Monthly Archives: December 2011

Burmese Troops Overrun Kachin Base


source from Irrawaddy news, 30 Dec 2011

Burmese government troops took over a major military base belonging to the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) Brigade 4 on Wednesday, although hostilities in the area continue, according to KIA sources.

The base—located in Mong Tong Township in northern Shan State—is considered strategic at it lies in the path of the trans-Burma oil and gas pipeline.

La Nan, a spokesman for the KIA’s political wing, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), told The Irrawaddy on Friday that the government troops had finally overrun the base despite losing many men in fierce fighting.

La Nan said that, according to a KIA frontline report, about 80 Burmese soldiers had been killed or were wounded. However, despite its frontline casualties the government battalions were able to reinforce and attack the Kachin base with mortars and rocket launchers until KIA troops were forced to retreat.

“The government has being pushing hard to win this base because it is located on the route where the oil and gas pipelines will pass. I think it is vitally important to them,” said La Nan.

The Kachin spokesman claimed that only two KIA soldiers were seriously injured during the battle. KIA troops remain dug in at several major bases nearby and plan to retake the Mong Tong base, he said.

“The fighting will continue,” he said. “We can and will revert to guerrilla warfare tactics.”

In spite of the ongoing hostilities, the KIO said it will meet as planned with a government delegation to continue peace talks. The Kachin rebels say they have selected representatives to attend negotiations; however, no date has yet been fixed for talks, said La Nan.

Hostilities between the Burmese government troops and the KIA broke out in June after a series of incidents and rising tensions in the region. The conflict has since forced more than 45,000 civilians to be displaced.

1,500 Political Prisoners Remain: AAPP


source from Irrwaddy news, 26 Dec 2011

More than 1,500 political prisoners remain in Burmese prisons, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners -Burma (AAPP), despite assurances from a government advisor that only 300 “prisoners of conscience” are now behind bars.

Based on its most recent figures, AAPP said there are at least 1,572 individuals in Burma who have been arrested and sentenced on political grounds, and are believed to currently be in prison.

AAPP Secretary Tate Naing told The Irrawaddy on Monday that his organization conducted a nationwide survey in 42 prisons and 109 forced labor camps and an unknown number of secret detention centers.

AAPP began its investigation in September. It says its main sources of information are inside networks, confidential inside sources, documents from court proceedings, recently released political prisoners, and families of political prisoners, according to AAPP statement on Friday.

So far, AAPP has released evidence verifying 918 political prisoners and the exact location of their prison.

Ko Ko Hlaing, an advisor to the Thein Sein government, told a Swedish radio station in October that Burma only had around 600 prisoners of conscience, half of whom were released at the beginning of that month.

During negotiations with leaders of the rebel Karen National Union (KNU) in the Thai border town of Mae Sot on Dec. 21, Aung Min, the government’s Railways Minister, stated that the remaining political prisoners will be freed in early January.

However, Tate Naing said, “We will not recognize that all political prisoners have been released if they only let go the [300] political prisoners that the government advisor mentioned.

“If the government says it doesn’t have any political prisoners, we want them to allow a group of investigators inside to check,” he said.

He added that it is not politicians alone that constitutes political prisoners, but anyone who is detained on political grounds.

The AAPP called on President Thein Sein to officially acknowledge the existence of political prisoners in Burma, and to publicly disclose criteria for political prisoners, as well as make prisoner lists publicly available.

It also called for the immediate and uncondition release all political prisoners and that their criminal records are erased. The AAPP urged the government to authorize an independent and investigative body, perhaps led by the UN, to enter Burma’s prisons and verify the number of political prisoners.

AAPP maintains that the number of political prisoners is likely much higher than its own figure, given the lack of access and reliable information in remote ethnic areas, monasteries and during periods of mass arrests, compounded by the absolute lack of transparency surrounding Burmese prisons.

Undocumented 2 Burmese Refugees Arrested in Malaysia


by Theng,

Undocumented 2 Burmese refugees were arrested in Jeeteh of Terengganu state, Malaysia on 15 Nov 2011.

They both are Rohingyans and identified as Mr Sultan from Kyauktaw township and Mr Shamshu Alam from Maungdaw township of Arakan state, western Burma.

