the Myanmar Government and to demand 'separate homeland for Rohingya Muslim Community' by 'secessionist movement' on the soil of Burma, since the period of Zia-ur-Rehman. Not only that the raise in numbers of unregistered RMC peoples, whom are also 'illegal economic migrants' in the greater Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) areas, particularly in Bandarban and Chittagong districts of Bangladesh, have also annoyed the local ethnic communities of Bangladesh."

What The Local Residents Say

Local people in Cox's Bazar and Chittagong districts of Bangladesh allege, "It is true that the conditions of the children, girl-children, women, widows, aged men and women of RMCR peoples are very miserable due to no proper care and scarcity of facilities like - Health, Food, Sanitation, Drinking-water and Education. Unfortunately they took shelter in our areas and have undeniably created social, cultural and law and order problems."

Poverty, Vulnerability and Lawlessness

Various international and Bangladesh Defence reports indicate poverty and lawlessness go together. "The socio-economically backward and insecure Rohingya Minority Muslim Community Refugee (RMMCR) peoples, (who are basically, deprived of their rights and status since 1962, when General Ne Win seized power in Myanmar) are known to fall prey to unscrupulous circles and their agents easily and as a result of this they are allegedly involved in the anti-social works like smuggling, narcotics trade and human trafficking."

Rohingiya Refugee sits alone in camp
Johura Begum (60) sits alone in her makeshift camp on the outskirts of Delhi, India. More than 10,000 Burmese Rohingya Muslim refugee took shelter in Indian (Hyderabad) Andhra Pradesh, (Mewat) Haryana, (Kanchankunj) Delhi and Jammu States after ethnic strife between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists that continued since the 1940s. Still so many peoples of this community have been living at various refugee camps in Myanmar, Bangladesh and India. Rohingya Muslims of Buthidaung, Rathedaung and Sittwe of Rakhine (formerly, Arakan) State, who ran away from Myanmar to Bangladesh to India and other South-Asian countries to escape socio-political-religious violence.
Photo: Shib Shankar Chatterjee

Fences Protect Against Border Crossing, Create Militants

The Myanmar Government started to erect an International Barbed Wire Border Fence (IBWBF) between Myanmar and Bangladesh in 2009. Once, where the movements of citizens between Myanmar and Bangladesh were easy in happier days, today it has totally stopped. Burmese labourers were working hard to erect International Border Fence (IBF) along the 320-kilometre (200 mile) Myanmar-Bangladesh International Border. Bangladesh might be fairly content with that border fence, but the Rohingya refugees were very much perturbed and upset.

At the same time, reports from South Asian Intelligence Agencies suggested, "Due to 'persecution' by the Myanmar State machinery, sections of RMMCRs have formed guerilla groups (such as the Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO) and the Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front) and to start secessionist movement to demand a 'Separate Rohingya Land' in the Rakhine State of Burma." It has come true again, when a recent media coverage or report on the creation of the Arakan Rohingya Union (ARU) in Saudi Arabia State proposes, which such acts have not expired.

Reports also claim, "Several Rohingya Minority Muslim Community Refugees are involved in radical activities across the Bangladesh-Burma International Border and within Bangladesh territory. Most astonishing facts are that a number of Bangladeshi political parties, particularly the main opposition political party of Bangladesh - Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allied party like - Pan-Islamic religious support based political party, Jamat-i-Islami Bangladesh (JEIB), led by former PM of Bangladesh-Begum Khaleda Zia, Ameer Allama Mufti Fazlul Haque Amini-led Islami Oikyo Jote (IOJ), which is also the supporter of Pan Islamic Religious Fundamental Militant Group (PIRFMG) like Taliban and created massive chaos in social, economical, political, cultural and religious spheres of Bangladesh, had used the plight of the Rohingya refugees for their cheap political gains. Even, former president of Bangladesh - Hussain Muhammad Ershad led political party, Jatio Party (JP) to some extent involved on that context."

