Tuesday 28 April 2015

Letter from America: Partnership with Myanmar – dream or delusion?

Source Asiantibune, 26 April
By Dr. Habib Siddiqui

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon convened a meeting in the UN headquarters on Myanmar on Friday, April 24, 2015. In his speech to the participants of the Partnership Group for Peace, Development and Democracy in Myanmar, Mr. Ban warned Myanmar that stability in its most sensitive region can't be achieved unless it addresses the issue of citizenship for minority Rohingya Muslims. He told a Myanmar delegation that the U.N. has seen "already troubling signs of ethnic and religious differences being exploited" as elections approach later this year.

Speaking at the meeting, India's permanent representative to the UN, Asoke Kumar Mukerji noted that in Rakhine State, the Myanmar Government "has taken steps towards restoration of law and order and has expressed readiness to cooperate with UN and other humanitarian agencies regarding rehabilitation of those affected by violence." "We urged member states to agree to the discontinuation of annual resolutions on the human rights situation in Myanmar," Mukerji said. "In our view, this would convey the world community's strong support and encouragement for the reform measures that are already underway in Myanmar."

While disappointed to hear the statement from the Indian rep, I am not too surprised. After all, India has her own 'Rohingya problem' in Jammu & Kashmir, where people have been denied their basic human rights. The Government of India has not allowed a UN sponsored plebiscite - long demanded not only by its own people but also the world community as reflected in UN Resolutions dating back to 1948.

Much like the Burmese leaders of our time, the Indian leaders have repeatedly told the world community that the Kashmir problem is an internal affair which India will solve internally without outside interference. India has not done anything in the last 68 years since her independence in 1947 from Britain to solving the problem. It was a hypocritical gesture to derailing the world opinion and ignoring human rights of the affected Kashmiris. Since 1989 when serious insurgency began, at least 80,000 Kashmiris (mostly civilians) have been killed by the Indian forces. The Indian Occupied Kashmir remains a police state with one soldier for every 10 Kashmiris living in the valley. These Indian troops are not only responsible for the massive destruction there but also committing heinous crimes, like rape as a weapon of war, while ensuring the Indian control of the disputed territory by hook or crook.

Lest we forget, on November 2, 1947 India's first prime minister Pundit Jawahar Lal Nehru, standing beside Kashmiri leader Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, addressed thousands at Lal Chowk of Srinagar and said "The fate of Kashmir will ultimately be decided by the people. We have given that pledge and Maharaja (Hari Singh) had supported it. It is not only a pledge to the people of Kashmir but to the world. We will not, and cannot back out of it." Much in contrast to that and other similar promises of holding a referendum made to the Kashmiri people the Indian government paid little attention to the political views of the Kashmiri people. The government would often dissolve assemblies, arrest elected politicians and impose president's rule. The government also rigged elections in 1987. The Indian record when it comes to honoring the pledges she has made to the Kashmiri people and her treatment of the non-Brahmins inside India, esp. those living in the north-eastern corner of India, sandwiched between Bangladesh, Myanmar and China is simply shameful.

So, it is not difficult to understand Indian rep Mukerji's deplorable position vis-à-vis Myanmar. Just as India has been able to bury the UN resolutions on Kashmir all these decades, Mukerji wants to sell the absurd idea that the discontinuation of annual resolutions on the human rights situation would encourage reform inside Myanmar.

What reform is Mukerji talking about when some 650,000 people are homeless and forced to live as IDPs inside Myanmar? What reform when one after another xenophobic, racist and bigotry-ridden bills and laws are passed in Thein Sein's parliament? What reform when the Rohingyas are targeted for genocide and elimination? What reform when they are put behind the bars with long prison term sentences or are sentenced to death when they are the ones who have been victimized while their tormentors get away scot-free in Myanmar's legal system? What reform when rape is used as a weapon of war against targeted minorities in the Rakhine, Chin, Kachin and Shan states? What reform when racism and bigotry are promoted by the very government agencies that is supposed to curb its deadly effect? What reform when the eliminationist policy against the minority Rohingya and other Muslims has become a national project with deep support enjoyed from President Thein Sein at the top to NLD leader Suu Kyi and RNDP leader Aye Maung in the middle to NaSaKa to local government agents and thugs at the bottom? What reform when the fascist groups like 969, led by the Buddhist terrorist monk Wirathu, dictate the future of Myanmar?

