Panel report on Rohingya a cover-up attempt

Panel report on Rohingya a cover-up attempt
Human rights groups have claimed that Myanmar’s government is trying to cover up abuses against civilians in a Muslim-majority part of Rakhine State and the matter is too serious to be ignored.

Tens of thousands of helpless Rohingya have fled a military operation in the northwestern state, launched after attacks on police posts in October.

Dozens have died in the crackdown.

Horrendous tales of gang rape, torture, summary executions and even merciless killing of a pregnant woman among others have emerged.

The destruction of homes and mosques forced tens of thousands to flee their villages and the subsequent blockade in the region also left many in the area facing acute shortages of food, water and essentials.

While Myanmar’s government has flatly denied allegations that abuses have been committed, the question remains why it prevented independent journalists and aid workers from accessing parts of northern Rakhine.

Now, a commission appointed by the government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has issued interim findings refuting allegations of abuses by security forces.

Surprisingly, this has come even while the authorities are still investigating police abuses after a video emerged showing officers beating and kicking Rohingya villagers.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, has stated that the panel is looking more and more like the Myanmar government whitewash mechanism.

It may not be a mere coincidence that the panel chair Vice President Myint Swe is a former army lieutenant general.

The panel has made a questionable suggestion that the increasing population of Islamic scholars, mosques and religious edifices is proof that there were no cases of genocide and religious persecution in the region.

One wonders how the mere presence of mosques could mean that the Rohingya are not being persecuted.

Matthew Smith, founder of campaign group Fortify Rights, has also made it clear that the commission’s report is sharply at odds with accounts collected by researchers interviewing civilians in northern Rakhine and those who have fled to Bangladesh.

As a top UN official recently warned, the Myanmar government’s short-sighted, counterproductive and even callous approach to the handling of the crisis could have grave long-term repercussions for the country and the region.

The Myanmar government should take concrete measures to prevent the further deterioration of the crisis in Rakhine state.

Rohingya Muslims have suffered discrimination and humiliation for too long. Failure to rectify the situation cannot be accepted as an answer anymore.

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

Fabrications against local civilian Rohingya Muslims continued

Fabrications against local civilian Rohingya Muslims continued

Since yesterday Myanmar Army and BGP started operation against civilians in the village. Read here:

These guns were given to local Rakhine Buddhists to kill Rohingya Muslims in Buthidaung. Rakhines from Buthidaung were trying to create mass killing many times since 2012 but Rohingya victims didn’t stand or didn’t respond them.

Now the military put the guns into Rohingya houses to destroy the Rohingyas from Buthidaung as well as Maungdaw. Since Oct 9, about 400 women have been raped, about 3000 houses have been burned, above 500 peoples have been killed, children were thrown into fire, many peoples burned alive, about 50 village tracts have been attacked like war enemies, plundered everything from entire villages of Maungdaw township, drive out above 60,000 Rohingyas from the land by Myanmar Army and BGP through the instruction of super power Suu Kyi who got Nobel award for peace. Her Peace Nobel award is now using to hide the crimes including inhumanity and genocide.

Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships are Rohingya majority townships since many years. They want to demolish Rohingya villages to be resettled Rakhine Buddhist there.


State Counsellor Office Information Committee

Four suspects with 14 hand-made guns seized in Maunggyitaung Village, Buthidaung

January 5, 2017

On 4th January afternoon, 1 trainer and 3 trainees were arrested loading with hand-made guns in Maunggyitaung village, Buthidaung.

Upon receipt of the news at about 3 am on 4th January that those who had completed an insurgent military training course were nearing the village of Maunggyitaung in Bauthidaung township carrying weapons, security forces blocked entry routes in order to intercept them. While searching, security forces detained Mamad Karat, the trainer and 3 trainees named Kumuru, De Mamud, Mardular — 4 in all. After interrogation that resulted in confessions, security forces searched for weapons and captured14 hand-made guns in a field of betel palms which belonged to De Mamud at about 2 pm.

It is learnt that legal action will be taken against the arrested in accord with the law.

