NGO urges Myanmar to allow aid access to Rakhine State

            By Ali Murat Alhas</p>  <p>ANKARA (AA) - A London-based rights group on Wednesday called on the Myanmar government to allow unhindered and complete access for NGOs in northern Rakhine state.</p>  <p>Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) said in a statement that since Aug. 25, 2017 -- when Myanmar launched a military crackdown on the Rohingya Muslims -- residents in northern parts of the country have complained of widespread shortages of food and medical aid, especially in Buthidaung, Rathedaung and Maungdaw Townships.</p>  <p>“The Burmese authorities continue to show there is no limit to their cruelty and callousness by depriving civilians of aid as punishment for conflicts they have no control over,&quot; BHRN executive director Kyaw Win said in the statement. 

“The international community cannot ignore widespread hunger and diseases are likely to spread through Rohingya and Rakhine communities who have been with limited aid since 2017.“

The rights group said it received "regular reports from villagers of food shortages, illness, and widespread suffering."

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

The UN has also documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces.

In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

Amnesty: Myanmar army ops target Rakhine state

             By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal</p>    <p>LONDON (AA) - Myanmar security forces have shelled villages and blocked civilians from accessing food and humanitarian assistance in western Rakhine state since early 2019, a rights groups said Monday.</p>    <p>“Security forces have also used vague and repressive laws to detain civilians in the area,” according to the Amnesty International report based on fresh evidence on ongoing military operations.</p>    <p>“These latest operations are yet another reminder that the Myanmar military operates without any regard for human rights,” Tirana Hassan, director of Crisis Response at Amnesty International said.</p>    <p>“Shelling inhabited villages and withholding food supplies are unjustifiable under any circumstances,” Hassan added.</p>    <p>The Amnesty said it has “received reports that army divisions involved in atrocities against the Rohingya in August and September 2017 have been deployed to Rakhine State again in recent weeks.”</p>    <p>“Despite international condemnation of the Myanmar military’s atrocities, all evidence suggests that they are brazenly committing yet more serious abuses,” said Hassan.</p>    <p>According to the report, these violations came after a UN fact-finding mission called for the criminal investigation and prosecution of senior Myanmar officials for crimes under international law against the Rohingya population in Rakhine, and against ethnic minorities in Kachin and northern Shan states.</p>    <p>The report said that “an ethnic Rakhine armed group known as the Arakan Army carried out coordinated attacks on four police posts in northern Rakhine State, reportedly killing 13 police officers on Jan. 4, 2019” and “Myanmar’s civilian government instructed the military to launch an operation to ‘crush’ the Arakan Army, which the government spokesperson referred as as a ‘terrorist organization’”.</p>    <p>The Arakan Army is an armed Buddhist group that wants more autonomy for the Buddhist Rakhine ethnic minority.</p>    <p>It has fought the military as part of an alliance of armed groups in northern Myanmar and, as it has moved its attention to Chin and Rakhine states in recent years, has clashed sporadically with security forces there, according to the Amnesty.</p>    <p>The Myanmar army “has since moved considerable assets and troops into the region”.</p>      <p>The report said that “more than 5,200 men, women and children had been displaced by the ongoing fighting by 28 January, according to the UN.”</p>    <p>“They are overwhelmingly from predominantly Buddhist ethnic minorities, including the Mro, Khami, Daingnet and Rakhine.”</p>    <p>The Amnesty said it has found that “they fled their villages after the security forces shelled nearby or placed restrictions on food.”</p>    <p>In a June 2017 report, Amnesty International documented in detail “indiscriminate shelling by the Myanmar military during its operations in Kachin and Shan States, which killed and injured civilians and displaced thousands”.</p>    <p>“These unlawful attacks are sowing fear in many villages,” said Hassan.</p>    <p> </p>  <p>- Restrictions on humanitarian access</p>    <p>“The Myanmar authorities have also imposed further restrictions on humanitarian access in Rakhine State. On 10 January, the Rakhine State government barred all UN agencies and international humanitarian organizations, except the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and World Food Programme (WFP), from operating in five conflict-affected townships,” said the report, as well.</p>    <p>“Many organizations have had to stop their humanitarian assistance, undermining emergency response and relief efforts in one of Myanmar’s poorest and most underdeveloped regions,” it said.

