Burma Briefing Rohingya citizenship: now or never?

Burma Briefing Rohingya citizenship: now or never?

23 July 2018.

The denial of citizenship to the Rohingya people is one of the foundation stones which underpins prejudice and violence against the Rohingya. By denying Rohingya citizenship, the government is officially saying that they are foreign to Burma, and do not belong in the country. In the mind of many in Burma this in turn justifies prejudice against them, and for some, even justifies the most horrific human rights violations. Challenging prejudice and changing attitudes may take generations to address but this process cannot begin until the citizenship issue is addressed. The single most important step the government of Burma can take to begin a process of ensuring safe return for Rohingya is to reform or replace the 1982 Citizenship Law and give citizenship to all Rohingya.

Rather than insisting on this, the international community has now returned to compromise language about ‘pathways to citizenship’ for the Rohingya.

There is no time left for this approach. In practice there may now only be a window of 12-18 months where the Rohingya citizenship issue could finally be addressed. After this time, the election cycle and political changes in the country may mean there will never again be the opportunity that exists right now.

Aung San Suu Kyi is probably at the peak of her powers. She won the last election with a huge landslide. As State Counsellor she is the most powerful person in the NLD-led government. Government Ministers are afraid to act within their portfolios without specific instructions from her. NLD MPs in Parliament are unable or unwilling to challenge to criticise government policies. She has an iron grip over her Ministers, her MPs and the NLD, the most popular political party in the country. Her reputation has fallen internationally, but within Burma she has not just the respect but also the trust and love of a huge number of people. She enjoys a level of admiration politicians in others countries can only dream of.

It is clear that Aung San Suu Kyi doesn’t want to change the 1982 Citizenship Law. If she wanted to, she could push through a change in the law at any time. She has the parliamentary majority she needs and the military could not stop her. The military have no desire for a coup over this issue. They know they would lose everything they have gained if they did. Sanctions would be re-imposed, the population would turn against them, their future at risk once again.

           There is no doubt that the majority of people in the country would be unhappy at Rohingya being given citizenship. It will cost votes, but how many? If it is in the direct run-up to the election it would have more of an impact. But if the law is changed this year, will it be what people are thinking about when they go to the polling stations in two years’ time? Unlikely. The uproar will have died down. People will find their lives haven’t changed for the worse because the Rohingya now have citizenship.

The military backed government tried to use Buddhist nationalism against the NLD in the last election, with Ma Ba Tha travelling the length and breadth of the country preaching how the NLD were servants of Muslims. It didn’t work. As one Rohingya activists described it, people went to the polls with hope, not hate, in their hearts. Prejudice against the Rohingya is endemic, but it isn’t the first concern people have when they wake up in the morning. If the government were to change the law enabling all Rohingya to have citizenship, and at the same time took action on those promoting hate speech as well as stopping their own anti-Rohingya and anti-Muslim propaganda, it would start to change the political atmosphere as well. This is essential for peace and reconciliation.

Only international pressure will persuade Aung San Suu Kyi to act on citizenship, but pressure is not being applied in the right direction. Instead, the focus regarding citizenship has been on implementing recommendations of the Rakhine Advisory Commission chaired by Kofi Annan.

On citizenship, the Rakhine Advisory Commission recommendations made last year were a compromise. The Commission was dominated by members from Burma, and Rohingya were excluded. At the time, it may have seemed like a success to get the recommendations on citizenship as strong as they were, and to have Aung San Suu Kyi commit to implementing them.

One year on though, the situation is different. One factor is the attitude of Aung San Suu Kyi herself, now more clearly revealed. Aung San Suu Kyi’s response to the two military offensives against the Rohingya and subsequent international criticism has been extreme. She has banned the UN Fact Funding Mission, the UN Special Rapporteur, and human rights activists and journalists from the country. She has supported repression of media and journalists critical of government policy or exposing human rights violations. She has gone ahead with plans for giant prison camps for returning Rohingya, built in part with money stolen from a World Bank grant intended for disaster relief. It is clear the intention is not to implement this recommendation, but rather draw out the process as long as possible. Government officials repeatedly state that they will not change the Citizenship Law.

