Thursday, 31 August 2017

Britain asks for U.N. Security Council to discuss Myanmar violence

Source Reuters, 29 Aug


Britain's Ambassador to the United Nations Matthew Rycroft delivers remarks during the Security Council meeting on the situation in Syria at the United Nations Headquarters, in New York, U.S. April 7, 2017.Stephanie Keith

"Need to address long-term issues in Rakhine, urge restraint by all parties," Rycroft posted on Twitter.

A series of coordinated attacks by Rohingya insurgents on security forces in the north of Myanmar's Rakhine state on Friday has triggered a fresh exodus to Bangladesh of Rohingya Muslim villagers trying to escape the violence.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Chris Reese

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


Monday, 28 August 2017

FINDING A HOME FOR THE ROHINGYAS

Source TheWire, 28 Aug 

(listen via the link)
PRODUCED BY
FEATURED IN STORYRo Habib Asn, Australian Burmese Rohingya OrganisationTrevor Wilson, Former Australian Ambassador to Myanmar and Visiting Fellow, Department of Political & Social Change at ANU
Shutterstock

The Rohingyas, a Muslim population in Myanmar, are stuck between the Myanmar army and the Bangladesh border with no where to go for safety. Since the 1970s, the Rohingya people have faced hardships that continue to this day.

Over the weekend, violence flared up between the Myanmar military and the now armed Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.

Is there a solution to finding somewhere for the Rohingya people can live without violence?

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Rohingya: Even babies were not spared by the army

Source Aljazeera, 27 Aug




Myanmar troops shot at Rohingya civilians with mortars and machine guns near the Bangladesh border yesterday. They were mostly women and children.

The Myanmar army has been accused of carrying out extrajudicial killings in the restive Rakhine region, with residents and activists accusing soldiers of shooting indiscriminately at unarmed Rohingya men, women and children and carrying out arson attacks.

Authorities in Myanmar say close to 100 people have been killed since Friday when armed men, reportedly from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), launched a pre-dawn raid on police outposts in the restive region.

UpFront - Aung San Suu Kyi: Turning her back on Rohingya? - Video

▶ 12:15


The army has declared a war against "terrorism", encircling the townships of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung, home to around 800,000 people, and imposed a curfew from 6pm (11:30 GMT) to 6am (23:30 GMT).

However, advocates for the Rohingya have given a much higher death toll, telling Al Jazeera that at least 800 of the Muslim minority, including dozens of women and children, have been killed in the violence.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify the figures. 

Aziz Khan, a Maungdaw resident, said the army stormed his village early on Friday and began "firing indiscriminately at people's cars and homes.

"Government forces and the border guard police killed at least 11 people in my village. When they arrived they started shooting at everything that moved. Some soldiers then carried out arson attacks.

"Women and children were also among the dead," he said. "Even a baby wasn't spared."

OPINION: Myanmar needs to get serious about peace

Ro Nay San Lwin, a Rohingya activist and blogger based in Europe, said anywhere between 5,000 - 10,000 people had been driven from their homes by the recent offensive.

Using a network of activists on the ground to document the conflict, San Lwin said mosques and madrasas (religious Islamic institutions) had been burned to the ground, with thousands of Muslims stranded without food and shelter.

"My own uncles were forced to flee by the government and the military," he told Al Jazeera.

"There has been no help from the government, instead people's homes have been destroyed and their goods looted.

"Without food, shelter and protection, they don't know when we'll be killed."

Speaking to Al Jazeera under a pseudonym, Myint Lwin, a resident of Buthidaung township said that "fear had gripped every household.

"People have been sharing videos of the killings on WhatsApp. Videos of women and children being killed. Innocent men being shot dead. You can't begin to imagine how scared we are.

"Nobody wants to leave their home. Muslims are scared to go anywhere, hospitals, markets, anywhere. It's a very dangerous situation."

Videos uploaded on social media showed dozens of men, women and children fleeing with only the clothes on their backs while seeking refuge in rice and paddy fields.

OPINION: Regional actors should take a stand against Myanmar

Security has deteriorated sharply in Rakhine since Aung San Suu Kyi's government sent thousands of troops into Rohingya villages and hamlets last October after nine policemen were killed by suspected Rohingya armed group in attacks on border posts.

The security forces' offensive has been beset by allegations of arson, killings and rape; and forced more than 87,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh.

Matthew Smith, chief executive officer at Fortify Rights, a human rights group, said with the "authorities treating all Rohingya as combatants", the government's account of the violence would be "dubious at best".

