Sunday 22 November 2015

The Grand Delusion of Democracy in Myanmar

by ABRO,
The National League for Democracy (NLD) in Myanmar, led by Nobel peace laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has won the majority of available seats in Parliament according to the official results released by the Myanmar election commission.  International observers claim that after 50 years of military rule, this is a “Transition to Democracy”.  This article will explain why such claim is a Grand Delusion.

Despite this victory, the shadow of military dictator “retired” Senior General Than Shwe hangs over Myanmar. Not surprisingly, the so called “democratic” constitution crafted by the former military dictatorship in 2008, continues to serve the interests of the Junta.  Myanmar’s military dictators have found alternative ways to camouflage military dictatorship as “civilian government”.  They have succeeded in creating this illusion by changing their uniforms, forming a mock parliament and their own political party USDP (Union Solidarity and Development Party) from USDA (Union Solidarity Development Association) and creating an unamendable constitution.  During the military dictatorship, USDA was an association lead by government officials with many of its members coerced into joining the association.  Than Shwe appointed ex-military General Thein Sein as leader of USDP and President of Myanmar in November 2010.  According to the constitution, 25% of parliamentary seats have to be reserved for representatives of the military.  Constitutional amendments can only be made if more than 75% of the members agree to the changes.

The election commission itself has been appointed by military generals with a former lieutenant-general acting as commissioner.  As this commission blithely released results indicating Aung San Suu Kyi as leader of the winning party should rightfully be President, legislation introduced by Than Shwe’s military regime in 2008 bars a democratically elected leader like Suu Kyi who has foreign relatives (her late husband and her two sons are British Citizens) from becoming President.  Even if to circumvent this law, Suu Kyi nominates someone to take her place as President, her nominee will be answerable to the National Defence and Security Council (NDSC) who have the authority to override certain decisions made by the President.  There is almost no escape from military rule in Than Shwe’s constitutional labyrinth with at least 5 of the 11 NDSC members having to be appointed by the Military Commander in Chief who in turn has to be appointed by the NDSC.

Just before the election held on 8th of November 2015, the Thein Sein government announced that the release of the official election results will be delayed indefinitely and power would be handed to the winner of the election by February next year.  These delays give Thein Sein and his military backers further leeway to maintain or strengthen their power base regardless of the election result.  After receiving the news of her election win, Aung San Suu Kyi is reported to have already sent letters to Thein Sein and he has not replied to any of these letters.  There are also reports that Thein Sein’s representative said that, until the election commission has resolved all complaints regarding the election results, talks with the NLD leader will not happen. 

So how do minorities fare in this “democratic” election? Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD party has not contested in some constituencies in the Shan, Kachin and Chin states, as well as other areas of Myanmar which are under military control.  One of the reasons being, the current government has used “security reasons” to prevent elections from being conducted in many of these areas.  In Arakan state, the Rakhine National Development Party’s (RNDP) leader Dr. Aye Maung, the main perpetrator of violence against the Rohingya and other Muslim groups, has made a clean sweep in the election with the Myanmar government barring 1.3 million Rohingya and other Muslim groups from voting.  This provides him with further opportunity to accelerate the expulsion of the entire Muslim community from the state.

The poster child of democracy herself, Ms. Suu Kyi, has taken sides with the majority, ignoring the minorities who have been supporting her for decades.  Her party has ethnically cleansed itself of all Muslim members ahead of the election.  For the first time in the history of Myanmar, there will be no Muslim parliamentarians.  At this moment in time, the person who courageously fought for freedom and rights against Myanmar’s military dictatorship is fearful of losing majority support.  It therefore follows that recent changes in the country are possible signs of the tyrannical rule of the military ending for the majority Buddhist people alone with the pathway to “freedom” being paved exclusively for them.  The exclusion of the entire Muslim community including Rohingya, is a stereotype of ‘majority representative democracy’ or one could even call this aberration a ‘Muslim-free democracy’.

Myanmar’s “democratic transition” is simply ‘old wine in a new bottle’ produced by General Than Shwe and his cohorts.  As the western nations throw their support behind these cosmetic changes they turn a blind eye to the ongoing genocide, the wars in northern and eastern Myanmar and the detention of political prisoners. 
The perpetuation of this Grand Delusion of “Democracy” comes at a horrific cost to the people of Myanmar, particularly the Rohingya of Arakan state.

