Burma Task Force asks the UN Security Council to do more to stop genocide of Rohingyas

Press Release

7 November 2017

Burma Task Force Asks the UN Security Council to do more to stop genocide of Rohingyas

 

Chicago, IL. - November 7, 2017 - Burma Task Force  welcomes UN Security Council resolution 13055, condemning Myanmar in strong terms for widespread violence that has displaced over 600,000 Rohingya forced to flee to Bangladesh. In addition, Resolution 13055 calls on Myanmar to abide by its obligations and commitments to human rights, implement the Kofi Annan Commission’s recommendations and provide full access to relief agencies.

 

The resolution is significant in that it is the first on Myanmar after a 10 year silence, and required the support of China to pass, whereas previously China had blocked efforts to censure and hold Myanmar to account. The Bangladeshi ambassador’s efforts at the UN also represent a sustained effort to remain engaged and not allow the atrocities against the Rohingya to be forgotten or sidelined as has happened in the past.

 

Imam Malik Mujahid, chair of Burma Task Force, commenting on the resolution noted that it didn’t go far enough, “The resolution is a good first step, and welcome after a lapse of 10 years during which the Rohingya have continued to suffer. However, as a world community we need to go from mere condemnation of Myanmar to actual implementation of a mechanism to urgently end the genocide against the Rohingya.”

 

Burma Task Force is a coalition of  19 North American Muslim organizations

 

Contact

Sobia Haleem

Phone: 312-725-9489

Email: sobia@justiceforall.org

Category: 

Congress Urges Action On Myanmar: Halt Military Training

(Washington, D.C.) – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-NY) and Representative Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), along with 22 bipartisan members of Congress, sent a letter today to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling on the United States to develop a “strong, meaningful” response to the unfolding violent crisis in Burma.

In the letter, which comes as the United Nations General Assembly is currently underway in New York, the members urge Secretary Tillerson to push for meaningful action at the UN Security Council and to work with Bangladeshi authorities to ensure the country is prepared to care for refugees. The members also call on the U.S. to suspend all planned training for Burma’s military.  In addition, the letter urges the Trump administration to support the recommendations of former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State that put forward a path to peace.

Violence against the Muslim Rohingya community has created a humanitarian crisis and numerous reports indicate that Burma’s military is not exercising restraint and is instead engaged in abuse toward Rohingya civilians. The violence has created a massive refugee crisis that requires a global response to ensure the safety and security of those fleeing their homes.

“It should not be business as usual with a military that not only refuses to submit to civilian rule, but also treats innocent civilians in this inhumane manner. We also urge consideration of all efforts that would save lives in the short term, including ways to provide security for those fleeing,” wrote the lawmakers in the letter.

The letter was signed by Reps. Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), Peter J. Roskam (R-Ill.), David E. Price (D-N.C.), Grace Meng (D-NY), Donald S. Beyer (D-Va.), Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.), Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), James P. McGovern (D-Mass.), Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), William R. Keating (D-Mass.), Denny Heck (D-Wash.), Alan S. Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Kathleen M. Rice (D-NY), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), David N. Cicilline (D-Rhode Island), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), and Barbara Comstock (R-Va.).

The text of the letter can be found below:

Dear Secretary Tillerson,

We are deeply concerned about the situation in Burma and urge you to take concrete action to address the unfolding humanitarian crisis and ongoing human rights abuses. 

In late August, there was a coordinated attack by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on security posts in Burma’s Rakhine State. In response, the Burmese military began what it is calling, “clearing operations.” For several days now, international leaders have called on Burma’s military to exercise restraint in these efforts given the military’s record of abuses.

However, interviews with refugees and displaced persons reveal that this restraint is not being employed when it comes to the Rohingya people, as well as the fact that the military and some other security forces are engaged in abuses. Multiple United Nations officials have expressed grave concern, with the High Commissioner for Human Rights calling the response a, “brutal security operation,” that is, “clearly disproportionate.”  A staggering 412,000 refugees have fled to Bangladesh, and many others have been internally displaced. The lack of food and basic sustenance is a very serious and immediate concern.

These horrific events are taking place in a country that never completed its democratic transition. Indeed, the Burmese military and its leader Min Aung Hlaing operate outside the scope of civilian control and are accountable to no one.

