Myanmar News & Updates

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U.N. fears as many as 30 Rohingya killed in Myanmar assault
APRIL 9, 2019
By Clyde Hughes


Hundreds of Rohingya enter Bangladesh from Budichong, Myanmar, in 2017. File Photo by Abir Abdullah/EPA-EFE

April 9 (UPI) -- A deadly aerial assault against Rohingya Muslims last week appears to have killed many more than the Myanmar government reported, the United Nations human rights office said Tuesday.

The helicopter attack by the Myanmar military killed many Rohingya in Rakhine State. The government said six people died, but the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said as many as 30 were killed.

OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said the office has reason to believe a higher death toll.
"We are now receiving reports that the number may be much higher," Shamdasani said.

Witnesses said military choppers began firing on Rohingya as they collected bamboo last Wednesday. Myanmar later confirmed the strike and said six had died as part of an anti-terrorist operation. The OHCHR disputes the terror link and said the attack may constitute a war crime.

Myanmar's military has been targeting the Arakan Army, a Buddhist insurgent group that's demanding political autonomy in Rakhine State. The OHCHR said the fighting has increased in the province in recent weeks and as many as 20,000 Rohingya have been displaced.

Violence against Muslim Rohingya began two years ago and the United Nations has said the campaign of violence amounts of "ethnic cleansing." Human rights officials say more than 700,000 Rohingya have been displaced so far and 10,000 have been killed. Tens of thousands have fled to Bangladesh.

Bangladesh said last month it will stop accepting Rohingya after about one million. Many remain in camps along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2019/04/09/UN-fears-as-many-as-30-Rohingya-killed-in-Myanmar-assault/4831554811215/
 

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The UN failed miserably to shoulder its responsibilities. What would you expect for a corrupt entity?
 

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APRIL 30, 2019
EU extends weapons ban on Myanmar for another year
By Nicholas Sakelaris


Rohingya Muslims enter Bangladesh as they flee violence in Myanmar. File Photo by stringer/EPA-EFE


April 30 (UPI) -- The European Union has extended for another year a ban on the sale of weapons in Myanmar, as punishment for what it says is the continued persecution, rape and murder of Muslim Rohingya.

The European Council said the renewed sanctions include an embargo on weapons and equipment that can be used for internal repression, an export ban of dual-use goods for use by the military and a restriction on communication monitoring equipment. Training or cooperating with the Myanmar army is also prohibited.

The sanctions were extended to run until April 30, 2020.

The EU said travel restrictions will also continue for 14 individuals accused of "serious human rights violations" against the minority Rohingya. The sanctioned are barred from entering any EU nation and their assets in those countries are frozen.

The EU council expressed "deep concern over the findings" of a fact-finding mission by the U.N. Human Rights Council in December -- which it said found "gross human rights violations" committed by Myanmar's army.

More than 10,000 Rohingya have died from violence over the last two years and hundreds of thousands have fled, mostly to Bangladesh.
Dozens of Rohingya were killed in a helicopter assault this month, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said. The Myanmar government disputes the toll, saying just six people died in the attack, which occurred as they were collecting bamboo.

EU extends weapons ban on Myanmar for another year
 

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Myanmar frees two Reuters journalists in amnesty

Reuters
May 07, 2019

  • Before their arrest in December 2017, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo had been working on an investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys by security forces
  • The operation sent more than 730,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh, according to U.N. estimates
YANGON: Two Reuters journalists jailed in Myanmar after they were convicted of breaking the Official Secrets Act walked free from a prison on the outskirts of Yangon on Tuesday after spending more than 500 days behind bars, witnesses said.

The two reporters, Wa Lone, 33, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 29, had been convicted in September and sentenced to seven years in jail, in a case that raised questions about Myanmar’s progress toward democracy and sparked an outcry from diplomats and human rights advocates.

President Win Myint has pardoned thousands of other prisoners in mass amnesties since last month. It is customary in Myanmar for authorities to free prisoners across the country around the time of the traditional New Year, which began on April 17.

Reuters has said the two men did not commit any crime and had called for their release.

Swamped by media and well wishers as they walked through the gates of Insein Prison, on the outskirts of the commercial capital of Yangon, a grinning Wa Lone gave a thumbs up and said he was grateful for the international efforts to secure their freedom.

