Thursday, 28 November 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

In Burma, There is No ‘Communal Violence’

Source foreignpolicyjournal, 

November 25, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, 25 November 2013

Rohingya humanitarian aid stopped by Gov’t: S. Reynolds

Source Presstv

Press TV has conducted an interview with Sarnata Reynolds, Statelessness Refugees International, Maryland about the issue of the dramatic depravation of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar camps; them being violently persecuted by the majority Buddhist community assisted by the government, which has rejected a UN resolution.

The following is an approximate transcript of the interview. 

Press TV: When we want to take a look at the situation of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar it's nothing new at this point, but this development of how the UN has pretty much urged the country, in this case to grant citizenship to the Rohingyas; but highlighting the case should invoke some kind of aid translating down. 

Why is that not happening? Such as what we're seeing in these camps in terms of the ones that have been displaced now living in these camps. 

Reynolds: That's a good question and the UN resolution I should say is such a positive and important step both for the Rohingya people who have the right to nationality; the right to citizenship, but also to the international community to take seriously that the right to nationally needs to be conferred and that it should be condemned when countries decide not to permit people to have citizenship. 

The aid is actually there to a great extent. The problem is that it can't get in because the government of Myanmar whether at the state level or at the central government level or at the local level is just not permitting humanitarians to get in.

So at the state level there are whole section of Rakhine state where the Rohingya live - where the vast majority of Rohingya live - who simply are not being permitted to get aid. 

And the IDP camps that you talked about - the displacement camps - there are humanitarian workers who are being threatened everyday that if they go in and if they provide assistance they may be harmed. And people are being harmed and they are being arrested.

Press TV: When we look at the reports, in many cases it is said that what is happening to the Rohingyas is pretty much something that is state-backed and it is part of a culture there - it has been like this for quite some time. 

The cruel and inhumane ways that they get treated and of course the extremes of what we have witnessed particularly in Rakhine State. 

Hasn't the state promised that it's not going to keep backing the extreme violence that is incurred mainly by the Buddhists on the Rohingyas or is that just for public consumption not really translating into action? 

Reynolds: Unfortunately, I'm not even sure I would say that the government has made that promise. 

There is no national champion for the Rohingya. There is no national champion for their rights. There is no one in the government right now that is saying this has to stop, no more. The Rohingya have to be treated with dignity, with respect for their human rights. 

Until the central government makes clear that this is unacceptable that they are not going to allow the government of Rakhine or the local townships to mistreat, to abuse and to persecute the Rohingya they have no reason to change. 

There is impunity and there is no accountability. 


Sunday, 24 November 2013

Maungdaw central market set on fire

Source Kaladanpress, 23 Nov

Maungdaw, Arakan State: The Maungdaw central market was set on fire at about 7:00pm today by some Rakhine miscreant groups, said Anwer (not real name), a shopkeeper from Maungdaw central market.

"Nobody was allowed to go near the market expect security force and Rakhine," he more added.

Hakhim, another shop owner said: "No Rohingya shop owners were allowed to go near the market as market was surrounded by Rakhine and security force."

"However, the Maungdaw central market was doused by governmentfire brigade at round 7:30. Some shops were burned down." 

The most of the shop owners in the Maungdaw central market are Rohingya community. Before set on fire, the electricity was cut off and all mobile network was shutdown in Maungdaw, said Ali Ahmed.

According to another local shopkeeper, some Rohingya shops had been gutted and the rest Rohingya shops are being destroyed and are looting  goods from the shops by the local Rakhine goons, but local security forces do not take any action.

Rohingyas are not allowed to distinguish their shops, but Rakhine people are allowed for looting Rohingya goods from shops, said Hamid, a shopkeeper on condition of anonymity.   
Later, army came on the spot and control the situation, all the Rakhine miscreant groups disappeared from the seen. The police and Hluntin force in duty after army arrived, said a source who is closed the market.

Another source informed Kaladan Press from three miles – Sawmawna village- that Rakhine set on fire a mosque –near the road and three miles pagoda- at 9:00pm and no Rohingya villagers were allowed to go there. Later the mosque was doused by government fire brigade.

Rakhine community across the Arakan State, are very angry because   of taking resolution regarding the Rohingya community on November19, by UN General Assembly's Human Rights Committee.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Allow Rohingyas citizenship, UN tells Burma

Source DVB, 20 Nov

The UN General Assembly's human rights committee on Tuesday passed a resolution urging Burma to give the stateless Rohingya minority equal access to citizenship and to crack down on Buddhist violence against them and other Muslims in the Southeast Asian nation.

