It is new mockery plan to exploit and exclude Rohingya refugees. So, there is no doubt that vulnerable Rohingya refugees and their children have to languish and wrangle up to 2020 in legal limbo once their concern quarter misruled over their plights.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
It is new mockery plan to exploit and exclude Rohingya refugees. So, there is no doubt that vulnerable Rohingya refugees and their children have to languish and wrangle up to 2020 in legal limbo once their concern quarter misruled over their plights.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
The figure was three times higher than in any normal population, said the Dr Xavier Pereira, the director of Health Equity and Initiatives (HEI).
He said the finding was based on a study done in March on 1,074 asylum seekers and refugees, aged between 18 to 70 years.
"Both men and women are equally affected, especially those who are unemployed, involved in human trafficking and forced labour," he told reporters after the National Consultation of the Health Dimensions of Human Trafficking and Forced Labour, here on Tuesday.
He said that the study also showed that symptoms of extreme anxiety was more evident than both depression and stress.
He added that the level of anxiety among asylum seekers were higher than the refugees. - Bernama
Source: The Star Malaysia
Monday, July 25, 2011
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/blogs/gengreens/government-abandons-principles-over-malaysia-deal-20110726-1hxoo.html#ixzz1TBRUcoYZ
The swap deal, first announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Immigration Minister Chris Bowen nearly three months ago, means Australia will send 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia and accept 4,000 verified refugees in return.
Key points of the agreement:
- Those sent to Malaysia will be given rights to work, health care and education, unlike the 90,000 refugees already there
- Asylum seekers already on Christmas Island will be processed in Australia, but any arrivals from midnight tonight will come under the new arrangement
- Once the scheme is fully up and running, they will be transferred to Malaysia within 72 hours
- Transferred asylum seekers will receive no preferential treatment in the processing of their claims
She says the agreement addresses concerns held by Australian officials that the 90,000 asylum seekers already in Malaysia do not have access to health and education services.
“Those sent to Malaysia will be treated with dignity and respect in accordance with human rights,” she said.
“They will not be subject to any of the penalties imposed on illegal entrants – that means they will not be arrested and will not be caned.”
Arrivals will be subject to pre-transfer assessments to ensure fitness and suitability for transfer.
But the president of the Australian Human Rights Commission says she has serious concerns about the Government’s deal.
Catherine Branson QC says the safeguards contained in the agreement kick in too late and she doubts their effectiveness.
Ms Branson says she is particularly worried that people will be assessed for vulnerability only after they have been sent to Malaysia.
“We have in mind, children, particularly unaccompanied, people who’ve been subject to torture and trauma, people who might need mental health or physical health care,” she said.
“As we understand in the agreement their assessment for vulnerability will take place after they arrive in Malaysia. We’re very strongly of the view it should take place before they leave Australia.”
The Commission says despite the intended safeguards in the deal, there remains a risk that those who are sent to Malaysia will be mistreated.
“Vulnerable people should not be being moved around the globe from place to place,” she said.
“They should be assessed quickly for vulnerability and once they are assessed the appropriate care and support should be put in place. We can be much more confident that we can do it here and it would spare them unnecessary trips.”
InconsistentAnd the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Refugees says the deal is inconsistent with the practice of allowing asylum seekers to be processed in the country in which they arrive.
The UNHCR says the preference has always been an arrangement which would allow asylum seekers arriving into Australian territory to be processed in Australia.
Nevertheless, they say the final agreement is an improvement from earlier proposals.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says the deal fails to guarantee the human rights of people moved offshore.
“Australia is a signatory to the refugee convention, and yet what we see here under this arrangement is Australia doing everything it can to shirk that responsibility and at the exorbitant cost to Australian taxpayers,” she said.
She says the deal is short on detail.
“This deal is still very unclear as to what types of protections will be offered to these people that we expel to Malaysia,” she said.
“The details should have been in the agreement. Verbal assurances mean nothing in this circumstance.”
