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SPECIAL NOTE:
LIMITED & DELAYED POSTS

Starting in September 2019, Rohingya Crisis News has limited its operations, and delayed its fewer posts, owing to numerous internal factors unrelated to the Rohingya Crisis.

Some article links are being added, from time to time (especially in early December, 2019, and late January 2020, during hearings and decisions at the International Courts of Justice) but most regular daily or weekly updates have been discontinued.

It is unclear when regular operations of Rohingya Crisis News will resume.
Meanwhile, we'll post occasional updates (& retroactive article listings).

We also encourage you to periodically check these generally credible & extensive news sources, for their Rohingya news listings:

The Rohingya Crisis News. remains an ongoing concern, and every reasonable effort will be made to maintain its operations.

We appreciate your concern for this issue, and urge all parties to work towards a civil, humane, ethical and durable settlement of the Crisis.

Thank you for your interest and attention.

~ RCN Editor.


2020 NEWS
(THE CRISIS EVOLVES)

Major Media Reports

(UPDATED AT LEAST WEEKLY)

Click on article titles to open.

TABLE of CONTENTS:

CURRENT CRISIS EVENTS:
(2020):

(also see:
Current Affairs Summary )




JANUARY 2020:
SPECIAL NOTE:
JAN. 2020 - UNUSUAL ACTIVITY

January 2020, starting around mid-month, was unusually full of major activity related to the Rohingya Crisis, including:

  • Bangladesh announced Bhashan Char island is "ready" for Rohingya refugees, despite their unwillingness to move there.

  • China's President visits Myanmar, cuts huge deals.

  • Myanmar's official "Independent Commission of Inquiry" ("ICOE") released its findings -- admitting "war crimes" against the Rohingya, but denying the military's intent was "genocide."

  • Myanmar's civilian President said that, per the ICOE report, the military should investigate & punish soliders, & others, who committed rights violations during its 2017 attacks on the Rohingya.

  • Myanmar's military said it would act on the ICOE report, and take legal action against soldiers accused of war crimes.

  • The U.N.'s International Courts of Justice (ICJ) unanimously ruled that the remaining Rohingya in Myanmar faced the risk of "genocide", and ordered Myanmar to protect them, and to also preserve evidence of their abuse, for further investigation. The global Rohingya community rejoiced.

  • Myanmar's government rejected the ICJ's "genocide" warning, and claimed it was not obliged to do anything particularly different from what it was already doing....
    HOWEVER, a Myanmar general said "the military" will do whatever "the government" decides to do -- a rare nod to civilian authority in Myanmar.
     
  • The U.N.'s human rights inspector for Myanmar, Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee, in her final act in that role, recommended that the U.N. should refer the issue to the U.N.'s International Criminal Court (ICC) for specific prosecutions of war criminals -- and chastised Russia & China for blocking U.N. action on the Rohingya Crisis.
    Details follow in the articles linked to, below, and in their selected excerpts and summaries on this page.

    RCN Editor.

  • NOTE: From January 1 to January 13, Rohingya Crisis News was inactive, so most articles published during this time were not listed.
    Coverage resumed January 14, and some prior dates were "back-filled" as articles were discovered.

    • 2020 Jan. 1 - Wednesday

    • 2020 Jan. 2 - Thursday

    • 2020 Jan. 3 - Friday

    • 2020 Jan. 4 - Saturday

    • 2020 Jan. 5 - Sunday

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    • 2020 Jan. 6 - Monday

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    • 2020 Jan. 7 - Tuesday

    • 2020 Jan. 8 - Wednesday

    • 2020 Jan. 9 - Thursday

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    • 2020 Jan. 10 - Friday

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    • 2020 Jan. 11 - Saturday

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    • 2020 Jan. 12 - Sunday

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    • 2020 Jan. 13 - Monday

    • 2020 Jan. 14 - Tuesday

      • Official statement:
        MYANMAR:
        Seeking International Justice for Rohingya

        Crackdown on Free Expression Tightens.

            - Human Rights Watch
          The Myanmar government faced increasing pressure during 2019 for international justice for its human rights violations against the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2020.
          Respect for free expression and assembly also declined sharply during the year as the authorities escalated their use of repressive criminal laws.
          “Myanmar’s failure to hold its military accountable for atrocities against the Rohingya is finally turning the wheels of international justice,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “Two international courts are now examining whether Myanmar committed genocide, and who should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity against the Rohingya.”

          * * *
          In the 652-page World Report 2020, its 30th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in nearly 100 countries.
          In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth says that the Chinese government -- which depends on repression to stay in power -- is carrying out the most intense attack on the global human rights system in decades. He finds that Beijing’s actions both encourage and gain support from autocratic populists around the globe [including in Myanmar], while Chinese authorities use their economic clout to deter criticism from other governments. [HRW says] it is urgent to resist this assault, which threatens decades of progress on human rights and our future. ...

    • 2020 Jan. 15 - Wednesday

    • 2020 Jan. 16 - Thursday

      • UN court to issue Myanmar ruling on Jan 23:
          ~Gambia

            - Straits Times (Singapore)

      • ASEAN   [(the Association of
        SouthEast Asian Nations)]
        divided on Rohingya crisis:
        ~ Poll.

            - Straits Times (Singapore)
          [Except in Myamar, Laos and Vietnam, the majority of citizens in Southeast Asian countries disapprove of ASEAN's handling of the Crisis, according to a recent poll. But they do not want Rohingya refugees.]

      • SE Asia Survey Shows Narrow Preference
        for United States, amid US-China Rivalry.

            - RFA (Radio Free Asia

            (U.S. gov't broadcaster)
        [summary paraphrased]
          A think-tank in Singapore says its survey of 1300 Southeast Asian professionals -- in government, business, "research," "civil society" and media -- shows a slight overall regional majority of respondents (54%) would side with the U.S. over China, if forced to choose.

        What narrowly tipped the survey in favor of the U.S. was the overwhelming preference for the U.S. by respondents in Vietnam, the Philippines and Singapore.

        However, in most Southeast Asian nations, a solid majority of respondents preferred China. (though only narrowly in Thailand and Indonesia) -- even though most saw China's rising regional influence as troubling, with a "trust deficit."

        62% of Myanmar respondents preferred siding with China over the U.S..

        [RCN NOTE: The following article, "China President Xi’s Visit to Myanmar Raises Economic Hopes, Political Concerns," gave more detail on this survey, particularly about Myanmar respondents' views. Despite their greater dislike of the U.S., Myanmar respondents still had very negative attitudes towards China:

        It noted that, among Myanmar respondents, China’s growing regional economic influence was "welcome" by only 26%, while 74% of were “worrried” about it (only slightly more skeptical than the respondents in other Southeast Asian nations) (NOTE: Elsewhere, the same article changes those Myanmar numbers to a more drastic 16%-84% split).

        When asked if China's BRI (Belt & Road Initiative) infrastructure projects in Myanmar would be a fair deal for Myanmar, most doubted it. Only 2% were fully confident in a fair deal; 36% had some confidence; 39% had little confidence; and 23% had no confidence at all that the deal would be fair to Myanmar.]

        But China and the U.S.were not the only contenders. Across Southeast Asia, most survey respondents (61%) regarded Japan as the most trusted major power.

        The ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute (formerly Institute of SouthEast Asian Studies) released the survey, "State Of South-east Asia: 2020," on Thursday.
         

      • Myanmar Unrolls a Welcome Mat for China,
        but Not All the Way.

            - New York Times
          As Xi Jinping visits Myanmar, fighting in ethnic borderlands threatens China’s ambitious investment plans.
          [Growing fears that China is creating debt-traps throughout the developing world, and monopolizing profits -- creating public anger in those nations -- has caused Myanmar officials to delay or renegotiate port and hydropower deals.]

      • China President Xi's Visit to Myanmar
        Raises Economic Hopes, Political Concerns.

            - RFA (Radio Free Asia

            (U.S. gov't broadcaster)
        [summary paraphrased]
          China's president Xi Jinping will visit Myanmar for two days, starting tomorrow, to strengthen political and military ties, and to close deals on Chinese-funded major infrastructure projects in Myanmar, intended chiefly to benefit China. Feelings in Myanmar are mixed about the costs and benefits of the increasingly tight relationship with China.
          China is Myanmar's chief foreign investor -- and Myanmar's foremost ally in the face of global condemnation of its treatment of minorities (mainly over the "ethnic cleansing," and "genocidal" treatment, of the Rohingya)
          However, Myanmar leaders, and especially the general public, are uneasy about the growing relations. China is not seen as a trusted ally, and -- amid growing public complaints about the land confiscations, and environmental and social costs of Chinese projects -- there are doubts about the benefit to Myanmar of continuing to expand the relationship.
          Particular tension arises over the Myitsone Hydroelectric Dam project in north-central Myanmar -- a massive project that will displace thousands of farmers, with nowhere else to go, to build a dam chiefly to provide electricity to China. Though Myanmar's government suspended the project in 2011 amid widespread public protest, China wants it to move forward, again.
          Another Chinese development raising conerns is the seaport at Kyaukphyu on Myanmar's western shores in Rakhine state (the Rohingya homeland) -- with area residents concerned about displacement.
          Land confiscations for other projects -- particularly the CMEC (China/Myanmar Economic Corridor), centered on highway and rail developments across Myanmar from China to Myanmar's west coat -- are stirring concern and resentment as well.
          Elsewhere, Chinese mines have polluted groundwater, leaving residents without a safe and reliable source of drinking water -- while Chinese developers continue to ignore demands for a solution.
          But Myanmar's government and military -- increasingly isolated by the global community for its human rights failures (especially over the Rohingya) -- has few other options, but to rely on Chinese support, and serve China in return.

    • 2020 Jan. 17 - Friday

      • Bangladesh says
        once-submerged island
        ready for Rohingya.

        Bangladesh says it has finished building flood-protection embankments, houses, cyclone shelters, hospitals and schools on a once-swampy island in the Bay of Bengal to relocate about 100,000 Rohingya refugees from overcrowded camps.
            - Associated Press


        CHINA & MYANMAR

          China -- particularly through its government -- is the principal source of foreign investment in Myanmar, as throughout Asia.

        Under President Xi Jinping, in recent years, China has begun an aggressive campaign of global expansion of its economic, political and military power -- with particular emphasis on its "Belt and Road Initiative" ("BRI") to connect China to all nations to the west (across Asia, Europe and Africa) through new highways, railways and pipelines, economic ties, and political and military alliances.

        China's most aggressive BRI initiatives have been to exploit Myanmar in numerous ways -- particularly (so far)...:
        • to gain access to the the sea (at the Indian Ocean) for Western China (especially through a new seaport on the coast of Rakhine state -- the Rohingya's homeland).
        • to develop a road-and-rail system connecting China with countries to the West -- through Myanmar (particularly through Rakhine and Chin states)
        • to gain hydro-electric power from dams on Myanmar's rivers
        • to exploit natural gas fields off of Myanmar's shores (particularly off the coast of Rakhine state)
        • to get more of China's most essential food -- Myanmar's principal export -- rice.

        Because Myanmar's military dictatorship controls Myanmar (despite a token, democratically-elected civilian government), China has aggressively courted Myanmar's military leadership (popular with the nation's principal ethnic group, the Burmans, who populate the heart of the country, and dominate most of Myanmar/Burma).

        However, various ethnic minorities dominate various states around the fringes of Myanmar, and their rebel militias frequently battle with Myanmar's military for rights, resources and territory. China has, at times, sided with the minority factions -- aiding them openly or secretly -- to achieve its aims in Myanmar.

        However, China has sided with the Myanmar military in its actions against the Rohingya of Myanmar's Rakhine state -- arming (and possibly funding) Myanmar's Army, and protecting them from international action by the United Nations, while the Army continues to round up, or drive out, the Rohingya from Rakhine.

        China's aid helps Myanmar clear space for China's exploitation of Rakhine state and its coast.

        But China's support of Myanmar's crackdown on the mainly-Muslim Rohingya also is consistent with China's harsh hostility to its own Muslim minorities (notably, the Muslim Uigurs of Western China, hundreds of thousands of whom have recently been imprisoned in "re-education camps" to purge them of their religion and culture, and their desires for some degree of freedom and independence.)

        China views Muslims as a threat to its unification of China (under the culture, manpower and force of the nation's majority Han Chinese ethnic group).

        Similar methods are underway in China's conqured territory of Tibet, against the Buddhist natives there, as well -- as China begins to move Han Chinese into Tibet to "unify" it with the culture of the rest of China, and suppress the Tibetan natives' drive for freedom and independence.

        This leaves two questions about the future relations of China & Myanmar:

      • Will China -- as it has done with Tibet -- eventually conquer and assimilate the neighbor it needs so much: Myanmar?

      • Is Myanmar's leadership selling out their nation to China, a little at a time, right now?

        ~ RCN Editor


      • Chinese president heads to Myanmar
        for crucial state visit.

            - Associated Press

          NAYPYITAW, Myanmar (AP) —
        [paraphrased excepts] Chinese president Xi Jinping got a grand welcome to Myanmar, Friday, at the start of his state visit, intended to deepen China-Myanmar relations at a critical time.
          The visit brings the expectation of significantly enhancing China’s profile, and future investments, in Myanmar.
          * * *
          A complicating factor, though, is Myanmar’s upcoming general election in late 2020. Too much cozying up to China may endanger the government of the civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, leaving it vulnerable to opponents' accusations that it is selling out Myanmar to China.
          * * *
          Myanmar is key to China’s geopolitical ambitions. Through the Rohingya homeland, in Myanmar's Rakhine state, Myanmar can provide China with access to the Indian Ocean -- which could allow China's major imports of oil and gas from the Persian Gulf to bypass the lengthy voyage around Southeast Asia, through Strait of Malacca [controlled by Indonesia, Malyasia and Singapore].

        Myanmar is also a gateway to South Asia, and countries beyond, for China's grand "Belt and Road Initiative" -- railroads, highways, ports and various other infrastructure to connect China with the rest of Asia, as well as Europe and Africa.
          In return, China is Myanmar's no-questions-asked ally, providing Myanmar with diplomatic cover, as it faces global condemnation for its human rights violations. ...


      • Chinese Leader Xi's Visit to Myanmar
        to Produce New Belt And Road Agreements

            - RFA (Radio Free Asia

            (U.S. gov't broadcaster) Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to sign several memorandums of understanding (MoUs), for the implementation of planned multibillion-dollar projects, under his signature Belt and Road Initiative in Myanmar, during his two-day state visit to the Southeast Asian country to boost bilateral relations, China’s state media reported Friday.

        Xi will meet with Myanmar President Win Myint, State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and leaders from various political parties during his visit which ends Saturday.

        Win Myint said Xi's visit — the first by a Chinese leader in nearly two decades — marked a “new era” of bilateral relations and would help promote the two countries' future ties.

        Though Myanmar government officials have not yet announced the number of MoUs to be signed, reports by the Chinese media say the parties will ink agreements on five BRI projects, including

        • the Kyaukphyu deep-sea port [in the Rohingya's homeland of Rakhine state],

        • a high-speed rail line connecting Kyaukphyu to southwest China’s Yunnan province, and

        • the New Yangon city development project.

        The $1.3 billion deep-sea port in Rakhine state is part of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), a subsection of the larger BRI.

        The CMEC comprises a high-speed railway and road network that will span roughly 1,000 miles from China's Kunming city through Myanmar’s major economic hubs and on to a Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone (home to the port project, and to Chinese oil and gas pipelines).

        The CMEC ultimately will give China crucial access to the Indian Ocean [at the Rohingya homeland of Rakhine state].

        Xi arrived in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw around 1 p.m. local time Friday and met briefly with Aung San Suu Kyi to discuss peaceful coexistence and the implementation of the BRI projects, according to statement released by the State Counselor’s Office.

        He will attend other meetings on Saturday -- including one with [Myanmar's military leader] [Gen.] Min Aung Hlaing to discuss the prospect of:

        • increasing military relations,
        • promoting stability in border areas, and
        • boosting security measures in both countries,
        -- according to military spokesman Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun.

        Support from rebel armies

        Some of Myanmar’s rebel armies welcomed Xi’s visit, while civil society groups in different regions demanded that he terminate the controversial Myitsone hydropower project [on a tributary of the Irrawaddy, near Myitkyina] in Kachin state [in northern Burma], and voiced strong opposition to the Kyaukphyu port project

        The four members of the rebel Northern Alliance —

        • the Arakan Army (AA),
        • Kachin Independence Army (KIA),
        • Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and
        • Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA)
        — which are fighting government forces in Rakhine, Kachin, and northern Shan states — issued statements welcoming Xi’s visit.

        All of them, except for the KIA, publicly stated that they support Chinese-funded projects.

        The AA and TNLA along with the United Wa State Army (UWSA) — Myanmar’s largest ethnic force — agreed that the BRI project and the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor — a collection of infrastructure projects supporting connectivity between Myanmar and China — will be beneficial to local residents.

        The statement issued by the UWSA said the BRI projects will improve Myanmar’s outdated economy, trade, and infrastructure.

        TNLA spokesman Colonel Mei Eik Kyaw said the Chinese projects should focus on improving the lives of locals.

        “Mainly, we believe that if these projects in northern Shan state succeed, the local people from this region will reap the benefits,” he told RFA’s Myanmar Service.

        “But these projects should be genuinely beneficial to the local people,” he added. “Those who have lost land and property should receive fair compensation. The Chinese government doesn’t have the right to administer the region, It’s up to the Myanmar government to do it.”

        Though the statement issued by the KIA and its political wing, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), did not mention the BRI projects, it noted that bilateral agreements might help settle Kachin state's civil war and boost security in unstable border areas.

        The groups also said that Xi should take into consideration the diverse opinions of different ethnic groups and organizations.

        RFA was unable to reach the KIA or AA spokesman Khine Thukha for comment.

        Opposition from NGOs:

        Kachin, Shan, and Rakhine civil society groups meanwhile issued statements of their own calling on the Chinese president to stop Chinese-funded projects in their respective areas.

        Though Kachin civil society groups and the KIO have issued statements on their stances concerning the Myitsone Dam, it is difficult for them to demonstrate opposition to them, said Khon Ja of the Kachin Peace Network.

        The previous military-backed government put the controversial [Myitsone Dam] hydropower project, in Kachin state, on hold in 2011 -- amid protests over its social and environmental impacts -- much to Beijing’s dismay. The Chinese have lobbied the current [military/civilian] government, hard, to allow it to resume.

        “The Myitsone Dam project was not initiated by either the KIO or by the Kachin people,” Khon Ja said. “If ethnic armed groups protest against the Chinese projects, it will not bode well for their future.”

        “Similarly, the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor [CMEC] is a state-run project, [so] whoever opposes it will be seen as opposing the state,” she added. “All in all, it is very difficult for us to oppose these projects.”

        The Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) also released a statement on China-Myanmar economic cooperation in general, noting the likelihood of land confiscation for planned BRI projects.

        SNLD spokesman Sai Leik said land along the route of the high-speed rail and road network to be built by the Chinese from the border area in northern Shan state to Mandalay would likely be confiscated form residents.

        “There are uncertainties with regard to land confiscation, and the local people might find themselves in trouble under the new law on vacant land,” he said. “These are the concerns and problems that people are facing on the ground.”

        The Vacant, Fallow, Virgin Lands Management Act took effect in March 2019 and requires those who occupy or use “vacant, fallow, or virgin land” to apply for a 30-year permit to use the land -- or face eviction and up to two years in prison.

        [RCN  NOTE: This law has allowed the Myanmar military to confiscate Rohingya lands in Rakhine state, after driving the Rohingya from them. The military can then sell or rent the land, adding to its wealth and power. Across Myanmar, many farmers use officially vacant land to grow their crops -- and now face explustion from that land, with nowhere else to go. China's Myitsone Dam project (north-central Myanmar), and the planned road-and-rail route across Myannmar (between China and the Myanmar's Rakhine state coast), are two major land-confiscation threats to Myanmar's farmland and farmers -- including the Rohingya (both the few remaining Rohingya farmers in Rakhine state, and all other Rohingya -- driven into concentration camps, or out of Myanmar -- who had any hope of returning to their lands). ~RCN Editor]

        Civil society groups have demanded that officials consult local residents before implementing Chinese infrastructure projects, instead of forging ahead with them based only on bilateral agreements.

        They also want those implementing the projects to  to demonstrate transparency, avoid centralized control of the projects, and prohibit developments that would detrimentally affect people’s livelihoods and rights.

        China's financial clout:

        China is Myanmar’s largest investor, with Chinese investment accounting for nearly $4.7 billion in 2018 and roughly $4.8 billion in 2019, according to Chinese figures.

        China’s state-run CCTV reported that Chinese companies have signed agreements worth nearly $8 billion for new projects in the Southeast Asian country.

        [RCN  NOTE: The United States generally outlaws U.S. investors from bribing foreign officials to get contracts. However, China and Myanmar, and most other nations worldwide, are free to engage in corrupt dealings with foreign leaders, involving bribes, secret military assistance, and other ruthless and corrupt methods to gain economic leverage, and gain military and political cooperation from other countries. China can readily bribe Myanmar civilian and (especially) military leaders to get what it wants, regardless of the needs of the people of Myanmar. And Myanmar's brutal military and police -- the largest combined security forces in Southeast Asia, all under the command of Gen. Min Aung Laing -- can act effectively to halt or disable most opposition to their corruption. ~RCN Editor]

    • 2020 Jan. 18 - Saturday

      • 2020-02-18
        And Rohingya, Ahmadiyya?"
        Brinda Karat Slams [India's] Government
        Over CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act)

          Terming [India's] Citizenship Amendment Act [which now forbids Muslim immigration] as "divisive and discriminatory", she said it is India's tragedy that -- instead of external forces -- the central government, itself, is engaged in "weakening the Constitution and dividing the country."
            - Press Trust of India / NDTV.com (India)
          India's CPI(M) [Communist Party of India (Marxist) ] leader, Brinda Karat, has asked -- if India's central government is so concerned about the people facing atrocities in India's neighbouring countries -- why the Rohingya and Ahmadiyya Muslims (facing persecution in Pakistan and Myanmar) are not covered under India's new citizenship law.