“I’m really happy and excited to see my family and my colleagues. I can’t wait to go to my newsroom.”


Before their arrest in December 2017, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo had been working on an investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys by security forces and Buddhist civilians in western Myanmar’s Rakhine State during an army crackdown that began in August 2017. The operation sent more than 730,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh, according to UN estimates.
The report the two men authored, featuring testimony from perpetrators, witnesses and families of the victims, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting in May, adding to a number of accolades received by the pair for their journalism. (Massacre in Myanmar: One grave for 10 Rohingya men)
Calls to a spokesman for the Myanmar government were not immediately answered.
Myanmar’s Supreme Court had rejected the journalists’ final appeal in April. They had petitioned the country’s top court, citing evidence of a police set-up and lack of proof of a crime, after the Yangon High Court dismissed an earlier appeal in January.
The reporters’ wives wrote a letter to the government in April pleading for a pardon, not, they said, because their husbands had done anything wrong, but because it would allow them to be released from prison and reunited with their families.

“MONTHS OF DIALOGUE“
The Reuters journalists were released at the prison to Lord Ara Darzi, a British surgeon and health care expert who has served as a member of an advisory group to Myanmar’s government, and a Reuters representative. Darzi waited for Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo at the gates of Insein prison on a street where a group of dozens of reporters and photographers expecting a release of prisoners were also waiting.

In a statement to Reuters, Darzi, 59, said the release of the two journalists came after “months of dialogue” with the government of Myanmar.

“I am delighted that the Reuters reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, have been granted a pardon, released from custody, and are with their loved ones once more. I know that it will come as a huge relief to their families, friends and colleagues,” Darzi said in the statement. “This outcome shows that dialogue works, even in the most difficult of circumstances.”

Darzi said discussions about the pardon for Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo had involved the Myanmar government, Reuters, the United Nations and representatives of other governments but did not provide more detail on those closed-door talks.

Reuters had no immediate comment.

Darzi has been a member of an advisory commission that was formed to see through the advice from a panel headed by former UN chief Kofi Anan on solving the long-running conflict in Myanmar’s western region in the state of Rakhine.

Rakhine, on the Bay of Bengal, was the home to most Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Hundreds of thousands fled to Bangladesh after a military-led crackdown on the region in 2017.

Senior Myanmar government officials, diplomats and some international representatives are meeting in Yangon to discuss Rakhine this week.

“The power of dialogue must be turned toward securing a lasting peace in Rakhine State and the return of the hundreds of thousands of refugees, whose desperate plight continues. This is essential if Myanmar is to build on today’s progress so that all its citizens can live together in dignity in the hope of a better tomorrow,” Darzi said in the statement.

 

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Behind Reporters' Release, a Face-Saving Strategy for Suu Kyi
May 09, 2019
Agence France-Presse
Aung San Suu Kyi takes the stage May 7 at a forum for National Reconciliation for Peace in Myanmar

Aung San Suu Kyi takes the stage May 7 at a forum for National Reconciliation for Peace in Myanmar

After relentless diplomatic pressure and global outrage, fallen democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi finally decided that a pardon for two Myanmar journalists jailed for reporting on a Rohingya massacre was the only way to resolve an issue that has dogged her government for nearly 18 months.
Observers say the unexpected release of the two Reuters reporters was a political decision timed to save face for the country's civilian leader, after a vigorous international campaign that saw Amal Clooney join their legal team, Time magazine put the pair on their cover, and journalism awards and honours pile up -- including the prestigious Pulitzer Prize.

A presidential pardon freed Wa Lone, 33, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 29, from prison on Tuesday to a media frenzy and messages of congratulations from the White House to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The pair spent more than 500 days behind bars under colonial-era state secrets convictions after probing the extrajudicial killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims during a military crackdown.

Global attention on the reporters and the damage already done to the country's reputation were "potentially costly" to the government, said independent analyst Richard Horsey.

Nobel Laureate Suu Kyi -- already seen as a pariah by many for perceived complicity in the Rohingya's plight -- provoked outcry when she refused to intervene, insisting "rule of law" must be followed.

