Monday 28 November 2016

Syed Hamid: Asean must act on plight of Rohingyas

Source Thestar, 26 Nov

KUALA LUMPUR: Asean countries have been urged to consider convening an extraordinary meeting to address the ethnic cleansing of Ro­­hingya Muslims in Rakhine state.

The Organisation of Islamic Co­­ope­­ration special envoy for Myan­mar Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar said Asean countries should ask Myan­mar and its military to stop the violence against the Rohingya.

"From the reports we have re­­ceived in the field, it is just pure and brutal ethnic cleansing undertaken by the government and military.

"According to civil society and the human rights report, there is a crime against humanity and genocide.

"We have cross checked and verified from people who escaped and from the visuals we received. We cannot help but think it is true," Syed Hamid said yesterday.

He said the Rohingya had the right to be protected under international law.

"We want humanity and de­cency to be embraced. They must allow humanitarian aid to come in In­ves­tigation must be carried out by an independent international body that will act in accordance with international laws and human rights covenants," he said.

Thursday 24 November 2016

Rakhine Rohingya crisis: 'Myanmar government legitimising genocide'

Source ibtimes, 23 Nov

Rakhine Rohingya crisis: 'Myanmar government legitimising genocide'A security personnel stands guard after catching thirty eight Rohingya Muslims illegally crossing at a border check point in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, November 21, 2016.REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

Aung Suu Kyi's government is legitimising genocide in Myanmar and it has abetted the persecution of the Rohingya minority, a London think tank has accused.

Citing results from months of fieldwork in Myanmar's Rakhine State, researchers at Queen Mary University of London said Myanmar state's policies are "genocidal". The research exposed evidence of mass killings, forced labour, torture, sexual violence, arbitrary detention, institutional discrimination, and the destruction of communities, the paper published by the International State Crime Initiative at QMUL said.

"The election of Anng Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy in 2015 has brought no respite for the Rohingya. In October this year a new reign of terror by the Myanmar state emerged and continues to escalate. We continue to see widespread killings, arbitrary detention, mass rape, collective punishment, arson, and village clearances," Penny Green, Professor of International Law at QMUL and Director of ISCI said.

On-the-ground reports reveal a consistent picture of a trapped, terrified, and desperate community, the paper says. They said reports are consistent with historical practices of state repression and violence in the region, echoing the brutal and indiscriminate crackdowns of 1977-8 and 1991-2 when hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled to Bangladesh.

State-sponsored denial of access to health care, livelihood, food, and civic life worsen the plight of the Rohinguya minorities, according to the study.

"Despite the fact that this is the most significant test of Suu Kyi's leadership, the country's de-facto leader has remained remarkably indifferent. Neither Suu Kyi nor her President Htin Kyaw have visited Rakhine state during the current crisis," Professor Green said.

"Suu Kyi says very little, other than to repeat the line that investigations will be conducted fairly and according to the rule of law. Her claim that 'we have not tried to hide anything on Rakhine' is utterly disingenuous. Her statements run counter to reports that we, and our colleagues in the human rights community, are receiving from the Rakhine state and can only be interpreted as denial – a familiar and integral strategy deployed by criminal states to deflect blame."

The Myanmar government has adopted "the military dictatorship-era tactics of blanket denial, an absolute ban on international observation, severe limitations on humanitarian access within the region, the muzzling of the press, and the 'blacklisting' and deportation of human rights activists," said Thomas MacManus, lawyer and ISCI researcher.

Malaysia debates pulling out of ASEAN soccer cup over Myanmar's Rohingya crackdown

Source DailyMail, 23 Nov

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Malaysia is considering pulling its side out of a major regional soccer tournament co-hosted by Myanmar in protest over Myanmar's crackdown on ethnic Rohingya Muslims, a senior Malaysian official said on Wednesday.

A withdrawal by Muslim-majority Malaysia from the ASEAN Football Federation's (AFF) Suzuki Cup, which began on Saturday, would run counter to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations' long-standing policy of non-interference.

"I raised this issue in Cabinet last week. Will do so again this week and stand guided by decision," Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said on Twitter on Wednesday.

That came in response to a call by a state Islamic cleric for Malaysia to pull out of the tournament, which is co-hosted with the Philippines. Cabinet is expected to meet on Friday.

