AP finds evidence for graves, Rohingya massacre in Myanmar

AP finds evidence for graves, Rohingya massacre in Myanmar

FOSTER KLUG > February 2, 2018

BALUKHALI REFUGEE CAMP, Bangladesh (AP) — The faces of the men half-buried in the mass graves had been burned away by acid or blasted by bullets. Noor Kadir finally recognized his friends only by the colors of their shorts.

The Balukhali Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

Kadir and 14 others, all Rohingya Muslims in the Myanmar village of Gu Dar Pyin, had been choosing players for the soccer-like game of chinlone when the gunfire began. They scattered from what sounded like hard rain on a tin roof. By the time the Myanmar military stopped shooting, only Kadir and two teammates were left alive.

Days later, Kadir found six of his friends among the bodies in two graves.

They are among at least five mass graves, all previously unreported, that have been confirmed by The Associated Press through multiple interviews with more than two dozen survivors in Bangladesh refugee camps and through time-stamped cellphone videos. The Myanmar government regularly claims such massacres of the Rohingya never happened, and has acknowledged only one mass grave containing 10 “terrorists” in the village of Inn Din. However, the AP’s reporting shows a systematic slaughter of Rohingya Muslim civilians by the military, with help from Buddhist neighbors — and suggests many more graves hold many more people.

“It was a mixed-up jumble of corpses piled on top of each other,” said Kadir, a 24-year-old firewood collector. “I felt such sorrow for them.”

The graves are the newest piece of evidence for what looks increasingly like a genocide in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state against the Rohingya, a long-persecuted ethnic Muslim minority in the predominantly Buddhist country. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric called the AP report “extremely troubling,” and urged Myanmar to allow access to the region for further investigation. Spokeswoman Heather Nauert also said the U.S. State Department was “deeply, deeply troubled by these reports of mass graves.”

Repeated calls to Myanmar’s military communications office went unanswered Wednesday and Thursday. Htun Naing, a local security police officer in Buthidaung township, where the village is located, said he “hasn’t heard of such mass graves.”

Myanmar has cut off access to Gu Dar Pyin, so it’s unclear just how many people died, but satellite images obtained by the AP from DigitalGlobe, along with video of homes reduced to ash, reveal a village that has been wiped out. Community leaders in the refugee camps have compiled a list of 75 dead so far, and villagers estimate the toll could be as high as 400, based on testimony from relatives and the bodies they’ve seen in the graves and strewn about the area. A large number of the survivors carry scars from bullet wounds, including a 3-year-old boy and his grandmother.

This before-and-after slider of May 26, 2017, left, and Dec. 20, 2017, satellite images provided by DigitalGlobe show the village of Gu Dar Pyin, Myanmar before and after destruction. (DigitalGlobe via AP)

Almost every villager interviewed by the AP saw three large mass graves at Gu Dar Pyin’s northern entrance, near the main road, where witnesses say soldiers herded and killed most of the Rohingya. A handful of witnesses confirmed two other big graves near a hillside cemetery, not too far away from a school where more than 100 soldiers were stationed after the massacre. Villagers also saw other, smaller graves scattered around the village.

In the videos of the graves obtained by the AP, dating to 13 days after the killing began, blue-green puddles of acid sludge surround corpses without heads and torsos that jut into the air. Skeletal hands seem to claw at the ground.



Survivors said that the soldiers carefully planned the Aug. 27 attack, and then deliberately tried to hide what they had done. They came to the slaughter armed not only with rifles, knives, rocket launchers and grenades, but also with shovels to dig pits and acid to burn away faces and hands so that the bodies could not be identified. Two days before the attack, villagers say, soldiers were seen buying 12 large containers of acid at a nearby village’s market.

The killing began around noon, when more than 200 soldiers swept into Gu Dar Pyin from the direction of a Buddhist village to the south, firing their weapons. The Rohingya who could move fast enough ran toward the north or toward a river in the east, said Mohammad Sha, 37, a shop owner and farmer.

Sha hid in a grove of coconut trees near the river with more than 100 others and watched as the soldiers searched Muslim homes. Dozens of Buddhists from neighboring villages, their faces partly covered with scarves, loaded the possessions they found into about 10 pushcarts. Then the soldiers burned down the homes, shooting anyone who couldn’t flee, Sha said.

At the same time, another group of soldiers closed in from the north, encircling Gu Dar Pyin and trapping villagers in a tightening noose.

When Mohammad Younus, 25, heard explosions from hand grenades and rocket launchers, he ran to the road. He was shot twice while trying to call his family. One of the bullets, still in his hip, can be seen when he pinches the skin.

His brother found him crawling on his hands and knees and carried him to some underbrush, where Younus lay for seven hours. At one point, he saw three trucks stop and begin loading dead bodies before heading off toward the cemetery.

