Thursday 23 October 2014

Increasing arbitrary arrests, tortures, detentions and killings in Maungdaw

source Kaladenpress, 22 Oct

The latest tactics of arbitrary arrests, tortures, detentions and killings of Rohingya innocent people at Maungdaw Township in Arakan State, with false and fabricated allegation has become the daily phenomenon of President Thein Sein's regime and his accomplices.

Since September last week, the BGP personnel arrested more than 100 Rohingya villagers (including Maulanas, Hafezi Quran, students. women and even minor boys ) with false and fabricated case in Maungdaw Township to take avenge who did not participate in so-called population data collection. However, the concerned authorities have been trying to frame case against them implicating with Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO), which was not existed in Burma many years ago.

Every night, the BGP personnel went to Rohingya villages and tried to arrest the villagers, so the Rohingya villagers are not able to stay in their homes because of arbitrary arrest of BGP.  Some instances are as follows:

On October 18, at night, a group of BGP accompanied by some local Rakhine went to Singiri village of Lone Don village tract of Maungdaw north, and tried to arrest Rohingya villagers; but they failed as the Rohingyas villagers fled from the village. The BGP wants to arrest them because they did not take part in so-called population data collection.

Besides, the same night, they entered the Mezan Pru Arabic Madrasa, which has been closed since 2012, after the violence between Rakhine and Rohingya communities to comb people to arrest, but, none was found inside it.

In addition, the BGP also tried to arrest the villagers that went to Mosque for Ashr (night praying at 8:00pm ), but none was arrested because of fleeing from the scene sensing the presence of BGP personnel.

Again, on October 17, another group of BGP – more than 200 BGP personnel- went to Nyaung Chaung (Kadir Bill) village and arrested 7 villagers without giving any reason, but other villagers were fleeing from the village. The 7 arrestees were severely tortured by BGP personnel; of them one villager named Humaun Khobir (30), son of Yousuf is on critical condition. Now, he is taking treatment from local quacks. Nearly, all his teeth had been broken by the torture of BGP personnel. However, later, they all were released. They had been tortured by BGP intentionally.

On October 5, Farid Alam (35) hailed from Aung Zan village of Baukshu Pwe Yah village of Maungdaw north was arrested and killed by BGP personnel and thrown the dead body into river. He was arrested with false allegation of having links with RSO.

On October 9, a Maulana named Nazir (35), son of Jalal Ahmed, hailed from Kawar Bill (Kyi Kan Pyin) village of Maungdaw Township was arrested by BGP personnel from the road, at about 7:00 pm while he was going to his home from  Kollizabaga village under Butkargonanah village track by bicycle. After arrest, he was severely tortured and was released.

On October 10, nine villagers including five Madrasa students were arrested by BGP from Maung Nama Gyi village of Maungdaw north. At present, they are detained at  Hluntin Headquarters of Maungdaw 4 miles.

On October 13, four villagers including a 11-year old boy were arrested from Kwanthipin  village of Maungdaw north by BGP personnel without giving any reason. They are identified as—-Hashim Ullah (19), Mohamed Allam (30), Farooq (22), and Sayed Alam(11).

On September 14:  five villagers from Area No.5, twelve villagers from Balu Khali     (Thee Chaung) village of Powet Chaung village tract, on September 20: seven villagers from Kyauk Hla Gaar village; 10 villagers from Kawar Bill, and on September 27: some villagers from Tolatoli, Wet Kin Rwa, Padaka Rwa Thai, Kalar Defa and Chon Gaung  of Maungdaw north were arrested by BGP personnel.

The 1982 Citizenship Law was intentionally created by late Dictatorship General U Ne Win to exclude the Muslim Rohingyas from Burma citizenship, rendering them stateless and without legal and civil rights. At present, Burmese Central government, Arakan State government and Rakhine opposition party leaders are also influentially forcing the Rohingya ethnic minority to register as "Bengali" instead of as "Rohingya" in the current
National citizenship verification process statewide.

At present, the Burmese government calls for change with a proposed "Rakhine State Action Plan." Its means to attempt to address the Rohingyas only further institutionalizes its discrimination against them.

As a result, people are not sleeping in their homes getting out of their homes, watching the BGP personnel when they will come. The villagers in Maungdaw Township are passing their nights and days with fear.

When the Rohingya community will be freed from the yoke of Burmese government

Sunday 19 October 2014

Thailand grapples with smuggling of Rohingya to its shores

Source Asiaone, 19 Oct
Thailand grapples with smuggling of Rohingya to its shores
Rohingya refugees from Myanmar being transported. In Thailand, traffickers await Rohingya, where prices are negotiated for their onward journey. When a Rohingya reaches Malaysia, he would have paid up to $2,700.

From his patch of land, near the Myanmar port city of Sittwe, on which he grows vegetables to supply the Rohingya people living in nearby camps, the farmer can see and hear the waves of the Bay of Bengal.

The lean, bearded man in his 40s, burnt dark brown by the sun, asked not be identified - because he had seen too much, he said. His farm is on a route used by desperate Rohingya from nearby camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) to leave the country and their hopeless situation in the camps.

Across Rakhine state on the western coast of Myanmar, some 140,000 Rohingya live in squalid IDP camps after being driven out of their homes by violent Rakhine mobs from 2012.

Periodically, he said, he would see Rohingya quietly poling boats down a creek next to his land, to get to the beach where they would board bigger boats for a risky journey, in the hands of people smugglers, for Malaysia via southern Thailand.

In Thailand, smugglers and traffickers await them in a well-honed routine, in which they are taken to camps in remote jungle terrain, and where prices are negotiated for their onward journey. By the time a Rohingya reaches Malaysia, he would have paid some 60,000 baht to 70,000 baht (S$2,700).

In this fashion, about 10,000 Rohingya are expected to arrive in southern Thailand through the October-March sailing season, a Thai official said on Monday.

Ranong province deputy governor Pinij Boonlert told local media, "We shall treat them in line with humanitarian principles, with respect for their human rights and international laws. But we will have to deport them."

Two days later, however, jolted by the discovery of trafficked Bangladeshis on an island, the tone of the Thais hardened.

Phang Nga province, like Ranong, is a hot spot for people smuggling and human trafficking. On Wednesday, Phang Nga governor Prayoon Rattanaseri told the media he had ordered local police to "follow the law to international standards".

Much of this emphasis on adhering to international standards in the country's fight against human trafficking possibly has to do with the United States' downgrading of Thailand to the lowest rank in its Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report in July. This ranking triggers cuts in certain US aid and exchange programmes, and withdrawal of US support in some multinational institutions.

Shortly after the Thai army seized power on May 22, junta chief and now Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha placed combating human trafficking high on his list of priorities.

Thailand's handling of the rescue of the Bangladeshis, including making the effort to help them - and the arrest of two Thai traffickers in the case - has drawn rare praise from the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

Bangkok-based Phil Robertson, deputy director for Asia, told The Straits Times, "The district chief and… the ministry of social development and security did a great job." But with regard to general trafficking and smuggling, there was "clear connivance taking place for... people to go ashore and be taken to camps", he said. "Nothing happens there without local police and the authorities knowing about it."