According to their friends, the raid was conducted by immigration and police authorities followed by Rela forces. The authorities entered into the home construction site at around 9:30am of the day and lifted 2 undocumented Rohingyans when the rest of UNHCR card holders were not arrested.

They both are detained in Ajil detention camp of Terengganu state and still await for UNHCR’s intervention.

Area based Rohingya representative in Terengganu said that there are about 500 Rohingyan refugees in Ajil, Tenah Merah and Juru detentions. Possibly only about 50 persons could be UNHCR card holders and the rest are undocumented including newly enterers.

A Rohingya leader in Kuala Lumpur said, "for this year no refugee has been deported nor sold out to trafficker. But a few were canned. UNHCR card holder detainees were able to get release within 3 months while undocumented refugees have to wait up to 3 months in order to complete registration with UNHCR. All undocumented refugees are unable to register with their refugee agency UNHCR due to limited or some often registration."

"However, the abusive conditions inside the detentions are still seen-able that include overcrowding up to 10 fold, malnutrition food providing, insufficient food and drinking waters providing are still taking place." He added.

In Response to Rakhine People Protest against the BBC and demand apology: Arakan, the Epicentre of Refugee Production in the Region


source from http://www.bangladesh-web.com/view.php?hidRecord=372995 20 Dec 2011

By Abid Bahar

Lately, Rakhines of Arakan “Protest against the BBC and demand apology” for showing Rohingyas in the Burma map. But why apology? For showing the Rohingya homeland in Arakan? I understand that BBC knew all about the Rakhine-Rohingya problems and also that the
ultranationalist Rakhine’s sucess in convincing the Burmese military to declare the Rohingyas as the noncitizens of Burma. Not
surprisingly, showing the Rohingya existance in Arakan only flamed the racist fire. But the BBC was polite enough to not say openly that Arakan is the epicentre of refugee production in South Asia and South East Asia and it is the Rakhine-Moghs to blame..

Historically speaking, Arakan was a medieval kingdom lost its independence to Burma for its holligans and its leader’s belief in intolerance and lawlessness; Arakan at some point of history for their oppressive rule became notoriously famous. In the Bay of Bengal they were in the business of slave trade with the Portuguage by capturing Bengali men, women and children and in the process Arakan earned its name “Mogher Mulluk,” land of the holligans. It is here that the Moghul prince Suja and his family members were promised to give shelter but in the end were robbed and massacred. In this holligan spirit, the extremist Rakhine Moghs failed to understand that intolerance doesn’t pay positively.

In our modern times, Arakan is only a backward province of Burma became so backward and insignificant that we hear its name only in reference to exporting Rohingya refugees to the surrending countries and its leaders like Aye Kyaw becoming famous for openly preaching xenophobia.No measures taken yet to take them to the ICC.

Surprisingly, to the Rakhine leaders, the holligan intolerance in Arakan is tolerable and the burden of refugees from Arakan to Bangladesh, Thailand, Japan, Malaysia and elsewhere is not a concern at all and for the Rakhine it is business as usual. Research shows that in the Arakan province the extremist take over is complete; it is in the education, business, police and in the military recruits from Arakan.

Not knowing it well, the international community until now blamed the Burmese military for the Rohingya genocide in Arakan but only lately is finding out the notority in this corner of the world not by the Burmans but by the ultranationalist Rakhines. This is because the holligans has been acting as if they are the victims. Rohingyas are projected as foreigners in Arakan even “Influx viruses.” and when these xenophobes see danger, they hide their head under the Burma turtle shell but when it passess away it shows its Rakhine Mogh all out extremist/ holligan nussiance causing death, destruction and genocide in this part of the world.

Abid Bahar
E Mail : abid.bahar@gmail.com

Burma to take back 2,500 Rohingya


source from DVB news, 21 December 2011Burma to take back 2,500 Rohingya thumbnail

 
A boy eats in the Kutupalong camp in eastern Bangladesh. Only around 2,500 of an estimated 300,000 Rohingya refugees are qualified to return to Burma (Reuters)

Burma will take back some of its refugees from neighbouring Bangladesh, an official said Tuesday, adding that hundreds of thousands of ethnic Rohingyas will not be covered by the deal.

The agreement to repatriate Burma refugees was reached at a meeting earlier this month between President Thein Sein and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a senior immigration ministry official told AFP.

