April 1, 2017

 army

Teknaf- Myanmar will be purchasing Indian developed torpedoes, a naval weapon system with an explosive warhead.

The torpedo is designed to be used for destroying submarines.

The deal with India comes few weeks after Bangladesh purchased submarines from China.

Earlier India has sold supplied a sonar navigation and surveillance system, widely believed to be a response to Bangladesh’s submarine technology.

Myanmar however does not have its own submarines.

While tensions have rapidly deteriorated between the two countries, analysts have not yet started talking about a cold war in the region.  

April 1, 2017

 heli 3

Maungdaw- Three Rohingya women will be allowed to file rape charges against Tatmadaw personal who raped them, according to a state government official.

On Friday, Ye Htut, Maungdaw’s district administrator said village administrators and community leaders will aid the three women in filing the rape allegations.

The women are from the destroyed village tract of Ra Bai La. The village, along with the neighbouring settlements of Sa Li Frang, Bor Gazi Bil and Sau Ra Gazi Bil was attacked with helicopter gunships and rocket launchers resulting in the deaths of hundreds in mid November. In the aftermath, soldiers moved into the area and committed horrific abuses including throwing infant children into fire and raping women by the dozens.

At present there are four internal commissions investigating atrocities by security forces during the crackdown. Independent observers have criticised them as an eyewash initiative by the government in face of unprecedented international pressure.

Investigation officials have repeatedly dismissed accounts of atrocities committed by security forces. Only three cases have been filed from Bura Shida Para.

The three women had earlier told the media on Thursday that they will be willing to file rape cases against the Tatmadaw personal.

Irrawaddy reports that two of the women said there were no men in their village on the day in question and that they, along with another women, were taken by four or five soldiers to a vacant house and raped.

One of the women raped was pregnant.

The women had filed their complaints in the Nga Khura police station. 

March 29, 2017

childrenTeknaf- Rohingya Muslim rebel group Haraqah-al Yakin has denied links with any international terrorist organisation and has instead spoken of its support for UN peacekeeping troops in Arakan state.

The statement also ascertained the ‘legitimate right under international law to defend ourselves’.

The group stressed that it has not undertaken attacks against civilian populace.

Identifying themselves as the ‘Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army’, the statement expressed its heartfelt gratitude towards the UN, OIC, ASEAN, EU and numerous other organisations, especially UN envoy Yanghee Lee for their sincere support towards the Rohingya community. However, they pointed out that despite the sincere efforts of well-wishers, Rohingyas continue to suffer and thus it has become imperative that the beleaguered community mobilise to defend themselves.

Altogether the group issued 20 points mostly demanding equal rights and the access of international organisations. The group did not call for any independent state for the Rohingya people. However, the ARSA statement made clear that the ancient kingdoms of Arakan had nothing to do with Burmese rule till the late 18th century.

Despite lack of evidence, sections of the international media has stressed on the group’s alleged links with Pakistan, Saudia Arabia and Al Qaeda inspired groups.

ARSA also recognised the current civilian government is not in any position to change the fate of the Rohingyas and the genocide is unfolding under auspices of the Tatmadaw, widely known as the real rulers of Myanmar. 

March 28, 2017

Tatmadaw chief has come out strongly against the UN investigation on alleged atrocities committed against the Rohingyas in last fall.video

Speaking on the 72nd Anniversary Armed Forces Day observed in the administrative capital Naypyidaw on Monday, Gen Min Aung Hlaing has described the investigation as a political intervention on behalf of the Rohingya community.

He also claimed that Rohingyas were not residents of the country but interlopers from Bangladesh.

“We are responsible to prevent, based on the Tatmadaw Spirit, those actions done on the pretext of [addressing the] political situation as well as religious or racial issues in our country, because they can harm the sovereignty of our country,” said the army chief.

Referring to ongoing and recent military operations in Arakan and elsewhere, he said, “The Tatmadaw firmly adopts the stance of ensuring the stability, unity and development of the country and monitoring to ensure that [the country] can walk firmly on the multi-party democracy path chosen by the people.”

March 14, 2017

lee

A newly published report by UN special envoy Yanghee Lee has said that Myanmar may be seeking to "expel" all ethnic Rohingya from its territory.

The evidence "indicates the government may be trying to expel the Rohingya population from the country altogether," Lee told the UN Human Rights Council on Monday. 

Lee wants the council to establish the UN's highest-level probe, a Commission of Inquiry, to investigate that crackdown as well as violent episodes in 2012 and 2014.

However, the EU has not backed calls made by Lee and other UN high officials as they fear a full UN investigation might undermine the rule of long time ally Aung San Suu Kyi and set the stage in favour of the Tatmadaw, which continues to wield the highest influence in the country.

Representatives from EU countries dodged questions about investigations, according to AFP. 

March 1, 2017

ko ni

Radical Buddhist  monk U Wirathu has expressed his gratitude to the killers of rights advocate U Ko Ni.

