Saturday 24 March 2018

Rohingyas need a piece of earth they can call their home - just like every human community

Muslim Houses Attacked After Interfaith Elopement in Irrawaddy Region

Source Irrawaddy, 22 March

A Muslim house was damaged in the attack. / Myanmar Muslim Media

PATHEIN, Irrawaddy Region — Some 30 people attacked Muslim houses with stones in Irrawaddy Region's Lemyethna Township on Tuesday following an interfaith elopement.

A Buddhist woman ran away with a Muslim man on Feb. 11 in Eai Thabyu village. Her parents had demanded an official proposal from his Muslim parents for their marriage and a wedding reception according to village customs, but the Muslim parents did not show up even one month after the elopement, and angry locals attacked their home, said U Khin Zaw, administrator of the Eai Thabyu village tract.

"The attack happened around 9:45 p.m. and ended around 10 p.m. A crowd of approximately 30 people threw stones at four Muslim houses, including the homes of friends of the Muslim man," U Khin Zaw told The Irrawaddy.

A car windshield was broken in the attack. / Myanmar Muslim Media

"Three houses were damaged and a car windshield was broken. But no one was injured," he added.

According to the Eai Thabyu police station, the kiosk of U Tu Tu Maung's home; the kiosk, a cupboard and a fridge in U Bo Bo's home; and U Kyaw Min Han's car windshield were damaged in the attack.

"As soon as we heard about the attack, we went to the scene with riot gear. The attackers had left by the time we arrived. We saw the stones that they threw and took them as evidence in line with police procedure. We provided security for the whole night for fear that more attacks would happen," police officer Zaw Tun of Eai Thabyu police station told The Irrawaddy.

The interfaith couple was hiding during the attack, but afterwards, the Buddhist wife wrote on her Facebook page that she had run away with her husband of her own volition.

A Muslim house was damaged in the attack. / Myanmar Muslim Media

Myanmar Muslim Media, an online media site operated by Muslims, reported that police officer Zaw Tun and administrator U Khin Zaw urged the attacked Muslim families not to open a case. Police officer Zaw Tun denied that accusation.

"Both the township administrator and chief of the township police force told them (Muslim families) that they could file complaints with the police station if they wanted to. But they didn't. It is not that we didn't open the case, but they didn't file a complaint," said police officer Zaw Tun.

The Lemyethna Township police force provided security in the village on Wednesday evening.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

The President and Me: The Irrelevancy of Presidency in Myanmar

Source TheCitizen, 22 March

"Majority of monks, nuns soaked in blinding hate for Rohingyas now support the Army"

 The resignation of Myanmar's first civilian President Htin Kyaw hit headlines, and there have been a flurry of political tea leaf readings among the chattering classes. When he was sworn in March 2016 in I wrote a welcoming and uncharacteristically optimistic essay for the Guardian. Optimism has never been warranted, insofar as my 30 years of involvement in my country's sordid affairs.

I actually knew the man who replaced Htin Kyaw with immediate effect, when my own delusions compelled me to think that there are generals who were open-minded and wanted to "do the right thing".

On this I have been proven categorically wrong. For all my "good generals" have been involved in the genocide as major decision makers in the nation's highest echelon.

Whether ex-head of military intelligence and the ageing despot Than Shwe's relation ex-Lt-General Myint Swe (in picture with me below taken at the War Office in Nov 2005), or Suu Kyi's pliant and pliable aide civilian Htin Kyaw, Myanmar's Presidency under this Constitutional arrangement in Myanmar is IRRELEVANCY, let me state emphatically again. He was made commander of the most important command - Rangoon - and was involved in brutalizing monks who rose up against the military rule in Saffron Revolt in 2007.

Now the majority of monks and nuns appear to be declaring their support for their former torturers and killers, all soaked in blinding fear and loathing of Rohingyas and Muslims in general: the public and Suu Kyi are not that different in this regard: they support their common captors in the name of "anti-terrorism" and national defence, whereas the biggest Terrorist has been the Military itself since 1962, or for the non-Bama and non-Buddhists, since independence from Britain in 1948.

