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19 September 2014

Three dead, 25 missing while going to Malaysia

File photo of Rohingya boat people fleeing Myanmar

By KPN
September 18, 2014

Sittwe, Burma:  Three boat-people including one man and two women were dead while going to Malaysia from Sittwe (Akyab) by boat after sinking at the sea on September 11, at about 9:00 pm,  said Shaker, one of the boat people from Sittwe.

“There were about 38 Rohingya boat-people including man, women and children were leaving Malaysia by boat from Ohn Taw Gyi IDP camp of Sittwe, Arkan, the capital of Arakan State.”

Suddenly, a group of Hluntin (riot police) arrived to the spot and fired 12 rounds of bullet to air to stop the boat. As a result, the boat-people were terrified and jumped into water and tried to escape from the arrest of Hluntin. However, among them a man and two women were dead because of boat sinking and 25 boat-people are still missing and 10 others could reach to the bank after swimming. But, they were arrested by Hluntin and sent to No.1 police station of Sittwe. The concerned authorities have been looking for the missing passengers.

The three dead bodies were taken to Sittwe General Hospital for postmortem and then the dead bodies were sent to Baw Du Pha cemetery where they were buried at about 2:30 pm, on September 12, said a local elder, on condition of anonymity.

According to UNHCR, there are more than 24,000 Rohingya refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia today

Nearly 140,000 mostly Rohingya residents are displaced in Burma following inter-communal clashes between Rohingya and Rakhine residents. Most of the displaced are staying in nine overcrowded camps in Sittwe, the capital of Arakan State.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says more displacements are likely. “The situation is still very, very volatile, it’s very tense. The government is doing it very best to keep the situation under control, but it’s still very fragile,” said Jens Laerke, an OCHA spokesman.

12 September 2014

Food cards for 32,000 Rohingya refugees

Pankaj Karmakar, back from Cox's Bazar


With a smile on his face, sexagenarian Abu Sayeed was walking to his home at the Rohingya refugee camp at Kutupalong of Ukhia on Thursday. He was carrying a shopping bag packed with rice, pulses and vegetables.

“I'm happy to have the opportunity to buy most of the essentials from the shop inside our camp. Previously we could buy only five items from there, but now we can have 13 items,” said Sayeed, a government-registered Rohingya refugee, who has been in Bangladesh for around 20 years.

Like him, there are over 32,000 registered Rohingya refugees in two camps at Kutupalong and Nayapara of Teknaf. They all are now entitled to have the facility as the World Food Programme (WFP) in cooperation with the government introduced digitised Food Cards at Kutupalong refugee camp on Thursday. The move aims at ensuring better food distribution among the refugees.

As per Bangladeshi law, the Rohingya refugees are not allowed to go outside of their camps for shopping. They only can buy items from the registered food shops inside the camps for a certain amount of money.  The costs are borne by the WFP.

There are six food shops in the two refugee camps, said WFP officials.

Under the new system, the refugees will get eight more items -- potato, semolina, green leaf, dried fish, onion, garlic, chilli and turmeric. Earlier, each Rohingya family maintained a log to collect rice, pulses, sugar, salt and oil.

Each family will be allocated a Food Card and each member of the family will have over Tk 700 loaded on the card for a month.

Whenever a cardholder will produce the Food Card at a shop, the staff there will check the card with a machine for the balance amount in it.

Once the shopping is complete, the staff will adjust the amount from the card balance, said Jessica Staskieqicz, programme coordinator of WFP.

“I think we'll be able to ensure the food security and nutrition of the refugees in a much better way with the new system which gives them choice and dignity,” said Christa Rader, country representative of WFP in Bangladesh.

To prevent misuse of Food Cards, fingerprints of cardholders will be stored in a database and it will be verified during every purchase of commodities, she added.

Speaking at the card launching programme, Mesbah ul Alam, secretary to the disaster management and relief ministry, hoped the new system will help ensure nutrition of the refugees.

Officials of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC) and Cox's Bazar district administration were present.

At the moment, there could be as many as 500,000 unregistered Rohingya refugees inside Bangladesh, according to estimates by the UNHCR. They are refugees fleeing sectarian conflict in the Myanmarese state of Rakhine.

