Monday 26 August 2013

Buddhists in Myanmar torch Muslim homes and shops

Source huffing post, 25 Aug

HTAN GONE, Myanmar — Members of a 1,000-strong Buddhist mob torched dozens of homes and shops in northwestern Myanmar following rumors that a Muslim man tried to sexually assault a young woman, officials and witnesses said, as the country was once again gripped by sectarian violence.

The rioters, who sang the country's national anthem as they rampaged, dispersed after security forces arrived early Sunday, shooting into the air. No injuries were reported.

The hours-long riot in Htan Gone village, located 16 kilometers (10 miles) south of the town of Kantbalu in the region of Sagaing, began late Saturday after a crowd surrounded a police station, demanding that the suspect in the attempted assault be handed over, a police officer told The Associated Press. The officer requested anonymity because he did not have the authority to speak to reporters.

State television reported that about 42 houses and 15 shops were burned and destroyed – most belonging to Muslims.

The predominantly Buddhist nation of 60 million has been grappling with sectarian violence since the country's military rulers handed over power to a nominally civilian government in 2011.

The unrest – which has killed more than 250 people and left 140,000 others displaced – began last year in the western state of Rakhine, where nationalist Buddhists accuse the Rohingya Muslim community of illegally entering the country and encroaching on their land. The violence, on a smaller scale but still deadly, spread earlier this year to other parts of the country, fueling deep-seeded prejudices against the Islamic minority and threatening Myanmar's fragile transition to democracy.

Almost all of the victims have been Muslims, often attacked as security forces stood by.

The Information Ministry said the latest round of violence was triggered by a report that a Muslim man attempted to sexually assault a Buddhist woman on her way home from work.

At its height, up to 1,000 people were rampaging through Htan Gone village, the ministry said.

"People descended on our village with swords and spears, and sang the national anthem and began destroying shops and burned houses," said Aung San, a 48-year-old Muslim man whose house was burned. "Police shouted at the mob to disperse, but did not take any serious action."

Aung San, who lives with his parents, who are in their 70s, said his family had to flee when the mob burned their house down.

"We hid my parents and two sisters in a cemetery before the mob burned our house, and we fled later," he said. He and his family were taking refuge Sunday at a Muslim school.

Myint Naing, an opposition lawmaker who represents constituents in Kantbalu, was outraged by the latest violence. He said Muslims and Buddhists have lived side-by-side in the area for many years.

"There is a mosque in almost every village in our township and we live a peaceful co-existence," he said as he headed to the scene, adding that at least one mosque was burned down in the violence.

"I cannot understand why the authorities were unable to control the crowd when it originally started," he said.

Sunday 25 August 2013

Muslims In Sagaing Division Are Under Attack By Buddhists Mobs

Source RB, 24 Aug

Kanbalu, Sagaing The Muslims in Htan Gone, Kanbalu Township in the Sagaing Division are under attacks by local Buddhist mobs according to locals.

It is unclear as to why the violence started, but it is not unusual in Myanmar, as the Muslims in several townships have been attacked by Buddhist mobs since March 2013. This has become far too routine after the violence took place in State in 2012.

RB News has received reports from locals that the monks and the Buddhist mobs have surrounded the mosque in Htan Gone since 9:30 pm local time. Although the situation was extremely tense the mosque hasn't yet been attacked.

However, there have been about seven Muslim shops that were destroyed by the mobs and six Muslim homes that have been burnt down by the mobs. Additionally a chicken farm was also burnt down.

The military and local police are surrounding the nearby mosque to observe the situation. However, it can't be said that the mosque would be safe seeing as how the security forces are constantly near the place where the violence take place and they never show any effort to stop the violence against Muslims.

Earlier in the day the telephone landlines and mobile phones were working properly but the lines became incommunicado after the crowds appeared in front of the mosque. The locals said the crowd was about 200 and now growing to somewhere around 500 in all.

Although the fire brigade came the mobs didn't allow them to enter the area of the conflict.

Thursday 22 August 2013

UN envoy says Myanmar failed to protect him in attack

Source NZyahoonews, 22 Aug

YANGON (AFP) - The UN's rights envoy on Myanmar Wednesday slammed the nation's government for failing to protect him when his convoy came under attack in a town reeling from religious unrest.