Call to Action:

1) The International Criminal Court (ICC) should investigate the ongoing crimes against humanity and genocide across Myanmar.
2) International communities should create a safe zone for Rohingya people and establish an independent Rohingya state within Arakan state while the central rulers, authorities and majority ethnic/religious group continues to segregate and push out the Rohingya people.
3) According to the responsibility to protect, the UN and its member countries should enforce appropriate conditions that ensure aid delivery reach the hands of victims on the ground in Arakan state, Shan state, Kachin state and other areas.
4) Myanmar should immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners and thousands of Rohingya detained in and outside Arakan state.
5) Myanmar should immediately stop waging wars in Shan, Kachin states and other areas.
6) Myanmar should immediately cease segregation, discrimination and ethnic cleansing against Rohingya and other minorities including those from 42 concentration camps in Arakan state.
7) Myanmar should immediately lift the blockade on international aid supply in Arakan state, Shan state, Kachin state and other areas.

For media contact:
Habib +(61) 406 310077

Monday 26 October 2015

Exclusive: 'Strong evidence' of genocide in Myanmar

Source Aljazeera,

see via the link

Al Jazeeras Investigative Unit has uncovered what amounts to "strong evidence" of a genocide coordinated by the Myanmar government against the Rohingya people, according to an assessment by Yale University Law School.
The Lowenstein Clinic spent eight months assessing evidence from Myanmar, including documents and testimony provided by Al Jazeera and the advocacy group Fortify Rights.
"Given the scale of the atrocities and the way that politicians talk about the Rohingya, we think it's hard to avoid a conclusion that intent [to commit genocide] is present," concluded the clinic.
Exclusive evidence obtained by Al Jazeeras Investigative Unit and Fortify Rights reveals the government has been triggering communal violence for political gain by inciting anti-Muslim riots, using hate speech to stoke fear among the Myanmarese about Muslims, and offering money to hardline Buddhist groups who threw their support behind the leadership.
As the first fully contested general election in 25 years approaches on November 8, eyewitness and confidential documentary evidence obtained by Al Jazeera reveals that the ruling, military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) has attempted to marginalise Muslims and target the Rohingya.
Al Jazeera has made several requests for comment to the Myanmar President's office and government spokespeople but has not received any response.
Genocide Agenda
The investigation, presented in a new documentary, Genocide Agenda, consults legal and diplomatic experts on whether the governments campaign amounts to systematic extermination.
The University of Londons Professor Penny Green, director of the International State Crime Initiative (ISCI)m said: "President Thein Sein (USDP) is prepared to use hate speech for the government's own ends, and that is to marginalise, segregate, diminish the Muslim population inside Burma.
"It's part of a genocidal process."
An independent report by the ISCI concluded that riots in 2012, which saw conflicts between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims erupt, were pre-planned. The violence saw scores killed, and tens of thousands of people displaced after several thousand homes were burned.

Thursday 22 October 2015

Southeast Asia: Persecuted Rohingya refugees from Myanmar suffer horrific abuses at sea

Source AI Australia,

  • Women, men and children trafficked, held in hellish conditions, beaten or killed for ransom
  • Fears that hundreds, maybe thousands, more refugees and migrants have perished at sea than first estimated
  • New “sailing season” crisis looms in Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea
Rohingya women, men and children attempting to flee persecution in Myanmar by boat earlier this year were killed or severely beaten by human traffickers if their families failed to pay ransoms, and kept in hellish, inhuman conditions, Amnesty International reveals in a new report today.
Deadly journeys: The refugee and trafficking crisis in Southeast Asia is based on interviews with more than 100 Rohingya refugees – mainly victims of human trafficking, and many of them children – who reached Indonesia after fleeing Myanmar or Bangladesh across the Andaman Sea.
With the monsoon over and a new “sailing season” already underway, thousands more could be taking to boats. Amnesty International is urging regional governments to urgently step up their response to the crisis.
“The daily physical abuse faced by Rohingya who were trapped on boats in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea is almost too horrific to put into words. They had escaped Myanmar, but had only traded one nightmare for another. Even children were not spared these abuses,” said Anna Shea, Refugee Researcher at Amnesty International.
The daily physical abuse faced by Rohingya who were trapped on boats in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea is almost too horrific to put into words. They had escaped Myanmar, but had only traded one nightmare for another. Even children were not spared these abuses.
Anna Shea, Refugee Researcher at Amnesty International
“The shocking truth is that those we spoke to are the ‘lucky’ ones who made it to shore – countless others perished at sea or were trafficked into forced labour situations. Governments must do more to prevent this human tragedy from recurring.”
The harrowing events that unfolded in May 2015 – triggered by Thailand’s crackdown on human trafficking, and the traffickers’ subsequent abandonment of people at sea – left thousands of refugees and migrants stranded for weeks in desperate need of food, water and medical care.
While the UN estimates that at least 370 people lost their lives between January and June 2015, Amnesty International believes the true figure to be much higher. Eyewitnesses who spoke to Amnesty International saw dozens of large boats full of refugees and migrants in similar circumstances, but only five boats landed in Indonesia and Malaysia according to UN sources. Hundreds – if not thousands – of people remain unaccounted for, and may have died during their journeys or been sold for forced labour.