These facts make it clear that the argument previously made that Aung San Suu Kyi was being restrained from action by public opinion are false. She and senior members of her government clearly share prejudice against the Rohingya. They are part of the problem. They are keeping and implementing discriminatory laws and policies against the Rohingya. Efforts to implement the Rakhine Commission recommendations lack transparency and do not appear to be being implemented beyond a tick box exercise to placate the international community.

Another factor is the political calendar within Burma.

Instead of a clear recommendation to reform or repeal the Citizenship Law and grant citizenship to Rohingya, the Rakhine Advisory Commission recommends that the Burmese government implements the current 1982 Citizenship Law.

This law violates international law and Burma’s treaty obligations, such as those in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Rakhine Commission itself admits this, stating: “Several aspects of the 1982 Citizenship Law are not in compliance with international standards and norms – such as the principle of non-discrimination under international law – as well as international treaties signed by Myanmar. Most notably, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).”

The Rakhine Commission, is therefore, urging the government of Burma to more fully implement a law that violates international law.

The Rakhine Commission recommendation of an “acceleration of the citizenship verification process…under the 1982 Citizenship Law” is unacceptable to Rohingya. There is no legal requirement for the government of Burma to have to go through this process. It’s another delaying tactic. A process that could be drawn out for years. Read more ›

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Time for int’l community to come forward for Rohingyas

 Time for int’l community to come forward for Rohingyas

Staff Correspondent | Update: 13:34, Jul 12, 2018

John Packer

The military junta in Myanmar has not only snatched away the citizenship of the Rohingyas in the country’s Rakhine state, but has been perpetuating killing and torture against them for the past four decades. The United Nations and other international institutions have been totally ineffective in addressing the problem, raising questions of their complicity.

Bangladesh, however, has displayed a positive moral stance by providing the Rohingyas with shelter. It is now time for Bangladesh to exert its position and tell the international community it is high time to come forward and do their share for the Rohingyas.

Such views were expressed by John Packer during a discussion held on the Rohingya issue at the Prothom Alo office on Wednesday. Packer is director of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre of Canada’s University of Ottawa and has past experience of working in various UN bodies. He said that what is happening to the Rohingyas is a well orchestrated violation of human rights for which the Myanmar government is responsible.

Also speaking at the discussion were Maung Zarni and retired major Emdadul Islam. Zarni, a democracy advocate and former research fellow at LSE, is the coodinator of the ‘Free Burma Coalition’. Major Emdad is a security expert of Bangladesh.

Maung Zarni

The discussants spoke on the prevailing situation in Myanmar, the country’s internal politics, the response of the neighbouring countries, initiatives by the United Nations and other international agencies regarding the predicament of the Rohingyas and Bangladesh’s stance. They said two issues loomed large before the Rohingya refugees – to return to their homeland in the Rakhine state with citizenship status and to seek justice for the crimes committed against them.

John Packer pointed out that 98 per cent of the Rohingyas who are being denied citizenship rights were born after the independence of Myanmar. They had been recognised as citizens up until 1982. The Myanmar rulers unilaterally snatched away their citizenship, violating all international laws in this regard.

Despite all these violations, two important countries, China and India, continue to appease Myanmar in their respective geopolitical an economic interests. Packer however, questioned the actual feasibility of investment in Myanmar, as the authorities there could at any time come down hard on the investors if they did not toe their line.

Maung Zarni strong condemned the role of the United Nations and its affiliated institutions. He said they failed to include the Rohingyas in any of their discussions about the Rohingyas.