But the Immigration Minister says the transferred refugees will carry identification ensuring they will be allowed to work within Malaysia.
“The arrangement is very clear. And the people transferred from Australian to Malaysia will have identification documents which make it clear that they are permitted to be in Malaysia, that the law in relation to illegal migrants does not apply to them,” Mr Bowen said.
“And the Malaysian government has issued clear instructions to its law enforcement authorities that these people are transferred with the agreement of the Malaysian government and they are to be dealt with accordingly. “
Policy failureThe plan has also drawn the ire of the other side of politics, with Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison saying it is an admission of policy failure.
“This Government clearly believes their policies are wrong and they’ve sought to change those policies,” he said.
Mr Morrison has dismissed the Government’s claims the deal is a regional solution to people smuggling.
“This is a one-off bilateral deal with a use-by date of 800 transferees, now if everybody who had turned up since this deal was announced (was included), this deal would almost be over before it began,” he said.
“Australia will bear all the costs associated with this arrangement, every last cent.”
But Ms Gillard says the deal would send a strong warning.
“This is a ground-breaking agreement which is designed to smash the business model of people smugglers,” she said.
And Mr Bowen has defended the Government’s decision to process the 500 asylum seekers who have arrive since the deal was announced in Australia.
The Government had previously maintained those asylum seekers would be processed offshore, but Mr Bowen says problems in Papua New Guinea forced the Government to change its mind.
“We have had to adjust our position there. That was an important thing to say and it was the appropriate thing to say with the information we had available to us at that time,” he said.
“It’s now clear that not only Malaysia, but the discussions we’ve been in with Papua New Guinea have taken longer than it might have been expected they would, therefore the only appropriate and reasonable thing to do is to process those people in Australia.”
Mr Bowen says he only decided the to process the earlier arrivals in Australia shortly before he left for Kuala Lumpur.
Ms Gillard says the deal will be accompanied by a communications strategy aimed at ensuring asylum seekers know they will be sent to Malaysia if they try to come to Australia.
Source: ABC News, July 25, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
The Star Online > Nation
Saturday July 23, 2011
PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia and Australia will go ahead and sign their refugee and asylum seeker exchange programme.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein will sign on behalf of the Malaysian Government and Australia's Immigration Minister Chris Bowen will represent his country.
The deal on Monday will see 4,000 UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)-registered asylum seekers in Malaysia resettled in Austra- lia.
Australia, in turn, will send 800 unprocessed asylum seekers to Malaysia for refugee assessment.
The process is expected to take four years to complete and will be funded by Australia.
"For Malaysia, the agreement will be beneficial because it will help us deal with a long-standing problem of refugees who continue to come to our country in search of asylum when we have limited means to help them," a local source told Reuters.
The Sydney Morning Herald, citing unnamed sources, said the deal had the support of the United Nations, which had originally been concerned that the agreement could breach international refugee rights.
Australia currently has more than 6,000 asylum seekers in detention, originating from countries like Iran, Iraq, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.
Malaysia, on the other hand, saw 25,600 refugees registering with the UNHCR last year to seek asylum, the highest among all countries where the refugee agency has offices.
They bring the number of registered refugees and asylum seekers here to 93,600 mostly from Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan according to UNHCR's office in Malaysia.
Source: The Star Malaysia
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Rohingya Refugees need Urgent Protection
We at BROUK would like to express our serious concern about the attack on Rohingya refugees in Kutupalong camp in Bangladesh on 16th July.
A group of villagers from Fawliyapara, in the refugee camp area of Cox's Bazar district of Bangladesh, armed with wood, pickaxes, Bamboo sticks, swords, knives and bamboo ears, attacked both registered and undocumented refugees in and around Kutupalong Refugees Camp killing at least one refugee and injuring twenty others, including women. Many refugees' huts were destroyed.
These vulnerable Burmese nationals have 'well founded fear of persecution' in their homeland, and thus they are refugees who deserve international protection.
Unfortunately, bulks of refugees, except 28,000, still remained unregistered and, as such, they are passing their lives without adequate protection.