In light of this urgent situation, we urge you, as a first step, to coordinate with Bangladeshi authorities to ensure they are adequately equipped to handle the massive migration. Further, the United States should work at the United Nations Security Council to develop a strong and meaningful international response, and immediately suspend all planned United States training programs with Burma’s military. It should not be business as usual with a military that not only refuses to submit to civilian rule, but also treats innocent civilians in this inhumane manner. We also urge consideration of all efforts that would save lives in the short term, including ways to provide security for those fleeing.

At the same time, we urge the administration to put its efforts behind many of the recommendations of former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan’s Rakhine Commission – including those advancing the provision of humanitarian aid, ensuring justice for victims, and making policy changes to ensure rule of law is applied fairly to all innocent individuals and families including the Rohingya.

The severity of this situation demands significant action, and we urge your strong support.

Category: 

Organizational Letter To The US Secretary of State, Congress and US Ambassador To The UN Regarding The Targeting Of Rohingya Civilians in Myanmar

AN ORGANIZATIONAL LETTER

REGARDING MYANMAR’S MILITARY CAMPAIGN TARGETING

ROHINGYA CIVILIANS IN MYANMAR

 

September 5, 2017

 

On August 25, 2017, the Myanmar Military bombed 25 Rohingya villages reportedly using six gunship helicopters, navy ships and tanks as Rohingya families slept. Reports indicated that soldiers have been shooting at fleeing Rohingya civilians. This has clearly been an effort to sabotage the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan report’s recommendations for peaceful coexistence, which was released only hours before. Now over 120,000 Rohingya have fled their ruined villages into Bangladesh, leaving behind hundreds of thousands of displaced families with no access to food or humanitarian relief.

We the undersigned organizations call on the US Secretary of State to demand that the Burmese Government immediately de-escalate and withdraw its armed forces from the Rohingya areas of Rakhine State and arrest those engaged in firing on civilians and raping women; and ask Bangladesh to accept and assist Rohingya refugees crossing its border. In Congress, and through the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, the United States should continue to publicly endorse the Kofi Annan-led Rakhine Commission recommendations and not let this vision of peace and coexistence be forgotten by either the public or policymakers.

Background

For the weeks, the Myanmar military has been building its troops in Rohingya areas. Together with the UN, the US Congress, advocacy groups such as Human Rights Watch and Burma Task Force, Pope Francis and leaders around the world have been calling for the Myanmar military to stand down to avoid violence. 

 

We join with such voices to call on the Myanmar government to rein in the Myanmar military, which has been working to empower Rakhine Buddhist extremists. Reports indicate the army has been arming these extremist militias to further escalate an extremely dangerous situation.  

 

The Myanmar military claims Rohingya "insurgents" are being killed, along with soldiers. However, the military has again and again demonstrated that it does not distinguish between civilians and insurgents. The Myanmar government refuses to allow a UN investigative team into Myanmar to follow up on the many allegations of atrocities that took place in 2016.

 

The Myanmar government has consistently ignored international pressure to return rights to the Rohingya minority. Despite Aung San Suu Kyi serving as a figurehead, the Bamar-dominated military clearly still controls the government, with an extremist ideology that prevents peace not only with the Rohingya but with many other ethnic groups in Shan, Kachin, Mon & other states.

 

Sincerely

 

Signatory Organizations:

Buddhist Council of New York

Burmese Muslim American Association (BAMA)

Burma Task Force USA (18 Muslim organizations. See the list below)

Centre for Human Rights and Advocacy (CENTHRA)

Helping Children of Adam

ICNE

Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention, Binghamton University (I-GMAP)

Interfaith Center of New York

ISM West

Jewish Alliance of Concern Over Burma

Kalamazoo Islamic Center

Labor Religion Alliance

Maghrib Institute- Nurayn

Muslim Civic Institute - Kansas City

Muslim Youth Movement South Africa

Pax Christi USA (Catholic)

Pax Christi Maine

Pax Christi Metro New York

Pax Christi Metro DC/Baltimore.

Rohingya Culture Center (RCC), Chicago

Rohingya American Society (RAS, Wisconsin)

South Asian Fund for Education, Scholarship & Training (SAFEST)

South Asian Solidarity Foundation

Turning Point for Women and Families

UMKC - MSA

US Campaign for Burma

World Rohingya Organization (WRO)

 

Burma Task Force USA organizational membership:

Burmese Rohingya Association of North America

Free Rohingya Campaign

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC)

Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA NY & Canada)

Islamic Council of New England (ICNE)

Islamic Organization of North America (IONA)

Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)

Justice For All

DawaNet

Majlis Shura of Atlanta

Michigan Muslim Community Council

Muslim American Society (MAS)

Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA)

Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)

Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA)

Muslim Leadership Council of New York

Muslim Peace Coalition

 

Contact us at: info@burmamuslims.org if you have any questions.