Buddhist villagers then moved through Gu Dar Pyin in a sort of mopping-up operation, using knives to cut the throats of the injured, survivors said, and working with soldiers to throw small children and the elderly into the fires.

“People were screaming, crying, pleading for their lives, but the soldiers just shot continuously,” said Mohammad Rayes, 23, a schoolteacher who climbed a tree and watched.

Kadir, the chinlone player, was shot twice in the foot but managed to drag himself under a bridge, where he removed one of the bullets himself. Then he watched, half-delirious, for 16 hours as soldiers, police and Buddhist neighbors killed unarmed Rohingya and burned the village.

“I couldn’t move,” he said. “I thought I was dead. I began to forget why I was there, to forget that all around me people were dying.” Near dawn, three boys creeping toward the bridge from another village to see what had happened heard Kadir’s groans and brought him back with them.

For days, Rohingya from the area stole into Gu Dar Pyin and rescued people who’d been left for dead by the soldiers. Thousands of people from the area hid deep in the jungle, stranded without food except for the leaves and trees they tried to eat. More than 20 infants and toddlers died because of the lack of food and water, villagers said.

A day after the shooting began, another group of survivors watched from a distant mountain as Gu Dar Pyin burned, the flames and smoke snaking up into a darkening sky.



Six days after the massacre, Kadir risked his life to dodge the dozens of Myanmar soldiers occupying the local school so he could look for his four cousins. That’s when he found his teammates half-buried in the mass graves. He also saw four plastic containers that turned out to contain acid.

In the next days and weeks, other villagers braved the soldiers to try to find whatever was left of their loved ones. Dozens of bodies littered the paths and compounds of the wrecked homes; they filled latrine pits. The survivors soon learned that taller, darker green patches of rice shoots in the paddies marked the spots where the dead had fallen.

As monsoon rains pounded the sometimes thin layer of dirt on the graves to mud, more bloated bodies began to rise to the surface. “There were so many bodies in so many different places,” said Mohammad Lalmia, 20, a farmer whose family owned a pond that became the largest of the mass graves. “They couldn’t hide all the death.”

Eleven days after the attack, Lalmia set out to see if the soldiers had destroyed the Quran in the village mosque. He walked quickly along the edge of the jungle to the mosque, where he found torn pages from the Muslim sacred book scattered about.

As he tried to clean up, someone shouted that the soldiers were coming. He fled through an open window, looking back over his shoulder at about 15 patrolling soldiers. When he turned back to the path, he stopped abruptly: A human hand stuck out of a cleared patch of earth.

Lalmia counted about 10 bodies on the grave’s surface. Although he was worried about the military finding him, he used a six-foot bamboo stick to check the pit’s depth. The stick disappeared into the loose soil, which made him think that the grave was deep enough to hold at least another 10 bodies.

“I was shocked to be that near so many bodies I hadn’t known about,” Lalmia said. He and other villagers also saw another large grave in the area.He estimates that soldiers dumped about 80 bodies into his family’s pond and about 20 in each of the other four major graves. He said about 150 other bodies were left where they fell.

Three of the big graves were in the north of the village. Two of those pits were about 15 feet wide and 7.5 feet long, villagers said. The pond, which Lalmia had helped dig, measured about nine feet deep and 112 square feet.

Many other smaller graves with three, five, seven, 10 bodies in them were scattered across Gu Dar Pyin. During a short walk, Abdul Noor, an 85-year-old farmer, saw three dead bodies stuffed into what might have been a latrine hole and covered with soil. He saw another two near some banana plants, and three in the corner of a compound.

“I tried to see more, but the stench was overwhelming and the soldiers were still at the school,” he said. Two other men separately said they saw another latrine filled with bodies and covered with a thin layer of soil. They said it contained between five and 10 bodies on the top, and thought there were at least five more corpses below.

After 12 days, Younus went to try to find four family members who’d been killed. He saw people in the graves without hair or skin who he thought had been burned with acid, and dozens of decomposing bodies in the rice fields.

The next day, on Sept. 9, villager Mohammad Karim, 26, captured three videos of mass graves that were time-stamped between 10:12 a.m. and 10:14 a.m., when he said soldiers chased him away. When he fled to Bangladesh, Karim removed the memory card from his phone, wrapped it in plastic and tied it to his thigh to hide it from Myanmar police.

In the Bangladesh refugee camps, nearly two dozen other Rohingya from Gu Dar Pyin confirmed that the videos showed mass graves in the north of the village. They easily picked out details from a geography they knew intimately, such as the way certain banana plants were positioned near certain rice paddies.

The videos show what appear to be bones wrapped in rotting clothing in a soupy muck. In one, the hands of a headless corpse grasp at the earth; most of the skin seems melted away by acid that has stained the earth blue. Nearby are two bloated legs clad in shorts. A few paces away, the bones of a rib cage emerge from the dirt.