UN envoy says Myanmar failed to protect him in attack

"The state has to protect me as a responsibility... This did not happen. The state failed to protect me," Tomas Ojea Quintan, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights, told reporters at the end of his 10 day visit to the country.

No one is thought to have been injured in the incident, which occurred on August 19 in the town of Meiktila, central Myanmar, where anti-Muslim violence in March left at least 44 dead.

In a statement the UN envoy said his vehicle "was descended upon by a crowd of around 200 people who proceeded to punch and kick the windows and doors of the car while shouting abuse".

He said the incident forced him to abandon plans to visit a local camp, where some 1,600 displaced Muslims are sheltering.

"The fear that I felt during this incident, being left totally unprotected by the nearby police, gave me an insight into the fear residents would have felt when being chased down by violent mobs during the violence last March," he said.

He reiterated reports of security forces failing to stop the March unrest, saying "police allegedly stood by as angry mobs beat, stabbed and burned" their victims to death.

Attacks against Muslims -- who make up an estimated four percent of Myanmar's population -- have exposed deep fractures in the Buddhist-majority nation and cast a shadow over its emergence from army rule.

The watchdog Physicians for Human Rights on Tuesday warned that Myanmar risked "catastrophic" levels of conflict, including "potential crimes against humanity and/or genocide" if authorities failed to stem anti-Muslim hate speech and a culture of impunity around the clashes.

Riots in Meiktila, sparked by an argument in a gold shop and the brutal murder of a Buddhist monk, saw Buddhist mobs torch whole Muslim areas in violence that spread to other parts of the country.

The victims included more than 20 students and teachers of a Muslim school on the outskirts of Meiktila, who were set upon by armed men and beaten and burned to death, according to witnesses interviewed by AFP.

Graphic video footage given to AFP by activists shows an embankment next to the school turned into a killing ground, watched over by uniformed police.

After the March violence, Quintana said the reluctance of security forces to crack down on the unrest suggested a possible state link to the fighting -- a claim rejected by the government.

The unrest followed two outbreaks of conflict in western Rakhine state in June and October last year that left around 200 people dead, mainly Rohingya Muslims who are seen by many in Myanmar as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

A sense of deep distrust between Muslims, Buddhists and the security forces pervades the state, which Quintana visited at the start of his trip.

At least one person was killed and around 10 injured earlier this month in a violent clash in a camp for dispossessed Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine that broke out just days before Quintana toured the area.

In June, five Muslims including three Rohingya women were killed by security forces who opened fire during disputes in two separate incidents in camps in Rakhine.

United Nations finds Australia commits 143 violations of international law by illegally detaining refugees for four years in ASIO security cases

By Admin, 22 Aug

Today the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva found that Australia has committed 143 serious violations of international law by indefinitely detaining 46 refugees for four years, on the basis of their 'adverse security assessments' issued by ASIO. Australia breached its obligations under a binding treaty accepted by Australia, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Specifically the UN found:

• 46 cases of  illegal detention, because Australia did not individually justify their detention, inform them of the specific reasons why they threatened security, did not use less invasive means of addressing any security risks, and did not afford them adequate legal safeguards;

• 46 instances where the refugees had no effective judicial remedies for illegal detention, because the Australian High Court has previously said that indefinite detention cannot be challenged;

• 46 cases of  inhuman or degrading treatment in detention, because the arbitrary nature of the refugees' detention, its protracted or indefinite nature, the lack of information or procedural rights provided to the refugees, and the difficult conditions of detention, are cumulatively inflicting serious psychological harm on them.

The UN Committee has directed Australia to provide the refugees with an effective remedy, including release from detention on appropriate conditions, rehabilitation and compensation. It also asked Australia to prevent future violations to review its migration laws. The UN has also asked Australia to report to it within 180 days on the steps it has taken to remedy these violations of international treaty law.

This is the largest complaint ever made against Australia to the UN Human Rights Committee. The freedoms from arbitrary detention or inhuman or degrading treatment are among the most important of all human rights, after the right to life. These are exceptionally grave violations of international law by Australia.

The refugees were represented pro bono by Professor Ben Saul, Professor of International Law at The University of Sydney and barrister, on instructions from the refugees and their lawyers (including Stephen Blanks, Julian Gormly and Jo Murphy).