“Those refugees from Bangladesh who meet four key criteria will be allowed to come back,” the official said, adding that Burma expected around 2,500 refugees would meet the conditions, which include legally proving citizenship.

Ethnic Rohingyas will not be included in the repatriation as they are not Burma citizens but Bengalis who migrated around the time of the Second World War when both countries were under British rule, he added.

Described by the United Nations as one of the most persecuted minorities on earth, the Rohingya have no legal right to own land in Burma and are banned from marrying or travelling without permission.

Every year, thousands of Rohingya stream across the border into Muslim-majority Bangladesh from Burma’s northern Rakhine state.

Bangladesh, which views the Rohingya as economic migrants and has repeatedly called on Burma to take them back, said the latest refugee deal “was nothing new”, Dhaka’s foreign secretary Mijarul Quayes told AFP.

Some 28,000 Rohingya are recognised as registered refugees and live and receive aid at an official UN camp in Bangladesh. This figure is a fraction of the 200,000 to 300,000 unofficial refugees, according to government estimates.

UNHCR has not been officially informed of any repatriation of refugees but is seeking clarification on any new deals from both governments, Jing Song, UNHCR external officer in Bangladesh told AFP.

“Our official stance is that repatriation has to be voluntary,” she added.

Mojibar Rahman, a registered Rohingya refugee who works as a teacher in one of the UN camps in Bangladesh said most Rohingya did not want to return to Burma.

“We thought that after the election the situation would improve for Rohingya in Burma, but it hasn’t. Now, we are hearing we’ll be forced to return — but no one wants to go back,” he said.

 

A fresh report by UNHCR

States of Denial: A Review of UNHCR’s Response to the Protracted
Situation of Stateless Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh – http://www.unhcr.org/4ee754c19.html

 

New Wave of Burmese Rohingya Take Flight by Sea


source from VOA news, 15 dec 2011

Human rights groups say hundreds of ethnic Muslim Rohingya refugees from Burma have fled their temporary homes in Bangladesh, hoping to sail to nearby countries to escape discrimination and rights abuses. The flight of the refugees includes many women and comes as Burma reaches an agreement with Bangladesh to take back thousands of Rohingya refugees now living in camps.

New Wave of Burmese Rohingya Take Flight by Sea, download iconDownload: MP3

Human rights groups say more than two dozen vessels carrying Muslim Rohingya refugees have set sail into the Bay of Bengal since September amid few positive signs of improvement in their plight and ongoing abuses and discrimination.

The plight of the Rohingya, a stateless Muslim ethnic minority from Burma’s western Rakhine state, has long been a source of tension and conflict with other communities. Tens of thousands of Rohingya have sought shelter in Bangladesh. Most flee with the aid of human traffickers, paying the agents and often going into debt.

A lack of progress in gaining greater rights and recognition remain key reasons why the Rohingya take to boats, says Lynn Yoshikawa, an advocate with the Washington-based Refugees International. "So they are taking quite a perilous journey off into Malaysia, Indonesia, this year. And, if that’s a sign then the outlook for the Rohingya remains bleak. The root cause lies in as much the government’s citizenship laws as with the intolerance with the minorities," she said.

Thousands of Rohingya refugees have fled into Bangladesh in recent decades, especially around the town, Cox’s Bazaar. In the camps of Nayapara and Kutupalong, some 30,000 Burmese refugees receive United Nations assistance. A further 200,000 refugees living in the camps are undocumented.

In early December, Burma and Bangladesh jointly agreed that the Burmese living in Bangladesh could be returned to Burma. The agreement followed a two-day visit to Burma by Bangladesh Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, says a political solution is necessary to the plight of the Rohingya, often referred to as the "forgotten people". "There has to be some political will from the leaders of Burma and Bangladesh to want to deal with it and so far neither the Burmese Government nor the government of Shiekh Hasina in Bangladesh have indicated in any way that they want to do anything except the continued abuse of this community and let them go on to rickety boats possibly to float off into perilous situations and their deaths," he said.

Under the joint agreement, Burma agreed to take back the refugees but only after a verification process of the almost 30,000 registered refugees by the U.N. High Commission for Refugees.

Chris Lewa, spokesperson for the rights group, the Arakan Project, says the international community should press President Thein Sein’s administration to end discrimination against the Rohingya.

