Monday, 16 October 2017

Zarni's Open Letter to Thitinan Pongsudhirak, the anti-Muslim racist Thai-American academic who came out to join the Rohingya Genocide Deniers' Club

Source Maungzarni, 15 Oct

My dear friend Thitinan,

​Re: ​Myanmar's moves against Rohingya a get-out campaign, not genocide


I am grateful that you were my host at Chula. But you crossed the line with your ill-informed and immoral genocide denial. 

I know Asia is a Dark Continent whose rise is only matched by its decline of intellectual and political world.

Given the fact that your own country of Thailand - and mine, not to mention Hunsan's Cambodia - are heading back to the Dark Ages, I didn't expect Cambodian, Thai or Burmese Establishment intellectuals to take a stance against my country's Buddhist genocide against Rohingyas.

I have studied this issue for much of the past decades, and I am competent to comb through the Burmese original, know the military leaders intimately, can read the Burmese military in ways you know your country's Thai military.

The difference between you and I is this: that you know and stay within the parameters which your protector (s) in the Royal Thai Armed Forces allow you to operate and I know well what those Burmese army-acceptable boundaries are, and I refuse to allow considerations of State Power and the self-censorship you practice as a civil servant of the military-controlled Thai State education system.

We make our own individual choices based on our circumstances, lived values and personalities. I don't judge you on what you write about your own country's sordid affairs under the military rule today. 

But your op-ed in the Straits Times, the official mouthpiece of Singapore which has long supplied Burmese military arms and trained the Burmese intelligence, is really pathetic beyond words. 

I wish that you do not join the club of Genocide Deniers - in Europe the genocide denial is a criminal offence. I am glad you don't live and work in Europe, or you would find yourself in the accused dock.  

I can prove in any court of opinions, or law, the INTENT of the Burmese military is nothing less than GENOCIDAL. My own late great-uncle was deputy commander of the predominantly Rohingya Mayu Distric, when Rohingyas were officially granted full citizenship and full official recognition of their identity, presence and history in Burma. I also know two generations of military leaders who implemented - and who are still implementing - the military's policy of destruction of Rohingyas, from the identity and history to the physical and biological destruction of the group as such, in whole or in part. 

I didn't formally train myself as a genocide scholar, and the study of genocides is not a rocket science. With a LSE PhD and US Santa Barbara undergraduate training, you could have easily done the background research on the original conceptual literature on genocide as a widespread historical and contemporary political process. You could also have engaged with the credible, academic and human rights research literature on the substantive issue of Rohingyas persecution across the borders from Thailand - and how the Thai military and authorities, as well as Thai trafficking mafia networks have profited from the Burmese Buddhist genocide. 

I can't explain your failure to come to grips with the genocidal nature of my country's persecution of the Rohingya: you have an impeccable academic training as a scholar.

The only thing I can think of - forgive me if I am wrong - that will explain your refusal to acknowledge what is widely viewed by world's leading scholars of genocide as a textbook example of a genocide must be your anti-Muslim racism.

Your piece reeks your disdain for what you falsely argues as "faith-based separatists".

I know hundreds of Rohingyas inside my country, and in diaspora. I am sure many of them are sympathetic to those who risk their lives trying to resist the power that is determined to destroy them all. 

I know of NOT A SINGLE ROHINGYA who say they want a separate Muslim state out of N. Rakhine. Not even those Rohingya militants who resort to violence say they want a separate state. Even if they did who are you to make the judgement as to what they - living the lives as the world's most wretched Muslim people - should aspire to or not, while you are living in extreme comfort of your affluent Thai Buddhist home, in the wealthy suburb of Bangkok, commuting to your work in your BMW? 

This passage is jaw-dropping as you apparently attempted to mis-characterise angry, desperate Rohingyas who feel they and their communities are sitting ducks waiting for the next large wave of genocidal killings at the hands of the trigger-happy Burmese military, which has used or invented various pretexts - immigration check, Rohingyas' support for NLD and Suu Kyi in 1989-92, a local criminal case of petty murder of a Rakhine Buddhist woman, to the social transition (social because power/democratic transition has taken place only in name) and now ARSA attack. 

The military has openly opposed Kofi Annan's involvement from the inception of its Rakhine Commission: it attempted unsuccessfully to table the motion in the NLD-controlled parliament - 10 months before the Commission's report was due out; it had used it proxy monks and "civil society' groups to openly stage protests against Kofi Annan's involvement; it has successfully persuaded Rakhine state officials and Rakhine leaders to refuse to meet or cooperate with the Commission and its military leadership of Min Aung Hlaing told Kofi Annan face to face the military didn't accept the main thrust of his commission's report - even in the morning of the report's release.