Many Militant Groups

Rohingiya Refugees pray in makeshift mosque
Abdul Matleb (55) with his neighbours are doing Nammaz (praying to god) at their mosque in a makeshift camp on the outskirts of Delhi, India.
Photo: Shib Shankar Chatterjee

South Asian Intelligence Agencies further disclosed, "There are several militant groups of Rohingya Muslim Minority Community Groups in various periods. These are - Mujahideen, Rohingya National Army (RNA), Rohingya Liberation Party (RLP), Rohingya Patriotic Front (RPF), Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO), Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO). Apart from these, there are also a few small groups such as the Central Rohingya Jammatul Ulama (CRJU), the Ittehadul Mujahiddial of Arakan or Itihadul Mujahideen of Arakan (IMA), the Rohingya Islamic Liberation Organisation (RILO), and the Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front (ARIF). These groups had joined the Democratic Alliance of Burma (DAB) in May, 1992, which currently is virtually inactive. These groups have always created a chaotic law and order situation through various anti-social and anti-national activities to obtain their rights and government facilities from the Burmese Government. Because, Government of Myanmar imposed ban and restrictions to enjoy various rights and facilities of them, due to their secessionist or insurgent movement activities."

Supporting these facts, an Israeli historian, namely Moshe Yegar argued, "Mujahideen separatist movement in Rakhine Province happened due to intense discrimination and coercion on RMC by Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar."

Wikipedia mentioned in their website Myanmar State's Pan-Islamic Religious Fundamental Militant activities in detail. As per their records, the Bengali Speaking Islamic Extremist Group, known as Mujahid insurgency in Arakan State started in 1946 and continued up to 1961. Burma became independent from United Kingdom on 4th January, 1948. Subsequently, 'Martial Law' was declared in November, 1948 across the entire Myanmar nation. To combat the Islamic Militancy, various army operations were started in and around Arakan State Province.

Jami-a-tul Ulema-e-Islam and Armed Insurgency

Rohingiya Refugee cooks for grandson
Johura Begum (60) cooks in front of her grandson in her makeshift camp on the outskirts of Delhi, India.
Photo: Shib Shankar Chatterjee

An extensive armed insurgency began with the creation of a political party Jami-a-tul Ulema-e-Islam led by the chairman Omra Meah with the material backing of Ulnar Mohammad Muzahid Khan and Molnar Ibrahim. The goal of the Mujahideen insurgency was to amalgamate the Mayu frontier district of Arakan into former East Pakistan (presently, Bangladesh). But before the sovereignty of Myanmar, in May, 1946, a section of Muslim leaders from Rakhine State addressed themselves to Mohammad Ali Jinha, the founder and father of Pakistan nation and asked his support to take possession of Mayu (formerly known as - Manlayuwaddy, which passes through Buthidaung, Rathedaung and Sittwe [capital of Rakhine State] townships and ended in the bay of Bengal sea) river region and merge it to Pakistan that was about to be created. Two months later, North Arakan Muslim League (NMAL) was created in Sittwe (formerly known as - Akyab), which group also trying and demanding to merge with Pakistan. But, that plan was apparently denied by Muhammad Jinnah and didn't surface.

In the meantime, the Myanmarese Central Government rejected a 'Separate Islamic Autonomous State' in the Manlayuwaddy region, where two townships - Buthidaung and Maungdaw are situated near the Burma-Bangladesh International Border. As a result of this, the Mujahideens from Northern Arakan affirmed 'Jehad on Myanmar.' The Mujahideen extremists started their militant activities in the Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships of Mayu region of Myanmar, which lies on the Burma-East Pakistan international boundary. The most astonishing fact was that a long-term illegitimate and key rice-smuggler namely, Abdul Kasheem was the head of the Mujahideen militancy. Within a few years, Mujahid rebels made rapid progress and banished the Arakanese villages. The Arakanese residents of Maungdaw and Buthidaung were forced to depart from their homes.