The AP saw several other videos that appeared to show graves in the village, but only Karim’s contained the original time stamps. In some cases, villagers said Myanmar soldiers took their phones and memory cards, sometimes at knife and gun point, at the checkpoints they had to pass through on the way to Bangladesh.

Some survivors never found the bodies of their loved ones.

Rohima Khatu, 45, recounted her story as tears streamed down the face of her 9-year-old daughter, Hurjannat, who sat silently by her mother’s side.

Khatu was determined to find her husband, even though women risked not only death but rape if they were caught by the soldiers. Villagers said her husband was shot after he stayed home to protect their 10 cows, five chickens and eight doves, along with their rice stockpiles.

So 15 days after the massacre, she searched for him in the graves at Gu Dar Pyin’s northern entrance, trying to identify him by the green lungi and white button-down shirt he had been wearing. Only 10 minutes passed before someone shouted that about 20 soldiers were coming.

“There were dead bodies everywhere, bones and body parts, all decomposing, so I couldn’t tell which one was my husband,” Khatu said. “I was weeping while I was there. I was crying loudly, ‘Where did you go? Where did you go?’” “I have lost everything.”                                                                                                                                                     

Foster Klug has covered Asia for the AP since 2005.                                                               Follow on www.twitter.com/apklug Foster KlugVerified account  @APklug                            Bureau chief in Seoul for The Associated Press (@AP) – Kloog – Pvs Asia correspondent in DC. Who D@?  

Source: https://www.apnews.com/ef46719c5d1d4bf98cfefcc4031a5434  

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Bangladesh is in an extremely difficult position’

Home  > Opinion > Op-Ed

‘Bangladesh is in an extremely difficult position’

Mazher Mir  > Published at 11:55 pm May 17th, 2019                                            Mazher Mir talks to Steve Ross, a senior adviser and program director at the Richardson Center, about the plight of the Rohingya and how it affects Bangladesh   

Is Bangladesh simply stuck with a refugee population now?/ MAHMUD HOSSAIN OPU

Governor Bill Richardson is a highly-regarded American diplomat with a long career of public service, including as a US congressman, US ambassador to the UN, secretary of energy, and governor of the state of New Mexico. He has a long history of engagement with both Myanmar and Bangladesh — he started the Bangladesh Caucus in Congress and his initiatives resulted in the pardon of an American women, Eliadah McCord, from a Bangladeshi prison in June 1996 after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League won parliamentary elections earlier that month.

Last year, he was appointed to the Advisory Board on Rakhine by Aung San Suu Kyi, but resigned given the lack of space for constructive criticism over Myanmar’s handling of Rakhine. Nonetheless, Governor Richardson maintains a strong interest in addressing the Rohingya crisis and his organization, the Richardson Center for Global Engagement, has been deeply engaged for the past year-and-a-half.

He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times and his organization, the Richardson Center for Global Engagement, was nominated last fall. I am here with Steve Ross, a senior advisor and program director at the Richardson Center, who has spent the last several years focused on Myanmar, Bangladesh, and the Rohingya, to discuss Rohingya refugee crisis.

Steve, you have just returned from Bangladesh. Tell me, how do you see the Rohingya refugee crisis evolving?

At the outset, it is important to recognize Bangladesh’s generosity and humanity in providing safe haven to Rohingya fleeing a brutal campaign of violence at the hands of the Myanmar military (the Tatmadaw), not just since October 2016, but also during previous influxes.

We must continue to be clear that the ultimate resolution to this crisis lies in Myanmar respecting and protecting the rights of the Rohingya, and more broadly, taking steps towards a more genuinely inclusive approach to politics and governance in Rakhine and across the country.

To date, though, Myanmar has done very little to give the Rohingya that would like to return home the confidence that it is safe to do so and that their fundamental rights will be respected; indeed, Rohingya remaining in Rakhine continue to face exceedingly difficult circumstances. The escalation in fighting between the Arakan Army and the Tatmadaw and parliamentary elections in late 2020 only complicates the dynamics in Rakhine further and reduces the likelihood of near-term progress. As a result, the Rohingya crisis will continue to be an undue burden on Bangladesh for some time.

The monsoon and cyclone seasons pose the most immediate challenge, but there are other socio-economic, environmental, and security challenges as well.

To address these challenges, Bangladesh and its partners must do more to alleviate adverse impacts on Bangladeshi host and affected communities and to give Rohingya hope for the future by ensuring their basic needs are met, providing adequate security, and devising constructive ways for Rohingya to spend their time, including by creating opportunities for Rohingya to influence the decision-making processes which most affect their lives.

