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July 23, 2017

Maungdaw- Fishing has completely stopped in the rivers of Northern Maungdaw, even in the areas outside the perimeter of the deadly clearance operations that killed a thousand Rohingyas last year.

Our correspondents from many of the village tracts have confirmed that Hlun Htein forces have boosted their presence especially operating out of their bases in Kunir Khali, Kuwa Bil and Nasha Dong and are detaining and torturing fishermen who have ventured into the waterways. During the assault, the Hlun Htein said they had no right ti conduct fishing as they were foreigers and the water belongs to the 'prople' of Myanmar. 

One Fazal Karim has told our local correspondent that he was arrested and beaten by the Hlun Htein till he was unconscious. The victim is still in a critical state with multiple fractured bones. The fate has befallen many fishermen.

As a result of the fishing ban, many households are close to starvation as it is along with logging, one of the mainstay occupations for Rohingyas who have little land of their own.

Activists have alleged the Myanmar government spearheaded by the Tatmadaw have devised a strategy to attack Rohingyas going out of their villages to fish and cut wood, thus depriving them of food and create artificial starvation. 

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June 14, 2017

The top UN official in Myanmar is being removed for failing to speak out against atrocities committed against the Rohingyas in Northern Maungdaw, according to reports in the BBC.

Renata Lok-Dessallien, and the entire UN team remained silent during October, November and December when Tatmadaw led operations killed more than a thousand Rohingyas, including infant children, many of whom were thrown into fire.

Lok-Dessallien even visited the conflict area but failed to share information and did not even give interviews to the media.

The UN has however said their top official was being removed for matters ‘unrelated to work’. But Lok-Dessailien is being removed at three and a half years, instead of the usual five year tenure.

Lok-Dessallien had denied allegations that UN was prioritising development over human rights after an independent UN report criticising her team’s silence was leaked.

Rohingya activists welcomed the decision and expressed hope that the UN team in Myanmar would be more active in promoting the rights of ethnic communities being persecuted by the security forces inside Myanmar.

An UN report published later in January portrayed a vastly different picture of gross human rights violations committed by Tatmadaw led forces. 

 

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Desk Report: June 3, 2016

Police have pressed charges against three people in the Thekata township of Yangon for holding Ramadan prayers in the streets on Wednesday, according to AFP. 

Around 50 Muslim had gathered in the streets to pray as the religious school previously used for the purpose was closed down by Buddhist nationalists backed by security forces in late April.   

Following the incident, local authorities issued a statement saying the prayers threatened the stability and rule of law in the Muslim majority township of Thekata.

Muslim activists allege the Tatmadaw is using Buddhist nationalists as a pawn for fomenting releigios tensions and strengthening their rule by creating an artificial security threat. Initiatives by the government to curb hate speech among Buddhist nationalists have been slammed as an eyewash for sake of the international community and an initiative by the Tatmadaw to escape identification as the producer and director of violence against the Muslim community.  

The Tatmadaw has long relied on an intolerant strain of Theravada Buddhism to strengthen their rule and justify gruesome atrocities against Muslims. 

However, this time, NLD activists had also joined the hardliners in closing down the schools where prayers used to take place. 

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June 1, 2016

Rohingya rights organisation, the Arakan Rohingya National Organisation better known as ARNO has welcomed the appointment of a three-person fact-finding mission on 30 May by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate atrocities committed by Myanmar security forces against Rohingya Muslims.

“It is an excellent team of experts headed by India’s Supreme Court Lawyer Ms. Indira Jaising; and its two other members are Sri Lankan lawyer Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy and Australian rights consultant Mr. Christopher Dominic Sidoti,” according to the press release dated May 31, 2017.

On 30 May the President of the 47-member Human Rights Commission, Ambassador Joaquin Alexander Maza Martelli has appropriately formed the team in accordance with Council resolution of March 24 to ‘dispatch urgently’ an international fact-finding mission to Myanmar to prove alleged abuses by military and security forces, particularly against the minority Rohingya Muslim community, including allegation of arbitrary detention, torture, inhuman treatment, rape and other forms of sexual violence, extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary killings, enforced displacement, and unlawful destruction of property, read the statement.

The ARNO statement further stated that it was serious concerned “that Myanmar government and military authorities continue denying any violations in spite of well-documented evidences and accounts of atrocity crimes committed against the defenseless Rohingya population, including mass killings, gang rapes and arson in state sponsored deadly violence since 2012 and in systematic military campaigns from 2016 causing influx of thousands of Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh.”