      • Belt And Road Initiative Gets Major Boost
        As China, Myanmar Ink 33 Deals.

        Holding talks with Xi Jinping on the final day of his two-day visit, Suu Kyi slammed western countries for criticising Myanmar over the handling of the Rohingya issue.
            - Press Trust of India / NDTV.com (India)

        [paraphrased]

        On Saturday, China and Myanmar signed 33 deals focused on speeding up key infrastructure projects that will provide Beijing with a stepping stone to the Indian Ocean. The signing came after a meeting between China's President Xi Jinping and Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, while the Communist nation ramped up support to solidify its hold over Southeast Asia's largest mainland country, Myanmar (now under fire for its mistreatment of Rohingya Muslims).

        At the end of Xi Jinping's two-day visit, Suu Kyi blasted western nations for criticising Myanmar over its handling of Rohingya affairs.

        * * *

        The 33 agreements signed by Xi Jinping and Suu Kyi covered areas ranging from politics, to trade, to investment and to people-to-people communications. The agreements shored up massive projects that are part of China's flagship "Belt and Road Initiative" (BRI) -- its vision of new trade routes, across Asia, which China calls a "21st century silk road."

        During the talks, Suu Kyi told Xi that Myanmar wants to promote building of the new Myanmar-China Economic Corridor (stretching across Myanmar from Western China to Bangladesh), and wants to enhance the two nations' cooperation over:

        • transportation (China seeks transportation routes across Myanmar),
        • energy (China is currently taking natural gas from Myanmar's offshore gas fields, and China wants to dam Myanmar's rivers for hydroelectric power),
        • production capacity (China depends upon Myanmar for much of its most essential import: the main Chinese food: rice),
        • humanitarian and cultural exchanges ,
        • border areas and regional affairs (Myanmar minorities, frequenlty in rebellion, dominate the borderlands between China and Myanmar's heartland, complicating the two nation's relations; China sometimes aiding the rebels.).

        Myanmar's Suu Kyi added that some countries plan to interfere in internal affairs of other countries -- over "excuses" such as human rights, religions and ethnicities -- but Myanmar will never accept that interference.

        State-run China Daily reported that Suu Kyi said that Myanmar hopes that China will maintain justice for small and middle-sized countries, including Myanmar.

        The silence of Suu Kyi -- a Nobel Peace prize laureate -- over the Rohingya crisis, has brought intense global criticism.

        The International Court of Justice, the world's highest court -- where Gambia has brought a charge of genocide against Myanmar, over the Rohingya matter -- said it will deliver a decision next week, deciding whether emergency measures should be forced upon Myanmar over its alleged genocide of the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar.

        In his remarks, China's president, Xi Jinping, declared China was a trustworthy friend to Myanmar -- always respecting other countries' development paths, by upholding the principle of not interfering in other countries' affairs.

        [NOTE: China has opposed attempts by the U.N. and other nations to halt abuses of the Rohingya by Myanmar, and has wielded its veto to block any intervention by the U.N. Secuirty Council. Allowing the U.N. to defend Muslims in Myanmar could set an awkward precedent for China, who is busily rounding up its own Muslim Uyghars, in Western China, and forcing over a million into prisons, "re-education centers," forced labor and concentration camps. ~RCN Editor.]
        The China Daily report quoted Xi Jinping as assuring that China will maintain justice for Myanmar upon the world stage, and it backs Myanmar as it safeguards its national sovereignty and its legitimate interests.

        The main objective of the agreements signed by the two leaders appears to be implementation of the CMEC (China-Myanmar Economic Corridor) -- a giant project linking landlocked southwestern China with the Indian Ocean. The CMEC is comparable to the US$60 billion-dollar CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor), through which China intends to access Pakistan's Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea.

        Though details on agreements reached about the CMEC were sketchy, they reportedly include a concession, and a shareholders' agreement, on the US$1.3 billion Kyaukhphyu deep-sea port and economic zone [on Myanmar's western coast in Rakhine state (the Rohingya's homeland), across the Bay of Bengal from Bangladesh and China's principal rival, India]. The Kyaukhphyu projects concern India, because the port provides a stepping stone for China to the Indian Ocean.

        Besides the Gwadar port in Pakistan, China also acquired the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka, raising concerns over the theory of China building a "String of Pearls" to encircle India.

        Also, there was a letter of intent regarding "new urban development" in Myanmar's principal city, Yangon, along with feasibility studies for rail links.

        But both of the nations skirted the issue of the controversial, USD 3.6 billion Myitsone Dam -- a Chinese hydroelectric project in northern Myanmar -- stalled since 2011 over public protests.

        Officials indicated that no major new projects were worked out -- with an election looming, later this year, in Myanmar.

        China has maintained close ties with the Tatmadaw (Myanmar's military) for decades, even during the years that Suu Kyi was incarcerated by the Tatmadaw. China has, yet again, become an important ally to Myanmar's government and military, easing their global isolation resulting from the Rohingya crisis.

        China's Xi, in his talks with Aung San Suu Kyi, said that their two countries should accelerate connecting development strategies.

        However, conspicuously missing from Xi's talks was the BCIM (Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar) corridor. In the past, China has vigorously proposed it, but lately has apparently dropped the idea, as a result of India's lukewarm support.

        India has been severely critical of China's overall BRI (Belt & Road Initiative), because its flagship project is the CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor), which goes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), at the northern tip of India, a region bitterly contested with India. (China and India also contest the northeast corner of Kashmir.) ...

        * * *


    • 2020 Jan. 19 - Sunday

        ------------

    • 2020 Jan. 20 - Monday

      • China struggles in new diplomatic role,
        trying to return Rohingya to Myanmar

            - Daily Star (Bangladesh)

        [paraphrased:]

        Taking a sharp departure from its longstanding official policy of "non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries," China has now, instead, positioned itself as the principal mediator in the protracted Rohingya crisis.

        But, like envoys from Indonesia and the United Nations -- who have previously tried to mediate between the parties -- giant China is finding the work of diplomacy tough, with little indication that the continuing crisis will soon be resolved.

        The main sticking point is disagreement over whether the Rohingya refugees will be safe if they return to Myanmar. ...

        * * *

        Western Myanmar, located between Southeast Asia and booming India, is strategically important to Beijing, because it offers China’s landlocked western provinces the possibility of seaport access to the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean.

        While China’s vice foreign minister bragged to reporters, ahead of Xi’s trip this week, that China had "facilitated" repatriation talks between Myanmar and Bangladesh, saying “Our efforts have paid off,” only a few hundred -- of the miliion Rohingya refugees -- have returned.

        Bangladeshi officials, Western diplomats in Myanmar, and security analysts agree that China is mainly concerned with shoring up its key interests in Myanmar's Rakhine state [home of the Rohingya], where China hopes to access the open sea, and trade routes to the west.

        UN officials and diplomats in Myanmar add that China’s rush, to broker a quick solution to the Rohingya crisis, ignores the human rights concerns.

        * * *

        Responding to Reuters' inquiries, an official at Myanmar's Ministry of Social Welfare said China has been “helping continuously” -- citing China's development efforts in Rakhine.

        “The lack of development is more important than social cohesion,” he said. “We are doing many investments there. The roads are better.”

        * * *

        Renewed fighting in Rakhine, between government troops and the Arakan Army (an ethnic armed group mostly made up of Rakhine Buddhists, the state's majority) has displaced tens of thousands. Yet, despite the concerns about the Rakhine security situation, China’s official position is that Myanmar is prepared for the refugees to return.

        Officials from both Bangladesh and Myanmar say that China also advocates resolving the issue with bilateral talks between Myanmar and Bangladesh -- minimizing the role of the United Nations, and similar parties, who run the refugee camps.

        While China says its aims in the negotiations are humanitarian, outside analysts and diplomats say China just wants economic and political achievement in the region -- serving its own economic interests, while hopefully building its influence by succeeding where Western powers have failed.

        * * *

        China's last big push was for the repatriations set for last August, but the refugees simply refused to come to Myanmar. And when China attempted to get Myanmar to let refugees visit Rakhine, to preview conditions there, Myanmar refused. ...


      • Myanmar govt-appointed panel finds
        no 'genocide' against Rohingya.

            - Reuters / StraitsTimes (Singapore)

          [...admits "war crimes" may have happened.]
          (same topic at:
        • Deutsche Welle (Germany)
        • AFP / Bangkok Post (Thailand)
        • Channel NewsAsia (Singapore)
        • RFA (Radio Free Asia)
              (U.S. gov't broadcaster) ...which notes:
            Myanmar military operations against the Muslim Rohingya community in the country’s Rakhine state in 2017 were marked by war crimes and serious human rights violations, but did not have “genocidal intent,” a Myanmar government commission has concluded in a report released on Monday.
            * * *
            The release of the report —compiled from interviews with nearly 1,500 Rohingya and other ethnic group members, and with members of the military and police— 0comes just days before an expected ruling on the genocide charge by the U.N.’s International Court of Justice in The Hague, in the Netherlands, in a lawsuit filed by the African nation of Gambia.
            * * *
            In a Jan. 20 statement, Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson slammed the ICOE’s findings, describing the group... as a “politically skewed set of commissioners working closely with the Myanmar government.”
            “The ICOE seems willing to blame individual soldiers for abuses but not the commanders who the UN and other investigations have found were responsible for the numerous systematic atrocities against the Rohingya,” Robertson said.
            “Myanmar should immediately release the full ICOE report in both Burmese and English so the global community can read for itself how the commission did its work, what it found, and how it reached its conclusions.” ...
          )

    • 2020 Jan. 21 - Tuesday

      • Arakan Army Releases
        Detained Chin Lawmaker
        Amid Hostilities in Myanmar's Rakhine.
            - RFA (Radio Free Asia

            (U.S. gov't broadcaster)

      • Myanmar President Says Military Courts
        Must Investigate, Prosecute Soldiers
        Responsible For Rights Violations
        Against Rohingya.

            - RFA (Radio Free Asia

            (U.S. gov't broadcaster)   Myanmar President Win Myint on Tuesday said the military must investigate and punish soldiers and other security forces who committed rights violations during a 2017 crackdown on Muslim Rohingya communities in the country’s northern Rakhine state, based on the findings of a report issued a day earlier by a government-appointed commission that investigated accusations of army-led war crimes.
          The report by the Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE), formed by Myanmar in 2018... concluded that war crimes and serious human rights violations were committed, but did not have “genocidal intent.”
          A 2018 United Nations-mandated investigation of the violence found that Myanmar had acted with “genocidal intent” against the Rohingya, though the government denied the accusation, saying that the military conducted a “clearance operation” in northern Rakhine in response to terrorist attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a Muslim militant group.
          The President’s Office announced that Win Myint sent the full report to military commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing to investigate and take action against servicemen and other security forces responsible for atrocities cited in the report.
          In a 15-page executive summary of the report issued Tuesday, the President’s Office concurred with the ICOE’s suggestion that investigations against those deemed responsible for human rights abuses should be conducted and that military courts should proceed with prosecutions if there is sufficient evidence.
          “According to the evidence offered by the ICOE, war crimes and serious human rights violations may have occurred in the form of disproportionate use of force by some members of Myanmar’s Defense Services and Police Force in the course of internal armed conflict against ARSA,” the summary said.
          “This must be further investigated, verified, and thereafter prosecuted by Myanmar’s natural legal processes, in particular its military justice system,” it said. ...

    • 2020 Jan. 22 - Wednesday

      • Myanmar’s Army to Take Legal Action
        Against Soldiers Accused of
        Rights Violations in Rakhine.

            - RFA (Radio Free Asia

            (U.S. gov't broadcaster)
          Myanmar’s military announced Wednesday that it will take legal action against servicemen accused of committing war crimes during a 2017 crackdown on Rohingya Muslim communities in northern Rakhine state following the issuance of a report by a government-appointment commission that conducted an investigation into the accusations.
          The announcement came a day before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the U.N.’s highest court, issues a decision on a request by Gambia for provisional measures to prevent further violence against Myanmar's Rohingya, more than 740,000 of whom were driven into exile in Bangladesh during the violence. ...

      • Myanmar's Ethnic Political Parties
        See Little Local Benefit
        From China-Backed Projects.

            - RFA (Radio Free Asia

            (U.S. gov't broadcaster)
          Some of Myanmar’s ethnic political parties on Wednesday expressed concern over potential negative impacts of China’s planned multibillion-dollar mega-projects in their regions, days after the two countries’ leaders signed more than 30 memorandums of understanding ["MoUs"] regarding the deals.
         
        Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed 33 MoUs for Chinese-backed projects in the Southeast Asia country, many of which fall under the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), on Jan. 18, the second day of the Xi’s two-day state visit to Myanmar.
          Among the deals signed was a concession and shareholders agreement on the $1.3 billion-dollar Kyaukphyu deep-sea port and economic zone in Rakhine state [the Rohingya's homeland],...

          * * *
          A signature policy of Xi’s, the multitrillion-dollar BRI infrastructure investment and lending program that will link China with Asia, Africa, and Europe entails the building of border economic cooperation zones in Myanmar’s war-torn Shan and Kachin states. It also includes the CMEC, a road and rail transportation route running from southwest China’s Yunnan province through the Myanmar border trading town of Muse and on to Mandalay and Kyaukphyu in Rakhine state, where a Special Economic Zone will be built as a strategic gateway to the Indian Ocean
          * * *
          Rakhine lawmaker Oo Hla Saw, who represents Mrauk-U in Myanmar’s lower house of parliament and is a member of the Arakan National Party, said most ethnic Rakhines in the state object to the Chinese projects because they believe they will not benefit from them.
          “Observing from past experience, most Rakhine people don’t like Chinese projects very much,” he told RFA’s Myanmar Service during a Jan. 20-21 workshop in Yangon attended by various ethnic political parties to discuss the country’s peace process.
          “There are many ‘fouls’ by the Chinese side,” he said. “The top managers of Chinese mega-projects don’t value the voice of local people, and they are not concerned about affecting the environment.”
          “They only come here to implement their projects,” Oo Hla Saw said. “They don’t provide many job opportunities for local people either.”

        ‘Only China’s interests’:
          Kun Gaung Aung Kham, chairman of the Kachin Democratic Party, echoed the sentiment.
          “Mainly, the Chinese only care about their own interests,” he said. “They will try to implement anything they think can benefit them.”
          “They will engage with any parties, whether the Myanmar government or insurgent groups,” he added, referring to ethnic armed organizations some of which are engaged in hostilities with Myanmar forces in their regions. ...


    • 2020 Jan. 23 - Thursday

    • 2020 Jan. 24 - Friday

      • [Bangladesh] Foreign secretary:
        ICJ ruling a victory for Rohingyas.

            - Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh)

          He urges the Myanmar government to conform to the ICJ ruling by showing respect to the international community

      • Asia Justice Coalition welcomes ICJ order
            - Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh)

      • U.N. Court’s Order on Rohingya Is Cheered,
        but Will Myanmar Comply?

            - New York Times

          Officials in Myanmar have said little
        about a ruling that it must protect
        the Muslim ethnic group
        and report back on the steps it has taken. ...

      • Top UN rights body
        [The Office of the United Nations
          High Commissioner for Human Rights]
        asks Myanmar to
        fully implement ICJ order.

        The provisional measures indicated by the ICJ are binding under international law.
            - Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh)
        -RFAorg

      • Myanmar's Ruling Party Says
        No Special Measures Required
        After ICJ Ruling

            - RFA (Radio Free Asia)

        (U.S. gov't broadcaster)
          Following Thursday’s ruling by the U.N.’s top court -- that ordered Myanmar to protect Rohingya Muslims from genocidal acts -- the country’s ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party said that the government need not implement special measures.

        The ICJ’s ruling lists four points in its provisional measures, mandating that Myanmar must:
        • prevent the killing or serious injury of the Rohingya,
        • ensure that the military does not harm the Rohingya or conspire to commit genocide,
        • preserve evidence related to the allegations,  and
        • report on its compliance with the measures until the ICJ issues a final decision on the case.

        NLD party officials have said the ruling favors what they call a biased report from the U.N. Fact-Finding Mission (FFM), while ignoring evidence submitted by the Myanmar government.

        NLD Spokesperson Myo Nyunt told RFA’s Myanmar Service how the party is interpreting the ruling:

        “I understand that we don’t have to implement any special measures,” said Myo Nyunt.

        “The government said the military will cooperate in the investigations. The requirement is to submit reports on the situation once every four months or six months. That’s how we understand the ruling,” the spokesperson added, referring to the court’s order that Myanmar report on steps it is taking to comply with the ICJ’s decision in four months’ time.

        The comments by Myo Nyunt however, do not necessarily represent the views of Aung Sung Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto head of government:

        Shorly after the court ruled, Myanmar’s government issued a statement taking issue with the court's decision, saying the ICJ must still reach a “factually correct” finding on the charges that genocide occurred in northern Rakhine state, but did not state whether it would comply with the court’s legally binding ruling.

        An official of Myanmar’s Democratic Party for New Society (DPNS), which is independent of the NLD, but shares similar goals, said that the ruling was acceptable:

        “This decision does not confirm genocide. It is not like we are admitting that genocide happened,” said Ngwe Lin, a central committee member of the DPNS.

        “It is more like an order to prevent genocide. I think it is acceptable. I think this is not a very bad demand,” Ngwe Lin said.

        Myanmar’s military told RFA that it is waiting on the government to make a decision on the ruling:

        “Myanmar is a sovereign state and the government will act on this issue according to existing laws,” said military spokesman Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun.

        “The military will follow [the course of] action the government [decides on],” he added.

        Mya Aye, a Muslim politician from the National Democratic Force, meanwhile told RFA that the resolution of the issue should not be contingent on international pressure:

        “The government should approach the issue with democratic and human rights values. We should forget about whether the international community is giving us pressure or not,” he said.

        “This is a problem that exists in our country. We have to resolve it anyway. In the eyes of today’s rapidly changing world, it is barbaric to be so perverse as to keep ignoring international demands,” Mya Aye added.

        Rights activists respond:

        Officials of several rights groups told RFA that the ball is now in the Myanmar government’s court to prove that they deserve the respect of the international community.

        Cheery Zahau, the founder and leader of the Women’s league of Chinland, told RFA, “The ICJ ruling’s impact on Myanmar will depend on the government and the military.”

        “It depends on how seriously they are taking the ICJ decision and how seriously they respect human rights and offer protections. If they keep rejecting [rights] and do whatever they want, it could cause many negative effects [for them]. It could hurt the reputation [of Myanmar] in the international community even more.”

        Meanwhile, Aye Lwin, a prominent Muslim community leader and former Kofi Annan Commission member, told RFA, “The Myanmar authorities have announced that they noted the ICJ ruling, So they will keep doing what they are supposed to.”

        “The [FFM] report suggested they investigate further. Both the office of the Attorney General and the Commander-in-Chief have said they will keep investigating and will take action against violators,” he said.

        Aung Htoo, a Sweden-based human rights attorney, drew similarities between Myanmar and Yugoslavia.

        “In the case where Bosnia and Herzegovina filed lawsuits against the former Yugoslavia, the ICJ made the ruling and the accused party didn’t comply,” Aung Htoo told RFA.

        “So Bosnia and Herzegovina requested another provincial measure to send in U.N. troops, which actually happened. If Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar’s military are still headstrong and refuse to comply, Gambia might request another provincial measure to take a similar action,” said Aung Htoo.

        Aung Htoo added that Myanmar needs to reform its Citizenship laws, stop killings and persecutions, and reverse the policies that limit the rights of Rohingya in Myanmar.

        Many rights groups have condemned Myanmar over its handling of the Rohingya crisis, during which thousands were killed and more than 740,000 others fled to Bangladesh.

        The groups have extensively documented atrocities that occurred due to the crackdown. A U.N. fact-finding mission that produced a nearly 200-page report found the country had acted with “genocidal intent” against the Rohingya and that the roughly 600,000 members of the minority group still living in Myanmar could face an even “greater threat of genocide.”

        Myanmar’s civilian-led government has dismissed the accusations, saying that its security forces were conducting a clearance operation to rid the region of Rohingya militants who carried out deadly attacks on police outposts.

      • Myanmar defends measures to protect Rohingya
        Officials shrug off international court ruling that more must be done to prevent 'genocidal' acts.
            - Reuters / Bangkok Post (Thailand)

          [paraphrased]
          "The government is already doing most of the orders," said Myo Nyunt, a spokesman for Myanmar's ruling party, the National League for Democracy (NLD)...
          * * *
          But Nyunt said the civilian government (which rules Myanmar jointly with the military, under a clumsy constitutional arrangement that reserves extensive powers for the military's commander-in-chief) could not control the country’s troops.
          "Under the current political circumstances, we have difficulties solving some issues - such as the (order) that the government must ensure its military or armed insurgents do not commit genocide or attempt to commit genocide against Rohingya or Bengali," he said.

      • Myanmar already protecting Rohingya,
        ruling party says
        after world court's order.