Activist Chris Lewa of The Arakan Project cautioned that the trafficking and smuggling chain was long, and it was difficult to identify the key people.

But what is clear is the network has become an industry. "Bangladesh appears to be a new trend this year because of competition among brokers and smugglers as the syndicates are expanding," she said.

"Up to five, sometimes eight, cargo ships are queuing to embark people and they want to fill up the boats to maximise profit. Smugglers are coercing and forcing people aboard to fill up these cargo vessels."

This article was first published on October 17, 2014. 
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.

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Mystery over 176 missing from people trafficker's boat from Bangladesh

Source Sydneymorningherald, 16 Oct
Lindsay Murdoch

South-East Asia correspondent for Fairfax Media

Suspected Bangladesh kidnap victims in southern Thailand.
Suspected Bangladesh kidnap victims in southern Thailand. Photo: Phuketwan

BANGKOK: Mystery surrounds the whereabouts of 176 people, including three women, who were on a people trafficker's boat that left Bangladesh.

There are fears traffickers intend to sell those on board to fishing trawlers or factories as slave labour in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Bangladesh officials are travelling to southern Thailand to interview 134 suspected victims who say they were on the boat with the 176 others.

Suspected Bangladesh kidnap victims in southern Thailand.
Suspected Bangladesh kidnap victims in southern Thailand.

All but one of the men and boys say they were kidnapped in Bangladesh and ended up being forced into the hold of a fishing vessel and shipped from the port of Cox's Bazaar to a remote island camp off the coast of southern Thailand.

Many thought they were being recruited for odd jobs in Bangladesh when they were grabbed by unidentified men.

They include a teacher who discovered one of his pupils on the boat. 

Two Thai men have been charged with human trafficking after the discovery of the group of 130 in Takua Pa district of Thailand's Phang Nga province.

Police are searching for several others.

More than half of the group had been forced to swim ashore from a remote island after Thai authorities learnt the people smugglers had landed a large group of people there.

The group of 176 are believed to have been taken off the island by the people smugglers before authorities arrived.

Victims have told journalists from Phuketwan, an on-line news website based in Phuket, they were beaten, abused and given little food by the traffickers.

Sixteen of the victims are Rohingya, a mostly stateless Muslim minority from western Myanmar.

Thailand was downgraded in June to the lowest "Tier 3" category in the US State Department's 2014 Trafficking in Persons' Report for not fully complying with the minimum standards for eliminating trafficking.

The arrival of the boat in Thailand shows that trafficking routes through the country remain open in the southern part of the country where thousands of Rohingya were held and sometimes tortured by traffickers at jungle camps last year, human rights groups say.

Tens of thousands of Rohingya have fled Myanmar since 2012 when violent clashes with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists killed hundreds and made 140,000 homeless.

But most of those on board the latest boat insist they were not willing passengers seeking a new life in Malaysia or another country but victims of kidnappers.

"We have not seen this type of incident before," a Bangladesh official told Phuketwan.

"Kidnapping doesn't usually happen in Bangladesh," he said.

October is the start of a five month so-called "sailing season" when thousands of Rohingya are expected to risk their lives by boarding boats to flee Myanmar, many of them trying to reach Malaysia where there is a large Rohingya community.

Hunting for Myanmar's hidden treasure

Source Aljazeera, 17 Oct

Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.

                  A driller pulls up a torpedo-shaped capsule from an oil well in Lake Aye, Ramree Island, Myanmar.                          

Ramree Island, Myanmar - Zaw Myint looked quizzical as he sniffed a handful of grey sludge. He had just pulled the mud up from the bottom of an oil well he's digging on Myanmar's impoverished western coastline, hoping for the sweet whiff of black gold.

"The money I get working here is good," Zaw Myint said, standing in a shallow pool of water that glistened with the sheen of oil.

However, Zaw Myint's success may soon change. Big Oil is hot on his trail.

The hunt for hidden treasure in Myanmar, Southeast Asia's hottest frontier market, is rapidly gaining pace.

Companies from the United States, Europe, Japan and Singapore are elbowing their way into the country they turned their backs on during the past two decades because of its appalling human rights abuses.

The country fell into China's less scrupulous embrace and, for two decades, Myanmar was the monogamous partner in a loveless marriage of convenience.

"The Chinese don't care about local people. They do as they like."

- U Tun Thein, landowner

In 2011, fearing the country was sliding towards Chinese client statehood, Myanmar began a process of liberalising the economy, releasing political prisoners, and rebalancing foreign relations.

As Myanmar took its first baby-steps towards democracy, Western nations eased economic sanctions. Last year, Myanmar's President Thein Sein met with US President Barack Obama at the White House, the first such visit by a Myanmar head of state in almost 50 years.

China is no longer Myanmar's only suitor; she's being courted, she's seeing other people. It's complicated.

Burmah Oil

Myanmar is one of the world's oldest oil producers, exporting its first barrel in 1853. Its discovery by British colonisers prompted the creation of the Burmah Oil Company, an early shareholder of the company that would later become oil giant BP.

Despite its early start, production has been negligible under the five decades of economic mismanagement since independence from Britain in 1948. In 2007, its output was just 8,000 barrels of oil per day, according to Total's website.

Still, the technique for hand drilling wells with simple bamboo rigs was passed down the generations, and has provided a healthy enough income for some communities living on Ramree Island.

The oil, which looks and smells like gasoline, was once distilled in makeshift refineries in the main town of Kyaukphyu.

The fuel was used in motorbikes and cars, but the refining process was dangerous. These days more reliable supplies of petrol are trucked in from Myanmar s commercial capital, Yangon.

"I found a lot of oil here 10 years ago,said U Tun Thein, who owns the land where the ramshackle village of Oil Mountain stands. He points proudly to a photograph of his daughter graduating from university, paid for on the proceeds of renting out his land to local oil drillers.

It's on this small resource-rich isle that Myanmar's disenchantment with its northern neighbour China is palpable, and its flirtation with the West will become increasingly obvious.

Like most people, U Tun Thein resents the large Chinese workforce that runs the nearby China National Petroleum Corporation's gas installation.

"The Chinese don't care about local people. They do as they like,U Tun Thein said.

Fresh trouble

For oilmen such as Zaw Myint, their troubles reflect the changing fancy of Myanmar's economic dalliances.

A couple of years ago he was uprooted by the construction of parallel 1,240km-long oil and gas pipelines stretching from Kyaukphyu, his coastal hometown, to China's southern Yunan province.

During the last year the gas pipeline, which connects to the offshore gas facility, has pumped 66.5 billion cubic feet of gas to China. The sister pipeline will come online later this year, and is expected to carry 440,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

"My family depends on this land. I want to regain the land I lost,said Zaw Myint.

His complaints are a common refrain on the island. Despite the abundance of offshore gas resources, locals say they've seen little of the revenue.

"Local people do not get enough profits from our natural resources,said Soe Shwe from the Shwe Gas Movement, a civil society group.

Driller Zaw Myint faces new trouble from plans to build a 17-square-kilometre industrial park on his oil field.

The "Special Economic Zonewill include a deep-sea port and a "one-stop service centre for comprehensive logistics and supply services for oil and gas exploration, development and production facilities", according to the development plan.

