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  1. #51
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    Probable illegal sanctions by ameristan and it's vassals already drafted and awaitng asignature or two.

    China and Russia along with hopefully the ASEAN community will offer of food, medical and financial assistance, to enable the locals to earn a living wage and hence negate the desire to drink their compatriot's blood.
    A tray full of GOLD is not worth a moment in time.

  2. #52
    Thailand Expat HuangLao's Avatar
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    And the suppressive and xenophobic military state continues, as it has for decades.
    Only now, there's a Western imagined martyr of heroine status to throw a rhetorical and hypocritical twist upon the affairs of the ancient kingdom.

    The ethic cleansing of lower cast cast and bloodline continues.
    And the same clandestine powers will continue to support and maintain, has it has been for decades.

  3. #53
    Thailand Expat misskit's Avatar
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    Drone and Satellites Expose Myanmar's Pain

    LONDON — The Rohingya refugee crisis is an age-old tale of displacement and suffering, but technology is providing new tools to tackle it, rights groups and charities said on Wednesday.


    Powerful drone and satellite images are bringing to life the urgent needs of more than 800,000 Rohingya refugees who fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar, while also providing strong evidence of abuses, which could be used to lobby for justice.


    “We can describe for hours the large numbers of refugees crossing the border and how quickly existing camps have expanded, but one image captures it all,” said Andrej Mahecic, a spokesman for the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).


    More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since the military in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar launched a counter-insurgency operation after attacks on security posts by Rohingya militants in late August.


    The UNHCR is using videos and photographs shot with drones to show the scale of the displacement crisis and bring it to life to spur action from the public and donors.


    It is also using satellites to count and identify refugee families by their location in the Bangladesh camps to target assistance to those most in need, Mahecic told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an email.


    The use of drone footage of refugees entering Bangladesh has boosted donations for medical care, water and food, according to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an alliance of 13 leading British aid agencies.


    Rights monitors also hope satellite images can provide evidence that to help bring perpetrators to justice.


    Satellite photos were used in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to prove mass executions in 1995 in Srebrenica.


    But the technology has yet to achieve its potential because of limited budgets and a lack of standardised methodologies accepted by courts, experts say.


    Human Rights Watch has shared satellite images showing the burning of almost 300 villages in Myanmar, refugees' mobile phone footage and their testimonies with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.


    “We have found the debris field in satellite imagery where people were executed, corroborating multiple eyewitness statements,” said Josh Lyons, a satellite imagery analyst with the U.S.-based rights group.


    The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein has called the violence against Rohingya in Myanmar “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” and his office is working to determine whether it meets the legal definition of genocide.

    https://www.voanews.com/a/a-picture-...n/4095973.html

  4. #54
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    And so the globalist narrative continues. Will those drones carry bombs?

  5. #55
    Thailand Expat HuangLao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tamsin View Post
    And so the globalist narrative continues. Will those drones carry bombs?

    The expanding empires need to be tended to.

  6. #56
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    The normal solution, to non nuclear armed countries, starvation, epidemics and cluster bombs.
    I'm sure theres a profit for someone.

    VOA has history and ample backing.

  7. #57
    Thailand Expat misskit's Avatar
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    Militants Kill Village Leaders Who Worked on Myanmar’s Verification Card Program

    As many as 18 village leaders who had worked on the issuance of national verification cards in Myanmar’s violence-ridden northern Rakhine state have been killed in the last three months in Muslim-majority Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships, a state government official said Thursday.


    The village heads had assisted staff members from the state’s Immigration and Population Department in issuing national verification cards (NVCs) — the step before the scrutinization of citizenship in accordance with the country’s 1982 Citizenship Law — to Rohingya Muslim residents as one of the programs being implemented to improve Rakhine state’s development.


    The issuing of NVCs to the Rohingya is one of dozens of recommendations put forth by the government-created Advisory Commission on Rakhine State led by former United Nations chief Kofi Annan.


    “Within three months, up to 18 village heads who have helped with the issuance of NVCs in Rakhine were killed,” said Myint Khyine, permanent secretary of the Immigration and Population Department.


    He blamed the murders on the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a Muslim militant group that carried out deadly attacks on 30 police posts and an army base in northern Rakhine state on Aug. 25.


    “The members of ARSA and people who have links and connections to ARSA did it,” he said.


    The assertion could not be independently verified in a region that the government has kept largely off-limits to outside observers, aid workers, and reporters.


    ARSA militants have been accused of invading villages inhabited by non-Muslims in northern Rakhine and of driving out or killing those who live there.


