Monthly Archives: February 2012

U.N. should consider commission of inquiry on Burma: AI


Source from Mizzima news, 28 Feb 2012

(Mizzima) – Burma’s human rights situation has improved notably in some respects but it has significantly worsened in others, Amnesty International (AI) said this week. It called for the U.N. to seriously consider a commission of inquiry to investigate war crimes and systematic human rights abuses.

amnesty-international-logoFreedoms of assembly and expression remain restricted, and hundreds of political prisoners and many prisoners of conscience remain in jail. In several ethnic minority areas, the army continues to commit violations of international human rights and humanitarian law against civilians, including acts that may constitute crimes against humanity or war crimes, AI said in a statement submitted to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday.

“Many of these reported crimes are taking place despite cease-fire agreements between the Myanmar army and the relevant ethnic minority armed groups,” AI said in its statement. “In some cases, the cease-fire is not being obeyed, while in others serious human rights violations continue even when the fighting has stopped.”

Civilians have been a target of the Burmese army, the statement said. It cited “credible accounts” of the army using prison convicts as porters, forcing them to act as human shields and minesweepers. In Kachin State, where at least 55,000 people have been internally displaced since fighting resumed in mid-2011, AI said sources reported extrajudicial executions, children killed by shelling and other indiscriminate attacks, forced labour, and unlawful confiscation of food and property.

Human rights violations are not confined to the conflict zones, as evidenced by reports of forced labour on a large scale in Chin and Rakhine states (usually targeting the Rohingya ethnic minority in the latter), it said.

It said that in May 2011, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burma referred to evidence that the armed forces continue to commit serious and systematic violations with impunity.

AI said Burma’s civilian government “has not taken any meaningful steps toward holding suspected perpetrators of human rights violations accountable.”

The Investigation and prosecution of human rights violations and crimes against humanity are obstructed by Article 445 of the 2008 Constitution, which stipulates that “no proceeding” may be instituted against officials of the military governments since 1988 “in respect of any act done in the execution of their respective duties.”

AI called for the U.N. to “seriously consider the establishment of an international commission of inquiry.”

In an early February statement, Ojea Quintana stressed that moving forward on Burma cannot ignore or whitewash what happened in the past, and that acknowledging the violations suffered will be necessary to ensure national reconciliation and prevent future violations from occurring.

AI noted that ethnic minorities make up approximately 35-40 per cent of Burma’s population, including people of Chinese and Indian ethnicities. According to the government, there are at least 135 different ethnic nationalities in Burma, but the exact number is difficult to determine conclusively.

“There is clear evidence that Myanmar’s authorities often target members of ethnic minorities on discriminatory grounds, such as religion or ethnicity, or seek to crush their opposition to major development projects that adversely affect their lands and livelihoods,” the AI statement said. In addition, the government often suppresses social organizations, including groups focused around religion or ethnic identity that are outside its authority and control. Some minorities’ ethnic identity in Burma is closely related to their association with a religion other than the majority Buddhism; this generally means Islam for most Rohingya, and Christianity for many Chin, Kachin, and Karen. The Rohingya ethnic minority is particularly exposed to human rights violations, as they are singled out in practice and law, with discrimination against them codified. “Under the 1982 Citizenship Law, they are denied citizenship and thus are de facto and de jure stateless,” AI said.

“The international community must improve its understanding of the aspirations of Myanmar’s ethnic minorities generally and give greater attention to addressing the needs of these minorities in discussions of the country’s human rights situation,” said the statement.

