Monthly Archives: August 2012

Ashin Gambhira: “Why encourage racism, why create a crisis?”

Source thebestfriend, 29 Aug

Saffron Revolution leader Ashin Gambhira (aka Ko Nyi Nyi Lwin) has been struggling with his health since his release from prison earlier this year. In a new letter, he speaks about the current conflict in Arakan State, and the fighting between Muslim Rohingyas and Buddhist Rakhines.

“I feel very sorry after reading the latest news. I don’t feel so much surprised as angry because I knew something like this would happen soon. One step leads to another. It is actually not so surprising for our country Myanmar, because neither people nor politicians have good understanding.”

The Military relies on conflict to stay in power

“The violence between Rakhines and Rohingyas in Arakan State is an example of how dictatorships all over the world use and rely on conflicts to stay in power. If all people were united, a military dictatorship could not survive. Division and enmity in the minds of the people only keep the military strong. Because of this, the military systematically uses division-and-rule policies on the grounds of nationality, religion, economic and education status, etc., to divide people, to keep the military ‘necessary’, relevant, and in power. So the Burmese people are kept separated in groups, each group for themselves, without unity or cooperation. Everybody lives in fear and distrust of the other. Everyone sees the other with a suspicious mind. With this pressure, the people are defeated.

Nationalism is used to the keep the military system alive

“The new freedom fighter groups were organized under a wrong system of a Burma nationalist policy. These national revolution organization systems are a mistake. They produce suspicions and tensions between Burmese and their fellow landsman. Furthermore, it is slowly destroying the meaning of ‘union’ until the ‘union mind’ will disappear. This is the situation that the Burmese military uses to keep the military system necessary and alive.

The thirst for human rights

“We haven’t had human rights or true democracy in our country for over fifty years. For the last fifty years and five months, an old man couldn’t get a taste of democracy, human rights, freedom, justice, or equality. Some people have not known any of these things their entire lives. This means we were so thirsty for human rights that we sometimes demanded them like fools.

“We are living in the 21st century now, in a time of globalization, but in our country the principles of human rights and democracy are terribly broken. So our understandings of Dhamma, Metta, peace, and human rights are very rough, and we are beaten, arrested, killed, and destroyed.

“Mr. Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN Human Rights Commissioner, has said clearly that during the 2007 Saffron Revolution, crimes against humanity were committed. The illegal government acted against me with unjust laws and rules. I was sentenced by a judge to 68 years in prison. I lost my time, health, education, and freedom for the sake of my motherland. I spent nearly 4 years in prison. Everyone around the world knew that the people and monks were marching non-violently with love, Dhamma, and peace, and we didn’t have as much as a nail with us. But we were broken down very violently, beaten, shot, and killed.

“The same people who were ruling Burma then are now presenting themselves to the world as a legal government. They show themselves to be honest, polite, and clear. But nothing has changed in Myanmar, even in this changing period. The neo-military dictatorship has exploited and fostered a new national crisis, a religious conflict, the Rakhine-Rohingya conflict, for its own purposes.

“This is a very simple and effective strategy. It has happened several times in the past. There have been conflicts between Buddhist monks and Muslims before. They have been fighting each other, and the military dictatorship benefited from it. These clashes were encouraged by the military to keep the people separated.

“We had started a Metta campaign in our country with slogans for peace and democracy. The campaign includes members of all religions. But now, the Rakhine and Rohingya have turned against each other violently in front of the world. Even some members of the democracy movement have followed the threat of politics by the military regime and have changed sides.

The rule of law

“I want to say one additional thing. We need to count from the beginning. We only needed to judge with the rule of law those three Rohingyas who raped a girl. Rohingyas or Rakhines, Burmans or Shan, everybody must obey the rule of law. Why encourage racism, why create a crisis? Why blame only Rohingyas and put all of the purnishment on all of them?

“In Bangladesh, in a minority village on the border with Myanmar, several people were robbed by Bengali groups. The Bangladeshi government took effective action against the robbers with the rule of law, and a crisis was averted.

“I feel sad to know that some Buddhist monks have joined demonstrations and campaigns against Rohingyas. We already previously kindled a fire of Dhamma for everyone around the world to see in 2007. Do I need to explain in detail the meaning of the Buddha’s words, of Metta, Dhamma, peace, ahitha, thitthar, ageha, for everyone?