More than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, according to Amnesty International.

Since then, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

The OIDA also reported that more than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police, and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down.

The UN has also documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces.

– Arbitrary detention

<p>The Myanmar security forces also “appear to be using abusive laws to detain and prosecute civilians for allegedly supporting the Arakan Army, raising concerns about arbitrary detention and potential ill-treatment,” the Amnesty noted. </p>  <p>In a June 2018 report, Amnesty International “documented torture and other inhuman treatment against Rohingya men and boys held in BGP posts in Rakhine.”</p>    <p>The Amnesty said local activists and media reports suggest that “arbitrary detentions and the use of vague and repressive laws have been commonplace during the latest military operation in Rakhine State.”</p>    <p>The group added, based on local reports, that “around 30 village administrators submitted resignation letters in January, out of concern they might be wrongly prosecuted for unlawful association”.

Rohingya activists share stories of community's plight

            By Umar Farooq</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - Fear, intimidation, repression and genocide.</p>  <p>These are the words used by members of the Rohingya community to describe what is happening to them at the hands of Myanmar's military forces.</p>  <p>&quot;Some may think that by leaving a repressive, genocidal regime, Rohingya will be free,&quot; said Yasmin Ullah, a Rohingya activist. </p>  <p>&quot;Fear and intimidation are part of everyday life in Arakan, or what is called Rakhine state today. Fear and intimidation follow us everywhere.&quot;</p>  <p>On Friday, the Free Rohingya Coalition (FRC) brought together scholars and activists for a two-day conference in New York, where they aimed to showcase the plight of the Muslim minority and call on the world to listen and put pressure on Myanmar to stop the attacks against the Rohingya.</p>  <p>Razia Sultana, the FRC's Coordinator for Women and Children's Affairs, said she was &quot;deeply disappointed&quot; that the international community has yet to take any strong or purposeful action against the people responsible for the genocide.</p>  <p>In a fact-finding mission in October, the UN noted that the genocide against the Rohingya is still going on, but Sultana pointed out that there was still no action from the Security Council.</p>  <p>But other Rohingya such as Thun Khin, president of the Burmese Rohingya Organization, saw the UN declaration of genocide as an opportunity to call for international support on behalf of what the UN describes as the world's most persecuted people.</p>  <p>&quot;Finally the world has caught up to what we have been saying for many years. Our community, we've been saying, the only word to describe what is going on is genocide,&quot; Khin said. </p>  <p>More than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, according to Amnesty International.</p>  <p>Since then, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA). </p>  <p>The OIDA also reported that more than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police, and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down. </p>  <p>The UN has also documented mass gang rapes, killings – including of infants and young children – brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces. 

– Long history in Myanmar

Khin, whose grandfather served as a secretary of the Burmese parliament, outlined the history of the Rohingya community in Myanmar.

"We've been living here for many centuries," he said.

Khin noted that the campaign against the Rohingya is not a new issue and has been going on for decades, and the Myanmar government's end goal is genocide.

When the military began operations against the Rohingya, the Rohingya thought they could turn to opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was then under house arrest, for support. Khin mentioned that he had even campaigned for her release across the Western world.

Suu Kyi had promised the Rohingya their basic rights once democracy was established. But once she came into power, she too became complicit in the state's crimes.

"If she wanted to, she could open up Rahkine state to aid access. Or she could release the writers, journalists who have highlighted military atrocities against the Rohingya. But she has chosen not to do anything," Khin said.

Khin's experience with the civilian government left him much more wary of relationships with the Myanmar government and cemented his understanding that it is the Rohingya community that needs to be given the authority to make their own decisions.

"If history has taught us anything, it is that Rohingya cannot be left at the mercy of Myanmar forces. Rohingya must also have a seat at the table to determine our own future," Khin added.