No one is fooled by such a statement from the Indian rep Mukerji. His condescending remarks say that his government is okay with everything that is going wrong inside Myanmar and the death and carnage of the victims are all 'collateral damages' in 'reformed' Myanmar. India is committed to investing billions of dollars inside Myanmar. That explains why Mukerji is urging member states to hide Myanmar's crimes under the rug, much like what it has been doing with the Kashmir crisis. As I have noted before, human rights have long ceased to be a guiding principle lived by and/or promoted by the government of India, and surely not under BJP's rule. With Modi's ascension to power, it is all too natural that we see tying knots with a murderous regime that promotes the Buddhist version of his Hindutvadi fascism!

2015 is the year that ASEAN aims to become one community of Member States that share a vision and goal to become a zone of peace and stability.

If ASEAN is genuinely serious about its declared objective, it must make it crystal clear that Myanmar's so-called reforms are not working and need an overhaul of intent and purpose. It must insist that the race, family and religious bills recently passed inside the parliament as well as the absence of swift action to regularize the status of White Card holders (most of whom are Rohingya people) will be seen as institutionalized discrimination. It must school Myanmar government that the long-term stability in the Rakhine state will remain unattainable without comprehensively addressing the issue of status and citizenship of the Muslim populations -- particularly the plight of those who self-identify and are recognized by the world community as "Rohingyas" but whom the government calls "Bengalis"; without these steps, the Myanmar Government will find itself continually exposed to international criticism. It must insist that the 1982 Citizenship Law violates several international laws and must be repealed. It must insist that the Rohingya and other stateless minorities (previously holding the White Cards) who were born there are given full citizenship rights immediately to live at par with other dominant ethnic groups and be allowed to vote in the upcoming constitutional referendum, paving the way for participation in a general election later this year.

ASEAN must warn the Myanmar government that its insistence to depicting the Rohingyas as 'Bengalis', which they are not, is tantamount to denying a group's self-identification, and thus, qualifies as an international crime of highest proportion.

ASEAN must inform the Myanmar leaders that ethnicity is a colonial era invention which has no place in our time, and that it is divisive, and thus, suicidal or a sure recipe for disintegration in a multi-racial, -religious and –ethnic state like Myanmar. If Myanmar were to survive, it must embrace a federal character with regional autonomy, much in common with original Panglong Agreement signed between Aung Saan and leaders of other ethnic minorities.

ASEAN must insist that Myanmar's top leaders – civilian and military - send a unified message against incitement of hatred and create and promote an environment of harmony and social cohesion in this fractured country of many races and religions. It must insist that the Myanmar regime punish terrorist Buddhist monks like Wirathu who have been behind most of the genocidal activities directed against Muslim and other religious minorities. It must insist that Myanmar's Buddhist political and religious leaders promote understanding and mutual respect with others.

ASEAN must insist that Myanmar allows for unimpeded access by humanitarian agencies to the vulnerable populations especially in the IDP camps to provide much needed aid in a timely fashion.

ASEAN must insist that Myanmar adopts a strategy to address her myriad of challenges failing which the stability and security of the entire region, as already seen through human trafficking and slave labor camps in places like Thailand and elsewhere, will be threatened. Such forced or voluntary exodus from Myanmar is destabilizing to the entire region and must be stopped through tangible measures which address the root causes of the problem, and not the symptoms.

Without such changes taking root inside Myanmar, delivering tangible results, ASEAN's shared vision and goal to become a zone of peace and stability will only remain an illusion, and nothing else. The desired changes won't happen with either flattering speeches or looking the other way.

- Asian Tribune -

Sunday 26 April 2015

The International community's Donation are Using for Rakhine Insurgent (Arakan Army)

Source MMM, 25 April

The International community's Donation food ration and others for Internal Displaced People of Arakan state( Mostly Rohingya) are Using for Rakhine Insurgent (Arakan Army).

