Pressure on Myanmar as region holds Rohingya talks

Pressure on Myanmar as region holds Rohingya talks

More than 27,000 Muslim Rohingya have fled northwestern Myanmar for Bangladesh since the start of November to escape a military counter-insurgency operation. — AFP


YANGON: Myanmar faced growing pressure from its neighbours on Monday over claims its army has carried out a bloody campaign of abuse against its Rohingya minority as ministers held emergency talks on the crisis.

More than 27,000 from the Muslim ethnic group have fled northwestern Myanmar for Bangladesh since the start of November to escape a heavy-handed military counterinsurgency campaign.

The army says it is hunting militants behind deadly raids on police posts in October.

But Rohingya survivors have described rape, murder and arson at the hands of security forces — accounts that have raised global alarm and galvanised protests in capitals around Southeast Asia.

The exodus has caused an unusual open spat within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the regional 10-member bloc that usually prides itself on consensus diplomacy and non-interference.

On Monday foreign ministers met in Yangon for emergency talks on the crisis.

Malaysia called for an independent ASEAN-led investigation into the allegations and for complete humanitarian access to the locked-down area, where more than 130,000 people have been without aid for two months.

Foreign Minister Anifah Aman warned the crackdown could trigger a repeat of last year’s boat crisis, when thousands of starving Rohingya were abandoned at sea.

“We believe that the situation is now of a regional concern and should be resolved together,” he told the meeting according to a statement released by Kuala Lumpur.

“Myanmar must do more in trying to address the root causes of this problem,” he added.

Almost all of Myanmar’s Rohingya are denied citizenship and have lived for years under movement restrictions that many have likened to apartheid.

Thousands have fled over the years on rickety boats, seeking sanctuary in Muslim majority countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia.

New wave of anger

The latest crackdown in Rakhine state has generated a fresh wave of public anger, particularly in Malaysia, where tens of thousands of Rohingya eke out tough lives as undocumented workers.

This month Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak accused Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi of allowing “genocide” on her watch — an unusually strong rebuke by one ASEAN state of another.

Myanmar, which has vehemently denied the allegations of abuse, responded by angrily summoning Malaysia’s ambassador and banning its workers from going to the country.

Suu Kyi also held talks with the foreign minister of Indonesia this month after cancelling a visit following protests and an attempted attack on the Myanmar embassy.

Ong Keng Yong, a former secretary-general of ASEAN, said neighbouring nations feared the Rohingya crisis could spiral.

“This kind of issue, if it’s not well managed, will impact on the general picture of our peace and security in ASEAN,” he told AFP.

Myanmar has also seen a cascade of criticism from outside the region over its handling of the Rohingya crisis, including from the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.

Last week UN rights commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein criticised the government’s “callous” handling of the crisis, describing it as “a lesson in how to make a bad situation worse”.

In a new report released Monday, Amnesty International said the army’s “widespread and systematic attack on a civilian population” may amount to crimes against humanity.

The plight of the Rohingya, who rights groups say are among the world’s most persecuted, has long been a flashpoint within Southeast Asia.

In 2015 thousands of the stateless group were stranded at sea after authorities closed off a well-worn trafficking route through Thailand.

The overcrowded boats were ping-ponged between countries reluctant to accept them until global pressure eventually spurred Indonesia and Malaysia to let them land. — AFP

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By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized

Malaysia calls for ASEAN to coordinate aid for Myanmar’s Rohingya

Malaysia calls for ASEAN to coordinate aid for Myanmar’s Rohingya

Malaysia Foreign Minister Anifah Aman arrives to attend ASEAN Foreign Minister Meeting for Rohingya issue in Sedona hotel at Yangon, Myanmar December 19, 2016. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
By Simon Lewis | YANGON

Malaysia said on Monday the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar was a regional concern and called for the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to coordinate humanitarian aid and investigate alleged atrocities committed against them.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman was speaking at a meeting of the 10-nation bloc in Yangon called by Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi after weeks of reports that the army has killed, raped and arbitrarily arrested Rohingya civilians.

Myanmar has denied the accusations, saying many of the reports are fabricated, and it insists the strife in Rakhine State, where many Rohingya live, is an internal matter.

In addition to fending off diplomatic pressure over the crisis, the Myanmar government has also invited a handpicked media delegation to visit the affected region this week.

