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Posts tagged ‘Forgotten Rohingya Muslims’

UN envoy: No prospect Rohingya refugees can go home soon

January 26, 2019

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — A U.N. human rights envoy said that hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees won’t be able to return to Myanmar soon because of threats to their safety in the Buddhist-majority nation.

Myanmar has been criticized by global rights groups and many nations for state-sponsored violence against ethnic minorities. Yanghee Lee, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, on Friday also criticized India and Saudi Arabia for mistreatment of the Rohingya in those countries.

Lee spent 10 days in Thailand and Bangladesh, speaking to refugees living in Bangladesh, authorities, U.N. agencies and international experts. More than 700,000 Rohingya refugees have fled into Bangladesh since late August 2017.

“It is clear that Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh cannot return to Myanmar in the near future,” she said. She said violence against the Rohingya by the Myanmar army in Rakhine state that prompted them to flee to neighboring Bangladesh “bear the hallmarks of genocide.” Myanmar has repeatedly turned down her request for allowing her to visit the country.

Myanmar has rejected all the allegations that any crimes against humanity and genocide took place. Global rights groups have called the country’s top military officials to be tried for their alleged roles in the killing and rapes of Rohingya.

Lee said the violence against other minority groups must also end in Myanmar. “Its campaign of violence against ethnic minorities, including the Rohingya, the Kayin, the Kachin and the Shan, must end,” she said.

She added: “There must be accountability for the campaign of ethnic cleansing and possible genocide against the Rohingya, as well as the war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated against ethnic minorities around the country.”

Lee told journalists she was disturbed by reports of new violence in Rakhine state and she accused Myanmar of failing to create a peaceful environment so the refugees could return from Bangladesh. “The campaign of violence against the Rohingya continues, with the security forces slowly bleeding the remaining Rohingya population and continuing to force them to flee to Bangladesh,” she said.

Lee said she was dismayed by Saudi Arabia’s recent deportation of 13 Rohingya to Bangladesh, where they have been arrested and charged with forging the passports that they used to travel to Saudi Arabia.

About 1,300 Rohingya have recently arrived in Bangladesh from India, Bangladesh officials said earlier this week. Another 61 Rohingya, including many children, were arrested earlier this week by India in its northeastern states of Assam and Tripura. India rejected repeated U.N. calls against a decision by India to send at least 40,000 Rohingya back to Myanmar.

Bangladesh attempted to start repatriation in November last year under a deal with Myanmar despite reservations by the U.N. and other global human rights groups that conditions were not safe for Rohingya in Myanmar, which said it was ready to receive them. Bangladesh subsequently postponed the process.

The exodus of Rohingya began after Myanmar security forces launched a brutal crackdown following attacks by an insurgent group on guard posts in late August in 2017. The scale, organization and ferocity of the crackdown led the U.N. and several governments to accuse Myanmar of ethnic cleansing and genocide. Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had ordered border guards to open the border allowing them to get in.

Most people in Myanmar do not accept that the Rohingya Muslims are a native ethnic group, calling them as “Bengalis” who entered from Bangladesh centuries ago. Nearly all have been denied citizenship since 1982, as well as access to education and hospitals.

India deports Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar

October 04, 2018

GAUHATI, India (AP) — India on Thursday deported its first group of Rohingya Muslims since the government last year ordered the expulsion of members of the Myanmar minority group and others who entered the country illegally.

The deportation was carried out after the Supreme Court rejected a last-minute plea by the seven men’s lawyer that they be allowed to remain in India because they feared reprisals in Myanmar. They were arrested in 2012 for entering India illegally and have been held in prison since then.

Indian authorities handed the seven over to Myanmar officials at a border crossing in Moreh in Manipur state, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters. Each carried a bag of belongings.

The Supreme Court said it would allow their deportation because Myanmar had accepted them as citizens. Government attorney Tushar Mehta told the judges that Myanmar had given the seven certificates of identity and 1-month visas to facilitate their deportation.

Most Rohingya Muslims in Buddhist-majority Myanmar are denied citizenship and face widespread discrimination. Defense attorney Prashant Bhushan said the government should treat them as refugees, not as illegal migrants, and send a representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to talk to them so they would not be deported under duress.

About 700,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since August 2017 to escape a brutal campaign of violence by Myanmar’s military. An estimated 40,000 other Rohingya have taken refuge in parts of India. Less than 15,000 are registered with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Many have settled in areas of India with large Muslim populations, including the southern city of Hyderabad, the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi, and the Himalayan region of Jammu-Kashmir. Some have taken refuge in northeast India bordering Bangladesh and Myanmar.

The Indian government says it has evidence there are extremists who pose a threat to the country’s security among the Rohingya. India is fighting insurgencies in northern Kashmir and in its northeastern states.

Turkey to continue aid efforts for Rohingya in Ramadan

17.05.2018

ANKARA

Turkish charitable groups aim to reach thousands of Rohingya in Myanmar and Bangladesh during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) plans to deliver food parcels to 5,000 families living in refugee camps and in villages in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

The agency is also set to set up tents to serve iftars, or fast-breaking meals, for as many as 30,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

TIKA will also supply a separate group of 30,000 people with food parcels that contain salt, sugar, biscuit, persimmon, tea, onion, potato, pepper and chickpea, along with personal care items.

The agency will also establish new shelters for 180 families in Rakhine.

Also, the Turkiye Diyanet Foundation (TDV) — the charity organization of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs — is set to distribute more than 6,000 food packages for Rohingya in Myanmar and provide 5,000 families with iftar meals.

The foundation also plans to deliver 10,000 food packages and serve iftar meals for 13,000 Rohingya in Cox-Bazaar, Bangladesh.

The Turkish Red Crescent Society will give food parcels and personal care products to 2,000 families in Bangladesh on a weekly basis during Ramadan.

The Turkish Red Crescent will also organize two iftar meals in Cox Bazaar.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, some 750,000 Rohingya, mostly children, and women, fled Myanmar when Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community, according to the Amnesty International.

At least 9,000 Rohingya were killed in Rakhine state from Aug. 25 to Sept. 24, according to Doctors Without Borders.

In a report published on Dec. 12, the global humanitarian organization said the deaths of 71.7 percent or 6,700 Rohingya were caused by violence. They include 730 children below the age of 5.

Source: Anadolu Agency.

Link: https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/turkey-to-continue-aid-efforts-for-rohingya-in-ramadan/1149094.

Myanmar snubs Hague court’s intervention in Rohingya crisis

August 10, 2018

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar sharply rejected an attempt by the International Criminal Court to consider the country’s culpability for activities that caused 700,000 minority Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh for safety last year.

The office of the nation’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, said in a statement posted online Thursday that the court in the Netherlands has no jurisdiction over Myanmar because it is not a member state. It also offered procedural reasons for why it would not respond formally to the court’s request for its views on the exodus of the Rohingya, and said the question “is meritless and should be dismissed.” The ICC did not immediately respond to an Associated Press request for comment.

Critics including U.N. experts have accused Myanmar’s military of atrocities against the Rohingya amounting to ethnic cleaning, or even genocide. Suu Kyi’s government says it was carrying out justifiable counterinsurgency operations in response to attacks on security forces by Rohingya militants in August last year.

The army, according to documentary evidence and survivor and eyewitness accounts compiled by human rights organizations, beat and killed civilians, organized rapes and the burning of thousands of homes belonging to Rohingya in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine.

The ICC had solicited Myanmar’s views in April, and later set a July 27 deadline for a response to the question of whether the court should have jurisdiction. Myanmar accused the court of violating international legal norms by seeking to assert jurisdiction over the issue despite Myanmar not being a party to the Rome Statute establishing the court.

“By allowing such a contrived procedure, the ICC may set a dangerous precedent whereby future populistic causes and complaints against non-State Parties to the Rome Statute may be litigated at the urging of biased stakeholders and non-governmental organizations and even then, selectively based on the political current of the times,” it said.

The statement also referred to several proceedings carried out by the court that it called irregular or not allowed under its own rules, including alleged “lack of fairness and transparency.” It also mentioned its agreements to have Rohingya repatriated from Bangladesh, though such action has yet to be implemented and the U.N. has criticized Myanmar for delays.

The Rohingya have long faced severe discrimination and were the target of violence in 2012 that killed hundreds and drove about 140,000 people — predominantly Rohingya — from their homes to camps for the internally displaced, where most remained until last year’s violence.

The government refuses to recognize the Rohingya as a legitimate native ethnic minority. Most Rohingya are denied citizenship and other rights.

UN chief visits Rohingya in Bangladesh refugee camps

July 02, 2018

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh (AP) — U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Monday that the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh to escape violence have been victims of one of the “most tragic stories” of the violation of human rights.

Guterres was visiting the sprawling refugee camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district to meet some of the Rohingya who have taken shelter there since last August. He said at a news conference that the refugees had to live under terrible conditions in the camps because of massive violations of their human rights in Myanmar. He praised Bangladesh’s government for being generous toward the refugees.

“It is impossible to visit these camps without breaking our hearts with the suffering of the Rohingya people,” Guterres said. “First of all, listening to the terrible stories of massive violence — of killings, of rape, of torture, of house or villages burnt — it is probably one of the most tragic stories in relation to the systematic violation of human rights.”

He said the solidarity the international community was demonstrating toward the crisis was not necessarily being translated into reality when it comes to funding. Guterres said he was particularly worried about the potential threats of flooding and mudslides because of monsoon rains and urged the international community to step up with funding.

“When I see the young boys and girls, I remember my own granddaughters and I imagine what it would be see my granddaughters living in these conditions,” he said. On Sunday, Guterres met Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and assured her of the U.N.’s continuing support for the Rohingya.

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi also visited the camps. “I am extremely humbled and moved by the courage of the Rohingya,” Kim said. “We cannot turn our heads away. We stand in solidarity. … Today we are all Rohingya.”

Kim promised to continue to work with Bangladesh’s government to support the refugees. Prior to Kim’s visit to Bangladesh, the World Bank announced a $480 million grant to Bangladesh to address the needs of Rohingya, including health care, education, water, sanitation and social protection.

Maulana Salamat Ullah, a refugee, told The Associated Press that he talked to Guterres and shared his thoughts of going back home. “I told him we don’t have our country, please help us take back our country. I am requesting the entire world to help get us our country back,” he said.

“What would be our children’s future? How will they get educated? We don’t know what will happen,” he said. The recent spasm of violence in Myanmar began when Rohingya insurgents staged a series of attacks on Aug. 25 on about 30 security outposts and other targets. In a subsequent crackdown described by U.N. and U.S. officials as “ethnic cleansing,” Myanmar security forces have been accused of rape, killing, torture and the burning of Rohingya homes. Thousands are believed to have been killed.

Rohingya are denied citizenship in overwhelmingly Buddhist Myanmar, where they’ve faced persecution for decades. They’re derided as “Bengalis,” and many in Myanmar believe they are illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement in November to start repatriating the Rohingya in January, but the process has been delayed over safety concerns and a complicated verification process. Global human rights groups and the U.N. said the conditions in Myanmar were not safe for the refugees’ return.

The U.N. refugee agency and Bangladesh finalized a memorandum of understanding this year that said the repatriation process must be “safe, voluntary and dignified in line with international standards.”

Myanmar, UN sign pact on initial steps for Rohingya return

June 06, 2018

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar and U.N. agencies signed an agreement Wednesday that could eventually lead to the return of some of the 700,000 Rohingya Muslims who fled brutal persecution by the country’s security forces and are now crowded into makeshift camps in Bangladesh.

The memorandum of understanding promises to establish a “framework of cooperation” that aims to create conditions for “voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable” repatriation of Rohingya refugees but does not address Myanmar’s denial of citizenship for the minority.

Myanmar’s government said it hoped the pact would hasten repatriation, but rights groups still doubt it will let many Rohingya return or can guarantee the safety of those who do. Myanmar’s statement didn’t mention Rohingya, reflecting the government and the Burmese majority’s insistence there is no such ethnic group in Myanmar. Instead it referred to them as “displaced persons.”

Myanmar’s security forces have been accused of rape, killing, torture and the burning of Rohingya homes in western Rakhine state, where most Rohingya lived. The U.N. and U.S. have described the army crackdown that began in August last year as “ethnic cleansing.”

Predominantly Buddhist Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed in November to begin repatriating Rohingya. But refugees feared their lives would be at risk in Myanmar without international monitoring while Myanmar insisted they have identity documents, which most Rohingya have been denied.

Knut Ostby, U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, said the agreement is an important first step toward resolving the crisis. “There is a lot of work to be done. This task should not be underestimated,” Ostby said. “We are talking about approximately 700,000 people who don’t only have to return, but the conditions have to be right for them to return: the conditions both in terms of their identity in society, in terms of their safety and also in terms of services, livelihoods, a place to live, infrastructure.”

The U.N. has said the agreement provides for its refugee and development agencies to be given access to Rakhine state. It said that will allow the refugee agency to assess the situation and provide information to refugees about conditions in their areas of origin so that they can better decide whether they want to return.

The Myanmar government statement said assistance from the U.N. agencies would assist the work it has already started toward repatriation. It highlighted that it had cooperated with the U.N. a quarter century earlier in repatriating 230,000 “displaced persons” — Rohingya — who had fled violence in Rakhine to Bangladesh.

Rights groups remain pessimistic that the safe return of Rohingya refugees will ever be possible. They point to a lack of firm commitments from Myanmar and its decades of hostility toward a minority that was denied citizenship by a 1982 law that excluded them from a list of recognized ethnic groups in the majority Buddhist nation.

“How will the Burmese government guarantee these people will not face again persecution?” said Kyaw Win, executive director of Burma Human Rights Network. “It is very politically convenient for the Burmese government to sign this agreement, and also never commit.”

Some 125,000 of the Rohingya who remain in Myanmar are living in camps where their movement is restricted after being forced from their villages in 2012 by a wave of violence led by radical Buddhists and security forces.

“There’s still been no movement to ensure Rohingya have equal access to full citizenship,” said Matthew Smith, the head of advocacy group Fortify Rights. “Discourse around repatriation now unfortunately appears to be attempt by authorities to distract from mass atrocities and crimes taken place.”

UN team, in Bangladesh, vows to work to end Rohingya crisis

April 29, 2018

KUTUPALONG, Bangladesh (AP) — A U.N. Security Council team visiting Bangladesh promised Sunday to work hard to resolve a crisis involving hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have fled to the country to escape military-led violence in neighboring Myanmar.

The diplomats, who visited the sprawling camps and border points where about 700,000 Rohingya have taken shelter, said their visit was an opportunity to see the situation firsthand. Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyansky, said he and his fellow team members would not look away from the crisis after their visit, though he warned that there are no simple solutions.

“It’s very necessary to come and see everything at place here in Bangladesh and Myanmar. But there is no magic solution, there is no magic stick to solve all these issues,” he said at a news conference at the Kutupalong refugee camp in the coastal town of Cox’s Bazar.

The diplomats will conclude their three-day visit to Bangladesh on Monday, when they leave for Myanmar. The recent spasm of violence in Myanmar began when Rohingya insurgents staged a series of attacks on Aug. 25 on about 30 security outposts and other targets. In a subsequent crackdown described by U.N. and U.S. officials as “ethnic cleansing,” Myanmar security forces have been accused of rape, killing, torture and the burning of Rohingya homes. Thousands are believed to have been killed.

The diplomats, comprising representatives from the five permanent Security Council members — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States — and 10 non-permanent member states, talked to some 120 refugees, including rape victims.

Peru’s ambassador to the U.N., Gustavo Adolfo Meza Cuadra Velasqez, said he and his fellow team members were ready to “work hard” and were “very concerned” about the crisis. “I think we have witnessed the magnitude of the refugee crisis and very tragic situation of some of the families,” he said.

The refugees are seeking U.N. protection to return home. The U.N. refugee agency and Bangladesh recently finalized a memorandum of understanding that said the repatriation process must be “safe, voluntary and dignified … in line with international standards.”

Karen Pierce, the UK’s ambassador to the United Nations, said that the Security Council would continue to work on enabling the refugees to return to Myanmar, but that the Rohingya must be allowed to return under safe conditions.

“The problem there lies in their expulsion, treatment and the fact that they had to flee to Bangladesh,” she said. Rohingya are denied citizenship in overwhelmingly Buddhist Myanmar, where they’ve faced persecution for decades. They’re derided as “Bengalis,” and many in Myanmar believe they are illegal migrants from Bangladesh. Most of them live in poverty in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, next to Bangladesh.

Thousands of refugees gathered amid scorching heat at the Kutupalong camp to welcome the visiting delegation. They carried placards, some of which read “We want justice.” “We are not Bengali, we are Rohingya. They have killed my family members, they tortured us, they will kill us again,” said one of the refugees, 29-year-old Mohammed Tayab, standing in front of a tent where he was waiting to meet the U.N. team.

Tayab, who was using crutches, said he was shot by Myanmar troops in his right leg. He said he lost a brother, an uncle and a nephew after Myanmar soldiers shot them dead. “I am here to talk to them, we want justice from them,” he said of the diplomats. “I will tell them my stories. They should listen to us.”

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