Sunday, 14 December 2014

A Briefing by Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK : The Humanitarian Crisis of Rohingya in Rakhine State

Source BROUK, 12 Dec

Recent violence against the Rohingya

In June and October 2012 there were large scale violent attacks against the ethnic Rohingya in Rakhine State. Ethnic Kaman Muslims were also targeted. In addition there were widespread and numerous other incidents of violence, intimidation and harassment against the Rohingya. 


International organisations which investigated this violence, including Human Rights Watch, gathered evidence that the attacks met the international legal definition of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

Humanitarian consequences of recent violence

Estimates of those killed in the violence range from several hundred to more than a thousand. The UNHCR has said that in the two years since the violence began more than 80,000 Rohingya have fled Burma by boat. Around 140,000 Rohingyawho were forced to flee their homes now live in temporary camps where humanitarian access is severely restricted as a result of Burmese government policies and the failure of thegovernment to ensure a secure environment for delivery of aid.

Context of the humanitarian crisis

While the appalling conditions of the Rohingya in camps in Rakhine State since 2012 has received international attention, the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State is not new. Since the 1960s governments in Burma have gradually introduced laws and policies designed to repress and impoverish the Rohingya, and drive them out of Burma. Increasing poverty and blocking economic development of the Rohingya is a deliberate and integral part of the Burmese governmentsRohingya policy. Since the reform process began under President Thein Sein in 2011, the application

 

Recommendations

• United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon should personally take the lead in negotiating free and unhindered international humanitarian access in Rakhine State. Individual governments should encourage Ban Ki-moon to take up this issue and give high-level support to his efforts. 

• Governments need to make it clear that futurepositive diplomatic relations are contingent on unhindered humanitarian access, reform of the 1982 Citizenship Law, and abolishment of discriminatory policies and practices against the Rohingya.

 
• Diplomats and UN ofcials should use the word "Rohingya" both in public and private. By avoiding the term, they legitimise the Burmese government's ongoing discrimination and campaign to portray the Rohingya as illegal immigrants.

 
• The humanitarian crisis for the Rohingya in Burma is part of a systematic policy of impoverishment of the Rohingya. These policies may constitute crimes against humanity, and have helped lead to ethnic cleansing. The international community should support the establishment of an independent international investigation into possible violations of international law against the Rohingya in Burma.

 
• Robust and specic language on the Rohingya mustbe included in the next United Nations Human Rights Council resolution on Burma. This should include use of the word "Rohingya," demand unhindered humanitarian access, reform of the 1982 Citizenship Law and lifting of alldiscriminatory policies, and establish a UN Commission of Inquiry into possible violations of international law against the Rohingya in Burma.

 


of these policies has been stepped up, leading to a serious deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation in Rakhine State.

Buddhist nationalists led Burma's struggle for independence and this nationalism is central to politics in Burma today. In 1961 Buddhism was declared the state religion. Following this declaration a series of laws and policies were introduced designed to repress and impoverish Muslim ethnic Rohingya. These include the notorious 1982 Citizenship Law, which effectively denies citizenship to the Rohingya, and the 1988 banning of Rohingya from travelling outside Rakhine State. 

Other policies and laws introduced include restrictions on Rohingya travelling from some townships to others, and even within some townships, checkpoints on roads targeting only Rohingya which include body searches and extortion of money, restrictions on marriage through a tax fee requirement, arbitrary taxation on a wide range of activities, even including death of cattle, forced labour, land conscation, arbitrary arrests and extortion for releasing the person arrested, almost no  provision of government services such as health, education or infrastructure in Rohingya areas.

All of these policies are part of a systematic approach of impoverishing and oppressing the 
Rohingya in order to attempt to drive them out of Burma. They are deliberately designed so that there can be an element of deniability by central government, which tries to blame some of these  policies on local authorities, rogue individual police and security officers, and a lack of adequatetraining.

The humanitarian consequences

Even before the violence in 2012, the humanitarian consequences of decades of government 
repression and impoverishment of the Rohingya were severe. While the government has traditionally failed to provide adequate services to the population in Rakhine State, including for the ethnic Rakhine, services were very limited, and especially for the Rohingya. Rohingya arefrequently denied access to hospitals and clinics. 

• 70% of Rohingya have no access to safe water/sanitation services
• In the Maungdaw Rohingya District there is just one doctor per 160,000 people. The World 
Health Organisation 
    recommends one doctor per 5,000 people.
• Only 2% of Rohingya women give birth in hospital.
• 44% of the population of Rakhine State lives below the poverty line, almost 20 percent higher than the average in 
    most parts of Burma.

Government restrictions placed on humanitarian aid

"…the deprivation of health care is deliberately targeting the Rohingya population, and that the increasingly permanent segregation of that population is taking place. Furthermore, he believes that those human rights violations are connected to discriminatory and persecutory policies against the Rohingya Muslim population, which also include ongoing official and unofficial practices from bothlocal and central authorities restricting rights to nationality, movement, marriage, family, health andprivacy.

"
Report  of  the  Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, April 2014.

• International organisations have to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government which is more
   restrictive than in most countries and can take years to obtain.
• The MoU limits what an organisation can do, so if they 
  want to work in a new area or provide 
a different service to meet a newly identied need they have to start difcult and 
    lengthy 
negotiations.
• The government uses 'security concerns' to block humanitarian access to certain places at certain times.

• Foreign staff need special visas to enter Burma and only limited numbers of visas 

  are     given. Aid   workers have had visas denied.
• In times of emergency restrictions on numbers of visas given still apply, effectively 

  stopping an    adequate response, such as when Hurricane Giri struck Rakhine State.
• Foreign staff who are given visas can face restrictions on where they are allowed to go

   within Burma,     and only be allowed in the country for a short period. 
• Travel authorisations are needed for Burmese humanitarian staff going to remote

         areas. These often  need renewing every month and may be delayed or denied.
• Rohingya staff working for international organisations face additional travel  

  estrictions. These have become much stricter since the violence in 2012.
• Rohingya humanitarian aid workers working for international organisations, including

   the United  Nations, have been subject to arbitrary arrest and detention.
• Several days advance notice needs to be given to the government before aid workers

  can   travel to  some areas.
• Overall, access has become more difficult and restrictions more severe since the

  violence in   2012,  despite the need for humanitarian assistance increasing.
• Permission to stay overnight in remote areas is often denied, and as travel times make

   going to a  place and back in one day impossible, projects are effectively blocked

   without    officially being denied.
• The government has not taken effective action to stop the spread of misinformation and

   incitement of    violence against international humanitarian aid organisations and their

   employees.
• Government of
cials and leading politicians have directly or indirectly supported or

  appeared to support the spread of misinformation and incitement of violence against

   international humanitarian  organisations.
• Aid organisations, including MSF, have faced threats of expulsion or have effectively

  been   expelled, permanently and temporarily, from working in Rakhine State.

