Monday 22 May 2017

Jade and the Generals | Global Witness - Video

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11 trafficked Rohingya Muslims arrested in Yangon

Source aa, 18 May

Myanmar authorities have arrested 11 Rohingya Muslims who were smuggled from the troubled western Rakhine state to the country's biggest city Yangon, an official said Thursday.

Win Naing, an officer at the Yangon Police Force, told Anadolu Agency that they were arrested by a police patrol at the Aung Mingalar Highway bus station in Yangon's North Okalapa Township.

"These Bengalis are waiting for traffickers who will smuggle them first to the Myanmar-Thai border, then to Malaysia over land," he said by phone on Thursday, referring to the stateless minority group with a term that suggests that they are interlopers from neighboring Bangladesh.

Tens of thousands of Rohingya -- described by the United Nations as among the most persecuted minority groups worldwide -- have fled their homes in Rakhine since October, when Myanmar's military launched a crackdown that has attracted severe international criticism of its brutality.

Security forces have been accused of gang-rape, killings, beatings, disappearances and burning villages in the Maungdaw area of northern Rakhine since October.

Win Naing added that the men were smuggled by traffickers who were ethnic Rakhines from the Rakhine state to Yangon over land, and that they are searching for the traffickers in cooperation with the Rakhine Police Force.

The 11 middle-age Rohingya men will be charged for "illegal intrusion" under the Residents of Burma Registration Act (1949) and Myanmar's Penal Code, he said.

Last October, after being arrested in Yangon, 18 trafficked Rohingya men were sentenced to two years in prison on the same charges, while four underage Rohingya were ordered to spend two years at a training school for boys.

Rohingya have been fleeing Myanmar in droves since mid-2012 after communal violence broke out in Rakhine between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya.

The violence left around 57 Muslims and 31 Buddhists dead, some 100,000 people displaced in camps, and more than 2,500 houses razed -- most of which belonged to Rohingya.

For years, members of the minority have been using Thailand as a transit point to enter Muslim Malaysia and beyond.

A law passed in Myanmar in 1982 denied Rohingya -- many of whom have lived in Myanmar for generations -- citizenship, making them stateless, removing their freedom of movement, access to education and services, and allowing for arbitrary confiscation of their property.​

Aung San Suu Kyi: Nobel Peace Prize Winner-Turned Genocide Apologist

Source Carbonated, 
She is celebrated worldwide for her years of suffering at the hands of despots. So why is Aung San Suu Kyi allowing a genocide now that she is in charge?
Burma's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and a celebrated human rights icon, but she is also an apologist for genocide ethnic cleansing and mass rape of Rohingya Muslims.

Suu Kyi is the de facto head of government, in Myanmar, where members of the Rohingya Muslim minority in the northern Rakhine state have been shot, stabbed, starved, robbed, raped and driven from their homes in the hundreds of thousands.

Some 1 million of these people live in apartheid-like conditions where they are denied access to employment, education and health care. They are thus forced to leave their homes and move to neighboring countries just to survive.

Suu Kyi, however, has adopted a cowardly stance on the issue where she is not only remaining silent but also is complicit in the atrocities taking place. She has clearly chosen the side of Buddhist nationalism and crude Islamophobia.

She has also clearly proved she's an islamophobe when in a 2013 interview with BBC's Mishal Husain, Aung San Suu Kyi complained, "No one told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim.

The Intercept has rightly described Suu Kyi in a piece that reads: "'Saints should always be judged guilty,' wrote George Orwell, in his famous 1949 essay on Mahatma Gandhi, 'until they are proved innocent.' There is no evidence of innocence when it comes to Aung San Suu Kyi and her treatment of the Rohingya — only complicity and collusion in unspeakable crimes. This supposed saint is now an open sinner. The former political prisoner and democracy activist has turned into a genocide-denying, rape-excusing, Muslim-bashing Buddhist nationalist. Forget the house arrest and the Nobel Prize. This is how history will remember The Lady of Myanmar."