Tomas Ojea Quintana (C), United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation, walks with Rohingya Muslims as he visits Aung Mingalar quarter in Sittwe on 13 August 2013. (Reuters)

The resolution passed the committee by consensus, meaning under General Assembly rules the body will unanimously pass it later this year.

Burma emerged from a half-century of military rule in 2011, but its transition to democracy has been marred by sectarian violence that has left more than 240 people dead and sent another 140,000 fleeing their homes, most of them Rohingya. Some say the inter-communal violence presents a threat to Burma's political reforms because it could encourage security forces to re-assert control.

In 1982, Burma passed a citizenship law recognizing eight races and 130 minority groups – but omitted the nation's 800,000 Rohingya, among Burma's 60 million people. Many Burmese Buddhists view the Rohingya as interlopers brought in by British colonialists from modern-day Bangladesh, but many Rohingya say they have lived in the country for hundreds of years.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, seen as likely to be elected as the next president of Burma, has had little else to say about Rohingya rights. She declined to meet with an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation delegation visiting Burma this week to look into the plight of the Rohingya.

Burma had been ostracised by most of the world for 50 years after a coup that instituted military rule. But in recent years the nation has been cautiously welcomed into the international community after it freed many political prisoners and ended the house arrest of Suu Kyi and instituted reforms. President Barack Obama visited the country last year on an Asian tour, as a hallmark of Burma's rehabilitation.

The General Assembly resolution welcomed a statement by Burma's president that "no prisoners of conscience will remain in prison by the end of the year." Burma released 69 political prisoners last week.

But it also "expresses concern about remaining human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests and detentions of political activists and human rights defenders, forced displacement, land confiscations, rape and other forms of sexual violence and torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, as well as violations of international humanitarian law, and urges the government of Burma to step up its efforts to put an end to such violations."

In the resolution, the Assembly reiterated its serious concern about communal violence and other abuses of the Rohingya minority in Arakan state in the past year, and about attacks against Muslim minorities elsewhere.

Burma's government calls the Rohingya "Bengalis," a reference to their reported South Asian roots. Rohingya leaders object to the terminology.

The Rohingya speak a Bengali dialect and resemble Bangladeshis, with darker skin than most people in Burma. Bangladesh also refuses to accept them as citizens.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Mosque damaged in attack in western Burma

Source DVB, 19 Nov

A mosque was partially damaged in western Burma on Monday evening, after a mob of drunken Buddhists celebrating the full moon festival attacked the building, according to local sources.

In this file picture from May, Muslim men offer Friday prayers in a makeshift mosque in Sittwe, Arakan state. (Reuters)

Police say they managed to foil the attempt, which took place around 8pm in Arakan state's Kyaukphyu, but the building sustained damage.

"Yesterday evening, we heard about some people attempting to destroy the mosque and this morning, I went to look at it and saw that some damage had been done," Htun Naing of the Kyaukphyu Public Network told DVB on Tuesday.

"The mosque was already in bad shape before the incident – all its windows, and the walls of a hall on the side, were damaged."

He insisted that calm had now been returned to the area, which has been affected by a series of Muslim-Buddhist clashes since last year.

Tensions flared again last week amid a controversial visit by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which local Buddhists have accused of interfering with domestic Burmese affairs by offering support to the stateless Rohingya minority.

"Buddhist Arakanese locals] were planning to stage a protest, when the OIC came to visit, to oppose its plan to open an office in the town and I guess the incident yesterday could be connected to this," said Htun Naing, adding that security around the mosque has been increased.

An official from the Kyaukphyu police stationdownplayed the incident and insisted that police acted quickly to prevent further violence.

"It wasn't that serious – we just had to disperse a mob heading for the mosque," said the official. "We still don't know who they were as it was the [Tasaungdai] festival yesterday evening but we are making a list of individuals who might know the [attackers]."

Arakan government spokesperson Win Myaing said that it was just a group of drunken men throwing stones at the mosque.

"It was just a group of men – maybe about 10 – who got drunk on the full moon night and threw rocks at a derelict mosque," said Win Myaing.

The incident took place just a few days after the OIC delegation left Arakan state, where they had visited both Muslim and Buddhist communities to offer humanitarian support. The visit provoked widespread protests, in which local monks brandished banners describing Islam as a "faith of animals".