(State Counsellor Office Information Committee)

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

What Happens Off-Camera in Burma?

What Happens Off-Camera in Burma?

Video of Police Beating Rohingya Heightens Fears of Wider Abuses

Phil Robertson

Phil Robertson


This “has to be an isolated case.” So claims a spokesman at Burma’s foreign ministry about a disturbing video that emerged this weekend showing police officers brutally beating ethnic Rohingya villagers, including some who appeared to be children, in northern Rakhine State.

Screenshot from a video that began appearing on social media on December 31, 2016, apparently showing Burmese police officers in northern Rakhine State beating villagers.

Screenshot from a video that began appearing on social media on December 31, 2016, apparently showing Burmese police officers in northern Rakhine State beating villagers.

Unlike the Burmese government’s usual indignant denials that state security forces are committing abuses against the marginalized Rohingya population, the leaked video has prompted the government to admit that in this case police officers had abused villagers during “clearance operations.” The video, filmed by a police officer, shows police officers kicking villagers and beating one man repeatedly with what appears to be a baton. The government said that “legal action is being taken” against six officers whom it says were involved.

Yet when it comes to allegations of other serious abuses, the government remains curiously intransigent. The claim by the foreign ministry, which is headed by Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, that this was an isolated case rings hollow.

While the government’s swift response to these allegations is important, numerous other rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, rape, and the destruction of villages await proper investigation and appropriate prosecution. Ultimately this case may be yet another attempt to keep the lid on crimes being committed by security forces in locked-down northern Rakhine State.

Early last month, we listened to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh who fled Rakhine State’s Maungdaw Township recount atrocities perpetrated by the Burmese military against Rohingya villagers. Rohima, 50, relived the horrors she witnessed: “I saw they tortured, killed, slaughtered the men and the women. And raped  the women and young girls.”

But so far, the government has roundly rejected the growing reports of serious abuses, even calling some of them “fake rapes.”

Since the current spate of violence erupted after Rohingya militants attacked Border Guard Police posts in early October 2016, killing nine security personnel, Human Rights Watch has used satellite imagery to identify at least 1,500 buildings that were destroyed in Maungdaw Township between October and November last year. The pattern of destruction strongly suggests that the buildings were destroyed in arson attacks that were part of a military operation. Witnesses to the destruction also say the military was responsible.

Two separate government investigations have either dismissed the allegations against the military entirely or failed to address them, claiming there is insufficient evidence. Instead, the government claims without evidence that the Rohingya militants were responsible for the widespread burnings.

Since the violence erupted, the government has prevented both humanitarian groups from providing much-needed assistance, and human rights researchers and journalists from independently conducting on-the-ground investigations.

Faced with overwhelming video evidence, Burma’s government has acted swiftly. But the video begs the question: If police officers unashamedly film themselves savagely beating Rohingya villagers, what horrors are taking place off camera?

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

Rohingya persecution enters darker phase in Myanmar

Rohingya persecution enters darker phase in Myanmar

Retaliation linked to Muslim minority raises concerns of militancy with foreign backers

A Muslim woman stands inside a house reportedly burnt down during the conflict in the Rakhine state © EPA

Mosuna Begum buries her head in a yellow scarf to hide her tears and recounts what happened to her a few weeks ago outside her village home in the west of Myanmar.

“A large number of military entered the village,” she recalls from her new home at the Leda refugee camp in the Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh, just 3km from the Myanmarborder.

“They started shooting and burning houses. In the dead of night the military entered my room,” she says. “They divided the males and the females, and the women were taken into the forest. I was raped by two soldiers and my husband was slaughtered.”

Mrs Begum’s story cannot be independently verified but it chimes with those of thousands of recent Muslim refugees from predominantly Buddhist Myanmar. Rights groups say members of the security forces are persecuting Rohingya Muslim civilians.

The events have pitted the civilian-led government of Aung San Suu Kyi against international critics who say it should be doing more to protect the Rohingya and hold the army to account. Almost a dozen Nobel Peace Prize winners signed an open letter to the UN Security Council last week criticising their fellow laureate. They branded the action against the Rohingya a “human tragedy amounting to ethnic cleansing”, drawing parallels with Rwanda and Bosnia.