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Myanmar Military uses Buddhist monks against Muslims in Myanmar: A Strategic Symbiosis

Source Maungzarni, 10 May

​In Burma, everyone who is remotely informed about the ways the military works ​knows th
​at the Burmese military is the ​Hidden Hand behind 
​anti-Muslim hate campaign across the country 

In Germany of 1920's and 1930's, the Nazi party was the main mobilizer, scapegoating the German Jews for the economic hardships and social ills in society. 

In Burma today, the army uses the Sangha or Buddhist Order - conservative, typically racist, ill-educated in terms of intellectual outlooks and growth of its members, and rural (parochial) - as its proxy mobilizer. 

The military - at the senior most level of leadership - has patronized a tiny gang of influential monks to do the army's bidding - racist divide and rule within the society that is generally anti-military.

Here two monks, namely Sitagu and Wirathu, are seen travelling with their security details. 
Sitagu, the more senior of the two, is based in Rangoon​. 

Wirathu became the "face of Buddhist Terror" when TIME ran a cover story with that title 

Beyond patronizing individuals monks, the military also bent the country's laws governing Buddhist organizations. The previous military government of the late general Ne Win (1962-88) singled out the Burmese monks - the Buddhist Order - as one of the two biggest threats to the military: student activists and monks -traditional allies. After a series of periodic unrests which were led by monks and students the Ne Win administration enacted a law, registering all Buddhist monks with the Department of Religious Affairs under Home Affairs Ministry and allowing only one central national monks' association. After the 2010 electioons which were "won" by the military's political proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party, the ruling party under ex-general and then President Thein Sein allowed the openly racist, anti-Muslim wing of the Buddhist Order to form "Race and Faith Defence League" where both Sitagu and Wirathu are most famous leaders. 

This is a strategic symbiosis which has served the Burmese military's objectives of social control extremely well. It has enabled the military to keep the NLD - with absolutely no capacity for intelligence gathering or control of security forces - on its toes in terms of the socially destablizing impact of such racist mobilization by monks - with state impunity. 

Here Ma Ba Tha leader - TIME's Coverstory Wirathu - seen with Myanmar Commander in Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (in off-white traditional Burmese jacket) in Mandalay, 2016. The hate preacher travels with the military's protection.

The first several pictures are Wirathu, very recent travels in Rakhine state including Rohingya towns. 

The last picture is the most influential monk Sitagu with Karen Border Guard Force (ultimately the under Myanmar army's command) in Karen State where the army intelligence attempted to incite anti-Muslim violence, in collaboration with the border guard force and Karen monks). (Taken in March 2017)

Police fire warning shots as extremists speed up their anti-Muslim operations in capital city
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Source Newsweek, 16 May

Dozens of Rohingya refugees in Malaysian jails have died over the last two years, the Guardian reportedTuesday. Refugees, most of whom were from Myanmar, claim to have been imprisoned in horrific conditions in fetid cells.

The newspaper reported that inmates were deprived of water to the extent that those imprisoned had to drink toilet-water and it was like "torture."

A dozen refugees were recently released, and they were interviewed by the Guardian, some anonymously.

"They gave us only one small cup of water with our meals, otherwise we had to drink toilet water. Only when someone was about to die would the guards come. Otherwise, if we complained, or if we asked to go to the hospital, they beat us," claimed Mouyura Begum, 18, who had been detained at a camp called Belantik for more than one year.

The report said that out of the 24 refugees who had died in captivity in Malaysia, all except two were from Myanmar. Some 90 percent of refugees in Malaysia are from Myanmar, and most died from preventable diseases, like leptospirosis, caused by the contamination of rat poison.

A spokesperson for UNHCR, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, told Newsweek: " UNHCR's global position is that asylum seekers and refugees should not be subject to immigration detention, and if they are, this should be subject to periodic review and conditions should be in compliance with international standards."

"UNHCR encourages states to explore alternatives to detention for persons who have been determined to be in need of international protection."