Why can’t Myanmar be more isolated to put pressure on them? Can the US do more to resolve the Rohingya crisis? 

It has been very difficult to apply effective pressure on Myanmar because the countries that have the political will to act have limited leverage over Myanmar and those that have leverage are unwilling to use it to resolve the Rohingya crisis. Many of Myanmar’s neighbours have either geostrategic or economic interests in the country and have not been willing to jeopardize these interests by being critical of Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya; there is, in other words, no credible threat against Myanmar’s interests that would compel it to alter its policy or behaviour on the Rohingya.

As long as these geo-strategic and economic interests — including by China and Russia, permanent members on the UN Security Council — afford Myanmar political and economic protection, it will be very difficult to apply the degree of pressure necessary to bring about changes in Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya (and other ethnic minorities).

However, there have also been missed opportunities to extract concessions from Myanmar to create improved conditions in Rakhine.

UNHCR and UNDP, for example, are set to renew their controversial MoU with Myanmar even though Myanmar has done very little to implement its obligations under the agreement over the past year; though Myanmar sees political value in the MoU, which gives the appearance of granting humanitarian access and cooperation with the UN, the negotiation of the renewal does not appear to have yielded anything meaningful from Myanmar. Opportunities like this are rare and must be recognized and seized upon.

Despite limited leverage over Myanmar, the US and others in the international community can do more. At the most basic level, it is important to keep this issue on the agenda. In the US specifically, Congress is likely to consider legislation in the coming months which would mandate punitive actions against Myanmar, such as further targeted sanctions on senior members and units of the Tatmadaw and restrict military-to-military engagement, as well as additional humanitarian assistance.

While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is likely to block the passage of this legislation, as he did last year under the misplaced belief that it will undermine Aung San Suu Kyi leadership and Myanmar’s “transition to democracy,” greater US leadership on the Rohingya would send an important signal to other stakeholders and could prompt others to take similar measures.

The issue of third-country resettlement is difficult because of negative global attitudes towards migrants and refugees; the desire of many Rohingya to return to Myanmar; and Bangladesh’s concern that third-country resettlement will reduce pressure on Myanmar, upset Bangladeshis that would like to emigrate, and be a pull factor for yet more Rohingya. Despite these challenges, it would be helpful from a humanitarian perspective if Bangladesh and third countries could reach agreement on the resettlement of particularly vulnerable populations.

Finally, while it will not resolve the crisis, additional humanitarian support is urgently needed to avert a deterioration in conditions in Cox’s Bazar. The 2019 Joint Response Plan is only 18% funded and, while the US is by far the largest donor (providing more than $100 million to the 2019 Joint Response Plan and $240 million in support to the 2018 Joint Response Plan), others could do more.

After observing Myanmar’s government’s stand on the crisis do you think Aung San Suu Kyi is able to rectify the current situation and uphold human rights for which she was once praised? 

First, let’s remember that it is Myanmar’s Tatmadaw that is primarily responsible for the terrible atrocities committed against the Rohingya. Having said that, while Aung San Suu Kyi has no direct control over the Tatmadaw, she is not as powerless as portrayed by some and she bears some complicity in defending the Tatmadaw and covering up their crimes. Moreover, she has failed to use her moral authority to set a tone of tolerance and inclusion; her political party, over which she exerts very tight control, has largely failed to use its majority in parliament to pass progressive laws and to amend regressive ones; and she wields significant influence through civilian ministries which oversee issues such as the design and implementation of citizenship processes and the publication of state media outlets (which continue to deny that atrocities occurred).

Those that have known Aung San Suu Kyi much longer than I have followed Myanmar politics believe her time in power has changed her, though the international community bears some responsibility for projecting on to her certain characteristics which she never embodied: She has a fondness for the Tatmadaw that her father founded, she holds condescending views of the non-Burmese, and she has an autocratic style of leadership that does not allow for constructive criticism.

For all of these reasons, I am sceptical that she has both the political will and the capacity to listen that are necessary to effectively address the plight of the Rohingya, the conflict in Rakhine, and the broader ethnic peace process.

Can Myanmar be allowed to get away with ethnic cleansing/genocide? What would the implications be for the world and especially minority communities around the world if that were allowed to happen?

Myanmar, with the support of its allies, is clearly trying to buy time so that it is neither held accountable for the atrocities committed against the Rohingya nor required to improve its treatment of the Rohingya (or other ethnic minorities). Myanmar has sought to portray itself as capable of investigating its own actions, but there is nothing to suggest Myanmar’s domestic institutions are capable of delivering the justice that victims of violence deserve. Given Bangladesh’s own history, it has rightly placed an emphasis on the importance of accountability, both to prevent Myanmar from “getting away with it” and to signal to others that such crimes cannot be committed with impunity.

