Monthly Archives: May 2010

PM Brown’s Last Letter Was to Suu Kyi


Irrawaddy news, 27th May 2010,

The last letters that Britain’s former prime minister, Gordon Brown, wrote from No.10 were to Nobel Peace Prize laureates Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi, reported a British political magazine on Thursday.

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Britain’s former Prime Minister Gordon Brown

In a personal handwritten letter to Burmese opposition leader Suu Kyi, Gordon Brown wrote: “This is one of the last letters I write as Prime Minister and I want it to be to you, to champion your cause for democracy in Burma and to say I will do everything I can to support you. You are, for me, what courage is and I will fight for you to be free and your people [to be] free.”

Both South Africa’s national hero, Nelson Mandela, and detained Burma’s detained pro-democracy icon Suu Kyi, are "two prisoners of conscience and two people who have inspired him hugely," New Statesman magazine Web site reported, quoting a friend of the former prime minister.

Gordon Brown became Britain’s prime minister on June 27, 2007, and he resigned, after an election loss to the Conservative Party, on May 11, 2010.

Deteriorating Health Situation for Rohingya Refugees in Malaysia


Press Release:
Our Ref: ST-001/2010
Dated: May 24, 2010

Deteriorating Health Situation for Rohingya Refugees in Malaysia

We at the Arakan Rohingya Refugee Committee (ARRC), Malaysia is deeply concerned over the health crises of the Rohingya refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia as they are bitterly experiencing of discriminatory treatments with unbearable payments and exclusive recommendation.

Currently, numbers of senior or over aged refugees who do not have relatives or caretaker are getting worse in their health and survival sectors as they are completely deprived of their basic rights to food, accommodation, medication and etc.

Base on their status under international and customary laws, every retired person would be taken care of concern officials but, now, status of such persons are underestimated with discriminatory policies.

According to reliable testimonies, UNHCR pays less attention to their cases for their religious belief, while hospital authorities deny to giving treatment for national or financial status, even reluctant to issue appropriate recommendation.

Comparably, Rohingya refugees fall between two sharp swords that lead them to die without proper medications, while numbers of free clinics are being set up for non-Rohingya refugees in Malaysia by NGOs or volunteers from Church members or Christian societies, where Rohingya gets very limited facilities.

In such condition, numbers of Rohingya have already died and many are passing lives in critical situation.

At the same times, numbers of undocumented Rohingya refugees are facing challenges of inhumanity, which is not only in the hands of concerned authority but also in hands of locals. These are only because of lack of their guardians by any sort of documentation.
Despite being genuine refugees, their rights to the determination of refugee status and protection are kept pending, while appropriate advocacy remains unreported as these people are uneducated and neglected by various means in the different quarters.

It is undoubtedly true that the Rohingya left country to escape military persecution and discrimination. Their rights to citizenship were also denied by the ruling military.

Although, the UN Refugee Convention defined that Refugees are person who have their country of origin with well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion, the Rohingya failed to meet their rights adequately.

Accordance to the definition, the Rohingyas met with refugee status and their basic rights to protections, food, shelter, medication and etc must be ensured by the concerned quarters, while Islamic authority should not play games without supporting to the real causes of Rohingya in finding permanent solution with a view to ending their miserable plights.

In these regards, we appeal to international community:

  1. To kindly make true survey to enhance a comprehensive program in order to promotion mechanism, combating to end the plights Rohingya refugees;
  2. To help UNHCR with a particular health service program for the Rohingya refugees and to ensure their rights with proper documentation as mandated refugees;
  3. To urgently making global appeal to the world bodies to introduces a global solution for these forgotten and neglected Rohingya refugees from Malaysia.

Coordination Committee
Arakan Rohingya Refugee Committee (ARRC)
Malaysia
Further contact:
Mr. Mohammad Sadek
Tel: +60163094599

Purposes and Principles of U.S. Engagement in Burma


Kurt M. Campbell
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs

Rangoon, Burma

May 10, 2010
original source from U.S Department of State

Prime Minister, Ministers Set to Resign


May 11th 2010, from Irrawaddy news,

Prime Minister Thein Sein and other government ministers who are leaders of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) will resign from their government posts this month, according to sources in Naypyidaw.

The resignations will affect almost all top ministers within the government including Htay Oo, minister of Agriculture and Irrigation; Zaw Min, minister of Electric Power-1; Aung Thaung, minister of Industry-1; Thein Zaw, minister of Telecommunication, Post and Telegraph; and Kyaw Hsan, minister of Information.

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Prime Minister Thein Sein, left, inspects a sample of cement produced at Myodaw Cement Plant in Pyinyaung village, in Mandalay on April 29. (Photo: AP)

Sources said the resignations would probably be announced by Thein Sein during a press conference in Naypyidaw, the headquarters of the USDP. The USDP was approved by the Union Election Commission last week.

