Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bangladesh abuses Rohingyas Mayanmar Muslims

Bangladesh has a history of abusing minorities. It has mistreated and ostracized the Biharis–which it refers to “Stranded Pakistanis”. They have been living in camps for about forty years, without the ability to marry Bangladeshis or work in and around Dhaka. It obviously has abused all Non-Bengalis in the Chittagong Hill tracks. Bangladesh is not a monolith country with only Bengalis. There\ are Bawm, Pangkhua, Lushai, Khumi, Mro, Khyang, Chakma, Marma and Tripura and many other minorities. 
It is ironic that Bangladesh which was formed on the alleged abuse of Bengalis has turned on its own in Bangaldesh and beyond. A country formed on Bengali nationalism was unable to bring in the Hindu Bengalis of West Bengal into the new nation. In 195 it became obvious that religion was more important than Bengali language and culture and the bonds of langauge and culture were not strong enough for the Indian Bengalis to join Bangladesh.
The Bengalis of Pakistan left Bangladesh seeking democracy, ”freedom” and Begali secularism–they found none of them in Bangladesh. Right after 1971, Mr. Sheik Mujib Ur Rehman declared himself president for life after banning all other political parties. The same Awami League which constantly harped on the theme of representative democracy and under-representation in the Pakistani government and institutions–created a Stalinist dictatorship in Bangaldesh.
Today the progeny of Mr. Rehman is in charge of Dkaka with widespread charges of electoral fraud and misuse of authority and corruption–the same charges they labeled on the Pakistanis in 1970.
Today’s Sonar Bangla lies tarnished, relations with Bharat (aka) are at an all time low and the creaky economy remains mired in the same malaise that afflicts the rest of South Asia. Bangladesh has not been able to move itself above the other countries of South Asia.
Bangladesh abuses the Rohingyas Muslims who escaped persecution in Myanmar.
Bangladesh-Chittagong Hill Tracts: There are eleven ethnic multi-lingual minorities in the greater CHTs. They are Bawm, Pangkhua, Lushai, Khumi, Mro, Khyang, Chakma, Marma and Tripura. They have been divided in to three groups. The Bawm, Pangkhua, Lushai, Khumi and Mro, Khyang are Kuki-Chin or Kuki group. The Tripura, Riang are Tripura group and the Chakma, Marma, Tonchangya, Chak are Arakanese group. These groups differ from each other in terms of languages. Customs, religious belief and patterns of social organization.The population of the hill people in the CHT are devided as many as 3groups who the numerically superior ones are Arakanese group and the second are theTripura group. The Kuki group are the third in numerical strength.
About a quarter-million Muslim refugees from Myanmar face beatings and forced repatriation to their homeland by authorities in Bangladesh, an international medical group said.
Ethnic Rohingyas, who are not recognised in their homeland, are packed into camps run by the United Nations in Bangladesh. Another 300,000 live illegally in the country and face attacks by the authorities and destruction of their homes, according to medical group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).
The group says it has been treating the Rohingyas at makeshift camps in Kutupalong, southeastern Bangladesh, for trauma wounds as a result of beatings by police.
Some had been forced into a river and told to swim back to Myanmar.
“They claimed they’ve been living in Bangladesh for a number of years and their neighbours have turned on them,” said the head of MSF’s mission in Bangladesh, Paul Critchley.
Most Rohingya in Bangladesh have no documentation and struggle to survive, evading the authorities and working mostly as day labourers, servants or pedicab drivers. They have no rights to education or other government services.
“They cannot receive general food distribution,” Critchley said.
Every year, thousands of minority Muslim Rohingyas flee Myanmar in wooden boats, embarking on a hazardous journey to Thailand or Malaysia in search of a better life.
Some find work as illegal labourers, others are arrested, detained and “repatriated” to a military-ruled country that washed its hands of them decades ago.
Rohingyas say they are deprived of free movement, education and employment in their homeland. They are not recognised as an ethnic minority by Myanmar and say they suffer human rights abuses at the hands of government officials.
Many have sought refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh, living in mud huts covered in plastic sheets and tree branches, which provide poor shelter during monsoon rains that cause mudslides and expose them to waterborne diseases.
Bangladesh says there are about 28,000 registered Rohingya refugees in two U.N. camps near the southeastern resort of Cox’s Bazaar.
Since October last year, a makeshift camp in Kutupalong has grown by more than a quarter, or 6,000 people, with 2,000 of these arriving in January alone.
As the numbers swell, the cramped and unsanitary living conditions pose significant health risks, MSF said.
Three months earlier, Bangladeshi authorities demolished shelters and forcibly removed their inhabitants in an attempt to clear a space around the Kutupalong camp, MSF said.
“MSF witnessed first-hand violence against the unregistered Rohingya, and provided medical care for some of the consequences,” it said in a statement.
MSF said it continued to treat more Rohingyas in the months after for injuries inflicted when they were forcibly evicted.
“MSF has treated patients for beatings, for machete wounds, and for rape. This is continuing today,” it said.
Refugee groups say many impoverished Bangladeshis resent Rohingyas for the pressure they are putting on scarce local services and resources.
David Mathieson, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, said the Rohingyas had been victims of a “pattern of abuses” in Bangladesh for more than 30 years and the government had made it clear it wanted rid of them.
“It’s not as if these incidents came out of the blue. They’re part of a very long-running brutal process of making life so uncomfortable for the people in the camp that they’ll return to Burma,” he said, referring to Myanmar by its former name.
“They fled some absolutely horrific human rights violations in their own country. They’re justifiably too frightened to return.”have fled from Myanmar, saying they face often brutal treatment by the ruling military regime.
It is sad to see Bangladesh abuse fellow Muslims–the most vulnerable refugees in Asia.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Burma’s junta pulls the wool over the UN's eyes

