Welcome to the Official Website of the Burma Task Force USA
The New York Times calls them “21st Century concentration camps”. A Burmese Buddhist scholar, Dr. Maung Zarni, calls it “a hidden genocide”.
A Time Magazine cover shows a picture of the fascist monk, Wirathu, describing him as the “Face of Buddhist Terror,” whereas the Burmese President, Thein Sein, admires him as “the son of Lord Buddha.”
The Burma Task Force is coalition of multiple, national Muslim organizations including CAIR, ISNA, MPAC, and AMP. Our main focus is to do political advocacy work in order to help the Muslims in Burma. Donate today to help us do some great work!
Read Open Letter to President Obama from the Buddhist Teachers Network here.
"Burma's Rohingya plan calls for separation"
Burma recently confirmed to the United Nations that it is on the verge of completing a plan that would grant Rohingya Muslims citizenship if they change their ethnicity to suggest Bangladeshi origin.
Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin told AP the government is still not recognizing the Rohingya as a group. Read full article here.
Rohingya given two bleak choices: reclassification or jail
Most of Myanmar’s 1.1 million Rohingyas already live in apartheid-like conditions in western Rakhine, where deadly clashes with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in 2012 displaced 140,000 people, mostly Rohingyas. Now they are offering them a bleak choice: accept reclassification and prospect citizenship or be detained.
Read full article here.
World Buddhist Leaders’ Response to the Growing Ethnic Violence Against Muslims in Myanmar
To Our Brother and Sister Buddhists in Myanmar,
As world Buddhist leaders we send our lovingkindess and concern for the difficulties the people of Myanmar are faced with at this time. While it is a time of great positive change in Myanmar we are concerned about the growing ethnic violence and the targeting of Muslims in Rakhine State and the violence against Muslims and others across the country. The Burmese are a noble people, and Burmese Buddhists carry a long and profound history of upholding the Dharma.
We wish to reaffirm to the world and to support you in practicing the most fundamental Buddhist principles of non-harming, mutual respect and compassion.
These fundamental principles taught by the Buddha are at the core of Buddhist practice:
Buddhist teaching is based on the precepts of refraining from killing and causing harm. Buddhist teaching is based on compassion and mutual care. Buddhist teaching offers respect to all, regardless of class, caste, race or creed.
We are with you for courageously standing up for these Buddhist principles even when others would demonize or harm Muslims or other ethnic groups. It is only through mutual respect, harmony and tolerance that Myanmar can become a modern great nation benefiting all her people and a shining example to the world.
Whether you are a Sayadaw or young monk or nun, or whether you are a lay Buddhist, please, speak out, stand up, reaffirm these Buddhist truths, and support all in Myanmar with the compassion, dignity and respect offered by the Buddha.
We stand with you in the Dharma (see the names here.)
Sitagu Monk Nyanneisaya Accuses Rohingya
Monk Nyanneisaya who spoke at the Sitagu International Buddhist Academy claims themselves as Rohingyas, they are trying to demand a separate home land. They also burned their houses by themselves as if it was done by Burmese Buddhists.
Current Action Alert -- download at link below!
Portraits of Diversity - Buddhist Monk Speak Up For The Rohingya
Venerable Tayzar Dipati is a Buddhist monk from Shwebo, northwest of Mandalay. He grew up in the monastery as a young novice monk. Tayzar Dipati is often called upon by the local community in the area to help neutralize rumours before they grow out of control and on social media, and prevent outbreaks of violence locally. He has strong links to the other religious communities in the area and fosters inter-religious understanding. The monk believes that by learning about other religions, we will realize that they are not so different to each other.
Call the Burmese Embassy 202-332-3344 and the Secretary of State 202-647-4000. Ask them to restore citizenship of Rohingyas.
Alhamdu lillah, Burma Task Force has achieved the following 3 landmark successes:
- The U.S. House of Representatives passed Resolution 418 demanding the Burmese government restore the citizenship of the Rohingya people. The U.S. is the only country in the world which has done so.
- We believe our “10 minutes a day” Action Alert campaigns have been successful in preventing planned attacks or by limiting the damage of an ongoing attack thanks to your phone calls.
- Media about Burma has improved in the U.S. It no longer uses the false, lazy statement that it is a “conflict between” or “riot between” Muslims and Buddhists.” It took us literally hundreds of letters and constant pressure to achieve this success. Now, it is clearly seen as one-sided attacks by the extremists against Muslims.
The New York Times recently published a video called "21st Century Concentration Camps" about the horrid conditions of the Rohingya concentration camps and the mistrust between Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar.
UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma: Report to the UN General Assembly
The Rakhine Action Plan: What does this mean for the Rohingya?
