Monthly Archives: July 2010

No Release from Indian Jail for Burmese Detainees

source from Irrawaddy news, July 13, 2010,

A court in Kolkata [Calcutta], India, has sentenced 34 Burmese political exiles who have already been in detention for more than 10 years to 15 months imprisonment and a fine of 6,000 rupees [US $130] each, according to local sources.

The detainees were arrested in 1998 in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands during a joint Indian military exercise codenamed “Operation Leech,” which also netted a large cache of arms, ammunition and explosives. Twenty-four of the detainees are members of the National United Party of Arakan and the remaining 10 are members of the Karen National Union.

Tint Swe, a New Delhi-Based minister of the National Coalition Government of Union of Burma, the Burmese government in exile, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that the detainees will not have to serve their sentences, but they will have to pay the fine.

“It is difficult to find money here,” he said. “We could only pay the fines for two of the exiles at the court today. We have to pay a total of 204,000 rupees [$4360], altogether,” he said, adding that the remaining 32 detainees would have to stay in jail a further eight months as they do not have the money.

Tin Swe said even if the fines were paid the court said it would not release the detainees because they had entered the country illegally.

The Indian Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) charged the 34 political detainees with possessing invalid papers, smuggling weapons and explosives and attempting to send them to Indian insurgent groups in northeast India.

However, Akshay Sharma, a defense lawyer for the detainees, said: “The CBI couldn’t find any incriminating evidence against them, which is why the case is not strong.

“They shouldn’t need to be held in jail longer because they have already been detained for more than 10 years. The court should free them, but it wants to hold them for no reason,” he said, adding that he had no idea when the court would release them.

“India is a democratic country with a very good judicial system,” he said. “But, sometimes prosecutors abuse the system. It is most unfortunate that the detainees have already spent so long in jail.”

Held without charge for more than eight years in the Andaman islands, the detainees claim they had reached a deal with Indian intelligence allowing them to establish a base on Landfall Island in the Nicobar and Andaman archipelago in exchange for providing intelligence on Chinese naval activities in the Andaman Sea.

They claim the deal was broken by Indian intelligence officials but after intervention by the Burmese military regime, Indian authorities killed six of their leaders one day after the Burmese group arrived on Landfall Island.

Though it is unclear when the Indian government will release them, democracy activists in India hope that the government will hand the detainees over to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The 34 detainees have asked not to be sent back to Burma.

Until 1990, India supported the cause of democracy in Burma but then adopted a “Look East Policy” to counter Chinese influence in Southeast Asia. A closer relationship was developed between India and Burma, trade increased and India supplied the Burmese regime with military hardware.

Related Article: Going Rogue in the Andaman Sea


Greens pledge to increase refugee intake

from ABC news,

The Greens have released their election policy on refugees which provides for an increase in the annual refugee intake to 20,000.

The Green would also end off-shore processing and ensure no children were held in detention.

They say Australia’s refugee intake has dropped to 6.6 per cent of total migration, the lowest in 35 years.

Greens Senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, says asylum seekers have little option but to travel by boat.

"We know that numbers of people who are seeking rides on boats from people smugglers from Indonesia and Malaysia are coming because they’ve already been granted refugee status by the UNHCR, and have no other pathway to actually seek freedom because Australia is not resettling enough of these people," she said.

The Greens want to close the Christmas Island detention centre and instead establish community reception centres in mainland cities to conduct health and security checks on asylum seekers.

Senator Hanson-Young says their policy is practical and humane.

"What a sad time it is that …. the notion and true values of a fair go, looking after the little guy, ensuring that we treat our fellow human beings with compassion has all been thrown out the window, because the major parties are playing politics with the lives of vulnerable people."

She says Julia Gillard’s credibility has been damaged by her handling of asylum seeker policy.

"This is a Prime Minister, who despite the needs and desires within the community for a humane approach to asylum seekers, is backing the Howard plan," she said.

Burmese minority left to languish

July 2, 2010

THE Uniting Church raised the plight of a Muslim minority group from Burma with Immigration Minister Chris Evans last month.

The church made the plea because of lengthy delays in processing the group’s claims for asylum.

After visiting some of the Rohingyas detained at Christmas Island, the church and the Coalition for Asylum-Seekers, Refugees and Detainees discussed their concerns with Senator Evans

"We raised the issue of the length of time that people had been processed, given that one of (the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s) detention values is to do things in the shortest amount of time," coalition chairwoman Rosemary Hudson Miller said.

She said the Rohingyas were concerned and upset by the long time they had been detained and had no idea how much longer their claims would take.

Ms Hudson Miller said it was known that the longer people were detained, the more they were prone to mental illness.

A spokeswoman for Senator Evans said all asylum seekers were subject to rigorous identity, health and security checks before a final assessment of their refugee status could be made.

Nearly 250,000 Rohingyas fled from western Burma into neighbouring Bangladesh in the 1990s to escape persecution.

"To be a minority group in Burma is to draw a short straw in the world," Pamela Curr, campaign co-ordinator for the Asylum-Seeker Resource Centre, said.

