Sunday 29 August 2021

Aussie miner takes haircut on Myanmar escape

Source AFR, 17 Aug

A Myanmar-focused Australian mining group backed by Financial Review Rich Lister Mark Creasy has struck a deal to exit the coup-stricken country through the sale of its historic Bawdwin mine.

The ASX-listed Myanmar Metals told the exchange on Tuesday it had signed a binding agreement to divest its 51 per cent stake in the Bawdwin project, located about 22 kilometres from Namtu in northern Shan State, an area of Myanmar that borders Thailand, Laos and China.

The other joint venture partners – EAP Global Mining and Win Myint Mo Industries – are domestic Myanmar companies, and Win Myint Mo Industries has agreed to pay $US30 million for the stake.

Bawdwin, the Myanmar Metals silver, lead and zinc project, is located in the Shan State of Myanmar. 

Shareholders will be given an opportunity to approve the deal, which came shortly after a Beijing-based conglomerate, Yintai Gold, backed by one of China's richest men lobbed a low-ball offer for the entire Myanmar Metals company.

Myanmar Metals has been suspended from trade on the Australian Securities Exchange since February, when the Myanmar military staged a coup against the democratically elected government, including its high-profile leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Myanmar Metals had halted its proposed acquisition of the Wuntho copper-gold project because of the coup and ditched an opportunity to pile into a separate gold project with Locrian Precious Metals.

Myanmar Metals chairman and chief executive John Lamb said the divestment provided "certainty" for shareholders to get their money out of the country.

"This outcome represents a return to MYL of approximately 75 per cent of its total investment in Myanmar, a good result considering the circumstances and when compared to outcomes reported from other companies exiting their Myanmar positions," Mr Lamb said.

After a review of its operations following the coup, Myanmar Metals found that the "political situation in Myanmar has undermined confidence" in potential funders for the project.

"The board has formed a view that the procurement of project finance in the near term by the company would be extremely problematic and realistically unlikely," it said.

"Consequently, the board considers that the company can neither progress nor indefinitely sustain its Myanmar operations without the realistic prospect of further and ongoing funding."

Yintai offered 3.5¢ a share, valuing Myanmar Metals at $67 million, a 50 per cent discount to its previous market capitalisation of $133 million, but the company noted no formal offer had been made.

The Bawdwin project was once considered one of Britain's greatest mines. The mine was run by Herbert Hoover, who went on to become the president of the United States from 1929 to 1933, at the turn of the 20th century when it was considered one of the best mines in the world.

The Bawdwin region was controlled for centuries by China before British colonists arrived, and production at the mine was stopped by World War II.

Mr Creasy, worth $857 million according to the Financial Review Rich List, is a prolific investor in small cap mining stocks and holds an 11 per cent stake in Myanmar Metals, according to the company's latest annual report.

Mr Creasy also has held interests in Myanmar's only zinc refinery.

Since the coup, activist groups have called on foreign investors to back out of any venture that is or likely to become a source of revenue for the military. Woodside is among the many that have put their activities in the country on ice.

Seeking Refuge: 218 Rohingyas died or went missing at sea

Source TheDailyStar, 20 Aug

Photo: Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar/File Photo

At least 218 Rohingyas died or went missing at sea in 2020 as they desperately sought refuge in the Southeast Asian countries either from Myanmar's Rakhine State or Bangladesh's Rohingya camps, a new UN report says.

They are part of 2,413 Rohingyas who are known to have travelled last year, making it the deadliest year on record for refugee journeys in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea since the region's "boat crisis" in 2015, according to the report of the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, released yesterday.

"This means that journeys were eight times deadlier in 2020 than those in 2019," according to the report titled "Left Adrift at Sea: Dangerous Journeys of Refugees Across the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea".

It also highlights that some two-third of those attempting these perilous voyages are women and children in contrast to earlier periods where most of those travelling were men.

