Sunday 21 June 2015

“Rohingya Situation Statement on World Refugee Day” (19 June 2015)

 by Admin, 

We, Australian Burmese Rohingya Organization (ABRO) would like to raise serious concern over ongoing humanitarian crisis of Rohingya and Kaman of Arakan state.
For decades, Rohingyas have been oppressed, victimized, terrorized and forcefully expelled from homelands by the both government authorities and extremist Rakhine people. The campaigns of ethnic cleaning have been occurred in every power transition period of 1942, 1949, 1958-60, 1967, 1977-78, 1992 and latest 2012.1
Because of they are non-Buddhist the problems uprooted again and again and remain unsolved.

1942 campaign was led by Rakhine commissioner U Kyaw Khiang and instructed by Arakan state Tha-khin leaders after British forces handed the power to him. That caused total 294 Rohingyas villages destroyed, about 100,000 Rohingyas massacred and some 80,000 Rohingya uprooted to Raungpur refugee camp of Bangladesh.

1949: was led by Burma Territorial Forces which unleashed a reign of terror in North Arakan under the director of U Kyaw Oo, the firebrand Rakhine Deputy Commissioner of Akyab district. This pogrom escalated killing of hundreds of people and burning several villages, thousands of Rohingyas were homeless and nearly 50,000 had fled to the East Pakistan (present Bangladesh) and India. .

1958-60: 27 villages of Maungdaw northern side of Arakan State were uprooted by army led by Bo Tin Kyaw and drove the villagers into the then East Pakistan (present Bangladesh) and India. Later, the government reached the agreement to repatriate Rohigyas those fled However, those did manage to return were considered as illegal Pakistani immigrants and the properties and lands of all these refugees have been confiscated.

1967: began with slaughtering some Rohingyas captured outside and looting properties and seizing lands Southern Arakan.

1978: program was wide scope in Arakan and it degenerated into brutal abuses followed by arbitrary prosecutions, violences including rapes and vandalizing by both the army and local Rakhines.
Within 3 months over 300,000 Rohingyas crossed into Bangladesh where about 200,000 Rohingyas took shelter in makeshift camps erected by Bangladeshi government.
Most of them about 200,000 Rohingyans were forcefully repatriated after 9 months of arrival under the bilateral agreement singed on 9 July 1978. Half of those remained in Bangladesh travelled for other countries. The rest about 40,000 mostly women and children were died from illness and severe malnutrition after rations were cut to compel them to leave the refugee camps.
Because of bilateral agreement which did not meet intl standard, Rohingyas had to languish again without land and recognition of their status, as well as, various restrictions engaged upon their return. They had been randomly settled within Maungdaw township and desperately languished there.

By 1983, Gwa, Taungup, Tandwe and Ponnagyuan townships defined as muslim-free-zones by the government. It is tantamount to official killing license giving to Rakhines. Since then, muslims those captured in these regions are judged by Rakhine people. In this manner, hundred of muslims those found and captured in these regions were took over by Rakhine people and brutally killed.

1991: operation was introduced with inhumane physical abuses, executions, rapes, tortures and prosecutions including forced labour to build barracks and bamboo fences, new roads and bridges, dig environmental ponds and scout sentininel.
From May 1991 to the mid of 1992, about 270,000 Rohingya refugees were hosted in 20 refugee camps of Bangladesh.
Under bilateral agreement was signed between GoM and GoB, forceful deportation started with the title of repatriation from 1992 September regardless of the refugees' dignity, rights and recognition guarantee.
The first group of 15,000 Rohingyans repatriated by Dec 1992 and dozens were also killed in clashes for military unit's harshly intervention in deportation.
Second time, the UNHCR achieved agreement with GoB and repatriated 35,000 Rohingyans by Nov 1993 that enabled to close 3 camps.
Despite repatriated refugees turned back to Bangladesh, UNHCR upheld similar task and directly made agreement with GoM in order to repatriate large scale of remaining 190,000 Rohingya refugees with the date line- Dec 1995 and proclaimed that the situation in Arakan is conductive to return. As well as, Relief operations were suspended to compel refugees to leave the camps.
Most of repatriated Rohingya refugees turned back the second time into Bangladesh but they never approach to refugee camp for fear of similar forceful deportation..

