Monthly Archives: November 2012

Suu Kyi: Heavy Lies The Head – Analysis

Source Euroasiaview, 28 Nov

During her recent trip to India, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi visited her alma mater the Lady Sri Ram College, where activists protesting the plight of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar are reported to have told Ms. Suu Kyi “to come out of her cocoon and take a stand on the Rohingya issue.” Some political analysts have described the Rohingya issue as a test of Suu Kyi’s ‘credentials and commitment’, her Buddhist faith and even as the true proof of her being worthy of the Nobel Peace prize . It is time to take a step back and look at Myanmar, take in the big picture and focus on Suu Kyi and the challenges that confront her.

Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi

Ms Suu Kyi today, is a popular leader of Myanmar. After winning 43 of the 45 parliamentary seats contested in the by-elections held in April this year, she is expected to gain control of the government after the elections scheduled for 2015; about three years from now. The world has been delighted to see Ms. Suu Kyi in the Myanmar parliament. She is an international symbol of courage and non-violent opposition to the military rule, having struggled bravely for human rights and political freedom while under house arrest for almost 15 of the 21 years from 20 July 1989 until her most recent release on 13 November 2010.

US president Obama, during his first trip abroad post re-election remarked in Bangkok last week, “Democratic transition in Burma is an ongoing process and the process needs to be in the spotlight.” Ms. Suu Kyi idolized by her people and the world, has what it takes to leverage this attention and bring about real and lasting change in Myanmar.

However, Ms. Suu Kyi cannot assume that her overwhelming popularity in Myanmar today will remain intact over the next few years and see her through to the elections in 2015. Her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), needs to have a clear understanding of the country’s priorities and come to grips with these issues at the earliest. Ms. Suu Kyi, on the other hand, will have to evolve from being a resistance icon to a national leader; a challenging prospect.

According to the International Crisis Group, ethnically, Myanmar is one of the most diverse countries in the world. Consequently, since independence it has experienced a complex set of conflicts between the central government and ethnic minority groups seeking autonomy. Ethnic minorities constitute about one-third of the population and occupy roughly half of the country in terms of area. At present, despite almost all ethnic groups having accepted the Union of Myanmar and their demands being limited to increased local authority and equality within the federal state structure, the country is not beyond strife.

UNHRC data indicates that there are 777,859 refugees, asylum seekers and IDPs of Myanmar- origin displaced to its neighbours. There are a further 1,147,275 persons including 808,075 stateless persons within the country itself. The Myanmar refugee population in India is mainly from the Chin ethnic minority group, with a smaller proportion of Kachins, Rakhines, and Bamars.

Over 140,000 Myanmarese, mostly Karen, Karenni, Mon and Shan, among others are presently confined in camps in Thailand. Many have been displaced since the mid-1980s. In addition, there are probably at least 300,000 refugees outside these Camps in Thailand, including 250,000 Shan refugees. Suu Kyi has visited Mae La refugee camp on the Thai border, telling thousands of people that their plight has not been forgotten. She has also visited the town of Mahachai, outside Bangkok, home to Thailand’s largest population of Myanmar migrants.

It is in this country, torn by internal conflict and racked by armed ethnic insurgencies of various scales and intensities that Suu Kyi is trying to make the shift from opposition leader to a party, parliamentary and a national leader. Further as a Member of Parliament, Suu Kyi is now carries the cross of being part of Myanmar’s state establishment. Suu Kyi alone cannot solve the complex ethnic problems of Myanmar that have existed for decades. Her ultimate challenge will be to keep the country unified while addressing the demands of the minorities.

She has also to revitalise the grass root-level infrastructure of her party, the NLD. She has to find common grounds with the Military that would support the necessary amendments to the present Constitution without which she cannot assume leadership in the Myanmar.

Suu Kyi’s stance on the Rohingya issue has been influenced by three key factors: the public opinion in her own constituency, the collective view of her party, and the mainstream opinion in Myanmar. Incidentally her constituency, the rural township of Kawhmu, is known to have an extremely anti-Rohingya stance. Yet there is a requirement of articulating a coherent policy for the future, policy that diffuses the situation in Rakhine State and allows for humanitarian aid to flow in to refugees.

