Monthly Archives: February 2013

More than 100 Rohingya rescued off Indonesian coast


Source DVB, 27 February 2013Ethnic Rohingya people from Myanmar wait inside a police truck for identification by immigration personnel in Lhokseumawe

Rohingya people from Burma wait inside a police truck for identification by immigration personnel in Lhokseumawe, Indonesia on 27 February 2013. (Reuters)

Fishermen have rescued more than 100 ethnic Rohingya asylum seekers from Burma who were found drifting in a wooden boat off western Indonesia, an official said Wednesday.

The 121 Rohingya, including six women and two children, were found adrift late Tuesday by fishermen around 25 kilometres (15 miles) from the village of Cot Trueng, on the northernmost tip of Sumatra island in Aceh province.

“Their boat ran out of petrol as they tried to sail from Myanmar [Burma] to Thailand,” village chief Mukhtar Samsyah told AFP , adding that they had fled Burma to escape sectarian conflict.

He said the Rohingya were found in a weak condition but had recovered after being given food, water and a place to sleep.

“They’ve all been sent to an immigration detention centre in Lhokseumawe city,” he said.

The UN considers the Rohingya, a stateless Muslim ethnic group, one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, while Burma views its roughly 800,000 Rohingya as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, denying them citizenship.

According to government statistics, Buddhist-Muslim unrest in Arakan has left at least 180 people dead and more than 110,000 displaced since June 2012.

Almost 6,000 Rohingya fleeing the violence have illegally entered Thai waters since October, the Thai army said earlier this month.

In late January, Thailand’s navy blocked more than 200 Rohingya boat people from entering the kingdom as part of a new crackdown on the refugees, under which they will be given food and water but barred from landing if their boat is seaworthy.

The tougher stance came after Thai authorities said they were investigating allegations that army officials were involved in the trafficking of Rohingya.

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Australia Breaches the Rights of Refugees


by James,

Unbelievably, despite Australia seem to promote human rights once it has become member of Security Council, the government and immigration authority are openly committing human rights abuses in humanitarian chapter and also engaging its counterpart countries such as Nauru and Papua New Guinea (PNG) to commit similar crimes.

Since the Australian government has changed its legislation in regard to boatpeople arrivals and approved Pacific Solution’, all boatpeople arrivals from 13 Aug 2012 are being bound for Nauru and Manus Islands. However the policy clearly distinct or discriminate based on nationalities that only some of asylum-seekers such as dark-skin Tamil and unwanted Middle East asylum-seekers are mostly transferred. While the rest majority are instantly and respectively released into community therefore asylum-seekers who are languished in those islands, response with non-stop hunger strikes, lip stitching and form of self-harms..

Indeed, little countries such as Nauru and PNG do not have legal right to swab or detain refugees and asylum-seekers. The corrupt governments are looking for more financial benefits rather than humanity goal that is why they are breaching International and domestic Laws.

Reliable source claims up to date from 13 Aug, at least 942 Srilankan asylum-seekers arrived by boats were forcefully deported without accessing of their asylum claim. Whereas, the department fancily claims about 200 of them were sent through voluntarily. The deportation deal is approved between puppet minister Chris Bowen and Srilankan crime government.

Moreover, there are Ms. Ranjini (a mum with 3 kids) and 55 others including four stateless Burmese Rohingyans also found to genuine refugees, have been facing arbitrary detention after Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) selectively issued adverse security clearance without credibility and well founded reason. It is publicly questionable about consistency of security processing when many bogus refugees were released earlier than genuine one after how their fake critiria established and given positive clearance. It is being worse than cases of Guantanamo detainees have right to know the reason but ASIO rejected refugees don’t have and the government will not tell them why either.
A High Court ruling in October held that the government cannot keep them in detention simply on the basis of the ASIO negative finding. Yet the government is still dragging its feet on reviewing their cases and they remain in detention with no indication of when any of them might be released.