But the cartoon in Irrawaddy from 2016 summed up the essence of Htin Kyaw's Presidency - with Suu Kyi as the self-proclaimed "above-the-president" leader, while she herself has to know the limits of her own 'de facto' power.

Whatever the explanation behind the resignation of Suu Kyi's puppet, poor health or others, the plain fact is under the military's 2008 Constitution - designed to keep the Armed Forces and its Commander in Chief - above the Law- and society - Presidency is irrelevancy.

Yes, there are differences between Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (or any military leader) and Suu Kyi - both of whom are respective dictators and neo-Totalitarian in their respective military and political institutions - in the area of reforms. Suu Kyi is being defeated so severely on her promised democratic transition: the only transition under her leadership is towards the ever-shrinking so-called civil society space - and worse, towards societal Fascism.

Where the military and Suu Kyi are on the same wavelengths, more or less, is in the majority Bama - and non-Bama relations and on Islamophobia-anchored genocide of Rohingya.

The situation of the Rohingyas particularly in refugee camps in Bangladesh got major media spot light with the Aussie actress Cate Blanchett doing a 12-minutes interview on CNN.

Her interview touched on Suu Kyi's role, the "deeply upsetting" nature of horrific tales she personally heard from Rohingya survivors, her view on her own Australia's "inhumane" off-shoring of war-fleeing refugees and asylum seekers, etc.

The actress issued the following call for increased aid after her visit to Kutapalong camps in Cox's Bazaar. Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett calls for increased aid for Rohingya refugees After recent visit to Bangladesh, Blanchett says more international support for displaced and host communities is urgently needed ahead of monsoon rains.

Meanwhile back in her continental country, the more progressive Australian lawyers are working on reviving the Pinochet Precedent. Here is the VICE's write up about their work.

On a different but related note, Columbia Journalism Review runs a piece where it accurately paints Myanmar journalists as generally part of the dissemination of genocidal racism.

Everyday forms of racism do NOT germinate potently and violently without state involvement and state-approved acts of mass mobilization.

This is precisely the reason I have concluded that Myanmar civil society - for lack of a better word - has succumbed to the extremely deadly strain of genocidal racism towards Rohingyas in particular and Muslims in general.

All the major pillars of Myanmar, the NLD, the mass media, the Sangha or Buddhist Order and the most organized and powerful Armed Forces, are FOR completing what the Commander in Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing openly declared in September 2017 - in the midst of the exodus of the Rohingya - as "the unfinished business" - that is, the presence of Rohingya as an ethnic community on their own ancestral borderlands next to Bangladesh.

(Zarni is a democracy advocate, Rohingya campaigner, and a former research fellow at the London School of Economics. He lived and worked in the United States for 17 years. In 1995 he founded the Free Burma Coalition and was its director until 2004. He is now living in exile not allowed to return to Myanmar)

Thursday 22 March 2018

Joint Statement on Ms. Suu Kyi attending Asean-Australia Special Summit International Convention Centre (Sydney, 17-18 March 2018)

Source ABRO

The Protest was held at Sydney Town Hall Square and began from 10am and ended by 2pm. Over 500 members from Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laos, Rohingyan, APHEDA, NUW and many other from different societies and individuals including MPs have actively participated in the event. 
The following four pages long statement detailing about Rohingya crisis was read out by Mr. Habib on behalf of Rohingya community from Queensland, Melbourne and Sydney.
For Short video clip of
protest (1),
Joint Statement on  Ms. Suu Kyi attending Asean-Australia Special Summit  
International Convention Centre (Sydney, 17-18 March 2018)
On the event of Asean-Australia Special Summit, we Rohingya community from Australia would like to call the Australian government to raise cases of ongoing genocide, ethnic cleansing against Rohingya community in Arakan (Rakhine) state of western Burma (Myanmar).  
The native Rohingya people have been facing total destruction and driven out from their homelands under the military powered government NLD led by popular Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi.