Professor Saul said: "These decisions demonstrate the grave lawlessness of Australian policies on refugees. This is a major embarrassment for Australia, which is a member of the Security Council and often criticises human rights in other countries. Australia should now do the right thing by respecting its international obligations and treating people decently. Australia does not indefinitely detain dangerous Australians without charge, and it should not lock up foreigners either. Australia must release them."

The cases were lodged in August 2011 and February 2012 by 46 detained refugees who received adverse security assessments from ASIO.

The UN Human Rights Committee has power under the Optional Protocol to the ICCPR to consider individual complaints lodged by people in Australia against action by the Australian government. Australia consented to the complaints procedure and participated in the proceedings in these cases.

The UN Human Rights Committee is a quasi-judicial body of independent experts. Its decisions are not strictly legally binding, but are regarded as authoritative legal interpretations of Australia's binding obligations under
the ICCPR. Australia is required by international law to implement its ICCPR obligations.

Interviews:  Professor Ben Saul

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Thailand: Release and Protect Rohingya ‘Boat People’

Source HRW, 20 Aug
End Inhumane Detention, Family Separation of 1,800 Muslims from Burma

(Bangkok) – Thailand's government should release ethnic Rohingya from Burma who are detained under inhumane and unsafe conditions, and ensure their protection needs are met, Human Rights Watch said today.

On August 13, 2013, the Thai cabinet considered a plan to transfer 1,839 Rohingya who have been held in immigration detention facilities and social welfare shelters across Thailand to refugee camps on the Thai-Burmese border.

"Some senior Thai officials have recognized the Rohingya's plight but they are still considering proposals that would keep them detained," said Brad Adams, Asia director. "The Thai government needs to end the inhumane detention of Rohingya and ensure the United Nations refugee agency and other international organizations have full access to provide much needed protection and assistance."

On August 9, the Thai minister of social development and human security, Paveena Hongsakula, told the media that the detention and trafficking of Rohingya in Thailand were serious human rights issues. Yet at a cabinet meeting four days later she proposed sending them to refugee camps, a plan that reportedly has the backing of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Foreign Affairs Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul. Despite the fact that many Rohingya fled "ethnic cleansing" and crimes against humanity last year in Burma's Arakan State, the Thai government refuses to consider Rohingya as refugees.

The Thai authorities have also discussed proposals to create alternative centers for the Rohingya or expand the capacity to hold Rohingya at existing immigration detention centers in Songkhla, Ranong, Prachuab Khiri Kan, and Nongkhai provinces.

Since January, the Thai authorities have detained 2,055 Rohingya on the grounds that they entered the country illegally, according to the government. Thailand has separated Rohingya families. Rohingya men have been sent to various immigration detention centers, while Rohingya women and children have been held in shelters managed by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.

As documented by Human Rights Watch, Thai and Rohingya human traffickers have gained access to the government shelters and sought to lure out Rohingya women and children. For instance, in June, traffickers who promised to reunite Narunisa, a 25-year-old Rohingya in a shelter in Phang Nga province, with her husband in Malaysia for a 50,000 baht (US$1,660) fee, instead raped her repeatedly.

Many immigration detention centers are severely overcrowded and lack access to medical services and other basic necessities. Rohingya men are restricted to extremely cramped conditions in small cells resembling large cages, where they barely have room to sit. Some suffer from swollen feet and withered leg muscles due to lack of exercise because they have not been let out of the cells for up to five months. Eight Rohingya men have died from illness while in detention. Interventions by international agencies to provide health services, prompted in part by media exposure and international expressions of concern, have resulted in health improvements, but many Rohingya still face unacceptable risks to their health due to poor detention conditions.

"The Thai government should recognize its punitive detention policy towards the Rohingya is both inhumane and counterproductive," Adams said.

Since July, Rohingya men fearful of being sent back to persecution in Burma or detained indefinitely in Thailand have staged protests at immigration detention facilities in Songkhla and Phang Nga provinces. Approximately 208 Rohingya men, women, and children have also escaped from detention to unknown locations.

The Thai authorities should allow Rohingya to seek migrant worker status, which would permit them to work and move freely. Because Burma's government discriminates against the Rohingya, denying them Burmese nationality, Thailand should waive the nationality verification program requirement for migrant worker status.