"The government has refused to cooperate with a UN fact-finding Mission on Rakhine and there are serious allegations of the military attacking unarmed civilians," he told Al Jazeera on Sunday.

"A lot of people are on the run and they need serious protection and the authorities have not made it easy to help them."

Rakhine state is home to most of Myanmar's 1.1 million Rohingya, who live largely in abject poverty and face widespread discrimination by the Buddhist majority.

The minority are widely reviled as illegal migrants from Bangladesh, despite having lived in the area for generations.

They have been rendered stateless by the government and the UN believes the army's crackdown may amount to ethnic cleansing - a charge the government of Aung San Suu Kyi vehemently denies. 

Follow Faisal Edroos on Twitter: @FaisalEdroos

Al Jazeera World - The Rohingya: Silent Abuse - Video

UPDATES: Into 3rd Day of Military Offensives on Rohingya Civilians in Northern Arakan

Source Rohingyablogger, 27 Aug


We are now into the third day of the Myanmar military's full blown offensives on the Rohingya population across Northern Arakan. Below are the reports we have recieved so far on the third day (August 27, 2017).

1- A Rohingya youth named 'Shafiullah' from 'Saangri Fara' in Minbya Towndhip was reported to havd been killed by the Rakhine extremists at 5pm on August 26

2- 26/8/2017 7pm: The Myanmar armed forces began torching Rohingya homes at 'Wachcha' village in southern Maungdaw

3- 12:30am 27/8/2017: The Myanmar authorities are using Hindus (Rohingya look alike) in the downtown of Maungdaw and making them chant 'Allahu Akbar' to trigger the Rohingyas to come out on streets at night.

26/8/2017 7pm: armed forces began torching homes at '' village at southern .

Click & watch video



4- 10am 27/8/2017: There's a full blown war on the Rohingya population by Myanmar armed forces in over 2 dozens of places now across Northern Arakan.
A total state of chaos, killings, mass-killings! Tortures and burningw all over! International Intervention is urgently needed!

5- 9:30am 27/8/2017: Around 50 Myanmar military have been raiding 'Thay Chaung' village in 'Taung Pyo Let Wai' and indiscriminately shooting anyone encountered to death.

Breaking News: Over 25 Rohingya villages of Northern Rakhine Attacked by Newly Dispatched Military

Source Rvision, 25 Aug

Breaking News: Over 25 Rohingya villages of Northern Rakhine Attacked by Newly Dispatched Military

    Among the victim villages are Nett chaung, Tammen Tha, Kunsibing, Nentha Taung, Mi Thaik, Kyi Kyun, Zee Bin Chaung, Laung Done, Thi Hun Gyun, Zin Pin Nya, Thre Kung Baung, Pa Nyaung Pin Gyi, Shwe Yin Aye, Myint Lyut, Alel Than Kyaw, Oo Daung, Thin Bo Kwet, Chin Ka Li, Ko Dan Kauk, Thawen Chaung, Taung Bazar, Paungdaw Pyin, Maungdaw Natala, and others.

    Large scales of civilian places are being targeted by the Myanmar troops and Myanmar is expected to send more military soon. There are reports of loses of lives but the details are yet to be confirmed.

    Since late July, Rohingyas of Zay Di Pyin of Rathedaung have been blockaded inside their hamlet by their Buddhist neighbors from going to work or fetching food and water for the last three weeks, although a small number had been allowed through the blockade to buy provisions on Tuesday.

    During this week, the Rathedaung Penn Kaing IDP was raided and all the males were arrested, while in Oo Hla Phe around 60 men are arrested. In such a scale many villages in Maungdaw were raided, and innocents arrested by hundreds.

    Similarly military and its allies are extremely trying to destabilize the region to advantage from the issue politically.

    According to observers, Military intentionally escalated the violence in order to halt the implementation of recommendations by Kofi Annan Commission. For the past couple of weeks, Myanmar has been beefing up its troops in Maungdaw and other areas deliberately provocating the resisting groups.

    Following the 9 October incidents, military, BGP and some new settlers have been conducting joint operations, raids against Rohingya villages and targeting civilians looting valuables, destroying long-lasting homes, arbitrarily arresting innocents and killing peoples extrajudicially.

