Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Australian and Thai journalists found not guilty of defaming Thai navy

Source the Guardian

Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian, of news website Phuketwan, were accused in case that alarmed human rights and press freedom groups

Thai journalist Chutima Sidasathian and her Australian colleague Alan Morison arrive at the provincial court in Phuket island.Thai journalist Chutima Sidasathian and her Australian colleague Alan Morison arrive at the provincial court in Phuket island. Photograph: Pornchai Kittiwongsakul/AFP/Getty Images 

Monday 31 August 2015 23.16 EDT Last modified on Monday 31 August 2015 23.18 EDT

An Australian editor and his Thai reporter colleague were found not guilty on Tuesday of criminal defamation for reporting on the alleged involvement of Thai naval officers in the trafficking of Burmese Rohingya refugees.

Alan Morison, editor of independent news website Phuketwan, and reporter Chutima Sidasathian faced up to seven years in jail and thousands of US dollars in fines.

Speaking to the Guardian ahead of the court session, Morison said that the year-long case had deeply affected the duo's daily life in Phuket, a tourist hotspot in the Andaman Sea.

"We've felt constant pressure one way or another," he said on the telephone. "We've conscientiously used work as a diversion and evidently being sued by an organisation as mighty as the Royal Thai navy, you can't help but feel some the pressure."

He said he was "reasonably confident" that he would be acquitted as the lawyers had worked hard and the judge appeared to have listened to what he said.

But he was worried that he might not be getting the full picture. "The thing is that nobody is ever going to tell us that they've heard is bad things … We're living in a kind of fairyland before the verdict."

The case – widely condemned by human rights and media freedom groups – has damaged Thailand's reputation. Morison, who is 67, had said a guilty verdict would be a death sentence for him at his age.

A note posted before the trial on the Phuketwan website said: "Two Phuketwan journalists face judgement day in the trial triggered by the Royal Thai navy so the island's online news source of preference is suspended from September 1. The future of the site has yet to be determined."

Advertisement

The defamation claims and charges under the Computer Crime Act, which bans online material considered a threat to national security, relate to a 41-word paragraph from a Reuters news agency report on Rohingya refugees, which wasrepublished in Phuketwan.

Reuters, a huge news organisation of more than 2,600 journalists which won a Pulitzer prize for its reporting on the Rohingya issue, has not been charged.

Thailand's navy has denied its officers were involved in human trafficking. But since the charges were made against the two journalists, the Thai government has launched investigations into official complicity into the trafficking trade and a senior military official was arrested.

Thailand's ruling junta, which toppled the government in a coup last May, has stifled the media and banned political gatherings.

Phil Robertson, deputy director for the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, said ahead of the verdict that the "case should have never been brought to trial in the first place, and the fact that it was shows this Thai government's total lack of concern for media freedom".

He added: "This whole episode shows a fundamental lack of understanding among Thai government and military officials about what a free press is really about and the role it plays in democratic society."

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Rohingya IDPs Detained in Rangoon: Police

Source Irrawaddy, 26 Aug
 

Bangladeshi nationals found on two boats by the Burma Navy in May are repatriated on Tuesday. (Photo: IPRD)Bangladeshi nationals found on two boats by the Burma Navy in May are repatriated on Tuesday. (Photo: IPRD)

RANGOON — Police in Rangoon Division's Hmawbi Township have detained 10 Rohingya Muslims and the driver of the vehicle in which they were found riding, according to local law enforcement.

A police officer in Hmawbi Township told The Irrawaddy that local authorities were holding the internal migrants, but he declined to provide specifics of the case over the phone.

Citing a police source, a BBC Burmese radio report on Wednesday said each of the Rohingya paid a 1.2 million kyats (US$940) bribe to the Burma Army in order to smuggle them to Rangoon from two camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Arakan State's Sittwe Township.

The 10 men and women were part of a larger group of 29 Rohingya, according to The Voice daily, with two other vehicles having thus far evaded authorities.

The Rohingya minority in Arakan State are subject to severe restrictions on movement, and more than 100,000 remain in IDP camps after deadly violence in 2012 between Arakanese Buddhists and Muslims drove them from their homes.

Meanwhile, 125 migrants were deported from western Burma to Bangladesh on Tuesday, as more than 100 people remain in shelters near the border, potentially awaiting the same fate, according to a local immigration official.

"We deported them at 2 pm yesterday after two country officers signed an agreement. There are even more, 101 people, remaining who are awaiting deportation," Khin Soe, an immigration officer in Sittwe, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday.

Two separate boats packed with refugees and economic migrants were discovered by the Burma Navy in May, seeing more than 900 people brought onto Burmese soil. Burmese immigration authorities have been holding the migrants at temporary shelters in Taung Pyo Let Wai village in Arakan State's Maungdaw Township, where their nationalities are undergoing scrutiny.

The governments of the two countries have been cooperating in the process, which has seen hundreds of Bangladeshi nationals repatriated in several batches since the boats carrying them were brought to shore. At least 187 of the boats' passengers were found to be from Burma.

Earlier this year, thousands of migrants from Bangladesh and refugees from Arakan State began washing up on the shores of other Southeast Asian nations after human traffickers abandoned them at sea. Those from Burma were predominantly Rohingya fleeing state-sanctioned persecution and hardscrabble IDP camp existences in the country's western coastal state.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Brothers in history: Scars of tragedy in Burma and Cambodia

Source dvb, 23 Aug


Victims of the Khmer Rouge (1975-78; David Parker)Victims of the Khmer Rouge (1975-78; David Parker)

Burma continues to suffer from a conflict that has been described as the longest-running civil war in contemporary history.

While economic and political incentives certainly play a role in the conflict, it is also, without a doubt, driven by difference. Difference can take many forms. Some of mankind's most horrendous conflicts and instances of mass atrocities were/are predicated on ethnic, national and religious differences.

But are people really different? Our universal humanity stands out before all differences. So when we look to a people in a neighboring country, province, village or house, although there are many differences we can list, there are just as many (and more) similarities as a result of our shared humanity. It is a lesson that post-conflict countries learn the hard way. Cambodia has much to teach Burma's government and people.

From 1970 and until the surrender of the last Khmer Rouge stronghold in 1998, Cambodia was one of the most volatile and war-torn regions in the world. The country suffered from social turmoil and war since the 1960s (and arguably earlier). And when the communist Khmer Rouge captured the country in 1975, they exploited national, ethnic, and religious differences in their campaign to transform the country. Millions of Cambodians suffered or perished. Survivors today, as well as the offspring of people who suffered and died, continue to harbour animosity for what happened. But with time and effort, Cambodia has made significant strides toward national healing, memory, and justice. The journey was hardly easy, let alone without error, which is why Burma should look to Cambodia not only for identifying solutions to ongoing problems, but also for lessons learned.

