Saturday 27 September 2014

Myit Chae mob ransacks mosque after domestic servant’s dispute

Source DVB, 22 Sept

A mosque, a home and a shop were vandalised as mob violence broke out again in central Burma on Saturday.

The incident in Myit Chay, near Pakokku in Magwe Division, was sparked by the alleged assault of a Buddhist housemaid by her Muslim employers. After hearing the rumours of the assault, a gang of around 50 local Buddhist men gathered at the house of the alleged perpetrator and ransacked it. They then set about destroying the Muslim man's shop before turning their attention to a local mosque.

A Myit Chay administrator has told DVB that the housemaid has been advised to press charges against her employer and his wife, who is also alleged to have beaten the women, and that local authorities have assured the public that action would be swift.

It is believed the employer, Moe Win, is now in hiding.

Housemaid Cho Thet Mar says she was beaten at her employer's home after going there to confront him about unpaid wages.

"I went to ask for my money, but the boss' wife told me they would not pay me," she told DVB. "I told her that the matter wasn't her business and demanded to speak to her husband."

She said that when she began raising her voice and making a scene, both the employer, his wife and a manservant dragged her by the hair into the house and beat her. Cho Thet Mar said that she screamed for help, but although some neighbours heard her and saw the incident, they did not intervene.

Later on Saturday evening, a 50-strong gang of men attacked Moe Win's home and shop. The mob then vandalised a local mosque, before finally being dispersed by police at 11pm.

Police estimate the damage to be in the region of US$400.

Myint Kyaw, a local administrator in Myit Chay, said, "I immediately informed the township administrator and he instructed me to take swift action against the couple, so I brought the police station chief along and advised the victim to press charges against them."

He said he and the police chief assured the mob that swift action would be taken and charges brought against the Muslim couple.

The mob dispersed at first, he said, but later reappeared, threatening to seek further revenge.

The incident is the latest in a string of violence between Buddhists and Muslims in Burma. Mosques, Muslim homes and businesses have frequently been the targets of rumour-fuelled anger, most recently in Mandalay in July.


Chinese court sentences life term for Uigher Muslim leader

HA/IINA, 23 Sep 

Beijing, Tuesday, 28 Dhul Qaada 1435/ 23 September 2014 (IINA) – A Chinese court has sentenced the country's most prominent advocate for the rights of Muslim Uighur people to life in prison on separatism charges, his lawyer has said, in a case that has provoked an international outcry.

The Urumqi People's Intermediate Court announced the verdict against economics professor Ilham Tohti on Tuesday, following a two-day trial last week in the western region of Xinjiang. Tohti, seen by many as a moderate voice who spoke out about the plight of Uighers under majority Han Chinese rule, was detained in January along with seven of his students. Tohti's lawyer told the Reuters news agency that his client was innocent and would appeal against the verdict. "This case was extremely politicized," Li Fangping said. A Communist Party member and professor at Beijing's Minzu University, Tohti ran a website, Uighur Online, that highlighted issues affecting the minority ethnic group. "Of course, this life sentence is too much," Li said. "But he has said that no matter what the result, this should not lead to hatred. He has always said he wants to create a dialogue with the Han Chinese".

Prosecutors in Xinjiang said Tohti had promoted independence for the region on his website. But according to Li, Tohti told the court last week he established the website to promote dialogue between Uighur and Han scholars and that he had publicly opposed separatism and violence. Tohti had rejected the prosecution's evidence and said statements against him by student volunteers who had worked on the website were made under pressure from authorities. The charge of separatism carries a maximum penalty of death in extreme cases.
Amnesty International, the human rights group, released a statement condemning Tohti's prison sentence. "This shameful judgment has no basis in reality. Ilham Tohti worked to peacefully build bridges between ethnic communities and for that he has been punished through politically motivated charges," said William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International.  "Tohti is a prisoner of conscience and the Chinese authorities must immediately and unconditionally release him." The United States, the European Union and human rights groups have called for Tohti's release after a nine-month detention widely seen as part of a government crackdown on dissent in Xinjiang, where tension between Uighurs and majority Han Chinese has led to violence.