According to Myawaddy News of 23 April 2015,  the Burmese military had captured the armed members of Arakan Army (AA) with arms and rations included with the brad mark of "TIKA"  that were donated from Turky government. The fight between AA members and military was took place in Paletwa township of Chin state on the 21 of April 2015.

Read more here in Burmese..

ဒုကၡသည္မ်ားအတြက္ တူရကီႏိုင္ငံမွ ေပးပို႔လွဴဒါန္းေသာ အလွဴပစၥည္းမ်ားကို ရခိုင္တပ္မေတာ္ထံမွ သိမ္းဆည္းရမိ..

Bangladesh to launch Rohingya head-count to push back into Burma

Source Dhaka Tribune, 26 April

<p>A Rohingya child returns with firewood to a refugee camp in Bangladesh (Photo courtesy of UNHCR)</p>

A Rohingya child returns with firewood to a refugee camp in Bangladesh (Photo courtesy of UNHCR)

The government has decided to start counting the Rohingya refugees of Myanmar living across the country from mid-September for proper documentation, official sources said.

The documentation would also help expediting repatriation of the Rohingya Muslims to their homeland.

The decision was made fearing fresh influx of the Rohingyas due to possible deterioration of political condition ahead of the general election in the Rakhine state of Myanmar, likely to be held in November.

The decision and concerns came from the seventh meeting of the National Task-force on Implementation of the National Strategy Paper on Myanmar Refugees and undocumented Myanmar Nationals held at the Foreign Ministry on March 31.

It was arranged by the United Nations wing of the ministry. Representatives of the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) informed the meeting about the possible influx.

State Minister for Home Affairs Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal yesterday told the Dhaka Tribune: "We have already ordered the BGB to push back Rohingya refugees if they try to enter Bangladesh territory ahead of the national election in November.

"We do not care what the foreign communities will say about our action because the Rohingya refugees are destroying livelihood of the local people and the environment."

He said: "The daily wage rate in Cox's Bazar has declined due to availability of Rohingya refugees as day labourer."

The meeting also decided that the number of police camps would be increased. Moreover, the BGB is carrying out construction of border outposts and observation towers which is likely to be completed by the middle of next year.

According to the meeting, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistic would carry out photo-based listing or census among the undocumented Rohingyas in September for 10-15 days in Cox's Bazar and four other districts.

They have been asked to work in coordination with the Election Commission. The BBS is expected to prepare the preliminary report by January next year.

According to official estimation, there are around 28,000 registered Rohingyas living in two camps in Cox's Bazar. But the number of undocumented Rohingya Muslims is over 5,00,000 and they spread in Chittagong, and the three hill districts.

For the first time since 2005, the Myanmar government last year agreed to take back the registered Rohingyas in phases.

It is alleged that the political influential people in the coastal areas are using Rohingya refugees for illegal yaba trade which has increased criminal and unsocial activities in the country. Moreover, they have been used by Islamist militant groups of Bangladesh and the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation – a separatist group banned in Myanmar.

The home state minister said: "It is necessary to count the Rohingya refugees as many of them have acquired Bangladeshi passports and are allegedly running terrorists dens here."

A large number of undocumented Rohingyas hold Bangladeshi passports and many of them went to the Middle-East countries pretending to be Bangladesh workers.

"Our workers are banned in the UAE because the Rohingyas in disguise were found involved in criminal activities there,"
Kamal said.

"Such incidents are tarnishing the image of Bangladeshi workers in other Middle-East countries. This should be stopped."

In 2007, the Saudi Arabia government deported a number of Rohingyas for their involvement in criminal incidents.

The meeting also discussed that the undocumented Rohingya Muslims living in makeshift settlements were sending their children only to madrasas and mosques for eduction.

The task-force agreed to provide those children with informal education. 

Friday 24 April 2015

Report states Rohingya crisis has all signs of genocide

Source aa, 23 April 

ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights report claims longstanding persecution of Rohingya has led to highest outflow of asylum seekers by sea since the U.S. war in Vietnam.