The oil facility will cater to the 20 offshore oil blocks auctioned off in April, several of which were awarded to Western oil conglomerates including Shell, ENI, Total, Chevron and ConocoPhillips.

Chinese companies were notably absent; one of several potent signs of China's less-privileged position.

As Myanmar opened up its nascent banking sector earlier this month, only one Chinese bank was granted a license to operate, while Japan won three, and Singapore two. Meanwhile, Myanmar is said to have become dissatisfied with Chinese weaponry, preferring Russian planes and helicopters.

In 2011, President Thein Sein halted construction of the $3.6bn Myitsone hydroelectric dam, which would have sent 90 percent of the electricity it generated to China.

Four-years ago, China pledged $8.26bn worth of investments. The following year, Myanmar opened its doors to the West and that number halved. This year, China committed a paltry $56.9m.

Zaw Myint smells sludge for the hint of oil [Hereward Holland] 

'Old coziness'

Chinese investment in Myanmar has plunged, according to Ian Storey, a senior fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.

"By broadening its foreign and economic relations, Burma has almost certainly reduced its dependence on China," he said in an email..

Even so, that doesn't mean the Sino-Myanmar romance is completely over. Despite the drop in foreign direct investment, bilateral trade remains healthy and this will continue to grow. In 2012, two-way trade almost doubled to $6.5bn.

"China remains a very important partner for Burma on nearly all levels," Storey said, pointing to the nearly 2,000-km shared border. Myanmar will want to maintain cordial and productive relations with Beijing, he said.

Asia's emergent superpower still wields considerable diplomatic power, pressuring Myanmar to end a brief offensive against Kachin rebels on the Chinese border in late 2012 when shells landed on the wrong side of the boundary.

As the Kyaukphyu economic zone develops, China wants to lay down a highway and railway along the same route as the oil and gas pipelines.

This would establish an economic artery from China's Yunan province to the Bay of Bengal that shortens transport times, avoids pirate-infested waters, and is, crucially, insurance against any future stand-off with the US over use of the shipping lane through the vital Strait of Malacca.

Relations have cooled significantly since 2011, but China's proximity and economic weight will always be compelling, said Sean Turnell, an economist from Macquarie University in Sydney.

"The old coziness may never come back, but the ties will continue to bind," Turnell said.

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Rohingya People Need Our Help

Source Ovi magazine, 10 Oct

by Dr. Habib Siddiqui

The Rohingya people of Myanmar (formerly Burma) who mostly live in the western part - the Rakhine (formerly Arakan) state, bordering Bangladesh, are undoubtedly the most persecuted people on earth. Denied citizenship in the Buddhist majority country, the Rohingyas have simply become the most unwanted people in our planet. The nearby Bangladesh does not want the persecuted Rohingyas to settle there either. In desperate attempts to save their lives, many Rohingyas have become now the 'boat people' of our time!

Who would have thought that in our time, some 68 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the world community to guide its behaviors and actions we would see so much of intolerance and persecution of peoples based on their race or ethnicity?

There are 30 Articles of the UDHR, starting with "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights…" The second one reads: "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status…"

When it comes to the Rohingya, sadly, not a single one of these rights is honored by the Myanmar government. These unfortunate people are denied their right to citizenship while the 15th Article clearly states: "(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality. (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality."

As the UN General Assembly convened last week, it is worth reminding ourselves that the preamble of the United Nations says, "WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, …."

And yet, the Myanmar government, being a member of the United Nations, denies such fundamental rights to the Rohingya people. It draws justification from the Burma Citizenship Law(1982), which was adopted during military dictator Ne Win's time. Under the section 3 of this law it is mentioned that "Nationals such as the Kachin, Kayah, Karen, Chin, Burman, Mon, Rakhine or Shan and ethnic groups as have settled in any of the territories included within the State as their permanent home from a period anterior to 1185 B.E., 1823 A.D. are Burma citizens". 

As can be seen the name 'Rohingya' was deliberately not mentioned in the list in spite of the fact that before the advent of the Tibeto-Burman races in Arakan, the Indo-Bengali ancestors (the first settlers) of today's Rohingya people had already settled in the territory and that they have had maintained an unbroken continuity of their existence since time immemorial. In so doing, Aye Kyaw (a neo-Nazi fascist, Rakhine academic) who had drafted the Citizenship Law for the military dictator Ne Win was killing two birds with one stone – permanently erasing the identity and sealing the fate of millions of Rohingyas by not only denying them citizenship in Burma but also from exercising democratic rights in Arakan where they comprised nearly half (or more correctly, 47.75%) of the population, second only to the Buddhist Rakhines. This was a devious ploy by any definition.

The same evil genius - Aye Kyaw - was also a key figure in the formulation of racial, apartheid policy of the ANC (Arakan National Congress). Its draft constitution for the Arakan state reads: "The citizenship of the Republic of Arakan shall be determined and regulated by law. The citizen of Arakan shall be known as Arakanese. Buddhism shall be the state religion. Only the Arakan legal entities and citizens of Arakan nationality shall have the right to own land." Since the Rohingyas are classified as Arakan Bengalis they will be subjected to a second class citizenship with no right to run for office or own land.

As can be seen, the ANC policy is an apartheid policy of exclusion, discrimination and marginalization of the Rohingya, who are derogatorily called the Kula (Kala) much like how the Afro-Americans were once called in the USA as the Black Niggers.

Interestingly, under the section 4, the 1982 Citizenship Law says: "Every national and every person born of parents, both of whom are nationals are citizens by birth."

In the section 6, it says: "A person who is already a citizen on the date this Law comes into force is a citizen. Action, however, shall be taken under section 18 for infringement of the provision of that section."

It is worth pointing out that the Rohingyas were accepted as citizens of Burma, and had elected members of the parliament from their own community. During the Parliamentary period (1948-1962) and the first years of Ne Win's dictatorship, there were not only many Rohingya organizations, both in Arakan and Rangoon, but the government recognized Rohingya as a Burmese ethnic group, and its language program was also transmitted through the national radio station in Rangoon. As such, to them sections 4 and 6 were only a confirmation of such rights.

But soon the controversial law was exploited by the military regime and its racist and fascist supporters within the larger Buddhist community, esp. the Rakhines, to treat the Rohingyas asnon-natives to Burma, opening the door for all types of discrimination against them.  A chain of pogroms followed laying down the stepping stones for their genocide.

With the change of the old guards in Myanmar in recent years, we had high hopes that the apartheid Citizenship Law would be revoked. But we were wrong.

The former military general Thein Sein is the poster-boy of so-called reform inside the country. With him as the head of the state, there is a quasi-civil-military government in place that runs the fractured country. Myanmar had its election – albeit a limited one – in which many politicians with grass root support within the masses managed to win the limited seats available in the parliament. The new regime has also released many political prisoners (mostly Buddhists) who were once rotting in many of Myanmar's notorious dungeons. In reaction to such positive image-building initiatives, the western world has reciprocated by lifting its political and economic sanctions against the once hated military dictatorship, which has ruled the country for almost its entire life since earning independence from Britain in January 4 of 1948.

