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Tuesday, 17 September 2019

600,000 Rohingya still in Myanmar at 'serious risk of genocide': UN

Source FrontierMyanmar, 16 Sept

A Myanmar border guard policeman stands near a Rohingya Muslim family in front of their home in Buthidaung Township, northern Rakhine State in January. (AFP)

By AFP

YANGON — Rohingya Muslims remaining in Myanmar still face a "serious risk of genocide", UN investigators said Monday, warning the repatriation of a million already driven from the country by the army remains "impossible".

The fact-finding mission to Myanmar, set up by the Human Rights Council, last year branded the army operations in 2017 as "genocide" and called for the prosecution of top generals, including army chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

Some 740,000 Rohingya fled burning villages, bringing accounts of murder, rape and torture over the border to sprawling refugee camps in Bangladesh, where survivors of previous waves of persecution already languish.

But in a damning report, the United Nations team said the 600,000 Rohingya still inside Myanmar's Rakhine state remain in deteriorating and "deplorable" conditions.

"Myanmar continues to harbour genocidal intent and the Rohingya remain under serious risk of genocide," the investigators said in their final report on Myanmar, due to be presented Tuesday in Geneva.

The country is "denying wrongdoing, destroying evidence, refusing to conduct effective investigations and clearing, razing, confiscating and building on land from which it displaced Rohingya", it said.

Rohingya were living in "inhumane" conditions, the report continued, adding over 40,000 structures had been destroyed in the crackdown.

'War crimes'

The mission reiterated calls for the UN Security Council to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC) or to set up a tribunal, like for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

It said it had a confidential list of over 100 names, including officials, suspected of being involved in genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, in addition to the six generals named publicly last year.

The report also repeated calls for foreign governments and companies to sever all business ties with the military, calling for a "moratorium" on investment and development assistance in Rakhine state.

The maligned Muslim community has long been subjected to tight movement restrictions, making it difficult or impossible for many to access healthcare, work and education.

The Rohingya are denied citizenship in Buddhist-majority Myanmar and are accused of being illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.

The army justified the crackdown as a means of rooting out Rohingya insurgents.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a repatriation deal two years ago, but virtually no refugees have returned to date.

The investigators described conditions in Myanmar as "unsafe, unsustainable and impossible" for returns to take place.

They also accused the army of fresh abuses against civilians in the north of Rakhine state.

The area has once again become embroiled in conflict as the military wages war on the Arakan Army (AA), rebels fighting for the rights of ethnic Rakhine Buddhists.

The UN probe accused the military of "war crimes", including forced labour and torture and said the AA was also guilty of abuses on a smaller scale.

Myanmar military spokesman Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun rejected the team's findings, calling them "one-sided".

"Instead of making biased accusations, they should go onto the ground to see the reality," Zaw Min Tun told AFP.

Tags: 

Nicholas Koumjian (IIMM) - 1st Meeting, 42nd Regular Session Human Rights Council

Source UNweb, 9 Sept

Nicholas Koumjian (IIMM) - 1st Meeting, 42nd Regular Session Human Rights Council

9 Sep 2019 - Presentation of report by Nicholas Koumjian, Head of International Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar

 


Available languages:
Nicholas Koumjian (IIMM) - 1st Meeting, 42nd Regular Session Human Rights Council 

Friday, 6 September 2019

Myanmar forcing Rohingya to accept ‘foreigner’ label

Source Presstv, 3 Sept

In this file photo, taken on September 17, 2017, Rohingya refugees are seen protecting themselves from the rain in Bangladesh. (By AFP)In this file photo, taken on September 17, 2017, Rohingya refugees are seen protecting themselves from the rain in Bangladesh. (By AFP)

A human rights organization says Myanmarese authorities are forcing members of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority to accept identity cards that strip them of the chance to become citizens.

In a report published on Tuesday, Fortify Rights said that the National Verification Card (NVC) scheme targeting Rohingya Muslims was part of a systematic campaign by Myanmarese authorities to erase their identity.