United Nations' OCHA is complicit in destroying Rohingya Identity
New UN Press Release on situation in Myanamar:
New organizations have joined us in making a statement to the international community:
Myanmar's official lie about Rohingya identity and history which US Sec of State John Kerry has opted to overlook or swallowed. If Rohingyas never existed, why was this man documented as a 'Rohingya' in 1970?
The cover of TIME magazine in every country but the US!
Oxford University researches if citizenship will end the Rohingya plight
Extremist monk in Burma calls himself the "Burmese Bin Laden"
Wirathu, the extremist monk behind the hateful 969 movement in Burma, which has been fueling hatred against Muslims, calls himself the "Burmese Bin Laden," according to a report by The Guardian.
Watch the story on the man who is behind the massacres of Muslims below.
Satellite photos show Meiktila destruction
Human Rights Watch released satellite images of the central Burmese town of Meiktila, showing the destruction following the killing of Muslims by extremist Buddhist mobs.
The violence persisted from March 20 to 22, 2013, before the government finally called in military backup and instituted a state of emergency.
At least 40 were killed, and Human Rights Watch estimates that 828 buildings were destroyed.
According to the human rights group: "The spread of anti-Islamic sentiment and religious intolerance is a serious challenge to the rights of Muslims in Burma. Some well-known members of the Buddhist monkhood, or Sangha, have given sermons and distributed anti-Muslims tracts and directives that call on Buddhists residents to boycott Muslim businesses and shun contact with Muslim communities."
Take Action: Violence against Muslims spreads to central Burma
Two days of rioting against Muslims in the central Burmese city of Meiktila has left at least 5 dead, likely many more.
A dispute between a Muslim and Buddhist man in the garrison city led to Buddhists raging through the Muslim part of town.
The violence that had been targeted against Rohingya Muslims in western Burma has now slowly spread to other parts of the country. Muslims who have been granted citizenship in Burma are now being targeted.
Take action against this violence today!
Download our Action Alert and send it to your friends. Make a call to the Burmese Embassy and the Secretary of State's office.
Call the Secretary of State's office at (202) 647-5291, then press Option #1 and then Option #8. Call the White House at (202) 456-1111.
Burmese security forces rape 13 Rohingya women
In an extremely disturbing reporting in The Guardian, a teenage Rohingya woman from Burma said security forces raped at least 13 women in one night.
"At least 13 women, including teenagers, have been subjected to prolonged rape by Burmese security forces in a remote village in the western state of Arakan. Human rights groups have warned that the incident threatens to trigger further violence in a region where several waves of ethno-religious rioting since June last year have killed more than 1,000 people.
The women all belong to the Muslim Rohingya minority, which has borne the brunt of fighting between Muslim and Buddhist communities. One victim, an 18-year-old girl who cannot be named for security reasons, described how a group of uniformed soldiers from Burma's border security unit, known locally as NaSaKa, entered her house in northern Maungdaw township shortly after midnight on 20 February.
'They took us separately to different places and tortured and raped us,' she said, referring also to her mother and younger sister, 15. The ordeal lasted until dawn, she said. 'They came in and out of the house at least 15 times. They also beat my mother with a gun and dragged her outside to the road and beat her to the ground.'"
Read the entire story here.
Times traces Burmese history of Islam & Rohingya dated back from 1500 AD
"The borderland region of pre-nation state Western Burma has been recognised as "Islamic" since 1500 AD, according to the TIMES (2011). Similarly, Myanmar Encyclopaedia (1964) recorded Northern Rakhine or Arakan as predominantly Islam in religion and Rohingya in ethnic background and group identity. .
By saying Northern Rakhine has been 'invaded' by "Bengali economic migrant labourers" only after the first British conquest of Western region of Burmese kingdom in 1825, Myanmar government leaders from President Thein Sein to Propaganda Minister ex-colonel Ye Htut are lying blatantly to the world and to the Burmese public.
Myanmar government has been attempting to erase the history and destroy Rohingya people as a matter of policy: Myanmar's slow burning genocide begins with destruction of group identity and erasure of the existence of an ethnic people as such."
UN envoy visits Rakhine state, warns of human rights abuses
U.N. human rights envoy Tomas Quintana recently visited Burma and warned that human rights abuses are continuing in the country, despite some reforms made by the government.
While visiting Rakhine state, Quintana said the Rakhine Buddhist and Rohingya Muslim communities continued to be divided by anger and distrust.
"Mutually respectful dialogue cannot be had while discrimination based on grounds of ethnicity and religion remains unaddressed," he said, recommending that the government amend citizenship laws to end such discrimination.