"I think all the governments now engaged, including Australia, who engage with the Burmese government should also engage on that issue – to put concerted pressure to try to create some changes in that area and make the conditions more sustainable for the Rohingya to survive in Burma so they don’t have to flee," Lewa said.

In 2009 regional governments from the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other governments under the 38-member nation Bali Process on human trafficking attempted to solve the issue after reports of hundreds of Rohingya refugees perishing at sea.

Rights groups had accused the Thai authorities of seizing boats that landed on Thai coasts, removing their motors and towing them back to sea where some 550 people died while adrift. Thailand officially denied the allegations but called on regional governments, including Burma, to support efforts to find a solution.

Dozens feared dead in Bay of Bengal trawler capsize : Hundred Rohingyans Involve in the Incident


source from the independent online bd news, 14 Dec 2011

(A satellite image of St martin Island and its coasts)

COX’S BAZAR: At least 25 persons were feared dead after a Malaysia bound-trawler capsized at Bar Bain area of Bay of Bengal near Saint Martin coast early Wednesday.

 

Witnesses said the trawler, carrying more than 130 passengers who were trying to enter Malaysia illegally, sank at around 5:00am. More than 100 of the passengers swam ashore, our Cox’s Bazar correspondent reported.

“The trawler, operated by members of a trafficking ring consist of known traffickers like – Firoz, Sabbir, Selim, Alam, Ismail, Younus, Golam Hossain and Dulu Hossain – started picking up people from the west side of Shah Parir Island at around midnight. After the trawler sank, some swam ashore while some others were rescued by a fishing boat nearby,” Abdur Rahim, a survivor of the capsized trawler, told The Independent.

People from Myanmar and different areas of Cox’s Bazar were on board, the survivor added.

“I learned about the incident from the locals. The passengers in the boat were trying to enter Malaysia illegally in search of work,” Mahbubul Haque, officer-in-charge of Teknaf Model Police Station, said while talking to the Independent.

However, he could not provide any other detail of the incident.

A team from Bangladesh Coast Guards are now conducting search operations in the capsize area to find the missing till filing the report at 7:25pm.

Demonstration against visit of 30 Burmese officials to India .


source from Burma News International-BNI, 14 Dec 2011

Burmese democracy activists settled in India staged a demonstration protesting against the visit of 20 Burmese ministers led by Turah Shwe Man, Parliament Chairman, to New Delhi on December 13.

Demonstration-against

The demonstration was held at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi by about 60 Burmese democracy activists demanding the release of all political prisoners and for ushering in genuine peace in Burma.

The agitators rejected the 2008 road map chalked out by the military junta for a stranglehold on power in the country, as the 2010 general election was a farce.
Regarding the 2010 elections, U Thein Aung, former commissioner at the township level for the elections said, “We cannot accept that the present Thein Sein government is legal and is the official government of Burma, because during the election opposition votes were fudged and new votes created in support of the military government.”

He added that most military personnel’s votes were cast by the divisional officers and he was involved in this for three days as part of the election machinery. Therefore, the USDP and its ministers were not really elected by the people.

Dr. Zaw Win Aung also said, “We have a right to express our opinion even though we are here as refugees. This is what democracy should be. We want freedom in our country and democracy. We are demonstrating because we would like to reveal that the last general election in Burma was rigged. The ministers were elected by unfair means, and they need to ask themselves about their reputation.”

The visiting 20 ministers and 26 officers from December 11 to 17 are being monitored about their responsibilities and duties of the Prime Minister’s department.

Authorities loot paddy from Rohingya community in Maungdaw


source from Kaladan Press, 12 December 2011

Maungdaw, Arakan State: The authorities – Burmese border security force (Nasaka) and village administration officer – are looting paddy from Rohingya community from Nasaka area number 6, since December 10, said a school teacher from Maungdaw.

“The Nasaka personnel with Kawlim Ullah – the village administration officer of Kyaukpyinsek (Nari Bil)- went to the village where they (Nasaka and village officer) forcefully enter Rohingya home and took the paddy from granary without informing the owner.”

“The Nasaka personnel and village officer took 7-10 tins of paddy from granary where the Rohingya community stocked for their yearly rations.” (One tin is equal to 1.25 Bushel / 40.9136 liters)

The concerned authorities are only going to the residents who had someone in the abroad – Malaysia and Middle East countries- only, according to an elder from Nari Bil village.

“It start now in our village, may be it will continuous to other villages soon if the Nasaka and villager officer seen it is profitable for them. If nobody oppose for it.”

“The village administration officer ordered to his official staff to break the granary and took the paddy which amount they want.”

It is first time happening in Maungdaw, where the Government officers are looting public foods grain from the yearly foods stock which will give Rohingya community starvation in the future, said a politician from Maungdaw.

“After election, the civilian government announced that the country is moving towards the democracy and freedom of speech, but, in northern Arakan, where is democracy and freedom of speech. If anyone oppose the authority activates against the Rohingya community, he/she will be punished by the authority. So, the Rohingya become dumb in their home land for authority activates.”

Rakhine People Uphold Protests Against The Existences Of Rohingya


by James,

Rakhine people link here reports their-“Protest Continue against the Existance of Rohingya”. Surprisingly, Rakhine people who are taking refuge in foreign countries still uphold to organize to show hostility towards their sister community Rohingya.

source from Rakhine people blog-Narinjara, 12 Dec 2011

Burma’s Ethnic People Hold Protests Against BBC, Demand Apology

Dhaka: Arakanese and other ethnic people from Burma stated demonstrations against the BBC in a number of countries demanding an apology for a news article and map that feel inaccurately depicted Burma’s ethnic groups.

Arakanese-in-USA-stage-protestBBCProtest in New York on 9 December

Nearly 150 ethnic people, including Arakanese, held banners and placards that read, “BBC, Stop Instigating Conflicts in Burma,” in front of the BBC Worldwide Americas office in New York on 9 December.

“We are here to protest against the BBC because of the map that wrongfully illustrated the ethnic regions in Burma in its news article titled, ‘Bleak outlook for Burma’s ethnic groups,’ written by its Asia-Pacific correspondent Anna Jones. We are different ethnic peoples of Burma coming to make the BBC hear our voices so that it can stand for the accuracy,” said Ko Kyaw Htoo Aung, who led the demonstration.

“And we demand the BBC take action to Anna Jones who is the write responsible for her mistake and immediately issue an apology for its mistake to Arakanese and other ethnic people of Burma,” he added.

demonstration-in-UK.Protest in London on 16 November

A similar demonstration was also held on 16 November at the head office of the BBC in London by Burmese people living in the UK, demanding they solve the wrongful representations of ethnic regions on the map used in the article written by Anna Jones, and to apologize to the ethnic people in Burma.

Angry and dissatisfied with the BBC’s article and map, over 100 Arakanese nationals also demonstrated against the BBC in front of the British embassy in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia on 24 November.

 Arakanese-in-Malaysia-protest-infont-British-Embassy Protest in Kuala Lumpur on 24 November

The map accompanying the article published on 6 November, 2010, “Bleak outlook for Burma’s ethnic groups,” illustrated the ethnic regions of Burma, and had the Rohingya flagged with a photo of a Muslim boy praying in the area of Arakan State, without any mention of ethnic Rakhine or Arakanese people. This oversight on the map is the root cause that spurred anger and dissatisfaction among the Burmese ethnic people against the BBC.

The BBC has made some changes to the illustrations on the map, adding ethnic Arakanese people to the area of of Arakan State, last October after receiving wide criticism and objections from Burmese people through its online media networks.

The recent demonstrators said the BBC still needs to make a formal apology to the ethnic people of Burma for its wrongful map and article.

The BBC provided the following comment on the issue through its facebook account:

Thank you for your comments. The map was not intended as an exhaustive look at every ethnic group in Burma. Rather it was intended to flag up minority peoples in Burma’s border regions who are prominent because they are engaged in either disputes or conflict with the Burmese government. The line linking the Rohingya to Arakan state was not intended to imply ownership of the state or to marginalise the Rakhine people, but simply to show readers the state in which the Rohingya live. The text linked to the image of the Rohingya makes it clear that they are not granted Burmese citizenship. We have now adjusted the line on our map to give a clearer picture of where the Rohingya are to be found. We have also added a section featuring the Rakhine people. On the second page, we have amended our text to make a distinction between minority groups and recognised ethnic groups. Thank you for reading the BBC News website.

BBC-Inaccuate-MapBBC Inaccurate Map on 6 November 2011
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