Malaysia has offered assistance to the Rohingya before, and has criticized other Southeast Asian nations for not doing enough to help the displaced people. In February 2016, Malaysia sent an aid ship to Bangladesh, where 75,000 Rohingya refugees were living in Cox's Bazaar, but it met with resistance from Myanmar officials.

On March 1, Kuala Lumpur started a pilot scheme that would allow the Rohingya to work legally in Malaysia. Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said in February that the offer was open only to Rohingyas who are UNHCR cardholders and have had health checks.

The Rohingya would be given jobs in the plantation and manufacturing industries.

Successful applicants would be placed with selected companies in the plantation and manufacturing industries. "They will be able to gain skills and income to make a living before being relocated to a third country," said Zahid Hamidi.

He added that by issuing work permits, it would "prevent exploitation of Rohingya as forced labour and illegal workers in the country."

While 24 dead is the official number, there may be reports of further deaths. Malaysian law allows foreigners suspected of entering the country illegally to be detained for "such period as may be necessary," the Guardian reported.

The Rohingya, a Muslim minority in Myanmar, are described as "the world's most persecuted people."

Wednesday 3 May 2017

Film Academy Awards, Myanmar Idol, and the Peace Process in Myanmar

Source teacircleOxford, 26 April
by Sai Latt challenges conventional wisdom on Myanmar's political divides.

This article makes two interrelated arguments. First, most politicians, activists and opinion makers in Myanmar see the political divide between the ruler and the ruled — or between authoritarian ruler and democratic forces — as the main problem sustaining violence, conflict, and oppression. However, a second set of divides— inter-ethnic and intra-Buddhist divides— have significantly widened recently, and racism, sexism, and intolerance have become widespread. Second, the planned "political" dialogue pursued as part of the peace process has yet to attend to these "societal" divides, and rising racism and sexism. This lack of attention is ironic in that the very purpose of the peace process is to address a 70-year-old conflict that is rooted in identity-based oppression.

These arguments will be demonstrated by looking at four specific cases: The Myanmar Film Academy Awards, Myanmar Idol Season 2, the "Aung San Bridge" in Mon state, and the case of Myanmar Now's chief correspondent Swe Win vis-à-vis U Wirathu. These four cases are selected because they are the most recent, but we could easily apply this lens to others.

Myanmar Film Academy Awards

The Myanmar Motion Picture Organization held its annual Academy Awards ceremony in Yangon on March 18, 2017. The film named "Oak Kyar Myat Pauk" won three awards for the Best Film, Best Actor, and Best Film Director categories. Oak Kyar Myat Pauk literally means the grass grown among bricks, therefore "rootless." The film is about four youth, three men and one woman. Their childhood troubles caused by financial issues, abandonment, and family separation turned them into troubled kids. The three men met each other in jail, and they met the woman, Pauk Pauk (played by Thet Mon Myint), at Paradise hotel, which serves adult entertainment to foreign clients. Pauk Pauk works at the hotel, where she is also an undercover agent against a human trafficking gang.

The film, which at first seems to be highlighting how family troubles negatively affect children, suddenly turns to explicitly-depicted xenophobia. It portrays foreigners (Chinese and Thai) as exploiting Burmese women with the collaboration of Myanmar nationals. The main story is articulated around protecting Burmese women against foreign sexual exploitation.

There are two scenes that indirectly support the main storyline. Both scenes stoke racism by using elements that Burmese spectators can more easily internalize, as they correspond with the racist nationalist attitude. One scene is when one of the troubled young men Tha Gyar (played by Tun Tun) comes home from jail and cannot find his mom. A Muslim family has bought his home and is now living there. The explicit message is that supposed foreigners have taken advantage of his misery and made him homeless. That scene reinforces the "house owner and guest" narrative that portrays Rohingyas (and Muslims in general) as not behaving themselves as guests, but instead insulting the owners. Tun Tun won the best male actor award for his role in the film.