Rohingya refugees report violent abuse

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Aung San Suu Kyi has appealed for time. Some government officials and state media have dismissed the allegations as fabrications and condemned the activists and journalists who have reported them.

The crisis is the worst for years in the western Myanmar state of Rakhine and for its Rohingya minority, against whom discrimination became entrenched during previous military-dominated governments. Many have been refused citizenship, made subject to restrictions on movements and jobs, consigned to squalid camps and large numbers have fled the country.

The latest Rakhine problems began in October when nine Myanmar police officers were reportedly killed in attacks close to the Bangladeshi border. Soon afterwards, the army began conducting sweeps to root out the people they believed were responsible and their guns and ammunition.

According to the testimonies of several witnesses in refugee camps in Bangladesh, these sweeps have been indiscriminate in their violence.

Noor Haba claims the military came to her small village of 3,000 and killed half of the people there. “They started killing and burning. They shot us from helicopters, and one air attack killed my husband,” she says. “Our houses were completely burnt to ash.”

Mrs Begum and Mrs Haba describe a desperate flight into Bangladesh through the forest and across the Naf river, where boatmen and brokers took payments of about $25 to ferry people across.

On Monday, the office of Aung San Suu Kyi said it had detained several police officers over a video showing security forces rounding up Rohingya villagers and beating them.

International agencies have condemned what is happening in Myanmar. Last month, Amnesty International accused the country of engaging in a “campaign of violence against Rohingya people that may amount to crimes against humanity”.

The International Organisation for Migration has said that about 21,000 people fled Myanmar for Bangladesh between October 9 and December 2. Human Rights Watch has estimated that at least 1,500 buildings had been destroyed as of early December.

In recent weeks Aung San Suu Kyi has talked of her administration’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”. In August, she set up a special commission headed by Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general, to tackle the Rakhine troubles. But the Myanmar government has been criticised for appointing Myint Swe, the vice-president and a former general, to head a team investigating the latest events in Rakhine.

“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,” says Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader, has long faced calls from activists to do more for the Rohingya © AP

Aung San Suu Kyi’s supporters point out that she does not control the army, which still enjoys wide formal and informal powers in Myanmar’s political system. She is also seen as wary of antagonising Rakhine’s Buddhist community or a wider public stoked by anti-immigration and anti-Muslim rhetoric, some of it from militant monks.

The attacks on security forces have led to a debate about whether some kind of organised Rohingya insurgency is under way, with or without foreign backing.

A recent report by the International Crisis group claimed that members of the Rohingya group that attacked frontier security forces have international links to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Before the attacks, some fighters had received training that included the use of weapons and improvised explosive devices, the report said.

The crisis is also causing problems for the Bangladeshi government. It is struggling to cope with the numbers coming into the country and, according to Amnesty International, has even begun pushing people back into Myanmar.

Several refugees who spoke to the Financial Times said they were receiving minimal help from the Bangladeshi government, with many thousand cramming into undocumented camps helped only by aid agencies.

Col MM Anisur Rahman, the regional army commander in Bangladesh, says: “This problem was initiated by Myanmar. They have created this problem, they have to solve this problem.”

But it is those now living among the bamboo and corrugated-iron huts of the Bangladeshi camp who have to deal with the aftermath of the clearances.

Dudu Mia, the camp chairman at Leda and a Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh in 2003, says: “This is the worst violence I have ever heard about in Myanmar.”

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

Sad that the world needs the picture of a child face down to notice ignored tragedies

Sad that the world needs the picture of a child face down to notice ignored tragedies

published: 05/01/2017 19:51 CET updated: 1 hour ago

2016 was expected to be the year of democratic change in Myanmar. The free vote and without interference of November 2015, which had led to the leadership of the Asian country Aung San Suu Kyi, had been welcomed as a sign of hope. But even then the news of the persecution of the Rohingya minority , massacred indiscriminately, including women and children, had dampened the joy of the success that suggested the initiation of a process of democratization led by the Nobel Peace Prize.