    An Open Letter to Mr. Kofi Annan

    by Admin,

    Dear Mr. Annan,
    I am very disappointed with your statement, dated August 25, 2017, concerning the latest violence in the Rakhine state of Myanmar. You stated, "I am saddened to hear of the loss of life of members of the security forces. The alleged scale and gravity of these attacks mark a worrying escalation of violence. No cause can justify such brutality and senseless killing. Perpetrators should be held to account."
    From the first sentence of that paragraph, it is not difficult to understand where your sympathy lies. It is, sadly, with the Myanmar government that sponsored your Commission and its criminal perpetrators – the Myanmar security forces and surely not with the Rohingya victims who should have deserved such. You equivocated when it was necessary to take the moral high ground and to call a spade a spade. I am very worried that such mixed messaging will only justify the on-going genocidal crimes against the Rohingyas, much like what happened in Rwanda that you continue to regret for happening under your watch as the UN Chief.
    Has not history taught us all that violence is the last resort of an oppressed community when all pleas and other non-violent means for stopping violence directed against it have been ignored or shut down by the oppressor? And even then, the so-called violence of the oppressed against the much better armed, equipped and financed oppressor is motivated by the single factor: defending or protecting its own community. It would be gross misjudgment to equate their struggle for self-defense with the extermination campaign of the more powerful oppressor.
    I am sorry to observe that you have been misinformed.
    It is an irony that the victims of the genocide - the Rohingyas - are now framed as the ones in the wrong side because of their alleged attacks on Myanmar security forces this past week or back in October of last year. Forgotten in that calculus are decades of genocidal crimes of the successive military regimes since the days of General Ne Win that were to continue full-blown to this very date under Suu Kyi's government. Overlooked in that context is the mere fact that being denied citizenship simply because of its racial and religious identity more than half the Rohingya population has been forced out of its ancestral land in Arakan (Rakhine state). Ignored also are the facts that Myanmar epitomizes apartheid policy in our time and flouts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by denying such rights to the Rohingya people. As a matter of fact, when it comes to the Rohingya – rightly recognized by the United Nations (that you once led) as the 'most persecuted people' in our planet – not even one of the thirty rights (Articles) enshrined in the UDHR is honored by the Apartheid Myanmar.
    I would like to believe that as the Chairperson of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, you know that the Burmese military (a.k.a. Tatmadaw - long known as the Rapist Burmese Armyhas been building its troops in Rohingya areas of northern Arakan since August 10, effectively blockading those areas and terrorizing the already marginalized community. Under the name of interrogation, hundreds ofRohingya men and boys were taken away by military from the IDP camps. They were tortured and many were killed while Rohingya women left behind were raped as a weapon of war to ethnically cleanse them. Their homes were torched, too. The UN and Human Rights Watch, amongst many human rights groups, all were asking the Myanmar military to back off but to no avail.
    The latest episodes of atrocities perpetrated by the military resulted in fresh influx of thousands of Rohingyas into Bangladesh. That is despite stepped-up patrols by Bangladeshi border and coast guards, who last week had pushed back a boat carrying 31 Rohingya, including children. The Balukhali camp (in Cox's Bazar of Bangladesh) alone saw new arrivals of some 3,000 Rohingya refugees in the last few days. And all these happened days before the alleged attack by the Rohingya 'insurgents' against Rakhine police.
    As I write this letter, per credible reports, on August 25, in the early AM hours 25 Rohingya villages were bombed by Burmese military reportedly using six gunship helicopters, navy ships and tanks as Rohingyas were sleeping in the middle of the night. It is feared that hundreds of Rohingyas have been slaughtered and more than a thousand homes set on fire on Friday making tens of thousands of Rohingyas homeless because of the latest military action.
    When life on earth has become unbearable and worse than death for the oppressed Rohingya is it difficult to fathom why some would 'radicalize' and choose to fight back – and justifiably so – with whatever means available? Now the criminal Burmese military claims that 59 "insurgents" and 12 soldiers were killed after Thursday midnight. They say that "insurgents" were armed with machetes. As you know too well, farmers use machetes, "insurgents" don't.
    No one would disagree with you that violence is not the solution and that exercising restraint is important to avoid further escalation. However, the ball is in the military's court and it is they who need to be restrained from harming the Rohingya people. Truly, if our world leaders had the moral fortitude these war criminals would have been tried long time ago in the International Criminal Court for their decades of crimes against humanity -  which by no means were limited to the Rohingyas alone but also to other ethnic minorities that have been fighting for their survival. It would be sensible to reflect that for the last 40 plus years Rohingyas have been peacefully asking for the restoration of their citizenship and other rights whereas the other ethnic groups, non-Bamar Buddhists and Christian, in Myanmar are fighting the government with guns.