The incident follows reports that two Arakanese men were arrested last week for plotting to blow up mosques across the country.

Some 140,000 people – mostly Rohingya Muslims – have been displaced and at least 200 people have lost their lives since communal violence first erupted last year.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Marines arrested for helping illegal immigrants

Source Antaranews, 19 Nov

Garut, West Java province (ANTARA News) - Three personnel of Indonesian Marine Corps (TNI AL) were arrested last Sunday (Nov 17) for allegedly assisting 106 illegal immigrants from Myanmar to pass Indonesian territory and head for Australia.

The arrest was conducted after the local police stopped a convoy consisting of a tourist bus and a mini bus on the road. The 106 immigrants were allegedly on their way to a boat that will bring them straight to Australia through the southern coastal area of Garut district, Indonesia. 

"The three personnel are charged withcriminal law for allegedly assisting peoples smuggling," Chief of local miltary command Detachment III/2 Lieutenant Collonnel CMP Suparno said here on Monday.

As to the identity of the three marines Suparno denied to reveal it. "They are now under the custody of Marine Base in Bandung city," he said briefly.

Meanwhile the 106 illegal immigrants who identify themselves as the displaced Rohingya tribe from Myanmar are being taken to Police station in Cibalong sub district for further questioning. They will then be transferred to immigration office in Tasikmalaya city.

Indonesia has long been known as the transit country for illegal immigrants heading for Australia. Some Indonesians have taken advantage of this movement of migrants to look for easy money by offering illegal immigrants transportation to reach Australia.

Indonesia has taken some measures to eradicate such peoples smuggling attempt namely tightening the security in the coastal area and close cooperation with Australian government on capacity building and training of personnel on the field. (*)

Editor: Heru

Monday, 18 November 2013

OIC's secretary general says he was moved to tears by displaced Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar

Source canada, 17 Nov

Yangon, Myanmar - The secretary general of the world's largest bloc of Islamic countries said emotional visits with members of the long-persecuted Rohingya Muslim community — chased from their homes in Myanmar by Buddhist mobs and arsonists — brought him to tears.

"I've never had such a feeling," Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said late Saturday, as he and other delegates from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation wrapped up a three-day tour to Myanmar that included talks with the president, government ministers, interfaith groups and U.N. agencies.

But he said it was the huge, emotional crowds living in trash-strewn camps outside the Rakhine state capital, Sittwe, that made the biggest impression.

"I was crying," Ihsanoglu said.

Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist nation of 60 million, emerged from a half-century of military rule in 2011, but its transition to democracy has been marred by sectarian violence that has left more than 240 people dead and sent another 240,000 fleeing their homes.

Most of the victims have been Rohingya. Though many of their families arrived generations ago, all have been denied citizenship by the government.

Many children in displacement camps have not gone to school for more than a year. Those who wish to leave — for medical treatment or otherwise — have to pay hefty bribes. Humanitarian aid workers face constant threats by Buddhist Rakhine, who accuse them of being biased in favour of Rohingya.

Ihsanoglu said that while visiting the Sittwe camps, he and other members of the IOC delegation were met by crowds of 5,000, but due to the language barrier, they were unable to communicate.

"They were desperate. They were afraid. They were happy we were there, but it was a happiness expressed in crying," he said, adding that he was eventually able to offer the Islamic greeting, "Assalam Alaikum," or "May God grant protection and security," and the crowd responded in kind.

"I can't explain the feeling I had," he said. "It was very moving."

The OIC visit to Myanmar was marred by frequent demonstrations, with thousands turning out to meet the delegates when they landed in Yangon and then Sittwe, some carrying banners that said "OIC get out" or chanting "Stop interfering in our internal affairs."

Still, Ihsanoglu called it a success — mostly because it came at the invitation of a government that has largely remained silent about the repeated attacks on minority Muslims.

He said he received assurances that the government was seeking to resolve issues of citizenship for its 800,000 Rohingya, but gave no details.

"If this issue is not solved, it will be a big problem," he said.

Rohingya, excluded from Myanmar's 135 recognized ethnic groups, have for decades endured systematic discriminatory and exclusionary policies, restricting movement, access to education and jobs.

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi — who has said little in defence of the religious minority — declined to meet with the OIC delegation.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Hundreds of Rohingyas flee from Pauktaw township

Source bnionline, 15 Nov

Boats carrying Rohingyas fleeing recent violence in Pauktaw township in Arakan state landed in Bangladesh on Nov. 12. Hussain, one of the passengers, told Kaladan Press Network by telephone, three boats carrying a total of 200 people left Pauktaw on Nov. 10 arriving in the evening at several locations in Cox Bazaar District.