There was much expectation – probably too unrealistic and too premature – that the Thein Sein government was serious about 'real' reform and that the Rohingyas will be integrated as citizens at par with other ethnic/national groups inside Myanmar. What we have witnessed instead is worsening of their situations. They are now victims of a highly organized genocidal campaign in which even Buddhists like Aung San Suu Kyi – touted one-time as the democracy icon – are sadly, either silent or willing partners in this gross violation of human rights. Since May of 2012, an estimated 150,000 Rohingyas are internally displaced in the Rakhine state. Tens of thousands of Muslims living in other parts of Myanmar have also seen organized mob violence, lynching, and wholesale destruction of their homes, schools, mosques and businesses, which have resulted in some 250,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) all across Myanmar.

What is worse, the international NGOs, esp. from the Muslim countries, were barred from helping out the Muslim victims. In the face of reported protests from the Rakhine Buddhist community, the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) could not even open an office to carry out its much needed humanitarian relief work in the troubled region.

This year (2014), the Myanmar authorities have cracked down even harder, making the situation worse. First, the government expelled Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which had been providing health care for the Rohingya. Then orchestrated mobs attacked the offices of humanitarian organizations, forcing them out. While some kinds of aid are resuming, but not the health care! As noted by award-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof, expected mothers and their children are dying for lack of doctors. They need doctors desperately to save their lives, but the Myanmar government has confined them to quasi-concentration camps outside towns, and it blocks aid workers from entering to provide medical help. They are on their own in Myanmar, where democratic progress is being swamped by crimes against humanity toward the Rohingya.

Many of the Muslim IDPs now live in squalid camps with no provisions and are counting their days hopelessly to be relocated to their burned homes. And yet, such a provision seems unlikely. In recent months, Rakhine Buddhists have organized demonstrations protesting any resettlement of the Rohingya and other Muslims. Bottom line – they want the Rohingya and other Muslims out of Myanmar, if not totally annihilated.

Many international observers and some experts, including human rights activists, were surprised by such outbreaks of ethnic cleansing drives last year against the Muslims, in general, and the Rohingya people, in particular, let alone the level of Buddhist intolerance against non-Buddhists everywhere inside Myanmar. However, such sad episodes were no surprise to many keen readers and researchers of the Myanmar's problematic history.

We all knew that simply a transition to democracy would not and could not solve the Rohingya problem. Instead of a much-needed dialogue for reconciliation and confidence-building between ethnic/national and religious groups, what we recognized was appalling Buddhist chauvinism - outright rejection of the 'other' people from such processes by the so-called 'democracy' leaders within the Burmese and Rakhine Diaspora. As if, their so-called struggle for democracy against the hated military regime was a purely Buddhist one, the Rohingya Muslims were unwelcome in those dialogues between ethnic/national groups.

The level of Buddhist intolerance, hatred and xenophobia has simply no parallel in our time! The chauvinist Buddhists are in denial of the very existence of the Rohingya people, in spite of the fact that the latter's root in Arakan is older than that of the Rakhines by several centuries.  While the vast majority of the late comers to the contested territory were Buddhists, the Rohingyas, much like the people living next door – on the other side of the Naaf River – in today's Bangladesh had embraced Islam voluntarily. Their conversion had also much to do with the history of the entire region, esp. in the post-13th century when the Sultans and the great Mughal Emperors ruled vast territories of the South Asia from the foothills of the Himalayas to the shores of the Indian Ocean.

As a matter of fact, the history of Arakan, sandwiched then between Muslim-dominated India and Buddhist-dominated Burma, would have been much different had it not been for the crucial decision made by the Muslim Sultan of Bengal who reinstalled the fleeing Buddhist king Narameikhtla to the throne of Arakan in 1430 with a massive Muslim force of nearly 60,000 soldiers – sent in two campaigns. Interestingly, the Muslim General Wali Khan – leading a force of 25,000 soldiers, who was instructed to put the fleeing monarch to the throne of Arakan –claimed it for himself. He was subsequently uprooted in a new campaign - again at the directive of the Sultan of Muslim Bengal, by General Sandi Khan who led a force of 35,000 soldiers. What would be Arakan's history today if the Muslim Sultan of Bengal had let General Wali Khan rule the country as his client?

The so-called democracy leaders in the opposition had very little, if any, in common with values and ideals of democracy but more with hard-core fascism. Their behavior showed that they were closet fascists and were no democrats. Thus, all the efforts of the Rohingya and other non-Buddhist minority groups to reach out to the Buddhist-dominated opposition leadership simply failed. It was an ominous warning for the coming days!

So, in 2012 when the region witnessed a series of highly orchestrated ethnic cleansing drives against the Rohingya and other Muslim groups not just within the Rakhine state but all across Myanmar, like some keen observers of the political developments I was not too surprised. Nor was I surprised with the poisonous role played by leaders of the so-called democracy movement. They showed their real fascist color. But the level of ferocity, savagery and inhumanity simply shocked me. It showed that the Theravada Buddhists of Myanmar, like their co-religionists in Sri Lanka and Cambodia, have unmistakably become one of the most racists and bigots in our world. With the evolving incendiary role of Buddhist monks like Wirathu - the abbot of historically influential Mandalay Ma-soe-yein monastery and his 969 Fascist Movement, which sanctifies eliminationist policies against the Muslims, surely, the teachings of Gautama Buddha have miserably failed to enlighten them and/or put a lid on their all too obvious savagery and monstrosity.

Myanmar is still locked in its mythical, savage past and has not learned the basics of nation-building. It uses fear-tactics and hatred towards a common enemy – the Rohingyas and Muslim minorities - to glue its fractured Buddhist majority. And the sad reality is – its formula is working, thanks to Wirathu, Thein Sein, Suu Kyi and other provocateurs and executioners!

On June 20, 2013 twelve Nobel Peace Laureates called upon the Myanmar government for ending violence against Muslims in Burma. They also called for an international independent investigation of the anti-Muslim violence. Yet, the Myanmar regime continues to ignore international plea for integration of the Rohingya and other minorities. It proclaims – "There are no people called Rohingya in Myanmar." This narrative is absurd, as well as racist. A document as far back as 1799 refers to the Rohingya population in Arakan, and an 1826 report estimates that 30 percent of the population of this region was Muslim.

As I have noted elsewhere, today's Rohingya are a hybrid group of people, much like the Muslim communities living in many non-Arab countries around the globe, esp. South Asia. To say that their origin is a British-era or a Bangladeshi phenomenon is simply disingenuous. 

In recent months, Myanmar has conducted a controversial census in which nearly a million Rohingyas were unaccounted. They were denied their basic rights to identify themselves as Rohingya. It was a gross violation according to scores of international law.

The Rohingya identity is no more "artificial" or "invented" than any other, including the Rakhine identity. The national politics around the Rohingya people of Arakan who are dumped as the 'Bengali illegal Muslim immigrants' is not mere bigotry but a viable toxic fruit of Myanmar ultra-nationalism- Bhumi Rakkhita Putra Principle. It is a deliberate act of provocative target-marking in line with YMBA's (Young Men Buddhist Association) amyo-batha-tharthana (race-language-religion) and is the foundation of the Burma Citizenship Act 1982. It is strong, powerful, and ultra-toxic. This apartheid law allows a Rakhine Buddhist like Aye Maung – an MP and chairman of the RNDP (a religio-racist Rakhine political party) whose parents only emigrated to Arakan state in 1953-54 from Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan) – to be automatically recognized as a Burmese citizen while denying the same privilege to millions of Rohingya and other Muslims whose ancestors had lived in the territory for centuries.

