Friday 31 July 2015

Inside Sittwe, the Point of No Return for Myanmar’s Displaced Rohingya

Source VICE, 28 July

By Paul Gregoire

Sittwe beach. All photos by the author.

Sittwe is the capital of Rakhine, the second poorest state in Myanmar. The city sits at the point where the Kaladan River converges with the Bay of Bengal. Fishing is a major industry and the economy is set to benefit from a deep-water port under construction, funded by the Indian government. It was also one of the major set off points for the estimated 25,000 Rohingya - an ethnic Muslim minority - that fled the country in boats between January and March this year.

VICE recently paid a visit to this restive city, in north-western Myanmar, and found a state-sanctioned system of segregation that has left the Rohingya — a people the United Nations has described as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world — stateless and deprived.

A main intersection in Sittwe

In May this year, world attention was focused upon the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Andaman Sea, when thousands of Rohingya and Bangladeshi refugees were stranded in rickety boats after Thai authorities cracked down on people smuggling routes. As the asylum seekers made their way south, Malaysia and Indonesia began turning back the boats and reports emerged of smugglers abandoning their ships leaving their human cargo adrift.

Later in the month, Malaysia and Indonesia announced they would accept the refugees, as long as they were repatriated or resettled within a year.

Jama Mosque has been closed for three years

Today, Sittwe appears Muslim-free, with little trace of the Rohingya population. One of the most prominent buildings on the main road is the Jama Mosque, but it has been closed for the last three years. The laneway leading to the mosque is cordoned off by barbwire stanchions and armed guards sit at the entrance. Sittwe market was once the site of many Rohingya-owned stores, but now none remain in Muslim hands.

Sittwe was one of the major flashpoints of the 2012 riots, which drove around 140,000 Rohingya people into internally displaced persons (IDP) camps throughout the state. The sectarian violence broke out in June, 2012, which for the most part saw extreme factions of the state's majority Rakhine Buddhist population violently attacking and burning down Rohingya villages.

Rohingya-run stalls are no longer found at Sittwe market

The violence was instigated by the alleged rape and murder of a Buddhist women by three Muslim men in Kyaukphyu township and the reprisal killings of 10 Muslim people dragged off a bus in Taungup township a few days later.

In Sittwe, the attacks moved from one Rohingya area to the next, while the violence spread state-wide from township to township.

In October 2012, a more coordinated set of attacks was perpetrated upon Rohingya villages in nine townships throughout the state. The Myanmar government and local authorities are reported to have stood by or participated in the attacks. The official death toll of the 2012 riots was around 200 people.

Attacks perpetrated against the Rohingya have continued periodically over the last three years, with a group of fishermen being attacked in Pauktaw township in January this year.

The Rohingya camp in Sittwe. An estimated 140,000 people live in camps like these in Myanmar.

Beyond the main road in Sittwe lies Aung Mingalar a part of the city where an estimated 4,000 Rohingya still live. The area effectively functions as a prison: it's fenced off, the entrances are guarded by police and the inhabitants are not allowed to leave. On the day I approached the roadblocks, the police were not welcoming foreigners in.

Aung Win, a Rohingyan rights activist, lives in Aung Mingalar with his family. He told me that the situation is dire for those living in the ghetto. They must seek permission to visit the market in government arranged security trucks and have no access to medical services. "When we have the infection, we cannot go to the hospital that is very close," he said, adding the authorities are tightening security because the Myanmar general election is about to take place in November.

But the majority of the nation's estimated 1.3 million Rohingya won't be able to vote in the elections, as their citizenship has been revoked.

The 1982 Citizenship Law doesn't recognise the Rohingya as a national ethnic group and denies citizenship to individuals who cannot provide evidence their ancestors settled in the country before 1823, the year the British began their occupation of Rakhine state, then known as Arakan.

Even though there is evidence the Rohingya were living in the state between the mid-fifteenth to late eighteenth centuries, if not more than 1,000 years ago, this law has rendered them stateless. And the government refers to the Rohingya as Bengalis, effectively denying them a separate ethic group.

According to Aung Win, it's not average Rakhine people who are the problem, it's the nationalists, extremists and politicians. "You must understand that. For nearly three years, we're living in the slum area without sufficient food and aid, so many Rakhine people are sending the items we need," he explained.

But the majority of the local Rohingya population are living in IDP camps, west of the city, along the coast of the Bay of Bengal. The conditions are grim: there's little food, no access to medical services and no employment. Many live in flimsy huts with little protection against the monsoon rains.

Rohingya kids playing on the beach road

Walking down the road heading out to the camps, I again came across another roadblock. A police officer denied access, so I doubled back down to the beach. On the way, I passed a building with large UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) tents out the back.

Vivian Tan, UNHCR spokesperson for Southeast Asia, said the agency has been operating in the area since June 2012, alongside the government, UN and NGO counterparts. "As part of the inter-agency humanitarian response, UNHCR has been leading efforts to provide relief supplies, temporary shelter, protection, monitoring and advocacy, as well as camp coordination and management," she said.