Following the resignations, the ruling junta is expected to appoint a new prime minister and ministers. Officials in Naypyidaw said announcing a new cabinet would likely take place after the regular first-quarter meeting of the junta and senior government official, which could be later this month.

Earlier, Lt-Gen Myint Swe, the chief of Bureau of Special Operation-5, was mentioned as the possible head of a temporary government in the pre- and post-election period.

The formation of the USDP with Thein Sein and other senior government officials is seen by most observers as violating the junta’s own electoral laws, which ban government officials or staff from taking part in political parties and using government property for political purposes.

On Friday, the Union Democratic Party in a press release said that the prime minister and ministers should not be playing a role in the USDP while they are government officials and questioned if they used government property during the organization of the political party.

On Tuesday, according to state-run-newspapers, Thein Sein was in the Irrawaddy delta along with the junta’s No.2, Vice Snr-Gen Maung Aye. His delta tour coincided with an official visit of Kurt Campbell, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific Affairs. Other junta leaders including Htay Oo, Kyaw Hsan, U Thaung met with Campbell in Naypyidaw on Sunday.

Local sources said Kyaw Hsan, who is in charge of the USDP campaign in Sagaing Division, has met with local division organizers. Thein Zaw has reportedly made similar campaign organization trips to Kachin State, as have other ministers to different regions of the country.

There are few signs, so far, that the general public is taking an interest in the election. The date of the election has still not been announced by the government.

The former main opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, decided not to take part in the election, saying it lacked credibility and was undemocratic. Former NLD leaders who met with Campbell on Monday urged the US to keep pressure on the junta to release all political prisoners and not to recognize the election results.

Demand Resettlement Option for Rohingya Refugees


source: http://immigration.change.org/blog/view/demand_resettlement_option_for_rohingya_refugees
by Lauren Markham April 03, 2010 08:20 AM (PT)
Topics: Refugees, Xenophobia

Burma is internationally recognized as a military state responsible for large-scale abuses of human rights. Ethnic minorities refusing to bow down to Burma’s military junta and its oppressive regime have been systematically run out of their homelands for decades. While thousands of refugees from Burma have been offered resettlement opportunities to rebuild their lives in counties like the U.S., Canada, and Australia, the crisis of the Rohingya refugees from Burma has been among the world’s most neglected and conspicuously ignored.

Today, in makeshift camps in Bangladesh, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya live in utter destitution. In search of economic opportunity, thousands of Rohingya men set out each year from Bangladesh to nearby Thailand and Malaysia on foot and in overloaded homemade boats. If they survive the often fatal journey, they are only met with further persecution. In 2009, Thai officials were exposed for unlawfully intercepting the Rohingya as they floated toward the shore, subsequently detaining them on a deserted island and then dragging them back to sea and certain death.

No matter where the Rohingya go, it seems, they are unwanted.

Perhaps worse than the physical conditions in which they live is the profound lack of hope of a better life in the Rohingya’s future. As it now stands, the Rohingya will live, suffer, and die in these oppressive makeshift camps, in Thai detention, or out at sea.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is mandated to protect the world’s refugees. But where is the protection for the Rohingya?

UNHCR identifies three possibilities, termed "durable solutions," for lasting refugee protection. In order of priority, they are:

  1. Voluntary Repatriation, in which refugees willinging return to their original homeland.

Local Integration, offering permanent citizenship and full rights in the country to which the refugees have fled.

Resettlement, an opportunity to start one’s life anew with material and social services support in a well-resourced country (like the U.S.). Clearly, repatriation of the Rohingya to the oppressive regime in Burma is not a viable option. Local integration in Thailand, Bangladesh, and Malaysia, countries who have denied the the Rohingya basic rights and access to key services, is not realistic either.

Less than 1% of the world’s refugees are offered resettlement. But if resettlement is reserved for people who truly have no alternative, who, we must demand, is more deserving of resettlement than the Rohingya?

If granted resettlement, the Rohingya will have the chance to rebuild their lives in countries with support infrastructures and legal protection. Resettlement will save thousands of lives and create tangible opportunities for the next generations of the Rohingya.

Demand action from the UNHCR and the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement to prioritize the resettlement of the Rohingya refugees and offer them the protection they deserve.

Lauren Markham lives in her native Bay Area where she is a writer, educator and immigrant rights advocate, working for Refugee Transitions and the Oakland Unified School district.

related link at Traumatized Rohingya flee squalid life in Bangladesh, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/15/world/asia/15iht-rohingya.1.20192120.html?_r=1

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