“At this time, I feel relief for the future of Buddhism in my country. If not, the destruction of Buddhism, like in Thailand, would have gained a foothold here in five years,” he wrote on Wednesday.

Wirathu also said that anyone who wants to do away with the military-drafted 2008 Constitution should heed this as a warning;

“Anyone who wants to kick out military representatives should be mindful. Anyone who wants to scrap the Constitution should be mindful,” he said.

Ko Ni was a staunch opponent of the constitution that gives the Tatmadaw effective control over any other authority in the land. Ko Ni was also controversial for speaking for the rights of Muslims. He was gunned down in January when returning from a Jakarta trip aimed to bring peace between Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar.

Wirathu's remarks comes a day after Gen Kyaw Swe of the Home Affairs Ministry blasted media personal for suggesting Buddhist nationalistswere inovolved or sympathetic in the killing of Ko Ni. . ko ni

February 28, 2017

bd demoRohingya refugees in Bangladesh have said they shall not speak to the investigation commission that has expressed their desire to visit the camps in the Teknaf region of the country.

The Ambassador to Bangladesh U Myo Myint Than had spoken of the government’s interest to send members of the commission to the country, according to the Bangladesh foreign ministry. The date for the visit has not been set.

Refugees say the commission is not neutral and they don’t have any genuine interest in the testimonies of the victims. However, the refugees have pledged to cooperate if the media and human rights organisations are also accompanying the team as they want to inform the world of the duplicities by the regime.

Activists allege the commission is one of the many initiatives of the government to sanitise the genocide of the Rohingyas.

The 13 member commission was formed by presidential decree in December last year in response to massive international outcry over the ongoing crackdown against Rohingyas which have killed more than a thousand people since October.

The government’s credibility has been questioned by international observers.

According to Charles Sanitago of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, “the Myanmar government’s repeated denials of rights violations demonstrate that Naypyitaw has no interest in resolving the situation or addressing underlying issues.” 

March 12, 2017

Desk Report

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A Rohingya Women’s Organisation was inaugurated in Kuala Lampur on Saturday.

The organisation known as Rohingya Women Development Network (RWDN) was formed by Rohingya refugee women residing in Malaysia.

Sharifah Shakirah has been named as the founder and director of the organisation while Arifa Sultana is the co-founder and Secretary.

Activities of the organization however started in December last year amid horrific abuses committed by the security forces in the name of clearance operations. Hundreds of women from the Maungdaw North region are believed to have been raped and sexually abused, while many have been abducted and currently serving as sex slaves in military camps.

Speaking to Rohingya Vision TV, Shakirah said, “we want to empower women and solve their domestic problems. We are trying to instill confidence in them that they can play similar roles to men in building society.”

Shakirah pointed out the reason why Rohingya women are lagging behind in this day and age, “Due to persecutions and dangers surrounding the Rohingya people in Arakan for decades, women have always been lagged behind. However, in Malaysia which is better than Myanmar for Rohingya, with empowering women with education and skills, we can change how others see as a whole. We want to break that stereotype.”

The inauguration ceremony was attended by development workers and media personal in KL. 

March 1, 2017

 army

The Tatmadaw has defended its crackdown Rohingyas as a lawful counterinsurgency operation at a rare news conference on Tuesday, adding it was necessary to defend the country.

This was the first time the top generals directly addressed the mounting accusations of human rights abuses in what the international media is referring to as a rare news conference by the country’s most powerful institution, which effectively holds power over the civilian government.

"I want to say that I am very sad because of these kind of reckless accusations and neglect of the good things that the government and the military have done for them," said General Mya Tun Oo, Chief of the General Staff.

He presented a series of slides with media news reports saying that they had investigated these reports and interviewees from the Rohingya Muslim minority has told them these things did not happen.

"If we find that these cases are really happening as per the accusations in the media, we will take very serious action according to the military rules and current laws," he said.

However, our sources say the military investigation team have not really interviewed eye witnesses who are in any cases too afraid to face military officials, representatives of the very institution that led a bloody onslaught against them. Rather some who had come up to provide information to the media and international observers on atrocities have been threatened and in at least one case killed.

International commentators have also pointed out that the army is not serious about punishing those who perpetuated abuses against the Rohingya populace.

At least a thousand people including women and children were killed, with many thrown into the fire in front of their family members. 

malaysia

February 22, 2017

Akyab - Humanitarian aid from the Malaysian flotilla has arrived in the Akyab port. Malaysia dropped off the supplies at a Yangon port on February 9 amid protests by anti Muslim nationalists.

The  State Counsellor Office Information Committee announced in a Facebook post that the supplies had been delivered from Yangon by a military ship on Wednesday. It added that the donations will now be delivered to 190 villages and IDP camps by February 25.

The state government and international organisations will help to disburse the aid.

The aid package is worth around $1.1 million.

Myanmar government had earlier refused permission to the ship to dock at Arakan state, though transporting the delivery from Yangon presented logistical barriers.