"The Rohingya have fled horrific abuses in Burma that would put many at risk were they to return home," Adams said. "Instead of sticking them in border camps or immigration lockups, the Thai government should consider allowing the Rohingya to remain, work, and live under temporary protection."


Background: Thai policy not "helping on"

For years, thousands of ethnic Rohingya from Burma's Arakan State have set sail to flee persecution by the Burmese government. The situation significantly worsened following sectarian violence in Arakan State in June 2012 between Muslim Rohingya and Buddhist Arakanese, which displaced tens of thousands of Rohingya from their homes. In October 2012, Arakanese political and religious leaders and state security forces committed crimes against humanity in a campaign of "ethnic cleansing" against the Rohingya. During the so-called "sailing season" between October 2012 and March 2013, more than 35,000 Rohingya are believed to have fled the country. International pressure on Thailand to provide temporary protection to Rohingya arriving on its shores resulted in the current detention policy. Since January, more than 1,800 Rohingya have been sent to immigration detention centers and government shelters. However, many thousands more have been intercepted at sea by Thai officials and either redirected to Malaysia or allegedly handed over to people smugglers and human traffickers who demand payment to release them and send them onwards.

Thailand's misnamed "help on" policy towards small boats carrying Rohingya has failed to provide Rohingya asylum seekers with the protections required under international law, and in some cases significantly increased their risk. Under this policy, the Thai navy intercepts Rohingya boats that come close to the Thai coast and supposedly provides them with fuel, food, water, and other supplies on the condition that the boats continue onward to Malaysia or Indonesia. Instead of helping or providing protection, the "help on" policy either pushes ill-equipped boats of asylum seekers onwards at sea, or sees them handed over to people smugglers who promise to send the Rohingya onwards for a price, and hand over those unable to pay to human traffickers.

Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to seek asylum from persecution. While Thailand is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, under customary international law the Thai government has an obligation of "non-refoulement" – not to return anyone to places where their life or freedom would be at risk. In its "Guidelines on Applicable Criteria and Standards Relating to the Detention of Asylum Seekers," the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reaffirmed the basic human right to seek asylum and stated that "[a]s a general rule, asylum seekers should not be detained." The UNHCR guidelines also state that detention should not be used as a punitive or disciplinary measure, or as a means of discouraging refugees from applying for asylum.

Human Rights Watch urged the Thai government to work closely with UNHCR, which has the technical expertise to screen for refugee status and the mandate to protect refugees and stateless people. Effective UNHCR screening of all Rohingya boat arrivals would help the Thai government determine who is entitled to refugee status.

Invisible Pakistanis: Neither here nor there

Source tribune, 20 Aug


A Burmese Muslim woman. PHOTO: AFP

"I've been in this country for over 30 years," says Muhammad* quietly, speaking with the articulate poise of a man schooled at a convent in Rangoon, Myanmar. "And yet, I am still not a Pakistani citizen."

Muhammad is not alone. Following the year 1962, Pakistan's sprawling urban centres were freshly peopled by throngs of Muslim families from urban Myanmar, on the run from discriminatory communist reforms in their home country.

Five decades later, these migrants stay on as unregistered citizens – they are neither Pakistani, nor Burmese.

Out with the Muslims

As Pakistan crossed economic milestones under Ayub Khan's regime in the 1960s, Muslims in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, endured unprecedented difficulties through military dictator Ne Win's communist reforms.

Migrants relate that their properties were held, factories seized and that they were disadvantaged in universities and the job market.

"My father was a rich and famous marble trader in Burma," relates Shirley, 50, who insists on keeping the Christian name she had at the Rangoon convent school she attended. "His offices and factories were seized by the military. Discrimination was seeping in, even before Ne Win."

Eaters of insects

And yet, in many ways, the move to Pakistan for many Muslim Burmese proved to be a case of falling out of the frying pan and diving head-first into the fire.

Most who landed in Pakistan belonged to Muslim trading families, and they eyed the growing economy of the fledgling Islamic state in the West as consisting of their 'Muslim brothers.'

"But the 'Muslim brothers' thought we were Burmese Buddhists pretending to be Muslims," says Muhammad, who migrated to Karachi from Thingankyung, a city in the suburbs of Rangoon.