Staying on the Rohingya issue, Suu Kyi in one of her interviews to the media in New Delhi made three important points. One, the immediate step is for the violence to stop, effect de-escalation of the situation and allow access to humanitarian aid. Second, both communities have resorted to violence hence restrain has to be exercised by all stakeholders. Rhetoric and provocation has not helped either side. Third, was regarding the responsibility of Bangladesh on the issue.

A Danish Immigration Service fact finding mission in 2011 found that the Bangladesh government was concerned about the ‘pull factor’ related to the Rohingya’s exodus to Bangladesh. This was the reason the government did not want to provide support to development activities aimed at improving the living conditions of the Rohingya. A Joint Initiative by five UN agencies to develop for Cox’s Bazar, a two-year, $33 million development plan to strengthen education, health, livelihood ect could not get the Bangladesh Government’s approval. If Pakistan and Iran were to adopt a similar position on Afghan refugees, their plight would have been akin to the Rohingyas.

Suu Kyi’s endorsement of the Rohingya struggle at this stage will not get the Rohingyas what they want but for Suu Kyi anything more than a balanced stance on the Rohingya issue will definitely impact her position adversely in 2015. So let’s be fair and grant ‘Daw Suu’ some political manoeuvre space and her rightful place in Myanmar history.

This article appeared at South Asia Monitor and is reprinted with permission.

By: m_gulati_2001

Obama Sending the Wrong Message to Burma

Source Care2, 25 Nov

Obama Sending The Wrong Message To Burma

This post come from Daniel Sullivan on behalf of United to End Genocide.

Despite ongoing grave abuses against ethnic groups, last week President Obama became the first U.S. president to visit Burma. While important reforms have begun in Burma, a presidential visit was a reward too far and sends the wrong message.

U.S. policy of lifting economic pressure and restoration of full diplomatic relations with the government of Burma following some economic and political reforms has failed to bring any relief to those lacking humanitarian aid in Kachin state or to prevent further violence and abuses against other ethnic groups, particularly recently against the Rohingya.

Some 75,000 people remain displaced in Kachin and Shan states with limited access to urgently needed international aid. At least 180 Rohingya have been killed and over 100,000 displaced as the government has tacitly or overtly supported abuses and the devolution of communal violence into systemic, largely one-sided, targeting of the Rohingya.

Rather than acting to quell violence and protect civilians, Burmese officials have promulgated hatred and even encouraged a policy that amounts to ethnic cleansing at the highest level. President Thein Sein asked the United Nations to arrange for 800,000 Rohingya to be placed in refugee camps or removed entirely from Burma.

A change of course is needed, first to avert the most immediate threat of further systematic violence against Rohingya and, second, to reintroduce the threat of consequences in the dialogue with Burmese authorities. The first can be done through pressuring the Burmese government to do more to grant humanitarian access to displaced populations, revise citizenship laws and to protect Rohingya as well as through the deployment of UN mandated observers in order to investigate the violence, deter escalation and ultimately hold perpetrators accountable.

The second can be done by reiterating the fact that sanctions have not been removed, but rather suspended and can be put back in place if egregious human rights abuses continue.

President Obama raised the Rohingya issue publicly in the main speech of his visit saying there is”no excuse for violence against innocent people,” but it is unclear if he went any further in private conversations with President Thein Sein. The threat of a return to sanctions or other consequences was also absent, with only generic references that the “flickers of progress that we have seen must not be extinguished.” Ahead of his trip Obama provided yet another reward by lifting the import ban on Burma, though he at least maintained the ban on gems, the material most closely linked with abuses in ethnic areas.

If Obama was really standing with the people of Burma, he would not have gone on this trip. But since he did, there was no excuse for him to not visit ethnic groups suffering under the policies of the Burmese government and advocating for the deployment of United Nations mandated observers in Rakhine state where Rohingya have been overwhelmingly targeted in recent weeks.

As decade long abuses continue and new ethnically motivated violence threatens to spread, the United States should recognize that the incentives offered to this point, and especially a Presidential visit, bring a special responsibility to use U.S. leverage to avert further catastrophe.