Making my way down the beachside road towards the strip known as Ohn Daw Gyi - the area where many of the refugee boats leave - I came to a section where the road is no longer paved. In the distance there was a group of people and to the right, across the field, there were newly-built IDP camp shelters and beyond an area of makeshift ones.

On approach, the group made up of Rohingya children, came up close, some barely clothed. One older boy came to the front, putting his hand to his stomach and then his mouth in a gesture showing hunger. Three young women walked up. One, holding a piece of UNHCR tarpaulin fashioned as a bag, communicated that they were from the camps.

These people have been pushed to the edge, deprived of services, occupation and legal recourse. With no place left to run, they're being forced to risk their lives on the high seas.

Follow Paul on Twitter: @paulrgregoire

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Aid group forced to stop helping flood victims on Ma Ba Tha orders

Source mmtimes, 30 July

Hardline monks have flexed their muscles amid the desolation of Sagaing Region's floods, ordering a prominent aid group to leave the area and describing National League for Democracy and other volunteers as "troublemaking groups".

A Chanmya Thukha ambulance parks in Kawlin shortly before the local aid group returned to Mandalay on July 28. (Wa Lone/The Myanmar Times)

A Chanmya Thukha ambulance parks in Kawlin shortly before the local aid group returned to Mandalay on July 28. (Wa Lone/The Myanmar Times)

Flooding has devastated large areas of northern Sagaing Region, with Kawlin the worst-affected area. A total of 48,532 people in Kawlin – more than one-third of its population of 145,297 – were affected by the flooding, the Relief and Resettlement Department reported on July 23, with many forced to leave their homes.

But the secretary of the Kawlin township branch of the Committee for the Protection of Race and Religion, better known by its Myanmar-language acronym Ma Ba Tha, insisted in an interview with The Myanmar Times that aid could only be delivered with approval of a central committee set up by the government, local civil society and the township Sangha committee.

On July 27, the Ma Ba Tha branch told the Mandalay-based social welfare organisation Chanmya Thukha to leave Kawlin because it had not coordinated its activities with this central committee and also ignored instructions from senior Ma Ba Tha monks in the area.

"We demanded they leave Kawlin because the groups sent by Chanmya Thukha … just did what they wanted to do by collaborating with illegal groups from the NLD and other troublemaking organisations," said U Dhammasiri, secretary of the Ma Ba Tha branch in Kawlin.

U Dhammasiri added that Ma Ba Tha would "not take responsibility if unregistered groups face any problems" in Kawlin.

"In providing relief here, we have to manage the timing with the central committee. Nobody's allowed to just deliver aid separately, in any way they want."

U Dhammasiri said Chanmya Thukha had been reported to Kawlin township's General Administration Department and the commander of the local Light Infantry Division.

The Kawlin Flood Victim Relief Committee was formed by government departments, local philanthropic groups and the township Sangha Nayaka Committee shortly after heavy rains brought flooding to the township in mid-July.

Chanmya Thukha returned to Mandalay on July 28, but said the decision to do so was not related to the Ma Ba Tha order. However, the NLD office in Kawlin confirmed that the group's departure was because of "severe and repeated" warnings from Ma Ba Tha. Chanmya Thukha transferred its remaining supplies to the Kawlin Flood Victim Relief Committee when it departed for Mandalay.

More than 50 volunteers from the group had been distributing relief to people affected by flooding since July 22. They had stationed themselves at San Thaw Thar home for the aged near Ywarma village, at the edge of Kawlin town, and worked together with local organisations and others from Yangon, Pakokku in Magwe Region and Twante in rural Yangon.

Chanmya Thukha member Ko Thar Nyi rejected suggestions that his organisation had done anything "illegal".

"We were providing relief to real flood victims there," he said.

NLD members in Kawlin had also used the home for the aged as a base for their relief programs, with about 30 volunteers helping to provide supplies to needy households.

Daw Phyu Phyu Win, the head of the party's Kawlin branch, said the NLD had helped Chanmya Thukha set up their relief operation but they were working separately. She described the dispute as "shameful".

"We helped the victims and [Chanmya Thukha] cared for our people in the same way. That these problems happened in our township is so shameful," she said.

Other Ma Ba Tha members sought to distance themselves from U Dhammasiri's fiery remarks.

U Pandicca from War Yone Tone monastery in Kawlin said his comments did not reflect the opinion of all of the group's members in Kawlin.

"Because of this, many flood victims might suffer loss. Donor groups should provide aid freely. Don't stop providing assistance," he said, pledging his support to help any group that encountered difficulties delivering assistance.

The conflict between Ma Ba Tha and Chanmya Thukha was the result of a "misunderstanding", said Ko Aung Myo Wai, a spokesperson for the Kawlin Flood Victim Relief Committee.

He insisted that the committee was not formed to control donors.

"We don't want our people to be treated as though they are beggars so we are just requesting donors not to distribute aid in this way," he said. "We never supervise donors or ask them to inform us about their activities."

