Rakhine Unrest : BGB alert over fresh Rohingya intrusion

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12:00 AM, January 14, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:55 AM, January 14, 2019

Rakhine Unrest : BGB alert over fresh Rohingya intrusion

Star Report

 Myanmar has moved hundreds of troops into northern Rakhine state as it ramps up counterinsurgency efforts against Arakan Army (AA)there, officers told AFP

The Border Guard Bangladesh remains on alert since Saturday for a possible renewed Rohingya intrusion amid frequent clashes between Myanmar security forces and Buddhist rebels in Rakhine state.

The BGB has deployed additional force to patrol the country’s 54km border with Myanmar fearing intrusion through the Naf river and other border areas, said Asaduzzaman Chowdhury, director of BGB battalion 2 in Teknaf.  “Fishing and other movement in the Naf river have been restricted and BGB remains cautious…. to prevent intrusion and also yaba smuggling,” he said.

Abdul Motaleb, chairman of Leda Rohingya Camp Development Committee in Teknaf, said a fresh exodus might take place if the ongoing conflicts in Myanmar affect Rohingyas. In fact, a family of seven entered Bangladesh from Chindifrang of Bujidong on Thursday and took shelter at Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar.

The family is kept at the Kutupalong transit camp and will be taken to a temporary shelter camp, said Rezaul Karim, in-charge of the camp. Meanwhile, 93 Rohingyas who came from India are also at the transit camp and will be taken to that temporary camp, he added.

On January 9, Aljazeera reported that frequent clashes between Myanmar security forces and Buddhist rebels in Rakhine state have alarmed thousands of Rohingya refugees living in no-man’s-land on the country’s border with Bangladesh, as concerns grow over the intensified fighting.

More than 730,000 members of the mostly Muslim minority have fled Myanmar to escape a brutal military-led crackdown that started in 2017 and have taken shelter in sprawling refugee camps in Bangladesh while many have been living in limbo on the border, unwilling to enter the settlements or return home.

They are now caught on the sidelines of clashes between Myanmar troops and the Arakan Army, an armed group seeking more autonomy for western Rakhine state’s Buddhist-majority population.”Heavy fighting is going on between the government troops and Arakan Army inside Myanmar,” Rohingya leader Dil Mohammad told The Daily Star.”The situation is very tense,” he said. On Wednesday, the United Nations said in a statement it was “deeply concerned” about the situation in the area.

Related Topics :Rakhine Unrest, Rohingya crisis

Source: https://www.thedailystar.net/backpage/news/rakhine-unrest-bgb-alert-over-fresh-rohingya-intrusion-1687294

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No ‘easy solution’ to Rohingya crisis, says Bangladesh’s new Foreign Minister Momen

 Published: 14 Jan 2019 20:01 BdST Updated: 14 Jan 2019 21:01 BdST

No ‘easy solution’ to Rohingya crisis, says Bangladesh’s new Foreign Minister Momen

Senior Correspondent  bdnews24.com  

Rohingyas wait for boats at Shah Porir Dwip to go to the mainland in Cox’s Bazar’s Teknaf. Photo taken on Sept 16, 2017. Photo: mostafigur rahman

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen does not see any easy solution to the crisis surrounding the Rohingya people, which he says is “a very serious issue”.
 AK Abdul Momen. File Photo

 “There will be no easy solution. We’ll have to face difficulties,” the newly-appointed minister told reporters at his office on Monday as he took questions. He said he would work hard to devise new plans to deal with the crisis.

“It’s a very serious issue. We have to discuss a lot. After the crisis broke out, our prime minister placed a five-point proposal in the UN General Assembly. But those proposals were not reflected in our negotiations,” he said. “We want solutions,” he said, and added that he was studying strategies for successfully dealing with the crisis.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s proposals included sustainable repatriation of the Rohingya refugees to Myanmar and punishment of those who committed crimes against the minority group, he said. “How will we do that, we don’t know. We’ll work on it. It’s a serious issue. It’ll remain a priority issue,” said the new minister, who was Bangladesh’s permanent representative to the UN from 2009 to 2015. “Myanmar is our friend and neighbour. We expect that Myanmar will give us the return of that friendship. We’ll be happy.”