The Rohingyas are stateless asylum seekers. They are victims of systematic, persistent and widespread human rights violations, including denial of citizenship rights, severe restrictions on freedom of movement, education, marriage and religion, forced labour, rape, land confiscation, arbitrary arrests, torture, extra-judicial killings and extortion on daily basis.
Since refugees are on the soil of Bangladesh, the Government of Bangladesh should protect them from all troubles, attacks and intimidation by the law-enforcement agencies and non-state actors, in the interest of law and order situation and humanity.
In this connection, we at BROUK call on the Government of Bangladesh
1. To give adequate protection to the Rohingya refugees, and improve law and order situation in the refugee camps and surrounding area;
2. To recognise all Rohingya asylum seekers in Bangladesh as refugees, and provide them with basic necessities like food, shelter and healthcare in cooperation with the UNHCR and international communities.
3. To find out a lasting and durable solution to the long standing Rohingya problem. Meanwhile, we urge upon UN, OIC, EU, ASEAN, and international community to exercise their good offices for a permanent solution.
Maung Tun Khin
Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
People smugglers are laughing at the Government's proposed Malaysian Solution, saying it's doomed to sink, as they prepare to send thousands more asylum seekers to our shores.
The Government's bold plan to stop the boats involves taking 4000 proven refugees from Malaysia over four years.
But the Malaysian Solution appears to have some very big problems, with strong reason to believe the boats will still come, refugees will continue suffering, and the queue will still be jumped.
The Government's central argument for the Malaysia deal is that it will crush the human traffickers. However, one reputed people smuggler has stated that it is 'business as usual'.
Despite the horror of being captured mid-journey, and in spite of the dangers, the demand for smuggler's services in Malaysia remains strong.
Not even the prospect of being turned away by Australia will deter the desperate.
Our Government claims returned refugees will be forced to join the back of the orderly queue. However, there is nothing orderly in the life of an asylum seeker in Malaysia. It is a life with no rights.
Malaysia is not a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention. This means 93,000 refugees and asylum seekers in this country are officially unrecognised.
They live in the shadows, on the run from paramilitary forces called RELA, who have the power to hunt them down and round them up like dogs, arresting them for being undocumented workers, or for not having visas.
But that's the point - refugees don't have visas. They've fled their countries in fear of their lives, only to arrive in Malaysia, where they are often locked up in places normally reserved for hardened criminals.
Malaysia stands to gain $300 million from Australia, should the refugee deal go ahead. The human rights of the returned asylum seekers is crucial to the United Nations support of the deal.
Everywhere we travelled in Malaysia, we met refugees who were caning victims - a practice recognised by United Nations conventions as torture.
Our government says the 800 asylum seekers we send to Malaysia will be protected.
"The agreements indicate respect for fundamental human rights, and clearly that indicates no caning," Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has said.
"Well with the best will in the world, I just don't see how those guarantees can mean something on the ground," said Shadow Minister for Immigration Scott Morrison.
Visiting refugee communities in Malaysia last week, Scott Morrison said it's fantasy for our Government to expect Malaysia to treat the asylum seekers we send them humanely, when all evidence on the ground is to the contrary.
Their vulnerabilities are there every day, and the greatest anxieties that mental health workers talk about here is fear. Fear of being taken away, fear of being harassed. Some don't even let their children outside to play, living a life of complete vulnerability, where legals protections appear to be completely arbitrary.
That's what refugee Aiesha was told by the two men who brutally raped her. The men were police officers.
Aiesha had committed no crime. She was on her way to the shops when she was stopped by the police and asked for her documents. Being a refugee, she didn't have any. Her story is a common one in Malaysia.
Some refugees are sold into sexual slavery, others work eighteen-hour days at the markets. Their wage is $1 dollar a day, and with no money to pay rent, living conditions are cramped and unhygienic.
Patrick is one of the 90,000 refugees and asylum seekers who hides behind Malaysia's veneer of modernity, progress and democracy. He is tired of being viewed as a criminal.