Malaysia was due to play Vietnam in Yangon on Wednesday.

The conflict in northwestern Rakhine state has sent hundreds of Rohingya Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh and poses a serious challenge to Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who swept to power last year on promises of national reconciliation.

Myanmar soldiers have poured into the Maungdaw area in Rakhine state since Oct. 9, after an insurgent group of Rohingyas that the government believes has links to Islamists overseas launched attacks on several border guard posts.

Escalating violence has reportedly killed at least 86 people and displaced some 30,000. Myanmar soldiers have also been accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women from the persecuted minority.

Suu Kyi's problems have since been exacerbated by a resurgence of fighting among four armed ethnic groups in northeastern Shan state, which has sent thousands fleeing into China. (Reporting by Joseph Sipalan; Editing by Paul Tait)

Puteri Umno Calls For International Intervention Over Rohingya Issue In Myanmar

Source Bernama, 22 Nov

Mas Ermieyati Samsudin Bukan Saja Rakyat Nak Tahu 1MDB Pemimpin Pun Sama Umno chief, Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 (Bernama) -- Puteri Umno has urged the international community to act immediately to stop the alleged oppression of the Rohingya community in Myanmar's Rakhine state.

Its chief, Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin, called on the United Nations, ASEAN, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and European Union to apply pressure on Myanmar to cease the alleged mass killing of Rohingyas in Rakhine by the military since Oct 9.

"The use of force against the Rohingyas, especially women and children, cannot be accepted whatever the reason may be.

"Clearly, this oppression violates human rights. It is more embarrassing when Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi prefers to remain silent," she said in a statement today.

Mas Ermieyati said Puteri Umno regretted the move by Bangladesh to close its borders to the Rohingyas.

She asked the UN to send a peacekeeping force to Arakan in Myanmar to stop the alleged ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas and restore their fundamental rights.

She said Puteri Umno wanted the Myanmar government to keep to a 2015 pledge to give a commitment to verify the citizenship of the Rohingyas and extend the necessary assistance.

"Puteri Umno believes the Rohingyas have the right to live in peace like the other ethnic communities," she added.

Meanwhile, Umno Youth deputy chief Khairul Azwan Harun called for immediate international economic sanctions to be imposed on Myanmar, saying that inaction against that country equalled an endorsement of the violence.

"We must take action. Such a travesty on a grand scale must be considered a crime and genocide by the ASEAN and international community," he said in a statament.

He also urged the world media to stop being hypocrites when Muslims were being killed and to join hands in pushing for stern international action.

Khairul Azwan called on non-governmental organisations and political organisations to join him in handing a memorandum on the issue to the Myanmar Embassy in Kuala Lumpur at 3pm on Friday.


DU students protest against mass killing of Rohingyas

Source DhakaTribune, 21 nov

DU students protest against mass killing of Rohingyas
The student protesters gathered around the Raju Vashkorjo Dhaka Tribune/Mahmud Hossain Opu

Hundreds of students from Dhaka University (DU) demonstrated on the campus on Monday to protest the persistent oppression and mass killings of Rohingya minorities in Myanmar.

Around 300-400 DU students of gathered at Raju Memorial Monument around 11am with placards and festoons and urged the United Nation and other global human rights bodies to force the Myanmar government to stop the mass killing and violence against the Rohingya people.

The protesters also demanded Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi be stripped of her Nobel Peace Prize since she failed to stop the violence against the Rohingyas of Rakhine state.

The students also threatened to march toward Myanmar embassy in Dhaka if the state-sponsored killings continued.

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Burmese Navy Open Fire at Rohingya Boats

Source Rvision, 16 Nov

By RVision TV Correspondent

Maungdaw — The Burmese Navy opened fires at two paddle-boats (canoes) carrying some Rohingya people — fleeing the army killings at their villages in northern Maungdaw — on board in the Naff River around 9 PM last night (on November 15 night), a reliable source reported.

Burmese Navy Open Fire at Rohingya Boats

A boatful of people numbering 7 are believed to have died as their boat was hit by bullets and subsequently capsized in the river.

The Navy caught the second boat and investigated the people on board. Post that, the navy took off the paddles from the boat and set it adrift towards the sea.