• Local humanitarian staff and their families have faced threats and abuse.

• Local campaigns against international humanitarian organisation have resulted in

   blocking  of delivery of aid, and refusing to rent offices, land, cars or other services to

   humanitarian  organisations. The government has taken no effective action to counter

   these campaigns.As  with many of the policies of impoverishment and repression

   against the Rohingya, the   Burmese government tries to deny responsibility for many

  of these restrictions, citing local anti-Rohingya sentiment, the local government, and

  bureaucracy for which they need international aid to improve. Taken together though

  they amount to a clear pattern and  policy of obstruction of humanitarian assistance in

   line with the policy of making life for   the Rohingya as unbearable as possible so that

  they leave the country.President Thein Sein has stated that his goal is for all Rohingya to

   leave Burma:

 

"The solution to this problem is that they can be settled in refugee camps managed by UNHCR, and UNHCR provides for them. If there are countries that would accept them, they could be sent there."

 

11 July 2012, while discussing the issue of Rohingya with UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres.


Camps For Internally Displaced Rohingya


"I witnessed a level of human suffering in IDP camps that I have personally never see before…appalling conditions…wholly inadequate access to basic services including health, education, water and sanitation."


Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-wha Kang in June 2014 after visiting IDP camps in Rakhine State.

 

"I have seen many camps during my time but the conditions in these camps rank among the worst… Unfortunately we as the United Nations are not able to get in and do the range of work we would like to do with those people, so the conditions are terrible….It's a dire situation and we have to do  something about it."
 
Valeri  e     Amos,   Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Baroness Amos after visiting IDP camps in Rakhine State in December 2012

Around 140,000 ethnic Rohingya have been living in camps in Rakhine State since 2012. There 
is no adequate provision of health services, education for children, housing, sanitation, or food. The United Nations has not publicly published and promoted information about the situation in the camps, presumably for fear of upsetting the Burmese government, and also as such statistics would result in criticism of the United Nations and international community for allowing such dire conditions to continue.

In March 2014, 33 offices of humanitarian organisations were attacked by violent mobs. Extremists used the pretext of an aid worker insulting the Buddhist flag to incite the attacks. However, there was no evidence this had happened, and there had been well organised incitement against aid organisations building up for weeks with no preventative action taken by the government. 

The so-called 'spontaneous' mobs had the names and addresses of aid organisations offices and 
were allowed to systematically attack them without interference from police or security forces. Aid workers were forced to ee for their lives, and many had to leave the area altogether. Humanitarian access gradually started to resume in the following weeks, but has still not returned to the already limited level it was at in March 2014.

Outside the camps

Around 800,000 Rohingya who live outside camps are also in dire need of humanitarian assistance. In some areas the rates of malnutrition are over 20 percent. Provision of health services are almost non-existent. Detailed information is hard to obtain as even where the UN and aid agencies do manage to get access to obtain statistics, they do not often publish these for public distribution, either for fear of upsetting the Burmese government, or for fear of facing further restrictions as  punishment by the Burmese government for doing so.

Conclusion

The humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State and impoverishment of the Rohingya is part of a long-term  policy of repression of the ethnic Rohingya which has been stepped up since the reform process  began in 2011.

As a result of Burmese government policies, actions and inaction, almost one million ethnic 
Rohingya are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. 140,000 of these are living in squalid camps in Rakhine State. There is a downward spiral with an overall decline in the ability of international organisations to deliver humanitarian assistance. The Burmese government strings the international community along with promises of future change, or using its old tactic of taking two steps back, one step forward, then being praised by parts of the international community for the one step forward, even though the overall situation is now worse than before. The case with MSF in 2014 is a classic example of this.

The government policy of increased violence and repression, and denial of humanitarian assistance, is working in terms of achieving their goals. Since 2012 more than 80,000 Rohingya have ed Burma by boat. More have left by other routes. This could amount to around ten percent of the entire Rohingya population in Burma driven out of the country within two years.
 
The lack of international action following the violence in 2012, despite evidence from Human Rights Watch of state involvement in what amounts to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, and the conclusion of the special rapporteur that crimes against humanity may have taken  place against the Rohingya, has emboldened the Burmese government to step up repression and humanitarian restrictions against the Rohingya. 

The international community, including the USA, European Union and agencies of the United 
 Nations are even retreating from previous positions held in defence Rohingya rights. They are not applying any signicant high-level pressure regarding humanitarian access, they are no longer actively advocating for reform of the 1982 Citizenship Law, and are now even stopping using the word Rohingya. How can the international community protect the rights of the Rohingya when they won't even use our name?

Recommendations

• United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon should personally take the lead in negotiating free and unhindered international humanitarian access in Rakhine State. Individual governments should encourage Ban Ki-moon to take up this issue and give high-level support to his efforts. • Governments need to make itclear that future positive diplomatic relations are contingent on unhindered humanitarian access, reform of the 1982 Citizenship Law, and abolishment of discriminatory policies and practices against the Rohingya.

 
• Diplomats and UN ofcials should use the word "Rohingya" both in public and private. By avoiding the term, they legitimise the Burmese government's ongoing discrimination and campaign to portray the Rohingya as illegal immigrants. 
• The humanitarian crisis for the Rohingya in Burma is part of a systematic policy of impoverishment of the Rohingya. These policies may constitute crimes against humanity, and have helped lead to ethnic cleansing. The international community should support the establishment of an independent international investigation into possible violations of international law against the Rohingya in Burma.
 