And you blatantly chose to ignore all evidence that would weaken or demolish your argument that Rohingya militants - whom you were at pain to paint as Saudi- and Pakistan-linked Muslim separatists - were the one to blame for the recent "disproportionate and heavy-handed reaction" by the Burmese military.

Aside from the issue of your own closeted racism towards Muslims, your argument that the Rohingya militants provoked the military to nip the Annan report in the bud a complete while arguing that the military was using that as the pretext for its "get-out' (Rohingya) campaign would get F - (FAILURE) were I to grade it as an undergraduate essay.

You can't call an event which the Burmese military had jumped on as the "perfect pretext" as a trigger. It was the State that had been making operational preparations, for instance, air-lifting of hundreds of its most notorious special commando units, a few weeks before the Rohingya stormed border guard posts with machetes, spears and sticks - for the large scale genocidal killings and expulsion. 

Here is a sample of your tortured logic and anti-Muslim racist passage (all Rohingyas have relatives and friends in both Saudi Arabia and Pakistan - hundreds of thousands as those are the countries where they could at least live not as hunted fugitives but in relative safety. does that make all Rohingyas potential terrorists, in your eyes?)

"Coalescing in mid-2016 from Harakah al-Yaqin (or "Faith Movement"), and led by Ata Ullah, a Rohingya who was born in Pakistan but grew up in Saudi Arabia, Arsa deliberately provoked the Tatmadaw into overreacting in order to alienate Muslims and gain recruits to its separatist cause. Prior to its Aug 25attacks, Arsa's first salvo took place in October last year under similar circumstances but on a smaller scale. This time, the confrontation may have reached a point of no return.

Arsa now has the full-blown insurgency it wants, with support from Pakistani and Middle Eastern sources and an ample pool of recruits from disaffected young Rohingya Muslims who have no prospect of a better life in northern Rakhine's hilly shacks and poverty-stricken towns."

This anti-Muslim pervades Thai Buddhist society, from your Royal family, with the late God-king known to be an anti-Muslim racist - down to the Chinese-dominated Bangkok's elites, just as it pervades my Buddhist society and that of another Theravada country, namely Sri Lanka.

As intellectuals and scholars, we are supposed to rise above our societal racist boundaries of thought and feelings, and NOT to succumb to the ingrained and inter-generationally reproduced new Fascism - called Islamophobia. 

I am pained to call you out on your ugly racism on the genocide of Rohingyas as you were my host at Chula when I was doing research on this issue and how the Thai state was mistreating the Rohingyas desperate to be smuggled into Malaysia. 

We have not been in touch, and I don't intend to engage with you on this issue. I just want to openly put it in writing, and publicly at that, that I find your cleverly concealed Islamophobia and sub-stanceless arrogance about what you think you know about my country's affairs intellectually and morally repugnant.

ZARNI

P.S. Here is the analysis of what counts as genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity by two people who know what they are talking about. I think you should shut your racist mouth, instead of weighing in on the side of my genocidal nation where my own former personal friends and colleagues, in the military and in the NLD, are leading this campaign of genocide. . 


Confronting genocide in Myanmar, Katherine Southwick, Asia and the Pacific Policy Forum, ​2 Dec 2016


Genocide in the Making, Foreign Policy, Sir Geoffrey Nice and Francis Wade, 13 Nov 2016​

Kofi Annan, where are the Rohingyas going to return? Myanmar military has long institutionalised its genocide

Source Maungzarni, 14 Oct



Suu Kyi's ">50% Muslim villages still intact" speech and Kofi Annan's "let the Rohingyas return home in dignified manner" discourse.

What's wrong with them? Everything.

Here is what is fundamentally wrong with Kofi Annan's stance and report:

1) In the case where even UN is compelled to use Milosevic's euphemism "ethnic cleansing" - but what most of us in the genocide studies KNOW to be a textbook example of a genocide, Mr Annan blatantly disregards the existence of the R2P, a principle he imself championed out of his personal guilt for his well-documented failure in raising his voice as head of the UN Peacekeeping Operations on the eve of Rwanda Genocide in 1994.

2) the Burmese military had a strategy to completely derail and demolish the Kofi Annan's involvement since the establishment of his commission in 2016. The military leaders had made it absolutely clear from the get-go that they did NOT welcome his involvement nor accept the thrust of the recommendations.

For the recommendations go against the military's institutionalized genocidal scheme and worldview, which rests on the three ideological (racist, anti-history) pillars: that Rohingyas do NOT belong in Burma; that Rakhine never had any significant Muslim influence or presence; and that Rohingyas pose a national security threat as potential proxy for any future Muslim take-over of Western Burma.