Amnesty International urged the U.N. HRC to:

– Support the establishment of an international commission of inquiry with a specific fact-finding mandate to address the question of international crimes in Burma;
– Renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burma for a three-year term.
– Call on the government of Burma to:
– Immediately cease violations of international human rights and humanitarian law against ethnic minority civilians, both in conflict and ceasefire areas;
– Hold perpetrators of human rights violations accountable;
– Release immediately and unconditionally all prisoners of conscience, including Khun Kawrio and Ko Aye Aung, and release political prisoners or charge them with an internationally recognizable criminal offence and try them in full conformity with international standards for fair trial;
– Seek assistance from the United Nations in convening a panel to reconcile differences in numbers and definitions of political prisoners;
– In full consultation with the UN and Burma civil society, amend or repeal laws used to stifle peaceful political expression, and reform the justice system;
– End immediately torture and other ill-treatment and punishment during interrogation and in prisons;
– Bring prison conditions in line with international standards;
–Cooperate fully with U.N. human rights treaty bodies and Special Procedures, including the Special Rapporteur on Burma;
–Ratify and effectively implement core U.N. human rights treaties and their optional protocols and the Rome Statute of the International Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

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13 RI fishermen return home after 5 months in Malaysian jail


Source from The Jakarta Post, 28 Feb 2012

After spending five months in a Malaysian jail, 13 fishermen of Batubara regency, North Sumatra, are slated to arrive at Medan’s Polonia Airport on Tuesday.

The fishermen were detained by the Malaysian government for violating border laws.

Belawan fisheries and oceanic resources supervisory station chief Mukhtar told The Jakarta Post that the fishermen, who have served their jail time, were scheduled to arrive in Medan, North Sumatra, at 1:45 p.m.

“I am now in Penang, Malaysia, to pick them up,” Mukhtar said on Tuesday over the phone.

The fishermen, Putra, Yusli Musri, Ibrahim, Indra, Amri, Syaifuddin, Basri, Ajid, Hasan, Baharudin, Syaiful, Ramli and Hairi, were fishermen from Padang River, Kuala Tanjung, Batubara regency. (swd)

Phuket Landing! Rohingya Boatpeople Captured, Police Hunt Others in Southern Phuket


Source from Phuketwan, 26 Feb 2012

Tourists on a holiday Phuket beach where it's life-or-death for boatpeople Tourists on a holiday Phuket beach where it’s life-or-death for boatpeople
Photo by phuketwan.com

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PHUKET: Police in southern Phuket today were rounding up Rohingya after a boatload of would-be refugees came ashore at Nai Harn beach before dawn.

The boys and men from the ricketty vessel spread out across Phuket looking for food and water after what a 13-year-old boy told police was a 12-day voyage.

The Rohingya, from Burma’s oppressed Muslim minority, are not known to be dangerous but Phuket police will want them rounded up quickly.

By 11.30am a total of 65 men and boys were being held at Chalong police station, where officers went through the same experience 12 months ago when another boat landed nearby on Phuket.

Tourists on the popular Phuket beach early in the morning are believed to have sounded the alarm.

Nai Harn beach is surrounded by five-star and four-star resorts – a vivid contrast with the boatpeople, who have nothing and travel huge distances with dry rice and a small quantitiy of water.

The Rohingya, regarded as among the world’s most persecuted ethnic groups, are denied citizenship and basic human rights in Burma.

Even the new so-called ”democratic” Burma continues to conduct a campaign of subtle ethnic cleansing and declines to change its policy towards the Rohingya.

The 13-year-old boy told police that there were 102 men and boys on the boat but another voyager said there were 95 passengers.

Rohingya have been sailing in greater numbers from Bangladesh, where some live as refugees, and northern Burma because their oppression continues in both countries.

Boys and men always constitute the sailors. Rohingya women seldom leave their homes.

Many of the Rohingya boats, provided by people smugglers, put to shore only when food and water run out.

The Rohingya navigated by sight, never being sure whether or not they have reached Muslim-majority Malaysia, which is usually their aim.

A steady stream of boats have come ashore this sailing season – between October and April, when the sea is calm – both north and south of Phuket, along the Andaman coast.

The Royal Thai Navy conducts frequent patrols and usually ”helps on” the vessels it intercepts with food, water, and mechanical attention if necessary.