Myanmar espouses neo-Nazi Fascism, i.e., Myanmarism – the noxious cocktail of Buddhism, ultra-nationalism, racism and bigotry. It is a farcical ideology, which starts on the false premise thatthe different groups that make up its complex ethnic/religious mosaic today were always under the authority of a single government before the arrival of the British. It is a dangerous ideology since itpromotes the agenda towards genocide of the Rohingya and other non-Buddhist religious minorities. It is a medieval ideology of hatred and intolerance because it defines citizenship based on ethnicity or race, which has no place in the 21st century.

The Citizenship Law of 1982 violates several fundamental principles of international customary law standards, offends the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and leaves Rohingyas exposed to no legal protection of their rights. The 1982 Law promotes discrimination against Rohingya by arbitrarily depriving them of their Burmese (Myanmar) citizenship. The deprivation of one's nationality is not only a serious violation of human rights but also constitutes an international crime.

This apartheid law is a blueprint for elimination or ethnic cleansing. It has galvanized into genocidal campaign against the vulnerable Rohingya people who have lost everything in their ancestral land and has created outflows of refugees, which overburden other countries posing threats to peace and security within the region. Of the Rohingya Diaspora an estimated 1.5 million now live in Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, UAE, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, USA, UK, Republic of Ireland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, and other places where they could find a shelter. Such a forced exodus of Rohingyas is simply unacceptable in our time.

If Myanmar's leaders are serious about bringing their nation state from savage past to modernity, from darkness to enlightenment and avoiding becoming a failed state, they must abandon their toxic ideology of Myanmarism and revoke the apartheid Citizenship Law. They must learn from experiences of others to avoid disintegration. They must also learn that like everyone else the Rohingyas have the right to self-identify themselves. And it would be travesty of law and justice to deny such rights of self-identity.

Finally, it would be the greatest tragedy of our generation should we allow the perpetrators of genocide and ethnic cleansing to whitewash their crimes against humanity. The UNSC must demand an impartial inquiry and redress the Rohingya crisis. The Rohingya people need protection as the most persecuted people on earth. Should the Thein Sein government fail to bring about the desired change, starting with either repealing or amending the 1982 Citizenship Law, the UNSC must consider creating a 'save haven' inside Arakan in the northern Mayu Frontier Territories to protect the lives of the Rohingya people so that they could live safely, securely with honor and dignity as rest of us. The sooner the better!


RAS & RCI Jointly held Demonstrations in front of UN (H.Q.) and Myanmar (Burma) Permanent Mission

Joint Statement by RAS & RCI, 10 Oct

The Rohingya American Society (RAS) based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Rohingya Concern International (RCI) based in New York City, USA jointly held demonstrations under the banner of "ROHINGYA KOM-RED GROUP" in front of the United Nations (H.Q.) and Myanmar (Burma) Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York City on the date of September 30, 2014 (Tuesday) to protest against 1982 Myanmar (Burma) Citizenship Apartheid and Black Law.

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The so-called 1982 Burma (Myanmar) citizenship law which enacted on October 15, 1982 by the previous military dictator and late General Ne Win effectively denied the basic fundamental human rights including social, religious, educational, political, health care, justice, and cultural rights of the Rohingya ethnic minority in Arakan-Burma (Myanmar).

Under this 1982 Citizenship Law, the Rohingya ethnic minority people were declared as" non-national" or" foreign residents." This law designated three categories of citizens (1) full citizens, (2) associate citizens, and (3) naturalized citizens. Unfortunately, none of the categories applies to the Rohingya people as they are not recognized as one of the 135 "national races" according to the military led current Burmese quasi-civilian government.

The 1982 Citizenship Law was intentionally created to exclude the Muslim Rohingyas from Burma (Myanmar) citizenship, rendering them stateless and without legal and civil rights. From the human rights aspects, this law violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the Convention on the Rights of the Child and international norms prohibiting discrimination of racial and religious minorities. It is a fundamental principle that everyone has a right to a nationality.

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On the other hand, both level of Myanmar Central and Arakan State government as well as Rakhine ruling party leaders and ultra-nationalist Rakhine Buddhist monks are vigorously forcing the Rohingya ethnic minority who are residing in Arakan State to register as "Bengali" instead of as "Rohingya" in the current national citizenship verification process statewide. To force the Rohingya to accept the term as Bengali is to make them deny their citizenship as Rohingya in Myanmar despite the fact that the Rohingya have been living in Burma (Myanmar) for many centuries even before the date of 1823, the beginning of British colonial rule in Arakan.

The Rohingyas are already citizens by birth according to the 1947 Constitution, the 1947 Burmese Residence and Registration Act, 1948 Burmese Citizenship law, 1974 Burmese Constitution and the 1948 Burmese Independence Declaration according to the Nu-Atlee Agreement. Apart from this, the Rohingyas are also indigenous Burmese citizens according to the British Census of 1826, 1872, 1911, and 1974.

So, the 1982 citizenship law absolutely do not apply for Rohingya ethnic minority people as they are already the Burmese citizens as prescribed above Burmese national historical facts and British Census data and therefore, the protestors in the demonstrations call upon the Rohingya people to boycott and reject 1982 Burmese Citizenship law if Rohingya identity is denied and force the Rohingyas to accept Bengali ethnicity to make them stateless and foreigners on their native homeland of Arakan-Burma (Myanmar).

The protestors also demand the Government of President Thein Sein to immediately stop forcing the Rohingyas to register as Bengali and repeal the controversial and unjust 1982 citizenship law restoring the citizenship rights of the native Rohingyas of Arakan.

Mr. Mohiuddin (aka) Maung Sein, the President of RCI and Rohingya Kom-Red Group General Manager, Mr. Shaukhat Kyaw Soe Aung (aka) MSK Jilani, the President of RAS, Mr. Pual 'Adam" Carroll, the Director of Burma Task Force - New York Branch Office, Dr. Nora Rowley, a Medical Doctor and Burmese Rohingya Human Rights Activist - USA, a prominent American Muslim Attorney Mr. Mohammad Aziz, and Mathida Khatiza spoke in the demonstration event.

After demonstrations in front of UN (H.Q.) and Myanmar Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York City, the protestors led by Mr. Mohiuddin (aka) Maung Sein, the President of RCI and Mr. Shaukhat Kyaw Soe Aung (aka) MSK Jilani, the President of RAS submitted a letter to UN Secretary General Mr. Ban-Ki-Moon through UN Security Agency and a letter to President Thein Sein through Myanmar Permanent Mission respectively.

They also met with Mr. Haoliang Xu, UN Assistant Secretary-General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific in front of the United Nations Building.

For Rohingya general public information and reference, some demonstration pictures and 2 letters are attached herewith Joint Statement in Microsoft and PDF format.