UNHCR says these deadly journeys of the Rohingyas are not a new phenomenon. Over the past decade, thousands of Rohingya refugees have left by sea from Rakhine State in Myanmar and from the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar.

"The roots of these dangerous journeys are found in Myanmar, where the Rohingya were stripped of their citizenship and denied basic rights."

Bangladesh hosts nearly a million Rohingyas, mostly those who fled a brutal military campaign in 2017. Back in Rakhine State, there are some 600,000 Rohingyas.

For the Rohingya who found refuge in neighbouring countries, restrictions on movement, livelihoods and education are compelling factors to seek a future elsewhere in the region. Motivations are various, often overlapping, and also include aspirations of reuniting with family members, UN Refugee Agency said.

They are at even greater risks of abuse by smugglers when making such journeys. Their ordeal was made worse because safe harbours to end their dangerous journey were nowhere to be found.

Since 2020, many refugees have been marooned for months on unseaworthy boats, falling prey to abuses by smugglers, becoming gravely ill through insufficient food and water, and enduring the harsh conditions at sea, it said.

These risks have been prolonged on the occasions where the regional states have "pushed back" boats to prevent disembarkation, UNHCR said.

UNHCR has called on all states in the region to search for and rescue refugees in distress at sea, and disembark them to a place of safety, work towards a regional mechanism for predictable and equitable disembarkation and provide access to asylum procedures for those who disembark.

It also called on the states to work with UNHCR and support fellow countries in the region to implement dignified reception arrangements and provide protection and assistance to refugees who disembark, and address the root causes of refugee maritime movements.

UNHCR's Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific Indrika Ratwatte said, "For as long as states bordering the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal are reluctant to rescue and land those in distress at sea, that collective failure to act will have tragic and fatal consequences. We can and must do better."

Friday 20 August 2021

Rohingya Genocide Survivors Will Get Historic Day In Court

Source BROUK, 15 Aug

For Immediate release: 16th August 2021

Rohingya genocide survivors will this week for the first time be able to share their stories in a court of law anywhere in the world, the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) said ahead of a historic hearing in Argentina.

Rohingya victims of the Myanmar military's brutality, including five survivors of sexual violence, will testify during a court hearing at the Federal Criminal Appeal Court in Buenos Aires on Tuesday 17 August. The hearing comes as the Argentinian judiciary considers taking up a genocide case against the Myanmar military leadership under the international legal principle of universal jurisdiction.

"This week's hearing marks a historic moment for the Rohingya people. After decades of fighting for justice for atrocity crimes, survivors will finally get a chance to tell a court what they have been through. This gives us hope that one day there will be accountability for the Tatmadaw's – the Myanmar military's – genocide against our people," said Tun Khin, President of BROUK.

"This is also a reminder to the world that justice is the only way to break the cycle of violence in Myanmar. The same military that has tried to wipe out the Rohingya as a people are now in control of the country since the coup. The Tatmadaw must face the consequences of their murderous actions. This week's hearing is not just for the Rohingya, but for all our brothers and sisters in Myanmar who have suffered through military abuse."

On 13 November 2019, BROUK petitioned Argentinean courts to open an investigation into the role of Myanmar's civilian and military leaders in committing genocide and crimes against humanity against the Rohingya. Under the principle of universal jurisdiction, such crimes can be investigated anywhere in the world regardless of where they were committed.

Since 2019, developments at the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have added momentum to international justice for the Rohingya genocide. At the same time, many experts – including the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar – have urged states to pursue universal jurisdiction cases against the Tatmadaw and its allies.

The Argentinian judiciary is still considering whether to take up the case, and this week's hearing forms part of this process. Rohingya survivors will testify to their experiences, including five women who were victims of sexual violence in one of the villages devastated by security forces in Rakhine State before fleeing into Bangladesh in 2017. The names of the victims, who will speak remotely from refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, are being withheld for their own safety.