"Our food was different. We cooked seafood like crabs, shrimps and lobsters. In the 1960s, Pakistanis thought these were insects that smelled nasty when cooked. They did not know that crab soup and Burmese Khao Suay would go on to be the most sought after delicacies in 2013!"

Moreover, difficulty of conversing in Urdu did little to help Muslim migrants from Burma.

"We were at ease with English and the Burmese language, but naturally spoke Urdu like a Chinese or Japanese would," says Shirley. "Because of our [poor] Urdu, our food and our liberal values, many in Karachi thought we weren't Muslims at all."

Where are the laws?

According to Muhammad, there is a great dearth of assimilation laws in Pakistan.

"Unlike what happens in a country like Canada, Burmese Muslims in Pakistan cannot become naturalised citizens since there are no laws of the like," he states.

However, Director General Immigrations and Passports Jalal Sikandar says nationality laws vary from country to country, depending on specific conditions.

"Of course, Canada has room for more people. Therefore, the procedure to obtain nationality is much easier," explains Sikandar. "In Pakistan, we do have laws, but they are more tedious as we can't have too many Pakistani nationals."

A Burmese migrant, he says, can attain nationality if he/she marries a Pakistani.

Into the workforce

Salwa*, a primary school teacher, expands upon another grievance faced by Burmese settlers.

Academic certificates received from Burmese institutes are not recognised in Pakistan, which makes it difficult to take up jobs, especially in specialised fields.

"As [our] certificates are written in the Burmese script, no one in Pakistani government offices can read them," says Salwa.

However, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan says degrees received from Myanmar are recognised.

"I have confirmed this from relevant officers," states Murtaza Noor, a spokesman for the HEC, confidently. "As per the current law, the commission can prepare equivalence certificates for graduates of institutes in Myanmar."

In this vein, Salwa does admit that upon migration, educated Burmese Muslims were quickly assimilated into the growing urban workforce, despite not having 'legal' degrees.

"I'm not talking about the Rohingya community, who are different. I'm talking about us, the educated, liberal Muslims of urban Burma," she says. "When my family migrated to Karachi, Pakistan's booming economy had a lot of room for women who were willing to work and spoke good English, legal certificates or not."

*Names changed to protect identity

Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2013.

Saturday 17 August 2013

One Dead And Over 20 missing After Boat Sank In Naf River

Source RB news, August 15 

Teknaf, Bangladesh – A boat left from Maungdaw Township, Arakan State on it's way to Teknaf, Bangladesh sank in Naf River today. Reportedly one person died and over 20 missing. 

This evening a boat left from Mingalar Gyi village, Maungdaw Township to Teknaf, Bangladesh. Reportedly the boat sank before arriving at Teknaf. Normally the boat would have the capacity for 10 people but the transporter loaded 25 people onboard to get more money. A Rohingya in Teknaf told RB News that the boat sank because it had been overloaded. 

The transporter of the boat is a Rakhine man, U Thein Oo who is a resident of Bangladesh and Myanmar. He owns a restaurant in Maungdaw Township. From 25 persons on boat, only one woman is dead and three surviving people were found near the shore of Teknaf. The remaining 21 persons are missing. 

The people on-board the boat were on their way to Bangladesh for business and to visit. All of them are Rohingyas according to locals. 

A Rohingya said that two transporters are operating a boat in Mingalar Gyi, transporting people for business. One is a Rohingya man, Abaas and another is a Rakhine man U Thein Oo. Today U Thein Oo did the operations of the boat. Although placing 25 people in the small boat is far too heavy for the vessel, U Thien Oo overcrowded the boat and placed all 25 lives at risk.

Silent moon

Source PK news, 16 Aug

This refers to the news story, 'UN secretary general says sorry to people of Pakistan' (The News, August 15) – on the killing of innocent civilians in drone attacks. Pakistan is grateful for the concern shown. But why he was silent on the mass killings in Kashmir? What has he done to stop the massacre of Muslims in Myanmar?

Ban Ki-moon also stated in clear terms that drones should only be used in accordance with international laws and every effort should be made to avoid civilian casualties when using armed drones. If this is true, what steps has he taken to stop drone attacks? His statement is largely useless except that a concern has been shown on civilian casualties. Ban Ki-moon should exert himself to ensure that the UN is not labelled as United Nations for the United States.