This is a contrast to the notorious secret ”pushback” policy adopted by Thailand and exposed by Phuketwan journalists working with the South China Morning Post newspaper in Hong Kong in January, 2009.

The series of articles made the region and the world aware of the Rohingya but neighboring countries have been unable to persuade Burma to treat the Rohingya humanely.

As a result, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia have agreed on a policy of silence and seldom if ever mention the Rohingya in public.

The result is that their treatment remains covert, although aid groups say they are confident that Thai authorities no longer mistreat boatpeople.

Usually, instead of lingering captivity for years because they cannot be returned to Burma, the Rohingya capture in Thailand are returned to people smugglers and allowed on their way.

Burma: Homeland Confiscations Continue in Arakan


Source from RARC,
Early in January of 2012, a military division( Sa-Ka-Kha-9) based near the ancient Falom village seized about 50 houses that had been built at the village’s edge. It is one of 36 Rohingyan (a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority) villages in the Kyauktaw township in the western Burmese Arakan state along the Kaladan River.
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These lands had been re-bought from military by Falom villagers. For 17 years, until re-buying the land, their village had consisted of 280 houses, some farming lands and the mosque were demolished by military in 1995.

In recent years, the military sold-back some of these lands to the villagers. Villagers rebuilt about 50 houses, with more in construction.
During the mid-1995, the military forces led by sub-captain Mya Hlaing attacked villagers and drove them into the jungle. Dozens of villagers were detained and a few were brutally killed. The jungle was too deep and rough for the displaced villagers to live in.
Some of them went to other Rohingyan villages, some returned to stay around the graveyard of Falom village. The rest were settled near Namaungnya village.

In its latest attack, the military doesn’t care that villagers have official papers for the land they bought back.
One Falom villager, Mr. Noor who has taken refuge in Australia, has approached Rohingya organisations to highlight his village’s issue.
He said the military division responsible for the latest attack established itself near the village in about 1993 and forcefully occupied the village and lands in 1995.

Beside the division expanded its territory, it’s using new techniques to exploit money from villagers.

Despite promises from Burma’s military-backed civilian government to end repressive policies towards Rohingyan people — such as arbitrary fines, “Muslim free zones” and extensive jail sentences — nothing has yet changed.

The fact is that the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party and the people of majority ethnic group within the Arakan state do not recognise the existence of the Rohingya people and they are still hostile towards them.
[For more information, Mr.Noor can be contacted at +(61) 4 6975 6116.]

Prof.Kanbawza Win’s Speech at the 64th Chin National Day in Vancouver


Source from asiantribune, 24 feb 2012

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64th Anniversary of the Chin National Day was successfully convened in Vancouver on 20th Feb with a minute silence who have made a supreme sacrifice for Chinland.

One of the speakers is Prof. Kanbawza Winwho says that in an exceptionally cold winter like this, it was natural that people wants to stay near the fire and no wonder old man Than Shwe wants to join his old comrades, Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il together with his predecessors Ne Win, and Sein Lwin besides the eternal fire place. If so since he is the real power behind the scene what will happen to my beloved homeland?

Today, as the quasi civilian government dominated by the former generals pushes through political reforms at a rate that has stunned observers, it is still very fragile as hardliners and liberals are at dagger drawn in an increasingly bitter power struggle. The raison d’êtreis that the reform agenda are being cramped by persistent hardliners led by Vice President Tin Aung Myint Oo with Than Shwe pulling the strings from behind, who direct policy and controls everything and is still in a position to derail reforms, despite publicly declaring their support for democratic change. Analysts and activists are split on whether these signs of change are genuine or a smokescreen to hide the regime’s real intention to keep the military in power for as long as possible under the guise of civilian rule with the goal of lifting Western sanctions