Translation by Thiri Min Htun

Monday 27 July 2015

US-Backed Racist to Run in Myanmar’s Elections

Source globalresearch, 24 JulyMyanmar

Meet Ko Ko Gyi. He is a US-funded agitator working hard to reinstate Western hegemony in Myanmar (still referred to by its British imperial nomenclature "Burma" by the Western press) since at least the late 1980's. Now, he seeks to take the next step, running for office in upcoming elections, but in order to do so, the West will now have to cover up his dark past and his controversial present.


His "88 Generation Students" group is described by the BBC as:

The 88 Generation Students group is synonymous with the long struggle for democracy in military-ruled Burma.

Its name comes from the 1988 uprising, when troops opened fire on mass student demonstrations in Rangoon, leading to the deaths of thousands of people.

In addition to the 1988 protests, he and his group would join others, including throngs of saffron-clad "monks" during the so-called "Saffron Revolution" in 2007. Together with Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party, these three groups form a trifecta of foreign-funded sociopolitical destabilization, subversion, and serve together as a vector for Western special interests seeking to reenter and despoil the Southeast Asian state's economy, resources, and sovereignty.


There is, however, another factor, all three groups share – a passionate, racist hatred of the Rohingya people – many of whom have lived in Myanmar for generations. This racist hatred has manifested itself not only in words, but also in violence. Mobs led by Suu Kyi's "saffron monks" have raided Rohingya communities, hacking to death their inhabitants and burning to the ground their homes. Those who survive end up in refugee camps which are likewise raided by Suu Kyi's followers, or driven into the sea in such large numbers they are sometimes referred to as the "boat people."

Ko Ko Gyi has previously articulated his views on the Rohingya. In a report titled, "'Trauma Will Last Long Time': Ko Ko Gyi," posted by the US State Department-funded propaganda clearinghouse "Irrawaddy" it states that:

In early June, Ko Ko Gyi accused "neighboring countries" of fueling the unrest in Arakan State, and stated categorically that the 88 Generation group will not recognize the Rohingyas as an ethnicity of Burma. He said that his organization and its followers are willing to take up arms alongside the military in order to fight back against "foreign invaders."

The Rohingya people have been living in Myanmar for centuries, with many being brought in generations ago by the British Empire as part of a wider strategy of divide and conquer across South and Southeast Asia. Ko Ko Gyi's comments would resonate well with his ideological counterparts in the Ku Klux Klan in the United States who are often fond of stating how African-Americans aren't truly Americans and should be "shipped back to Africa."

To drive home the point of Ko Ko Gyi's absolute and utter racism, he was also quoted as saying:

Genetically, culturally and linguistically Rohingya is not absolutely related to any ethnicity in Myanmar.

Ko Ko Gyi says his followers are "willing to take up arms" against the Rohingya, but it seems that his followers and his "saffron" allies have already long ago resorted to violence in their bid to "racially cleanse" Myanmar. It is difficult to distinguish Ko Ko Gyi and his 88 Generation Students group from the Ku Klux Klan, Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party, and other political factions around the globe and throughout human history that denigrated and dehumanized their enemies based on genetics, culture, linguistics, and ethnicity.

US Supports Myanmar's Rabid Racists


Myanmar's opposition, composed of Suu Kyi's NLD, her "saffron" supporters, student groups like 88 Generation, and a myriad of NGOs are all funded, directed, and supported by the US State Department through extensive backing via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and other corporate-financier organizations including George Soros' Open Society Foundation.

The British-based "Burma Campaign UK" published an extensive report detailing US and British backing of these networks in a report titled, "FAILING THE PEOPLE OF BURMA? A call for a review of DFID policy on Burma." Not only does the report expose immense support for these groups, it argues that despite the vast amounts of funding being channeled to them, it is not enough.

The report details the specifics of each organization involved, including the National Endowment for Democracy (NED):

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED – see Appendix 1, page 27) has been at the forefront of our program efforts to promote democracy and improved human rights in Burma since 1996. We are providing $2,500,000 in FY 2003 funding from the Burma earmark in the Foreign Operations legislation. The NED will use these funds to support Burmese and ethnic minority democracy-promoting organizations through a sub-grant program. The projects funded are designed to disseminate information inside Burma supportive of Burma's democratic development, to create democratic infrastructures and institutions, to improve the collection of information on human rights abuses by the Burmese military and to build capacity to support the restoration of democracy when the appropriate political openings occur and the exiles/refugees return.

The role of US State Department-run Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Voice of America (VOA) is also discussed in detail, including the revelation that US foreign policy specifically supports and actively promotes Aung San Suu Kyi and "her" agenda, stating:

Both Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA) have Burmese services. VOA broadcasts a 30-minute mix of international news and information three times a day. RFA broadcasts news and information about Burma two hours a day. VOA and RFA websites also contain audio and text material in Burmese and English. For example, VOA's October 10, 2003 editorial, "Release Aung San Suu Kyi" is prominently featured in the Burmese section of RFA's website makes available audio versions of 16 Aung San Suu Kyi's speeches from May 27 and 29, 2003. U.S. international broadcasting provides crucial information to a population denied the benefits of freedom of information by its government.