As luck would have it, they encountered a fishing boat just at the mouth of the Bay of Bengal after floating in the river for hours. The fishing boat saved them, according to a statement from a surviving victim.

Many numbers of people are fleeing from the military assaults in Maungdaw to Bangladesh by boats. However, not all of them manage to reach to Bangladesh but get disappeared in the Naff River. Unfortunately, these losses of lives go unreported most of the times.

Note: we withhold the identities and the names of the villages of the surviving victims for their safety.

[Edited by M.S. Anwar]

Monday 14 November 2016

Myanmar: 28 killed in new violence in Rakhine state

Source Aljazeera, 13 Nov

Military says it killed 28 people who attacked security forces in Rakhine state as violence continues.

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Myanmar police patrol along the border fence between Myanmar and Bangladesh in Maungdaw district [File: Thein Zaw/AP]

Myanmar's military says at least 28 people have been killed during renewed clashes in western Rakhine state.

The announcement on Sunday came the same day a Human Rights Watch report said satellite images appeared to show three Muslim Rohingya villages had been "burned to the ground" in recent weeks.

In a statement published online, the military said 22 attackers armed with swords were killed near Dar Gyi Zar village after they charged at soldiers, adding another six attackers were killed during clashes elsewhere in the restive state.

Al Jazeera Exclusive: Myanmar soldiers allegedly killed Rohingya villagers

Authorities have heavily restricted access to the area, which came under deadly attack last month, making it difficult to independently verify government reports or accusations of army abuse.

Northern Rakhine, which is home to the Muslim Rohingya minority and borders Bangladesh, has been under military lockdown ever since surprise raids on border posts left nine police dead last month.

Soldiers have killed several dozen people and arrested scores in their hunt for the attackers, who the government said are radicalised Rohingya people with links to foreign armed groups.

On Saturday, the military claimed two soldiers and six attackers were killed in an ambush, after helicopter gunships were deployed.

Rohingya villages burned down

The crisis and reports of grave rights abuses being carried out in tandem with the security crackdown have piled international pressure on Myanmar's new civilian government, and raised questions about its ability to control its military.

New York-based HRW urged authorities to invite United Nations investigators to look into the destruction of a total of 430 buildings in three villages in the northern Maungdaw district between October 22 and November 10.

"New satellite images not only confirm the widespread destruction of Rohingya villages, but show that it was even greater than we first thought," Brad Adams, HRW's Asia director, said in a statement. 

According to the group, the damage took place in the villages of Pyaung Pyit, Kyet Yoe Pyin, and Wa Peik.

Rohingya people are a stateless minority whom Buddhist nationalists vilify as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh - even though many have lived in Myanmar for generations. 

The latest outbreak of violence came at a time of heightened tensions between the authorities and the ethnic Rohingya community, which has seen the government arm non-Muslim civilians in Rakhine and renewed crackdowns on the Rohingya.

Satellite images showing the three villages in Myanmar where hundreds of buildings have been burned in recent weeks [NASA/HRW]

Source: Al Jazeera And Agencies

Saturday 5 November 2016

Myanmar's State Crime against Rohingya: Beware of Dogs, and Aung San Suu Kyi's "rule of law"

Source maungzarni, 03 Nov

Beware of Dogs, and Aung San Suu Kyi's "rule of law". "The problem in Rakhine state is extremely delicate and care is needed in responding. The Myanmar government is responding to the issue of Rakhine state based on the principles of the rule of law", Aung San Suu Kyi was quoted in this 3 Nov 2016 Reuters article. 

I was with her on the Rule of Law Roundtable at the London School of Economics in June 2012. There she refused to address the issue of our country's genocidal persecution of Rohingya minority people in Western Burma. And I was preassigned by the chair of the roundtable Professor Mary Kaldor to address the unwelcome Rohingya question from the floor. So, when Aung San Suu Kyi barks "rule of law" in connection with the genocide of the Rohingya it got me worried – very worried. For she is "not a human rights defender, but a politician" through and through. She has made this abundantly clear in many an international fora and media interviews. 

But her "rule of law" in Burma is deeply criminalistic, not different from the laws of the Third Reich (Hitler's Germany). No genocide can be addressed "through the principles of the rule of law". I am not sure if Aung San Suu Kyi is intellectual dishonest or simply naïve when she said the "delicate" matter is handled through the rule of law principles. 