Source by The Daily Star

11 September 2014

Myanmar lifts curfew in violence-racked state capital

Policemen walk towards burning buildings in Sittwe, capital of Rakhine state in western Burma, where sectarian violence is ongoing, June 12, 2012. 

By Aung Hla Tun and Jared Ferrie
September 11, 2014

YANGON - Myanmar on Thursday lifted a curfew imposed in June 2012 when clashes between Buddhists and minority Muslims erupted throughout western Rakhine state, killing at least 192 people that year.

Most victims of the violence were Muslim Rohingya, who live under apartheid-like conditions. The United Nations says almost 140,000 Rohingya remain in camps after being driven from their homes by Buddhist mobs in 2012.

Sectarian tension has simmered in Rakhine and aid agencies were forced to evacuate the state capital of Sittwe in March when Buddhists attacked their offices after accusing them of favoring Muslims.

But state government spokesman Win Myaing said that tension had eased.

“The curfew ... will be lifted effective today, as the security situation is improving," he told Reuters.

Most aid agencies that pulled out of Sittwe in March have resumed at least limited operations, but the government has so far refused to allow the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to return.

On Tuesday, MSF said it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Myanmar's central government which established “a framework for our medical activities” in five regions, including Rakhine.

“We hope this measure translates into an early resumption of our activities in Rakhine,” MSF said in a statement.

(Editing by Nick Macfie)

Myanmar: Violence in Rakhine creates long-term needs

By ICRC
September 10, 2014

Five months after violence disrupted humanitarian operations in Rakhine state, the ICRI has restarted a full range of activities there for the Muslim and ethnic Rakhine communities alike.

"The Muslim and ethnic Rakhine communities are both suffering the long-term effects of violence. Access to essential health care and clean water has been seriously affected, as has the capacity to earn a livelihood," said Enrique Ochoa, head of the ICRC’s office in Sittwe. Since resuming its programmes in May, the organization has been tackling a broad range of problems faced by both communities.

"We are in regular contact with community leaders to help define programmes and tailor them to meet specific needs in a transparent and independent manner," added Mr Ochoa.

The ICRC is carrying out 14 hospital restoration projects in Rakhine designed to enhance health-care infrastructure and services. At the same time, it sponsors the work of local health personnel, including midwives, and contributes to trauma-care training for doctors from various townships. In addition, the ICRC has donated solar-powered refrigerators to support national immunization programmes in the state, and continues to donate medicines and medical consumables to the local ministry of health for use in Sittwe and other township hospitals and mobile clinics.

In northern Rakhine, the ICRC is looking at ways to assist the ministry of health’s existing medical facilities in the Maungdaw and Buthidaung areas.

Working closely with local authorities and community elders, the ICRC has provided seed and fertilizer to small-scale farmers in villages in Sittwe, Pauk-taw, Kyauk-taw and Minbya. Action taken to provide drinking water has benefited over 20,000 displaced people from both communities living in camps and rural areas, while rainwater harvesting systems and ceramic water filters have also been provided. A programme to fence community water storage ponds to avoid contamination by livestock has now been concluded in three townships.

People in three camps with no access to firewood for cooking have received biodegradable fuel sticks made of rice husk. Some 20,000 people received roofing tarpaulins to keep them dry during the wet season. Grants in cash and kind for small business ventures have provided 600 families with a sustainable income. The grants enabled people to buy fishing equipment, livestock, supplies for setting up grocery shops or tricycle taxis, or start small businesses. More than 20,000 people have received this kind of assistance since programmes restarted in May.

Kachin and eastern states

In the north-east of the country, where sporadic fighting still continues despite positive steps in the peace process, the ICRC is focused on supporting health facilities, enhancing services for people with disabilities and generating income streams for displaced families.

Projects to improve health services for both resident and displaced communities started in February in the towns of Laiza, Majayan and Bhamo in Kachin state. Laiza hospital receives comprehensive support through on-the-job training, equipment overhauls and donations of supplies. The ICRC is also upgrading power, water supply, sanitary and medical-waste disposal facilities. In tandem, we are continuing medical training in Kachin and Shan states, boosting the expertise of health personnel in areas such as surgical management techniques and the treatment of weapon injuries.