    Local Hindus and the Myanmar government in late September said that ARSA militants detained nearly 100 people from several Hindu villages in the Kha Maung Seik village on Aug. 25, killed most of them, and dumped their corpses in mass graves.


    The militants also forced the young Hindu women to convert to Islam and took them to a Muslim refugee camp in neighboring Bangladesh.
    'Working with police'


    Myint Khyine said officials from his department are working with local police to find and arrest those responsible for killing the village leaders, but some are in hiding, and others have fled the area.


    “They are silent and live as normal people during the day and kill the villages’ leaders at unexpected times during the night,” he said. “That’s why it is difficult to get them.”


    “Although we have been working on issuing NVCs in the entire country, the murder cases have occurred only in the Buthidaung and Maungdaw areas,” he said.


    The two townships, along with adjacent Rathedaung township, were at the epicenter of recent violence during a crackdown on the Rohingya by the Myanmar military in response to the ARSA attacks on Aug. 25.


    The area was subject to another crackdown by Myanmar security forces following smaller-scale attacks on border guard stations by ARSA on Oct. 9, 2016.


    “We have been working with police, the Social Welfare, Relief, and Resettlement Ministry, and security forces on the NVC process and the protection of immigration employees,” Myint Khyine said.


    Mobile teams of immigration staffers are issuing about 100 NVCs a day to 300,000 to 400,000 residents of Rakhine state who need to obtain them, he said. They are taking eye scans and fingerprints of applicants using biometric technology.
    “The process for all people will take one or a few years,” he said.


    More than 7,000 issued


    More than 7,000 NVCs have been issued to villagers in Rakhine state since an authentication process began on Oct. 1, according to a statement by the office of President Htin Kyaw on Oct. 29.


    Teams working in Maungdaw’s Shwezar village tract since Oct. 12 have issued cards to more than 100 villagers, the statement said.
    Officials temporarily suspended the work on account of the Aug. 25 attacks, but resumed it at the beginning of October in areas that had returned to normalcy, it said.



    The crackdown by security forces that included attacks on Muslims following the Aug. 25 violence drove more than 600,000 Rohingya across the border to neighboring Bangladesh where they now live in massive displacement camps.


    Myanmar has systematically discriminated against the Rohingya who are viewed as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and denied certain rights and access to basic services such as education, health care, and jobs.


    The final report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State issued in late August just before the ARSA attacks recommended that Myanmar review the 1982 Citizenship Law that prevents Rohingya from becoming Myanmar citizens.

    Militants Kill Village Leaders Who Worked on Myanmar?s Verification Card Program

  8. #58
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    No problem the Chinese are in the country talking and agreeing to move forward.

    1. Undertake a three step plan.
    2. Expand the BRI within Myanamar
    3. Keep the military to military ties.


    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/20..._136764392.htm
    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-11/20/c_136766060.htm








    Last edited by OhOh; 21-11-2017 at 07:10 PM.

  9. #59
    Thailand Expat misskit's Avatar
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    ^What is China’s three step plan?

  10. #60
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    Its in the link.

    1. Keep the ceasefire going
    2. Get Myanmar and Bangladesh to discuss all aspects
    3. Develop Myanmar so the population develops.

    Here is another link to an ex Indian Ambassador who discusses the Indian perspective. He is always a bit cynical regarding Indian diplomatic efforts. A 'Doosra" is an Indian cricketing phase which describes a ball which befuddles the batsman.

    http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/category/diplomacy/

    China’s Rohingya ‘doosra’ baffles India


    "There is delightful irony that China has put forward a plan to resolve Rohingya refugees, which is so deceptively simple and yet didn’t occur to Indian ingenuity. The 3-stage Chinese plan proposes to:


    • Achieve a ceasefire so Rohingyas are no longer displaced. (The ceasefire is now in effect.)
    • Encourage Myanmar and Bangladesh to keep communication lines open in a bid to arrive at a feasible solution by carrying forward their initial agreement on repatriating refugees in Bangladesh.
    • Find a long-term solution by addressing the root cause of the conflict through development of Rakhine state. (Xinhua)

    It is a moot point whether the Chinese plan will work, because in the long run, as they say, we are all dead. What matters is time present.


    The Modi government must be feeling embarrassed. This is the first time that Beijing took a diplomatic initiative to resolve an ‘inter-state dispute’ in South Asia. The nearest venture so far has been the incipient Chinese attempt to calm down Afghan-Pakistani tensions. (It is work in progress.) Clearly, Beijing means what it says, namely, South Asia is big enough for China and India to live and work.

