Friday, September 22, 2017

Message from ARNO on Suu Kyi's disingenuous speech

Aung San Suu Kyi’s disingenuous speech fails to address Rohingya genocide  
The Rohingya people are outraged by the highly contentious and ambiguous speech of the Myanmar State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi delivered before the diplomatic community on 19 September in Naypyidaw. She made numerous disingenuous excuses that fail to address the crisis, the untold sufferings of the Rohingya people, that the U.N stated a “textbook case of ethnic cleansing.”

Without condemning the Myanmar military and collaborators, Suu Kyi tried to deflect the blame for the mass atrocity crimes and told the diplomats that she was unaware the facts why Muslims (Rohingyas)  fled to Bangladesh and that “while many villages had been destroyed, more than half were still intact.” It is a hypocritical statement that suggests that she is a morally bankrupt to take a moral stand on “Rohingya genocide”.

Invoking the UN Charter, she called for a “kinder and more compassionate for all mankind” – just apparently not for the helpless, weakest, poorest and most hated Rohingya minority. Unsurprisingly, throughout the speech, she declined to use the term Rohingya and thereby she rejects in practice the basic international norms and standards which respect physical integrity, self-identification, existence as a community, maintenance of identity and effective participation in governance. She is denying the ethnic Rohingya their “right to exist” in Myanmar.

It is an absurd excuse to talk of “equal rights to higher education” for the Rohingya people who have just been subjected to genocide, who are denied basic rights and freedoms -- freedom of movement, right to education, right to marry, right to vote, right to recognition before the law and as a community. For decades Rohingya students have been barred from studying in country’s colleges and universities, not to speak of equal opportunity.

Her commitments to implement a “strategy and national verification process” for the Rohingya -- including those possibly returning refugees who fled for their lives and lost almost everything -- are simply ridiculous. Rohingya are natural born citizens of Arakan/Myanmar, they do not require cooperating with such unworthy “verification” scheme, a dirty trick of the perpetrators of genocide.

It is a groundless excuse to talk those 18 months in power is a very short time for her new government to speak out for the Rohingya.  Whereas Suu Kyi did not hesitate to voice for other communities, she did not even visit northern Rakhine State to see the Rohingya victims of deadly violence. In no time she could condemn the perpetrators, demand cessation of violations, insist upon the protection of the vulnerable and facilitate relief, allow the international media and accept the UN Fact-Finding Commission to investigate crimes against humanity. On top of that, in a relatively short time, she could have restored the citizenship of the Rohingya population that has been unjustly stripped of. Instead, by evading her government’s ‘responsibility to protect’ the Rohingya, she is trying to hoodwink the international community.

The plight of Rohingya is well-known as the most serious of all problems in Myanmar. Although their outcry reaches far and wide it does not get the ear of Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar leaders.  There is no need to investigate “what the real problems are” or, strangely, to ask the half a million or so who did not flee what calculation they made in staying.

It is not the time for double-dealing, but to act on the universal principle of justice and equality!

For more details, please contact:
Australia: Dr. Hla Myint + 61-423381904
Bangladesh: Ko Ko Linn: + 880-1726068413
Canada: Nur Hasim +1-519-5725359
Japan: Zaw Min Htut + 81-8030835327
U.K. Ronnie: +44-7783118354
U.S.A: Dr. Habibullah: +1-4438158609


Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urges creating Safety Zone to save the Rohingyas

