Saturday, 14 January 2017

‘Myanmar must recognise Rohingyas as citizens’

Vijay Nambiar of India served as the United Nations’ special advisor on Myanmar from January 2012 to December 2016. In this capacity, he played a key role in supporting Myanmar’s transition to democracy. He was also the main UN voice on the Rohingya issue. Previously, he served as chief of staff of the former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, a position he held from 2007 to 2012. A member of the Indian foreign service, Nambiar served as his country’s ambassador to Pakistan, China and Afghanistan.
Prothom Alo’s special correspondent for the US Hasan Ferdous spoke to him on Sunday in New York.
Prothom Alo: You have visited the Rakhaine State several times. How would you describe the situation there?
Vijay Nambiar: I have not been to the Rakhaine State for quite some time, certainly not since 9 October 2016. After the 2012 violence (against the Rohingya Muslims), I was the first international (person) to visit the place. I also inspected the camps in Mongdaw, where the “boat people” rescued from the sea were given shelter.  Thus, I have seen the desperation as well as the complexities of the issue. During the (previous military government), I had been trying to impress them that unless they were more sensitive and tackled the problem in terms of their root causes, including citizenship and status, there was a danger that the situation could be further radicalised.
PA: I believe, after your last visit, you said there have been targeted killings.
VN: No, not after the last visit. I did say of targeted killings after the 2012 visit. That year in October, there were some targeted killings. It was very difficult to distinguish between common civilians and others.  Due to this, there was a danger of targeted killing.
PA: The international press have reported extensively about looting, burning and even incidents of rape, not just in the past but now.
VN: Yes, but these have also been denied by the local people. It was very difficult to get accurate information which could be verified independently. Much of the information has been filtered through the government, and the government has fiercely denied such accusations, especially rape.  We got some reliable information from outside, which said there were no reports of rape, initially for the first few weeks. Then suddenly these reports started appearing. I do agree, as repercussions, there could be attacks against women and children. But whether these were deliberate, I have not been able to independently confirm.
PA: The head of UNHCR in Dhaka called the military action against the Rohingyas a genocide.
VN: No, he did not. He did say there was ethnic cleansing, but did not use the word genocide. UNHCR later said it was his personal view and did not reflect the position of the organisation.
PA: Are you saying that things have got better?
VN: There has not been an escalation of violence, although the security forces feel threats of attack against them still remain.  Therefore, the lockdown they have imposed in the area has continued. Even though they have said the media and some of the agencies would be allowed to go in. It has been kind of an up and down situation.  There is effectively a lockdown, and the local people continue to face anxiety and uncertainty.  They are simply frightened, they are worried how long this would continue.  I think there is a need for the government to take pro-active action to reassure the local community. While they can legitimately take action against those who pose a security threat, that should not be visited on the entire population.  And the civilian population needs assurance that they would be protected.
PA: You briefed the Security Council on 17 November. Some reports say you advised the council members to go easy on Myanmar.
VN: No, I did not say that. What I said was that the lady (Aung San Suu Kyi) said she needed space and time, and I said, yes, she needed time and space to address the issue. When she was at the United Nations in September last year, she assured her support for human rights and dignity for all the people in the country. She said she would stand firm against violence and intolerance. She reiterated her faith in fundamental human rights and dignity of human persons. She, in my view, is capable of taking action that would change the situation. She has the moral authority and political clout to bring about necessary change. If anything can be done, it has to be done by the government and by her.  I personally feel that she would do the right thing if she is given the confidence by the people.
PA: What about the army? Does she (Suu Kyi) enjoy support from the army in dealing with the situation?
VN: At the moment, the military is looking at it purely as a security threat. After all, every hammer looks for a nail. There has to be some pressure on the military to look at the larger political dynamics, not purely as a threat.   At the moment, I don’t think Aung San Suu Kyi is in a position to push the military far enough. But if anybody can do it, in my view, it is Suu Kyi. She would do the right thing.
PA: The government has formed an investigation team that has already denied any religious persecution.