3) the very "civilian-led" committee Suu Kyi formed is headed by the Social Welfare Minister who just declared that the State (gov) is reclaiming all burned land - yes, belonging to the Rohingyas (in a zone stretching 100 Kilometer).

So, where are the Rohingyas going to go?

Even the 120,000+ Rohingya IDPs inside Burma in camps since Oct 2012 are NOT allowed to return homes and neighbourhoods. Some have been marked as the sites of Special Economic Zone.

Here is Kofi Annan's "let the refugees go home" press conference - 11 minutes.


I think he meant Rohingyas whose name and right to self-identify he is not sanctioned by Suu Kyi to respect.

That's followed by French and UK Reps' Q and A with the press.

Here is the reality check:

Myanmar Troops to Rohingyas before slaughtering them, burning their villages down (over 250 in total) and expelling over 530,000 in 6 weeks (while many thousands still wish to flee, but are trapped inside Burma, with no food and no freedom to seek food):

"You do not belong here – go to Bangladesh." 

Here is the UN OHCHR's report - 12 page and most damning in its assessment.


After the arrival of half-a-million refugees in Bangladesh 60% of whom are women and children , with unknown thousands of Rohingya males presumed slaughtered, the world's body shows it is in coma, from which it is unlikely to recover in the foreseeable future. 

Not even a non-binding statement is forthcoming from this body - after 7 weeks of this largest humanitarian catastrophe, resulting from a textbook example of a genocide in Burma. 

When UN Sec-Gen talked about "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing" he was not only being politically pragmatic but intellectually off: Ethnic cleansing was Milosevic's euphemism designed to evade the international conventions such as the genocide and the crimes against humanity. 

When the media, human rights charities and UN adopt the language of the supposedly suiciced genocidal killer then the oppressed have no recourse to the global justice or governance system.

Annan in my view is a moral coward, a career bureaucrat, who has always saved his own ass, in the face of others' monumental sufferings. Remember Rwanda? Just the only most obvious example.

The problem is UN: it is SYSTEMIC. It is the collection of STATES, ruled by States' interests, while paying to the lip service to "We the People".

I can't think of a bigger System failure in recorded human history.

[Burmabriefing] The military coup threat myth

Source BurmaCampaignUK, 

Pl read thru the link here.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

An Open Letter to the People Republic of Bangladeshi Government

released by ARNA,14 Oct


Firstly, we ARNA on behalf of entire Rohingya people would like to thank whole-heartedly to the People Republic of Bangladeshi government and Bengladeshi people for their kind treatment towards Burmese Rohingya refugees who fled from state sponsored ongoing genocide in Arakan (Rakhine) state of western Burma (Myanmar).


As a result of attacking the Rohingya/muslim community is part of central politic and popularizing in Burma, the Burma central ruler governments have been attacking minorities particularly Rohingya soon after independence of Burma throughout waging wars, mass killing, ethnic cleansing pogroms, arbitrary arrests and detention, introduction of institutionalized discriminatory laws and orders, systematic restriction in every social, cultural, welfare, health-care, education and livelihood sectors. These became very active as part of rapid marching towards Buddhization of the country since the state religion was named as Buddhist Religion State from 1974.


Since then, a large number of Rohingyans fled into neighbouring countries particularly into Bangladesh therefore it's undeniable that the country Bangladesh has been heavily bearing Rohingyan people fleeing into her in a number of occasions prior and post independence of Burma, commonly in 1942, 1949, 1958-60, 1978, 1991, 1994-95, from June 2012, Oct 2016 and latest from Aug 2017. In each of these occasions, the government attacked by utilizing of its armed forces, joint forces, local Rakhine gangs that resulted killing of thousands of Rohingyans and Kamans, displacing hundreds of thousands uploaded as refugees, destroyed and seized hundreds of Rohingyan villages.


Recent attacks in Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathidaung townships of Northern Arakan state from 25 Aug 2017, the innocent unarmed Rohingya civilians were brutally, indiscriminately and heavily attacked by the government military, joint forces and Rakhine gangs with use of fight helicopters, rocket launchers, machine guns, and setting fire of houses, bury and burn alive, laying landmines across people fleeing. Up to date, there have been killed more than 3,000 innocent unarmed Rohingyan civilians mostly babies, children and elderly people, over 30,000 houses that is half of total about 476 Rohingya villages were completely razed, displacing over 600,000 people and over 500,000 of them been already forced into Bangladesh thru treacherous journey and the rest still on the way from where they trapped in the mountains, forests and remote areas.