We Need Your Help: Burma Military Resumes Offensive, Rohingya Targeted

Burma Task Force is urging the public to call the offices of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the US Ambassador to Burma Scot Marciel among others. You can help us reach our goal of 10,000 calls this week.

The Rohingya are in the crossfires of the Burmese military which has initiated yet ANOTHER military offensive to supposedly root out militants. Once again we are seeing reports of Rohingya villages being surrounded by the military forces and innocent civilians being killed, kidnapped and tortured.

In the last military offensive from October 2016-March 2017 over 1,000 Rohingya were killed, whole villages were burned to the ground, 52% of women interviewed by the UN reported being raped, and overall 75,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
Department of State, 2201 C Street NW
Washington DC 20520
Twitter: @StateDept
Main Switchboard 202-647-2663

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
King Charles Street London SW1A 2AH
Twitter: @BorisJohnson
Facebook: click here

Canadian Foreign Minister
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland MP:
Phone: 613-996-5789
Twitter: @MinCanadaFA and @cafreeland. Please Re-Tweet this & thank!
Global Affairs Facebook: click here.
mina10@international.gc.ca

UN Human Rights Council
Tel: +41 22 917 9220.
Email: civilsociety@ohchr.org
Facebook: click here.
Twitter: click here.

Scot Marciel, US Ambassador to Burma
Call: (95)- (9)-512-4330,
Twitter: @USEmbassyBurma, and @scot_a_marciel 
Facebook: click here.

Talking Points

  • Because of the recent harsh repression and mass rape of Rohingya, the current troop build-up creates panic in Rakhine State and is counter-productive, hurting the cause of coexistence. State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi must rein in her military immediately.
  • The Myanmar Parliament must not pass legal resolutions to declare that there are no Rohingya in Burma.
  • Burma must restore the citizenship  of Rohingya.
  • Bangladesh must allow all Rohingya full access to humanitarian agencies on their own soil.
  • Support the UN investigation into mass rape, killing, and other abuses. We must all demand the Government of Burma permit the UN investigation team to enter Burma.

The Headlines Haven't Changed From 1978 Until Today: Burma Still Persecuting Rohingya

A headline from May 14, 1978 on the frontpage of the DAWN newspaper reads, Burmese Muslims Machinegunned. (via. Dr. Maung Zarni) The newspaper reported on the massacre of 30 Rohingya near the Bangladesh border by the Burmese army, after they were refused refuge into Bangladesh by Bangladeshi border guards.

It went on to provide an eyewitness account from journalist Francois Hautr, "In an eyewitness account, the Observateur's correspondent Francois Hautr affirmed that the massacre was an episode in a deliberate Burmese government plan to drive a million Rohingyah - Burmese Muslims from the Arakan province - out of the country." 

These headlines from nearly forty years ago could have been written today. They are similar to reports that we see coming out of Burma daily, as the government continues to kill thousands, use rape as a weapon, arbitrarily arrest, and displace many more all the while preventing food, aide, education and a means of livelihood for the Rohingya. 

It is nothing less than a sustained genocidal campaign while the world watches and does little.

Burma Task Force is working to change the status quo, and in some ways the Rohingya are getting more international attention. The campaign to end Burma's use of rape as a weapon of war against ethnic minorities has gained momentum, and the upcoming final session of the International Peoples' Tribunal will spotlight the Burmese military and government's crimes against humanity.

 

 

 

 

Journalists 'Heavily Supervised' in First Visit To Rohingya Camps, UN Still Barred From Investigation

David Sim, writing for the International Business Times has reported on the first access journalists have gotten to interview and document the stories of Rohingya villagers. The access was restricted to only one village out of the three initially promised, and was 'heavily supervised' by military and security personnel.

Despite the presence of the security forces, Rohingya villagers related their experience of the half-year long operation by Burmese forces, including killings, arson, and kidnappings that corroborated reports relayed by Rohingya sources on the ground to Rohingya media outlets in the diaspora. 