VN: I think there is still institutionalised discrimination inside the country. The current situation (of not granting the Rohingyas citizenship) has created a (dangerous) situation. The constitution itself recognises 135 ethnic groups.  There has been recognition — by Aung San and her father — that there is a need for the country to come together as a nation. (Unfortunately) there is still strong resistance among the majority groups against smaller minority groups, and they need to overcome this.
PA: Former secretary general Kofi Annan who recently visited Myanmar seemed very soft on the government.
VN: I agree with him on some of his positions, both in terms of complexity of the issue and for the country, especially its leadership, to raise its moral voice to reassure the minority community and to allow greater access to humanitarian assistance and the media. I also agree with him that a resolution has to be found through a political process.  It should be done through soft pressure. I don’t think that using such labels like ‘genocide’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’ can help. These charges cannot be thrown around loosely. Even some senior US state department officials have said unless handled carefully, the situation could be infested with extremists.  All efforts must be made to avoid the situation getting worse.
PA: Can you explain the issue of radicalisation?
VN: I think the situation can be handled better if looked at it politically. If the local population continues to feel beleaguered and desperate, then it becomes a fertile ground for radicalisation.
PA: What about a regional approach?
VN: The first regional approach has been through ASEAN. The Bali Process — adopted in 2002 and supported by 48 countries to deal with the refugee crisis — can be a useful tool. The approach that Malaysia has taken — of sending a flotilla — does not seem to be productive.  On the other hand, Indonesia has been working with Myanmar over the months and beyond, after the 2012 events. They have been actively sending various humanitarian assistances.
More importantly, it should be between Bangladesh and Myanmar to discuss bilaterally. I understand the government of Myanmar has said it would send a deputy minister to Dhaka for meetings, and they are looking for a time when this could take place.  The UN is also sending its Special Rapporteur (on the situation of human rights in Myanmar) Yanghee Lee.
PA: What would be your advice to the government of Bangladesh?
VN: I think Bangladesh has so far been very constructive. It has been very careful of not allowing the situation to aggravate. At the same time, I understand they are under pressure due to the influx of refugees.  As their number goes up, there would inevitably be pressure to give them (the refugees) humanitarian assistance and protection which over time could become not possible for Bangladesh. There has to be a bilateral agreement on resettling the refugees back in Myanmar. I believe that this was done (successfully) in the 1990s.
PA: So, where do we go from here and what would be the action plan?
VN: The first thing  that needs to be done by the government of Myanmar — from people at the top leadership position – is to reassure the people of the northern state of Rakhine, particularly its Muslim community, that their protection, safety and dignity would be ensured. And wherever there would be excesses committed, they would be dealt with in an exemplary manner so that the locals do not feel that they may become victims.
Secondly, there has to be credible way in which (this) investigation takes place.  The people need to be reassured that all government and security actions would be taken strictly in accordance with the law and in a transparent way and in a manner in which the international community is brought into the picture.  Unless that happens, there will be lingering doubts and questions of credibility.
Thirdly, the government has to address the root cause, the issue of citizenship.  I understand the majority of the Rohingyas have in the past been recognized (as citizens). That process of reassurance must start soon.  There has to be a sense of assurance among the Rohingyas that the government recognises them as citizens, and the minority would be given their due place in the country. Under a unified federal structure, minorities need to be given the assurance that they are as much part of the country as the rest.  This would create a sense of ownership and they would have participation in the governance of the country.
PA: Do you see a role for the UN?
VN: The UN is willing to play a role, but it has to be dealt with nationally. If the international community is involved — either through the UN or regional organisations — the credibility of the political process would be enhanced and this could lead to the resolution of the problem.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Maungdaw — At the village of Kyikanpyin in Northern Maungdaw, 16 Rohingya men including some teenagers were arbitrarily arrested by the Myanmar Border Guard Police (BGP) during a raid jointly conducted with the military in the early morning on Thursday (Dec 29), it has been reported.