By Jaiden Coonan


Days before ASEAN leaders meet in Malaysia, a report has been released by the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) stating that the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar has all the signs of genocide. 

It claims that the longstanding persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar has led to the highest outflow of asylum seekers by sea since the U.S. war in Vietnam.

Charles Santiago - chair of the APHR, and a Malaysian parliamentarian - described the issue to the Myanmar Times on Thursday as "clearly not just an internal affair."

"This is an issue that affects all of ASEAN, from Thailand to Malaysia to Indonesia," he said. "Invoking the 'non-interference' policy in [a] situation that paves the way for genocide and crimes against humanity has no logic and undermines ASEAN's very existence." 

The report highlights Myanmar's continual denials of the ethnic group, its constant reference to the population as "Bengali," and its accusation that they are illegal immigrants. 

There are roughly 140,000 Rohingya living in IDP camps since an outbreak of violence between the ethnic Arakanese Buddhists and Rohingya in 2012.

The majority of the camps are in squalid conditions and the population relies heavily on international assistance to survive.

During its turn as chair of ASEAN, Myanmar managed to keep the Rohingya issue off the agenda by declaring it an internal issue. 

But with the conference due to start in majority Muslim Malaysia on Monday, many rights groups are hoping that Kuala Lumpur will ramp up the pressure. 

The 26th ASEAN Summit will run from April 24 to 27.

Thursday 23 April 2015

Every Rohingya is welcome: The Oslo Conference to End Myanmar's Persecution of Rohingyas since 1978

by Admin,


The Oslo Conference to End Myanmar's Persecution of the Rohingyas

Venues:  The Nobel Institute and Voksenaasen

Oslo, Norway

26-28 May 2015

Refugees International (RI), Justice for All (USA), the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), Harvard Global Equality Initiative (HGEI), and International State Crime Initiative Queen Mary University of London (ISCI) and Den norske Burmakomité will be holding a 3-day international conference to discuss the plight of over 1-million Rohingyas of Myanmar (Burma) and explore concrete ways to end their decades-long persecution.

George Soros who escaped Nazi-occupied Hungary sees a parallel between his experience of life under the Nazis in 1944 and the human conditions for the Rohingyas in Western Myanmar, which he witnessed first-hand during a recent visit to the country.

At the conference, iconic leaders from diverse backgrounds including Soros, Nobel Peace laureates Mairead Maguire, Desmond Tutu, and Jose Rose-Horta, and the former prime ministers of Malaysia and Norway - namely Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad and Kjell Magne Bondevik - will join hands with the representatives of the two generations of Rohingya refugees and activists as well as international human rights researchers and scholars of genocides and mass atrocities. They will push for the end to Myanmar's policies of discrimination, persecution and oppression.


Tomas Ojea Quinta and Yanghee Lee, former and present UN Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in Myanmar respectively, will also share their expertise with the audiences and other participants. 

The first day of the Oslo Conference is open to the public and will be webcast LIVE. 

To register, please RSVP by sending an email to OsloConference@yahoo.com .  Be sure to include your full name, organizational affiliation (if any), and country of residence.

For further information including the program (draft) visit the conference's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/OsloConferenceOnRohingyas/posts/959355314097439?__mref=message_bubble

A 3-day Conference

26 May 2015The first day of the conference – open to the public - will be held at the Nobel Institute and Voksenaasen conference center on26 May 2015.   

27 May 2015: The second day of the conference – by invitation-only – will be devoted to exploring concrete ideas and proposals to help push for the restoration of basic human rights, nationality,  and citizenship to the Rohingyas.

28 May 2015On the third and final day, the conference will host a Burma Forum in central Oslo, a public roundtable with select group of Rohingya leaders, other religious leaders and human rights experts to discuss Myanmar's rising anti-Muslim hate campaign as well as other contemporary issues of relevance.  For more information about the Burma Forum email Norwegian Burma Committee at info@burma.no .



