An Appeal Letter over the Plights of Rohingya Refugees Boat People in Thailand and Indonesia


Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization, Malaysia(MERHROM), had sent a press release letter to us,  as follow:

 2nd February 2009

Dear Chief Editor,

Press Statement……….

 

An Appeal Letter over the Plights of Rohingya Refugees Boat People

in Thailand and Indonesia.

 

We, Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia (MERHROM) are very much concerned over on going situation of Burmese refugees, especially for people who flee for fear of persecutions and facing again various violations in country of refuge. In particular, recently arrived Burmese Rohingya boat people refugees who were released by Thai authority into the sea to death.

 

We are very much concerned over Thai authority mistreatment over separately arrival of 1,000 Rohingya Burmese refugee boat people. They were detained in horrific condition for two to four weeks before the Thai authority release them into international water at mid-night without engines and foods. Boat people therefore, flowed separately into Andaman-India, Aceh province of Indonesia and some back to Burma. Hundred of dead bodies were recovered by Indian coast guard, about 500 were feared dead. Whereas, some claimed as Bangladeshi due to fear of forced deportation to Burma.

 

The Rohingya boat people who reached into Thailand and Indonesia were deem as economic migrants and therefore treated as undocumented migrants. We condemn the act of both countries who denied access for the UNHCR to the boat people. We feel very sad as the ASEAN countries are silent about the mistreatment of the boat people by Thai authority. This clearly shows that the ASEAN countries are reluctant to tarnish the image of its member states. While there is lack of transparent approach on vulnerable boat people, genuine reasons of leaving the country will be left behind. Finally, their claim as refugee was delayed on both countries’ reluctant to deal with UNHCR and they will be repatriated and prosecuted by the military junta. By doing this both countries are considered as committing genocide indirectly towards Rohingya boat people. The Thai government had violated International Laws, its democratic rules, and generosity and kindness of Thai people. Instead of protecting the vulnerable boat people, the Thai government sentenced them under the Immigration Act which resulted in force deportation to Burma.

 

The military junta had expressed that Rohingya had no historical connection with Myanmar. The junta official said “there is no so-called Rohingya ethnic minority group in our history before or after our independence”. He further added “it is totally unacceptable to say Rohingyas are from Myanmar’. (New Straits Times, January 30, 2009). This is a total lie by the military junta as the Rohingya exist in Arakan State as early as 7th Century A.D. Rohingyas has long history in Arakan State of Burma but the military junta refused to accept the fact. This made Rohingya as stateless and facing continuous abuses and prosecutions from the regime.

There are about 230 000 Rohingya seeking protection in Bangladesh though Rohingya are not welcome by the Bangladesh government. This is a result of the persecutions towards ethnic Rohingya by the military junta. They are also not safe as many of them had forcefully repatriated by the Bangladesh government and face prosecutions by the junta. Thousands of Rohingya refugees in detentions for more than a decade are under way for repatriation. The harsh treatment by the Bangladesh government forced them to find a safe place and started leaving the country across the sea by boat.

 

But, SPDC government has good gains with Bangladesh. Thus, Bangladesh dared to commit against humanity, international laws, instead of its Islamic obligations. Bangladesh had succeeded in repatriating thousands of Rohingya refugees without mechanism to protect them widely in 1992, and it continues secretly.

 

Another 15 000 Rohingya are seeking protection from the Malaysian government for the past 3 decades. Malaysia is not a signatory country to the Refugee Convention 1951 and has no legislation for refugees protection, therefore, refugees are considered as undocumented migrants and facing deportation. MERHROM continuously appealing to the Malaysian government to protect Burmese refugees until relocate to a signatory country. While the UNHCR has started Resettlement for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, we hope the UNHCR will accelerate the same to the Rohingya refugees in Malaysia. The equal treatment has to be accorded to all refugees without distinction as refugees face similar situation and for some ethnic group like stateless Rohingya are even worst.

 

Well known to the world that we Rohingyas are the worst victim of human rights violations and defecto stateless group in Burma which forced us to flee into neighboring countries.

 

The Rohingya situation became worst in late 1960 by promotion of Buddhism as the state religion by U Nu government. It had continuously taken place in regard of capitalism and to create tension between Rakhines and Rohingyas, and constituted Rakhine state from Arakan division through restoration of Rakine territory.

 

Rohingyas were widely affected by;

  1. Na Ga Min Operation in 1978 under U Nu government (Revolutionary Govt.)

  2. Pyi Ta Yar Operation in 1991 under Saw Maung government (State Law and Order Restoration Council).

  3. Na Sa Ka Operation since 1992 under State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).

Both Na Ga Min and Pyi Ta Yar operations made about 500,000 Rohingyas to flee into neighboring countries particularly in Bangladesh.

 

The military junta has perpetrated severe human rights violations against ethnic Rohingya including;

  1. Destruction of homes, settlements, villages, mosques and religious schools

  2. Denial of Citizenship by 1982 Citizen Law and rejected from ethnic groups

  3. Severe restriction of movement

  4. Restriction on the right to marry and form a family

  5. Confiscation of land and property

  6. Denied education

  7. Force labor

  8. Raped and Sexual violence

  9. Arbitrary killings and arrests

  10. Tortures, extortions and taxations

  11. Muslim settlements were being substituted by new settlers.

 

The report published by the Altsean Burma entitle “Rohingya and Muslims in Arakan State: Slow-Burning Genocide” has clearly reveals gross human rights violations towards ethnic Rohingya. The recent report published by the Refugee International and Christian Solidarity Worldwide reveals the same. Unfortunately, the world leaders and the United Nations are not doing enough to address the plight of Rohingya refugees in Arakan and in exile. The ignorance of the world leaders and the United Nations over the worsening situation in Burma only increase the death of Burmese people under the rules of military regime.

 

While the military continues its ethnic cleansing and persecution towards Rohingyas, many are fleeing continuously into unexpected region like Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia. Thus, they required to meet international protection in country of refuge. They cannot be considered as illegal. Their genuine reasons for leaving the country must be recognized.

 

We observed that Refugees Agency-UNHCR is weak in protecting refugees from where persecution and crimes took place. Therefore, MERHROM would like to draw kind attention over unfortunate boat people refugees. The UNHCR with its mandate have to play more active role to identify and protect refugees and increase dialogue with source and host country of refugees to stop criminalizing and deportation of refugees in accordance to the International Standards.

 

We appeal to the ASEAN countries to protect Burmese refugees particularly Rohingyas due to its stateless status and their vulnerability. ASEAN countries must refer all refugees who reached at their land to the UNHCR for their protection.

 

We appeal to the world leaders especially to the leaders of the Resettlement countries to accept stateless Rohingya refugees in the Resettlement program as many of them are facing human rights violations in the host countries and denied Resettlement to the third country.

Yours sincerely,

 

Habibur Rahman

Secretary General, (MERHROM)

Tel: 012-2595185

E-mail: rights4rohingya@yahoo.co.uk

Blog: http://www.merhrom.worppress.com

 

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