Jailed Rohingya Boat-people in Yangon Prison could be Faced Five more Years Imprisonment

by James,

The DVB’s report on 3 Dec 2011 revealed that a group of 63 Rohingya refugees attempting to reach Malaysia from Bangladesh have been given prison sentences of one and a half years each by a Burmese court after their boat ended up on the shores of southern Burma, Kawthaung in Tennasserim division.

The Sail receives there are not only the group of 63 Rohingyans alone faced such punishment but also there are many others unreported numbers of Rohingya boat people who were captured after Thai-military pushed back and those handed over to Burmese authority through Thai-Burma borders.

Mr Habib, a member of NDPHR(exile) said that he has attained reliable sources from Yangon that they are currently served one and half years imprisonment in Yangon prison but the constitution of Rakhine state is separate rule that will definitely rule to extend at least another 5 more years imprisonment when they would be transferred to Rakhine state. As well as, they would be sent to labour camp or isolate Islet like Ong Daw(Coconut Islet) and face other forms of inhumane physical abuses. Their relatives will be possibly faced unexpected problems including punishment, fine and extortion.

A source from Yangon confirmed that their relatives in Yangon corporately with some Muslim welfare workers in Yangon are trying to negotiate to settle their cases in Yangon and not to send back to Rakhine state.

Despite new Burmese government has announced on 2 Jan 2012 that it will cut prison term on humanitarian ground to mark Independence Day, there is no signal of such consideration for thousands of Rohingyan prisoners in Sittwe, Buthidaung, Kyaukfru of Rakhine/Arakan state. Extension of imprisonment term is more likely to be introduced for Rohingya prisoners.

“There are previous evidences of dozens of Rohingyans were sentenced in similar form in past decade. They would be definitely placed in sub-human conditions and faced tyrant abuses in the custody. Therefore we would like to call law societies in Burma and around the world and international communities to advocate their cases in order to prevent from arbitrary punishment and tyrannical abuses. Because historically the Burma rulers ever back against Rohingya community.” Mr Habib appealed.


BANGLADESH: Rohingya Muslims wary of Burmese reforms

source from muslimnews, 13 Jan 2012

COX’S BAZAR, (IRIN): While the Myanmar government takes significant strides in political reform, Rohingya refugees in southern Bangladesh fear their condition may not change any time soon.

They are skeptical about a string of reform moves by the Burmese government, saying they are not aware of any real improvement in the conditions which forced them to flee their country.

"The situation has not improved," Mostak Ahmad, 35, an undocumented Rohingya refugee who fled 10 years ago, told IRIN. "We were hopeful during the 2010 election as we were given voting powers but now we are frustrated."

Since taking office in March 2011, President U Thein Sein, a former general, has released hundreds of political prisoners, legalized labour unions, eased censorship, held talks with Washington and London, and signed a ceasefire with ethnic Karen rebels – a major step towards ending one of the world’s longest-running ethnic insurgencies.

But for Rohingya, an ethnic group who fled to Bangladesh en masse from neighbouring Myanmar years earlier, there is little optimism.

Fazal Karim, 40, who fled to avoid forced labour, had recently spoken with his relatives in Myanmar." They said that in some cases the situation had worsened," he said.

Rohingyas – an ethnic, linguistic and religious (Muslim) minority who fled persecution decades ago – are caught between a rock and a hard place, activists say.

Under Burmese law, the Rohingyas are de jure stateless, but they fare little better in Bangladesh.

Most Rohingyas in Bangladesh have no legal rights and few employment opportunities.

According to Refugees International, they live in squalor, receive limited aid and are vulnerable to arrest, extortion and even physical attack.

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there are some 200,000 Rohingyas in Bangladesh, of whom only 28,000 are documented and living in two government camps assisted by the agency. Close to 11,000 live at the Kutupalong camp, with another 17,000 farther south at Nayapara – both within 2km of Myanmar.

Rakhine State

Activists say Rohingyas in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State still have no freedom to travel or marry and remain subject to extortion, intimidation and abuse.

"While there are some improvements in the Burmese government’s rhetoric, there is no change on the ground," said Lynn Yoshikawa, a campaigner with Washington-based Refugees International.

Following the 2010 elections, forced labour was as pervasive as ever and may have increased, with some labourers as young as 10, a 2011 report by the Arakan Project, a group campaigning for Rohingya rights, revealed.

Chris Lewa, the group’s coordinator, said there had been no sign of improvement for Rohingyas in Myanmar, either in terms of policy towards them, or on the ground, "and little hope" that things could change in the near future.

The new Burmese government still considered Rohingyas "illegal immigrants from a neighbouring country" and has no intention of granting them citizenship or relaxing restrictions on them, she added.

Straws in the wind

However, during a December visit to Myanmar by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Burmese President U Thein Sein expressed his desire to cooperate with Bangladesh in resolving the Rohingya issue, and two days after the visit Bangladesh officials said Myanmar had agreed to take back documented Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh after verification by its authorities.

But the agreement will have no impact on the vast majority of Rohingyas who are unregistered, Yoshikawa said.

There is little chance that many registered refugees would agree to return under the present conditions in Myanmar, though if conditions were to improve significantly many would not hesitate, said Lewa.

"Who wants a refugee’s life?" asked Faruque Ahmed, a documented Rohingya refugee at the Kutupalong refugee camp. "We are always prepared to go back to Myanmar but we demand the same rights as other citizens," he said.

Each year scores of Rohingyas – from Myanmar and Bangladesh – attempt to escape by boat, often turning up in Thailand, Malaysia or as far away as Indonesia.

In December, at least 23 Rohingyas are known to have died when the two boats carrying them and 200 others capsized in the Bay of Bengal, while on 2 January a number of Rohingyas reached the Australian coast after an arduous voyage from Malaysia, the Arakan Project reported.

"We know it is a risky journey, but we have no other option," said Hasan Ali, a documented Rohingya at Kutupalong camp.

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