Another scene shows the leading protagonist, Shwe Oak (played by Nay Toe), speaking angrily to the Paradise's manager (played by Soe Myat Thuzar) about foreigners exploiting Burmese that:

…if the birds live in their own nests and eat their food, there is no reason to have any problems. But if they invade another's [nest], even small birds must protect themselves as much as they can. If you don't want any racial issues, like you said, why don't they stay in their own nests? If they invade other's [nests], [we] will break their wings and throw them in the sea. Then, politics. I don't know it either, but I know "maggots in the meat" [quisling] who betray [her/his] home and family and collaborate with thieves…. We are not maggots that open the fence for the thieves. Now I hit the thieves you brought in. I don't care even if that causes the national problem [implying national political problems involving other countries]. That's the politics I know.

Whoever Shwe Oak's nationalist anger is directly or indirectly targeting, the film exacerbates intolerance, group-ism, nationalism and racism but not multiculturalism, diversity, tolerance and a progressive understanding of social justice. The film therefore is counter-productive in bridging societal divides and addressing identity-based conflict.

The fact that the film won three Academy Awards highlights that the issue of intolerance and racism is not just a personal issue for some individuals in the industry, but the industry itself, which officially endorses such theatrical messaging of hate.

Apart from long-term ideological intoxication, the film caused a social media war twice: once in early 2016 when the film was shown in theaters and another in March 2017 when it won the Academy Awards. Many supporters uploaded the entire film on Facebook and Youtube, sharing the specific scene of Shwe Oak's anger discussed above— both the video file and the text— urging people to watch and read. There were comments using such words as "thief," "home stealer," "woman stealer," "maggots," and so on. On the other hands, progressive social media users expressed their disappointment, and responding with disapproving comments about both the awards and the nationalist attitudes they represented. There was almost no decent or constructive debate about the issue, but rather just comments thrown back and forth.

Myanmar Idol

The next social media war of intolerance is about the Myanmar Idol singing contest. The finale of its second season took place in March 2017, a few days after the Academy Awards. The two top contestants were Thar Nge and Billy La Min Aye, one male and female respectively. Billy was known to many as a PaO-Karen-Christian girl from Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State. Billy received an enormous amount of hate and criticism from angry viewers who swore at her on Facebook using harsh and sexist language. They said she was uptight and selfish, not friendly and considerate enough to her colleagues who were voted out, and also that she was using her beauty to mobilize votes.

On the other hand, Thar Nge, known to be an ethnic Rakhine, received some ethnic identity-related comments, but not as many. One of Billy's fans wrote that Billy, as a girl from the hills, has not sold natural gas nor seaport to the Chinese – making reference to the Kyaut Phyu seaport project and the natural gas pipeline from Rakhine state going to China. Thar Nge, regardless of his ethnicity, has nothing to do with the seaport or the natural gas; he lives in Pyi Oo Lwin near Mandalay and sells Burmese pea fritters as a low-income earner! Thar Nge won the Myanmar Idol award.

Apart from the social media war of insults and indecency that went on for a few months, observing the show, particularly the last two minutes before announcing the winner, makes one wonder seriously what the entire hall chanting Thar Nge's name in opposition to Billy, the nervous young lady standing on the stage, tells us about the public psyche regarding who they 'like' and 'don't like', and the strong and the vulnerable. Should the audience not show decency and maturity by making themselves appear to be comforting both candidates? Or is the same psyche operates in politics–commitment to the ruthless crushing of opponents in operation here? What if the majority is inattentive to the vulnerable?

There are lessons to learn from the Myanmar Idol. The imported brand of singing contest not only turns out to be a "nationwide affair", but also indicates how the society is vulnerable to division and intolerance. It also shows how easily people resort to intolerance, prejudice, and hate.

