Racism and Organized Islamophobia: Tribunal Hears Testimony of Persecution of Myanmar’s Rohingya and non-Rohingya Muslim Groups

September 20 -

 

Press Release - September 20

 

Beginning on September 18, 2017 the Permanent People’s Tribunal on Burma has been meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to listen to testimonies regarding the Myanmar government’s responsibility for crimes against humanity against both Rohingya and Kachin minorities.

 

The third day of the People’s  Tribunal on Myanmar’s ‘Crimes Against Humanity’ featured the detailed presentation of evidence and documentation gathered by lawyers from the Centre For Human Rights and Advocacy (CENTHRA) in regards to the genocide against the Rohingya. This comes at a time when the international community has denounced the Burmese military’s campaign against Rohingya, with over 240 villages burned and half a million displaced. Myanmar State Counsellor Suu Kyi has denied charges of “ethnic cleansing” by pointing out that half of all Rohingya villages still remain, amid charges of mass atrocities.

 

Testimony was also delivered by non-Rohingya Burmese Muslims describing their persecution. One Burmese Muslim witness who had traveled extensively throughout Myanmar, and visited many Muslim communities testified to the destruction of mosques, “I learned of the hardships the Muslim communities faced, particularly religious discrimination and persecution. The most important thing I learned from this was the targeted destruction of religious places of worship” she said.

 

The government of Myanmar uses the pretext of “conflicts” to shutter mosques and confiscate land owned by Muslim religious organizations which they then sell for a profit.

 

A Muslim man from the Mandalay region testified to the destruction of the Muslim community that he witnessed in the city of Meiktila. He described how a mob of hundreds of armed Buddhists gathered, shouting “kill all the kalar” before they destroyed Muslim shops, homes and mosques. He was only able to escape the mob due to the fact that he looks similar to the dominant Burman ethnic group and was mistaken as Buddhist. “Kalar” is a derogatory terms for person with darker skin. Racism and Islamophobia are both increasing in today’s Myanmar.

 

After hearing the testimony of the witnesses the prosecution asked the judges of the Peoples’ Tribunal On Myanmar to rule that Myanmar is guilty of genocide, war crimes & crimes against humanity. For more information on previous testimonies, information about the Judges and the history of the Tribunal, please see:  https://tribunalonmyanmar.org/

 

The judges will deliberate on Thursday the 21st and deliver their verdict on Friday the 22nd.

 

Burma Task Force is a coalition of 19 American and Canadian Muslim organizations

 

Contact:

Tauseef Akbar

Email: tauseef@burmamuslims.org

Phone: +1 312 750 1178

 

Malik Mujahid

Email malik@soundvision.com

 

Phone: +1 312 804 1962

Category: 

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.

UN Refugee Head Calls for Citizenship for Myanmar's Rohingya


The U.N.'s top official for refugee affairs said Friday that granting citizenship to members of Myanmar's Muslim Rohingya minority is crucial for achieving peace in the country's western state of Rakhine, but economic development is also necessary.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi spoke in Bangkok after an official visit to Myanmar. The Rohingya face severe discrimination in Buddhist-majority Myanmar and were the targets of violence in Rakhine in 2012 that killed hundreds and drove about 140,000 people — predominantly Rohingya — from their homes to displacement camps, where most remain.

Hard-line Buddhists walk by a mosque during a protest march, led by Rakhine State's dominant Arakan National Party, against the government's plan to give citizenship to some persecuted Rohingya Muslims, March 19, 2017.

Hard-line Buddhists walk by a mosque during a protest march, led by Rakhine State's dominant Arakan National Party, against the government's plan to give citizenship to some persecuted Rohingya Muslims, March 19, 2017.

Denied basic rights

The Rohingya have long been denied citizenship, freedom of movement and basic rights in Myanmar, where they are often seen as illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh, although many have lived in the area for generations.

“The Muslim community, the Rohingya community suffers from a set of rules and regulations that contributes to their marginalization,” Grandi said at a news conference. “To this you must add the general situation of poverty and underdevelopment that affects everybody in the state of Rakhine.”

He said that in addition to providing the Rohingya with more freedom of movement and social services, “The Rakhine state where both communities coexist must see more development. There is an urgent need for development investments that must be, however, inclusive of the two communities.”

Myanmar's Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi waves her hand to Norway's Foreign Minister Borge Brende (not in picture) after their meeting at Myanmar's Foreign Ministry in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, July 6, 2017.

Myanmar's Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi waves her hand to Norway's Foreign Minister Borge Brende (not in picture) after their meeting at Myanmar's Foreign Ministry in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, July 6, 2017.

Leader offers assurances

Grandi said he received assurances from Myanmar's top leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, that refugees from her country who have been sheltering in Thailand — many for decades — will be welcome back home.