*Dildar Baykan contributed to this report from New York

Bangladesh seeks US help for Rohingya repatriation

             By Md. Kamruzzaman</p>  <p>DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) - Credible pressure needs to be put on Myanmar so that the country develops a favorable environment for the Rohingya to return home, said Bangladesh’s foreign minister on Thursday.</p>  <p>AK Abdul Momen made the remarks on Thursday in a meeting in the capital Dhaka with Earl Robert Miller, the U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh.</p>  <p>Momen also raised the issue of creating a “safe zone” inside Myanmar’s Rakhine state for the Rohingya and sought cooperation from the U.S. in resolving the crisis.</p>  <p>On relocating some Rohingya to Bhashan Char, a remote islet at the entrance to the Bay of Bengal prone to natural disaster, Momen told Miller that around 100,000 Rohingyas are planned to be relocated there on a voluntary basis.</p>  <p>He stressed the Rohingya will have opportunities to earn a livelihood there, promising safety and saying the islands will be like Singapore. 

Most of the 750,000-plus Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh currently live in the country's southeast in areas such as Cox's Bazar, after fleeing violence and persecution in Myanmar.

  • Persecuted community

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

The UN has also documented mass gang rapes, killings – including of infants and young children – brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces.

In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

UK calls for restraint in renewed Myanmar violence

             By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON (AA) – Britain on Friday raised concerns over the escalation of violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

Mark Field, minister of state for Asia and the Pacific, said he was “deeply concerned by the escalation of violence in Rakhine State".

Field said in a statement “the U.K. calls on all sides involved in the conflict to show restraint".

“All sides have a duty to ensure that the safety of civilians is guaranteed and to respect international law,” he said.

Myanmar's western Rakhine State is home to Rohingya Muslim community, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly children and women, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, the OIDA report said, adding that 17,718 (±780) Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police. Over 115,000 Rohingya houses were also burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

In a report, the UN Refugee Agency said nearly 170,000 people fled Myanmar in 2012 alone.

The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

'US Rohingya genocide declaration to encourage others'

             By Sorwar Alam </p>  <p>ANKARA (AA) - The U.S. House of Representative vote declaring persecution of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar a &quot;genocide&quot; should encourage other nations to follow suit, a senior rights activist said.

In an interview with Anadolu Agency on last week's vote, Harn Yawnghwe, son of Myanmar's first president Sao Shwe Thaike, said the move “affirms the action taken by the International Criminal Court to further investigate, and the UN's Independent International Fact-Finding Mission (IIFFM) report that there is credible evidence against the Myanmar government and its security forces.”

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a resolution by a vote of 394-1 on Dec. 14 affirming “the Burmese military’s actions were genocide against the Rohingya people".

A UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar found the military guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity including rape, gang rape, sexual slavery, forced nudity, mutilations, torture, persecution, and enslavement.

The Canadian government, parliament and Senate also recognized atrocities against Rohingya a genocide in September.

"This should encourage other nations that are undecided to also recognize that what is happening in Myanmar is a genocide,” said Yawnghwe, who is also the executive director of Brussels-based Euro-Burma Office, which promotes democracy in his home country.

The U.S. move would mean that “the international community has an obligation to act to stop the genocide,” according to Yawnghwe.

“Immediate action is needed to protect the Rohingya. They need a protected homeland in Myanmar.”

– Repatriation process

He also voiced concern over the repatriation process of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya from Bangladesh, where they took shelter fleeing brutality in the Rakhine state of Myanmar last year.

A repatriation “until a protected homeland is established” would put the devastated minority “in grave danger because the Myanmar government has not changed its policies or put into place any measures to prevent another massacre of Rohingya.”

He suggested broader economic and political sanctions against the Myanmar government and military to show "they cannot get away with genocide".

“They need to reform and change. The Myanmar public needs to also know that they cannot kill or persecute a minority with impunity.

“It will give the Rohingya hope that they may be able to return safely and live a secure life in their former homes without fear of further persecution. Without hope and without a measure of control over their own lives, people get desperate. Desperate people do desperate things. But the international community must act before it is too late.”

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August last year.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA)

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

The UN has also documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces.