The remaining Rohingyans in those 3 regions, Rohingyans and Kamans from southern regions including about 150,000 displaced Rohingyans and Kamans those spending over five years now in 42 concentration camps have been still facing systematic confinement from June 2012 and subsequently blocking of aid and food supplies resume from 25 Aug 2017, ongoing vigilant attacks, and various forms of brutalities. These people therefore are seriously facing starvation and given situation compelling them to leave from where they are now trapped. Hundreds of Rohingya and Kaman people from Southern regions those fled by lands and inland waters were taken over by Rakhine people never returned alive or dead once taken away. This been un-noticeably, with no doubt, exercising the expansion of muslim-free-zones comprised 4 townships (Taunggok, Tandwe, Gwa, Ponnargyuan) across Arakan state began from 1983.

Because of the world leaders and international communities still favouring of Ms. Suu Kyi led NLD government that has knowingly no power nor control over the country, today we are witnessing another genocide after Rwanda and Srilanka under the watch of UN and international communities. This case of Rohingya should not be a simply dismissed by characterizing as a clashes (or) a sectarian attack (or) a communal violence. The Rohingya and Kaman people in Arakan state have been completely BLACK out and BLOCK out. In deed, it is a total destruction of a community with a full swing of genocidal attacks involved arbitrary killings, corporal and collective punishment, slaughtering, burning alive, beheading, rapes, systematic confinement, pushing into concentration camps, destroying identities, barring permanently from a right to have rights, divide and segregation, eradication from homeland, destruction of historical and ancestral evidences, blocking aid and foods, education, medicare and livelihood and cutting off of electricity and waters.

The central government now led by Ms. Suu Kyi has been misusing her power for defending military's brutalities and trying to legalize the military's brutal actions that acceptable to the world by misinforming about the situation on the ground with reconstructed fake stories and prearranged meetings. Simultaneously, blocking of UN Inquiry Commission, aid supplies, foreign journalists, inviting of UNHCR chief to relocate all Rohingyans to a third country in Aug 2012, unwilling to materialized a single recommendation of Koffi Anan's reports and inflaming the situation by beefing up of armed forces and arming Rakhine civilians and instigating racial hatred among the public.


The lives of over a million of Rohingyan human beings both inside and outside has fallen into the hands of evil ruler now by majority represent popular Ms. Suu Kyi. Many Rohingyans refugees today reloaded in Bangladesh are repatriated former refugees of 1978 and 1991-92 and having bitter experience of forced repatriation, arbitrary arrests, detentions, brutality, extortion, destroying of identities and denial of right to have rights. We, ARNA therefore seriously concern on the thesis of military shadowed Suu Kyi led NLD government's speeches of: welcoming back of all those who fled, nothing mentioned of Rohingya identity and recognition, nothing mention about her laws and orders to bring into account for the military forces and their brutal crimes, and spontaneously building of 3 new camps targeted to host all those returnee Rohingyans. Before agreeing of repatriation, the Bangladeshi government must therefore review about how in the past similar military powered government had exploited the repatriation agreement consisted four main points of relocation, lifting restrictions, equal rights and rehabilitation. National verification cards issuing to indigenous Rohingya people as part of Koffi Anan's reports is another facilitation to deprive and illegitimate the rights of Rohingya that actually bridging to modern day segregation and dividing between nationalities that will definitely devaluate the dignity and existence of Rohingya.


We would like to appreciate the initiatives taken by Bangladeshi government's plan to build the world biggest refugee camp to accommodate recent and the past arrival total numbering about 800,000 Rohingya refugees. However, we are seriously concern firstly for the repatriation process privately agreeing with Myanmar government that actually need to avoid any use of forceful repatriation and exploitation. And secondly for the Bangladeshi government allowing the championing in registration of Rohingya refugees as 'displaced people' in stead of recognizing as refugee and issuing identity without description of Rohingya ethnicity that violate the UDHR and Refugees Convention, as well as, exploitation of their plights, identities, rights and dignity. Because, we are also concern side by side for the Myanmar government's plan to build of 3 biggest camps expected to host all Rohingya and Kaman repatriatees, displaced and non-displaced people. It is in deed nothing more than ghettoization like Nazi-concentration-camps styles of holding entire mulsim population of Arakan state.


Bangladeshi government as a nation bearing of the biggest Rohingya refugees ever must therefore persuade the Myanmar government to start implementation of its said promises to be delivered to Rohingyans and Kamans those are in the country as part of the development to see whether the government and authorities are following. These must include:-

1) Relocation of about 150,000 of displaced Rohingyan and Kaman people to their respective displaced origin villages and facilitate with full rehabilitation programs.

2) Official recognition of Rohingya ethnicity, existence and issuing of similar National Identity card with Rohingyan ethnicity written and any written descriptions on the card should be similar to IDs issued to Burman Buddhist people.