"We come here not because (it's) our choice, but because circumstances compel us," he said.
Patrick's life is one of pain, and he has the scars to prove it.
The threat of their boat being turned around, or even the threat of dying at sea, really means nothing to these people.
Patrick's father was murdered by the Burmese regime, and he has scars all over his body as a result of what happened to him. When soldiers wanted to acquire some of his land, he refused, and so they beat him within an inch of his life. He fled to Malaysia, but his life here is awful, and now he wants to get on a boat to go to Australia. In Australia some people call this man and his children queue jumpers. Go figure.
Rafiq is another so-called queue jumper. One year ago he was arrested and detained as a result of his attempts to get out of Malaysia and head to Australia. But he's unperturbed, and planning another trip. It will cost between $10,000 - $15,000 for the boat, and $1000 for the agent. The costs will be spread between seven or eight families, or about 30 people.
He knows about the Malaysia Solution, and he knows the oats maybe turned back, but he doesn't care. He says his life is so miserable here, and it's such an awful existence, he'll risk anything to get on that boat and head to Australia.
The truth is, Rafiq may never have needed to board a boat if Australia was to substantially increase its intake of refugees from the so-called queue.
For all the talk of doing our share, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 2010 Global Trends Report, Australia has one of the least generous intakes of refugees in the developed world.
Relative to our wealth or per capita GDP Germany, the UK, France, USA, Canada, Sweden, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Norway all take more refugees than us.
Just 2.9 per cent of Australia's migration intake came from boat arrivals in 2009-10.
Our government is about to spend an extra $300 million dollars in an attempt to stop less than three per cent of our migration intake.
It is unlikely the government will listen to Scott Morrison. But if you listen to those the Malaysia Solution is aimed at, the message is clear.
They need a safe place to live, and the Malaysia solution won't stop them boarding a boat bound for Australia.
Tell us what you think of Today Tonight's exclusive investigation here.
Monday, July 11, 2011
Saturday, July 9, 2011
He is a good looking man – or he would be, if it wasn't for the hollowness of his eyes, that makes you think he looks at the world in a different, darker way than most other people.
Mohammed Rohim (28) does indeed have reason to view the world differently. After all, he is a Rohingya in Bangladesh. That means that he's had about a tough a life as it's possible to have on this earth.
Mohammed was born in Rakhine state in western Myanmar. As a Rohingya, he belongs to the poorest group in an impoverished country. The predominantly Muslim Rohingya are arguably the worst treated of all of the country's ethnic minorities. They need official permits to marry, own land or move to another area. They are often recruited as unpaid porters, used as human mine detectors and heavily taxed in crops and money. So badly have they been treated, that for years, they've been escaping across the river to neighbouring Bangladesh.
Escaping for love, freedom and a better future
Rohingya who make the decision to leave their village know they're burning their bridges. They are struck off the local registers and become, to all intent and purposes, officially invisible in Myanmar; non people, with no rights to land, to papers, to birth certificates for their children.
The couple had a difficult trip. They paid 10,000 kyat each to stow away on a cattle barge. Every time the barge pulled up to a stop at the river bank, the couple had to hide in the latrine; the trip lasted 13 hours.
When they arrived in Teknaf, in souther Bangladesh, they entered the illegal shadowland of the some 200,000-500,000 illegal Rohingya living in the country, always on the alert for police, open to exploitation, and forced to bribe their way through daily life.
Mohammed got a job on a fishing boat where for a 9 hour day, he earnt 80 cents. One day while fishing, he lost a net worth 6000 taka (60 euros). The owner threatened him, so he borrowed money bonding himself in labour to pay it back. Over the next three years, he worked as a daily labourer, as a gardener, in shrimp growing, whatever he could find to feed his growing family.
Life is no easier
Despite the chiseled muscle of his shoulders and calves, his jutting cheekbones and spare frame are a testament to an underlying malnourishment. His face shows an exhaustion out of keeping with a 28 year old man at the prime of his life.