I am close to Burma, or Myanmar, both in terms of ethnicity as well as background. As a Khmer, I am linked to the Mon ethnic group in our history. I grew up with this ethnic identity, being reminded of such by my family. I also felt a strong affinity for the country when I visited—as if I was re-connecting with my roots. I can imagine that I am not unique among other Cambodians who visited Burma when I asked myself, "Do I look like a Mon person in Burma?" And I do.

Brothers in arms: Former political prisoners Youk Chhang (right) with 88 Generation's Chit Min Lay. (PHOTO: Sirik Savina, Director Museum of Memory)Brothers in arms: Former political prisoners Youk Chhang (right) with 88 Generation's Chit Min Lay. (PHOTO: Sirik Savina, Director Museum of Memory)

Many Cambodians and Burmese would be surprised by how much they share in experience as well as culture. Both countries have had refugee populations in Thailand. It was in Thailand that I met my first Burmese friend, Maung Chung. We both shared so much in common that we could have been siblings. And like brothers in history, Cambodia and Burma have also shared in the misery of war, violence and oppression.

During the Khmer Rouge period, I was put in prison at the age of 15 and one of my most painful experiences was the memory of being severely beaten by Khmer Rouge security guards during this time. I believed my mother was in the crowd for this 'Communist people's court', and I believed she watched me during this horrible experience. It pained me to think that while being torturing by the Khmer Rouge security guards, my mother chose not to come out and protect or at least beg forgiveness for me. The 'crimes' I committed may have seemed trivial, yet at the time they were seen by the Khmer Rouge to deserve swift punishment by death. I was caught picking mushrooms to feed my sister. She was pregnant at the time and consequently, lacking adequate food, she suffered from horrible starvation. Without permission from the revolutionary commander, I tried to obtain some mushrooms from the rice field for her. While I was angry with the Khmer Rouge security guards for beating me, I was also angry with my own mother. Thirty-five years later my mother told me that she was not among the crowd. She said she knew I was beaten up and taken away to a prison nearby, but she only arrived at the crime site after the incident.

While the experience occurred nearly 35 years ago, it continues to linger as a spot in our family relations—producing great emotion and tension. Even though many Cambodians survived the genocide, the experiences continue to impact families, communities and the country in unspoken and often indirect ways. Sometimes the wounds that heal on the inside are far more grievous than the ones on the outside. While 35 years may have covered over Cambodia's physical scars, the internal and intangible scars are the ones that bear the most intense impacts on a society's struggle to move forward.

I've met many wonderful people such as Chit Min Lay in Burma over the years, and I have seen these scars as well. Locked away for 'political crimes', many people spent the best years of their life in prison. Some suffered torture and physical wounds that speak to their intense suffering; however, it is the internal scars that bear the greatest pain on the individual and society. Many former prisoners struggle with reconnecting with their families. Lives were shattered, and family relations were often destroyed.

Likewise, ethnic and religious strife continues in Burma. Many people continue to suffer from discrimination, oppression, and the persistent threat of violence solely on the basis of their ethnic, national, or religious difference. Like Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, the concept of difference continues to overshadow our shared humanity. There is no excuse.

Related Stories

Difference does not have to lead to an "us versus them" mentality; rather it should compel an appreciation for diversity, which is a critical component to all thriving democracies. It is the life force of modern civilisation. Burma will never move forward as a country until it recognises that the vitality and future of its country is directly tied to the extent to which it is able to harness the full participation of its entire population. Countries that ignore (or in many cases, trample) their minorities are, in the least, trading the full potential for their country in exchange for a perceived increase in the security of the majority (or elite). In the worst, they are gambling the future of their country.

While Cambodia has made significant strides in its post-conflict development, it has also made many mistakes that other countries should learn from. It has taken Cambodia over 35 years since the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime to come to grips with the horrors of its history. While the prison walls built by the Khmer Rouge have been weathered by time and development, sometimes the greatest walls are not the physical ones. It is the walls that exist in our mind, built by years of oppression, discrimination, fear, violence, and atrocity that demand our utmost attention. The longer a country waits in confronting these walls, the greater the effort required to surmount them. Cambodia is a lesson in history, but it is hardly alone. The Middle East, Africa, and even the United States stand as examples of the difficult struggle that arises when countries fail to confront their problems (or rather differences).

Burma stands at an opportune time to move forward and learn from Cambodia's experiences. As brothers in history, Burma and Cambodia have much to learn from each other, and Burma does not have to repeat its brother's long struggle.

-------=================

Youk Chhang is the director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia. He has authored several articles and book chapters on Cambodia's quest for memory and justice, and is the co-editor of Cambodia's Hidden Scars: Trauma Psychology in the Wake of the Khmer Rouge (2011). He was named one of TIME magazine's "60 Asian heroes" in 2006, and one of the "Time 100" most influential people in the world in 2007 for his stand against impunity in Cambodia and elsewhere.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not reflect DVB editorial policy.


Monday, 24 August 2015

Rohingya MP banned from contesting election

Source Asian review, 23 Aug


USDP Lower House MP for Buthidaung Township Shwe Maung (Photo: Patrick Boehler / The Irrawaddy)

YANGON -- One of five lawmakers from Myanmar's Muslim Rohingya minority who have sat in the country's national and regional parliaments since 2010 has been barred from contesting the upcoming Nov. 8 national election.

Shwe Maung, speaking to the Nikkei Asian Review on Sunday, said he had received an official notice from the government's election commission that he was not eligible to run in the election - even though he holds a seat in national parliament. He said he would appeal the decision take by the district election sub-commission in Maungdaw, a Rohingya-majority district in northern Rakhine state, bordering Bangladesh.

"I have seven days to appeal and perhaps tomorrow I will make the appeal at the Rakhine state regional electoral commission," said Shwe Maung, who was elected in 2010 as a lawmaker in Myanmar's lower house, representing the Union Solidarity and Development Party, the military-backed ruling party that recently saw the purge of its erstwhile leader, Shwe Mann, the current speaker of parliament.

Shwe Maung said that the local election commission, which is part of the national Union Election Commission, said he was deemed ineligible to contest the election as his parents were not citizens of Myanmar.

Shwe Maung disputes this, saying that both his parents received national identity cards in 1952, four years after the country, then known as Burma, won its independence from Britain.

Fate Of Rohingyas In Bengal Prisons Hangs In Balance

Source Huffingtonpost, 23 Aug
 
ROHINGYA MUSLIMS INDIA
Representative image. Burmese refugees from the Rohingya community, a predominantly Muslim sect in Burma, take refuge on a street near the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) office in New Delhi on May 6, 2012. Eight hundred Burmese refugees have set up a temporary camp near the UNHCR office in South Delhi since April 9, 2012. The UNHCR has issued them asylum seeker cards but they have been demanding refugee status. AFP PHOTO/ Andrew Caballero-Reynolds (Photo credit shou | AFP via Getty Images

KOLKATA -- Over 80 Rohingya Muslims lodged in various prisons across Bengal are staring at an uncertain future as their plea to get refugee status is yet to be heard by Indian authorities.