Deaths and beatings for money

Many Rohingya said that they had seen crew members kill people when their families failed to pay ransoms. Some people were shot by the traffickers on the boats while others were thrown overboard and left to drown. Others died because of lack of food and water or disease.
Refugees described how they were kept for months on very large boats and severely beaten while traffickers contacted their family members, demanding a ransom. One 15-year-old Rohingya girl said the crew called her father in Bangladesh, made him listen to her cries while they beat her, and told him to pay them about USD 1,700.
Virtually every Rohingya woman, man and child said they had either been beaten themselves or seen others suffer serious physical abuse. People were beaten with metal or plastic batons – sometimes for several hours – simply for begging for food, moving or asking to use the toilet. Many have been left with long-term physical or psychological scars from the violence.
Beatings were often carried out in a chillingly routine and systematic way. One 15-year old Rohingya boy said: “In the morning you were hit three times. In the afternoon you were hit three times. At night you were hit nine times.”

Persecuted at home

The Rohingyas’ desperation stems from decades of persecution and discrimination in Myanmar, where they are effectively denied citizenship under national law. Waves of violence against the Rohingya, most recently erupting in 2012, have forced tens of thousands into overcrowded camps where they live in desperate conditions.
Some people said that they had been abducted by traffickers in Myanmar or Bangladesh, whereas others had been promised a safe passage to Malaysia for a nominal fee – a tactic commonly used by traffickers looking to coerce people into forced labour.
“The Rohingya are so desperate that they will continue to risk their lives at sea until the root causes of this crisis are addressed – the Myanmar government must immediately end its persecution of the Rohingya,” said Anna Shea.
The Rohingya are so desperate that they will continue to risk their lives at sea until the root causes of this crisis are addressed – the Myanmar government must immediately end its persecution of the Rohingya.
Anna Shea

Hellish conditions

The Rohingya were kept in inhuman and degrading conditions during their journeys. Boats were severely overcrowded, with people forced to sit in extremely cramped positions, sometimes for months on end. A local man who helped rescue people off the coast of Aceh in Indonesia said that the stench was so bad that rescuers could not board.
Food and water was severely lacking and rations usually consisted of a small cup of rice per day. Many of the Rohingya who reached Indonesia were emaciated, had difficulty walking after being cramped for so long, and suffered from dehydration, malnourishment, bronchitis, and flu.

Conditions in Indonesia

In May 2015, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand initially pushed overcrowded vessels back from their shores and prevented thousands of desperate passengers from disembarking. Following international criticism, Indonesia and Malaysia eventually agreed to admit a number of asylum-seekers, on the condition that another country accept them by May 2016.
Indonesia should be recognized for devoting resources to housing hundreds of vulnerable people in its Aceh province, and working to fulfill their basic needs in cooperation with local civil society and international agencies. But there are serious unanswered questions about a long-term solution, as the government has not clarified whether the refugees can stay beyond May 2016.


“Without cooperation between governments to combat human trafficking, grave human rights abuses will again be perpetrated against some of Southeast Asia’s most vulnerable and desperate people,” said Anna Shea.
“Governments must ensure that initiatives against traffickers do not put people’s lives or human rights at risk, which is what happened in May 2015. They must also act quickly to implement maritime search and rescue operations.”
Amnesty International is urging Southeast Asian states to act now, and not wait for another human rights disaster at sea.

Amnesty International says Rohingya death toll higher than UN estimates

Source aljazeera, 21 Oct

Rohingya migrants stand and sit on a boat drifting in Thai waters off the southern island of Koh Lipe in the Andaman sea on May 14, 2015. A boat crammed with scores of Rohingya migrants -- including many young children -- was found drifting in Thai waters on May 14, with passengers saying several people had died over the last few days. AFP PHOTO / Christophe ARCHAMBAULT
Rohingya migrants stand and sit on a boat drifting in Thai waters off the southern island of Koh Lipe in the Andaman sea on May 14, 2015. A boat crammed with scores of Rohingya migrants -- including many young children -- was found drifting...

Human rights group details beatings and abuse faced on boats by ethnic minority seeking refuge from Myanmar

Hundreds or even thousands of Rohingya refugees fleeing persecution in Myanmar may have died at sea this year, according to a new report by Amnesty International, which says the number of those who have died attempting the treacherous boat journey to Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia is "much higher" than U.N. estimates. 

The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, has estimated that 370 refugees have died this year in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea in search of safety and a better life. But Amnesty International said in a press release that "hundreds — if not thousands — of people remain unaccounted for, and may have died during their journeys or have been sold for forced labor." 