Momen said he had asked his ministry to make an impact analysis of the crisis from the economic, social and security dimensions. “If the crisis persists, then the interests of our neighbours India, Thailand, Myanmar and China will all be affected. Instabilities may develop. Different interest groups may enter the scene,” he said.

He said he believed the international community did not do enough to resolve the crisis. “It should be everybody’s obligation that no instability is created.  All neighbours must work together.”

“We have to make them understand, those who are not paying proper attention, that their interests will also be affected.” He said China has shifted its initial position on the crisis and Russia is also showing positivity.

“Nothing is certain in international politics. Today’s friend can be tomorrow’s enemy. Today’s enemy can be tomorrow’s friend. That’s the world we live in,” he said, replying to questions about China and Russia, which had both vetoed in favour of Myanmar at the UN Security Council. “The issue for us is that we have to work hard if we want to achieve our target,” said the new foreign minister.

Over 700,000 new Rohingya refugees crossed the border into Bangladesh to escape ethnic cleansing after the Myanmar army began a crackdown in Rakhine in late August of 2017. The number of Rohingyas living in Bangladesh is now over 1.1 million. The first phase of the voluntary repatriation plan in mid-Nov last year was stopped because Rohingyas did not want to return in current conditions.

Source: https://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2019/01/14/no-easy-solution-to-rohingya-crisis-says-bangladesh-s-new-foreign-minister-momen

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‘New arrivals’ cloud Rohingya repat prospect

BREAKING NEWS: Sunday, January 13, 2019 | ePaper

‘New arrivals’ cloud Rohingya repat prospect

Sunday, January 13, 2019

 Rohingya Refugees-flee-Myanmar-violence – Mohammad Ponir Hossain /Reuters

 UNB, Dhaka :  Despite Bangladesh’s “serious efforts” to resume the halted repatriation process, the recent deteriorating condition in Rakhine State of Myanmar has brought “much worries” among all concerned, clouding the repatriation prospect, officials indicate.

More Rohingyas, not in a big number, entered Bangladesh territory in recent days amid the further deteriorating scenario in Myanmar, they said. In recent weeks, the intensification of violence between the “Arakan Army” and the Myanmar Army has led to increased humanitarian consequences for the civilian population and caused displacement of nearly five thousand people in Rakhine and Chin States.

“The situation is fragile there where Rohingyas were supposed to go back. We’ll certainly want to start the repatriation process,” Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Mohammad Abul Kalam told UNB. At the same time, he said, it is right to say that it is a matter of worry to see the deteriorating scenario instead of significant improvement in the place of origin of Rohingyas. “So, there’s reason to be worried about.”

Responding to a question, RRRC Kalam said they have heard about few new entry but they are yet to verify it fully to determine the numbers. “It’s under verification process.” The national taskforce for Rohingya refugee response, chaired by Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque, reviewed the overall situation on Rohingya on Thursday and discussed how the international community can genuinely get engaged to resolve the crisis.

“Firstly, we evaluated the repatriation-related situation and got updated on the recent incidents (in Myanmar),” a senior government official who attended the meeting told UNB. He said they also discussed the proposed 2019 joint response plan for Rohingya humanitarian to determine the funding mechanism and priority areas. The plan will be finalised soon for formal launching.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam has already said the government will continue to take effective steps to address the pending issues, including solution to the Rohingya crisis. The State Minister said they did not deliberately push the repatriation issue that much before the election as the repatriation could not take place as agreed by the two countries though the two countries were very close to starting the repatriation.

“Our efforts will be expedited in the coming days, I can say that with confidence,” Shahriar said keeping focus on the listed and verified Rohingyas. Bangladesh and Myanmar had agreed to begin the repetition of the first batch of Rohingyas by mid-November last year but it was halted. 

Tag: New arrival of Rohinhgyas

Source: http://m.thedailynewnation.com/news/202654/new-arrivals-cloud-rohingya-repat-prospect 

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Myanmar’s latest ploy to push out Rohingyas

Home > Editorial

12:00 AM, January 13, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:15 PM, January 13, 2019

Myanmar’s latest ploy to push out Rohingyas

Will the international community do nothing?

