Two Killed and Dozens Arrested in Raids in Northern Buthidaung

Two Killed and Dozens Arrested in Raids in Northern Buthidaung

By Anwar M.S.January 7, 2017

Two Killed and Dozens Arrested in Raids in Northern Buthidaung

 

Buthidaung — Two Rohingya civilians have been tortured to death and scores arrested in a series of sporadic raids by the Myanmar armed forces on the villages across northern Buthidaung, local sources say.

Many other villagers were severely tortured including the two people that died from tortures and many more were arrested during a day-long siege of the village the village of ‘Maung Gyi Taung’ locally known as ‘Shaab Bazaar’ on Wednesday (Jan 4). The two people tortured to death are identified as Abdullah (22), s/o Mohammed Amin and Jahanghir (23), s/o Amiruddin.

Dozens of women in the village were reported to have been molested during the siege on Jannuary 4, 2017. Reportedly, three other women have also gone missing from the village since then.

At least 300 people were beaten and arrested, of whom 245 people were released later after extortion of ransom, during a series of raids on a number of Rohingya villages — such as Maung Gyi Taung, Darpaing Sayar, Nga Chin Tauk and Mee Chaung Zay — in northern Buthidaung between January 4 and January 6 .

Of more than 50 civilians still detained, the Myanmar State Counsellor Office Information Committee declared four people as militants through its official Facebook justifying the military offensives and continuing its media propaganda. The villagers labelled as militants are from Maung Gyi Taung village and identified as: 1) Mohammed Tarek, 2) Kamaru, 3) Dil Mohammed and 4) Mohammed Ullah.

A joint force of 150 Myanmar military and Border Guard Police (BGP) launched raids on the village also known as ‘Shaab Bazaar’ on Wednesday (January 4) and on its adjacent villages on the following days on pretext of searching the weapons stolen from the arsenal of the BGP Headquarter in Maungdaw on October 9, 2016.

Update: On 7th January 2017, the Myanmar military demanded 30 Rohingya women from the figureheads in MaungGyiTaung village in northern Buthidaung to use them as sex slaves the village administrator and his son were

The figureheads, in the absence of the village administrator of MaungGyiTaung, refused to fulfill the military’s barbaric demand. So, they were tortured. The village administrator, Mr. Ibrahim, and his son, Mohammed Shah, have been arrested by the military earlier.

Most men in the village have fled in fear of arbitrary arrests. So, the military are now seizing ‘Family Registration Lists’ and ‘Post-Handover ‘White Card’ Receipts’ from the Rohingya families in the village.

Read earlier report: Military Raid Rohingya Village in Northern Buthidaung

Editor’s Note: It’s proving to be difficult to receive information from the villagers located in the remote areas in northern most Buthidaung, where transportation and telecommunication systems are very poor. However, from the reports we have received so far, we can safely conclude that the Myanmar armed forces are committing worse or similar atrocity crimes that they have committed earlier in ‘Koetankauk’ village of Rathedaung Township and in Northern Maungdaw region.

[Reports by Aung Aung and Aung Kyaw Hla; Edited by M.S. Anwar]

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

Myanmar Continues Israeli-Style Demolition Campaign on Rohingya Homes

Myanmar Continues Israeli-Style Demolition Campaign on Rohingya Homes

By Anwar M.S.January 6, 2017

Myanmar Continues Israeli-Style Demolition Campaign on Rohingya Homes

By Rohingya Mirror and Rohingya Eye

January 6, 2016 | RVision TV News

Maungdaw – Myanmar’s Border Guard Police (BGP) continue their Israeli-style demolition of Rohingya homes across Maungdaw District, a campaign which began in mid-December 2016, leaving thousands of people homeless in this winter, more than half of them women and children, local sources said. 

The Border Guard Police (BGP) have demolished at least 1,000 Rohingya homes in Maungdaw District that includes Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships since the mid-December on pretext of building homes without permission or not being in the household map and left more than 6,000 people displaced; apart from the burning of more than 4,000 homes in northern Maungdaw region after October 9, 2016, which had left more than 50,000 people displaced.

Further 100 more Rohingya homes have been demolished in the district since the last week of last December. In many villages in Maungdaw Township, the BGP has demolished some homes by themselves but mostly forced the local Rohingyas to destroy their own homes, while deliberately setting some homes on fire claiming dismantling homes consumed too much time, said a local in northern Maungdaw on the condition of anonymity.

At Sinthaepyin (locally known as Haanti Fara) hamlet of Loundoong village in northern Maungdaw, the house of Mr. Khairul Amin was burnt down at around 9:30 pm on January 4, 2016. Both Khairul Amin and his wife haven’t returned home from Bangladesh where they went to treat their 7-year-old daughter after she had been shot at her leg by the military on November 26, 2016.
Although it is unknown who exactly torched his home, some BGP personnel were seen roaming in the village earlier in the evening nearby his home. (Note: the Myanmar’s State Counselor Information Committee has reported this incident twisting the real facts.)