The government has coerced Rohingya to accept the NVCs, "which effectively identify Rohingya as 'foreigners,'" the group said.

The report, titled "Tools of Genocide," also said Myanmarese authorities used torture and abuse to force Rohingya into accepting the verification cards.

"These findings demonstrate that the NVC process has not been a response to the crisis in Rakhine State, as the government suggests, but rather a fundamental part of the crisis," it added, referring to the state where the Rohingya had been concentrated before hundreds of thousands of them fled state-sponsored violence to neighboring Bangladesh.

The group also says "citizenship scrutiny" processes have progressively limited their rights, including freedom of movement, access to education, and freedom of expression.

Matthew Smith, the group's chief executive officer, also said, "The Myanmar government is trying to destroy the Rohingya people through an administrative process that effectively strips them of basic rights."

The United Nations Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar also found an increase in pressure on the Rohingya to accept the NVC in the months leading up to August 2017.

More than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Rakhine to neighboring Bangladesh following a military-led crackdown in 2016 that the UN has said was perpetrated with "genocidal intent."

Thousands of Rohingya Muslims were killed, injured, arbitrarily arrested, or raped by Myanmarese soldiers and Buddhist mobs mainly between November 2016 and August 2017.

The latest development comes days after a second failed attempt to repatriate the refugees from Bangladesh.

Citizenship is at the heart of Rohingya demands for a return to Myanmar.

The Rohingya have inhabited Rakhine for centuries, but the state denies them citizenship. Bangladesh refuses to grant them citizenship, too.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

What is Myanmar offering the Rohingya to return home?

Source Aljazeera, 29 July

It has been almost two years since more than 700,000 Rohingya fled a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar.

The United Nations labelled the offensive "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing" with soldiers accused of rape, murder and burning down Rohingya villages.

Since their escape, the mostly Muslim ethnic group has been crammed into the world's largest refugee camp in Bangladesh, but Myanmar's government is under pressure to take them back.

A high-level delegation from Myanmar visited Bangladesh's southern Cox's Bazar district on Saturday to persuade the Rohingya they should return to Rakhine state.

But so far the refugees have refused, demanding guarantees about their safety and for them to be granted citizenship.

So, what exactly is the Myanmar government offering?

Presenter: Martine Dennis

Guests:

Aman Ullah - Rohingya researcher and writer

Phil Robertson - Deputy director of the Asia Division at Human Rights Watch

Ronan Lee - Visiting scholar at the International State Crime Initiative at Queen Mary University of London

Extreme Speech| Extreme Speech in Myanmar: The Role of State Media in the Rohingya Forced Migration Crisis

Source IJOC

by Ronan Lee

Abstract

This article considers the role of the state authorities in perpetrating extreme speech and the processes by which state power is used in normalizing hateful expressions against minoritized communities. Drawing attention to Myanmar's 2017 Rohingya crisis, a human rights and humanitarian catastrophe, the article examines how the state media publication, the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper, has actively produced anti-Rohingya speech in its editions and influenced violent narratives about the Rohingya Muslims circulating on social media. It shows how official media contributed to a political environment where anti-Rohingya speech was made acceptable and where rights abuses against the group were excused. While regulators often consider the role of social media platforms like Facebook as conduits for the spread of extreme speech, this case study shows that extreme speech by state actors using state media ought to be similarly considered a major concern for scholarship and policy.


Keywords


Myanmar, Rohingya, extreme speech, Facebook, forced migration

Full Text:

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Monday, 29 July 2019

Bridging visa 'blow out' now bigger than Hobart and Government expects it to keep growing

Source ABC news

The number of people in Australia waiting for a visa decision has swelled to a size equivalent to the population of Hobart.