Quintana also visited camps where at least 120,000 Rohingya now reside. He said conditions and medical care were still deplorable, mostly because of harassment of medical staff by Rakhine Buddhists.
He also said that lack of freedom of movement in the camps was oppressive and "felt more like a prison than a camp".
Read the entire story here.
Rohingya unable to receive aid; take action
Thousands of Rohingya who were uprooted from their homes are forced to beg for food and live in deplorable conditions because they are not receiving international aid.
A disturbing report out of Burma shows that many Rohingya are not being officially registered by the government as official "internally displaced persons," which means they are not able to get food or shelter.
Oddny Gumaer, with Partners Relief and Development, said conditions in some area are akin to concentration camps.
“What most of the world is not aware of are the refugees that are not living in [registered] camps,” Gumaer said. “And those people are living in conditions that are so bad that I’m sure if the international community doesn't do something very soon they are going to die.”
Read the entire story here.
Download our latest Action Alert below and urge the Burmese government to take proper care of the Rohingya in need.
A Monk who acted courageously to save Burmese Muslims
Out of compassion and courage U Wi Thode Da from Ra Da Na Oo Monastery in Meikhtila saved 800 Burmese of Islamic faith who took refuge in his monastery when Muslim community in Meikhtila was violently attacked and massacred by the state-backed out-of-town racist thugs (and local racists) in March 2013.
Al Jazeera releases photos of Rakhine State
Al Jazeera recently released photos of the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State, where at least 115,000 people, mostly Rohingya Muslims, have been displaced and are in desperate need of aid following violence in June and October of last year.
The displaced have been living in temporary relief camps, where sanitation is a commodity and water supplies are low.
View the photos below and read the entire story here.
Burmese President to be given peace award
In the midst of violence against the Rohingya Muslims in his country, Burmese President Thein Sein will be given a peace award by the International Crisis Group.
The group said the award was being given because: “Myanmar has initiated a remarkable
and unprecedented set of reforms since President Thein Sein’s government
took over in March 2011, including freeing hundreds of political
prisoners, liberalizing the press and promoting dialogue with the main
opposition party.” Read the entire story here
While Burma may have made some strides, the continued human rights violations against the Rohingya prove just how far the country has to go before any of its leaders should be given a peace award.
Thein Sein himself has said in the past that the solution to the crisis against the Rohingyas was to send them to any country that would have them. That's hardly a resolution that warrants a prize.
Rohingya women are kept as sex slaves by Burmese military
A British reporter in Burma has found firsthand accounts of Rohingya women being held as sex slaves by the Burmese military.
"Eyewitness testimony of a military camp situated a few miles from Sittwe town (and home to Regiment 270) describes around 20 women ... being held at the camp. One of the witnesses, Amina (name changed), described walking past the camp when she heard voices calling out to her. The imprisoned women asked Amina if she was Muslim; she is.
'Please help us. If you can help us escape from here you will go to jannah (heaven),' one woman told her. 'Many military men come, we can't breathe. We want to become Muslim again. If we stay like this we will go to hell.' The intended meaning of what was said was, Amina felt, clear: these women are being raped, and they don't have to say it explicitly for anyone to understand what's taking place."
Read Assed Baig's full report here.
Please download our Action Alert on this issue and distribute it to your friends and family.
British reporter provides firsthand account of destruction in Meiktila
A British Muslim reporter who traveled to Meiktila talked to people involved in the violence against Muslims in the central Burmese town.
One sister said she was forced to prostrate to monks after they burned her husband alive.
"They beat them in front of me. I was watching. I can still see it." Noor Bi is crying as she describes the moment when she saw her husband and brother murdered in front of her eyes as she fled Meiktila.
Read the entire report here.
Huffington Post Live talks about the Rohingya
The Huffington Post held a roundtable discussion on the Rohingya.
The segment provides a good overview on the persecution the group has been facing and gives good background information on Burma in general.
Watch the video below.
Rohingya refugees rescued in Indonesian waters
More Rohinyga who are desperately fleeing Burma by boat were found in the Aceh province of Indonesia.
Like others who were previously rescued by the Sri Lankan navy, this group said Thai officials sabotaged their boat and later shot at them while they were at sea.
"We want to stay in any country with Muslims. We don't mind where, Aceh is good too. But please don't send us back to Myanmar. Just shoot all of us -- we are better off dead than going back to our country," said 21-year-old Farid Alam, one of the refugees.
Read the entire story here.
Two Nobel Laureates speak up about Rohingya
Jose Ramos-Horta and Muhammad Yunus, winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, wrote an editorial for the Huffington Post about the Rohingya.