And following is a list of destructions of homes in the Maungdaw Township in the recent weeks.
Region Village name Date No. of Homes Remark
Northern Maungdaw At ‘Suru Fara’ hamlet of ‘Leik Ya’ 25.12.2016 5 Torched by BGP saying demolishing homes taking long time.
At ‘Suru Fara’ hamlet of ‘Leik Ya’ 28.12.2016 4 demolished

Southern Maungdaw At Hossara hamlet of Zawmadat 29.12.2016 4 demolished by admin **‘U Maung Thar Kyu’ under BGP order
At Montulla hamlet of AleyThanKyaw 28.12.2016 4 demolished, including some 15-year-old homes
At Zaykonetan hamlet of AlayThanKyaw 29.12.2016 8 demolished
At Byuhagone hamlet of AlayThanKyaw 27.12.2016 25 demolished
At LeyinGwin hamlet of AlayThanKyaw 27.12.2016 15 demolished
At Kayintan hamlet of AlayThanKyaw 26.12.2016 15 demolished
At Kyaung Taung (Gorakhali) 28.12.2016 4 demolished
** The administrator of Zawmadat village, U Maung Thar Kyu, is a Rakhine extremists also indulging in money extortions from the villagers threatening that he will make the BGP destroy their homes if they don’t give (ransom) money to him.

The houses and shops being destroyed in the rural villages are not modern buildings that require officials’ permission(s) but traditional country-type structures built of bamboos and woods and covered with ‘Nipa Palm Leaves.’ These widespread destructions of homes are now seen among the locals as yet another attempt of cleansing their (i.e. Rohingya) population through systematic displacement of the people.

The order to demolish homes had only been imposed on the Rohingya community, not on the Rakhine Buddhist community.

[Read related reports: Rohingya Homes Demolished in Southern Maungdaw

More Rohingya Homes Demolished across Maungdaw Township

Man Shot at Head for Refusing to Demolish his Home

Myanmar Continues to Demolish Rohingya Homes in Maungdaw District]

Source by: http://www.rvisiontv.com

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

The Dark Depths of Myanmar’s Rohingya Tragedy

The Dark Depths of Myanmar’s Rohingya Tragedy

Roughly a year ago, remarkable scenes were broadcast around the world from the streets of Yangon as citizens gathered to participate in, and celebrate, Myanmar’s general election.

 

The intense atmosphere of hope that accompanied the poll, the first openly contested one if its kind for decades, was an inspiration to behold; at the time, unfamiliar observers could be forgiven for thinking that the country was on the verge of making a clean break with its troubled past.

Twelve months on and harder political realities have come to the fore. It has taken the sternest test yet of the new government to show how far Aung San Suu Kyi, the state counselor and de facto civilian leader, will go to express solidarity with the armed forces, an autonomous state-within-a-state, which retains the constitutional right to run key ministries and set its own budgets.

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.It is perhaps out of a desire to avoid a confrontation between competing parts of state power that Suu Kyi has opted to take this stance while neglecting to do more to help those affected by the present crisis, in which thousands of children have been needlessly placed at risk of starvation and death.

This urgent humanitarian situation is just one of the outcomes of a drama currently taking place in Rakhine state, western Myanmar, involving one of the most unwanted and hopeless minorities in the world: the Rohingya, a predominantly Muslim group of roughly one million people.

The minority, who are almost entirely stateless, have been persecuted in Myanmar for decades, enduring policies designed to make their lives miserable, including limitations on freedom of movement, access to healthcare, education, and other basic rights. Crimes such as rape, extrajudicial killings and extortion have occurred with impunity.

In October, a group of militants committed the first known act of armed aggression by the minority in decades, eliciting a severe crackdown by state forces and setting into motion a series of events that have had dire consequences.

“Distraught and Disgusted”

It is in this context that the lives of thousands of minors have been imperiled. Humanitarian aid to parts of northern Rakhine state was suspended following the declaration of a “military operations area” in which the army has been conducting counter-insurgency sweeps. Allegations of rapes, killings, and arson leaked out of the locked-down zone, only to be met with fervent denials from various parts of the Burmese state; verification has been close to impossible given that independent media have been denied access to the affected areas.

Email updates provided to humanitarian groups by the United Nations acknowledge that roughly 3,000 children in parts of Northern Rakhine State are suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition — a condition affecting infants and children produced by prolonged periods without access to adequate food and drink. The internal message observes that those minors reliant on specialized care for SAM “have not been able to receive their regular treatment” due to government-sanctioned blocks on humanitarian aid deliveries, which have lasted for weeks. “Without appropriate treatment,” the author of the email adds, “30-50 percent of SAM children may die.”

Pierre Peron, spokesperson for the Office of the Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) the UN’s key humanitarian agency confirmed the numbers cited above, and echoed its grim conclusions, noting that without access to the care they had been receiving, “many children with SAM are at risk of dying.”