It is imperative that activists and human rights defenders understand the criminal nature of Aung San Suu Kyi's 'rule of law' mantra, when pushed in the context of a state that is, in both its nature and modes of operations, CRIMINAL.

What type of government or state is a criminal?

When the State breaks its own laws

When the State fails to ensure human rights or breaks international law

When the State behaves in a way that the people think is wrong and the people resist, protest or sabotage and by doing so define what types of state behaviour are criminal

RULE OF LAW FOR ACTIVISTS vs 'Rule of law' by Repressive Rulers

Two insightful quotes may be in order: one by the late Thomas Bingham, an eminent British judge who held the position of Britain's Chief Justice, and a white South African anti-apartheid activist and world renowned novelist the late Nadine Godimer.

"The hall marks of a regime which flouts the rule of law are, alas, all too familiar: the midnight knock at the door, the sudden disappearance, the show trial, the confession extracted by torture, the gulag and the concentration camp, the gas chamber, the practice of genocide or ethnic cleansing, the waging of aggressive war."

- Lord Bingham 2010.

"The greatest veneration one can show the rule of law is to keep watch on it, and to reserve the right to judge unjust laws and the subversion of the function of the law by the power of the state. That vigilance is the most important proof of respect for the rule of law."

- Nadine Gordimer.

Aung San Suu Kyi's mantra "rule of law" is extremely dangerous in the Burmese context where the State is the biggest criminal. 

Empirically, Burma is ruled by the same old repressive Tatmadaw (army) military regime, with the pretty facade of Aung San Suu Kyi, backed by outside investors and institutions including the United Nations and 'liberal' regimes such as USA and UK, or EU. 

Here are the 3 ways to understand 'rule of law':

Who uses the term "Rule of Law"?

What do they mean by "Rule of Law"?

Doctrinal. Law is understood as a set of rules that is fundamentally unchangeable and unchallengeable. It exists outside of those us and outside of those in power. Activists use existing national or human rights law to challenge those in power or tweak existing laws. (From inside the existing legal framework).

Oppressive. Law is understood as a method by which the state oppresses the masses. The only way to stop it being used against us is for activists to overthrow those in power.

Changeable The way law is produced, understood and practiced can be challenged and changed by activists from outside of the legal system as well as inside. People can make, legitimise, challenge and change laws based on their own collective morals.


"Rule of Law" is sometimes understood as making sure that existing national laws are implemented correctly according to the law and that those in power should follow the existing laws as well as others. (Doctrinal)

"Rule of Law" is a concept used by the state to legitimise its laws so people in authority can maintain their power. (Oppressive)

"Rule of Law" is a idea which can be redefined by the people. Rule of Law is used to make sure that people in authority are put in check and that law is fair and equitable – this includes the laws themselves, the legal systems and the way law is practiced. (Changeable)


Principles for the Rule of Law

a) Equality – Everyone should be equally subject to the law, including those in power, who should be tried in the same courts as anyone else. Everyone should receive equal benefit from the law including, for example, those who are not citizens should still be able to seek justice if they are victims of crime.

b) Clarity and Predictability- The law should be clear and predictable so it cannot be used for the wrong reasons, such as extorting money from people or silencing protest. People in power should not be able to use too much discretion when applying the law because discretion can be used for benefit of individual officials or government.

c) Exercise of Power – the law should not be used to oppress. The powers of those implementing laws should be kept in check to prevent them from using their powers unfairly for benefit of themselves or state organisations.

d) Access to justice and fair trial – everyone should have access to a fair and impartial trial and to good legal advice. This applies even if you are poor, or from a minority group, or if you are not a citizen, or if you are an activist.

e) Law should protect human rights and comply with international law to make sure that laws are not created for the sole benefit of state organisations. For the sake of the Rohingya victims of Myanmar genocide, Aung San Suu Kyi urgently needs to be reminded of what the late Martin Luther King Jr pointedly said, "remember that everything Hitler did was legal" (in accord with the Nazi Laws).

Author: Zarni. Credit for the background research on the rule of law goes to Ms Natalie Brinham, Economic and Social Research Council PhD scholar in Law, with the International State Crime Initiative, Queen Mary University.