One of the boats carrying 60 people landed near Enani village. Another was reportedly on route to Mosh Khali Island, but stopped in the Dal Ghata area. The third one, which Hussain was on, arrived near Shamlapur area carrying 100 people; 25 women and 30 children were on board. Some of the 200 people were immediately arrested by Bangladesh police, but most managed to hide in nearby villages. In Bangladesh their future is uncertain, at any time they could be picked up by police.

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The already volatile situation in Arakan state for Muslims has worsened following recent violence resulting in the deaths of three Rohingyas and one Rakhine women in early November. One Rohingya man was murdered by Rakhine villagers when collecting firewood in the forest. Another two were killed and four wounded after riot police opened fire during clashes. In what appeared to be a revenge attack carried out by several Rohingya men a Rakhine woman was murdered and another injured in the following days.

In Pauktaw township the situation remains tense with many of the remaining Rohingya villagers being forced into an internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp allegedly for their own security by army and police. Many are afraid because the camp funded by an international aid group is very close to a village with only Buddhist Rakhines.

As a result of ongoing discrimination at the hands of state security and Rakhine extremists that has escalated after  widespread violence broke out over a year ago many Rohingyas see no way out but to board rickety boats for Bangladesh, or make the perilous journey to Malaysia. Many have already drowned trying when their boats capsized.

A passenger named Du Du Mea told Kaladan Press Network two more boats will soon leave for Bangladesh.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Buthidaung court convicts more Rohingya for Maungdaw riots

Source Kaladanpress, 4 Nov

Maungdaw, Arakan State: Buthidaung court has convicted 69 Rohingyas sentencing to 5-2 year prison terms last week of October, Halim (not real name), a human rights watchdog from Maungdaw said.

Those convicted were arrested after the violence of June 2012, in Maungdaw Township, with allegation of listed in so-called warrant list issued from Maungdaw court by requested of Maungdaw Township and district admin officers, police officers, Halim more added. "They were severely tortured and kept in Buthidaung jail without inadequate food and other facilities after arrested."

Muslim men and boys were allegedly arbitrarily detained in Buthidaung prison, were subjected to three months of systematic torture and ill-treatment by prison guards and up to 20 prison inmates, who appear to have been brought into the prison for the specific purpose of administering beatings to Muslim prisoners, according to the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights report in Myanmar dated September 23, 2013, reference number A/68/297.

The Special Rapporteur, Tomás Ojea Quintana, received a large number of prisoners in Buthidaung prison, including children, older persons and the sick, were transferred from the prison to other locations in Maungdaw Township just before his visit. He therefore reiterates the importance of independent monitoring mechanisms that have regular access to all places of detention, including through unannounced visits, in addition to a mandate to make recommendations to the prison authorities on improving the treatment and conditions of persons in detention, the report said.

The convicted Rohingya have been keeping without trail and jail terms, after releasing report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, the authority started to convict them. But, the report was also rejected by the human rights commission of the Burma government, said Mohamed Anoo (Not real name), a teacher from Maungdaw.

Those convicted Rohingya are 68 males sentencing to 5 year prison terms and one female from Bomu village of Maungdaw municipal, sentenced to 2 year, Anoo said.

All the convicted Rohingya are mostly from Maungdaw Township – block 5, block 2, block 4, Maungni village, Myoma Kyandan and Shwezar village, Anoo more added.

On the same day, Buthidaung court released 5 Rohingyas, Anoo said.

The government has made the Rohingya community pay the biggest price for the unrest. Since last year many have been locked in their villages or squalid camps, their movements severely restricted. An emergency act that has been in effect since last year outlaws the gathering of more than five persons yet this has largely not been applied to the Rakhine community.

According to official government data, 1,189 people have been detained by authorities. Out of this only 260 were Buddhist Rakhines.

Three die, two wounded in Pauktaw violence

Source Kaladanpress, 6 Nov

Pauktaw, Arakan State: Three people were killed and other two people were wounded on November 1st week while conflict between two communities (Rakhine and Rohingya), according to a local from Pauktaw Township who did not give his name.

On November 2, at about 12:00 noon, one Rohingya refuge –name not know- was killed by some local Rakhine in the forest while he and other refugee were collecting firewood. The other managed to escape from the area and amount them one Refugee also wounded seriously who reached to the Sintatmaw refugee camp and informed all the event, said a refugee from the camp.