The abrupt decision to release the pair this week was made because Myanmar's leaders had "taken into consideration the long-term interest of (the) country", said government spokesman Zaw Htay.

Retired Thai diplomat Kobsak Chutikul, who has worked in an advisory capacity to Suu Kyi's government, said senior officials had all known a pardon must be granted at some point but "nobody felt they could bring this up with her".

Political timing was also a factor, observers say.

Myanmar is due to go to the polls next year and this was a chance to "get it out of the way" beforehand rather than risk overshadowing the vote, Kobsak said.

‘Albatross Round Their Necks’
Behind the international condemnation, backroom diplomacy appears to have played a key role in convincing Suu Kyi to pardon the reporters.
One man waiting among the crowds outside the gates of Yangon's notorious Insein Prison was British health expert Lord Ara Darzi, whose name barely came up during regular media coverage of the saga.

A close confidant of Suu Kyi, he has regularly visited the country over the past two years in an advisory role on a Rakhine state commission.
But he has known the leader for years, and hosted her in London after her release from house arrest.

"From what I hear, he finally found the opportunity to convince Suu Kyi this was an albatross hanging round their necks," said Kobsak, who served alongside Darzi on another Myanmar government commission.

The discussion would have taken place "behind the scenes, in quiet conversations in her house", he added.

Darzi later hinted about his role to reporters at a press conference following the journalists' release.

"The lesson is simple: Dialogue works even in the most difficult of circumstances," he said.

Among 23,000 Freed
Presidential pardons are traditionally granted around the Myanmar new year in April.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were freed in the third amnesty in just over a week that saw a total of 23,000 prisoners released.

The pair were handed a seven-year jail sentence last September, upheld first by Yangon's High Court and then the country's Supreme Court last month.

Reuters maintained the duo were imprisoned in retaliation for their expose, while legal experts argued the case was riddled with irregularities.
With the judicial process having run its course all the way to Myanmar's top court, Suu Kyi "may have been convinced the twisted passage of justice had been served," Yangon-based analyst David Mathieson said, calling her change of heart a "political calculation".

Despite the release, observers warn against reading too much into prospects for greater press freedom in the beleaguered democracy, which began a troubled transition from military rule in 2010.

"The pardon will not change the conditions that journalists (in Myanmar) are facing," said activist Cheery Zahau.

 

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UAE launches major campaign to assist Rohingyas
  • PUBLISH DATE - MAY 26, 2019
[IMG]

UNB file photo

Dhaka, May 26 (UNB) - A nationwide drive has been launched in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to generate donations for Rohingyas who fled to Bangladesh to escape persecution in Myanmar.

The initiative launched by the Emirates Red Crescent – From the UAE for Rohingya Children and Women – aims to provide the more than 1 million displaced people with food supplies, medical assistance, clean water, education and housing, said the UAE Embassy in Dhaka on Sunday.

Till May 24, the nationwide campaign to support Rohingyas raised US$ 8.91 million on its first day, with residents across the country showing their support.

Fahad Abdul Rahman Bin Sultan, deputy secretary general for international aid affairs at the Emirates Red Crescent, in a statement said that all of the aid would be sent by a humanitarian convoy.

This campaign under the directives of President Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is to provide help and support to the Rohingyas. More than 20 organizations in the UAE are participating together in this campaign.

“We are going to send the aid by a Red Crescent convoy to Bangladesh as many of the refugees are based there, with the humanitarian campaign looking to their needs,” he said.

Meanwhile, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region, and Chairman of the Emirates Red Crescent, ERC, has donated US$ 1.35 million to the campaign.

The humanitarian campaign has been telecast on local television stations from May 24, 2019 to invite all residents across the country to participate in assisting Rohingyas.

Announcing the campaign on May 23, Dr Mohammed Ateeq Al Falahi, Secretary-General of the Emirates Red Crescent, highlighted the escalating predicament faced by many of the Rohingya.

"The UAE has always been proactive in its solidarity with Rohingya refugees, especially children and women, and has worked from the very first moment to support them," he said.

UAE launches major campaign to assist Rohingyas
 

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Amnesty accuses Myanmar military of fresh ‘war crimes’
May 29, 2019

AFP-JijiYANGON (AFP-Jiji) — Myanmar’s military is guilty of committing new “war crimes,” extrajudicial killings and torture in its fight against ethnic Rakhine rebels, Amnesty International said Wednesday.