If the case is accepted by the Argentinian judiciary, it will be the first universal jurisdiction case related to the situation of the Rohingya anywhere in the world. The case in Argentina will cover the full range of crimes committed entirely in Myanmar against the Rohingya, including mass murder, enforced disappearances, widespread torture, sexual violence, and mass imprisonment. This is different to the ICC case, which is limited to only crimes which have at least partially been committed on Bangladeshi territory.

Among those named in the case are Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief, currently self-appointed Prime Minister of Myanmar, and other high-ranking military officials.

"For decades, the Myanmar military has with impunity tried to wipe the Rohingya out as a people. With Myanmar both unwilling and unable to investigate itself – especially since the coup – the international community must step in and support all justice efforts," said Tun Khin.

"A universal jurisdiction case in Argentina would show that accountability is possible. We also urge other countries to immediately explore opening similar cases to show those responsible for the genocide that there are no safe havens anywhere."

About universal jurisdiction

Universal jurisdiction is based on the principle that some crimes are so horrific that they concern humanity as a whole, and can be tried anywhere regardless of where they have been committed. All states are permitted to exercise universal jurisdiction over certain crimes under international law, such as war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide.

This allows for the ability to investigate and prosecute individuals suspected of responsibility for crimes including torture, murder, and enforced disappearances, regardless of where the crime was committed or the nationality of the suspect or victim.

The principle is also enshrined in the Argentinean national legal framework, including in article 118 of the Constitution, which has led to other cases being processed in the country under universal jurisdiction. Argentina has in addition received global recognition for its own outstanding transitional justice process to address crimes committed during the military regime in the 1970s.

BROUK is legally represented in the case by the Argentinian Tomás Ojea Quintana, who visited Rakhine State many times during his tenure (2008-2014) as UN Special rapporteur on Myanmar. BROUK is further supported in the case by the Argentinean human rights NGOs Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo (Asociación Civil Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo) and Foundation for Peace and Justice (Servicio Paz y Justicia), founded by the Nobel Peace Prize Winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel.

The universal jurisdiction case by BROUK has received widespread international support, including from the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC, Amnesty International Argentina, TRIAL International, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and Victims Advocate International, Baltazar Garzon Foundation.

For more information, please contact Tun Khin +44 7888714866.


"Universal Jurisdiction, the International Criminal Court, and the Rohingya Genocide", BROUK opinion article, 23 October 2020

"Argentinean Judiciary Moves Closer To Opening Case Against Myanmar Over Rohingya Genocide", BROUK press release, 1 June 2020.

"Argentinean Courts Urged To Prosecute Senior Myanmar Military And Government Officials For The Rohingya Genocide", BROUK press release, 13 November 2019.

Thursday 19 August 2021

AA trying to get Muslims involved in the administration

Source RFA, 16 Aug
unlike Suu Kyi, AA upholds people based- 'rule of law' despite ULA and most Rakhine politicians have different views on Rohingya. (that is why AA trying to get Muslims involved in the administration)
မွတ်စလင်တွေ အုပ်ချုပ်ရေးကဏ္ဍမှာ ပါဝင်လာဖို့  အေအေ ကြိုးပမ်းနေရက္ခိုင့်တပ်တော် (AA/ULA) ရဲ့ စစ်ဦးစီးချုပ် ဗိုလ်ချုပ် ထွန်းမြတ်နိုင်ကို ၂၀၁၉ ဧပြီ ၁၄ ရက်နေ့က ဝပြည် နှစ် ၃ဝ ပြည့် အခမ်းအနားမှာ တွေ့ရစဉ်
 Photo: RFA

ရခိုင်ပြည်နယ်မှာ ဒုတိယလူဦးရေအများဆုံးဖြစ်တဲ့ မွတ်စလင်အသိုင်းအဝိုင်းကို ရက္ခိုင့်တပ်တော် (AA/ULA) ရဲ့ အုပ်ချုပ်ရေးကဏ္ဍမှာ ပါဝင်လာဖို့ကြိုးပမ်းနေကြောင်း အေအေ စစ်ဦးစီးချုပ် ဗိုလ်ချုပ် ထွန်းမြတ်နိုင်က သြဂုတ်လ ၁၅ ရက် မနေ့က ပြောလိုက်ပါတယ်။

