Thursday, 16 May 2019

UN investigators urge nations to snap financial ties with Myanmar military

Source thedailystar, 14 May

Reuters, Yangon

Myanmar's military commander-in-chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing shakes hands with a participant during the annual Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS) in Moscow, Russia April 24, 2019. Photo: Reuters 
The world must cut off financial and other support for Myanmar's armed forces, a UN fact-finding mission said today, repeating a call for top generals to be prosecuted for abuses against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

Myanmar security forces are accused of killings, gang rape and arson during a crackdown that drove more than 730,000 people to flee western Rakhine state for neighbouring Bangladesh after attacks on police posts by Rohingya insurgents in August 2017.

Myanmar has rejected most of the accusations and dismissed a report last September by the UN-appointed panel, which said military officers carried out the campaign against the Rohingya with "genocidal intent" and should stand trial.

Autralian human rights lawyer and panel member Christopher Sidoti said it had seen no evidence Myanmar was trying to resolve the crisis or ease the safe return of refugees.

Myanmar has barred the experts from visiting the country, but they visited the region, including refugee camps in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar district, beginning early this month.

"Due to the gravity of the past and continuing violations, attention must be given to the political, economic and financial ties of the Myanmar military, to identify who and what should be targeted," Sidoti said.

That would aid efforts to cut off the money supply, as a means of boosting pressure and reducing violence, he added.

The statement did not identify specific nations. Myanmar's military buys weapons from China and Russia, among others. Many Western countries have supended training programs over human rights abuses and impose arms embargoes.

Myanmar rejected the fact-finding mission when it was formed at the Human Rights Council in Geneva in March 2017, with a mandate to investigate military abuses against the Rohingya and in other conflicts with ethnic armed groups in Myanmar.

Government spokesman Zaw Htay did not immediately answer a telephone call to seek comment.

Military spokesman Major General Tun Tun Nyi said the military would investigate allegations backed by evidence but the fact-finding mission had levelled false accusations at troops.

"Our country is an independent country, so we don't accept our matters being interfered with," he told Reuters by telephone.

The military was cooperating with a government-appointed panel on alleged abuses in Rakhine, Tun Tun Nyi said. Human rights campaigners say it lacks credibility.

The UN panel said it was still receiving reports of human rights abuses in Rakhine and Chin states, where clashes between the military and insurgents from the mainly Buddhist Rakhine ethnic group since late last year have displaced more than 30,000 people.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Philanthropy Network for People Seeking Asylum and Refuge

by Admin,

The panel of "Philanthropy Network for People Seeking Asylum and Refuge", was held at Hall and Wilcox, 525 Collin St, Melbourne, on 17 April. 
The Panel was organized by Anna Demant (foundation manager of Planet Wheeler Foundation) and presented from various parties.

The session included discussion on-
Finding Solutions & Supports for Rohingya and their situation in Burma, transit countries and in Australia by; 
- Davina ( Head of Human Rights Advocacy at Fisher Dore Lawyers & Coordinator of Statelessness Network Asia Pacific),
- John Littleton (Asia regional manager at Children on the Edge in the Rohingya camps in Bangladesh since 2009), and
- Habib from ABRO.

A separate session on refugees and asylum seekers in Australia and from Nauru and PNG, was also presented by;  
1. Kon Karapanagiotidis (CEO & founder of ASRC),
2. Katie Robertson (director of Legal Advocacy at Human Rights Law Centre),
3. Frances Rush (award winner of- an Order of Australia Medal),
4. David Manne (executive director of Refugee and Legal- RILC),
5. Paul Power ( executive director of Refugee Council- RCOA), 

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Myanmar Updates~2019: A forum on the Myanmar Rohingya: if it’s not genocide, what is it?