• Robust and specic language on the Rohingya must be included in the next United Nations Human Rights Council resolution on Burma. This should include use of the word "Rohingya," demand unhindered humanitarian access, reform of the 1982 Citizenship Law and lifting of all discriminatory policies, and establish a UN Commission of Inquiry into possible violations of international law against the Rohingya in Burma.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

20 Muslims Facing Trial on Terrorism Charges

Source Irrawaddy news, 9 Dec

  
An aerial view of Mandalay prison, where 20 Burmese Muslims are detained on terrorism charges. (Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)An aerial view of Mandalay prison, where 20 Burmese Muslims are detained on terrorism charges. (Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Twenty Burmese Muslims remain in prison awaiting a verdict almost five months after they were detained and accused of links to terrorism, with a lawyer representing some of the defendants saying odds for a fair trial look slim despite a dearth of credible evidence against the accused.

The detained men and women are from Taunggyi, Kyaukse and Naypyidaw, and were arrested in August in Konhein Township, Shan State, while they were traveling to a wedding in the town of Konhein.

"They were charged with Article 5(j) and 5(l)" of Burma's Emergency Provisions Act, said Khin Moe Moe, a lawyer for 12 of the detained. "They did not have any contact with insurgent armed groups, they were just traveling for a wedding. … They are just normal people. Even the police bringing charges could not provide evidence at court about links to an armed group."

Win Khaung, the national police chief, has disputed that claim, telling Radio Free Asia that the 20 detainees had links to an unspecified armed terrorist group and were planning to carry out an act of terrorism, allegations to which the police chief said the accused had confessed.

Both charges carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.

"I do not think that these victims will get fair justice," Khin Moe Moe added. "I believe that there are instructions for the court in Taunggyi from top officers about how to punish these victims. The judge will sentence the victims even though the victims are innocent and even though police do not have [sufficient] evidence."

The 20 Muslims are all Burmese nationals, and some are even members of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), according to their lawyer.

The accused have been held in a prison in Mandalay since August, with their lawyer objecting to their incarceration while the investigation is ongoing.

"Prison is for those who have been sentenced. These people are not guilty yet," she said. "An investigation is ongoing. They should not be in prison."

She said prison authorities have refused to let the families of the detained Muslims visit them. The four women and 16 men have appeared in court 20 times already, according to the lawyer.

Khin Moe Moe also claimed that monks aligned with the Buddhist nationalist 969 movement were interfering in the case. A group of 969-affiliated monks has attended every court hearing convened, and Khin Moe Moe said she had received a threat from a 969 member on Facebook.

"They come to show their power whenever the victims appear in court. They were waiting in front of the court during the victims' trial. They showed their power to create trouble sometimes. I told the victims' families not to come to the court out of concern," she said.

Members of Burma's Muslim minority are severely repressed in western Arakan State, but elsewhere in the country they have largely managed to avoid discriminatory treatment by authorities, despite rising interreligious tensions in recent years.

More than 200 people, mostly Muslims, have been killed in clashes between Buddhists and Muslims that have broken out sporadically since mid-2012. The most recent violence erupted in Mandalay in July, when one Buddhist and one Muslim were killed during rioting that lasted two days.

In Arakan State, more than 100,000 Muslims remain confined to displacement camps after they fled their homes in the 2012 violence.

Two Year Old Rohingya Boy Died At Sittwe Hospital After Doctor’s Injection

Source RBnews, 8 Dec

A woman carries her baby inside a hospital near the Dar Paing camp for internally displaced people in Sittwe, Rakhine state, April 24, 2014. (Photo: Reuters/Min Zayar Oo)


Sittwe, Arakan – A two year old Rohingya boy died at Sittwe General Hospital in Arakan State's capital, Sittwe on December 6, 2014 after he was given an injection by the doctor. 

Two year old Twariq Zia, son of Zia Ul Rahman from Dar Paing IDP camp in Sittwe, was seriously suffering from diarrhea. The parents of the boy took him to Dar Paing clinic but the doctor at Dar Paing clinic advised them to take their son to Sittwe General Hospital. 

Alqama, mother of Twariq Zia took her son to Sittwe General Hospital on December 5th at 2:30 pm. On the day of admission to the hospital, the doctors and nurses treated the boy very well and he almost recovered. Alqama thought her son could be discharged from the hospital on the following day. 

However, on the second day, December 6th at 8:00 am, a doctor came and gave an injection. Immediately after the injection the boy lost breathing and died, according to Alqama, the mother of Twariq Zia. Two hour after the death of Twariq Zia, the body of the child and Alqama were sent back to Dar Paing IDP camp from Sittwe General Hospital escorted by security forces.

This most recent summer a string of similar incidents were reported at Sittwe General Hospital, where doctors administered injections to young mothers giving birth who died shortly after. Similarly there were reports of patients, including young mothers being beaten and killed while in the hospitals care. Discrimination and further victimization of Rohingya attempting to seek treatment at Rakhine run hospitals has been rampant in Arakan State, Myanmar, and several cases have been documented by Rohingya living in the state and independent agencies.

Saed Arkani contributed in reporting.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

More people risk lives across Indian Ocean despite abuse, deterrence

Source UNHCR, 5 Dec

Small boats in Teknaf, Bangladesh, carry passengers across the Naf River.                                                                                                     
Boys play football on a beach in Teknaf, Bangladesh, next to fishing boats often used to ferry passengers to larger vessels in the Bay of Bengal bound for Thailand or Malaysia. In the distance, across the Naf River, lies the coast of Myanmar.

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 5 December 2014, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

A new UNHCR report has found that more people are risking their lives on smugglers' boats in South-East Asia despite the prospect of horrific violence en route.

UNHCR estimates that 54,000 people have undertaken irregular maritime journeys in the region so far this year, based on reports by local sources, media and people who survived the journey. This includes some 53,000 people leaving from the Bay of Bengal towards Thailand and Malaysia, and hundreds of others moving further south in the Indian Ocean.

The outflow from the Bay of Bengal tends to peak in October, when calmer waters follow the end of the rainy season. Departures this October surged more than in previous years. Some 21,000 Rohingya and Bangladeshis have set sail since then, a 37-per cent increase over the same period last year. About 10 per cent are believed to be women. Roughly one-third of arrivals interviewed by UNHCR in Thailand and Malaysia were minors under 18 years of age. Children as young as eight years old are known to have made the journey alone.

In total some 120,000 people are believed to have embarked on these voyages in the Bay of Bengal since the start of 2012. With payments ranging from US$1,600 to US$2,400 demanded for each passenger, smugglers plying this route are believed to have generated nearly US$250 million in revenue in the last three years.