    Suu Kyi and her brutal military have been too cunning for too long to deflect international pressure. Bluntly put, the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State that you chaired was one such window-dressing attempt by the Myanmar government to ease pressures from the international community and humanize the hideous face of Myanmarism that has contributed to so much human suffering: the destruction of tens of thousands of homes, businesses, schools and mosques, the encampment of some 140,000 Rohingyas in the concentration-like IDP camps, widespread rape of women, let alone the forced exodus of nearly 87,000 to neighboring Bangladesh, since 2012 alone. [According to the UN, 52% of the women they surveyed in refugee camps in Bangladesh were raped by the Tadmadaw. Seventy percent of these 87,000 refugees are women and children since men are either killed or imprisoned.]
    Suu Kyi's government won't even allow any international investigation team to visit the troubled Rakhine state and inquire about serious charges of war crimes perpetrated by the government security forces - all committed in cahoots with ever growing fascist elements within the broader Buddhist society that see no place for religious minorities to live inside Myanmar. 
    Mr. Annan, you have admitted in your own report the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State that she formed "is a national entity and themajority of its members are from Myanmar". Its mandate did not allow the use the term 'Rohingya' in accordance with the wishes of Ms. Suu Kyi. In spite of such obstacles you faced, I am glad that the report you submitted is a milestone for the Rohingya by calling for lifting restrictions on movement and citizenship for its persecuted Rohingya minority if Myanmar wants to avoid fueling "extremism" and bring peace to the Rakhine state.
    Suu Kyi, sadly, has never been sincere to resolving the Rohingya problem. She has denied their very existence and has been widely condemned by all quarters, including fellow Nobel Laureates.
    Did you ever ponder about why the so-called insurgency of the Rohingya who had hitherto, by all accounts, been the most non-violent minority happened just shortly after your appointment as the chair to the commission and also within hours of submission of your final report this week? Who benefits from such violence, and who loses?
    It is the Rohingya that loses the game played in such an uneven playing field. It is the Myanmar government and its Tatmadaw that win. They never wanted a peaceful solution to the decades-long problem, which they had initiated. And they don't want to implement the recommendations you have put forth in your commission report either. So, they planned, moved to the Rohingya areas, cordoned off and committed war crimes to trigger off the latest episode blaming once again their victims to justify their on-going atrocities under the pretext of being attacked by the insurgents. The violence that they unleashed this week and before is all part of a very sinister long-term strategy to ethnically cleanse minority Rohingyas. It was no accident and did not happen in vacuum!
    Your commission report rightly noted that if human rights were not respected and "the population remain politically and economically marginalised - northern Rakhine State may provide fertile ground for radicalisation, as local communities may become increasingly vulnerable to recruitment by extremists". "While Myanmar has every right to defend its own territory, a highly militarised response is unlikely to bring peace to the area," the report also said.
    The perpetrators of violence are the Myanmar security forces who should be held to account. They have failed to heed to your recommendations, and won't be sobered by mixed messaging coming from world dignitaries like you. It is high time to try these brutes and savages in the International Criminal Court to save humanity, failing which I am afraid, Mr. Annan, we may see the end of Rohingya community in the den of intolerance called Myanmar. She remains the last vestige of an apartheid state in our time.
    On March 26, 2004, yostated with respect to Rwanda genocide, "If the United Nations, government officials, the international media and other observers had paid more attention to the gathering signs of disaster, and taken timely action, it might have been averted.  Warnings were missed."
    Sir, there is no excuse this time. There is no 'guilt of sin of omission' within us. Ms. Yanghee Lee, the United Nations special rapporteur, has warned us; the international media, Human Rights Watch, Fortify Rights, Amnesty International and other observers have all warned us repeatedly about the Rohingya catastrophe. It needs a leader like you to stop their extinction. In this regard, remember that genocide is a process and not an outcome. Stop it when it is not late.
    Please, be forceful in condemning Myanmarism and its viciousness that have caused so much human suffering in our time. If it is not you, who will? The lessons from Rwanda should make you better prepared to stop this slow-burning genocide that the minority Rohingyas are facing today. Help them to survive and live as equal citizens in Myanmar. Please, take the lead in this noble cause.
    Thanking you for reading my letter.
    Kind regards,
    (Dr.) Habib Siddiqui
    Philadelphia, USA