Plans are under way to build a physical rehabilitation centre at Myitkyina hospital to provide artificial limbs and other services for physically disabled people living in northern Myanmar. The ICRC and the Myanmar Red Cross have started running a mobile repair service for physically disabled people whose devices need repair, improving their access to orthopaedic services across the north and east of Myanmar.

 For further information, please contact:

Michael O’Brien, ICRC Yangon, tel: +95 9 420 107 606

Ewan Watson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 33 45 or +41 79 244 64 70

10 September 2014

Senior UN officials head to Arakan

The UN's Assistant Secretary-General Haoliang Xu. (Photo: UNDP)


By Alex Bookbinder

Democratic Voice of Burma

September 9, 2014


A senior United Nations delegation departed for the Arakan State capital of Sittwe on Monday to “take stock of the ongoing humanitarian and development situation in Rakhine [Arakan] State and review priorities for the UN system,” according to a statement.


Assistant Secretary-General Haoliang Xu, who is also the assistant administrator for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and its regional director for Asia and the Pacific, is accompanied by John Ging, the director of the Coordination and Response Division of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).


The visit is part of a weeklong visit to the country, Xu’s first in his official capacity. Xu and Ging will subsequently meet with Burma’s vice president, Dr. Sai Mauk Kham, and other senior ministers in Naypyidaw later this week. The pair will depart Burma on Friday.


The visit will focus on the implementation of the UN’s development and humanitarian assistance programmes in the restive state, which has witnessed a surge of communal violence since 2012. In recent months, Arakanese Buddhist nationalists have voiced significant opposition to the activities of UN agencies and international NGOs in the state, which they claim are biased towards Muslims.


“The UN is looking at Rakhine in a more holistic manner,” said Pierre Peron, UNOCHA’s public information officer in Burma. “It’s one of the poorest states in the country.”


In late July, the regional government invited NGOs and UN agencies to help implement an “Action Plan for Peace, Stability and Development in Rakhine State.” Formulated with input from NGOs, UN agencies, civil society actors and foreign diplomats, it is expected to address issues surrounding humanitarian aid, the resettlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs), and the government’s development priorities, but its contents have not been made publicly available.


A controversial cornerstone of the government’s new strategy in Arakan is a “citizenship verification” programme launched in June, intended to give stateless individuals – primarily Rohingya Muslims – the chance to acquire citizenship. But the programme compels individuals who identify as Rohingya to register as “Bengalis,” nomenclature that implies “alien” origins in neighbouring Bangladesh. It is a designation rejected by the vast majority of Rohingya, whose presence in the restive region dates back generations.


Many Rohingya were stripped of their citizenship under Burma’s restrictive 1982 Citizenship Law, which allows individuals to become “naturalised citizens” if they can prove their ancestors resided in Burma prior to independence in 1948. The burden of proof for “full” citizenship is higher, with a cutoff date of 1823, the beginning of British colonial rule in Arakan. For most Rohingya, their family histories are difficult to document, owing to a lack of a paper trail befitting the government’s exacting requirements.


Last Thursday, a delegation led by Sai Mauk Kham, which included government ministers, INGO officials, and the ambassadors of Turkey and Brunei, visited two IDP camps near Sittwe. He was quoted in state media as saying that IDPs should be relocated to areas close to where they were displaced from, and that the “initial step” for resettlement would be “when the two communities can accept the same conditions for stability and the citizenship scrutiny measures being taken by the government.”


But the notion that citizenship should be contingent on the rejection of Rohingya identity earned the government’s policies a stern rebuke from the newly-appointed UN special rapporteur on human rights, Yanghee Lee. In July, she asserted that, under the principles of international law, minorities have the right “to self-identify on the basis of their national, ethnic, religious and linguistic characteristics.”


She criticised the 1982 Citizenship Law, claiming that it should not “be an exception” immune from amendment during Burma’s current process of legislative reform, despite the substantial level of domestic support the law enjoys.