From 8th June 2012, Total destruction across (13) different townships of Arakan state, reached at (97) mosques, about (23,000) houses from (95) villages. Death toll over 12,000 people and nearly 200,000 people displaced and number of arbitrary detention reached more than a thousand mainly from Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Sittwe townships. Despite the Thein Sein government of the so call 'civilian' has characterized the events as 'communal violence, the government’s involvement and contributions into the crisis are very obvious;
  • Imposing Curfew and Order on to Rohingyas and Kamans and allowing Rakhine people freely to carry out various attacks, looting goods and cash and setting fires.
  • Allowing security forces to shoot the Rohingyas and Kamans, and not arresting a single armed Rakhine who are aggressively coming to attacks into Rohingya villages.
  • Seizing lands of Rohingyas which were burnt down and disposing them into concentration camps.
  • Blocking aid, rations and compelling to die from starvation and attacking aid workers.
  • Denial of the rights to have rights such as medicare, education, relocation, movement.
  • Thein Sein government asking the United Nation to relocate Rohingya in a third country.
  • Fabricating false news: the local Burmese news groups and anti-Rohingya bloggers reporting the way they like and playing a major role of bias through inciting anti-Rohingya propaganda and portraying Rohingyas as they want and providing reverse information.
  • Forcing to accept foreigner identity in the mid of humanitarian crisis. Rakhine RNDP party openly declared the bounty reward for every dead Rohingya. Forcing to sign the documents that describe as illegal immigrants that have no claim to Burmese citizenship.
There are total about 200,000 Rohingya, Kaman and Rakhine muslims people involving about 75,000 children displaced (of whom about 175,000) have been forced into concentration camps and the rest about a million are also in appalling conditions under confinement and facing constant abuses from June 2012. Displaced people about (110,000) are in 13 to 15 camps of outside Sittwe (Akyab) city and the rest about (65,000) those from other 8 regions are in 26 camps where aid-workers unreachable. They ending up in the modern day concentration camps and enduring with confinement, constant abuses with lack of medi-care and food supply that causes to reach the death toll 7 to 20 people mostly children and elderly people per month.

 The government's massive contribution into violences in Rakhine State that later spread to other parts of Burma with the lead of ex-prisoner monk Wirathu. 
1) Six areas of Mandalay regions attackeddestroyed about 3,500 houses plus several mosques and displaced about 15,000 Muslims and killing more than a hundred, including mass killing of 36 mostly teenagers in the small town of Meiktila on 20 Mar 2013.
2) Attacks took placed across 8 townships of Pegu Regions but later most of those displaced were returned to their locations.
3) Attacks in Sagaing Regions displaced about 320 people after a mob burned homes on 24 August 2013.
4) Scattered attacks took placed in Yangon regions of Hlaing Tharyar, South Dagon, Tharkaytha townships. Arson attacks in Pebedan Madarasa killed 8 teachers and 28 students on 21 Mar 2013.
5) In Magwe regions: A mosque, houses and belongings of 10 Muslims were demolished in Kanma Township on 13th April 2012.
6) In Shan State: The attacks took place in Lashio destroyed the Myoma Mosque and estimated 5 Muslims have died and 30 houses were burnt down on the following day of Meiktila riot on 20 Mar 2013.
7) Kachin state: Attacks in Saitaung of Phakant township destroyed a few muslims’ houses and shops in the evening of about 2nd May 2013 .
8) Chin state: A village of 17 families live in Paletwa township were also attacked by Rakhine gangs came from Rakhine state as a result of it's situated along the Kaladen River connected to Arkan.

Barbaric actions of exclusion from national rights and Stripping of citizenship, looting properties and possessions, demolishing of historical existences and expulsion from their home lands by setting fire of houses, killing arbitrary and pushing into concentration camps and separation, forcing to become foreigner identity and driving into the sea, are very clear signs of genocide. The world's mechanism and its leaders must react immediately to save these people from such terror state. Without removal of dictatorships particularly from central posts and the establishment of rights base constitution, it is not marching for democracy nor, transition but big illusion one.