In the aftermath of previous mass atrocities and ethnic cleansings, the world pledged, “never again.” Instead of rewarding “flickers of progress” by dining with those enabling the killing and displacement of the Rohingya and other ethnic groups in Burma, Obama should have been standing on the side of the oppressed, calling for an end to the violence and threatening to pull back U.S. support for the Burmese government if the ongoing abuses are not immediately addressed.

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Crises in Kyauktaw and Myebon towns of Arakan

Source NDPHR(exile),

Kyauktaw town
21 Nov: A group of five military personnel walking around the town-centre were attacked by Rakhine mob in the afternoon around 14:30pm. The confrontation was began from blaming of the non-Buddhist military forces for protecting and helping the Rohingya. The mob said these soldiers are son-in-laws of Rohingyas so that they attacked harshly. A military personnel has been died on the spot and the rest other escaped with injuries. But the authority has arrested no Rakhine so far.

20 Nov: From the evening, eight acres of paddy field around the pound of Auk Paiketay (fishing village) were burnt down by Rakhine people.

From the evening around 19:00pm of 16 Nov, more than 5,000 Rakhines surrounded the fishing village of Rohingya and asking the military guards to leave from the village. They entered through walking form various sides of the villages and began attackings of the village. They loudly announced to cleans by setting fire of the remaining all Rohingya villages across Southern Arakan. As a result of aggressive actions, additional military forces are deployed there that forced Rakhines leaved the village the following morning 7:00am.
In Foeyda village, Rakhines confronted against the military forces therefore the forces opened fires several warning shots..
Again from the evening of 17 Nov, thousands of Rakhines are surrounding the Fishing village and the attacks would be developed by night, they told.

Myebon town
19 Nov: Two Rohingya youths from Taungbo Quarter going for fishing in the afternoon, were brutally beaten up by a group of Rakhine in the farming field of Alaypaine Quarter (Central Quarter). The two Rohingya fishermen were found dead in the filed.

The members of Rakhine party RNDP followed by local high ranking authority hold talks with the displaced muslim people. The authorities said that the Rakhine people do not want to stay together with muslim people so that all muslim people of the town have to choose voluntary relocation to the other area is only option.
The muslim people reiterated about how they were ambushed and about thousand of their houses burnt down in all the three villages of Alaypaine Quarter, Kartarthwar Quarter and Taungbo Quarter where about 30 muslims killed on the night of 23 Nov soon after the local Rakhine leaders plus monks approached to enhance to trust over its neighbour Rakhines.
The displaced homeless muslims therefore replied the authorities that they too are no longer safe nor willing to stay there any more and they sought relocation to Sittwe town or central Burma.

Rohingya Pond Poisoned in Extermination Bid, Says Phuket

Phuketwan, November 22, 2012

PHUKET: At least one village pond in Burma has been poisoned as attempts to exterminate Rohingya Muslims continue, a Phuket-based Rohingya said today.

The man talks by mobile telephone each day with relatives in the village of Muangtaw, in Burma’s troubled Rakhine State.

”My family tells me that the whole village has been warned not to drink or bathe using water from the pond,” he said.

”They say it was poisoned this week, after President Obama’s speech.” Villagers are struggling to find alternative sources of water.

US President Barack Obama made a strong plea in a historic speech in Rangoon on Monday for Burmese to view diversity as a strength, and for an end to violence against the Rohingya ”for the sake of this country’s future.”

Greater freedoms under civilian rule in Burma have so far intensified the race hatred against the Rohingya, with two outbreaks of community violence in Rakhine state since June leaving about 200 people dead, villages torched and tens of thousands in refugee camps.

The Rohingya are denied citizenship in Burma. As stateless people they are also treated poorly if they attempt to flee to neighboring Bangladesh or Thailand.

President Obama used his visit to Burma – the first by a US president – to add his weight to calls for an end to racist behavior.

”For too long, the people of this state, including ethnic Rakhine, have faced crushing poverty and persecution,” he said. ”But there is no excuse for violence against innocent people.”

If the report of the poisoning of a key water source for Rohingya is true, the president’s message may have failed to impress those to whom it was directed.

Aid organisations say that at least one boat a day has been putting to sea from Bangladesh or northern Burma since October as Rohingya men and boys seek sanctuary in Malaysia.