            - Channel NewsAsia (Singapore)

      • ANALYSIS:
        Why the ICJ Is Trying to Protect
        Myanmar’s Rohingya

        The International Court of Justice issued an important decision
        aimed at protecting Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya minority,
        but its impact is unclear.

            - Council on Foreign Relations (USA)

      • ANALYSIS & OPINION:
        The persecuted Rohingya
        now have legal protection
        but will it amount to anything?

        by Francis Wade, journalist
            - The Guardian (U.K.)

    • 2020 Jan. 25 - Saturday

      • Two Rohingya women killed
        as Myanmar army shells village.

            - Reuters News Service

        [summary paraphrased]
          Two Rohingya women -- one of whom was pregnant -- were killed, and several others injured when soliders in a nearby battalion shelled the Rohingya village of Taung, on Saturday, according to a local official and a villager. The attack comes two days after the U.N.'s highest court, the International Courts of Justice, ordered Myanmar to protect the Rohingya from genocide.
          The military had been battling rebels in the area for the last two years, and blamed the incident on rebels who the military claims had attacked a bridge early that morning. While Reuters reporters could not get a response from the military, it did confirm those deaths though a posting on a Russian social media site -- blaming the Arakan Army for events during a clash with the military.
          This was the second time this month that Rohingya civilians were killed violently in clashes involving the military and/or rebels. Earlier this month, four Rohingya children were killed by a blast which the rebels and the military blamed on each other.

    • 2020 Jan. 26 - Sunday

    • 2020 Jan. 27 - Monday

    • 2020 Jan. 28 - Tuesday

    • 2020 Jan. 29 - Wednesday

    • 2020 Jan. 30 - Thursday

        -------------

    • 2020 Jan. 31 - Friday

        ----------


    FEBRUARY 2020:


    MARCH 2020:


    APRIL 2020:


    MAY 2020:

    • 2020-05-01
      Hundreds of Rohingya Refugees Stuck at Sea With 'Zero Hope'

      New York Times
        At least three boats carrying Rohingya refugees have been adrift for more than two months. As of this week, rights groups that had been tracking the boats lost sight of them.

    • 2020-05-01
      Myanmar and COVID-19
      ANALYSIS

      The Diplomat (Japan)
        Myanmar is having to weigh competing public health and socioecononmic concerns, all with an eye toward navigating the precarious civil-military balance.

    • 2020-05-02
      OPINION:
      The anger against the Rohingya has roots.
      [UNHCR representative "Long Tiger" alleged to be Rohingya with criminal record, inflammatory conduct.]
      • The Star (Malaysia)

    • 2020-05-03
      Rohingya refugees sent to remote Bangladeshi island after weeks at sea.

        Hundreds more refugees still stranded on boats after being turned away by Malaysia.
      The Guardian (U.K.)

    • 2020-05-03
      EDITORIAL:
      Rohingya crisis deserves notice.

      Bangkok Post (Thailand)

    • 2020-05-04
      Hate Goes Viral in India:
      Anti-Muslim mudslinging

      The Diplomat (Japan)
        Anti-Muslim mudslinging has hit new heights as pandemic panic paves new avenues in India.
       

    • 2020-05-04
      Malaysia Begins to Ease COVID-19 Lockdown Despite Lingering Concerns

      The Diplomat (Japan)
        Businesses are reopening for the first time since the lockdown began on March 18, but critics worry the move has come too soon.

    • 2020-05-04
      Rohingya refugees relocated to controversial Bangladesh island

      AFP / Channel NewsAsia (Singapore)
    • 2020-05-06
      Outgoing UN Envoy Hopes
      Myanmar’s Suu Kyi Can Change.

      Explosions heard in Rakhine villages as military searches door-to-door.
      The Diplomat (Japan)


    • 2020-05-08
      After weeks at sea, 277 Rohingya
      land in Bangladesh

      AP / ABC News

    • 2020-05-08
      Top US lawmakers write to lift internet restrictions in Rohingya camps
      • Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh)
      Saying 'no,' [Bangladesh's] foreign minister explains restrictions are necessary for safety and security of Rohingyas and Bangladeshis.

    • 2020-05-11
      Official U.N. statement:

      UNHCR warns stateless people risk being left behind in coronavirus response.

      UNHCR (United Nations)
        UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is urging governments worldwide to pay urgent attention to the plight of millions of stateless people and to follow a set of recommendations the organization has issued today to ensure their coverage in the COVID-19 response.
        “Millions of people around the world are denied a nationality and the legal rights endowed with it. They do not exist on paper and most often live on the fringes of society. Our worry is that at such a critical time, in the middle of a global pandemic, they now are at great risk of being left behind in the response,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
        Without citizenship, stateless people often do not have access to essential services, including health care, and now may also be precluded from or face obstacles in accessing coronavirus testing and treatment. Others may refrain from accessing services for fear that their legal status can put them at risk of detention or deportation.
        “We must repeat that exclusion does not benefit anyone, least of all the global effort to contain the virus. The pandemic can only be beaten if everyone, regardless of their legal status, is included in the response. Nobody can be protected unless everybody is included, and that means including often invisible, stateless populations,” said Grandi.
        Some 3.9 million stateless people appear in the reporting of 78 countries -- but the true number is likely to be far greater. [NOTE: Over 1 million of those are Rohingya. ~RCN  Editor] Without legal rights and access to services, statelessness leaves many politically and economically marginalized, discriminated against and vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
        In many countries across the world, stateless people live in sub-standard and inadequate sanitary conditions which can compound the risk of outbreaks. Limited by their legal status, many work in informal sectors, which can also hamper adherence to public health protocols such as self-isolation and physical distancing.
        Considerable numbers of stateless people are also being held in prolonged pre-removal detention on the basis that they are not considered as legal residents and there is no country to deport them to. In addition to the violation of their right to liberty, they now face the prospect of increased risk of infection, as doctors and medical associations around the world have raised concerns about the potential of COVID-19 to spread within these centres.
        UNHCR is also concerned about the potential for mitigation and response measures to fuel xenophobia and discrimination for those perceived to be at risk of contagion, given that a majority of the world’s known stateless population belong to minority groups and are particularly vulnerable to discrimination.
        “This virus is exposing both the devastating consequences of statelessness and the urgency of the need to resolve it. The right to a nationality is a fundamental human right and in this time of crisis it can mean the difference between life or death,” said Grandi.
        To ensure the protection and inclusion of stateless people in the public health response, UNHCR has issued guidance on policy and good practices. Some of these recommendations include:
      • Making health services, including COVID-19 testing and treatment, accessible for all regardless of citizenship status or legal resident status.
      • Creating a firewall between health and immigration services during this period to enable stateless people to access services without fear and risk of arrest or detention.
      • Ensuring stateless people’s inclusion in COVID-19 information campaigns, considering location, language and communication preferences.
      • Designating civil registration activities, including birth registration, as ‘essential’ services, allowing their continuation and minimizing the risk that people may end up stateless owing to a lack of legal proof of identity or entitlement to nationality.
      • Refraining from placing stateless people in pre-removal detention and considering the release of those detained for reasons related to their stateless status.
      • Ensuring that response measures do not fuel xenophobia and racial discrimination.
      • Extending financial support packages to all who are resident on the territory who meet the vulnerability criteria, regardless of legal status.


      2020-05-13

    • Fire destroys hundreds of Rohingya shanties
      in Bangladesh camp.

      AFP / Channel NewsAsia (Singapore)
        [10 injured; 330 homes and shops destroyed, 300 more damaged; biggest fire in the camp so far; experts and aid workers have warned of such dangers in the Rohingyas' over-crowded refugee camps.]

    • Official statement:
      Global:
      Ignored by COVID-19 responses,
      refugees face starvation

          - Amnesty International

        The inhumane treatment of refugees and migrants threatens to stall progress on tackling COVID-19, Amnesty International said today — warning that overcrowded camps and detention centres will become new epicentres, unless urgent action is taken. The organization said that lockdowns and movement restrictions have exacerbated dire living conditions, leaving millions of people at risk of starvation and illness.
        The organization is calling for concerted global action to ensure hundreds of thousands of people on the move are provided with adequate access to food, water, sanitation, and healthcare, to ensure their survival as countries prepare to come out of lockdown.

        * * *
        “It is impossible to properly contain this virus when so many people worldwide are living in desperately overcrowded, unsanitary camps and detention centres. At a time when we need compassion and cooperation more than ever some governments have instead doubled down on discrimination and abuse – preventing deliveries of food and water, locking people up, or sending them back to war and persecution,” said Iain Byrne, Head of Amnesty’s Refugees and Migrants Rights team.
        “In many camps death by starvation is now reported to be a bigger threat than the virus itself. This is an appalling abdication of the collective responsibility to protect refugees and migrants, and we are urging states to take immediate action to prevent this becoming a human rights catastrophe.”
        Many governments have taken actions driven by discrimination and xenophobia, which needlessly place refugees at risk of starvation and disease.
        * * *
        Other governments have violated international law by forcing people back to danger, under the pretext of containing COVID-19.
        Fueled by an existing anti-migrant and opportunistic agenda, the U.S. has turned back over 20,000 people in violation of domestic and international legal obligations since March 20.
        Similarly, Malaysia turned back a boat of Rohingya people seeking safety. Although Bangladesh eventually allowed the boat to land, at least 30 people had reportedly died [while] their vessel drifted at sea for two months. Presently, there are reports that several hundred people [at sea] urgently need search-and-rescue assistance.
        Forcing people back to countries where they are reasonably expected to face persecution, torture, or other cruel or degrading treatment, amounts to refoulement — which is illegal under international law. There are no circumstances where the principle of non-refoulement does not apply
        Amnesty International is calling on governments to:
      • Provide adequate food and water supplies, and health care, to camps and quarantined people
      • Consider temporary regularization of all migrants, regardless of their documentation status, ensure that economic stimulus packages and protections apply to asylum seekers and refugees, and continue to allow resettlement where possible;
      • Decongest camps, immigration detention centres and informal settlements — and rehouse residents in dignified and sanitary conditions, with adequate access to healthcare, food, and water. Immigration detainees should be released if their right to health cannot be guaranteed in detention;
      • Uphold the right to seek asylum and the principle of non-refoulement.
              * * *
        “Any government which allows refugees to die of starvation or thirst during lockdown has failed dismally at tackling this crisis.”

    • ANALYSIS & OPINION:
      Amid COVID-19,
      Bangladesh turns its back
      on Rohingya.
      by Imrul Islam,
      MA candidate for Conflict Resolution, at Georgetown Univ.

          - The New Atlanticist (Atlantic Council)

      (a pro-NATO publication & org.)

    • 2020-05-14
      Myanmar Begins Probe
      of WHO Staff Killing in Rakhine
      Amid Skepticism.

          - RFA (Radio Free Asia)

      (U.S. gov't broadcaster)
       
        An investigative team, formed by the Myanmar government to probe the shooting death of a local World Health Organization worker in volatile Rakhine state, last month, has begun its probe, local lawmakers said -- but witnesses say they are afraid, and rights activists say they believe the government will use the process to blame its foe, the Arakan Army [(a Rakhine-Buddhist rebel group)].
        Unknown gunmen fired on a U.N.-marked vehicle driven by local WHO employee, Pyae Sone Win Maung, and Myanmar health department worker Aung Myo Oo as they transported COVID-19 test samples from the conflict zone to Yangon on April 20.
        It is still not know whether the Myanmar military or the rebel Arakan Army (AA) was behind the shooting in Minbya township [in central Rakhine State], though both sides have blamed the other for the ambush that killed Pyae Sone Win Muang and injured Aung Myo Oo.
        * * *
        Nearly 300 local domestic groups issued a statement on April 23 requesting that the government form an independent and objective committee to investigate the deadly incident. ...
        * * *
        Myanmar military spokesman Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun said that soldiers will cooperate with the investigation.
        “The military will cooperate with the investigative committee formed by the President’s Office, and will help it conduct the investigation on the ground,” he said. “We believe it will produce objective findings.”
        Myanmar has launched a series of investigations of military misdeeds, but none have produced results judged meaningful by victims or human rights experts.
        "The lack of independence of Myanmar’s judges, as well as the current constitutional and legal framework that prevents the civilian authorities from holding the military or its members accountable for human rights violations, significantly dim the prospects for any credible justice mechanism in Myanmar,” Human Rights Watch said in a December 2019 analysis.

      ICJ compliance report
        Myanmar is scheduled, meanwhile, to submit its first compliance report to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) next week, a spokesman from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday, though he did not reveal the contents of the document.
        The country faces a trial on genocide charges at the international tribunal for the alleged military-led expulsion of more than 740,000 Rohingya to Bangladesh amid a brutal crackdown on Muslim communities in northern Rakhine state beginning in August 2017. Myanmar has denied the genocide charges, largely without addressing the evidence or specific accusations.
        In January, the ICJ ordered Myanmar to implement provisional measures to protect the Rohingya from genocide, preserve evidence of alleged crimes that could be used in later hearings, and report on its compliance with the measures until the court issued a final decision on the case.
        The first report is due by May 23, with follow-up reports required every six months until the ICJ issues a final ruling.

      ‘No progress’

        The Myanmar military, meanwhile, is conducting a court-martial of soldiers accused of killing Rohingya civilians in northern Rakhine’s Gu Dar Pyin village in August 2017, as recommended in the report of the Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE) that the Myanmar government set up to probe the crackdown.
        “Some of our work is related to the ICOE report’s suggestions,” Chan Aye said. “The government formed the ICOE before the issues got to the ICJ.”
        “Both the Office of the Attorney General and the military are working to fulfill the ICOE’s suggestions,” he added.
        Khon Ja, coordinator of the Kachin Peace Network, said she has not seen any progress with human rights for the Rohingya, who are considered illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and subjected to systematic discrimination.
        “So far, I haven’t seen any progress,” she told RFA. “The international pressure could relieve some problems for the Rohingya.”
        “Violations are still rampant in Rakhine and in southern Chin state, as we have seen,” she said, referring to violence targeting civilians amid the armed conflict between Myanmar troops and the AA.
        “These crimes may not account for genocide, but they may account for war crimes,” Khon Ja added. “Many rights violations are occurring,”
       
        * * *
       
       

    • 2020-05-14
      Coronavirus:
      Two Rohingya test positive
      in refugee camp.

      BBC News
        Two Rohingya refugees have tested positive for coronavirus in the world's largest refugee camp, in Bangladesh, say officials.

      [paraphrased:]
        A government doctor said these are the first confirmed COVID-19 cases in Cox's Bazar -- where approximately a million Rohingya refugees are crowded into the world's largest refugee camp.
        Officials say the two infected refugees are being treated in isolation. Another 1,900 refugees are being isolated for tests.
        The Bangladesh health director for the global charity Save the Children warned that --
      now that COVID-19 is in the camp -- "thousands of people may die."
        The Bangladesh country director of the International Rescue Committee, warned that the million refugees there are crowded together with up to 70,000 people per square kilometer (181,000 per square mile) -- one-and-half times the density of the cruise ship Diamond Princess, on which COVID-19 spread four times faster than during the peak spread in Wuhan, China (where the disease emerged).


      2020-05-15
    • 1st COVID-19 case detected
      in Rohingya camps in Bangladesh:

      Aid workers warn of potential humanitarian disaster
      if there is a significant outbreak in camps.
      • Reuters / CBC News (Canada)

      Official U.N. statement:
    • Public health response
      in Rohingya refugee settlements
      on alert as
      first coronavirus case confirmed.
      • United Nations (UNHCR)
        UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency), and partner organizations, have further intensified their COVID-19 response in the Rohingya refugee camps, in the Cox’s Bazar area of Bangladesh, following the first confirmed case of coronavirus among the refugee population, yesterday. ...

        According to the Government of Bangladesh, one Rohingya refugee has tested positive for COVID-19 in the Kutupalong refugee settlement in Bangladesh. In addition, one member of the local Bangladeshi host community has also tested positive. Both had approached health facilities run by humanitarian partners, where samples were taken. These were subsequently tested in the IEDCR Field Laboratory in Cox’s Bazar.

        Following the laboratory confirmation, Rapid Investigation Teams have been activated to investigate both cases, initiate isolation and treatment of patients as well as tracing contacts, quarantine and testing of contacts, as per WHO guidelines. Testing began in the Cox’s Bazar District in early April. As of yesterday (14 May), 108 refugees have been tested.*

        *[RCN Editor's note: This is only 108 refugees tested, in over a month's time, out of over 850,000 Rohingya refugees in the area.
        At this rate, it will take over 600 YEARS  to test them all.
        ~RCN Editor.]

        There are serious concerns about the potentially severe impact of the virus in the densely populated refugee settlements sheltering some 860,000 Rohingya refugees. Another 400,000 Bangladeshis live in the surrounding host communities.

        These populations are considered to be among the most at risk globally in this pandemic. No effort must be spared if higher fatality rates are to be avoided in overcrowded sites, with limited health and water and sanitation infrastructure. ...


      2020-05-16
    • Fears grow for Rohingya
      as coronavirus pandemic
      reaches Bangladesh refugee camps .
      • SBS News (Australia)
        They are grave concerns for thousands of Rohingya refugees, as the coronavirus hit the world's largest refugee settlement.
      2020-05-17 - Sunday

    • COVID-19:
      Another Rohingya refugee tests positive.

      24 new Covid-19 cases in Cox’s Bazar;
      Army sets up disinfection tunnel at Ukhia refugee camp entrance.

          - Daily Star (Bangladesh)

        Twenty-four people, including a Rohingya refugee, tested positive for Covid-19 today in Cox's Bazar. ...


       
    • Move Rohingya [boat people]
      [from] Bangladesh island
      to refugee camps:
      ~ UN chief
      • Reuters / Channel NewsAsia (Singapore)
      [paraphrased:]
        Bhashan Char, a new, flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal, hours by boat from the mainland, is where Bangladesh originally planned to relocate hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees (until the Rohingyas' universal refusal, and international opposition, forced Bangladesh to abandon the plan).
        However, when some of the refugees recently fled the overcrowded camps at Cox's Bazar, by boat, and became stranded at sea, they were rescued by Bangladesh navy, but exiled to Bhashan Char.
        U.N. Secretary General Guterres, in a letter to Bangladesh Foreign Minister Momen, urged that the castaways be moved back to the Rohingya refugee camps at Cox's Bazar, to be "reunited with their families."
        However, Bangladesh foreign minister Momen says that the remote island is "the only place" that Bangladesh can quarrantine the castaways -- on the fear that they may carry COVID-19.

        U.N. Sec'y Gen. Guterres says that they are still entitled to the rights of refugees, but Bangladesh's Momen says that, if the rest of the world is so concerned, THEY can take the refugees. Speaking to the AFP news agency, about the Rohingya, Bangladesh's foreign minister Momen said, "We don't want any more."

      [RCN Editor's note:  Over the last few years, Bangladesh -- one of the world's poorest and most densely-populated nations -- has hosted over 1,000,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing persecution, military attacks, thousands of killings and rapes, and (according to human rights organizations) genocide, in Myanmar.

      By comparison, in the same timeframe, the United States of America -- one of the world's richest, and least densely-populated nations -- has only accepted less than 100,000 refugees, from all nations, combined.

      Complaining that even that was too many, the current U.S. President has capped America's annual limit of refugees at just 18,000 — less than one-tenth, of one-fifteenth, of one percent, of the United States' 330,000,000 people — and, during the current pandemic, he has barred ALL the world's refugees from entering, and receiving asylum in, the United States, no matter what dangers they are fleeing.

      For a comparison of the populations and wealth of the U.S. and Bangladesh -- and other countries key to the crisis -- see this double-graph.    ~ RCN Editor.]


    • Aceh [Indonesia] on alert
      for Rohingya refugee boats
      spotted in Andaman Sea.

          - Jakarta Post (Indonesia)

        [Security forces and fishermen, in northwest Indonesia's Aceh province, are watching for two speedboats -- reportedly carrying Rohingya refugees, and spotted in the Andaman Sea -- apparently heading towards Malaysia. Local fishermen plan to aid the refugees, if spotted. Indonesian authorites are non-committal. NGOs urge that COVID-19 not be used as an excuse for denying refugees the right to asylum and aid. ...]

    • Cyclone Amphan likely to hit Bangladesh
      on May 20.

          - Daily Star (Bangladesh)

      [paraphrased:]
        India Meteorological Department predicts cyclone likely to be "very severe," hit West Bengal [India] and Bangladesh coastal areas.
      [NOTE: This article contains two exceptional, vivid, detailed, color-coded, regional map images: a still diagram of the storm and its wind pattern on May 17 (while it was still at sea), and a video depiction of the evolving wind patterns from 1:00 AM on Tuesday to the present, updated continually over the next few days. ~RCN Editor]
      2020-05-18 - Monday NOAA image sequence: Cyclone Amphan. CLICK to VIEW

    • India and Bangladesh are already suffering
      with coronavirus.
      Now a super cyclone
      is heading their way.

          - CNN (Cable News Network)

      [paraphrased:]
        Cyclone Amphan -- equal to a strong Category 4 Atlantic hurricane -- is approaching the western coast of Bangladesh.
        While the principal danger is to the western Bangladesh coast, and neighboring parts of India, Cyclone Amphan may also bring heavy rains to eastern Bangladesh, including the massive Rohingya refugee camps around Cox's Bazar, home to nearly a million Rohingya, where their first COVID-19 cases emerged last week. An aid worker for Refugees International warned that the virus could thrive in the camps, as the refugees' "underlying health conditions" combine with "deteriorating sanitary conditions" that are certain to arrive from a "looming monsoon and flooding season." ...
        (same topic at:
      • Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh)
          "Warning flag raised at Rohingya camps. ..."
      • CBC News (Canada)
          "Doctor fears for Rohingya refugees as COVID-19 and a cyclone bear down on Bangladesh camps. Alberta-based doctor and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr. Fozia Alvi is providing virtual support from afar. Urges Canada to do more for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. ..." )
      (for background, see:
    • Hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones
      are becoming stronger,
      according to a new NOAA study.