The US also pours vast resources into organizations affiliated with Aung San Suu Kyi, including "Prospect Burma":

The State Department provided $150,000 in FY 2001/02 funds to provide scholarships to young Burmese through Prospect Burma, a partner organization with close ties to Aung San Suu Kyi. With FY 2003/04 funds, we plan to support Prospect Burma's work given the organization's proven competence in managing scholarships for individuals denied educational opportunities by the continued repression of the military junta, but committed to a return to democracy in Burma.

Another active appendage executing US foreign policy is convicted financial criminal George Soros and his organization Open Society. Open Society not only funds and coordinates with the above mentioned "Prospect Burma," but also directly funds specific activities, literally training an army of subversion meant to return to Myanmar and overthrow the government:

Our assistance to the Open Society Institute (OSI) (until 2004) provides partial support for a program to grant scholarships to Burmese refugee students who have fled Burma and wish to continue their studies at the undergraduate, or post-graduate level. Students typically pursue degrees in social sciences, public health, medicine, anthropology, and political science. Priority is given to students who express a willingness to return to Burma or work in their refugee communities for the democratic and economic reform of the country.

NED is also cited as behind the creation of a vast propaganda network including the New Era Journal, the Irrawaddy, and the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) radio, all posing as "independent" media sources despite the fact they are in reality fully-funded by the US government.

Additionally, a 2007 Reuters article titled, "Myanmar information window closing, says dissident," would reveal another propaganda outlet created by and maintained not by the people of Myanmar, but by the US State Department. Reuters reported:

The United States helps fund Mizzima through its National Endowment for Democracy, one source of the generals' assertions that the protests are the result of outside agitation.

Reuters would also report that the Editor-In-Chief of US-funded Mizzima was (and still is) Soe Myint, a terrorist guilty of hijacking a passenger liner – a terrorist act committed before receiving US funding to start his propaganda outfit. Reuters would report:

Myint and a friend hit the headlines in 1990 when he hijacked a Thai International Airways plane to protest the junta's rejection of elections won by pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy. He used fake bombs made out of soap cases to hijack the plane flying from Bangkok to Yangon with 220 passengers on board. The two friends were released in 1991 after a three-month jail term and were recognised as refugees in India.

It appears that in addition to backing a movement predicated on racial purity and genocide, the United States and their British partners are also literally funding convicted terrorists.

As Ko Ko Gyi Runs for Office, Western Press Covers Up His Racism

This then returns to the subject of Ko Ko Gyi. Reuters has now reported that he and members of his 88 Generation Students group will be running in the place of many NLD members including Suu Kyi herself. The report titled, "Myanmar '88 student leader joins Suu Kyi's party to run in polls," states:

"Ko Ko Gyi and some other members from the '88 Generation students group will run in the next general election representing our party," Nyan Win, a spokesman for Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), told Reuters.

Reuters claims that Ko Ko Gyi was a "leader of student protests in Myanmar in 1988 that grew into a nationwide pro-democracy movement." Nowhere is Ko Ko Gyi's racist views and calls for genocide mentioned – and considering how long he has held these views and the verifiable violence these views have manifested themselves in, it seems more than an oversight by Reuters and instead an intentional cover up.

By placing Ko Ko Gyi in a vacuum isolated from his bigotry, racism, and violence, Reuters affords him legitimacy he and his Western sponsors will be unable to contest upcoming elections without. Should Ko Ko Gyi and the rest of the West's proxies fail to win the elections, their perceived legitimacy will be necessary when they form street mobs and begin carrying out provocations across the country.

Should the global public understand that Suu Kyi and her political allies are foreign-funded bigots, racists, and genocidal thugs, little they do and little done to them in return will invoke sympathy. Again, just as in Syria where the West is backing Al Qaeda, in Ukraine where the West is backing literal Nazis, and now in Myanmar, the absolute worst has been brought together within a targeted nation to create a violent, loud front with which the West can smash local institutions and overwrite them with neo-liberal alternatives that answer to Washington, Wall Street, London, and Brussels.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".

Thursday 23 July 2015

The Myanmar Government’s Systematic Destruction of the Rohingya

Source genocidewatch

The Myanmar Government's Systematic Destruction of the Rohingya

By Dr. Nora Rowley, M.D.

22 July 2015

Since 1962, the Burman Buddhist supremacist government of Myanmar has ruled with an exclusionary, authoritarian ideology. Rohingya of Rakhine State are excluded from citizenship and brutally persecuted because of their ethnicity. The government's policies were described in 2000 as "Ethnic Cleansing" by the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues1 and in 2010, as Crimes Against Humanity by the Irish Center for Human Rights2. These policies continue in the current Rakhine Crisis. Persecution of Rohingya has finally attracted attention as many hundreds of Rohingya have drowned while trying to escape from Rakhine State in rickety fishing boats.