He also criticised the recent secret MoU signed between UNDP, UNHCR and the Myanmar government which had been leaked. Nowhere in the document has the word ‘Rohingya’ been mentioned. There are also allegations against certain UN officials regarding their complicity in the actions being taken against the Rohingyas. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has failed to initiate any investigation against these accused officials.

Emdadul Islam

Zarni also strongly castigated Myanmar’s state counselor Aung San Suu Kyi. He said there was no democracy whatsoever in Myanmar, not even a fragile democracy. The military junta was using Suu Kyi as a smokescreen behind which to commit their atrocities.

Retired major Emdadul Islam felt that the present situation posed as a potential threat to regional security. He said till now the Rohingya community has not resorted to any form of violence. They have no say in Myanmar’s internal politics, they have never taken anyone hostage. Unless the repression of these people was halted immediately, the situation might give rise to regional unrest.

Presided over by Prothom Alo’s editor Matiur Rahman, the discussion was attended by senior journalists of the daily.

Topics: Human Rights Violation,  Rohingya,  Rohingya crisis,  Rohingya repatriation

Source: http://en.prothomalo.com/bangladesh/news/179579/Time-for-int%E2%80%99l-community-to-come-forward-for 

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The Newsmakers -Hla Kyaw Chairman of ERC

    The Newsmakers    Like Page  July 4 at 7:00 PM · 

‘Min Aung Hlaing said publically that the destruction of the Rohingya community is unfinished business of World War 2,’ Hla Kyaw Chairman of ERC and Co-ordinator in Free Rohingya Coalition.

Published on Jul 4, 2018

Watch the full debate https://youtu.be/c4cNFfgFGNE

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The Following are some of the Rohingya Refugee situation seen were drawn by Dr. Maung Zarni

The following contents are collected and edited by Ashraf Alam- Executive Editor of  www.rohingyasgenocide.com

The Following are some of the Rohingya Refugee situation seen were drawn                               by Dr. Maung Zarni while visiting Rohingya Refugee camps in early July 2018.

Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha . Dhaka | Published: 00:52, Jul 09, 2018

 Jatiya Sangsad speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury on Sunday said Myanmar will have to ensure safe, peaceful and sustainable repatriation of the Rohingyas by following a specific framework.
‘Bangladesh wants speedy and peaceful repatriation of the Rohingyas through international
and bilateral discussions…I urge the world community to take more steps to implement the repatriation process as soon as possible,’ she said when a delegation of right activists called on her at the
Jatiya Sangsad office here.
Internationally reputed human rights researcher Maung Zarni led the eight-member delegation.
The other members of the team included Michael Charney, Razia Sultana, Khin Mai Aung, Nurul Islam, Michimi Muranushi, Doreen Chan and Professor Frederick Jhon Packer, said an official press release.
Shirin said Bangladesh is continuing discussions with the Myanmar on the Rohingya repatriation issue.
She hoped that the Myanmar government will complete the repatriation process honouring the agreement signed by the two countries.
Zarni said the Myanmar government is not giving sufficient cooperation to implement the agreement though they (Myanmar) signed international and bilateral agreements on the Rohingya repatriation issue.
He hoped that the two neighbouring countries – China and India – would play a vital role over this, the release added.  More about: Rohingya, Rohingya Crisis


Maung Zarni is with Raziya Ahmed Mimi and 20 others.7 hrs · 

 We are a group of experts with intellectual and personal integrity, as well as with human compassion.We are all professionals in our chosen fields, and we stand on the platform called Free Rohingya Coalition.(Professor Michael W. Charney is not involved officially involved in FRC activism).