The government blames a series of violent attacks in which hundreds have died on armed groups who it says want to establish an independent state in Xinjiang called East Turkestan. Some activists say the government's repressive policies, including controls on Islam, have provoked unrest. Tohti, who taught at Beijing's Minzu University, which specialises in ethnic minority studies, has said he never associated with any terrorist organization or foreign-based group and has "relied only on pen and paper to diplomatically request" human rights and legal rights for Uighurs.

Thursday 25 September 2014

Rohingya American Society (RAS) condemns the forced Bengalization attempt of President Thein sein Government to helpless Rohingya

Press statement of Rohingya American Society (RAS), 22 Sept

We, the leadership and members of the Rohingya American Society (RAS) strongly
condemn the forced Bengalization attempt of President Thein sein Government to 
helpless Rohingya native of the soil of Arakan (Rakhine-prey) through the immigration 
process enforcing the discriminatory 1982 Myanmar citizenship law which made the 
Rohingyas stateless in their own homeland.

In this context, we would like to reiterate that the 1982 Myanmar (Burma) citizenship 
law adopted in October 1982 by the previous Burmese Govt. led by the late General Ne 
Win is not related with the national status checking of the Rohingya Muslims of Arakan 
who are already citizens by birth and according to the 1947 Constitution, 1947 Burmese 
Residence and Registration Act, 1948 Burmese Citizenship law, and 1974 Burmese 
Constitution as well as per the 1948 Burma Independence Declaration according to the 
Nu-Atlee Agreement.

In fact this 1982 Myanmar (Burma) Citizenship law is concerned with the suspected 
foreigners and immigrants whose citizenship status needed to be scrutinized in Arakan 
such as those two hundred and fifty thousand RAKHINE (MOGS) Bangladeshi 
citizens who were born and brought up in neighboring Bangladesh and citizens of that 
country by birth, who entered into Arakan illegally and staying without the knowledge 
of Myanmar government and its central immigration organ functioning by the Rakhine 
ruling elite group.

The truth is that Rohingyas known as Mohammedan in accordance with British 
Census in 1826, 1872, 1911 and 1944 are already indigenous Myanmar citizens 
according to the Article No-3 and 6 of 1982 Myanmar citizenship law. So, enforcing and 
implementing the 1982 Myanmar citizenship law against the native Rohingya people 
forcing them to identify as Bengali is a matter of great concern to the world and UN.

This 1982 Myanmar citizenship law was intentionally created and approved by the Govt. 
of Myanmar (Burma) to exclude the Rohingya people from Myanmar citizenship rights.
The effect of the Myanmar Citizenship Law 1982 is to make it almost impossible for the 
Rohingya people to gain citizenship. This violates the Universal Declaration of Human 
Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and international norms prohibiting 
discrimination of racial and religious minorities. The legal and practical constraints 
imposed by the Myanmar Citizenship Law 1982 render it "almost impossible" for the 
Rohingya people to be recognized as citizens of Myanmar. In fact that the Rohingyas 
are effectively excluded from citizenship is a clear violation of international human 
rights law. It is a fundamental principle that "everyone has the right to a nationality. This 
principle is especially important in relation to the children. 

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child provides in terms that every child "shall 
have from birth...the right to acquire a nationality". As a party to that Convention, 
Burma is obliged to "ensure the implementation" of every child's right to acquire a 
nationality. Since it is almost impossible for a Rohingya, and in particular a Rohingya 
child, to acquire Burmese citizenship, the 1982 Myanmar Citizenship Law violates the 
fundamental right to a nationality.

Moreover, since the Rohingya have no other nationality, the effect of the 1982 Myanmar 
Citizenship Law is to render them stateless. This is significant because Burma is 
specifically obliged to ensure a child's right to acquire a nationality "where the child 
would otherwise be stateless". 

Moreover, it runs contrary to many other international instruments which aim to limit 
statelessness. The 1982 Citizenship Law also violates international norms against 
discrimination. Ever since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 it has 
been recognized as a fundamental principle that "everyone is entitled to all the rights 
and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race 
and religion". This principle has been repeated consistently in international Conventions. 
The rights of children, including the right to acquire nationality, must also be respected 
"without discrimination of any kind.