Hearing the information from the wounded refugee, a group of refugees went to the forest to search the dead body. But they were halted by Hluntin on the way to forest where the police and refugee had become argument to find the dead body. But, Hluntin open fired to the mob where one refugee died on the spot and wounded three refugees, said an elder from camp.

According to Arakan State Government spokesperson, Hla Thein, six Rohingya refugee from Sintatmaw displacement camp in Pauktaw Township disappeared on November 2 when they went to the forest to collect firewood. But, found dead with physical wounds, and taken back to their local mosque. Other are still missing.

There were a confrontation at the camp where the police officials were forced to shoot into the crowd. In the accident three Rohingya were injured. One of them later died in the hospital, HlaThein said

After the event, the refugee mob got very angry and a quarrel was occurred with two Rakhine women on the way to refugee camp while the women were collecting mussels in a stream. In that incident, one Rakhine woman was killed and another one was also wounded, according to sources from Sintatmaw.

"The body of a Bengali Muslim covered with wounds was found in Sintatmaw village, and I think the Bengalis suspect the Arakanese for this," said Hla Thein, referring to the Rohingya man as a "Bengali," a term that reflects many locals' belief that the Muslim minority are illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh, mention in Irrawaddy news.

According our reporter, the wounded three refugees were immediately brought to Sittwe (Akyab) General Hospital by MSF members for treatment, after calling MSF office by sintatmaw Rohingya camp leader. But, the Rakhine community in the area complained the MSF work only for Rohingya, not for Rakhine.
Vickie Hawkins, MSF deputy-head for Burma explained her organization was fair in their work, and provided medical services with regardless of ethnicity and based only on a patient's need to be transferred to hospital.

The Arakan State government under the Burmese government gathered 18 leading international NGOs and UN agencies on November 4 to remind them that all assistance must be distributed fairly after Rakhine community protested against INGOs are not working for them, only Rohingya.

Violence Flares Again in Arakan State

Source Irrawaddy news, 4 Nov

An Arakanese woman was killed and another severely injured after they were stabbed by Muslim men wielding spears in a village of Pauktaw Township on Saturday, in an attack reportedly carried out in retaliation for the discovery a Muslim man's dead body in strife-torn Arakan State.

The three unidentified Muslim men confronted a group of six Arakanese women who were collecting mussels along the coast near Sinai village, some 10 miles from Pauktaw.Ma Hla Khin, an Arakanese woman in her 30s, died from stab wounds to her abdomen, and the other victim was seriously injured in the attack, according to a state parliamentarian representing Pauktaw.

May Than Khin, a young woman in her late teens, is receiving treatment at a hospital in Sittwe, the state capital, according to Tet Htun Aung, an Arakanese lawmaker of the Arakan State Parliament who visited Sinai village on Sunday.

"Her injuries are severe and the doctor said she would require lengthy treatment for her wounds," he told The Irrawaddy.

Hla Thein, the Arakan State attorney general, said the other four women managed to escape unharmed.

"It is supposed that the killing of the Arakanese woman on Saturday afternoon was a reprisal for the discovery of a dead Muslim man earlier that day in Sin Thet Maw village," Hla Thein told The Irrawaddy.

Local police are investigating that case, and the cause of the Muslim man's death is not yet known, the attorney general said.

"The body of a Bengali Muslim covered with wounds was found in Sin Thet Maw village, and I think the Bengalis suspect the Arakanese for this," said Hla Thein, referring to the Rohingya man as a "Bengali," a term that reflects many locals' belief that the Muslim minority are illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.

Hla Thein said another Muslim man was later injured when police fired shots to disperse a growing crowd that was gathering outside of a local mosque where a funeral was to take place for the Rohingya whose body was discovered on Saturday.

Tet Htun Aung said residents of Sinai village did not know about the dead Muslim man in Sin Thet Maw.

"In this case, all of the assaulted were women. They said if they had known about Sin Thet Maw and the anger of the Bengalis, they would have taken greater precautions," he said.

Aung Win, a Rohinga rights activist, had a different version of the weekend's events, telling The Irrawaddy on Monday that four Rohingya were killed over the weekend in two separate incidents. He said two of the deaths came when police opened fire on a gathering crowd, though it was not clear if he was referring to the same incident in which Hla Thein said one Muslim was wounded outside a mosque. One died on the spot and the other died in hospital, according to Aung Win.