That said, international justice mechanisms are slow and have relatively weak enforcement capabilities, so efforts to pursue justice must be complemented by sustained efforts to improve conditions in Rakhine for Rohingya and Rakhine (suffering from conflict between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army) and to create the conditions under which Rohingya would voluntarily choose to return to Myanmar from Bangladesh.

There is a risk that, given frustration over the lack of progress in Myanmar, the international community will focus on accountability because it is somewhat easier than compelling change in Rakhine, even if it is unlikely to bring about near-term improvements in Rohingya lives. Also critical — and largely missing from the conversation to date — is how Rohingya themselves perceive justice and accountability, an understanding of which should inform the ways that Bangladesh and others seek to address these issues with Myanmar and internationally.

What can Bangladesh do? Must we just accept that 1.2 million Rohingya are here to stay? 

Bangladesh is in an extremely difficult position and, as noted earlier, the country and its people have done a tremendous global good by providing the Rohingya with refuge from Myanmar. Bangladesh first should continue its effective efforts to keep the Rohingya issue on the international agenda, which is the foundation for securing the international support needed to address the proximate and root causes of the crisis.

Bangladesh and the international community should also continue to push Myanmar and its allies to improve conditions in Rakhine and to lay the foundation for possible returns, emphasizing that economic development alone is not sufficient; opportunities to hasten the creation of conducive conditions in Rakhine must be recognized and seized upon.

Many Rohingya view the closure of the detainment camps in central Rakhine as a key confidence-building measure, provided that camp closure allows those displaced since 2012 to return to their homes or a site of their choosing and leads to access to basic services and livelihood opportunities.

In addition, and recognizing that this crisis will take at least several years to address, Bangladesh should be even more proactive in combating the mounting concerns over security and growing frustration in the camps by increasing the security presence, especially at night, and by providing Rohingya with constructive ways to spend their time, such as through learning and skills-building opportunities, that reduce hopelessness and the appeal of criminality or militancy.

Providing Rohingya in the camps with effective platforms to raise their concerns will also help to ameliorate some of their frustrations. Finally, Bangladesh should also work closely with partners in the international community, NGOs, and businesses to invest in the development of adversely affected host communities, ensuring that their concerns about the influx of the Rohingya are addressed and do not exacerbate an already tense and complex situation.

While Bangladesh is likely to host the Rohingya longer than it would like to (and longer than many Rohingya would like to stay in Bangladesh), this does not necessarily mean that the Rohingya will stay in Bangladesh forever.

The key for Bangladesh and its international partners is devising a strategy that mitigates the near-term security and socio-economic risks and creates a foundation for a safe, dignified, voluntary, and sustainable return without undermining continued pressure on Myanmar to create the conditions for such a return.

Thank you, Steve, for sharing your insights. We do hope that you and the Richardson Center are able to work constructively with Bangladeshis, the Rohingya, and other key stakeholders to address this crisis. 

Mazher Mir is Adviser to the ASEAN Council.

Tags: Myanmar, Rohingya, China, Russia, Aung San Suu Kyi, UN, Democracy, Army Minorities

Source: https://www.dhakatribune.com/opinion/op-ed/2019/05/17/bangladesh-is-in-an-extremely-difficult-position

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Is the World Bank’s Rakhine project misguided?

Home > Opinion > Op-Ed  

Is the World Bank’s Rakhine project misguided?

 Towheed Feroze >  Published at 12:02 am May 20th, 2019                             

 It remains unclear who this is supposed to help

     Will it create new openings for social cohesion or increase the segregation? /MAHMUD HOSSAIN OPU

There’s no need to give a lengthy introduction to the Rohingya issue. As things stand, around 1.1 million Rohingyas are now living in Bangladesh with very little chance of ever going back to their homeland in Rakhine State, Myanmar.

While the international communities are providing support in the form of food, medicine, and expertise to the massive assistance program run by the Bangladesh government, no country or development agency has taken any concrete step to either make Myanmar express any regret for what she has done to the Rohingyas or exert pressure to ensure Rakhine State is made safe and secure for a future return of the displaced.

All that we have heard is rhetoric. Plenty of it, in fact, topped with the regular platitudes followed by some vacuous measures like stripping Aung San Suu Kyi of some obscure titles conferred on her. In such a situation, the World Bank’s (WB) proposal to invest $100m in Rakhine seems more like a move to propitiate the Myanmar authority, which, in reality, is the army.

Investment in the name of development?

 The first question that pops to mind — is this aimed to help the Rohingya, or the authority in Myanmar? For argument’s sake, even if the WB injects such a massive amount in Rakhine, the question will be: Who is this for?

We all know that most people who were in Rakhine are actually in Bangladesh, living in the camps in Cox’s Bazar. So, who will benefit from the projects?