In 1982, the Burman supremacist government stripped most Rohingya of their citizenship. They were renamed "Bengalis," and reclassified as foreign to Myanmar. Rohingya speak a different language and are not "Benglais," a different ethnic group that lives mostly in Bangladesh. Their only common identity is that both groups are Muslim. The government claimed that the Rohingya were colonial era settlers from Bengal, British India, denying the fact that Rohingya have lived in Rakhine State for hundreds of years. This denial of citizenship has rendered Rohingya effectively stateless.

Because neither Bangladesh nor India accept Rohingya as "Bengalis", Rohingya are prey to international trafficking, exploitation and abuse. Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia refuse them and send their boats back out to the open seas, where many die from starvation or dehydration.

Despite direct appeals by President Obama and other world leaders, the Myanmar government has refused to reinstate Rohingya citizenship. It has violently forced Rohingya to accept the "Bengali" label, which Rohingya reject. Government officials and other Buddhist extremists, including some of their Buddhist Rakhine neighbors, vilify Rohingya as illegal Bangladesh invaders. They falsely charge that Rohingya intend violent Islamist conquest of Myanmar and forced conversion of Buddhists.

Even after reforms in Myanmar that freed Aung San Suu Kyi, the "transitional" national government has maintained the military dictatorship's authoritarian control of Rakhine State, including selection of all state government officials, control over national security forces, and control of movement, access and communications. Aung San Suu Kyi has remained silent about the Rohingyas' plight, ignoring pleas from other Nobel laureates, including Archbishop Tutu.

The Myanmar government's narrative blames the Rohingya victims for provoking the Rakhine Crisis. The official narrative claims that "Bengalis," i.e. Rohingya, started killing and arson attacks upon ethnic Rakhine in downtown Maungdaw on June 8, 2012. The narrative portrays national security forces as neutral peacekeepers and protectors for both the "Bengali" and Rakhine communities. What followed was Rakhine communal vengeance provoked by the "Bengali" aggression.

My personal investigation, including in-depth interviews and eye-witness testimonies from over 118 Rohingya, and many other survivors and witnesses to the Rakhine Crisis has revealed a narrative diametrically opposed to the official narrative. The forced deportation of Rohingya from Sittwe city was planned by the national government leadership, national security forces and the local Rakhine officials in

2010, two years before the deportations. Two months before the Crisis began, some Rakhine citizens received reports of government plans to drive Muslims out of Rakhine State. Two weeks before the violence, Sittwe Rakhine were informed of the plan of attack and promised protection. Since 2012, Myanmar officials have been committing systematic and organized destruction of Rohingya in Rakhine state, i.e.. This is not only persecution. It is actual Genocide3.

On June 8, 2012, in Maungdaw Township, national and local security forces and ethnic Rakhine initiated deadly offensive violence against Rohingya. They committed mass killings, forced displacement, arson and pillage. Beginning June 9, 2012, attacks against Rohingya spread in urban Sittwe. These attacks were preceded by planning and preparation, mass evacuation and refuge for ethnic Rakhine. Restrictions on Rohingya movement trapped and concentrated them, resulting in Rohingya mass casualties.

On June 11, 2012, national security forces began mass arrests of Rohingya, including women and children, but especially targeting young men and teens, rich, educated, community leaders and relief staff. Beating and torture commonly accompanied Rohingya arrests. They were imprisoned. Though some arrested Rohingya were able to bribe their way to freedom, most remained in prison, if they survived. Many simply disappeared after arrest.

Security forces and ethnic Rakhine have continued to kill, torture and otherwise harm Rohingya with impunity. Many Rohingya have died from being refused hospital treatment. Credible allegations continue that Rohingya patients, mostly women in childbirth and/or their newborns have been killed in Siitwe and Maungdaw Township Government Hospitals, where most Rohingya are referred for hospital care.

During the ongoing Rakhine Crisis, more Rohingya and other Muslims have been displaced or trapped where they live than are registered as internally displaced persons (IDP's.) On the other hand, more ethnic Rakhine have been registered as IDPs and have received relief than were attacked. In spite of this, the Myanmar government claims that international assistance has been "biased toward Bengalis."

The Myanmar government restricts humanitarian and development relief to Rohingya. The government has blocked international investigation into the Rakhine Crisis. Witnesses to the violence against Rohingya have been killed, tortured, imprisoned and banished. Doctors Without Borders (MSF-H) was expelled from Rakhine State. The Rohingya currently receive almost no medical care. Deaths in childbirth, from ordinary infections, and other preventable causes have skyrocketed.

Since the 1990's the national government has imposed birth and marriage restrictions upon Rohingya. Rohingya couples are permitted only two children, and must hide any other offspring during home inspections. The Rakhine Crisis has brought a surge in rape against Muslim women, children and men. Rohingya women have been held as sex slaves and impregnated in a Sittwe military camp.