by Admin, 
A forum on the Myanmar Rohingya: if it’s not genocide, what is it?, was separately held as part of ANU's Myanmar Updates (2019) at ANU College of Asia Pacific at ANU College (China in the World Building 188),ACTON, ACT 2601. (Because ANU Myanmar Research Centre is not agreed with using the word 'GENOCIDE' and our presentation)

Our sincere thanks to Ms. Kathy Ragless and Companian House for organizing the Rohingya issues to be part of this forum and selecting the speakers:  

1) Abdul Hafaiz is a Rohingya ANU student from Myanmar who has made Canberra his home since 2013. He will provide welcoming remarks in this discussion about a genocide that has devastated his community and home.
2) Chris Sidoti is an Australian human rights lawyer and Australia’s former human rights commissioner. He was one of three experts on the UN’s Fact-finding mission on Myanmar, documented in the September 2018 Report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar. The report found patterns of gross human rights violations and abuses that ‘undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law’, carried out principally by Myanmar’s military (Tatmadaw).
3) Habib is founder and spokesperson for the Australian Burmese Rohingya Organisation (ABRO) based in Melbourne and co-author of First They Erased Our Name published in August 2018. Habib is an ex-detainee and arrived in Australia at the end of 2009 and works as a support service co-coordinator at RISE Refugee Organisation. Before arrival in Australia, Habib spent 10 years in Malaysia where he worked with Rohingya organisations and Burmese political opposition groups.

Chris Sidoti delivered 20 min speeches that included very strong & powerful speeches that practically challenged false narratives of Myanmar government: (there can't be two narratives, one should be wrong), and Myanmar military is the biggest terrorist". 

Experts and individuals from around the world joined the forum and support strongly for achieving justice and democracy in Myanmar. 
Habib presented 15 min speaks, began with background information of Rohingya crisis and the government's manipulations and raised issues of creationg of a safe zones, repatriation, solution and actions. 

Other continuous separate sessions at ANU College of Asia Pacific are:-
1) The tactics of in-/visibility: A dual life of displaced Shan along the Thai-Myanmar border by Wen-Ching Ting, National University of Singapore.

2) China’s role in Myanmar’s peace process (and exploitations), a depth and wonderful presentation by Chiraag Roy, Deakin University

3) Rohingya mass exodus: who should pay compensation and how much? presented by strong human rights advocates: ( Christine Jubb, Mohshin Habib, Salahuddin Ahmad, and Sultana Razia, Swinburne University of Technology).
(approx compensation for Rohingya losts summarized at 6 billion dollars in this presentation), read deatils here: 

4) Precarious humanitarianism: geoeconomic hope and geopolitical fear in Myanmar’s borderlands by expert Tani Sebro, Miami University of USA.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Refugee Alternatives Conference - 2019

by Admin, 

ABRO has joined the Refugee Alternatives Conference - 2019 organized by Refugee Council of Australia on 19-20 Feb 2019 at the SA University of Adelaide. 

ABRO's spokesperson Habib raised concerns on immigration detention (onshore, offshore and community placement) and surrounding serious impacts and reforming detention.

The conference was joined by over 75 speakers from the various sectors and shared their concerns and ideas regarding the current refugee crisis and human right situation. 
Speaker details at:

ABRO thanks Refugee Council-RCOA, Amnesty International Australia,  activists, organizations, refugee action groups and Apollo Bay Rural Australians for Refugees - ABRAR, politicians, human right lawyers, and individuals who tried the best advocacy for the rights of refugees and refugees detainees.


Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Amnesty strips Aung San Suu Kyi of 'Ambassador of Conscience' award

Source AI, 12 Nov,

Amnesty revokes honour awarded when she languished under house arrest in 2009
Rohingya in Myanmar killed and tortured in campaign of ethnic cleansing

'We are profoundly dismayed that you no longer represent a symbol of hope' - Kumi Naidoo

Amnesty International announced today that it has withdrawn its highest honour, the Ambassador of Conscience award, from Aung San Suu Kyi, in light of the Myanmar leader's shameful betrayal of the values she once stood for.