3 September 2014

Ahesan Ullah Memorial Football Tournament UK- 2014 end with the dominance of Arakan Sunrisers for title

By Kyaw Win
TSR News 

The inaugurated Ahesan Ullah Memorial Football Tournament held among the Rohingya in UK ended with the victory of Arakan Sunrisers 4-2 against BD3 Tigers on last 1st September 2014. 

The tournament held as a memorandum of Murder Ahesan Ullah.

How Rohingya Refugee can take the mirror of their past, spent in Bangladesh refugee camp and still facing.

Ahesan Ullah(15?) was shot to death by police on 18th November 2004 with Mohammed Saber and Mohammed Saleh at Kutupalong Registered Refugee camp while breaking a demonstration of Rohingya Refugee against inhumanity.

On that Ahesan Ullah wrote with his blood that he was shot by Bangladesh police. Even that many more innocent Rohingya Refugee were imprisoned for that fabricates case. Bangladesh government also harassed his parents. 

Now his parents are living in New Zealand under the resettlement process of UNHCR. From that day on Rohingya Refugee have been celebrating 18th November as a Rohingya Refugee day to commemorate Ahesan Ullah and others and show them respect. To remember the young murder Rohingya arrange some events. 

Mr Nijam Uddin, manager of Rohingya Sporting Club UK arranged the Ahesan Ullah Memorial Football Tournament-2014 for the first time in UK to spread the news of the most persecuted ethnic minority in the world to be united and show solidarity their rights commemorating Ahesan Ullah and others murders. 

The members of Rohingya Sporting Club UK dividing into four teams like , Arakan Sunrisers, Lion gates tigers, Royal Burma tigers and BD3 Tigers were participated in the 14 days long tournament. The tournament kicked off the match Arakan Sunriser vs BD3 Tigers on 18th August 2014. 

The 14 days long tournament ended with very interesting final match won by Arakan Sunrisers 4-2 against BD3 Tigers for the First title on 1st September 2014 before the scheduled series tour of Rohingya Football Club Ireland. Arakan Sunrisers goal keeper scored a goal on the match and he was also selected best goal keeper of the tournament. 

Anowar was selected as player of tournament and best goal scorer from BD3 Tigers. Sirajul was selected man of the match from Arakan Sunriser and he also scored a goal on the final match. 

The tournament was sponsored by Rohingya Sporting Club UK and supported by Rohingya Survival Foundation UK to make solidarity with Rohingya refugee. Tournament manager Nijam uddin congratulates all of the players to participate and hard work for the achievements and short brief description about Shahid Ahesan Ullah in closing speeches.

31 August 2014

Myanmar to start taking back Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh in two months

30 August 2014

Muslims minority denied the right to identify as Rohingya

By KPN 
August 30, 2014

Mangdaw, Arakan State: The Muslims minority was denied the right to identify themselves as” Rohinggyas” in so-called population data collection in northern Arakan, which was  conducted  since March 30 to April 10 and then from August to till now,  said Rahim( not real name) from the locality.   The census has been conducting with the help of the UN population Fund. The government claims they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and calls them “Bengalis” though they have been living there thousand years ago.

Yesterday, on August 29, at about 8:00 pm, a group of BGP (Border Guard Police), army along with immigration officers went to Wabeg village of Pawet Chaung village tract of Maungdaw Township and tried to get so-called population data from the villagers. But, the villagers strongly refused to take part in the population data collection as the local authority tried to write” Bengali” in place of “ Rohingya” in the Form, a local leader from the village said on condition of anonymity.

As a result, some of the villagers including females and males were arrested and were brought to the police camp and put in the stocks (wooden boxes) and coerced them to take part in census. So, the villagers took part in census in fear of more torture. Then the authorities ordered to village elder to bring family lists of arrestees from homes and the authority conducted so-called population data collection by written “Bengali” instead of “Rohingyas,” the leader more added.