          - CNN (Cable News Network)

      [paraphrased:]
        A new study -- by the U.S. government and a university -- reports that hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones are increasing in intensity over the last 40 years, becoming more likely to be major storms (category 3 to 5, which cause nearly all the damage and death), at a rate of about 8% per decade.
        Super Cyclone Amphan, which now threatens India and Bangladesh, is a prime example of the threat. It has hit the top of the scale, equal to a Category 5 hurricane, with sustained winds of 165 mph (270 kph), Monday -- the strongest storm ever recorded in the Bay of Bengal.
        The study extends, by over a decade, the scope of prior research which has previously suggested man-made global warming may be part of the cause.
        While previous research only reviewed two or three decades of storms -- making it hard to separate natural cycles from human influences -- this study covered four decades of satellite data, greatly expanding the evidence supporting the global warming theory of storm growth. The study indicated it is likely that both natural events and man-made warming of the atmosphere and oceans are contributing to the growing storms, and will continue to do so.
    • 2020-05-16
    • ANALYSIS:
      Coronavirus comes for an abandoned people/
      • Washington Post
        • In one of the world's most densely populated places, where social distancing is impossible,
          there are not even enough resources for basic hygiene and sanitation, let alone medical care...
        • Rohingyas' plight is subject of a new exhibit
          at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum,
        • Western countries' objections and pressures
          have failed to stop the crimes.
        • The International Court of Justice is demanding reform,
          but no results are showing.
        • As desperation, and COVID-19 fear mounts in the refugee camps,
          many Rohingya are turning to flimsly boats
          for an 800-mile sea voyage,
          in hopes of sanctuary in Malaysia --
          though some were turned away,
          left adrift at sea, where some are dying.


      NOAA image sequence: Cyclone Amphan. CLICK to VIEW 2020-05-19 - Tuesday

    • Cyclone Amphan:
      [Bangladesh] Armed Forces ready
      for emergency rescue,
      medical assistance and relief

          - Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh)

      [NOTE: This may be a government press release.]
        A special disaster management team, with experience in working on landslides, is ready to be deployed at the Rohingya camp, in Cox's Bazar, to protect the forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals.

    • Cyclone Amphan:
      All-out preparations
      taken in Bhasan Char [island].
      [where stranded Rohingya boat people
        have been dumped by the navy.]
      A total of 123 shelters have been built to tackle cyclone and tidal waves.
          - Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh)

      [NOTE: This may be a government press release.]
      [paraphrased:]
        The local government has taken maximum precautions to deal with Super Cyclone Amphan, which will hit the Bangladesh coastline late Wednesday night. At present, the island is inhabited by 300 Bangladesh security personnel, and 300 Rohingyas who the Bangladesh navy picked up at sea, stranded, after they attempted to flee the overcrowded refugee camps near Cox's Bazar. Their shelters include 123 buildings.
      [RCN Editor's note:  The "123 shelters" (see aerial photo in the article) were originally built by the government to house over 100,000 Rohingya -- who refused to move to the island from their mainland camps (a decision supported by aid agencies, and human rights organizations, who warned that the island flooded easily, and was too far from help).
        The vast facilities have been empty until the Bangladesh navy's recent rescue of 300 Rohingya castaways, who were stranded at sea, after fleeing camps near Cox's Bazar, in hopes of better accommodation in Malaysia [over 800 miles away by sea].
        When they became stranded, the navy took them to Bhashan Char -- a new silt island in the Bay of Bengal, hours from the mainland, where the new structures (depicted in this article) awaited -- despite objections from the Rohingya, and the U.N. Secretary General, who urged that the castaways be returned to their families at the mainland camps near Cox's Bazar.]

    • ANALYSIS & OPINION:
      Double blow for Bangladesh:
      Strongest storm ever recorded
      in Bay of Bengal
      amid a pandemic

          - Daily Star (Bangladesh)

        When Bangladesh is struggling to fight against the deadly coronavirus pandemic, another catastrophe is heading towards the country's coastal areas in the form of super cyclone Amphan, bringing a double blow to the impoverished people, as well as the economy of the nation.
        [It may hit Bangladesh coast with a 5-10 feet surge above normal tide, and 80-90 mph (140-160 kph) wind speed. Danger signal flags hoisted all along the Bangladesh coast; Cox's Bazar (where most Rohingya are camped) hoists "Danger signal six." Offshore islands and chars (including Bhashan Char, where hundreds of Rohingya castaways have been sent) hoists "Danger signal six" or, worse, "seven."]
        As millions flee to sturdy-but-crowded storm shelters, worries abound about the lack of social distancing, and the resulting spread of COVID-19.

       

    • Yanghee Lee:
      Champion of Justice
      for Rohingyas

          - Daily Star (Bangladesh)

       

      2020-05-20 - Wednesday NOAA image sequence: Cyclone Amphan. CLICK to VIEW

    • Bangladesh moves Rohingya
      [quarantined on Bhashan Char]
      to island shelters
      as huge cyclone nears

      [The main Rohingya camps at Cox's Bazar have raised red warning flags, escalating storm warnings from level six, to level nine, the most severe warning.]
          - Reuters News Service

      [paraphrased:]
        300 Rohingya refugees on the island of Bhashan Char -- who were stranded at sea after fleeing their overcrowded camps in Cox's Bazar, then rescued by the Bangladesh navy, who quarantined them on the flood-prone island -- have been moved, by officials, to elevated storm shelters on the island.
        In Rohingya refugee camps on the mainland, near Cox's Bazar, volunteers fear disaster if the camps are hit by the cyclone. Rohingya have been told, if the storm destroys their flimsy shelters -- perched on steep, unstable hills -- they should take shelter in schools.
        The crowded camps are already in danger of a community spread of COVID-19, following the discovery of the first infected Rohingya, last week.

    • Official HRW statement:
      Bangladesh:
      Cyclone Endangers Rohingya
      on Silt Island.
        Refugees Allege Torture,
        Limited Health Care, Food

        on Bhasan Char.
          - Human Rights Watch

        The Bangladesh government has kept over 300 Rohingya refugees confined on Bhasan Char -- a remote silt island, in the path of a "super cyclone" -- without adequate protections or safety measures, Human Rights Watch said today. Three people were reported killed in Bangladesh soon after the storm struck the coast.
        The authorities should take immediate steps to ensure safety and transfer the refugees, including nearly 40 children, to the camps in Cox’s Bazar as soon as possible. The United Nations refugee agency and other humanitarian organizations are there, prepared to provide them with critical services and reunite them with their families.
        "The Bangladesh government properly brought Rohingya refugees stranded at sea ashore, but holding them on a tiny island during a cyclone is dangerous and inhumane," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Our fear -- that Bhasan Char would become a 'floating detention center' -- has now turned into a fear of a submerged one."
        Cyclone Amphan made landfall, on the Bangladesh coast, on the evening of May 20, 2020 -- though it shifted course slightly, so Bhasan Char is no longer in its direct path. Bangladesh’s Land Ministry has previously reported that Bhasan Char could be submerged by a strong cyclone at high tide. About 300 Bangladesh security officials are also on the island.
        Bangladesh rescued two boats of Rohingya refugees in early May after Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, and Bangladesh authorities pushed them back to sea for two months. While Bangladesh initially stated that the refugees were being temporarily quarantined on Bhasan Char to prevent a Covid-19 outbreak in the camps, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has since said they would "most likely" be held on the island indefinitely.
        Human Rights Watch interviewed 25 Rohingya refugees, including both refugees on the island and their family members in Cox’s Bazar. They said that those on the island are being confined in prison-like conditions without freedom of movement or adequate access to food, water, or medical care. Some alleged beatings by Bangladesh security forces.
        One refugee, whose daughters are on Bhasan Char, said he is worried about their safety during the cyclone because they told him that "it feels like a gust of wind could blow the structures over anytime," and that it feels like "an island jail in the middle of the sea."
        India and Bangladesh are evacuating over two million people from the coasts to take shelter from Cyclone Amphan. However, Bangladesh authorities have failed to evacuate the refugees on Bhasan Char, a 40-square-kilometer island, in the Bay of Bengal, made of silt that has accumulated in the last two decades. When then-United Nations special rapporteur on Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, visited the island in January 2019, she questioned whether the island was “truly habitable.”
        The refugees had all been moved to a four-story shelter on the island ahead of the incoming cyclone, but Bangladesh authorities have yet to provide UN technical experts with sufficient access to the island to determine its habitability, and to assess plans for emergency preparedness in the face of Cyclone Amphan.
        Although the Bangladesh government has previously promised that no one would be forced to remain on Bhasan Char against their will, officials have apparently told refugees that they will not be transferred to the mainland.
        * * *
        Refugees on the island said that soldiers threatened and beat up male refugees, including children, while interrogating them about the smugglers who transported them. Women described hearing screams from the interrogation room. One child said that officials held him in the cell and beat him. "At one point they suspected I was one of the [smugglers] and they started beating me," he said. "I still cannot walk properly and feel the pain of the torture in my body.” Another refugee said that an officer threatened him,...
        Refugees also described officers punishing them. One Rohingya woman said that on May 17 she witnessed soldiers force two women to stand under the hot sun for over an hour as punishment for using their mobile phones, which are forbidden. Another refugee said that when he went to a shop to buy food, officers from the Coast Guard beat him for leaving the shelter. "There are bruises all over my body from that beating," he said.
        [Bangladesh] Disaster Minister Enamur Rahman has described Bhasan Char as a "super township" with facilities for food, water, medical care, cyclone centers, and electricity -- but refugees reported shortages in drinking water and medical treatment. Children have no access to books or education.
        Refugees said they are given two cooked meals a day and are rebuked if they ask for more.
      One woman said she was scolded when she asked for more nutritious food for her children, ages 5 and 7, by officers who said she had been “spoiled” by international aid agencies. ...
        Refugees said that they are facing serious medical problems after being stranded at sea for months, but that there is not adequate medical care on the island. One refugee said: "Some of the women have skin ailments and diarrhea, but are without proper treatment. If we were in the camp, at least we would be able to go to the health post or MSF [Medecins Sans Frontieres] hospital." One refugee, whose sister is being held on the island, said that she is not able to obtain proper medication for her diabetes. Instead, refugees said that the doctors are only dispensing paracetamol tablets for pain.
        There are concerns that women and girls may have faced sexual or other violence while they were on the boat, or since then. ... No protection services or appropriate medical services for sexual violence victims are available on Bhasan Char.
        Even prior to the cyclone, Bangladesh authorities should have heeded concerns raised by the UN and nongovernmental organizations, and promptly transferred the Rohingya back to the Cox’s Bazar camps. On May 15, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the Bangladesh government to move the refugees to the camps following their two-week quarantine period, which ended on May 16 for the first group, and will end on May 21 for the second. The cyclone highlights the urgency of transferring the Rohingya from Bhasan Char, Human Rights Watch said.
        "The cyclone marks the beginning of monsoon season, adding further dangers for refugees who spent months on a crowded boat, starving and floating at sea, and now have been detained and beaten on Bhasan Char," Adams said. "The Bangladesh government should immediately transfer the refugees to the camps where humanitarian agencies can give them the medical and psychosocial care they desperately need."

    • 50 cyclone shelters
      ready in Cox's Bazar:
      ~ IOM [U.N. Int'l Org. for Migration]

          - UNB / Daily Star (Bangladesh)

        Some 50 multipurpose shelters have been prepared, while 256 cyclone preparation programme volunteer units have provided early warning messages to the communities in the Rohingya camps, as cyclone Amphan is unlikely to hit Cox's Bazar district.

      [paraphrased:]
        International Organisation for Migration (IOM) say they are standing by to provide emergency aid following possible damage by Cyclone Amphan.
        To lower the risk of landslides in the Rohingya camps, during the cyclone-and-monsoon season, SMEP – a joint project of IOM, UNHCR and the World Food Program – identified and stabilised possibly risky areas with bamboo and concrete walls.
        In Cox's Bazar, to prepare to respond to Amphan, 21 Union Disaster Management Committees were activated...
        With the first cases of Covid-19 confirmed, just days ago, in the Rohingya camps around Cox's Bazar, around 1.2 million Rohingyas and neighbors in the host community, now, also face the threat of Super Cyclone Amphan.
        IOM's Deputy chief of mission in Bangladesh, says IOM is "extremely concerned" for the possibility of "a new humanitarian crisis," around Cox's Bazar, "if a cyclone hits while" IOM and other aid agencies are attempting to contain the recent COVID-19 outbreak.
        He warned that if the storms force residents into "communal shelter," they won't be able to maintain a safe physical distance from each other, and risk "contracting or transmitting the virus."

    • More Rohingya migrants
      detained in Mae Sot [Thailand]
      • Reuters / Bangkok Post (Thailand)
      Police in Tak (Thailand) arrested 15 Rohingya Muslims for alleged illegal entry. Authorities now investigating possibility they might be victims of human trafficking. ...

      NOAA image sequence: Cyclone Amphan. CLICK to VIEW 2020-05-21 - Thursday

    • Cyclone Amphan Devastates
      Parts of Bangladesh,
      West Bengal [India]

          - Benar News (Malaysia)

      (U.S. gov't affiliated news service)
      [paraphrased:]

        Cyclone Amphal, with winds up to 115 mph (185 kph), devastated much of India's West Bengal state, and eastern Bangladesh -- killing dozens of people (reportedly 72 in India, 16 in Bangladesh), and destroying roads, power lines, and tens of thousands of homes.
        Bangladesh evacuated 2.4 million people to the coastal region's 14,600 emergency centers.
        * * *
        Rohingya refugees camped near Cox's Bazar region survived, with moderate damage, including 200 damaged houses.
        According to the state minister for disaster management, the island facility on Bhashan Char -- now occupied by 300 Rohingya [and their guards] -- survived intact. [It was many miles from the storm's center.]."This island is highly protected," the minister told BenarNews
        Even so, Human Rights Watch has urged that Bangladesh return the internees to the mainland camps from which they fled, by boat,
      before becoming stranded at sea, rescued by Bangladesh's navy, and quarantined on the prison-like island. HRW says that some of the detainees have been beaten on Bhashan Char.
        Bangladesh's deputy foreign affairs minister, called HRW's allegations "baseless and ill-motivated," according to Agence France-Presse (AFP), and a navy spokesman claimed that the Rohingya are being “treated very well.”

    • Bangladesh slams claims
      [that] security forces beat
      Rohingya refugees.

          - AFP / Yahoo Sports (USA)

      [paraphrased:]
        Bangladesh's Foreign Minister, AK Momen, on Thursday, repudiated claims by Human Rights Watch (HRW) that Rohingya detainees on Bhashan Char island were beaten by security forces.
        Attacking HRW, Momen accused them of "an evil motive," and of being "silent about the violence in Myanmar," adding that people making such comments should bring the Rohingya to their country, and please them.
        The junior foreign minister, too, accused HRW of being "ill-motiviated" and dismissed its claims as "baseless." A navy spokesman declared the detainees were "treated very well" by the personnel in control of the navy-run island -- adding that Cyclone Amphan hurt no one on the island, and caused no damage.
       

    • Rohingya refugee camps near Cox's Bazar
      appear to have been spared
      significant damage.

          - CNN (Cable News Network)

      [paraphrased:]
        No major damage, from Cyclone Amphan, and no major injuries, have been reported in the Rohingya refugee camps around Cox's Bazar. It had been feared that rain from the cyclone -- which was centered to the west, on the other side of Bangladesh -- might trigger landslides in the camps, but no such report has happened.
        Fears remain of COVID-19 spreading, since the first reported case among the Rohingya, last week.

       
        (Official U.N. statement at:
        - U.N. News
        ...includes this report:
        Refugees sheltering in Bangladesh:
          The Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh flagged that preliminary reports indicate that damage is minimal in Cox’s Bazar - home to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar - with some 300 shelters damaged, approximately 60 of which were fully destroyed.
          Flooding and small landsides have been reported in several refugee camps, as well as blocked drains and damaged stairs, latrines, and bridges – but no word of casualties or deaths.
          Humanitarian partners are on standby to ensure access to information, temporary shelter, food, safe drinking water and other vital services for affected refugees according to need. )

    • VIDEO:
      Crowded & Desperate:
      Rohingya in World’s Largest Refugee Camp
      Face Dual Crises of
      Cyclone & COVID-19.

          - Democracy Now! (PBS-TV) on YouTube

      (a liberal current-affairs program
       on American public television)
        A major cyclone hits India and Bangladesh, amid the pandemic, displacing 3 million people and unleashing heavy rain on Cox’s Bazar -- home to 1 million Rohingya refugees -- where the first cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed.
        ...update from Steven Corliss, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees representative in Bangladesh, and interview with Rohingya activist Tun Khin, president of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK, and a member of the Free Rohingya Coalition. ...

    • ANALYSIS & OPINION
      The world’s largest refugee settlement
      is in the crosshairs of
      a cyclone and a pandemic.

      by Mayyu Ali, Rohingya refugee in Cox's Bazar camp.
          - Washington Post

      [paraphrased:]
        In Cox's Bazar — often reported as the world’s largest refugee camp, Rohingya refugees, who have escaped genocide in Myanmar, are enduring one disaster after another:
      • Genocide in Myanmar, violently driving the Rohingya from their homeland.
      • Confinement in over-crowded, restrictive refugee camps, with too little of everything.
      • Fires sweeping through parts of the camp, destroying hundreds of shelters, last week.
      • COVID-19's arrival in the camps, last week.
      • Cyclone Amphan -- bringing high winds and heavy rain -- threatened to tear through the camps, flooding homes, and destroying shelters, and creating deadly landslides.
      • 300 Rohingya quarantined on Bhashan Char island,
        whose fate is still-unknown.
      • Monsoon season, always destructive to the camps, is coming soon.
      • Internet and cellphone blackout, by authorities, for months, has strangled communications to, from, and within the camps -- leading to misinformation, paranoia and panic.

      Greatest fear of all:  What COVID-19 will do to the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees crowded in camps around Cox's Bazar -- where social distancing is impossible -- where a half-dozen people, or more, share a single 16-foot shelter, and dozens share a single toilet and a single hand-pump for hygiene.

       

    • UNHCR releases new guidelines
      on loss and deprivation of nationality.

          - U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees
            (United Nations)

        UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has today issued new guidelines on the loss and deprivation of nationality. The guidance is intended to assist governments and policy makers in interpreting relevant international law. ...

       


    • Q&A:
      The Gambia v. Myanmar:
      Rohingya Genocide
        at  
      The International Court of Justice,

      May 2020 Factsheet

       


    • Official HRW statement:
      THAILAND:
      Let UN Refugee Agency
      Screen Rohingya

      End Inhumane Indefinite Detention of Asylum Seekers.

          - Human Rights Watch

        Thai authorities should allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) unhindered access to Rohingya from Myanmar to determine whether they qualify for refugee status, Human Rights Watch said today. The government’s inhumane policy of holding Rohingya arriving in Thailand in indefinite detention should be immediately repealed.
        The latest group of Rohingya arrived in Thailand by land, crossing from Myanmar into Mae Sot district of Tak province on May 20, 2020. Thai authorities arrested at least 12 Rohingya and sent them to the Mae Sot immigration detention facility.
        Approximately 200 Rohingya are being held in immigration detention and other facilities across Thailand.
        "The Thai government should scrap its policy of summarily locking up Rohingya and throwing away the key, condemning them to indefinite detention in cramped and unhygienic detention centers now susceptible to a Covid-19 outbreak," said Brad Adams, Asia director. "The Rohingya have been brutally persecuted in Myanmar. Thailand should permit the UN refugee agency to screen all Rohingya arriving in Thailand to identify and assist those seeking refugee status."
        * * *
        Thai authorities have, for years, said they do not want to treat Rohingya as asylum seekers. However, under international law, Thailand cannot summarily disregard the claims of asylum seekers who arrive at its borders. Thailand is obligated to allow them to enter the country and seek protection. ...



      2020-05-22 - Friday

    • Amphan inflicts massive damage
      • Death toll reaches 12;
      • more than 200,000 houses damaged;
      • embankments washed away;
      • a million people affected;
      • govt estimates Tk 1,100cr damage
          (approx. US$132,000,000).

          - Daily Star (Bangladesh)

       

    • Bhasan Char unaffected in Amphan;
      FM questions aid agencies' opposition.

      Reminds international community
      of Rohingya issue's global dimension.