No doubt there are some in the military with honourable intentions of improving the sorry lot of the people who are firmly committed to his democratic reform agenda but the conspicuous aspect is that reforms are implemented in an ad hoc, personalized manner. For example, Railways Minister Aung Min now leads the government’s negotiations with various armed ethnic rebel groups to sign ceasefire agreements and this personalized approach could eventually backfire. Everything appears to be the result of personal connections – even the relationship between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the president and this is the major flaw in this whole process – there is no overall plan so it can be thrown out overnight if circumstances change. Until these changes are institutionalized, there is a danger of them being reversed in the future, especially if corruption continues and there is violence. Both liberals and hardliners main aim is to maintain peace and stability during the political transition e.g. those fears motivated the recent charges against Buddhist monk U Gambira. In other words Than Shwe’s transitional plan clearly intended to delay reforms and pit military groups against one another in a divide and rule fashion.

Hence the recent euphoria over recent "reforms" in Burma may therefore be short-lived. Unless the present constitution is scrapped or widely amended, which is extremely unlikely due to the military’s de facto veto power in parliament, Burma’s ethnic issue will likely remain unsolved. And if the country becomes an arena of competition between the US and China, there will certainly be more trouble ahead. The fact that the government has consistently refused to even consider a federal structure does not bode well for reaching lasting agreements with armed groups.

The 2008 constitution lays down the fundamentals for a centralized state structure where the military is a main, if not dominant, player. Than Shwe’s intention was to create a system of power sharing whereby no individual would become powerful enough to challenge his position and his family’s wealth, in other words he want to be the monarch of all he survey. Than Shwe’s new system also aims to create a structure that makes legal change difficult, including a requirement than over three-quarters of parliament must agree to make constitutional amendments. A quarter of parliament is made up of military representatives, giving the military virtual veto power over any proposed charter change. If Suu Kyi is elected to parliament at the upcoming by-elections, she will quickly emerge as a challenger to Shwe Mann and the USDP’s current dominance at the 2015 polls

Both the European Union and United States have indicated they may roll back their economic and financial sanctions with more progress on reforms, including the holding of free and fair by-elections in April which should provide clarity about whether government reformers or hardliners are on the ascendency as well as the pace and extent of future reforms as 46 of parliament’s total 664 seats will be up for grabs and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi herself will contest the elections. It is estimated that around 20% of current ministers are in the liberal camp while another 20% fall with the hardliners. The other 60% are believed to be sitting on the fence waiting to see and side with whoever wins the intensifying power struggle. One has also to bear in mind that the West, the US would be willing to modify its policy to suit strategic interests viz a viz China. A country previously known as the "rice bowl of Asia" is fueling large growth is of interest by outside business circles while the International Monetary Fund has estimated real GDP growth in the 2011-2012 fiscal year could hit 5.5 percent. The government of President Thein Sein appears to be pulling out all the stops to persuade the European Union and United States to lift sanctions.

If bilateral relations with the US were improved Burma would get access to badly needed funds from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other global financial institutions and will not depend on the goodwill and trade of its immediate neighbours China and ASEAN to enter a new era of "globalization". The regime also knew that it cannot compete with the media and non-governmental organizations run by exiles, but if US politicians and lawmakers were invited to visit the country they could help to sway international opinion in the regime’s favour, hence, many Americans have been invited to Burma including Hillary Clinton in other words Burma has successfully managed to engage the US rather than vice versa.

The real picture is that the ruling Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP) lacked credibility and not even a small fraction of the people sup[ported them, whereas wherever and whenever Daw Aung San Suu Kyi appears almost all the population came out to greet her. The people see that their future lies with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. This picture sends cold shivers through the spine of Than Shwe and its hard liners and vision that their days may be numbered. The USDP did not even venture to organize the populace as they know their position and being vehemently hated by the people. One incident is that in the delta area all the township and village tract USDP leader were called on a conference and bluntly told them that if USDP did not win in the elections be prepared to get out of their current position. They all unanimously replied, “Thank you for telling us,†and resign en-mass to join the NLD whose membership is now reaching nearly a million. In other words USDP is falling like its predecessor Burmese Socialist Programme Party. At this juncture an octogenarian Than Shwe may suddenly leave this world and nobody along the hard liners may able to control their thugs.