ASEAN MPs Call for Probe into Rights Abuses in Myanmar

Source Tempo

ASEAN MPs Call for Probe into Rights Abuses in MyanmarA woman walks among debris after fire destroyed shelters at a camp for internally displaced Rohingya Muslims in the western Rakhine State near Sittwe, Myanmar May 3, 2016. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

TEMPO.COJakarta - ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) today urged the Myanmar government to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into reports of abuses by security forces against civilians in northern Rakhine State. The network of regional lawmakers also called on the Myanmar military to allow aid workers and independent journalists access to affected areas in order to provide humanitarian assistance and document developments.

"The reports coming out of Myanmar's Rakhine State are alarming and demand a credible investigation. At the same time, all authorities must take urgent action to prevent further violations and fulfill their responsibility to protect the rights of all civilians," said APHR Chairperson Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian Parliament.

"We remain deeply concerned, however, that as a result of the lack of government oversight of security forces, effective systems are not in place to protect civilians or support their chance of seeing justice served."

Reports of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, sexual violence, and destruction of homes and property have emerged in the weeks since a coordinated attack on three border guard posts in Rakhine State killed nine police officers on 9 October. The subsequent alleged abuses by security forces have reportedly targeted Rohingya villages in Maungdaw Township, near the border with Bangladesh. Condemning all acts of violence, APHR stressed the importance of adherence to the rule of law.

"The loss of any life is a tragedy, and Myanmar authorities should certainly investigate and bring to justice the perpetrators of the attack on police posts. But that effort cannot come at the expense of the safety and well-being of innocent civilians. Security forces in Rakhine State must uphold the rule of law by ensuring that their operations are limited in scope and do not target civilian populations," Santiago said.

At least 13,000 people, including members of both Rohingya and Rakhine communities, are estimated to have fled their homes as a result of operations by security forces in the aftermath of the 9 October attack. Severe restrictions on access to northern Rakhine State, where the majority of the country's Rohingya population lives, have made it difficult for independent groups to verify information coming out of the area.

"Myanmar government officials have denied outright that rights violations are occurring. But the lack of access makes these claims impossible to verify and severely undermines their credibility. Allowing independent monitors and journalists to access the area would therefore be in the interest of Myanmar authorities, as well as the local population," Santiago said.

The Myanmar government has reportedly extended invitations to select diplomats to visit areas in northern Rakhine State beginning today. APHR cautioned that this should not be seen as a substitute for a thorough investigation of alleged abuses, but expressed hope that the invitation might soon be followed by a widening of access for all groups, including journalists and aid workers.

Regional role

Parliamentarians urged regional partners, including ASEAN, to support the Myanmar government in its investigation of alleged abuses, where necessary, and to play a proactive role in resolving existing tensions in Rakhine State.

"Ongoing violence could force increasing numbers of Rohingya to leave Myanmar, and many could end up caught in a web of human trafficking and further abuse. ASEAN has a moral duty to act to prevent this," Charles Santiago said.

"Just a few weeks ago State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi welcomed ASEAN as a productive partner in resolving the situation in Rakhine State. ASEAN should make clear that it is ready and willing to step into that role, recognizing that what is going on in Rakhine State has the potential to directly affect other member states, as we saw with the regional boat people crisis in 2015," said Eva Kusuma Sundari, Vice Chair of APHR and a member of the Indonesian House of Representatives.

During the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) meeting in Naypyitaw on 30 September, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi discussed the situation in Rakhine State and called for regional support in resolving it, saying: "We are working to build understanding, harmony and trust between communities while standing firm against prejudice, intolerance, and extremism. In doing so, we ask for the constructive support of our regional neighbors."

Despite the State Counsellor's request, APHR noted that the recent developments highlight the problematic status of Myanmar's security forces, who remain out of the direct control of the civilian administration as a result of the military-drafted 2008 constitution.

"The constitution grants the military complete autonomy and no civilian oversight," Sundari said. "The current situation lays bare the profound problems with this arrangement and further emphasizes the need for constitutional reform and democratic accountability. The struggle for democracy and human rights in Myanmar is far from over. ASEAN must be ready to support Myanmar on the path toward genuine democracy."