          - UNB (United News of Bangladesh)

        Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Momen reported that -- contrary to concerns expressed by aid agencies and human-rights organizations -- refugee facilities on the silt island of Bhashan Char managed to survive the effects of Cyclone Amphan.
        [RCN Editor note: Cyclone Amphan did not directly hit Bhashan Char, and its main core was nearly a hundred miles away, to the west. Previously expressed concerns about the island have focused on the risk from more-direct storm impacts on the island.]
        In a statement delivered via online media, Momen suggested that the incident proves that the island is a safe and suitable habitat for Rohingya refugees.
        Momen described dams arranged to protect the island from tidal waves, and claimed that 500 fishermen had sheltered on the island during a previous cyclone.
        A human-rights group focused on the Rohingya -- Fortify Rights -- expressed concern that the island is "not a viable option" for dealing with COVID-19.
        Momen blasted aid and human-rights agencies for their objections -- hinting that the aid agencies may have been more concerned for their own convenience, in objecting to the government's hoped-for relocaction of Rohingya to the island. He chastised ambassadors of other nations "so concerned" about the Rohingya, suggesting that, if they are so concerned, their nations should take in the Rohingya refugees.
        Speaking to European diplomats, Momen pointed out that, while Bangladesh has a per-person average annual income of US$2,000, and a population density of 1,200 people per square mile, the EU has an per-person average annual income of US$50,000, and a population density as low as 15 people per square mile.
        Momen cited "security" and "safety" concerns as the reason for continuing the blackout of 3G and 4G broadband internet / cell phone access in Rohingya camps, limiting the Rohingya to voice communcations and texting via 2G systems.
      [RCN Editor note: The communications blackouts began as a government response to the Rohingyas' complaining interviews (backed by online photos and videos) with international media, and mass protests by the Rohingya confined to the camps at Cox's Bazar -- protests reportedly organized through internet communications.]


    • US lauds Hasina's leadership
          - UNB / Daily Star (Bangladesh)

      [paraphrased: ]
        U.S. diplomats have praised the leadership of Bangladesh's Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina -- particularly her role in elevating women, and in aid to the Rohingya (while noting that the U.S. is the largest financial donor to the Rohingya). They noted that the U.S. has been Bangladesh's principal market, and that efforts were underway to strengthen that relationship. ...

       


    • EXPLAINER:
      Rohingya refugees face crowded camps,
      dangerous sea journeys and COVID-19.

          - Amnesty International

      - 2020 May 22
          (updated revision of 2018 Nov 15 article)
      Topics:
      • Who are the Rohingya people?
      • How have so many Rohingya ended up in Bangladesh as refugees?
      • Why are Rohingya still fleeing by boat?
      • How can we help Rohingya people stranded at sea?
      • Is it safe for Rohingya people to return to Myanmar?

       


    • Myanmar prepares response
      to Int’l Court order on Rohingya

          - AP / Federal News Network (USA)

      [paraphrased:]
        Myanmar says it plans to submit a report demanded by the International Court of Justice, due Saturday, which will outline its claims of compliance with the court's January, 2020 order, demanding that Myanmar protect its Muslim Rohingya ethnic minority from acts of "genocide."
        The Myanmar government and military will assert that it has done what is required. The most sigificant act, so far, has been an April 8 "order" from the civilian government to the military, ordering its forces not to commit acts of genocide. However, the military -- which controls all security forces, including the police, and a decisive number of seats in the legislature -- is essentially immune from accoutability.
        Amnesty International asserts that things have simply not changed, for the Rohingya, in Myanmar, despite the court's order -- with atrocities and apartheid still continuing in Myanmar.
        While the court's order is binding under international law, the court actually has no enforcement powers -- and, in the past, Serbia and Uganda ignored the court's orders, without consequence.
        (same article at:
      • AP / ABC News
      • AP / Yahoo News (USA)
      • AP / Toronto Star (Canada)
      • AP / Toronto Globe & Mail (Canada)
      • AP / The Hindu (India) )

      • (Official Amnesty Int'l statement:
        Myanmar:
        Government fails
        to protect Rohingya
        after world court order.

            - Amnesty International
              on ReliefWeb.int

          Ahead of the 23 May deadline for Myanmar to report on its compliance with the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) order to take “provisional measures” to protect the Rohingya, Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director, said:

          “Despite the International Court’s order nothing has changed for the estimated 600,000 Rohingya who live in Rakhine State in dire conditions, including around 126,000 whom the authorities are holding indefinitely in camps.”

          “The Rohingya in Rakhine State are still denied their rights to nationality, freedom of movement and access to services, including healthcare. They are also caught in an escalating armed conflict between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army.

          “Internet blackouts have kept the Rohingya and other minorities in Rakhine and Chin States deprived of potentially life-saving information and impeded monitoring of the humanitarian situation on the ground. This information blackout puts people at greater at risk, especially in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

          “While Myanmar’s recent presidential directives ordering government personnel not to commit genocide or destroy evidence appear in line with the International Court order, the reality remains that no meaningful steps to end atrocities - including the crime of apartheid - have been taken.

          “An additional directive ordering officials to halt ‘hate speech’ is long overdue, but lacks sufficient guarantees that it cannot be used to further curtail freedom of expression. Without meaningful follow-up and transparency around Myanmar’s compliance with the ICJ order, these measures can only be seen as window dressing.

          “Until there is genuine accountability for those responsible for crimes under international law, there is little hope for improvement in the lives of the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities in Rakhine, Kachin and northern Shan States. These populations still suffer from widespread human rights violations at the hands of the Myanmar authorities. Amnesty International renews its call for the UN Security Council to urgently refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court.”

        Background:

        On 11 November 2019, the Gambia filed a case at the ICJ, accusing Myanmar of breaching its obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention. The complaint included an urgent request for the Court to order “provisional measures” to prevent all acts that may amount to or contribute to the crime of genocide against the Rohingya and protect the community from further harm while the case is being adjudicated.

        Public hearings on provisional measures were held in the Hague on 10-12 December 2019. Myanmar’s delegation, headed by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, denied accusations of genocide, and urged the Court to reject the case and refuse the request for provisional measures.

        On 23 January 2020 the ICJ granted the provisional measures and ordered Myanmar to report back on their implementation within four months, and every six months thereafter until the case concludes. The decision required Myanmar to “take all measures within its power” to protect the Rohingya from genocide, to ensure the preservation of evidence relating to allegations of genocide and to prevent “public incitement” to commit genocide.

        The order came only a few days after the Myanmar government-established Independent Commission of Enquiry submitted its final report on Rakhine State to the President of Myanmar. The Commission concluded that while the Myanmar security forces may have been responsible for war crimes and “disproportionate use of force”, it found no evidence of genocidal intent. The full report has yet to be made public.

        Since February, fighting between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army, an ethnic Rakhine armed group, has escalated in Rakhine State and neighboring Chin State, with reports of serious violations and rising civilian casualties, including a staff member of the World Health Organization killed in clashes on 20 April. Both the military and the armed group blamed each other for the attack.

        A unilateral ceasefire adopted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic does not apply to the areas where the Myanmar military is fighting the Arakan Army, which the Myanmar authorities deem to be a “terrorist organization”.

       


    • Rohingya targeted in Malaysia
      as coronavirus stokes xenophobia.

          - Reuters News Service

      [paraphrased:]
        For decades, the southeast nation of Malaysia -- a Muslim-majority country -- welcomed Rohingya refugees, generally turning a blind eye to their officially illegal employment in low-paying jobs.
        But, as elsewhere in the world, the COVID-19 outbreak has turned public sentiment against foreigners -- accused of spreading disease, being a burden to the state, and taking jobs from natives as their economy plummets.

        While the Rohingya migrants are the most obvious targets, others are worried, too, in Malaysia -- a country that depends upon foreign workers to labor in its factories, construction sites and plantations.
        “There is harassment on the streets and online. I’ve never seen anything like this in Malaysia before,” said one Malaysian activist, of the European Rohingya Council rights group -- who was threatened, online, with rape, for encouranging the Malaysian government to allow Rohingya refugees at sea to land on Malaysian soil. (Last month, the government turned away a boat with 200 refugees aboard).
        * * *
        With public mood turning against migrants, the government, this month, carried out raids arresting at least 2,000 foreigners, leading some away in handcuffs... At least 800 were from Myanmar (the vast majority Myanmar nationals in Malaysia are Rohingya.) ...
        * * *
        Malaysia's government has reiterated that it sees the migrants as illegal immigrants, and it has threatened to take legal action against pro-Rohingya advocacy groups, declaring that no Rohingya organisation has been officially registered in Malaysia.
        * * *
        Online attacks against Rohingya have surged, with one activist counting hundreds of such attacks -- prompting extensive blocking by Facebook. In a joint in a letter to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, 84 non-governmental organisations wrote:
        “The ‘hate speech’ directed at the Rohingya community raises serious concerns about the Malaysia government’s commitment to protect human rights.” ...
        The government declined to comment on the letter.


       
    • 2020-05-23 - Saturday

      • Atrocities on Rohingyas:
        Nothing credible done
        to improve situation
        in Rakhine

        ...Say ASEAN parliamentarians,
        as Myanmar set to submit first report,
        today, to ICJ, in genocide case.

            - Reuters / Daily Star (Bangladesh)

        [paraphrased:]
          Asean (the Association of South East Asian Nations) Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)* says Myanmar has failed to do anything credible to improve the situation of the Rohingya in Myanmar's Rakhine state -- the day before the deadline for Myanmar, to submit its first report to the ICJ (International Court of Justice) detailing actions it has taken to prevent genocide against the Rohingya, and preserve evidence of atrocities.
          The statement alleged that the remaining Rohingya inside Myanmar still live in apartheid conditions, and are subject to the same restrictions – if not worse – under which they have lived for years... including restricted freedom of movement, and limited access to health, education, and livelihoods. ...
        *[RCN Editor note: ASEAN -- The Association of SouthEast Asian Nations -- comprises all the nations of SouthEast Asia, from Myanmar to the Philippines. It is an organization for resolving issues among, and promoting cooperation between, those nations. However, as a written policy, it does "not interfere in the internal affairs of member states." ASEAN includes government officials from the member states, most of which have parliaments or legislatures.
          A liberal minority of parliamentarians/legislators, from some of the various ASEAN nations, have organized this unofficial political organization: ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), which, however, is not an official arm of ASEAN. The APHR is a vocal advocate for human rights throughout Southeast Asia. ~RCN Editor.]

      • Cyclone Amphan hits Rohingya camps:
        How they covered it

            - ASEAN Today (Southeast Asia)

          NOTE: THIS IS AN EXCEPTIONALLY THOROUGH-BUT-CONCISE SYNOPSIS OF NEWS COVERAGE OF THE LAST FEW DAYS, IN MAJOR/REGIONAL ENGLISH-LANGUAGE MEDIA, WITH LINKS TO THOSE ARTICLES IT SUMMARIZES. ~RCN Editor

      • Myanmar editor jailed for 2 years
        over virus error.

            - Reuters / Daily Star (Bangladesh)

          [paraphrased:]
          Myanmar has suddenly arrested, jailed, tried, and convicted a news editor for publishing an allegedly false report of a COVID-19 death in eastern Karen state. The unusually swift response drew a two-year prison sentence.
          Myanmar's government has been reporting suspiciously low test-proven COVID-19 infection and death rates, leading many to suspect the actual numbers are much, much higher.
          Myanmar is preparing new laws on dealing with communicable diseases -- with provisions that will make it easier to convict reporters of a crime, for allegedly causing a public panic.

      • 'Bhasan Char
        among safest places
        to relocate Rohingyas'

        Enam says [Bangladesh] government to talk to UN bodies, to shift them from Cox’s Bazar.
            - The Independent (Bangladesh)

        [NOTE: This article may be a government press release]
        [paraphrased:]
          Bangladesh's State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief, Dr Md. Enamur Rahman, has declared that Bhasan Char is one of the safest places to relocate the forcibly-displaced Rohingya of Myanmar.
          Noting that "Super cyclone Amphan damaged" much of the Bangladesh's coastal belt, he added that "Bhasan Char stood tall" even in the face of "stormy wind," and "thus proved... Bhasan Char... a safe island," to which "we can shift the Rohingya" "from the camps" around "Cox’s Bazar," he told The Independent, on Bhashan Char, Friday. ...
          (See also: "Bhasan Char unaffected in Amphan; FM questions aid agencies' opposition.", May 22, above)

       



    • 2020-05-24 - Sunday

        ---------------

       



    • 2020-05-25 - Monday

    • 2020-05-26 - Tuesday

      • Human Rights Watch:
        200 homes burned down
        in Rakhine State of Myanmar.

        It also said the damage analysis, of 200 buildings being burned, was most likely an underestimate, as internal damage to buildings were not visible.
            - Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh)

        [paraphrased:]
          Human Rights Watch (HRW), a US-based human rights group, is calling for an impartial, urgent investigation into mass destruction of homes in a largely ethnic village, in Myanmar's Rakhine State, where satellite imagery is showing that more than 200 homes have been burned down. ...
          (Official HRW statement at:
          - "Myanmar: Imagery Shows 200 Buildings Burned"
          "Independent Inquiry Needed in Embattled Rakhine State"

          ...which notes (with satellite photos):
           
          Satellite imagery shows that about 200 homes and other buildings were destroyed by fire on May 16, 2020, in Myanmar’s embattled Rakhine State, Human Rights Watch said today. An impartial investigation is urgently needed to determine responsibility for this mass destruction of residential property in the predominantly ethnic Rakhine village of Let Kar, Mrauk-U township.
            Since January 2019, fighting between the Myanmar military and the ethnic Rakhine Arakan Army has resulted in numerous civilian casualties and destruction of civilian property. The imagery of Let Kar bears a close resemblance to patterns of fires and widespread arson attacks by the Myanmar military on ethnic Rohingya villages in Rakhine State in 2012, 2016, and 2017, Human Rights Watch said.
            “The burning of Let Kar village has all the hallmarks of Myanmar military arson on Rohingya villages in recent years,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “A credible and impartial investigation is urgently needed to find out what happened, punish those responsible, and provide compensation to villagers harmed.”

            Satellite imagery recorded on May 16, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. shows no signs of damage in Let Kar. But at 2:12 p.m., an environmental satellite detected extensive fires burning there. The Human Rights Watch damage analysis of 200 buildings burned is most likely an underestimate as internal damage to buildings is not visible.
            The satellite imagery is consistent with witness accounts regarding the date and time of the fires and the number of buildings affected. Residents in the neighboring village of Bu Ywat Ma Nyo told the media they saw Myanmar soldiers walk past their village to enter Let Kar around 2 p.m. on May 16 and leave around 5 p.m. The two villages are nearly one kilometer apart. After the soldiers entered Let Kar, Bu Ywat Ma Nyo residents reported hearing gunfire, saw flames and smoke, and observed two aerial drones, one flying above Let Kar and another flying over Bu Ywat Ma Nyo village.
            * * *
            An aid worker from the town of Mrauk-U told Human Rights Watch that at about 2 p.m. on May 16, columns of smoke could be seen coming from the direction of Let Kar, 11 kilometers north. “There was no one living there after the fighting last year as [the residents] had fled, but the older people really have nowhere to go now,” he said. “They had been sheltering in IDP [internally displaced persons] camps in Tein Myo and Bu Ywat Ma Nyo villages and had at least been able to go home and collect their belongings or check their homes from time to time. Now they don’t have anything – it’s very sad.”
            A former Let Kar resident who still lives nearby told a local source that he went to view the damage himself on May 17. He said he and his companions encountered about 50 Myanmar troops on the road as they travelled from Mrauk-U to Let Kar by motorbike, but the soldiers did not stop them. He said he counted at least 194 buildings that had been burned down, including his own home, and a school.
            A Rakhine State regional member of parliament, Tun Thar Sein, confirmed that a military contingent had been in the area. “We will urge the union government for compensation and aid to be provided to the residents of Let Kar,” he said.
            On May 17, Myanmar’s military released a statement that its troops had entered Let Kar the previous afternoon while patrolling the area and were attacked by the Arakan Army. It also issued an aerial view image of burning buildings in Let Kar, presumably taken by a drone. The military accused the Arakan Army of setting the fires and damaging at least 20 houses before retreating into the mountains.
            On May 19, the Arakan Army issued a statement denying the allegations. A spokesperson, Khine Thuka, urged the media to investigate.
           


          Most residents abandoned Let Kar more than a year ago, when fighting intensified. On April 10, 2019, the military raided Let Kar and detained 27 men for questioning about alleged ties to the Arakan Army. By April 22, three of the men had died in custody, attributed to “heart failure” by the military-owned Myawaddy newspaper. No autopsies were performed because the security forces swiftly cremated the bodies. The authorities contested allegations that the men were tortured but refused to investigate the deaths. The 24 others, two of whom are minors, remain detained in Sittwe.
            On March 22, fighting resulted in more than 500 homes being burned in Tin Ma village, Kyauktaw township. The military denied responsibility. The Rakhine State government in April provided US$62,000 in compensation to residents, according to Development Media Group.
          Under the laws of war applicable to the armed conflict between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army, attacks on civilians and civilian objects, such as homes, are prohibited. The wanton destruction of civilian property is a war crime. Myanmar has an obligation to investigate alleged war crimes and appropriately prosecute those responsible regardless of rank. The Myanmar government is obligated to provide compensation for any wrongful acts and should consider ex gratia or “condolence” payments for other civilian harm.
            “Myanmar’s government should not leave the investigation of this incident to the military, which has repeatedly covered up atrocities and exonerated its troops,” [HRW representative] Robertson said. “To ensure a credible investigation, the government should request UN assistance.” )

         

      • 15,000 Rohingya refugees under quarantine
        as coronavirus cases rise in the camps

            - AFP / SBS News (Australia)
        (public broadcasting service)

       



    • 2020-05-27 - Wednesday

      • Atrocity Alert No. 205:
        UN Global Ceasefire,
        South Sudan and
        Myanmar (Burma)

            - Global Centre for the
        Responsibility to Protect

        DESPITE UN’S GLOBAL CEASEFIRE CALL, 650,000 PEOPLE DISPLACED BY CONFLICT SINCE MARCH

          Last Saturday, 23 May, marked two months since UN Secretary-General António Guterres appealed for all warring parties to observe a global ceasefire during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although 16 parties to conflicts in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and East Asia have responded positively to the UN’s call, violence is increasing in some conflict zones as the deadly virus continues to spread.
          * * *
          The majority of displaced populations live in crowded camps or host communities under conditions that make social distancing near impossible.
          In Bangladesh, which hosts more than 900,000 Rohingya refugees, at least 29 people in the crowded camps at Cox’s Bazaar have tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in 15,000 refugees being placed under quarantine. However, isolation centers in the camps reportedly only have the capacity to treat 700 patients.
          * * *

        MYANMAR SUBMITS FIRST REPORT TO ICJ IN HISTORIC GENOCIDE CASE

          On 23 January 2020 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued four provisional measures with which Myanmar must comply –

        • prevent genocidal acts,
        • ensure military, police and other forces do not commit genocidal acts,
        • preserve all evidence of genocidal acts, and
        • report on compliance with these measures.

          Last Saturday, 23 May, the government of Myanmar submitted its first report to the Court, detailing measures that it had taken in compliance with this order.

          The ICJ issued the provisional measures as part of an ongoing case brought by The Gambia against Myanmar for violating the Genocide Convention, particularly during so-called “clearance operations” against the Rohingya between August and December 2017.
          The authorities in Myanmar told news agencies that the confidential report focuses on three Presidential directives issued in April and May. The first two directives request all ministries and regional governments to “ensure that its personnel, officers, staff… and local people” do not commit genocide or destroy of evidence of genocide. The third directive urges officials to “take all possible measures to denounce and prevent all forms of hate speech.”
          Despite issuing the directives, the government has not taken any meaningful action to dismantle discriminatory structures, including repealing or amending laws and policies that target the Rohingya. Dr. Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, said that, “Until Myanmar’s discriminatory laws are abolished and the Generals who are responsible for the genocide are held accountable, the threat of further atrocities remains.”
          * * *
          Meanwhile, armed conflict continues in Rakhine State between the military and the Arakan Army, a non-state armed group seeking greater autonomy for the ethnic Rakhine Buddhist population.
          Satellite imagery collected by Human Rights Watch reveals that at least 200 homes and other buildings in the predominantly ethnic Rakhine village of Let Kar were destroyed by fire on 16 May.
          Human Rights Watch stated that “the imagery of Let Kar bears a close resemblance to patterns of fires and widespread arson attacks by the Myanmar military on ethnic Rohingya villages in Rakhine State in 2012, 2016, and 2017.”
          * * *
          As COVID-19 continues to spread in Myanmar, the military should negotiate an immediate ceasefire in Rakhine State and provide unfettered access for humanitarian organizations.

         

      • Rohingya genocide:
        Myanmar submits compliance report
        to int’l court.

            - Daily Star (Bangladesh)

          Myanmar authorities claimed to have submitted a compliance report to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Turkey-based Anadolu Agency reported.
          (same topic at:
        • The Irrawaddy (Myanmar)
          [Note: While this media appears to be independent, it may be subject to Myanmar military or government control.])


         

      • Virus threat marks ‘worst Eid ever’
        for Rohingya refugees
        in Bangladesh camps

          Aid workers struggle to expand extremely limited facilities,
        as COVID-19 pandemic invades the camps.

        DETAILS ON CURRENT FACILITIES
            - Arab News (Saudi Arabia)

          [NOTE: This media is questionable; it has a strong pro-Muslim bias, and is in a repressive, authoritarian Muslim nation that has killed offending journalists. However, this exceptionally detailed article appears factual, and consistent with other reports. ~RCN Editor]

        [paraphrased:]
        • Health officials work to increase testing, beds capacity to deal with rise in COVID-19 cases
        • Government officials said 25 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the camps, after the first infection among Rohingya was recorded in mid-May

        Chief medical officer for Cox’s Bazar district:

        • TESTING:
          “1,200 samples waiting [for test]... we can test... 190 samples per day.”
        • FACILITIES:
          working to improve facilities
          and to double testing frequency
          over the coming days.
        • However, the district still has no
          intensive care unit (ICU) facilities

          in its hospitals
          for treating critical patients.
        • “Some of the [ICU] machinery... reached Cox’s Bazar, but [not all]. ...
        • "We [hope we] will be able to provide [those] services shortly, but... can’t predict the exact timing,”

        Dr. Abu Taha Bhuyan, from the RRRC:

        • Most COVID-19 patients among the Rohingyas were doing well.
            “[Of the] four types of COVID-19 patients – mild, moderate, severe, and critical,...
          only two-thirds of Rohingya patients [so far, have had] moderate conditions,
          [and] others are mostly asymptomatic.”