At least one of the boats, containing 112 passengers, landed in Phang Nga, north of Phuket, earlier this month. The men and boys on board are said to have been quickly ”expelled.”

Phuket has a small Rohingya community, mostly of men who have married Thais. Burmese workers in Phuket are said to be as prejudiced against Rohingya on Phuket as their counterparts are inside Burma.

Maungdaw south burning just after US President Obama departure

Source Kaladanpress, 19 Nov

Maungdaw, Arakan state: A group of Rakhines from Kanbay Natala –news shelter villager- together with Burmese border security force (Nasaka) are setting on fire to Horsara under Zaw Matet village tract – a Rohingya village, today, according to a village elder.

“The Horsara village is situated near the Maungdaw- Aley Than Kyaw highway and beside a new shelter village (natala) and Nasaka outpost under Nasaka area number 7. The Nasaka always harass the Rohingya villagers and the travelers on this road. With them, the new shelter also giving trouble to Rohingya community who pass this point.”

“The village has more than 58 houses and the Nasaka personnel have already driven out from the village with open fire, then the Rakhines set on fire the village at 20:00 hour after listening the news at 20:00 hour from Burma broadcasting service.

In the news, there was US President Barak Obama speech which mention about Rohingya that become angry the Rakhine where they set on fire the village and the security force didn’t do any things while set on fire but, fire on Rohingya when they tried to save their village, said a victim from the village.

“For too long, the people of this state, including ethnic Rakhine, have faced crushing poverty and persecution. But there’s no excuse for violence against innocent people,” Obama told a packed audience for a speech at Yangon University.

“The Rohingya … hold within themselves the same dignity as you do, and I do. National reconciliation will take time, but for the sake of our common humanity, and for the sake of this country’s future, it’s necessary to stop incitement and to stop violence.”

Thein Sein, in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week, promised to tackle the root causes of the problem, and Obama said he welcomed “the government’s commitment to address the issues of injustice, and accountability, and humanitarian access and citizenship”.

The massage of radio made angry the Rakhine and its supporter, set on fire the Rohingya village to show the reaction of Obama statement, said a student from Maungdaw south.

“The Burmese president—who previously told the UN it should take responsibility for finding homes in third countries for the Rohingyas. But on November 16, condemned the “senseless violence” between the Muslim Rohingya community and Rakhine Buddhists, and blamed the unrest on extremists. Therefore, the performance of President on Rohingya community is not stable and increased security measure across the Arakan State after giving international pressure. But, it does not ensure the security of Rohingya community.”

The Rohingya villagers now become homes less and haven’t able to stay and the Maungdaw authority didn’t recognized IPDs to this Rohingya. Where will they go, they will not allow to enter their village by Nasaka. The UN staffs also didn’t able to give any help to this people as there are so many Rohingyas IDPs in Maungdaw but no get any support from any NGOs or any Organization, said a NGOs staff from Maungdaw.

Speech by US President Obama at Yangon University

Source Rohingyablogger, 19 Nov


Office of the Press Secretary

Asylum Seeker Roundup begins in Australia – Raids, Re-detentions and Deportation.

by Pamela Curr,

Immigration raids and re-detentions have begun across Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide this weekend. Immigration cars are watching houses where people are living lawfully on community detention conditions and bridging visas. There is fear among community based asylum seekers as those called to appointments are then seized and taken back to detention centres. These are men who have been detained in isolated detention centres already for more than two years which compounds their terror of being taken again.

When one person in a house goes to a DIAC (Immigration) and then does not return it sends fear into those left behind. In some instances they then have gone to stay elsewhere because they are unable to bear the waiting for their turn to come when they too will be taken. One man tried to return to get his papers on the weekend but saw the DIAC cars waiting for him so he spent the night in a park in fear. Other men who have cases filed in the court so cannot by law be deported and who would not normally be detained, have been told that they will be locked up no matter what. Their house has been raided three times since Friday.

The ordinary rules have changed. DIAC orders are now to raid, capture and detain those on community detention. In addition there are a large number of Hazaras whose bridging visas cease on the 29th November and who are being told to go to DIAC offices with an airline ticket and passport for return to Afghanistan.