The human rights organization said that it believes the number of Rohingya refugees deaths is "much higher" than the UNHCR figures, based on testimony from eyewitnesses who said they saw dozens of large boats full of refugees and migrants in similar circumstances — despite only five boats arriving in Indonesia and Malaysia, according to Amnesty's U.N. sources. 

The Rohingya are a Muslim minority group living in Myanmar, which has a Buddhist majority. Although Rohingya families have lived in the country for generations, they were stripped of citizenship in the 1980s and are viewed by authorities in Myanmar as illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh. In recent years, they have been subjected to anti-Rohingya propaganda and violence. 
UNHCR has said that since 2014 more than 1,100 refugees who have departed by sea from Bangladesh or Myanmar have died, and an additional 1,000 people  — who were thought to be at sea in May of this year — remain unaccounted for. The majority of the refugees are believed to be Rohingya, but also include many Bangladeshis. 
Boat crews abandoned thousands of people in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea in May, after a trafficking crackdown by Thai authorities. The crackdown coincided with the discovery of several mass graves, containing bodies believed to be migrants, along the Malaysia-Thailand border.  
Several Rohingya interviewed by Amnesty for its report detailed abuses they had witnessed and faced while at sea. 

In one such incident, a 20-year-old Rohingya man, who said he spent eight months on a ship anchored off the coast of Thailand, said he was beaten with plastic pipes with metal inside until his family wired a $1,700 ransom payment demanded by traffickers. He was then transferred to another ship and was eventually taken to Indonesia.

In another case, a 15-year-old girl said traffickers demanded a $1,700 payment to secure her release from a large boat, where she said she had been frequently beaten. The girl told Amnesty that the boat crew called her father, who was at a refugee camp in Bangladesh, and made him listen to her crying as they beat her while demanding the ransom payment. 
Other witnesses told Amnesty that people who became sick or were unable to pay a ransom were killed. 

While Indonesia and Malaysia have allowed asylum-seekers to stay until May 2016, Amnesty has called on the governments to do more, and for international agencies to take "coordinated action against human trafficking in a way that does not put people's lives or human rights at risk."

Sunday 4 October 2015

Melbourne base Srilankan Community Donates for Displaced Rohingyas in Arakan State

by Admin,
Rohingya organization (ABRO) base in Melbourne received the lastest donation amount of (AUD 6315, from USMAA by the mid of Aug 2015.
According to Habib, it been distributed on the ground for  two village tracts (Apauk Wa Pyar-pauk 110 families and Apauk Wa Arlaymu 156 families) of Kyauktaw township on the mid of Sept 2015. And each family received 25kg rice, 1 viss oil, and 1 viss chilli. This is one of the remote locations where aid workers unreachable areas.
Habib added that the displaced Rohingya and Kaman people living in 42 locations across Arakan state numbering about 165,000 according to 2013 data, are ending up in systematic confinement in the hand of heavy persecutions since June 2012.
Fleeing through the sea-routes therefore remains only option of escaping from such situation until international communities come to interfere.


