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Showing posts with label Arakan News. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arakan News. Show all posts

26 November, 2017

Bangladesh says agreed with Myanmar for UNHCR to assist Rohingya's return

By Ruma Paul,  Reuters
November 25, 2017
DHAKA -- Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed to take help from the U.N. refugee agency to safely repatriate hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who had fled violence in Myanmar, Bangladesh said on Saturday.
More than 600,000 Rohingya sought sanctuary in Bangladesh after the military in mostly Buddhist Myanmar launched a brutal counter-insurgency operation in their villages across the northern parts of Rakhine State following attacks by Rohingya militants on an army base and police posts on Aug. 25.
Faced with a burgeoning humanitarian crisis, the two governments signed a pact on Thursday agreeing that the return of the Rohingya to Myanmar should start within two months.
Uncertainty over whether the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) would have a role had prompted rights groups to insist that outside monitors were needed to safeguard the Rohingya’s return.
Addressing a news conference in Dhaka, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali gave assurances that the UNHCR would play some part.
“Both countries agreed to take help from the UNHCR in the Rohingya repatriation process,” Ali said. “Myanmar will take its assistance as per their requirement.”
The diplomatic breakthrough came just ahead of a visit by Pope Francis to Myanmar and Bangladesh from Nov. 26 to Dec. 2 that is aimed at promoting “reconciliation, forgiveness and peace”.
While the violence in Rakhine has mostly ceased, Rohingya have continued to stream out of Myanmar, saying they have largely lost access to sources of livelihood such as their farms, fisheries and markets.
Thousands of Rohingya, most of them old people, women and children, remain stranded on beaches near the border, waiting for a boat to take them to Bangladesh.
FROM CAMP TO CAMP
Ali said a joint working group, to be formed within three weeks, will fix the final terms to start the repatriation process.
After leaving the refugee camps in Bangladesh, Rohingya who opt to be voluntarily repatriated will be moved to camps in Myanmar, the minister said.
“Most houses were burnt down. Where they will live after going back? So, it is not possible to physically return to their homes,” Ali said.
Myanmar officials have said returnees will be moved to camps only temporarily while so-called “model villages” are constructed near their former homes.
Win Myat Aye, the minister for social welfare, relief and resettlement who heads a Myanmar government panel on rehabilitation in Rakhine, said India and China had offered to provide “modular houses” for returnees.
The U.N. and the United States have described the Myanmar military’s actions as “ethnic cleansing”, and rights groups have accused the security forces of committing atrocities, including mass rape, arson and killings.
The United States also warned it could impose sanctions on individuals responsible for alleged abuses.
Led by Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar is in the early stages of a transition to democracy after decades of military rule. But civilian government is less than two years old, and still shares power with the generals, who retain autonomy over matters of defence, security and borders.
The commander of Myanmar’s armed forces, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, has denied that soldiers committed any atrocities.
On Friday he met China’s President Xi Jinping in Beijing having been told earlier in the week by a top Chinese general that China wanted stronger ties with Myanmar’s military.
Under the deal struck with Bangladesh, Myanmar agreed to take measures to see that the returnees will not be settled in temporary places for a long time.
Myanmar plans to issue them an identity card on their return, although most Rohingya have so far rejected a scheme to give them “national verification cards”.
While the agreement says Bangladesh would seek the U.N. refugee agency’s assistance on the process, Myanmar - which has largely blocked aid agencies from working in northern Rakhine since August - only agreed “that the services of the UNHCR could be drawn upon as needed and at the appropriate time”.
Win Myat Aye told Reuters on Saturday that Myanmar would discuss “technical assistance” with the UNHCR, but had not reached a formal agreement with the agency.
There were already hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh before the latest exodus, and the Bangladesh minister said they could also be considered for the repatriation, under the terms of the agreement.
The agreement, however, says they will be ”considered separately on the conclusion of the present agreement.”
Some independent estimates suggest there are still a few hundred thousand Rohingya remaining in Rakhine.
Reporting by Ruma Paul in DHAKA and Thu Thu Aung in YANGON; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Stephen Powell
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14 November, 2017

Downing Street says Burma's treatment of Rohingya Muslims looks like 'ethnic cleansing'


Downing Street has said the actions of military forces in Burma against the Rohingya people “looks like ethnic cleansing”.
Theresa May‘s spokesman made the comments as hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims are fleeing to Bangladesh following an army operation in their homeland in Myanmar.
It came as Burmese government announced that the army general in charge of operations in Rakhine state has been replaced.
Theresa May’s spokesman said: “We’ve been appalled by the inhumane violence that’s taking place in Rakhine state.
“It’s a major humanitarian crisis. It’s been created by the Burmese military and it looks like ethnic cleansing.”
The intervention follows a brutal crackdown on the community by ethnic Rakhines and the Burmese military.
An estimated 600,000 Rohingya are already believed to have fled to the neighbouring Bangladesh since the start of the crackdown in late August.
It began when a group of Rohingya militants, which called themselves the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, carried out simultaneous attacks on 20 police posts in Rakhine state – killing 12 officers.
According to UN estimates, around 1,000 people have died but the Burmese military has claimed the figure is closer to 400.
The UN has already condemned the violence, saying it is a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
The government claims they are the descents of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, and refers to them as Bengalis, who arrived in the country after Partition in 1947 and has denied them citizenship – making them stateless.
But the Rohingya say they are indigenous to the area, claiming descent from the precolonial Arakan civilisation.
Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been condemned by the international community for her failure to stand up for the Rohingya.
She has faced calls for her to be stripped of the numerous humanitarian honours and awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize, she received during her years under house arrest for challenging the country’s ruling military junta.
Last month she was stripped of her Freedom of Oxford award, which she received in 1997 for her “struggle for democracy”, and musician Bob Geldof has announced he is returning his Freedom of Dublin over Ms Suu Kyi having the same prize
At the beginning of this latest wave of violence, the Ministry of Defence announced it would suspend its “education programme” where it trains the Burmese military “until there is an acceptable resolution to the current situation”.
A spokesman for the MoD told The Independent in September: “We call on the Burmese Armed Forces to take immediate steps to stop the violence in Rakhine and ensure the protection of all civilians, to allow full access for humanitarian aid and to facilitate the civilian government’s implementation of the Rakhine Advisory Commission’s recommendations in full.”
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25 September, 2017

Asean ministers condemn 'all acts of violence' in Rakhine




Sept 22, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS
Asean foreign ministers have condemned "all acts of violence" in Myanmar's Rakhine state that have caused the loss of lives, destruction of homes and displacement of large numbers of people.
The ministers, in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, in a statement after their meeting on Saturday, urged all parties "to avoid actions that will further worsen the situation on the ground".
Hours later, Malaysia said it was disassociating itself from the Asean statement.
"Malaysia would like to disassociate itself from the Chairman's Statement as we are of the view that it is a misrepresentation of the reality of the situation," Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said in a strongly worded statement. The Philippines is the current Asean chair.
Datuk Seri Anifah said Malaysia's concerns were not reflected in the Asean statement: "Hence, the Chairman Statement was not based on consensus. The statement also omits the Rohingya as one of the affected communities." He said while Malaysia condemns attacks against Myanmar security forces on Aug 25 by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, subsequent "clearance operations" by the Myanmar authorities were "disproportionate" and led to the deaths of many civilians and caused more than 400,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh.
"Malaysia expressed grave concerns over such atrocities which have unleashed a full-scale humanitarian crisis that the world simply cannot ignore but must be compelled to act on," Mr Anifah said.
In the Asean statement, the foreign ministers noted that the situation in Rakhine state "is a complex inter-communal issue with deep historical roots".
"They are agreed that viable and long-term solutions to the root causes of the conflict must be found, including encouraging closer dialogue between Myanmar and Bangladesh, so that the affected communities can rebuild their lives," it said.
The statement also underscored the importance of increased humanitarian access to the affected areas and that assistance be given to all affected communities.


ရခုိင္ျပည္နယ္ရွိ ‘အၾကမ္းဖက္လုပ္ရပ္မွန္သမွ်’ အာဆီယံ၀န္ၾကီးမ်ား ရံႈခ်
ရခိုင္ျပည္နယ္က လူအမ်ားအျပား ေသဆံုးခဲ့ရမႈ၊ အိုးအိမ္ေတြ ပ်က္စီးခဲ့ရမႈ နဲ႔ လူအမ်ားအျပား အစုလိုက္အျပံဳလိုက္ ေနအိမ္ စြန္႔ခြာထြက္ေျပးခဲ့ရမႈေတြကို ျဖစ္ေစခဲ့တဲ့ အၾကမ္းဖက္တဲ့ လုပ္ရပ္မွန္သမွ် အားလံုးကို အာဆီယံ ၀န္ၾကီးမ်ားက ပစ္တင္ ရံႈခ် လိုက္ပါတယ္။
နယူးေယာက္ျမိဳ႕ ကုလအေထြေထြ ညီလာခံအစည္းေ၀း တက္ဖုိ႔ ေရာက္ရွိေနတဲ့ ၀န္ၾကီးမ်ားက စေနေန႔က က်င္းပတဲ့ အစည္းေ၀းအျပီး ေၾကညာခ်က္တစ္ေစာင္ ထုတ္ျပန္ရာမွာ လက္ေတြ႔ အေျခေနေတြကို ေနာက္ထပ္ပိုမိုဆိုး၀ါးလာေစမဲ့ လုပ္ရပ္ေတြကို ပါ၀င္ပတ္သတ္တဲ့သူေတြ အားလံုးက ေရွာင္ရွားၾကဖို႔ တိုက္တြန္းတဲ့ ေၾကညာခ်က္တစ္ေစာင္ ထုတ္ျပန္ လိုက္ပါတယ္။
နာရီေပါင္းမ်ားစြာ ၾကာျမင့္အျပီးမွာ မေလးရွားႏိုင္ငံက အာဆီယံ၀န္ၾကီးမ်ား ပူးေပါင္းထုတ္ျပန္တဲ့ ေၾကညာခ်က္ထဲ မွာ သူတို႔ ပူးေပါင္းပါ၀င္ျခင္း မရွိဖူးလို႔ ညင္းဆန္းခဲ့ပါတယ္။

ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ ရခိုင္ျပည္နယ္အေရးနဲ႔ ပတ္သတ္ျပီး အာဆီယံႏိုင္ငံမ်ားအဖြဲ႔ ေၾကညာခ်က္ မေလးရွား သေဘာတူ လက္မခံ ေၾကာင္း ေၾကညာခ်က္ထုတ္
===========================
Channel News Asia
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/…/malaysia-disassociates-its…
ကြာလာလမ္ပူ- မေလးရွားႏိုင္ငံက ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ ရခိုင္အေရးနဲ႔ပတ္သတ္ျပီး အေျခေနေတြအေပၚ အာဆီယံႏိုင္ငံမ်ား အသင္းၾကီးက ထုတ္ျပန္တဲ့ ေၾကညာခ်က္ဟာ “မေလးရွားႏိုင္ငံကိုယ္၌က သေဘာတူ လက္ခံမွာ မဟုတ္တဲ့အေၾကာင္း” ေျပာဆိုလိုက္ပါတယ္။
အဲဒီေၾကညာခ်က္မွာ ၾသဂုတ္လ ၂၅ ရက္ေန႔က လံုျခံဳေရးတပ္ဖြဲ႔ေတြကို တိုက္ခိုက္ခဲ့တာ အပါအ၀င္ အရပ္သားေတြ ေသဆံုးခဲ့တာ၊ ေနအိမ္အမ်ားအျပား ဖ်က္ဆီးျခင္းခံရတာေတြနဲ႔ လူေတြ အစုလိုက္ အျပံဳလိုက္ စြန္႔ခြာထြက္ေျပးခဲ့ရတာေတြ ကို ျဖစ္ေစတဲ့ အၾကမ္းဖက္မႈ လုပ္ရပ္မွန္သမွ် ရံႈခ်ထားပါတယ္။
ဒါေပမဲ့ မေလးရွား ႏိုင္ငံျခားေရး၀န္ၾကီး အနီဖာ အာမန္ Anifah Aman said က တနဂၤေႏြေန႔က သီးျခားေၾကညာခ်က္တစ္ေစာင္ ထုတ္ျပန္ရာမွာ မေလးရွားႏိုင္ငံအေနနဲ႔ အာဆီယံႏိုင္ငံရဲ႕ ေၾကညာခ်က္ဟာ “တကယ္လက္ေတြ႔ အေျခေနနဲ႔ ကင္းကြာေနတယ္” လုိ႔ ခံစားရေၾကာင္း ေျပာၾကားခဲ့ပါတယ္။
“တကယ္ထိခုိက္နာက်င္ အခံစားရဆံုး အသိုင္း၀ိုင္းဟာ ရိုဟင္ဂ်ာေတြ ျဖစ္ေၾကာင္း အခ်က္ကိုလည္း ေၾကညာခ်က္ထဲမွာ ခ်န္လွပ္ထားခဲ့ပါတယ္" လို႔ သူက ေျပာပါတယ္။
သူက ျဖည့္စြက္ေျပာၾကားရာမွာ မေလးရွားႏိုင္ငံက ၾသဂုတ္လ ၂၅ ရပ္ေန႔ တိုက္ခိုက္မႈကိုလည္း ရံႈခ်တယ္။ ထိုနည္းတူစြာပဲ ျမန္မာ အာဏာပိုင္ေတြက လုပ္တဲ့ ‘နယ္ေျမရွင္းလင္းေရး’ စစ္ဆင္ေရး ေနာက္ဆက္တြဲ ျဖစ္ရပ္ေတြက အင္အား မမွ်မတ လုပ္ေဆာင္ခဲ့တယ္။ အဲဒီလို မမွ်မတလုပ္ေဆာင္ခဲ့မႈေတြေၾကာင့္ အပစ္မဲ့ျပည္သူေတြ ေသဆံုးခဲ့ျပီး လူေပါင္း ေလးသိန္းေက်ာ္အထိ ထြက္ေျပးတဲ့ဘ၀ ေရာက္သြားခဲ့ ရပါတယ္။
Anifah က ေျပာၾကားရာမွာ မေလးရွားႏိုင္ငံက သိထားတဲ့ အာဆီယံ ထုတ္ျပန္ေၾကညာခ်က္နဲ႔ ပတ္သတ္ျပီး မေလးရွား ႏိုင္ငံ၏ အေလးထားမႈကို ျပသခဲ့ေပမဲ့ အာဆီယံႏိုင္ငံေတြ၏ အေလးထားမႈကို ထပ္ဟပ္ မေပၚလြင္ခဲ့ဘူးလို႔ ေျပာၾကားခဲ့ပါ တယ္။ “ဤအေၾကာင္းေၾကာင့္- အာဆီယံ ဥကၠဌရဲ႕ ထုတ္ျပန္ေၾကညာခ်က္ ဟာ အမ်ားသေဘာဆႏၵအေပၚမွာ အေျခခံ ခဲ့တာ မဟုတ္ပါဘူး”လို႔ သူက ဆိုပါတယ္။
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22 September, 2017

Bangladesh PM at UNGA: Create safe zones inside Myanmar for the Rohingya

September 22, 2017
Bangladesh PM at UNGA: Create safe zones inside Myanmar for the Rohingya
Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addresses the 72nd Session of the United Nations General assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on September 21, 2017AFP

Hasina on Thursday proposed the creation of UN-supervised 'safe zones' inside Myanmar to protect Rohingya Muslims who are fleeing a military crackdown to seek refuge in her country

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has proposed the creation of a safe zone for the Rohingya people inside Myanmar, under United Nations supervision, while speaking at the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly.
She also urged the UN Secretary General to send a fact-finding mission to Myanmar.
Taking the podium right after the speech of Mauritius’ Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, the Prime Minister placed a 5-point proposal to end the Rohingya crisis in front of the General Assembly.
Sheikh Hasina called on “Myanmar to unconditionally stop the violence and the practice of ethnic cleansing in the Rakhine State immediately and forever”.
In her final two points Sheikh Hasina urged for the sustainable return of all Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh and the full implementation of the Kofi Annan Commission report.
The Prime Minister began her speech at 5.29am Bangladesh time. She opened her speech in Bangla, in lieu with the Bangla speech given by father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1974.
She said: “I have come here just after seeing the hungry, distressed and hopeless Rohingyas from Myanmar who took shelter in Cox’s Bazar. This forcibly displaced people of Myanlnar are fleeing an ‘ethnic cleansing’ in their own country where they have been living for centuries.”
“We are currently sheltering over 800,000 forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar. The ongoing atrocities and human rights violations in the Rakhine State of Myanmar has once again aggravated the situation at the Bangladesh-Myanmar Border,” the Bangladesh Prime Minister added.
In her speech the Prime Minister remember the martyrs on the Language Movement in 1952 and the Liberation War in 1971.
“The 1971 genocide included targeted elimination of individuals on the ground of religion, race and political belief. The intellectuals were killed brutally.”
“To pay homage to the victims of the genocide, our parliament has recently declared 25th March ‘Genocide Day’,” Hasina said.
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03 September, 2017

Secret document shows Myanmar recognised Rohingyas as citizens

September 03, 2017
Secret document shows Myanmar recognised Rohingyas as citizens
Myanmar justifies its persecution of the Rohingya community by claiming that they have no legal residence in the country Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

There are allegations that the Myanmar military used forced eviction, rape and murder to terrorise the Rohingyas

The Buddhist government of Myanmar is systematically terrorising the minority-Muslim Rohingya population, forcing them to flee to Bangladesh with their lives.
Myanmar justifies its persecution of the minority community by claiming that the Rohingya have no legal residence in the country.
In an attempt to erase the Rohingya’s historical ties to Rakhine state that date to the 8th century AD, the Myanmar government even asked the international community to stop using the term “Rohingya.”
However, a report published by Forbes claims that a “Repatriation Agreement” with Bangladesh in 1978 constitutes evidence that Myanmar acknowledged that the Rohingya had legal residence in the country. The document, which is marked “Secret,” was published by the Princeton University in 2014.
Myanmar (then known as Burma) began repressing the Rohingyas from 1962. The country started registering its citizens to screen out “foreigners,” namely the Rohingya population, in 1977.
There are allegations that the Myanmar military used forced eviction, rape and murder to terrorise the Rohingyas. Approximately 200,000 Rohingya refugees entered Bangladesh and settled into 13 UN refugee camps near the border by May 1978.
The Burmese authorities claimed that the fleeing refugees are illegal residents, the report said.
However, Bangladesh urged Burma to accept the refugees back and managed to enter into an agreement with the then Burmese government regarding the refugee crisis with the help of United Nations.
Passage 1(a) of the “Repatriation Agreement” states: “The Government of the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma agrees to the repatriation at the earliest of the lawful residents of Burma who are now sheltered in the camps in Bangladesh on the presentation of Burmese National Registration Cards…”
Mistreatment and religious persecution caused another 250,000 Rohingya refugees to flee Myanmar for Bangladesh from 1991 to 1992. An agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh made in 1992 similarly acknowledged the lawful residency of the Rohingya in Burma. The document is titled the “Joint statement by the foreign ministers of Bangladesh & Myanmar issued at the conclusion of the official visit of the Myanmar Foreign Minister to Bangladesh 23-28 April 1992.”
The international community must acknowledge Myanmar’s violations of its past agreements and the human rights of the Rohingya, and should increase economic and diplomatic pressure on the country to resolve the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

http://www.dhakatribune.com/world/south-asia/2017/09/03/secret-document-myanmar-rohingyas-citizens/
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More OIC member states pledge donations for Rohingya

More OIC member states pledge donations for Rohingya
Anifah (L) calls on the Myanmar government to accept an independent team to assess the situation in the country. -Reuters
KUALA LUMPUR: Several OIC member states have pledged their contributions today following Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's pledge of RM10 million for the Rohingya.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said Indonesia and Pakistan have pledged about US$5 million worth of rice, while others have promised to discuss and announce their contributions later.

He also stressed that the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar must not be ignored.
"What Malaysia is afraid of is the timeframe. We do not want to sit still and watch things happen and as what we have learned from previous experience in Bosnia and Kosovo, when help comes, it was a little too late," he said at the press conference after the extraordinary Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers on The Situation of The Muslim Minority.

The extraordinary session held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center was convened at the request of Malaysia to discuss the ongoing situation of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

He said although Malaysia is urging Myanmar to address the Rohingya crisis, as close neighbours it is also offering assistance.

Anifah said Malaysia only accepted the displaced Myanmar Muslims temporarily, based on humanitarian grounds, but urged the Myanmar government to allow them to go back and guarantee their safety and basic human rights.

He also called on the Myanmar government to accept an independent team to assess the situation in the country.
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01 September, 2017

Iran Calls for Int’l Action to Stop Ethnic Cleansing in Myanmar



Iran Calls for Int’l Action to Stop Ethnic Cleansing in Myanmar
Iranian foreign minister has blasted the global silence on continued violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, and called on the international community to prevent further ethnic cleansing.
“Global silence on continuing violence against Rohingya Muslims,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet on Wednesday.
“International action [is] crucial to prevent further ethnic cleansing,” Zarif went on to say, stressing that the United Nations “must rally” in this regard.
About 1,000 persecuted Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar’s Rakhine state have fled to neighboring Bangladesh after coming under fire from military soldiers.
Furthermore, the death toll from ongoing clashes between Myanmar’s troops and the so-called advocates of the persecuted Rohingya Muslims recently reached nearly 100.
Thousands of desperate Muslims recently entered Bangladesh, fleeing from intensified crackdown on the minority by Buddhist mobs and security forces over recent attacks on police outposts.
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11 July, 2017

Burma must ‘fully cooperate’ in UN inquiry on crimes against Rohingya – US





The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council established the inquiry in March, but Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Burma‘s civilian government and also its foreign minister, has rejected the allegations and opposes the mission.
A Burmese official said on June 30 that the country would refuse entry to the U.N. investigators.
The US ambassador to the United Nations in New York, Nikki Haley, said, “It is important that the Burmese government allow this fact-finding mission to do its job.”
“The international community cannot overlook what is happening in Burma – we must stand together and call on the government to fully cooperate with this fact-finding mission,” she said in a statement. 

Some 75,000 Rohingya fled northwestern Rakhine state to Bangladesh after Burma‘s army carried out a security operation last October in response to deadly attacks by Rohingya insurgents on border posts.
A UN report from February, based on interviews with some of the Rohingya refugees, said Burma‘s security forces have committed mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingya in a campaign that “very likely” amounts to crimes against humanity and possibly ethnic cleansing.
“No one should face discrimination or violence because of their ethnic background or religious beliefs,” Haley said.
Burma’s government regards the approximately 1 million Rohingya as illegal migrants from neighboring Bangladesh and denies them citizenship, even though Rohingya families have lived there for generations. – Reuters

Read more at https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/07/burma-must-fully-cooperate-un-inquiry-crimes-rohingya-us/#WmZt6jjyp4H9SlOw.99
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10 July, 2017

Persuade Myanmar to take back Rohingyas, PM asks international community

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday urged the international community, including the UNHCR, to persuade Myanmar to take back Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh.
In a meeting with visiting United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, at the PM's Jatiya Sangsad Office last evening, the premier also said the prolonged refugee problem can only be solved by ensuring a "sustainable repatriation" of the Myanmar refugees to their homeland.
"Myanmar should create a congenial atmosphere for the repatriation of its refugees from Bangladesh," PM's Press Secretary, Ihsanul Karim, quoted the premier as saying while briefing reporters, BSS reported. 
The prime minister said the Myanmar refugee problem has created pressure on the socioeconomic condition of the overpopulated Bangladesh.
She said her government has identified some islands for rehabilitation of the Myanmar refugees and planned to build necessary infrastructures such as shelters, schools and hospitals for them.
Hasina said Bangladesh had an insurgency problem in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region, but the problem was ultimately solved through bilateral discussions.
"We brought back our nationals who took refuge in India," she said.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees assured Bangladesh of extending all possible help to solve the refugee problem.
Filippo Grandi expressed immense gratitude to Bangladesh for its sacrifice by giving shelter to a huge number of Myanmar refugees.
"Bangladesh needs full appreciation and recognition for the sacrifice it is making for the Rohingya refugees," he said.
PM's Principal Secretary, Dr Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury, and UNHCR Country Representative in Bangladesh, Shinji Kubo, were present on the occasion.

GRANDI VISITS ROHINGYA REFUGEES TODAY

Our diplomatic correspondent reports that the visiting head of the UN refugee agency will visit the Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar today, to observe the plight of Myanmar's Muslim minority, who fled to Bangladesh due to persecution.
Filippo Grandi, arrived in Dhaka on Saturday, on a three-day trip met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal yesterday. He also met Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali on Saturday, to discuss the refugee situation.
During the meeting, the foreign minister urged the UNHCR to ask the government of Myanmar to take “meaningful measures” and ensure the return of all Myanmar nationals staying in Bangladesh.
Earlier, Grandi visited Myanmar and met top government leaders, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. He also visited Rakhine state and met with displaced Muslims in Sittwe's Dar Paing camp and Maungdaw, and urged Myanmar to grant citizenship to the Rohingyas.
International attention in the months since has been on reports of grave human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by security forces against the Rohingyas. Nearly 75,000 members of the Muslim minority have fled to Bangladesh since the crackdown began on October 9 of that year.
According to an official estimate, there are 75,000 new additions. Of the 33,000 of these registered Rohingyas, 13,000 are in Kutupalong and 20,000 in Nayapara refugee camps. Another three lakh Myanmar nationals have been living illegally in Cox's Bazar, Chittagong, Bandarban and Rangamati districts for a while.
Official sources said Filippo Grandi will visit the registered refugee camp at Kutupalong in Ukhiya upazila and other unregistered Rohingya camps. He is likely to talk with the Myanmar nationals and listen to their safety and livelihood concerns.
The UN refugee chief also held a meeting in Cox's Bazar with the government and UN officials engaged in refugee camp management. 
On return from Cox's Bazar, Filippo Grandi will hold a press conference at 6pm today.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in
Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, will undertake her sixth information-gathering visit to the country from July 10 to 21, according to a UN statement issued in Geneva yesterday.
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08 July, 2017

UN refugee head calls for citizenship for Myanmar's Rohingya

The U.N.'s top official for refugee affairs said Friday that granting citizenship to members of Myanmar's Muslim Rohingya minority is crucial for achieving peace in the country's western state of Rakhine, but economic development is also necessary.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi spoke in Bangkok after an official visit to Myanmar. The Rohingya face severe discrimination in Buddhist-majority Myanmar and were the targets of violence in Rakhine in 2012 that killed hundreds and drove about 140,000 people — predominantly Rohingya — from their homes to displacement camps, where most remain.
The Rohingya have long been denied citizenship, freedom of movement and basic rights in Myanmar, where they are often seen as illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh, although many have lived in the area for generations.
"The Muslim community, the Rohingya community suffers from a set of rules and regulations that contributes to their marginalization," Grandi said at a news conference. "To this you must add the general situation of poverty and underdevelopment that affects everybody in the state of Rakhine."
He said that in addition to providing the Rohingya with more freedom of movement and social services, "The Rakhine state where both communities coexist must see more development. There is an urgent need for development investments that must be, however, inclusive of the two communities."
Grandi said he received assurances from Myanmar's top leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, that refugees from her country who have been sheltering in Thailand — many for decades — will be welcome back home.
More than 100,000 refugees from Myanmar, virtually all from ethnic minorities, live in camps in Thailand near the border. Decades of fighting between the Myanmar army and ethnic guerrillas drove them to seek shelter in Thailand.
The installation of Suu Kyi's civilian government last year after five decades of military-led rule has raised hopes they can go home, but intermittent fighting in many areas and the absence of a peace agreement have stalled large-scale repatriation.
"Aung San Suu Kyi and the other ministers that I talked to agreed that the refugees were welcome back to Myanmar, but that it was important that such return must be voluntary and must be sustainable," said Grandi. "We cannot go back to a situation of insecurity or lack of resources."
He said he also discussed the issue when he met with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and other Thai government officials.
"We agreed that it was important to pursue, to continue, the return of refugees from Thailand to Myanmar," Grandi said.
Grandi next visits Bangladesh, which hosts hundreds of thousands of Rohingya from Myanmar who have entered since the 1970s
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06 July, 2017

Myanmar policeman fled deadly mob attack on Rohingya men

A policeman in Myanmar fled the scene of a deadly mob attack on Rohingya Muslims that has put the troubled western state of Rakhine on edge, two police officials said on Wednesday.
A group of Rakhine Buddhists threw bricks at Rohingya men in the state capital of Sittwe on Tuesday, killing one - identified as Maung Nu, also known as Monir Ahmad, 55 - the office of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi said in a statement.
Two police officers told Reuters an unarmed junior policeman was with the Muslim men at the time of the attack but was unable to protect them from the mob.
"We questioned the young policeman. He said he tried to stop them but he wasn't able to and ran away back to the police station," said Colonel Myo Thu Soe, spokesman for the home affairs ministry in the capital, Naypyitaw.
No one had been arrested for the attack, but an investigation was going on, he said.
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Rakhine State has seen the most serious religious violence in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar since the military began to end its decades of strict rule, with hundreds of Rohingya Muslims killed and more than 140,000 people displaced there in communal unrest in 2012.
Suu Kyi, who came to power last year as part of the transition from military rule, has emphasized the importance of the rule of law in solving conflict between Buddhists and minority Muslims.
Tension has been running high in the state since an army crackdown in response to Rohingya insurgent attacks in October, but Sittwe has not seen a repeat of the communal clashes of 2012.
On Tuesday, seven Muslim men had traveled into Sittwe from a camp on its outskirts housing people displaced in 2012. They got into an argument with a Buddhist ethnic Rakhine man over the purchase of a boat, attracting the attention of residents who began to attack them.
"The people didn’t attack the police because he's the same race," said Lieutenant Colonel Win Naung of Sittwe district police.
Myanmar does not recognize the more than 1 million Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine as citizens. Many in Myanmar consider the them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
Myo Thu Soe said the policeman on the scene was unarmed and inexperienced and unable to protect the Rohingya men.
Despite the fact they had a police escort, Myo Thu Soe said the Muslim men were not authorized to travel to the area.
Since the 2012 violence the city's Muslims have been confined to camps or a single city ward, unable to travel freely without a police escort.
(Writing by Simon Lewis)

 http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN19Q0KY
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31 May, 2017

UN appoints fact-finding mission on Myanmar, despite govt opposition


The UN Human Rights Council has appointed a three-person fact-finding mission to investigate alleged atrocities committed by Myanmar security forces, despite the Myanmar government’s opposition to the move.
The mission includes Indian lawyer Indira Jaising, Sri Lanka’s former human rights chief Radhika Coomaraswamy, and Australian human rights advocate Christopher Dominic Sidoti. Ms. Jaising will serve as chair of the mission.
Welcoming the move, Fortify Rights CEO Matthew Smith said: “The military committed a widespread and systematic attack on Rohingya civilians, and there’s been no accountability. The authorities continue to deny violations took place, and survivors continue to suffer needlessly, so this mission has its work cut out for itself. It’s an impressive team of experts fully up to the task.”
The Human Rights Council decided to dispatch an international fact-finding mission to Myanmar on March 24 to “establish facts and circumstances of the alleged recent human rights violations by military and security forces, and abuses, in Myanmar, in particular in Rakhine State.”
The 47-member body mandated the members of the mission to look into allegations of arbitrary detention, torture, inhuman treatment, rape and other forms of sexual violence, extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary killings, enforced disappearances, forced displacement, and unlawful destruction of property.
The members of the mission are mandated to ensure full accountability for the perpetrators of these acts and justice for the victims, according to a UN press release.
The Human Rights Council has encouraged the Myanmar government to cooperate with the mission by making the findings of domestic investigations available and by granting full, unrestricted, and unmonitored access to all areas and interlocutors.
However, the government has dissociated itself from the Council’s resolution to establish the mission, and both State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Senior General Min Aung Hlaing have publicly opposed the mission.
Dozens of civil society organizations have called on the Myanmar government to reverse its position and cooperate.
If the government refuses to cooperate, the mission is expected to conduct its investigation among the tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
As another alternative, Smith from Fortify Rights also called on UN agencies operating inside Myanmar to aid the mission: “We assume the mission will have the full cooperation at least of UN agencies in the country and others operational in Rakhine State. That will be important. But it’s not a given. UN agencies don’t typically share information with each other, let alone an outside body, and that’s a problem the UN leadership needs to fix.”
He added: “It’s important for the mission to look into the situation not only in Rakhine but also in Kachin and Shan states, at least. The recent torture video makes clear how serious the situation is on the ground.”
The members plan to meet in Geneva in the coming weeks to set an agenda. Experts in forensics and gender-based violence are also being assembled to support the mission.
The fact-finding mission is expected to present an oral update to the Human Rights Council in September and a full report in March 2018.
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20 May, 2017

US envoy: We want to see peace for all people in Arakan

US Special Representative to Muslim Communities Shaarik Zafar (Photo: US State Department) 
18 May 2016
A top State Department official said on Wednesday that the United States wants to see rights granted equally to all people in Burma, including the stateless Rohingya Muslims of restive Arakan State, also known as Rakhine
“Our policy is pretty simple,” said Shaarik Zafar, the US special representative to Muslim communities. “We want to make sure that we see peace, stability, development and harmony for all the people of Rakhine State, all the people of Myanmar, and of course that includes the Rohingya community.”
Speaking to reporters via telephone from Singapore, the envoy said dire conditions for the Rohingya were something that the United States has “thought about a lot,” and that equal development would be integral to broader stability.
Viewed as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities, the Rohingya are denied citizenship and basic rights. Violence between Arakan State’s Buddhist majority and minority Muslims beginning in 2012 left more than 100 people dead and some 140,000 others displaced. Most still live in squalid camps where they are denied freedom of movement and access to health and education services.
“We want freedom of movement, access to education, healthcare and economic opportunity for everyone in Rakhine State and the people of Burma, which includes the Rohingya community,” Zafar said.
Zafar, an advisor to Secretary of State John Kerry, made the comments while touring Singapore and Malaysia to assess the engagement needs of Muslim communities in Asia. Kerry will visit Burma on Sunday, days after the United States eased some economic sanctions on the former pariah state.
The United States’ re-engagement with Burma is part of the Obama administration’s broader Asia rebalance strategy, which hinges on a trade pact geared toward integrating economies and standardizing business practices.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, was signed by 12 Pacific Rim nations earlier this year, but has yet to go into effect. Burma is not a party to the agreement, nor is neighboring giant China.
“It’s incredibly important that the TPP gets finalized,” Zafar said, citing human rights, climate, security and economic concerns in the greater Asia-Pacific region, which accounts for some 40 percent of the world’s GDP.
In his capacity as special envoy, Zafar stressed that “religion matters in foreign policy, in health and in development”, particularly in the multi-cultural Asia-Pacific.
“Diversity leads to greater innovation, diversity leads, frankly, to a more successful country. And that’s true not just in the United States, that’s also true in Southeast Asia,” Zafar said.
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17 May, 2017

Bangladesh turn up the heat on Myanmar over Rohingyas

May 17, 2017

Bangladesh turn up the heat on Myanmar over Rohingyas

About a million Rohingya Muslims live in apartheid-like conditions in squalid camps in northwestern Rakhine state, where they are denied citizenship and basic rights

Myanmar is under increased global pressure to solve the Rohingya crisis as next-door neighbour Bangladesh has taken a tough stance on the issue highlighting the plight of the persecuted minority community in various global forums.
“Bangladesh has provided data and information to various organisations and countries including the UN, the EU, Organisation of Islamic Co-operation and the US, and encouraged them to talk about it,” a Foreign Ministry official told the Bangla Tribune.
“We also highlighted the issue in various bilateral meetings,” the official said, seeking anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi faced a volley of questions about the initiatives she has taken to solve the problem during her recent Brussels visit. She also had to give explanations to foreign ministers of the ASEAN countries.
“Bangladesh has been trying to reach a peaceful solution to the problem since the 1980s but Myanmar was never cordial,” the senior Foreign Ministry official said. “This [reluctance] has forced us to take a tough stance. We are trying to highlight Myanmar’s real intentions.”
About a million Rohingya Muslims live in apartheid-like conditions in squalid camps in northwestern Rakhine state, where they are denied citizenship and basic rights. Many in the Buddhist-majority country regard them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
Hundreds of thousands of undocumented Rohingyas are believed to be living in Bangladesh, outside the two designated refugee camps. As many as 75,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh to escape persecution in Myanmar after its military launched a crackdown in October last year.
Asked if Bangladesh’s current approach would help solve the problem, the Foreign Ministry official said it was not possible to reach a solution overnight.
According to the official, Myanmar’s economy will feel the brunt if the situation persists, as negative discussions on rights conditions would drive away businesses, who expressed interest to invest after sanctions on Myanmar were lifted.

Where Bangladesh stands

Myanmar did not respond to Bangladesh’s call for talks over the Rohingya issue after Naypyidaw started the crackdown.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali spoke with foreign diplomats about the issue, and later Dhaka welcomed a UN delegation to visit Cox’s Bazar Rohingya refugee camps.
In December, Bangladesh organised a global meeting on migration and used the platform to discuss the issue with several countries.
After this initiative, Myanmar agreed to sit for talks in January where Bangladesh conveyed a strong message to Naypyidaw’s special envoy to solve the issue, another Foreign Ministry official said.
“Dhaka later discussed the matter in details with Indonesia’s foreign minister, the three members of Kofi Annan-led international commission, the members of Myanmar government’s Rakhine Commission, UN’s special rapporteur Yanghee Lee, Chinese foreign ministry’s special envoy and the ambassadors of various countries to Bangladesh,” the official added.
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03 May, 2017

Over 168,000 Rohingya likely fled Myanmar since 2012 - UNHCR report

 
Study finds thousands of Rohingya fleeing violence and desperation have sought safety and stability in countries like Bangladesh and Malaysia in the last five years.
Rohingya refugees live in overcrowded makeshift sites in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, after fleeing across the border to escape the October 2016 violence in Myanmar.  © UNHCR/Saiful Huq Omi
BANGKOK, Thailand – More than 168,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar in the last five years as a result of violence and desperation, a new report on forced displacement in South-East Asia by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, estimates.
UNHCR’s just-released 2016 Report on Mixed Movements in South-East Asia highlights the complex dynamics behind the whys and hows of the continuing exodus from Rakhine state. Sources range from government to non-governmental organizations, media reports as well as more than 1,000 direct interviews with the Rohingya community in the region.
While Rohingya displacement has persisted for decades, it made headlines last October when attacks on border posts in northern Rakhine state triggered a security clearance operation that drove an estimated 43,000 civilians into Bangladesh by year’s end. By February this year, the estimate stood at 74,000.
Many of the new arrivals in Bangladesh’s camps and makeshift sites told UNHCR about the burnings, lootings, shootings, rapes and arrests they escaped back home.
“These children, women and men are highly vulnerable. They risk being re-victimized even in exile unless urgent action is taken.”
“These children, women and men are highly vulnerable. They risk being re-victimized even in exile unless urgent action is taken,” said Shinji Kubo, UNHCR’s Representative in Bangladesh.
“Many of them need adequate shelter before the rainy season starts. Without proper support, they also face risks such as child labour, gender-based violence and trafficking.”
Prior to the recent violence, Malaysia was the preferred destination for many Rohingya. Between 2012 and 2015, an estimated 112,500 of them risked their lives on smuggler’s boats in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea in the hope of reaching Malaysia, where there is a Rohingya community and potential work in the informal sector.
Those making the sea journey ranged from people fleeing inter-communal violence in Rakhine state in 2012, to those who grew increasingly desperate amid restrictions back home on their freedom of movement and access to services and livelihoods.
  • Hasina* is 17 years old and from a village near Maungdaw in northern part of Rakhine state, Myanmar. In mid-October 2016, her village was attacked during the security operations. When armed men tried to take her away, her brother tried to stop them and was shot dead. *Name changed for protection reasons
    Hasina* is 17 years old and from a village near Maungdaw in northern part of Rakhine state, Myanmar. In mid-October 2016, her village was attacked during the security operations. When armed men tried to take her away, her brother tried to stop them and was shot dead. *Name changed for protection reasons © UNHCR/Saiful Huq Omi
The sea route has been disrupted since mid-2015, when governments in the region cracked down on maritime smuggling networks. UNHCR could not confirm any boat arrivals in Malaysia last year.
Among those who tried to reach Malaysia overland in 2016, more than 100 – about half of them Rohingya – were reportedly arrested in Myanmar and Thailand.
The 2016 report explores other routes taken by the Rohingya, including to India via Bangladesh. It notes a steady but slowing stream of arrivals since 2012 numbering at least 13,000 people.
“Looking at the declining arrival numbers in India, it is safe to assume that this overland route has not replaced the maritime one,” said Keane Shum of UNHCR’s Regional Mixed Movements Monitoring Unit that produced the report. “Compared to those who went to Malaysia by sea, the Rohingya in India travelled in larger family units and chose the route as it was cheaper and safer.”
Besides analysing patterns of Rohingya displacement, the report also offers a snapshot of 85 Rohingya women and girls in India, Indonesia and Malaysia. It found that the majority of them married young – between the ages of 16 and 17 – and gave birth at an average age of 18.
Those in India appeared to be more literate and educated, and were more likely to have chosen their own husbands. In contrast, those in Malaysia were more likely to have married someone chosen by their families or by brokers or agents.
One-third of the 85 women and girls said they were victims of domestic violence.
One-third of the 85 women and girls said they were victims of domestic violence. Many said they would like to earn their own income and some had marketable skills, but only a few were actually earning their own income.
UNHCR has been working with host countries on the temporary stay and protection of Rohingya refugees, which includes granting them access to basic services and legal work. This will enable them to be self-reliant until longer-term solutions are found.
The agency has also been advocating with the Myanmar authorities for the full resumption of humanitarian access to vulnerable people in northern Rakhine state.
UNHCR stands ready to support government efforts to promote peaceful co-existence and address issues related to citizenship.
The total number of Rohingya refugees and internally displaced Rohingya in the region is estimated at 420,000 and 120,000 respectively.
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29 April, 2017

Rohingya crisis could affect ASEAN stability: Jokowi


Manila | Sat, April 29, 2017 | 04:30 pm
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has reminded State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi that leaving Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis unsolved would affect peace and stability both in her country and in the ASEAN region.
Jokowi conveyed his concerns during his meeting with Suu Kyi on the sidelines the 30th ASEAN Summit in Manila, the Philippines, on Saturday. In the meeting, they discussed conflicts that had affected the Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine, a state in Myanmar.
Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said President Jokowi told Suu Kyi that stability in Myanmar was important not only for the country but also the region.
“The President expressed his view that peace and stability in Myanmar must be maintained,” Retno told journalists in Manila.
Jokowi used the ASEAN Summit to directly express Indonesia’s support for solutions to the Rohingya crisis as the two leaders had never met before.
A report released by the London-based Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) states that at least 30,000 people in Rakhine have been internally displaced, while ongoing violence has led to shortages of food and aid for more than 70,000 people in the area.
To help solve the crisis, Retno said Indonesia had proposed mid- and long-term cooperation agreements with the Myanmar government in the fields of health and education, among others.
“The point is Indonesia wants to see Rakhine transform itself to become an inclusive region free from discrimination,” Retno said.
Indonesia would soon build a mosque for Rohingya people in Rakhine as Myanmar authorities had allowed the construction of houses of worship, she added. (ebf)
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27 April, 2017

U.N. criticizes Myanmar plan to resettle Rohingya in 'camp-like' villages

By Simon Lewis and Wa Lone | YANGON
The United Nations' refugee agency has criticized a Myanmar government plan to resettle Rohingya Muslims displaced by recent violence in "camp-like" villages, saying it risks stoking tensions, according to a document seen by Reuters.The plan - confirmed by a senior state-level official - has sparked fear among residents that they would end up penned into de facto refugee camps, the document produced by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Myanmar said.
Attacks on border guard posts in northwestern Myanmar in October last year by a Rohingya insurgent group ignited the biggest crisis of national leader Aung San Suu Kyi's year in power. Security forces stand accused of mass killings and gang rapes during the counterinsurgency operation that followed.
About 75,000 Rohingya fled across the border to Bangladesh to escape the violence, during which at least 1,500 houses across several villages were burned, while thousands more hid in forests and fields.
Some of those who fled have now returned and built temporary shelters, but the authorities have barred them from rebuilding their homes permanently citing "security restrictions", according to residents who spoke to Reuters and the UN document.
Instead, authorities have devised a plan to relocate some 1,152 households from 13 scattered hamlets into larger, more manageable "model villages".
In a three-page "advocacy note" dated April 25 and circulated among humanitarian agencies on Wednesday, the UNHCR warned the plan could "create further tensions" in villages recently scarred by the violence.
"Based on the information available on the model villages and concerns brought to our attention by affected villagers, UNHCR stressed the importance to allow displaced communities to return to their place of origin and have access to their previous source of livelihoods," UNHCR Myanmar spokesman Andrew Dusek said by email when reached for comment on the document.
More than 1 million Rohingya live in apartheid-like conditions in Myanmar's Rakhine State, where many in the Buddhist majority consider them interlopers from Bangladesh.
While Dusek said the UNHCR understood the plan was still at draft stage and may not have been finalised, Rakhine State government secretary Tin Maung Swe said the local administration had already started implementing it.
Tin Maung Swe said relocation was in the residents' interests as the "model villages" would be closer to government services. Rohingya villages in rural northern Rakhine were arranged "randomly" at present, he said.
"If these villages are not systematic, they will not develop and it will be hard to build hospitals, schools and police stations," said Tin Maung Swe. "Also we will have difficulties to take care of security in the region."

According to the UNHCR document and residents, the government has begun clearing land for the "model villages", in which households would each get a 220-square-metre (2,400 sq ft) plot and about $150 to build a home.
Residents told UN staff they feared losing access to their farmland and fishing grounds, and becoming stuck in what would become "like IDP camps", the UNHCR document said.
"A forced relocation to the 'model villages' would not progress stabilization in these areas," the UNHCR document said.
About 120,000 Rohingya have lived in "internally displaced persons" camps in Rakhine, dependent of international aid, since communal violence in 2012. Suu Kyi has pledged to begin closing the camps, following recommendations from a commission led by former UN chief Kofi Annan.
Five people whose homes were destroyed in November told Reuters by telephone about the living conditions since the violence subsided, expressing their worries about the government's plans.

"The village here has completely changed because all of the houses were burned down," said a 32-year-old in Yae Khat Chaung Gwa Son village, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Reuters has previously interviewed dozens of refugees, residents and Myanmar security officials about the military operation in Rakhine. Witnesses said troops raped Rohingya women, killed civilians, and burned homes in a sweep through several villages in November.
Satellite imagery analyzed by New York-based Human Rights Watch showed massive fires that destroyed hundreds of homes.
Officials have denied most of the allegations and blamed insurgents and villagers themselves for the fires.
Myanmar has blocked independent media and observers from the area.
Residents said that, while the area is now relatively peaceful, checkpoints and a 9 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew remain in place and soldiers regularly patrol near villages, making it hard for them to reach their fields and shrimp farms or the area's basic health clinics.
Villagers also told Reuters they feared the plots in the new settlements would be too small for many households, which often comprise extended family groups of 30 people or more.
"The government told us their plan is for all of the villagers to huddle in one place, in one village near the main road," said a school teacher in Dar Gyi Zar village, who also spoke anonymously. "We want to live in our original place as before."
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25 April, 2017

China Ready to Step Into Rohingya Debate

April 25, 2017, at 10:21 a.m.
Rohingya refugee children play at Balukhali Makeshift Refugee Camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh April 12, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain
Rohingya refugee children play at Balukhali Makeshift Refugee Camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh earlier this month. (REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain)
 

DHAKA (Reuters) - China offered on Tuesday to help tackle a diplomatic row between Bangladesh and Myanmar over the flight of minority Rohingyas, two Bangladesh foreign ministry officials said.
Around 69,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh to escape violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar since October, straining relations between the two neighbors who each see the stateless Muslim minority as the other nation's problem.

Chinese special envoy Sun Guoxiang, beginning a four-day trip to Bangladesh, urged Dhaka to resolve the row with Myanmar bilaterally, but also said Beijing stood ready to help in the matter, a foreign ministry official in Dhaka told Reuters.
Sun made the proposal during a meeting with Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque, the official said. He declined to be named, saying he was not authorized to speak to the media.
"The envoy told us at the meeting that they were ready to help if necessary," the official said. Another foreign ministry official confirmed the information but also asked not to be named, citing the sensitivity of the matter.
China has strong ties with both Myanmar and Bangladesh, helping in infrastructure development in both countries. Relations with the former have warmed further since Myanmar President Htin Kyaw struck a deal in China on an oil pipeline between the neighbors after almost a decade of talks.
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19 April, 2017

Myanmar keeps world guessing on refugees

By The Nation
April 18, 2017
The thousands uprooted by violence in Rakhine are being moved again – but it’s not known where
The international community and particularly the Association of Southeast Nations deserve to be fully apprised regarding the fate of thousands of displaced people in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Instead, all we’ve had is a worrying government announcement that refugee camps were being shut down. Nothing has been said about what happens to them next. These people sought shelter five years ago amid violent conflict between Buddhists and Muslims. Many fled the country, retreating to the Bangladeshi frontier, but the government in Dhaka was no more accepting than its neighbour to the east has been.
Thaung Tun, Myanmar’s National Security Adviser, said last week the government had begun shutting down three camps named in a report compiled for de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi by a commission led by Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary general. One camp shelters ethnic Rakhine and another holds Kaman Muslims.
Suu Kyi had last year chosen Annan, a fellow Nobel laureate, to head a commission seeking solutions to the crisis in Rakhine. It was mandated to examine ways to develop the state, strengthen civic institutions, provide humanitarian assistance, seek reconciliation and prevent further conflict. But the mission was flawed from the start, restrained by a law that doesn’t recognise the Muslim Rohingya of Rakhine as citizens. Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist society and nationalist intolerance of other religions is rife.
Annan’s commission recommended that the government formulate a comprehensive plan to close the displacement camps as part of any attempt to curb festering communal tensions. It noted that efforts to relocate the more than 120,000 “internally displaced persons” (IDP) in the camps had “shown little progress” since 2012. A sounder strategy was needed, it said, and a clear timeline. The commission identified 335 households within the IDP camps, a mix of Kaman, Rakhine and Muslim people who it said ought to be allowed to return to their homes or be relocated elsewhere as an initial expression of “goodwill”.
In briefing foreign diplomats last week, Thaung Tun unveiled no plan beyond the camps being shut down. He said nothing about measures to relocate the refugees or about aid or facilities to be provided. Thus international criticism of Myanmar over its official mistreatment of Rakhine’s million-plus Rohingya is unlikely to abate. Most of these people, despite their families having lived in Myanmar for generations, are denied citizenship and face severe restrictions in movement and access to education and healthcare.
Matters have been muddled ever since the military – reacting to militant Rohingya attacks on police border posts last October – launched a bloody crackdown in north Rakhine that reportedly claimed hundreds of lives. UN investigators concluded that security forces might have carried out crimes against humanity as well as ethnic cleansing. Suu Kyi last week rejected the accusations, calling “ethnic cleansing” “too strong an expression”. Annan agreed, while Thaung Tun insisted the authorities were doing their best to push forward a process of citizenship verification.
The leaders of the Asean countries, presumably including Myanmar President Htin Kyaw, will this month gather for a summit in the Philippines, but, as usual, the subject of the Rohingya will remain off the agenda, since members of the bloc are loathe to meddle in one another’s internal affairs. That doesn’t prevent any members from raising concerns or even suggesting possible solutions, however. Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia have provided humanitarian assistance in the past. They and others should seek larger roles in helping Myanmar tackle the issue at its roots. At the very least, they should press Myanmar’s representatives for more information about the latest developments and, better still, what the long-range plan is.
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