The 83 Rohingyas, including several women, were arrested in the past five-six years when they were trying to cross over to India through Bangladesh. Of these 83, 27 have already completed their sentences but are still in jails.

"We have written to state home department and also to the MHA regarding the issue of Rohingyas lodged in Bengal prisons and also about those 27 prisoners who have already completed their sentence. But we are yet to receive any communication from them. So they are still in prison as we can't just let them go," ADG (prisons) Adhir Sharma told PTI.

He said that the matter has been informed to the state Home department and the state home department has taken up the issue with MHA.

"After we were informed by the jail authorities, we have given several reminders and letters to MHA. But there has been no concrete response," said a senior official of the state home department on condition of anonymity.

The official added that the issue of Rohingyas has been a sensitive one as there are reports that terrorist organisations have being trying to exploit the condition of Rohingyas worldwide.

"It is not just a case of a foreigner asking for refugee status. The case of Rohingyas is different from others seeking refugee status," said the official.

Just a few months ago, NGO Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), which works in coordination with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), had approached the state home department and the jail authorities so that the Rohingyas can be granted refugee status.

"Few months ago we were able to talk to the Rohingyas lodged in various prisons, and we made preparations so that their plea seeking refugee status can be forwarded to UNHRC, who had forwarded it to Ministry of Home Affairs. But as of now nothing has moved forward," said Madhurima Dhanuka, consultant with Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), told PTI.

The Rohingyas are among millions of stateless people worldwide due to the fallout of clashes with Buddhists in Myanmar. Thousands more, unregistered, are living in other parts of the country such as Jammu and Hyderabad.

According to UNHCR, there are five important pointers that cumulatively form the criteria for being termed as a 'refugee'.

"Owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership to a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of origin of his nationality and is unable or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of protection of that country," UNHCR states.

In the case of Rohingyas, there are certain laid down identification tests to differentiate between a Rohingya lodged in prison and other inmates.

"We identify a Rohingya from other inmates on the basis of geographical description, religion, language, physical features, education, occupation, and the kind of house they had in Myanmar," said Dhanuka.

According to her, an asylum seeker approaches UNHCR in New Delhi following which the UN body gives a registration form to fill asking broad details like name, country of origin and why he or she fled the country.

"Once the person fills up the form and submits it to UNHCR, the person is given status of person of concern to UNHCR. UNHCR then gives document to that effect. Following various interviews and examinations if the case is found positive she is granted refugee status and settled within his or her community," she says.

"We had managed to interview few adults and few children in Balurghat jail and Berhampur jail. Their case studies were forwarded to UNHCR office in New Delhi office," an NGO official said.

When contacted, UNHCR officials said one of the main problems with Rohingyas is that they sneak into India through Bengal from Bangladesh and are detained as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.

While talking about the number of Rohingyas having registered as refugees under UNHCR and living in India, Shuchita Mehta, Public Information Officer of UNHCR India, said, "There are around 9,150 Rohingya refugees and 2,406 asylum seekers registered with UNHCR in India."

The state home ministry official too agreed with the views of UNHCR, and said, "They don't want to go back to Myanmar fearing they would be killed and most of them identify themselves as Bangladeshis so that they can be pushed back to the neighbouring country after serving jail term."

The UNHCR official also said that it has been organising sensitisation programmes for jail officials and police officers and these were aimed towards helping the officials to identify and distinguish the Rohingyas from others and help them to appeal to UNHCR for refugee status.


Muslim Rohingya women sit inside a tent at Mansi Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Sittwe on May 14, 2013. Boats carrying scores of Rohingya Muslims fleeing a cyclone have capsized off Myanmar's coast, the UN said on May 14, heightening fears over the storm which threatens camps for tens of thousands of displaced people. (STR/AFP/Getty Images

Friday, 21 August 2015

SAARC-ASEAN Academics Observe World Humanitarian Day—Sorrowing Elegies of ‘Dying-Alive’ Rohingya Children Voiced Across Asia

Source livewirereporter, 20 Aug

Rohingya Refugees Face Health Crisis As MyanmarLam Yik Fei—Getty Images: Rosheda Bagoung holds her malnourished child inside the tent at the Dar Paing refugee camp in Sittwe, Burma, on May 10, 2014 (http://time.com/2888864/rohingya-myanmar-burma-camps-sittwe/)
The ongoing slaughtering of innocent Rohingya children is not an atrocity against an ethnic minority's small babies, but the unbroken chains atrocities and massacre outrages, against all humans and the whole humanity! SAARC-ASEAN Post-doc Academia.

Breaking Featured-News/UN Observances/Asia – August 20, 2015 – "Waging a 'genocidal-war' or a 'raging-clampdown' on small innocent children is not easy…!", remind academics from all over Asia, while observing 2015's 'World Humanitarian Day'.

"Even, when being in a war, one is going to pull the trigger on a lonely innocent baby, a myriad of thorny questions still besieges the mind—which of the stimuli can be able to justify this inhumane brutality…?—what objective can be achieved by slaughtering these 'tiny-selves'…?—what purpose can be served by thrashing these 'little beings'…?"

What's more…?—Nonethelessly, these acts of inhumaneness aren't happening in a battlefield. These are not unsystematic or all of a sudden random acts of individual or communal violence in their very 'nature of occurrence'—but are precisely methodical, systematic and state-backed executions of unprecedented cruelty and cold-bloodedness, being manifested in Burma, 'every-night-and-every-day, in an unceasing way'.

These are the 'sorrowing elegies' of dying-alive desperate children of the most persecuted lonely minority 'Rohingya'. The Rohingya's screams have been voiced and re-echoed by post-doctoral academicians across the ASEAN and SAARC regions, on the UN proclaimed World Humanitarian Day's Observance, that is marked cross-regionally for the first time  

"This is not an atrocity against an ethnic minority's small children, but the unbroken chains atrocities and massacre outrages, against all humans and the whole humanity—the humanitarian outcries, that are now well converting to a global 'mirror to the blind' as I have earlier made the facts brought-forth to the global attention, and made them admitted to the UN and rest of the world, through SAIRI report on the subject-matter", maintains Professor Dr. Aurangzeb Hafi, who documented a detailed and well-read testimonial-description on 'Rohingya Children Crisis' last month. The testimony-document was predominantly instituted to the UN and the global hierarchies in particular, and primed for the international cross-boundary academic spheres in general.     

"Every single neutral observer is now able to find much more horrific details and horrendous facts that are still secreted and, though failed, yet ut-mostly 'tried' to be kept concealed from the public eye," establishes further Dr. Hafi

"We, the academicians of ASEAN and SAARC regions, under the patronage-benefaction of Justice(R) S.S. Paru L.L.D., Chancellor Emeritus SAARC-ASEAN Post-doc Academia(Indonesia), Dr. Faisar N.M. (Sri Lanka), Dr. Bareera N.B. (Pakistan), Dr. Dass U.(India), Prof. Emeritus Dr. Zaki and Dr. Khalida M. Khan Dr. F. M. Bhatti(Pakistan), Dr. M.S.Salawal Salah from SAARC Post-doc Academia, along with tens of hundreds of other academics from all over Asia, unanimously re-echo the plea-elegies of desperate Rohingya children on this World Humanitarian Day of 2015" …. "Now… let the cries of these lonely children be our clarion call…!!!