Backgrounder to the Oslo Conference

Rakhine Action Plan

In July 2014, Myanmar government floated a comprehensive plan, known as the "Rakhine Action Plan", to erase both Rohingya identity and the group's legal residency in their own ancestral land and sent a 3-member advocacy team – made up of President's adviser and former academic Dr Kyaw Yin Hlaing, Immigration Minister and ex-Brigadier Khin Yi, and Rakhine Chief Minister and ex-Major General Maung Maung Ohn - to lobby western governments and relevant international organizations  to accept Myanmar's official plan to solve "the Rohingya problem". 

Thein Sein's government in Myanmar is currently implementing the Rakhine Action Plan.  This is evidenced from the further illegalization and disenfranchisement of the vast majority of ethnic Rohingya since March this year, by forcibly confiscating their White Cards, the only documentation that Rohingyas had of their legal, permanent residency. Meanwhile, the international community's attention is diverted to the fighting along the country's Sino-Burmese borders between Myanmar army and Kokant Chinese armed resistance organization and its allies, as well as Aung San Suu Kyi's attempts to push for changes in the military's 2008 Constitution in time for this year's planned elections

Myanmar's Policy of Official Denial and Persecution of the Rohingyas

Following the large scale violence against the Rohingyas in June 2012, Myanmar's "reformist" government officially proposed two solutions to the Rohingya issue to the visiting head of the United Nations Refugee Agency or UNHCR António Guterres - either the "resettlement" of the Rohingyas to third countries, or placing Rohingya in UN-financed camps on their own ancestral soil in Western Myanmar.   In his widely reported address to the Royal Institute of International Affairs (or Chatham House), in London, UK on 17 July 2013, Myanmar President Thein Sein officially denied the existence of Rohingyas as either legal residents or an ethnic group while his government has made consistent attempts to pressure INGOs, foreign missions and the United Nations agencies and officials – including the UN Special Rapporteurs on the human rights situation in Myanmar -  to stop recognizing the Rohingya as a distinct ethnic group of Myanmar. 

Such statements and policies have been met with stiff opposition from the international community, including the highest level of leaderships such as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and US President Barack Obama. In sharp contrast to the international recognition of the Rohingya as an ethnic group, deserving non-discrimination, equal rights, dignity, and the same basic respect as any other indigenous peoples of Myanmar, the country's Bama or Myanmar Buddhist majority and Rakhine nationalists  label the Rohingyas as "illegal Muslim migrants" from the impoverished Bangladesh.  As such, Rohingya have popularly been dehumanized and referred to by terms such as "viruses", "leeches", (ugly) "ogres", "dogs" etc.  

Sadly, Myanmar's pro-democracy opposition leaders and human rights organizations including Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy and other iconic human rights the leaders of the 88 Generation Group also share this anti-Rohingya sentiment.  The Myanmar government has, misleadingly, portrayed the plight of Rohingyas as the result of a communal conflict between the predominantly Buddhist Rakhine and the Muslim Rohingya and a supposedly inevitable consequence of the "transition" from dictatorship.  Periodically, unsubstantiated claims are made by Myanmar President's Office attempting to link the Rohingya community to global "Islamic fundamentalism", and worse still, "terrorism".


The Worsening Plight of the Rohingyas

The plight of the Rohingyas in Myanmar has worsened since the two bouts of organized attacks on the Rohingya in June and October 2012.  In her 9-March-2015 report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Professor Yanghee Lee stated that Rohingya refugees inside Internally Displaced Persons (or IDP) camps feel they have two (equally risky) options:  "to stay and die (in Myanmar) or leave by boat".   According to the UN High Commissioner for the Refugees (UNHCR), approximately 53,000 Rohingyas, including women and children, left Myanmar (and Bangladesh) by boats bound for Thailand and Malaysia in the 11-month period between January and November 2014.   International visitors to Rakhine state have described the human conditions for the Rohingyas, both inside and outside IDP camps, as "deplorable".  Even by Myanmar's official report of Myanmar President's Rakhine Inquiry Commission, doctor-patient ratios among the Rohingyas in the two majority Rohingya towns in Western Myanmar are 1: 76,000 and 1:83,000 (vis-à-vis 1: 1,000 for the national average).  Some local Rakhine groups routinely threaten international humanitarian organizations and attempt to disrupt and stop the delivery of basic humanitarian aid to the Rohingyas. 

