now browsing by category
UK Government has been ‘unacceptably’ slow to respond to persecution of Rohingya in Myanmar, MPs warn
International Development Committee condemns ministers’ decision to send just two UK experts to help prevent sexual violence against refugees
The House of Commons International Development Committee said ministers had not acted quickly enough in sending experts to help prevent sexual violence against the Muslim minority group in Myanmar’s Rakhine province.
Despite “substantial evidence” of rape, sexual violence, torture and mutilations being carried out against the Rohingya, the committee said, barely any UK experts have been dispatched to the area.
The UK Government’s 2012 Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI), established a group of 73 experts who can be sent to conflict areas around the globe to help prevent sexual violence and bring perpetrators to justice. However, just two of them have been sent to Myanmar and refugee camps in Bangladesh.
The UN estimates that more than 650,000 Rohingya have fled into neighbouring Bangladesh since last August, while charities say more than 10,000 people have been killed in the violence.
International observers have accused the Burmese military of carrying out widespread attacks against the civilian Rohingya population. The International Development Committee said rape and sexual violence had been been used continuously in Myanmar as “weapons of war”.
In a damning report, the MPs said: “Given the airplay that the UK’s ‘Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative’ has been given by the Government, we are disappointed that it took so long to send any of its specialist resources on sexual violence to advise on dealing with the experiences of the Rohingya in Rakhine State.
The committee’s chair, Labour MP Stephen Twigg, added: “The UK has 70 experts ready to deploy to Bangladesh to assist with this situation and yet we haven’t sent them. This flies in the face of the UK’s commitment to deter gender-based violence, championed by William Hague in 2012.
“It is unacceptable that it is taking the UK so long to send any specialist resources on sexual violence to advise on the experiences of the Rohingya in Rakhine State. Previous reports from our committee (2006 and 2014) reported the high incidence of rape in conflicts in Burma. The UK Government should have expected this and prepared accordingly. As an international community, we should consider what message this conveys to other regimes.”
The committee also expressed “grave concern” over plans to repatriate 100,000 Rohingya from Bangladesh to Myanmar without adequate guarantees about their safety.
The MPs said: “We are concerned by the emphasis on returning refugees to the Rakhine by the Bangladesh and Burmese government when the situation still seems fraught and very far from safe, dignified and durable.”
“It is unacceptable to propose that the Rohingya be returned to live in Burmese-run internment camps; inevitably to be faced with further privations, potential abuses and uncertain access for outside agencies; and likely only to be displaced once again if there is further violence.”
UK Government ministers have previously called on the Burmese authorities to conduct a “thorough and transparent” investigation into allegations of violence against Rohingya civilians. However, previous such reports have cleared the military of wrongdoing – a conclusion the UK Government called “simply not credible”.
The International Development Committee criticised the UK’s approach, saying: “We seriously doubt the efficacy of urging the Burmese authorities to investigate the conduct of its own forces personnel in a “thorough and transparent manner”.
“The Burmese internal inquiry has already cleared its forces of any wrongdoing in a way which the UK Government describes as “simply not credible”. We urge the UK Government to seek other paths to a resolution of this issue.”
It added: “The UK Government should reflect on why so much evidence of discrimination, marginalisation and abuse of the Rohingya people within Rakhine State in Burma was seemingly ignored for so long, rather than translated into effective action by the international community.
“We recommend that the UK, and like-minded states, should reflect on how to establish a more proactive approach to atrocity awareness and prevention.”
Kate Allen, Amnesty International’s UK Director, said: “MPs are right to express concern about the proposed returns of Rohingya to Myanmar (Burma), we share their alarm.
”Amnesty has declared what’s happening in Myanmar to be apartheid – both the civilian and military authorities in Myanmar need to dismantle that, before any of its victims can be expected to decide whether to return.
“If Rohingya people do choose to go back to Rakhine State where they faced such appalling discrimination and violence, then Amnesty and other monitors must be allowed access.”
A Government spokesperson said “The UK has led the international response to the Rohingya crisis and this report recognises our swift action. We are providing lifesaving UK aid to victims of ethnic cleansing, calling on the Burmese military to stop the violence and pushing the international community to step up their support.