More than 100,000 refugees from Myanmar, virtually all from ethnic minorities, live in camps in Thailand near the border. Decades of fighting between the Myanmar army and ethnic guerrillas drove them to seek shelter in Thailand.

The installation of Suu Kyi's civilian government last year after five decades of military-led rule has raised hopes they can go home, but intermittent fighting in many areas and the absence of a peace agreement have stalled large-scale repatriation.

Return must be voluntary

“Aung San Suu Kyi and the other ministers that I talked to agreed that the refugees were welcome back to Myanmar, but that it was important that such return must be voluntary and must be sustainable,” said Grandi. “We cannot go back to a situation of insecurity or lack of resources.”

He said he also discussed the issue when he met with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and other Thai government officials.

“We agreed that it was important to pursue, to continue, the return of refugees from Thailand to Myanmar,” Grandi said.

Grandi next visits Bangladesh, which hosts hundreds of thousands of Rohingya from Myanmar who have entered since the 1970s.

Telenor: Speak Up For Rohingya

b. Tweet and post to Facebook messages to Telenor. 

Ask them to take a public stand for the protection of the Rohingya and a return of their citizenship.

Contact: 
Twitter accounts: @TelenorGroup@Telenor_mm;@Telenor_TGS@Sigve_telenor@ABrodtkorb;@MaiOldgard@ehbok

Facebook: 
TeleNor GroupTelenor Myanmar

Talking Points:

  • It is Telenor’s responsibility, and in their interest to speak out against the ongoing genocide of the Rohingya.
  • Sign the letter of concern addressed to the UN Security Council, signed by over a dozen Nobel Prize winners calling on Burma to end ethnic cleansing and restore Rohingya rights.

c. Subscribe to our YouTube page. Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter.

For more on our efforts, please read: Will Telenor Stand With Rohingya? Activists Await An Answer

Aye Maung, Genocidal Anti-Rohingya Leader Elected

Aye Maung, a leader of the ANP or Arakan National Party is a virulently anti-Rohingya genocidalist who has been implicated in the 2012 pogroms and riots targeting the Rohingya Muslims. Maung won recent elections that were held on April 1st on an avowedly anti-Rohingya platform:

"Most of Aye Maung’s campaign speeches spoke about the history Rakhine State and the threat posed by “Bengali Muslims” in the north of the country, a reference to the Muslim minority who call themselves Rohingya."

Who is Aye Maung and the ANP:

The Arakan National Party (ANP), is an ethno-centric party in the Burmese state of Rakhine that receives its greatest support from the state's largest ethnic group, the Rakhine Buddhists. The ANP won 23 seats in the November elections against the 13 that the NLD won. The ANP is extremely xenophobic and has a specifically anti-Rohingya and Islamophobic platform. It refers to the Rohingya as "Bengalis," and the derogatory term, "Kalar," considering them "settlers" who are either "colonists" or "illegal immigrants." The ANP and its leader, Dr. Aye Maung have been named as intigators in perpetrating violence against the Rohingya. In 2012 the ANP, then known as the Rakhine National Development Party declared in its magazine that, 

"in order for a country's survival…crimes against humanity or inhuman acts may be justifiably committed." 

"We will go down in history as cowards if we pass on these [Rohingya] issues to the next generation without getting it over and done with."

2012 of course is the year that saw horrific pogroms and the internal displacement of Rohingya as Rakhine Buddhists attacked them with the support of the military, state and local political leaders of the ANP. Now, the ANP is demanding that the NLD, which won national elections appoint one of its members to be the chief minister of the state.

The ANP, which won the majority of seats in Rakhine, issued a statement Wednesday demanding that the NLD grant an exemption allowing the ethnic party to form its own government.
"Otherwise we won’t join any government organization, but will stand as an opposition party for the interests of Rakhine people,” ANP said in the statement.
Of the 48 seats in Rakhine’s regional parliament, the ANP won 23 seats and the NLD 13, while the military occupies 12 seats – or 25 percent – under the country’s constitution.
"The ANP won the majority in the state assembly. So, we deserve to govern our state,” Oo Hla Saw underlined.
After winning the Nov. 8 polls by a landslide, the NLD stated its intention to appoint its party members to the chief minister and top executive posts in regional governments as well as in the central government.
According to the military-drafted 2008 constitution, the president has the power to appoint chief ministers, who then appoint most cabinet positions, while the army chief has to assign three ministers in state governments.
The NLD nominated Wednesday an ethnic Rahkine lawmaker from the ANP and an ethnic Kachin from the incumbent military-backed ruling party as deputy speakers of the two houses of the national parliament, alongside two of its party members as their speakers.

Kofi Annan Commission: Burma Must Close Camps

Myanmar should immediately start letting Rohingya Muslims return home and ultimately close rundown camps for the displaced in its western Rakhine state, a panel led by former U.N. chief Kofi Annan said on Thursday.