If that is the scenario there is every possibility that some hot head among the military with or without the connivance of the top echelons will assassinate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as they has previously attempted to do in Depaeyin. One have to bear in mind that the whole set up of the USDP is made of thugs of different stature who are all trigger happy. Like father like daughter Daw Aung San Suu Kyi may be forced to follow her father`s foot step of a Martyr and if we look at the Myanmar History starting from blacksmith Maung Tin Dae up to this day, it is full of instances where the dominating authority always make short work of prominent and farsighted leaders for fear that he will be a threat to their power and there is every possibility that history will repeat itself.

Rohingyas: A people both with, and without, an origin in Pakistan


Source from www.thenews.com.pk/
by Ammar Shahbazi, 17 Feb 2012

There are some three to four hundred thousands of them in the city, but, according to the law, they simply do not exist. The Burmese Muslims – known as Rohingyas –make up a sizable portion of illegal immigrants living in Karachi, and, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), are considered to be one of the most persecuted ethnic groups in the world.

Although they are often misconstrued as Bengalis, the Rohingyas, both culturally and linguistically, are very much different from the people of Bangladesh. “For the layman, they are all Bangladeshis, but the Burmese people are poles apart in every way, even in terms of facial features,” said Muhammad Khan Lodhi, an assistant director at the National Alien Registration Authority (Nara).

History

“The Rohingyas are a stateless people,” says Daniyal Rizvi of the Futuristic Foundation, a social research institute that works extensively on issues of illegal immigration and human trafficking in South Asia.

Rizvi said that a majority of the Burmese people living in Pakistan belong to the Arkan province of Myanmar. The Rohingyas are not considered Burmese by the government of Myanmar because they are not of a ‘pure Buddhist bloodline’.

In the late 70s, and again in early 90s, two major Rohingya exoduses took place. Their people were, for all intents and purposes, forced to leave their home country due to the imposition of laws that restricted their intermarriage and religious freedom. They took refuge in Bangladesh.

“There is not a single mosque in the whole of the Arkan province – a state where 70 percent of the population is Muslim, even after multiple resettlement programmes by the state to bring down the Muslim population,” added Rizvi, who has visited Myanmar nine times for research on these issues.

The Bangladeshi government does not consider them refugees. The Rohigyas live on the roads from Teknaf (the Bangladesh-Myanmar border) to Chittagong and are hounded by the police. They have no land of their own.

Life in the city

“My parents came to Pakistan because it is a Muslim country,” said Shabbir Hussain, a taxi driver and a madrassa graduate.

According to reports, there are 65 shantytowns populated by Rohingyas and Bengalis in which members of both communities live side by side. At least two such colonies are named after the Burmese lineage in Karachi: Arkanabad (named after the Arkan province in Burma) in Korangi Dai Number and a Burmese colony situated near Landi.

The Burmese population, like that of the Bengalis, is mainly employed by the city’s textile and fishing sector, where they have to work for ten to twelve hours a day. “They are the lumpen proletariat of Karachi,” says Salman Mukhtar, a senior social activist who works on poverty-related issues in Karachi.

“These people are basically migrant labourers. They have no legal status, no job security; they are virtually slaves to the whims of contractors who take work orders from textile and fishing companies to, for example, get an export assignment done,” he told The News.

“They work for the minimum possible wages; the Bengali and Burmese population, because of their low pay-rate, played a pivotal role in making Pakistani textiles competitive in the international market during the mid-80s and the 90s.”

Despite living in run-down shanty homes, where there is no access to electricity or clean water, the Rohingyas have managed to outstrip their Bengali counterparts in terms of being accepted by the mainstream Pakistani, a fact that does not bode well with the Bengali community leaders.

Political ambitions

The Bengalis claim that the Burmese, who started coming to Pakistan in the late 70s, call themselves Bengalis because they want an excuse to get naturalised citizenship; however, the Rohingya leadership denies having any link whatsoever to Myanmar.