FILE PHOTO: REUTERS/DAMIR SAGOLJ

 After forcing almost a million Rohingyas to flee from their homes and take shelter in Bangladesh, Myanmar is now taking steps to construct a concrete structure in the no-man’s land on its border with Bangladesh in Bandarban’s Ghumdhum area.

The structure, when completed, will cause flooding and displace the 6,000 or so Rohingyas who have been living there since August 2017. They will be forced to cross into Bangladesh. Conversely, the structure could also serve as an advance post for the Myanmar army to patrol the area and one that will have security ramifications for Bangladesh. The fact that the construction of any structure in a no-man’s land is a direct violation of international law appears to have no bearing on the Myanmar authorities.

It is not so much what Bangladesh will do, but what the global champions of human rights and the international community will do in response—that is the question. The law is black and white on the issue. It states that no construction can be done within 150 yards on either side of the border unless a bilateral agreement to that effect exists between the two nations. To the best of our knowledge, Bangladesh has made no such deal with Myanmar.

Now that the Myanmar government is actively taking steps to build a structure that is in contravention of international law, and one which will be used to physically evict the few thousand Rohingyas stranded in no-man’s land, the international community cannot sit by and do nothing. Because if no pressure is brought upon Myanmar to stop this construction, it will mean giving the regime carte blanche to act as it pleases in the future when it comes to Rohingyas or any other ethnic minority in that country.

Source: https://www.thedailystar.net/editorial/news/myanmars-latest-ploy-push-out-rohingyas-1686634

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Fleeing a 21st Century Genocide

Fleeing a 21st Century Genocide

POSTED JANUARY 11, 2019 ELIZABETH MEHREN

Sankar Raman / The Immigrant Story                                                                                                                

It was such an idyllic childhood for Mohammed Husson Ali.

Nearly all the 1300 families in the Burmese village of Myo Thu Gyi were farmers. There in the northwest state of Rakhine, they owned their land and cultivated rice and other crops. Goats, cows, lambs and water buffaloes roamed freely. Palm trees provided shade, and sometimes, a soft breeze. Mangoes and coconuts hung heavily from their trees. Jackfruit and guava abounded. Bananas were everywhere.

At harvest time, neighbors pitched in to gather the rice in one another’s fields. Little boys worked alongside their fathers and uncles. Women delivered big baskets of vegetables for the hungry harvesters. Bowls of curry–goat and chicken were the favorites–were served to anyone who happened to come by. Sticky rice was all but inhaled, a delicious specialty that no one could resist.

Farmers saw no need to compete over crops. No one went hungry, and so no one had reason to steal. At the end of each day, after the harvesters had moved from field to field, they broke into song, “Alleyeela Shari,” or “Farmer’s Song.” The tune’s jaunty chorus echoed across the fields. “In my childhood, it was a very easy life,” Ali said. “A very happy time.”

But the idyll ended with the political transformation of the country now known as Myanmar. The people of Rakhine were an ethnic minority, Muslims known as the Rohingya who had settled in the province formerly known as Arakan centuries ago. Theirs was a variation of the Sunni Muslim faith, with a distinct language and culture. Legend holds that they descend from Arab traders. In the state of Rakhine, said Ali — known as Mohammed — Buddhists and Muslims had lived together in harmony. Each group had full citizenship and full voting rights.

“My father sold jute to the Buddhists,” Ali remembered, referring to a common vegetable fiber used to make thread. “At my wedding, a lot of my Buddhist friends came to the celebration. There was no judgment, just living together. We coexisted.”

He tells his story quietly, his soft voice betraying no trace of anger or bitterness. His wife, children and grandchildren — those who have survived — reside in Leda, the most recent Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh. Oddly, the camp is just across the river that separates the two countries, not far from the family’s home for generations. The township of Maungdaw, where Myo Thu Gyi was among the villages, no longer exists. As part of its “clearance operation” to eliminate the Rohingya, the Myanmar army burned all the houses, mosques and other structures in the township and its villages to the ground. The army then bulldozed the entire region to make sure nothing — and no one — remained.