“As you know, my health is not so good, so I have been taking a rest lately. Actually, the past revolution experience was a very dark and hopeless situation inside the prison for me. I faced it, and survived this condition after I was released into the present political situation. I really want to write more about it. But I have to take care of my health first. In the future when I am better, I hope I can do it. Even writing this letter hurts my eyes and causes severe headaches. The deep pain inside my body is bad, but I needed to write and send this to you.”

The original letter was written in Burmese by U Gambhira (aka Ko Nyi Nyi Lwin) on August 27th to Ms. Yu Yu Ko. The letter was given to The Best Friend International e.V. for publishing. Special thanks for the first translation from Burmese to English by Ko Nyi Nyi Lwin, Tokyo.


Update news of Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships

August 29, kaladanpress

Maungdaw, Arakan State: The Rohingya villagers are not free from the arrest of Nasaka, army, Hluntin and police personnel at Maungdaw Township. The higher government authority lets them free to harass the Rohingya community without any fear, according to a school teacher from Maungdaw south requesting not to be named for security reason.
On August 25, Aman Ullah (40), son of Madi, Abulu (35), son of Khadir Hussain were arrested by Nasaka with the collaboration of village Chairman U Thein Maung. Both of them belong to Udaung west village of Maungdaw south, Arakan State. Villagers said that the village chairman pushes the Nasaka to harass the Rohingya villagers while the concerned authorities want calm in northern Arakan.

Besides, on August 27, the Nasaka also arrested Mohamed Hussain (20), son of Abdu Shukur and Lalu (30), both of them hailed from Fokira Para of Udaung village tract over the allegation that they were involved in the recent riots.

Earlier, on August 23, eight villagers were arrested from this village tract by Nasaka over the allegation that they were involved in riots between Rohingyas and Rakhines on June 8. Nasaka frequently attack this village, so that the villagers cannot live in the village for fear of arrest by the Nasaka. Those, who were arrested by Nasaka were severely tortured in the Nasaka camp. Some of the villagers were released after paying money and the villagers who are not able to pay money are being detained in the camp, according to local villagers.

On August 28, Aman Ullah (55), son of Fokurul, hailed from Nari Bill of Maungdaw north was arrested by the Nasaka personnel of Nari Bill out-post camp, over the allegation that he didn’t provide the fish to the Nasaka that he caught from the fishing project. He was arrested at noon and brought to their camp where he was detained for money, said a youth from the village who is relative of the victim.

On August 28, five girls and three youths of Fokira Bazar of Mauungdaw north were arrested by Nasaka and brought to their camp and detained there. The girls were accused for not giving information to the concerned authorities where they stayed as guests and the said three youths were accused for holding mobile phones. However, at night, the village administrator brought the girls to his home by giving grantee to the Nasaka that the next day the girls will be sent to the camp again. The next day, the girls were sent to the camp. Their relatives till know, didn’t know the fate of the girls, said a village elder.

The Rohingya prisoners, who were arrested during the recent violence between Rakhines and Rohingyas were produced at the courts of Buthidaung and Maungdaw in recent times. The concerned authority produced 30 to 40 prisoners at a time to the courts, but, the relatives of the prisoners are not allowed to meet them and also barred them to supply any food to the prisoners. The prisoners also do not get any access to fight their cases by lawyers. So, the parents don’t know what kinds of cases that the authority filed against the prisoners. Some of the parents, who went to the court on August 28, were humiliated by the officials of the court.

“One of the prisoners said to his relative that don’t give us food with meat as our teeth were broken in the jail by torture, ” said one of the parent who met his son at the court giving bribe to the security force secretly.

The prisoners will get one year or ten years or life term jailed for their guilty. They were accused Act 436, which means, torching houses, killing people, organizing the people to involve in the riots, and giving encouragement, said a lawyer on condition of anonymity.