Myanmar/Bangladesh

While the majority of people paid smugglers for the journey, there were isolated accounts of people who said they were forced onto boats, sometimes at gunpoint, in Myanmar and Bangladesh. UNHCR staff met two Rohingya boys in Malaysia who said they were kidnapped off the street in northern Rakhine state in late September and forced onto boats.

Conditions on the smugglers' boats were dire. Survivors consistently described overcrowded conditions and daily rations of one sparse meal and one to two cups of water. People who asked for more or tried to use the toilet out of turn were beaten with belts or kicked down ladders by the armed crew on the deck above. An estimated 540 people have reportedly died this year at sea from such beatings, starvation or dehydration, and their bodies thrown overboard.

Thailand

Survivors told our staff that they were ferried from the big boats on smaller boats to Thailand. There they were held in smugglers' camps and made to call relatives to pay for their release. When payment was not immediate, they were beaten or subjected to other acts of torture. A large number of survivors were able to show signs of serious mistreatment on their body.

Since last year, hundreds of people are alleged to have died in the camps from illness, starvation, dehydration and killings by smugglers when they tried to escape or could not pay.

According to survivor accounts, raids by law enforcement agencies in Thailand since the beginning of the year seem to have led to a marked reduction in the number and size of smugglers' camps in the country.

Some of the survivors UNHCR interviewed had gone through the camps more than once. They were rescued in government raids, placed in immigration detention, then opted for deportation or escaped and re-entered the smuggling cycle to escape the prospect of indefinite detention.

Rohingya and Bangladeshis who arrived in Thailand in recent months have been systematically screened by government multi-disciplinary teams to assess the potential for human trafficking. If found to be victims of trafficking, they are transferred to shelters to facilitate their rehabilitation and investigations of suspected smugglers. UNHCR hopes that this ongoing screening can be expanded to an assessment of all international protection needs.

Malaysia

Most arrivals in Malaysia crossed by land from Thailand and were kept in holding houses in northern Malaysia, usually for a few days. UNHCR staff met a teenage girl who married a Rohingya man after he paid for her and her brother's release from a holding house.

As a result of the abuse and deprivations they suffered on smugglers' boats and camps, this year nearly 200 people approached UNHCR in Malaysia with beri beri disease, a form of Vitamin B1 deficiency that left them unable to walk.

Several boats arrived directly in Malaysia from the Bay of Bengal this year. Nearly 300 people who arrived on three boats were arrested. UNHCR has been able to access people from the first two boats and is seeking access to the third group.

Yet others arrived by boat undetected and are living in the community. In interviews with UNHCR, they said they disembarked on Langkawi island off Malaysia's north-western coast or were ferried by speedboat from the Andaman sea to the mainland.

Indonesia

Two-way boat traffic continued between Indonesia and Malaysia, with some Rohingya moving to Indonesia after spending some time in Malaysia. More than 100 Rohingya were registered with UNHCR in Indonesia this year.

UNHCR staff spoke to some Rohingya who tried to sail onward to Australia but returned due to bad weather, engine failure or interception by Australian authorities.

Australia

In 2014 there were 10 known interceptions of boats carrying 441 people hoping to reach Australia. Seven boats with 205 people were returned to Indonesia. All but one of 79 passengers on two boats were returned to Sri Lanka. Separately 157 people on a boat from India were transferred from the Australian mainland to an offshore processing centre in Nauru, where they remain detained.

Of the more than 6,500 people of concern to UNHCR who travelled by sea and were put in detention in the region, over 4,600 were held in Australia or the offshore processing centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Committee against Torture recently added their voice to UNHCR's own set of concerns about these practices.

Link to access the full report:http://storybuilder.jumpstart.ge/system/places/video/479/processed/2680__boats-web.mp4

http://storybuilder.jumpstart.ge/en/unhcr-imm

Government Blocking Aid to Kachin IDP Camps: KIO

Source Irrawaddy, 5 Dec


A view of the Border Post 6 camp for displaced persons, on the mountainous Sino-Burmese border that is administered by the Kachin Independence Organization. (Photo: Sai Zaw / The Irrawaddy)A view of the Border Post 6 camp for displaced persons, on the mountainous Sino-Burmese border that is administered by the Kachin Independence Organization. (Photo: Sai Zaw / The Irrawaddy)

 RANGOON — Camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) near Laiza, the headquarters of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), are facing a shortage of food supplies amid reported restrictions on UN and NGOs' humanitarian aid deliveries.

Kachin IDPs have seen food stocks dwindle in recent weeks as humanitarian aid has been blocked by the Burmese government, according to Doi Be Za, chair of the KIO's IDPs and Refugees Relief Committee.

Doi Be Za, who is also a member of the KIO central committee, said: "The UN and NGOs told us that they will come in October. To date, they have not arrived. Now we are surviving with the help of local donors. The government has suspended the UN and NGOs' permission to come to Laiza, citing security reasons."

It was not immediately clear if aid deliveries were being denied in relation to an incident on Nov. 19 in which a KIO military academy near Laiza was shelled by the Burma Army, killing 23 cadets.

There are more than 20 IDP camps under KIO management, with an estimated total population of 50,000 people living in them, according to Doi Be Za's committee.

"The UN told us that they would come in early November but they didn't come," said Mary Tawn, head of the humanitarian NGO Wunpawng Ningtoi, based in Mai Ja Yang, Kachin State. "The government has closed the road for security reasons. Now, in the Laiza refugee camps, there is a shortage of basic groceries like rice, oil, salt and peas."

With IDP camps that in some cases are more than three years old, deteriorating conditions are beginning to take their toll on inhabitants. Some IDPs in Panwar, at a camp more than 10,000 feet above sea level known as Border Post 8, struggle to keep water from freezing and face other difficulties associated with the rugged frontier, Mary Tawn said.

Doi Be Za said as winter approaches, humanitarian aid groups face increasing difficulties in sending rations to Border Posts 6, 7 and 8, which are along the China Border. He said the IDPs are in urgent need of warm clothes, and are also fearful because their camps are sited in close proximity to Burma Army bases.

The UN estimates that more than 100,000 people have been displaced since fighting resumed between the KIO's armed wing, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), and government forces in 2011. They are living in temporary camps across Kachin State, some of which are administered by the government and others managed by the KIO.