3) Lifting all forms of restrictions, barriers, segregations, and guarantee safety, security and livelihood of entire Rohingya and Kaman people.

4) Installation of Ms. Suu Kyi said rules or laws and bringing all perpetrator Rakhine people and government authorities into account for their crimes and end to rhetoric of calling Bengali, terrorist, illegal immigrant and anti-muslim activities as the government agree to take back its people.

5) Ensure aid and food supplies directly to the ground, free access of independent foreign journalists, diplomats, UN envoys and UN Inquiry Commission.


Like the past military powered government of Myanmar, now Suu Kyi led NLD government, military generals and Rakhine authorities do not feel any pressure of international communities, UN, PPT and calls of neighbouring nations. The Rohingyan civilians are still brutally attacked, their houses are still burning day-to-day. We have also received reports thru our reliable sources that the Bangladeshi Rakhine people have been abducting our vulnerable people from camps and Burmese intelligents are accessed up to Bangladeshi territory and playing vital roles.


Since the country Bangladesh has been warmly proving humanitarian assistance for Rohingyan refugees, we hope Bangladeshi government will find long term permanent solution rather than short term solution in removal of unwanted Rohingya refugees. We don't want to see the plight of these people additionally exploited, paralyzed by the modern day repatriation process handling by Bangladeshi government. This agreement must guarantee their lost rights reload in respective manners, in place mandated protection on the ground by UN if the Myanmar state ruler government failed to do so and also paved alternative settlement options if there are still risk to return.


Since the Burma rulers and majority of entire people of the country coordinately and systematically attacking, expelling, denying of these people' existence, such kind of heinous crimes can't be forgotten, nor forgiven. The Bangladeshi government must therefore rather achieve for UNSC adoption of R2P solution, UN intervention and protection within its mandate, call countries those have business ties with Burma and funding countries to effectively support UNSC taking action onto Burma.


Sincerely,

M.ILYAS -UK (chairman), h/p: +(44) 7780 359718

V-chairman: MD.Yunus (GE), +(966) 53 274 0805  

Joint-secretary: Hf.Hashim Mamood (BD), +(88) 01 729 872581

Habiburahman (G.S), (Aus), +(61) 406 310077

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Crisis in Myanmar: Ethnic Cleansing or genocide?: Interview with Dr. Maung Zarni

Source Maungzarni, 29 Sept,


Long-time Burmese human rights activist and genocide scholar Dr. Maung Zarni shares his thoughts with the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) on the latest developments concerning the Rohingya people in western Myanmar.
                                                              Listen :Crisis in Myanmar: Ethnic Cleansing or genocide ... - 

▶ 27:26

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Has the UN failed Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims?

Source bbc, 29 Sept,


A Rohingya Muslim refugee walks through UNHCR tents at a refugee camp near the Bangladesh town of Gumdhum on September 17, 2017Image copyright AFP :Image caption Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya are sheltering in refugee camps in Bangladesh

The UN leadership in Myanmar tried to stop the Rohingya rights issue being raised with the government, sources in the UN and aid community told the BBC.

One former UN official said the head of the UN in Myanmar (Burma) tried to prevent human rights advocates from visiting sensitive Rohingya areas.

More than 500,000 Rohingya have fled an offensive by the military, with many now sheltering in camps in Bangladesh.

The UN in Myanmar "strongly disagreed" with the BBC findings.

In the month since Rohingya Muslims began flowing into Bangladesh, the UN has been at the forefront of the response. It has delivered aid and made robust statements condemning the Burmese authorities.

But sources within the UN and the aid community both in Myanmar and outside have told the BBC that, in the four years before the current crisis, the head of the United Nations Country Team (UNCT), a Canadian called Renata Lok-Dessallien:

  • tried to stop human rights activists travelling to Rohingya areas
  • attempted to shut down public advocacy on the subject
  • isolated staff who tried to warn that ethnic cleansing might be on the way

One aid worker, Caroline Vandenabeele, had seen the warning signs before. She worked in Rwanda in the run-up to the genocide in late 1993 and early 1994 and says when she first arrived in Myanmar she noticed worrying similarities.

"I was with a group of expats and Burmese business people talking about Rakhine and Rohingya and one of the Burmese people just said 'we should kill them all as if they are just dogs'. For me, this level of dehumanisation of humans is one sign that you have reached a level of acceptance in society that this is normal."

For more than a year I have been corresponding with Ms Vandenabeele, who has served in conflict areas such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Rwanda and Nepal, where she is now based and where we recently met.