Currently there are three legal cases on foot which may affect these men’s status. It would seem that DIAC are acting before this can happen.

The two groups at risk are the Tamil and Hazara asylum seekers. The common factors in their cases are that they have not had a fair go. These cases were judged under the IMR system which has been discontinued and discredited. Some of the reviewers have been named in Court as showing “bias” and criticised for the decisions they handed down. There was no redress for those whose cases did not get to the court but who were refused by the same reviewer on the same spurious grounds. An unofficial, un- documented PRE process which was put together to quietly fix the terrible decisions only operated from BOAT 175 onwards. This has left a pool of people who fell outside both the faulty system and the faulty system fix. The difficulty in finding a lawyer and get to court because they were detained in far off WEIPA or Curtin detention centres has further cruelled any chance for a fair go.

These men also missed out on the Complementary protection provision which was introduced in March this year. This means that their cases were not examined against the torture convention or other international human rights conventions leaving them further at risk. Political edict saw the acceptance rates of Hazaras go from 99% in 2009/2010 to 30% in 2010/2011 be ministerial decree as the boat numbers grew. We have seen the same cases detailing persecution on grounds of ethnicity, religion and political belief dismissed because of political considerations when if they had arrived six months earlier they would have been accepted. The statistical evidence screams politics rather than fair assessment in the treatment of these men.

What is most egregious about the kangaroo court injustice they have received is revealed in reading their cases. We see case after case where the reviewer says that they accept that the asylum seeker is a “credible witness”, that the reviewer accepts that Family members were killed by the Taliban, that brothers and fathers disappeared at the hands of the Taliban, that the letters threatening them are genuine but still they refuse them on the grounds that they can “relocate” elsewhere or on the grounds of the DFAT cable which claims that Hazaras are experiencing a “golden age”. It is unbelievable that such bare faced political concoctions can be used to dismiss refugee applications but this is the reality.

NO SPIN OR GLOSS CAN HIDE THE FACT that people are about to be sent home to die for Australian political purposes.

PS Enablers in DIAC and the Government have got around the fact that the Afghan Ambassador, a decent man , has not obliged by providing travel documents to return Hazaras to Kabul. Enablers have found someone in Kabul the capital of corruption who is obliging!
The Australian government’s cosy relationship with the SriLankan embassy and lashings of cash to the SL government for boats and surveillance equipment has been rewarded with compliance.

The Crisis of Kyauktaw town in the mid of intl pressure

By NDPHR(exile),

From the evening 19:00pm of 16 Nov, more than 5,000 Rakhines surrounded the fishing village of Rohingya and asking military guards to leave from the village. They entered through walking form various sides of the villages and tried to attacks the villagers. They loudly announced to expel by setting fire of the remaining all Rohingya villages in Southern Arakan. Base on aggressive condition, additional military forces are deployed there that forced Rakhines leaved the village the following morning 7:00am.

In Foeyda village, Rakhines confronted against the military forces therefore the forces opened fires several warning shots..

Again from the evening of 17 Nov, thousands of Rakhines are surrounding the Fishing village and the attacks would be developed by night, they told.

Burma: CSW Urges President Obama to Encourage Further Reform

London, 17 November, (

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) urges US President Barack Obama to raise constitutional and legislative reform, religious freedom and the need to end conflicts and begin a peace process with ethnic nationalities, during his official trip to Asia on 17 November, which will include a visit to Burma.

CSW is also calling on President Obama to press for the release of all remaining political prisoners in Burma. According to media reports, earlier this week the Burmese government released more than 450 prisoners as a goodwill gesture ahead of President Obama’s visit, however there are concerns that no political prisoners are among them.

Reuters reports that President Obama is expected raise the issue of ongoing ethnic violence in Burma’s Rakhine State “directly with the leadership”. US Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ), along with 20 other members of the Senate and House, have written a bi-partisan letter to President Obama urging him to underscore current human rights atrocities in Burma that threaten future peace and stability.