By - Zin Linn
Burma’s junta sentenced four women activists to two years imprisonment with hard labor on the same day U.N. special envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana arrived for a five-day visit to evaluate progress on human rights in the country.
The four women were arrested on 3rd October 2009, after being accused of offering Buddhist monks alms that included religious literature, said Nyan Win, spokesman for the opposition National League for Democracy headed by detained Nobel Peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. “When passing the sentence, the court could not provide strong evidence against them as there is no (reliable) witness,” their lawyer Kyaw Ho said. The women used to hold prayer services at Rangoon's Shwedagon pagoda for release of Suu Kyi.
The current visit of U.N. envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana started a day after the regime jailed an American human rights activist Kyaw Zaw Lwin, to three years in prison on fraud and forgery charges, despite demands from the United States for his release. This will be the envoy's third visit to the country after a previous mission last year was postponed.
The U.N. envoy’s visit comes two days after pro-democracy leader Tin Oo was released following seven years in prison. Tin Oo, vice-president of the NLD was released from prison on 13 February 2010, having been in prison since 30 May 2003. As he visited NLD headquarters on 15 Feb, he said he was optimistic that "things can be resolved" through Mr Quintana's visit.
Former political prisoner who spent 19 years in junta’s jail and NLD’s central executive committee member Win Tin called on Mr Quintana to "be decisive and perform his duties in the strictest manner without falling prey to the lies of the government".
Present sorrowful affairs in Burma confirm that the military junta is determinedly marching along its anti-democracy course. The junta continues to detain and incarcerate approximately 2,200 political prisoners, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been confined to her residence for 14 of the last 20 years.
For instance, on 30 December 2009, 15 political promoters from three townships in Mandalay Division were given various prison sentences ranging from 2 years to 71 years by a court sitting inside the prison. The special branch of the police arrested the political activists from Myingyan, Nyaung Oo and Kyauk Padaung townships last September and October without attributing any reasons, held them incommunicado, and did not let them to meet their family members during their incarceration period. They have been given thoughtless imprisonments by an arbitrary court in jail without having a lawyer on 6 January.
Besides, a military-controlled township court in Burma has handed down a 20-year jail term to a freelance reporter Hla Hla Win, a young video journalist who worked with the Burma exile broadcaster "Democratic Voice of Burma" based in Norway, as the ruling junta continues its crackdown on the dissent. She was arrested in September after taking a video interview at a Buddhist monastery in Pakokku, a town in Magwe Division, the Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres and the Burma Media Association said in a joint statement. For that she was given a seven-year prison sentence in October 2009. Burma ranks alongside nine other countries in the “worst of the worst” category in Freedom House’s ‘Freedom in the World 2010’ report, which includes Libya, Tibet, China, Eritrea, North Korea and Equatorial Guinea.
The 47-year-old musician Win Maw was convicted for “sending false news abroad”, even though it wasn’t false, and there wasn’t any evidence against him to match up with the elements of the charge.
On November 11, 2008, the Mingalar Taungnyunt Township Court sentenced, a leading Burmese musician Win Maw to 17 years in prison for sending news reports and video footage to the Norway-based Democratic Voice of Burma radio station during the protests in August and September 2007. Win Maw was arrested in a Rangoon teashop on November 27, 2007 and charged under article 5 (j) of the penal code with “threatening national security”. He was held in the notorious Insein prison during trial, and was transferred to a remote Katha prison, following this year’s trial. He won the 2009 Kenji Nagai Memorial Award for his commitment as a freelance journalist in Burma.
Another Reporter of the Norway-based opposition radio station Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), Ngwe Soe Lin was sentenced to 13 years' imprisonment on 28 January 2010 by the Rangoon Western District Court sitting inside Insein prison. Sources said Ngwe Soe Lin, 28, who lives in Rangoon's South Dagon Township, was charged under section 33(a) of the Electronic Act and section 13(1) of the Immigration Emergency Provisions Act, receiving terms of 10 and 3 years imprisonment respectively.