    Bangladesh is, perhaps, India’s only neighbor with which we enjoy a fairly transparent relationship. But when that country got into trouble and sought Indian mediation with Myanmar, we looked away. Now China steps in without an invite from Bangladesh to outline a pathway to get Rohingya refugees numbering over half a million to return home. Dhaka welcomed the Chinese plan put forward by Foreign Minister Wang Yi during his visit last weekend.
    On the Rohingya front, India failed the litmus test of friendship. If the Chinese plan works – obstacles are many and some are formidable – Sino-Bangladesh relationship will take a quantum leap. At the very least, the ‘great game’ in Bangladesh tilts in Beijing’s favor.


    However, the unkindest cut of all is that against this backdrop, One Belt One Road is lurching toward Bay of Bengal. Beijing has also proposed to Myanmar on a parallel track its interest in building an “economic corridor” under the Belt and Road initiative that will start from China’s Yunnan Province, go down south to the central Myanmar city of Mandalay, and further extend east to the new city of Yangon and west to the Kyaukpyu special economic zone, forming a three-pillar giant cooperation pattern.” (Xinhua)


    Under the belt and road umbrella, Beijing has backed various massive infrastructure projects in Myanmar such as a US$7.3 billion deep-water port in Rakhine. Wang reportedly explained to the leadership in Nay Pyi Taw that “such a design is supposed to boost connectivity among large projects along the routes to have an integrated effect, and at the same time to boost balanced development across Myanmar,” A prominent Chinese scholar, Gu Xiaosong, head of Southeast Asian Studies at the Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that thanks to Myanmar’s geography, the country “serves as an important intersection for Belt and Road initiative” and the proposed economic corridor will “allow China to access the Indian Ocean more conveniently.”


    Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw has responded positively, saying his country stands ready to join hands with China to speed up the development of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and “also appreciates the proposal of building a China-Myanmar economic corridor, and intends to actively integrate with the Chinese side over the project.” Indeed, Wang also met Myanmar’s powerful military chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who in turn described China as “not only Myanmar’s friendly neighbor but also the sincerest friend.” (Xinhua)


    Jaws must have dropped in South Block, which is barely coping with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). If the recent outrageous Pakistani allegations have any basis, we now have to create a second “cell” costing $500 million in the bowels of our security establishment to somehow make life hell for the proposed China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC). No doubt, the CMEC is potentially a bigger geopolitical challenge than CPEC because its tentacles graze the highly sensitive Indian assets in Andaman & Nicobar.


    The Chinese plan is to use the Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka to connect CMEC with the sea-lanes of the Indian Ocean. If the plan works, Bay of Bengal becomes a crowded Chinese waterway, which will be far more consequential than CPEC.


    In its timing and sheer elan, the Chinese plan on the Rohingya is simply superb. It takes the wind out of the sails of the US. (Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson — formerly ExxonMobil boss — had visited Nay Pyi Daw last week highlighting the human rights angle to seek a role for US intervention – and, perhaps, extract some oil concessions from Myanmar leadership for Big Oil in Texas.)


    Equally, Wang’s announcement coincides with the ASEAM Foreign Ministers meeting in Myanmar where the western powers – France, Sweden and Japan, in particular – were expected to raise Rohingya issue to pile pressure on Nay Pyi Daw. Wang’s doosra indeed changed the narrative overnight. Beijing must have sensed that attitudes in Myanmar towards China have become very positive. If there is a propitious time to push the CMEC, this is it, this is it."

    Last edited by OhOh; 21-11-2017 at 07:34 PM.

  11. #61
    Thailand Expat misskit's Avatar
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    China tells Myanmar military it wants closer ties

    BEIJING--China wants closer ties with Myanmar's military to help protect regional peace and security, a senior Chinese general told the visiting head of the southeast Asian country's army.


    China and Myanmar have had close diplomatic and economic ties for years, including increasingly in the strategically important oil and gas sectors, and China has offered its support to its southern neighbor, also known as Burma, throughout a crisis over its treatment of its Rohingya Muslim minority.


    More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled from Buddhist-majority Myanmar's Rakhine State, most to neighboring Bangladesh, since a Myanmar military crackdown in response to attacks on the security forces by Rohingya insurgents in August.


    The United States on Wednesday for the first time called the Myanmar military operation against the Rohingya "ethnic cleansing" and threatened targeted sanctions against those responsible for "horrendous atrocities."