 Rohingya refugees arrive from Burma near Shah Porir Dwip after crossing the Naf River. They can carry few possessions–only those that will fit in a single suitcase—as the distinctive Bengali “moon boats” (seen in the background) are small, narrow, and unstable. Photo: Andrew Stanbridge

A New Life

Mohammed Husson Ali is a small man with a wispy white beard. Hardship has aged him beyond his 68 years. He wears a knitted skull cap and many layers of warm clothing over his traditional sarong. Coming from a tropical country, he has struggled in his seven years in the United States to adapt to the chilly winters of the Pacific Northwest. He keeps a sense of perspective, though, perhaps because bureaucratic error sent him initially not to Portland, Oregon, but to Portland, Maine. It was Feb. 28, 2011, when he arrived. In the 18 days before he was redirected to the other Portland — the one in Oregon — he said he could not imagine how any place could be so cold.

Only when he speaks of the conditions his family and other Rohingya refugees must endure in a camp bulging with nearly 1 million people does his voice turn hard. “This place should be called a 21st century concentration camp,” he said. “People cannot go outside. There is arrest. There is killing. It is no way to live.”

Young men are especially vulnerable. “All the young men, under 50, they need to hide,” Ali says. “In 2013, one of my sons was targeted.” Like his own father, Mohammed Arfat Mohammed Husson, now 25, managed to escape with the help of a broker. The younger Ali remains in Malaysia.

Decades of Repression

The trouble dates to 1962, when Gen. Ne Win and his Burma Socialist Programme Party seized power in Rangoon through a military coup. Rohingya were deemed “foreign invaders.” The new government required all citizens to carry national identity cards. But the discrimination persisted, preventing Rohingya — who had once held seats in the Burmese Parliament — from voting. For those Rohingya who could work their way through a rigorous citizenship test, limits were placed on how many Rohingya could enter certain professions, such as law or medicine.

 Mohammed Ali’s elder son Mohammed Reyard holds his grandson Mohammed Tawke (age 4) in the Leda Refugee camp. The papers in the foreground are the family identification he carried with him. Even though the government canceled their citizenship, they still hold on to these papers, often the only things they carried when they left their homeland. Photo: John Rudoff

In the more than four decades since crackdowns on the Rohingya in the Rakhine state forced hundreds of thousands to flee to neighboring Bangladesh, Malaysia or elsewhere, many Rohingya say they or their family members have been the victims of rape, torture, arson or murder at the hands of Myanmar security forces. The government in Yangon (formerly Rangoon) has steadily denied these charges, including in 2013, when Human Rights Watch said the government was conducting a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya, or in 2016, when a United Nations official made a similar accusation.

Indeed, Human Rights Watch contends that the Myanmar government has partially or completely destroyed more than 350 Rohingya villages. In turn, the government in Yangon  claims that Rohingya rebels killed nine members of the Myanmar border police in 2016, and that the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, a Rohingya insurgent group, launched a raid on police outposts in Rakhine in the same year.

The crowded refugee camp of Balukali camp at Cox’s Bazar slowly awakens at dawn. More than 700,000 refugees live in harsh, primitive conditions in the sprawling camp commonly known as Kutupalong–Balukhali expansion site. Photo: John Rudoff

State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader and a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, largely refuses to discuss the plight of the Rohingya. When Pope Francis visited Myanmar in 2017, the leader of the country’s army told the pontiff there was no discrimination in the country and praised the army for maintaining peace and stability.

None of which sits well with Mohammed, who taught high school physics, chemistry and math in the Rakhine state and worked as a senior food monitor for the U.N. World Food Programme in his native country.

No More Peace for the Rohingya

After a peaceful childhood that saw him huddle under palm trees when heavy rains struck during the two-mile walk to and from high school, Mohammed has lived through stiff restrictions in his township: no access to hospitals, for instance; and no facilities for Rohingya students to pursue higher education. Rohingya could not marry without government permission, a process that could take as long as a year. Rohingya couples were not allowed to have more than two children. They saw their land confiscated. They needed permits to travel from place to place. Even members of the United Nations staff, like Mohammed himself, could not move about without an authorization letter.

“Our lives were restricted entirely,” he said. “If one became separated from one’s family, one could not build a new house.” After Aung San Suu Kyi’s election in 2015, Mohammed said, even the temporary government registration cards that had been issued to Rohingya were canceled. Rohingya, he said, became known as “illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.”