Rohingyas give security for Pagoda:

On August 23, at night, a group of Rakhines was trying to destroy the Buddhist Pagoda of Tha Yae Kumbo village, which was built at the center of the Rohingya village. The Rohingya villagers, seeing the event, they informed the matter to the local Commander of Nasakra area.. So, the commander immediately sent a group of Nasaka (Border security force) to the spot. When the Nasaka reached near the Pagoda, seeing them, the Rakhine villagers ran away to a nearby mountain and disappeared. But, the authority did not take any action against the villagers who involved in the event, said a village elder from the locality preferring not to be named

Actually, the Rakhine villagers are trying to make Rohingyas to be guilty because the Rakhine villagers had already destroyed the Khala Mosque of Tha Yae Kumbo village, recently. As a result, Rohingya villagers have to give security to the Buddhist Pagoda not to be guilty in government’s sight, said a local youth on condition of anonymity.

Ignoring the minorities

Source, 28 Aug

In the last few weeks, the plight of Burmese Muslims has come to limelight. Of particular concern are circumstances surrounding the minority Muslim community of Rohingya. There are reports that the Burmese state is involved in serious violations of human rights and the Rohingya community is subjected to massacres and indiscriminate killings.

Rohingya is a small Muslim community (by some accounts, less than one million people), residing in the western part of Burma for the last several decades. They have been subjected to discrimination by the majority Buddhists and are not recognised as citizens of Burma. The bias against the Rohingyas is so strong that even Aung San Suu Kyi, when asked about whether the Rohingya Muslims are, in principle, citizens of Burma, exclaimed that she does not know. Needless to say that her response was rather unfortunate considering her stature, but goes on to give an insight into the gravity of the situation.

The Rohingyas have been in the news lately with reports emanating from Burma suggesting mass killings of this minority community. International media was slow to respond, the primary reason being that Burma is still a closed territory and analysts still have only limited understanding of what is going on in this reclusive state. Similarly, a section of electronic and print media in the country is influenced by the state and this presents an additional hurdle in the fair and accurate reporting of events.

Unfortunately, and one wishes to say this with utmost caution, the international community is not only slow in its response, but also appears to be biased. Despite clear indications of mass killings, it seems that the international community is complacent with only paying lip service to the problem, and essentially agreeing with the Burmese government that it is an internal matter of Burma.
On the other hand, when the civil society in Pakistan, and certain other Muslim countries, started raising voice against the killings, they were blamed for playing in the hands of fundamentalist Islamic organisations. The argument goes that the situation in Burma is exaggerated by certain unscrupulous elements, the sorts of Al-Qaeda and Taliban, so as to gain sympathies from Pakistanis, and thereafter recruit young Pakistanis into their ranks. This concern may not be wholly misplaced; however, completely dismissing the injustice suffered by Rohingyas based on this premise also needs reconsideration.

Despite the effort of civil society, there is not a single word at the official level in Pakistan condemning the conduct of Burma. Admittedly, citizenship rights of the Rohingyas are not recognised and the Burmese state refuses to protect this minority community. There are also confirmed reports of mass killings, although the extent of killings is yet to be determined. There is, therefore, a need for transparent investigation and international intervention.

There is also a need to put pressure on Bangladesh to open up its borders for the Rohingya refugees, who are trying to flee the country to protect their lives. In fact, the Muslims in Burma did try to enter Bangladesh, but were refused entry in violation of international law and norms. Once again, not a single utterance by the international community reprimanding Bangladesh. One wishes that even if the governments, due to diplomatic complexities, fail to address this issue, the media and the civil society will make an effort to expose the unlawful conduct of Bangladesh.

A discussion of maltreatment of minorities cannot be complete without mentioning the predicament of Hindus in Pakistan, who have been forced to a point where they have no option but to leave the country. The discrimination against minorities in Pakistan has reached alarming levels. The Hindu, Christian, Ahmedi, Parsi, and many other minority communities are subject to systematic discrimination at the hands of state, as well as discrimination by society at large.
Such migration by the Hindus is a result of continued injustice over the years. Can you really blame them when their girls are regularly married to Muslim men after being forcefully “converted” to Islam? The reaction of the government is hopeless and dismal, to say the least!

The response of the civil society on this issue is also unsatisfactory. While we do not let go of any opportunity to highlight the quandary of Rohingya Muslims, what is happening to our Hindu brethren is not a topic of much concern. The civil society ought to play a more meaningful role in developing tolerance for minorities in Pakistan and to ensure that the government does not wilfully ignore this matter.

