Saturday, 5 October 2019
Tuesday, 24 September 2019
MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION
with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 144 of the Rules of Procedure
on Myanmar, notably the situation of the Rohingya
Anna Fotyga, Karol Karski, Raffaele Fitto, Ruža Tomašić, Jadwiga Wiśniewska, Valdemar Tomaševski, Veronika Vrecionová, Assita Kanko, Jan Zahradil
on behalf of the ECR Group
|NB: This motion for a resolution is available in the original language only.|
European Parliament resolution on Myanmar, notably the situation of the Rohingya
The European Parliament,
having regard to its previous resolutions on Myanmar and on the situation of the Rohingya;
having regard to previous Foreign Affairs Council conclusions on the situation in Myanmar;
having regard to statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on the situation in Myanmar;
having regard to the Geneva Convention of 1949 and the additional protocols thereof;
having regard to the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights of 1966;
having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989;
having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948;
having regard to the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion or Belief of 1981;
having regard to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court;
having regard to the 1951 UN Convention on the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol thereto;
having regard to the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness;
having regard to the Final Report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State;
having regard to the European Parliament report on Statelessness in South and South East Asia of 13 June 2017;
having regard to the Memorandum of Understanding between Myanmar and Bangladesh on the repatriation of Rohingya people signed on 23 November 2017;
having regard to the Joint Response Plan (JRP) for the Rohingya humanitarian crisis issued in March 2018 by the United Nations and partner organisations;
having regard to Rule 144 of its Rules of Procedure;
Tuesday, 17 September 2019
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.
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.
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
Friday, 6 September 2019
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.
Friday, 16 August 2019
Saturday, 10 August 2019
Extreme Speech| Extreme Speech in Myanmar: The Role of State Media in the Rohingya Forced Migration Crisis
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.
Monday, 29 July 2019
The number of people in Australia waiting for a visa decision has swelled to a size equivalent to the population of Hobart.
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.
Thursday, 18 July 2019
PHOTO: Reza Rostami and his family are worried about their future under current rules. (Supplied: Reza Rostami)
The Department of Home Affairs has rejected dozens of recommendations made by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), aimed at improving the lives of tens of thousands of asylum seekers living in Australia.
There are roughly 30,000 people living in Australia that are not eligible for permanent residency, because they attempted to reach Australia by boat before 2014.
They are often referred to as the "legacy caseload".
Under rules aimed at deterring others from attempting to make such a trip, people who arrived by boat face tight restrictions on the right to remain in Australia and access to financial support and other welfare.
The AHRC has urged the Federal Government to relax those restrictions, and most critically, remove the ban on asylum seekers gaining permanent residency.
Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow said they were seriously concerned about the situation many of these people find themselves in.
"We are increasingly worried about people in this group ... we are hearing more reports of people who simply can't afford to pay for medicine, can't necessarily afford accommodation, that sort of thing," he said.
Mr Santow said the AHRC had made a series of recommendations he felt would dramatically improve the lives of many.
"We think that there are some steps that the Government could take that would be relatively straightforward, that would provide protections against these people falling into poverty and homelessness," he said.
The recommendations include boosting mental health services, increasing welfare support and revising who is eligible for the status resolution support services program.
"We ... have to be pragmatic," he said.
"People who are in desperate situations are much more likely to do desperate things."
The Department of Home Affairs has not accepted the recommendations.
It insisted income support was needs based and there were adequate mental health services already in place.
The department said the Government's measures upheld the integrity of the humanitarian program and deterred people smuggling.
'We should be allowed to stay permanently'
Reza Rostami was among 45 asylum seekers on a boat bound for Australia six years ago and has described the trip as the most trying four days of his life.
"We had just lost hope of life to be honest, everyone was just thinking that we were lost in the sea," he said.
"Everyone was waiting for when death would come to them."
Mr Rostami, his wife and two young daughters left Iran in 2013 because they feared persecution, and travelled to Indonesia to board a boat.
"On the fourth day, the boat was intercepted by an Australian Navy vessel and brought to Christmas Island," he said.
"I felt like I was born with a new life, it was a good feeling."
Mr Rostami took up studies in Australia and is now a research officer at the School of Psychiatry at UNSW Sydney.
But despite securing a job, Mr Rostami said he and his family had become increasingly worried about what their future holds under the current rules.
They are now on Safe Haven Enterprise visas, which are one of two types of temporary protection visas.
"My family and children don't know what will happen to us after five years," he said.
"The Australian Government has recognised that I have a legitimate claim to refugee status.
"For this reason we should be allowed to stay permanently."
The Asylum Seekers Centre in New South Wales provides support for people that are part of the legacy caseload, and CEO Frances Rush said the mental health of many was deteriorating.
"Some people have been in Australia waiting to have their claim for asylum to be processed for seven years," she said.
"It's a long time to be in limbo, a long time to live with the uncertainty and not knowing what's going to happen."
Ms Rush said a growing number of people were asking for financial support or access to crisis accommodation because they did not have enough money.
That is because the eligibility for support payments has been tightened, meaning many asylum seekers that used to receive income support are no longer entitled to it.
And Mr Santow said for those that are receiving income support, the amount is still too low.
"For a family of two parents and two kids, the Henderson Poverty Line says that a family needs $970 a week to survive," he said.
"The SRSS [Status Resolution Support Services] payment — if you are lucky enough to be on it — is $714 a week.
"So even the group within the 30,000 people in the legacy caseload that are receiving a payment, are receiving a payment that is below the poverty line."
Ms Rush has praised the Australian Human Rights Commission for raising concerns around welfare support.
"It sounds extreme to say it, but I think it does becomes a human emergency," she said.
Government rejects recommendations
The Department of Home Affairs rejected the recommendations.
It insists income support is needs based and that there are adequate mental health services already in place.
The Department also said the Government's measures uphold the integrity of the humanitarian program and deter people smuggling.