In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

ANALYSIS – Peaceful Rohingya repatriation seems too far-fetched

                          <p>By Md. Kamruzzaman </p>  <p>DHAKA, Bangladesh  (AA) - A slow recitation of the Holy Quran with an unvarying and quavering voice was coming from a flimsy, makeshift tent at the Kutupalong camp in Bangladesh’s southern city, Cox’s Bazar, now a forced residence for more than a million Rohingya refugees since they fled the brutal “clearance operations” launched by Myanmar military in Rakhine state in August last year. </p>  <p>The voice was coming from the 60-year-old Fatima Begum, a Rohingya refugee who has been living in a squalid tent for the last one year. I approached Fatima’s tarpaulin tent standing with difficulty with the help of bamboo sticks, which make this rickety structure highly vulnerable to monsoon rain and landslides.  </p>  <p>Fatima continued reciting from the scripture, paying little attention to the stranger. I took advantage of the first pause and asked her about the reason for their fleeing to Bangladesh from Rakhine. She said, “How could I live there? They (the Burmese army) burned down my house.” </p>  <p>A sudden silence gripped Fatima. But seconds later she started to cry like a baby. “They were chasing my husband, and he was running. He was caught and slaughtered like a cow in a slaughterhouse. My two sons met the same fate. All happened before my eyes in broad daylight.” </p>  <p>Silence again and a shocked Fatima started staring at me with a different look and replied louder, “Ar ar e kangur Jaium?” or “How do I go there?” </p>  <p>Nobody has an answer for Fatima but what is before us is the clear picture of a deteriorating humanitarian catastrophe, with more than 750,000 Rohingya Muslims having fled to the neighboring Bangladesh within a short span of time. </p>  <p>While thousands of such dreadful stories from most Rohingya Muslims are unfolding in the media across the world, along with the news of shameful denial from Myanmar authorities, Bangladesh and Myanmar have planned to operate a forced repatriation. The attempt has, however, been foiled for the time being due to worldwide pressure and vehement protests by Rohingya refugees on the grounds of security and basic rights. </p>  <p>- Issues to resolve for viable repatriation</p>  <p>Experts all over the world are repeatedly warning that without ensuring a credible trial of all the atrocious acts committed so far, citizenship rights for Rohingya, and guaranteed safety under an international watchdog, any sustainable repatriation cannot be done. </p>  <p>UN Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour said in a statement on March 6 this year that the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya in Myanmar was still going on while the country’s authorities were ridiculously claiming that they were ready to receive the ones who had fled. Gilmour condemned the dubious role of Myanmar. </p>  <p>At the 38th session of the Human Rights Council on July 4 this year, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said that as of mid-June, there had been 11,432 new arrivals in Bangladesh in 2018. He said: “All the newly arrived refugees who have been interviewed by the OHCHR (The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights) described continuing violence, persecution and human rights violations, including killings and the burning of Rohingya homes.” </p>  <p>The United Nations (UN) FactFinding Mission published in August this year also found that the crimes in Rakhine state, and the manner in which they were perpetrated “are similar in nature, gravity and scope to those that have allowed genocidal intent to be established in other contexts.” </p>  <p>The Guardian, on Aug. 27 this year, ran a story on the UN Fact-Finding Mission’s report, according to which an estimated 25,000 people have been killed and 700,000 have fled over the border to Bangladesh. </p>  <p>The Human Rights Watch (HRW), in a report published on Aug. 29,  2017, showed satellite images of widespread fires burning in at least 10 areas in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, following the military crackdown, while in a report entitled “We Will Destroy Everything”, the Amnesty International (AI) said in June this year: &quot;The ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya population was achieved by a relentless and systematic campaign in which the Myanmar security forces unlawfully killed thousands of Rohingya, including young children.&quot;</p>  <p>The rights group accused the Myanmar military of sexual violence, torture, forced displacement and burning of markets and farmland to force communities into fleeing. Amnesty also named 13 high-ranking officers including the army’s commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing as being most culpable, and argued that they should be put on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.</p>  <p>But Myanmar is still denying those colossal offences perpetrated by its army (Tatmadaw), denying the citizenship right to Rohingya, giving no assurances to repatriating Rohingya regarding safety in their places of birth, and rejecting the presence of any international watchdog to monitor the issue of safety after repatriation. On the contrary, the farcical inquiry carried out by Myanmar’s military and government found the army innocent of any atrocious acts. </p>  <p>A Nobel Peace Laureate and Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, also failed to apply her power or moral responsibility to stop the violence. Rohingya are still branded as outsider “Bengalis” and “illegal residents” by Myanmar authorities. </p>  <p>Rohingya Muslims still living in the Rakhine still have to endure systematic inhuman oppression. While preparing to brief the UN Security Council on the situation in late October this year, Chair of the UN Fact-Finding Mission Marzuki Darusman told reporters that the estimated 250,000 to 400,000 Rohingya who remained in the Buddhist-majority country following last year's crackdown “continue to suffer the most severe” restrictions and repression. “It is an ongoing genocide that is taking place.” </p>  <p>How can a peaceful and viable repatriation be possible without resolving these burning issues? Unfortunately, without resolving them, both countries have agreed to start the repatriation without the slightest consultation with the victims, the Rohingya. As the first phase of the plan, around 2,200 Rohingya were supposed to cross the Bangladeshi border on Nov. 15, 2018 with a huge risk of facing the same cycle of perils. Fortunately, the move was cancelled.