Yesterday, Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty's Secretary General, wrote to Aung San Suu Kyi to inform her the organisation is revoking the 2009 award. Half way through her term in office, and eight years after her release from house arrest, Naidoo expressed Amnesty's grievous disappointment that she had not used her political and moral authority to safeguard human rights, justice or equality in Myanmar, citing her apparent indifference to atrocities committed by the Myanmar military and increasing intolerance of freedom of expression.

Kumi Naidoo wrote:

"As an Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience, our expectation was that you would continue to use your moral authority to speak out against injustice wherever you saw it, not least within Myanmar itself.

"Today, we are profoundly dismayed that you no longer represent a symbol of hope, courage, and the undying defence of human rights. Amnesty International cannot justify your continued status as a recipient of the Ambassador of Conscience award and so with great sadness we are hereby withdrawing it from you."

Perpetuating human rights violations

Since Aung San Suu Kyi became the de facto leader of Myanmar's civilian-led government in April 2016, her administration has been actively involved in the commission or perpetuation of multiple human rights violations.

Amnesty has repeatedly criticised the failure of Aung San Suu Kyi and her government to speak out about military atrocities against the Rohingya population in Rakhine State. During the campaign of violence unleashed against the Rohingya last year, the Myanmar security forces killed thousands of people, raped women and girls, detained and tortured men and boys, and burned hundreds of homes to the ground. Fleeing the violence, more than 720,000 Rohingya escaped to neighbouring Bangladesh. A UN report has called for senior military officials to be investigated and prosecuted for the crime of genocide.

Although the Myanmar civilian government does not have control over the military, Aung San Suu Kyi and her office have repeatedly shielded the security forces from accountability by dismissing, downplaying or denying allegations of human rights violations and by obstructing international investigations into abuses. Her administration has actively stirred up hostility against the Rohingya, labelling them "terrorists" and accusing them of burning their own homes and "faking rape". Meanwhile, state media have published inflammatory and dehumanising articles referring to the Rohingya as "detestable human fleas" and "thorns" which must be removed.

Kumi Naidoo said:

"Aung San Suu Kyi's failure to speak out for the Rohingya is one reason why we can no longer justify her status as an Ambassador of Conscience.

"Her denial of the gravity and scale of the atrocities means there is little prospect of the situation improving for the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya living in limbo in Bangladesh or for the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who remain in Rakhine. Without acknowledgement of the horrific crimes against the community, it is hard to see how the government can take steps to protect them from future atrocities."

Amnesty has also highlighted the situation in Kachin and northern Shan States, where Aung San Suu Kyi has failed to use her influence to condemn military abuses, to push for accountability for war crimes or to speak up for ethnic minority civilians who bear the brunt of the conflicts. To make matters worse, her civilian-led administration has imposed harsh restrictions on humanitarian access, exacerbating the suffering of more than 100,000 people displaced by the violence.

Attacks on freedom of speech

Despite the power wielded by the Myanmar military, there are areas where the civilian-led government has considerable authority to enact reforms to better protect human rights, especially those relating to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. But in the two-and-a-half years since Aung San Suu Kyi's administration assumed power, human rights defenders, peaceful activists and journalists have been arrested and imprisoned, while others face threats, harassment and intimidation for their work.

Aung San Suu Kyi's administration has failed to repeal repressive laws – including some of the same laws which were used to detain her and others campaigning for democracy and human rights. Instead, she has actively defended the use of such laws, in particular the decision to prosecute and imprison two Reuters journalists for their work documenting a military massacre.

Aung San Suu Kyi was named as Amnesty International's Ambassador of Conscience in 2009, in recognition of her peaceful and non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights. At the time she was held under house arrest, which she was eventually released from exactly eight years ago today. When she was finally able to accept the award in 2012, Aung San Suu Kyi asked Amnesty to "not take either your eyes or your mind off us and help us to be the country where hope and history merges".