In June 1949, Burmese Government power was diminished to Sittwe township only, and Mujahideens were in control of all Northern Arakan provinces. The Government of Myanmar alleged that the Mujahideens were prompting thousands and thousands of Bengali Speaking Muslim Community people to immigrate into Arakan State from the over-populated former East Pakistan.

Indo-Aryan Rohingya Origins

Rohingiya Refugee with his sister
Muhammad Yunus (with his 5 year-old sister, Argina) stands in a makeshift camp, while their aunt prepares food for them on the outskirts of Delhi, India.
Photo: Shib Shankar Chatterjee

The Rohingya Muslim Minority Community peoples are Indo-Aryan natives from the state of 'Rohang' officially known as - Rakhine (Arakan). Though they are native to Burma and ethno-linguistically related to the Indo-Aryan citizens of India and Bangladesh (as opposed to the Sino-Tibetan people in Burma). The term 'Rohingya' comes from Rohang, the Rohingya word for the state of Arakan, from where the Rohingya originate. Though, a section of Rohingya Muslim Minority Community historians, like Khalilur Rahma argued that the term Rohingya perhaps derived from Arabic word Rahma meaning 'mercy', this is unlikely. Rohingya Muslim Minority Community peoples practice Sunni Islam with elements of Sufi worship."

The Human Rights Watch organization, Asian Research Service and other South Asian research organizations say Myanmar is a multi-religious country. Besides Rakhine province, there are Muslims in other parts of Myanmar, including Yangon (formerly Rangoon). The Mujahideen party was founded by RMC elders, who supported the Jihad movement in northern Arakan in 1946-1947. The aim of the Mujahid or Mujahideen party was to create an 'Independent Autonomous Muslim State' or 'Separate Islamic Autonomous Arakan State' in the northern part of Arakan province and RSO planned to avert the oppression of ethnic RMCs in Burma and RMCRs in Bangladesh. The faction also intended to unite 'Rohingya Peoples of Burma & Bangladesh', by ousting the Myanmarese armed forces through pestering and the classical strategies of revolutionary fighting.

Burmese Historians Say

Rohingiya Refugee warms herself while cooking
Rabia Khatun (52) warms herself up and cooks food in front of a fire in her makeshift camp on the outskirts of Delhi, India.
Photo: Shib Shankar Chatterjee


Burmese historians say "The Rohingyas are Muslims from Myanmar's Rakhine province. They are of Bengali origin, who migrated to the Arakans after the British occupation of Myanmar. But the Rohingyas trace their origin to those Bengalis, who accompanied King Naraimeikhla of Arakans, who regained his throne with the help of the Bengal sultan in 1434. Their population however rose sharply after the British occupation and they came to dominate the northern part of the Arakans state."

"In the 1940s, they were involved in violent rioting with the Buddhist Rakhines, who see themselves as sons of the soil in Arakans. During the Second World War, the Rohingyas supported the British, while the Rakhines and Burmans sided, at least initially with the Japanese. After the War, some Rohingyas formed the Mujahid party seeking an 'autonomous state' in northern Arakans, but that was never granted. After Bangladesh went under military rule, President Ziaur Rehman asked his intelligence agencies to back the Rohingya insurgent groups to create an 'Islamic State' in northern Arakans. The Burmese military junta responded with a heavy handed operation Nagamin (Dragon King) that sought to oust the Rohingyas from the Arakans. A quarter of a million Rohingyas fled into Bangladesh to escape the atrocities unleashed during Nagamin."

"In 1982, Myanmar enacted a new citizenship law excluding the Rohingyas from citizenship and suddenly rendering them a stateless community. Ten years later, a fresh wave of another quarter of a million Rohingyas fled into Bangladesh, looking to escape the Burmese military persecution."