</p>  <p>- Why the rush in repatriation? </p>  <p>The Myanmar side is trying to speed up the repatriation of the Rohingya in Bangladesh, as this South Asian country wants to fix its tarnished image by showing the world that they are cordially willing to receive the returning Rohingya, even though this all seems very indecent on the part of the Suu Kyi administration, as they are still denying Rohingya the right to citizenship.</p>  <p>Why is Bangladesh also behaving so hastily? Firstly, Bangladesh is a poor country affected by socio-political unrest most of the time especially ahead of the upcoming national polls that will be held on Dec. 30, 2018 after 10 years of harsh governance by the Awami League (AL), including the last five years through a one-sided election in 2014 that was boycotted by most of the opposition parties including the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).  </p>  <p>Now, on the eve of the polls, the ruling AL wants to show its efficiency in resolving the country’s most pressing issues, and the opposition, going through a critical period of difficulty keeping its main leader Begum Khaleda Zia behind bars, is trying to dig up the blemishes and weaknesses of the government. The plan for a speedy repatriation and resettlement of Rohingya is in fact the result of this political tussle. </p>  <p>The Rohingya crisis remains an issue of paramount importance for Bangladesh as the huge number of refugees -- over 1,1 million now; living in the shaky makeshift camps located in Cox’s Bazar and Tekhnaf, two vital tourist zones of the country -- are coming at an enormous cost to Bangladesh’s socio-economy and environment. </p>  <p>- Tone of media reports changed</p>  <p>Moreover, the reporting format of the local media has also changed. At the preliminary stages of the Rohingya exodus in August last year, the local media were focusing mainly on the humanitarian aspects of the crisis. As a result, tens of thousands of people as well as political and humanitarian organizations and NGOs became involved, on a massive scale, to raise funds for Rohingya. Even the imams (spiritual leaders) at thousands of country’s mosques appealed to the worshipers for donation. Thousands of donation seekers countrywide collected funds in busy streets for the Rohingya refugees. </p>  <p>Now, the local media are highlighting stories such as environmental disasters in the hilly areas of Southern Bangladesh and crimes like drug selling and prostitution by Rohingya refugees, all of which contribute to the already heavy pressure on the government for solving the crisis. </p>  <p>Nowadays Bangladeshi journalists consciously or unconsciously feel comfortable reporting on environmental pollution in the wake of the rising popularity of the issue of environment or climate change. I have met so many journalists in Cox’s Bazar and noticed an excessive passion to focus on environmental disasters allegedly caused by Rohingya, and this aspect of the crisis is now overshadowing the humanitarian one.  </p>  <p>- Perils awaiting Rohingya in Rakhine</p>  <p>Myanmar’s snobbish authorities did not allow the UN Fact-Finding Mission to inspect the reports on the atrocities in Rakhine, let alone other bodies such as AI, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the HRW, and Doctors Without Borders (DWB).  </p>  <p>So, in the absence of any international watchdog, how can we trust that the same Myanmar authorities would behave gently toward the repatriated Rohingya? </p>  <p>So it is almost sure that, without ensuring safety, a fair trial of genocide and crimes against humanity, Rohingya Muslims will most probably face the same cycle of perils, because as part of the present plan, Myanmar authorities will be resettling them in internment camps run by the army, until the burned down villages in Rakhine become -- what Myanmar authorities call -- “model villages”. </p>  <p>Unfortunately, two big players of the UN Security Council -- China and Russia -- have been supporting Myanmar and imposing obstacles that stand in the way of any meaningful move by the UN and other international bodies to force Myanmar to stand trial as well as resolve this crisis. In particular China remains the biggest supporter of Myanmar’s atrocities. </p>  <p>We also hear from various non-verified sources that the lands and properties left by the fleeing Rohingya in Rakhine have already been distributed among Buddhists and Hindus. Chinese-supported economic projects are aiming at utilizing the abandoned Rohingya lands in the region, a Rohingya activist and journalist, Mohammed Sheikh Anwar, wrote in The Washington Post on Nov. 13. </p>  <p>Moreover, a recently signed multi-billion-dollar port agreement between Myanmar and China at a strategic town along the coast of the Bay of Bengal will also affect a vast portion of the emptied Rohingya lands. </p>  <p>Not to mention also that the Muslim identity of Rohingya is clearly a great disadvantage in a world with an alarmingly rising trend of Islamophobia.  </p>  <p>Nonetheless, the world community must ensure justice to Rohingya for by rehabilitating them with dignity and citizenship rights and a credible trial of the offenders. Otherwise, the possibility of militancy developing among the persecuted community in the future cannot be ruled out. A UN peacekeeping mission can also be sent to Rakhine state before repatriation. But frankly speaking, the painful reality is that a peaceful Rohingya repatriation is possibly impossible. </p>  <p>Since Fatima also strongly feels that this is the case, she has no dreams of returning to Rakhine. Her only dream is to meet her murdered husband and sons in the Hereafter.  She wants to be resettled in paradise, and not in Rakhine. That is why she wants justice in Allah’s court and the Holy Quran is her sole comfort and company.   </p>* Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Anadolu Agency. <br>