By laws refugees who are deemed by ASIO can be transferred to any third country. However, the government and the immigration department have not yet taken such a mandated step for these refugees. As well as, applications of some of them who have biological relatives in a third country, are also practically not processed by the immigration department. For the pride of ASIO and the government, their lives therefore are being imprisoned and ended up in uncertainty.

The rights of refugees and asylum-seekers exist only in Refugee Conventions but it is being proved not a practical one. Australian government funded concern quarters such as Refugee Council, Federal Ombudsman, Human Rights Commission and internationally ranking Federal Police Department (AFP) in Australia are silent over on going crime of arbitrary detention against humanity.

UNHCR is failed again in protection of its own refugees even in signatory country. The world body UN is silent again in such matter when it has failed to stop humanitarian crises around the world.

Rohingyas not ‘illegal immigrants’ in Myanmar, say Nobel laureates


Source Mizzima, 21 Feb

The charge that the Rohingya are illegal immigrants to Myanmar is false, say Jose Ramos-Horta and Muhammed Yunus, respectively the 1996 and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winners.On November 20, 2012, President Ramos-Horta (left) visited the Yunus Centre and Grameen Bank with fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus. (Photo: ramoshorta.com) “There is evidence that the Rohingya have been in present-day Myanmar since the 8th century,” they said, writing for the Huffington Post. “It is incontrovertible that Muslim communities have existed in [Rakhine] State since the 15th century, added to by descendants of Bengalis migrating to Arakan [Rakhine] during colonial times.”

The comments by Ramos-Horta, the former President of Timor-Leste, and Bangladeshi banker and philanthropist Yunus are sure to raise eyebrows in Myanmar where historical facts surrounding the origin of the Rohingya community are hotly contested.

“The minority Muslim Rohingya continue to suffer unspeakable persecution, with more than 1,000 killed and hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes just in recent months, apparently with the complicity and protection of security forces,” the laureates wrote.

Ramos-Horta and Yunus also criticized Myanmar’s 1982 Citizenship Law which failed to recognize the Rohingyas as citizens of the country, and condemned the travel, marriage and reproduction restrictions imposed on the Rohingyas by the State. The pair called for the Myanmar government to protect the Rohingyas and welcome them as full citizens of the country.

The outspoken support for the Muslim Rohingya minority group comes in stark contrast to the silence and refusal to become embroiled in the situation of a fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate—Myanmar’s own Aung San Suu Kyi.

It also contrasts with a comment made by Deputy Immigration and Population Minister Kyaw Kyaw Win who, speaking at the House of Representatives in Naypyitaw on Thursday, said that “there is no so-called Rohingya ethnic race in Myanmar,” according to a report in the state-run media.

Myanmar asylum seekers say they floated 25 days, and 97 died before rescue in Sri Lanka


Source foxnews, 22 Feb

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Myanmar asylum seekers rescued by Sri Lanka’s navy last week say they floated for 25 days at sea and 97 people died of starvation after Thailand’s navy intercepted them and forcibly removed their boat’s engine. The Thai navy has denied the allegation.

Thirty-two men and a boy now held at an immigration detention center near Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, were rescued last Saturday when their dilapidated wooden vessel began sinking while making a perilous journey to Malaysia.

All are Rohingya Muslims who face heavy discrimination in Myanmar, and say they do not want to return there.

The survivors were suffering from serious dehydration when they were rescued about 400 kilometers (250 miles) off Sri Lanka’s east coast. The Sri Lankan navy said they were alerted to the sinking vessel by a fisherman.

"The journey was dangerous, but we had to do that … as we fear for our lives, no jobs, and big fighting" in Myanmar, one of the survivors, Shofiulla, told The Associated Press.