The Rakhine Crisis is the first national government campaign of violence against Rohingya that has included large-scale local ethnic Rakhine participation. Violence by local militias has given the national government a way to deny its own responsibility.

The Myanmar government official death toll of 200 from June through October 2012 grossly understates the number of deaths. Starting June 8, 2012 in urban Maungdaw , where anti-Rohingya massacres started, every night, military truckloads of dead Rohingya bodies were dumped off a bridge at the edge of east urban Maungdaw.These bodies were dug up and moved by the time the first international diplomatic visitors flew in helicopters into Maungdaw. Such cover-ups are a classic tactic of denial. FIDH (2000) Burma repression, discrimination and ethnic cleansing in Arakan FIDH International Mission of Inquiry April 2000

2 Irish Centre for Human Rights (2010) Crimes Against Humanity in Western Burma: The Situation of Rohingyas

3 "Acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group" What is Genocide?

There's slavery in the seafood industry. Here's what we can do about it.

Source greenpeace, 22 July
  •  Related image

  • There's no easy way to say this: The seafood at your local supermarket may be connected to slavery. It's heartbreaking.

    Fishing operators in over 50 countries around the world are crewing ships through human trafficking networks – using "debt bondage, violence, intimidation and murder to keep crews in line and maintain cheap seafood on supermarket shelves," according to one of many recent reports exposing this exploitation.

    An Associated Press investigation in Indonesia earlier this year uncovered evidence of astounding abuse, including crew being whipped with poisonous stingray tails and being kept in locked cages to prevent escape. In Thailand, survivors of forced labortold the Guardian of "horrific conditions, including 20-hour shifts, regular beatings, torture and execution-style killings." And yesterday, the Guardian revealed how Rohingya migrants were being trafficked and sold into slavery on Thai fishing vessels.

    Unsurprisingly, the exploitation of people goes hand-in-hand with the exploitation of the oceans.

    Vessel operators who have little regard for labour laws often also have little regard for the environment or fisheries management regulations. Just days ago, the New York Times exposed one such vessel for both labour abuse and environmental crimes, and others for murder.

    Companies are increasingly motivated to employ cheap or forced labour and to fish illegally as fish populations dwindle from overfishing and demand for cheap seafood grows.

    From shrimp, to tuna, to pet food: the global seafood market is tainted with seafood caught unsustainably and by workers who have been denied their most basic human right

  • s.Related image

  • Image provided by International Labor Rights Forum

  • How can we ensure the seafood industry is fair to workers and the oceans?

    Labour abuse – like overfishing – is an industry-wide problem. In order to address it, we need real commitment from every party involved: governments, suppliers, vessel operators, seafood companies, and retailers.

    Ultimately, supermarkets that sell seafood must take their share of responsibility. If retailers are not careful about their seafood suppliers and policies, they may make themselves and their customers unwitting accomplices in forced labour or human rights abuses.

    But the vast majority of supermarket chains have historically ignored labour abuse concerns, instead of investigating where their seafood comes from.

    That's why last week, Greenpeace USA released the 2015 edition of the Carting Away the Oceans report, shining a light on which major grocery chains in the US are leaders in sustainable seafood and addressing human rights abuses in the industry, and which are falling behind.

    The findings are telling. While US retailers like Whole Foods are doing a better job of offering ocean safe seafood options, major chains like Walmart are linked to destructive fishing practices, and some companies are even linked to human rights abuses. Though several retailers have taken initial steps to address human rights concerns, all 25 retailers profiled in the report have significant work to do to.

    And it's not just a US issue. Seafood linked to human rights abuses and environmental destruction is present in the global seafood market – a problem everywhere.

  • Related image
  • Image provided by International Labor Rights Forum

  • What You Can Do

    Human rights violations and environmental exploitation are difficult to track down and stop at sea. Luckily, we can make a huge impact from far away by ensuring no one is profiting off this abuse. Here are five things you can do that make a mark on illegal and exploitative fishing.

    1. Demand that your seafood is not connected to human rights abuses. Companies care about what their customers think, so let your local store know you need them to do better when it comes to sustainable, socially responsible seafood. Wield your consumer power!
    2. Act together. Invite your community to take action with you. Inform your friends and encourage them to tell their grocers that they want only sustainable, socially responsible seafood in a store they patronise.
    3. Know the facts. If you shop in the US, you can visit to learn the truth about your favourite US supermarkets and what these companies must to do improve. If you eat canned tuna in the US, you can find out which brands are ocean safe in this guide.
    4. Vote with your wallet. Reward grocers that are taking it upon themselves to make sustainable choices. Only purchase sustainable seafood and let the team behind the counter know you appreciate it.
    5. Eat less fish. Today's demand for seafood far outstrips what can be delivered from sustainable sources. Reducing seafood consumption now can help lessen the pressure on our oceans, ensuring fish for the future.

    In the year 2015, nearly 21 million people are trapped in forced labour worldwide. And the seafood industry is implicated as a top offender. We can't let this continue.