Rohingya take risky route to flee restive Myanmar state

By Kyaw Ye Lynn

YANGON (AA) – Nearly 300 Rohingya Muslims, who attempted to flee Myanmar’s restive Rakhine state, were temporarily detained and returned to refugee camps this month, according to local media and local government officials.

A boat carrying 93 Rohingya Muslims, who left camps in Rakhine state’s capital Sittwe in hope of reaching Malaysia through the sea route, was seized by Myanmar authorities near Dawei, a coastal town in southern Tanintharyi region on Nov. 25, reported Radio Free Asia, a local online media.

“That is the third boat being seized in the sea by authorities,” Col. Sein Win of the Tanintharyi Regional Police Force was quoted as saying on Monday.

“Of the 93 people aboard, 33 are women and 32 are children under 15,” he said.

These people left Rakhine state on Nov. 18, and had paid human traffickers around $300 each to take them to Malaysia, according to the police officer.

A navy ship has taken them back to Rakhine, he added.

The authorities also rescued a boat with 106 Rohingya Muslims aboard near Yangon’s Kyauk Tan Township on Nov. 16, as the boat got stuck at Adaman Sea after the boat engine failed, a regional lawmaker said.

A young girl died of fever on the boat, according to local police.

– Call for improving situation in camps

Thet Thet Mu, Kyauk Tan’s regional lawmaker, told Anadolu Agency that 31 women and 25 children were among those aboard.

“Frankly, the authorities need to stop this. They need to prevent these people from leaving for the sea migration,” she said.