Even in the arduous conditions of the Leda refugee camp, Mohammed’s wife Asha Katun maintains the Muslim tradition of female modesty, covering her head as she peers out from behind a curtain to hear the men’s conversations in the shelter’s main room. Katun, age 66, has been in the Leda refugee camp since 2017. Mohammed has not seen her or the sons who accompanied her to the camp in 10 years, and has never seen his grandchildren. Photo: John Rudoff

“No voting rights, no ownership rights, no cars, nothing,” he said. “Every right, canceled.”

Born in 1951, Mohammed had avoided certain curtailments by dint of hard work and some measure of good luck. As a youth he attended the local madrassa, or Muslim education center, for three hours each morning before heading to the township school. In high school he excelled at chemistry and math, but his family lacked the funds to send him to college. Instead he began working as an administrator in the education department. He also taught high school and made it a point to study for the country’s rigorous university exam while riding city buses. In 1978, he traveled to Rangoon and handily passed the exam, giving him the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in history.

That same year, Mohammed decided for the first time that he and his family would have to leave their country.“The situation was growing worse and worse,” he said.

Operation Dragon King

The government’s new constitution excluded Muslims from any form of citizenship, and the socialist government, rife with graft and corruption, continued to clamp down on the Rohingya through a military effort known as Operation Dragon King.

Officially, the purpose of Operation Dragon King was to register citizens in the northern part of the Arakan state, and oust “foreigners” — i.e., Rohingya — from the region. Rohingya refugees charged that immigration officials and military personnel used intimidation, rape and murder to expel residents from their communities. When between 200,000 and 250,000 Rohingya fled the region, government officials declared that the mass exodus had proved that the refugees were in fact illegal immigrants.

      At the Leda refugee camp, women wait in a line to receive food and non-food-items–NFIs, in camp parlance. Photo: John Rudoff

Mohammed and his family were among those who fled to Bangladesh. For six months, they lived in a refugee camp before the Bangladeshi and Myanmar governments reached a repatriation agreement that made it possible for them to return to their village.

Their goal was to start again, rebuilding the life they had left behind. Mohammed found work first with the World Food Organization, then the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the agency that works with refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people. Later he returned to teaching. “We thought everything was settled,” Mohammed said. “But slowly the problems came back.”

By 1992, the Rohingya population once again found itself with all rights gone.

“We were told to go,” Mohammed said. “But where?”

Again, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya crossed into Bangladesh. Again, the two governments formed an agreement, and in 1994, the repatriation process began. Again, Mohammed found work with the World Food Programme and the UNHCR.

But tensions arose between Mohammed and some of his Buddhist colleagues. Mohammed suspected them of taking information from him and using it against him. His fears were confirmed when he left to attend an external workshop on school food programs in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Upon arriving at the airport in Yangon, he learned that his passport had been confiscated. A month later, U.N. officials told him it was too dangerous for him to continue working there.

“I had no passport, no job and, at the time, no money,” Mohammed said.

By 2008, it became clear that he could not remain in Myanmar. He told his family he would try to find a safe place and then send for them. He had little choice but to trust the brokers who made a lucrative business of helping Rohingya and others escape from their country.

There are still occasional moments of merriment at the Leda refugee camp, such as when 4-year-old Mohammed Tawke, decorated his face with thanaka, a vegetable-based cosmetic that is common in Myanmar. The child’s festive face brought a smile to his father, Mohammed Reynard, a son of Mohammed Ali. Photo: John Rudoff Escape 

Mohammed began an arduous journey by rowboat, bus, foot and whatever means of transport he could summon. In his hand luggage, he carried two shirts, some documents and recommendation letters from assorted officials.

He landed in Bangladesh, aided by his ability to speak some of that country’s language. His familiarity with Bangladeshi customs also helped him to blend in. Soon enough, his broker delivered, and Mohammed had a Bangladeshi passport. He waited for nearly three months before the broker told him his Thai visa had been approved.

At the Bangkok airport, a contact arranged by the broker took him by train to a town on the Malaysian border. “Then the Thai person gave me some food and took me by motorbike to a small river crossing,” Mohammed said. Next he boarded a tiny boat, just the rower and Mohammed, and entered Malaysia under cover of darkness. The stress of the journey was taking its toll. Mohammed felt weak and feared that the pains in his chest signaled something serious. He was right.