 

More than 120,000 people, mostly Rohingyas, have been living in what were meant as temporary shelters for internally displaced persons (IDPs) since bouts of communal violence roiled the state in 2012.

 

"It’s really about time they close the camps and allow the people in the camps, particularly those who have gone through the (citizenship) verification process, access to freedom of movement and all rights of citizenship," Annan told Reuters by telephone from Geneva.

 

Hundreds of displaced people, whose return home would be feasible and safe, should be moved back "immediately, as a first step and sign of goodwill," the panel said.

The office of Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi welcomed the proposals.

The panel urged the government to reconsider a failed program to verify Rohingyas for Myanmar citizenship and begin mapping the restrictions on movement by both Rohingya Muslims and their Buddhist neighbors in Rakhine.

Joint NGO Letter to UN Secretary-General António Guterres about the situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

16 February 2017

H.E. Mr. António Guterres
Secretary-General of the United Nations
Executive Office of the Secretary-General
S-3800, United Nations Secretariat Bldg
New York, NY 10017

Re: Joint NGO Letter to UN Secretary-General António Guterres about the situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

Your Excellency,

The Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority group in Myanmar, have been systematically disenfranchised and increasingly marginalized, including through denial of citizenship and restriction of movement. Over the years successive UN Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in Myanmar have reported serious continuing human rights violations against this community. Following a 12-day visit to Myanmar in January, Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee noted allegations of ongoing human rights abuses in Rakhine State. She also raised concerns regarding widespread fear amongst civilians of potential reprisals as punishment for speaking out. In her upcoming report to the 34th session of the Human Rights Council, Special Rapporteur Lee will call for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry into the Rohingya situation. As you know, on 3 February the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a report based on interviews with Rohingya who had fled from Myanmar, which detailed “widespread and systematic” attacks against the Rohingya and reiterated “the very likely commission of crimes against humanity” – as had already been concluded by the High Commissioner in June 2016.1 The High Commissioner, likewise, has called for a Commission of Inquiry.

Following a series of attacks on border guard posts on 9 October 2016 and subsequent joint army-police counterinsurgency operation, there have been consistent reports of extrajudicial executions, rape and other crimes of sexual violence, torture and ill-treatment, enforced disappearances, mass arrests, and the widespread destruction of Rohingya buildings and mosques. During your tenure as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, you witnessed first-hand the discriminatory treatment of the Rohingya, including the proposal by then-President Thein Sein to settle all Rohingya in displacement camps or send them to third countries. The situation has only deteriorated since.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than 69,000 people have fled from Rakhine State for Bangladesh since October, while 24,000 people remain internally displaced in Myanmar.2 Despite the announcement on 16 February of the termination of the four-month counterinsurgency operation, the government continued to deny allegations of human rights abuses in Rakhine State.

We note that the Myanmar authorities have established several national commissions to investigate allegations of human rights violations, however none of these commissions are independent or credible. Two investigations are being conducted by the police and military respectively, raising concerns about their ability to investigate allegations of abuses within their ranks. The third Commission, established in December, claims to have found insufficient evidence of human rights violations, despite mounting reports to the contrary. Another commission - the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, does not have a human rights mandate and will not be conducting investigations into the allegations of abuses. On 6 February the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, stated that the failure to address these violations puts populations at “the risk of very serious international crimes.”3

We welcome your commitment to human rights, peace and conflict prevention, as well as your stated readiness to advance these causes through your good offices and personal engagement as UN Secretary-General. Given the intensive promotion of anti-Muslim sentiment in Myanmar and the lack of political will to restore rights to the Rohingya, the situation requires more than a series of flawed national investigation commissions to push policymakers to change course.

We urge you to proactively engage with the Government of Myanmar and other national actors, including through a possible visit to the country, and convey your concern about the gravity of the situation in Rakhine State. Your office should engage directly with the Myanmar leadership, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and strongly encourage them to allow an international independent investigation into allegations of human rights abuses in northern Rakhine State and to effectively address the institutionalized discrimination of the Rohingya. We believe that your leadership on this matter would send a powerful message to the government and the military and could prevent further violations. We respectfully ask you to urge the government of Myanmar to uphold its responsibility to protect all populations, regardless of religion, ethnicity or other status, and to specifically ask the government to take the following key steps:

  • Allow immediate and unhindered access for national and international humanitarian workers, independent media and human rights observers to Rakhine State;
  • Support the establishment of an independent international investigation into the situation in Rakhine State;
  • Hold all perpetrators of human rights abuses accountable, including army and police officers;
  • Repeal or amend all laws and regulations which discriminate against Rohingya and other minorities in Myanmar, including but not limited to the four "Protection of Race and Religion" laws and the 1982 Citizenship Law;
  • Remove all arbitrary and discriminatory restrictions on the Rohingya community and other Muslims in Rakhine State, in particular on their freedom of movement and access to health services, education and equal livelihood opportunities; and
  • Guarantee the safe, voluntary and dignified return of displaced communities to their homes.