Lt-Col (r) Mukhtar Ahmed Butt



Thursday 15 August 2013

A Muslim House and Five Boats Burnt Down by 969 Network in ‪Thandwe‬

Source RB, 14 Aug

Thandwe, Arakan – A Kaman‬ Muslim house and 5 boats were set fire by members of the 969 network in Myo Taung quarter. This is in the Thandwe Township of Arakan State. It happened last night at 11 pm according to locals there.

A house and two fishing boats belonging to U Mya Win who lives in Anawyahta Street, were burnt. ...The value of the two boats is at about 16 million kyat. The 969 group also set fire to two fishing boats and two fishnets owned by U Sanay Aung. He lives at the corner of Anawyahta Street and Marga Street. The value of his boats is about 12 million kyat. The fifth fishing boat that was burnt belonged to U Kyaw Tin. He lives in downtown Thandwe. The value of his boat is unknown.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Rohingya look to Australia despite PNG solution

Source Theage, 13 Aug

Ben Doherty

Ben Doherty

South Asia correspondent for Fairfax Media

Australia's hardline asylum seeker policy is no match for the oppression in Myanmar for Muslim minority.

Kutupalong New Camp on the Burma-Bangladesh border. More than 55,000 Rohingya refugees from Burma live here, jammed into low, wooden shanties covered with plastic bags to keep the monsoon rain out.

Kutupalong New Camp on the Burma-Bangladesh border. More than 55,000 Rohingya refugees from Burma live here, jammed into low, wooden shanties covered with plastic bags to keep the monsoon rain out. Photo: Ben Doherty

Myanmar's Rohingya are fleeing their country in unprecedented numbers – and more and more are looking to Australia for sanctuary.

Undeterred by threats of resettlement offshore or years in immigration detention, increasing numbers of Myanmar's Muslim ethnic minority are paying people smugglers up to $5000 to board boats for a complicated journey through Malaysia, Indonesia and, for those who can afford it, ultimately to Australia.

Advocacy group The Arakan Project estimates 37,000 Rohingya have boarded boats for those three countries in the past 10 months. Few Rohingya fleeing Myanmar have reached Australian shores previously but, following widespread communal violence last year and increasing state-sanctioned oppression since, the numbers have risen exponentially.

A boy watches fishing boats leave from the southern coast of Bangladesh. Rohingya are, increasing numbers, boarding people smugglers' boats like these, and meeting up with cargo ships further out to sea, which take them to Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

A boy watches fishing boats leave from the southern coast of Bangladesh. Rohingya are, increasing numbers, boarding people smugglers' boats like these, and meeting up with cargo ships further out to sea, which take them to Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Photo: Shumon Ahmed

In 2012, the total number of Myanmarese asylum seekers who reached Australia by boat was eight. Already this year, that figure is 244.


Because Rohingya are banned from citizenship in Myanmar, many are registered as stateless when they reach Australian shores. The number of stateless arrivals has jumped from about 25 five years ago to 379 in 2011 and 1241 last year. Already this year, there have been 1827 stateless people arrive in Australian waters by boat seeking asylum.

Other migrants, such as Palestinians and Kurds, are often counted as stateless but sources tell Fairfax a large proportion of the current count is Rohingya.

The Australian government is aware of the trend and is making inquiries in Bangladesh and Myanmar about the movement of Rohingya.

In Dhaka recently, High Commissioner to Bangladesh Greg Wilcock warned that Australia had not resettled any Rohingya arriving by boat since 2009-10: "We used to allow Rohingya refugees to settle in Australia, but not anymore."

The Rohingya face increasing levels of oppression in their homeland, the western state of Rakhine, in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

Aside from being denied the protections of citizenship, they are forbidden from marrying without permission, which is rarely given, and can be jailed for relations outside of wedlock.

In June and October last year, more than 200 people died and 140,000 were forced from their homes in rioting between Rohingya and the ethnic Burmese majority.

Australia still receives only a tiny proportion of the Rohingya fleeing Myanmar. Some 200,000 have lived for years in squalid refugee camps on the Bangladesh border, while tens of thousands have boarded boats for other countries in recent months.

Sources inside Myanmar say 800 Rohingya have drowned at sea since October.

Despite the risks, and Australia's new "hardline" policy on boat arrivals, Australia is increasingly seen as an attractive option. In Kutupalong refugee camp, Mohammed Zolil says he fled after his two friends were killed in anti-Muslim attacks last year.