Tuesday 22 September 2015


Source Amnesty, 11 Sept
11 September 2015, 16:51 UTC | Asia and The Pacific
In May 2015, the world witnessed harrowing scenes as fishing boats crammed with refugees and migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh were pushed back to sea by Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Desperate children, men and women were left without food, water and medical care for a week, before the Philippines and later Indonesia and Malaysia offered to take them in. This crisis exposed the willingness of some governments in the region to ignore humanitarian imperatives as well as a range of core obligations under international law. Sadly, it is emblematic of the wider issues refugees face in the Asia Pacific region.
Amnesty International, Auckland Refugee Council and the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN) strongly support a regional approach towards improving the protection of refugees and asylum seekers in the Asia Pacific. According to UNHCR, the region hosts more than 3.9 million refugees and 4.8 million people who are internally displaced, stateless or seeking asylum. We believe that this displacement crisis will not be solved unless states recognise it as a regional problem and deal with it as such. A constructive regional approach, firmly grounded in the principles of international human rights and refugee law, would positively impact not only on the well-being of refugees and asylum seekers but also on the stability of the region as a whole.
New Zealand has a key role to play in advancing this form of regional cooperation. Given the country’s historically strong record on refugee protection, it is well-placed to foster dialogue with its neighbours and promote efforts to tackle some of the most pressing issues refugees and asylum seekers face in the region. As such, this paper contains a number of recommendations for the New Zealand government to apply bilaterally, domestically as well as through its diplomatic efforts in international fora. It is not intended to be an exhaustive summary but serves as a brief snapshot of key issues and a platform for further discussion.
Essential to a regional approach is ensuring that refugees and asylum seekers are better protected in countries closer to their countries of origin. Refugees in South and South East Asia have very few opportunities to find protection – countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Bangladesh often treat them not as people desperately seeking safety but as criminals deserving of punishment. Across the region, effective domestic refugee laws are virtually non-existent, and only 19 countries are state parties to the Refugee Convention. As such, refugees typically struggle to access timely and fair asylum procedures, have no formal legal status and are denied the right to work, to send their children to school or to enjoy basic health services.
This lack of status and integration places refugees at great risk of harassment, abuse, exploitation, detention and refoulement. It often leaves them desperate to seek protection via dangerous unofficial channels involving human smugglers and traffickers. With regional states resistant to recognise their human rights, refugees risk taking dangerous boat journeys in search of places of greater safety.
New Zealand can encourage and support, through financial and technical means, the development of robust domestic refugee protection systems across the region. Strengthening the protection of refugees would require governments in countries of asylum to take a number of basic steps, including to:
§ Respect the key customary international law principle of non-refoulementand ensure that protection is provided to all those who require it regardless of their mode of travel and place of origin.
§ Increase access to timely and fair refugee status determinationprocesses, either via UNHCR or domestic asylum systems; and to provide greater financial and other assistance to UNHCR for its refugee registration and status determination work.
§ Develop alternatives to detention while refugee status is determined; and to grant full NGO access to detention centres in order to identify and remove from detention all genuine refugees and asylum seekers.
§ Increase the legal recognition of refugees and grant permissions to stay while refugee claims are processed.
§ Grant refugees and registered asylum seekers work rights.
§ Provide access to basic services such as food, education and health care; and to support local NGOs to deliver essential assistance to vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers.
§ Develop national refugee legislation; and to sign and ratify the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (Refugee Convention) and/or its 1967 Protocol.
These steps can be advanced by New Zealand through constructive bilateral action between two, three or more states working in partnership with UNHCR and NGOs. New Zealand’s Aid Programme also provides an opportunity to support governments, UNHCR and civil society in increasing refugees’ access to status determination and basic services. Further, action to achieve immediate improvements can be promoted through New Zealand’s engagement with various established regional frameworks such as APEC, the Bali Process, East Asia Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum and ASEAN Defence Ministers’Forum. All of these fora shape the region’s security and trade architecture, yet members have been reluctant to address refugee protection issues in a meaningful way.
Durable solutions for refugees and asylum seekers are difficult to find. As voluntary repatriation and integration into asylum countries often prove impossible, resettlement remains the only viable option. However, resettlement to third countries is currently available only to a very limited number of refugees. In 2014, nearly one million refugees needed resettlement or other forms of humanitarian admission, yet global annual resettlement commitments were less than a tenth of this number. Only 30,661 of the 3.9 million refugees between Iran and Indonesia were resettled through programs involving UNHCR.
New Zealand has an internationally recognised resettlement programme, but lags far behind other countries in the number of refugees it resettles annually. The current refugee quota stands at 750, a number which has not been increased since it was first set nearly 30 years ago. According to UNHCR figures, when compared to other countries New Zealand ranks 90th in the world for hosting refugees. As such, our organisations believe that New Zealand can and should do more – now is an important time to double the annual quota and model good policies for the region. Further, it is important that New Zealand encourages other governments in the region to increase their humanitarian intakes or develop resettlement capacity in the first place.
A comprehensive regional strategy must address issues of forced displacement at their very source. The majority of the region’s refugees originate from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Myanmar and Sri Lanka – countries that are either emerging from or in the middle of protracted conflict, all with complex histories involving the persecution of minority groups. However, violations of fundamental human rights are a daily reality throughout the region, with human rights defenders often at risk of arbitrary detention and torture, and the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression severely curtailed. In order to reduce the numbers of people fleeing, New Zealand should prioritise the promotion of international human rights standards in all countries it has diplomatic relations with. As a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, New Zealand has the authority – and responsibility – to meaningfully address human rights conditions that cause instability, violence and displacement. Making the protection of civilian populations a primary consideration for New Zealand’s engagement on the UN Security Council will significantly benefit the country in the long-term.
It is crucial that governments across the Asia Pacific put measures in place to improve the protection of refugees and asylum seekers. Inaction now could pave the way for disaster later as those facing persecution in their home countries will continue to flee to seek asylum. It is clear that as long as refugees have little chance of finding safety through official channels, many will be forced to seek protection through dangerous unofficial channels, frequently involving human smugglers and traffickers.
New Zealand has a key role to play in mobilising its neighbours to take steps towards a genuine regional solution. Bilateral action now to achieve immediate improvements will serve as the basis for an agreed and common regional strategy later. As a country that forms part of the Asia Pacific region, and as a historically strong proponent for human rights, New Zealand is well-placed to demonstrate leadership in ensuring that refugees and asylum seekers are adequately protected.