About 150 BGP and Military personnel besieged the Kyikanyin village locally known as Hawar Bil at about 4:00 am and indiscriminately arrested anyone encountered during the joint raid. All of the 16 men arrested are innocent people, according to the locals.
Reportedly, the administrator of Kyikanpyin, U Phyo Zaw Tun (a natala Rakhine extremist living at Aung Zeyar village), conspired with the BGP to launch a raid on the village to arrest the villagers whom he personally loathes.
“Earlier, people used to be alert of the raids and arrests by the military and the BGP. Off late, people have begun to try to live a normal life.
“And UNHCR and WFP provided some aids to the villagers of Kyikanpyin a few days ago. The UNHCR was also to provide aids to the villagers of Wa Peik (WaBek) on Thursday. So, some villagers stayed back in the village at night with the hope of having UNHCR aids on the next day.
“Taking advantage of the both situations, the BGP and the military acting on the arrest-list of aubmitted by the village administrator timingly launched a raid on the village and arbitrarily arrested 16 innocent people”, said U Aye Myint, a human rights observer, based in Maungdaw.
The people arrested on Thursday are:
(From the West hamlet of Kyikanpyin,)
1) Ibadullah (20), s/o Hassan
2) Faisal (19), s/o Abdu Salam
3) A 17-year-old son of Jalal Ahmed
4) Anwar Sadek (17), s/o Abdul Majid
5) Kabir (17), s/o Daw Mamtaaz
(These four are from the West hamlet of Kyikanpyin.)
(From middle hamlet of Kyikanpyin,)
1) Mohammed Salam, 47
2) Karimullah (16), s/o Zakir Ahmed
3) Aamir Safa (17), s/o Salimullah
(From Wapeik hamlet of Kyikanpyin,)
1) Noor Islam (25), s/o Hamid Hussein
2) Mohammed Johar (21), s/o Sheikh Ahmed
3) Sayed Ahmed (40), s/o Fazal Ahmed
4) Hassan (31), s/o Rashid Ahmed
5) Safar Alam (20), s/o Shomsul Alam
6) Iman Hussein, 50
7) Rafique (?), s/o Khalu
8) Mohammed Alam (?), s/o Daw Habiya Khatun
The people arrested are reported to have been being interrogated in the BGP Headquarter. The villagers are still hopeful that they will eventually be released as they feel that they are very much innocent.
The Myanmar military began a full-on offensives on the Rohingya community at large in northern Maungdaw on the pretext of ‘Region Clearance Operation’ as the aftermaths of the raids by a rebel group — born out of decades-long persecutions which has now been identified as Harakat Al Yakin or the Faith Movement — on three Border Guard Police posts in Maungdaw on October 9, 2016. Since then, at least 1,000 civilians have been arrested, tortured and subjected to arbitrary detentions/long-term imprisonments without fair trials.