The impact of the current crisis is felt beyond the borders of Myanmar, and there are hundreds of thousands of Rohingya asylum seekers throughout the region. Many neighboring states refuse to recognize them as refugees or allow them access to humanitarian assistance, food and health services, much less their rights to work and to receive an education.

The United Nations must send a clear and powerful signal regarding pluralism and the rule of law. Failure to act now may result in further human rights violations, possibly amounting to crimes against humanity.

Sincerely,
Amnesty International
Burma Task Force
FIDH - International Federation for Human Rights
Fortify Rights
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
Physicians for Human Rights
Refugees International
U.S. Campaign for Burma

 

1 Situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar, Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, A/HRC/32/18, 29 June 2017
https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G16/135/41/PDF/G1613541.pdf?OpenElement
2 OCHA: Asia and the Pacific: Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot (7 - 14 February 2017)
http://reliefweb.int/report/myanmar/asia-and-pacific-weekly-regional-humanitarian-snapshot-7-14-february-2017
3 Statement by Adama Dieng, United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide following OHCHR’s report on the situation in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar, 6 February 2017 http://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/documents/20170206%20Statement_Myanmar_reaction%20to%20OHCHR%20report_Final.pdf

#Unilever: Live Up To Your Commitment For Socially Responsible Investment. Pakistan Petition: Don’t Sell Jets To Burma Until It Ends Genocide vs. Rohingya

Action Item: #Unilever: Live Up To Your Commitment For Socially Responsible Investment. Pakistan Petition: Don’t Sell Jets To Burma Until It Ends Genocide vs. Rohingya

It only takes a few minutes, please take the following actions:

a. Rohingya activists have developed a campaign targeting corporations investing in Burma to live up to their proclaimed standards of being “ethically responsible” in their investments. Follow their website:AllRohingyaNow.com, Twitter: @allrohingyanow

Contact: #Unilever CEO Paul Polman, Contact Form. Twitter: @paulpolman 

Ask: 1)Aside from personally signing the letter of concern addressed to the UN Security Councilregarding ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity committed against the Rohingya, what, if anything, is Unilever doing to advance a positive outcome in this matter? 2.) Can you tell us how peace and stability in the state of Rakhine matters to Unilever?

b. Burma Task Force will deliver a petition to the Pakistani Chief of Army Staff and the Prime Minister: asking them to reconsider selling their JF-17 Fighter Jets to Burma. Such a sale should be conditioned on improvement of Rohingya rights. Not doing so violates the human and Islamic values that Pakistan proclaims. SIGN & SHARE THIS PETITION.

The Rohingya Displacement Crisis That Myanmar Denies Exists

Sally Kantar reports on the Rohingya displacement crisis that Burma/Myanmar denies exists. Official figures are hard to confirm since the government has sealed off the area to reporters and aid agencies.

 

AMID A MILITARY campaign in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, the long-persecuted Muslim Rohingya minority are fleeing for their lives.

 

Myanmar’s state security forces say they are hunting for suspected militants in the northern part of Rakhine, while human rights groups and refugees say troops are conducting extrajudicial killings and committing rape and arson.

 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says that 65,000 displaced Rohingya have fled across the border to Bangladesh since the military campaign began in October.

 

The number of people internally displaced in Rakhine State is unknown, as aid agencies and journalists have been denied access to the area. But the U.N. estimates at least 130,000 vulnerable people are now stranded without support in the impoverished region, where many were already dependent on international food aid.

 

“Without access, we simply don’t know how many people are left in those areas,” Pierre Peron, information officer for the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told Refugees Deeply. “You have very vulnerable communities which are even more vulnerable now,” he said.

 

Using satellite imagery analysis, Human Rights Watch (HRW) confirmed“widespread destruction” of Rohingya villages since last October, identifying 1,500 burned buildings. The Myanmar army’s chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, denied state responsibility, suggesting that Rohingya residents had set fire to their own homes “in the hope of getting a new home” built by the army.

But rights groups say the villages appear to have been burned systematically. The affected communities lie near a main road heading westward, in line with the route of military advancement over the past months.

Continue Reading

#FreeMamedullah

This is Mamedullah, age 27. His full name is Muhammed Ullah but his friends and family call him Mamedullah for short. He is one of the few Rohingya to gain himself an education in his village in Maung Gyi Taung in Buthidaung township, against all the odds.

ACTION ALERT - #FREEMAMEDULLAH

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