Between 2013 and 2015 she had a crucial job in the UNCT in Myanmar. She was head of office for what is known as the resident co-ordinator, the top UN official in the country, currently Ms Dessallien.

The job gave Ms Vandenabeele a front-row seat as the UN grappled with how to respond to rising tensions in Rakhine state.

Back in 2012, clashes between Rohingya Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists left more than 100 dead and more than 100,000 Rohingya Muslims in camps around the state capital, Sittwe.

Since then, there have been periodic flare-ups and, in the past yea,r the emergence of a Rohingya militant group. Attempts to deliver aid to the Rohingya have been complicated by Rakhine Buddhists who resent the supply of aid for the Rohingya, at times blocking it and even attacking aid vehicles.

Aerial view of a burned Rohingya village near Maungdaw, north of Rakhine state, Myanmar September 27, 2017Image copyright Reuters :Image caption Some Rohingya villages in northern Rakhine state have been razed

It presented a complex emergency for the UN and aid agencies, who needed the co-operation of the government and the Buddhist community to get basic aid to the Rohingya.

At the same time they knew that speaking up about the human rights and statelessness of the Rohingya would upset many Buddhists.

So the decision was made to focus on a long-term strategy. The UN and the international community prioritised long-term development in Rakhine in the hope that eventually increased prosperity would lead to reduced tensions between the Rohingya and the Buddhists.

For UN staff it meant that publicly talking about the Rohingya became almost taboo. Many UN press releases about Rakhine avoided using the word completely. The Burmese government does not even use the word Rohingya or recognise them as a distinct group, preferring to call them "Bengalis".

During my years reporting from Myanmar, very few UN staff were willing to speak frankly on the record about the Rohingya. Now an investigation into the internal workings of the UN in Myanmar has revealed that even behind closed doors the Rohingyas' problems were put to one side.

Grey line

Where have the Rohingya fled to

bbc map
Grey line

Multiple sources in Myanmar's aid community have told the BBC that at high-level UN meetings in Myanmar any question of asking the Burmese authorities to respect the Rohingyas' human rights became almost impossible.

Ms Vandenabeele said it soon became clear to everyone that raising the Rohingyas' problems, or warning of ethnic cleansing in senior UN meetings, was simply not acceptable.

"Well you could do it but it had consequences," she said. "And it had negative consequences, like you were no longer invited to meetings and your travel authorisations were not cleared. Other staff were taken off jobs - and being humiliated in meetings. An atmosphere was created that talking about these issues was simply not on."

Repeat offenders, like the head of the UN's Office for the Co-ordination for Humanitarian Assistance (UNOCHA) were deliberately excluded from discussions.

Ms Vandenabeele told me she was often instructed to find out when the UNOCHA representative was out of town so meetings could be held at those times. The head of UNOCHA declined to speak to the BBC but it has been confirmed by several other UN sources inside Myanmar.

Ms Vandenabeele said she was labelled a troublemaker and frozen out of her job for repeatedly warning about the possibility of Rohingya ethnic cleansing. This version of events has not been challenged by the UN.

Attempts to restrict those talking about the Rohingya extended to UN officials visiting Myanmar. Tomas Quintana is now the UN special rapporteur for human rights in North Korea but for six years, until 2014, held that same role for Myanmar.

Speaking from Argentina, he told me about being met at Yangon airport by Ms Dessallien.

"I received this advice from her - saying you should not go to northern Rakhine state - please don't go there. So I asked why and there was not an answer in any respect, there was just the stance of not trying to bring trouble with the authorities, basically," he said.

"This is just one story, but it demonstrates what was the strategy of the UN Country Team in regards to the issue of the Rohingya."

Mr Quintana still went to northern Rakhine but said Ms Dessallien "disassociated" herself from his mission and he didn't see her again.

One senior UN staffer told me: "We've been pandering to the Rakhine community at the expense of the Rohingya.

"The government knows how to use us and to manipulate us and they keep on doing it - we never learn. And we can never stand up to them because we can't upset the government."

Hundreds of Rohingya arrive by boats in the safety of darkness on Shah Porir Dwip island, CoxImage copyright Getty Images :Image caption Many Rohingya fled by night into Banglsdesh leaving everything behind

The UN's priorities in Rakhine were examined in a report commissioned by the UN in 2015 entitled "Slippery Slope: Helping Victims or Supporting Systems of Abuse".

Leaked to the BBC, it is damning of the UNCT approach.

"The UNCT strategy with respect to human rights focuses too heavily on the over-simplified hope that development investment itself will reduce tensions, failing to take into account that investing in a discriminatory structure run by discriminatory state actors is more likely to reinforce discrimination than change it."