The military powered NLD government led by Ms. Suu Kyi defiantly blocked the UN Inquiry Commission, foreign officials, independent journalists, agencies and ration supplies. As well as, the NLD government has constructed fake stories, provided reverse information, and dismissed the crisis on the ground by forming commission after commission and fancily fingering the minor defense of Rohingya resistant group ARSA that has actually done same as other armed ethnic groups. Also, her government signed the repatriation deal with Bangladesh in order to topple international pressures from the account of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

Indeed, types of vigilant attacks, ways of indiscriminately and arbitrary killings and usages of arms, brutal violent abuses and rapes, massive destruction of historical buildings, homelands and identities and cases of systematic oppression, repression, restriction, confinement, persecution, unlawful arrest, corporal and collective punishments, practicing unlawful discriminatory laws and orders, permanent restriction in every social, cultural, welfare, health-care, education and livelihood sectors and cutting off of electricity and waters, are clear pictures of genocide, ethnic cleansing and war crimes.

The attack from 25 Aug 2017 in Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung townships by government armed forces jointly with Rakhine armed force ALP and government trained Rakhine gangs, used fight helicopters, tanks, machine guns, rocket launchers and killed brutally and indiscriminately. Women and girls as young as aged 12 were raped in front of their relatives and in the public and shot dead brutally, children including babies were slaughtered, burnt and buried alive, laying landmines along the ways of fleeing.
MSF report showed about 10,000 dead among the arrivals of just in the first month. According to the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) cited data from the Bangladeshi government that puts the number of "lost" parents as high as 43,700 people.  
The death toll is significantly high If we count the number of parents lost for current 40,000 orphans plus family members who lost their husband, wife, children, siblings. Arrest including children and people who teaching Rohingya kids, distributing rations, language support workers, medical assistance providers, bearing phones, having radio and foreign contacts. Looting goods and cash, crops and animals. Up to date, more than 400 villages of total about 485 villages have been completely razed down and the government forces bulldozed the remnant parts of the building by following days. Nearly 700,000 out of estimated 770,000 Rohingyans were forced into Bangladesh thru ravines and jungles. Some drown to death, some died with wounds, and some died from starvation.  
Today, 90% of total Rohingya population from these 3 regions were driven out, destruction of the remaining houses continue, the rest Rohingyans are trapped and facing horrible attacks, deadly starvation and Rohingya lands are clearing and replacing with mega projects and military base camps.  

Similar attacks in Oct 2016 under the banner of so call 'clearance operation', the government trained Rakhine people and armed members of Arakan Liberation Party were actively involved in the operation and began with physical tortures, violent rapes, looting, extortion, destruction of properties and religious buildings, arbitrary arrest and imprisonment of about 800 Rohingyans involving children as young as aged 12,  killing over hundred of innocent Rohingya villagers and over 90,000 villagers were forced into Bangladesh.

Vigilant Attack From 8 of June 2012, razed down about (120) religious buildings, over (23,000) houses from (95) villages across (13) different townships of Arakan state, killing over 10,000 of Rohingyans and Kamans mostly from Sittwe region, about 200,000 Rohingya and Kaman people displaced and about 110,000 of whom are  in 13 to 15 camps of Sittwe (Akyab) city and the rest about (65,000) those from other 8 regions in 26 camps are in aid workers unreachable areas. It been over five years now our Rohingyas and Kamans of Rakhine (Arakan) state have been totally excluded, segregated, confined systematically with blockage of aid and ration supplies and ending up in concentration camps.

The government authorities have been directly involved by deploying the securities forces and joining the attacks vigilantly on the ground, introducing (laws and orders, curfew) and trapping the Rohingya villagers, openly allowing the aggressive armed Rakhine people trespassing and attacking of innocent unarmed Rohingya villagers. The attacks were very well planned that dispatching the gang members everywhere across Arakan, supplying one factory made arms such as arrows and knives, looting (goods, cash, crops and animals) and razing houses, allowing security forces to shot the Rohingyas, bulldozing the buildings those were not destroyed by following day and seizing lands of Rohingyans which were burnt down, disposing the  displaced Rohingya victims into concentration camps, blocking of aid and foods supplies, destroying previous identities and forcing to accept foreigner identity in the mid of humanitarian crisis.