Sectarian violence in western Myanmar has killed hundreds of people and displaced 100,000 more since last June. The Rohingya speak a Bengali dialect and resemble Bangladeshis, with darker skin than most people in Myanmar, which is mostly Buddhist. They are widely regarded as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

The United Nations estimates the Rohingya population in Myanmar at 800,000, but the Myanmar government does not recognize them as one of the country’s 135 ethnic groups. Most are denied citizenship and have no passports, though many of their families have lived in the country for generations. Bangladesh also refuses to accept them as citizens.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees expressed concern Friday over the rising number of deaths of Rohingya at sea and urged Myanmar’s government to promote reconciliation in conflict-hit Rakhine state and ensure them basic living conditions and eventual access to citizenship.

While commending the Sri Lankan navy’s quick response, UNHCR also said there are continuing reports of some countries in the region putting boat people back to sea. It asked countries to "keep their borders open to people in need of international protection … (and) offer them temporary assistance and protection until durable solutions can be found."

Shofiulla, 24, said 130 people were on the boat when the journey to Malaysia began on Jan. 10. Each had paid $465.

After 10 days’ travel, he said the boat reached the Thai border and two boats from the Thai navy intercepted them. Shofiulla said the navy personnel took their engine.

"Then we (had) no food, no rations … no water. We drank only sea water," he said, adding that the bodies of the 97 who died over the next 25 days were put into the sea.

Col. Thanathip Sawangsaeng, a Thailand Defense Ministry spokesman, denied the allegations.

"This is absolutely not true. The Thai navy officers would have not done that," he said, adding that similar accusations have arisen in the past, including claims that the Thai navy had abused refugees. "The Royal Thai Navy commander has previously made it clear that the Thai officers have treated the boat people according to humanitarian principles." "There are two approaches in handling the Rohingya: giving them food and help before letting them carry on their sea journey or prosecute them for illegal entry. However, it’s not possible that the Thai navy would have done what they were alleged of doing."

The Thai army said last month that it had suspended two senior officers pending an investigation into their alleged involvement in trafficking Rohingya people from Myanmar to other countries.

Shofiulla said he is a second-year student studying microbiology, but that his university was closed last July after the violence erupted. "We can’t go back to our country … our government kills Muslims … we are afraid to go back. We want to go to a safe place," said Shofiulla, who appeared to be the only English-speaking person in the group.

He said they wanted to go to Malaysia to find jobs, following in the footsteps of others from his village. He said 25 people were now in the detention center while eight others were still hospitalized.

Sri Lankan Immigration and Emigration Controller Chulananda Perera said his department has informed Myanmar’s embassy in Colombo and is seeking its cooperation in identifying the survivors to begin the process of sending them back but has not received a response.

There was no immediate comment from the embassy.

___

Associated Press writer Thanyarat Doksone in Bangkok, Thailand, contributed to this report.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/02/22/myanmar-asylum-seekers-say-floated-25-days-and-7-died-before-rescue-in-sri/#ixzz2LjW5TTH1

Religious attack in Rangoon wreaks havoc on local community


Source DVB,

21 Februaryruins
A screenshot of a Muslim school in Thaketa township, Rangoon after being assaulted by a mob on 18 February 2013. (DVB)

A local Burmese community has been left terrified after an angry mob of 300 Buddhists viciously attacked a Muslim school and several businesses in a suburb outside Rangoon earlier this week, according to local sources.

It follows news that hundreds of Buddhist nationalists launched a violent assault on a religious school in Thaketa township on Sunday, after it applied for permission to have its roof repaired. Reports suggest that the mob believed the building was being developed into a mosque.

On Monday, the mob returned to ransack businesses and homes, including hurling bricks and abuse at petrified locals. The violence has spread fear and confusion among local Muslims, who say they have never before had any problems with their Buddhist neighbours. Most of the people DVB interviewed did not believe that the vandals had come from the local community.

“Some [shady-looking] characters arrived in a truck – about three or four of them jumped out carrying sticks, blended into the crowd and began shouting stuff,” a local witness told DVB. “Then a whistle blew from the truck and the three guys in the crowd yelled “get them!” and rallied the crowd [to attack].”

Many local families told DVB they are still too afraid to sleep in their homes and don’t understand why their community was attacked. Over 20 families reportedly fled the area, even though riot police were quickly deployed on the ground.