While the time frame of risk to the children was not clearly stated in the emails, one humanitarian official speaking on condition of anonymity told me that those deprived of access to the treatments administered at therapeutic feeding centers are classed as going back to “square one” in terms of their condition — and therefore at greatly heightened risk of death — after three weeks. Aid has been severely restricted for roughly a month and a half.

Asked what the general reaction was to the blockade among staff working in the humanitarian community, he replied that he and his colleagues were “distraught and disgusted.”

Rights groups were similarly condemnatory about the restrictions on aid. Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, told me that many Rohingya were “facing a crisis of survival” as a result of the restrictions. Referring to the blockade, he indicated that the decision to limit the humanitarian presence in the area may be attributable to the most cynical of motives.

“What’s clear is that the Myanmar government doesn’t want any outside eyes and ears seeing what the security forces are doing in this area, and that means keeping the humanitarians out regardless of the suffering that this causes to the Rohingya people dependent on international assistance,” he said.

Matthew Smith, executive director of Bangkok-based NGO Fortify Rights, was terser in his analysis, saying “the authorities have no defensible reason to block aid. It’s inhumane, pure and simple.”

A State of Denial — and Complicity

Against the backdrop of deteriorating humanitarian conditions and alleged atrocities, Suu Kyi, known in the past for her panegyrics to human rights, has signed off on an increasingly absurd campaign of denial delivered by parts of the government under her control. Saying little on the matter herself, the message from her subordinates has been one of total support for the military.

While the decision not to alienate the armed forces may be shrewd, and certain efforts to do good may be taking place “behind closed doors,” the consequences of this political theater have been deadly serious.

It has eased pressure on the military-controlled parts of the state that are playing a key role in blocking aid, despite the fact that the move to suspend access amounts to a form of collective punishment for communities in the area. With every week that passes more people — beyond the 3,000 children — are at risk of sickness and even death.

That is not all. The language issuing from officials and appointees dealing with the situation, particularly when referring to the Rohingya as a group, has been dangerous and even dehumanizing.

Perhaps the most grotesque example of this was provided by the man picked to head the initial investigation into the violence, Member of Parliament U Aung Win. In an interview with the BBC, laughing as he spoke, he refuted allegations of rape by the military on the grounds that no soldier would deign to violate Rohingya women as they are “very dirty.”

More denialist effluvia was emitted recently by senior government spokesman Zaw Htay in a press conference posted on a Facebook page controlled by Suu Kyi’s office. The spin doctor took aim at the most concrete evidence yet of criminality by government forces — satellite imagery circulated by Human Rights Watch demonstrating obvious destruction of hundreds of Rohingya homes — fallaciously claiming that he had refuted “wrong accusations” made by the organization. At the same presser it was asserted, to the amazement of journalists, that the timing of the violence was part of a conspiracy involving groups that lobby for Rohingya rights.

While these lines have not taken been seriously by the international community, they are received with more credulity by the Burmese public. The idea that the Rohingya, who are the subject of widespread prejudice throughout Myanmar, are involved in conspiracies with international groups has long been by promoted by popular demagogues in the country. Advancing such a narrative to deflect criticism from the army and government is not only deeply cynical but genuinely dangerous.

Elsewhere, commentary in state outlets drifted into the language of outright dehumanization. The Global Light of Myanmar, a mouthpiece newspaper controlled by the Suu Kyi-run Ministry of Information, ran a self-explanatory piece titled “The Thorn Needs Removing If It Pierces,” implicitly supporting the actions of the armed forces, while remaining ambiguous on whether or not the “thorn” was a symbol for all Rohingya or just the insurgents. In the same manner a more recent op-ed warned of the danger posed by “detestable human fleas… trying to combine with each other to amass their force.”

“Burnt Alive in Their Homes”

In contrast to the government’s position, allegations of atrocities were treated as highly credible by The Arakan Project, an independent monitoring group that provides briefings to the United Nations.

“According to our information, the claims about rapes, arson attacks, and killings are accurate. More than 100 civilians have been killed, including women and children, and hundreds have been arrested. The military have shot people on sight, while they were fleeing,” Chris Lewa, director of the group, told me.

“In some cases people were burnt alive in their homes,” she added.

Rights groups have likewise treated claims of abuse seriously, while one senior UN official asserted that the purpose of the current military crackdown was  “ethnic cleansing.” OHCHR, the UN’s dedicated human rights agency, added to the crescendo,  stating recently that the crackdown may have involved crimes against humanity.

To date, the government has resisted calls for an international investigation of the violence, most recently announcing a second, entirely domestic probe into the situation. Suu Kyi herself, in her first sit-down interview with foreign media on the issue, opted to blame the international community for “concentrating on the negative side of the situation.”

The new investigation has drawn controversy given that it will be headed by a retired general once blacklisted by the United States, known for his role in suppressing popular protests in 2007. While this development is unlikely to assuage critics, the inquiry looks set to be an improvement on the one headed by Aung Win.

There have been other small glimmers of hope: a recent Reuters report cited diplomats who claimed that, after long weeks of waiting, the state counselor was far more willing to pressure the military on the aid situation.