Practically, it is not the 1982-citizenship laws that stripped off 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. The fact is that after British occupation of Arakan in1824, the repatriated Rohingya war victims of 1784 and 1794 Burman king invasion of Arkan, were miscounted as British era settlers by central rulers.
Like in 1978 and 1992, after drove out of Rohingyans and Kamans from their ancestral homelands, the authorities tactically started collection of data and those forcefully repatriated under bilateral agreement were branded as Bengali so it could be accounted by exclusion of Rohingya into national census as a creation official evidence for national population history. Yet many new Burman scholars are relying on such fake resources.
Following intl pressures, the authorities are also forcing the Rohingyas and Kamans to accept unusual identity which is different to usual citizenship card. This unusual card is different colour and has not description of race and religion and considering not a citizen. When the Rohingya in the camp refused to sign the documents, the authority threatened the Rohingya and Kaman victims that no signing would no aid ever made it through the blockades again including aid from foreign organizations. Therefore, the citizenship verification process will not be free and fair unless monitor by international community.

It been more than 3 years on, the Rohingyas and Kamans of Arakan state (western Burma) are totally excluded from Burma and fell into the worst part of tragic like that happen over history; “APARTHEID, SLAVERY & RACISM, EXTERMINATION”..
In many location, the Rakhine authorities just allow to pass the limited food items to them so only those unwanted food items were distributed. Aid workers are yet facing various restrictions and instant threats for providing aid and distribution of rations to Rohingya and Kaman victims.
UN agencies and donor countries must ensure the food items to reach into the hands of victims. Meanwhile, the rations more than 100 bags of rice and other items with the brand mark of 'TIKA' donated by Turkey government were seized during Rakhine Insurgent members captured on 22nd of April 2015.2

They can't wait any longer in such terror state and so about 10% of Rohingya and Kaman people involving women and kids have been fled into neighbouring countries from the beginning of violence, numbered about hundred thousand. Mostly fled into Bangladesh that includes about 2,000 of recent arrivals in Thai, Malaysia and Indonesian waters. We can't figure how many 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.
Recent raid on people smugglers in Southern Thailand and Northern Malaysia discovered the nearly 185 dead bodies mostly belong to Rohingya from several locations.

Today, Rohingya become Burma's first refugees languished as unwanted in transit countries, numbering about; 40,000 Rohingyas including many in various slave labours in Thailand, 50,000 in Malaysia, more than 4,000 in Indonesia,
21 according to JRS3more 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, about 1,500 Rohingya displaced in Hyderabad city came to appeared in India4, and 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.

At the Oslo Conference to End Myanmar's Persecution of Rohingyas held at the Norwegian Nobel Institute on 26 May 2015,  has clearly indicated the elements of genocide.5
Under the objective to transform a complete Buddhism state, the country rulers, their authorities and majority of the people jointly terrorising the Rohingyans and Kamans and expelling from homelands. This must be stopped immediately.
Since the destruction, eradication and isolation and ban on livelihood and aid distribution of Rohingya victims are taking place, there is in need of militarily intervention and also for security and safety of the people it is required the UN to deploy peace keeping force and to take step to establish an independent state within Arkan state for these people.

Despite the central government has quieten the 55 million of people for five decades and yet instant arrest taking place for those impose threat, the central government does not prevent ongoing vigilant attacks by radical monks and Buddhist people against muslims by picking up of a hoax news or created one and the authorities are readily permitting for various protests against UN agencies and racial instigation propaganda.
Restriction and arrest of foreign journalists and corporal punishment of those speak to intl media or tourists. Activists, writers including non-Rohingyans like venerable monk Pinnyasiha and writter Htin Lin Oo who support Rohingya or speaking against racism, were jailed and ban from publicly speaking.

Surprisingly again in neighbouring countries, people those fled from genocide 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.
Specially, the country Bangladesh has put the 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.