So, we sincerely urge and strongly demand the President Thein Sein Government 
to immediately stop undemocratic process of forced Bengalization of Rohingya' 
immigration process in any forms using the policy of stick and carrot to helpless 

We earnestly recommend the GOM (Government of Myanmar) to restore the 
Rohingyas' citizenship rights disregarding 1982 Myanmar Citizenship Law and 
dismantle the IDP camps allowing all Rohingyas to return to their original own places 
with full compensation and reconstruction of their villages, houses, religious school 
and places of worship (mosques) burnt and destroyed by Rakhine mob with the help of 
Burmese security forces.

We also urge the world Governments including USA, EU, ASEAN, OIC and United 
Nations to put strong pressure to Myanmar current government to cease all forms of 
human rights violation against the ethnic Rohingya people and restore their fundamental 
and citizenship rights in Myanmar to make the country a better place for all people of 

Shaukhat Kyaw Soe Aung (aka) MSK Jilani
On behalf of the Executive Committee Members
Rohingya American Society (RAS)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Note: Rohingya American Society (RAS) is a formerly known as "The 
Burmese Rohingya American Friendship Association (BRAFA)."

Friday 5 September 2014

Myanmar official considered Rohingya a constitutive ethnic group indigenous to the noth western borderlands of Burma & East Pakistan

pl read details at maungzarni,
Myanmar officially considered Rohingya a constitutive ethnic group indigenous to the north western borderlands of Burma & East Pakistan

British Aid for Myanmar Ethnic Cleansing

Source maungzarni, 2 Sept
President Thein Sein with William Hague

Pardon? Britain are doing what now? That can't be right, everything is too perfect at the moment. Please don't spoil things, we've had a Royal baby, WE have all just given birth to a King! Have some respect!

Alas, "British Aid for Myanmar Ethnic Cleansing" was the accusation levelled at 'us' in an Asia Times article written last week by Maung Zarni. Who is this renegade anti-Brit? Who does he think we are, America?!

Actually, quite well-esteemed is the answer. Mr Zarni is an exiled dissident blogger from Myanmar (formerly Burma) and currently a visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics. So what is he talking about?

Before we begin, this isn't as major as it first appears, but every story needs a good headline. Britain is not LITERALLY helping state sponsored ethnically motivated mass murder. This is not happening. Maung Zarni is alluding to something that has not yet happened, but he believes will do in the future. So put down your strawberries and listen up. His article argued that:

"Britain is effectively aiding and abetting the unfolding "ethnic cleansing" of Muslim Rohingya by helping to finance the country's controversial 2014 national census."

The Myanmar President Mr. Thein Sein was on an official visit to Britain last week, when it was announced that Britain planned to give Myanmar a £30million aid and development package. A chunk of that money will be spent on a census. This is the part that Mr. Zarni has taken issue with.

A British Government statement read that bankrolling the census is "essential to make sure support is getting to those who need it". Within the last year Myanmar, has been in several trade and development negotiations with Britain since the EU lifted trade embargoes.

Zarni disagrees with the British Government and believes that the census will be used against the Rohingya ethnic group, who have been persecuted for years by the state and are still not considered proper citizens of Myanmar. Anti-Islamic rhetoric is rife across the country, particularly amongst ultra-nationalist Buddhist monks. The Rohingya have the misfortune of not only being considered non-citizens, tied to their supposed historical origins (that are untrue), they are also Muslim. Many have been killed in rioting in Arakan State recently and thousands have fled into refugee camps or into neighbouring countries.

Zarni went on to explain that:

"Because Thein Sein's government is forcing the Rohingya people to register as "Bengali", a continuation of a decades-old policy of stripping the Rohingya of both their citizenship and ethnic identity, Britain's financial support for this process is troubling. The coming census will no doubt be used to reinforce this racist policy and practice of forcibly registering the self-referenced Rohingya and erasing the fact that the Rohingya as an ethnic nationality group ever existed in Myanmar."

Essentially, by classifying different groups, age old prejudices, feelings of resentment and an 'us' versus 'them' attitude, Zarni believes, will be exacerbated. Zarni therefore feels that the violence towards the Rohingya will continue and perpetuate because of the census.

As Zarni believes, have Britain become 'officially complicit in the atrocities against the Rohingya'?

To attribute this to Britain is difficult. You cannot say whether the census will be used as a tool by the state to attack more Rohingya and to try to remove them from the country. Most importantly, the census has not been created yet.