Anifah said events in Rakhine State were a matter of regional security and stability, noting that about 56,000 Rohingya now live in Muslim-majority Malaysia having fled previous unrest in Myanmar.

“We believe that the situation is now of a regional concern and should be resolved together,” Anifah told the meeting, according to a transcript of his speech provided by the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Progress in improving the human rights of the Rohingya had been “rather slow”, he said, noting the stream of reports about abuses being committed in Rakhine State.

Anifah, who appeared to leave the meeting early, also warned that Islamic State militants “could be taking advantage of this situation”.

Malaysia’s intervention in the Rakhine crisis marks a break with ASEAN members’ tradition of non-intervention in each other’s internal affairs.

The bloc is also strained by its relations with China, with which several members are locked in maritime territorial disputes in the South China Sea. ASEAN faces an uncertain geopolitical outlook as Donald Trump prepares to become president of the United States in January.

Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said “everybody was happy” with Monday’s meeting, which he described as primarily a briefing by Myanmar on the situation in Rakhine State.

Retno Marsudi, foreign minister of Indonesia, which has the world’s biggest Muslim population, said Myanmar had agreed to provide regular updates to ASEAN members and had pledged that access for humanitarian assistance “will be open”.

Suu Kyi “reiterated the government’s serious commitment to the resolution of the complex issue and the need for time and space for the government’s efforts to bear fruit,” according to a statement from Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


The government of predominantly Buddhist Myanmar has said that militants with links to Islamists overseas were behind attacks on security posts near Myanmar’s border with Bangladesh, in the north of Rakhine State, on Oct. 9.

Myanmar troops have poured into the Muslim-majority area since the attacks that killed nine police officers.

At least 86 people have died and an estimated 27,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since Oct. 9.

Refugees, residents and human rights groups say Myanmar soldiers have committed summary executions, raped Rohingya women and burned homes.

The majority of the population in northern Rakhine State are Rohingya Muslims who are denied citizenship in Myanmar, where they are considered illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.

Independent media and observers have been denied access to northern Rakhine State. Some Rohingya communities have also been off-limits to aid agencies on security grounds for more than two months, raising fears about the welfare of a population that was already experiencing high rates of malnutrition.

A group of journalists chosen by the Ministry of Information to represent domestic and international media was set to visit Maungdaw, the main site of the conflict, on Monday.

Officials did not invite most media organisations that have reported on the alleged abuses, including Reuters.

Efforts to rebut accusations of army abuses were undermined by the release of a lengthy report from Amnesty International on Monday, accusing Myanmar of “a campaign of violence against Rohingya people that may amount to crimes against humanity”.

The rights group cited satellite images and testimony from Rohingya in Rakhine State and Bangladesh. Among myriad abuses, it alleged large-scale “enforced disappearances” of village elders and religious leaders in Maungdaw.

“While the military is directly responsible for the violations, Aung San Suu Kyi has failed to live up to both her political and moral responsibility to try to stop and condemn what is unfolding in Rakhine State,” Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said in a statement.

(With reporting by Shwe Yee Saw Myint and Aye Win Myint; Editing by John Chalmers, Robert Birsel and Himani Sarkar)

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By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized

Border Guard Police Shoots Rohingya Village-Man to Death

Border Guard Police Shoots Rohingya Village-Man to Death

Anwar M.S.

By Anwar M.S.December 19, 2016 16:39

Border Guard Police Shoots Rohingya Village-Man to Death

By Rohingya Mirror | December 19, 2016

Maungdaw – The Burmese Border Guard Police (BGP) shot a Rohingya village-man to death in southern Maungdaw today (on Dec 19), it has been reported.

The unlawful killing took place at the village of ‘DuChiraDan’ locally known as ‘Kilaidaung’ at around 10 am today, when a group of the BGP conducted a raid on a villager’s residence in the pretext of a search for WY (Yaba) tablets.

“The group of the BGP didn’t find out any illegal materials at the residence of U Hamid (55), s/o Noor Mohammed. Yet the BGP commander simply dragged him out and shot him at his back at a point-blank range”, said an eyewitness, speaking to Rohingya Vision TV on the condition of anonymity.

The group of the BGP came from the Camp 15 at the ‘Maggyi Chaung’ village locally known as ‘Faatonza.’ After killing him, the BGP left the body where he was killed at and they left the place without taking responsibility for the death.

Meanwhile, a genocidal operation on the Rohingya population in northern Maungdaw continues.