On a positive note, surprisingly and unexpectedly, the government showed some leadership during the Eid holidays. It banned pillion riding in Karachi and switched off mobile phone networks in major cities. This had a significant impact in Karachi where target killings and street crime was majorly curtailed on Chand Raat. One does not wish to encourage the government to halt mobile phone service, however, considering the worsening law and order situation in Karachi, it may not be a bad idea to implement such bans and stoppages on phone service during night time. The pre-paid SIM service also needs to be re-examined, considering the number of undocumented SIMs operating in the country. One wishes that Rehman Malik et al will examine the proposition of shutting down mobile service at night in Karachi, and impose a permanent ban on pillion riding, so as to bring some respite to the citizens of Karachi from the worsening law and order situation.

The writer practices and teaches law. Opinions expressed herein are solely his own. Email: zeeshanadhi

The real culprits behind the violence in Rakhine state | Dr. Maung Zarni

August 29, Dr.Zarni, Source Rohingya Blogger

It’s great that US Ambassador to Myanmar, Derek Mitchell, has finally spoken out on the ethno-religious riots between Rohingyas and Buddhist people in the Rakhine state.

He points out racism in Myanmar society at large, something some of us have been saying for so long.

But the problem with shifting the new focus onto popular racism is that it lets the real culprits – the generals and their troops – off the hook.

The Myanmar regime has a direct and immediate hand in the recent communal riots between the Rakhines and the Rohingya – who it only refers to as "Bengali Muslims" – by sending the message that these people do not belong in Myanmar, even though they were born on Rakhine soil and have been in the country for generations.

For the record, I place the ultimate responsibility for the outbreak of ethno-racial violence squarely on the Thein Sein government. Successive military regimes since Ne Win‘s reign (1962-1988) have used the tactic of ethnic and religious divide and rule. Precedents and contemporary cases abound. In 1967, Ne Win reportedly diverted attention from the failings of his socialist economy – which resulted in rice shortages across the country – by blaming "greedy Chinese merchants". That sparked anti-Chinese riots. When the mob in Yangon stormed the Chinese Consulate, the generally trigger-happy Burmese troops (when it comes to "restoring law and order") simply stood by and watched the mob kill the deputy chief of mission on the Chinese Consulate’s premises. The regime is pursuing a scorched-earth military operation against the Kachins in the north while offering ceasefire deals to the other armed ethnic resistance groups.

This is the regime that has specialised in "law and order" for the past 50 years, since 1962. It deliberately let all hell break loose in western Myanmar because it suited the regime in multiple ways for the Rakhine and the Rohingyas to slaughter one another.

Burmese generals have never liked the Rakhines people, especially those who are ethno-nationalistic and want to push for genuine political autonomy for the Rakhine state.

Troops and all other security units stationed in western Myanmar, on the other hand, have turned all kinds of severe restrictions – in place for at least 30-40 years – into the basis for extorting and abusing the Rohingyas. For instance, the Rohingyas’ physical movements and their ability to marry and have children were restricted, requiring permission from the authorities and security units. In effect, the Rohingyas were turned into cash cows by the local security units in western Myanmar.

For their part, the Rakhine people felt angry that the government security troops and authorities were benefitting economically from the Rohingya. (The Rohingya population in general are very poor, while there are a handful of wealthy Rohingya business families. Many Rohingyas who work abroad, however, remit money back to their families in western Myanmar.) Also, forced labour among the Rohingya population is disproportionately higher than in any other ethnic community including those in Myanmar’s active war zones in the eastern and northern regions of the country. So, the authorities extract both cash and labour from the captive Rohingya population.

But the Rakhine people felt powerless in the face of the overwhelming might of the security forces on their soil, despite their perception of the regime’s favouritism to the Rohingyas, whom the Rakhine have come to consider as "animals" on their soil.

So, naturally, the Rakhine people grew more hateful of the Rohingyas and the state security apparatus, and finally took it out on the weaker of the two – the Rohingyas.

When violence broke out, not only did the security forces not intervene to keep order and nip the initial violence in the bud, but troops – some Burmese and some Rakhine themselves – in places like Maungdaw decided to turn against their cash cows and forced labourers – the Rohingyas.

This time it wasn’t the greed of the troops, who had long milked the Rohingyas for their money and extracted labour that led them to directly participate in the slaughter of the Rohingyas. Rather it was the Burmese and Rakhine people’s general dislike of Muslims that finally compelled the troops in Maungdaw to machine-gun the Rohingyas in large numbers.