At the time of writing, rumors have been circulating that there may be some movement on the issue when Kofi Annan, head of the broader commission on Rakhine state set up prior to the violence, completes his visit to parts of the region.

Such an intervention could not come soon enough; yet crucial questions remain — will this be yet more theater, accompanied only by minimal change on the ground? If so, how much worse does it have to get before more meaningful steps are taken?

Emanuel Stoakes is a journalist specializing in rights-related stories. He has produced two major documentaries on the Rohingya minority in Myanmar and written for The Guardian, Foreign Policy, Vice, Al Jazeera, and The Diplomat, among others.

Source by; http://thediplomat.com

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

UN rights envoy to probe Myanmar Rohingya violence

UN rights envoy to probe Myanmar Rohingya violence

Yanghee Lee (C), the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, poses for a photograph with a child as she visits Kali Muslim village in Ponnagyun Township, Rakhine State, western Myanmar, 22 June 2016. Photo: Nyunt Win/EPA

The United Nations on Friday said its human rights envoy for Myanmar will probe escalating violence in the country, including a military crackdown on Rohingya Muslims, when she visits next week.

UN special rapporteur Yanghee Lee’s 12-day trip, starting on Monday, will also take her to Kachin state, where thousands have been displaced by fighting between ethnic rebels and the army.

Intensifying clashes between Myanmar’s military and ethnic minorities has undercut Aung San Suu Kyi’s vow to bring peace to the country following her party’s elevation to government last March.

The Nobel prize winner has also faced strong international criticism for failing to rein-in a months-long military crackdown on Rohingya villagers in northern Rakhine State.

Areas of Rakhine have been in lockdown since October, sending tens of thousands of the Rohingya minority fleeing to Bangladesh.

Lee has slammed the lockdown as “unacceptable” and called for an investigation into claims troops have raped, murdered and tortured civilians from the Muslim minority.

The army vehemently denies the allegations.

“The last few months have shown that the international community must remain vigilant in monitoring the human rights situation there,” Lee said in a statement on Friday.

“Apart from what is happening in Rakhine, the escalation in fighting in Kachin and Shan (state)… is causing some disquiet regarding the direction that the new government is taking in its first year.”

Lee’s criticism of the treatment of the Rohingya, who are loathed by many within Buddhist majority Myanmar, has seen her face threats and demonstrations on previous visits.

Hardline Buddhist monk Wirathu caused outrage when he called her a “whore in our country” for criticising controversial legislation considered discriminatory to women and minorities.

Myanmar’s government says its troops in Rakhine are carrying out legitimate clearance operations to hunt down “terrorists” who attacked police border posts in October.

On Wednesday an official commission probing the violence dismissed claims security forces are trying to force the Rohingya out of the country and said there was no evidence troops had carried out rape.

But days earlier the government detained eight members of the police after a video emerged showing officers beating and kicking unarmed Rohingya villagers.

 

Source by: : http://www.mizzima.com

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

Rohingya abuses in Myanmar appear ‘normal and allowed’ US official says

Rohingya abuses in Myanmar appear ‘normal and allowed’ US official says

Abuses appear “normal and allowed” in Myanmar’s response to an armed uprising by Rohingya Muslims, a senior US official said in an interview, casting a pall over one of President Barack Obama’s legacy foreign policy achievements.

People don’t film themselves committing a human rights abuse unless they think that doing so is normal and allowed
TOM MALINOWSKI, STATE DEPARTMENT’S HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF

Obama and his advisers have long held up the former pariah nation’s US-backed shift from military rule as a breakthrough for American interests and democratic values in Southeast Asia. But the situation in strife-hit Rakhine State makes the transition no straightforward success story.

Rakhine has been largely closed off to foreigners, including aid workers, since a deadly insurgent attack against police in October. Subsequent “clearance operations,” led by the military and reminiscent of its decades of junta rule, have left at least dozens dead. Tens of thousands of Rohingya have escaped to neighbouring Bangladesh.

A Myanmar government-appointed commission, led by a former general, this week said there was insufficient evidence so far to support allegations of rape and killings by security forces that have been made by Rohingya villagers fleeing northern Rakhine, which remains off-limits to journalists.

Tom Malinowski, the State Department’s human rights chief, questioned the credibility of that investigation. He said a video of Myanmar police kicking and beating Rohingya – filmed by the police and recently surfaced on social media – suggests a disturbing pattern.

“People don’t film themselves committing a human rights abuse unless they think that doing so is normal and allowed,” Malinowski told The Associated Press.

“What that video suggests to me is that this kind of behaviour, at least with respect to whatever unit or elements of the security forces was involved, has become normalized, much as the photographs at Abu Ghraib taught us the same lesson about things that were going on in our military in Iraq at the time,” he said.

The government of Myanmar, also known as Burma, has verified the video and detained the police officers involved. But it insists the incident is an “isolated case.”

Human rights groups and neighbouring, Muslim-majority Malaysia accuse Myanmar’s civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, of failing to protect the Rohingya. The Nobel peace laureate is hobbled by her lack of control over the powerful military but harsh national politics also play a role.