Our Expert Group at the National Parliament of Bangladesh, after our meeting with the Speaker Dr Shirin Shamin Chaudhury, Dhaka, 8 July 2018

From left to right: Professor John F. Packer of U. of Ottawa (formerly legal assistant to the 1st UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar 1991-92), Razia who is a Rohingya researcher and lawyer, His Holiness MZ, Khin Mai Aung who is Rakhine-Burmese American civil rights lawyer, Doreen Chen of Destination Justice and Lead Defence for Brother Number Two, Nurul Islam who is a long-time Rohingya rights campaigner and human rights lawyer and Professor Michael W. Charney

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Misses the central issue of citizenship

 12:00 AM, July 09, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:47 AM, July 09, 2018

June Agreement on Rohingya Crisis

Misses the central issue of citizenship

Rohingya refugees walk towards the Balukhali refugee camp after crossing the border in Ukhia. PHOTO: Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP

Tapan Bose

On June 6, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed an agreement with the government of Myanmar for the repatriation of some 700,000 Rohingya refugees now living in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. This minority ethnic group had been forcibly displaced from their homeland in Myanmar’s Rakhine State between August and December last year, when the country’s armed forces unleashed a reign of terror killing and raping hundreds of men and women and burning down village after village under the guise of counter-insurgency operations against a small armed group. To be clear, Rohingya insurgency is a much smaller movement compared to the other ethnic rebellions going on in Myanmar’s other regions. Yet the government had undertaken this massive terror campaign primarily to drive almost the entire ethnic group from the land of their birth and across the border into Bangladesh.

The UN has not made the terms of the agreement public. It didn’t reportedly hold any consultation with the representative organisations before signing the agreement. On June 27, during a presentation at the 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council, Yanghee Lee, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, said, “I note the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) recently signed between the Myanmar Government, UNHCR and UNDP in early June to assist the process of repatriation from Bangladesh. It is disconcerting that the MoU remains not publicly available and there has not been transparency about its terms.” There is no provision in the agreement that would oblige Myanmar government to ensure security and dignity of the Rohingyas after they return to Myanmar. There is nothing in the agreement about accountability for the horrific crimes committed against them by Myanmar’s generals and other members of the armed forces.

This is not the first time that the international community has decided to “betray” the Rohingyas. The “Slow Burning Genocide” of the Rohingyas has been going on for decades. But the West that controls the UN was not really concerned. Yes, there was a steady outflow of refugees. But this was limited within the region of South and South East Asia. Unlike the hundreds of thousands of Syrian, Iraqi and Libyan refugees, the Rohingyas were not swarming across the borders of the European countries. Europe was not threatened by the Rohingya influx.

The West had imposed “sanctions” on Myanmar. It was for the lofty ideals of “democracy”. It did not demand an end to the systematic ill-treatment of the Rohingyas and other minority communities of Myanmar. There can be no democracy without all citizens being able to participate equally in the governance of the country. This is the foundation of liberal democracy which the West boasts of having established. Yet, no Western leader had thought of including the restoration of equal rights to citizenship for all people of Myanmar in the agenda for negotiations for lifting the sanctions.

President Macron of France accused Myanmar government of committing genocide against the Rohingyas. Yet, France’s business community, including its oil and gas giant TOTAL, continues to do business in Myanmar. The EU talked about imposing sanctions, but the truth is that even today, there are about 300 EU investors with the combined portfolio of more than USD 6 billion in Myanmar, some in collaboration with private partners and others with various government departments. These companies are working in diverse areas including health care, energy, construction, automotive industries and digital innovation. Two military conglomerates and cronies of the generals have total control over Myanmar’s business interests even after the so-called “democratic reforms”. As we know, these generals are mainly responsible for spreading anti-Muslim hatred and whipping up mass hysteria among the Buddhist majority in the country.

The Myanmar Times on June 28 reported that the “EU is exercising more caution when making investment decisions involving Myanmar. This is due to recent instability at the country’s borders, including the ongoing refugee problems in Rakhine.” Nevertheless, Myanmar remains an important trade partner to the EU, and the latter’s interest to expand into the country remains robust.