The ousted Thein Sein government itself invited the UNHCR chief to relocate all Rohingyans to a third country in Aug 2012. Additionally, by member of parliament and chairman of Rakhine National Development Party, Dr. Aye Maung (a Bangladeshi by birth) interviewed with Venus News Journal on 14 June 2012 said  "the Rakhine state should be established in the same way Israel was initially established".
Lately, the current top military general Min Aung Hlaing said on 1st Sept 2017 that the ongoing operation in Rakhine state is 'unfinished businesses from world war II.

The attacks not end with Rohingya, but extended to different other muslims living in central Burma. From late 2012, with the incitements and intimidation of ex-prisoner fake monk Wirathu and his guider well known abbot Tidagu, the attacks swiftly spread across Yangon, Mandalay, Pagu, Saigaing, Magwe regions where killing hundreds, and displacing tens of thousands and burnt down thousand of houses. Some radical nationalistBurman Buddhist people have proudly declared and hanged up the banner of muslim free villages and many of those displaced Burmese muslims are still not allowed to relocate in their village of origin.
It made very clear that the attacks target not only Rohingya but entire muslim population of Burma. There are other ethnic groups in Rakhine state called Kaman who are recognized within 135 ethnic groups but they too were ended up similarly and pushed into concentration camps and labeled as ''illegal immigrants''.
There are uncounted numbers of Rohingyans and Kamans have been killed, arrested and imprisoned during their escape from northern Arakan state thru inland waters and by lands. Many groups including children and women were arrested on the arrival to central regions of Burma.

The fact is that despite the government fancily fingers onto the small number of Rohingya armed resistant group (ARSA), the ARSA not actually existed in most of those over 400 villages destroyed and the attacks not targeted ARSA, nor arrest any of ARSA members even though the ARSA has been in the region for almost two years. In the other hand, the actions done by ARSA in 30 different areas were also part of minor defense and done same as other armed ethnic groups defending against the government armed forces' ongoing brutalities.
It is also note that the cases of Rohingya are neither new, nor unknown but it is long rooted and well-known to international community. Since the military ruled the country from 1962, the government utilized various tactics and used different armed forces, security forces, nationalists and Rakhine people.

In 1994-95, the command of former S.G  (1) Gen. Khin Nyunt under the dictator Than Shwe (SLORC) government, taken away about 4,000 youths from  northern regions and they never returned dead or alive, forced about 10,000 Rohingyas fled into Bangladesh, seizing of Rohingya lands and replaced with new settler Rakhine people and convicted Burman prisoners.

Pyitaryar Operation in 1991 under dictator Than Shwe (SLORC) government, killing hundreds and thousands jailed, mostly from  Maungdaw, Buthidaung, Rathidaung, Sittwe townships. Over 270,000 Rohingyas were forced to fled and hosted in 20 refugees camps of Bangladesh and some of about 35,000 of them forcefully repatriated. And the government continued seizing, demolishing, vandalizing of historic buildings, villages of Rohingya and replaced with new settlers and military base camps.

Nagamin Operation in 1978 under dictator Ne Win (BSPP) government, killing in confrontation, sinking the ships load of Rohingyans and thousands of Rohingyans jailed from various parts of Arakan state, seizing and vandalizing Rohingya lands, historical buildings. About 300,000 Rohingyans were forced to fled into Bangladesh and about 200,000 of them forcefully repatriated under the so call bilateral agreement.
Step by step, years after years, the tyrant central rulers have achieved its strategies of eradication of Rohingya and Kaman from home lands. It began with erasing our identity, seized our lands, destroying our properties, looting and rapes, arrest, detention and killing our people.