Evidence of the attacks keeps surfacing from various independent eyewitnesses. According to one local researcher in the country – whose account of the Rohingya slaughter at the hands of the Burmese and Rakhine security forces was published in Al Jazeera English ("Mass graves for Myanmar’s Rohingya, August 9) – the troops that he interviewed openly talked about "how much they hate Muslims" and described coldly the manner in which they machine-gunned down the Rohingya.

This directly corresponds with the policies of Nay Pyi Daw. This is not simply troops in local areas shooting without orders from above and getting away with mass murder. In fact, the widespread view within the military is: "the bottom line is, we do not want more Muslims in our country". So there is not simply popular racism but vertical and official hatred of Muslims in general and the Rohingya Muslims in western Myanmar in particular.

To deny this is to add insult to injury. The focus of the current riot inquiry by the presidential commission and the international media coverage needs to focus on this direct connection between popular racism and the regime’s racist and violent policies and practices of the last 40 years since Operation Snake King (or Nagamin) killed hundreds, if not thousands, of Rohingyas and drove hundreds of thousands more out of western Myanmar into Bangladesh in the 1970s, under the Ne Win-Sein Lwin regime. Ne Win was the godfather, and Sein Lwin was the butcher.

Muang Zarni is a visiting fellow at the Civil Society and Human Security Research Unit, the London School of Economics. A veteran founder of the Free Burma Coalition, Zarni advocated "principled and strategic engagement" with the regime as early as 2003. @ m.zarni.

Iran concerned over conditions of Rohingya Muslims, Salehi tells Myanmar FM


Source Tehran Time, 27 Aug

TEHRAN – During a meeting with Myanmar’s Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin in Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi expressed concern about the conditions that the Rohingya Muslims are experiencing in Myanmar, it was reported on Monday.

Salehi said that Iran is ready to send humanitarian aid for the Muslims in Myanmar and will welcome a decision to use Iran’s influence to help defuse tensions in the country.

Myanmar’s foreign minister who has visited Iran to participate in the Non-Aligned Movement meeting briefed Salehi on the incidents that have taken place in his country and said that efforts are underway to restore peace.

He also assured Salehi that Myanmar is committed to respecting people of all religions and does not regard discrimination against Muslims as appropriate.


Ongoing Situation in Arakan

Source NDPHR(exile),

Rathedaung town
26 Aug: Military authority met with acting Rohingya leaders from Nyaung Pin Gyi(Muzadia), Anauk Pran(Anakpran), Samila and Sangudaine villages and reiterated about their relocation to Maungdaw town.

Except from Nyaung Pin Gyi (Muzadia) and 51 houses of Anauk Pran(Anakpran), the rest of Rohingya houses in Anauk Pran(Anakpran), Samila, Sangudaine villages were not set fire. But the military authority said that they could no longer protect the villagers and the relocation will be only solution.
The villagers however responded that they would only move to Sittwe town in case they would be forced. Because the military authority in Sittwe are not abusive unlike in Maungdaw.

The aid delivered by Yangon based muslim organizations were brought by military in Rathedaung town on 21 Aug. The homeless Rohingya victims were asked to unload the rice packages from the boat. The villages requested to dock the boat closer to the shore. Instead, the military forces began beating and pounding with guns and forced the villagers to go down into the waters. 10 villagers of Anauk Pran (Anakpran) village and 30 villagers of Nyaung Pin Gyi (Muzadia) village, were beaten up. Of them, the village head of Nyaung Pin Gyi (Muzadia), Habirahman was seriously beaten up and still in coma.

Maungdaw town

26 Aug: 3 Rohingya cowboys were attacked by a gang of Rakhine people on their return with cattle to own Nurulla village from near by the farming land. One of them was escaped and and informed the villagers. On the time of the villagers followed to the scene, the two cowboys were found slaughtered.

Sittwe town
27 Aug: About 4,000 Rohingya victims of Sentoli villages taking shelter at the school of Thakkaybyin (Sakki Fara) village were forcefully expelled from the school by the Rakhine state education minister yesterday afternoon. The victims said that expulsion came an hour after a team of UN visited them. Now the victims are wetting under the rain without shelter and food because they have even not registered at refugee camp.