The Myanmar Border Guard Police (BGP) continues to demolish Rohingya homes daily across Maungdaw district since mid December 2016, reliable reports emerge from Maungdaw.

After burning thousands of Rohingya homes in northern Maungdaw since October 9, the BGP began to demolish homes in northern Maungdaw, which later spread to other parts of Maungdaw district including southern Maungdaw and Buthidaung Township. 
The BGP, reportedly acting on the order by the Rakhine State Chief Minister and the Commander in-Chief of the BGP, have recently demolished homes in the following villages (besides the reports on the demolition of homes we have earlier).
In Northern Maungdaw,
I) In LonDoong village on December 27,
1) 11 houses and 4 shops were destroyed at Kyun Gaung hamlet of LonDoong
2) 15 houses were destroyed at ‘Kyaik Chaung’ hamlet of LonDoong (some 40-year old homes were also destroyed.)
3) 25 houses were destroyed at ‘Sinthae Pyin’ hamlet of Londoong
4) 8 houses and 3 shops were destroyed at ‘Zaydi Pyin’ hamlet of LonDoong
15) 15 houses were destroyed at ‘Mya Zin’ hamlet of LonDoong.
II) In ‘Sabbay Gone’ village on December 27,
1) 8 houses were destroyed. 
III) In ‘Taung Pyo Lat Ya’ on December 26,
1) 3 houses were destroyed.
IV) In ‘Thayet Oak’ village on December 25,
1) 6 houses were destroyed.
V) In ‘Kyauk Pyin Seik’ village on December 26,
1) 25 houses and 15 shops were ordered to be destroyed.
In Southern Maungdaw,
I) In the village of ‘Padin’ on December 26,
1) 11 houses and 6 shops
II) In the village of  ‘Du Nyaung Pin Gyi’ on December 26,
1) 5 houses were destroyed. 
After continuously demolishing homes in the rural areas, the BGP has handed further lists of homes to be destroyed over to the administrators of the respective Rohingya villages in the outskirts of the downtown of Maungdaw.
Hundreds of Rohingya homes have been demolished in the Buthidaung Township in the recent weeks. 
The houses and shops being destroyed in the rural villages are not modern buildings that require officials’ permission(s) but traditional country-type structures built of bamboos and woods and covered with ‘Nipa Palm Leaves.’ These widespread destructions of homes are now seen among the locals as yet another attempt of cleansing their (i.e. Rohingya) population through systematic displacement of the people.
The order to demolish homes had only been imposed on the Rohingya community, not on the Rakhine Buddhist community.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

During a raid on December 24, 2016, the Myanmar military perpetrated sexual assaults and physical assaults targeting the Rohingya villagers at ‘Kyun Pauk Phyu Zu’ in ‘Taung Pyo Lat Wai’ Township, northern Maungdaw, according to the reliable sources.

At least three Rohingya women were raped by the military during the raid in the village as many men fled in fear of arbitrary arrests, torture and unlawful detention. The raped victims are identified as:
  • The 21-year-old wife of Mr. ME (real name withheld)
  • A 30-year-old daughter of Mr. AA (real name withheld)
  • The 22-year-old wife of Mr. SN (real name withheld)
The military further beat and tortured the villagers including children, young and old (wherever encountered) and plundered the villagers’ properties. Some victims seriously tortured are identified as:
  • Amir Ahmed (35)
  • Abdul Ma’abud (36), Haidar
The Burmese military have continued a brutal military assaults on the Rohingya civilians in the name of ‘Region Clearance Operation’ and indulged in the Crimes of Genocide since October 9, 2016. The Myanmar government stick to blanket denials of any wrongdoings by its troops despite the reports by the human rights groups like HRW, Amnesty International and Fortify Rights; many and other reliable sources.

A Rohingya man who refused to demolish his own home was shot at head by Myanmar’s Border Police (BGP) in northern Maungdaw on December 25, while the BGP continues to demolish more Rohingya homes across the Maungdaw District reportedly on the order by the Rakhine (Arakan) State Administration, it has been reported.

The incident happened at the village of ‘Wa Chein’ (in northern Maungdaw) at around 11 am on Sunday and the victim is identified as Zahid Hussein s/o Aamir Hussein.
“The victim was fortunate enough to escape death as the bullet hit at the left side of his head but lost his consciousness and fell down immediately. He is now in critical condition being treated in the clinic in ‘Taman Thar’ village, according to the reliable sources in the region.
“The BGP ordered the villagers of ‘Wa Chein’ to destroy 30 homes on the pretext that they were not included in the ‘Household Map.’ The villagers didn’t demolish their homes. So, the BGP raided the village on December 25.
“They arrived at Zahid Hussein’s home and ordered him to Demolish his own home. He replied that he couldn’t do so without looking at the situation and would do so only when others do. So, the BGP forced started and torturing him and another BGP man shot him at his head from 5 yards away.
He fell down and became critical. He is now being treated at Taman Thar Clinic”, said a local on the condition of anonymity.
After the incident happened, the BGP forced other six families in the village to demolish their home using threats and terror and then ordered to demolish the remaining.
Some homes demolished at the village of ‘Wa Chein’ belong to the following people.
1) Ali Hussein s/o Noor Hussein
2) Abu Ahmed s/o Noor Mohammed
3) Zahid Hussein s/o Aamir Hussein
4) Abu Alam s/o Sultan Ahmed
5) Mohammed Shafi s/o Abdu Jalil
The numbers of the people becoming displaced are alarmingly increasing and many people are trying to flee to Bangladesh as the BGP forces continues to demolish more and more Rohingya homes across Maungdaw a2nd Buthidaung Townships reportedly acting on the Order by the Rakhine State Administration (controlled by NLD).

