Saturday 31 May 2014
Ten Rohingyas Forced To Serve As Porters For Myanmar Military In Bangladesh-Myanmar Border Armed Conflict
Friday 30 May 2014
File photo: A displaced woman cares for her baby at a camp on the outskirts of Sittwe in Rakhine state, western Myanmar.
( AFP/Soe Than Win)
YANGON: Foreign aid agencies said conditions in refugee camps in Myanmar's Rakhine state have gotten worse compared to two months ago, as the agencies are only functioning at half the capacity they used to.
This comes after they were attacked by locals who accused them of providing more assistance to the Bengalis or Rohingyas.
Many foreign aid workers fled, and with the security situation still uncertain, some have not returned.
Two months after locals attacked foreign aid agencies in Rakhine, their operations are still severely impaired.
Pierre Peron, spokesman for UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said: "The infrastructure logistics that was in place, was affected by what happened. So that takes a while to build up again.
"We also find that it's becoming increasingly expensive to work in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine and just in general because the landlords that rent properties to international organisations are increasing their price and that's simply because they themselves are getting threatened."
Such challenges mean that foreign aid agencies will not be able to respond quickly and effectively to any sudden health crises or natural disasters.
Those living in refugee camps are feeling the full impact.
Peron said: "The conditions, humanitarian conditions, for many people in Rakhine state were not good to begin with and it's even worse now.
"In some cases for example, they'd be given food and they would have to sell parts of the food every month to be able to buy things that they really, really need."
Foreign NGOs have identified over 300,000 people in need of help in Rakhine.
But with key medical aid agency Doctors without Borders still unable to operate there, the gaps are becoming increasingly difficult to plug.
Bertrand Bainvel from UNICEF said: "You have a lot of tensions, a lot of prejudice against the humanitarian development community especially in Sittwe.
"We have to enlist the support of the communities because at the end of the day, those suffering from these level of tensions, this level of restrictions that we face to the development, are actually the people. We saw the halving of nutrition surveillance activities among children living in camps."
The general sense of insecurity the aid agencies feel has also delayed some of their return.
Some of those living in the camps in Rakhine have no access to healthcare services.
International aid agencies said they do not sometimes have a clear picture exactly to what is going on, because they have no access to some of the camps.
Some of the aid agencies also told Channel NewsAsia that their local employees have quit for fear of their own safety. This is why many foreign NGOs are unable to say exactly when they will be fully functional again in Rakhine.
Monday 26 May 2014
Friday 23 May 2014
|Myanmar Red Cross Society Team in Sittwe, Arakan (Photo: ICRC/Aye Zaw Myo)|
Thursday 22 May 2014
Wednesday 21 May 2014
Tuesday 20 May 2014
LONDON — There is perhaps no religion that Western liberals find more appealing than Buddhism. Politicians fawn over the Dalai Lama, celebrities seek out Buddhist meditation, and scientists and philosophers insist that Buddhism has much to teach us about human nature and psychology.
Myanmar's Buddhist Bigots
Even some of the so-called New Atheists have fallen for Buddhism's allure. For most of its Western sympathizers, Buddhism is a deeply humanist outlook, less a religion than a philosophy, a way of life to create peace and harmony.
The Rohingya people of Myanmar take a very different view of Buddhism. The Rohingya are Muslims who live mostly in Rakhine, in western Myanmar, bordering Bangladesh. Early Muslim settlements there date from the seventh century. Today, in a nation that is 90 percent Buddhist, there are some eight million Muslims, of whom about one in six is Rohingya.
For the Myanmar government, however, the Rohingya simply do not exist. The government is conducting a national census; 135 ethnic categories are listed on the form. One ethnicity is conspicuously absent: the Rohingya, who the government insists must define themselves as "Bengalis" (that is, as foreigners). "If we ask a family about their ethnicity and they say Rohingya, we will not accept it," a presidential spokesman, Ye Htut, said recently.
The problems faced by the Rohingya are far graver than a refusal by the state to acknowledge their identity. Their very existence is under threat.
Since 2012, there has been a vicious series of pogroms against the Rohingya. Villages, schools and mosques have been attacked and burned by Buddhist mobs, often aided by security forces. Hundreds of Rohingya have been killed, and as many as 140,000 people — more than one in 10 of the Rohingya population— have been made homeless. A report last September from the independent Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention suggested that "recent violence has moved beyond mere pogroms" and toward "the ethnic cleansing of entire regions."
The anti-Muslim campaign has been led by Buddhist monks, who say their actions are in keeping with the demands of their faith. The principal anti-Rohingya organization, the 969 movement, takes its name from the nine attributes of Buddha, the six qualities of his teachings and the nine attributes of the monks. Its leader, a monk named Wirathu, has reportedly called himself the "Burmese Bin Laden." Muslims, he told an interviewer, "breed quickly and they are very violent." Because "the Burmese people and the Buddhists are devoured every day," he argued, "the national religion needs to be protected."
The extremist monk has proposed a "national race protection law" under which a non-Buddhist man wishing to marry a Buddhist woman would have to convert to Buddhism and obtain permission from the state. The proposal has won support from Myanmar's president, Thein Sein, and may become law by the end of June.
How do we reconcile the perception of Buddhism as a philosophy of peace with this ugly reality of Buddhist-led pogroms in Myanmar?