“We were afraid so we left,” explained a 35-year-old mother. “At night the children don’t sleep, they don’t study. When I leave them at school now they are still shaking with fear.”

A spokesperson for the Islamic Religious Affairs Council Myanmar told DVB that the Muslim school had recently sought approval to renovate its roof, but because the structure had exceeded its permitted height by five feet, the municipal authority subsequently withdrew its authorisation. Rumours then quickly circulated that the school was being built into a mosque.

“I assume they misunderstood about the building – [Muslims] are required to wash themselves before reading the religious text so there are water taps [wash rooms] in Muslim schools,” said Wunna Shwe. “And according to our religious teachings – we have to pray at the prayer time.”

Police confirmed to DVB that four people were detained after the violence – none of which were identified as locals – but were released on Thursday. But Wunna Shwe insisted that both residents and outsiders were likely involved in the violence, which has the potential to trigger further religious tensions in the capital.

Reports suggest that local media, as well as prominent public personalities, played a role in stirring the hostilities. In an article published on 17 December, The Voice Weekly published accusations that a mosque was being developed and quoted inflammatory remarks by the controversial monk Wirathu, who has repeatedly spearheaded Islamophobic campaigns in Burma.

“It is true. [Muslims] are sneakily building mosques at night time,” he told the The Voice Weekly. “There are plenty of those mosques in Burma containing cellars and tunnels underneath like military bases.”

The article was later removed without explanation.

Over the past year, Burma has come under international scrutiny for its treatment of Muslim residents – notably the stateless Rohingya in western Burma, who clashed with local Buddhists in two bouts of violence last year. But this is the first major episode of religious violence to spill into the heart of the capital, which also hosts a large Muslim population.

“Burma has been a country where people of different religious beliefs live together in harmony and it is sad to see we have to be like this to each other when we are living in the age of openness and transparency; what everyone longed for,” said Wunna Shwe.

-Aye Nai contributed reporting.

Horror at Sea: 98 Bodies Thrown Overboard as Boatpeople Perish from Thirst, Starvation


Source Phuketwan, 19 Feb

PHUKET: Survivors of a Burmese deathship, saved after two months adrift, have told of throwing 98 bodies overboard as their fellow companions perished.

The 31 men and a boy who were rescued 463 kilometres from land by the Sri Lankan Navy said they originally set sail two months ago from northern Burma for Indonesia or Australia.

Instead, the suspected Rohingya found themselves languishing on the Indian Ocean, dying one by one of thirst or starvation or dehydration in a nightmare voyage.

The rescue of survivors is likely to throw into sharp media focus the core cause – Burma’s ethnic cleansing of its Muslim minority Rohingya – and the lack of an international policy to stop the slaughter.

”They said they had carried food and water for only one month and they had been in the sea for two months after the ship engine stalled,” police spokesman Prishantha Jayakody told Reuters in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital.

”Their captain and 97 others have died due to dehydration and starvation. They also said they had thrown the dead bodies into the sea.”

Thousands of boatpeople have set out in record numbers, since October especially, to sail past Phuket to sanctuary in Malaysia, knowing that many boats sink but determined to sail because life in Burma can’t get any worse.

The saga of the people rescued off Sri Lanka this week adds a new and horrible dimension of death by thirst and starvation at sea.

Most of the boats leaving from northern Burma still carry just men and boys but boats departing from further south around the troubled township of Sittwe now also carry women and children.

Two boatloads of Rohingya have fetched up off Phuket in recent weeks. The first, apprehended off southern Phuket on January 1, carried women and 10 children aged under 10.

They were taken ashore on compassionate grounds, trucked north quickly and put bach on another boat by authorities within 48 hours.

The second boatload consisting of 205 men and boys was apprehended off Racha island, south of Phuket, on Janauary 29, and ”helped on” straight away by the Royal Thai Navy with extra water.

The word has since reached the people smuggling brokers in Burma that Thailand is no longer bringing boatpeople to shore, sticking instead to its ”help on” policy.