An act of human kindness
"No," I say to him, "I'm not talking of political gestures – I mean, has anyone looked you in the eyes, and recognized that you have suffered a lot, and just been kind to you as a fellow human being?"
I see him searching for an answer to a question he's clearly never thought about before. I can see he wants to answer me, but the question simply defeats him. Finally he says with an almost apologetic shrug, "just that politician and the rice."And what does Mohammed dream of? What is it that he wants most in the world? "If they would just stop the forced labour, and if I could find work, I would go home. This is not my country, not my place. I only want a life."
Source: Radio Netherlands Worldwide
Azara (alias) Lal Buri, the fifty six year-old wife of the late Abdullah, continues to struggle to survive in the Kutupalong makeshift camp since her hut, built with bushes and plastic, was destroyed by heavy winds on May 20.
"Now, some shacks (huts) have collapsed completely and the refugees fear for their lives while they are sleeping during the night. We fear for our young children if heavy wind blows in the daytime or night. Every shack is getting rain water inside when the rain falls."
There are more than 12,000 Rohingya refugees in the camp. The Leda Refugee Camp is managed by Muslim Aid UK, which also provides healthcare programs. The NGO 'Solidarity' is providing sanitation in the camp.
Date: July 8, 2011
Source: Burma News International
Published: 6 July 2011
Flimsy huts spawl over the hillside at the Kutupalong camp in Bangladesh (Joseph Allchin)
Days of heavy rain in eastern Bangladesh have sparked panic in the unofficial Kutupalong camp that houses tens of thousands of refugees from Burma, with flimsy huts destroyed and food shortages worsening.
A Kutupalong camp committee member told the Bangladesh-based Kaladan Press Network yesterday that several huts had been washed out, while many others had lost roofs.
Concerns have also mounted about the ability of the refugees in the camp, none of whom are recognised by the UN's refugee agency and thus receive no UN assistance, to provide food for themselves, with their normal means of making money scuppered by the extreme weather conditions.
Kutupalong houses thousands of refugees from the Rohingya minority, which have fled their native Arakan state in western Burma following systematic persecution by the Burmese government, which refuses to grant them citizenship rights.
Estimates of the total number of Rohingya in Bangladesh range from 200,000 to 400,000 – wary of creating a pull-factor for more refugees, the Bangladeshi government has allowed only 28,000 to be registered by the UN.
In June, Bangladesh's food minister, Abdur Razzaque, warned Western nations against pressuring Dhaka to register the remaining Rohingya, the vast majority of whom have sought refuge in Cox's Bazar, where as in the rest of Bangladesh, overcrowding and scarcity of resources are serious problems.
Physicians for Human Rights estimate that the acute malnutrition rate for children in Kutapalong, one of the main unofficial Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar, is 18.2 percent. This is defined by being 60 percent or less of the median average weight for the age group, which the World Health Organisation suggests will result in a 30 to 50 percent mortality rate amongst the inflicted.
The Holland chapter of Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) provides medical assistance to the Kutupalong camp, but complaints continually surface that aid is in short supply. As well as the infrastructural problems that rainy season brings, the wet weather conditions also fuel illnesses such pneumonia and malaria.
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma
By Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian
PHUKET: Concerns are growing for the physical and mental health of 33 Rohingya, some as young as 14, who have been held in isolation in a cramped cell on Phuket since February.
One teenage Rohingya is believed to have recently fallen sick and been admitted to a Phuket hospital, with others are also thought to be suffering the effects of prolonged incarceration in cramped conditions.
''Everything's fine,'' said Phuket's Director of Immigration, Colonel Panuwat Ruamrak when a reporter inquired about the condition of the boatpeople after more than five months in Phuket's Immigration cells.
''When people fall sick, we take them to Vachira Hospital in Phuket City and then bring them back.''
When asked whether the boat people had access to sunlight and exercise, Colonel Panuwat did not respond.
Two teenage Rohingya previously died in custody in another Thai Immigration facility after having been kept for months in a small room without access to sunlight or exercise.