    Rohingya say Myanmar Buddhists are blockading them amid fresh fears of violence in Rakhine

    Source japantimes, 23 Aug

    Hundreds of Rohingya Muslims have been blockaded inside their area by their Buddhist neighbors in a western Myanmar village, residents say, as religious tensions in troubled Rakhine state spread to a more ethnically mixed part of the region.

    Monitors and aid workers worry that violence that has until now been largely confined to the Rohingya-majority northern part of Rakhine, bordering Bangladesh, could erupt in an area where the two communities live side-by-side in much larger numbers.

    Residents, aid workers and monitors told Reuters that Muslims in the village of Zay Di Pyin had been blocked from going to work or fetching food and water for the last three weeks, although a small number had been allowed through the blockade to buy provisions on Tuesday.

    Police said Rakhine Buddhist villagers were restricting the amount of food the Rohingya could buy, but denied their movement around the village and access to work had been blocked.

    "I think they are just afraid and aren't going out," said Myanmar police headquarters spokesman Col. Myo Thu Soe.

    The government said it was working to improve security in the area.

    The stand-off has raised fears of a repeat of the communal violence that broke out in the Rakhine state capital Sittwe in 2012, leading to the killing of nearly 200 people and displacement of some 140,000 — most of them Rohingya.

    "The concern in Zay Di Pyin is that this could escalate into violence between the two communities," said Chris Lewa of Arakan Project, a Rohingya monitoring group.

    Rakhine has long been riven between ethnic Rahkine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims. Around 1.1 million Rohingya live in the state, but are denied citizenship and face severe travel restrictions, with many Buddhists across Myanmar regarding them as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.

    More than 87,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since Rohingya insurgents killed nine police in northwest Rakhine in October. That prompted a military crackdown beset by allegations of rape, killings and arson by the security forces.

    In Zay Di Pyin, a large, mixed village of some 5,000 people with a mosque and a Buddhist monastery, Rakhine residents have penned about 700 Rohingya inside their neighborhood by blocking entry points with a fence since late July, preventing access to a market and a pond used as a source of drinking water, according to two Muslim residents and monitors.

    Local people said tensions had spiked in late July, when a Rakhine Buddhist man from a nearby village went missing. Three Rohingya residents were found killed in the area in the same period.

    "They accused us of killing the missing Rakhine person and blocked us from going out because of that," a Rohingya man told Reuters by telephone, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    A second Rohingya man inside the blockaded area told Reuters the residents were being stopped from going to work at the local river jetty, where many carry loads for a living. They were also prevented from praying at the village mosque, which is outside the blocked area, he said.

    Rakhine villagers, some armed with swords and sticks, had set up makeshift checkpoints at six points around the Rohingya quarter, the men told Reuters. Both of them said there has been no major violent incidents so far.

    Police spokesman Col. Myo Thu Soe said authorities had received a complaint about the blockade last week and had brokered a meeting on Friday, at which it was agreed 15 Rohingya residents would be allowed to leave their neighborhood to fetch food twice a week.

    Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi's spokesman, Zaw Htay, said the issue was resolved on Friday and that the "villagers can go out", adding that the government was planning to provide security for them. He did not give more details.

    One of the Rohingya men confirmed that 15 people had been allowed to go out to buy food for the community on Tuesday, but said they were still not permitted to move around freely.

    "They said that 15 people will be able to leave twice a week — but we can't work so I don't know how we'll be able to afford food," said the man.

    Zay Di Pyin is located in the ethnically mixed Rathedaung district, some 65 km (40 miles) north of Sittwe.

    In another incident that has added to tensions in the area, residents in the neighboring village of Auk Nan Yar, where the Rohingya are the majority, said they were being prevented from leaving their village by security forces.

    It follows a confrontation in early August between hundreds of Muslims and security forces who were trying to arrest six Rohingya men accused of raising money for militants. In a separate incident on that day seven Buddhists were killed in a different part of northern Rakhine.

    In the week following the incidents, Suu Kyi convened a high-level security meeting in the capital Naypyitaw and declared a curfew in the area, while the army sent some 500 soldiers to reinforce around Aug. 10.

    Police said the military was conducting a "clearance operation" in the nearby Mayu mountain range, where the government suspects Rohingya insurgents have been training.

    "The nearby villagers were warned to be careful when they go out to the mountains in order to avoid getting arrested by mistake," said spokesman Myo Thu Soe.

    Two villagers from Auk Nan Yar told Reuters that they too were now unable to get to a market to buy food or to work.

    "Now we're sharing the food we have left with each other in the village," said one of the villagers. "We don't know how long the food will last."