We also appeal the UNHCR in Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia to open the door for its refugees and recognize their plights, as well as, it must provide basic assistance and support for vulnerable groups such as elderly people, kids, single father/mother.
Historically, Burma's minorities are continued to face vigilant attacks, extra-judicial killings, sexual abuses, arbitrary arrests and detention, inhumane tortures in every power transition period. The other hand, waging wars against Kachin, Karen, Shan and Chin minorities with disregard of cease-fire agreement.
Kachin state: By February 2013, internally displaced persons about 35,000 in Myitkyina (two camps in Jan Mai Kaung) and Waingmaw (Thargaya and Lavoa camps). Another about 40,000displaced are in KIA/KIO-controlled areas. (while people fleeing into China is not counted into.)
Chin state: Chin refugees seeking refuge in Delhi-India from the past decades and now living in tents left about 8,500 people.
Shan state: There are about 125,000 Shan displaced living along China border and some of them crossed into China. Many people still escaping months ago from clashes between the armed groups and government soldiers.
Karen and Mon states: More than 120,000 Karen, Kareni (Kayah) and some Mon people displaced internally.
Another about 200,000 mainly Karen, Karenni and Mon refugees took refuge in Thai-Burma border refugee camps and most of them been there from the past three decades. By the end of year 2013, about 80,000 refugees are still living in 10 refugee camps.

There are ongoing ethnic cleansing pogroms with the action of genocide and deprivation of rights. These are in deed a humanitarian disaster directly contributed by central government.
The current Rohingya genocide in Burma is a case in which different forces in society and politics have converged to create, basically, a living hell for this particular group.
Majority of Buddhist people believe Burma only belongs to them and democracy should only be available to them. Burmese rulers have continuously committing crimes against humanity and it has been over 3 years on, the government keeps the Arakan crisis alive in order to divert people' attention from democratization and election.

Historically, such disaster could not ease by political dialogue or diplomatic engagement or simple sanctions. Despite aid and assistance very important for daily sustainable, and have been provided from around the world including Australia, such assistance is not a factor to solve the long running genocide of Rohingya.

Base on facts finding from the past genocide fields, what happening to Rohingya is a virtue sign of genocide and crime against humanity. This should not be compromised by opening of a few illusion progress such as releasing political prisoners, media freedom chapter.

We, ABRO therefore demand the following points;
1) United Nation to mandate to put effective resolution onto Burma to ease the crisis as soon as possible end persecution against minorities.
2) Britain, France, United States and its allies countries to use veto power to take appropriate action on to Burma rulers and military generals who committed crime against humanity and genocide.
3) OIC and its leaders, ASEAN leader countries to continuously provide assistance on the ground in Arkan and rescue Rohingya boat-people from the sea.
4) United Nation to protectorate the areas of where Rohingya and Kaman people living and deploy International Peace Keeping Forces on the ground and to emerge for establishment of an Independent State within Arakan State.
5) United Nation agencies to exercise its power in distribution of aid to displaced victims of Rohingyans and Kamans on the ground and monitor citizenship verification process.
6) UNCHR to open its registration for Rohingya refugee boat-people and recognize them as refugee and include equal number in resettlement quota.
7) We also urge International Crisis Group to forfeit the Top Award prize given to Thein Sein in the end of 2012.

Australia as a member of UNSC and signatory country to 1951 Refugee Convention, we Rohingya people in Australia kindly appeal to the Australian government to take part in taking action against Burma and its rulers and to give a hand to rescue Rohingya people from genocide and those from the sea.
This is the statement of question about 3 million displaced people who suffer every moment for years on and their dreadful situation could not be enough to express by words. We therefore hopping that the world leaders would save our Rohingya and Kaman people from ongoing genocide and other displaced people of Chin, Kachin, Karen and Shan from other parts of Burma.

5Myanmar's Genocide of Rohingya, Quintana, Penny Green and Zarni, at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway on 26 May 2015