The worrying thing about this quandary is the precedent. Firstly, there is a precedent in Myanmar for state ordered violence and persecution towards the Rohingya, as well as deep-rooted national antipathy towards the group. According to Zarni in 1978 a fully operational state programme effectively caused the removal of 150,000 Rohingya. Not a good start.

Secondly, the process of officially demarking different ethnic groups by documentation has led to some of the most hideous events in history. The Jewish population in Nazi Germany became 'officially' labeled in the 1930s. The Tutsi's in Rwanda were separated through I.D cards, which preceded the Rwandan Genocide. Time and again throughout history ethnic minorities have suffered because perceived 'differences' become legitimised via documentation. It is then easier for a ruling group to maneuver against the minority, be it through violence, forced-evacuation or discrimination via the manipulation of state services such as healthcare and education. Not good either.

This is the worry that Zarni is bringing to our attention. There is also no doubt that the Rohingya are marginalized in Myanmar. According to Zarni the statistics bear witness to this. The doctor:patient ratio for the Rohingya in Northern Rakhine State is reportedly 1:83,000 and the adult illiteracy rate is reportedly at 90%.

As well as these two different aspects of precedence, you must be suspicious of the Myanmar Government…… in almost every way.

"Are you Generals in disguise?" "Democracy you're having a laugh" and "A regime that imprisons its people for speaking freely, we know what you are" would be a pretty apt football-themed way of singing it. So this is pretty bad.

Can Britain trust the regime of Thein Sein? Who am I to say, but instinctively you wouldn't, say, let him look after your cat for a week whilst you go on holiday. Is this a realistically useful question to ask when a country is in democratic transition and a strong candidate as a future British ally? Unfortunately not really. That's the name of the game.

I don't want to pooh-pooh the democratic changes that have already been introduced to Myanmar since 2010, but there is still a long way to go. Any international development must not get ahead of itself for the sake of the Myanmar population.

What Britain can ensure is that there is a mechanism in place to monitor how the census is used, and make sure that financial assistance is used to integrate the Rohingya, rather than isolate them. The British Government has a responsibility to see that the money is used in a proper manner because ultimately, they are accountable.

This article was originally published here.

Thursday 4 September 2014

Young Rohingya Woman Chases Dream of Peace and Justice in Burma

Source Irrawaddy, 3 Sept

RANGOON — Wai Wai Nu is a diminutive 27-year-old with pro-democracy activism in her genes and a quarter of her young life spent behind bars.

Activist Wai Wai Nu at her office in Rangoon. (Photo: Thin Lei Win / Thomson Reuters Foundation)

Activist Wai Wai Nu at her office in Rangoon. (Photo: Thin Lei Win / Thomson Reuters Foundation)

The former political prisoner is now working to end the persecution faced by her people, the stateless Rohingya Muslims in western Burma.

The mistreatment she and her family have suffered is just one example among many of abuse aimed at the Rohingya, a minority of around 1.33 million living mainly in Arakan State. Most are denied citizenship despite having lived in Burma for generations.

Wai Wai is one of Burma's brave, articulate and clear-sighted women working on countering the extremist views that tend to dominate the dialogue over religious intolerance and communal violence.

Whether the discussion is about the Rohingya or women's right to marry men of their choice, firebrand Buddhist monks and nationalists have successfully stoked Buddhist-Muslim tensions.

"Right now, the Buddhists are becoming more afraid of the Muslims and vice versa. Everybody feels insecure," she told Thomson Reuters Foundation in her sparsely-furnished office at the top of a six-story building in Burma's main city, Rangoon.

"There is little contact, trust or relationship between the communities at the moment so it's easy for an agent provocateur to incite riots and hatred."

Wai Wai's ambitions are long-term: peaceful co-existence of different groups in Burma, especially in her home state Arakan, also known as Rakhine, and an end to injustice.

"We would like Rakhine State to be a fair, developed and prosperous state for everyone, regardless of their race or religion," she said.

Her organization, Women Peace Network Arakan, conducts training to promote better understanding between the communities. She is also one of the few advocating for the rights of Rohingya women, who suffer multiple layers of discrimination.


Election to Imprisonment

Wai Wai was 18 and studying law when she was arrested in 2005. Her crime was to be the daughter of Kyaw Min, a Rohingya who was elected as member of Parliament in the 1990 elections, the results of which were ignored by Burma's military rulers.