    Monday, 21 August 2017

    Bangladesh sends back Rohingya boat carrying injured

    Source TheIndianExpress, 19 Aug

    The latest influx follows a months-long bloody military crackdown on the mainly Muslim minority in Myanmar that led tens of thousands to flee across the border. The United Nations has said the violence may amount to ethnic cleansing.

    <img class="wp-image-4804268 size-full" src="http://images.indianexpress.com/2017/08/rakhine.jpg" alt="" /> A coastguard patrol boat found the boat on the Naf river, which acts as a border between Bangladesh and Myanmar, as it tried to enter Cox's Bazar early in the morning.

    Bangladesh coastguards today turned back a boat carrying 31 Rohingya Muslim refugees escaping renewed army activity in their neighbouring Myanmar homeland, an official said. The push-back came after at least 500 Rohingya fled their villages in Myanmar's Rakhine state, crossing the border to take shelter in refugee camps and hills in Bangladesh's southeastern Cox's Bazar district.

    A coastguard patrol boat found the boat on the Naf river, which acts as a border between Bangladesh and Myanmar, as it tried to enter Cox's Bazar early in the morning. The refugees included women and children who said they were victims of violence, coast guard spokesman Sheikh Fakhr Uddin said quoting the escapees.

    "We found two injured among 18 men, along with nine women and four children. But we had to send them back," Uddin told AFP. The latest influx follows a months-long bloody military crackdown on the mainly Muslim minority in Myanmar that led tens of thousands to flee across the border. The United Nations has said the violence may amount to ethnic cleansing.

    "We have beefed up our patrol on the Naf as (Myanmar) army is gathering in the bordering villages, which may prompt them (Rohingya) to try coming to Bangladesh," Uddin said. Dhaka estimates that nearly 400,000 Rohingya refugees are living in squalid refugee camps and makeshift settlements in Cox's Bazar, which borders Rakhine.

    Their numbers swelled last October when more than 70,000 Rohingya villagers began arriving, bringing stories of systematic rape, murder and arson at the hands of Myanmar soldiers. Last week, the UN special rapporteur Yanghee Lee voiced alarm at reports that a Myanmar army battalion had flown into Rakhine to help local authorities boost security in the region.

    Buddhist-majority Myanmar has long faced criticism for its treatment of the more than one million Rohingya who live in Rakhine, who are seen as interlopers from Bangladesh, denied citizenship and access to basic rights.

    But they are also increasingly unwelcome in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, where police often blame them for crimes such as drug trafficking. Dhaka has floated the idea of relocating tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees to a remote, flood-prone island off its coast, despite opposition from rights groups.

    Burma covers up its systematic abuse of a minority group

    Source washintonpost, 17 Aug


    Jamalida, a Rohingya refu­gee from Burma. (Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
         August 17 at 7:30 PM

    IN FEBRUARY, the United Nations released a report detailing the Burmese government's human rights abuses against the long-suffering Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine state — abuses that likely amounted to crimes against humanity. Burma should have responded by allowing U.N. investigators into the country and creating accountability mechanisms to prevent further violations. Instead, a government inquiry has concluded that there is "no evidence of crimes" and that "people from abroad have fabricated news claiming genocide had occurred."

    On the contrary, there is considerable evidence to suggest that systematic human rights violations have occurred in Rakhine. The Rohingya have long been denied citizenship and pushed into ghetto-like conditions. This persecution escalated last year, when Burmese security forces conducted a scorched-earth campaign in the state amid widespread reports of mass rape, torture, arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings. The government has also restricted the movements of Rohingya people, imposing curfews and contributing to extreme food shortages. Nearly 90 people have died since the violence erupted last year, while an estimated 65,000 have fled Rakhine.

    Burma's response was to establish an investigative commission that lacked credibility from the outset. The 13-member committee was headed by former military leader and current Vice President Myint Swe and included no Rohingya representatives. According to reports from civil society, its investigators used sloppy research methods, browbeat villagers and ignored complaints.

    It is becoming increasingly clear that Burma's partially democratic government bears many similarities to its autocratic predecessor: It is overly sensitive to criticism, repressive toward minorities and willing to go to great lengths to protect the military. The international community should take note and renew calls to allow a U.N. fact-finding mission to visit the country. Congress should rethink the idea of expanding American military ties with Burma or, at the very least, consider imposing a vetting process and human rights benchmarks for any further military engagement. The United States has long championed democracy in Burma; the commission's announcement proves this fight is not over yet.