Wednesday 17 June 2015

'We always live in fear': Rohingya refugees speak out

Sarah Abo
Video link
The plight of the Rohingya has dominated headlines recently as thousands flee Myanmar in crowded boats, often to be abandoned at sea by people smugglers.
Rejected in their homeland, the Rohingya have effectively been left stateless.
Most of them won't make it to Australian shores - stopping either in Malaysia or Indonesia where they are detained.
But the small community in Australia has spoken out about their fears.
Rohingya people, a Muslim ethnic minority from Myanmar, have for decades been fleeing their homeland, which refuses to accept them as its citizens. 
Living in persecution since regional conflict with the Rakhine Buddhist population began in the 1940s, many hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have had no choice but to leave.
“We have no security, no protection at all. We feel like, worse than animal. So we always live in fear.”
Habib Habiburahman is one of them. 
He left Rakhine state, in western Myanmar on the Bangladeshi border, when he was 19.
“They start ceasing all sort of identity and they start saying 'oh, you don't have identity, you are not belong to here', and they start ceasing all sort of property,” Habib said of the Myanmar government.
“We have no security, no protection at all. We feel like, worse than animal. So we always live in fear”.
Habib spent 10 years in Malaysia, where many Rohingya find themselves. Malaysia is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and, according to the UNHCR, “lacks the legislative and administrative framework to address refugee matters”. 
Habib was constantly in and out of detention. 
“Half of the Rohingya population, they all are already in exile,” Habib said.
“In Malaysia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, India and also the other Europe developed countries.”
“We are stateless - we have nowhere to go.”
He says he was often at the mercy of people smugglers, who demanded money for his release. Eventually, he paid for a journey to Australia.
His boat was intercepted by Australian authorities, and he spent 22 months in detention in the Northern Territory and Christmas Island. 
While Habib’s future in Australia is not secure, at least he feels safe. 
“It was the first official document I received in my life.”
His friend Nowbi Mohammed, is a permanent resident, after spending 17 months in detention when he first arrived in 2009.
“It was the first official document I received in my life,” he said of his residency.
Two years after he arrived here, his wife and three young children made the same perilous journey.
His 12-year-old daughter Nosima remembers fearing she’d fall into the ocean.
“It was a bit scary on the boat,” she said. “It was a bit hot and there’s no water to drink, and there’s no food.”
She and her younger brothers were born in Malaysia, where her parents had fled to from Myanmar. 
“I was in Malaysia, then I went to Indonesia, Christmas Island, Darwin, Brisbane.”
To Nosima, Australia offers the chance of a new life.  
“There's no fighting in Australia, and they share everything,” she said. 
“You can go to primary school and high school. And you got a bit of holidays.”
The spotlight is back on the plight of the Rohingya, after thousands took to the seas, last month. 
Along with Bangladeshis, many were rescued from the waters of South East Asia, and have been temporarily resettled across Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, after those countries signed an agreement and stopped turning back the rickety boats. 
The Australian government was criticised for its hard line on the refugees, refusing to offer any resettlement, instead, providing financial assistance to the International Organisation for Migration’s activities in Indonesia. 

Thursday 4 June 2015

No Solution in Sight For Rohingya Crisis

Source Restlessbeing,

The stark reality is that there are still around 2,500 Rohingya who are stranded in the Andaman Sea. Their exact location is unknown. Their exact number is unknown and the condition of those on board is unknown.
The families they’ve left behind, their compatriots who have managed to reach shores, their extended families who are overseas are known as the ‘forgotten people’; the Rohingya, an ethnic group who Burma whole-heartedly, vehemently and violently reject as rightful citizens.
In recent days, some sovereign nations have made offers of support for the Rohingya though not all have been absolutely viable. Take for example Malaysia and Indonesia’s change of heart, when under mounting pressure from the international community, they said they would accept any Rohingya who arrived on their shores from the Andaman Sea. The caveat here being that no assistance would be offered in helping the Rohingya get to their shores. Most of the vessels had been abandoned by their human trafficking captains and crew and so many were and still are unable to find land. Further, the Indonesian and Malaysian Governments imposed a timeline of 12 months for the Rohingya to be resettled elsewhere. The concept of Burma repatriating the stranded Rohingya from the custody of Indonesia and Malaysia is a non-starter.
Then there was an offer from The Gambia to resettle all 8,000 stranded. If the vessels struggle to find land a mere 500km from their locations it is highly unlikely they will be able to navigate their wooden fishing boats through the Indian ocean all the way to a small port country in Western Africa.
An offer of search and rescue by the US was ruled out by Thai authorities who did not want foreign forces in their waters.
And then came the ASEAN meeting of May 29th. Many had hoped that this would be an opportunity to finally assert some pressure on Burma to accept responsibility. The meeting also had US, UN and other observers, however, with a lack of political gusto in terms of leaders, the Burmese spokesman cowered the UNHCR’s opening remarks into a corner. The term Rohingya was not used. There was no solution. There was no roadmap. There remains no solution.
‘It is essential that as members of a global community we continue to approach our local leaders to push Governments to lobby against and apply diplomatic pressure on Burma to reach a parity of human rights treatment and grant the Rohingya citizenship.’ is the message from Mabrur Ahmed, Director of Restless Beings.
Issuing a rallying call to activists and supports, Ahmed continued, ‘Our voices of concern and support must be continuous. The reality is there are still 2,500 stranded at sea. There are more than 100,000 facing daily misery in the camps of Sittwe. And there is an excess of 1 million people who have no home, no rights and no citizenship. We can not afford to remain silent.’
Restless Beings is a UK based international human rights organisation. We are currently working on interactive campaigns which supporters can be a part of. We are also working alongside a number of other individuals and organsiations to ensure that awareness is raised continuously and that the lobby for Rohingya rights is sustained.