“We have been clear in our condemnation of the terrible atrocities that have occurred in Rakhine State; we have now raised Burma five times at the UN Security Council to keep the international community’s attention focused on this crisis and we continue to engage with the Burmese authorities at the most senior levels to urge the inhumane violence to end.
“As the International Development Secretary has said today and when she visited Bangladesh in November, the conditions for a safe, voluntary and dignified return of Rohingya people to Burma are a long way from being met. We continue to push for returns to be in line with UN principles and for international oversight on both sides of the border.
Source : http://www.independent.co.uk
KLUANG: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have agreed to cooperate with Malaysia to help the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein (pix) said this was stated by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Salman and UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Zayed Al-Nahyan recently.
“During my visit to Morocco, I had contacted the two crown princes and they agreed to join us (Malaysia) to help the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
“The UAE and Saudi Arabia have agreed to channel donations and medicines to Hospital Medan Malaysia at Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh and God-willing, in the near future we will see the three flags of Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE fly in Bangladesh,” he said.
He was speaking to reporters after the handover ceremony of a school van and mock cheque for bus fare subsidy for students of Ladang Landak in Paloh near here today.
Hishammuddin, who is also Special Functions Minister and Sembrong MP said it was not easy for three countries to galvanise efforts to help the Rohingya, but it could help to enhance the image of an Islamic state that had long been regarded as extremist, backward and fighting among themselves.
“An agreement has been reached. We hope to have the three flags raised during Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s visit to the refugee camp, which is expected to be this month,” he said.
Meanwhile, on his visit to Morocco from Dec 22-24 last year, he noted the country was seen as a gateway to Malaysia in building relations with new countries because Morocco was located between Europe, West Asia and Africa.
He said relations with Morocco would also help Malaysia improve intelligence and military in combating terrorism. — Bernama
Source : http://www.thesundaily.my/news
The visit is undertaken, in coordination with the government of Bangladesh, to ascertain the human rights and humanitarian situation of the Rohingyas in Myanmar
A delegation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will visit the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar.
The delegation will visit the camps for four days from Wednesday to acquire first-hand information on the state of human rights violations faced by the Rohingyas in Myanmar.
During the visit to Cox’s Bazar, the officials from the OIC General Secretariat will discuss humanitarian needs and other issues of concern with the relevant authorities in Bangladesh and present their report to OIC Secretary General Dr Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen.
A detailed report both on the human rights situation of the Rohingyas in Myanmar and their urgent humanitarian needs will be presented to the upcoming OIC Council of Foreign Ministers scheduled to take place in May this year in Dhaka.
The delegation consists of members of the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC), one of the principle statutory organs of the OIC – dealing with human rights issues, and officials from relevant departments of the OIC General Secretariat including the Minorities, Information and Humanitarian Affairs.
The visit is undertaken, in coordination with the government of Bangladesh, to ascertain the human rights and humanitarian situation of the Rohingyas in Myanmar, according to OIC statement.
Despite repeated requests by the IPHRC, Myanmar authorities did not allow to undertake a fact-finding visit on the human rights situation faced by the Rohingyas in the Rakhine State.
In the absence of a positive response from the Myanmar Government, the IPHRC has decided to visit the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar for the report purpose.
IPHRC has routinely pronounced its strong concerns and condemnation on the state of human rights violations faced by the Rohingyas in Myanmar at all relevant UN forums.
The OIC has repeatedly called upon the Myanmar government to allow the Rohingyas to return to the country safely and with dignity.
Meanwhile, Indonesian President Joko Widodo is likely to arrive in Dhaka on a two-day official visit this month to discuss bilateral, regional and global issues including the Rohingya issue.
The two countries are now in discussion to finalize the visit, a foreign ministry source said.
The Indonesian president, during the visit, will have meetings with President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
In September last, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi visited Dhaka and discussed the Rohingya issues.
Source : http://www.dhakatribune.com
28 December 2017 – The scale of attack on children in conflict zones throughout 2017 is “shocking” said the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), calling on all parties to conflict to abide by their obligations under international law and immediately end violations and attacks against children.
“Children are being targeted and exposed to attacks and brutal violence in their homes, schools and playgrounds,” said Manuel Fontaine, the Director of Emergency Programmes at UNICEF, in a news release Thursday.