There have been other documents with similar conclusions. With António Guterres as the new secretary general in New York, a former senior member of the UN was asked to write a memo for his team in April.

Titled "Repositioning the UN" the two-page document was damning in its assessment, calling the UN in Myanmar "glaringly dysfunctional".

In the weeks that followed the memo, the UN confirmed that Ms Dessallien was being "rotated" but stressed it was nothing to do with her performance. Three months on Ms Dessallien is still the UN's top official there after the Burmese government rejected her proposed successor.

"She has a fair view and is not biased," Shwe Mann, a former senior general and close ally of Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, told me. "Whoever is biased towards the Rohingyas, they won't like her and they will criticise her."

Ms Dessallien declined to give an interview to the BBC to respond to this article.

The UN in Myanmar said its approach was to be "fully inclusive" and ensure the participation of all relevant experts.

"We strongly disagree with the accusations that the resident co-ordinator 'prevented' internal discussions. The resident co-ordinator regularly convenes all UN agencies in Myanmar to discuss how to support peace and security, human rights, development and humanitarian assistance in Rakhine state," a statement from a UN spokesperson in Yangon said.

On Tomas Quintana's visits to Rakhine, the spokesperson said Ms Dessallien had "provided full support" in terms of personnel, logistics and security.

Ten ambassadors, including from Britain and the United States, wrote unsolicited emails to the BBC when they heard we were working on this report, expressing their support for Ms Dessallien.

There are those who see similarities between the UN's much-criticised role in Sri Lanka and what has happened in Myanmar. Charles Petrie wrote a damning report into the UN and Sri Lanka, and also served as the UN's top official in Myanmar (before being expelled in 2007).

He said the UN's response to the Rohingya over the past few years had been confused and that Ms Dessallien hadn't been given the mandate to bring all of the key areas together.

"I think the key lesson for Myanmar from Sri Lanka is the lack of a focal point. A senior level focal point addressing the situation in Myanmar in its totality - the political, the human rights, the humanitarian and the development. It remains diffuse. And that means over the last few years there have been almost competing agendas."

So might a different approach from the UN and the international community have averted the humanitarian disaster we are seeing now? It's hard to see how it might have deterred the Burmese army's massive response following the 25 August Rohingya militant attack.

Bangladeshi soldiers distribute rice to young Rohingya refugees at the camp of Balukhali near Gumdhum on September 25, 2017Image copyright AFP Image caption Bangladesh says it is struggling to cope with the refugees

Ms Vandenabeele said she at least believed an early warning system she proposed might have provided some indications of what was about to unfold.

"It's hard to say which action would have been able to prevent this," she told me. "But what I know for sure is that the way it was done was never going to prevent it. The way it was done was simply ignoring the issue."

Mr Quintana said he wished the international community had pushed harder for some sort of transitional justice system as part of the move to a hybrid democratic government.

One source said the UN now appeared to be preparing itself for an inquiry into its response to Rakhine, and this could be similar to the inquiry that came after the controversial end to Sri Lanka's civil war - and which found it wanting.




Myanmar: UN Security Council must impose arms embargo to end Rohingya suffering

Source Amnesty, 28 Sept

The UN Security Council must do everything it can to end the crimes against humanity and ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people in Myanmar, including by imposing a comprehensive arms embargo on the country, Amnesty International said.

The Council is holding a public session on the situation today, when Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will brief members on the current crisis in Rakhine State.

Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International's Crisis Response Director, said:

"The Myanmar military is forcibly displacing and killing Rohingya, a campaign of crimes against humanity that amounts to ethnic cleansing. When they meet, UN member states must ask themselves what side of history they want to be on and do everything they can do end this nightmare. Together, they do have the power to pressure Myanmar to end the violence.

"The Security Council should put an immediate end to the transfer of all arms, munitions and related equipment to Myanmar by imposing a comprehensive arms embargo. This should cover both direct and indirect supply, and also ensure that training and other assistance to the Myanmar army ends."

The UN meeting comes almost exactly one month after the Myanmar military launched a brutal operation in Rakhine State. This was in response to attacks carried out on dozens of security posts, killing at least 12 members of the security forces, for which the Rohingya armed group, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, claimed responsibility.

Since then, almost half-a-million refugees have poured across the border into Bangladesh, meaning that almost half of the 1.2 million people living in Rakhine State have fled their homes and scores have been killed in little more than a month.

Amnesty has documented how Myanmar security forces have torched whole villages inside Rakhine State and fired on people trying to flee, a widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population that constitutes crimes against humanity. Despite the Myanmar government's claims that the military operations have stopped, the organisation was also able to confirm new burnings of villages as late as last week.