Myanmar’s majority Buddhists loathe the Rohingya. Many of the more than 1 million-strong community have lived there for generations, but they lack citizenship. The Rohingya bore the brunt of intercommunal violence with Buddhists in Rakhine in 2012 that left hundreds dead and forced more than 100,000 into squalid camps.

The plight of the Rohingya has attracted the attention of Muslim extremists. U.S. officials say there are credible reports that wealthy backers in Gulf nations and the Rohingya diaspora are providing funds and training for a newly emerged insurgency in Rakhine.

The Myanmar government says the insurgent group – known as Harakah al-Yaqin, or Faith Movement – has hundreds of fighters. It says the group is led by Havid Tuhar, a 45-year-old Rohingya who was raised in Saudi Arabia. The government claims he trained with Taliban in Pakistan.

Havid Tuhar has appeared in several videos posted on social media surrounded by rag-tag, barefoot guerrillas, urging young Rohingya men to fight.

As early as two years ago, Malinowski said, the US expressed fears to Myanmar’s government that the grievances of Muslims needed to be addressed. Otherwise, he said, “outside forces would eventually exploit those grievances to promote a violent reaction.”

“It does seem that something like that, at least on a small scale, has happened,” Malinowski said.

The US would be prepared to share with Myanmar credible threat information to help the civilian leadership respond effectively to attacks, he said. He would not say if any actionable intelligence has been shared to date.

“We do want to support the government of Burma in protecting its people and its borders. We want to help them do it the right way. That means not falling into the trap of an indiscriminate response that fuels recruitment for groups that may be using violence,” Malinowski said.

Source by: http://www.scmp.com

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

Myanmar asks Malaysia to block aid to Rohingya

Myanmar asks Malaysia to block aid to Rohingya

A Muslim woman receives medical treatment at a hospital in Buthee Taung town in Rakhine state, where an estimated 30,000 Rohingya have fled their homes in the face of an army crackdown against suspected insurgents. (EPA Photo)

YANGON: Myanmar has acknowledged asking Malaysia to try to prevent Malaysian nongovernment organisations from sending an aid flotilla to help “a specific community” in restive Rakhine State, a reference to the Rohingya Muslim minority.

The Foreign Ministry said it had told the Malaysian Embassy it “would be grateful if the government of Malaysia could kindly take necessary measures to prevent the reported attempt by certain NGOs to send aid flotilla, which cannot be allowed to enter without prior approval from the government of Myanmar”.

It said that while Myanmar welcomed humanitarian assistance from the governments of fellow Asean member states, such aid should be for “both communities in Rakhine State without any discrimination and the proposal should be made through the proper diplomatic channel”.

By “both communities”, it was referring also the Rakhine Buddhist community.

The latest round of violence in Rakhine began on Oct 9 when armed assailants, presumed to be Rohingya, attacked border police stations and outposts, killing nine officers and seizing weapons and ammunition.

The military has since responded with “clearance operations”, raiding Rohingya villages in the search for suspects and making hundreds if not thousands of arrests, causing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.

There have been widespread allegations of rape and other abuses but the claims are difficult to verify because access to the area is tightly controlled.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has decried the violence against Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya minority.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, as of the end of October last year, there were 150,669 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with its office in Malaysia, almost 90% of whom were from Myanmar. Of those, 40%, or 54,856, were ethnic Rohingya.

 

Source by: http://www.bangkokpost.com

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

Nowhere to turn: Why Aung San Suu Kyi’s leadership is doomed to fail

Nowhere to turn: Why Aung San Suu Kyi’s leadership is doomed to fail

Photo: Comune Parma/CC-BY-SA-2.0
Photo: Comune Parma/CC-BY-SA-2.0

Aung San Suu Kyi’s reputation as a human rights defender lies in tatters as the ordeal of the so-called Rohingya Muslim group plays out on the borders of Myanmar. She is hopelessly tied between the need to placate the military and the demands of the outside world, leaving her to dance straight towards a dark and dangerous failure. 

By Argee Abadines

Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi has failed the leadership test. Again. Despite her party’s historic win in 2015, and hope for human rights and fundamental freedoms, it is clear that her government is not looking to end the genocide of the so-called Rohingyas.

Instead of proactively allowing humanitarian aid into the affected areas, access for humanitarian groups remains restricted and a curfew is still in place. This needs to change. In fact, in the face of her shocking inaction, there is growing unhappiness that she still holds her Nobel Prize prize and online petitions calling for it to be taken away. According to Matthew Smith of NGO Fortify rights, “the authorities have no defensible reason to block aid. It’s inhumane, pure and simple.”

The struggle for Suu Kyi is that although she has control over foreign affairs, and could easily get travel authorisations for aid workers, doing so would lose her popularity and political goodwill with the military. At the end of the day, the army’s influence in Myanmar remains immense and they are likely to refuse humanitarian aid into the area – travel permits or otherwise. It is almost certain that giving aid workers access would lead to more evidence and accounts of abuse, murder, and starvation; they want to keep people away.