“They have nothing to do with Pakistan. We are Pakistanis, we have been living here since before the fall of Dhaka, we gave sacrifices for the creation of Pakistan, we have a stake in this country,” said Masud-ur-Rehman, the general secretary of the Pak-Bangla Ittehad, a community-based Bengali organisation.

This turf war between the two groups has resulted in much political activism in recent times. Playing on the Bengali card, the Rohingyas have managed to form a party called the Action Committee which is backed by the largest political party of Karachi.

Mehsud’s claims were refuted outright by Abul Hussain Sonar, who is a member of the supreme council of the Action Committee. “We are Bengalis. We have no connection with Myanmar whatsoever. I am a second generation Pakistani. My parents migrated from Bangladesh in the 1960s.” Sonar claims that there are no Rohingyas living in Karachi, and that even if there are, there is a minimal number of them. The Bengalis, on the other hand, think that their political mandate is being exploited. Masud says the Burmese have money and are relatively better educated, which has allowed them to claim representation of the ethnic Bengalis in the city, who are at least four times more than the Rohingyas in number.

“If you actually make a comparison, you can see that there are a number of differences between our communities. For example, the Burmese have a tendency to send their children to madrassas; they are well-read and are a very close-knit community, which has given them an edge.”

Whatever the truth may be, one thing is for sure: the Rohingyas have successfully buried their violent past and have begun a new life with a new identity in the city of Karachi.

Obituary: Aye Kyaw, The Father of Racism in Arakan is Dead!


Like him Hitler could also unite the Germans through the use of hatred. But like most mortals Aye Kyaw had to die!
Also see related youtube links;


Abuses Continue Against Rohingya


Source from Physicians for Human Rights, 14 feb 2012

Last week, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar called on the Burmese government to officially engage ethnic minority groups in serious dialogue and grant them fundamental rights. He specifically referenced the rights of the Rohingya in this call to action.

The Rohingya are one of the most persecuted minorities in Burma. Forced labor, extortion, restrictions on movement, forced deportation, and rape (pdf) by Burmese authorities have all been documented by human rights groups.

Many Rohingya have fled the atrocities in Burma for neighboring Bangladesh. However, the situation there is nearly as bad. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, only 28,000 out of some 400,000 Rohingyas are officially recognized by the Bangladeshi authorities as refugees.

The undocumented Rohingya live in squalor, are regularly harassed by the local police, and are not able to access international humanitarian aid. PHR’s March 2010 emergency report, Stateless and Starving: Persecuted Rohingya Flee Burma and Starve in Bangladesh, found atrocious water and sanitation conditions, severe food insecurity, and multiple human rights violations, including arbitrary arrest and forced expulsion by Bangladeshi authorities.

Little progress has been made on a political solution to this problem. In a December 2011 meeting between Burmese President Thein Sein and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Thein Sein said Burma would allowdocumented Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh safely back into Burma. But since the vast majority of Rohingya in Bangladesh are not documented, it is unlikely that they will be allowed to return. Agreements like this serve to improve Burma’s image in the international community, but in fact do nothing to alleviate the suffering of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya.

If the Burmese government is truly serious about building lasting peace, it should immediately change the way it treats Rohingya. PHR strongly urges the Burmese government to end forced expulsions of Rohingya individuals, and to recognize the rights of all Rohingya, documented and otherwise.

PHR calls on the Bangladeshi government to cease arbitrary arrests of Rohingya and to allow aid organizations to help all Rohingya refugees. The human rights violations that have happened for decades against Rohingya are far too serious to be ignored by Burma’s reforms.

Issues: Crimes Against Humanity in Burma, Mass Atrocities
Places: Burma

Rohingya Denied Passports to Work in Thailand


Source from Irawaddy news, 16 Feb 2012

Ethnic Rohingya from western Burma’s Arakan State say that Burmese authorities in the Thai border town of Ranong have refused to issue them the documents they need to work in Thailand legally.