After killing Hamid, the BGP misinformed the military that he was a militant and there are more militants hiding in the village of Duchiradan to justify the unlawful killing.

More than 100 Burmese military arrived afterwards and began raiding the village of Duchiradan. The Rohingya men fled to escape from arbitrary arrests and now the military are plundering homes in the village.

Meanwhile, Aung San Suu Kyi is having a meeting with ASEAN foreign ministers in Yangon.

[Edited by M.S. Anwar]

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By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized

Press Release: Intervention by YB Minister of Foreign Affairs at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ retreat Yangon, Myanmar 19 December 2016

Press Release: Intervention by YB Minister of Foreign Affairs at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ retreat Yangon, Myanmar 19 December 2016

Malaysia Foreign Minister Anifah Aman arrives to attend ASEAN Foreign Minister Meeting for Rohingya issue in Sedona hotel at Yangon, Myanmar December 19, 2016. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
19 DECEMBER 2016
Thank you Mr. Chairman,
1. I take note of the briefing by Her Excellency Daw Aung San Suu Kyi [Dor-aong-san-su-chi] on the latest development on the situation in the Northern Rakhine State. As a close neighbour and partner of Myanmar, we follow closely the developments in that area, particularly on the plight of the ethnic Rohingya. It is timely that we are given the opportunity to meet and discuss this important issue.
2. When I proposed for the convening of a meeting among us, through our Chair, it was with a genuine intention to assist Myanmar collectively to address the challenges that it is facing in resolving this issue.
3. Our hope is that, an open and frank discussion among friends, could help us better understand the issue that Myanmar is facing and from thereon, we could find a sustainable and long-term solution to the issue at hand.
4. We note the steps taken by Myanmar in its investigation to the incident that occurred in Maungdaw Township in early October this year. We also note the necessary measures taken by Myanmar to investigate the cause of the occurrence of violence in the affected areas.
5. These include the establishment of the Central Committee for the Implementation of Peace, Stability and Development (PSCD) in the Rakhine State, the Rakhine State Advisory Commission, a collaborative efforts by the Government and the Kofi Annan Foundation, and the subsequent establishment of the Investigation Commission.
6. While acknowledging the initiatives taken by the Government of Myanmar in trying to improve the situation on the ground, progress have been rather slow, especially in improving the basic human rights of the Rohingya ethnic minority in the Rakhine State.
7. There continue to be reports from many sources alleging arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killings including of children, rape by soldiers, burning of Rohingya villages as well as destruction of homes and places of worship. It is troubling that these alleged violations occurred in the context of security operations conducted by Government authorities.
8. Time and again, my Government has expressed our grave concern on the continued violence in the northern Rakhine State that has resulted in the loss of innocent lives and the displacement of people. Widespread panic, fear and insecurity had resulted in more people fleeing the country and head for neighbouring countries, including Malaysia.
9. We believe that in order to dispel these allegations of ‘ethnic cleansing’ or in some cases ‘genocide’, it is incumbent upon the Government to be transparent and to provide timely and accurate information as well as provide access to the affected areas.
10. As all of us are aware, Malaysia, as well as some other neighbouring countries, have had to deal with the influx of irregular movement of people, especially the Rohingyas, over the past few years. Malaysia is currently hosting around 56,000 displaced ethnic Rohingyas men, women and children, who had fled the affected areas of the Rakhine State.
11. The Government of Malaysia is under constant pressure from our people who are very sympathetic to the plight and sufferings of Rohingya. The Government also had to bear huge financial burden in providing shelters and basic necessities to these people. Although Malaysia is not a party to the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, Malaysia has been consistently providing assistance to the Rohingya on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
12. Just last year, when there was a dire humanitarian situation in the Andaman Sea, Malaysia along with Indonesia and Thailand stepped in to assist those in need. The three of us met in Putrajaya to discuss and resolve this issue. The outcome of the meeting saw our agreement to provide humanitarian assistance and temporary shelter to the 7000 boat people stranded along the three countries’ maritime border. Thereafter, I went to Nay Pyi Tay where I had fruitful and constructive discussion with His Excellency U Wunna Maung Lwin former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar to address this issue.
13. I believe all of us do not wish to see the repeat of this crisis which could potentially impact the security and stability of the region.
14. It is due to this reason that we believe that the situation is now of a regional concern and should be resolved together.
15. It is also our belief that we should not look at this issue from a religious point of the view but as a serious humanitarian concern that should be addressed urgently.
16. Malaysia is not alone in expressing this concern. Our views are shared by Mr. Vijay Nambiar, the Special Advisor of the UNSG. He has stated that, following the visit by nine foreign Ambassadors and the UN Resident Coordinator to the affected areas, various UN agencies have voiced concerns at the deteriorating human rights situation in the Northern Rakhine State.