Losing her shine

But as long as she remains stuck in this stalemate, the Lady’s reputation is spiralling downwards. Her silence on the real issues is uncharacteristic of the strong leader persona she projected while she was under house arrest and fighting the military junta. However, to the outside world, all she has done is plead for understanding and national reconciliation, as well as call on the international community to stop criticising. But is she really willing to let the country’s ethnic Muslim group die to lengthen her political career?

The significant action she has sold herself as taking is the investigation commission she created, led by her good friend and former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. But this group is spineless; just a fact-finding body that can make recommendations but not enforce them. It will not find the truth, and it will not make Aung San Suu Kyi accountable for this mess.

At a guess, the commission will provide its reports while the Rohingya people remain stateless, homeless and isolated from the world. Kofi Annan himself has said that the commission is not built to focus on human rights, but to recommend solutions that will ease tensions between the Buddhists and Muslim minority. Myanmar’s powerful military can outright ignore the findings and refuse to consider any option they do not agree with. It does not help that even this body does not have a single Muslim member.

To further mock the reconciliation process, Aung San Suu Kyi has established a “national inquiry commission,” chaired by Myint Swe, a former lieutenant general among the Myanmar border army division and military intelligence. As such it seems fairly obvious that it will clear the military of any wrongdoing. Granted, the situation with the Rohingya is delicate and complex, but this gross inaction and lack of decisiveness from Suu Kyi are worrisome for Myanmar. They are on the right path to economic progress, but this could be a huge issue for the country’s future as more and more voices are raised against the horror of Rakhine.

For example, one Malaysian group, Malay and Islamic World (DMDI), has called Aung San Suu Kyi an international terrorist and plans to push for an economic boycott of Myanmar. This could be devastating for the developing country as it continues its transition – it needs foreign direct investment (FDI) to continue its impressive projected GDP of 7.7% in 2017. But the dreams of overtaking Singapore economically within 20 years will remain a dream if the country again falls under sanction.

A sad silver lining

If nothing else the one positive to come from this situation is that it seems to have pulled ASEAN nations closer together on an issue that demands their attention. Malaysia and Indonesia, being Muslim-majority countries, have led the outrage against Aung San Suu Kyi’s consistent ignorance of the plight of the Rohingya, with Prime Minister Najib already stepping past the non-interference principle to speak up. In return, Myanmar has responded angrily, but if these two big player nations can rally the rest of the ASEAN nations, then the bloc as a whole can send a strong message to Myanmar to end the ethnic cleansing immediately.

The situation may also force closer cooperation between Myanmar and Bangladesh. However, according to documents accessed by Reuters, talks were planned and cancelled earlier this year between Myanmar’s senior officers and their Bangladeshi counterparts. These would have discussed collaborative security dialogue and cooperation, but their failure to begin shows again a lack of resolve and serious interest on the part of Myanmar to end the violence at their borders.

Looking to what happens next, the meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers in Yangon saw Malaysia call for the 10-nation bloc to coordinate humanitarian aid and investigate the alleged violence. However, Myanmar used the session to deny the growing swathe of allegations and said most of these reports were all fabrications. It seems, Aung San Suu Kyi’s government remains stubbornly blind and insensitive to the plight of the so-called Rohingya Muslims. It is doubtful that they will provide an independent and credible assessment of the situation in Rakhine. And so we are back to where we started. Aung San Suu Kyi’s leadership will fail under pressure. Again.

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

Iran’s Zarif writes to UN chief to urge action on plight of Rohingya in Myanmar

Sat Jan 7, 2017
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has written to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres to demand international action to stop rights violations against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

In a letter addressed to Guterres on Friday, Zarif said the plight of the Rohingya has caused international concern.

The ethnic Muslims have not only been deprived of their most basic right — i.e. the right to belong to a country and a government that would protect them — they are also being exposed to killings and violent and inhumane treatment on a daily basis, he wrote.

The Iranian foreign minister referred to an upcoming ad hoc meeting by the foreign ministers of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on January 19 to address the situation of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and said the meeting reflects the depth of concern on the part of Islamic governments about the ethnic Muslims’ conditions.

The Rohingya have been subjected to persecution in Myanmar since 2012. Extremist Buddhists have attacked the Muslims, mainly in the northern Rakhine State, recurrently, torching their houses and causing them bodily harm.

Since October last year, however, the Muslims have faced increased violence. Back then, the Myanmarese military imposed a siege on Rakhine, and the government of Myanmar has blocked humanitarian and media access to the Muslims in the state ever since. There have been numerous reports of killings, rapes, and other forms of abuse being carried out against the besieged Muslims.

Tens of thousands of the members of the minority group have been forced to flee to neighboring regions, in Kachin State or across the border to Bangladesh.

Zarif said the “the systematic violation of the Rohingya Muslims’ basic rights and denying them citizenship… and forcing them to leave their homes” would have adverse consequences on peace and stability in Myanmar as well as in neighboring and regional countries.