Aung San Suu Kyi on the genocide taking place against this people ‘outcast’ has remained silent, he has never taken action to stop this horror. No mention, not even after the appeal made to the Security Council of the United Nations by twelve colleagues Nobel laureates , including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Malala Yousafzai, to end the ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity against Rohingya.

A year and a half ago, on this very blog, I told how former Burma was in place a real repression contrio this ethnic group of Islamic religion, not recognized by the Constitution or the law of Myanmar, forced to a real mass exodus to Bangladesh. Only in the last four months the arrivals in the country were 50,000.

Naypyidaw to continue to reject all responsibility, claiming that the worsening of the crisis is due to the action of rebel groups based in the central part of Myanmar, Rakhine, which make continuous massacres, regardless of gender and age. Yet only today our media we realized what is happening in the former Burma. Or rather, they found the photograph ‘sensational’ to use to give notice.

Mohammed Shohayet, 16 months, is the Aylan Rohingya. Roberto Saviano is right . The image of his limp little body on a shoreline, half-naked and with her face face down, is the mirror image of the terrible pictures of the Syrian boy drowned after the shipwreck in September 2015 the barge was traveling with his family and reported, lifeless, from the waves on the Turkish beach where he started. That photograph touched the world, becoming a symbol of the tragedy of immigration.

The screenshot of the video of CNN, which interviewed the father survived told us the story of Mohammed, as Aylan went viral and is intended to be a visual representation of the unknown tragedy of its people. For us it is a deja vu that we never wanted to relive. Some people did not need a picture that goes around the world to talk of crisis and ignored genocide.

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

All stateless children in Kedah now allowed to enrol in govt schools

All stateless children in Kedah now allowed to enrol in govt schools


SIK: All stateless children in Kedah, aged seven and above, will be allowed to enrol in public schools in the state.

Announcing this today, Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah said state Education Committee chairman Datuk Tajul Urus Mat Zin will be holding a briefing session with all district education offices (PPDs) in the state on the matter soon.

The decision came one day after the New Straits Times had highlighted the plight of seven-year-old Tan Yao Chun from Changlun, who was unable to attend school as his Malaysian father did not register his birth with the Malaysian embassy in Thailand.

Ahmad Bashah said the boy’s predicament was discussed in the state executive council meeting today.

“We were informed by Tajul during the meeting that the Education Ministry has given its permission for stateless children to be accepted in all public schools, and that he will be calling all the PPDs to brief them on this matter soon,” he told a press conference here today.

Ahmad Bashah said it was unfair for stateless children to be denied access to education as it was not their fault that their parents failed to register their birth.

“However, the parents or legal guardians of the stateless children must proceed with the registration at the National Registration Department (NRD) as soon as possible so that the children in question can sit for major examinations,” he said.

Yesterday, the NST had published a front-paged report on Tan’s predicament, as he could not enrol at a vernacular school as he is deemed stateless.

It was reported that the boy was born on Aug 29, 2009 at the Hatyai City Hospital to a Malaysian father and a Myanmar national mother.

However, his father had failed to register the boy’s birth at the Malaysian embassy in Thailand, resulting in the NRD being unable to issue his birth certificate here.

His grandmother has since filed an application for his birth certificate with the state NRD, which is still being processed by the department.

 All stateless children in Kedah, aged seven and above, will be allowed to enrol in public schools in the state, said Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah. The decision came one day after the New Straits Times had highlighted the plight of seven-year-old Tan Yao Chun from Changlun, who was unable to attend school as his Malaysian father did not register his birth with the Malaysian embassy in Thailand. Pix by Azhar Ramli

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

Flotilla mission of persuasion given permission to send aid Myanmar

Flotilla mission of persuasion given permission to send aid Myanmar

Zulaikha Zulkifli     January 5, 2017

NGOs participating in the flotilla mission to Myanmar appealed for the government concerned to allow them to deliver humanitarian aid to the Rohingya community.

According to the Putera 1Malaysia Club chairman Datuk Azeez Rahim, a humanitarian mission with a variety of local and international NGOs should depart on 10 January.