    Supermarkets need to take responsibility and hold the companies providing their seafood accountable. And all of us can help make that happen.

    David Pinsky is a Senior Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace USA.

Tuesday 21 July 2015

Muslim activists arrested in Mandalay

Source mmtimes, 21 July

Two Muslim interfaith activists have been arrested in Mandalay under what their colleagues fear are politically motivated charges.

Ko Zaw Zaw Latt (second from left) poses with the KIA in 2013. Photo: SuppliedKo Zaw Zaw Latt (second from left) poses with the KIA in 2013. Photo: Supplied

Ko Zaw Zaw Latt, a member of the Mandalay Interfaith Social Volunteer Youth Group, was in a cafe in Chan Aye Thar San township on July 14 when he was taken into police custody without an arrest warrant, according to the Burma Muslim Association.

The Mandalay Region Police Force Office attributed the arrest to two-year-old pictures Ko Zaw Zaw Latt had posted on Facebook of himself holding a rifle and meeting with members of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Laiza. The day after he was arrested he was charged with unlawful association with a blacklisted organisation under Article 17 of the Unlawful Association Act.

Ko Zaw Zaw Latt was a member of the opposition National League for Democracy and an interfaith organisation called Thint Myat Lo Thu Myar (Peace Seekers), which was founded by a monk following the outbreak of anti-Muslim violence in Meiktila in 2013, according to the Burma Muslim Association.

"The arrest is related to Zaw Zaw Latt's involvement in a peaceful march to Kachin State in 2013. During the visit to Kachin State he took pictures with the member of Kachin armed group and posted on his Facebook account," the association said on July 17. "He is only now having action taken against him because recently members of Ma Ba Tha have been targeting him and spreading rumours that he has connections with armed groups. This shows that authorities in Burma react swiftly whenever the extremist groups demand and pressure them."

Another member of the same Mandalay-based interfaith youth group, Ma Pwint Phyu Latt, was brought into the police station for questioning on July 17. She was held overnight and released the following day. But on July 19 police paid her another visit and arrested her, according to her mother Daw Yi Yi Mya. "She was charged under Article 13 of the Immigration Act. Police said she was seen in a photo of seven people including Zaw Zaw Latt taken in India as a part of their Chin State trip," Daw Yi Yi Mya said.

Mandalay's Criminal Investigations Department said it had "dealt" with these cases already, but would not elaborate further.

"We can't say anything at the present, but there's a list for further arrests. Already some [on the list] have fled," said Police Lieutenant Colonel Sein Tun, chief of the Mandalay District Police Force.

Additional reporting by Laignee Barron

Tuesday 14 July 2015

102 abandoned migrants rescued in Tenasserim

Sourece dvb, 14 July

102 men were found on the island of Saunggauk. (PHOTO: Myawady News).
102 men were found on the island of Saunggauk. (PHOTO: Myawady News).

The Burmese navy has recovered 102 men, thought to be asylum seekers from Bangladesh, who were abandoned on the island of Saunggauk, state media reported on Tuesday.

Naval personnel detained the men after searching Saunggauk, an island located near Kawthaung Township in the southernmost region of Tenasserim Division, from 30 June to 12 July.

According to state media, the detainees are of "Bengali" origin, a word commonly used to describe the Muslim Rohingya minority, implying that they belong to neighbouring Bangladesh. The Myawaddy News reported that the men were lured onto a people-smuggling boat bound for Malaysia by the promise of jobs abroad, and were subsequently abandoned on the island.

The navy has declared it will continue to search all islands in the area, and that they will be handing the detained men over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for repatriation.

This case is the latest event following the migrant crisis earlier in the year, which saw thousands of people stranded in the Bay of Bengal.

On 29 May, the Burmese navy found 727 migrants aboard a shipping trawler floating in the Gulf of Martaban, the largest boatload of people to be picked up by Burma. Some 150 were later repatriated to Bangladesh.

101 Birmingham Councillors urge Foreign Secretary & UN to intervene on Genocide of Rohingya People in Burma

Source Waseemzaffer

On Sunday, 21st June 2015, nearly 1,000 Brummies of all faith and no faith, attended a peaceful demonstration organised by the Rohingya Solidarity Movement in Chamberlain Square to show solidarity towards the Rohingya community who are suffering at the hands of the Burma authorities.

At this event, a number of elected Birmingham Councillors committed to making representation to the Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon Phil Hammond MP to seek intervention from the United Nations Security Council in Burma.

