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'.