“As these attacks continue year after year, we cannot become numb. Such brutality cannot be the new normal.”
According to UNICEF, children have become frontline targets, used as human shields, killed, maimed and recruited to fight in conflicts around the world.
Sexual violence, forced marriage, abduction and enslavement have become “standard tactics,” in conflicts from Iraq, Syria and Yemen, to Nigeria, South Sudan and Myanmar, said the UN agency.
In addition to the physical trauma children have had to suffer, far too many children have been subjected to the psychosocial trauma in having to witnesses shocking and widespread violence.
Hundreds of thousands have been displaced and many children have died as a result of lack of health care, medicines or access to food and water, because these services and were damaged or destroyed in fighting.
In some contexts, children abducted by extremist groups experience abuse yet again upon release when they are detained by security forces, added UNICEF.
In the news release, the UN agency underscored the need of all parties to conflict to abide by their obligations under international law to immediately end violations against children and the targeting of civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals.
UNICEF also called on all States with influence over parties to conflict “to use that influence to protect children.”
Source : http://www.un.org/apps/news
Myanmar state counsellor refused to engage in substantive talks about alleged violence against the Muslim minority, says envoy
Aung San Suu Kyi avoided discussing reports of Rohingya women and girls being raped by Myanmar troops and police when she met a senior UN official, according to an internal memo seen by the Guardian.
Pramila Patten, the special envoy on sexual violence in conflict, travelled to the country for a four-day visit in mid-December to raise the crisis with government officials.
But she said Aung San Suu Kyi, a state counsellor in the Myanmar government, refused to engage in “any substantive discussion” of reports that soldiers, border guard police and Rakhine Buddhist militias carried out “widespread and systematic” sexual violence in northern Rakhine state.
“The meeting with the state counsellor was a cordial courtesy call of
approximately 45 minutes that was, unfortunately, not substantive in nature,” she wrote in a letter sent to UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres last week.
More than 655,000 Rohingya, members of a persecuted and stateless Muslim minority, have fled to Bangladeshi refugee camps since violence began in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state in August. Médecins Sans Frontières believes at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed during “clearance operations” ostensibly targeting militants, while many survivors say women and girls were gang-raped.
Instead of discussing the claims directly, Patten said Aung San Suu Kyi informed her she would enjoy “a number of good meetings” with senior Myanmar officials.
During these meetings, she was told by representatives of the military and civilian government that reports of atrocities were “exaggerated and fabricated by the international community”.
“Moreover, a belief was expressed that those who fled did so due to an affiliation with terrorist groups, and did so to evade law enforcement,” she wrote.
Myanmar’s army has cleared itself of any wrongdoing in an internal investigation dubbed a “whitewash” by human rights groups.
While in the country, Patten met the man who headed that investigation, Lt-Gen Aye Win, who explained their methodology.
“The military investigation, which consisted of armed men in uniform ‘interrogating’ civilians in large group settings, often on camera, and then presenting rations to communities following their testimony and cooperation, clearly occurred under coercive circumstances, where the incentive structure was not to lodge complaints,” Patten wrote.
“Accordingly, over 800 interviews yielded zero reports of sexual or other violence against civilians by the armed and security forces,” she said.
Patten also expressed concerns about plans to send Rohingya who have fled back to Myanmar, citing the “prevailing climate of impunity” in the country.
Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed to the “speedy” repatriation of Rohingya, scheduled to start by the end of January.
But many Rohingya say they will not return voluntarily until they are given citizenship as well as guarantees that they will be safe and not put into internment camps. Tens of thousands have been living in such camps elsewhere in Rakhine state since violence in 2012.
Skye Wheeler, the researcher for Human Rights Watch who investigated the sexual violence allegations, said Myanmar was denying a “terrible truth”.
“The lack of acknowledgement or care the Myanmar authorities including Aung San Suu Kyi have shown for Rohingya women and girls who have been brutally raped by Myanmar soldiers as part of their ethnic cleansing campaign is almost as shocking as the horrific crimes themselves,” she told the Guardian.
“It’s like a second attack, to endure a vicious gang rape and then to be ignored, as if you don’t matter at all, to have that terrible truth denied.”