She said the minority had faced horrific persecution by the Burmese government, which had tortured them and used them as weapons carriers for the military.

The Burmese government has refused to recognise the minority, making them virtually stateless in their own country.

The UN High Commission for Refugees says many of the Rohingyas in exile in Malaysia are targeted by immigration authorities.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship says there has recently been a rise in the number of Rohingyas claiming asylum in Australia.

A call to End Crimes against Humanity in Western Burma

by Burmese Rohingya Democratic Alliance (BRAD) ,
Press Release

Date: June 20, 2010

We, undersigned organizations warmly solutes the recent report, titled: “Crimes against Humanity in Western Burma: The Situation of the Rohingyas”, launched by the Irish Center for Human Rights (ICHR), National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway, which is the one of the World’s Leading university based human rights research center.

We express our sincere gratitude towards the members, researchers, associates and all level of staffs or assistants and contributors both in cash or kinds from every quarter of humanity, particularly the Irish Government, Irish Center for Human Rights and Irish Aid and people for making this successful job to be done with tireless and restless efforts and contributions.

The report was officially launched by the Micheal Martin, the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs on June 16, 2010 at Iveagh House, Dublin in the presence of Rohingya victims who were rescued by the Irish Government in one year ago.

For decades, the Rohingyas have been enduring human rights abuses in Northern Arakan State of Burma . In every moment, more and more Rohingya men, women and children are leaving Burma , fleeing the human rights abuses in the hope of finding peace and security elsewhere in the world. But, their plight has been overlooked for years and the root causes of their situation still remain under-examined. These violations are on-going and in urgent need of attention and redress.

A fact-finding mission managed to reach to the region, including Burma , as well as on extensive open-source research, and confidential meetings with organizations working in the region. Mission gained much of the most important information came from the many interviews conducted with Rohingya individuals in and around refugee camps in Bangladesh , where they were able to speak more freely than they can in Burma itself about the violations they had endured and which had caused them to flee their homes.

The Report has examined the apparent cases of enslavement, rape and sexual violence, deportation or forcible transfer of populations, and persecution against the Rohingyas may constitute crimes against humanity. “Describing the violations as crimes against humanity raises the possibility that cases against those Burmese officials who are responsible could be referred to the International Criminal Court.

The Report has also revealed the truth on the actual situation of the Rohingyas through the lens of crimes against humanity. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and international criminal law jurisprudence, especially that of the ad hoc International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, are used to provide detailed and clear legal foundations for the examination. As becomes evident in the individual chapters, there is a strong prima facie case for determining that crimes against humanity are being committed against the Rohingyas of Northern Arakan State in Burma .

The Reports affirms that people committing, allowing, aiding and abetting these crimes must be held accountable, calling the international community including the UN Security Council and UN Human Rights Council, ASEAN and all other stakeholders or states to take responsibility to protect the Rohingyas, to respond to the allegations of crimes against humanity and ensure that violations and impunity do not persist for another generation, establishing a Commission of Inquiry to investigate and collect further evidence on the perpetration of crimes against humanity in Northern Arakan State. Moreover, as raised throughout this Report, there is strong foundation to believe that further crimes are being committed throughout other areas of Burma , and the Commission of Inquiry must have a broad mandate to investigate all allegations of international crimes committed in the country.

Commission of Inquiry should confirm a prima facie case of crimes against humanity; the Security Council should refer the case to the International Criminal Court, pursuant to Article 13(b) of the Rome Statute.

We do believe that the ICHR will conduct further researchers in states of Rohingyas’ refuge, where they have been being treated as slave labor under the title of temporary shelter. These kinds of words bring obstructions against international supports towards the Rohingya victims, living elsewhere in the world.

Base on these live evidences, we request to all level of human societies to come forward for showing strong solidarity in combating crimes against Rohingya Burmese minority through allocating them in the states parties to United Nations and International Treaties including 1951 Convention and its 1967 additional protocol and putting effective pressures on Burmese military regime for urgent democratic changes in order to ensure the full rights and dignity of the Rohingyas in Burma.

Signed by:

  1. Arakan Rohingya Refugee Committee (ARRC), Malaysia
  2. Arakan Rohingya Organization- Japan (JARO)
  3. Arakan Rohingya Ulama Council, (ARUC), Malaysia
  4. Burmese Rohingya Association in UAE (BRA-UAE)
  5. Human Rights Association for Rohingya (HURAR), Arakan-Burma
  6. Myanmar Muslim Council (MMC), KSA
  7. National Council for Rohingya (NCR), Malaysia
  8. National Democratic Party for Human Rights (NDPHR) exile, HQ , USA
  9. Rohingya Youth Development Forum (RYDF), Arakan-Burma
  10. World Rohingya Congress (WRC), USA

For further information, please contact:

Kyaw Soe Aung (aka) MSK Jilani, Tel: +1-414-736 4273

Mohammad Sadek, Tel: +60 163094599

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