A former state education official in Buthidaung in northern Arakan State, Kyaw Min was also a member of the Committee Representing the People's Parliament, a group of MP-elects from the 1990 vote led by Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

The family had moved to Rangoon in the early 1990s after Kyaw Min faced repeated harassment from the authorities.

More than a decade later, the whole family was rounded up—Kyaw Min first, the rest two months later—and charged under state security and immigration laws. Activists say the junta wanted to silence Kyaw Min's championing of labor rights.

"Ever since I was young, I wanted understand law to make sense of the injustices that were occurring in the country," Wai Wai recalled.

"When we were jailed, my mother said, 'Well now is the opportunity to do so in a real, practical way,' so I guess I was lucky," she added, laughing.

The trial was held behind closed doors, without their lawyer, and the judge refused to listen to them, she said. Kyaw Min was sentenced to 47 years, and the rest of the family—the wife, two daughters and a son—got 17 years each.

"We were shocked into silence. My father was already 60."

"I remember turning to the judge and saying, 'Thank you for the sentence. Our grandmother lived a very long life so we will be ok.' I also told my dad not to feel bad," she said.

"I only burst into tears when I got back to my cell," she added, losing her composure for the first time and wiping tears from her eyes.


The Prison Years

Wai Wai spent seven years in Insein Prison, notorious for its harsh regime and squalid conditions.

She found the mental anguish of imprisonment the most difficult thing to deal with, and kept herself busy. One way was to talk to other female prisoners. Most were arrested for prostitution, running small-scale gambling businesses or drugs.

"They were very young. Some were even younger than me," Wai Wai said.

"They had to do these jobs because there is no other choice. Is it their fault they don't have opportunities?"

Hearing their stories turned her into a feminist and made her want to help marginalized women, she said. "I couldn't wallow in self-pity after meeting them. Insein Prison was my university about life."

Still, the privations of prison life left long-lasting scars on the family. Her father's health deteriorated and her sister contracted liver disease that almost killed her.

All the family members were released in January 2012, together with hundreds of other political prisoners, under the new government of President Thein Sein, which took power in 2011 and embarked on a series of political and economic reforms.

Conditions for the Rohingya in Arakan State, however, have only got worse.


Being Stateless

Kyaw Min won the 1990 elections as a Rohingya politician. The term has always been debated but it was not the political lighting rod that it is now, made worse after religious clashes in June and October 2012 left 140,000 people homeless, mostly Rohingya.

The government and ordinary Burmese use the term Bengalis, implying they are illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.

"The Rohingya used to lead dignified, respectful lives. They were not always stateless. My parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were citizens," Wai Wai said.

A citizenship law enacted in 1982 back-paddled history, took away the Rohingya's citizenship, and imposed restrictions on travel, education and jobs, she said.

"Not having this little ID card affects the whole community. It allows the violation of basic human rights and takes away people's dignity and mental well-being," Wai Wai said.

On Sept. 15, the world's first forum on statelessness will open at The Hague, focusing on the estimated 10 million stateless people worldwide. Wai Wai hopes it will raise the issue of Rohingya.

"How is it that our fathers were in the government service and able to run in and win elections but that is no longer possible during our time?" she asked.

She blames the negative perception towards the Rohingya—which stereotypes the group as polygamous and criminal—on decades-old propaganda by the military.

The United Nations has said the Rohingya are "virtually friendless" amongst Burma's other ethnic and religious communities. Even human rights activists, including Aung San Suu Kyi, have failed to speak up on the Rohingya's behalf.

"We too sacrificed many things for the same cause—democracy—and we too are working towards a better future for our country," Wai Wai said.

"So it really hurts when human rights advocates say Rohingya shouldn't have rights.

"But then, our history has been erased by the junta so it's not their fault. It's the system's fault," she added.

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Rohingya protest at Ubon immigration centre

Source Thenation, 2 Sept

Some 70 Bangladeshi and Rohingya detainees staged a protest yesterday at Pibulmangsahan Immigration Police Office in Ubon Ratchathani province.

The 70 men, sent there by the Padang Besar Immigration Police in Songkhla province, said they wanted to go home after being detained in crowded conditions since April 4.

After border patrol police were sent to control the situation, office chief Pol Colonel Suthep Korpaibulkij negotiated with three representatives of the group and learned about their demand. The protest ended peacefully.