Saturday 19 September 2015

Fundraising for Rohingya

by Admin,
The event of fundraising for Rohingya has been successfully organized by Australia International Aid - AIA supported by Emergency Relief team and Rohingya Action Group consisting members of Hallam Mosque Committee, United Srilankan Muslim Association of Australia (USMAA), Monash University Islamic Society, and other individuals.

Tuesday 1 September 2015

Rohingya Community Presentation on "The Regional Impacts of Australian Asylum-seeker Policies"

by Admin, 

Rohingya Community base in Melbourne known as "Australian Burmese Rohingya Organization-ABRO" participated in the two workshop (31 July & 1 Aug) held at-
Swinburne University City Campus
Flinders Street, Melbourne
with coordination of Swinburne University, Curtin University and Australian National University.

Convenors are Dr. Caroline Fleay (Curtin University), Dr. Lisa Hartley (Curtin University) and Prof. William Maley (Australian National University).

Key Presenters are: 
Prof. Aleksandar Subic, deputy vice-chancellor (Research & Developement), Swinburne University.
Dr. Gopal Krishna Siwakoti (Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network).
Thomas Albrecht (UNHCR Australia).
A/Prof. Savati Taylor (La Trobe University).
Paul Power (Refugee Council of Australia).
A/Prof. Mary Anne Kenny (Murdoch University).
Dr. Sharuna Verghis (Health Equity Initiatives Malaysia).
Habib @ Habiburahman (secretary & founder of ABRO, and author of "Taboo Burmese" ).
Barat Ali Batoor (Maker of documentary Batoor: A Refugee Journey).
Yunita Purnama SUAKA (Indonesia Civil Society Network for Refugee Rights Protection).
Lars Stenger (Jesuit Refugee Service Indonesia).
Prof. Susan Kneebone (University of Melbourne).
Dr. Antje Missbach (Monash University).
Dr. Graham Thom (Amnesty International Australia).
Prof. Sharon Pickering (Monash University).
Dr. Andrew Dodd (Swinburne University).
Prof. Linda Briskman ((Swinburne University).
Dr. Lucy Fiske (University of Technology Sydney).
Muzafar Ali (Co-founder of Cisarua Learning Centre, Indonesia).
Dr. Amy Nethery (Deakin University).
Prof. Nicholas Procter (University of South Australia).
Lakshan Dias (SANRIM Lakshan Dias Associates Refugee Lawyers, Srilanka).
Emily Howie (Human Rights Law Centre)..

Chair: Prof William Maley speaking in the event

Habib, said that it was very unique event in support of refugee plights where the longest Rohingya plights focused much.

Dr. Graham from AI Australia sharing about  the Rohingya situation

He also added, "Dr. Graham from AI Australia who is expert on Rohingya, shared the situation of Rohingya from his recent Indonesia visit and the existing difficulties that Rohingya refugees face in transit countries."

Lakshan Dias sharing crisis in Srilanka
"UNHCR and Regional corporation is very important, UNHCR has to do as much as it can, its door should not close because being Rohingya and the regions have to share public services access for Rohingya refugees so it could not mess up the societies there. Resettlement countries have to include Rohingya refugees in their in take refugee quota. In search of refugees resettlements, the international communities to support Philippines's wills for refugees intake and encouraging developed muslim countries to resettle their muslim brother refugees. While handling of refugee issues in transits, the root causes in country of origin should be solved through international effective pressures and appropriate actions in Burma." Habib further added in conclusion.

Prof. Susan Kneebone sharing her topic
Presentation given by Habib is as below;
Habib, reading out the presentation..

Date: 31/08/2015
'Rohingya situation & Policies Impacts'

Background Information:
Rohingya people fleeing from homelands are victims of ethnic cleansing from Arakan (Rakhine) state of western Burma (Myanmar). They fled to neighbouring countries in major occasions of 1978, 1992 and lately from June 2012.

This outstanding ongoing Rohingya problem is being an issue of massive atrocities, crimes against humanity and slow genocide that is indeed a complete destruction of the minorities particularly Rohingya.

It been over 3 years on, the displaced Rohingya and Kaman people about hundred thousands enduring in 42 concentration camps across Arakan state and the rest a million population facing the systematic confinement followed by tyrant abuses.