"These longsuffering 'stateless' and 'restless' entities—the Rohingyas and their desperate children—are on their knees before the collective conscience of the world—the international community—the UN, the governments and the entire humanity." 

"These glimmering flowers are being reduced and converted to dusky coffins, floating on the Andaman Sea."

"The world has become a global village; we are all inhabitants of the same planet to which they belong, and—where alongside, they are being oppressed, thrashed, beleaguered and de-humanized—their homes being burned down—their heads being smashed on roads—their bodies being ruined and crumpled in streets—their small children being enslaved—their women being made sex-slaves—and, due to the unapproachability and inaccessibility to food and water they are forced to drink their own urine to survive…!!!

"They are like us all—their lives are as precious as our's—their small babies are like our own small kids—the children that are now crying to seek a rescue—  'begging-for-their-lives'—these desperate kids are not, but like ours…!!!"

"And, if by now, we fail, therefore, to respond at this vulnerable hour, or if the global community continues to shy away from taking a 'moral stand', then, there can be no more justifiable reason for the pursuit of a humane society or for persisting and sticking to even the least realms of humaneness!"

"We have to strive for a 'principal resolve' of the 'Rohingya Children Crisis' as a 'Moral Imperative'—if not a legal requisite!"

These were the phraseological supplications of Rohingya children, that were categorically presaged by Professor Qadhi Aurangzeb Al Hafi, earlier in SAIRI's 1st situation report on 'Rohingya Children's De-humanizing Genocidal Clamp-down'.

Media Contact
Company Name: SAARC-ASEAN Academics
Contact Person: Dr. Alex Jayawardene
Email: Send Email
Phone: 0094775993698
City: Colombo
Country: Sri Lanka
Website: http://www.thestateless.com/2015/07/hundreds-of-thousands-of-rohingya-children-at-high-risk-of-infantile-mortality-enslavement-disabilities-coercive-atrocities-bear-the-hallmarks-of-genocidal-clamp-down.html


Friday, 7 August 2015

Rohingya boat people moved to new shelter in Indonesia

Source Anadolu, 6 Aug


06 August 2015 16:33 (Last updated 06 August 2015 16:38)

Refugees who washed ashore during people smuggling crisis housed at center with rooms for families, playground for children and mosque

By Ainur Rohmah

JAKARTA 

Lonzanabibi, an 8-year-old Rohingya girl who washed up on Indonesia's coast amid Southeast Asia's recent boat people crisis, jumped onto a playground immediately after arriving at a new shelter complex Thursday.

The burning sun did not deter her or other Rohingya children from exploring the play area – a new experience for them after their stay at refugee camps – as their laughter rang though the compound in Aceh province, where they will be accommodated in coming months.

Around 330 Rohingya were moved Thursday to the Integrated Community Shelter, built by Jakarta-based organization Aksi Cepat Tanggap (Fast Action Response) with Rp 6 billion ($420,000) in funding from various parties, both inside and outside of the country.

The complex -- which stands on an area of 5 hectares -- has 120 rooms, with each Rohingya family receiving their own while single refugees are placed into two barracks - one for men and one for women.

While settling in Thursday, the adults could be seen moving household items and bags of clothes, the mothers arranging the rooms shared by their families.

Surakhatu, a 28-year-old mother-of-three, told Anadolu Agency that after spending several months at sea before arriving in Aceh in early May, the shelter was like a new home.

"I am delighted to have a new home. My kids were also happy," she said, her face lighting up.

Surakhatu was forced to leave Myanmar like hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya who have been fleeing the majority Buddhist country since 2012 in fear of violence that some human rights groups consider to be state-sponsored.

After arriving in Indonesia following months on a crammed boat, she and hundreds of others had been accommodated at a fishing complex in crowded and unsanitary conditions, before being moved to a job training center while the shelter was under construction.

Dicky Saputra, National Committee of Solidarity for the Rohingya coordinator, told Anadolu Agency on Thursday that the volunteers at the new complex "are very happy to see the faces of the refugees, especially the children who seem happy when entering our shelter fence."

"They like having a new spirit. All look cheerful," he said.

He added that before the transfer, they had communicated with the refugees on how to maintain order and security at the shelter.

"We ask them to keep the clean environment. Including how they have to care for the garden and trees in the shelter," he said.

The complex – completed within a month and divided into 15 blocks -- is equipped with 46 bathrooms, two teaching rooms, a health clinic, a children's playground, a park and a mosque.

"The shelter is designed with a variety of facilities above [the quality of an] average refugee camp," he said.

Laila Khalidah, one of the volunteers, admitted that she was touched to see the enthusiasm among the refugees.

"It is like all of my tiring and hard work paid off, seeing the joy of the children and refugees once inside the shelter," she told Anadolu Agency.

Fast Action Response's executive director, Sri Eddy Kuncuro, had earlier said that community development programs would be run inside the complex, including training in agriculture, keeping livestock and fishing.

In May, a crackdown on people smuggling in Thailand - to which many of the Rohingya had traveled by boat in an effort to get to Malaysia and beyond - scared traffickers into abandoning up to 4,500 migrants on boats in the Andaman Sea.

Around 1000 of the Rohingya ended up in Aceh. Many of the Rohingya have been staying in sports centers, warehouses, and fishing complexes since they first arrived.

Indonesia's government - along with Malaysia - has offered to shelter the thousands of Rohingya, ascertain which are genuine refugees and which are migrants, and house them for one year.

After that, it has asked the international community to take the refugees in.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Myanmar floods affect 21,000 Rohingya Muslims

Source Presstv, 5 Aug

Soldiers and rescue workers load food aid onto a military helicopter in Sittwe airport in Myanmar's Rakhine state on August 4, 2015 (AFP)
Soldiers and rescue workers load food aid onto a military helicopter in Sittwe airport in Myanmar's Rakhine state on August 4, 2015 (AFP

Heavy rains and flooding caused by cyclone Komen in Myanmar affects camps housing thousands of Rohingya Muslims who were displaced by ethnic violence in the country's Rakhine state, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says.

"In 24 camps assessed so far, a quarter of the temporary shelters are damaged, and more than 21,000 displaced people affected as a result," said UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards on Tuesday.

Alongside Chin state and the Sagaing and Magway regions, Rakhine has been declared a natural disaster zone by the Myanmar government.

"The floods are hitting children and families who are already very vulnerable, including those living in camps in Rakhine state," said Shalini Bahuguna, from the UN Children's Fund on Monday.

According to reports, security forces turned out Muslims from abandoned schools and community centers where they had taken shelter.

An aerial view shows floodwaters inundating houses and vegetation in Kalaymyo, in Myanmar's Sagaing region, on August 3, 2015. (AFP)

Also On Monday, the Myanmar government announced that 39 people had died due the flooding that has so far affected over 200,000 people.