From the border, a family took him to a bus station and bought him a ticket to Malaysia. At two in the morning, he arrived in that country’s second largest city, Penang, which hugs Malaysia’s northwest coast. A local madrassa sheltered Mohammed until he could make contact with someone from UNHCR in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital city. “Fifteen days later, alone, I went to Kuala Lumpur,” Mohammed said.

His youngest brother was living there, too, and Mohammed found his way to his home. He also made contact with some of his former students, also Rohingya refugees, who were living there as well, as was one of Mohammed’s brothers.

Mohammed told his brother he was seriously ill. After nearly a year-long odyssey, fraught with danger and uncertainty, he was weak and suffering from high fevers. Several months later, he realized he was having a full-scale heart attack. The only means of transport to a hospital, two hours away, was by motorbike. Mohammed clung to the driver while his heart was wracked with pain.

His convalescence, “back and forth to the hospital,” took two years. During that time he had applied to UNHCR to go to Australia. It was a safe enough destination. When the UNHCR came back with an offer to send him to America, “My brother told me, ‘Go,’” Mohammed says.

Life in Oregon, Family in Bangladesh

In Portland — the one in Oregon, not Maine — Mohammed shares a house owned by a fellow Rohingya with other refugees. He worships at a nearby mosque. He misses his family terribly and prays that they will join him in America one day. He mourns the devastation of his home community and the ongoing violence that continues to claim lives there. His own nephew, for example, was gunned down and killed on his way to the rice paddies in 2016 when Myanmar authorities retaliated against an insurgent attack on a military encampment at the border.

Seeking to ward off the chilly dawn, a young girl in Balukali Refugee Camp wraps herself in a blanket. Photo: Photo: John Rudoff 

“He was shot down in front of my house,” Mohammed said — a house that no longer stands now that the government has erased the existence of the village. “They killed 3 people in my village that evening.”

Minutes later, he said, the army struck another nearby village, killing seven young children on their way to sell produce in the village market. “No one could escape,” Mohammed said

Just to make sure the remaining Rohingya were kept in line, “the government removed all fences, even the walls around toilets,” Mohammed says “There was no privacy, none at all. House by house, village by village, they cut down all the trees so no one could hide.” The following year, “the military entered my village and burned all the houses, one by one. The whole village — nothing was left.”

Even the cemetery was later bulldozed, along with 14 mosques. Flattened.

Family portrait: Gathered in their shelter at the Leda camp, Mohammed’s family poses for a photo. Left to right: Eldest son Mohammed Reyard, 40; grandson Mohammed Tawke, 4; younger son Mohammed Anuwar Ibrahim, 25; grandson Mohammed Takuil, 3; youngest daughter Rustary Kalima, 22; daughter-in-law Rashidah, 28; Mohammed’s wife Asha Katun, 66; and elder daughter Fatima Kalac, 37. Photo: John Rudoff

In the aftermath, his wife, and his entire family managed to cross to Bangladesh, where they remain in the vast Rohingya refugee camp. Mohammed speaks to his family twice a day. All are healthy, he reports, despite the difficult conditions. But they are trapped in their refugee status, with no passports, no national identity and no funds for travel.

“Immediate intervention” is needed to solve this conundrum, Mohammed maintains. He sets his hopes on action by the U.S. government, but concedes that the predicament of the Rohingya is not a high priority. “Nobody even knows who the Rohingya are or where the Rohingya are from,” he laments. “The Rohingya genocide movement needs to be organized.”

For his part, Mohammed appreciates the good fortune that allowed him to escape the 21st century genocide that has claimed the lives of so many of his people. “I found this to be a nice place, America,” he said. “Since I am aged, old, I get all sorts of facilities — medical care, food, everything.”

In the United States, he said, he has found “no discrimination against religion, skin color, race. Here, the rule of law means everything. There is free education here!”He paused, then added: “I want my family and my community to have this kind of society.”

Special thanks to John Rudoff and Andrew Stanbridge for providing photographs used in this story. They were published with permission. Copyright by John Rudoff and Andrew Stanbridge 2017.