The "Aung San Bridge"

At the time people were waging wars of words on two forms of entertainment, another one was being waged in the context of naming a new Union government-funded bridge in Mon state. The NLD government decided to name the bridge after the late General Aung San, as opposed to originally designated name, "Thanlwin Chaung Sone Bridge". The Mon people feel outraged by the government decision. They want the bridge to be something that signifies Mon-ness, and gives a taste of Mon state. But the government unilaterally went ahead, while failing to consider ethnic grievances, making people see the bridge naming as part of the ongoing Burmanization of ethnic peoples. The issue has divided those who support the name "Aung San Bridge" and those, mostly ethnic Mon and non-Bamar ethnic minorities across the country, who are against the government decision. There have been various public protests as well as anger on social media.

According to some civil society leaders in Mon state, the divide between Mons and ethnic Bamars has widened, and those who used to collaborate on various issues do not work together anymore. The language used to oppose the "Aung San Bridge", articulated through identity politics and minority rights, has made ethnic Bamar see the Mon as increasingly nationalistic and anti-Bamar, while ethnic people see the pro-Aung San Bridge crowd as chauvinists opposed to minority rights.

During the bridge campaign came the 2017 by-election campaigns. Locally specific identity-based movement of the bridge campaign entangled with rising nationalism across the country. It is the narrative of "the house owner and the guest", originally articulated in the context of the anti-Rohingya campaign, traveling to Mon State. A Facebook campaign ad said, "Only the house owner can fix the house. Let's vote for ethnic parties to protect ethnic rights".

The "house owner and guest" discourse travels not only to Mon state, but also to different parts of the country. For instance, some activists in Shan State speak of "house owners who became tenants" to refer to the way the Shan State government convened the Shan State region-based dialogue in Taunggyi between April 23 and 25. The State government convened the region-based dialogue with the approval of Dr. Tin Myo Win, chairperson of the Union-level Peace Commission. The government did not consult with political parties, ethnic armed groups, and Civil Societies based in Shan State. Instead, it planned the region-based dialogue unilaterally, just four days prior to the dialogue on April 23. Many members of the Shan State dialogue supervisory committee were unaware of the planned dialogue until April 21st. The government also organized prior township-level dialogues and district-level dialogues in one to two days. In some places, participants were invited by phone or Viber. In some places, they were invited just two hours ahead of the dialogues — which were not really 'dialogues' or 'debates' anyway.

For the Shan State-wide region-based dialogue in Taunggyi, political parties were required to submit the names of representatives in less than a day, and position papers on politics, economics and land/environmental issues in less than two days. Stakeholders in Shan State felt that they were not given time for preparation, but instead were forced to follow the rules of the game set by the government.

It is even worse for ethnic Shans as they have not been able to convene Shan ethnic-based dialogue due to the government not allowing the dialogue to take place in Taunggyi (or Panglong). Shan communities feel the government's convening the region-based dialogue in Taunggyi is inattentive to their grievances. Equally disappointing for the Shan State Civil Society Forum Committee— a collection of representatives from various civil society organizations— is that they were not invited to the dialogue. The invited civil society representatives were not allowed to submit papers nor participate in discussion.

In short, the questions over representation, decision-making, implementation, and the potential consequence of the dialogue are not only puzzling for many in Shan State but create a sense of loss over the process. The activists speak of the fact that the Shan State region-based dialogue was supposed to be their own affair, but local stakeholders were invited as 'guests' and forced to accept the rules of the game set by the government, which is seen as the Bamar government — an outsider. In short, people felt that outsiders are dictating the house affairs, and the house owners have instead become powerless tenants.

Intra-Buddhist Divides

The major religious divide in Myanmar has traditionally been between the majority Buddhist and minority Muslim communities. Religious cracks within Buddhist communities were rare[1] until the 2015 general election campaign, when the political cracks between supporters of the NLD and the junta/USDP (Union Solidarity and Development Party) were partly articulated around religion. Buddhist nationalists, banding together as Ma Ba Tha, supported the USDP in the name of protecting race/religion, while the NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi supporters, still nationalists, rejected Ma Ba Tha's religiously-loaded political campaign. By that time, many people came to realize that Ma Ba Tha was using Buddhism to mobilize supporters for the USDP against the NLD.

