Friday 14 December 2018

US House Designates Myanmar Campaign against Rohingya Minority 'Genocide'

Source VOA, 13 Dec

FILE - Rohingya Muslims, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, wade past a waterlogged path leading to the Jamtoli refugee camp in Ukhiya, Bangladesh, Nov. 17, 2017.
FILE - Rohingya Muslims, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, wade past a waterlogged path leading to the Jamtoli refugee camp in Ukhiya, Bangladesh, Nov. 17, 2017.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a resolution by a vote of 394-1 Thursday, declaring Myanmar's military campaign against the country's Rohingya Muslim minority a genocide.

A United Nations report released in August said the military carried out mass killings and gang rapes with "genocidal intent" and also definitively called for Myanmar officials to face genocide charges for the first time.

Myanmar's military has denied previous accusations it had committed genocide, maintaining its actions were part of an anti-terrorism campaign.

The atrocities have prompted the U.N. and a number of political and human rights leaders to question the southeast Asian country's progress toward democracy.

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The Burma Task Force, a coalition of U.S. and Canadian Muslim organizations, applauded the genocide designation.

"The House of Representatives has now officially adopted the position that the ongoing policies of mass violence and displacement against the Rohingya by the Myanmar government constitute genocide, bringing the U.S. closer to the emerging international consensus on the issue."

The U.S. State Department usually makes such official designations but has not used the term genocide to describe the military's atrocities against the Rohingya.

The House resolution also called on the Myanmar government to release Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were jailed one year ago.

Activists gather at a rally, calling for the release of imprisoned Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, one year after they were arrested, in Yangon, Myanmar, Dec.12, 2018.
Activists gather at a rally, calling for the release of imprisoned Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, one year after they were arrested, in Yangon, Myanmar, Dec.12, 2018.

They were sentenced in September to seven years in prison for violating the country's colonial-era Secrets Act. Lawyers for the reporters said their clients were set up and have appealed their sentences and convictions.

The Myanmar embassy in Washington did not immediately comment on the House vote.

Thursday 22 November 2018

'Defending the indefensible': Malaysia's Mahathir slams Aung San Suu Kyi over Rohingya crisis

Source Channelnewsasia, 13 Nov

SINGAPORE: Aung San Suu Kyi's response to the alleged atrocities against Myanmar's minority Rohingya community is "indefensible", said Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Tuesday (Nov 13) in a withering criticism of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate. 

Mahathir, 93, said he was "very disappointed" by Aung San Suu Kyi's failure to defend the Rohingya, a stateless Muslim minority driven from Myanmar in their hundreds of thousands last year by an army campaign that UN investigators said amounted to genocide.

"Someone who has been detained before should know the sufferings and should not inflict it on the hapless," said Mahathir, in a reference to Aung San Suu Kyi's long years of house arrest under Myanmar's military rule.

"But it would seem that Aung San Suu Kyi is trying to defend what is indefensible," he told reporters. "They are actually oppressing these people to the point of killing them, mass killing."

Mahathir was asked on the sidelines of a speech he delivered in Singapore to comment on how Myanmar and Aung San Suu Kyi had been dealing with the Rohingya issue. 

A UN report in August detailed a military crackdown with genocidal intent that began in 2017 and drove hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims from Rakhine state into neighbouring Bangladesh.


Source NHK, 15 Sept

By Noriko Okada | Published by NHK on November 15, 2018

"Ask yourself, if you saw your wife raped and your father shot dead in front of your eyes, if your little 6-month old boy was burned alive in front of your eyes…would you like to be told that you need to go back?"

Those are the words of Maung Zarni, leader of a global network of activists supporting the Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh. Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo last month, he accused Myanmar and Bangladesh of making a premature plan to repatriate the refugees without their consent. A few days later, the 2 countries agreed to start the repatriation in November, although the United Nations has expressed concern about their safety back in Myanmar. Many of the refugees also fear continued persecution and are refusing to return.


More than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to the border with neighboring Bangladesh since Myanmar security forces launched a violent crackdown against them in the western state of Rakhine in August last year.

Zarni has visited the refugee camps in Bangladesh and heard the refugees' stories of gang rapes, mass killings and other atrocities. He studied fascism and genocide at university in the United States and has seen the sites of such crimes at Auschwitz and in Cambodia. He compares Myanmar's treatment of the Rohingya Muslims to the Nazis' persecution of the Jews.