        World Health Organization’s (WHO) spokesperson (Dhaka):

        • “Current capacity in [Cox's Bazar] district is 300 beds
          -- includ[ing] two newly installed treatment centers [with] 200 beds...
          built by UNHCR (the U.N. refugee agency), and provided with WHO support.
        • "Other partners [plan to open] nine additional facilities... [adding a] total capacity of 700 beds.”
        • 6 quarantine facilities are currently available, for quarantining more than 1,000 people.

         

      • Hindi film on Rohingya genocide
        in works
            - India New England News (USA)

       



    • 2020-05-28 - Thursday

       



    • 2020-05-29 - Friday

      • Official HRW statement:
        Pandemic Adds New Threat
        for Rohingyas [still] in Myanmar

        Burmese Authorities Are Using Covid-19 Response Measures
        as a Pretext to Harass and Extort Rohingyas

            - Human Rights Watch

         
        This is what life is like for the 130,000 internally displaced Rohingyas trapped in detention camps in central Rakhine state in Myanmar:
        • In the camps, they have no future, with little access to land or livelihoods.
        • They depend on foreign aid supplies and die of treatable diseases because of limited access to healthcare.
        • Shelters, built in 2012 to last two years, have deteriorated.
        • Most children can only attend basic classes at temporary learning spaces.

          [Now,] Burmese authorities are using Covid-19 response measures as a pretext to harass and extort Rohingyas -- and are doubling down on a system in which they are already effectively incarcerating the population.
          Rohingyas in the camps told Human Rights Watch that military and police forces regularly subject them to harassing physical punishment at checkpoints.
        One Rohingya woman said the police made her do sit-ups for 30 minutes for not wearing a mask through a checkpoint, after which she was too exhausted to move. Another man witnessed people being forced to perform squats at a checkpoint with their hands on their ears.
          Last week, the government of Myanmar delivered its much-anticipated first report to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) – following the court’s unanimous January 23 provisional measures order – explaining what it has done to protect the 600,000 ethnic Rohingyas in Rakhine state, whom a United Nations-backed fact-finding body said remain under threat of genocide.
          Our review of their record since January found: not much.
          The reality on the ground for the Rohingyas is dire: “oppressive and systemic restrictions” imposed on those remaining in Rakhine state, which may be indicative of ongoing genocide.
        The government established the camps following a campaign of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity against Rohingyas in central Rakhine state in 2012. Almost eight years later, they remain in de facto detention camps surrounded by fences, police, and military.
          Myanmar has a long history of creating hollow committees and commissions to appease critics, thwart genuine international scrutiny, and diffuse pressure to reform.
          But the ICJ’s judges made clear that Myanmar must show “concrete measures aimed specifically at recognizing and ensuring the right of the Rohingya to exist as a protected group under the Genocide Convention.”

          In recent interviews with Human Rights Watch, displaced Rohingyas in the Sittwe camps described a familiar array of social distancing requirements, frequent handwashing, and mask wearing, all of which also apply to the general population of Myanmar. The consequences for noncompliance are less familiar.
          A Rohingya woman told us that Rohingyas are not allowed to cross Sittwe checkpoints without a mask and are fined or receive ad hoc punishments if they aren’t wearing one. Yet the authorities have not provided enough face masks to Rohingyas in the camps. Several camp residents told us that an entire family must share a mask because they could not afford to buy one for each family member.
          There is no guarantee that following the Covid-19 rules protects people from extortion. One Rohingya man said, “Police fine people even though they are wearing a mask…they took the money from a man’s pocket, like 20,000” kyat ($14) – a sizeable sum considering many displaced people only receive approximately 15,000 kyat ($11) per month from the UN World Food Program in lieu of food rations.
          Rakhine state, one of the poorest [states] in Myanmar, is ill-prepared to handle a Covid-19 outbreak, but the health risks are even higher for displaced Rohingyas in overcrowded and squalid camps. Those in need of medical referrals to Sittwe General Hospital struggle to obtain permission to leave the camps, even in urgent cases. One Rohingya man said that a township official told him that “If people are affected [by Covid-19], you have to get treatment in the camps. They will not be allowed to the hospital.”
          But the camps neither have Covid-19 testing nor the capacity to address complex medical cases. This failure to provide an adequate health response is underlined by Myanmar’s nationwide “Action Plan for the Control of Covid-19 Outbreak at IDP Camps,” which does not include testing or plans for the country’s internally displaced people.
        * * *
          Myanmar may point to its recent presidential directives aimed at preventing genocide, preserving evidence, and deterring hate speech as signs of progress in carrying out the ICJ’s order.
          But donor governments, the UN, and others wondering about Myanmar’s compliance with the court’s provisional measures order should consider this: The tightening restrictions and increased scope for extortion mean that if Rohingyas need treatment for Covid-19, they may have to forgo food to buy a mask.
          Even with a mask, they may still undergo harassment, fines, and physical punishment at multiple checkpoints, only to find that the main clinic in the camps – the only place they can get medical assistance – cannot test them or provide adequate care. Against the backdrop of the pandemic, as well as the fighting between government forces and ethnic armed groups across Rakhine state, threats to the lives and liberty of the Rohingyas remaining in Myanmar are only increasing.
          Compliance with the ICJ’s order means Myanmar urgently needs to take real steps to dismantle the oppressive framework that has targeted the remaining Rohingyas inside Rakhine state -- and promote and protect the rights that [the Rohingya] have long been denied. Anything less would be contributing to the Rohingyas’ destruction.

         

      • Suspected Rohingya robber killed
        in Cox’s Bazar gunfight.
        RAB also recovered two guns and 6 rounds of bullets from the spot
            - Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh)

        [paraphrased:]
          A Rohingya, suspected of being a robber, was reportedly killed in a gunfight, in Cox's Bazar, between a gang and the police's Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).
          It reportedly happened on Friday afternoon, in the Khandakarpara area of Teknaf, according to the RAB-15's assistant director (Media).
          The RAB official said the man killed, Md Ishak, 32, was a part of a Rohingya robber gang known as 'Jocky Bahini'.
          The official added that a RAB patrol team conducted a drive near Khandakarpara in Teknaf, in response to a tip reporting that a gang of robbers was gathered there, but as soon as the police team arrived, the robbers opened fire on them, forcing RAB officers to return fire in self-defence.
          He added that they later found Ishak's bullet-ridden body, and took the body to Cox's Bazar Sadar Hospital. There, the doctor on-duty declared him dead. ...
        [NOTE: This article cites only police sources. Bangladesh police -- particularly its "special" squads and battalions -- have come under growing scrutiny in recent years for alleged reckless and excessive brutality and killing. ~RCN Editor.]

       



    • 2020-05-30 - Saturday
        ----------------

       



    • 2020-05-31 - Sunday

      • Have you ever walked a mile in their shoes?
        Rohingya patients report on health services
        since the pandemic began.

        (Edition 6, originally published May 31, 2020; re-released June 2, 2020)
        (A detailed study of how Rohingya perceive their treatment in health services, based on interviews with 50 refugees. It helps explain their current reluctance to engage with healthcare providers, in the COVID-19 crisis -- including their widespread fear that they will be deported or killed, if they are found to be infected.)

        by IOM (Int'l Organization for Migration (U.N. affiliate))
        & ACAPS (Assessment Capacities Project)
          includes these key observations:
          ... Five key social factors were identified as playing a critical role in shaping the respondent’s experience as either positive or negative. These variables were found to consistently shape the informant’s opinion of the facility, and the rationale behind whether or not they would recommend this facility to friends and family. These include:
        • Staff behaviour;
        • Quality of consultations with doctors;
        • Communication with health care staff, especially doctors
          [a particular problem given the Rohingya's rare and different language];
        • Clear systems and rules in place, followed by both patients and staff;
        • Clear communication about where and how to fill prescriptions

          Patients who reported rude and disrespectful behaviour towards them
        by health care staff, and staff in support roles (such as guards and registration staff),
        were the most distressing and common problem identified among these experiences.
          It should be noted that the majority of those who labelled their overall experience in the health facility as "positive" received some form of medication or more 'tangible' treatment – something that people perceive to be associated with better treatment. However, when asked what made their experience positive, the vast majority put greater emphasis on communication and positive social interactions with support staff and doctors than their medical treatment.
          Those who felt that they were respected, and had their problems listened to, were more likely to recommend the clinic to their family and friends. ...

          [Several of the informants surveyed] were mostly unhappy with their experience, and would not recommend the clinic to their family and friends. Informants attributed this to the way in which they were treated by staff at the clinic. [The unhappy patients] labelled their interactions with support staff as rude and disrespectful, and over half also explained that their consultation with the doctor was inadequate. As a result, they explained that they did not trust the diagnosis, medical advice or treatment prescribed by the doctor -- and sought alternate treatment at private clinics, because they felt they had not been checked properly, nor given the opportunity to explain their symptoms.
          ( Download full report PDF file HERE )


       


    JUNE 2020:

  • 2020-06-01 - Monday

     



  • 2020-06-02 - Tuesday

    • Bangladesh confirms
      1st death of Rohingya
      from coronavirus.

          - Associated Press

      [paraphrased:]
        Saturday, the 71-year-old refugee died in an isolation center, at Ukiah, in Cox's Bazar, where he had been admitted, a week earlier, with COVID-19 symptoms.
        At least 29 Rohingya refugees, so far, have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a U.N. refugee agency spokeswoman.
        The 34 refugee camps -- with about 103,600 people per square mile (40,000 per square kilometer) -- have more than 40 times Bangladesh’s average population density. [And Bangladesh is already one of the world's most densely populated countries]. Each refugee shelter is just 107 square feet (10 square meters, about 9 feet by 12 feet) -- many of the tiny shacks sheltering up to 12 people.
        Aid agencies and government officials warn that a wide virus outbreak in the camps could be a huge challenge to handle.

       

    • Rohingya genocide:
      Argentine court moves closer
      to opening case against Myanmar.

          - Daily Star (Bangladesh)

        An Argentine court has moved one step closer to opening a historic investigation against Myanmar's military and civilian leadership over genocide against the Rohingya people, the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) said today.

    • ARU [Arakan Rohingya Union]:
      Civilian casualties rise
      as armed conflicts continue
      in Rohingya areas
      [of Myanmar].

      They also demanded immediate implementation of the agreement for safe, dignified, and voluntary return, [of] the Rohingya refugees, to their original homes in Arakan [(Myanmar's Rakhine state)].
          - Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh)

      [paraphrased:]
        The Arakan Rohingya Union (ARU) said armed clashes in Myanmar's Rakhine state ("Arakan") have been rising in the past few days -- especially along the eastern side of the Mayu range, stretching from Buthidaung Township in the north, to Rathedaung Township further south -- marking a rise of civilian casualties.

      “Residents in the Sindi Ferang and nearby villages have been reportedly on high alert as heavy artillery and gunfire is going on and off almost daily,” said ARU, in its latest narrative report, from Dr Wakar Uddin, its Director General, addressing the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation).

      “In the meantime, there is no sign of abatement of the volatile situation in Arakan State where armed conflicts continue and the rule of law has turned out to be a mockery,” his statement said.

      The ARU also placed eight demands before the international community to push the Myanmar government to protect the ethnic minority group.

      The demands include:

      • Expedite implementation of all the provisional measures ordered by the ICJ [(International Courts of Justice)] [(in January,2020)];

      • [Require the military to] protect Rohingya village residents while it is engaged in armed conflict with any group in Arakan;

      • Strictly enforce the rule of law, and reinstate [the government's] original order of eviction of the illegal Buddhist Rakhine settlers from Rohingya properties in Seyton Su in Sittwe;

      • Expand the order, for removal of the illegal Buddhist Rakhine settlers from Rohingya lands, to all the townships in Arakan State -- including the Natala from confiscated Rohingya farmlands; and

      • Repatriate the IDPs [internally displaced persons] in Kyaukpyu [(where the Chinese seaport is being built)] to their original properties (and not to any other isolated locations).

      • Immediately implement the agreement for safe, dignified, and voluntary return [of] the Rohingya refugees to their original homes in Arakan -- with their full citizenship and basic rights -- unconditionally, and with security;

      • Expand the lifting of internet blackout in Northern Arakan; and

      • Make healthcare and emergency services accessible to all Rohingya in Arakan.

      Armed conflicts contining in Rohingya areas:

      Their report said that on May 29, 2020, at 2am, fighting reportedly broke out between Myanmar government armed forces and the [(predominantly Rakhine-Buddhist)] Arakan Army, at Thazin Myaing village, in Rathedaung Township. Ten Burmese police personnel and a family of three civilians were reportedly missing.

      “However,” the report added, “on May 30, 2020, the family of three were released by the Arakan Army. Sources have indicated that the missing 10 police personnel were feared dead and an additional 7 personnel were injured.”

      Previously, May 12, 2020, in the Shakir village (Thayetpyin) in Buthidaung Township, an explosion killed two Rohingya children, injuring a third.

      The victims -- 15-year-old boy of Fui Mali village (Phone Nyo Leik), and a a 10-year-old girl of Shakir village -- reportedly entered Thayetpyin (a deserted former Rohingya village) to collect fruits, when explosions hit them.

      Submission of Myanmar's report
      to the International Courts of Justice:

      On May 22, 2020, Myanmar's government submitted its first required report to the International Courts of Justice (ICJ), to detail what it has done to comply with the court's order that it protect Myanmar's Rohingya ethnic minority from genocide.

      Earlier, the ICJ had issued an order to the Myanmar government to begin filing reports, every six months, stating what steps Myanmar has taken to safeguard its Rohingya ethnic minority, in Rakhine ("Arakan") State. The reports are required as part of "provisional measures" during the start of a trial of Myanmar's government and military, in the ICJ, that is expected to last for years.

      Myanmar government issues directives on Rohingya issues:

      The report said that, prior to its submission to the ICJ, Myanmar's Office of the President had issued two directives:

      • one regarding compliance with the provisional measures;

      • the other about preserving evidence of crimes committed by Myanmar's military.

      Myanmar's government also announced it decided to:

      •   Drop charges brought against Rohingya families who had fled to Central Myanmar for refuge during the armed conflict in their homeland "Arakan" (Rakhine) state, between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army;
      •   Release Rohingya prisoners as part of the traditional annual presidential pardon for Myanmar’s New Year;
      •   Adopt a plan to resettle Rohingya IDPs (internally displaced persons) in Kyaukpyu (where a seaport is being built for China);
      •   Lift the internet blackout in surrounding Maungdaw Township;
      •   Remove illegal Buddhist Rakhine settlers from Rohingya properties that they occupied in the Muslim quarter of Seyton Su, in Sittwe.

      State government rescinds national gov't order
      for removal, from Rohingya lands,
      of illegal Buddhist Rakhine settlers:

      Authorities in Rakhine (Arakan) State had revoked a Myanmar government order for Buddhist Rakhine settlers to vacate the properties of Rohingya that the Rakhines have occupied, in a Rohingya ward in Sittwe township, which had been razed in 2012, the report said, quoting news media RFA (Radio Free Asia -- an American-backed news outlet). 

      “This is a clear sign of the lack of law and order in Myanmar; if the government would only comply with existing laws, this would solve many problems," RFA quoted a Rohingya community leader's remarks. 

      A Seyton Su ward chairman has reportedly been assassinated over eviction orders.

      “On May 24, 2020, the ward chairman of Seyton Su was killed by a group of four Buddhist Rakhine assailants wearing masks while he was shopping. The assailants came on two motorcycles, knocked him down and fatally stabbed him three times and fled,” the report said.

      Myanmar parliament approves US$500,000
      for Myanmar's defense in ICJ genocide case:

      Myanmar's Parliament has approved a budget allocation of US$484,000 (680 million Kyats) to defend the country against genocide charges, filed by The Gambia, in the International Court of Justice, according to a report in The Irrawaddy.

     



  • 2020-06-03 - Wednesday

    • [Bangladesh Foreign Minister] Momen:
      Rohingya situation is now untenable
      for Bangladesh.

          - Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh)

      [Note: This article appears to be an official press release.]
      [paraphrased:]
        Bangladesh's Foreign Minister, AK Abdul Momen, speaking by phone with Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister / Foreign Minister, Simon Coveney, said that, for Bangladesh, the Rohingya situation is now untenable.
        Momen expressed deep concern at the absence of any progress in repatriating Rohingyas to Myanmar. He told Coveney that, until now, Myanmar has not taken back even one Rohingya. He urged that European Union nations exert more pressure on Myanmar's government to take back its nationals. ...

    • BGB [Border Guard - Bangladesh]
      introduces high-speed interceptor vessels

      The [speedboats] are capable of navigating in inclement weather, and [have advanced] technology, [including] automatic machine gun, RADAR, fourth generation GPS, and modern sonar system.
          - Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh)

      [paraphrased, mostly from BGB press release:]
        The BGB’s Public Relations Officer... in a press release... Wednesday... said... the vehicles [were] added to BGB in accordance with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's sincere desire and direct direction.
        The release said the 40-foot-long, three-engine, 650-horsepower vessel -- made of reinforced polymer --- can carry 33 soldiers, and travel at speeds of up to 58 mph
      (55 nautical miles per hour (knots) / 101 kilometres per hour (km/h)).
        The release reports that the vessels can confirm the location of enemy ships at up to 31 miles (27 naut. miles / 50 km) distance. The ships can also transport two dying patients.
        The release notes that the BGB has been patrolling and directly controlling Bangladesh's 4,174km land border, including the country's 100-mile (86 naut. mile / 160km) naval border with India, and its 39-mile (34 naut. mile / 63 km) naval border with Myanmar. Also, at the prime minister's direction, since 2019, the BGB has been involved with the overall security for St Martin's Island.
        The Bangladesh-Myanmar border along the Naf River is one of the routes used for smuggling yaba (methamphetamine).
        It is a major challenge to effectively control the Naf River border due to the constantly changing tactics of transnational criminals, human traffickers, smugglers, and increasing drug traffic (notably for yaba), and the ongoing Rohingya situation.

        Similar challenges exist in the deep-forested watershed area in the Sundarbans... along the Bangladesh-India border-area in south-western Bangladesh.

     



  • 2020-06-04 - Thursday

    • 2020-06-04
      WB provides $35m as help for Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar
      • Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh)
      The $35 million grant will go towards providing work opportunities and community services to the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

    • Rohingya refugees running scared
      from coronvirus tests.

      Fears they will be exiled to Bhasan Char island
      if found to be infected with COVID-19.

          - AFP / Channel NewsAsia (Singapore)

      [paraphrased:]
      (COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh):

      Rohingya refugees who are infected with COVID-19 are fleeing from quarantine sites in their Bangladesh camps because of fear they will be transferred to the isolated island of Bhashan Char, in the Bay of Bengal, according to community leaders, speaking Thursday (Jun 4).

      After the first report of a COVID-19 death, on Tuesday, at least two refugees have disappeared after testing positive for COVID-19, the leaders said.

      * * *

      ...according to a senior health official, two people who tested positive had "fled the isolation hospital."

      He reported that, in the past two days, only 20 of the refugees have agreed to be tested, because of a widespread fear in the camps that those who test positive will be exiled to Bhasan Char island.

      The Bangladesh government has repeatedly tried to relocate 100,000 Rohingya to the tiny, remote, flood-prone island -- from the mainland camps -- over the objections of international human rights and aid agencies, and solid resistance from the Rohingya refugees.

      Recently, a group of 300 refugees who fled the camps, for Malaysia, became stranded at sea, and were rescued by the Bangladesh navy -- but were promptly "quarantined" on Bhasan Char. When the normal COVID-19 quarantine period (under 3 weeks) ended, however, the government refused to let the refugees leave the island -- despite the objections of the U.N. Secretary General, and others, who urged that they be allowed to return to their families in the camps.

      The incident has sparked fears among the mainland camps that those found to have COVID-19 will be exiled to Bhasan Char -- a fear that has spread "mass panic" throughout the camps, said Nural Islam, a community leader. The unnamed health official described the Rohingya in the camps as "petrified" despite being assured "they won't be sent anywhere."

      Since the death, Tuesday, of the first confirmed victim of COVID-19 in the camps, health officials say there is a desperate need to test the refugees, to determine the spread of the virus. But, according to one camp block government administrator, doctors have told him that refugees are reluctant to participate. Said local Rohingya leader Abu Zaman, "people are scared."

        (same topic at:
        Have you ever walked a mile in their shoes?
        Rohingya patients report on health services
        since the pandemic began.

        (Edition 6, originally published May 31, 2020; re-released June 2, 2020)
        (A detailed study of how Rohingya perceive their treatment in health services, based on interviews with 50 refugees. It helps explain their current reluctance to engage with healthcare providers, in the COVID-19 crisis -- including their widespread fear that they will be deported or killed, if they are found to be infected.)

        by IOM (Int'l Organization for Migration (U.N. affiliate))
        & ACAPS (Assessment Capacities Project)
          includes these key observations:
          ... Five key social factors were identified as playing a critical role in shaping the respondent’s experience as either positive or negative. These variables were found to consistently shape the informant’s opinion of the facility, and the rationale behind whether or not they would recommend this facility to friends and family. These include:
        • Staff behaviour;
        • Quality of consultations with doctors;
        • Communication with health care staff, especially doctors
          [a particular problem given the Rohingya's rare and different language];
        • Clear systems and rules in place, followed by both patients and staff;
        • Clear communication about where and how to fill prescriptions

          Patients who reported rude and disrespectful behaviour towards them
        by health care staff, and staff in support roles (such as guards and registration staff),
        were the most distressing and common problem identified among these experiences.
          It should be noted that the majority of those who labelled their overall experience in the health facility as "positive" received some form of medication or more 'tangible' treatment – something that people perceive to be associated with better treatment. However, when asked what made their experience positive, the vast majority put greater emphasis on communication and positive social interactions with support staff and doctors than their medical treatment.
          Those who felt that they were respected, and had their problems listened to, were more likely to recommend the clinic to their family and friends. ...