Friday, 5 December 2014

US has done nothing to stop Myanmar abuses: Analyst

Source Presstv, 1 Dec

An analyst says the United States has "done nothing" to halt the ongoing "persecution and massacre" of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

Ibrahim Moussawi, a political commentator, said in an interview from Beirut that the administration of President Barack Obama has failed to take any "solid action" against the ongoing human rights abuses in Myanmar.

The analyst said that Washington has failed "to exercise pressure" or "impose embargos" when it comes to the rights violations by the government in Myanmar. 

Moussawi strongly criticized President Obama for paying a visit to Myanmar, saying the visit has been considered an endorsement for the country's military-dominated regime.

"I believe the American president shouldn't have visited the country in the very first place," he said.

Obama travelled to Myanmar in November 2012, when he praised the country for its transition but called for progress on reforms, particularly in the treatment of ethnic minorities.

Moussawi also blamed Saudi Arabia and some Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf region for their inaction over the ongoing abuses in Myanmar.

Lawrence J. Korb, a foreign policy and national security analyst, who was another guest participating at the debate, defended the Obama administration's record on Myanmar, saying the US president has been an outspoken critic of the atrocities against Rohingya Muslims.

Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar have been persecuted and faced torture, neglect, and repression since the country's independence in 1948.

Myanmar's government has been repeatedly criticized by human rights groups for failing to protect the Rohingya Muslims. A new report says Myanmar's Muslims face death threats and slavery at the hand of human traffickers while fleeing persecution at home.

JR/HJL/HRB



Sunday, 30 November 2014

Myanmar and its Manufacturing Genocidal Racism towards Rohingya

Source maungzarni, 29 Nov

There was inter-ethnic solidarity for the Rohingya/Muslims of Arakan dating back to 17 May 1978, the year of the first state-sponsored campaign of terror and destruction against the Rohingyas.

"We, the Representatives of the peoples of Kachin, Karen, Palaung, Lahu, Shan and Wa, in deep sorrow, hereby express our heart-felt sympathy to the defenceless Muslims who fled to escape the compound racial and religious persecution by the Rangoon Government armed forces."

Read on the solidarity statement from 1978 in the attached full text (in 2 JPEG files).

Note the Ngagamin Operation (or King Dragon Operation) launched under the then Home Minister Brigadier Sein Lwin, known as the Butcher of Rangoon in 8.8.88 reached Sittwe in Feb 1978 - in fact on 11 Feb 1978, ironically one day before the Union Day, to celebrate Burma's ethnic diversity in unity!)

By the end of June 1978, over 200,000 - some say a quarter million - Rohingyas and other Muslims fled the country across the border into Bangladesh.

The Bangladeshi Government then led by General Zia Raman opened the border and let the Muslim refugees in to his country to escape the immediate violence, death and rape by the Burmese and Rakhine combined forces (local law enforcement in Rakhine state were made up primarily of Rakhine while senior commanders and administrators were Bama from Rangoon, starting with Home Minister Brigadier Sein Win in Rangoon and Western Command commander based in Sittwe).

Subsequently, Ne Win's Foreign Minister Tin Ohn was invited to Bangladesh capital where Bangladeshi senior officials veiled a threat of arming Rohingya refugees - number over 200,000 - if Burma did not take back their own nationals - Muslims from Arakan.

Bangladeshi general and PM Zia also traveled to Indonesia, Malaysia and other Muslim countries to rally support for the persecuted muslims in Arakan. 

Finally, Ne Win backed down and agreed to take the Musim refugees back from Bangladesh. 

By July and August UNHCR got involved in repatriating Rohingyas back to Arakan.

In the next 2-3 years, Ne Win and his anti-Muslim/anti-Rohingya deputies including Rakhine academics such as San Thar Aung (physics professor and director general of higher education) and Aye Kyaw (Australian-trained historian of nationalist movements in Burma) connived a legal strategy - and the result was the drafting of the 1982 Citizenship Act.

By Oct 1982, the draft was completed and Ne Win's legal adviser and clerk Dr Maung Maung (British and Dutch-trained lawyer and legal scholar who had a stint at Yale Law School) oversaw the whole legal campaign to strip the Rohingyas of nationality by a stroke of a legal pen. (Hitler and his legal advisers also enacted laws stripping the Jews of Germany of nationality and paving the way for the eventual physical destruction of the Jews as a national/ethnic/religious community in Germany and throughout Nazi-occupied Europe).

Like the Germans under Nazi rule who were told that the Jews were a threat to German nation, the Burmese public has been told a similar genocidal lie about the Rohingyas. (Myanmar Peace Center's Dr Min Zaw Oo is also playing the role of a Nazi-ish adviser, writing a series of delusional essays in Burmese framing the Rohingya issue in the larger equally delusional discourse of 'the War on Terror' - published in THE VOICE - portraying the helpless, half-starved Rohingya as an Islamic threat to "Buddhist" Burma!)

In 1978, the estimated population of the Rohingyas was 1.3 million.

In 2014, Khin Yi, Immigration Minister, former military intelligence and ex-police chief put the Rohingya population at 1.3 million.

Meanwhile the country's overall population is estimated to have grown from 26 millions in 1978 to about 50 million in 2014. 

Meanwhile the Burmese regime is telling the public that there is a Rohingya population explosion posing a serious demographic threat to the country, parading around in the Burmese official media some Rohingya family - perhaps rare exceptions - with 4 wives and 30 children (not exact number). 

(Khin Yin, Kyaw Yin Hlaing and Ban Ki-Moon's Special Envoy Vijay Nambia were lobbying the UN and governments around the world to drop the Rohingya's self-identity - Rohingya - and telling every official they meet 'Rohingya is a toxic name that will inflame popular opinion among ultra-nationalist "Buddhist" Rakhines, thereby making it difficult to resolve the 'sectarian conflict' - a verifiable distortion of the fact that it is the military - and successive military regimes since Ne Win - that initiated the campaign to destroy the Rohingya, both symbolically via the erasure of the name, the identity and history - and literally as a cohesive ethnic, religious and national group). 

This Zero Growth in population is the DIRECT result of a genocidal policy of Burma maintained since 1978. 