အာရက္ခမီဒီယာနဲ့ သီးသန့်ဆက်သွယ်မေးမြန်းခန်းမှာ ရက္ခိုင့်တပ်တော် (AA/ULA) ရဲ့ စစ်ဦးစီးချုပ် ဗိုလ်ချုပ် ထွန်းမြတ်နိုင် က အခုလို ပြောဆိုခဲ့တာပါ။

"သူတို့ကို ကျွန်တော်တို့ရဲ့အုပ်ချုပ်ရေးကဏ္ဍနဲ့ ရဲလုပ်ငန်းကဏ္ဍတွေမှာ ပါဝင်လာဖို့ မှန်းထားပါတယ်။ ပြီးတော့ အုပ်ချုပ်ရေးဆိုင်ရာ ရုံးလုပ်ငန်းတွေ၊ စီမံအုပ်ချုပ်ရေး နည်းလမ်းတွေ၊ ပြီးတော့ ဥပဒေဆိုင်ရာ သင်တန်းတွေ ခေါ်ပြီးပေးဖို့ ကျွန်တော်တို့ စီစဉ်နေကြပါတယ်။ ဒီဟာတွေကတော့ တဆင့်ပြီးတဆင့် လုပ်သွားရမှာပါ။ သင်တန်းတွေမှာလည်း သူတို့ကိုခေါ်ပြီးပေးဖို့ ကြိုးစားနေကြပါတယ်။ ဒီနှစ်ပိုင်းတွေမှာ ကိုဗစ်ရောဂါတွေနဲ့ ကျွန်တော်တို့မှာလည်း အခက်အခဲတွေရှိနေတဲ့အတွက် ကြန့်ကြာမှုတွေ ရှိနေတာပါ"

ရခိုင်နဲ့ မွတ်စလင် အသိုင်းအဝိုင်းကြား အခြေအနေတွေနဲ့ပတ်သက်လို့ ပြည်ပမှာနေထိုင်တဲ့ လူ့အခွင့်အရေး လှုပ်ရှားသူတွေက ဒေသမှာရှိနေတဲ့ အခြေအနေမှန်ကို မစူးစမ်းဘဲ ခံစားချက်တွေအပေါ် မူတည်ပြီး လှုံ့ဆော် နေတာတွေဟာ နှစ်ဖက်ယုံကြည်မှုနဲ့ သင့်မြတ်ရေးကို အတားအဆီးတွေဖြစ်စေတယ်လို့လည်း ဗိုလ်ချုပ် ထွန်းမြတ်နိုင်က ပြောပါတယ်။

ရက္ခိုင့်တပ်တော် (AA) ရဲ့တော်လှန်ရေးကဏ္ဍဟာ အခုအချိန်မှာ ၇၅ ရာခိုင်နှုန်းအထိ ခရီးရောက်နေပြီလို့လည်း ဆိုပါတယ်။

ရခိုင်ဒေသမှာ လွန်ခဲ့တဲ့ အချိန်ခြောက်လလောက်ကနေစလို့ ဥပဒေအတိုင်ပင်ခံတွေနဲ့ တရားစီရင်ရေးကဏ္ဍကို ဆောင်ရွက်နေသလို အဂတိတရားကင်းစင်ဖို့အတွက် တရားသူကြီးတွေကို မကြာခင်လစာပေးဖို့ ဆောင်ရွက် နေတယ်လို့လည်း ပြောပါတယ်။

တရားစီရင်ရေးအပိုင်းမှာ ရပ်ကျေးအဆင့်တရားရုံး၊ စစ်ဒေသအဆင့် တရားရုံးနဲ့ ဗဟိုတရားရုံးဆိုပြီး အဆင့်တွေ ခွဲထားပြီးတော့ ရပ်ကျေးအဆင့်အတွက် အုပ်ချုပ်ရေးမှူးတွေကိုလည်း ဥပဒေသင်တန်းတွေ ပေးထားပြီးဖြစ် တယ်လို့လည်း ဆိုပါတယ်။