The Myanmar government was contacted for comment.
Source : https://www.theguardian.com
The United Nations General Assembly has called on Myanmar to halt its military campaign against Rohingya Muslims.
On Sunday, a resolution forwarded by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was adopted by a vote of 122 to 10 with 24 abstentions.
It calls for Myanmar to grant aid workers access and to give Rohingya Muslims full citizenship rights.
The resolution also calls on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to assign a special envoy to the country.
China, Russia, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, Belarus, Syria and Zimbabwe voted against the resolution.
- Genocide against Rohingya systematic, state sponsored: Analyst
- UNICEF says 25% of Rohingya refugee kids acutely malnourished
- Myanmar committing genocide against Rohingya Muslims, says Turkish PM
Backed by Myanmar’s government and Buddhist majority, the military launched yet another heavy-handed crackdown against the Muslim minority in Rakhine State on August 25, using a number of armed attacks on military posts as the pretext.
Over that past three months, government troops, apart from raping, have been committing killings, making arbitrary arrests, and carrying out mass arson attacks to destroy houses in predominantly-Rohingya villages in Rakhine.
Only in its first month, the clampdown, called by the UN and prominent rights group an “ethnic cleansing campaign,” killed some 6,700 Rohingya Muslims, including more than 700 children, according to Doctors Without Borders.
More than 655,000 Rohingya Muslims have so far fled the predominantly-Buddhist Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh since then.
Source : http://www.presstv.com
WASHINGTON – The State Department said Friday the U.S. is considering further actions against those responsible for “ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya Muslims, after a Myanmar general was blacklisted and Democratic lawmakers called for more military officers to face sanctions.
Rep. Eliot Engel, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, contended that Myanmar authorities were committing genocide in Rakhine State. He said it was “stunning” that the Trump administration has only designated one person from Myanmar over the bloody crackdown that caused a refugee exodus to Bangladesh.
The United States imposed sanctions on Maung Maung Soe, who until last month was chief of the Myanmar army’s Western command responsible for security operations in Rakhine. He was among 13 people worldwide punished Thursday under human rights legislation.
Katina Adams, a State Department spokeswoman for East Asia, said Friday the U.S. is continuing to consider options under U.S. and international law “to help ensure that those responsible for ethnic cleansing and other atrocities face appropriate consequences.”
The crackdown has forced 650,000 of the minority Muslims to flee the majority-Buddhist nation, casting a shadow over its transition to democracy after decades of direct military rule. That has soured relations with Washington, which in the past five years had been rolling back economic sanctions to support Myanmar’s political change.
“With 6,000 dead and thousands more raped, beaten and displaced, it is clear Maung Maung Soe has not acted alone,” said Rep. Joe Crowley of New York. “The other military officials involved in the ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya must be sanctioned for their roles in this genocide. The United States has a moral obligation to act.”
Engel has put forward legislation to impose targeted sanctions and visa restrictions on those responsible for the crackdown. He called Friday for sanctions against the Bureau of Special Operations in the capital, Naypyidaw, including the military commander in chief, Min Aung Hlaing; the field commanders of three divisions under Maung Maung Soe’s command in Rakhine State; and military commanders in northern Kachin and Shan states accused of “flagrant abuses of civilians.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon also supports more sanctions. He said by barring a U.N. human rights investigator from the country, the government was trying “to cover up and make invisible a campaign of mass atrocities.”
Myanmar denies allegations of human rights violations, saying its security forces have not targeted civilians and were responding to attacks by Rohingya militants in August.
The aid group Doctors Without Borders estimates at least 6,700 Rohingya civilians were killed in the first month of the crackdown.
Source : http://www.foxnews.com
“Chilling and graphic” eyewitness accounts of violence against hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees must be documented so those responsible can be brought to justice, says Bob Rae, Canadian special envoy to Myanmar.
Mr. Rae’s interim report on the Rohingya crisis calls on Canada to maintain its support for international non-governmental organizations that are making “compelling” legal arguments about the treatment of the Rohingya. Mr. Rae released the report on Thursday, just over a month after his first trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh, where he witnessed first-hand the humanitarian crisis that has displaced more than 655,000 Rohingya refugees since August.