"We would not ask Jews of the Holocaust to return to Auschwitz," he said, accusing his country of genocide against the Rohingya. UN investigators have also concluded that Myanmar's military carried out "genocide," and that it is guilty of "crimes against humanity," a charge the government continues to deny. Zarni says violence against the Rohingya is still going on.

Coxs Bazar, Bangladesh. A views of worlds largest Rohingya refugee camp in Ukhiya, Coxs Bazar, Bangladesh on August 3, 2018. More than one million Rohingya refugee are living in this camp. (Photo by Rehman Asad/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Rejected as citizens of Myanmar

Zarni says the rejection of the Rohingya as citizens began in the 1960s as a propaganda campaign by the military government. It claimed that the minority Muslim population could be a threat to national security in a Buddhist majority state.

"We have constructed this popular myth, framing the Rohingya as illegal migrants, land thieves, Islamist invaders, a phony ethnic group, a virus that is a threat to national security and an enemy of Buddhists," he said.

Zarni argues for the legitimacy of the Rohingya as citizens of Myanmar, referring to volume 9 of the Myanmar Encyclopedia, published by the government in 1964. He says that in it, the Rohingya are a recognized ethnic minority, integral to the Union of Burma, representing "75 percent of inhabitants" in the country.

Zarni says the historical evidence is ignored by racists in his country. He said the Rohingya are not included in the British colonizer's population census data because they are treated separately as a "Muslim" group. He said that has given anti-Rohingya racists in Myanmar an excuse to say they never existed.

Zarni argues for the legitimacy of the Rohingya as citizens of Myanmar, referring to volume 9 of the Myanmar Encyclopedia.

Born and raised in a Burmese military family

Zarni says even he did not know of the existence of the Rohingya, even though he was raised in a highly-educated family and lived in the country under military rule for 25 years. He is currently based in the UK, where he is known as an academic and advocate for the rights of minorities in Myanmar. He is neither a Rohingya nor a Muslim, but a Buddhist, like the majority in Myanmar.

He was born into a family that has served in the Burmese military for 3 generations, since the military's inception in 1941. He said his late great uncle was a classmate and roommate of the father of Myanmar's current de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi. He said they studied together at Rangoon University, and both opposed British colonial rule.

"I grew up thinking that to love Burma is not simply to be Buddhist but to join the military service. That is the ultimate expression of patriotism," he said.

But seeing the atrocities at home, he said he came to realize that his country is "committing genocide," and that people in Myanmar are lying to themselves and to the world about their crimes.

Maung Zarni, leader of a global network of activists supporting the Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh.

He said he supported Aung San Suu Kyi for 15 years, just as he respected her father. He said he no longer supports her.

"We call ourselves pro-democracy and pro-human rights. But the Rohingya have no voice," he said. "We don't respect human rights…lies after lies."

Zarni is now at the forefront of critics holding Aung San Suu Kyi responsible for the abuses against the Rohingya minority. "She has incomparably a greater voice and influence… but does not use it," he said.

Message for Japan

Three weeks before Zarni's visit to Tokyo, Aung San Suu Kyi visited Japan and met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The Japanese government, unlike the European Union and the United States, is not considering economic sanctions against Myanmar or its military officials. Japan is instead offering support for any effort the Myanmar government can make to tackle the Rohingya issue.

Japan has offered Myanmar a contribution of about 800 billion yen, or US$7 billion, from its public and private sectors over 5 years to help modernize the country's infrastructure. It is including US$34 million in humanitarian assistance for the Rohingya refugees, pledging to help improve their living conditions and facilitate their eventual return to Myanmar.

"We highly value State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi's efforts over the past 2-and-a-half years," said Prime Minister Abe.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held talks with Myanmar's de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Oct 9th.

But international human rights organizations and others are critical of this stance, saying Japan is tolerating the abuse of human rights.

Japan abstained from voting on a UN Human Rights Council resolution in December last year that urges Myanmar to take all possible measures to protect the rights of the Rohingya, and to cooperate in the investigation of abuses. Japan now stands apart from other countries on this issue, arguing that dialogue with the Myanmar government should be the first priority.

Zarni says he appreciates the vast amount of Japanese humanitarian assistance for the refugees. However, he said, "You can only save lives when they have safety, when they are protected by the law and security forces." He said the only way to ensure the safety of the Rohingya people is to give them international protection.