Some of the arrestees were identified as—Ms Amina Khatoon (32), wife Abdu Gaffar;  Ms Rahima Khatun (40), wife of Hamid Hussain; Ms Hasina (27), wife of Islam; Ms Minara Begum (17) daughter of Hasu; Fazal Karim (70), son of Abdu Salam; two brothers—  Ali Akbar(50) and Ali Hussain(40),  son of Abdu Shukur;  Nurul Amin (25), son of Jalal Ahmed; Anock (30), son of Serazul Islam and Ziabul Hussain (35), son of Gura Meah, said one of the arrestees’ close relative preferring not to be named.

In this way, the rest of the villagers were called to their (police) camp and took list of the villagers. This village has 125 family lists, the relative added.

Above and beyond, today, a group of military, police and immigration went to Balu Khali (Thay Chaung) village of Powet Chaung village tract of Maungdaw north. Seeing the group, some of the villagers ran away to the forest nearby, to avoid harassment by police and army and also they don’t willing to participate in census, a local elder from the village said.

However, the group forcibly took away the so-call population data from the villagers whom they met in the village. Villagers did not dare to face with the police and army because of frequent attacks by them. Now, the females are living in the forest and the males are seeing their homes, a trader from the village said, who denied to be named.

Myanmar 'loses ten million people' in census

By AP
August 30, 2014

Figures extrapolated from last census in 1983 estimated population at 60 million, but new count finds only 51.4 million.

Some isolated parts of northern Kachin state controlled by ethnic rebels were not counted [EPA]

Myanmar has discovered it has only 51 million people - far less than the previously estimated 60 million, according to preliminary results of the latest census.

State-run television, which announced the initial findings of the country's first census in three decades on Friday, said complete results would be released next year.

The census, conducted from March 30 to April 10 with help from the UN Population Fund, counted 51.42 million people.

The previous estimate of 60 million was based on extrapolations from the last census, conducted in 1983.

The tally went smoothly, except in some areas of the western state of Rakhine where an estimated 800,000 members of a long-persecuted Muslim minority were denied the right to identify themselves as "Rohingya".

The government says they are illegal migrants from Bangladesh and calls them "Bengalis".

The census contained 41 questions, the most controversial of which was number eight on ethnicity, providing a list of 135 to choose from. The Rohingya option was not on the list.

Some isolated parts of northern Kachin state controlled by ethnic rebels were not counted, the AP news agency reported.Last updated: 12 hours ago
Figures extrapolated from last census in 1983 estimated population at 60 million, but new count finds only 51.4 million.

Myanmar has discovered it has only 51 million people - far less than the previously estimated 60 million, according to preliminary results of the latest census.

State-run television, which announced the initial findings of the country's first census in three decades on Friday, said complete results would be released next year.

The census, conducted from March 30 to April 10 with help from the UN Population Fund, counted 51.42 million people.

The previous estimate of 60 million was based on extrapolations from the last census, conducted in 1983.

The tally went smoothly, except in some areas of the western state of Rakhine where an estimated 800,000 members of a long-persecuted Muslim minority were denied the right to identify themselves as "Rohingya".

The government says they are illegal migrants from Bangladesh and calls them "Bengalis".

The census contained 41 questions, the most controversial of which was number eight on ethnicity, providing a list of 135 to choose from. The Rohingya option was not on the list.

Some isolated parts of northern Kachin state controlled by ethnic rebels were not counted, the AP news agency reported.

29 August 2014

Surviving A Genocide

Photo: Anurup Kanti Das

By Ananta YUSUF
The Daily Star
August 29, 2014

This week the Star interviews a Rohingya refugee who shares his experience of surviving the atrocities perpetrated by the Myanmarese (Burmese) junta

It was a cloudy night of September 15, 2012. Amidst an undulating sea of harvest and blades of tall grass, Alauddin Miah (pseudonym), a rich farmer, took shelter with his extended family. The thunder of clouds and the scream of the wounded, innocent people slowly faded away, but that frightening image remained with him as he says, “It was the third day, we were staying on the beel (wetland used as a paddy field). I can still hear the scream of the wounded. The nearby canal was flooded with blood and corpses.” In fear of ethnic atrocities, Udong, which is 12 km south to Mungdow town of Myanmar, was nearly abandoned. People left behind everything that they had at home in search of a safe place. Like Alauddin, many people took shelter in the wet lands of the beel, they thought it to be a safe hideout. It proved wrong later. 