Ex-General Khin Nyunt also confirmed that there was NO IN-FLOW Muslims from "Bengali', only the fleeing of Arakan's Muslims across the borders into Bangladesh. He did so in his 'top secret' lecture, to a cadre of officiating Burmese brigadier generals at the then National Defense College, (Khin Nyunt was the founder of the notorious Na-Sa-Ka, Burmese equivalent of SS as far as the Rohingyas in Arakan). 

It is incredibly pathetic that the entire regime of Nwa Thein Sein - in fact all successive regimes of Bama generals - have been feeding the Burmese public this racist poison for the past nearly 40 years.

All genocidal atrocities are typically preceded by constructing a target community or people as 'viruses' 'threats' 'pests' 'illegals' etc. As Amartya Sen - who lived through violent racial and religion-justified killings in South Asia - Lahore - observed perceptively any otherwise good and peaceful people can be turned to a genocidal lot by carefully crafted state-manufactured propaganda. 

Every year the Burmese military regimes since Ne Win's era brought hundreds of Burmese senior and junior teachers to Civil Servant Training School at Hpaung Gyi where high ranking military officers, including Khin Nyunt, would come and spread lies, fear and hatred of the Rohingyas among the country's educators - teachers and other civil service members.

Tragically for those of us the 'good and informed Burmese', our country is populated by the good Buddhist public who have been thoroughly duped and brainwashed into behaving like the German Nazis in the Third Reich. 

The result of nearly 40 years of Burmese military's genocidal propaganda is that our country in 2014 is overwhelmingly genocidal and racist towards the Rohingyas. Hatred is never defeated by historical facts. Germans in the Allied- occupied Germany post-Hitler denied any knowledge of atrocities committed against 6 million Jews and another 4-5 millions Poles, 'gypsies', Russians, German communists, the disabled German, Jehovah Witnesses, etc. The American troops forced these defeated ordinary Germans to go and see - and remove by their hands - piles of hundreds of corpses in numerous concentration camps. Even then some Germans, both men and women, were seen laughing and giggling - before they entered these camps as if they were heading to a community picnic! Only when they saw first hand rotten corpses, gas chambers, charred bodies, etc. were they forced to accept that their nation was GENOCIDAL. 

No two genocides or cases of mass atrocities are exactly alike. 

But denial on the part of the perpetrators and perpetrating nations is an integral to all genocides. I was 15 feet behind (through the glass wall in the International Tribunal Chamber) Brother Number Two of Khmer Rouge - a Thammasat University (Bangkok)-trained law student and education minister - claiming his innocence and 'I was not aware of the atrocities' - during his closing statement. 

The Burmese public is of course going to deny that they are genocidally racist. Many a good people who know better keep to themselves against the overwhelmingly genocidal Burmese public sentiment towards the Rohingya. 

Back in 1978, other minorities such as Wa, Lahu, Kachin, Karen, Shan, Palaung, etc. dared express their solidarity and empathy for the persecuted Muslim minorities of Arakan.

Now in 2014, even the Kachin Independence Organization's spokesperson ex-Colonel James L. based in BKK denied any knowledge of Rohingya and denied showing any sympathy for the Rohingya. 

That IS the direct effect of Nazi-like anti-Rohingya propaganda by the Psychological Warfare Department of Ministry of Defense in Burma. 

The thought of Burma's good "Buddhists" turning Nazis really gives me chills down my spine. I hope it does for you too.



Friday, 28 November 2014

The latest News about Internal Displaced Muslim from Meiktila

Source Mmdedia, 26 Nov

 

On November 24 2014 at 11:00 am the MeiktilaTownship chairperson Oo Myo Hline accompanied  Township land Record Department Officer and Chairman of Min Gala Zayet  Ward held a meeting with the IDPs of Yan Myo Aung ward 10, 14 and 17. In that meeting They told that IDP camp will be closed very soon and IDPs people will need to leave the camp. They also told that there is no permission to build house on their own previous housing  plot and has permission to sold that land. Also said the IDPs themselves  need to find place to stay. 


မိတၳီလာအေျခအေန ေနာက္ဆံုးရ သတင္း

UN passes resolution on Myanmar: Give Rohingyas citizenship

Source the independent, 23 Nov

UN passes resolution on Myanmar
The United Nations adopted a resolution Friday urging Myanmar to grant citizenship to its Rohingya Muslim minority, ramping up pressure on Yangon to scrap a controversial identity plan, reports AFP from the United States. The measure was adopted by consensus in the General Assembly's rights committee following some wrangling with countries from the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which had sought stronger language.

The resolution expresses "serious concern" over the plight of the Rohingya in Rakhine state, where 140,000 people live in squalid camps after violence erupted between Buddhists and Muslims in 2012.

Under a controversial government-backed plan, the Rohingya would be forced to identify themselves as Bengali—a term seen as disparaging—in order to apply for citizenship. Those who refuse would be forced to live in camps.
Many in Myanmar's government and local Buddhists view Rohingya as illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh, but the community maintains its has ancestral roots in the country.

The resolution urges the government to protect the rights of all inhabitants of Rakhine state and allow "equal access to full citizenship for the Rohingya minority," to "allow self-identification" and ensure equal access to services.
Myanmar's representative voiced opposition to the use of term "Rohingya" in the resolution and warned this would stoke tensions in Rakhine state.

"Use of the word by the United Nations will draw strong resentment from the people of Myanmar, making the government's effort more difficult in addressing this issue," said the delegate.
The representative emphasized that the government was seeking to address the issue.
The measure drafted by the European Union now moves to the full Assembly, where it is likely to be adopted again by consensus. A vote is held if the country targeted by the resolution requests it.

Despite criticism of the Rohingya's treatment, the resolution welcomes "continued positive developments in Myanmar" toward reform and notes that the government is making efforts to address the "complex situation in Rakhine state."

It calls for an office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to open "without delay" in Myanmar.
Attacks by Buddhist mobs have left hundreds dead and 140,000 trapped in camps, and other Rohingya are fleeing the country. But this week, President Thein Sein called reports that the Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture a "media fabrication" during an interview with Voice of America.
Myanmar's ambassador on Friday said that language in the resolution referring to "attacks against Muslims and other religious minorities" are misleading and can only contribute to inciting hatred.

The Rohingya have emerged as a sensitive issue as Myanmar tries to move away from decades of repressive military rule toward democracy.
The resolution approved Friday also addresses international concerns over next year's presidential election, saying Myanmar should allow "all candidates to fairly contest" the vote.