International Responses

Human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch have assessed Myanmar's treatment of Rohingyas as 'crimes against humanity' and 'ethnic cleansing'.  UN Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in Myanmar including Tomas Quintana Ojea and Yanghee Lee have highlighted the official nature of discrimination and persecution of the Rohingyas that a condones popular racism and violence against Myanmar's Muslims.   The Pacific Rim Law and Policy Association has published a 3-year academic study entitled "The Slow Burning Genocide of Myanmar's Rohingya" in its peer-reviewed journal "Pacific Rim Law and Policy Journal" (Spring, 2014).   Currently, two independent teams of researchers from the International State Crime Research Initiative at Queen Mary University of London, UK and Yale University Human Rights Law Clinic and Fortify Rights are investigating the Rohingya situation using the genocide framework. 

Renowned academics, for instance, Harvard's Amartya Sen have characterized Myanmar's treatment of Rohingyas as a "slow genocide".  Likewise, at the conference on the Rohingyas at the London School of Economics held in April 2014 the then outgoing UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Tomas Oeja Quintana observed reportedly "genocidal acts" in the case of Rohingyas.  

At this Oslo Conference, global leaders including George Soros and Desmond Tutu will call on the international community, both international investors, European Union and governments with close ties to Myanmar, to help end Myanmar's Rohingya persecution.  They will also call for the restoration of basic human rights, nationality and citizenship to one of the world's most vulnerable and oppressed peoples who, as a group, do have the fundamental right to self-identity under international human rights law. 

Malaysian PM urged to address Rohingya crisis

Source theSundaily, 22 April

Rohingya Muslims are fleeing Burma in their thousands to escape persecution. Pic: AP.Rohingya Muslims are fleeing Burma in their thousands to escape persecution. Pic: AP.

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak must use his influence as the chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to address the humanitarian crisis of the Rohingya in Myanmar at the 26th Asean Summit to be held here.

Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) chairman Charles Santiago said Malaysia has the moral responsibility to raise the issue as Malaysia was one of the countries which promoted Myanmar to be included into Asean.

Speaking at a press conference here today, Santiago, who is the Klang MP, said Malaysia should also provide for the children of Rohingya refugees in the country to receive basic rights such as going to school and healthcare services as an example to other nations having these refugees.

Early this month, APHR MPs travelled to Myanmar to see the situation of the Rohingya.

Their findings and that of an independent research by human rights organisations were compiled into an APHR report on the Rohingya crisis which was released today.

APHR, a human rights intervention force of like-minded parliamentarians and influential persons, was founded in 2013 to protect the human rights of the Asean people.

Myanmar gov’t forces arrest five Rakhine rebels

Source Presstv, 22 April

This file photo shows troops on patrol in the troubled northeastern Kokang region of Myanmar.
This file photo shows troops on patrol in the troubled northeastern Kokang region of Myanmar.

Myanmar government forces have arrested five members of an ethnic armed group in the western Rakhine State of the Southeast Asian country.

The five were captured as government forces engaged in fighting with the Rakhine armed group at Pinlong village of the Paletwa area over the weekend, state-owned Myawaddy television network reported on Wednesday.

The report added that the rebels were caught in a hideout, from where arms and munitions were also seized.

Meanwhile, Rakhine rebels have been retreating from Paletwa area, and Myanmar government forces continue to comb the region in order to arrest remnants of the rebel group and also prevent any possible future confrontations.

The weekend clashes took place at the same time as Myanmar government forces were also battling ethnic Kokang rebels in the restive northeastern Shan State.

This file photo shows the rebel soldiers of Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) at a military base in Kokang region, Myanmar.

 Myanmar has been wracked by unrest since its independence from Britain in 1948 as militancy flares among some minority groups demanding greater autonomy.

Last month, Myanmar's President Thein Sein hailed a historic draft peace deal with a host of rebel groups to end decades of civil war.