The journalists visit comes on the heels of Suu Kyi's civilian government denying visas to three UN appointed investigators who were to look into the allegations of war crimes and violence against Rohingya civilians. The pretense forwarded by Suu Kyi to justify the rejection of a UN investigation was that it would "aggravate matters."

In Kyar Gaung Taung village, the journalists insisted on speaking to villagers away from security forces, and allegations of abuses by troops emerged almost immediately. At least 32 people from the village had been arrested and 10 killed, said a schoolteacher, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals. He estimated that half the village's 6,000 residents had fled during the clearance operation.

Thirteen boys under the age of 18 were detained for suspected links to a militant group during security operations. Sarbeda, 30, told journalists her son, Nawsee Mullah, 14, was arrested while doing farm work: "My son is not a terrorist," she said, adding that she didn't know if he had a lawyer to represent him.

(Click here for more pics & interviews)

Myanmar Rohingya RakhineSarbeda, whose teenage son was arrested for suspected links to a militant group, speaks to reporters in Kyar Gaung Taung village, Rakhine state, MyanmarSimon Lewis/Reuters

No Reason to Hide Our Faces: The Stories of Rohingya Survivors

Al-salamu 'Alaikum,

Our world has become a painful place for Rohingya women. Rohingya rape victims often suffer in silence and isolation, as their pain is very personal. It is the worst trauma possible, with lifelong consequences. And the Burmese military knows it. So they take scores of Hijabis to a village Masjid and gang rape them, including girls as young as 11, while their mothers, sisters, and other women are forced to listen to their anguish and cries.

This is their method of forcing Rohingya women out of their homes in Burma. An estimated half of all Rohingyas in Burma have fled their country. Rohingyas are indigenous people of Burma living in their ancestral land. The UN says that 52% of all Rohingya refugees surveyed were raped.

To add to the trauma, their men are either killed or imprisoned. 80% of the 75,000 fresh refugees are women and children. Families are breaking apart. This is where these brave sisters declared that they don’t want to hide their faces and remain silent. They want the world to know what has happened and what is being done to them.

It is only because of their bravery that we found the courage to share their photos and their stories.

May Allah bless them in this world and the world to come.

May the world hear their cries for justice.

About 20 years ago, when 50,000 Muslim women were raped in Bosnia, Muslims in America came together to form the Bosnia Task Force USA. Thanks to our campaign, in partnership with the National Organizations of Women, we were able to get rape declared a war crime through the United Nations. It was the first such declaration in the international law, thanks to our efforts.

I am asking you to read this document and then volunteer to help these poor victims of rape and genocide. I look forward to hearing from you.

I am requesting your help.

 

Abdul Malik Mujahid

Chair, Burma Task Force USA

Girl, 4, becomes face of suffering Rohingya children starving to death amid ‘ethnic cleansing’

New York Times

Five years after a genocidal wave of anti-Muslim violence forced more than 120,000 Rohingya Muslims into camps in the primarily Buddhist nation of Myanmar, the recently-elected government of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi appears to have given up any pretense of trying to protect the Muslim minority. Among the victims of the systematic persecution of the Rohingya is Rosmaida Bibi, a tiny frail 4-year-old with big brown eyes, one of a multitude of Rohingya children suffering terribly from malnutrition in a camp that authorities refuse to let anyone leave. Barely the size of a 1-year-old, Rosmaida can hardly walk or even speak. Bones protrude visibly against the pallid skin of her chest.

“This is worse than a prison,” said Rosmaida’s 20-year-old mother, Hamida Begum, referring to the makeshift hut where her daughter was born. Told The Associated Press. “I want to give her an education. I want to send her to school like all the other kids. But it’s not possible because she’s so sick … she cannot grow.”

The Rohingya have long been denied citizenship, freedom of movement, and other basic rights in Myanmar. But Begum says that back at her former home in Sittwe, Buddhists and Muslims had managed to coexist peacefully. Then, on June 5, 2012, Buddhist mobs began attacking Muslims and burning their homes. Begum says she ran away barefoot, only realizing later that her feet had been badly bloodied during her escape. Today, with the exception of a single district, Muslims are banned from walking the streets of Sittwe.

Despite optimism after Suu Kyi’s party swept elections last year, Myanmar’s government has continued to condone persecution, and even “mass killing, mass rape, [and] widespread forced labor,” according to the advocacy group Fortify Rights. In response to an attack by a Rohingya insurgent group that killed nine officers in October, the government responded by burning entire villages, raping their women, and killing an unknown number of people as 75,000 Rohingya fled into neighboring Bangladesh, according to the United Nations. Myanmar’s government offers a differing account of events — according to the government, only 52 people went missing or died during the attacks, and only extremists carried out any killings.