He said it was expected of Myanmar’s government to take immediate and effective action to protect the rights of the Rohingya and not allow extremist groups to tarnish the peaceful image of Buddhism.

The top Iranian diplomat said it is also expected of Guterres and his special envoy for Myanmar to communicate to the Myanmarese government the demand of the international community and the Islamic world concerning immediate humanitarian access to affected areas.

He also expressed hope that the UN, through the mechanisms available to it, would take the necessary measures to address the situation of the Rohingya in Myanmar.

The UN said on Friday that a special rapporteur would be visiting Myanmar on Monday to investigate reports of abuse against the ethnic Muslims in Rakhine. Special Rapporteur on Myanmar Yanghee Lee will start a 12-day visit to Rakhine and Kachin states on Monday, the UN said.

The Myanmarese army denies the allegations of mistreatment against the Rohingya. A committee set up by the government recently concluded that law was not being violated in the state, an assertion widely derided by international rights organizations.

Source by: http://presstv.com

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

US official: In Myanmar crackdown, abuses appear ‘normal’

US official: In Myanmar crackdown, abuses appear ‘normal’

By MATTHEW PENNINGTON,

Associated Press

(AP) — Abuses appear “normal and allowed” in Myanmar’s response to an armed uprising by Rohingya Muslims, a senior U.S. official said in an interview, casting a pall over one of President Barack Obama’s legacy foreign policy achievements.

Obama and his advisers have long held up the former pariah nation’s U.S.-backed shift from military rule as a breakthrough for American interests and democratic values in Southeast Asia. But the situation in strife-hit Rakhine State makes the transition no straightforward success story.

Rakhine has been largely closed off to foreigners, including aid workers, since a deadly insurgent attack against police in October. Subsequent “clearance operations,” led by the military and reminiscent of its decades of junta rule, have left at least dozens dead. Tens of thousands of Rohingya have escaped to neighboring Bangladesh.

A Myanmar government-appointed commission, led by a former general, this week said there was insufficient evidence so far to support allegations of rape and killings by security forces that have been made by Rohingya villagers fleeing northern Rakhine, which remains off-limits to journalists.

Tom Malinowski, the State Department’s human rights chief, questioned the credibility of that investigation. He said a video of Myanmar police kicking and beating Rohingya — filmed by the police and recently surfaced on social media — suggests a disturbing pattern.

“People don’t film themselves committing a human rights abuse unless they think that doing so is normal and allowed,” Malinowski told The Associated Press.

“What that video suggests to me is that this kind of behavior, at least with respect to whatever unit or elements of the security forces was involved, has become normalized, much as the photographs at Abu Ghraib taught us the same lesson about things that were going on in our military in Iraq at the time,” he said.

The government of Myanmar, also known as Burma, has verified the video and detained the police officers involved. But it insists the incident is an “isolated case.”

Human rights groups and neighboring, Muslim-majority Malaysia accuse Myanmar’s civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, of failing to protect the Rohingya. The Nobel peace laureate is hobbled by her lack of control over the powerful military but harsh national politics also play a role.

Myanmar’s majority Buddhists loathe the Rohingya. Many of the more than 1 million-strong community have lived there for generations, but they lack citizenship. The Rohingya bore the brunt of intercommunal violence with Buddhists in Rakhine in 2012 that left hundreds dead and forced more than 100,000 into squalid camps.

The plight of the Rohingya has attracted the attention of Muslim extremists. U.S. officials say there are credible reports that wealthy backers in Gulf nations and the Rohingya diaspora are providing funds and training for a newly emerged insurgency in Rakhine.

The Myanmar government says the insurgent group — known as Harakah al-Yaqin, or Faith Movement — has hundreds of fighters. It says the group is led by Havid Tuhar, a 45-year-old Rohingya who was raised in Saudi Arabia. The government claims he trained with Taliban in Pakistan.

Havid Tuhar has appeared in several videos posted on social media surrounded by rag-tag, barefoot guerrillas, urging young Rohingya men to fight.

As early as two years ago, Malinowski said, the U.S. expressed fears to Myanmar’s government that the grievances of Muslims needed to be addressed. Otherwise, he said, “outside forces would eventually exploit those grievances to promote a violent reaction.”

“It does seem that something like that, at least on a small scale, has happened,” Malinowski said.

The U.S. would be prepared to share with Myanmar credible threat information to help the civilian leadership respond effectively to attacks, he said. He would not say if any actionable intelligence has been shared to date.

“We do want to support the government of Burma in protecting its people and its borders. We want to help them do it the right way. That means not falling into the trap of an indiscriminate response that fuels recruitment for groups that may be using violence,” Malinowski said.