Maung Tue (aka) Kamal Hussain

(Media, Information & Publication Secretary)

Rohingya American Society (RAS)

Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Contact Telephones: (414) 712 6947, (414) 736 4273, (716) 544 1803, (414) 306 1751

Outsourcing: New low in refugee protection

Source thedailystar, 12 October

by C.R. Abrar

Refugee protection is a core human rights issue. The fundamental right of seeking and enjoying asylum from persecution in other countries has been enshrined in Article 14(1) of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The principle of asylum acknowledges that when all other forms of human rights protection fail, individuals must be able to leave their country freely and seek refugee elsewhere.

Over the last several decades while notable progress in protection was made in several areas of human rights, states have generally reneged on their commitment towards protecting refugees. Since the end of the Cold War one has witnessed increased propensity to undermine the spirit of the 1951 Refugee Convention even among the states that were the principal architects of the international refugee regime and had ratified the instruments. As Human Rights Watch bemoaned: "Globally, there is less tolerance and more hostility towards refugees …  and countries in the developed and developing world alike are closing their doors to the refugees." In sum, the world has become less respectful to the rights of the asylum seekers, refugees and the stateless people.

The September 2014 agreement between Australia and Cambodia on offshore refugee management is an important marker in this regard. Under this, Cambodia will accept refugees seeking asylum in Australia in return for $35 million in aid over four years, in addition to $69 million already allocated to the country. Initially, more than 200 people who have successfully claimed refugee status from the Australian authorities and are currently based in the offshore detention centre in Nauru would be brought over to Cambodia. It would be "an ongoing arrangement" with "no caps on total numbers involved," stated Australia's Immigration Minister Scott Morrison. He insisted that "this is a voluntary arrangement and no one was forcing anyone to go anywhere." He said: "It enables us to fulfill the policy which says that no one will be resettled in Australia." The minister said Australia would also provide expertise on developing Cambodia's capacity to settle refugees.

The Australian move to outsource refugee management to a third country has created widespread revulsion among a section of the Australian lawmakers as well as rights activists both at home and abroad. The plan to dispatch refugees to a country that has recent history of "civil war, genocide and occupation as well as better known for generating its waves of refugees" has been termed as shameful and unacceptable. Australian Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, the immigration spokesperson for the Greens, berated the government for signing "an open-ended deal with one of the most corrupt nations of earth." Of particular concern to Hanson is the fate of unaccompanied refugee girls. Cambodia's recent track record of increased incidence of rape and sexual exploitation led her to conclude that "the moment these girls step off the plane, they will be put at risk."

Terming Cambodia as "completely unsuitable place for refugees," Australia's Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre expressed concern that the agreement "risked violating rights and endangering lives. …The reality is refugees will be forced to live a life of danger and despair on the margins." Amnesty International accused Australia of "putting the short-term political interests of the Australian government ahead of the protection of some of the world's most vulnerable people." "It makes Cambodia complicit in Australia's human rights breaches and seriously flawed offshore processing system," Amnesty noted.

Ou Virak, Chair of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said: "How irresponsible is it for Australia? Cambodia cannot protect its own people and violates every possible right they have. Australia is moving its burden offshore, knowing that the country cannot protect the refugees." A section of Cambodian Buddhist monks also expressed anger that Australia was burdening with refugees a poor country that is struggling to provide basic amenities to its own people. "If they are not good enough for Australia, why are they being dumped in Cambodia?" This question was raised by demonstrators at a recent rally in front of the Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh.

In order to assuage public concerns the Australian minister underscored the voluntariness of the scheme. What Mr. Morrison did not state is that those who would refuse this re-settlement offer would continue to remain in atrocious conditions in Nauru, where they are currently based. Senator Hanson-Young observed that the Abbott government was forcing refugees "to choose between cruelty in Nauru and cruelty of Cambodia."

Australia's practice of transferring asylum seekers to Nauru and Manus Island has amounted to refoulement -- 'sending them to countries where they are subjected to human rights violations.' The practice breaches the country's obligations under both international refugee and human rights law and standards. Following a visit to Manus Island in November 2013, Amnesty International reported that asylum seekers were subjected to deliberately harsh and humiliating conditions. Those were designed to pressure them to return to their country of origin, regardless of whether or not they were refugees. In November 2012, Amnesty found that refugees and asylum seekers in the Australia-run detention centre in Nauru "were living in cramped condition, suffered from both physical and mental ailments, and routinely had their human rights violated."

Minister Morrison's assertion that those who chose to go would "be afforded all the same rights under the Cambodian law and those under Refugee Convention" has further aggrieved refugee rights activists. Cambodia has a track record of flagrantly contravening provisions of international refugee convention, an instrument that it ratified. In 2009 it deported 20 ethnic Uighurs back to China although members of the group received letters of protection from the UNHCR. Those who returned faced secret trials and several were reportedly sentenced to long prison terms. It is worthwhile to note that Cambodia was awarded $1 billion in loans and grants by China within days of the return of the Uighurs. Earlier in 2002, three persons in receipt of UN protection were refouled to their countries of origin. Two sent to China were members of the Falun Gong movement and another was a dissident monk in Vietnam. The Cambodian authorities meted out the same treatment to hundreds of ethnic Montagnards minority fleeing persecution in Vietnamese authorities during 2001-2004.

The Abbott government's latest decision has been termed as "inappropriate, immoral and likely illegal" by a consortium of organisations that included Unicef, Amnesty International and Refugee Council of Australia. Explaining the position of the consortium Alastair Nicholson, former Chief Justice of Australia's Family Court, stated that "it is inappropriate because Cambodia has no capacity within its social sectors to take an influx of refugees; immoral because these vulnerable people are Australia's responsibility; while we await the detail, it appears illegal in contravening Australia's humanitarian and refugee obligation to vulnerable children and families".

It is an irony that Australia has decided to work out this arrangement with a government that itself has criticised in the recent past. January 2014 witnessed violent crackdown on workers and activists that resulted in the death of at least four people with scores gone missing. The hypocrisy of the Australian policy is laid bare as the country only recently expressed concern about Cambodia's human rights situation, "restrictions on freedoms of assembly and association, particularly recent disproportionate violence against protestors, including detention without trial." In February 2014, the Australian Senate adopted a motion condemning the use of violence and excessive force against demonstrators and a repeal of a ban on demonstrators.

The latest Australian decision to outsource refugee protection will set a dangerous precedent. Refugee protection has struck a new low. At a time when the world is faced with the highest number of asylum seekers, refugees and stateless people since the Second World War such shortsighted nationalist xenophobic policies only betray the fact how insensitive the current leaders of the so-called free and liberal world has become when comes to upholding the lofty principles of human rights and humanitarianism.

The writer teaches international relations and coordinates the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) of the University of Dhaka. He is president of Odhikar.

Last modified: 10:14 pm Saturday, October 11, 2014

Thailand holds 53 Rohingya migrants heading for Malaysia

Source Yahoo, 11 October 

Tears roll down the face of an ethnic Myanmar Rohingya refugee during a demonstration outside the United Nations (UN) offices in Kuala Lumpur on July 16, 2014
.View photo :Tears roll down the face of an ethnic Myanmar Rohingya refugee during a demonstration outside the 
United Nations (UN) offices in Kuala Lumpur on July 16, 2014 (AFP Photo/Manan Vatsyayana)

Bangkok (AFP) - Thai authorities on Saturday arrested 53 Rohingya migrants and two suspected Thai traffickers en route to neighbouring Malaysia, an official said.