Following the president’s announcement, Rakhine people expressed dissatisfaction and attempting to attacks Rohingya villages from the past week. A group of 4 Rakhines who entered Aungmingala (Mole Fara) village with lethal knives and fuel bottles were captured by military in the afternoon of on 23 Aug. Another two Rakhines attempted to attack the same village were also arrested by military in the evening of 25 Aug.

Total displaced number of homeless Rohingyas plus Kamans and Rakhine muslims in Sittwe is estimated about 96,000 people and only about half of them are registered at refugee camps and the rest are still languished without food and shelter, according to the ground report .
As we received a list as below, in Sittwe refugee camps so far at least 64 people died from contracted diseases and starvation. The number is higher for the other towns where no aid group has been visited from the beginning.

The death toll in Sittwe refugee camps: NDPHR(exile)

More Armed Rakhine Gangs Arrested in Arakan

‘Thousands of Rohingyas dead’

Source Malaymail, 27 Aug

Number of growing casualties played down by authorities, says refugee


FOOD BOXES: Rohingya volunteers preparing packages of sardines to be delivered to the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh — Pix: Arif Kartono

ROHINGYAS in Malaysia are claiming that media reports on the death toll in the Arakan region of Myanmar are grossly inaccurate, saying thousands of Rohingya villagers have become casualties of the growing unrest.

Contractor Abul Kasim, 34. who has been staying in Malaysia for the past 10 years, said the reported numbers were played down by the Myanmar authorities.

"This (the violence) is nothing new. It has been going on for some time, many years, in fact. All these years, there has been only discrimination, but the mass murders only started recently," said Abul Kasim, who fled Myanmar about a decade ago to escaped the mistreatment of Rohingyas by the Myanmar junta.

"They (army personnel) raped my cousin in front of me. They were hunting me down after realising I witnessed the incident. I couldn’t take it any longer and decided to come to Malaysia to start a new life.

"I later learned that my cousin committed suicide." Abul Kasim was one of 30 Rohingyas who volunteered to pack supplies provided by Kelab Putera 1Malaysia, bound for the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh next week.

"This is the only way I can help my fellow Rohingyas," he said. Abul Kasim said his father still lived in Yangon but had been stripped off all his property and land.

"My uncle still lives in villages near Arakan. From my last conversation with him, their homes have been burned and they are homeless," he said.


Abul Kasim: Claims death toll higher than reported in media

"We don’t want anything from the government of Myanmar. We just want our freedom and citizenship." Abul Kasim said the Rohingyas who left Myanmar were not refugees trying to escape poverty as thought by many.

"It’s not about money. We have millions worth of properties in Myanmar but they have been burnt down," he said.

"We were forced to travel all over the world, yet our hearts were never at peace because of what is happening."

He said he was hopeful that pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu-Kyi would be able to address the issue.

"We still support her. We understand her difficult situation."

Chandra urges diplomatic approach on Rohingya issue

26 August, thesundaily

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 26, 2012): Dr Chandra Muzaffar, president of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST), has called on Malaysia to take a diplomatic approach to persuade Myanmar to stop the persecution and ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya minority in the state of Rakhine.

Chandra said Malaysia was viewed as being able to play an effective role as it was among the Asean members which strongly supported Myanmar’s entry into the bloc.

"Therefore, as a neighbour and friend, we should persuade the Myanmar government to act fairly in the Rohingya issue," he told Bernama.

He said Kuala Lumpur and other Asean members should ensure that the Investigation Commission set up by the Myanmar government was transparent and autonomous in bringing to justice those responsible for the persecution.

Malaysia should also continue communicating with Asean secretary-general Dr Surin Pitsuwan in efforts to halt the ethnic violence in Rakhine, he said.

Apart from these diplomatic efforts, he said, Malaysia could also provide financial assistance by collecting funds for the victims in Rakhine and other areas affected by the conflict.

Chandra also called on Asean member countries to bring up the issue at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit to be held from Aug 29 to 31 in Tehran.

Although there were bigger issues such as Iran, Syria and Palestine, the Asean members present there may be able to make a stand on the situation and pass a resolution on the matter, he said. – Bernama

Nauru-bound asylum seekers on hunger strike

Source, 25 Aug

Asylum seekers

Asylum seekers are transferred to the island. Picture: Daniel Wilkins Source: Herald Sun

Nauru will be able to house 500, Bowen

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says Nauru will be capable of housing 500 asylum seekers late September.