Around 20 Rohingya currently working on the Thai resort island of Phuket said that they have been unable to obtain “border passports” because local Burmese authorities have refused to recognize them as Burmese citizens.

“They said we were lucky they didn’t catch us in Kawthaung [opposite Ranong on the Burmese side of the border], or they would have had us thrown in prison,” said Maung Oo, a 35-year-old Rohingya man from Buthidaung Township in Arakan State.

“For us, it is difficult to stay in any country. Even in Bangladesh, India or Thailand,” he added.

The Rohingya are a Muslim minority from western Arakan State, near Burma’s border with Bangladesh. Denied recognition as one of the country’s more than 130 ethnic groups, they face persecution at home, forcing many to flee to other Asian countries.

According to Maung Oo, other Muslims he spoke to from Moulmein, the capital of southern Burma’s Mon State, were issued passports. Only Muslims from Arakan State were rejected, he said.

“I was born in Burma and went to a Burmese school. I speak Burmese and am a Burmese citizen, but they still wouldn’t give me a passport,” said Sa Pwint, another Rohingya from Sittwe, the capital of Arakan State.

Sa Pwint said he and two friends went to the border twice to apply for passports, and were rejected both times because they came from Arakan State, even though they had documents to prove that they were Burmese citizens.

“They just said that all of our documents were fake,” he said.

Nai Nyan, an ethnic Mon man who currently works in Thailand’s Trat Province, said that when he went to Ranong to get a border passport, three Muslim women who traveled on the same bus were refused the documents.

“One woman cried in front of me. It was very sad to see,” said Nai Nyan.
Andy Hall, the director of the Migrant Justice Program for the Bangkok-based Human Rights and Development Foundation, confirmed that the practice of denying border passports to Muslims from Arakan State appears to be widespread.

“I have previously received similar information, as have networks I work with, that people of Muslim ethnicity/descent … were refused nationality verification (NV) temporary passports by [Burmese] authorities when questioned at the government’s three NV centers in Ranong, Myawaddy and Tachilek if they said they were from Arakan State,” said Hall in an email.

Rohingya issues discussed in Norway


Source from Mizzima news, 10 feb 2012

Maung Tun Khin (aka) Ziaul Gaffar, the president of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK, visited with Norwegian officials in Oslo recently, where he met with the former prime minister.

A family of homeless Rophingya walk near a refugee camp at Cox's Bazar in India. Photo: Mizzima

A family of homeless Rophingya walk near a refugee camp at Cox’s Bazar in India. Photo: Mizzima

Maung Tun Khin met the former prime minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik, who is the director of the Oslo Centre for Peace and Human Rights.

“I had an extremely valuable discussion with the former prime minister. I express our gratitude for his long-time efforts for human rights and democracy for Burma. I urged him to continue to put pressure on the Thein Sein regime to stop human rights violations in ethnic areas, particularly in Arakan State where Rohingyas are facing serious persecution,” he said in a statement.

The Norwegian government is now engaging with the Thein Sein government and recently cancelled its earlier calls for Norwegian companies not to do business or invest in Burma.

In meetings with officials, Maung Tun Khin said, “We called on them to urge the regime to restore Rohingya citizenship rights, ethnic rights, to lift restrictions on marriage, movement, education, and to find a permanent solution for Rohingya refugees who are living in Bangladesh, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Malaysia.”

He said he also met with various officials, parliamentary members and NGO groups, where he raised awareness about the suffering of the people of Burma, and particularly the plight of the Rohingyas.

“I delivered the message that if the Thein Sein regime wants to do genuine reform they have to stop human rights violations against ethnic areas. The regime is not showing even little signs of change on the Rohingya, instead tagging Rohingyas as foreigners. Recent changes might be just to ease sanctions from Western governments.” He said it was too early to lift the sanctions on Burma.

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