Alauddin, a middle aged man, wearing a Panjabi, tupi and lungi, still lives with his traumatic memory. He says that these features and his language make him more vulnerable because the dialect is quite similar to Chittagonian. And he believes that it is one of the reasons that Rohingya community was excluded from their citizenship right. 

At the beginning of our conversation he seems happy. But as the conversation goes on and he recollects his chilling experience, his voice becomes louder and wet with grief.

Photo: Anurup Kanti Das

He says that although the tension has always been there in the Rakhain State, a few years ago the situation was quite congenial for living and running business. For that reason, in 2007, he bought some land for cultivation. However, he lost most of it including cultivable lands during the last atrocities in 2012 that took many lives. He says, “My sons were also farmers, and they helped to cultivate my land which I was forced to leave behind. I have 20 kanis of farming land. I have also a garden of shupari, which is 4 kanis. Three years ago I built a three-storied building. Only my daughter-in-law and my wife decided to stay back. We tried to convince them to flee Myanmar but they didn't come with us. The Mogs (Burmese) grabbed all our land and left us nothing to survive on.” 

During last year's ethnic cleansing, the Rohingyas of Udong stayed home during the day but after the dusk, they went to the nearby hideouts and stayed there for the whole night. He recalls, “When the sun rose, one of my sons would check to see whether it was safe to return home. The adults would stay awake the whole night. My family is quite big. So we took care of the children but it was not an easy place to survive in.”

Photo: Anurup Kanti Das

His family consisting of 13 members would lie down on the ground because if the Mogs saw any head above the grass they would shoot at sight. Even if a mosquito bit, they could not hit it with hands, and had to bear the sting, as the resulting sounds could wreak havoc on them. A young boy, Harun, died in a similar situation. After killing him, they threw his body in the river. 

Photo: Anurup Kanti Das

He seems sad while expressing his grievances that still remain fresh in his memory, “I can still recall how two pious men of our village were killed in the village mosque. We were not permitted to visit the mosque, and if the Mogs saw anyone praying in the mosque, they would just shoot at them. A moulvi (priest) was killed while doing his ruku. I was present in the mosque when they killed those pious men, and I managed to flee from the scene. Many others were injured in the assault that day. A Mog tried to stab me with a dagger; I still carry a wound in my thigh. We were lucky to escape.”

From that day onwards, they could not return home and had starved for a week, and when the situation got a little better, they went back to collect some dry food and found that the whole village was looted by the Mogs. He says, “We found some food from our stock. We passed three months surviving on that, and shared it with our neighbours.”

After the recent ethnic violence erupted in September 2012, many Rohingyas were sent to refugee camps all around the state, with strict restrictions placed on their rights to travel, to continue higher education and even on their right to marry. So the young girls were sent to Bangladesh for marriage. In 2013, Alauddin sent his eldest son and one of his daughters to Bangladesh, “It is the only possible way to arrange marriage. They put restriction on every sphere of our lives. And for that reason we sent our girls to Bangladesh to survive.”

He says initially the Muslims tried to resist the attacks. But the Rohingya Muslim leaders warned them to remain silent because they feared that any retaliation by Muslims would lead to an even more dangerous situation. The leaders advised, “Let them do whatever they want to. Just try to be safe. Don't try to fight back. We are not in a situation to fight the Mogs or the Burmese army.” But some of the youths didn't pay heed to the advice, as they couldn't tolerate the murders and the looting any longer. He explains, “But they could not fight them. Is it really possible to fight against machine guns with bamboo sticks? In all these years, I've learnt that there is no other option for Rohingyas but to be killed, either by Mogs or by Bengalis.”

According to Alauddin, he had no other options but to cross the border, as his family was brutally tortured and one of his younger brothers was kidnapped. He says, “If we find the assurance of our own identity in the census as a Rohingya, the return of our grabbed land, and of course security, we are more than willing to leave.” He insists that he wants to go back because, “No one wants to die in a foreign land.”