"What I hear from other people is it is peaceful in Australia, and so I wish I could go to Australia. I hear a lot of people go to Australia."

He says Australia's policy change is known, but people believe their people smugglers over a distant government.

"A few days ago, I've heard from someone over the phone that the government does not allow to go inside Australia, they'll send them somewhere else . . . but even after all this difficulty, still people will try."

Mohammed Iqbal Hussain, a teacher, says people are encouraged by others who've gone before them.

"People who have succeeded in going to Australia have told us that it is peaceful there. In [Myanmar] there is a lot of unrest, and in Bangladesh too, our lives are not so certain."

Chris Lewa, founder of The Arakan Project, says Rakhine state is an open-air prison for Rohingya, from which more are looking to escape.

"It has changed. Many brokers in Bangladesh are now promising people once they are in Malaysia they will continue to Australia . . . and more and more people are making the move towards Australia straight away."

Many Rohingya don't believe Australia can or will implement its new PNG resettlement policy on a large scale.

"They still believe they are going to make it to Australia," Mr Lewa said. "People look at implementation, and while there are no Rohingya on PNG, I don't think they are going to take this announcement very seriously."

Read more:

Tuesday 13 August 2013

The Thein Sein government doesn't allow the Rohingya men who were shot by the Axillary police (former NaSaKa force) during a riot on Friday, to get medical treatment from hospital

Source trust-org, 12 Aug
Rohingya men who were shot by the police during a riot on Friday rest in Dapaing district clinic, outside of Sittw.



Rohingya men who were shot by the police during a riot on Friday rest in Dapaing district clinic, outside of Sittwe, August 11, 2013. Attempts to bring stability to Myanmar's strategic northwest Rakhine State could be unravelling after police opened fire on Rohingya Muslims for the third time in two months, reviving tensions in a region beset by religious violence last year. Villages outside the state capital Sittwe remain volatile after a dispute over custody of a dead Rohingya quickly escalated into a day of clashes on Friday in which police raked Rohingya crowds with gunfire, according to witnesses. 
Picture taken August 11, 2013. 

Monday 12 August 2013

Rohingya flee Phuket camp of Thailand

Source Phuketwan, 11 August 2013,

PHUKET: Police are looking for 30 Rohingya migrants who are still missing after they and six others escaped from the detention centre in this southern province on Sunday -

Rohingya flee Phuket camp

They fled from the central Phuket immigration office at 3am and only six have been recaptured by immigration authorities, police said.

The authorities were tight-lipped after the Rohingya, detained on charges of illegally entering the country, escaped, but reports were later confirmed by Phuket governor Maitree Inthusut, who ordered tightened security at the centre in Muang district.

Mr Maitree suspected that they were frustrated at being detained for so long at the centre. The group had been detained there since March.

Pol Maj Gen Chote Chawalwiwa, chief of Phuket police, alerted all police stations, public transport operators, local media and the public to keep an eye out for the escaped migrants. He said it was feared they would commit crimes and damage the image of the resort island.

It was the second escape of Muslim asylum seekers in Thailand in three days.

On Friday, 30 Rohingya detained in Sadao district of Songkhla province escaped from a police jail cell.

More than 1,700 asylum seekers from Myanmar who arrived in Thailand by boat early this year are being held in crowded detention centres, most of them in southern provinces.

Read the original story here.

- See more at:

Saturday 10 August 2013

At least five dead following flare-up in Sittwe

Source mmtimes, 9 Aug

Tensions have flared in Rakhine State's Sittwe, with at least five people having been killed in a series of incidents sparked by the fatal bashing of a fisherman by police.

Two fishermen in the village of Aun Daw Ji were reportedly beaten, with one bludgeoned to death and the other left injured. The incident took place in a village adjacent to IDP camps where Eid celebrations were in full swing.

Further violence was sparked when news of the attacks got out and a mob of IDP camp residents rushed the police shortly after 11am, who then opened fire on the crowd killing at least four.

Rohingya spokesman Aung Win witnessed the incident, and said that some camp residents went on to torch the police station as well as several homes.

Aung Win said he did not know if the police action was part of a deliberate clampdown on celebrations for the Muslim festival of Eid, as has been rumoured.  
He voiced concerns that the death toll from the incident may have been underestimated, saying he had not seen violence of this magnitude since the bloodshed of June last year.

"I am worried because the police hid some of the dead bodies and they didn't send all the injured people to hospital.

"I saw them put about 15 to 20 people on a truck and arrest them and I am worried they will hold them without (proper reason)."

He also said people trying to leave the village found themselves subject to attacks.
"After 2pm the women were trying to flee the village and the police came and beat the women," he said.

A reporter on the ground said security presence in the area had been stepped up significantly since the incident.
The Myanmar Times spoke with a driver who enters the camp with NGO workers on a regular basis said the atmosphere on Thursday had been particularly good as celebrations began for Eid.

"Everyone seemed very happy and it felt safe. I  checked with my contacts in the camp before I went in yesterday and they said it was all good so I was surprised when I heard this had happened this morning."

It appears the situation there is still not entirely stable, with reports emerging of Rohingya refugees chanting for the release of detained activist U Kyaw Hla Aung, and police and army firing into the crowd.

Arrests were also reportedly made at the Baw Du Pha camp.

Friday 9 August 2013

Burma: Sittwe Update Details

by Admin,
From morning today, the Axillary force (Lunthein) harassing Rohingya villagers of Bariza Fara (Ongdaw) of Sittwe/Akyab township, Arakan state and also shooting that killed at least 4 Rohingyas and several houses including the authority's tents are still burning.

(the dead body of Rohingya who went for fishing)
 The matter sparked after a Rohingya from the camp was beaten to death last night and by morning the dead body was brought back to the Axillery force camp base in Bariza Fara refugee camp. After Eid prayer, elder Rohingyas of the camp approached the authority to return the dead body but the force responded by shooting fires that resulted two Rohingya died on the spot and the rest two other died a bit later and then leaving several other injury.
As a result of the world keeps the crises alive and placates the cruel ruler therefore up to today the government authorities continue to commit arbitrary abuses and crimes against humanity in western Burma..

Friday 2 August 2013

Speaker addresses Rangoon University

Source Parliament, 1 Aug
01 August 2013

In a speech at Rangoon University today, the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, praised the welcome change of atmosphere brought about by recent reforms, but urged that reform go much further and deeper.

He said:

"A free, peaceful and democratic future for your country can be built on these foundations – the release of political prisoners, legislative and constitutional reform, a nationwide peace process involving a political dialogue leading to a federal system in which equal rights are protected and diversity is celebrated"

The Speaker was addressing Rangoon University as part of a working visit with other MPs to Burma. The visit, which includes a meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi and President Thein Sein, marks the next stage of support by the UK House of Commons for Burma's democratic journey. Since Aung San Suu Kyi was warmly welcomed to Parliament in 2012 and provided an historic address to both Houses in Westminster Hall, the House of Commons has received two delegations from the Rangoon parliament. In addition, staff of the House have been working directly with colleagues in Rangoon on enhancing scrutiny.

Full Speech: Mr Speaker's speech to Rangoon University, Burma (PDF PDF 134 KB)Opens in a new window

Background to the visit can be found in the MP Delegation to Burma news story

Nearly 300 illegal Rohingya immigrants' attempt to flee foiled

Source nst, 1 Aug

BANGKOK: A large group of 295 illegal Muslim Rohingya immigrants, awaiting to be sent to third countries, tried to flee from an immigration quarantine in Thailand's southern Songkhla province Tuesday night, but the attempt was foiled by immigration authorities, Thai News Agency (TNA) reported.

Songkhla Governor Krisada Boonraj told journalists on Wednesday that the ethnic Muslim Rohingyas from neighbouring Myanmar tried to escape from the immigration quarantine in Songkhla's Sadao district, but the Thai immigration authorities were able to block their movement.

To prevent such the problem from recurring, the provincial governor acknowledged, the Thai immigration authorities have now separated the 295 Rohingyas into different holding and police stations around Songkhla.

The governor said that he has asked Songkhla's provincial public health office to send officials to provide basic medical check-ups to the Rohingya immigrants on humanitarian grounds.

According to the governor, the illegal Muslim Rohingyas have been held at Sadao's immigration quarantine for more than seven months and were probably worried over their uncertain future, leading to the attempted escape. -- BERNAMA