A list of homes and shops destroyed recently at some other villages is as follows.
On December 22, 3 houses were demolished at ‘Zuthar Hali.’ The house owners are:
1) Mohammed Hussein (31), s/o Abul Hussein
2) Fedaan Ali (25), s/o Ghaffar
3) Noor Mustafa (42), s/o Nurul Hoque
On December 22, 2 shops were demolished at ‘Faari.’ The owners are:
1) Inayatullah (41), s/o Halimullah
2) Dolu (40), s/o Abu Nu’man
On December 24, 5 houses were demolished at ‘Maudi’ village. The owners are
1) Zahid Alam s/o Sayed Alam
2) Noor Alam (20), s/o Mohammed Ali
3) Mohammed Sharif (20), s/o Shamim Jalal
4) For Alam (24), s/o Mv Hakim Ali
5) Ayub (25), s/o Sayed Noor
On December 24, six houses were destroyed at ‘Fulaya’ hamlet of ‘Kwan Thi Pin’ village. They belong to:
1) Zafar (30), s/o of Rashid Ahmed
2) Mohammed Rashid (25), s/o Sirajullah
3) Dil Mohammed (50), s/o Rashiduddin
4) Faisal (24), s/o Islam
5) Osman (23), s/o Nooru
6) Mohammed Ayub (25), s/o Noor Mohammed
On December 24, two mosques, two shops and 8 homes were demolished by the BGP at the village of Kyar Gaung Taung locally known as Rabailla.
Mostly, the BGP have forced the Rohingya villagers to dismantle their own houses and shops at gun-points or by means of using threats of imprisonment. In the occasions when the locals resisted, the BGP themselves have demolished many homes. It has also been reported that the BGP indulge in plundering Rohingya properties and livestocks during their raids on Rohingya villages to destroy homes.
More than 50,000 Rohingya people have already been displaced by the brutal military offensives in northern Maungdaw, a region which has been sealed off from international media and humanitarians, since October 9, 2016. Adding to that, the government actions to demolish more homes are leaving many people without any shelter in this winter and going by the emerging reports, many more people in Maungdaw are trying to flee to neighboring Bangladesh for the safety of their lives.
“On one hand, they unlawfully killed, torured and arrested hundreds of innocent people and raped many women. On another hand, they burnt down thousands of homes. And then, they removed fences surrounding our homes. And now, they are destroying our homes. More people are trying to flee to Bangladesh. Where are the laws and humanity?” exclaimed an elderly in northern Maungdaw, while speaking to Rohingya Vision TV.
The houses and shops being destroyed in the rural villages are not modern buildings that require officials’ permission(s) but traditional country-type structures built of bamboos and woods and covered with ‘Nipa Palm Leaves.’ These widespread destructions of homes are now seen among the locals as yet another attempt of cleansing their (i.e. Rohingya) population through systematic displacement of the people.
The order to demolish homes had only been imposed on the Rohingya community, not on the Rakhine Buddhist community.