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One thought on “Fleeing a 21st Century Genocide”

  1. Hla Tin  says:

JANUARY 12, 2019 AT 1:19 PM

My grandfather Ashrof Ali was appointed as village head of Myothugyi village in 1918. He also was a honorary magistrate of Maung Daw township. All of his descendants become illegal immigrants now and their homes torched and bulldozed by the brutal Myanmar authorities.

 Source : https://theimmigrantstory.org/fleeing/ 

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THE ROHINGYA CRISIS: WHAT TO WATCH FOR IN 2019

THE ROHINGYA CRISIS: WHAT TO WATCH FOR IN 2019

Rohingya Refugees In Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh On 01/12/2018 © Wadi Alias / Shutterstock

BY   DANIEL SULLIVAN  –  JANUARY 2, 2019

DANIEL SULLIVAN

Danil P. Sullivan is the Senior Advocate for Human Rights at Refugees International (RI). Dan joined RI in April 2016 as Senior Advocate focusing on

Bangladesh and the UN must continue to work together to improve the conditions for nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees.

The year 2018 was a dire and desperate year for the Rohingya minority from western Myanmar. Two-thirds of the population that had been living in western Rakhine State before the end of 2017 remain displaced in crowded camps in Bangladesh. The several hundred thousand who remain in Myanmar face serious restrictions, and what the chair of an independent, international fact-finding mission describes as an “ongoing genocide.”

What will the year 2019 have in store for the Rohingya? Here are key developments to keep an eye on and some thoughts on what must be done to improve the outlook.

ROHINGYA RETURNING HOME?

Repatriation of Rohingya to Myanmar is both the most necessary solution to the Rohingya crisis and the most controversial. It is not a question of whether Rohingya should be able to return to their homes; it is a question of when and under what conditions. To be clear, those conditions do not currently exist. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed. Rohingya in Myanmar continue to face restrictions and abuse. And there is little sign of accountability or a path to citizenship as demanded by Rohingya who have been forced to flee. In fact, more than 15,000 Rohingya have continued to flee conditions in Myanmar for Bangladesh in 2018.

More than 40 humanitarian organizations working on the ground in Bangladesh have warned that returning the Rohingya to their homes now would be dangerous and premature. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has been clear that current conditions in Myanmar are not conducive “to the voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return of refugees.”

Still, the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh have pushed for returns to move forward. A bilateral deal to start returns by November 15, 2018, fell apart only because Bangladesh was unable to find Rohingya willing to return voluntarily. Pressure for returns will continue through 2019, but the reality is that, more than likely, most Rohingya will not and should not return by the end of 2019. Whether returns can take place in line with international standards — that is safe, voluntary and dignified — will depend mostly on what the government of Myanmar does or does not do.

REFORMS IN MYANMAR? 

The government of Myanmar has it within its power to create the conditions conducive to safe returns of Rohingya to Myanmar. It also has a blueprint for how to do so. The Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, released a final report in August 2017 that was endorsed by the government of Myanmar. The report included recommendations for freedom of movement, recognition of basic rights and a path to citizenship for Rohingya in Myanmar.

By taking these steps, opening access to humanitarians and independent media and human rights monitors, and working with UNHCR, it may be possible to begin thinking about returns in 2019. But the window for doing so is quickly closing as the next election in Myanmar draws near in 2020. Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, already reluctant to reform and address the Rohingya crisis, will be even more so as the military’s party seeks to capitalize on anti-Rohingya sentiment. As this dynamic plays out, it will be even more important that pressure for change comes from outside — the sooner the better.

ACCOUNTABILITY FOR GENOCIDE?

The push for accountability for the crimes committed by Myanmar’s security forces against the Rohingya gained momentum in the last month of 2018. The US Holocaust Memorial Museum and the law firm that carried out a US State Department survey of the Rohingya independently concluded that there was strong evidence that crimes against humanity and genocide were committed. The State Department has not yet made a determination, but the US House of Representatives voted 394 to 1 to declare the crimes as genocide.

In August 2018, an international fact-finding mission, authorized by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), concluded that Myanmar’s top military generals, including Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, must be investigated for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The UNHRC then mandated the creation of an independent mechanism to collect evidence of abuses for future prosecution. Now it is vital that this mechanism receive the funding necessary to carry out its mandate.