Kokang militants were not part of the deal. The self-administered Chinese-speaking Kokang region has been in a state of emergency since fighting erupted in the region on February 9 between government forces and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), known as the Kokang army.

Another ethnic armed group in Shan State, which is involved in the peace talks with the government, the Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), has expressed support for the Kokang militants.

Although the Kokang rebels are not directly involved in the peace talks, the ongoing fighting has drawn condemnation from the coalition of rebel groups at the negotiating table, who are yet to formally ratify the draft of the ceasefire deal.

Tuesday 21 April 2015

78 Rohingyas found on vessel arrival in Malaysian waters

Source The Star, 21 April

A powerless or engineless boat loaded with Rohingya refugees, moments before it was rescued by Indian Coastguards off Andaman Islands. Thai authorities forced the boatpeople board this boat which was then towed out to the middle of the sea and left to drift with very little food and water (photo: Asiapics)

The UN says more than 28,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled the violence. Fishing boats are often the only way for families to reach safety.

BALIK PULAU: A two-month-old baby was among 78 illegals from Myanmar who were found crammed in a small wooden vessel shortly after it reached the shores of Penang in Teluk Bahang here.

They looked tired and scared when discovered at 2.30am yesterday. "The authorities not only provided food, but provided medical treatment for them," said Penang police chief Senior Deputy Comm Datuk Wira Abdul Rahim.

Police personnel, on their crime prevention rounds, spotted the suspicious boat and moved in for further inspection before making the discovery.

Believed to be Rohingyas, the illegals consisted of 34 men, 19 women, 10 boys and 15 girls, aged between two months and 68.

"Initial findings showed that the illegals left Myanmar on April 8," SDCP Abdul Rahim told reporters.

Friday 17 April 2015

Malaysia: Refugees not welcome here - Shahidan

Source theSundaily, 16 April

Rohingya men stand in a line at a centre to register for a temporary card issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Kuala Lumpur in this February 27, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Samsul Said

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will not open its doors to refugees and asylum seekers, especially to the Rohingyas from Myanmar, even under humanitarian grounds, as they have become a security threat here.

Reiterating the government's stand in not recognising or accepting refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim called on the United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees (UNHCR) to speed up the repatriation process.

"If we open the gates, the waters will gush in and flood the country … the problem is their presence here is a threat to our security, they are causing a lot of problems here," Shahidan told the Dewan Negara today.

He was responding to Senator Datuk Noriah Mahat and Senator Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki on whether the government would consider opening doors to allow refugees and asylum seekers access for education in local institutions and/or welfare under humanitarian grounds.

"As we already know, we allow them to study in private schools, but that's not the problem, their presence here is a threat to our security.

"The government's stand is very clear, we will not allow them to stay unless there is a specific agreement made with regards to this," Shahidan said.

He added that the government has constantly urged UNHCR to speed up repatriation to either the original country or a third country.

Pointing out that Malaysia is not party to the 1951 Refugee Convention or the Refugee Status Protocol 1967, Shahidan said these refugees and asylum seekers, especially the Rohingya community, could go to Cambodia or Philippines, which are signatories to the convention.

Scholar Maung Zarni Defines Genocide in HHRP Lecture

Source maungzarni, 15 April

The word genocide calls to mind events like the Jewish and Armenian holocausts, but according to Maung Zarni, a Burmese scholar affiliated with Harvard and the London School of Economics, smaller-scale killing can also fit the definition "if done in an attempt to destroy a people." 

Such is the case with the victimization of Burma's Rohingya Muslim ethnic group by members of the Buddhist majority, which has involved explicit violence on a relatively modest scale but also forced birth control, forced relocation, and denial of access to food and medical care, said Zarni, who on April 13, delivered a lecture on the topic, sponsored by the Law School's Owen M. Kupferschmid Holocaust and Human Rights Project

How could Buddhists, raised to spare the lives of all creatures, even insects, perpetrate a genocide? The answer, Zarni said, is common to every genocide: the perpetrator learns to see himself as a victim, and a defender of his nation or ethnic group. "We have to frame the target of the attack as a threat to our livelihood, a threat to our national community, as a virus, a leach, a bloodsucker," he said. 