Key points:

  • The number of people in Australia on bridging visas has more than doubled in the past five years
  • Experts wonder what impact this new influx of workers is having on the labour market
  • Migrants appear to be taking advantage of delays to stay in Australia longer

According to the Department of Home Affairs, 229,000 people on bridging visas were in Australia in March. Hobart's population at the latest census was 222,000.

And a new report has identified the impact of this group on the labour market for the first time.

The Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) analysed the census to find this group had an unemployment rate of about 20 per cent.

That is high compared to the Australian average, but it still means four in five who were looking for work were working — equivalent to many tens of thousands in the labour force.

A migrant is granted a bridging visa when one visa has expired but they are still waiting for their new visa application to be finalised.

Processing times for visas and the number of migration-related court appeals have increased in recent years. These prompt delays, meaning more people remain on bridging visas.

Melinda Cilento, chief executive of CEDA, said that temporary migrants had improved Australia's prosperity overall, though the growth in bridging visas did warrant closer inspection.

"The community's looking at that and wondering how well the system's working and is it actually working the way that we want it to work," she said.

"Many of these people on bridging visas still have working rights — that's also a question the community will be asking: Is this the outcome we're looking for?"

Senator Linda Reynolds, representing the Home Affairs Ministers, told the Senate on Tuesday that the growth in bridging visas was caused by increased arrivals generally and she anticipated further growth.

"As numbers increase, of course you will get an increase in all sorts of categories of people arriving, and making claims to stay," she said.

"So you would expect that number to grow merely by the fact of the amount of people who come here by air."

Behind the growth

A recent parliamentary committee highlighted the growing trend for Malaysians arriving in Australia on a tourist visa then applying for asylum.

In June 2014, just 7 per cent of Malaysians temporarily in Australia were on bridging visas, according to Department of Home Affairs figures.

By March this year, the share had risen to 34 per cent.

Now more Malaysians are on bridging visas than on any other visa, even the popular subclass 500 student visa.

But it is not just an issue with the Malaysian group — the number of bridging visas has increased for most nationalities.

Peter McDonald, a professor in demography at the University of Melbourne, said the bridging visa cohort had "blown out" and was now "enormous compared to any past history".

"For a long time the numbers on bridging visas were seen as an indicator of the government's efficiency in processing applications because the vast majority of people on bridging visas are applying for permanent residence," he said.

Immigration Minister David Coleman sought to highlight "declining" onshore protection claims.

"These fell by 12 per cent in the 2018-19 program year, a result of the Government's focus on stopping unmeritorious claims."

Professor McDonald said the growth was due not only to the growing number of people arriving by plane then claiming asylum — such as the group of Malaysians identified — but also the lengthening queue for partner visas.

"Normally, in the past, [spouses] get their permanent residency immediately," Professor McDonald said.

"But the Government has now introduced a long delay in that process, and there are now about 80,000 spouses of Australian citizens waiting for their permanent residence."

Senator Reynolds said on Tuesday the Government was taking "appropriate steps" to deal with airline arrivals.

She said there had been a 32 per cent decline in the number of protection visa applications from Malaysians in the first five months of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018. Across all nationalities, the decline was 20 per cent.

Labour market impact

A separate report from the University of Adelaide released in March found the horticulture sector was reliant on Malaysian workers, but also that workers were vulnerable to exploitation.

As part of a series of interviews, it reported one stakeholder saying "the Malaysians … are the ones who are exploited".

"When you know there's Malaysians on a farm, very few of them could be legal," the stakeholder said.

A labour hire contractor was reported to have said Malaysians "just use the visitor visa to come to Australia and they stay longer than three months and just work in Australia, and that's what happens … they are very hard workers and then they become illegal people".

Malaysians can travel to Australia on an official tourist visa obtained online.

Australian border officials are refusing entry to 20 Malaysians at Australian airports every week, to address what has been dubbed an "orchestrated scam".

The working holiday maker or 'backpacker' visa, the most popular low-skill visa in Australia, is not available to Malaysians.

Topics: government-and-politicshorticultureimmigrationimmigration-policyaustralia