The International Criminal Court has also begun an investigation into the crimes committed against the Rohingya. And international human rights groups continue to push for a mechanism for carrying out prosecutions. What forms of accountability are ultimately achieved will remain to be seen, but efforts will not go away in 2019.

It is also possible that the US State Department will be pushed to finally make a determination that crimes against humanity, if not genocide, have taken place. This would prompt further targeted sanctions. The United States has already placed sanctions on a handful of Myanmar military and border guard officials and the two army battalions that led the attacks on Rohingya civilians. But these sanctions need to extend to the highest levels, including Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

MONSOON AND CYCLONES

One of the greatest fears faced by Rohingya in Bangladesh through much of 2018 was the risk of a direct cyclone hit on the Rohingya camps. The worst was avoided in 2018, but flooding and high winds destroyed shelters, injured dozens and displaced thousands. With hundreds of thousands of Rohingya remaining in fragile shelters in crowded camps, that fear will be renewed with the 2019 monsoon and cyclone seasons. Beyond a direct hit, heavy rains will threaten land slides and flooding, not to mention the risks of rapid spread of water-borne diseases.

The humanitarian community and government of Bangladesh made great efforts to move the most vulnerable Rohingya to new areas in 2018. But, as highlighted by Refugees International, coordination and preparedness were limited by restrictions on the side of the government of Bangladesh and inefficiencies on the side of UN agencies. The Bangladeshi government continues to restrict the types of materials available to build more durable shelters. It also continues to push plans to move at least 100,000 Rohingya to Bhashan Char, an island in the historic path of cyclones and prone to flooding through much of the year.

Due to government restrictions, UN agencies have also struggled with a complex, hybrid coordination structure, rather than the usual refugee response. Efforts are underway to assess the response and incorporate lessons learned for the UN response. The outcome of the recent general election in Bangladesh may create further space to address these issues. What is certain is that the 2019 monsoon and cyclone seasons will arrive and the extent to which space has opened and lessons been learned will be tested.

ANOTHER BOAT CRISIS? 

Finally, 2019 will likely see an increase in Rohingya fleeing conditions both in Myanmar and Bangladesh by boat for other countries like Malaysia and Thailand. With increased maritime monitoring and a break up of trafficking networks, we are unlikely to see something on the scale of the May 2015 crisis, in which thousands of Rohingya and Bangladeshi refugees and migrants were abandoned at sea. But the same questions of whether countries in the region will accept any abandoned boats or push them back to sea as they did in 2015 will have to be tackled. Already several boats have taken the journey.

Beyond boats, trafficking networks will prey on women in the Rohingya camps. The longer they remain in the camps in Bangladesh, the more vulnerable they will be to such networks. This underscores the regional aspect of the Rohingya crisis. How well Myanmar’s neighbors in Southeast Asia work together to tackle trafficking and pressure Myanmar to improve conditions for Rohingya will greatly influence how the Rohingya crisis plays out in 2019.

The Rohingya will continue to face dire conditions in 2019. But there are ways that their plight can begin to be addressed. Above all, a positive path forward will depend on the ability of international actors to pressure and encourage Myanmar to create the conditions conducive to returns for the Rohingya.

In the meantime, the government of Bangladesh and UN agencies must continue to work together to improve the conditions for nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees living in the country. The year 2019 will not likely be the year that the Rohingya crisis is resolved, but with the right steps there is hope that, a year from now, we can say that the Rohingya have a better outlook for 2020.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Source: https://www.fairobserver.com/region/asia_pacific/rohingya-crisis-refugees-genocide-myanmar-bangladesh-asia-world-news-today-21390/ 

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US Senate says Myanmar crimes against Rohingya as genocide

US Senate says Myanmar crimes against Rohingya as genocide

   Mir Ahmed SiddiqueeFollow  22 hrs ·

US Senate says Myanmar crimes against Rohingya as genocide
The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution Thursday (13.12.18) declaring that the crimes committed by Myanmar’s security forces against Rohingya Muslims constitute genocide. The resolution passed with a vote of 394 to 1. It also calls for “the immediate pardon and release” of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who have spent more than a year in prison for their work exposing the massacre of Myanmar’s Muslim minority.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/mirsdq/videos/783830718623964/

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Posted in International, Media, Myanmar, Publication, Report, Rohingya
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