Ngwe Soe Lin had been recently honored with the Rory Peck Award for his work in documenting orphan victims of Cyclone Nargis, which struck Burma in the first week of May 2008.
Moreover, two officials have been sentenced to death by a court in Burma for leaking information, official sources say, in a case reportedly involving secret ties between the ruling junta and North Korea. The men were arrested after details and photos about a trip to Pyongyang by the Burma regime's third-in-command, General Shwe Mann, were leaked to exiled media last year, the website of Thailand-based Irrawaddy News reported.
“Two officials received death sentence and another one was jailed for 15 years for leaking information. They were sentenced at the special court in Insein Prison on Thursday,” a source said. The two men sentenced to death were Win Naing Kyaw and Thura Kyaw, while the imprisoned third person was revealed just as Pyan Sein, with no further details of the case. Win Naing Kyaw is a former military officer and Thura Kyaw and Pyan Sein worked at the ministry of foreign affairs, Irrawaddy said.
Many leaders of the '88 Generation Students, who led a pro-democracy movement in 1988, remain imprisoned with sentences up to 65 years. Ethnic Shan political leader Hkun Htun Oo and prominent comedian Zarganar are still in prison despite their medical conditions.
Su Su Nway, a member of the National League for Democracy, has been in custody in the notorious Insein Jail since November 2007, following a peaceful demonstration. She received the 2006 Humphrey Freedom Award from the Canada-based group Rights and Democracy for her human rights activities. She was arrested in 2005 and 2007.
Many political prisoners are reportedly seriously ailing and receiving no regular healthcare. The International Committee of the Red Cross has been denied free access to conduct confidential prison visits since December 2005. Arrests and intimidation of political activists and journalists in Burma have been going on for two decades.
In 2009, there were three known political prisoner deaths. Salai Hla Moe, Saw Char Late and Tin Tin Htwe all died in prison due to lack of proper medical care. According to the AAPP’s documentation, at least 143 political prisoners have died in prison since 1988. But the list is incomplete, as the military authorities black out information from the prisons.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International warned Burma’s military regime in a major report released on 16 February 2010. The 58-page report - The Repression of ethnic minority activists in Myanmar - draws on accounts from more than 700 activists from the seven largest ethnic minorities, including the Rakhine, Shan, Kachin, and Chin, covering a two-year period from August 2007.
The military authorities have arrested, imprisoned, and in some cases tortured or even killed ethnic minority activists. Minority groups have also faced extensive surveillance, harassment and discrimination when trying to carry out their legitimate activities.
Amnesty International urged the government to lift restrictions on freedom of association, assembly, and religion in the run-up to the elections; to release immediately and unconditionally all prisoners of conscience; and to remove restrictions on independent media to cover the campaigning and election process.
Amnesty International called on Burma or Myanmar’s neighbors in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as China, Myanmar’s biggest international supporter, to push the government to ensure that the people of Myanmar will be able to freely express their opinions, gather peacefully, and participate openly in the political process.
“The government of Myanmar should use the elections as an opportunity to improve its human rights record, not as a spur to increase repression of dissenting voices, especially those from the ethnic minorities,” said Benjamin Zawacki, AI’s Burma (Myanmar) specialist.
But, the mood of the junta shows clearly that it has no plan to pay attention to international concerns, release political prisoners or commence a dialogue for reconciliation. According to a Burmese analyst, it is baseless to believe that the military dictators are going to build a democratic country by means of the 2008 constitution.
Zin Linn is a freelance journalist in exile. He is vice president of Burma Media Association, which is affiliated with the Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontiers.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mizoram police deport 33 Myanmarese nationals