ARNO expressed “welcome relief” and hope at the “great move towards creating a full commission of inquiry to investigate the crimes against Rohingya.”

For more details on the ARNO statement, please contact: 

Australia: Dr. Hla Myint +61-423381904

Bangladesh: Ko Ko Linn: +880-1726068413

Canada: Nur Hasim +1 -519- 5725359

Japan: Zaw Min Htut +81-8030835327

U.K. Ronnie: +44-7783118354

USA: Dr. Habib Ullah +1-4438158609

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

www.rohingya.org

May 26, 2017

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Christians in Chin state are fleeing to India after being targeted by Rakhine nationalist outfit the Arakan Army, according to reports in the Indian media.

Those fleeing were all women and children, as all the male members have been held by the Arakan Army in the village of Ralie, according to the reports.

The refugees are currently in Southern Mizoram’s Saiha district where they arrived on May 19.

In a separate incident, more than a hundred people had also escaped into the Indian state of Nagaland last week to escape battles between the Tatmadaw and an unidentified armed group.

The escapees, all Christians have alleged persecution by both rebel groups and the government forces which also relies on a militant version of Buddhism. While Muslims have borne the brunt of Buddhist nationalist violence, many Christian communities in Chin state have started to face religious persecution in recent weeks, according to a source. 

May 10, 2017

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Muslims were attacked in the suburbs of Yangon on Tuesday night after nationalist activists, hard line monks, accompanied by La Wa Ka and Police officials entered the area to search for ‘illegal Muslims’, a reference to the Rohingyas.

Even though a check in a suburban flat did not turn up any Rohingya Muslims, the mob of nationalists started attacking local Muslims and shouted obscenities against the Islamic religion.

Local Muslims gathered and tried to stave off the attacks, but many of them got injured. At this moment police did not take any action to stop the attacks on the Muslims and at one stage, the Muslim residents also started to retaliate.

As soon as the Muslim retaliation started, Police fired shots, prompting both groups to retreat.

Social media websites promoting Buddhist nationalist propaganda at this time spread the message of ongoing clashes, leading to activist fears that the stage might be set for another violent communal riot against the Muslim community in the near future.

Anti Muslim initiatives by Buddhist nationalist groups are becoming more common in Yangon, the commercial capital of a country with strong sentiments against the minority Muslim community. 

April 29, 2017

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Two Muslim religious schools in Yangon were closed down by a Buddhist nationalist mob on Friday evening.

Police officials present on the spot aided the mob of around 50 nationalists, according to local sources. The mob had gathered from around 2pm and were well protected by the police who maintained an aggressive posture towards local residents in Anawmar 11 and 12 streets in Thaketa Township, most of them being Muslims. The Muslims tried to put up a defence but were vastly outnumbered as the mob was operating under heavy police protection. At around evening, they retreated and the mob closed down the establishments.

Locals say that relations with neighbouring Buddhists have generally been cordial and the gang which arrived at the scene were all outsiders.

Local NLD leaders present at the scene also did not make any gesture to help the Muslims.

The two establishments have been getting threats since the water festival in mid April this year. 

May 26, 2017

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The much talked Tatmadaw investigation team has said its members are not guilty of committing atrocities against the Rohingyas during the clearance operation. As a result, the Tatmadaw, which remains the real rulers of the country has cleared itself from allegations of gross human rights violations.

The announcement made on Tuesday however said one of their soldiers was guilty of stealing a motorbike.

The army directly refuted allegations by the UN bodies including the UNHCR (mentioned in the report as OHCHR) and described them as lies.

"Out of 18 accusations included in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) report, 12 were found to be incorrect, with (the) remaining six accusations found to be false and fabricated accusations based on lies and invented statements," said a report by the army's 'True News' team carried in state media.

The army did not come up with a statement on why a hundred thousand Rohingyas had fled to Bangladesh abandoning everything, nor did it explain the overwhelming evidence incriminating their own members, according to many activists.

Rohingya activists have also said the absorption of blame clearly demonstrates what they had known all along – senior officers of the Tatmadaw are directly involved in the murder and rape of Rohingya Muslims in a brutal crackdown that did not even spare infant children in Northern Maungdaw.

The army had also rejected an investigation probe by the UNHCR and said they were not welcome in the country.

More than a thousand people including infant children were killed and many women raped during a three month crackdown that started on October 9. 

May 4, 2017

Anti Rohingya.transformed 

Maungdaw- U Wirathu have arrived to Maungdaw on Wednesday, according to reports in the local media.