The EuroCham-Myanmar, which is funded by the European Union, was formally launched in Yangon in December 2014, when Myanmar army was busy killing Rohingya men, raping their women and putting them in concentration camps. EuroCham-Myanmar promotes the business interests of European companies in Myanmar. Switzerland, Sweden and Norway are equally involved. While the Swiss are selling passenger aircrafts, Sweden’s Volvo is selling cars and commercial vehicles and Germany’s Mercedes Benz and BMW are providing luxury vehicles to Myanmar’s generals and the rich. Norway’s Telenor owns the biggest telecom network in Myanmar. Thanks to the efforts of Norway’s ambassador, Telenor was able to beat the Chinese, Japanese and South Korean companies in securing the contract from Myanmar army. Statsoil, a Norwegian oil exploration giant, has a stake in the natural gas exploration off the coast of Rakhine. In fact, Norway’s gigantic Pension Fund had led the opening of the floodgate of investments in Myanmar after the so-called “democratic reforms”, which have since been proven to be a charade.

There is also a host of American companies—about 130—doing business in Myanmar. The list includes Caterpillar, Coca-Cola, Ford, Pepsi, KFC and others engaged in diverse areas like oil and gas, insurance and information technology. About two weeks before the Myanmar army began its massacre of Rohingyas in Rakhine, Aung Naing Oo, director general at the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration and secretary of Myanmar Investment Commission, said, “We are in active discussions with Amcham Myanmar [American Chamber of Commerce in Myanmar] to facilitate trade and investment with the United States. We do hope the entry of US insurance companies in the near future, which will lead to millions of dollars surge in our list of FDI [foreign direct investment].” (The Nation, Bangkok, August 08, 2017)

Under the neo-liberal system, where promoting the private interests of the business community has become the primary responsibility of the governments, the lure of the “thirteen pieces of silver” will guide the policies of states. As long as the West continues to control the United Nations, with Russia and China aiding and abetting them, there is little chance that the United Nations will be able to live up to its charter.

In recent months, the human rights situation in Kachin and northern Shan States has worsened. Mass atrocity crimes continue to be reported. Over 120,000 Kachin and Shan civilians have been displaced since 2011. Thousands of people in Kachin State are trapped in conflict zones while access to humanitarian aid remains blocked in many conflict-affected areas. There is no mention in the UNHCR/UNDP/Myanmar agreement of the approximate 120,000 Rohingyas who are still languishing in concentration-camp-like situations inside Myanmar. Whatever may be said about the status of Rohingya refugees in refugee camps in Bangladesh, there is no doubt that they feel safe there. The question is how safe they will be once they are forced to go back under this agreement.

Tapan Bose is a writer and documentary filmmaker. He is a member of the Free Rohingya Coalition and is actively associated with the campaign “Protected return to protected homeland” for the Rohingya people.

Follow The Daily Star Opinion on Facebook for the latest opinions, commentaries and analyses by experts and professionals.  Related Topics: Rohingya crisis

Related Topics: Rohingya crisis

 Source: https://www.thedailystar.net/opinion/perspective/misses-the-central-issue-citizenship-1602046

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Plugged in With Greta Van Susteren.

Plugged in With Greta Van Susteren Migration – The World on the Move

11 July 2018  Voice of America – VOA posted an episode of 

Plugged in With Greta Van Susteren8 hrs · 

Voice of America – VOA posted an episode of Plugged in With Greta Van Susteren8 hrs · 

 More than three percent of the planet’s population does not live in the country they were born in. Human migration is as old as life on Earth. But what is driving more and more people to move from one place to another

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Press statement of UN special rapporteur to Myanmar Mrs. Yanghee

 Press statement of UN special rapporteur to Myanmar Mrs. Yanghee Lee at a press conference in Dhaka after visiting Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar.

Posted by  Abdulhal Rashidahmed Abdulmujid is with Mohamed Ibrahim and 11 others. 5 hrs

    July 8, 2018 in Dhaka
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Rape by Command
Pre-planned Expulsion
Witness to horror
The Rohingyas

The cover of the Rohingya; A short account of their history and culture