17. We also agree with him that Myanmar must take steps to build confidence and reassurance among the local population, and to also protect all residents regardless of their ethnicity, religious belief or status. Although Myanmar may not recognise the Rohingya as its citizen, we must not forget that they too deserve basic human rights. Thus we believe that fundamental civil, economic, social and cultural rights must be provided to all those who reside in the Rakhine State regardless of their ethnicity, race or religion.
18. From the investigations that the Government of Myanmar has conducted, as we understand it, it was revealed that the violent attacks were organised by a terrorist organisation believed to be linked and trained by the Taliban. If this allegation is true, then we should be conscious that there are possibilities that the ISIS could be taking advantage of this situation. Again, this is an issue that concerns us as a region. The act of terrorism should be condemned and ASEAN should be at the forefront of fighting terrorism to ensure peace and stability in the region.
19. However, I am of the view that while taking the necessary security measures to curb any fresh outbreak of attacks by criminal elements in the area, the authorities in Myanmar must also take steps in protecting the local population regardless of their ethnicity or religious belief. Allegations of human rights violations especially against some of the population in the Rakhine State must be investigated.
20. Mr. Kofi Annan, during his first visit to Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine, in September 2016 said, and I quote “To build the future, the two major communities have to move beyond decades of mistrust and find ways to embrace shared values of justice, fairness and equity”.
21. Malaysia therefore urges the Government of Myanmar to take all the necessary steps to restore peace and stability in the affected areas. We hope that the Government of Myanmar would be able to deal with the situation in a fair and just manner, according to the international principles on the protection of human rights which are also enshrined in the ASEAN Charter and the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration.
22. In this regard, allow me to propose some recommendations for the consideration of the Government of Myanmar on the way forward to address this issue:
i) Firstly, I believe the most urgent matter is the humanitarian conditions of the people in the affected areas. Like others, we call for an unimpeded humanitarian access to the affected areas. Mr. Kofi Annan during his visit to the affected areas in early December 2016 has also emphasised on this. Our humanitarian NGOs are ready to channel humanitarian assistance to the Government of Myanmar.
We further propose that ASEAN coordinates the humanitarian assistance to the Rakhine State, as what we have done during cyclone Nargis in 2008. The international humanitarian organisations such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) should also be given full access to the affected areas in order to assess the situation there and assist in providing the necessary humanitarian aid;
ii) Secondly, in order to assist us to formulate a sustainable and long-term solution to the situation in the Northern Rakhine State, I propose that ASEAN establishes an independent group of experts or an eminent persons group to investigate and verify the situation in the Rakhine State. This independent group will then provide recommendations to us on the way forward. I believe that in the spirit of maintaining ASEAN Centrality and cohesiveness, we have to address this issue collectively.
23. We acknowledge that the issue that Myanmar is facing is very complex and difficult. This notwithstanding, my Government strongly believes that Myanmar must do more in trying to address the root causes of this problem.
24. I believe that Her Excellency Daw Aung Suu Kyi’s promise to address the root causes affecting the local population, namely that of citizenship and status, and to provide relief to the internally displaced persons since 2012, would go a long way in relieving tension and promote realistic and sustainable solutions. I hope that Her Excellency would take into accounts the concerns of your ASEAN friends and the international community.
25. I also hope that the Government of Myanmar would take on board the various recommendations put forward by the ASEAN Foreign Ministers. I believe that in order to reassure the international community, a statement could be issued by the Government of Myanmar on the way forward as proposed by the ASEAN Member States.
26. On the part of Malaysia, we will continue to voice our concerns as well as extend the necessary assistance to Myanmar through various platforms, either bilaterally or through ASEAN, OIC, United Nations and other relevant platforms.
27. Before I end my statement, I would like to again mention that Malaysia highly values its relationship with Myanmar and is supportive of Myanmar’s transition process towards achieving a more democratic, economically developed and socially-inclusive country. Malaysia also stands ready to assist the NLD-led government in its ongoing national peace and reconciliation efforts which are vital for the peace and stability of Myanmar as well as for our region as a whole.
28. We hope our comments and recommendations would be taken seriously by the Government of Myanmar. We are brothers and sisters in the ASEAN Community, in which we have committed ourselves to advancing ASEAN’s goal of lasting peace, security and stability, sustained economic growth and shared prosperity and social progress.
Thank you.
By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized

‘Asean needs to engage Myanmar over atrocities against Rohingya’

‘Asean needs to engage Myanmar over atrocities against Rohingya’

GEORGE TOWN: Malaysia must continue exerting pressure on Myanmar to end the injustices against the Rohingya.

Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation Malaysia (Mehrom) secretary-general Muhammad Rafik Abdul Ghani hoped Malaysia would convey a strong message on the matter to Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi during the Asean Foreign Ministers’ Retreat in Yangon.

“The retreat is important as it is the first on the issue of Rohingya held by the Myanmar government. We hope the meeting will produce positive results.

“We also urge every country to raise the issue on the persecution of the Rohingya with the Myanmar government,” he said.

On Saturday, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said Suu Kyi had called for an emergency meeting to brief Asean foreign ministers on the developments in northern Rakhine State. The meeting will be held in Yangon today.

“It is important for Asean countries to engage with the Myanmar government,” he told the New Straits Times yesterday.

Rafik said Mehrom was grateful for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s significant role in getting the meeting organised and hoped it would yield positive results in determining the fate of the Rohingya.

“We hope to solve the crisis, which can be done through dialogue in the presence of the international community. An intervention from the international community must be done now,” he said.

On Nov 25, Wisma Putra issued a statement against the killing and displacement of the Rohingya.

On the same day, the cabinet discussed the situation in Rakhine and directed Anifah to meet with Suu Kyi as soon as possible.

In Kuantan, the Pahang Youth Council (MBNP) said Malaysia had effectively demonstrated a strong stand against the persecution of the Rohingya.

Its president, Khairul Amin Osman, said Malaysia’s efforts in pushing for the restoration of the Rohingya community’s rights should be ongoing.

“Malaysia has no intention of interfering in Myanmar’s affairs as we are aware of Asean’s principle of non-interference.

“I believe this can be resolved amicably among Asean countries without straining ties with Myanmar.”

Khairul Amin said he was confident that Asean, through formal discussions, could end the oppression and violence against the Rohingya.

“This is now an international matter as it could affect other Asean countries. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya are displaced and seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. They either go through the United Nations High Commission For Refugees or enter neighbouring countries illegally,” he said.

Pahang Mycare deputy chairman Zool Fadli Hamzah has urged the international community to not turn a blind eye to the plight of the Rohingya.

In Ipoh, Perak Deputy Mufti Zamri Hashim said Myanmar should embrace the Asean spirit in finding a solution to the humanitarian issue.

“The Myanmar government can no longer claim that the Rohingya issue as an internal issue or conflict,” he said, urging Myanmar to allow humanitarian aid to be extended to the Rohingya.

“We hope Myanmar would open its doors and allow other countries in to help the Rohingya,” said Zamri, who is also the president of Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia’s (Isma) Ipoh branch president.

Earlier, 200 people joined a solidarity walk, organised by Perak Aman Palestine and Isma’s Ipoh branch to raise awareness about the injustices faced by Muslims in Myanmar, Syria and Palestine.

State Aman Palestin director Khairul Amin Ibrahim said the event, held in conjunction with the Ipoh Car Free Day yesterday, was a continuation of the protest held in front of Russian embassy in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, which demanded the Russian government cease attacks on civilians in Aleppo.

During the protest, Aman Palestin submitted a memorandum to a representative of the embassy.

“We want to the public to show their support to our relatives in Aleppo, Syria. This is not a religious issue, but a humanitarian one to address the cruelty happening now.”

The crowd walked around Ipoh at 8.30am and distributed a red headband with the word #SaveAleppo to pedestrians.

Rohingya Society in Malaysia chairman Mohammad Hassan Miya Huson said the body had written a letter to the United Nations (UN) on the atrocities in Rakhine State.

“We plan to submit the letter on Monday to highlight the severity of the matter to the UN,” he said on behalf of 5,000 Rohingya in Ipoh.

He thanked the government, especially Najib, for supporting the “Himpunan Solidariti Ummah Untuk Rohingya” recently.

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By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized