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June 3, 2017

Dhaka has come out strongly in favour of the UNHRC investigation to probe atrocities committed by the Tatmadaw in Northern Maungdaw, according to sources. Foreign ministry officials have however expressed doubts that the government of Myanmar might not allow the international probe team to operate smoothly.

Myanmar has strongly opposed the move by UNHRC with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing saying it was in the Tatmadaw spirit to prevent the investigation. Following the statement by the powerful army chief, Aung San Suu Kyi also followed suit.

Reports in the Bangladesh media have however hinted that in the event Myanmar blocks access to the Northern Maungdaw region, Bangladesh will allow the probe team full access to the refugee camps where many of the surviving victims are based.

Dhaka's position is a departure from its modus operandi regarding its neighbour with whom it has been eyeing good relations mainly for commercial purposes. The overtures made by Dhaka has generally been ignored by Myanmar where the Tatmadaw has increased reliance on anti Muslim propaganda as one of their justifications to maintain a dominant presence over the nominally civilian government. 

However, both India and China had opposed the move and dissociated themselves from the decision by the top UN human rights body. The two dominant powers in the region maintain good relations with both Myanmar and Bangladesh. Indian activists have however told Myanmar Observer that Bangladesh had tried unsuccessfully to convince India to back the probe.

An investigation commission appointed by the Tatmadaw to investigate atrocities in Northern Maungdaw declared themselves not guilty.

Rohingya activists have welcomed the move by UNHRC. A statement released by leading activist group ARNO earlier this week expressed “welcome relief” and hope at the “great move towards creating a full commission of inquiry to investigate the crimes against Rohingya.” The organisation however expressed doubts that they will not be able to function smoothly. 

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May 31, 2017

The UN has appointed a three member team to investigate atrocities committed by Tatmadaw led forces in Northern Maungdaw last year, according to a statement by the UNHRC on Tuesday.  

The fact-finding mission will be led by prominent Indian lawyer Indira Jaising, Sri Lankan lawyer Radhika Coomaraswamy, and Australian human rights consultant Christopher Dominic Sidoti. The team will be supported by human rights specialists based in Geneva.

The decision to send the UN investigation team was taken in late March after an EU backed resolution won approval in the top UN human rights body.

Myanmar has strongly rejected the initiative saying it was carrying out its own investigation. However earlier this week, one of the investigation commissions appointed by the Tatmadaw declared themselves innocent of any wrong doings, barring petty crimes committed by individual soldiers such as bicycle thefts.  

Analysts say it will be interesting to observe how the probe will proceed in the face of strong opposition by the Tatmadaw and State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi. 

May 15, 2017

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A senior European Union official has urged Myanmar to allow full aid access to northern Maungdaw, amid a dire humanitarian situation created by Tatmadaw led clearance operations that have killed more than a thousand, including infant children.

Christos Stylianides, the European Union commissioner for aid said that he pushed for unrestricted humanitarian access to the affected region, according to AFP.

The tour included a visit to northern Maungdaw where the Tatmadaw operations took place.

AFP also reported that Myanmar is the second largest aid recipient of EU in Asia after Afghanistan, with a commitment of 800 million euros from 2014 to 2020.

Myanmar however regularly withholds aid destined for Rohingya Muslims, and there is little monitoring of the ground situation by international agencies. 

A report also said that a thousand children might have died because the UN was prevented from delivering life saving supplies as the Tatmadaw sealed off the Muangdaw and Buthidaung townships. 

The commissioner expressed worries about not getting enough aid before the onslaught of the monsoon season. He also opposed plans by authorities to resettle Rohingyas from destroyed villages in ‘model villages’ a synonym for IDP camps, similar to what exists in the Akyab region.

The Muslim IDP camps in Akyab and elsewhere have been described by the international media as open air prisons where conditions are one of the worst in the world.

Tatmadaw and Hlun Htein officials have told residents of the destroyed village tracts in Northern Maungdaw that their habitats are now government property, and they must move elsewhere, without offering any detailed explanation.

The village tracts include Kya Ri Prang, Zammoinna, Kawa Bil, Nsa Sa Gru, Ludaing, Lound Don, Sa Li Frang, Bor Gazi Bil, Ra Bai La and Naffura. These villages were places of gruesome atrocities committed by the Tatmadaw led forces which included firing into civilian houses with heavy weapons, abducting and executing Rohingya men, mass rape and abduction of women, and throwing infant children into the fire. 

May 11, 2017

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the Myanmar ambassador on Tuesday to find solutions to the Rohingya crisis.

The Bangladeshi PM made the comments during a formal meeting with outgoing ambassador to Bangladesh, Myo Myint Than.