တရားစီရင်ရေးအတွက် ဗြိတိသျှဘုံဥပဒေကိုအခြေခံပြီး ဆောင်ရွက်တာလို့လည်း ပြောပါတယ်။

ရက္ခိုင့်တပ်တော် (AA) အနေနဲ့ ရည်မှန်းချက်ကို အကောင်အထည်ဖော်ရာမှာ အလျှော့အတင်းလုပ်တာ မရှိသလို နောင်လည်းရှိမှာ မဟုတ်ကြောင်း၊ အခု စစ်ကောင်စီနဲ့ ယာယီအပစ်အခတ် ရပ်စဲထားတာကလွဲလို့ တစ်စုံတစ်ရာ နိုင်ငံရေးအရ အပေးအယူ၊ ကတိကဝတ် စာချုပ်စာတမ်းတွေ ဒီနေ့အထိ မရှိသေးကြောင်း ဗိုလ်ချုပ် ထွန်းမြတ်နိုင်က ပြောပါတယ်။

ရက္ခိုင့်တပ်တော် (AA) နဲ့ တပ်မတော်တို့အကြား ဖမ်းဆီးထိန်းသိမ်းထားသူတွေကို အပြန်အလှန် လွှတ်ပေး တာက အွန်လိုင်းစနစ်နဲ့ အလွတ်သဘော အပြန်အလှန်ဆွေးနွေးရာမှာ ဥပဒေကြောင်းအရ မခိုင်လုံဘဲ ထောင် ထဲမှာ ဖမ်းဆီးထိန်းသိမ်းထားသူတွေကို လွှတ်ပေးမယ်ဆိုရင် အခုယုံကြည်မှုတည်ဆောက်ဆဲကာလမှာ အလားအလာတွေ ပိုကောင်းနိုင်ကြောင်းပြောလို့ နားလည်မှုနဲ့ လွှတ်ပေးခြင်းသာဖြစ်တယ်လို့လည်း ဆိုပါတယ်။

ရက္ခိုင့်တပ်တော် (AA) အနေနဲ့ ပြဿနာတွေကို နိုင်ငံရေးနည်းလမ်းနဲ့ ဖြေရှင်းနိုင်ဖို့လိုလားပေမယ့် တခြား တစ်ဘက်ကတော့ စစ်ရေးအရ ရန်လိုမှုတွေကို ပြတာတွေရှိသလို အုပ်ချုပ်ရေးနဲ့ တရားစီရင်ရေးပိုင်း တွေကိုလည်း လက်မခံဘဲ ကန့်ကွက်တာတွေကို အခါခါကြုံနေရတယ်လို့ ပြောပါတယ်။

အခုလိုမျိုး ကပ်ဘေးကာလ၊ မိုးတွင်းပြည်သူတွေ စားဝတ်နေရေး အခက်အခဲတွေများတဲ့ ကာလမှာတော့ စစ်ရေးအရ ပြသနာတွေ မတက်လာအောင် ရှောင်ရှားဖို့ တပ်မှူးတွေကိုတော့ ညွှန်ကြားထားပေမယ့် သည်းခံ နိုင်တဲ့အတိုင်းအတာက အကန့်အသတ်ရှိကြောင်း၊ တတ်နိုင်သမျှ ရှောင်ရှားမှာဖြစ်ပေမယ့် စစ်ရေးအရ လိုအပ်ရင်လိုအပ်သလို စဉ်းစားသွားမယ်လို့လည်း ရက္ခိုင့်တပ်တော် (AA) ရဲ့ စစ်ဦးစီးချုပ် ဗိုလ်ချုပ် ထွန်းမြတ်နိုင်က ပြောပါတယ်။

‘If it’s a genocide, declare it a genocide’: Inside the Biden administration’s vexing Myanmar debate

Source Politico, 9 Aug

China, the case of the Uyghurs and politics loom as the administration mulls whether to call the Rohingya massacres an international crime.

