Thursday 22 November 2018
Thursday 15 November 2018
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.
Tuesday 13 November 2018
Friday 9 November 2018
Thursday 1 November 2018
The EU is considering sanctioning garment workers but has rejected sanctions against Min Aung Hlaing
When the United Nations Fact Finding Mission published its report into human rights violations in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States, it was quite clear who bore primary responsibility for violations of international law, including genocide – the Burmese military. In particular, their report called for action against the leadership of the military, including Commander in Chief Min Aung Hlaing.
To date the EU has not accepted either the findings or the recommendations of the UN investigation, which they themselves helped set up. Instead they have decided to look into sanctioning people who played no role in human rights violations against the Rohingya, Shan or Kachin. They have decided to look into sanctioning ordinary workers, mainly garment workers.
This week an EU delegation is visiting Burma as part of a review ordered by Cecilia Malmström, the EU Trade Commissioner. They are considering withdrawing 'Everything But Arms' trade privileges awarded to Burma, which reduces tariffs and makes Burma's exports more competitive than those from more developed countries. This is a sanction which will have virtually no impact on the Burmese military or on the government. Instead it risks putting tens of thousands of ordinary workers out of work.
The decision is even more extraordinary because the EU has made a specific and deliberate decision not to sanction Min Aung Hlaing. He is not one of the seven people the EU have banned from holidaying in the EU because of their role in the genocide of the Rohingya.
Here is a list of 15 things the EU has been asked to do, and which it has failed to do, all of which would be far more effective at applying pressure on the Burmese military and government than the withdrawal of trade privileges:
- The EU decided not to support referring Burma to the International Criminal Court.
- The EU does not support the creation of an alternative Ad Hoc Tribunal if support for an ICC referral cannot be secured.
- The EU decided not to ban EU members from training the Burmese military.
- The EU refuses to reveal which (if any) EU members are still training the military. (The EU ambassador to Burma, Kristian Schmidt, told Burma Campaign UK he would do so, then broke his word and now refuses to release the information.)
- EU officials in Burma still back down to the demands of racists and largely avoid using the word Rohingya in public statements and meetings with the government.
- The EU refuses to stop funding and training the military-controlled police force, which still uses torture and was responsible for arresting and framing the jailed Reuters journalists.
- The EU refuses to stop European companies from supplying equipment to the military (apart from arms).
- The EU does not ensure that the EAS/Commission and EU member states do not source goods and services from military owned and controlled companies.
- The EU and member states have not imposed policies to ensure no EU aid goes to military owned and controlled companies for the supply of goods and services.
- The EU refuses to impose sanctions limiting military owned and controlled companies' access to European financial markets and the use of the euro.
- The EU has not supported the findings of the UN Fact Finding Mission.
- The EU has not supported the recommendations of the UN Fact Finding Mission.
- The EU refuses to review and consider ending direct and indirect financial and technical support to the Burmese government.
- The EU does not support the imposition of a UN mandated global arms embargo.
- The EU has not stopped channelling aid and development assistance to and through the Burmese government.
It makes absolutely no sense that the European Union is considering sanctions that will mainly impact ordinary people while at the same time rejecting sanctions that target Min Aung Hlaing and his military.
At present the only sanctions from the EU in response to genocide of the Rohingya, war crimes and crimes against humanity against other ethnic groups, and a huge range of other human rights violations by both the military and the government, has been to stop seven people, not including Min Aung Hlaing or senior military officers, from going on holiday in the EU. It is, therefore, not surprising that EU sanctions have not been effective in influencing the Burmese military or government.
The bizarre decision by the EU Trade Commissioner is just the latest in its long history of catastrophically bad decision making over its Burma policy.
Through its actions and inaction from 2012, the European Union contributed to the enabling environment whereby Min Aung Hlaing believed (so far correctly) he could get away with genocide of the Rohingya.
Burma Campaign UK submitted details of British government and EU complicity in this crisis to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the British Parliament when it held an inquiry into what had taken place.
To date the European Union has done little to disabuse Min Aung Hlaing of the impression they'll keep letting him get away with violating international law, especially when they deliberately avoid sanctioning him. Does the EU seriously think that having given him a personal free pass, Min Aung Hlaing will be so concerned by the EU sanctioning garment workers that he'll change his behaviour?
As members of the European Burma Network pointed out in a joint statement: "Withdrawing these trade privileges will have a disproportionate impact on ordinary people who have played no role in human rights violations against the Rohingya and others, and in fact themselves suffer from a lack of human rights and genuine democracy in Burma."
Further, the impact of these particular sanctions on the military and government is likely to be limited compared to many other options available. It appears contradictory to impose sanctions which may predominantly impact garment workers, whilst at the same time still funding and otherwise supporting both the government and the military controlled police force.
There is a danger such sanctions could be blamed on the Rohingya, further hardening public sentiment against them. There is also a danger that these kind of untargeted sanctions and their impact on ordinary people will discredit all sanctions in the public mind and in the media, making it harder to secure support for sanctions that actually will have an impact.
Any sanctions imposed by the EU must predominantly target the military and its interests, and minimise as far as possible any impact on ordinary people in Burma.
No-one has been calling for the kind of sanctions Cecilia Malmström is now considering. Burma Campaign UK is also not aware of any EU member state supporting the withdrawal of these trade privileges. So far it appears none have been willing to publicly say so. This has to change. Cecilia Malmström may have the technical power to go ahead with these sanctions without the support of member states, but it is not a power she should use.
This review should be stopped immediately, and instead EU member states need to look again at targeted sanctions on the military, including supporting ICC referral or an alternative ad hoc tribunal. Punishing garment workers for the actions of the military is completely unacceptable, and EU member states must say so.
Perhaps the one thing we can be grateful to Cecilia Malmström for is exposing just how hopeless, contradictory and illogical the EU approach to Burma is.
Mark Farmaner is Director of Burma Campaign UK