India is now believed to have adopted the same policy. Australia, on the other hand, has the equivalent of a ”pushback” policy designed to repel boatloads of queue-jumping would-be immigrants.

Thailand dropped that ”pushback” policy in 2009 after hundreds of Rohingya perished at sea off Indonesia and India’s Andaman and Nicobar islands.

Without an international approach to force Burma to end the violence against the stateless Rohingya and grant them some basic rights, the horrors at sea will continue.

140 Rohingya refugees arrested in Penang National Park


Source nst, 18 Feb

BALIK PULAU: Some 140 Rohingya refugees starved for three days, before 35 of them, including children, were arrested in the jungle of the Penang National Park today.

Aged between a year old to 70s, they were arrested about 3pm after they were found loitering around the Teluk Kampi beach, and are believed to have entered the country’s waters by using a barge 13 days ago.

When met, one of the refugees, Mohamad Rovic, 26, said they had to get off the boat and wander around for shelter, with some having run away into the woods.

He said there were those who went hungry for three days due to fear of being arrested by the authorities.

"I came here to find my brothers who have been working here for a while. I don’t want to go back home as it feels much safer here and I also want to find a job," he said.

Meanwhile, Southwest district police chief Superintendent Mohd Hatta Mohd Zin confirmed their arrests and said police were now searching intensively for the others.

He said operations are still ongoing and those detained were brought to the district police headquarters for further checks before being handed over to the Immigration Department.

He added that police were also assisted by the Wildlife Protection and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) as well as the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).

"For the time being the operations at the park are ceasing until the remaining Rohingyas are found," he said.

Read more: 140 Rohingya refugees arrested in Penang National Park – Latest – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/latest/140-rohingya-refugees-arrested-in-penang-national-park-1.220680?cache=03%3Fpage%3D0#ixzz2LUukSnog

300 Buddhists Attacked A Muslim Religious School in Yangon


source M-mediagroup, 17 Feb

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A crowd of about 300 Buddhists attacked a Muslim Religious school in Yangon this morning. The crowd also attacked Muslims who tried to stop the violence.

The school is located between 18th and 19th street in Thar Ka Ta township. As permitted by the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the school has existed since 2001 and it now requires fixing the roof.

After receiving necessary permission from the municipal authority, the school administrators started repairing the roofs. But the Section In-charge or Sae Ein Mu (literal meaning: the person who is in-charge of 10 houses) was upset about it, and some extremists started the attack, followed by other residents.

A Buddhist eyewitness said, “The crowd attacked the school by saying ‘Kalar are perky. They are trying to make the small one into a big one. They can’t do like that. Kalars have to be kicked out from the land of Myanmar’”.

During the attack, there were two police. They told the crowd that the school would be demolished after two weeks, but the crowd did not listen.

M-Media learns that the mob also attacked a Muslim man who was then saved by the police.

Tin Maung Than, secretary general of Islamic Affairs Council who was also a member of the Arakan conflict investigation commission, arrived in the area and asked Sae Ein Mu about the event.

Being upset, Sae Ein Mu said ‘attack, attack’ and some members of the crowd punched and attacked Tin Maung Than and his colleague, Zaw Min Latt.

According to a representative from a Muslim organization, five major Muslim organizations in Myanmar are holding a meeting about the violence today. They will address the case and also report it to Nay Pyi Daw.

The organizations are also discussing about The Voice Weekly Journal’s erratic reporting. Instead of saying the roof repair, The Voice reported as ‘building a new mosque’, leading to public anger.

The Buddhist majority in Myanmar are against the existence of mosques, leave alone building new ones. The Voice’s false report frustrated the public.

Nyi Win, a Yangon resident, told M-Media, “The Voice posted photos about today case on its Facebook network, captioning it to be about the construction of a new mosque”.

He added that public swearing and anti-Muslim comments are appearing again on The Voice’s Facebook Page. Nyi Win is worried that anti-Muslim mobilization will spread across the country via the internet.
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He added that public swearing and anti-Muslim comments are appearing again on The Voice’s Facebook Page. Nyi Win is worried that anti-Muslim mobilization will spread across the country via the internet.