Few would suggest that there is anything inherent in Buddhism that has led to the persecution. Instead, most would recognize that the anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar has its roots in the nation's political struggles.
The military junta that came to power in 1962 has frequently sought to build popular support by fomenting hatred against minority groups. It has stripped the Rohingya people of citizenship, and placed restrictions on their travel, education and land ownership. It has even imposed a "two-child policy" on Rohingya families, to limit their population.
Paradoxically, the recent successes of Myanmar's democracy movement have only worsened the problems of the Rohingya. In an effort to bolster its position, the government has sharpened its rhetoric of hate, while opponents of the regime have refused to support the Rohingya for fear of alienating the Buddhist majority.
The leader of the democracy movement, the Nobel Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has been shamefully silent, willing only to condemn violence in general. Members of her National League for Democracy are openly involved in extremist anti-Rohingya organizations. It is not that tenets of the Buddhist faith are responsible for the pogroms, but that those bent on confrontation have donned the garb of religion as a way of gaining a constituency and justifying their actions. What is true of Myanmar applies to many other conflicts involving religious groups — from Pakistan to Nigeria, from Indonesia to the Central African Republic. The spawning of such violence has led many to see religion itself, and Islam in particular, as the root of conflict.
Religion does, of course, play a role in these confrontations, but it would be wrong to see them as purely religious. When groups vying for political power exploit religion, its role is often to establish the chauvinist identities by which other groups are demonized and the actions of one's own are justified.
The anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar may make us doubt our preconceptions about Buddhism. It should certainly make us question the stance of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, generally seen in the West as a fearless warrior for liberty.
While many Western observers acknowledge the political roots of Myanmar's sectarian violence, it is notable that few are willing to be as nuanced about other conflicts involving Islam. Perhaps the plight of the Rohingya will prompt us also to think again about global confrontations where religion plays a role, and will push us to adopt a less black-and-white view.
Kenan Malik is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster, and the author of "From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and Its Aftermath."
Saturday 17 May 2014
Tuesday 13 May 2014
THE JURIDISCTION OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT AND THE SITUATION OF MYANMAR’S ROHINGYA– SOME PRELIMINARY REMARKS
MYANMAR'S ROHINGYA– SOME PRELIMINARY REMARKS
MYANMAR'S ROHINGYA– SOME PRELIMINARY REMARKS
Sunday 11 May 2014
Saturday 10 May 2014
KANGAR, May 9 (Bernama) -- One hundred and one illegal immigrants, who are believed to be Muslim Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, were detained by the Perlis Anti-Smuggling Unit (UPP) as they were landing at the Kurung Tengar beach in Kuala Perlis, near here early Friday morning.
UPP Perlis deputy commander (II), Rosli Issak said the 41 female and 60 male Rohingya refugees, were aged between one and 40 years old.
"They came in a boat and were in a weak condition due to cold and hunger and some of them were not wearing any clothes when they landed on the beach.
"We then provided them with clothings out of humanitarian consideration," he said at a media conference at his office in Kuala Perlis.
Rosli said the arrest was made following a tip-off from the public who saw a suspicious-looking boat approaching the beach at about 12.30 this morning.
Preliminary investigation revealed that all the illegal immigrants did not have valid documents to enter the country and they were believed to have come to look for protection and employment, he said.
He said the boat's skipper, however, managed to escape and an investigation was being carried out.
Meanwhile, one of the illegal immigrants, Hobi Ahmad, 40, said they had come to Malaysia to look for protection and work as life was very hard in their country of origin.
The nine escapers were simply making their way along the ''human trafficking superhighway'' that runs through Thailand, according to US Congressman Chris Smith.
The nine escapers, who most likely fled into the arms of traffickers, were part of a group of 29 transferred from southern Thailand to the province of Phang Nga, north of Phuket, because of overcrowding.
Escapes have been frequent and traffickers living in the surrounding community at Khao Lak, a popular holiday spot, often bid for customers.
Sources with connections in Bangladesh and northern Burma say the Rohingya boats are leaving Burma with increasing frequency now, despite the onset of the dangerous monsoon season.
But what happens between the departure and the arrival of the boatpeople in southern Thailand remains a mystery.
Explanations are being sought by journalists, and by Thailand's Immigration Division 6 Commander, Police Major General Thatchai Pitaneelaboot.
He has ceased deporting Rohingya back to Burma (Myanmar) because he realises that the majority who are trucked from southern Thailand to Ranong, on the Thai-Burma border, are quickly embraced by traffickers and shipped south again.
Meanwhile, in jungle camps where the Rohingya are hidden until they can raise the money to pay their way across the border to Malaysia, illness and death remain rife.
Phuketwan recently interviewed a young Rohingya who says he fled a jungle camp after burying 13 fellow inmates.
The women and children who arrived at the shelter north of Phuket last week were all thin and in poor condition. They were taken to a for health checks.
Boats are sometimes delayed waiting for passengers, so those who board in northern Burma can have spent more than three weeks in cramped holds before arriving in Thailand.
The conditions in the jungle camps are even worse, which accounts for increasing numbers of deaths.
Yesterday came reports that the detainees at one Immigration centre in southern Thailand had gone without eating for two days because the meals they were served were not halal.
Lack of a transparent national either halt the human trade through Thailand or to treat the boatpeople humanely leaves the Rohingya open to abuse and Thailand open to criticism.