The crack was amplified in February this year when Myanmar Now's chief correspondent Swe Win raised a question regarding Ma Ba Tha's possible link to NLD lawyer U Ko Ni's assassination. Also, when the leading Ma Ba Tha monk U Wirathu publicly thanked the assassins of U Ko Ni, Swe Win criticized him, which led U Wirathu's followers in Mandalay and Yangon to sue him on charges of defaming Buddhism and U Wirathu. U Wirathu's supporters warned him to apologize, but Swe Win criticized U Wirathu in a press conference instead. Swe Win requested the Ministry of Religion and Culture to comment on whether what he said about U Wirathu amounted to defamation. The ministry issued a statement on the 5th of April saying that it did not. The USDP and 8 other political parties accused the Ministry of interfering in the judiciary, and that such interference can result in unnecessary consequences. Ma Ba Tha also issued a similar statement, indicating that the ministry is responsible for any unnecessary consequences.

Earlier, on February 9, U Wirathu delivered a sermon in former President Thein Sein's home village Kyon Ku, in the Irrawaddy Division, that Buddhist women should marry dogs (or alcoholics or drug addicts) instead of 'Kalar'. He said dogs are as capable as 'Kalar', and that he would send monks to fulfil the women's desires. The sermon took place in defiance of the regional government's ban on him preaching in the region.

This outraged Buddhist communities, including women, some of who have spoken out against his preaching. U Min Hlaing filed a case against U Wirathu at Dawpong court in Yangon Region (which the court rejected on the basis that the sermon took place elsewhere).

On March 10, the Sangha Maha Nayaka (Ma Ha Na), the official supreme clerical body to oversee the Buddhist religious life, banned U Wirathu from preaching for a year. Though the Ma Ha Na warned that legal action would be taken if he failed to comply, he has continued to disobey the ruling.

His latest preaching has triggered public responses, including signature campaigns to urge the government to prosecute Wirathu, as well as social media campaigns. It should be noted that it is not only U Wirathu who is under scrutiny, but also other hate-preaching monks.

Meanwhile, nationalist monks are collecting signatures urging the prosecution of Swe Win.

In short, intra-Buddhist divides have been seen recently, which was rarely the case before. For the time being, and generally speaking, the intra-Buddhist divides look like the Ministry of Religion and Culture, Ma Ha Na, relatively more progressive portions of the NLD, the media and activist communities, and anti-Ma Ba Tha civilians on the one hand, and Ma Ba Tha, the USPD and its nationalist political party alliance on the other.

Is the Peace Process Lagging Behind Societal Divides?

The four cases discussed above raise an important question: to what extent does the peace process, particularly the planned 21st century Panglong Conference and National Dialogues, respond to emerging societal situations? It is uncertain how accessible the peace process is to the public, let alone whether people have a deep understanding of, interest in, or confidence in the process, itself. But the film Oak Kyar Myat Pauk is as popular among the people, as is Myanmar Idol. Racism, hate and intolerance in theatrical dialogue have been officially endorsed by the Myanmar Film industry. Many more films insensitive to conflict and diversity can be expected. Myanmar Idol shows that society is vulnerable to division. It also shows a public psyche obsessed with crushing the opposition, and that respect, decency and comforting the weak do not seem to be part of the public culture.

The "Aung San Bridge" and the Ma Ha Na/Ma Ba Tha cases show that inter-ethnic and intra-communal divides, involving the government and politicized communities, accelerate quickly. All these cases collectively demonstrate that racism, sexism, intolerance and societal division are fundamental and common to all issues in Myanmar today. Addressing these issues requires serious inter-communal and intra-communal dialogues with deep political, ideological and intellectual commitments to anti-racism, multiculturalism and social justice.