He has warned Japan not to collaborate with what he calls the "Suu Kyi-military hybrid regime," and has called for a critical internal review of Japanese policy toward Myanmar.

"More than money, people want to see Japan as a leader that provides political, intellectual and moral leadership, to help end these grave crimes," said Zarni.

Thursday 15 November 2018

Call to Halt Deportation of Rohingya into the Reign of Genocide

ARNA press release,

We, ARNA in serious concern with deportation of Rohingya into the reign of genocide, would like to express our sincere gratitude towards the government of Bangladesh, authorities and the people for providing shelter, food and assistance for a million of Rohingya refugees.

As you aware from June 2012, the Rohingya people have been completely destroyed by various organized attacks sponsored directly by the government that have killed over 60,000 innocent Rohingyas, about 20,000 women involving girls as young as aged 12 were brutally raped in front of their family members, forcibly pushed out about 90% of total Rohingya population and burnt down more than 400 villages across 13 different townships of Arakan (Rakhine) state. The remaining Rohingyas and Kamans numbering about 400,000 have been systematically confined where about 150,000 of displaced people have been trapped into ghetto types of camps and still facing frequent attacks, deadly starvation across Arakan state from June 2012.

Signing of the Repatriation Deal with Bangladesh, MoU with UNHCR and UNDP and collecting huge amount of foreign funds in the name of Rohingya by military led Suu Kyi government of Myanmar, are just to topple international pressures and to avoid international criminal prosecution.

Yet, Suu Kyi government has taken no progress for improvement of condition on the ground, nor safe return of Rohingya refugees with guarantee of relocation at origin villages, citizenship rights and lifting all forms of restrictions and oppressions.  

Looking into the number of taking back 300 Rohingyas per day that will make about 10 years lengthy for repatriation of a million Rohingya, location into designated camp and issuing foreigner identity (NVC) on the return, are just another trick ensuring they never return to home land and ever languish in Bangladesh refugee camps.


Moreover, the military led Suu Kyi government's authoritarian judiciary, defiance, brutalities, blockages and segregation against Rohingya and other muslims remain widely active across Arakan state and extending across central Burma.

Suu Kyi government will also never let to ensure capable of leading to criminal prosecution of all of those responsible and/or address the root causes to end ongoing violence and attacks against Rohingya and minorities because the main perpetrator are top military generals, the government and authorities from top to bottom themselves.


We acknowledge the difficulties face by the government of Bangladesh and failure of United Nations. However, the Rohingya people should not be abandoned, their criteria, identity and rights should not be dismissed.

The UN has repeatedly stated that conditions in Myanmar are not conducive to return as the remaining Rohingyas  continuously fleeing, facing attacks and under systematic restriction. It is therefore as assurances made by the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh, the both government must stand by with their commitments and the repatriation must only happen when it is safe, voluntary and dignified. In this regard, we strongly believe that the government of Bangladesh will uphold the principles of non-refoulment and engage concrete ways to ensure safety and dignity to facilitate Rohingya's return and the rebuilding of their lives on their return. It must also attach with access to closely monitoring the situation to make sure the Rohiongya people are safe, protected, treated fairly and equally.

Like the current situation in Arakan where about 150,000 Rohingyas and Kamans have been confined into ghetto camps with complete blockages and segregations for over six years. We are fearful that the repatriated Rohingyas from Bangladesh will also be locked into same condition and permanently.

Since the government has able to achieve the rejection of Rohingya as a common politic jointly with public, the authorities, monks and the government authorities. It is unrealistic for repatriation of a million of forcibly displaced vulnerable Rohingya refugees, recognition of their identities and normalization of the situation on the ground.

As Myanmar doesn't change its genocidal course and current divided political nature, the prosecution of the Myanmar criminal military generals and rulers remain a core pillar to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis as the Myanmar military generals and rulers have never been prosecuted for their heinous crimes and brutalities past and present.


It is therefore as a last resort for  over five decades of systematic genocidal attacks against Rohingya, we would like to call the government of Bangladesh:

To unset repatriation of Rohingya when condition on the ground is primitive;

To reopen resettlement door for those wanted to resettle in a third country;

To encourage the UNSC to urgently response with decisive manner with the responsibility to protect (R2P), and pave way to a right for Rohingya population to offer militarily organized resistance to protect Rohingyan themselves from ongoing genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, war crimes.