Thursday, May 27, 2010


Photo gallary related to the Rohingya and its land

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

In Ignoring the Rohingyas, Asean Rejects a New Role

By David Scott Mathieson
May 25, 2010
In January and February this year, the world was aghast at images of thousands of emaciated Rohingyas on rickety boats reaching shorelines in Sumatra and southern Thailand. But even more shocking was the brutal treatment meted out by the Thai Navy, which pushed several boats with hundreds of men back to sea after they landed on Thai territory.

The drama of the Rohingya boat people revealed two glaring failures of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations: a disinclination to criticize systematic human rights violations against the Rohingya inside Burma, and the bloc’s reluctance to address the resulting decades-long exodus.

Asean has been well aware for years of the disgraceful treatment of the Rohingya in Burma. They are denied citizenship, basic freedom of movement, employment and access to services. The Muslim Rohingyas routinely suffer religious persecution. Many Rohingyas flee to neighboring Bangladesh, but a lack of security and primitive camp conditions have caused many to take to the seas each year.

Burma’s Rohingya have made their way to Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand for more than a decade now. Some survive as migrant workers, sending money back to their impoverished families in Burma and Bangladesh. Others see the countries as a transit point to seek asylum because of persecution in their homeland.

The distressing images of Rohingyas in Thailand and the tales of survivors who washed ashore in Banda Aceh appeared just before Asean’s annual summit in Thailand in late February. Regional leaders, including Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, and Former Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi agreed that the Rohingya boat people should be addressed at the meeting, and a regional solution to stem the flow should be found. At the time, Human Rights Watch called on Asean to see the Rohingya as a pivotal test of the association’s new charter and its fledgling human rights mechanism.

Yet, in a diplomatic diversion emblematic of Asean’s approach to the Rohingya for more than 20 years, the issue was not placed on the formal agenda. There was little serious discussion of multilateral initiatives, and no solution was found.

Instead, Asean passed on the Rohingya issue to the Bali Process for People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime, a multilateral mechanism created in 2002 by Australia and Indonesia for increased cooperation between regional governments and law enforcement agencies on human trafficking and smuggling.

Given the fact that many Rohingyas are asylum seekers and refugees, the issue should never have been treated simply as a human smuggling issue. Asean should have addressed the need for comprehensive refugee protection among member states receiving Rohingyas, and the root causes of the exodus.

But even in the Bali Process, the only action agreed was an ad-hoc working group to discuss Rohingya movements at future meetings. The Burmese delegation, led by the national police chief, Brig. Gen. Khin Ye, denied that the Rohingya were from Burma, prompting the foreign ministers of Australia, Indonesia and Bangladesh to criticize Burma’s military government for the harsh treatment that caused them to flee.

The failure of Asean member states to comprehensively address the Rohingya issue is baffling. Firstly, if the bloc really wants to stem the flow of new arrivals, then pressure on Burma is necessary to stop the abuses from which the Rohingyas flee.

Second, if the countries receiving the Rohingyas want to equitably allocate state responsibility for Rohingya boat people they will need a fair and transparent process to assess the boat people’s claims and needs. Permitting the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help screen new arrivals to ascertain whether they are asylum seekers, refugees, stateless persons, or migrant workers and allowing the International Organization for Migration to assist victims of trafficking would enhance transparency and burden-sharing.

In a recent statement, Asean rightly condemned the sham trial of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon, stating that Burma risks its credibility within the association. If Asean continues to turn a blind eye to the plight of the Rohingya, Asean’s credibility to manage regional issues and respect basic human rights is at risk. It will also only prolong the conditions for continued sailing by desperate Rohingyas to foreign shores.

David Scott Mathieson is a researcher on Burma for Human Rights Watch.
Source: JakartaGlobe

Monday, May 24, 2010

Deteriorating Health Situation for Rohingya Refugees in Malaysia

Press Release:
Our Ref: ST-001/2010
Dated: May 24, 2010

Deteriorating Health Situation for Rohingya Refugees in Malaysia

We at the Arakan Rohingya Refugee Committee (ARRC), Malaysia is deeply concerned over the health crises of the Rohingya refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia as they are bitterly experiencing of discriminatory treatments with unbearable payments and exclusive recommendation.

Currently, numbers of senior or over aged refugees who do not have relatives or caretaker are getting worse in their health and survival sectors as they are completely deprived of their basic rights to food, accommodation, medication and etc.

Base on their status under international and customary laws, every retired person would be taken care of concern officials but, now, status of such persons are underestimated with discriminatory policies.

According to reliable testimonies, UNHCR pays less attention to their cases for their religious belief, while hospital authorities deny to giving treatment for national or financial status, even reluctant to issue appropriate recommendation.

Comparably, Rohingya refugees fall between two sharp swords that lead them to die without proper medications, while numbers of free clinics are being set up for non-Rohingya refugees in Malaysia by NGOs or volunteers from Church members or Christian societies, where Rohingya gets very limited facilities.

In such condition, numbers of Rohingya have already died and many are passing lives in critical situation.

At the same times, numbers of undocumented Rohingya refugees are facing challenges of inhumanity, which is not only in the hands of concerned authority but also in hands of locals. These are only because of lack of their guardians by any sort of documentation.

Despite being genuine refugees, their rights to the determination of refugee status and protection are kept pending, while appropriate advocacy remains unreported as these people are uneducated and neglected by various means in the different quarters.

It is undoubtedly true that the Rohingya left country to escape military persecution and discrimination. Their rights to citizenship were also denied by the ruling military.

Although, the UN Refugee Convention defined that Refugees are person who have their country of origin with well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion, the Rohingya failed to meet their rights adequately.

Accordance to the definition, the Rohingyas met with refugee status and their basic rights to protections, food, shelter, medication and etc must be ensured by the concerned quarters, while Islamic authority should not play games without supporting to the real causes of Rohingya in finding permanent solution with a view to ending their miserable plights.

In these regards, we appeal to international community:

To kindly make true survey to enhance a comprehensive program in order to promotion mechanism, combating to end the plights Rohingya refugees;
To help UNHCR with a particular health service program for the Rohingya refugees and to ensure their rights with proper documentation as mandated refugees;
To urgently making global appeal to the world bodies to introduces a global solution for these forgotten and neglected Rohingya refugees from Malaysia.

Coordination Committee
Arakan Rohingya Refugee Committee (ARRC)
Further contact: Mr. Mohammad Sadek
Tel: +60163094599