There has been uncertainty over whether opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi could hold the presidency. A clause in the constitution bars anyone whose spouse or children are loyal to foreign countries from becoming president or vice president. Suu Kyi's two sons are British citizens, as was her late husband.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Burmese refugees pay up to $1,000 for official refugee status in Malaysia

Source the guardian, 21 Nov

See via Youtube

UN officials describing themselves as 'thieves' claim money from illegal trade goes to 'some top guys in the UN'
Burmese refugees from the Rohingya community in 2012 taking refuge on a street near the United Natio
Rohingya Muslim refugees from Burma on a street near the UN high commissioner for refugees office in Delhi. Photograph: AFP/Getty

Burmese refugees and asylum seekers are paying up to $1,000 (£650) for UNHCR cards granting them official refugee status in Malaysia, an undercover al-Jazeera investigation has found.

Officials from the UN's refugee agency have been recorded openly describing themselves as "thieves" for brokering the illegal trade of registration documents.

"All the money from this activity goes into the pockets of some top guys in the UN," a UN translator claimed in al-Jazeera's current affairs programme 101 East. "We have been doing this … for a long time. We are thieves, and we look for thieves above us."

The programme's presenter, Steve Chao, posed as a priest in order to visit squalid detention centres in Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur, where he interviewed dozens of refugees and asylum seekers, some of them Rohingya Muslims from Burma, for Malaysia's Unwanted, which was aired this week. Interviewees said they faced police harassment and exploitation, were forbidden to work or send their children to school, and lived in abysmal conditions: some refugees were beaten, chained or handcuffed, and many had not had any food for days.

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About 150,000 refugees and asylum seekers are living in Malaysia – nearly all of them hailing from Burma – but because Malaysia is not party to the UN's 1951 Refugee Convention or the 1967 protocol recognising refugees, they are extremely vulnerable to abuse and maltreatment by authorities, rights groups say. All UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) services should normally be provided for free.

Malaysia was downgraded this year to the lowest rung on the US State Department's human trafficking index, which highlighted the country's poor human rights record and officials' complicity in trafficking those held in detention camps.

Malaysia's UNHCR mission – which sees more than 1,000 refugees and asylum seekers every day – is reportedly overwhelmed by the sheer number of those in need, with the leader of the mission, Richard Towle, comparing it to "an accident and emergency hospital".

"You make tough decisions all the time about triaging and prioritising who is the neediest of the people in an already needy group of people," he said.

A spokesperson for UNHCR Malaysia said the agency was aware of the claims and had a "zero-tolerance policy" regarding corruption. Resettlement operations were reportedly suspended earlier this year to investigate the claims.

"UNHCR is aware of some allegations of fraud arising from its operation in Malaysia," said a UN spokeswoman, Yante Ismail. "These are beginning to be treated with the seriousness they require under the organisation's rules and procedures."

Demolition of the Mosque of Yamethein Mandalay to build Buddhist Religious Building

Source Mmedia, 21 Nov

On 20th November 2014 at 8:00 am, it was started to destroy mosque building which is situated at the west part of Muslim ward, Ma Naw Hary road, Yamethein, Yamethein district, Mandalay Division, which build 350 years ago.  

It is know  the Buddhist Ma Ba Tha Chair person Monk Oo Sabdaw Ba Tha Ka announces that after abolishion of the Mosque building  they will replace with the Buddhist Religious building (Maha Wizaya) on the Place 

မတရားၿဖိဳဖ်က္ခံရသည့္ ကန္ႀကီးဗလီေနရာတြင္ သာသနာ့ဗိမာန္ေဆာက္မည္ဟုု ရမည္းသင္း မ.ဘ.သ ဥကၠဌ ဆရာေတာ္ေၾကညာမတရားၿဖိဳဖ်က္ခံရသည့္ ကန္ႀကီးဗလီေနရာတြင္ သာသနာ့ဗိမာန္ေဆာက္မည္ဟုု ရမည္းသင္း မ.ဘ.သ
Destroyed Mosque Phoro

Friday, 21 November 2014

A Birthday Letter Home to Australia from a Prisoner of Thailand

Source Phuketwan, 19 Nov

By Alan Morison

Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Father of five and WWII veteran John Morison celebrates his 91st birthday on November 20 at home in Mount Gambier, Australia, but the passport of his son, Alan, is being held in Thailand.

Dear Dad,

Happy Birthday. I wish I could be there to wish you a great one, as I did last year when you turned 90 and the whole family gathered to celebrate.

This year I can't make it. Sadly, I am a prisoner of Thailand. My passport has been seized because I am being accused by the Royal Thai Navy of criminal defamation. I face possibly a long jail term.

The contentious paragraph we published on the Phuketwan news site in July last year was written by two Reuters news agency reporters who won a prestigious Pulitzer award for it and other paragraphs in an excellent series on the Rohingya boatpeople.

Strangely enough, the Royal Thai Navy is suing Phuketwan and not the Reuters authors, probably because we are a very small organisation and Reuters is a large one.

So I have surrendered my Australian passport. An application to have it returned so I could be there for your birthday was rejected. If the case drags on, as seems likely, I could be a prisoner of Thailand for the next few years, with the prospect of jail still to come.

I miss you, and I miss all the family.

I am telling you this in a letter, Dad, because I know your hearing is failing. I also know that my sisters have kept secret from you the fact that I am a prisoner of Thailand. They fear that the news would kill you.

If I'd been there today, I probably would have told you all about it, as gently as possible. So instead, I must write to let you know what a great father you've been all these many years, and that your sacrifices will never be forgotten.

You were one of those worker Dads my four sisters and I saw less often than we would have liked, from a generation where fathers worked and mothers did not, at least not in regular jobs.

You went to war, just like your father did and Mum's father did. Both of them clambered ashore at Gallipoli. One of them was wounded and sent home. The other went on to the Western front where he was gassed in the trenches. He survived, but the gas cut his life short.

Why did Australia go to two world wars? There are times when injustice simply must be confronted, I guess.

My brave Thai colleague, Chutima Sidasathian, who is also being sued by the Royal Thai Navy, has been confronting the unjust treatment of Burma's Rohingya boatpeople in Thailand for years now.

The two of us aim to continue doing that. We've told the Royal Thai Navy that if they want to stop us reporting on what's happening to the boatpeople, they will have to kill us.