“Eyewitness accounts that I have heard have been both chilling and graphic. The gathering of evidence about particular events has to be thorough and systematic and relate to specific events, in particular places, at particular times,” Mr. Rae wrote.
“This work needs to look at events over the last several years, and efforts must be made to link them to those responsible for such violence and abuses of human rights and security.”
Canada and the United Nations have said “ethnic cleansing” is taking place against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar’s remote Rakhine State. Although Mr. Rae’s report did not use the term “ethnic cleansing,” he described the violence faced by Rohingya refugees.
“In addition to accounts of shooting and military violence, I also heard directly from women of sexual violence and abuse at the hands of the Myanmar military, and the death of children and the elderly on the way to the camps,” the report read.
Mr. Rae said there are well-founded concerns in Rohingya refugee camps about the potential for “catastrophe” due to heavy rain and wind, and the potential for the outbreak of disease. Bangladesh is in one of its cyclone seasons, which run from September through December and March through July. Mr. Rae said the international community, including Canada, must step up to prevent “serious loss of life.”
The violence in Rakhine began on Aug. 25 after Rohingya insurgents attacked police posts and an army base in the state. Myanmar’s military responded by killing hundreds of people, triggering an exodus of Rohingya to neighbouring Bangladesh. Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the country’s military have come under international pressure to end the violence, but Ms. Suu Kyi does not have any control over the military under the 2008 constitution.
Although Mr. Rae was unable to access remote Rakhine during his visit to Myanmar, he had an hour-long meeting with Ms. Suu Kyi’s officials in Yangon. He did not meet with any of Myanmar’s military officials. He plans to return to Myanmar in January, in hopes of visiting Rakhine, and will issue a final report with recommendations after his return.
Canada has pledged more than $37.5-million in humanitarian assistance for Bangladesh and Myanmar this year, contributing to the UN’s appeal for $434-million (U.S.) before February. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Mr. Rae as special envoy in October.
Source : https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news
COX‘S BAZAR, Bangladesh (Reuters) – Turkey’s prime minister on Wednesday dubbed the killing of minority Muslim Rohingyas in Myanmar by its security forces “genocide” and urged the international community to ensure their safety back home.
Binali Yildirim met several Rohingyas in two refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar in neighboring Bangladesh.
Almost 870,000 Rohingya fled there, about 660,000 of whom arrived after Aug. 25, when Rohingya militants attacked security posts and the Myanmar army launched a counter-offensive.
“The Myanmar military has been trying to uproot Rohingya Muslim community from their homeland and for that they persecuted them, set fire to their homes, villages, raped and abused women and killed them,” Yildirim told reporters from Cox’s Bazar, before flying back to Turkey.
“The international community should also work together to ensure their safe and dignified return to their homeland,” Yildirim, who was accompanied by Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, said.
Surveys of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh by aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres have shown at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed in Rakhine state in the month after violence flared up on Aug. 25, MSF said last week.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra‘ad al-Hussein has called the violence “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing” and said he would not be surprised if a court eventually ruled that genocide had taken place.
Yildirim inaugurated a medical camp at Balukhali, sponsored by Turkey, and handed over two ambulances to Cox’s Bazar district administration. He also distributed food to Rohingya refugees at Kutupalong makeshift camp.
He urged the international community to enhance support for Rohingyas in Bangladesh and help find a political solution to this humanitarian crisis.
U.N. investigators have heard Rohingya testimony of a “consistent, methodical pattern of killings, torture, rape and arson”.
The United Nations defines genocide as acts meant to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group in whole or in part. Such a designation is rare under international law, but has been used in contexts including Bosnia, Sudan and an Islamic State campaign against the Yazidi communities in Iraq and Syria.
Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s less than two-year old civilian government has faced heavy international criticism for its response to the crisis, though it has no control over the generals it has to share power with under Myanmar’s transition after decades of military rule.
Yildirim’s trip follows Turkish first lady Emine Erdogan’s visit in September to the Rohingya camp, when she said the crack down in Myanmar’s Rakhine state was “tantamount to genocide” and a solution to the Rohingya crisis lies in Myanmar alone.
Source : https://www.reuters.com/article/