UNITED NATIONS – Bangladesh's prime minister on Thursday, September 21, proposed creating UN-supervised safe zones inside Myanmar to protect Rohingya Muslims who are fleeing a military crackdown to seek refuge in her country.
"These people must be able to return to their homeland in safety, security and dignity," Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told the UN General Assembly.
The United Nations says more than 420,000 Rohingya have fled for safety to Bangladesh in the face of an army campaign in northern Rakhine state that includes rape and the burning of villages.
The military operation was sparked by attacks carried out by Rohingya militants on police posts on August 25.
Hasina accused Myanmar authorities of laying landmines on the border to prevent the Rohingyas from returning and said the United Nations must take immediate measures to find a solution to the crisis.
The prime minister laid out a 5-point plan that called for the protection of the Rohingyas in "safe zones that could be created inside Myanmar under UN supervision."
The United Nations has described the military operation as "ethnic cleansing" and French President Emmanuel Macron went further, describing it as a "genocide."
Myanmar must stop the violence and "the practice of ethnic cleansing", agree to allow a UN fact-finding mission, ensure the return of refugees and abide by a report that recommends citizenship for the Rohingya, said Hasina. They currently lack it.
There has been mounting international outrage over the plight of the Rohingya, prompting the UN Security Council this month to call for an end to the violence. (READ: Suu Kyi faces mounting world anger over Rohingya)
The creation of such "safe areas" would require the approval of the Security Council where China, a strong supporter of Myanmar's former junta, has veto power.
The 1.1-million strong Rohingya people have suffered years of discrimination in Myanmar, where they are denied citizenship even though many have longstanding roots in the country.
The recent exodus of Rohingya has brought the number of refugees from Rakhine living in Bangladesh to over 800,000, said the prime minister. –

Myanmar: fresh video and satellite evidence shows new fires in Rohingya villages

Amnesty International has assessed three new videos taken inside Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State as recently as this afternoon (Friday 22 September) showing large plumes of smoke rising from Rohingya villages, one of which was already deserted, as well as satellite imagery with smoke visible over burnt-out structures. 
Local sources in Rakhine claim the fires were started by members of the Myanmar security forces and local vigilante mobs. 

One video, filmed yesterday near Hpar Wat Chaung village, northern Maungdaw township, shows agricultural land in the foreground with a large plume of smoke rising from a settlement located amid a group of trees. A local resident told Amnesty that Myanmar Border Guard Police and vigilante groups started the fires in the early afternoon, and that there were further burning operations in the evening.
Amnesty has reviewed satellite imagery of Hpar Wat Chaung from 16 September to earlier today. Smoke is still visible in the latest image, which clearly showed the village had been set ablaze and structures standing just days earlier had been burnt to the ground. Additionally, satellite sensors detected a recent active fire in the village, further corroborating the incident.
Two more videos, taken from different angles reportedly outside Nga Yant Chaung village in Buthidaung township, show the village in flames earlier this afternoon. Activists, including a source in Rakhine State itself, have told Amnesty that the burning began between 1.30pm and 2.00pm local time. 
The new satellite images and videos come after Amnesty last week published irrefutable evidence of a mass-scale scorched-earth campaign across Rakhine State, where Myanmar security forces and vigilante mobs have been burning down entire Rohingya villages and shooting people at random as they try to flee. The violence is part of an unlawful and disproportionate response to coordinated attacks on security posts by a Rohingya armed group on 25 August.
Amnesty’s analysis of active fire-detection data, satellite imagery, photographs and videos from the ground, as well as interviews with dozens of eyewitnesses in Myanmar and across the border in Bangladesh, show how an orchestrated campaign of systematic burnings has targeted Rohingya villages across Rakhine. The violence has prompted more than 429,000 people to flee to Bangladesh as refugees since 25 August. In legal terms, these are crimes against humanity - murder and deportation or forcible transfer of population. Tens of thousands of other people - including members of Rakhine State’s other ethnic minority communities - have also been displaced through the violence.
Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Director, said:
“This damning evidence from the ground and from space flies in the face of Aung San Suu Kyi’s assertions to the world that what she called military ‘clearance operations’ in Rakhine State ended on 5 September. 
“Almost three weeks later, we can see in real time how there is no let-up in the campaign of violence against Rohingya in northern Rakhine State. 
“Rohingya homes and villages continue to burn, before, during and after their inhabitants take flight in terror. Not satisfied with simply forcing Rohingya from their homes, authorities seem intent on ensuring they have no homes to return to. 
“The time has come and gone for giving Myanmar’s military and political leadership the benefit of the doubt. The international community must be unequivocal in its condemnation and take effective action to halt this ethnic cleansing campaign as well as bring the perpetrators to account.”