CSW urges President Obama to press the Burmese government to intervene decisively to end the violence in Rakhine and Kachin states and allow unhindered access for international aid and humanitarian assistance to the affected areas. A peace process and political dialogue between the government and ethnic nationalities must be established in ethnic states where there are ongoing conflicts. Religious freedom is also a concern in the predominantly Christian Chin State, where the Chin are often discriminated against or ill-treated on the dual basis of ethnicity and religion. A recent report by the Chin Human Rights Organisation outlined a decades-long pattern of religious freedom violations, including more than 40 separate incidents of torture or ill-treatment.

The Burmese government should also be encouraged to continue with constitutional and legislative reform in the interests of democracy, including the repeal of the 1982 Citizenship Law, which effectively stripped the Rohingya of their citizenship and rendered them stateless.

Mervyn Thomas, CSW’s Chief Executive, said, “We welcome President Obama’s visit as a valuable opportunity to deliver some very clear and key messages to the Government of Burma: that the reforms already underway deserve recognition and encouragement, but that there is still a very, very long way to go. Until the conflict in Kachin State and the violence in Rakhine State end; until there is a genuine peace process with ethnic nationalities, involving a political dialogue to find a political solution to decades of civil war; until the citizenship of everyone born in Burma is respected and protected; until all prisoners of conscience are released; and until there is freedom of religion or belief for all people in Burma, we cannot speak of true and lasting change.”

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas further added, “The situation is fragile, and we urge President Obama to use his visit to promot e peace and human rights for all the people of Burma. We welcome the letter by members of the US Congress, and hope that the President will take up the issues raised as a priority during his visit. There are two dangers at the moment: premature euphoria, and entrenched cynicism – both of which could undermine the chance of genuine change in Burma. President Obama has a unique opportunity to really make a difference for the people of Burma who have suffered so much for so long.”

Rohingya Refuse to Register as ‘Bengali’

Source Irrawaddy news, 13 Nov

Rohingya Muslim family in Pawtauk Township, Arakan State. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy

Thousands of Rohingya Muslims in Pauktaw Township, Arakan (Rakhine) State, have refused to sign government-issued registration forms in order to push for recognition as an official minority.

Chris Lewa, the director of the Arakan Project humanitarian group which works for Rohingya rights, told The Irrawaddy that local people are not happy that the authorities erased the term “Rohingya” from completed forms and instead replaced it with “Bengali.”

Almost all members of the Muslim Rohingya minority in Pauktaw Township have since refused to cooperate with the fortnight-old registration process which was ostensibly initiated to get accurate numbers for the different communities present there.

Local people feared that they would be declared illegal migrants and deported if they registered under the loaded term “Bengali,” which used by many Burmese in the belief that the Rohingya are illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh. This claim is vehemently denied by the Rohinyga who highlight that many of their community have lived in Burma for generations.

Border authorities, Burmese soldiers, immigration officials, police and Arakanese politicians from the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) have been attempting a house-to-house registration procedure to check personal details.

A field report from the Arakan Project revealed that from the very first day those who refused to use the term “Bengali” were removed from the survey.

On Saturday, Rohingya in Set Kyi Pyin Village informed the local authorities that they would only sign the forms if United Nations and Association of Southeast Asian Nations representatives were present as witnesses, according to the Arakan Project.

Meanwhile, Thet Tun, a MP for the RNDP in the Arakan State Parliament, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that the term “Rohingya” was invented. “They are Bengali, but they do not accept it any more now and they only accepted the term Rohingya,” he said.

Thet Tun added that around 1,800 displaced people at a refugee camp In Nget Chaung Village refused to cooperate with the authorities and register unless they were allowed to be called Rohingya.

The Arakan Project accused the local authorities of forcing people to sign the registration form by threatening that they otherwise would not receive clothes for their children or help rebuilding burned houses.

The Arakan State government formed a committee last month to register every township in its boundaries. From this body, 15 separate groups attempted the village-to-village registration process in Pauktaw Township.

Individuals being surveyed were presented with a four-page form. The first details name, age, village, occupation, education, marital status, race and possessed documents. The second has ancestral details, grandparents, great-grandparents and immigration information. The third includes criminal convictions or proceedings, while the final page is for a signature or fingerprint.

There are 135 official ethnic groups in Burma according to the widely-condemned 1982 citizenship law enacted by former dictator Gen Ne Win. The Rohingya are not included amongst this number and have faced restrictions on travel, marriage and reproduction as a consequence.

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