It is believed that the would-be refugees on Phuket are beginning to suffer depression and more serious mental disorders because their incarceration has no end, and they have no contact with their families in northern Burma or Bangladesh.
Phuketwan glimpsed the Phuket Rohingya, outcast Muslims deprived of citizenship in their homeland, as a security camera showed them praying in the cell back in April.
Previous visits to the cells at Immigration in Phuket City leave us in no doubt that the conditions are too cramped for 33 people, and that it remains a breach of rights to have boys as young as 14 incarcerated with adults.
Nothing is known of the fate of 35 other Rohingya, apprehended at the same time when the group's ricketty boat arrived on a beach in southern Phuket in the dark on January 31.
Because there was not space to hold all the boatpeople on Phuket and no room at a larger Immigration facility in Ranong, on the border with Burma, those 35 were sent to a holding facility in Phang Nga, the province north of Phuket.
Among them were more teenage boys, including a 12-year-old.
Local authorities in Phang Nga have since declined to reveal anything about their location or condition.
The arrival of the boatload of 68 men and boys on the popular holiday island of Phuket in January remind the world that no solution has been found to the plight of the Rohingya, a stateless minority persecuted within Burma, barely tolerated in Bangladesh, and pushed back out to sea from Thailand in a notorious secret breach of human rights in 2008 and 2009.
Two teenagers from the first boatload of Rohingya to reach Thailand after Phuketwan and the South China Morning Post newspaper revealed the ''pushbacks'' died in custody in Ranong, months later.
The remaining survivors were bent double and suffering from lack of space to exercise or fully move when they were transferred to a better facility in Bangkok.
The colonel in charge of the Ranong facility had previously assured Phuketwan that the Rohingya were being well-treated and happy to no longer be at sea.
The election of the Pheu Thai party last Sunday brings the Rohingya saga full circle. The revelation that the boatpeople were being pushed back out to sea came soon after a Democrat Party government had been appointed to rule Thailand.
It is believed the decision to push back the boatpeople was made by the Democrats' predecessor, a remnant of fugitive Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's original Thai Rak Thai party.
On Sunday, Thaksin's sister Yingluck led the poll landslide into power of the Pheu Thai Party.
In more than two years of Democrat rule, nothing changed for the Rohingya. The boatpeople on Phuket and elsewhere are likely to be kept in cramped cells indefinitely as a warning to others not to come ashore in Thailand.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Sittwe: Some foreign projects in western Burma's Arakan State have been put on hold temporarily due to heavy rain and flash flooding hitting the area during the current rain season.
The projects with construction currently halted due to the bad weather include the seaport in the capital Sittwe that is being built by India as a component of the "Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project," and and the Madae deep seaport in Kyaukpru that is being built in China as a component of the dual oil and gas pipeline project in the state.
"The construction of Sittwe Port has stopped for the rainy season because it is very difficult for the construction as well as for bringing the materials to the site by vessels due to heavy rains, flash floods and rising sea level in the season", said a local contractor who supplies rocks and gravel for the construction of the port.
"The Indian construction team is still being found in Sittwe and it is likely they have to halt their construction work due to inconveniences in the season. The heavy showers are continuing in our region and I heard that half of the landfill for the port construction has been already worn away by the rough flow of the Kaladan River", said U Aung Mra Kyaw.
An engineer from the inland water transport also said that there are now difficulties for the ships to enter into the Sittwe Port as the worn-away landfill from the port has settled in the mouth of the river.
A local resident said the construction work on the deep seaport being built for China on Madae Island in Kyaukpru has also stopped for three months of the rainy season.
Madae Seaport in Kyauk Pru
He said that the local workers have also returned to their home with the close of their jobs in the season.
The Madae deep seaport is being constructed by the CNPC Southeast Asia Pipeline Company Ltd and is targeted to be complete by May 2013. The port will be used as terminus for the oil carriers from Middle East and Africa for supplying crude oil as well as local offshore gas through the pipelines from the port to China.