One other Muslim was found dead and another remains missing and is presumed dead, Aung Win said, adding that it was believed that they were killed while collecting firewood on Saturday.

In Sin Thet Maw, Arakanese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims have self-segregated, with a road separating the two populations, in an arrangement illustrative of the tense inter-communal relations that have characterized much of Arakan State since two bouts of violence between Arakanese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims last year.

Residents of Sinai, a coastal village, have complained about the frequent loss of livestock since the religious strife erupted in Arakan State, with Tet Htun Aung saying Muslims in the area are blamed.

"Local authorities are not taking these problems seriously … The loss of buffalos and cows is happening almost every day," said Tet Htun Aung.

On Sunday, Arakanese residents of Pauktaw held a meeting to voice dissatisfaction with international nongovernmental organizations' work in the area. The complainants accused the INGOs of bias in favor of the Muslim minority in Arakan State, saying they had neglected to assist the local Arkanese women who were assaulted on Saturday.

In Arakan State, resentment toward INGOs is not new, and a growing chorus of Arakanese have called for expelling the aid organizations.

On Monday, the Arakan State government met with representatives from 18 INGOs in Sittwe, according to Hla Thein. "We discussed the locals' complaints about the INGOs' unequal treatment to the displaced people in both communities," he said.

"The INGOs claimed that their assistance is provided fairly, but they promised to heed the government's suggestion," Hla Thein added.

Meanwhile, medical services from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Sittwe have reportedly been suspended, according to a local aid worker in the city, after a group of local Arakanese residents including Buddhist monks surrounded the aid organization's office in the state capital.

"They closed their office, their boat service, and even stopped their car services because some local Arakanse and monks surrounded their office today," the aid worker in Sittwe said on Monday.

The Arakanese group that surrounded the office was also alleging biased provision of medical services by MSF in favor of Muslims, he said.

"I am a witness. They [MSF] hired a speed boat and brought only the Bengali patient. They did not come to bring our patient," said Maung Maung, who is a community leader from Arakan Blood Donors, which donates blood to local Buddhists in need of transfusions.

MSF Deputy Head of Mission Vickie Hawkins told The Irrawaddy that her organization was impartial in its work, and provided medical services "regardless of ethnicity and based only on a patient's need to be transferred to hospital."

Hawkins said MSF was not contacted to provide assistance in the case of the Arakanese women.

"If we had been contacted, MSF would have been very ready to provide emergency medical care and referral services and have facilitated this on several occasions in the past," she said.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Boat carrying at least 70 Muslim Rohingya capsizes off western Myanmar; 8 survivors found

Source Washintonpost, 3 Nov

YANGON, Myanmar — A boat carrying at least 70 Muslim Rohingya capsized and sank Sunday off the western coast of Myanmar, an aid worker said. Only eight survivors have been found.

The boat was in the Bay of Bengal and headed for Bangladesh when it went down early Sunday, said Abdul Melik, who works for a humanitarian organization in the region.

People watch the waves batter into the sea wall of a marina in Brighton, south England, Monday, Oct. 28, 2013. A major storm with hurricane force winds is lashing much of Britain, causing flooding and travel delays including the cancellation of roughly 130 flights at London's Heathrow Airport. Weather forecasters say it is one of the worst storms to hit Britain in years. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

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The incident comes after the United Nations warned that an annual and often deadly exodus of desperate people from Myanmar's Rakhine state appears to have begun. The exodus usually kicks off in November, when seas begin to calm following the annual monsoon.

As many as 1,500 people have fled in the last week, Dan McNorton, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, said at a press briefing Saturday in Geneva.

He said the agency had received several reports of drownings and was seeking details from authorities.

In Sunday's incident, Melik said the wooden boat, which was carrying at least 70 Rohingya from Ohn Taw Gyi village, left at around 3 a.m. and broke apart about four hours later. Women, children and babies were among those on board.

Family members and friends were scouring the Bay of Bengal and coastlines for survivors, but so far only eight survivors have been found, he said.

It was not immediately clear whether any bodies had been recovered.

Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist nation of 60 million, has been gripped by sectarian violence in the last 18 months, leaving more than 240 people dead and causing 250,000 to flee from their homes. Most of the victims have been Rohingya, a long persecuted Muslim minority in the country, with Buddhist mobs chasing them down with machetes, iron chains and bamboo clubs.

The U.N. says it expects this year's exodus to be on one of the biggest on record because of the violence.

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