The situation has been made worse by the severe restrictions Myanmar has imposed on aid groups in Rakhine. Amnesty has received credible reports that fear of starvation is driving more people from their homes, as many Rohingya are stranded in villages with little or no access to food.

Tirana Hassan said:

"This crisis is far from over, and there is no question that violations are continuing unabated inside Rakhine State. More than ever, the world needs to take a strong stand and push Myanmar and its security forces to end the horrors they are inflicting on the Rohingya population.

"We want the Security Council to issue a public statement condemning the atrocities in Rakhine State, while urging an end to violence and immediate and unfettered access for humanitarian aid groups."

Thailand's hard line on refugees leaves thousands vulnerable and at risk

Meanwhile, Amnesty has also called on Thailand to take action to reverse its long-standing failure to offer protection to the Rohingya as a new report revealing gaping holes in the country's refugee policies.

The report, 'Between a Rock and a Hard Place', outlines a number of failures by the Thai government in policy and practice that have a devastating impact on refugees both within the country and seeking safety there. These include Thailand's long-standing practice of using its navy to repel boats carrying thousands of desperate Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshis, as well as its forcible return of refugees and asylum-seekers to places where they risk torture and other serious human rights violations.

Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International's Director of Global Issues, said:

"With ethnic cleansing forcing hundreds of thousands of Rohingya out of Myanmar, Thailand urgently needs to set a regional example by adopting humane refugee policies. Instead of callously repelling people fleeing unimaginable horrors, the Thai government should ensure safe passage for those seeking international protection in Thailand.

"Thailand hosts one of the largest refugee populations in the region, but its myopic, ad hoc policies mean it fails to offer them proper protection. The authorities cannot continue to lurch from one refugee crisis to the next; and instead must set up the systems required to offer these men, women and children who are at risk the safety and security they need."

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

UN Security Council moves to confront Myanmar crisis

Source Dailymail, 26 Sept 

Rohingya rehugees walk along a road on the proximity of the refugee camp of Thwangkhaneari near the Bangladeshi locality of UkhiaRohingya rehugees walk along a road on the proximity of the refugee camp of Thwangkhaneari near the Bangladeshi locality of Ukhia

The UN Security Council met behind closed doors on Tuesday to discuss the violence in Myanmar, moving to step up its response to the exodus of 480,000 Rohingya Muslims in what has been condemned as "ethnic cleansing."

The meeting will set the stage for a public session of the top UN body on Thursday, during which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is set to brief on the crisis and China, along with other council members, will deliver remarks.

International alarm is growing over the fate of the Rohingya who have been fleeing an army campaign in Rakhine state that the United Nations says has included killings, rape and the torching of villages.

The military operation followed attacks on August 25 by Rohingya militants on police posts.

British Deputy UN Ambassador Jonathan Allen said the council must "send a clear message to the authorities of Myanmar that the violence needs to stop."

Humanitarian aid must be allowed in Rakhine state and the status of the Rohingya, who are stateless in Myanmar, must be addressed, he said.

French Ambassador Francois Delattre said he was pushing for a "strong and united response" from the council to pile pressure on authorities in Myanmar.

China, a supporter of Myanmar's former junta, backed a council statement earlier this month calling for an end to the violence, but the exodus has continued.

Rights groups, which have accused the council of dragging its feet on Myanmar, are calling for urgent action to address what they have denounced as crimes against humanity against the Rohingya.

"The council urgently needs to consider an arms embargo against the Burmese military and targeted sanctions against those responsible for the criminal campaign against the Rohingya," said Human Rights Watch's UN director Lou Charbonneau.

"We hope the secretary-general will drive home the importance of urgent action now by the council," he said.

France, which takes over the council presidency in October, has invited former UN chief Kofi Annan to brief next week on his recent report which advocates citizenship for the Rohingya.

Myanmar's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has disappointed human rights groups who had campaigned for her freedom during the Nobel Peace Prize winner's 15 years under house arrest by a military junta.

The council meeting will measure the level of support Suu Kyi still enjoys with Western allies after her nationwide address last week failed to quell the outrage.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Aid workers: World leaders need to do more for Rohingya refugees

source Aljazeera, 18 Sept

Watch: Aid workers: World leaders need to do more for Rohingya refugees ...

▶ 1:45

Aid workers say the Rohingya crisis at the Bangladesh-Myanmar border is now one of the biggest humanitarian crises in the world.

Al Jazeera's Maher Sattar reports from Shah Porir Dwip in southeast Bangladesh.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Organizational Letter to The US Secretary of State, Congress and US Ambassador to The UN Regarding the Targeting Of 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:

Burmese Muslim American Association (BAMA)

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

Centre for Human Rights and Advocacy (CENTHRA)

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

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

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