The PM said Myanmar should find out peaceful solutions to the Rohingya crisis and take them back, as Bangladesh has done in regards with their CHT region. She further said Bangladesh was always open to solving the issue through dialogue with the government of Myanmar.

Relations between the two neighbours have cooled down following the Burmese security force’s aggressive attitude towards Bangladeshi people on the border. There is also mass support among the Bangladeshi populace towards the Rohingya people following gross atrocities committed by Tatmadaw led forces in October and November last year.

The PM also expressed Bangladesh’s inability to accommodate an increasing number of Rohingya refugees in her already overcrowded country and urged a speedy solution for repatriating them.

She expressed interest in increased commercial relations with Myanmanr and once again gave reassurances that Bangladeshi soil will not be used by Rohingya insurgent groups.

May 1, 2017

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Sri Lanka's coastguard on Sunday detained an Indian boat carrying 30 Rohingya refugees who were on board, an official told AFP.

16 of those detained were children, including a 15 day child and a four month infant, according to the reports.

Sri Lankan navy officials said they were providing the boat people with emergency assistance.

The refugees were travelling from India. Around 50,000 Rohingya refugees live in India but in recent months, they have become targets of right wing Hindutva groups. 

April 29, 2017

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Myanmar has shunned Chinese offers to help negotiations with Bangladesh on the Rohingya issue on Friday.

On Tuesday, China offered to tackle diplomatic tensions between Bangladesh and Myanmar over the Rohingya refugees, amid a trip by special envoy Sun Guoxiang to Dhaka.

However, the President’s Office has said on the first anniversary of the NLD government that they will not accept China’s offer to help mediate affairs in Arakan, but “will collaborate” with Bangladesh.

China has themselves made clear their preference for bilateral negotiations between Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Rohingya activists have said that members of the international community, especially Malaysia should be present at any negotiations. They also expressed the desire for European participation. There is also the need for Rohingya representatives to be present at any talks, they stressed.

Meanwhile Bangladesh officials have also told local media off the record that it is impossible for the Rohingya crisis to be solved through bilateral talks with Myanmar as the latter maintains a hostile attitude towards their Muslim neighbour. 

April 8, 2017

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Jammu’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries has issued an 10-day ultimatum to the state government and threatened to “identify and kill” Rohingya Muslims if they were not deported soon, according to reports in the Indian media.

“We will have no option but to launch an ‘identify and kill’ movement against such criminals,” Rakesh Gupta told reporters, according to Scroll.In. The online website also said that Gupta called the refugees “criminals and drug traffickers who are disowned by their own country”.

In response, several groups expressed solidarity with the Rohingya refugees. Jammu Action Committee President Sheikh Sartaj and youth leader Mohammed Hillal Beig were those who held demonstrations and condemned Hindu nationalists for singling out ‘innocent’ Rohingya refugees for political purposes and urged police to take action against groups spreading hatred.

The central government is already looking for ways to expel thousands of Rohingya refugees in Jammu. 

April 30, 2017

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At least 35 Rohingya families in Jammu have already left, while 180 more families seem to be packing their bags, according to reports in the Kashmiri media.

Reports say there are around four thousand Rohingya families in the Hindu dominated Jammu region which are at risk of attacks by Hindutva groups whose influence in the region is increasing.

The report also said that while there is sympathy among the Kashmiri Muslim community, they seem helpless to aid the Rohingyas.

In early April, an influential Indian pressure group dominated by Hindutva elements gave a ten day ultimatum to identify and kill Rohingya refugees unless they left the region immediately. Since then, there has been regular threats and attacks from miscreants, including arson attacks on Rohingya huts. 

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Teknaf- China has offered on Tuesday to tackle diplomatic tensions between Bangladesh and Myanmar over the Rohingya refugees, Bangladesh foreign ministry officials have told Reuters.

However China prefers that Bangladesh and Myanmar take steps to tackle the issue bilaterally.

The discussions took place amid a meeting with Bangladesh foreign secretary Shahidul Haque and Chinese special envoy Sun Guoxiang who is in Dhaka on a four day trip.

China has strong ties with both countries.

Rohingya activists have welcomed China’s interest in tackling the long standing problem of Rohingya persecution but have stressed that to reach a realistic solution, the international community, especially Malaysia and other ASEAN and Muslim powers sympathetic to the Rohingya cause should be present. They also expressed the desire for European participation. There is also the need for Rohingya representatives to be present at any talks, they stressed.

Meanwhile Bangladesh officials have also told local media off the record that it is impossible for the Rohingya crisis to be solved through bilateral talks with Myanmar as the latter maintains a hostile attitude towards their Muslim neighbour. 

April 7, 2017

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A top Bangladesh Border Guard (BGB) official on Thursday said the border agencies of Bangladesh and Myanmar have resolved to shut all crossing points between the two countries in the event of another refugee crisis, according to reports in the Bangladesh media.