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Nearly 100 Myanmar nationals missing, Sri Lanka police told


Source Colombopage, 17 Feb

Feb 17, Colombo: The Myanmar nationals rescued by the Sri Lankan Navy yesterday had told the police that nearly 100 more Myanmar asylum seekers are missing at sea.

The 32 Myanmar asylum seekers have told the Galle police that 130 asylum seekers in three boats have set out to sea heading for Australia two months ago. It is not clear whether the boats had made the journey to Australia or lost at sea.

Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) rescued the 32 Myanmar nationals Saturday after receiving information about the asylum seekers from fishermen who spotted the sinking wooden boat in the deep seas 250 nautical miles east of Panama.

All 32 people have been brought Galle Harbor Sunday morning and rushed to the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital for treatment for acute dehydration, the Navy said. Four of them were critically ill, and the Navy medical personnel had provided emergency medical treatment to the rescued.

According to the Navy, the group, consisting of 31 adult males and a boy, had been at sea without food for 21 days when they were rescued in response to a request made by the Sri Lanka’s Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

SLN Offshore Patrol Vessel Sagara attached to the Southern Naval Command has carried out the rescue mission.

Earlier this month the Sri Lanka navy in a 20-hour search and rescue (SAR) operation rescued 138 Bangladeshi and Myanmar nationals who were at danger in a overcrowded wooden vessel that was sinking in the seas 50 nautical miles east of Oluwil.

** Related Story :: Sri Lanka Navy rescues 32 drifting Myanmar nationals

Over 600 illegal Rohingya migrants held in Thai raids


Source Reuters, 11 Feb

(Reuters) – At least 600 Rohingya Muslims believed to be illegal migrants from Myanmar have been detained in Thailand after two raids by the authorities near the border with Malaysia, police said on Friday.

More than 300 Rohingya were discovered on Tuesday in a building in the town of Sadao, while a second raid on Thursday at a rubber plantation near the border town of Pedang Besar uncovered 393 more, including 14 children and 8 women.

"These illegal migrants have been handed over to immigration authorities and will be deported back to Myanmar," Police Colonel Krissakorn Paleetunyawong, deputy commander of police in the area, told Reuters.

An estimated 800,000 Rohingyas live in Myanmar but are officially stateless. The Myanmar government denies them citizenship, regarding them as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, but Bangladesh does not recognize them as citizens either.

Hundreds make their way abroad each year by boat, especially to Malaysia, in search of a better life, an exodus given added impetus after recent sectarian violence between minority Rohingyas and majority Buddhist in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine.

The raids in southern Thailand were led by the army and police as part of what they call anti-human-trafficking operations.

"The Rohingyas were en route to Malaysia and the camp we found was used as a holding facility by middlemen paid to facilitate their journey," said Lieutenant Colonel Katika Jitbanjong of Padang Besar police station.

Last week, Thai authorities found 73 Rohingya boat people adrift near the holiday island of Phuket.

They sent the asylum seekers, who arrived in rickety and overcrowded boats, back to sea in Thai fishing boats, New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch said.

Various rights groups called then for the Thai government to scrap its policy of summarily deporting Rohingyas who land up in Thailand. In two separate incidents in 2008, the military pushed 992 Rohingya boat people back to sea without food and water and hundreds may have died, activists have said.

The United Nations estimates about 13,000 boat people, including many Rohingya, fled Myanmar and neighboring Bangladesh in 2012, a sharp increase from the previous year.

Thailand and Singapore refuse to provide asylum to members of the Muslim minority group while Bangladesh has closed its border to them.

"Thailand should scrap its inhumane policy of summarily deporting the Rohingya, who have been brutally persecuted in Burma, and honor their right to seek asylum," said Sunai Phasuk of Human Rights Watch.

(Editing by Alan Raybould and Robert Birsel)

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