The UN recognizes the Rohingya Muslims as one of the world's most persecuted communities, who were forced to move from their homes to make-shift coastal camps in 2012, following deadly attacks by government-backed Buddhist extremists.

The Slow-Burning Genocide Of Myanmar's Rohingya

Source maungzarni, 10 July
 

By Maung Zarni and Alice Cowley

Abstract: Since 1978, the Rohingya, a Muslim minority of Western Burma, have been subject to a state-sponsored process of destruction. The Rohingya have deep historical roots in the borderlands of Rakhine State, Myanmar, and were recognized officially both as citizens and as an ethnic group by three successive governments of post-independence Burma. In 1978, General Ne Win's socialist military dictatorship launched the first large-scale campaign against the Rohingya in Rakhine State with the intent first of expelling them en masse from Western Burma and subsequently legalizing the systematic erasure of Rohingya group identity and legitimizing their physical destruction. This on-going process has continued to the present day under the civilian-military rule of President Thein Sein's government. Since 2012, the Rohingya have been subject to renewed waves of hate campaigns and accompanying violence, killings and ostracization that aim both to destroy the Rohingya and to permanently remove them from their ancestral homes in Rakhine State.

Findings from the authors' three-year research on the plight of the Rohingya lead us to conclude that Rohingya have been subject to a process of slow-burning genocide over the past thirty-five years. The destruction of the Rohingya is carried out both by civilian populations backed by the state and perpetrated directly by state actors and state institutions. Both the State in Burma and the local community have committed four out of five acts of genocide as spelled out by the 1948 Convention on the Punishment and Prevention of the Crime of Genocide. Despite growing evidence of genocide, the international community has so far avoided calling this large scale human suffering genocide because no powerful member states of the UN Security Council have any appetite to forego their commercial and strategic interests in Burma to address the slow-burning Rohingya genocide.
- See more at: http://www.maungzarni.net/2014/07/the-slow-burning-genocide-of-myanmars.html#sthash.1NSCcgRU.dpuf

Friday, 31 July 2015

Inside Sittwe, the Point of No Return for Myanmar’s Displaced Rohingya

Source VICE, 28 July

By Paul Gregoire

Sittwe beach. All photos by the author.

Sittwe is the capital of Rakhine, the second poorest state in Myanmar. The city sits at the point where the Kaladan River converges with the Bay of Bengal. Fishing is a major industry and the economy is set to benefit from a deep-water port under construction, funded by the Indian government. It was also one of the major set off points for the estimated 25,000 Rohingya - an ethnic Muslim minority - that fled the country in boats between January and March this year.

VICE recently paid a visit to this restive city, in north-western Myanmar, and found a state-sanctioned system of segregation that has left the Rohingya — a people the United Nations has described as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world — stateless and deprived.


A main intersection in Sittwe

In May this year, world attention was focused upon the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Andaman Sea, when thousands of Rohingya and Bangladeshi refugees were stranded in rickety boats after Thai authorities cracked down on people smuggling routes. As the asylum seekers made their way south, Malaysia and Indonesia began turning back the boats and reports emerged of smugglers abandoning their ships leaving their human cargo adrift.

Later in the month, Malaysia and Indonesia announced they would accept the refugees, as long as they were repatriated or resettled within a year.

Jama Mosque has been closed for three years

Today, Sittwe appears Muslim-free, with little trace of the Rohingya population. One of the most prominent buildings on the main road is the Jama Mosque, but it has been closed for the last three years. The laneway leading to the mosque is cordoned off by barbwire stanchions and armed guards sit at the entrance. Sittwe market was once the site of many Rohingya-owned stores, but now none remain in Muslim hands.

Sittwe was one of the major flashpoints of the 2012 riots, which drove around 140,000 Rohingya people into internally displaced persons (IDP) camps throughout the state. The sectarian violence broke out in June, 2012, which for the most part saw extreme factions of the state's majority Rakhine Buddhist population violently attacking and burning down Rohingya villages.

Rohingya-run stalls are no longer found at Sittwe market

The violence was instigated by the alleged rape and murder of a Buddhist women by three Muslim men in Kyaukphyu township and the reprisal killings of 10 Muslim people dragged off a bus in Taungup township a few days later.

In Sittwe, the attacks moved from one Rohingya area to the next, while the violence spread state-wide from township to township.

In October 2012, a more coordinated set of attacks was perpetrated upon Rohingya villages in nine townships throughout the state. The Myanmar government and local authorities are reported to have stood by or participated in the attacks. The official death toll of the 2012 riots was around 200 people.

Attacks perpetrated against the Rohingya have continued periodically over the last three years, with a group of fishermen being attacked in Pauktaw township in January this year.

The Rohingya camp in Sittwe. An estimated 140,000 people live in camps like these in Myanmar.

Beyond the main road in Sittwe lies Aung Mingalar a part of the city where an estimated 4,000 Rohingya still live. The area effectively functions as a prison: it's fenced off, the entrances are guarded by police and the inhabitants are not allowed to leave. On the day I approached the roadblocks, the police were not welcoming foreigners in.

Aung Win, a Rohingyan rights activist, lives in Aung Mingalar with his family. He told me that the situation is dire for those living in the ghetto. They must seek permission to visit the market in government arranged security trucks and have no access to medical services. "When we have the infection, we cannot go to the hospital that is very close," he said, adding the authorities are tightening security because the Myanmar general election is about to take place in November.

But the majority of the nation's estimated 1.3 million Rohingya won't be able to vote in the elections, as their citizenship has been revoked.

The 1982 Citizenship Law doesn't recognise the Rohingya as a national ethnic group and denies citizenship to individuals who cannot provide evidence their ancestors settled in the country before 1823, the year the British began their occupation of Rakhine state, then known as Arakan.

Even though there is evidence the Rohingya were living in the state between the mid-fifteenth to late eighteenth centuries, if not more than 1,000 years ago, this law has rendered them stateless. And the government refers to the Rohingya as Bengalis, effectively denying them a separate ethic group.

According to Aung Win, it's not average Rakhine people who are the problem, it's the nationalists, extremists and politicians. "You must understand that. For nearly three years, we're living in the slum area without sufficient food and aid, so many Rakhine people are sending the items we need," he explained.

But the majority of the local Rohingya population are living in IDP camps, west of the city, along the coast of the Bay of Bengal. The conditions are grim: there's little food, no access to medical services and no employment. Many live in flimsy huts with little protection against the monsoon rains.

Rohingya kids playing on the beach road

Walking down the road heading out to the camps, I again came across another roadblock. A police officer denied access, so I doubled back down to the beach. On the way, I passed a building with large UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) tents out the back.

Vivian Tan, UNHCR spokesperson for Southeast Asia, said the agency has been operating in the area since June 2012, alongside the government, UN and NGO counterparts. "As part of the inter-agency humanitarian response, UNHCR has been leading efforts to provide relief supplies, temporary shelter, protection, monitoring and advocacy, as well as camp coordination and management," she said.