Locals believe it is a deliberate sabotage of innocent people’s lives

Maungdaw — A measles vaccine program conducted by the Myanmar health department in northern Maungdaw resulted in one Rohingya child suffering excruciating deaths and other five children in critical conditions, according to the reliable sources in the region.
In collaboration with the Myanmar Border Guard Police (BGP), the Health Department gave the tainted vaccines to many children at the ‘Maggyi Chaung’ hamlet of Quarter 4, ‘Khamauk Seik’ Township, northern Maungdaw, on December 23.
Six children began to suffer from excruciating spasms of muscles as the consequence of the measles vaccines according to a local report. However, how the vaccine has caused the deterioration of the children’s conditions is unidentified/unexplained yet.
One of the children who is confirmed dead at around 10 am on December 25 is ‘Yaasin s/o Badi Alam.’
Other five children feared to have been dead in the hospital by now are:
1) Jannat Ara Begum d/o Shafi Alam
2) Khawsar Ara Begum d/o Shafi Alam
3) Najimullah s/o Kamal Hussein
4) A son of Zahid and Samuda Khatun
5) A son of Gura Meah and Rabia Khatun
The Border Guard Police (BGP) have earlier announced that the vaccination is compulsory for all the Rohingyas in Maungdaw and Buthidaung.
“The BGP has announced that the vaccination is mandatory for every child and later adult too. They threatened that if we refrain from vaccinations, we will be arrested, fined and imprisoned. They have seized ‘the household registration lists’ from some families and would return them only when the families get vaccinated.
“And they said this was to prevent diseases from spreading. But hearing the deaths of the children in Maungdaw after the vaccinations, we are afraid it could be an attempt by the government to deliberately sobotage many of our lives,” said a worried Rohingya elder, Buthidaung in speaking to Rohingya Vision TV on the condition of anonymity.
The vaccination program is increasingly triggering panic among the locals across Maungdaw and Buthidaung after the incidents in northern Maungdaw region as they are seeing it as a new genocidal depopulation program being implemented by the Myanmar government. Some people are even requesting the International Community to help them find out antidotes for the vaccine which they call ‘Poison Injection.’

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Arakan today

Maungdaw – The Burmese armed forces have continuously been committting mass atrocities against the Rohingya minority in Maungdaw, rapes against their women and inhumane tortures of the victims the arbitrary detentions since October 9.
It has been learnt that the Burmese military have been taking several measures to conceal their crimes as the former UN secretary General Mr. Kofi Anan is due to visit the region.
Following are the updates on the unfolding situation on the ground.
30/11/16 2 pm: Hundreds of Rohingya civilians arrested in northern Maungdaw between Nov 25 and 26 are being inhumanely tortured at Kyikanpyin BGP Headquarter.
Reportedly, many of them have been blinded as their eye-nerves have been cut off or their eyes have been gouged, says a detainee who has recently been released.
30/11/16 1:30 pm: Burmese authorities have shifted all Rohingya prisoners detained arbitrarily in Buthidaung Prison (after October 9) to the nearby jungles.
Now, the victims are besieged are heavily guarded by the military in jungles. This is to the conceal crimes of the military against the Rohingya as KofiAnnan is due to visit the region
30/11/16 1 pm: Since November 26, some Burmese troops have been being extra nice to some Rohingya villagers, whose homes had been burnt down, in northern Maungdaw.
The troops are asking the displaced Rohingyas to resume their daily activities and return to their places and make tents over their places instead of living outside in the field.
The locals are highly suspicious of the sudden changes in the behaviors of the military. Is it a trap to arrest more Rohingya men or because of @KofiAnnan pending visit?
30/11/16 9 am: The group of the 46 Burmese troops that gang-raped a teenage Rohingya girl at Sinthaepyin village last night have entered the village mosque with their shoes on since this morning are now vandalizing the Mosque and tearing off the Holy Quran.
30/11/16 9 am: A Burmese Army attack helicopter continues to fly over Sinthaepyin village. The Rohingya villagers are feared of air-attacks.
30/11/16 9 am: A group of 46 Burmese troops Gang-Raped a teenage Rohingya girl at Kyun Gaung hamlet of LoneDoong VT on November 29 night.
29/11/16 6 pm: Burmese Border Guard Police arbitrarily arrested Mv Abdul Aziz Ismail, a religious scholar, from Kan Seik hamlet of Auk Pho Village tract, Kyauk Tan area, Rathedaung at 2 pm today (on November 29).
He is being detained and tortured at Nyaung Chaung BGP camp in Buthidaung.

About Me

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Maung daw, Arakan state, Myanmar (Burma)
I am an independent man who voted to humanitarian aid.