The migrants were found on a rubber plantation in Takua Pa district in the southern coastal province of Phang Nga, district chief Manit Phianthong told AFP.

"We got a tip-off from an informant that a trafficking gang would be transporting Rohingya people to Malaysia," he said, adding that the migrants came from Myanmar's western Rakhine state and Bangladesh.

Thousands of Rohingya -- a Muslim minority group not recognised as citizens in Myanmar -- have fled deadly communal unrest in Rakhine since 2012, mostly heading for Malaysia.

The migrants arrested Saturday were ferried onto the Thai mainland from a small island in the Andaman Sea, Manit said, adding that one of the arrested traffickers confessed he was part of a bigger gang.

"We are still looking for the real masterminds," said the official.

Twelve Rohingya migrants are thought to have escaped during the raid, he added.

Myanmar views its population of roughly 800,000 Rohingya -- described by the United Nations as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world -- as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, and denies them citizenship.

They face travel restrictions, forced labour and limited access to healthcare and education.

Around 300,000 Rohingya have over the years gone to live in Bangladesh, which recognises only a small portion as refugees and regularly turns back those trying to cross the border.

Rights groups say the stateless migrants often fall into the hands of unscrupulous people traffickers.

They have also criticised Thailand in the past for pushing boats of Rohingya entering Thai waters back out to sea and holding migrants in overcrowded facilities.

Thailand said last year it was investigating allegations that some army officials in the kingdom were involved in the trafficking of Rohingya.

Friday 10 October 2014

Myanmar Rohingya Muslims Beaten and Arrested for Refusing to Register as Bengali Immigrants

Source Intel business, 9 Oct

      Myanmar's government refuses to recognise Muslim Rohingya as citizens and often confines them in camps Reuters       

Myanmar authorities have beaten and arrested Rohingya Muslims who refused to register with immigration officials, AP reported. 

Witnesses told the news agency that authorities raided the villages of the Rohingya - defined by the UN as the world's most persecuted minority - to force them to admit they are illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.

The move comes after the government publicly offered citizenship to the Muslim minority, in exchange for registering their identities as Bengali. 

According to residents, those who refused to register suffered the consequences. 

"We are trapped," Khin Maung Win said, adding that authorities started setting up police checkpoints outside his village, Kyee Kan Pyin, in mid-September. These checkpoints are preventing people from leaving even to buy food in local markets, or take children to school.

"If we don't have letters and paperwork showing we took part — that we are Bengali — we can't leave," he said.

According to Chris Lewa of the Arakan Project, which aims to promote the recognition of basic rights to the Rohingya, residents reported incidents of violence and abuse in at least 30 villages from June to late September.

In some villages, the names of influential residents were posted on community boards along with verbal warnings that they would face up to two years in jail if they failed to convince others to take part in the registration process.

Other Rohingya said officials forced them to sign the papers at gunpoint, or threatened that they would end up in camps if they didn't comply.

Villagers have also been kicked and beaten with clubs and arrested for refusing to take part. 

Violence against Rohingya Intensified

Violence against Myanmar's Muslims has intensified over the past two years, incited by extremist monks and the anti-Muslim '969' campaign, which urges Buddhists to stop interacting with the Rohingya and boycott their businesses.

More than 230 people have been killed in religious violence in Myanmar since June 2012 and more than 140,000 have been displaced.

A New York Times short documentary broadcast last June showed how Myanmar authorities confine the Rohingya to "quasi-concentration camps" or to their own villages, with reduced/minimal access to medical care and education.

In January, Burmese police set fire to at least 70 Rohingya homes in the village of Du Char Yar Tan, where at least 48 Muslims were said to have been killed by a Buddhist mob.

Rohingya activist U Kyaw Hla Aung released: Showing Myanmar Justice's Accrediation

Source Myanmar times, 9 Oct

Less than two weeks after being convicted of rioting in a Sittwe court, Muslim community leader U Kyaw Hla Aung was released under a presidential amnesty on October 7.

U Kyaw Hla Aung was arrested on July 15, 2013, following a clash in the Baw Du Pha IDP camp when a group of young Muslims refused to fill out an immigration department form that identified them as "Bengali".

The situation escalated to the point where the youths allegedly attacked several immigration police.

Shortly afterward, U Kyaw Hla Aung was arrested and accused of inciting the group to attack the police. Many observers said the charges were directly related to U Kyaw Hla Aung's longstanding political activism and legal assistance on behalf of detained Muslims in Rakhine State.

While 3073 prisoners were freed on October 7, Yangon-based attorney U Robert Sann Aung said U Kyaw Hla Aung was one of just a handful who could be described as a "political prisoner."

News of his release was welcomed by both his family and local civil society groups that have taken up his case. However, all were quick to point out that the president's pardon has done nothing to address the larger issue of human rights activists, including Muslims, being targeted for imprisonment and harassment.

During his incarceration, a wide array of international groups spoke out in support of the 74-year-old former lawyer. The former UN special rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar, Tomas Quintana, even met U Kyaw Hla Aung in prison. He regularly called for him to be released from what he described as "arbitrary detention".

However, local groups were more circumspect in their support. U Bo Gyi, a member of the Remaining Political Prisoner Scrutiny Committee, said he and other civilian members had been attempting to raise U Kyaw Hla Aung's case but were told by government officials that the situation in Rakhine State was too "sensitive" for the committee to examine it.

Some groups dedicated to the rights of political prisoners were hesitant to take up U Kyaw Hla Aung's case, U Bo Gyi said, because they consider the conflict in Rakhine State a religious rather than political conflict.

However, U Bo Gyi said that over the past 18 months there has been a growing acceptance that U Kyaw Hla Aung did not belong in prison.

"Not everyone agree to regard [U Kyaw Hla Aung] as a political prisoner but everyone agreed to regard him as a special case."

He said he thought that the amnesty showed "the government feel confident about the [situation] in Arakan", referring to Rakhine State by its former name.

While U Bo Gyi said he was "not surprised" that U Kyaw Hla Aung was chosen for release, he and other committee members had hoped it would occur through the scrutiny committee. He said they had also expected the amnesty to include many more political prisoners.

"We expected more, therefore we are really upset and frustrated," said U Bo Gyi, adding that the committee has not met since July.

U Kyaw Hla Aung's son, Ko Aung, said he believed his father's pardon was a "political" tactic aimed at placating the international community without upsetting Rakhine nationalists.

He pointed out that when U Kyaw Hla Aung was sentenced to 18 months' jail at the end of September, the judge included time already served, meaning his father only had three months left to serve.

Ko Aung said it was a tacit admission that the government was willing to release his father after holding him for more than a year.

Matthew Smith, executive director of Fortify Rights, said even with the pardon U Kyaw Hla Aung's legal troubles are not over.

"He was released with conditions, and his sentence can be reinstated if he's charged with a subsequent offense, so in that sense this is not a true amnesty," he said.