All genocides have another common element, Zarni said, in that the genocidal acts are orchestrated, not spontaneous. "This is not like football hooliganism," he said, "where your team lost and you want to express your rage. You always find an organization, you always find leaders who are mobilizing public opinion [in favor of] an act that is otherwise unthinkable."

Monday 6 April 2015

Govt forces ‘kill civilians’ in Kachin State: NGO

Source Mizzima, 4 April

Myanmar soldiers walked past a village in Kachin State. Photo: kachinlandnews.com

Myanmar soldiers walked past a village in Kachin State. Photo: kachinlandnews.com

Free Burma Rangers, a frontline provider of medical aid to displaced civilians in Myanmar, has highlighted continued incidents of aggression by government forces despite the signing of a draft peace agreement between the opposing forces, according to a report in Karen News on April 3.

FBR said attacks are continuing including an incident on March 23 in which soldiers from the 10th Infantry Battalion allegedly killed a father, his wife and their son at Du Hku village, Kachin State. The village is located close to Kachin Independence Army positions.

The Kachin conflict erupted in June 2011 when the Myanmar military attacked Kachin Independence Army positions, shattering a 17-year-long ceasefire.

"Despite recent meetings between senior representatives of the Kachin Independence Organization, President U Thein Sein and Burma Army military head Min Aung Hlaing to discuss a potential ceasefire agreement, incidents of aggression by the Burma Army have increased to levels not seen since initial fighting in 2011," FBR said in a media statement.

FBR said it witnessed repeated air attacks from helicopter gunships and jet fighters throughout March.

A 2012 report by Human Rights Watch estimated that fighting in Kachin State had displaced 100,000 civilians. It also accused government forces of raping, torturing and killing civilians.

Thursday 2 April 2015

Thailand detains 76 migrants found on train, including Rohingya

Source Reuters, 30 March

A Rohingya Muslim illegal immigrant puts his hand on the railing inside the Immigration Detention Centre in Kanchanaburi province, Thailand, July 10, 2013. MREUTERS/Damir Sagolj

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai authorities said on Monday they had found a group of 76 migrants from neighboring Myanmar, including six suspected Rohingya, in a sign that one of Asia's busiest smuggling routes is still thriving despite Bangkok's vow to stamp out trafficking.

It follows the discovery in January of a group of 98 suspected Rohingya trafficking victims, including dozens of children, who were found in pickup trucks in southern Thailand.

Tens of thousands of Rohingya have fled Myanmar since 2012, when violent clashes with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists killed hundreds. Many head to Malaysia but often end up in smuggling camps in southern Thailand where they are held captive until relatives pay the ransom to traffickers to release them.

The latest group were stopped at Tong Sung district in Thailand's southern Nakhon Si Thammarat province. They were heading to Malaysia in search of work, Police Colonel Anuchon Chamat, deputy commander of Nakhon Si Thammarat Provincial Police, told Reuters.

"They were sitting with Thai passengers and upon inspection by authorities were found to have no travel documents," said Anuchon, adding that police have yet to determine whether traffickers were among the group.

"It seems they wanted to go to Malaysia for work and had boarded the train at different locations along the route. It is difficult to say whether traffickers are among them."

Thailand is ranked one of the world's centers of human trafficking. It was downgraded to the lowest "Tier 3" status last June on the U.S. State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons Report for not fully complying with minimum standards for its elimination.

Last week, Thailand's parliament voted overwhelmingly to introduce harsher punishments for human traffickers, including life imprisonment and the death penalty in cases where their victims had died.

Thailand's military government said in January it was "confident" it had met the minimum standards to improve its ranking in this year's U.S. State Department ranking.

But a government report aimed at lifting Thailand from the list of the world's worst offenders showed it had identified fewer victims of human trafficking last year than in 2013 and convicted fewer perpetrators.

Anuchon said the 76 migrants were being questioned by immigration police and would likely be charged with illegal entry.

(Reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)