          [Several of the informants surveyed] were mostly unhappy with their experience, and would not recommend the clinic to their family and friends. Informants attributed this to the way in which they were treated by staff at the clinic. [The unhappy patients] labelled their interactions with support staff as rude and disrespectful, and over half also explained that their consultation with the doctor was inadequate. As a result, they explained that they did not trust the diagnosis, medical advice or treatment prescribed by the doctor -- and sought alternate treatment at private clinics, because they felt they had not been checked properly, nor given the opportunity to explain their symptoms.
          ( Download full report PDF file HERE )


       

    • Myanmar Confirms First
      Muslim Rohingya Coronavirus Case
      Within Borders.

          - RFA (Radio Free Asia)

      (U.S. gov't broadcaster)
        Myanmar’s Ministry of Health on Thursday announced the first confirmed case of coronavirus infection in a Muslim Rohingya within its borders, highlighting concerns over the potential for an outbreak within the ethnic community packed into squalid refugee camps in Rakhine state.
        A 31-year-old Rohingya man illegally reentered Rakhine’s Maungdaw township from the Thankhali refugee camp across the border in Bangladesh on May 30 along with four family members and was confirmed infected after undergoing a swab test, the ministry said in a statement.
        The man’s wife and three children are currently in quarantine and will also be tested, while he has been sent to Maungdaw Hospital for treatment
        * * *
        Agence France-Presse cited community leaders Thursday as saying that Rohingya refugees infected with the virus are fleeing quarantine in their Bangladesh camps because they fear being transferred to an isolated island in the Bay of Bengal. It said that at least two infected refugees had gone missing since the first COVID-19 death was reported. ...
        * * *
        Sar Al Salam of Ushekya village told RFA that the family of five were among 17 who crossed into Maungdaw illegally, all of whom had since been quarantined.
        The 2017 military campaign... drove nearly 750,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh. [It] followed a wave of brutal slayings and attacks across Rakhine state in June 2012 that left more than 200 people dead and displaced about 120,000 Rohingya, who were later forced to live in dilapidated camps scattered around the region.
        Many of those in the camps recently told RFA that the prospects for improving their living standards are bleak and that they continue to live in near-apartheid conditions.
       
      Officials have confirmed 234 cases of the coronavirus in Myanmar since the outbreak was first discovered in the country on March 23.
        (same topic at:
      • The Irrawaddy (Myanmar)
        [Note: While The Irrawaddy appears to be an independent media outlet, it may be subject to Myanmar government and military control.] )

       

    • Civilian Death Toll From Clashes
      in Myanmar’s Rakhine
      Climbs to Over 250.

          - RFA (Radio Free Asia)

      (U.S. propaganda radio)
        Fighting in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state between government forces and the ethnic Arakan Army has killed 257 civilians and injured 570 others during the period from December 2018 to May of this year, according to figures compiled by RFA’s Myanmar Service.
        Most were killed by stray bullets or artillery fire or died in military custody, with others caught in crossfire between the two warring parties in northern Rakhine and neighboring Chin state, with each side blaming the other for the deaths, sources told RFA.

        AA raids on police outposts in late 2018 and in early 2019 triggered the conflict in northern Rakhine state — a region already devastated by the Myanmar army’s campaign to expel 740,000 Rohingya Muslims in 2017.
        Both armies are responsible for the loss of civilian life, though, Htu May, a member of parliament in Rakhine’s Upper House told RFA’s Myanmar Service.
        “Both sides are responsible for civilians’ deaths in Rakhine,” Htu May said.
        “Moreover, it is the responsibility of [Myanmar’s central] government, which can’t arrange a peace between these two groups. If the government can’t make any progress toward peace, and the fighting continues, only the ethnic people and other civilians will be hurt,” she said.
        The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) says that more than 250 civilian homes were burned in May alone, with many people injured, and international organizations have called for greater protection for civilians and their property in Myanmar. ...


  • 2020-06-05 - Friday

    • Local Officials in
      Myanmar's Rakhine State Resign
      Fearing Arrest by Military

          - RFA (Radio Free Asia)

      (U.S. propaganda radio)
        Dozens of village and ward administrators, in a township in western Myanmar’s war-scarred Rakhine state, submitted their resignations, on Friday, out of fear of arbitrary arrest by the Myanmar military, following the recent detentions of three of their colleagues on terrorism charges.
        Government soldiers have stepped up their seizures and arrests of village officials and other civilians in the state amid the 17-month armed conflict against the Arakan Army (AA) [(a Rakhine-Buddhist rebel group)] , charging them under Myanmar’s Counter-Terrorism Law for allegedly having ties to the outlawed rebel ethnic force.
        Fifty-one village and ward administrators in Myebon township, one of several areas in northern Rakhine hit by heavy fighting, filed resignation letters at the township administration office, some of the officials told RFA. The township has 14 wards and 59 village tracts. ...


  • 2020-06-06 - Saturday

    • Myanmar Avoids Helping Rohingya Minority
      Despite International Court Order,
      Observers say.
          - Voice of America (VOA)
      (U.S. propaganda radio)

        TAIPEI, TAIWAN -
      Myanmar has sidelined an international court order to improve conditions for its long-embattled Rohingya minority, despite fears that the Southeast Asian government is trying to commit genocide against the group, observers say.
        The U.N.’s International Court of Justice in January ordered Myanmar to "take all measures within its power" to prevent any acts of genocide against ethnic Rohingya Muslims, who fled the country amid a bloody military crackdown in 2017. The ICJ ordered Myanmar to submit a report within four months on what actions it is taking to comply with the court's decision, and to submit follow-up reports every six months after that.
        The court last month accepted the first of the required reports, but its contents have not been released.
        Nevertheless, observers contacted say there has been little change.

        “The situation to me seems like it’s more of the same,” said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, political science professor at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. “There has not been any major deterioration, but also no major new measures.”
        The COVID-19 pandemic prompted Myanmar to control people’s movement in Rakhine state in western Myanmar where about 400,000 Rohingya live, Thitinan said. Legislative elections set for November will embolden the government to stiffen its stance toward the Rohingya, he added. Voters of other groups see the Muslim minority as uninvited people allowed in during British colonial rule over Myanmar.
        “The Rohingya is a very paradoxical issue,” Thitinan said. “To the outside world, there’s a lot of sympathy and outcry. Within Myanmar, it’s the opposite.”
        The Rohingya crisis has tarnished the international reputation of Myanmar’s de facto head of state, former opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
        Myanmar has targeted the Rohingya in a “systematic” way, a court news release said. “Genocidal acts” including mass murder, rape and setting fires were intended to wipe out the group, the release said. It pointed to an increase in those acts starting from August 2017.
        * * *
        Those [Rohingya who are still] in Myanmar want normal access to hospitals and schools plus freedom of movement, said Tun Khin, president of the advocacy group Burmese Rohingya Organization UK. The government has done nothing on these issues for the past four months, he said.
        “If Myanmar complies with the provisional ruling, it will have to change the laws and policies that are part of the genocide against us,” Tun Khin said.

        The report filed last month probably contains “details” on what the government has done so far to address the court’s recommendations, said Moe Thuzar, co-coordinator of the Myanmar Studies Program at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.
        Myanmar acknowledges that human rights problems should be addressed, said Priscilla Clapp, former permanent charge d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Myanmar. The government is trying to educate Rohingya at satellite university campuses already, she said.
        Suu Kyi, who’s officially Myanmar’s state counselor, told the court in December no genocide had taken place.
        * * *
        But a separate conflict between Myanmar’s armed forces and the Arakan Army rebel group is diverting government attention away from any more help it might offer the Rohingya, Clapp said. That war, she said, has killed numerous people and displaced "hundreds of hundreds." The Arakan Army is unrelated to the Rohingya, but they're fighting nearby.
        “The problem now is that [any protection effort for the Rohingya] probably isn’t going to cut any ice because the whole thing has had to close down in Rakhine due the fighting with the Arakan Army and it’s a very, very nasty war,” Clapp said.

        Myanmar's report filed last month probably amounts to “one step in a very long process," she said. The case is set to last at least until July of next year.


  • 2020-06-07 - Sunday

      -----------



  • 2020-06-08 - Monday

    • Fearful Rohingya refugees
      infected with coronavirus
      flee quarantine

          - AFP / SBS News (Australia)

      (public broadcasting service)
        Rohingya refugees infected with coronavirus are fleeing quarantine in their Bangladesh camps because they fear being transferred to an isolated island in the Bay of Bengal, community leaders said Thursday.

       
       

    • Concern as Myanmar Finds
      COVID-19 Case in Rohingya
      Who Illegally Crossed Border
      to Go Home.

          - RFA (Radio Free Asia)

      (U.S. propaganda radio)
        Authorities near Myanmar's border with Bangladesh have told police to redouble efforts to stop illegal crossings, after a Rohingya refugee tested positive for COVID-19 after sneaking into Rakhine state, lawmakers and local officials said Monday.
        Humanitarian aid workers have warned for months that the squalid overcrowded camps housing more than 1.1 million Rohingya refugees in southeastern Bangladesh are hotbeds for a serious outbreak of the virus.

        * * *
        One 31-year-old Rohingya man who illegally had reentered Rakhine’s Maungdaw township from Bangladesh’s Thankhali refugee camp on May 30, along with four family members, was confirmed infected after undergoing a swab test. He is one of three people in Rakhine state who have tested positive for COVID-19.
        “It is very concerning for the region during the COVID-19 outbreak period now [that] a Rohingya refugee in Maungdaw has tested positive,” said Maung Ohn, a lawmaker from Maungdaw township, adding that residents are worried about Rohingya refugees illegally crossing the border by boat.
        Authorities must secure fencing between the two countries and stop turning a blind eye to illegal ferries transporting refugees from Bangladesh to Myanmar, he said.
        “Under the given conditions, the refugees who want to return will cross the border illegally,” said Soe Aung, administrator of Maungdaw district. “When they do, they will dodge the police outposts at the border fencing.”
        Local government officials have asked border police to double down on security measures to stop illegal crossings, he added.
        Seventeen Rohingya refugees illegally returned to Myanmar after March 30, and settled in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships, Soe Aung said.
        Officials learned about refugees who returned illegally from informants, said Aung Thaung Shwe, a lawmaker from Buthidaung township.
        “It is hard to estimate how many returnees have arrived in Maungdaw since we’ve found many of them already in neighboring township Buthidaung,” he said. “It’s not safe for the people in the region.”
        Village heads alerted
        Government officials told RFA that the refugee repatriation program was temporarily suspended in early April amid the spread of the coronavirus.
        It is believed that the refugees are deciding to go back to Myanmar through unofficial channels because of a growing number of COVID-19 cases in the displacement camps in Bangladesh, though RFA could not confirm this.
        Authorities have requested that returnees pass through official repatriation camps to have medical screenings before they go to their villages.
        Khin Maung, a town elder from Ywa Thit Kay ward of Maungdaw town, said if the returnees deliberately avoid being processed through the official repatriation facility and go directly to villages instead, they risk infecting many people if they are infected.

        “We are working to prevent that from happening,” he said. “We have alerted the village heads to inform the authorities immediately if someone who illegally crosses the border has returned to the village.”
        Aung Myaing, a displaced Rohingya at a Cox’s Bazaar refugee camp, said most Rohingya are not concerned about the coronavirus because they have received very little information about it.
        Only about 700 Rohingya among the hundreds of thousands who fled to Bangladesh after the start of the 2017 violence conflicts have returned to Myanmar through various channels, said Soe Aung.
        Myanmar and Bangladesh reached an initial agreement in November 2017 to begin repatriations, but many Rohingya have refused to return out of fear of continued repression and violence directed at them.

    • Malaysia detains nearly 270 Rohingya
      seeking entry by boat.

          - AFP / Channel NewsAsia (Singapore)
        (same topic at:
      • The Star (Malaysia)
      • Benar News (Malaysia)
        (U.S.-gov't affiliated news agency) ...which notes:
          Malaysian authorities towed a disabled boat ashore and detained 269 Rohingya on Monday after dozens jumped overboard and began swimming to an island off the northwest coast of peninsular Malaysia, officials said.
          The boat was carrying hundreds more when it left Bangladesh in February, one senior official told BenarNews on condition of anonymity, saying he was not authorized to comment on the matter. Maritime authorities had initially tried to push the boat back into international waters on Monday morning off Langkawi, an island in northern Kedah state.
          “They were believed to have fled Cox’s Bazar [in Bangladesh] in February,” the source said, referring to a southeastern Bangladeshi district, where close to 1 million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar have been sheltering at sprawling camps.
          “Nine [crew members] fled after the boat entered Malaysia,” the senior Malaysian security source added. “The boat is believed to have carried 500 Rohingya when it departed Bangladesh but only 269 were found.”
          The landing marked the first time that Rohingya have been allowed to disembark in Malaysia for more than two months due to border closings related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
          Late on Monday, Malaysia’s National Task Force issued a statement about the Rohingya boat, but it did not say anything about hundreds of more passenger believed to be on board when it departed Cox’s Bazar, nor did it mention that the boat had sailed from Bangladesh.
          * * *
          The North-South Initiative, a Malaysian humanitarian organization, called for the government to recognize Rohingya as asylum seekers.
          The group’s executive director, Adrian Pereira, said the government must respect the non-refoulement principle because deporting asylum seekers could put them in harm’s way.
          “The government of Malaysia must realize that the Rohingya are one of the most oppressed minorities on the planet. We must recognize them as asylum seekers and ensure they are given proper care,” he told BenarNews. “Let’s show the world that Malaysia has a big heart and we can fulfill our international duties and obligations.”
          As of February, Malaysia is home to about 180,000 refugees registered through the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR. Rohingya account for more than half of the country’s refugee population, according to Fortify Rights, a human rights advocacy group. )


  • 2020-06-09 - Tuesday

    • Free Rohingya Coalition decries
      pushing refugees back out to sea.

          - Daily Star (Bangladesh)

        Pushing hundreds of starving and persecuted Rohingya refugees back out to the sea in the full knowledge that they have no safe place of refuge elsewhere are fundamental violations of their human rights, said Free Rohingya Coalition, a global network of Rohingya survivors and activists, today.


    • Hundreds of Rohingya come ashore
      in Malaysia.

      Despite Malaysian government attempts to turn them away, fearing COVID-19.
          - AFP / Jakarta Post (Indonesia)
      [paraphrased:]
        A Malaysian coast patrol boat attempted turn away a boat carrying Rohingya refugees, and push it out to sea, but it was deliberately damaged, by someone aboard, in shallow waters -- making it unseaworthy and unable to leave. Over 50 Rohingya refugees lept overboard, rather than be turned away.
        The patrol boat rescued them and those on the crippled ship, bringing them to shore. Authorities found the disabled craft to have been carrying 260 Rohingya, and the body of a dead woman.
        There have been increasing concerns that boatloads of Rohingya refugees, once tolerated by Malaysia and a few other countries, are now being turned away, and left adrift at sea, as countries seek to stifle immigration for fear that refugees may bring COVID-19. ...
       

    • Malaysia to ask Bangladesh to
      take back Rohingya refugees
      found at sea

          - Reuters News Service
      [paraphrased:]
        Malaysia plans to ask Bangladesh to take back around 300 Rohingya refugees, who were detained after the boat carrying them entered Malaysian waters this week, Malaysia's defence minister said Tuesday (Jun 9).
        "The Rohingya should know, if they come here, they cannot stay," said minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, to reporters.
        Refugee status is not recognised by Malaysia [which is not a signatory to the international law on refugees], but the [largely-Muslim] country has been a preferred destination for ethnic Rohingya (most of whom are Muslim), since they began fleeing the 2017 military crackdown against them in Myanmar -- and, subsequently, fleeing the squalid refugee camps in Bangladesh.
        However, Malaysia said it will stop accepting Rohingya refugees, because it has tightened border control to fight off the coronavirus.
        Malaysia may request that the migrants be transferred to Bhasan Char, a Bangladeshi island. Malaysia plans to ask UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, to re-settle Rohingya migrants in some third country, said the defence minister.
        However, Bangladesh's Foreign Minister, AK Abdul Momen, says his country is "neither obligated nor in a position to take any more Rohingyas," and he has urged the global community to aid in relocating the 1.1 million Rohingyas currently taking refuge in Bangladesh.
        UNHCR insists that the refugees need safe haven where they have sought it, until such time as they can return home "in safety, and with dignity."


  • 2020-06-10 - Wednesday

    • Bangladesh refuses to take in
      Rohingya detained in Malaysia

          - Bernama / Free Malaysia Today (Malaysia)
      [paraphrased:]
        Since 269 Rohingya refugees came ashore on Monday Malaysia's defence minister announced hope to send them back to Bangladesh, if they came from camps there.
        However, yesterday, Bangladesh's foreign minister rejected the idea, saying that Bangladesh has no obligation to take them, and is in to position to do so. ...

    • Share the burden
      of humanitarian situations:
      ~ Dhaka to int'l community

          - UNB / Daily Star (Bangladesh)

      [paraphrased:]
        Bangladesh has said the principle of burden- and responsibility-sharing should be central to the actions of the international community in addressing humanitarian situations. ...

    • 2020-06-10
      Lack of funding compromising Rohingya well-being
      • Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh)
      So far only 27% of $877 million joint response plan for 2020 [has been] funded.

    • US court asked to make Facebook release
      Myanmar officials' data
      for Rohingya genocide case.

          - Reuters / Channel NewsAsia (Singapore)
      [paraphrased:]
          Lawyers presenting a case to the World Court -- charging Myanmar with committing "genocide" against its own Rohingya Muslim minority -- have asked a district court in the United States to order Facebook to release its copies of posts and communications by Myanmar military and police.
        * * *
        The request, filed on Jun 8, for the African nation of the Gambia [the plaintiff in the case, acting on behalf of 53 Muslim nations], was filed in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia (the U.S. capital district). It urges that Facebook release "all documents and communications produced, drafted, posted or published on the Facebook page" of Myanmar military officials and police forces.
        * * *
        Among officials whose Facebook data is sought are the commander-in-chief of Myanmar's military: Min Aung Hlaing. The Gambia also seeks details from 20 accounts belonging to officials and organizations that were banned from Facebook in August 2018. ...
       
      [RCN Editor's note: Human rights organizations and news media reports have indicated, repeatedly, that Facebook was one of the principal means used to generate anti-Rohingya sentiment, and incite violence against the Rohingya, during the explosive period of late-2017. It was then that most of Myanmar's Rohingya were driven out of Myanmar, through mass acts of violence, torture, rape and killing, by both Myanmar's military and local Rakhine Buddhist civilians (with military backing, and encouraged through Facebook). ~RCN Editor]


  • 2020-06-11 - Thursday

  • 2020-06-12 - Friday

    • Official HRW statement:
      Malaysia/Thailand:
      Allow Rohingya Refugees Ashore.

      End Pushbacks,
      Grant Access to Aid and Asylum.

          - Human Rights Watch

        (Bangkok) – Malaysia and Thailand should urgently rescue Rohingya refugees stranded at sea and provide them with assistance and access to asylum, Human Rights Watch said today.
        On June 8, 2020, Malaysian authorities detained 269 Rohingya refugees who arrived on a damaged boat off Malaysia’s coast at Langkawi. A second boat with an estimated 300 Rohingya remains at sea near Thailand’s Koh Adang island, according to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.
        Both boats left from Bangladesh in February, meaning that the hundreds of ethnic Rohingya on board have been at sea for four months without access to adequate food and water. On a previous boat of Rohingya bound for Malaysia that was rescued by the Bangladesh coast guard, as many as 100 may have died on board as a result of the deplorable conditions.
        “Southeast Asian governments are callously passing the buck on protecting Rohingya refugees desperate for sanctuary and a future after Myanmar’s military drove them from their homes with mass atrocities,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “While Myanmar remains ultimately responsible for the Rohingya refugees’ plight, Malaysia and Thailand should stop wearing blinders about the immediate risks and suffering that they face at sea.”