The armed forces have deployed thousands of troops and heavy artillery across northern Rakhine State in recent months where Arakan Army (AA) rebels are fighting for more autonomy for the state’s ethnic Rakhine Buddhists.

The state was also the scene of the military’s bloody crackdown against the Rohingya Muslim community in 2017.

That campaign pushed some 740,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh in violence U.N. investigators say warrants prosecution of top generals for “genocide.”

Amnesty said Wednesday it had “new evidence” that Myanmar’s military is now “committing war crimes and other human rights violations” against the ethnic Rakhine, listing extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, torture and enforced disappearances.

Access to the conflict area is heavily restricted, but details of civilian deaths have emerged over recent weeks and months.

The army has confirmed it shot dead six detainees late last month in the village of Kyauk Tan.

Amnesty’s report is based on scores of interviews with people from various ethnic groups, photographs, videos and satellite imagery.

It documents seven unlawful attacks that killed 14 civilians and injured dozens more, saying notorious infantry units have been deployed against the ethnic Rakhine.

Some Rohingya Muslims who have remained in the area have also been killed.

“The new operations in Rakhine State show an unrepentant, unreformed and unaccountable military terrorizing civilians,” said regional director Nicholas Bequelin.

A Myanmar Army spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment on the report.

The rights group also criticized the government for choosing to “remain silent” while supplies of medicine, food and humanitarian relief remain blocked by authorities.

In an unprecedented move after the AA attacked police posts in January, Aung San Suu Kyi’s government ordered the army to “crush” the rebels.

Although the military was the main perpetrator, AA insurgents have also “committed abuses against civilians,” Amnesty said, alleging they have sent letters with bullets to local administrators and business people.

“I can firmly say it does not happen,” AA spokesman Khine Thu Kha told AFP by phone, denying the claims.


Amnesty accuses Myanmar military of fresh ‘war crimes’
 

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Myanmar blackout may be cover for gross human rights violations — UN investigator
Reuters
June 25, 2019
View attachment 8515
Yanghee Lee, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. (AP)

  • The Arakan Army is an insurgent group that recruits from the mainly Buddhist ethnic Rakhine population and is fighting for greater autonomy for the state
GENEVA: Myanmar’s army may be committing gross human rights violations under cover of a mobile phone blackout in parts of Myanmar’s Rakhine and Chin states, UN special rapporteur Yanghee Lee said on Monday.

Lee, an independent expert who reports to the UN Human Rights Council on human rights in Myanmar, said nine townships had been blacked out, with no media access and serious restrictions on humanitarian organizations.
“I fear for all civilians there,” Lee said in a statement.
“I am told that the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s army) is now conducting a ‘clearance operation’, which we all know by now can be a cover for committing gross human rights violations against the civilian population.”

The statement said there were credible reports that the army helicopters carried out attacks in Minbya Township in central Rakhine on June 19, and the following day, the Arakan Army fired on a navy ship in Sittwe, killing and injuring several soldiers.

The Arakan Army is an insurgent group that recruits from the mainly Buddhist ethnic Rakhine population and is fighting for greater autonomy for the state.

The conflict has included use of heavy weaponry, airstrikes and helicopter gunships, with significant loss of life on all sides, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council earlier on Monday.

Rakhine state came to global attention after about 730,000 Rohingya Muslims crossed into Bangladesh fleeing a military crackdown in response to militant attacks in 2017.

UN investigators have called for senior military officers to be prosecuted over allegations of mass killings, gang rapes and arson. The military denies widespread wrongdoing.

A leading telecoms operator, Telenor Group, said on Saturday that the Ministry of Transport and Communications had ordered a temporary shutdown of Internet services in conflict-torn western Myanmar, where government troops are fighting ethnic rebels.

It said the ministry had cited “disturbances of peace and use of Internet activities to coordinate illegal activities,” but a military spokesman said the army had no information about the shutdown and was not behind it.

Lee called on the government to end the mobile Internet ban.

Lee’s statement said the conflict between the Arakan Army and the Tatmadaw has been going on since late 2018 and has displaced more than 35,000 civilians.

 

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