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  • Rohingya Refugees

    Rohingya refugees in Malaysia killed trying to cross highway

    Cars hit and killed six Rohingya refugees on a Malaysian highway today. 582 Rohingya refugees had escaped a temporary immigration detention centre, when two men, two woman, and a boy and a girl were hit and killed trying to cross a highway in Kedah state.

    Before the escape, a riot had broken out in a detention centre in Penang state. Police are still investigating what caused the riot, and 362 of the 582 refugees who escaped were re-arrested, according to the immigration department. The highway is about eight kilometres away from the centre.

    In a statement, the immigration department said the Rohingya refugees had broken down doors and barrier grills in the centre. Rohingyas in Myanmar have been rounded up into refugee centres since 2020. Malaysian authorities claim this is part of Covid-19 measures.

    Over 700,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar since 2017. That year, Rohingya militants launched arson attacks against over 30 police posts. Myanmar’s military, and local Buddhist mobs, then burned down Rohingya villages, killed civilians, and raped Rohingya women. US President Joe Biden has determined that the violence against the Rohingya minority committed by Myanmar’s military in 2017 amounted to genocide and crimes against humanity, a US official told Reuters on last month.

    Many Rohingyas have fled to Malaysia, although the country does not recognise refugee status. Many Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, have been criticized for their treatment of Rohingya refugees. In 2019, police arrested a man who they believe trafficked at least 200 Rohingya refugees into Thailand on their way to Malaysia.

  • #2
    Dozens of Rohingya die off Myanmar coast after boat capsizes on way to Malaysia

    A boat carrying at least 90 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar’s Rakhine state to Malaysia capsized off the coast of Myanmar on Saturday, killing at least 14 people, mostly children. More than 50 passengers remain missing after the boat capsized during a storm and 23 survivors were detained by police in Pathein district in Myanmar’s Ayeryarwady region. The UN reports that at least 17 passengers are feared dead.

    The refugees, fleeing persecution by the Burmese junta, paid traffickers 1,500 – 2,500 USD each to get to Malaysia via boat, where they hoped to find employment, some survivors told Radio Free Asia.

    Seven bodies washed up on Sunday near the popular Shwe Thaung Yan beach in Pathein district. A local resident said…

    “90 people were said to be on the boat, 23 were arrested and 14 dead bodies have been found so far, most of them children aged 11 or 12 years of age.”
    Six more bodies were found in wetland areas nearby on Sunday afternoon and another body washed up on the shore of a nearby beach.

    According to local residents, the Rohingya refugees were trying to make their way to Myanmar from displacement camps in Rakhine’s Sittwe, Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships. The Rohingya people are stateless Indo-Aryan ethnic group who predominantly follow Islam and reside in Rakhine State, Myanmar.Benar News reported that the Burmese junta still consider the Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, even if they are born in Myanmar. A spokesperson for the junta said…

    “A search was carried out and found 14 Bengalis dead. The rest will be deported as usual.”
    The spokesperson said that Burmese authorities captured five suspects in relation to the incident…

    “We checked them and found them to be human traffickers. They were bringing these Bengalis from Rakhine’s Rathedaung by boat to go to Yangon and then to Malaysia.”
    Every year, at least 1000 Rohingya have left internal displacement camps, due to bad conditions, lack of human rights and lack of work, in an effort to begin a new life in a different country. Over the past decade, thousands of Rohingya have left by sea from refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh and Rakhine State in Myanmar.

    The latest tragedy shows once again the sense of desperation being felt by Rohingya in Myanmar and in the region… It is shocking to see increasing numbers of children, women and men embarking on these dangerous journeys and eventually losing their lives, said Indrika Ratwatte from the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR.

    “The root causes of these deadly journeys need to be addressed… Additionally, all countries in the region must come together to ensure the rescue and disembarkation of all those in distress at sea.”
    The UNHCR warns, collective failure to act will continue to lead to tragic and fatal consequences. It is imperative to take action against criminals, smugglers and traffickers who prey on the most vulnerable.

    In March, Burmese police arrested 41 Rohingya in Shwe Taung Yan’s Nwe Nyo Chaung village who were stranded on the beach after their boat broke down.


    • #3
      US says Rohingya violence was ‘genocide’ as Asean envoy meets Myanmar junta leaders

      US President Joe Biden has determined that the violence against the Rohingya minority committed by Myanmar’s military in 2017 amounted to genocide and crimes against humanity, a US official told Reuters on Sunday. The move comes as a special Asean envoy begins three days of visits with junta officials in Myanmar, aiming to begin a peace process. The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to officially announce the decision to designate the military’s horrific actions as a genocide, in remarks at the Holocaust Museum in Washington today, where an exhibit on “Burma’s Path to Genocide” is on display under Myanmar’s former name.

      More than 700,000 of the mostly Muslim Rohingya community have fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar since 2017, after the brutal military crackdown that’s now the subject of a genocide case at the UN’s highest court in The Hague. Blinken is also expected to announce US$1 million in funding for the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, a UN body in Geneva that’s currently gathering evidence for possible prosecutions in the future, according to Reuters. During his visit to Malaysia last year, Blinken announced that the US was looking “very actively” at whether the treatment of the Rohingya might “constitute genocide.”

      In 2018, the US State Department released a report detailing violence against the Rohingya in western Rakhine state as “extreme, large-scale, widespread, and seemingly geared toward both terrorising the population and driving out the Rohingya residents.” The violence in Myanmar has forced nearly a million Rohingyan people to flee their homes and the United Nations has recommended that top military officials face genocide charges. But until now, the US had stopped short of declaring the atrocities from 2017, which include rape and mass killings, against the Muslim minority a genocide.

      Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement Sunday…

      “I applaud the Biden administration for finally recognizing the atrocities committed against the Rohingya as genocide. While this determination is long overdue, it is nevertheless a powerful and critically important step in holding this brutal regime to account.”

      The State Department has already placed sanctions on a number of officials form the Myanmar military for their roles in committing human rights abuses, including commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing. According to Reuters, a genocide determination does not automatically unleash punitive action from the US. The US State Department has formally used the term “genocide” just six times since the Cold War to describe massacres in Darfur, Iraq, Rwanda and Bosnia, the Islamic State’s attacks on minorities including the Yazidis.

      The US mostly recently used the term last year to condemn China’s treatment of Muslim minorities including the Uyghurs in the northwestern province on Xinjing. China continues to deny claims of genocide, despite heavy accusations from the West, testimonials from Uyghurs themselves, leaked government documents and satellite imagery proving otherwise.

      Meanwhile, a special envoy with representatives from Southeast Asian nations began meeting on Monday in Myanmar, with the goal of ending the ongoing conflict there, since a military coup seized power of the country in February last year.

      The coup has sparked 13 months of nationwide strikes and protests. Fighting has also been ongoing between military forces and armed allies of Suu Kyi’s ousted government in the countryside. But opposition groups say the Asean visit shows respect to the military rulers and disregard for the Burmese people, who elected Suu Kyi as their rightful president in November 2020. Authorities in Cambodia, the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, have not divulged the details of the schedule of envoy Prak Sokhonn “to ensure the smooth process of the visit,” the Bangkok Post reported.

      Today state media in Myanmar broadcast footage of the Asean envoy meeting with junta leader Min Aung Hlaing. Last year the country’s military generals reportedly agree to a peace process, which the envoy aims to finally start in motion over the next three days. The lack of progress has frustrated some Asean members, who have prohibited the junta officials from attending their summits, in a sign of mutual disrespect.