However, he said, they had to postpone the mission and depart on January 31 following the failure of getting approval from the government of Myanmar to anchor in their waters.

“There should move January 10 but the government of Myanmar has not responded to a letter sent last December.

“So we’ll move on 31 days a month. If you do not get the approval we will find the way to go.

“Food dah, dah contribution there,” he said at a press conference at the National Container in the capital today.

In addition to the Putera 1Malaysia Club, among other organizations participating are Malaysian Islamic Organisations Consultative Council (PIM).

Azeez said if the group was not able to enter Myanmar, it would bring the contribution of humanitarian aid to Rohingya residing in Bangladesh.

“If we will not to Myanmar to Teknaf of Bangladesh waters. It contained about 30,000 Rohingya refugees,” he said.

Flotilla Mission is aimed at bringing food, medicines, tents, equipment and clothing for the victims of Rohingya who is now a fugitive.

The mission involved the participation of over 200 people from various quarters, including the medical team.

The flotilla will carry about 2,000 tons of aid to be delivered to the postal United Nations will help distribute it.

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

Myanmar to remove Rohingya from country’s history

Myanmar to remove Rohingya from country’s history

YANGON -UNS : Myanmar’s religious affairs ministry plans to write a book that the Rohingya are not indigenous to the country, as tensions grow over a brutal military crackdown on the Muslim minority.

Almost 27,000 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh since the beginning of November, the UN said on Tuesday, fleeing a bloody military campaign in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state.

Their stories of mass rape and murder at the hands of security forces have shocked the international community and cast a pall over the young government of Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.

Myanmar has angrily rejected the criticism and called an emergency ASEAN meeting next week to discuss the crisis, which has sparked protests in Muslim nations in the region.

Late Monday, the country’s Ministry of Religion and Cultural Affairs announced plans to write a thesis to refute foreigners who “stir things up by insisting the Rohingya exist and (who) aim to tarnish Myanmar’s political image”.

“We hereby announce that we are going to publish a book of true Myanmar history,” the ministry said in a statement posted on Facebook late Monday.

“The real truth is that the word Rohingya was never used or existed as an ethnicity or race in Myanmar’s history.”

Myanmar’s more than one million Rohingya are loathed by many from the Buddhist majority, who say they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and refer to them as “Bengali” even though many have lived in the country for generations.

Even the term Rohingya has become so divisive that Suu Kyi has asked government officials to avoid using it. According to the ministry, the term was first used in 1948 by a “Bengali” MP.

Rights activists say the Rohingya are among the most persecuted people in the world.

They were removed as one of the country’s recognised ethnicities by the former military government under a 1982 law stipulating minorities must have lived in Myanmar before the first Anglo-Burmese war of 1824-26.

But Rohingya and Muslim historians reject the idea that they were slaves brought by the British, arguing their roots in Rakhine can be traced back hundreds of years.

More than 120,000 Rohingya were driven into displacement camps by sectarian clashes in 2012, where they live in conditions that rights groups have compared to apartheid South Africa.

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

Talk about Rohingya tragedy not enough: The Nation

Talk about Rohingya tragedy not enough: The Nation



While it is encouraging that influential organisations and individuals have held meetings on the Rohingya crisis and that hundreds of thousands of people are voicing grave concern, the plight of the Muslim ethnic minority in Myanmar will not improve unless the international community takes decisive action.

The recent “informal consultation” that the country’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, granted foreign ministers of the Asean produced a single half-hearted resolution to help ease the problem.

The meagre result suggests the meeting was nothing more than another face-saving escape on the bloc’s part amid mounting global pressure.

What the group decided with Suu Kyi was that humanitarian assistance will be given to the Rohingya in troubled Rakhine state.

Last week Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, dispatched 10 shipping containers filled with instant-food products, infant formula and clothing after its foreign minister, Retno Marsudi, met separately with Suu Kyi and his counterpart from neighbouring Bangladesh, Abul Hassan Mahmud Ali.

The two ministers also visited Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, home to two Rohingya refugee camps.