"That said, we are tremendously happy for Kyaw Hla Aung and his family. They've endured abuses for decades."

When contacted by The Myanmar Times, U Kyaw Hla Aung said he was happy to be home but declined to comment out of concerns for the safety of himself and his family.

Amnesty says prisoner release ‘empty gesture’ as repression continues

Source mizzima, 8 Oct

Prisoner come out from the Insein Prison in Yangon, Myanmar, October 07, 2014. Photo: Hein Htet/Mizzima

Amnesty International says the release of some 3,000 prisoners by Myanmar is essentially an empty political gesture as scores of peaceful activists are believed to remain behind bars.

The Myanmar authorities announced October 7 that the prisoners would be released in an amnesty, but none of the country's prisoners of conscience – activists detained solely for peacefully expressing their views – will be included in the release, notes the human rights organization.

"This is nothing but an empty gesture on the authorities' part," said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International's Asia Pacific Director in a press release. "The timing, so close to the ASEAN summit in Myanmar in early November, smacks of political opportunism."

He said that if the authorities were genuine about improving respect for human rights, they would follow through on the long-standing promise to clear the country's jails of the dozens of peaceful activists.

According to the human rights group, Myanmar's repressive laws continue to silence dissent and to target those who peacefully oppose the government.

"We are still receiving reports of human rights defenders, land rights activists, journalists, political activists and others being imprisoned for nothing more than expressing their opinions," Mr Bennett said. "As long as these detentions continue, amnesties like the one [October 7] do nothing to improve Myanmar's human rights situation."

Amnesty says that among the new prisoners of conscience in Myanmar in 2014 is Ko Htin Kyaw, the leader of community-based Movement for Democracy Current Force who is currently serving 11 years and four months in prison for his involvement in a series of peaceful protests and for making speeches and distributing leaflets critical of the government.

Wednesday 8 October 2014

Rohingya Issue at the 69th UN General Assembly – OIC Special Envoy to Burma and Arakan Rohingya Union Director General Speak at the OIC Ministerial Contact Group Meeting

Source ARU, 5 Oct

Uddin full 1 14 inch

New York. The OIC Ministerial Contact Group convened at the 69th United Nations General Assembly in New York.  Important issues on Rohingya ethnic minority and strategies to find a permanent and lasting solution were discussed in the meeting. Delegations from several countries have expressed their concerns on the lack of progress on Rohingya issues in Arakan. They discussed strategies on engagement with the Government of Burma not only by OIC perspective, but also from the ASEAN perspectives as bilateral relations with Burma that many countries maintain. Among all the Ministerial delegations, they agreed that efforts in dialogue for ethnic and communal reconciliation in Arakan must be stepped up, but there are also needs for more serious and urgent approach for short-term solutions that could set the stage for long-term dialogue and reconciliation efforts.

OIC SG 1 10 inchThe Special Envoy of the OIC to Myanmar, Tan Sri Dr. Syed Hamid Albar, also attended the Ministerial Meeting. The special envoy presented a strong case on what he perceives the Rohingya issue based on his personal experience in Arakan and Naypyitaw as well as the Southeast Asian diplomacy. He made it very clear that the Rohingya and Muslim issue in Burma is rather complex, and dialogue and understanding among the ethnic groups in Arakan is the foundation to solving the problem. He stressed that there may be some challenges in brining the communities together to the table but he also expressed his optimism based on his personal interactions with Burmese and Rakhine officials and the leadership.  Contrary to what some Burmese and Rakhine media has earlier reported or alluded to, Ambassador Albar was reportedly well received by the union and state officials in Burma followed by frank and objective discussions on Rohingya issues.  Ambassador Albar also expressed high optimism in solving the Rohingya and Myanmar/Pathi Muslim issues that clearly is not what Buddhist Rakhine and some Burmese media had reported earlier. It is obvious that some unprofessional and violence-loving media in Burma are continuously serving as destructive elements not only against Rohingya ethnic minority but also towards the peace in Arakan during the so-called "transition to democracy" that the Government of Burma is claiming.                  -----                                                 ---                                                                                                                                                  During the meeting, Dr. Wakar Uddin, the Director General of Arakan Rohingya Union, was given the floor, where he provided the Ministerial delegation the true picture on the ground in Arakan and realistic approach to finding a solution to Rohingya issue. Dr. Uddin unequivocally stated that the Government of Burma must adhere to standards of international law and ethics in all of its conducts. The Government must be consistent in what its senior officials tell the international community and how they drive the policy on the ground in Arakan. Among other things, Dr. Uddin highlighted four major points: 1) the relentless campaign by the radical elements in the Government of Burma to eliminate the very ethnic name and identity of Rohingya; 2) the verification/nationality scrutiny process mired with controversy, hate, and violence by the Burmese and Buddhist Rakhine forces; 3) the unrelenting human right violations and ethnic cleansing campaign against Rohingya people by the Burmese officials; and 4) the dire situation in Rohingya IDP camps, and the needs for speedy return and operation of NGOs to their full capacity for increased humanitarian assistance to the IDPs.  Dr. Uddin also submitted the exhibits of forced "Bengalization" of Rohingya and Kamen Muslims in Arakan through violence by Burmese and Buddhist Rakhine police against Rohingya and Kamen Muslims. He showed the recently issued highly controversial Nationality Scrutiny cards (Green and Pink Cards), in Myabon Township by the Government of Burma. "Your Excellency, the word "Bengali" in the Lu Myo (Race) column is written by the Burmese officials in the Green cards forcefully issued to Rohingya, and the word "Bengali Kamen" is written in the Red cards issued to Kamen Muslims, that were actually one of 135 ethnic groups recognized by the Military Regime earlier – if it is not ethnic cleansing, then what is?" Dr. Uddin stated. "These radicals in the Government are completely consumed with the word "Bengali", they are poised to eliminate the very identity of Rohingya, and they have evidently initiated the re-characterization of the Kamen also as Bengali, similar to what they are doing to Rohingya – this is very alarming" Dr. Uddin concluded.

BGP killed a Rohingya Scholar in Northern Maungdaw

Source Burmatimes, 5 Oct

Myanmar Border Guard Police (BGP) tortured till to dead a Rohingya educated person hailed from Sector number two, Baukshu Phwe Yah Village tract, Aung Zan Hamlet in Northern Maungdaw.

On 3rd October 2014, Mohammed Farid @ Hla Htay (38 years), son of Badi Alam was arrested by a BGP team after his congressional (Jumma) Prayer and sent him to the headquarter of BGP without having any crime.

The culprit BGP personnel hit him up to dead to admit a false statement what they want as he had a contact with a foreign organization.

After being killed Mohammed Farid @ Hla Htay, the BGP sent his dead body to Maungdaw General Hospital Morgue for autopsy and made a death certificate mentioned that he was died of  disease. Then the dead body handed over to the relatives. The BGP personnel guarded the corpse till to complete-bury in the cemetery of  Ward number two , Maungdaw Township on 5th October, 2014.

Myanmar BGP and military personnel are arresting and brutally torturing many Rohingya religious and school  educated persons from different villages of Northern Maungdaw since 27 September 2014.