There have been several reports in the past stating that the atmosphere in Rakhine is still tense and not conducive for the Rohingyas to return. Now, the first priority, at least from a journalist’s perspective, is to create a situation in which Myanmar opens up Rakhine for inspection.

This means, a thorough assessment of the socio-political environment, including taking a close look at the simmering anger of the local Buddhist population against the Rohingyas. It stands to reason, if locals feel that the Rohingya are no part of Myanmar, the whole idea of economic regeneration in the area will serve the wrong purpose.

The Rohingya in Burma had been relegated socially, politically, and economically for ages. Even in Rakhine, they were never really included in the economy. Unless there is an unequivocal guarantee from the Burmese authority that any development activity will directly engage the persecuted, attempting a development investment will raise suspicion.Bringing in development projects in an area where prejudices run deep and are masked by the pretence of normalcy appears misguided.

Concentrate on safe return first

 Whether it’s the WB or any other organization trying to provide support to the Rohingya imbroglio, the emphasis should be given to the dignified, voluntary return of the Rohingya, which can only happen when people living in the camps feel convinced that Myanmar is contrite for what has happened and is will willing to make amends.

Unfortunately, in the countless times that the civil administration has faced the question about the Rohingya, there has never been an expression of remorse.

Aung San Suu Kyi has unabashedly resorted to prevarication, equivocating the issue while international communities plus global powerhouses have been mealy-mouthed in blaming the military authority for the atrocities. But, let’s assume there is a development investment in Rakhine.

Obviously, if that is solely for the Rohingya then it may trigger already existing antagonism to flare up. Any development in Rakhine must be preceded by an open declaration that the region is safe for the Rohingyas to go back.

That hasn’t happened as yet.

 On the ground, the reality is that many Rohingya living in the camps are being lured by human traffickers with promises of a better life in Malaysia. In a state of desperation, several have tried to leave and were eventually apprehended by the Bangladeshi law enforcers.

This indicates a sense of restlessness which has begun to creep into the camps. This can, over time, lead to crime, violence, and disorder. A pervasive sense of malaise may sound like a trivial problem though, but in truth, it’s a grave issue. The camps may soon need psychologists since the problems faced by the residents will be linked to a growing sense of despondency over their general purpose of existence.

Despite support from development partners, there has not been any pressure on Myanmar from any side to take back the Rohingya. Maybe it won’t be wrong to say that sustaining the Rohingya issue will be a boon for development agencies because, while the Rohingya remain in Bangladesh, their large scale development operations will continue to provide fertile employment space for countless international consultants.

If the WB is genuinely concerned then instead of trying to give legitimacy to a military-backed puppet rule in Myanmar, it should attach the condition of complete security in Rakhine as a pre-condition for any development project.

In the meantime, the WB should invest in skill development projects in the camps in Bangladesh which will teach a variety of livelihood-ensuring capabilities. Obviously, these projects need to be run, led, and designed by local experts and not by exorbitantly paid foreigners, which is usually the norm. Bangladeshis cannot be hoodwinked into believing anymore that development can only deliver when led by outsiders.

Towheed Feroze is News Editor at Bangla Tribune and teaches at the University of Dhaka.

 Tags: Myanmar,  Rakhine State,  Rohingyas,  World Bank , Economic Regeneration

 Source: https://www.dhakatribune.com/opinion/op-ed/2019/05/20/is-the-world-bank-s-rakhine-project-misguided

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21st – Century Concentration Camps

21st – Century Concentration Camps | The New York Times

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Genocide is an act of state, and demands a response by other states

Genocide is an act of state, and demands a response by other states

John Packer > May 10, 2019  > Open Global Rights

                                               Photo: Tansim News Agency/Seyyed Mahmoud Hosseini

The Myanmar state can and must be held accountable for the genocide being perpetrated against the Rohingya, a point lost in largely illusory efforts to pursue international criminal trials of individuals.

The plight of the Rohingya of Myanmar is an existential question.  Indeed, they are enduring an on-going genocide.  After decades of persecution and a deliberate campaign of terror, violence, killings and rape waged against them, today perhaps only 15% of the original population of Rohingya remain in Rakhine State.  Some 750,000 have fled the country since August 2017, most to squalid conditions in Bangladesh.  A third of those remaining in Myanmar (some 140,000 human beings) are confined to concentration camps while the fate of many others is precarious at best.  All credible and independent sources who have investigated the situation have concluded there exists ample evidence for the charge of genocide, including a UN fact-finding commission, UN rapporteurs, and many NGOs.

Such a charge inevitably demands individual criminal accountability, and indeed several reports have named the military commanders that ought to be brought to justice along with complicit civilian leaders.  Yet, the demand for international criminal trials far in the future is obscuring and detracting attention from other actions demanded of UN Member States in the face of a credible charge of genocide.  “Accountability” mustn’t be limited to trials of individuals.  The Myanmar state itself can and must be held to account.