We hope the Navy sees sense and instead of using Draconian laws against a small media organisation, turns their attention to the human traffickers, or to the Burmese Government driving the Rohingya into the sea. Sadly, that seems unlikely to happen soon.

I became more hopeful recently when the British government won back the passport of a human rights defender named Andy Hall, simply by asking the Thai courts. Andy has since travelled to Britain and to Burma and could spend Christmas at home with his folks.

For reasons they decline to explain, the Australian Government continues to reject my pleas to do the same in my case, even though officially, my passport is their property.

We've enjoyed enormous support from many sources. The United Nations human rights body, the European Union nations, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Commission of Jurists and many other organisations have spoke up in our defence.

The Australian Government, though, has said nothing.

Over the years, Dad, there were many times when you showed how much you cared. The time I remember most is back in the '60s, when I was conscripted to join the Australian Army.

I was young and not in favor of the Vietnam War, but being a journalist I wanted to go to see for myself what was happening in Asia. I volunteered.

Without telling me, you wrote many letters to the Minister for the Army, mostly pointing out that too many conscripts were being killed by the enemy.

I remember as a gawky 20-something walking into the minister's office in Canberra. He sat me down in front of a huge desk.

You know the first words he said to me? ''Private Morison,'' he said, ''your father obviously loves you a lot.''

The Army Minister was right. Everything you've done for me and the family before and since has proven his judgement to be correct. Your values have become ingrained in all of us.

It took me many years to get to Asia. Now I'm there, fighting a different kind of fight for freedom of the media and for the Rohingya, a group the UN describes as the most persecuted people in the world.

The problem would be solved if Burma could be persuaded not to push them into the sea. The Royal Thai Navy and the Australian Government could do a lot to end their misery, not by turning back the boats but by preventing them from sailing.

I'm still left to wonder, though, if my country will ever be willing to fight for them, and for me.

It may be some time before I see you again.

Love to all,

Alan.

Alan Morison's sisters may decide it's not safe yet for John Morison to be told what's happening to his son. The trial of Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian for criminal defamation does not resume until July next year. If the case is lost, appeals are expected to take several more years.

What Others Say


The Australian Government

Former Ambassador to Thailand, James Wise: ''Normally, we take up issues like yours with our host government only after the person affected asks us to do so (especially when the case already has a high profile and we can be confident that the host government is aware of it). We would not want to cut across your own plans for managing the way you want to respond to the allegations against you - because, ultimately, how you manage your affairs is your business, not ours.''

United Nations

''Criminal prosecution for defamation has a chilling effect on freedom of the press,'' said Ravina Shamdasani, the spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. ''International standards are clear that imprisonment is never an appropriate penalty for defamation.''

Human Rights Watch

''The Thai navy's lawsuit is a reckless attempt to curtail journalists' reporting on alleged human trafficking by its officers,'' said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. ''Unless the government withdraws the case, its impact will be felt far beyond those reporting on abuses against the Rohingya - and could have a choking effect on all investigative reporting in Thailand.''

Reporters Without Borders

"It is intolerable that journalists are being prosecuted for just doing their job by relaying information of general interest that had already been made public," Reporters Without Borders said. "Bringing charges under the controversial Computers Crimes Act in a defamation case is indicative of the critical state of freedom of information in Thailand and amounts to an attempt to gag the media. We support these journalists, who are facing a jail term, and we call for the immediate withdrawal of these proceedings."

Committee to Protect Journalists

''Rather than shooting the messenger, the Royal Thai Navy would be better suited launching an internal investigation into the serious allegations of abuse that have been raised,'' said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asia representative. ''This type of legal intimidation aims ultimately at discouraging media reporting on allegations of serious human rights abuses.''

Chris Lewa, director of the rights group the Arakan Project

''Thanks to the fair investigative reporting by the Phuketwan journalists, the involvement of various Thai agencies in the massive smuggling and trafficking operations of Rohingya refugees and their related miseries is no more a secret. Rights groups should unite to call on Thailand to quash these defamation charges.''

Phuketwan

''We wish the Royal Thai Navy would clear its reputation by explaining precisely what is happening to the Rohingya in the Andaman Sea and in Thailand,'' Phuketwan said in a statement released in response to the charges. ''By instead using a controversial law against us, the Navy is, we believe, acting out of character.''

Bangkok Post

The action makes the navy look like a bully, and gives the impression the admirals would like to intimidate the media. Instead of defending the navy's honor, the criminal defamation suit holds it to question. Instead of silencing the media about the story - concerning the navy's role in the mistreatment of Rohingya boatpeople - the lawsuit repeats it, to more people and at greater length.

CNN

Morison said: "The navy's action over one paragraph has created a perfect storm. If the navy proceeds with the case, the Rohingya issue is now tied up in their action against media under a controversial law."

TIME

In the meantime, calmer seas mean that even more Rohingya are expected to attempt the treacherous journey in the weeks ahead. Nothing could gladden the traffickers more.

Reuters

Barb Burg, Reuters' (former) global head of communications: ''Our story was fair and balanced and Reuters has not been accused of criminal libel.''

Bill Barnett (The Phuket Insider)

The issues which have drawn Phuketwan into this fray are profound and disturbing. There should be no need to wax over reality and respect needs to be given to those who stand up for the helpless who cannot help themselves.

Andrew Drummond (Investigative Journalist)

We should all support journalists who are doing a difficult job here under laws which best suit a totalitarian state.

Excellence in Human Rights Reporting, Investigative Reporting awards

In 2010 the Phuketwan team shared the Society of Publishers in Asia Award for Excellence in Investigative Reporting and a second Award for Excellence in Human Rights Reporting, both with the South China Morning Post newspaper. Judges said of the Excellence in Investigative Reporting award: ''An excellent series that uncovered serious government abuses and had a material impact in correcting them. Exclusivity. Strong reporting. Hard-hitting piece with international implications.''

Of the Excellence in Human Rights Reporting award, the judges said: ''Excellent investigative work that exposed serious human rights abuses of oppressed people. Intrepid reporting of a hidden subject. This is a high-caliber series buttressed by solid on-the-ground reporting and great pictures. All militaries are challenging subjects for investigative reporters and Thailand's is no exception. The team clearly went to great lengths to get sources, break news, and provide the details that prodded the government into action.''

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