Making my way down the beachside road towards the strip known as Ohn Daw Gyi - the area where many of the refugee boats leave - I came to a section where the road is no longer paved. In the distance there was a group of people and to the right, across the field, there were newly-built IDP camp shelters and beyond an area of makeshift ones.

On approach, the group made up of Rohingya children, came up close, some barely clothed. One older boy came to the front, putting his hand to his stomach and then his mouth in a gesture showing hunger. Three young women walked up. One, holding a piece of UNHCR tarpaulin fashioned as a bag, communicated that they were from the camps.

These people have been pushed to the edge, deprived of services, occupation and legal recourse. With no place left to run, they're being forced to risk their lives on the high seas.

Follow Paul on Twitter: @paulrgregoire

Like us on Facebook for more great stories right in your feed:


Aid group forced to stop helping flood victims on Ma Ba Tha orders

Source mmtimes, 30 July

Hardline monks have flexed their muscles amid the desolation of Sagaing Region's floods, ordering a prominent aid group to leave the area and describing National League for Democracy and other volunteers as "troublemaking groups".

A Chanmya Thukha ambulance parks in Kawlin shortly before the local aid group returned to Mandalay on July 28. (Wa Lone/The Myanmar Times)

A Chanmya Thukha ambulance parks in Kawlin shortly before the local aid group returned to Mandalay on July 28. (Wa Lone/The Myanmar Times)

Flooding has devastated large areas of northern Sagaing Region, with Kawlin the worst-affected area. A total of 48,532 people in Kawlin – more than one-third of its population of 145,297 – were affected by the flooding, the Relief and Resettlement Department reported on July 23, with many forced to leave their homes.

But the secretary of the Kawlin township branch of the Committee for the Protection of Race and Religion, better known by its Myanmar-language acronym Ma Ba Tha, insisted in an interview with The Myanmar Times that aid could only be delivered with approval of a central committee set up by the government, local civil society and the township Sangha committee.

On July 27, the Ma Ba Tha branch told the Mandalay-based social welfare organisation Chanmya Thukha to leave Kawlin because it had not coordinated its activities with this central committee and also ignored instructions from senior Ma Ba Tha monks in the area.

"We demanded they leave Kawlin because the groups sent by Chanmya Thukha … just did what they wanted to do by collaborating with illegal groups from the NLD and other troublemaking organisations," said U Dhammasiri, secretary of the Ma Ba Tha branch in Kawlin.

U Dhammasiri added that Ma Ba Tha would "not take responsibility if unregistered groups face any problems" in Kawlin.

"In providing relief here, we have to manage the timing with the central committee. Nobody's allowed to just deliver aid separately, in any way they want."

U Dhammasiri said Chanmya Thukha had been reported to Kawlin township's General Administration Department and the commander of the local Light Infantry Division.

The Kawlin Flood Victim Relief Committee was formed by government departments, local philanthropic groups and the township Sangha Nayaka Committee shortly after heavy rains brought flooding to the township in mid-July.

Chanmya Thukha returned to Mandalay on July 28, but said the decision to do so was not related to the Ma Ba Tha order. However, the NLD office in Kawlin confirmed that the group's departure was because of "severe and repeated" warnings from Ma Ba Tha. Chanmya Thukha transferred its remaining supplies to the Kawlin Flood Victim Relief Committee when it departed for Mandalay.

More than 50 volunteers from the group had been distributing relief to people affected by flooding since July 22. They had stationed themselves at San Thaw Thar home for the aged near Ywarma village, at the edge of Kawlin town, and worked together with local organisations and others from Yangon, Pakokku in Magwe Region and Twante in rural Yangon.

Chanmya Thukha member Ko Thar Nyi rejected suggestions that his organisation had done anything "illegal".

"We were providing relief to real flood victims there," he said.

NLD members in Kawlin had also used the home for the aged as a base for their relief programs, with about 30 volunteers helping to provide supplies to needy households.

Daw Phyu Phyu Win, the head of the party's Kawlin branch, said the NLD had helped Chanmya Thukha set up their relief operation but they were working separately. She described the dispute as "shameful".

"We helped the victims and [Chanmya Thukha] cared for our people in the same way. That these problems happened in our township is so shameful," she said.

Other Ma Ba Tha members sought to distance themselves from U Dhammasiri's fiery remarks.

U Pandicca from War Yone Tone monastery in Kawlin said his comments did not reflect the opinion of all of the group's members in Kawlin.

"Because of this, many flood victims might suffer loss. Donor groups should provide aid freely. Don't stop providing assistance," he said, pledging his support to help any group that encountered difficulties delivering assistance.

The conflict between Ma Ba Tha and Chanmya Thukha was the result of a "misunderstanding", said Ko Aung Myo Wai, a spokesperson for the Kawlin Flood Victim Relief Committee.

He insisted that the committee was not formed to control donors.

"We don't want our people to be treated as though they are beggars so we are just requesting donors not to distribute aid in this way," he said. "We never supervise donors or ask them to inform us about their activities."

Translation by Thiri Min Htun

Monday, 27 July 2015

US-Backed Racist to Run in Myanmar’s Elections

Source globalresearch, 24 JulyMyanmar

Meet Ko Ko Gyi. He is a US-funded agitator working hard to reinstate Western hegemony in Myanmar (still referred to by its British imperial nomenclature "Burma" by the Western press) since at least the late 1980's. Now, he seeks to take the next step, running for office in upcoming elections, but in order to do so, the West will now have to cover up his dark past and his controversial present.

550859_393

His "88 Generation Students" group is described by the BBC as:

The 88 Generation Students group is synonymous with the long struggle for democracy in military-ruled Burma.

Its name comes from the 1988 uprising, when troops opened fire on mass student demonstrations in Rangoon, leading to the deaths of thousands of people.

In addition to the 1988 protests, he and his group would join others, including throngs of saffron-clad "monks" during the so-called "Saffron Revolution" in 2007. Together with Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party, these three groups form a trifecta of foreign-funded sociopolitical destabilization, subversion, and serve together as a vector for Western special interests seeking to reenter and despoil the Southeast Asian state's economy, resources, and sovereignty.

550859_393

There is, however, another factor, all three groups share – a passionate, racist hatred of the Rohingya people – many of whom have lived in Myanmar for generations. This racist hatred has manifested itself not only in words, but also in violence. Mobs led by Suu Kyi's "saffron monks" have raided Rohingya communities, hacking to death their inhabitants and burning to the ground their homes. Those who survive end up in refugee camps which are likewise raided by Suu Kyi's followers, or driven into the sea in such large numbers they are sometimes referred to as the "boat people."