ASYLUM seekers at Christmas Island’s detention centre are refusing food in protest at plans to transfer them outside Australian territory for their claims to be processed.

A Department of Immigration spokesman told AAP some detainees had skipped meals but he was unable to confirm media reports of a large-scale hunger strike.

"There are people who have missed meals,” the spokesman said today.

He stressed any hunger strike action would not influence offshore processing plans.

"Anything these people can do will not change government policy,” he said.

"We continue to work with them and advise them on the situation, but this (the plan for transfers) is happening.”

Fairfax Media reports that 238 people from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Sri Lanka, including 40 women and children, had been informed on Friday that they would be sent to Nauru for processing and deported to their home countries if they did not cooperate.

One Afghan asylum seeker told Fairfax he had begun refusing food on August 16, after arriving by sea from Indonesia two days earlier.

Federal parliament recently passed legislation to allow offshore processing of asylum seekers who arrive by boat.

An independent panel recommended the government urgently restart offshore processing on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.

Greens immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said a large cohort of men were refusing meals.

"It is extremely concerning that Labor’s new Pacific Solution is already turning refugees to experience high anxiety and self-harm,” she told AAP.

"It is understandable why people are terrified by the prospect of being dumped indefinitely in detention on Nauru.”

She said sending asylum seekers to Nauru and Manus Island was "inhumane and will only hurt them even more”.

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said the minister would not comment on Immigration Department operational matters.

Comments about trying the Myanmar Government at the International Criminal Court

Asian Tribune, 24 Aug

By Habib Siddiqui

Myanmar government wants to hide its despicable record of racism and bigotry against non-Buddhist minorities inside the country by saying that there was no religious discrimination. As we say here, when a duck flies like a duck, swims like a duck and sounds like a duck it is a duck; it is not chicken.

As once again noted from the declarations of and papers presented at the recently concluded Bangkok Conference, held on August 15 at the Thammasat University, Myanmar government is guilty of practicing Apartheid policy of neo-Nazi Fascism. It can’t skip from being labeled as such.

If we cannot protect the endangered Rohingya community from their elimination campaign, then the world community would have no alternative but to proceed with actions that lead to issue of an arrest warrant against the regime and their provocateurs that are at the root of the suffering. Of course, for that to happen, we shall need funding from international agencies to prepare and prosecute the case in the ICC, The Hague.

As you know it is not an easy matter. The regime can refuse to comply to hand over their war criminals, much like what happened with Slobodan Milosevic until he was voted out and the new regime, hungry for western recognition and bettering economy complied with the directives to hand over the criminal.

But the reality inside Myanmar is even worse than those prevailing in Serbia. The bulk of the Buddhist community inside Myanmar is racist and bigotry ridden except a few noble souls living outside (like e.g., Dr. Maung Zarni). The tragedy is that they are not even aware of their racism. They think what they are doing is fine, patriotic, and unless they continue to do so, they won’t be able to protect their race from being overwhelmed by ‘foreign’ elements. What chance is there that if they are voted out (which I strongly doubt) in 2015 that Suu Kyi’s NLD (supposing that it got majority and formed a new government) would hand over the war criminals? She has proven to be an ignoble soul, a politician and not a moral voice on suffering humanity. She talks about Buddhist sympathy and not what are human rights that continue to be violated by the regime. She is an opportunist.

We also need international partners to push the matter against the criminal regime. I don’t think we have been able to make the case for the real ‘powers’ (e.g., USA and veto-wielding UNSC member states) to see the Rohingya problem our way. Without them, no international action would be taken. Sadly, as I have noted, the powerful western nations are also bankrupt when it comes to moral issues. Many of the governments in the West are mortgaged to big companies or lobby groups that care more about making money from trade and commerce with Myanmar than anything humane and moral. That is the reality of our time!

Still, we should not feel frustrated. The world is waking up to the hideous reality inside Myanmar. Who would have thought of so much support pouring into when not too long ago what we heard were only one-sided xenophobia against the Rohingya, even from some aid agencies because of their ignorance? But that has changed, by the grace of God.

Let’s try our best in our individual and group levels to educate people and relieve the pains suffered by the Rohingya and other persecuted peoples.

– Asian Tribune –

%d bloggers like this: