Thursday, 14 June 2018

2018 Aurora Prize awarded to Myanmar lawyer Kyaw Hla Aung

Source armradio, 10 June 

The third annual $1.1 million Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity was awarded today to Mr. Kyaw Hla Aung, a lawyer and activist recognized for his dedication to fighting for equality, education and human rights for the Rohingya people in Myanmar, in the face of persecution, harassment and oppression. Kyaw Hla Aung was presented the 2018 Aurora Prize, granted by the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors, at a ceremony in Armenia. Kyaw Hla Aung was selected as the 2018 Aurora Prize Laureate among 750 nominations submitted from 115 countries.  

Vartan Gregorian, Co-Founder of the Aurora Prize and Member of the Selection Committee, commended Mr. Aung, stating: "As we remember the horrors and violence experienced by Armenians – especially women and children – on the deportation route during the Genocide, it is with a great sense of responsibility that we stand ready to support Kyaw Hla Aung's advocacy work that will hopefully lead one day to the enactment of national and international policies to protect and defend the vulnerable. Kyaw Hla Aung is doing tremendous work, at great risk to himself, and exemplifies the far-reaching impact one person can have to galvanize a movement, and to help individuals transform their lives."

As the 2018 Aurora Prize Laureate, Kyaw Hla Aung will receive a $100,000 grant and the opportunity to continue the cycle of giving by donating the accompanying $1,000,000 award to organizations of his choice. He will donate the award to three international organizations that provide medical aid and assistance to refugees in Myanmar: 

  • Médecins Sans Frontières (London)
  • Malaysian Medical Relief – MERCY Malaysia (Malaysia)
  • International Catholic Migration Commission – ICMC (Switzerland, USA)

Kyaw Hla Aung has been working tirelessly for decades, using his legal expertise to appeal for basic human rights for the stateless Rohingya people. His commitment to fight for justice for the hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees in Myanmar persecuted by the government, and for the children who no longer have access to education, remains stronger than ever. He sacrificed a total of 12 years in prison as a result of his mission, at huge personal cost to his own family.

On being named the 2018 Aurora Prize Laureate, Kyaw Hla Aung said: "There are severe restrictions on my people. They have lost their courage and faith in themselves, have become illiterate, and, as a result, are penniless. It has been heartbreaking to see my community suffer from such discrimination. The support of the Aurora Prize serves as important recognition for all of the Muslim victims of human rights violations, as the plight of the Rohingya people continues to become more visible to the international public."

"Kyaw Hla Aung's work personifies the spirit of the Aurora Prize. He demonstrates the exceptional impact an individual can have in fighting injustice that often seems unbeatable, and inspires us to consider how a brave step forward to support the world's most vulnerable people can create impact beyond measure," said Mary Robinson, Aurora Prize Selection Committee Member and Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Leading international humanitarian figures and Aurora Prize Selection Committee members, including Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi; former president of Ireland Mary Robinson; former foreign minister of Australia and President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group Gareth Evans; former president of Mexico, Ernesto Zedillo; Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London, Lord Ara Darzi; former US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power; and co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières and former French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, were in Armenia to celebrate the 2018 Aurora Prize Laureate.

Kyaw Hla Aung was congratulated by Dr. Tom Catena, who was awarded the 2017 Aurora Prize for his exceptional commitment to providing urgent medical care to the 750,000 people in the war-torn Nuba Mountains of Sudan. He said: "The Aurora Prize has created a true light for our people in Nuba, and has helped rebuild the resilience of our community, ultimately to keep people alive. I am proud to share the Aurora Prize mantle with such a selfless humanitarian as Kyaw Hla Aung. I congratulate him on receiving this award and applaud his incredibly selfless efforts fighting for such a noble cause."

Guests of the Aurora Prize Ceremony also honored the contributions of the other two 2018 Aurora Prize Humanitarians: Dr. Sunitha Krishnan, women's rights advocate and Co-Founder of Prajwala, India, and Father Tomás González Castillo, Founder of La 72, a center that supports Central American migrants in Mexico.

The Aurora Prize Co-Founders, Vartan Gregorian, Noubar Afeyan and Ruben Vardanyan, and the organization's esteemed Selection Committee members join in congratulating the exceptional efforts of Kyaw Hla Aung, and the 2018 Aurora Humanitarians. As modern-day saviors who are putting their own lives at risk to save others, they serve to inspire the global community to step up embrace a commitment to our shared humanity.

Experts criticize new UN-Myanmar deal over Rohingya

Source AA
Experts criticize new UN-Myanmar deal over Rohingya

By Fatih Hafiz Mehmet 


Rohingya survivors of the Myanmar genocide are demanding a UN security force to guarantee their safe return to their homelands, terming the new agreement signed between Myanmar and the UN as inadequate, experts tell Anadolu Agency.

On June 6, the Myanmar government signed an agreement with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), allowing them to get involved in the much-delayed repatriation process.

Maung Zarni, coordinator for strategic affairs at the Free Rohingya Coalition, and Natalie Brinham, an economics and social research council Ph.D. scholar at the Queen Mary University of London, wrote an analysis piece for Anadolu Agency giving their views on the new agreement.

"One million Rohingya survivors of Myanmar genocide, who took refuge across the borders in neighboring Bangladesh, remain largely unpersuaded by the news of the latest repatriation deal the United Nations agencies have signed with their perpetrators in Naypyidaw, and openly call for 'UN Security Forces' to guarantee safe return to their homelands in the Western Myanmar state of Rakhine," they wrote.

The analysts said on June 6, two UN agencies with mandates for refugee protection and development inked a memorandum of understanding with the government of Myanmar.

However, the contents of the agreement were treated as if it were Myanmar's top national security secret, they wrote.

"The conditions on the ground indicate no semblance of physical safety for any returning Rohingyas," the analysts said.

Zarni and Brinham added that there is also no indication that the official acceptance of Rohingya by Myanmar as an integral ethnic minority of the union is forthcoming.  

Reintegration prospect low

"And there is little prospect for their reintegration into the predominantly Buddhist society where the most powerful Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing publicly declared his genocidal intent, that Rohingya presence in N. Rakhine was 'unfinished business' from the pogroms of WWII," they said.

"In addition to the frightening prospects of being marched back to Myanmar's 'killing fields', what has unnerved Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh -- thousands have been in refugee camps in Bangladesh since the early 1990's as they fled the earlier waves of violent persecution -- about this latest UN-Myanmar refugee deal is this: UN agencies -- UNDP, UNHCR, World Food Program (WFP) -- have a dismal record when it comes to standing up for the Rohingya in the last 40 years since UNHCR first became involved in the repatriation process in the summer of 1978."

Zarni and Brinham said the UN's reputation -- and most specifically the reputation of UNHCR and UNDP -- is on the line in Myanmar, and beyond.

"Any part they play in facilitating returns from Bangladesh to Myanmar is risky -- when returns could potentially result in another round of mass killings, further decades of containment in concentration camps or deliberate slow starvation," they said.

The analysts urged the UN agencies to place protection and human rights first this time around.

"The signs of a new secretive deal don't bode well for the Rohingya survivors. The newly-managed UN in Myanmar has even shelved the organization's own governing principles, namely transparency and inclusivity, as evidenced in the freshly-inked MoU with Myanmar," they said.

Zarni and Brinham added Myanmar is now suspect in the eyes of the International Criminal Court and international law circles.

"In apparent compliance with the demands for secrecy typically made by Myanmar's military-controlled NLD-government, the UN has not made public the MoU for scrutiny. Neither has the UN included Rohingyas in any stage of the negotiations over the MoU, nor spelled out their future role," they said. 

'Listen to Rohingya voices'

The analysts said the UNHCR had added a fourth adjective, "sustainable", to the mainstreamed mantra of "voluntary, safe and dignified".

"To make the fourth adjective viable, the UN must listen to Rohingya voices that call for a protected return to a protected homeland in Myanmar."

Since Aug. 25, 2017, more than 750,000 refugees, mostly children and women, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community, according to Amnesty International.

At least 9,400 Rohingya were killed in Rakhine from Aug. 25 to Sept. 24 last year, according to Doctors Without Borders.

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

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel.

In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Muslim woman in Rakhine jailed for attempted Yangon travel

Source frontiermyanmar, 2 June

 A photograph of Ma Hla Phyu's National Verification Card which has circulated online. 
Saturday, June 02, 2018



YANGON ­— A Muslim woman living in an internally displaced persons' camp in Rakhine State has been sentenced to a year in prison, for attempting to travel to Yangon without permission, an indication of the travel restrictions placed on Muslims living in the state.

Ma Hla Phyu, 26, was arrested on May 23 in Taungup Township, Rakhine State. She had been attempting to travel from the Kyauktalone IDP camp in Kyaukphyu Township to the commercial capital, U Shwe Hla Aung, the Kyaukphyu township administrator told Frontier by telephone on May 31.

Following a swift trial, she has been found guilty under Section 6(3) of the 1949 Residents of Burma Registration Act, which prohibits false representation, loan or forgery of a registration card. She has been sentenced to one year in Thandwe Prison with hard labour.

Hla Phyu had been living with her family at the Kyauktalone IDP camp since violence flared in Rakhine State in 2012, leaving hundreds of thousands — including Rohingya and Kaman, the latter among Myanmar's official "national races" — living in camps with limited access to healthcare, education and livelihoods.

Shwe Hla Aung said that Hla Phyu worked as a teacher at the camp, and collected a government salary at the end of the school year.

"She did not apply for travel permission as far as I know," said Shwe Hla Aung.

He said that people from the camp could only travel to Yangon if they provided information about where they were staying in the commercial capital.

While the Kaman hold National Registration Cards, which are issued to citizens, Hla Phyu's family is not Kaman, he said, so she carried a National Verification Card.

The government has insisted that Muslims in Rakhine State who do not have citizenship should apply for a NVC. If they qualify, they can begin the process of applying for citizenship.

However, U Phyu Chay, a camp leader at Kyauktalone said that many people in Rakhine reject the process because they are "not illegal immigrants".

"We are ethnic people. We do not want this process," he said.

He said Hla Phyu was arrested because she was Muslim. "That is the only reason they arrested her," he told Frontier.

He said that she had applied twice, including in January, for permission to travel to Yangon but the application had been rejected on both occasions. She had wanted to travel to the commercial capital to find work so she could send money home to her family, he said.

"She was not given a reason for why she was not allowed to travel," Phyu Chay said of her earlier attempts.

Hla Phyu completed her high school studies before the 2012 violence, he added. Since finishing high school she has been hoping to study Burmese language at university.

Her younger sister, Ma Hla Hla Phyu, 19, said that her parents didn't know she had left the camp because they were fasting for Ramadan.

"We found out about her arrest from the township administrator. I want to see my sister as soon as possible," Hla Hla Phyu told Frontier, adding that the administrator has said he will help the family visit her at Thandwe.

Hla Phyu's cause has garnered support from internet users.

Dr Min Swe, who has more than 5,000 followers on Facebook, blamed the arrest on the military-controlled Ministry of Home Affairs.

"It is only the Home Affairs [ministry] that creates such kind of systematic problem," he wrote.

Immigration officials in Nay Pyi Taw and Kyaukphyu refused to comment on the case when contacted by Frontier.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

What Is Behind Amnesty’s Burmese Military-Friendly Report?

source freerohingyacoalition, 25 May

By Shafiur Rahman | Published by The Quint on May 25, 2018

Amnesty International's latest briefing report on the Rohingya crisis has managed to create a stir in an already riotous social media scene around Myanmar. The report has attracted widespread condemnation, including a comment by the Bangladesh foreign minister, branding it "illogical."

The report focuses on a particular massacre of Hindus in Northern Rakhine state.

Eight months ago, over the course of two days, the Myanmar authorities dug up the remains of 45 people, purportedly of Hindus, and instantly laid the blame on the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).

Myanmar authorities dated the killings to 25 August, the very day it launched its clearance operations in Rakhine state in response to alleged ARSA attacks throughout the state.

Rohingya activists have been outraged and have taken to social media to question Amnesty's motives in releasing such a report.

Others have weighed in saying that whatever the shortcomings, in the context of an information black hole, the report adds to the case for a full International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation of the Rakhine crisis.

Watch : ' Black Squad' Behind Killing of Rohingya Hindus in Myanmar? I Th... - YouTube

Amnesty claims to have reviewed the evidence and are able to categorically conclude that "ARSA fighters are responsible for the massacre."

This has stung the various Rohingya advocacy groups, not because ARSA has been blamed, but because Rohingya, who have been at the receiving end of human rights violations for decades, are now associated with violations themselves.

Their immediate fear is that the incendiary report further endangers the already extremely vulnerable Rohingya who still remain in Rakhine state. They feel particularly aggrieved because Amnesty's methodology and review of evidence appear to flout all semblance of independence and rigour.

Amnesty International Has Many Questions to Answer

The Quint had previously reported the other difficulty with Amnesty's six arguments of ARSA culpability. Hindu refugees in Bangladesh stated that the "black forces" had killed both Hindus and Muslims.

A Hindu man who lost his own family members to the black forces stated this on film. Moreover, he was unable to identify them as Muslim. Another respondent told this reporter how Muslims and Hindus left together to escape from the village. Yet there is no mention of indiscriminate killing in the report.

Maung Zarni, a Buddhist and a leading advocate of the Rohingya cause, was concerned about how the interviews were conducted and which authorities acted as gatekeeper.

Who selected the victims in Sittwe, Rakhine for their researchers? Who arranged the interviews (bringing Hindu victims from the highly restricted Northern Rakhine to Sittwe, central Rakhine)? Who gave Amnesty International travel permission to visit Rakhine?

In Maung Zarni's view, Amnesty International was assisted by the Ministry of Defence. He said, "This ministry centrally coordinates with Myanmar Ministries of Information, Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs and Rakhine State administration.

Without their express say so, no foreign teams can travel to Rakhine state. The Hindu witnesses and survivors from the reported massacre were brought to Sittwe by Myanmar authorities where they were in turn interviewed by Amnesty researchers."

Zarni's concerns go to the heart of one of the six points of inquiry/evidence published by Amnesty, which addressed the shifting accounts given by Hindu witnesses in the camps of Bangladesh. Initially, the Hindu refugees blamed the military and Rakhine people for the killings. Then they blamed the Rohingya.

Amnesty's "Conclusions": Mere Speculation With Little Substantive Evidence?

Amnesty's explanation is that pressures and threats in the camps of Bangladesh yielded the inconsistent and shifting witness stories. Yet how do we know that similar pressures were not exerted by the gatekeepers identified by Zarni? "Amnesty's assertion is clearly more speculation than evidence," Zarni claims.

Others have stated that the five other categorical conclusions made by Amnesty are similarly untenable. Jacob Goldberg, Journalist and Managing Editor of Coconuts Yangon, a journal produced in Myanmar, said:

Let's look at Amnesty's 2nd evidence where descriptions of the attackers match other descriptions of ARSA fighters. Wouldn't this be true if this was a false flag attack planned by the Myanmar military? They would be in disguise, surely?

Goldberg expressed concerns at the obvious inconclusiveness of the evidence Amnesty presented: "Amnesty's 6th piece of evidence tells us that one attacker has been identified and confirmed as a Rohingya villager. But how does this rule out a false flag attack? Do we know if this Rohingya individual was involved by choice? Indeed have any of the men-in-black attackers been confirmed as Rohingya?"

Moreover, the black forces occupied a village only two miles from the site of the massacre from the 25 to 31 August (Chikonchori). Amnesty states a Myanmar military helicopter arrived in a targeted village on 27 August in order to make the point that the arrival of the helicopter signals that the military were not there beforehand.

Again, how would this arrival rule out a false flag attack before the 27th? And if the arrival was genuinely for the first time, why would these murderous forces continue to remain in the neighbouring village for several additional days?

On social media, Amnesty's claimed "careful review of the evidence" was mocked and widely criticised. Nay San Lwin, a well-known Rohingya blogger and activist, expressed exasperation: "I welcome all investigations into human rights abuses in Rakhine state but this was done so inexpertly, it defies explanation."

Amnesty have ignored recent history. They have failed to see how the Hindu population have become a political football for the Myanmar government and how they are manipulated. This report is a travesty. It could have been written by the Tatmadaw given all its weaknesses. It should be retracted immediately."

The Quint wrote to Amnesty International with the questions raised in this report. Below is Amnesty International's response.

Amnesty International's Response To The Quint

1. Given the numerous documented war crimes against Rohingyas in Rakhine, carried out by the Myanmar government security forces, and the Myanmar government's apparent proclivity, or rather amenability, with using the Hindu community in the state as a political tool against the Rohingya, can Amnesty International conclusively rule out a possibility that the attack was a false flag attack?

Based on all of the evidence we obtained, Amnesty International was able to conclude that ARSA fighters were responsible for the unlawful killings and abductions of the Hindu community in Kha Maung Seik. When examining the full evidence, we do not believe it is possible that it was a "false flag" attack.

The Myanmar authorities have long played politics with ethnic minorities, in Rakhine State and elsewhere. They continue to do so. We are aware of and carefully considered the way the authorities have used this particular incident since last year.

We have also documented in great detail the Myanmar military's crimes against humanity against the Rohingya, as well as its war crimes in Kachin and northern Shan States.

However, with regards to this specific massacre of Hindu men, women, and children in Kha Maung Seik, the evidence overwhelmingly shows that ARSA fighters are responsible. Ultimately, they should be brought to account, just as there must be justice for those within the Myanmar military who are responsible for crimes against the Rohingya.

2. Additionally, was it the Myanmar Ministry of Defence that enabled access to the witnesses for Amnesty's report? Given this detail, can Amnesty rule out the possibility, with absolute certainty, that the Hindu survivors interviewed by Amnesty were not specifically chosen to provide the answers that best suited the interests of the Myanmar government?

Amnesty International first interviewed four of the eight adult Hindu survivors from Kha Maung Seik in September 2017, while they were still in Bangladesh. Their accounts at that time were highly consistent with what seven of the Hindu survivors, three of whom we re-interviewed, said in Myanmar in April and May 2018. In Bangladesh, Hindu survivors from Kha Maung Seik told us that the people who killed their family members and abducted them spoke Rohingya; forced them to "convert" in order to have their lives spared; and included men they recognized as Rohingya from the same village. In Bangladesh, we also interviewed Hindu men and women from other villages near Kha Maung Seik, who gave similar descriptions of seeing a combination of men in black with some Rohingya in plainclothes whom they recognized as from their village. All of this came through interviews in Bangladesh with people found at the Hindu-only camp and interviewed with a Bangladeshi translator fluent in both English and the dialect spoken by the Hindu community.

During our research in Rakhine State in April 2018, Amnesty International did not liaise with the Ministry of Defense. We had authorization from Rakhine State officials to be in central Rakhine State, but that was the extent of our engagement with the authorities. To interview Hindu survivors, family members of those who were killed, and leaders of the local Hindu community, Amnesty International worked with a trusted individual who has no affiliation with the Myanmar government, military, or authorities more generally. We also interviewed individuals from other ethnic communities as part of our wider research on the crisis. As is our practice for research on Myanmar and elsewhere around the world, interviews were conducted in private, with only the interviewee, Amnesty delegates, and interpreters present.

Ultimately, we interviewed all eight Hindu adult survivors. There was no selection of specific survivors, as we were able to interview each one separately and privately, either in Bangladesh, in Myanmar, or both. Given the consistency of what the Hindu survivors told Amnesty International both in Bangladesh and in Myanmar; the consistency of their accounts with the accounts of witnesses who saw ARSA fighters in different villages across northern Rakhine State, particularly on the morning of25 August, as the attacks were launched; and the corroboration from other pieces of evidence, including the forensic review of the photographs, the evidence overwhelmingly points to ARSA fighters as responsible for the massacre in Kha Maung Seik.

3. Amnesty's report mentions that the testimony of the survivors, who were interviewed multiple times, were inconsistent, often contradicting their own previous accounts. The report chalks this up to being "largely explained by the pressures and threats to personal safety that they faced while in Bangladesh." The testimonies, however, became more uniform after they returned to Myanmar. Does Amnesty believe with absolute certainty that the Myanmar government could not have briefed survivors during the process of their repatriation to Myanmar, perhaps providing an account that all of them could provide with consistency?

As answered above, Amnesty International first interviewed Hindu survivors from Kha Maung Seik in Bangladesh in mid-September 2017, three weeks before they were repatriated to Myanmar. From the beginning, they said to us that the people responsible for the massacre spoke the Rohingya dialect; forced the women to "convert" to in order to have their lives spared; and included specific individuals whom the survivors were able to recognize as Rohingya who lived in the village tract. The survivors provided names and other biographical data of those individual perpetrators, one of whom we have been able to separately confirm is a Rohingya resident of Kha Maung Seik.

As a result, it is inaccurate to say that the Hindu survivors only identified ARSA or Rohingya militants as the perpetrators after being repatriated to Myanmar and having interaction with the Myanmar authorities. As our report details, the Hindu survivors identified another perpetrator group—namely, ethnic Rakhine—primarily in the first days after being abducted and taken to Bangladesh, while they were still being forced to live with their abductors. After a video surfaced of the women in Kutupalong camp, the Hindu community on both sides of the border mobilized to move them from that area to a Hindu-only camp. While still in Bangladesh, they began to then identify the perpetrators as ARSA or as Rohingya militants both in interviews with Amnesty International and with the media.

Our conclusion that ARSA was responsible came from dozens of interviews on both sides of the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, combined with other, corroborating evidence. It is not possible that the Myanmar government could have been behind the totality of the evidence—obtained across time, in both countries, and with a wide cross-section of interviewees—that allowed Amnesty International to come to its conclusion.

4. Amnesty uses testimony of multiple witnesses who claimed, "seeing a core group of fighters in black, often with their faces covered except for their eyes," akin to ARSA fighters, as the basis for conclusively stating that ARSA was behind the attack. If the massacre, was indeed a false flag attack, couldn't the attackers be dressed in the colours of the ARSA? Is Amnesty stating that it would be impossible for others to wear black masks to appear like ARSA forces, in line with the false flag attack theory?

Other villagers in and around Kha Maung Seik described to Amnesty International seeing an attack earlier that same morning of 25 August on a Myanmar border police post in the village tract—one of the coordinated attacks on security force posts that ARSA launched across northern Rakhine State that day. The attackers of the police post were described as men in black who had their faces covered, brandishing swords.

Only hours later, in the same village tract, attackers fitting the same description participated in rounding up and massacring Hindu men, women, and children. Those attackers in black were also consistently described as being joined by people in normal dress, their faces visible, who were recognized as Rohingya men from Kha Maung Seik village. They were described as speaking the Rohingya dialect. They were described as forcing the Hindu survivors to "convert" to Islam in order to have their lives spared. And, several days later, the same people who attacked the Hindu in Kha Maung Seik took the abducted women with them to Bangladesh. When taken together, that evidence collectively leads to one logical conclusion: that the perpetrators of the Kha Maung Seik massacre, including the men in black, were ARSA fighters.

5. The fourth piece of evidence presented by Amnesty, based on its own forensic analyses, states conclusively that the bodies of victims discovered in mass graves were killed and buried in that area around 25 August 2017, the date of the reported attack. Again, does this prove that ARSA was behind the attack?

During the accusations and counteraccusations made around this incident, there have been claims made that the bodies that were uncovered were not from 25 August 2017. Amnesty International sought the analysis of a forensic expert to determine whether the level of decomposition was or was not consistent with having been killed and buried on that day. The expert determined that it was. The expert also identified things in the photographs—including blindfolds and specific wounds—that were consistent with the testimonies of the Hindu survivors, providing corroboration for those testimonies.

We came to our conclusion that ARSA fighters were behind the attack based on the totality of the evidence we have obtained. The forensic analysis was one part of that evidentiary base, as it allowed us to corroborate the date of the unlawful killings and aspects of the testimonies of the women who survived. We did not rely only on the photos and forensic analysis for our conclusion, just as we have not we have not relied only on photographs, videos, and forensic analysis when documenting and reporting on the Myanmar military's crimes against the Rohingya.

6. Additionally, Amnesty mentions the arrival of a reinforcements, a Myanmar military helicopter, in the area on 27 August as the basis for stating, beyond a doubt, that Myanmar military forces weren't in control of the area on the date of the attack. How does this prove that Myanmar security forces weren't in control of the area before this display of "arriving in the area"?

The Hindu survivors consistently described to Amnesty International that, after the massacre on 25 August, ARSA fighters who had perpetrated the massacre held the women together in an area of the village. The perpetrators continued to hold the women there until 27 August, when a military helicopter and other reinforcements arrived to Kha Maung Seik. At that point, the ARSA fighters who had abducted and were holding the women said that they all had to leave—that it was no longer safe to be in Kha Maung Seik. The perpetrators then took the women to Bangladesh.

People who Amnesty International interviewed separately, and who were present in another part Kha Maung Seik village tract during this same period, also told us about the helicopter's arrival on 27 August. They said that it was around that time that the military first came to Kha Maung Seik in the period after the 25 Augustattacks. Our research indicates a similar pattern in other parts of northern Rakhine State in the days immediately after the 25 August attacks. The local border police units were at times unable to control the situation; the military were then moved to the area as reinforcements, and soldiers responded with a campaign of violence against the Rohingya—including killings, rapes, and burning of homes—that we have documented extensively in previous reports.

When taken together, it's clear that the military's arrival in force on 27 August precipitated the perpetrators of the Kha Maung Seik to leave the area and to take the Hindu survivors with them to Bangladesh. Prior to that, the perpetrators felt safe remaining in the village area. The women were with some of the same perpetrators from when they were taken out of their houses the morning of 25 August, through when the massacre occurred, and then ultimately through being abducted and taken to Bangladesh. Combined with the other evidence we obtained, the conclusion is clear: ARSA fighters were responsible.

The millionaire couple saving Rohingya refugees in the sea

source France24, 28 May

Watch : The millionaire couple saving Rohingya refugees in the Andaman Sea -Video.France 24..

▶ 6:06

After spending three years saving thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean, the millionaire couple Regina and Christopher Catrambone now want to help Rohingyas. Their boat, the Phoenix, is sailing off the coast of Thailand and Malaysia in order to rescue Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar by sea. Here, our correspondents report.

Monday, 21 May 2018

'100,000 Rohingyas to be relocated to Bhashan Char in 2 months'

Rohingya crisis 2017
File Photo: Rohingya refugees gather to collect relief at the Balukhali Makeshift Refugee Camp as they are affected by Cyclone Mora in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh May 31, 2017 Reuters

The Rohingyas will be relocated there before August, Secretary Mohammad Shah Kamal says

100,000 Rohingyas, who have taken shelter in Bangladesh amid persecution in Myanmar, will be relocated to Bhashan Char of Hatiya upazila in Noakhaliwithin two months.

Disaster Management and Relief secretary Mohammad Shah Kamal came up with the information at a programme at Balukhali camp in Cox's Bazar's Ukhiya upazila.

The secretary said that all the preparations have been completed and the Rohingyas will be relocated there before August.

Earlier on November 14, 2017, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved a Tk2,312.15 crore project for giving temporary shelter to Rohingyas at Bhashan Char.

The Ecnec approved the project titled "Ashrayan-3" for construction of necessary infrastructure for the housing of 100,000 displaced Myanmar citizens, and construction of island infrastructure at Bhashan Char.

UN dithers over Rohingya genocide

Source mg, 18 May

Displaced: More than 700 000 Rohingya refugees have flooded into Bangladesh, but monsoon season is coming, and now severe weather threatens their makeshift shelters (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Displaced: More than 700 000 Rohingya refugees have flooded into Bangladesh, but monsoon season is coming, and now severe weather threatens their makeshift shelters (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

While the international community fences over whether to name the ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas in Myanmar a genocide, the killing reportedly continues — and 700 000 refugees in Bangladesh batten down to face what could prove to be an equally deadly monsoon season.

The massacres, mass rapes, village-razing, forced famine and expulsions were recognised as bearing "the hallmarks of genocide" on March 12 by Yanghee Lee, the United Nation's human rights rapporteur on Myanmar. This came on the heels of a report by the Myanmar military that exonerated all but 10 security force members of any crimes against the Rohingya. Yanghee's statement is the strongest affirmation by the UN of the gravity of the crisis since its human rights chief, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, warned days earlier that what he suspected were "acts of genocide" were ongoing in Rakhine State, albeit with lower intensity.

Most diplomats such as former United States secretary of state Rex Tillerson have referred to the crisis as "ethnic cleansing". But the term has no grounding in international law — unlike "genocide" and "crimes against humanity". An official UN Security Council designation such as genocide is critical to activate the 1948 Genocide Convention to which Myanmar is a signatory, but the UN has very rarely done so, as in Bosnia and Darfur — and as China is a significant supplier of arms to Myanmar, it would be hard to secure.

The desire of most Rohingya to return to their ancestral lands is thwarted by the influence in the military of Myanmar's ultra-right Buddhist monks, rendering Myanmar's Nelson Mandela figure, Aung San Suu Kyi, powerless. Some Myanmar experts, such as Politico magazine's Nahal Toosi, have argued that her inaction on the genocide, and flat refusal to use the word "Rohingya", and in so doing risk alienating her ethnic support base, reveals her to be a Burman nationalist.

Near the Myanmar border and close to the epicentre of the genocide, Kutupalong is a vast, ersatz camp of 150 000 Rohingya refugees, distinguishable from Bangladeshi Muslims by their dress, language and customs dating back to the mediaeval kingdom of Arakan, which straddled contemporary Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Perched on a hillside overlooking a Red Crescent compound, Abdul Rahim is barely 18, but he carries a laminated card around his neck indicating he is a majhi, a Rohingya community leader, recognised by the camp authorities. Most elders, too weak to escape, were slaughtered by Buddhist and Myanmar army deathsquads.

Rahim's 60-year-old father, Mohamed Ali, was among them: the man was "locked in his house by the army and a mob [acting] together, and the house was burned"; Rahim's 23-year-old brother Osil Haman was shot; his mother, six other brothers and two sisters managed to escape.

"At the time of the attack, I was visiting Kulsumar Akter, a beautiful girl of 16 who I was friends with in a neighbouring village. The army raped her and killed her in front of me. Ten or 12 very beautiful girls were gathered in a house, raped and killed by the army."

Another young majhi is Mohamed Islam (22) from Maungdaw in Rakhine State, a town that was 80% Rohingya before 120 000 Rohingyas were relocated between 2012 and 2016, supposedly for their protection from hostile neighbours, to de facto concentration camps. He tells of the assault on his community by a force of the Myanmar army acting alongside a local vigilante group.

"It was four o'clock in the afternoon on 25 August. Suddenly they attacked. The [vigilante militia] was wearing army uniforms. They were shooting everyone and burning the houses; these were the targets of the Myanmar government. I was running in the yard of my house from the army but an army sniper shot me in the foot and I fell down; the army thought that I had died so they left me. When I opened my eyes, I saw lots of dead bodies; my friend Shokil, who was 27 years old, was killed."

Moved during the night by two fellow survivors, who carried the wounded Islam on a wooden pole between them, he said they encountered village after village where corpses were strewn about. It took the trio two terrifying days to cover the 70km to the Naf River, which marks the border with Bangladesh, and cross to safety.

On arrival in the forest reserve on the outskirts of the southern Bangladeshi town of Ukhia, the tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees initially had to live under the stars, taking their chances with snakes and elephants that killed several. Of the 700 000 survivors who settled in three big refugee camps such as Kutupalong and 10 smaller ones, Unicef estimates that 60% are children.

The camp is dotted with "child-friendly spaces". I visit one, where perhaps 50 children squat on the floor in clusters. Among the scattered smiles there are hard eyes and faraway stares. Everyone here seems to have scarred hearts or bodies.

One of the few elders in the camp, Noor Bashir (56) had a narrow escape: he lifts his bazu shirt and longyi to show me the machete wounds on his legs and right hip.

An August 2017 documentary by Al Jazeera correspondent Salam Hindawi, who managed to get inside one of the concentration camps in Rakhine State, shows Rohingya women gang-rape survivors in tears as they recount witnessing their husbands being taken away by the military to an uncertain fate.

Days earlier and 330km north-northwest, I had been sitting in the modest office of Bangladesh's deputy director general of immigration. She plied me with tea and mishti sweetmeats as her minions processed my visa extension application. Stacked high on the desks of offices below were applications from hundreds of Chinese and Indians as well as Belarussians and many other nationalities, but no Rohingyas. Bangladesh has not granted them refugee status. Even the pre-genocide community of 400 000 who fled repression two decades ago is unassimilated, disallowed from travelling, schooling or marrying Bengalis.

Now the monsoon season threatens the lives of an estimated 100 000 survivors: though the aid organisations have built concrete stairs, water tanks and woven-bamboo, plastic and corrugated iron shelters for the Rohingya, these are unlikely to withstand cyclone-force winds and mudslides.

That my interviews take place on the 70th anniversary of the still unresolved dispossession of 700 000 other Muslims — those of Palestine in 1948 — make the Rohingyas' appeals for the full reinstatement of their citizenship and homes that much more poignant — and desperate.