A UNICEF report from May estimates that 150 children under the age of 5 die every day in Myanmar. But the U.N. lacks statistics from within the Rohingya camps, where aid workers say the situations is far worse — and where half of all inhabitants are children.

Watch video of the Rohingya camps below.

Read the full story at The Associated Press.

A Rohingya Ramadan

Burma Task Force USA is the only organized advocacy effort putting pressure on Burmese and international governments to end the genocide against the Rohingya and restore their rights as full citizens in their homeland. Every dollar you give goes to helping the Rohingya secure their rights: DONATE TODAY.

By Burma Task Force USA

Ramadan is a month of devotion, when Muslims abstain from food, drink and sexual relations from sunrise to sunset. The point of Ramadan is not depravation but the inculcation of spirituality and God-consciousness through the relinquishing of a necessity of life for a great portion of the day, and substituting it with a focus on prayer and Quranic recitation. As the Qur'an says, "Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may become God-conscious" (2:183).

For many Rohingya this Ramadan will be passed under the shadow of an ongoing genocide that is continuing to decimate their community. The hardships of Ramadan are exacerabated when your identity is denied and you live in concentration camps, with limited rations and movement, and the threat of persecution. 

The memories of the recent "clearance operation" by the Burmese military is still very much alive in the minds of the Rohingya. One Rohingya man by the name of Rahim who survived his village being burned down said, “I thought we were going to die that day.” “We kept hearing gunshots. I saw several people shot dead.”

On the second day of Ramadan 2017 it has been reported that Rohingya in Dawbon Township, Yangon (the former capital) were forced to pray Salatul-Tarawih in the rain. This picture has been shared on social media by Rohingya on the ground:

The Madrasa and mosque in Thaketa Township, Yangon remains closed on the fifth day of Ramadan 2017/1438 with Rohingya forced to pray on the streets:

Thaketa_RohingyaRamadan.jpg

 

A devestating cyclone hit Rohingya camps in Bangladesh on the fourth night of Ramadan, destroying 10,000 refugee homes and displacing 200,000. The video and stories of Rohingya spending the night in the rain and who have lost everything is gut-wrenching; how much more can they take? 27 year-old Hamida Begum's spoke to Reuters, saying, "We heard that a cyclone was coming. But there's no place we can go." Begum, fled to Bangladesh three months ago after her husband disappeared, during the Burmese military's "Clearance Operation." "I hate being a Rohingya. We are being tortured in Myanmar. Now in Bangladesh we have no rights. Nothing. After this cyclone, we don't have a roof. We are living under the sky. We have no future."

According to conservative estimates the Burmese military is believed to have killed over one thousand Rohingya Muslims in the "clearance operation" from 10/16-3/17. It is hard to verify the exact number as the Burmese military does not allow independent observers to question or investigate crimes.

 

Reports from our contacts on the ground and partners in campaigning for Rohingya rights tracked every possible and reported account of violence against the Rohingya during the operation.

 

WHAT WE KNOW

-93,000 Rohingya displaced: 70,000 fled to Bangladesh and 23,000 were internally displaced.

-Hundreds of instances of crimes against women, including abduction, rape, gang rape, molestation and assault.

-Human Rights Watch published satellite imagery of whole villages that were burned down by the Burmese military.

-The UN also published several reports on the refugee crisis that was triggered by the operation.

 

A MAP OF THE AREAS WHERE VIOLENCE WAS COMMITTED AGAINST WOMEN

Rapes location.jpg

WHAT WE CAN DO

Take this time to remember the Rohingya as they pass Ramadan under the extremities of not only hunger but also dehumanization and statelessness. Include them in your prayers during Ramadan and ask the Imam at your local masjid to make a special du'a (prayer) to protect and secure them from the extremist violence of the Burmese government and militant Buddhist monks. Follow our Action Alerts and subscribe to our YouTube page to see what you can do to help the Rohingya today.

Burma Task Force USA is the only organized advocacy effort putting pressure on Burmese and international governments to end the genocide against the Rohingya and restore their rights as full citizens in their homeland. Every dollar you give goes to helping the Rohingya secure their rights: DONATE TODAY.

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