They are totally excluded from Burma and fell into the worst part of tragic like that happen over history; "APARTHEID, SLAVERY & RACISM, EXTERMINATION"..
Today, they are struggling for survival and assistance in their origin. The Rakhine authorities just allow to pass the limited food items and whenever they want. Aid workers are yet facing various restrictions and instant threats for providing aid and distribution of rations to Rohingya and Kaman victims.
The scheme of Burmanization, Buddization practices follow by various forms of oppression and persecutions against minorities, has clearly come to merge since the changes of Burma to Myanmar; Arakan to Rakhine; the sate religion to 'Buddhism; and fixing the entire 7 divisions literally for one race known as “Bamar or Burman” and the rest of 7 states distribution for the ethic minority races in which no any particular regions was specified for indigenous Muslims of Burma at all.

All recognized and not recognized 13 muslim groups, none of them were officially granted citizenship. Because it is not the 1982-citizenship laws that stripped off of citizenship but the authority who are intentionally reluctant to access the Rohingya's historical existence and ancestral evidence that prove primary evidence earlier than prior to 1824 and also not allowing to recourse the citizenship under new citizenship act.

This case is not because of 'Rohingya', nor for the term 'Rohingya' therefore it could not be considered as a conflict, nor religious clashes. But it is a core destruction of other races and religions which are dissimilar to Buddhist. That extends for other minorities and other religions including Christian minorities including other recognized muslim group of Burma.
As a result today all displaced refugees in northern, eastern, western regions and central areas are non-Budhhists.
Crises Record:

Number of Fleeing
Fled to
Solution Given
Several villages destroyed, hundreds people killed
50,000 people
East Pakistan (today Bangladesh territory)
Several killed, properties and lands confiscation
Thousands people
East Pakistan (today Bangladesh territory)
Repatriated as illegal Pakistani immigrants
Arrests, Abuses, lands confiscation
300,000 people
200,000 sheltered in Bangladesh and most of them forcefully repatriated
1983 Muslim- free-zones
Hundred executed,
another more than a hundred jailed
Not recorded
Not recorded
Muslim crossing banned into Gwa, Taungup, Tandwe and Ponnagyuan townships
Executions, Jailing, Abuses, Land confiscation and destruction of villages, Model village settlements
270000 people
Sheltered in 20 camps, cutting off of rations, and closing down camps and about 50,000 people were forcefully repatriated and issued 'White Cards'...
Arrest and executed about 4000 people
More than 10,000 people
Forceful Repatriation and arrests, detention, continued..
From June 2012
Killed more than 10,000 people, 23,000 houses burn down, and 97 religious buildings destroyed. Confinement of all and trapping of 165,000 displaced victims into concentration camps.
More than 120,000 people
Bangladesh, India, Srilanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia,
Pushing backs, stranding at sea, Detention, Abuses,
Situation in Exile, Australia and Regional Approaches & Impacts:
After long trapped in endless abusive systems in Burma, they involving women and kids have been fled into neighbouring countries, numbering more than 120,000 people fled from June 2012. Mostly fled into Bangladesh that includes about 2,000 of recent arrivals in Thai, Malaysia and Indonesian waters. That include a claim of Australia pushed back a boat load of Rohingya.

Brutality, hostages and inhumane abuses are part of their daily life. We can't figure how many of those escapees have been captured and killed within Burma territory, how many lost life in the sea, how many trapped by human traffickers, how many still fleeing and where they are. UNHCR estimates about 1,100 people died in the sea in 18 months.

No refugee and asylum-seeker whether recognized or not, by law they are not allow to work, nor study.. Today, Rohingya become Burma's first refugees and languished as largely unwanted in transit countries, numbering about;
  1. 40,000 Rohingyas including many in various slave labours in Thailand, but most of them are not registered with UNHCR,
  2. about 50,000 in Malaysia of whom about 33,000 are registered refugees,
  1. more than 4,000 in Indonesia (of whom about 2500 are registered),
  2. more than 300,000 Rohingya refugees including about 40,000 living in UNHCR runs overcrowded squalid refugee camps of Kutupalong and Nayapara in southern district of Cox's Bazar, and about 40,000 living in unregistered refugee camp outside Kutupalong camp.
  3. about 100,000 Rohingyans including about 1,500 Rohingya displaced in Hyderabad city came to appeared in India,
  4. about 500,000 arrived during 1942, 1978, 1992 and the majority living in Mecca's slums of (Naqqasha and Kudai) and Jeddah of Saudi Arabia.
  5. About 200 or more people in Srilanka, including 168 people of those rescued in two occasions in Feb 2013.
  6. 9 people in Philippine, since 2004
  7. About 70 people in Cambodia that includes 17 Rohingya from June 2013 and Australia transferred a Rohingya man in June 2015.
None of these hosting countries are signatory to Refugees Conventions therefore they do not recognize refugee or political asylum in the country. However, they allow refugees to seek asylum from UNHCR and to let them chance to resettle in a third country and the agency is allowed to tackle its refugees and asylum seekers or persons of concern.