        Malaysian officials who intercepted the boat carrying Rohingya on June 8 intended to return it to international waters, but a damaged engine prevented the pushback. Approximately 50 refugees jumped off the boat and swam to shore, where they were detained, while the boat with the remaining passengers was towed to Langkawi. The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency arrested them on arrival and has detained them at the Nation Building Camp center.
        The director-general of the maritime agency said that only 70 percent of the detained Rohingya were able to walk when they arrived, due to the harsh boat conditions and lack of adequate food and water.
        Malaysian authorities have not yet responded to the request from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, for access to the recently arrived Rohingya, to provide urgent humanitarian assistance, and [to] assess whether they qualify for refugee status, a UN spokesperson said. Malaysia should immediately grant UNHCR access to the Rohingya, and seek alternatives to detention for all asylum seekers in custody.
        A second vessel that left Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, at the same time remains at sea, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency reported, allegedly having been pushed back by Malaysian authorities over “many attempts to enter Malaysian waters.” The maritime agency’s director-general said that the boat carrying 300 people is stranded in waters off of Thailand’s Koh Adang, after Malaysian and Thai authorities provided it with food and fuel. But Thailand has rejected the claim. “I don’t see any reports that we spotted [Rohingya boats],” a Thai naval officer told BenarNews.
        Malaysian Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that Malaysia intended to return the detained Rohingya to Bangladesh: “The Rohingya should know, if they come here, they cannot stay.” Bangladesh, which hosts nearly a million Rohingya refugees, has refused. “Bangladesh is neither obligated nor in a position to take any more Rohingya,” said Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on June 9. “Rohingyas are not Bangladesh citizens. They are the residents of Myanmar for centuries.”
        From January to March, numerous boats, each with hundreds of Rohingya refugees, left the overcrowded, flood-prone camps in Cox’s Bazar for Malaysia. Over the past two months, Malaysian authorities have repeatedly turned away boats of asylum seekers attempting to land, leaving hundreds of Rohingya in life-threatening conditions at sea, contrary to international search and rescue obligations. Several boats returned to Bangladesh, with some refugees sent to quarantine in the camps while over 300 have been confined in dangerous conditions on the remote silt island of Bhasan Char.
        Malaysia has ramped up control of its borders in response to Covid-19, prohibiting foreigners from entering the country. According to Minister Ismail Sabri, authorities have blocked the arrival of 22 boats since May 1.
        Under international law, public health measures must be proportionate, nondiscriminatory, and based on available scientific evidence. Subjecting those who arrive to a period of isolation or quarantine may be reasonable. But the pandemic does not justify a blanket policy of turning away boats in distress, risking the right to life of those on board. Malaysia’s pushback policy also violates international obligations to provide access to asylum and not to return anyone to a place where they would face a risk of torture or other ill-treatment.
        All countries, including Malaysia and Thailand, have the responsibility to respond to boats in distress, enact or coordinate rescue operations, and ensure timely disembarkation in a safe port.

        In May, UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime released a statement expressing concern regarding the growing number of pushbacks of Rohingya refugee boats in the region. The groups said:
        Deterring movements of people by endangering life is not only ineffective; it violates basic human rights, the law of the sea, and the principles of customary international law by which all States are equally bound.
          We call on States in the region to uphold the commitments of the 2016 Bali Declaration as well as ASEAN pledges to protect the most vulnerable and to leave no one behind. Not doing so may jeopardize thousands of lives of smuggled or trafficked persons, including the hundreds of Rohingya currently at sea. Saving lives must be the first priority.

        In February, the Task Force on Planning and Preparedness of the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime made a commitment to saving lives when responding to “irregular maritime migration.” Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Bangladesh are all members.
        Responsibility for the security of the Rohingya rests primarily with the Myanmar government, but extends to the countries where they seek refuge. About 900,000 Rohingya are living in refugee camps in Bangladesh, most of whom fled Myanmar since August 2017 to escape the military’s crimes against humanity and possible genocide.
       
      The estimated 600,000 Rohingya who remain in Rakhine State in Myanmar are subject to government persecution and violence, confined to camps and villages without freedom of movement, and cut off from access to adequate food, health care, education, and livelihoods. Southeast Asian governments should collectively press Myanmar to improve conditions in Rakhine State, address the causes underlying the crisis, and start cooperating with international institutions.
        “In the face of a global pandemic, governments should demonstrate their recognition of a shared humanity and a common goal of protection and health,” Adams said. “Instead of pushing Rohingya back to sea to die, Southeast Asian countries should be working together on plans for rescuing boats, providing aid, and opening the door to international protection.”


    • 2020-06-12
      Rohingya cyclists share key Covid-19 information
      across refugee camps.
      • Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh)
      Especially since the internet was cut off in Rohingya refugee camps, bicycles and rickshaws play a vital role in sending messages.

    • Refusing to Be Silenced,
      Some Myanmar Journalists
      Work From Shadows.

          - Reuters / New York Times


  • 2020-06-13 - Saturday
      ...............


  • 2020-06-14 - Sunday
      .......................


  • 2020-06-15 - Monday

    • Traffickers demand ransoms
      for Rohingya held at sea
      in Southeast Asia.

          - Reuters / New York Times

      [paraphrased:]
        Rohingya refugees who are attempting to reach Malaysia aboard boats from Bangladesh, are now being held hostage by the human traffickers controlling the boats. The traffickers are demanding large ransoms from the refugees' relatives, threatening violence to the passengers, according to aid organisations and several of the refugees' families. ...

    • 2020-06-16
      UNHCR sets up isolation-treatment centres in Rohingya camps
      • Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh)
      Four quarantine centers supported by UNHCR have also been established for those who have had contact with Covid-19 positive patients and require isolation

    • 2020-06-18
      Malaysia could send Rohingya detainees back out to sea
      • Reuters / Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh)
      [paraphrased:]
        The Arakan Project, a non-profit organization focused on the Rohingya crisis, is protesting Malaysia's possible plan to cast adrift nearly 300 Rohingya Muslim refugees, who were detained after arriving in Malaysian waters on a damaged boat [-- many having jumped overboard, while others crippled the boat, rather than be pushed out to sea by the coastal patrol].
        The body of a Rohingya woman was found aboard, but human rights groups say more Rohingya died at sea, as others were left to starve -- stranded at sea, for months, before their rescue.
        On Thursday, two Malaysian security sources told Reuters News Service that authorities were considering forcing the Rohingya back out to sea once their ship is repaired, and stocked with food and water.
        The Arakan Project's director warned the action would amount to "refoulement" -- forcing refugees to return to the place where they fled persecution -- a violation of international laws.

        Malaysia, a Muslim-majority nation [over 800 miles, by sea, from Bangladesh], has become a preferred destination for Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar, and -- recently -- the refugee camps in Bangladesh, searching for better circumstances. [Many Rohingya refugees were welcomed as cheap, subsurvient laborers, until the current economic crisis created severe competition for work and aid, in Malaysia, and elsewhere.]
        Now, Malaysia says it will no longer accept them, after tightening border controls to control the spread of COVID-19.
        Previously, Malaysia had asked Bangladesh to take back a boatload of 269 Rohingya refugees, who had been detained upon their arrival in Malaysia on June 8, but Bangladeshi officials rejected the request.
        In the last few weeks, Malaysia, has driven away at least two boats, and has detained hundreds of Rohingya refugees and migrants already in Malaysia, along with other undocumented migrants.
        The actions come in the midst of increased public anger, in Malaysia, towards foreigners, who are accused of spreading COVID-19, and burdening state resources.
        Malaysia's governmental National Taskforce on migrant issues (the navy, maritime agency, police and immigration offices), did not respond to request for comment. Nor did the Prime Minister's office.
        At least one boat remains at sea, with up to 300 Rohingya refugees aboard -- some believed to be sick -- rights groups are reporting. Its location is unknown.

    • 2020-06-20
      ARU report to OIC: Rakhine remains unstable
      • Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh)
      The emerging COVID-19 situation in Myanmar's Rakhine state -- homeland of the Rohingya -- has been overshadowed by the increase in volatility, with numerous spikes of violent clashes between the [Rakhine Buddhist] Arakan Army and the Myanmar military, according to the report.
      [paraphrased:]
       
      • No sign of improvement, says the Arakan Rohingya Union (ARU), a global organization advocating for Rohingya rights -- in this report submitted to the 57-member-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Tuesday, by the ARU's Director General.
         
      • Myanmar military has suggested that it may need to replace civilian government in Rakhine state.
         
      • A Buddhist Rakhine extremist group has organized a rally in Rakhine's Maungdaw Township (formerly the nation's main Rohingya community), demanding that Myanmar's government block the return of refugees from Bangladesh, the report says.
         
      • The ARU made recommendations -- suggested to the OIC, and to the international community -- for presentation to the Myanmar government. They are:

        • To submit mandatory reports to the International Court of Justice that accurately reflect the real situation on the ground in Rakhine;

        • To immediately resume the refugee repatriation process, including restoration of citizenship, all basic rights and security of the Rohingya people;

        • Not to exploit the Covid-19 situation to further delay the repatriation process;

        • To prevent the establishment of any military or undemocratic dictatorial rule in Northern Rakhine State on the pretext of the military’s armed conflict with any armed group;

        • To prosecute any township administration official in Rakhine who violates the rights of the internally/locally displaced Rohingyas to return to their original homes, harass, extort, and threaten to evict them from their homes with impunity;

        • Protect Rohingyas and other innocent civilian populations in the newly emerging urban violence and armed clashes in Rakhine.

          The ARU also urged the OIC and the international community to demand that Facebook officials exercise greater transparency and unconditionally release all postings by current and former Myanmar military officials, police forces and extremist organizations that include various forms of systematic campaigns, propaganda and hate speech directed towards the Rohingyas

    • 2020-06-20
      ASEAN must ensure protection for refugees, asylum seekers
      • Daily Star (Bangladesh)
      The Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN), Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), and Progressive Voice (PV) call upon ASEAN leaders to address growing xenophobia toward undocumented migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.

    • 2020-06-20
      WORLD REFUGEE DAY:
      Bangladesh continues to bear burden of over 1mn Rohingyas
      • Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh)
      International community not doing enough for the repatriation of the persecuted people from Myanmar.

    • 2020-06-20
      WORLD REFUGEE DAY:
      Every action counts
      • OpEd / Daily Star (Bangladesh)
      by Steven Corliss, Representative of UNHCR in Bangladesh
        'Refugees must get justice, safety and dignity.'

    • 2020-06-21
      Coronavirus fallout:
      Rohingya children at growing risk of trafficking
      • Daily Star (Bangladesh)

    • 2020-06-21
      Internet blackout in Myanmar's Rakhine
      enters second year.
      • AFP / Channel NewsAsia (Singapore)

    • 2020-06-23
      UNHRC adopts resolution asking Myanmar
      to ensure Rohingya return.
      • Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh)
      In its 43rd session, the 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, on Monday, adopted the resolution resolution calling for Myanmar to create conditions, and establish a plan, conducive to the voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return of Rohingyas, and all refugees and forcibly displaced persons. It also called for effectively addressing the "root causes" of the human rights violations and abuses in Myanmar's Rakhine state.
        The resolution passed with 37 in favor; 8 abstentions (including India, Indonesia, and Japan); and 2 opposed (Philippines and Venezuela). The major powers, U.S., China and Russia, were not sitting on the council.

    • 2020-06-23
      Rohingya Repatriation: Bangladesh seeks support from Slovenia
      • Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh)
      [Note: This appears to be a government press release.]
        Slovenian President lauds Hasina's leadership

    • 2020-06-24
      Situation at Rohingya camps can worsen
      • Daily Star (Bangladesh)
      UN, aid agencies warn about monsoon arriving amid Covid-19

    • 2020-06-24
      Dhaka to London: Exert pressure on Myanmar for Rohingya repatriation
      • Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh)
      [Note: This appears to be a government press release.]
        Transparency, accountability in the process of disbursement of aid is very critical, says, [Bangladesh's] foreign minister

    • 2020-06-24
      Covid-19: UK pledges to help Bangladesh, Rohingya
      • UNB-Daily Star (Bangladesh)
      It'll work with int'l partners, UNSC to help Rohingyas return home.
      [paraphrased:]
        UK International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan has said they are strongly committed to helping Bangladesh and the Rohingya people through this devastating crisis.

    • 2020-06-24
      Rohingya refugees tell Malaysia how dozens perished
      during 4-month voyage
      • Reuters / Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh)
      [paraphrased:]
        Survivors from a boat crammed with over 300 Rohingya Muslim refugees told Malaysian authorities that dozens of their people perished and their bodies were thrown in the sea during a tortuous four-month voyage.

      The head of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) described the ordeal suffered by Rohingya whose damaged boat had made land on the Malaysian island of Langkawi on June 8, with 269 people aboard.

      More than 300 Rohingya had been transferred to this boat from a larger "motherboat" half-way through a voyage that began close to the Myanmar-Bangladesh border back in February, MMEA Director General Mohd Zubil Bin Mat Som told a news conference on Wednesday.

      "But some died at sea. They were thrown overboard," he said, later telling Reuters that those that perished had fallen sick, without elaborating further.

      The fate of close to 500 Rohingya who had remained on "Motherboat 1" after the transfer at sea was unknown as authorities have been unable to track the vessel's location, he said.

      The Rohingya had risked the perilous sea journey having lost hope of making a better life in the refugee camps in Bangladesh, where many had found sanctuary after fleeing their homes in Myanmar following a military crackdown in 2017.

      Mainly Muslim Malaysia is home to the second largest number of Rohingya refugees after Bangladesh.

      But in recent weeks, the Southeast Asian country has turned away at least two boats and detained hundreds of Rohingya and undocumented migrants, amid heightened public anger towards foreigners who have been accused of spreading the coronavirus and burdening state resources.

      Mohd Zubil said the Rohingya survivors, who have since been detained, had paid traffickers about 2,500 ringgit ($585) up front for the voyage, with a pledge to pay an additional 11,000-13,000 ringgit once they found jobs in Malaysia.

      Most of [the trafficked refugees] were women promised for marriage to Rohingya men in Malaysia, he said.

      [Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Director General] Mohd Zubil declined to comment on whether a decision had been made to push the detainees back out to sea once their boat is repaired -- a reported proposal that has been criticized by human rights groups.



    • 2020-06-25
      Study reveals
      over 30% [of] Rohingyas
      still unaware of coronavirus.

      • The Independent (Bangladesh)
      Thousands of Rohingya people -- who took shelter in southeastern district Cox’s Bazar, fleeing from persecution in Myanmar -- are at severe risk to be infected with coronavirus (Covid-19), as most of them have no clear information about the coronavirus, says a survey report.

    • 2020-06-26
      Covid-19 Fallout:
      Global funding for Rohingyas likely to drop
      • Daily Star (Bangladesh)

    • 2020-06-26
      Malaysia can't take
      any more Rohingya refugees:
      ~PM Muhyiddin

    • 2020-06-26
      VIDEO & TEXT:
      'They are human too':
      Indonesia locals rescue Rohingya refugees
      barred by Covid fears.
      • Access Asia / France24 (France)
          Locals in Aceh province, western Indonesia, rescued a group of Rohingya refugees stranded at sea on Thursday after authorities refused to let them come ashore for fear they may be carrying the Covid-19 coronavirus.
        Same topic & source (June 29): (same topic at:
      • The Guardian (U.K.) )

    • 2020-07-29
      Rescued Rohingya Describe
      High-Seas Horror
      • Straits Times (Singapore)

    • 2020-06-29
      Cox's Bazar refugee camps:
      where social distancing is impossible.

      Faced with unsanitary conditions and overcrowding, families say they fear the coronavirus will bring disaster.
      • The Guardian (U.K.)

    • 2020-06-30
      Myanmar finds soldiers guilty
      in Rohingya atrocities court martial.
      [paraphrased:]
        The Myanmar military (the "Tatmadaw") has announced they have "taken action" against three of their personnel for "not following orders" in a village massacre. It is a rare admission of guilt for the Tatmadaw. However, the identities of the convicted soliders were not revealed, nor what exactly they were convicted of, nor what their sentences were.
        [Human rights groups have condemned the Tatmadaw's court-martial as a sham.]



    JULY 2020:


    AUGUST 2020:

  • 2020 Aug. 24/25
      SPECIAL NOTE:
      CRISIS ANNIVERSARY #3

      August 25th is the third anniversary of the current crisis, that drove most of Myanmar's long-persecuted Rohingya minority (chiefly Muslim) from majority-Buddhist Rakhine state. After decades of discrimination, apartheid and violence against them, the Rohingya were nearly all driven out of Myanmar in August / September / October of 2017.

      The violence erupted the day after the release of the "Annan Report," by an international commisison which outlined reforms needed to ensure peace in Rakhine, and civil rights for the Rohingya, in August, 2017.

      That night, Rohingya rebels (the ARSA - Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) launched small attacks on various Myanmar security forces.
      ABOVE: Across Myanmar's Rakhine state, thousands of Rohingya homes, across hundreds of villages, have gone up in flames... sometimes with men, women and children trapped inside by attackers. ©2017 BBC

       
      BELOW: Rohingya refugees fleeing their homeland by the thousands, late-2017.


      BELOW: Nearly a million Rohingya refugees now take shelter in this camp in Bangladesh -- the world's largest refugee camp. The hastily-built camp has had a devastating environmental impact on the area, and brought hardships to the area's native inhabitants. UNHCR/R.Arnold

      The Myanmar military (the Tatmadaw) -- which had been moving attack forces into Rakhine state -- immediately responded the next day, August 25th with a sweeping, violent "crackdown" against all Rohingya throughout Myanmar's Rakhine state, using shock troops and helicopter gunships. The initial military violence against the Rohingya civilians (men, women and children) included mass murders, kidnappings, torture, countless gang rapes, homes and whole villages torched -- often with the elderly or children in them -- and Rohingya infants tossed into fires.

      (Details established by U.N. and other investigators, and video of the atrocities, is listed and linked from the August 27th section of the 2018 News page.
      Viewing of the listed videos requires a very strong stomach.
      NOT for children.)

      In the largest sudden refugee flight in modern history, the panicked Rohingya fled, by the hundreds of thousands, into neighboring Bangladesh -- the place that other Myanmarese claim is the Rohingyas' actual homeland, despite many Rohingya having roots in Myanmar dating back centuries. Within a few months, the vast majority of Myanmar's Rohingya had been driven into Bangladesh, most of them settling, temporarily (which has become permanent) in the Kutapalong refugee camp, and its adjoining camps -- now, in all, the world's largest refugee camp.

      Before the current crisis, about 1,100,000 Rohingya lived in Myanmar, mostly in northern Rakhine state, near the coast and Bangladesh. The over 750,000 who fled in the current crisis, added to the over 200,000 already in Bangladesh (having fled previous attacks by Myanmar's military and Buddhist civilians), puts the Rohingya population in Bangladesh at around 1,000,000. Most of Myanmar's Rohingya are now living in Bangladesh.

      The situation has remained a massive national and international crisis, for Bangladesh, Myanmar, and their neighbors -- and a major international issue on the world stage.

      • Bangladesh wants the Rohingya to return to Myanmar, but will not force them back.

      • The Rohingya will not return to Myanmar, until they are guaranteed safety and security, full citizenship, return of their lands, and punishment of their attackers.

      • Myanmar has no intention of granting any of their wishes, and only promises to inter the returnees in concentration camps ("IDP -- internally displaced people") as it has already done with over 100,000 of the Rohingya still in Myanmar.

      • China and India -- with largely anti-Muslim governments, and with designs on the Rohingya homeland in Rakhine for critical seaports, offshore drilling, onshore pipelines, and other "developments" (many now in progress) -- have blocked any effective international intervention in the crisis, particularly through China's "veto" power in the United Nations Security Council (with additional backing from veto-wielding Russia). China is also the chief ally of Myanmar's powerful military, the actual government of newly "democratic" Myanmar.

      • The U.S. and Europe have been largely indifferent to the issue -- indulging in their own nationalistic, paranoid, selfish and bigoted rejections of Muslim refugees -- and are playing no significant role in changing the situation.

      With the third anniversary of the current crisis approaching, Bangladesh made noisy but ineffective demands that Myanmar repatriate (accept back) the Rohingya refugees.

      Unlike the previous anniversary, the third Crisis anniversary saw little political noise and media coverage of the ongoing crisis.

      For a timeline of events, throughout the crisis, see the New York Times two-year timeline, listed and linked at Aug.23rd, 2019

      ~ RCN Editor.

    • 2020-08-24
      Remembering the Rohingya Exodus
      Third year of exile since the 2017 attacks,
      and still no change.
      • Reuters / U.S. News
      Same topic at:

    • 2020-08-28
      3G, 4G internet restored
      in Rohingya camps.

      The mobile network came back live on Friday morning, after nearly a year.
      • Dhaka Tribune (Bangladesh)

    • 2020-08-31
      Official statement:

      Myanmar: Reverse Decision
      To Bar Rohingya From Elections:
      • Fortify Rights
        (Southeast Asian human rights group)
        on Scoop (New Zealand)

    • 2020-08-31
      VIDEO:

      Rohingya crisis:
      Growing up in the
      world's largest
      refugee camp.

      • BBC News




    SEPTEMBER 2020:


    SPECIAL NOTE:
    LIMITED & DELAYED POSTS

    Starting in September 2019, Rohingya Crisis News has limited its operations, and delayed its fewer posts, owing to numerous internal factors unrelated to the Rohingya Crisis.

    Some article links are being added, from time to time
    (especially in early December, 2019, and late January 2020, during hearings and decisions at the International Courts of Justice)
    but most regular daily or weekly updates have b



    SPECIAL NOTE:
    SUMMARIES, ABSTRACTS & EXCERPTS:

    The article summaries, abstracts and excerpts of various articles are being deleted from Rohingya Crisis News for technical and administrative reasons. The article titles and publication name, and links to those articles, will remain.

    Most images are also being deleted.

    This will accelerate the rate at which RCN pages are loaded on your web browser, and will make scanning through article titles easier and quicker.

    However,

    interested parties -- particularly government, NGO, media and educational researchers -- may request access to those summaries, abstracts and excerpts.

    To do so, contact Rohingya Crisis News. at: rh1@ksip.net -- including the name of the requester, their organization, and personal and/or official contact information.

    ~ RCN Editor.



     



    Also see:
  • Current Affairs Summary
  • 2017 Crisis News
  • 2018 Crisis News
  • 2019 Crisis News





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