“They said they were leaving the camps because they can’t stand the situation there anymore. So improving the situation is also vital to prevent such further accidents,” she added.

It was the first time that Rohingya attempted to reach Malaysia by boat since the end of rainy season this year.

Last week, the authorities stopped a boat with 94 aboard, who were from a camp in Sittwe, shortly after setting sail.

A senior official at the Rakhine regional government, however, said six boats were believed to be bound for Malaysia since last month when the monsoon began to subside.

Three days after the first accident, police went to a camp in Sittwe claimed to have arrested alleged human traffickers. However it turned into a riot in the camp in which four Rohingya men were shot and injured. Of them, police claimed, two were human traffickers who charged 109 Rohingya around $300 each.

– 'No hope of getting better life'

“According to police investigation, at least 500 people already left the camps, and headed for Malaysia by boat,” an officer, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, told Anadolu Agency.

The three boats apprehended by Myanmar authorities in the sea this month were among six boats bound for Malaysia, he added.

He admitted that the situation in the camps is not so good, but said that sailing to Malaysia is a bad option.

“We are trying to crackdown the human traffickers to stop further departures,” he said by phone on Monday.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly Rohingya Muslims, have been sheltering in camps since mid-2012 when communal violence erupted in the Rakhine state.

A Rohingya man, identified as Maung Maung, was one of them. He and his family members were placed in Narzi camp on the outskirts of Sittwe after their home was torched during the communal violence in 2012.

He told Anadolu Agency by phone that many of his friends already left for Malaysia last year, and he is thinking to follow the route this year.

“We have no hope of getting better life staying in the camp,” he said on Wednesday, adding he however don’t have enough money for the whole family.

He didn’t joined his friends last year because he thought the growing international pressure would bring some changes to them, but said he was wrong.

“Nothing improves, and we have to do something ourselves,” he said.

– Rohingya plight

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly children and women, fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

Indonesia ready to help resolve Rohingya issue: Widodo

By Adem Salvarcioglu

ANKARA (AA) – Indonesia and the Association of Southeastern Asian Nations (ASEAN) are ready to help resolve Rohingya issue, the country’s president said on Thursday.

"Indonesia is ready! I am sure, the ASEAN is also ready to help the Myanmar government to create a conducive condition in the Rakhine State, where freedom of movement should be respected," Indonesia’s Antara news agency quoted Joko Widodo as saying.

Widodo’s remarks came after a meeting with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on the sidelines of the 33rd ASEAN Summit in Singapore.

Meanwhile, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsui, who also attended the meeting, said: “We conveyed that we need U.S. support for the AHA Center [ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management], so that we can carry out tasks or mandates given by ASEAN leaders to play a role in Rakhine State.”

Earlier, Bangladeshi government halted the first scheduled Rohingya repatriation to Myanmar following protests by the refugees.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly children, and women, fled Myanmar and crossed into neighboring Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

UN official urges Bangladesh to halt Rohingya returns

By Can Erozden

ANKARA (AA) – A UN human rights official has implored Bangladesh to shelve its plans to start the repatriation of Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar this month, fearing they may face violence or abuse.

"I have not seen any evidence of the Government of Myanmar taking concrete and visible measures to create an environment where the Rohingya can return to their place of origin and live there safely with their fundamental rights guaranteed," Yanghee Lee, the special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, said in a statement on the UN website on Tuesday.

Lee said she fears the Rohingya may face suffering, violence, or abuse as Myanmar has failed to take any tangible measures for the Rohingya's return to the border state of Rakhine in November.

"Not only did the Rohingya face horrific violence at the hands of security forces in 2016 and 2017 with no accountability, they have been subjected to decades-long systematic discrimination and persecution in Myanmar," Lee said, urging both Bangladesh and Myanmar to call off the repatriation.

"I urge the Governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar to halt these rushed plans for repatriation, to ensure the protection of the Rohingya refugees and to adhere to their international human rights and refugee law obligations to ensure any returns are safe, sustainable, voluntary and dignified," she added.

– Persecution of Rohingya

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly children, and women, fled Myanmar and crossed into neighboring Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.