"The minority Muslim Rohingya continue to suffer unspeakable persecution, with more than 1,000 killed and hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes just in recent months, apparently with the complicity and protection of security forces.
The charge that the Rohingya are illegal immigrants to Myanmar is false. There is evidence that the Rohingya have been in present day Myanmar since the 8th century. It is incontrovertible that Muslim communities have existed in Rakhina State since the 15th century, added to by descendants of Bengalis migrating to Arakan (Rakhine) during colonial times."
The two laureates said the fact that Burma took away the Rohingya citizenship in 1982, along with their ability to travel or marry without a permit, was deplorable.
"The 20th century gave us a term for the ugly phenomena of stripping individuals of their nationality and persecuting them for no reason other than the color of their skin, their religion, or their ethnicity: ethnic cleansing."
Read the entire piece here.
Rohingya prisoners face abuse, torture
A recent report shows that almost 1,000 Muslim Rohingya -- many of them children as young as 10 -- remain jailed in Arakan State for supposedly inciting the violence that killed so many Rohingya last year.
Many have died in custody, and the rest are subject to "pervasive" abuses. DVB news said that torture, violence and the sexual exploitation of minors is rampant in the prisons in Arakan.
Read the entire story here.
Doctors Without Borders calls on authorities to stop intimidation
Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres issued a press release on Feb. 7 calling on the Burmese government to help aid reach all those who need it in the country, especially the Rohingya.
"Ongoing insecurity and repeated threats and intimdation by a small but vocal group within the Rakhine community have severely impacted our ability to deliver lifesaving medical care," said Arjan Hehenkamp, General Director of Doctors Without Borders.
One Rohingya man said clean water was available near the refugee camps where thousands are living but access was denied to them.
Doctors Without Borders said they are facing increased threats for trying to help the Rohingya and other displaced people. Some members of the Rakhine community are accusing the workers of having a pro-Rohingya bias in pamphlets, letters and Facebook postings, threatening aid workers.
Read the entire Doctors Without Borders release here.
Read the story here.
BBC interviews Rohingya refugee on radio program
On the BBC World program Outlook, Rebecca Henschke interviewed Khairul, a 28-year-old Rohingya refugee who fled to Burma.
You can listen to the entire program here
The BBC is also reporting that a humanitarian official for the United Nations visited Rohingya camps in Rakhine state and called the situation "dire".
"The government also has a responsibility, they have to take the lead," Valerie Amos said. "They have to work to bring the communities together and that
work has got to start now."
You can read the entire story here
Take action with Thai officials
The BBC is reporting that Thai officials, including those in the navy and police forces, have been selling Rohingya fleeing from Burma to human traffickers.
Thousands of Rohingya Muslims have been forced to flee Burma following systematic violence against them, which increased dramatically last year. Many try to escape in flimsy boats, which often capsize in water. Others have been intercepted on the Andaman Sea by the Thai navy, which makes deals to sell the desperate refugees to human traffickers.
Ahmed, one such refugee, told the BBC that after he was captured by the Thai navy, he was taken to the Thai-Malaysia border.
"They dug a hole for us to use as a toilet. We ate, slept and excreted in the same place," he said. "The smell was horrible. I was poked with an iron and beaten with a chain."
The Thai government has promised to investigate these allegations of trafficking. We must ensure that they do.
Urgent Action Needed
Call the Thai embassy and urge them to fulfill their promise to investigate officials' involvement in human trafficking of Rohingyas. Press them to punish those involved in the heinous crimes of kidnapping and human trafficking.
Also ask the Thai government to keep any Rohingya in their country as refugees and offer them assistance and asylum.
Make a phone call TODAY
Call the Thai embassy at (202) 944-3600. Call as many times as you can to urge the Thai government to take action.
Read more about the BBC story here.
Download this full action alert to distribute here.
Human Rights Watch condemns Burma
Human Rights Watch recently released its "World Report 2013," and Burma did not fare well in the eyes of the organization.
The report outlined, among other abuses, the way the Burmese officials participated in the violence against the Rohingya in June and October of last year. Burmese state authorities were complicit in the burning of homes and killing of Rohingya Muslims. Because of the state-sponsored violence, at least 100,000 are displaced.
Human Rights Watch also called out world leaders, including those from the United States, who were too quick to applaud the minimal efforts Burma made to release political prisoners.
“Burma’s reforms over the past year are hindered, not helped, by international oversell and hasty praise in the face of continued serious human rights abuses,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
The Lost John Lennon Interview: Ralph Nader Speaks About Radicalism and Burma
Ralph explained how to go beyond talks of idealism and idealist values - peace, justice, equity, etc - and develop 'instruments' for mass mobilization which will advance those ideals.