The government has also said parts of the aid will also reach the Rakhine population as it would be fairer to help both the communities.

Rohingya activists allege a significant amount of aid from foreign nations is siphoned by the administration.

A network of Malaysian NGOs have sent an aid ship carrying tonnes of aid supplies meant for the Rohingyas, an initiative strongly supported by Malaysian PM Najib Razzaq.

March 1, 2017

 children

More than a thousand children might die because of the crackdown against the Rohingyas last year, according to UN agencies.

A report by the London based Independent said the UN was prevented from delivering life saving supplies after Tatmadaw sealed off the townships of Maungdaw and Buthidaung.  

The report says while the military responded to international pressure and allowed aid in mid December, they were unable to connect with thousands of especially vulnerable children who were being previously aided with life saving supplies. Aid workers say they might have died, been displaced or fled to Bangladesh.

“We have reports of children who died from malnutrition,” said Chris Lewa, director of Arakan Project, “The indirect victims of the conflict might be more than those killed.”

13,155 children were listed in surveys last year as suffering from severe acute malnutrition in the two townships, according to the report. Out of which 3446 children are unreachable.

The death rate for acutely malnourished children left without support is between 30 to 50 per cent if not assisted within the first weeks, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

This means the mortality rate of children might well surpass the thousand mark, which Rohingya activists and some UN observers say is the number killed directly by the security forces. 

March 1, 2017

kutupalong

Teknaf- Bangladesh government officials say they have begun a new census to determine the exact number of Rohingya refugees living inside their borders.

The initiative is being taken by the Cox’s Bazar branch of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), according to reports in the Bangladesh media.

The new census comes less than a year after a similar initiative by the Bangladesh government in association with the IOM.

“The international and humanitarian organisations are each stating a different number of Rohingyas who sought refuge in our country to flee the military crackdown in Myanmar since October last year,” Md Wahidur Rahman, deputy director of BBS Cox’s Bazar office told the Dhaka Tribune. “In order to determine the exact number of new refugees, the government is launching the census in the three districts.” It is expected to be completed by March 10 but will stretch for a few more days if needed, he added.

The new census will take place in Cox’s Bazar main town area, Ramu, Chakaria, Ukiya and Teknaf upazilas in Cox’s Bazar, Lohagara, Satkania, Chandnaish, Patiya and Boalkhali upazilas in Chittagong, and Naikhyongchhari, Lama and Alikadam upazilas of Bandarban.

Our sources say the government’s last initiative in idenitifying the exact number of refugees was wildly inaccurate. It is not clear how the government intends to complete this mammoth task in less than two weeks.

It is estimated that around half a million Rohingyas reside in Bangladesh with almost a hundred thousand arriving since the flare up in violence since October last year. 

prison

February 22, 2017

 

According to a report by Reuters, the home ministry is investigating a cover-up by the country's border force of the deaths in custody of two Rohingya Muslims. If proven true, the internal document is the first official admission of serious wrongdoing by security forces.

However Rohingya activists on the ground are understandably taking the news with a pinch of salt. During the two month orgy of violence, it is unimaginable the country’s home ministry which is overseen by the Tatmadaw, the very institution that led the atrocities did not know what was going on.

As the news agency points out in the same report, the cause for these investigations can be attributed to an international outcry which the generals did not expect.

Myanmar’s crackdown drew a wave of international condemnation especially from Muslim countries as brutalities mobilised mass support for the Rohingya cause in Muslim communities.

Myanmar's presidential office, military and police forces have each set up teams to probe allegations of atrocities.

Reuters say this set the scene for “a behind-the-scenes tussle over who will be held accountable, … and the army and police were trying to blame each other for alleged atrocities.”

Our sources on the ground say both the Tatmadaw and Hlun Htein committed widespread abuses which included throwing children into fire, and bayonetting civilians including women and children to death, as well as using heavy weapons at residential areas which did not represent a threat to the attacking forces. However, it was the army officers who led the offensives.

Under such circumstances, activists say there will be little effort to identify and punish the true penetrators of the violence as the orders came from the very people who are the real rulers of Myanmar, and as might be added, the people leading the investigation. At best, there will be a few sacrificial lambs, that may try to act as an eyewash for the international community.

According to Charles Sanitago, Malaysian parliamentarian and a member of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, “the Myanmar government’s repeated denials of rights violations demonstrate that Naypyitaw has no interest in resolving the situation or addressing underlying issues. The fact that security forces have been tasked with investigating themselves and rooting out abusers in their own ranks speaks for itself. There isn’t even a half-hearted attempt at impartiality or independence.”

Incidentally hundreds of Rohingyas have been reported missing, all of them likely to have been arrested and tortured by security forces in custody. In some instances, prisoners have had their eyes gouged out and hands cut off from the wrists, according to our sources.

The report by Reuters may be accessed at http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-myanmar-rohingya-police-idUKKBN1601OJ

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