In recent years, Bangladesh has sought to send back the Rohingyas to Myanmar but neither the military junta nor the quasi-civilian regime of President Thein Sein were keen to receive them. Many believe that to disrupt the repatriation process, the Burmese military intelligence triggered the Rakhine-Rohingya riots several times this year. Hundreds have died in the riots, mostly Rohingyas. Close to 80,000 Rohingya have been forced to take shelter in makeshift camps. Many have fled to Bangladesh, where the Sheikh Hasina led Awami League Bangladesh Government is unwilling to take them because they are believed to be far too radicalised.

Meanwhile, thousands of Rohingyas have covertly migrated all over the world from Australia in the east to Saudi Arabia in west - many finding their way even to the United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK). Former BBC correspondent Subir Bhaumik, who exposed the Thai police for throwing back the Rohingyas on the high seas after taking away the motors in their leaky boats, says "The Rohingyas are perhaps the 'most unwanted people' anywhere in the world. Nobody wants or cares for them - not their native Myanmar, neither neighbouring countries like Bangladesh or India, nor anybody else."

Today, they are nobody's people in a no-man's land, and their sorrow and plight continue endlessly.

References :
1. An Ugly Attack on Human Rights - by Shib Shankar Chatterjee, News Blaze, (Newswire Organisation of United States of America [USA]), Dated 29th October, 2009.
2. Bharat Mein Bhi Badhal Hai Rohingya Musalman - by Shib Shankar Chatterjee, BBC Hindi Service (BBC World Service website), 04th Floor, NE Bush House, Strand, London, WC2B 4PH, London, United Kingdom (UK), Dated 29th December, 2012.
3. Sorrow & Plight of Nobody's people In a No-Man's Land - by by Shib Shankar Chatterjee, Voice Bangladesh, New York, United States of America (USA) & Dhaka, Bangladesh (, Dated 16th January, 2013.
4. Thais 'leave boat people to die' - by Subir Bhaumik, BBC News, BBC World Service, United Kingdom, Dated 15th January, 2009.
5. Nobody's people in a no-man's land - by Subir Bhaumik,, Aljazeera, Doha, Qatar, Dated 16th August, 2012.
6. Rohingyas' Flight - by Haroon Habib, Frontline, Dated 14th-27th July, 2012.
7. Various Reports of Wikipedia or Wikileaks, Indian Coast Guard, Ministry Of Defence, Government Of India, Research Analysis Wing (RAW), Government Of India, Directorate General of Forces Intelligence, Government of Bangladesh, United Nations, World Food Programme (UNWFP), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations (UN), etcetera.

Shib Shankar Chatterjee is a former BBC, The Times of India, Hindustan Times and The Statesman Contributor from Northeast India, who specializes in investigations of important issues affecting the people of India and Bangladesh. Read more stories by Shib Shankar Chatterjee.

140 Rohingya refugees arrested in Penang National Park

Source nst, 18 Feb

BALIK PULAU: Some 140 Rohingya refugees starved for three days, before 35 of them, including children, were arrested in the jungle of the Penang National Park today.

Aged between a year old to 70s, they were arrested about 3pm after they were found loitering around the Teluk Kampi beach, and are believed to have entered the country's waters by using a barge 13 days ago.
When met, one of the refugees, Mohamad Rovic, 26, said they had to get off the boat and wander around for shelter, with some having run away into the woods.
He said there were those who went hungry for three days due to fear of being arrested by the authorities.
"I came here to find my brothers who have been working here for a while. I don't want to go back home as it feels much safer here and I also want to find a job," he said.
Meanwhile, Southwest district police chief Superintendent Mohd Hatta Mohd Zin confirmed their arrests and said police were now searching intensively for the others.
He said operations are still ongoing and those detained were brought to the district police headquarters for further checks before being handed over to the Immigration Department.
He added that police were also assisted by the Wildlife Protection and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) as well as the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).
"For the time being the operations at the park are ceasing until the remaining Rohingyas are found," he said.

Read more: 140 Rohingya refugees arrested in Penang National Park - Latest - New Straits Times