Dhaka Tribune reports that BGB Additional Director General Anisur Rahman, speaking at a press conference to mark the end of a six day summit with Myanmar police officials claimed that the two border authorities had agreed to exchange information and act when necessary to seal their shared border to stem any flow of Rohingya Muslim refugees.

“With our stance of mutual cooperation, we had agreed to immediately communicate with the Myanmar border authorities in case something like this happens again and then close the borders to prevent the influx of illegal immigrants,” said the BGB commander.

During the clearance operation last year, Bangladesh requests for cooperation were largely ignored by Myanmar.

The BGB commander however said the Rohingyas had fled because of oppression in their homeland. He however went to say that he had received assurances from Myanmar police that conditions in Arakan were stable.

The two sides also agreed to work together on landmines on the border, which they said had supposedly caused casualties. They did not disclose who placed the landmines, but it is widely known the only active Rohingya rebel army does not have the resources.

BGB once again gave a list of yaba producing factories, though Myanmar had earlier ignored requests to shut down the production of the deadly pills flooding the neighbouring country.

High ranking Myanmar officials are allegedly involved in the trafficking of yaba pills. 

April 30, 2017

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Maungdaw- Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has told State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on Saturday that leaving the Rohingya crisis unsolved would affect peace and stability both in her country and in the ASEAN region.

The conversation between Jokowi and Suu Kyi happened on the sidelines of the 30th ASEAN summit in Manilla, Philiphines, where the two leaders are meeting for the first time.

The Indonesian government has expressed support for the peaceful co-existence of different ethnic groups in the troubled Arakan region, and is using the summit to push forward their agenda, according to reports in the Indonesian media.

There is strong support for Rohingyas in the world’s biggest Muslim state.

Suu Kyi has however told Jokowi that Myanmar is partly complying with recommendations put forward by Kofi Annan’s commission but did not go into the details of what exactly Myanmar was doing.

Jokowi has reportedly offered Suu Kyi Indonesia's expertise in health, educational and livelihood programs, as well as the capacity-building training for Myanmar's police.

April 8, 2017

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Teknaf- Sajeeb Wazed Joy, the ICT adviser to the Bangladesh PM, has expressed strong sympathy and support for the plight of Rohingya Muslims. Joy, better known as the son of the current Bangladesh PM, and widely regarded as the heir to the ruling Awami League in an article in The Diplomat wrote: “Having faced its own humanitarian and refugee situation during its war of liberation against Pakistan in 1971, Bangladesh is sensitive to people seeking protection from torture and exclusion.”

Joy also said that while Bangladesh has only become a lower middle income country in recent years, it has expended considerable resources for the welfare of Rohingya refugees.

Joy expressed strong support on behalf of the government of Bangladesh on UN proposals that include, “an abolition of discriminatory local orders against the Rohingya in Arakan State, the lifting of restrictive bureaucratic requirements for emergency medical referrals and the establishment of guidelines that will eventually eliminate all freedom-of-movement restrictions on the Rohingya.”

Joy pointed out that while previous governments in Bangladesh had successfully repatriated hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees, the continued denial of citizenship have forced the community to once again seek shelter in the neighbouring country.

Joy however defended the controversial plan to relocate the Rohingya refugees to Thengar Char, saying that it was beyond the scope of the local administration to manage the current refugee populace. Joy also pointed out that due to the vulnerability of the refugee population, it is easy for criminal networks to prey on them. He said the current situation in the Teknaf area is not sustainable in the long run.

He blasted reports that have said the Thengar Char remains submerged for a good part of the year. “The Bangladesh government will not build Rohingya settlement facilities in those areas of Thengar Char that are subject to tidal fluctuations. It is also doing its best to handle the influx of Rohingya people in the most humanitarian way,” said Joy.  

The ICT adviser ended his article with an appeal to the international community to solve the Rohingya crisis and help Bangladesh develop the Thengar Char which he had earlier pointed out would be an better option than the current settlements of the refugee population located in the Teknaf belt. During the article, Joy also said Bangladesh would upgrade aid and humanitarian support for the Rohingya community. 

Please see http://www.rohingyablogger.com/2017/04/bangladesh-extending-aid-upgraded.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook for full article 

April 6, 2017

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The Indian government is considering ways to deport tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims currently living in Jammu and Kashmir, according to reports in the Indian media.

Most of the Rohingyas reside in Jammu and Samba districts, might number to around 10,000.

Altogether it is estimated around 40,000 Rohingyas reside in India.

Some of the Rohingyas are registered with the UNHCR but India does not recognise them as refugees.

An anti Rohingya campaign led by Hindu nationalists has gained steam especially in Jammu, leading to frequent attacks against the refugees.

The BJP led government is also known for its anti Muslim stance.

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