Source: Associated Press

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

The twin tragedies of Syria and Myanmar

The twin tragedies of Syria and Myanmar

A heart-wrenching photograph of the lifeless body of a 16-month old boy, washed up on the shore of the Naf river, was recently published on CNN. The headline read, “’The Rohingya Alan Kurdi’: Will the world take notice now?” The name of the boy in the picture is Mohammed Shohayet, a Rohingya refugee, who drowned along with his mother, uncle and three-year-old brother. The image of Mohammed lying face down on the seashore is a dead ringer for Alan Kurdi, the Syrian boy whose riveting photo made global headlines more than a year ago.

While Alan and Mohammed hail from different countries, the circumstances which led to their premature deaths are very similar, and sadly, all too frequent. Both the Syrian war and the Rohingya tragedy see no end in sight. The Syrians and the Rohingya who have lived in their respective homelands for generations are being forced to make a journey across dangerous terrains and seas to seek refuge. To add to their dehumanising plight and sufferings, both the Syrians and Rohingya are being demonised by the West and Myanmar respectively—the Syrians for fleeing to countries which created the crisis in the first place, and the Rohingya, who, despite having lived in Myanmar for centuries, are being told they don’t belong to the place they call home.

Although there is growing pressure on the international community to bring an end to these conflicts, survivor accounts and photos emerging from the ground are hardly evidence of any foreseeable change in the near future of the conditions of the Syrians and the Rohingya who continue to live in fear and uncertainty.

The headline of CNN’s article “’The Rohingya Alan Kurdi’: Will the world take notice now?” is a wishful one. What really changed, if anything, when mainstream media broke one of its ‘golden rules’ to never publish photos of dead children and went ahead disseminating the photo of Alan in 2015?

The ‘Alan Kurdi Effect’ at the time manifested itself in the form of the hashtag #RefugeesWelcome and a surge in sympathy for the millions of Syrians affected by the conflict now nearing the end of its sixth year. A study by the University of Sheffield also noted a change in online semantics—’refugees’ versus ‘migrants’ (terms with distinct meanings with legal implications)—towards the Syrians, with ‘refugees’ being used increasingly. Many western nations agreed to take in a number of Syrian refugees while others closed their borders. Despite the outpouring of public concern, many argue that little changed for the Syrians as the death toll of total refugees and migrants fleeing to other countries actually increased from 4,664 deaths in the year before Alan Kurdi’s death to 5,700 since (BBC, 2016).

So in light of the harrowing photo of Mohammed Shohayet, can we realistically expect anything to change for the Rohingya?

As we learnt from the Alan Kurdi saga, the power of social media has its limits and is far outweighed by the geo-political interests of world leaders and nation states. Whereas the proxy war in Syria plays out between world powers vying for regional hegemony through foreign intervention, the Rohingya crisis should be seen in the context of Myanmar as “one of the largest untapped markets in the world”. It is no wonder that western powers like the US that profess to champion democracy and uphold civil liberties aren’t doing much to exert pressure on Aung San Suu Kyi’s government to take heed of the escalating Rohingya crisis.


As graphic images blur the lines between photojournalistic ethics and aesthetic taste in an age of violence and social media, and as world leaders do nothing in the face of the worst kinds of human sufferings of our time, one wonders, what will it take to prompt them into action and ‘take notice’, as the CNN headline asks?


Suu Kyi’s landslide victory in Myanmar’s first free elections in 25 years in November 2015, that ended decades of repressive military rule and were hailed as a “victory for democracy” in which the stateless Rohingya had no right to vote, serves the interests of nations whose primary aim is access to an open market to the former pariah state with its abundant natural resources, and who care very little about the protection of the rights of the Rohingya.

President Barack Obama formally announced the lifting of all US sanctions on Myanmar on October 7, 2016, ending three decades of strained relations between the countries. While Obama had been working towards rapprochement with the Southeast Asian nation for years, the removal of all trade restrictions are seen by many as a loss of leverage the US previously had on Myanmar’s military which retains control over key ministries and core sectors of the economy. Just two days after Obama’s formal announcement, the latest bout of violence in Rakhine State began, leading to the displacement of 30,000 Rohingyas.

The country of 53m, which has lived under the rule of the Tatmadaw, the Myanmarese military, from 1962 to 2011, is slowly transitioning into a democracy. Given the intricate relationship between democracy, basic values of freedom and respect for human rights, will the fate of the Rohingya, who are at the brink of mass genocide, change course? Not as long as political and economic interests of the international community prevail over humanitarian principles—both in the case of Syria and Myanmar.

As graphic images blur the lines between photojournalistic ethics and aesthetic taste in an age of violence and social media, and as world leaders do nothing in the face of the worst kinds of human sufferings of our time, one wonders, what will it take to prompt them into action and ‘take notice’, as the CNN headline asks?

The brutal truth symbolised by the images of Alan Kurdi and Mohammed Shohayet is best described in the words of Dimitri Beck, editor of the photojournalism magazine Polka in France: “It’s not a sophisticated image, even in its framing, but the message is clear and direct: a kid has died and he’s being picked up like a washed-up piece of wood on the beach. There’s nothing more violent.”

The writer is a member of the Editorial team at The Daily Star. 

Source by: http://www.thedailystar.net

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