To focus only on individual criminal accountability misunderstands the basic nature of genocide.  The Genocide Convention is above all a matter of state obligations, where breaches engage state responsibility. This is distinct from individual responsibility (which entails punishment of culpable, individual human beings). It is crucial to realise that the state is a uniquely powerful actor. Under international law, it is endowed with sovereign powers of policy- and law-making.  Genocide is, by its character, not just a composite of disparate individual acts—although individuals can commit certain genocidal acts. The point is that some acts cannot be committed by individuals.  For example, no individual confers or withdraws citizenship—which is a prerogative of the state alone. The continued denial of citizenship to the Rohingya, alongside the blatant discrimination and violence they suffer, is clearly evidence of the systematic persecution that sustains the charge of genocide, and it shows the state’s intent.

Further, the Tatmadaw are the Armed Forces of the Union of Myanmar, possessing specific state authority and equipped with enormous public means. The Tatmadaw is not a gang, nor a militia.  They are not distinct from the state, but are the effective instrument of control (the monopoly of lawful force) by and within the state. Thus, coordinated actions, by command, are the responsibility of the state and not just of the Generals named in various investigations. To be precise, in August 2017 the mass rapes across hundreds of villages and different districts, occurring at the exact same time, were not just the sum of individual sexual assaults by disparate, coincidental decisions of individual soldiers. Those thousands of acts were and remain under license of the Myanmar state—which grants both authority and impunity—and the aim of those rapes (simultaneously, brutally, also to forcibly impregnate) is intended by the state to destroy the Rohingya as a group, at least in part. That is the very definition of genocide.

The Myanmar state has commissioned these acts—which would not otherwise be possible in scale—and which continue today. A number of states have already expressed the view that genocide has occurred.  There are now 150 States Parties to the Genocide Convention—three-quarters of the world, including Burma/Myanmar. Article IX of the Genocide Convention prescribes the recourse in obligatory language: in case of a dispute the matter “shall be submitted to the International Court of Justice” [ICJ].  It would be reasonable and desirable for several states—a broadly representative group—to act together to bring a case against Myanmar at the ICJ.  Cases under the Genocide Convention have been brought to the ICJ and the obligation to prevent genocide has been adjudicated.

An action before the ICJ would be hugely impactful both politically and legally.

Politically, it would constitute an immediate forum for open and comprehensive consideration of the ongoing genocide.  Initiation of the action would alone generate reputational risk, thereby causing concern for foreign investors and affect ‘business as usual’ given the prospect of a binding judgment and orders including potentially huge reparations.  Prosecutions of some ‘bad apples’ can be easily ignored by investors, but laws and practices of the state possibly judged unlawful (and ordered remedied) have far-reaching consequences. Not surprisingly, therefore, ICJ judgments are generally respected.

The benefits of such an action would be immediate, notably the possibility to seek from the Court Provisional Measures. Myanmar would be obligated to respond, with its failure to respond constituting a further breach with further consequences. A case would also serve to expose before the world Myanmar’s formal position, to be scrutinized according to law. In terms of reparations, the Rohingya have rights to return home, to restitution of their property and to compensation for other injuries. These can follow an ICJ action. They do not follow from prosecutions of individuals (at the ICC or elsewhere) which, at best—many years hence, if ever—might result in the incarceration of some individuals, long out of power. Judging from recent, disappointing ICC decisions, even this thin possibility holds a fair chance of failing.

In sum, the ICJ is an immediately available, easily accessible, highly appropriate and powerful recourse.  We need to stop prevaricating, stop ignoring the overwhelming facts, and simply apply the existing law.  This is not only an existential matter for the Rohingya—which should be reason enough to act. It is also, perhaps, an existential matter for the international rule of law and for the core value of universal human rights. We cannot be unsure about this or hesitate to act in the face of this genocide.

Tags: Genocide is an act of state,demands a response by other states,John Packer

This article was originally published on the Open Global Rights on April 24, 2019.

Source: https://www.rohingyatoday.com/en/genocide-act-state-and-demands-response-other-states

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

Turkey pledges support to end Rohingya crisis

08:39 PM, May 19, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 08:48 PM, May 19, 2019

Turkey pledges support to end Rohingya crisis

File photo

Star Online Report

Turkey is committed to working with Bangladesh in regional and international levels to bring an end to the Rohingya crisis that has been affecting Bangladesh in socio-economic, environmental and even diplomatic fronts.