Ex-Rohingya refugees who been languished in legal limbo in transit countries are differently categorized by refugee actor UNHCR and never issued mandated refugee card and never refereed for resettlement. While they are recognized as illegal immigrants by hosting countries within the boundary of its Immigration Act and legislation
In most cases, UNHCR does not interfere or Rohingya refugee detainees were left to languished in detention with a view to draw attention of local authorities to gain sympathy for refugees.

There were periodic reports of ill treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in detention camps regardless of children, women, ages.
Conditions in detention camps, including overcrowding, the provision of adequate medical care, food and clean water, failed to meet basic needs. The detention camps are not accorded with international standard and no medical and NGOs staff are accessed and these continue infection of diseases. This may also compel them to come to agree constant deportation in order to escape from such horrific conditions.

Surprisingly again in neighbouring countries, Rohingya people those fled from persistent persecutions have been pushed back, sentenced on their landing, letting to fall into the hand of traffickers. These are in deed a breaches of Customary Laws and non-refoulement Laws.

Worst in Bangladesh, the country has ban on aid distribution of Rohingya refugees in the camps and laws enforcement onto those live in rural areas. As well as, the arrests of individual aid workers and welfare workers. Moreover, the Bangladeshi government has planning to isolate Rohingya refugees by transferring to remote island. Such actions are inhumane and unacceptable even in religion norms. When the country Bangladesh itself rely on intl aid, it should not cut off of the other' aid.

As a result of the failure of the international protection regime on the case of Rohingya, the Rohingya refugees have to endure in limbo with little or no access to basic rights.
Transit countries including Bangladesh have raised concern for keeping the Rohingya crisis alive and frustrated for hosting them continuously despite these regions have allow UNHCR office to regularise its exercises.

The story not end there. Because of Rohingyans are unwanted and unprotected, they fallen into trapped cycle of abuses, slavery, hostages, arrest, detention and forceful deportation.
Recent discovery of more than 300 dead bodies along Thai-Malaysia border areas, is one of the most tragic human tragedy which the regions had never discovered in the past. Most of these people were starved to death.
If these regions have a safeguard and protection systems in place, they could barely come out to seek refugee. No trafficker or agent could dare to house them. Rohingya refugees and asylum-seeker therefore must be provided safeguard system and protection on their arrivals and to assess equally in facilities sharing and resettlement quota.
A very little number of Rohingya resettlement began form 200. The numbered is less than 200 people in 65,000 people resettled from Malaysia in 10 year between 2000 and 2009.

For Rohingya, there is no mechanism, no proper safe guard, no front door, no queue to line-up. Because the resettlement countries including Australia have their own choices of who they want to and UNHCR too has a separate categorization for Rohingya therefore Rohingya refugees remain unwanted anywhere despite they are Burma's first refugees enduring in the cycle of abuses, slavery, arrest, detention and forceful deportation.
Australia has also drop refugee intake to 12,000 from 20,000 and the world's most Rohingya refugees are not equally included even in that little quota.

The situation in these transit countries which are unsignatory to 1951 Refugees Convention and 1967 Protocols, has never improved, nor have a proper safe guard system for refugees.
After such a long horrible experiences in transit countries where their lives under constant threats, the Rohingya refugees find secondary migration to a safe territory for their safety and security which enable to make their asylum claim in the first place..
Those in Bangladesh went for middle east, Malaysia, Thailand. Those from Malaysian and Thailand coming to Australia from 2006 numbered about 1,500 people in 9 years. Less or about 1% of total boat people arrivals per year.
Unfortunately this door been closed for Rohingya refugees again and sending massive funds for transit governments to counter the refugees movements.
In principle, it is the choice of the refugees whether they think there is safe for return.
Australia offering of aid in exchange of offshore detention under the title of “Regional Settlement”, is practically avoiding Australia's international responsibilities toward asylum-seekers and refugees, as well as, it is part of punishment on their seeking refuge.

The policies of 'stopping the boats with the measure of pushing back' which involved engagement to restrain the refugees in transit countries, practically result more restriction of the movement of refugees and or trapped in uncertainty.
This refugee crisis will never ease when the 'flow of refugees' been tackled by the measurement of human trafficking which is nothing to do with the plight of refugees who flee from persistent persecution. Therefore, the Rohingya refugees and asylum-seekers in transit countries face more difficulties compare to the past.

Australia as a humanitarian country, the government of Australia need to reconsider its stand on Rohingya refugees and asylum-seekers. Including them into Australia in take refugees so they can come through 'front door'.