Ko Ko Gyi has previously articulated his views on the Rohingya. In a report titled, "'Trauma Will Last Long Time': Ko Ko Gyi," posted by the US State Department-funded propaganda clearinghouse "Irrawaddy" it states that:

In early June, Ko Ko Gyi accused "neighboring countries" of fueling the unrest in Arakan State, and stated categorically that the 88 Generation group will not recognize the Rohingyas as an ethnicity of Burma. He said that his organization and its followers are willing to take up arms alongside the military in order to fight back against "foreign invaders."

The Rohingya people have been living in Myanmar for centuries, with many being brought in generations ago by the British Empire as part of a wider strategy of divide and conquer across South and Southeast Asia. Ko Ko Gyi's comments would resonate well with his ideological counterparts in the Ku Klux Klan in the United States who are often fond of stating how African-Americans aren't truly Americans and should be "shipped back to Africa."

To drive home the point of Ko Ko Gyi's absolute and utter racism, he was also quoted as saying:

Genetically, culturally and linguistically Rohingya is not absolutely related to any ethnicity in Myanmar.

Ko Ko Gyi says his followers are "willing to take up arms" against the Rohingya, but it seems that his followers and his "saffron" allies have already long ago resorted to violence in their bid to "racially cleanse" Myanmar. It is difficult to distinguish Ko Ko Gyi and his 88 Generation Students group from the Ku Klux Klan, Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party, and other political factions around the globe and throughout human history that denigrated and dehumanized their enemies based on genetics, culture, linguistics, and ethnicity.

US Supports Myanmar's Rabid Racists

2342666677

Myanmar's opposition, composed of Suu Kyi's NLD, her "saffron" supporters, student groups like 88 Generation, and a myriad of NGOs are all funded, directed, and supported by the US State Department through extensive backing via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and other corporate-financier organizations including George Soros' Open Society Foundation.

The British-based "Burma Campaign UK" published an extensive report detailing US and British backing of these networks in a report titled, "FAILING THE PEOPLE OF BURMA? A call for a review of DFID policy on Burma." Not only does the report expose immense support for these groups, it argues that despite the vast amounts of funding being channeled to them, it is not enough.

The report details the specifics of each organization involved, including the National Endowment for Democracy (NED):

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED – see Appendix 1, page 27) has been at the forefront of our program efforts to promote democracy and improved human rights in Burma since 1996. We are providing $2,500,000 in FY 2003 funding from the Burma earmark in the Foreign Operations legislation. The NED will use these funds to support Burmese and ethnic minority democracy-promoting organizations through a sub-grant program. The projects funded are designed to disseminate information inside Burma supportive of Burma's democratic development, to create democratic infrastructures and institutions, to improve the collection of information on human rights abuses by the Burmese military and to build capacity to support the restoration of democracy when the appropriate political openings occur and the exiles/refugees return.

The role of US State Department-run Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Voice of America (VOA) is also discussed in detail, including the revelation that US foreign policy specifically supports and actively promotes Aung San Suu Kyi and "her" agenda, stating:

Both Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA) have Burmese services. VOA broadcasts a 30-minute mix of international news and information three times a day. RFA broadcasts news and information about Burma two hours a day. VOA and RFA websites also contain audio and text material in Burmese and English. For example, VOA's October 10, 2003 editorial, "Release Aung San Suu Kyi" is prominently featured in the Burmese section of VOAnews.com. RFA's website makes available audio versions of 16 Aung San Suu Kyi's speeches from May 27 and 29, 2003. U.S. international broadcasting provides crucial information to a population denied the benefits of freedom of information by its government.

The US also pours vast resources into organizations affiliated with Aung San Suu Kyi, including "Prospect Burma":

The State Department provided $150,000 in FY 2001/02 funds to provide scholarships to young Burmese through Prospect Burma, a partner organization with close ties to Aung San Suu Kyi. With FY 2003/04 funds, we plan to support Prospect Burma's work given the organization's proven competence in managing scholarships for individuals denied educational opportunities by the continued repression of the military junta, but committed to a return to democracy in Burma.

Another active appendage executing US foreign policy is convicted financial criminal George Soros and his organization Open Society. Open Society not only funds and coordinates with the above mentioned "Prospect Burma," but also directly funds specific activities, literally training an army of subversion meant to return to Myanmar and overthrow the government:

Our assistance to the Open Society Institute (OSI) (until 2004) provides partial support for a program to grant scholarships to Burmese refugee students who have fled Burma and wish to continue their studies at the undergraduate, or post-graduate level. Students typically pursue degrees in social sciences, public health, medicine, anthropology, and political science. Priority is given to students who express a willingness to return to Burma or work in their refugee communities for the democratic and economic reform of the country.

NED is also cited as behind the creation of a vast propaganda network including the New Era Journal, the Irrawaddy, and the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) radio, all posing as "independent" media sources despite the fact they are in reality fully-funded by the US government.

Additionally, a 2007 Reuters article titled, "Myanmar information window closing, says dissident," would reveal another propaganda outlet created by and maintained not by the people of Myanmar, but by the US State Department. Reuters reported:

The United States helps fund Mizzima through its National Endowment for Democracy, one source of the generals' assertions that the protests are the result of outside agitation.

Reuters would also report that the Editor-In-Chief of US-funded Mizzima was (and still is) Soe Myint, a terrorist guilty of hijacking a passenger liner – a terrorist act committed before receiving US funding to start his propaganda outfit. Reuters would report:

Myint and a friend hit the headlines in 1990 when he hijacked a Thai International Airways plane to protest the junta's rejection of elections won by pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy. He used fake bombs made out of soap cases to hijack the plane flying from Bangkok to Yangon with 220 passengers on board. The two friends were released in 1991 after a three-month jail term and were recognised as refugees in India.

It appears that in addition to backing a movement predicated on racial purity and genocide, the United States and their British partners are also literally funding convicted terrorists.

As Ko Ko Gyi Runs for Office, Western Press Covers Up His Racism

This then returns to the subject of Ko Ko Gyi. Reuters has now reported that he and members of his 88 Generation Students group will be running in the place of many NLD members including Suu Kyi herself. The report titled, "Myanmar '88 student leader joins Suu Kyi's party to run in polls," states:

"Ko Ko Gyi and some other members from the '88 Generation students group will run in the next general election representing our party," Nyan Win, a spokesman for Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), told Reuters.

Reuters claims that Ko Ko Gyi was a "leader of student protests in Myanmar in 1988 that grew into a nationwide pro-democracy movement." Nowhere is Ko Ko Gyi's racist views and calls for genocide mentioned – and considering how long he has held these views and the verifiable violence these views have manifested themselves in, it seems more than an oversight by Reuters and instead an intentional cover up.

By placing Ko Ko Gyi in a vacuum isolated from his bigotry, racism, and violence, Reuters affords him legitimacy he and his Western sponsors will be unable to contest upcoming elections without. Should Ko Ko Gyi and the rest of the West's proxies fail to win the elections, their perceived legitimacy will be necessary when they form street mobs and begin carrying out provocations across the country.