Satellite images and analysis

Amnesty International’s satellite imagery analysis on Hpar Wat Chaung village is available to download here or here.

Buhari warns world leaders of their duty to stop genocide of the Rohingya people

Nigerian President Buhari during his UNGA speech urged fellow leaders at the United Nations General Assembly to condemn Myanmar’s “ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingya people.Comparing the situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine province to the massacres in Bosnia in 1995 and Rwanda in 1994, Buhari who is the leader of Africa’s most populous nation declared: “The international community cannot remain silent.”

Ethnic Cleansing of the Rohingya Could Be the New Myanmar’s Original Sin

The Ethnic Cleansing of the Rohingya Could Be the New Myanmar’s Original Sin by Michael Fuchs
The article originally appeared in the FP:
In 2016, the world had high hopes for Myanmar. Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi had gone from prisoner to the de facto leader of a country slowly moving toward democracy.
In 2017, innocent civilians in Myanmar are watching their homes burn. The military is killing people and forcing entire communities to leave their country. Some 400,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh.
Myanmar is perpetrating an ethnic cleansing campaign, which, if not stopped, will become the original sin of Myanmar’s new state. The United States — and the world, is sitting on the sidelines watching it happen.
When I began working at the State Department in 2009, there were few signs of hope in Myanmar, which had been ruled by military leaders for decades. Slowly but surely, things began to change, the military opened up, elections were held, a civilian government took over, and all of a sudden Myanmar appeared to be transitioning peacefully away from its dictatorship.
My most direct experience with Myanmar’s transition was overseeing preparations for U.S. involvement in the annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summits in 2014, when Myanmar for the first time chaired the organization. Myanmar had been slated to take up the chair in 2006, but relinquished it due to pressure from the United States and EU, imposed because of repression on the part of the ruling junta.
By 2014, Myanmar was opening up. In my many trips to the country, one could see progress in how people spoke openly and positively about the changes. At the annual ASEAN meetings, Myanmar set the agenda for every regional issue, from climate change to the South China Sea. Leaders — including U.S. President Barack Obama — gathered in Myanmar amidst a sense of optimism about the future. It was a coming out party.
The following year, Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won national elections. Countries around the world continued dropping sanctions, and Myanmar appeared set to begin the long, difficult path to building a democracy.
Today, that progress and hopefulness is overshadowed by a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing that the military is conducting against the Rohingya.
The Rohingya — a Muslim ethnic group — have long been persecuted in Myanmar, and are not considered citizens of the majority-Buddhist country. They live largely in squalor in Rakhine state. While the government is attempting a peace process with the numerous minority groups in Myanmar that control their own militias, there has been no willingness to engage in real dialogue with the Rohingya. Instead, it is clear that the central government wants the Rohingya — as a people, and a problem — gone.
In Myanmar’s new, transitioning political structure, the civilian government does not control the military. While the military is leading the violent campaign, Aung San Suu Kyi at the very least is willing to let this happen. In the worst case, she silently supports it. Her speech this week addressing the issue mirrored the military’s talking points and sounded more defiant against international criticism than compassionate towards the Rohingya. Aung San Suu Kyi may have earned international icon status for her efforts to bring democracy to Myanmar, but the value she places on political representation and rights don’t extend to the Rohingya.
If the military is successful, the Rohingya will largely be pushed out of Myanmar in a humanitarian disaster. If that happens, and Myanmar continues to open its political and economic system, any future success will be built on the blood of the Rohingya.
I strongly supported the U.S. decision to drop sanctions step by step in response to Myanmar’s opening. Up until recently, I believed that a re-imposition of sanctions would damage the greater good of Myanmar’s democratic progress. But we are beyond the pale now, and the new government has shown its true colors.
The threat of renewed international pressure is once again necessary. Statements from the United Nations expressing “concern” and condemnations from world leaders at this week’s U.N. General Assembly are not enough. Every leader around the world should immediately call on Myanmar’s government to take the following steps: stop the military’s violent operation, openly criticize the persecution by the military and militia groups, allow humanitarian access, and begin a political dialogue with the Rohingya.
Leaders should make clear that, unless these actions are taken swiftly, countries will respond. Pressure tactics could include withholding aid, stopping economic benefits from the Generalized System of Preferences , or even re-imposing sanctions on the military. And since the Trump administration seems to care little about human rights, in the United States it is likely that Congress will have to take the lead.
There is no guarantee that pressure from the international community will work, but we must do everything we can, while organizing a massive international effort to help the displaced.
If nothing changes in the coming weeks, no matter where the situation goes from here, Myanmar will never be able to remove the stain of its bloody campaign against the Rohingya. And the international community will be stained as well.

Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar nears 500,000

22 September 2017 – With the number of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar arriving in south-east Bangladesh edging towards half a million, United Nations agencies are stepping up delivery of life-saving aid to two official refugee camps, where the health concerns are quickly growing.
At the request of Bangladeshi authorities, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is speeding up the distribution of plastic sheeting to get as many people as possible under at least minimal protection from monsoon rains and winds.
“On Saturday, we plan to begin distribution of kitchen sets, sleeping mats, solar lamps and other essential relief items to an initial 3,500 families who have been selected by community leaders,” UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told a press briefing in Geneva.
Refugee volunteers and contractors are helping newly arriving refugees moving into emergency shelter, but it is vital that UNHCR site planners have the opportunity to lay out the new Kutupalong extension in an orderly way to adequately provide for sanitation and to make sure structures are erected on higher ground not prone to flooding.
In total, more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees are now believed to be in Bangladesh; 420,000 of them have arrived in the past three and a half weeks.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi will be in Bangladesh this weekend to get a first-hand look at the scale of the crisis as well as UNHCR’s response, and meet with refugees.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that camps are bursting at the seams and there is a huge risk of disease.
“WHO is very concerned about the health situation on the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh, given the very crowded settlements, most of them spontaneous,” said Fadela Chaib, the agency’s spokesperson in Geneva.
“It has been challenging to roll out the emergency response, not least because of the difficult terrain and the very heavy rains, and the fact that the population in question is dispersed, mobile and often injured,” she added.
Ms. Chaib said the greatest risk is related to water and sanitation, with poor conditions increasing the risk of vector- and water-borne diseases. Cholera, which is endemic in Bangladesh, cannot be ruled out. WHO has provided some 20,000 people with water purification tablets.
“Immunization rates among children is very low,” she said, explaining that when children are malnourished and exposed to the elements, the risk of childhood diseases such as measles are very high.
WHO, together with other agencies, recently launched an immunization campaign against polio and measles. Owing to the poor weather conditions and the continuous influx of people, the campaign has been extended.
Around 40 WHO staff have been dispatched to Bangladesh, and the agency will deploy a team of epidemiologists over the weekend to support risk assessment for infectious diseases.
For its part, the World Food Programme (WFP) has now reached at least 385,000 people with food aid as of today. Together with its partners, WFP feeds more than 5,000 people daily in the area.
“The situation is dire and WFP is on the frontlines trying to reach people as quickly as possible,” spokesperson Bettina Luescher told reporters in Geneva.

PURE HORROR - images of Rohingya ethnic cleansing

A LITTLE baby who squirmed across litter-infested mud to find refuge - has captured the heart-wrenching plight of ethnic cleansing in Burma.
The isolated tot was photographed crawling in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh - but is only one of around 420,000 Burmese Rohingya refugees who have fled Burma to escape the violent discrimination.
To see the picture, and others, click here.
 The youngster was photographed trying to crawl away from a river in Bangladesh - after fleeing violence in Burma