Kumi Naidoo said:

"Amnesty International took Aung San Suu Kyi's request that day very seriously, which is why we will never look away from human rights violations in Myanmar.

"We will continue to fight for justice and human rights in Myanmar - with or without her support."

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Rohingya Issues at ACFID- NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2018 on Human Rights

by Admin,

The discussion of Rohingya Issues hosted on the second day of NATIONAL CONFERENCE- 2018 on Human Rights by Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), at John Niland Scientia Building- UNSW Sydney, 30-31 Oct 2018. 

(Program details here )

The panel was chaired by Beth Eggleston (Humanitarian Advisory Group) and jointly with Habib  (representative from Rohingya community), Dr. Robert Glasser (ASPI, ANU), Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini (ED ICAN), Dr. Mortem Pedersen (UNSW), Prf. Jane McAdam (UNSW). 

The panelists and attendants included from the government sectors, local NGOs and INGOs, academics, students, journalists, private sectors and individuals. 
Discussion included natural disaster, climate changes and Rohingya issues (humanitarian response, ongoing crisis, security concerns, and durable solution). 

Chair –Beth Eggleston, Humanitarian Advisory Group & Panellists:-
• Morten Pedersen. UNSW
• Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, ED ICAN
• Professor Jane McAdam, Director, Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, UNSW
• Dr Robert Glasser, ASPI, ANU &
. Habib from Rohingya community

Thursday, 25 October 2018

AI: Payne’s sanctions against Myanmar military welcome, but need expansion



23 October 2018

Payne's sanctions against Myanmar military welcome, but need expansion

Responding to Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne's announcement today imposing targeted sanctions against five Myanmar military officers over their role in the ongoing ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya people in northern Rakhine State, Amnesty International Australia's Rohingya Rights Campaign Coordinator Diana Sayed said,

"The Australian Government has today responded to Amnesty International's research and campaign calling for the imposition of sanctions on the key perpetrators of violence against the Rohingya people.

"The explosion of violence – including murder, rape, torture, burning and forced starvation – perpetrated by Myanmar's security forces in villages across northern Rakhine State was not the action of rogue soldiers or units. There is a mountain of evidence that this was part of a highly orchestrated, systematic attack on the Rohingya population.

"The five men today sanctioned by Australia are among the 13 implicated in committing crimes against humanity and named in Amnesty International's 27 June report 'We Will Destroy Everything': Military Responsibility for Crimes against Humanity in Rakhine State, Myanmar.

"The Government must now expand its sanctions net to include all 13 named in that report, and push for comprehensive, multilateral sanctions in forums such as the United Nations Security Council and at the upcoming November ASEAN Summit.

"Only with a concerted international effort to impose a comprehensive arms embargo, and targeted financial sanctions against those individuals responsible for crimes against humanity, will justice be delivered for the Rohingya people.

"The Australian Government must also cut Australia's training support to the Myanmar military. That Australian taxpayers' money is going to support such human rights violators is unthinkable."


Details of Amnesty International's evidence against the military commanders responsible for crimes against humanity in Rakhine State, Myanmar, can be found here (summarised on page 155).

For example, one of the five sanctioned by the Australian Government, Lieutenant General Aung Kyaw Zaw, controlled all military operations in Western Command, which includes Rakhine State, and was charged with coordinating and controlling the use of air assets, including helicopters. During the post-25 August 2017 operations, logistical support via helicopter appears linked to the commission or cover-up of the 30 August massacre of Rohingya men, women and children in Min Gyi village, Maungdaw Township.

Lt. Gen. Aung Kyaw Zaw was physically present in northern Rakhine State during, at minimum, key periods before and during the 2017 operations marked by crimes against humanity against the Rohingya people. All of the elements of command or other superior responsibility appear to have been met.

For further information and for media interviews, please contact Michelle Dunne Breen on 0422 869 439.