As admirable as those worried countries’ efforts are, the root cause of the problem is still being ignored, and it lies squarely at the feet of the Suu Kyi administration.

The reason there are 300,000 Rohingya sheltering in makeshift camps along the Bangladeshi border – between 27,000 and 50,000 sought to cross the frontier in October alone, the figure varying among sources – is that the Myanmar military has been murdering, raping and robbing them and burning their communities to the ground.

News reporters, rights organisations and United Nations officials have documented the atrocities.

It’s been suggested that this continuing assault might amount to ethnic cleansing, though we fail to see why there should be any doubt when a specific population is being targeted on such a scale.

There are of course complications stymieing the best intentions.

Suu Kyi’s government has maintained the rigid attitude of its dictatorial predecessors in insisting that the Rohingya are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Suu Kyi refuses to even acknowledge the term “Rohingya”, adamant that they are “Bengalis”. Bangladesh counters that they are not its citizens but refugees from Myanmar whom it wants repatriated.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina last year invited Suu Kyi to visit for further discussion.

She has yet to do so, and nor has Myanmar responded to Bangladesh’s proposal for a joint border control, an idea that would hardly solve the problem but would at least show her willingness to accept aid in addressing it.

Add to these factors Suu Kyi’s seeming inability to rein in the military and the military’s defence of its brutalisation of Rakhine as a response to Rohingya armed attacks on state officials.

Clearly far more urgent international resolve is needed to end a crisis that 23 prominent world figures – including many of Suu Kyi’s fellow Nobel Prize laureates – last month called “a human tragedy”.

“If we fail to take action,” their letter to the UN warned, “people may starve to death if they are not killed with bullets, and we may end up being the passive observers of crimes against humanity which will lead us once again to wring our hands belatedly and say ‘never again’ all over again.”

Suu Kyi yielded somewhat to foreign pressure last year when she appointed one of those laureates, former UN secretary-general Kofi Anan, to head a commission on the Rohingya affair.

Anan visited Rakhine twice and offered recommendations aimed at easing the tension between the Muslim minority and Buddhist majority that has several times flared into violence.

No concerted effort was made, and nothing has changed. All we have is talk.


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

Tatmadaw urges Buddhist civilians to arm themselves against Muslim insurgents

Tatmadaw urges Buddhist civilians to arm themselves against Muslim insurgents

By Coconuts Yangon January 5, 2017
military kahtein ceremony at uyittaw pagoda in 2004
A robe donation ceremony held by the Tatmadaw at the Uyittaw Pagoda in Ponnagyun Township in 2004. Photo: MOI


Myanmar military officials met with Rakhine Buddhist leaders in Ponnagyun Township on Monday to encourage them to take up arms against Muslim terrorist brigades that threatening the country’s security.

A local source told Myanmar Observer that the Rakhine leaders responded by saying they were “ready for the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of the country and would not allow Arakan to become another Bangladesh”.

The meeting took place within the Uyittaw Pagoda compound in Ponnagyun. Ponnagyun is a Buddhist-majority township near Sittwe with a Rohingya enclave concentrated in the Sidurkul village tract.

Myanmar Observer reports that Rohingya residents of the town had no knowledge of the Tatmadaw meeting because they have been blockaded within their villages since the 2012 riots. Some of the participants in Monday’s meeting are said to be affiliated with Ma Ba Tha, a Buddhist-nationalist movement that has regularly stoked tensions against Muslims in Myanmar, sometimes resulting in physical violence.

Unlike Rohingya communities in northern Rakhine State, Muslims in Ponnagyun are vastly outnumbered by local Buddhists, and in the event of an attack, would find themselves surrounded and without access to an international border. Thousands of Rohingya refugees in the north have fled violence perpetrated by the Tatmadaw to seek refuge in Bangladesh, though hundreds have either died on the way or been sent back by Bangladeshi authorities.

The Myanmar Police Force announced in early November that it would begin arming and training Rakhine civilians to fight Rohingya insurgents.

Human rights and conflict resolution groups said at the time that arming and training non-Muslims in Rakhine State had the potential to make the situation on the ground worse.

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