Rohingya refugees walk at the Balukhali refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, Tuesday, Feb.2, 2021.

Almost exactly a year ago, as aides to former President Donald Trump debated whether to label the Chinese government's abuse of Uyghur Muslims a "genocide," Joe Biden's presidential campaign beat them to the punch.

In a statement given for a POLITICO story, a spokesperson for the campaign said Biden believed the Uyghurs were genocide victims and that Trump needed to "take action" to stop the group's suffering. "The unspeakable oppression that Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have suffered at the hands of China's authoritarian government is genocide and Joe Biden stands against it in the strongest terms," the spokesperson, Andrew Bates, said in the statement.

Biden's stance was hailed by human rights advocates deeply worried about the fate of millions of Uyghurs subject to forced sterilizations, long-term detention and various types of exploitation. According to a person familiar with the campaign, Biden reached the position weeks earlier after briefings from advisers, and he'd shared his view at a fundraiser before POLITICO's inquiry. The stance made Biden look moral and tough on China following allegations, denied by Trump, that the incumbent president had encouraged China's leader to persecute the Uyghurs.

But it raised a question: If Biden thought the Uyghurs were genocide victims, did he believe the same thing about Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims, who'd been facing mass slaughtermass detention and mass displacement? Many of the human rights activists, U.S. lawmakers and foreign government officials worried about the Uyghurs had already concluded that the Rohingya were genocide victims. At the time, the Trump administration was still officially reviewing the Rohingya case.

When a POLITICO reporter raised the Rohingya question to the Biden campaign following its Uyghur declaration, the furthest Bates would go was to say, "The systematic atrocities being committed against the Rohingya community in [Myanmar] are grotesque and bear all the marks of genocide." He would not flat-out call it a genocide.

Since he took over as president, Biden and his team have essentially stuck to the same position, calling the Uyghur atrocities a genocide while using terms that fall short of that official designation for the Rohingya.

The Biden administration's stance puzzles lawmakers, activists and others, who say it is intellectually inconsistent. Multiple investigations, including by United Nations officials, have determined the Rohingya were victims of genocide or that there was strong evidence of it. Dozens of countries, led by The Gambia, have pushed a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice accusing Myanmar of genocide.

"This administration is undermining the legitimacy of its human rights policy by failing to make this declaration," said Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon who has visited Myanmar and seen the Rohingya plight firsthand. He added that, by not designating the Rohingya's case a genocide, the Biden team "undermines the legitimacy of the U.S. declaring other situations a genocide, particularly the way the Uyghurs are treated."

Later this month, the world will mark the fourth anniversary of the Myanmar military's worst crackdown on the Rohingya, a campaign that killed thousands and forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh. Rights activists hope Secretary of State Antony Blinken will use the occasion to declare that the Rohingya were genocide victims.

Such a designation by the U.S. government will bolster the Rohingya's international legal cases against Myanmar's rulers while sending a warning to other would-be genocidaires, advocates say. It would signal that Biden, Blinken and others aren't letting the politics of China determine if they will call a crime a crime. And it would offer evidence for Biden's claim that human rights are key to his foreign policy, advocates say.

"The administration has had ample time to think about this, and there's a moral imperative for them to issue a clear determination about what the Rohingya people have been enduring," said Matthew Smith, co-founder of Fortify Rights, a group that investigates human rights violations.

There's no sign, however, that the Biden team is willing to make the call.

While the Rohingya have supporters in Washington — the House of Representatives has overwhelmingly declared them genocide victims, and dozens of NGOs, including Rohingya groups, are currently preparing a letter due to be made public Tuesday that demands the Biden administration do the same — their cause does not animate U.S. officials, lobbyists and other power players in Washington the way ones more directly linked to China do.