It is questionable whether the planned political dialogues can address these issues at all. The process has been complicated. It is doubtful whether every key person involved in the process even understands the framework for political dialogues and emerging Terms of Reference (ToR). Progress has been slow. The first political dialogue was expected in 2013. Four years have passed, but substantive negotiations on the thematic issues agreed upon by the government and ethnic armed groups have not taken place. The relevance of the substance of political dialogues is questionable as well. While the agreed topics such as politics (federalism), security reform, economics, social, and land/environment may be important, the issues of racism, sexism, and intolerance are key to all of them. Yet, it appears that the political dialogues, designed to talk about traditional 'political' topics are detached from everyday human relations and experiences in the social world. Areas such as entertainment, racism, and religion shape society yet often do not make it to the venue of traditional or high-level political talks.

In other words, political dialogue for national reconciliation, designed on the track of 'doing politics', does not seem to reflect the societal divides. It is neither sufficient nor substantive enough to address such divides. Moreover, it is not fast enough to catch up with the societal cracks, which ironically could further slow down the political talks.

Perhaps, the slow pace of the political dialogue can be an opportunity for the leaders of the peace process to be 'sociologically' savvy and reflect on the 'social world'. As racism, intolerance, inter- and intra-ethnic/religious divides can be the litters for the political dialogue for peace and reconciliation, it is important for peace leaders to commit to anti-racism, multiculturalism, inter- and intra-communal harmony, and social justice. Conflict sensitivity measures must be sensitive to racism, sexism, intolerance and social justice. Otherwise, political justice will continue to be eclipsed by the forces of social injustice.

Dr Sai Latt received PhD from Simon Fraser University in Canada. He researches violence, securitization, displacement, development and regionalization.

Source for film ad:
Source for Myanmar idol:

[1] A rare doctrinal divide perhaps has been the case of Moe Pyar or (Pyint Saut Pan Kamma) sect led by U Nyanna that the state has criminalized.

Monday 1 May 2017

15-day-old baby and four-month-old child among the 30 Rohingya refugees rescued from Indian boat by Sri Lanka

Source Dailymail, 30 April

  • The Rohingya people are a Muslim Indo-Aryan community from the Rakhine State of Myanmar (Burma)
  • The Rohingya are often described as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world
  • Hundreds died in communal violence between Buddhists and Rohingya in 2012, further worsening their plight
  • READ: Rohingya community crackdown begins in India 
  • Indian security agencies believe these youths may be more prone to radicalisation than Indian Muslims
  • See more news from India at  

Sri Lanka's coastguard have detained an Indian boat which illegally entered the island's territorial waters and rescued 30 Rohingya refugees including 16 children who were on board, an official said.

The dhow operated by two Indians had entered Sri Lanka's northern waters after crossing the sea border, said navy spokesman Chaminda Walakuluge.

'The coastguard noticed that there were very small children on board and escorted the boat to a port and provided them with emergency assistance,' Walakuluge told AFP.

A Rohingya girl pictured in November 2016, in a refugee camp in BangladeshA Rohingya girl pictured in November 2016, in a refugee camp in Bangladesh

He said seven men, seven women and 16 children were on board, in addition to the two-man Indian crew who had been detained pending investigations.

'There was a 15-day-old baby and a four-month-old child on board,' Walakuluge said. 'We have taken them to port and provided food and medical attention.'

He said it appeared that the passengers had left India, where they had lived for about four years as refugees. They were handed over to local authorities to decide further action.

Investigators suspect that the crew were trying to bring the Rohingya to Sri Lanka.

The Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar's western state of Rakhine are denied citizenship and face brutal discrimination in the Buddhist-majority country.

Thousands have sought refuge in other countries in the region.

Four years ago Sri Lanka's navy rescued 138 refugees from Bangladesh and Myanmar whose boat had been drifting off Sri Lanka for over 10 days.

Myanmar's stateless Rohingya

Myanmar's stateless Rohingya

The United Nations Human Rights Council last month agreed to send a fact-finding mission to Myanmar to investigate claims that police and soldiers carried out a bloody crackdown on the Rohingya in Rakhine.

More than 120,000 Rohingya have languished in grim displacement camps ever since bouts of religious violence between Muslims and Buddhists ripped through the state in 2012.

Most are not allowed to leave the squalid encampments, where they live in dilapidated shelters with little access to food, education and health care.