Should the global public understand that Suu Kyi and her political allies are foreign-funded bigots, racists, and genocidal thugs, little they do and little done to them in return will invoke sympathy. Again, just as in Syria where the West is backing Al Qaeda, in Ukraine where the West is backing literal Nazis, and now in Myanmar, the absolute worst has been brought together within a targeted nation to create a violent, loud front with which the West can smash local institutions and overwrite them with neo-liberal alternatives that answer to Washington, Wall Street, London, and Brussels.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".

Thursday, 23 July 2015

The Myanmar Government’s Systematic Destruction of the Rohingya

Source genocidewatch

The Myanmar Government's Systematic Destruction of the Rohingya

By Dr. Nora Rowley, M.D.

22 July 2015

Since 1962, the Burman Buddhist supremacist government of Myanmar has ruled with an exclusionary, authoritarian ideology. Rohingya of Rakhine State are excluded from citizenship and brutally persecuted because of their ethnicity. The government's policies were described in 2000 as "Ethnic Cleansing" by the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues1 and in 2010, as Crimes Against Humanity by the Irish Center for Human Rights2. These policies continue in the current Rakhine Crisis. Persecution of Rohingya has finally attracted attention as many hundreds of Rohingya have drowned while trying to escape from Rakhine State in rickety fishing boats.

In 1982, the Burman supremacist government stripped most Rohingya of their citizenship. They were renamed "Bengalis," and reclassified as foreign to Myanmar. Rohingya speak a different language and are not "Benglais," a different ethnic group that lives mostly in Bangladesh. Their only common identity is that both groups are Muslim. The government claimed that the Rohingya were colonial era settlers from Bengal, British India, denying the fact that Rohingya have lived in Rakhine State for hundreds of years. This denial of citizenship has rendered Rohingya effectively stateless.

Because neither Bangladesh nor India accept Rohingya as "Bengalis", Rohingya are prey to international trafficking, exploitation and abuse. Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia refuse them and send their boats back out to the open seas, where many die from starvation or dehydration.

Despite direct appeals by President Obama and other world leaders, the Myanmar government has refused to reinstate Rohingya citizenship. It has violently forced Rohingya to accept the "Bengali" label, which Rohingya reject. Government officials and other Buddhist extremists, including some of their Buddhist Rakhine neighbors, vilify Rohingya as illegal Bangladesh invaders. They falsely charge that Rohingya intend violent Islamist conquest of Myanmar and forced conversion of Buddhists.

Even after reforms in Myanmar that freed Aung San Suu Kyi, the "transitional" national government has maintained the military dictatorship's authoritarian control of Rakhine State, including selection of all state government officials, control over national security forces, and control of movement, access and communications. Aung San Suu Kyi has remained silent about the Rohingyas' plight, ignoring pleas from other Nobel laureates, including Archbishop Tutu.

The Myanmar government's narrative blames the Rohingya victims for provoking the Rakhine Crisis. The official narrative claims that "Bengalis," i.e. Rohingya, started killing and arson attacks upon ethnic Rakhine in downtown Maungdaw on June 8, 2012. The narrative portrays national security forces as neutral peacekeepers and protectors for both the "Bengali" and Rakhine communities. What followed was Rakhine communal vengeance provoked by the "Bengali" aggression.

My personal investigation, including in-depth interviews and eye-witness testimonies from over 118 Rohingya, and many other survivors and witnesses to the Rakhine Crisis has revealed a narrative diametrically opposed to the official narrative. The forced deportation of Rohingya from Sittwe city was planned by the national government leadership, national security forces and the local Rakhine officials in

2010, two years before the deportations. Two months before the Crisis began, some Rakhine citizens received reports of government plans to drive Muslims out of Rakhine State. Two weeks before the violence, Sittwe Rakhine were informed of the plan of attack and promised protection. Since 2012, Myanmar officials have been committing systematic and organized destruction of Rohingya in Rakhine state, i.e.. This is not only persecution. It is actual Genocide3.

On June 8, 2012, in Maungdaw Township, national and local security forces and ethnic Rakhine initiated deadly offensive violence against Rohingya. They committed mass killings, forced displacement, arson and pillage. Beginning June 9, 2012, attacks against Rohingya spread in urban Sittwe. These attacks were preceded by planning and preparation, mass evacuation and refuge for ethnic Rakhine. Restrictions on Rohingya movement trapped and concentrated them, resulting in Rohingya mass casualties.

On June 11, 2012, national security forces began mass arrests of Rohingya, including women and children, but especially targeting young men and teens, rich, educated, community leaders and relief staff. Beating and torture commonly accompanied Rohingya arrests. They were imprisoned. Though some arrested Rohingya were able to bribe their way to freedom, most remained in prison, if they survived. Many simply disappeared after arrest.

Security forces and ethnic Rakhine have continued to kill, torture and otherwise harm Rohingya with impunity. Many Rohingya have died from being refused hospital treatment. Credible allegations continue that Rohingya patients, mostly women in childbirth and/or their newborns have been killed in Siitwe and Maungdaw Township Government Hospitals, where most Rohingya are referred for hospital care.

During the ongoing Rakhine Crisis, more Rohingya and other Muslims have been displaced or trapped where they live than are registered as internally displaced persons (IDP's.) On the other hand, more ethnic Rakhine have been registered as IDPs and have received relief than were attacked. In spite of this, the Myanmar government claims that international assistance has been "biased toward Bengalis."

The Myanmar government restricts humanitarian and development relief to Rohingya. The government has blocked international investigation into the Rakhine Crisis. Witnesses to the violence against Rohingya have been killed, tortured, imprisoned and banished. Doctors Without Borders (MSF-H) was expelled from Rakhine State. The Rohingya currently receive almost no medical care. Deaths in childbirth, from ordinary infections, and other preventable causes have skyrocketed.

Since the 1990's the national government has imposed birth and marriage restrictions upon Rohingya. Rohingya couples are permitted only two children, and must hide any other offspring during home inspections. The Rakhine Crisis has brought a surge in rape against Muslim women, children and men. Rohingya women have been held as sex slaves and impregnated in a Sittwe military camp.

 

The Rakhine Crisis is the first national government campaign of violence against Rohingya that has included large-scale local ethnic Rakhine participation. Violence by local militias has given the national government a way to deny its own responsibility.

The Myanmar government official death toll of 200 from June through October 2012 grossly understates the number of deaths. Starting June 8, 2012 in urban Maungdaw , where anti-Rohingya massacres started, every night, military truckloads of dead Rohingya bodies were dumped off a bridge at the edge of east urban Maungdaw.These bodies were dug up and moved by the time the first international diplomatic visitors flew in helicopters into Maungdaw. Such cover-ups are a classic tactic of denial.

https://www.fidh.org/IMG/pdf/arakbirm.pdf FIDH (2000) Burma repression, discrimination and ethnic cleansing in Arakan FIDH International Mission of Inquiry April 2000

2 Irish Centre for Human Rights (2010) Crimes Against Humanity in Western Burma: The Situation of Rohingyas

3 "Acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group" What is Genocide?

http://www.genocidewatch.org/genocide/whatisit.html