The government introduced 1982 citizenship laws and conducted various forms of population checks and forcing to accept foreigner identity, seizing and destroying their residential documents and not allowing to recourse to become new citizenship even though Rohingyans are qualified to be citizen and ethnic group under 1982 citizenship laws. Following year of 1983, Gwa, Taungup, Tandwe and Ponnagyuan townships were defined as muslim-free-zonesby the  government. It is tantamount to official killing license offering to Rakhine people. Hundreds of Rohingyas and Kamans those captured in these regions were brutally executed by Rakhine people.
Up to date, over a million of Rohingya people have been forced into foreign countries. Less than 100,000 Rohingyans left in northern regions (Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung townships), another about 300,000 Rohingyas and Kamans left in systematic confinement including about 150,000 people in 42 concentration camps in Southern regions.

Today majority of people and the government authorities are jointly denying our existence and attacking our people.  Every second, every minute and every day for Rohingya is counting the deaths, destruction, attacks, rapes, arson and massive displacement. Therefore, Rohingya need a safe zone/statehood/protectorate/autonomy state, but not repatriation.

The Repatriation Agreement signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar is not new but it is similar like back in 1992 and 1978. On the return, repatriated Rohingyans were forcefully issued the Temporary Registration Card known as (White Card) with promises of relocation, rehabilitation, citizenship rights, lifting restriction. The promises are never delivered and the government slowly achieved issuing of White Card to the overall population in Northern Rakhine state and placed tougher restriction on traveling.
Later, the White Card came to introduce in Southern Arakan (SRS) and many acting Rohingya leaders from both Southern and Northern regions were detained for resisting it. It was not successful in Southern regions until 2002 and therefore the government changed the card's colour, some written words and forced to have each household to bear at least one that written Bengali race, or mix or non-description of race.
Lately after June 2012 crisis, the government planned to issue same type of foreigner identity with new name (National verification cards- NVC).  By laws, the NVC card issuing is for verification of the undocumented non-citizens. It is nothing to do with Rohingya people who have been issued nationality identities, recognized as an ethnic group and having records of inhabitant.
Many Rohingyans refugees today reloaded in Bangladesh are repatriated former refugees of 1978 and 1991.
In case other countries insist or support the Bangladesh government's repatriation deal, these countries will require to engage the Myanmar government undertake its said promises to be delivered firstly with the remaining Rohingyans and Kamans including those in 42 concentration camps.

Since Myanmar government has been actively terrorizing minorities including Rohingya, Kaman, Karen, Shan, Kachin and create regional instability, we would like to call international communities and developed nations including  Australian government need to counter such terror actions.

Australia as a member of UNSC, resettling Rohingya refugees and part of funding country, we would like to demand:
1) The Australian government to jointly take part in taking effective action onto Burmese government to halt ongoing genocide, ethnic cleansing, waging wars and to stabilize the situation on the ground, and  to persuade Suu Kyi government to 'uphold rules of laws' to equally guarantee safety, security, dignity and rights of the entire population.
2) Australian government to pressurize over Ms. Suu Kyi government to allow UN Inquiry Commission accessing on the ground for investigation and to take effective and solid action against the main perpetrators who are directly involved in the crimes and to refer to ICC.
3) The Australian government to persuade Ms. Suu Kyi government to immediately lift all kinds of restrictions, attacks and suspend the blockages of food and aid supplies.
4) Australian government to press Ms. Suu Kyi led NLD government to release all muslim political prisoners from central Burma and thousands of Rohingya prisoners involving children as young as aged 12 mostly detained in Sittwe Central Jail, Buthidaung Jail and many others who are detained in police lock-up and military camps.
5) If the above recommendations are unable to do so, the Australian government to support Rohingya themselves to eventually establish a safe zone (or) a statehood (or) protectorate state (or) autonomy state  thru Security Council R2P Resolution.
6) Australian government to cut business ties, suspend military aid and abandon Woodside petroleum project with Burma.
7) Australian government to ban entry visa of Ms. Suu Kyi, military generals and their family members visiting, studying and investment in Australia.
8) We also would like to call Australian National University to revoke doctorate award given to Ms. Suu Kyi in 2013.

Endorsed by:
-RISE Refugees Organization, 
-Burmese Rohingya Community in Australia (Sydney), 
-Australian Burmese Rohingya Organization (Melbourne), 
-QRC-Queensland Rohingya Community
-Burmese Rohingya Association in Queensland Australia (BRAQA)