He is scheduled to travel to Rakhine villages in the township, for which he is being given state protection.

As news of Wirhathu’s village reached Muslim settlements, there has been consternation among residents.

Wirathu is known mainly for popularising anti Muslim hate speech throughout the country.

It is expected that the firebrand monk known for his oratory speeches will further inflame anti Muslim sentiments among elements of the Rakhine community determined to wipe out Muslims from the region.

Wirathu’s visit has been welcomed by the Rakhine nationalist outfit ANP which has vowed to make donations towards his cause.

Details of Wirathu’s visit including his destination and length of stay has been withheld by the state and his entourage. 

April 16, 2017

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One of the leading human rights organisations working on Myanmar has sounded warnings about ‘the real ruler of the country’.

Mark Farmer, Director of the Burma Campaign UK referred to General Min Aung Hlaing as the most powerful man in the country, whose soldiers are responsible for atrocities against ethnic minorities including the Rohingyas.

Farmer blames Hlaing and his powerful Tatmadaw for much of the country’s ills including ethnic cleansing and continuation of conflicts, and says the powerful general has escaped criticism, and continues to be welcome in world capitals.

On the other hand, it is Aung San Suu Kyi who has been under fire, though it is widely known she has little influence over military matters despite being the so called de facto leader of the country.

Analysts believe a secretive but powerful military junta that includes Hlaing rules the country from Naypyidaw.  

Farmer blasted the international community for its policy of soft engagement with the Tatmadaw, and instead urged sterner actions to influence the policy of the organisation that is responsible for gross human rights violations but continues to wield the real influence in Myanmar.

The full article can be accessed at http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/mark-farmaner/min-aung-hlaing_b_15001514.html

May 13, 2017

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The International Committee of the Red Cross has asked Myanmar to let aid workers get access to people caught up in conflict zones including northern Arakan.

Authorities have blocked the ICRC from areas under the control of ethnic minority forces and from visiting some prisoners, the organisation's president, Peter Maurer said in Yangon.

Maurer had recently visited the Akyab area where Rohingya Muslims have been residing since 2012 in the gruesome conditions of IDP camps. Maurer did not get a chance to visit Northern Maungdaw, site of the recent Tatmadaw operations that have killed more than a thousand people.

Access to the Arakan state continue to be very limited. In recent weeks, the Tatmadaw and their cohorts have launched sting operations in the remote regions of Buthidaung killing many including infant children. But due to the remoteness of the region, details have not been forthcoming.

The ICRC has been barred from the notorious torture centres of Arakan including the infamous Buthidaung prison.

Torture of Rohingya prisoners have continued despite the formal end of clearance operations.

Hundreds have died under torture in recent years and many more have been maimed. 

May 3, 2017

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State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday rejected a decision by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate atrocities committed by the Tatmadaw and other forces during the recent clearance operation in Northern Maungdaw.

“We do not agree with it,” Suu Kyi told a press conference in Brussels, in the presence of high ranking EU officials. She elaborated that the decision by the top UN human rights body has not taken into account ‘ground realities’, and thus Myanmar has chosen to disassociate itself from the decision.

She also said the recommendations by the UNHRC would further divide the Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists in the restive region.

About a month earlier, Tatmadaw chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing gave a speech on anniversary day saying it was their duty to prevent the UN investigation as it violated the sovereignty of the country.

The statement by the army general, widely regarded as one of the most powerful figures in the regime came days after the UNHRC agreed to dispatch a fact finding mission to the affected region of Maungdaw.

It is not clear how the investigation will proceed in face of strong defiance by the regime. 

Desk Report

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April 12, 2017

Myanmar is shutting down three IDP camps, according to a senior official on Tuesday.

One of the three camps house Rakhine IDPs, while the two others based in Akyab and Ramree house Muslim, both Rohingya and Kaman IDPs.

There is concern that the closure of the camps will bring additional hardship for the Muslim IDPs as their land has been taken over by hostile Rakhine gangs from neighbouring settlements. As a result, the declaration by National Security Advisor U Thaung Tun that IDP camps will close as per the recommendation of the Kofi Annan led Advisory Commission have created confusion among Muslim IDPs.

Thaung Tun has not specified where the IDPs will go.

Unlike the Rakhine IDPs who are well cared by the state, Muslim IDPs survive in conditions described as worst in the world, and are unable to leave the camps as they are targeted by hostile nationalist gangs. 

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