Turkish Member of Parliament Ravza Kavakci in a briefing session reiterated the steadfast commitment and firm determination of Turkish government in this regard. He was speaking at the session “Bangladesh-Turkey: Solidarity for Humanity” organised by Bangladesh Consulate in Istanbul on Saturday.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque presented the latest situation of the Rohingya crisis, which has exacerbated mostly since the influx of some 750,000 Rohingyas from August 2017 following military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

In his remarks, Istanbul’s Deputy Governor Ismail Gultekin assured Bangladesh of Turkey’s sustained support in Rohingya issue.

Turkey is committed to working with Bangladesh in regional and international levels to bring an end to the Rohingya crisis. Turkish Member of Parliament Ravza Kavakci in a briefing session reiterated the steadfast commitment and firm determination of Turkish government in this regard. Photo: Collected

 He emphasized the need for further promoting the understanding and connectivity between the peoples of Bangladesh and Turkey in fully realising the potentials of their relationship in all its spheres including business and economy.

Shahidul Haque elaborated the root causes of the Rohigya crisis, persecutions in Myanmar and pointed out the challenges being faced by Bangladesh in bringing effective and sustainable solution to the crisis.

He also gave a brief account of assistance and cooperation received by Bangladesh from international community in this regard. He underlined the commitment, readiness, intent and actions of the government in providing every possible support to about 1.2 million Rohingya sheltering in Bangladesh.

Haque recalled the visits of Turkish First Lady Emine Erdogan and the Prime Minister Binal Yildrim to Bangladesh in September and December 2017 respectively for the purpose. He sought everyone’s engagement, participation and contributions in their own way to this important issue, not only keeping it alive at the global stage but also making it loud and heard by the international actors for getting it resolved at the earliest.

Related Topics : Rohingya Refugee Crisis

 Source: https://www.thedailystar.net/rohingya-crisis/news/turkey-pledges-support-end-rohingya-crisis-1745866

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

Bangladesh shares Rohingya-related challenges with Turkish interlocutors

Home > Bangladesh > Foreign Affairs

 Bangladesh shares Rohingya-related challenges with Turkish interlocutors

Dhaka, Ankara FOC Monday > UNB NEWS > PUBLISH DATE – MAY 19, 2019, 09:14 PM

‘Bangladesh-Turkey: Solidarity for Humanity’ organised by Bangladesh Consulate in Istanbul on 18 May 2019.

Dhaka, May 19 (UNB) – Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque, now in Turkey, has shared the challenges being faced by Bangladesh in dealing with Rohingya crisis apart from highlighting Bangladesh’s efforts to bring an effective and sustainable solution to the crisis.

He presented the latest situation of the Rohingya crisis at a briefing session titled ‘Bangladesh-Turkey: Solidarity for Humanity’ organised by Bangladesh Consulate in Istanbul on Saturday.

Members of Turkish Parliament, Deputy Governor of Istanbul, Rectors of Public and Private Universities of Turkey, prominent academicians as well as top executives of Istanbul-based think-tanks and NGOs attended the event, said a media release on Sunday.

 Foreign Secretary Haque will lead the Bangladesh delegation at the Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) with the Turkish side to be led by its Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Sedat Onal in Ankara on Monday.

Foreign Secretary Haque made an eloquent description on the historical evolution of the Rohingya crisis and the systematic persecution and atrocities unleashed by Myanmar over the years on this particular community. He elaborated the root causes of the problem, articulating various dimensions and perspectives attached to it.

Consul General of Bangladesh in Istanbul Mohammad Monirul Islam also spoke on the occasion highlighting the recent upturns.

 The Foreign Secretary pointed out the catalogue of challenges being faced by Bangladesh in bringing an effective and sustainable solution to the crisis. He also gave a brief account of assistance and cooperation received by Bangladesh from international community in this regard.

Haque underlined the commitment, readiness, intent and actions of the government in providing every possible support to about 1.2 million forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals currently sheltering in Bangladesh. He expressed sincere appreciation to all international friends and allies, including Turkey, that stand by Bangladesh at this critical hour.

Haque sought everyone’s engagement, participation and contributions in their own way to this important issue, not only keeping it alive at the global stage but also making it loud and heard by the international actors for getting it resolved at the earliest.

Consul General of Bangladesh in Istanbul Mohammad Monirul Islam also spoke on the occasion highlighting the recent upturns in the bilateral relationship between Bangladesh and Turkey.

Tags:  Turkey, Bangladesh, Rohingya-related challenges, Turkish interlocutors,Foreign Affairs

Source: http://unb.com.bd/category/Bangladesh/bangladesh-shares-rohingya-related-challenges-with-turkish-interlocutors/18622?fbclid=IwAR3AGg1RgyiRMxazdomrJbDLUXlPqtoIp5NJv-SFcRb3HkwxhfbMObJtF_c 

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Posted in International, Media, Myanmar, Publication, Report, Rohingya
Rape by Command
Pre-planned Expulsion
Witness to horror
The Rohingyas
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