Today, a letter signed by 101 Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat Councillors from Birmingham has been sent to the Foreign Secretary:

Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
King Charles Street

Dear Mr Philip Hammond,

Re: Genocide of Rohingya People in Burma

We, the undersigned, elected representatives of Birmingham City Council, request our Government to convene a special session of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to lobby members of the UNSC and sponsor a draft resolution demanding the following:

  • Government of Burma must change the law to allow citizenship to Rohingya people.
  • Allow unrestricted access to United Nations (UN) investigators to report on the scale of violence and killing carried out against Rohingya people.
  • Government of Burma must allow UN peace-keeping force as applied in other parts of the world where conflicts and genocide have taken place.
  • To arrest and try those responsible for instigating violence against Rohingya people.
  • Allow Non-Government Organisations and charities to enter Burma and to operate without harassment and intimidation from local extremists and the Burmese military.
  • Ensure children of Rohingya people are entitled to receive education.
  • UNSC to set a deadline on the demands laid out by the tabled resolution or Burma face the possibility of sanctions.
  • UNSC to call on neighbouring countries to do more to help Rohingya people fleeing persecution. All countries must ensure Rohingyas at refugee camps are protected from traffickers and criminals gangs from harming women and children.

For any further information, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thanking you in anticipation.

Yours truly,

Sir Albert BoreLadywoodLab Group Leader
Robert AldenErdingtonCon Group Leader
Paul Tilsley CBESheldonLibDem Leader
Muhammad AfzalAstonLab
Uzma AhmedBordesley GreenLab
Mohammed AikhlaqBordesley GreenLab
Deirdre AldenEdgbastonCon
Nawaz AliSouth YardleyLab
Tahir AliNechellsLab
Sue AndersonSheldonLibDem
Gurdial Singh AtwalHandsworth WoodLab
Mohammed AzimSparkbrookLab
Caroline BadleyQuintonLab
Susan BarnettBillesleyLab
David BarrieSutton New HallCon
Vivienne BartonBartley GreenCon
Bob BeauchampErdingtonCon
Matt BennettEdgbastonCon
Steve BootonWeoleyLab
Barry BowlesHall GreenLab
Randal Brew OBENorthfieldCon
Mick BrownTyburnLab
Alex BuchananBillesleyLab
Sam BurdenHall GreenLab
Andy CartwrightLongbridgeLab
Tristan ChatfieldOscottLab
Zaker ChoudhrySouth YardleyLibDem
Debbie ClancyNorthfieldCon
John ClancyQuintonLab
Lynda ClintonTyburnLab
John CottonShard EndLab
Ian CruiseLongbridgeLab
Basharat DadStechford & Yardley NorthLab
Barbara DringOscottLab
Jerry EvansSpringfieldLibDem
Mohammed FazalSpringfieldLab
Mick FinneganStockland GreenLab
Matthew GregsonQuintonLab
Paulette HamiltonHandsworth WoodLab
Andrew HardieSutton VeseyCon
Roger HarmerAcocks GreenLibDem
Barry HenleyBrandwoodLab
Penny HolbrookStockland GreenLab
Des HughesKingstandingLab
Jon HuntPerry BarrLibDem
Mahmood HussainLozells & East HandsworthLab
Mohammed IdreesWashwood HeathLab
Zafar IqbalSouth YardleyLab
Ziaul Islam MBEAstonLab
Kerry JenkinsHall GreenLab
Brigid JonesSelly OakLab
Josh JonesStockland GreenLab
Nagina KauserAstonLab
Tony KennedySparkbrookLab
Ansar Ali KhanWashwood HeathLab
Changese KhanSelly OakLab
Mariam KhanWashwood HeathLab
Narinder Kaur KoonerHandsworth WoodLab
Chaman LalSohoLab
Mike LeddyBrandwoodLab
Bruce LinesBartley GreenCon
Keith LinnecorOscottLab
Majid MahmoodHodge HillLab
Ewan MackeySutton TrinityCon
Karen McCarthySelly OakLab
James McKayHarborneLab
Gareth MooreErdingtonCon
Yvonne MosquitoNechellsLab
Brett O'ReillyNorthfieldLab
John O'SheaAcocks GreenLab
Eva PhillipsBrandwoodLab
Jess PhillipsLongbridgeLab
Robert PocockSutton VeseyLab
Victoria QuinnSparkbrookLab
Hendrina QuinnenLozells & East HandsworthLab
Chauhdry RashidNechellsLab
Habib RehmanSpringfieldLab
Carl RiceLadywoodLab
Fergus RobinsonEdgbastonCon
Gary SambrookKingstandingCon
Valerie SeabrightKings NortonLab
Rob SealeyBournvilleCon
Shafique ShahBordesley GreenLab
Mike SharpeTyburnLab
Sybil SpenceSohoLab
Claire SpencerMoseley & Kings HeathLab
Stewart StaceyAcocks GreenLab
Ron StorerKingstandingCon
Martin Straker WeldsMoseley & Kings HeathLab
Sharon ThompsonSohoLab
Karen TrenchPerry BarrLibDem
Lisa TrickettMoseley & Kings HeathLab
Anne UnderwoodSutton Four OaksCon
Anita WardHodge HillLab
Ian WardShard EndLab
Mike WardSheldonLibDem
Fiona WilliamsHodge HillLab
Ken WoodSutton New HallCon
Alex YipSutton New HallCon
Waseem ZaffarLozells & East HandsworthLab
July 07, 2015 - waseemzaffar

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