Monday 1 June 2015

American actor Matt Dillon Puts Rare Celebrity Spotlight on Rohingya

Source Irrawaddy news, 1 June

Actor Matt Dillon at a photocall for the television series 'Wayward Pines' during the annual MIPCOM television program market in Cannes on Oct, 14, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)
Actor Matt Dillon at a photocall for the television series 'Wayward Pines' during the annual MIPCOM television program market in Cannes on Oct, 14, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)
SITTWE, Arakan State — American actor Matt Dillon put a rare star-powered spotlight on Burma's long-persecuted Rohingya Muslims, visiting a hot, squalid camp for tens of thousands displaced by violence and a port that has served as one of the main launching pads for their exodus by sea.
It was "heartbreaking," he said after meeting a young man with a raw, open leg wound from a road accident and no means to treat it.
Mothers carrying babies with clear signs of malnutrition stood listlessly outside row after row of identical bamboo huts, toddlers playing nearby in the chalky white dust.
"No one should have to live like this, people are really suffering," said Dillon, wearing his trademark black T-shirt and jeans. "They are being strangled slowly, they have no hope for the future and nowhere to go."
Though Rohingya have been victims of state-sponsored discrimination for decades, conditions started deteriorating three years ago after the predominantly Buddhist country of 51 million began its bumpy transition from a half-century of dictatorship to democracy.
Taking advantage of newfound freedoms of expression, radical monks started fanning deep-seated societal hatred for the religious minority. Hundreds have been killed by machete-wielding mobs and a quarter million others now live under apartheid-like conditions in camps or have fled by boat—hundreds of dehydrated, hungry Rohingya washing onto Southeast Asian shores in recent weeks.
As they become increasingly marginalized, several groups are warning that the building blocks of genocide are in place.
"I know that's a very touchy word to use. But there's a very ominous feeling here," said Dillon, one of the first celebrities to try to get a first-hand look at what life is like for Rohingya in the western state of Arakan.
Denied citizenship, they are effectively stateless with almost no basic rights
Dillon said he decided to come to Burma following a desperate, urgent appeal by Rohingya activist Thun Khin at a Refugees International fundraiser in Washington, D.C., just over a month ago. In Japan to promote his new television series, Wayward Pines, he decided it was a good time to make the trip.
"There are people working here, people who know a hell of a lot more about it than I do," Dillon said after hearing grumbling from some aid workers about what he hoped to achieve. "But listen, if I can use my voice to draw attention to something, where I see people suffering, I'll do that any day of the week. I'm happy to do that."
He spoke to two teenage boys who tried to flee by boat, only to find themselves in the hands of human traffickers, and was chased away by armed security guards when trying to snap pictures of the last standing Rohingya neighborhood in the state capital—a ghetto surrounded by tall walls topped by rolls of heavy barbed wire.
But what really choked him up were the camps: "It affected me more than I thought it would."
While there were clear signs humanitarian agencies are active—new latrines, well-placed hand pumps, concrete open sewers—he noted in contrast to camps he's visited in Sudan and the Congo, he didn't run into a single Western aid worker during his two-day visit.
Nor were NGO trucks rumbling through with medical equipment, food or other supplies—due primarily to severe restrictions placed on aid agencies by the government following pressure from Buddhist extremists.
"I've been to some places where the threats of violence seemed more imminent," he said. "Here it's something else. It feels more like people are going to be left to wither away and die."