Aizawl: Mizoram police today deported 33 Myanmarese nationals and handed them over to their Myanmarese counterpart near the border river Tiau in Champhai district bordering Myanmar, police officials said.

The Myanmarese nationals were deported after a local court sentenced them to three days imprisonment and ordered them to be pushed back to Myanmar after the completion of their imprisonment.

The Myanmarese nationals were earlier arrested in Aizawl for staying in the state without valid permits.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Chin Refugee in Malaysia

There are more than 27000 Chin refugees and asylum-seekers in Malaysia of which two third of them are not registered by UNHCR office and hiding in jungles and staying separately in urban areas in fear of authority detection and arrest. Since Malaysia is not UN signatory on Refugee Convention, all refugees are arrested as illegal immigrants. To get matter worse, male refugees are caned before they are deported to Thai border. Many women refugees in Malaysia who were arrested and deported to Thai border face serious abuse by human smuggler ring based at the border.

Although UNHCR is the only home refugees can approach for documentation, UNHCR does not register most asylum-seekers which left thousands of Chin asylum-seekers as undocumented aliens in Malaysia. For a person without any kind of document, it is very difficult to approach hospitals and clinics in time of illness. Unregistered refugee are illegal immigrant in Malaysia.

The recent announcement by the Home Ministry of Malaysia to issue Identification for refugee is a good news for the refugee, as they will recognized with refugee status. We anticipated that the difficult situation will changed for better.

Who are the Chin People?

The Chin are one of the ethnic groups in Myanmar. The Chins are found mainly in western part of Myanmar (the Chin State) and numbered circa 1.5 million. They also live in nearby Indian states of Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur and Assam. Owing to Mizo influence and Baptist missionaries' intervention, 80%-90% of the population are Christians. However, a sizable minority of the Chin adhere to their traditional tribal beliefs, as well as to Theravada Buddhism. A small group of individuals from Mizoram claimed that they are one of the lost tribes of Israel, that of Bnei Menashe tribe, some have since resettled in that country.

The Chin are one of the large ethnic minority groups in Myanmar. The Chin people are of Tibeto-Burman groups and they probably came to Myanmar, especially the Chindwin valley in the late 9-10 century A.D. Most Chin people moved westward and they probably settled in the present Chin State around 1300-1400 A.D

Why they leave the country?

Chin people are leaving their home-town on a daily basis, the population is decreasing year by year. Human Rights Watch documents a wide range of human rights abuses carried out by the Burmese army and government officials. The abuses include forced labor, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, religious repression and other restrictions on fundamental freedoms. Now most Chin people are suffering the effects of famine, which was brought by bamboo flowering in the state leading to multiplication of rats. Crops have been destroyed by rats, flies and bugs since late 2006.

People are also suffering not only from diseases. Due to the onset of famine, Chin people cannot purchase even mosquito nets, sometimes they are going without food all day long. Most of them are suffering from malaria as they sleep without mosquito nets at night. Some are suffering from gastric since they have been eating roots and leaves.

The teenagers cannot attend formal school as they have to work in other countries for their livelihood as refugee, most of time as illegal refugee. The local leader and pastors are telling Chin people not to leave. The population of Chin State has been decreasing annually, especially after 1989.

Chin people leave for Malaysia, India and other countries like USA, Canada, Norway, Denmark and Australia.

Documentary film: Refugee for sale in Malaysia, documentary by a local TV(in Chinese)

As a member of Asean countries; and neighbor of Myanmar; it is time we give our helping hands to the refugee from Burma, regardless of race and religion. At the same time we hope that political pressure from the world will forced Myanmar's Junta to give power back to civilian government elected by people. This will solved the refugee problem when the livelihood of the people are secured and life become stable.

Related articles

1. "brain food" - Series on the Chin refugee Children of Burma living in Malaysia ,
2. Chin Refugee Committee,
3. Chin Refugee Committee Malaysia,
4. Without refuge: Chin refugees in India and Malaysia,
6. The Chin People of Burma: Unsafe in Burma, Unprotected in India,

Monday, February 1, 2010

Poppy field in Chin State destroyed by Burmese police

1 February 2010: A poppy field in Chin State was destroyed by the Burmese police, in the first week of January.
The poppy field was located 20 miles from Cikha sub-town in Tonzang township of Chin state. It was destroyed by the Burmese police based in Cikha sub-town, a local said.
"An acre of poppy field, 20 miles west of Cikha Town was totally destroyed by the police," said a local.
Poppy cultivation was earlier permitted by the Burmese military regime but the field was destroyed after all the seeds were taken away, added the local.
"As far as I know, all the poppy seeds were taken away in December last year, and the plants were cut down. There were no poppy to be destroyed when the police arrived," he added. 
 A local from Phaisat village in Tonzang District said “the poppy seed is taken out in December and January each year".
The regime is currently growing 2000 acres of poppy in Tedim and Tonzang district of Chin State. It has ordered many local people to shift to other places to facilitate extension of poppy fields.
The current market price of raw opium from Chin state is about Kyat ten lakh per kilogram.
Earlier, raw opium produced from these areas was bought by Chinese traders and Indian opium smugglers.
The regime had set up an opium refinery factory in November, 2009 in western Tamu, 20 miles from Tamu town in Sagaing Division in Burma.- Khonumthung News