    Meeting in Beijing, Li Zuocheng, who sits on China's Central Military Commission, which runs its armed forces, told Senior General Min Aung Hlaing that China's development and prosperity were an important opportunity for Myanmar's development, China's Defense Ministry said in a statement.


    "In the face of a complex and changeable regional security situation, China is willing to maintain strategic communication between the two countries' militaries," Li was cited as saying in the statement issued late on Wednesday.


    China wanted greater contacts between the two armed forces and deeper training and technical exchanges and to promote border defense cooperation to ensure peace and stability along their common border, Li added.


    China has been angered by fighting between Myanmar's military and autonomy-seeking ethnic minority rebels close to the Chinese border in recent years, which has at times forced thousands of villagers to flee into China.


    The Chinese ministry made no direct mention of the Rohingya issue in the statement.



    CLOSE TIES


    China built close ties with Myanmar's generals during years of military rule, when Western countries imposed sanctions on Myanmar for its suppression of the democracy movement.


    More recently, their ties have included oil and gas as Myanmar pumps natural gas from the Bay of Bengal to China. A new oil pipeline, opened this year, also feeds Middle East crude through Myanmar to a new refinery in Yunnan, southwest China.


    This has opened a new oil supply route to China, avoiding the Strait of Malacca and Singapore.


    The United States and other Western countries have stepped up engagement with Myanmar since the military began handing power to civilians in 2011, and especially since former democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi won a 2015 election.


    But an international outcry over Myanmar's violations of the rights of the Rohingya has raised questions in Western countries about that engagement.


    Rights group Amnesty International has called for a comprehensive arms embargo against Myanmar as well as targeted financial sanctions against senior Myanmar military officials.


    China's Defense Ministry cited Min Aung Hlaing as thanking China for its support in helping Myanmar ensure domestic stability.

    China tells Myanmar military it wants closer ties?The Asahi Shimbun

  12. #62
    Thailand Expat misskit's Avatar
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    Myanmar Milatary Releases Details About Killing of Rohingya Villagers

    Myanmar’s military has issued details of the findings of an investigation team that examined soldiers’ role in the extrajudicial killings of 10 Rohingya during the brutal crackdown in northern Rakhine state.


    The military issued a rare admission on Wednesday that some of its troops killed what it said were Muslim “terrorists” in September and buried their bodies in a mass grave in Inn Din village in Maungdaw township, which along with neighboring Buithdaung and Rathedaung townships, was the epicenter of recent violence against the Rohingya.


    A five-member military team led by Lieutenant General Aye Win from the office of military commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing began investigating the scene on Dec. 20 to determine whether security forces were involved, after the army received information from an unidentified person that bodies were buried in the village.


    The team questioned soldiers, members of the border guard force, security police officers, Inn Din villagers, and six civil servants until Jan. 2, said a press release issued by the military investigative team on Wednesday in Naypyidaw.


    Relations between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims who lived in separate areas in the Inn Din village tract grew tense following deadly small-scale attacks by Muslim militants on border guard stations on Oct. 9, 2016, which triggered a crackdown by security forces.


    A larger attack on police outposts by the same group on Aug. 25, 2017, sparked another crackdown that forced 655,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh where some accused the military of committing random killings, rape, and arson in their villages in northern Rakhine.


    The same day, Rohingya “terrorists” captured and killed Maung Ni, an ethnic Rakhine resident of Inn Din village as he was on his way to farm, and other Rohingya began to threaten Rakhine villagers with sticks and swords, the statement said.


    The “Bengalis,” a derogatory term for the Rohingya who are seen as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, chanted over loudspeakers about slashing the throats of Myanmar soldiers and occupying the region. The ethnic Rakhine villagers panicked and went to a local Buddhist monastery, the statement said.


    Security forces stationed at Inn Din village were then attacked by about 200 Rohingya brandishing sticks and swords on Sept. 1. They fired guns into the air, scaring off the group except for 10 who were arrested, it said.


    During an interrogation at the village school, the Rohingya said they had connections with terrorists and were persuaded by Muslim religious scholars to carry out terrorist acts, the statement said.


    Although the soldiers should have handed over the 10 men to police, they decided to kill them at a local cemetery on Sept. 2, because Rohingya terrorists had carried out other attacks by landmines and set fire to two police vehicles in Thinbawgwe village, the statement said.


    Security forces escorted ethnic Rakhine residents of Inn Din who led the way to the cemetery where the 10 Rohingya villagers, including Maung Ni’s sons, were ordered to get into a pit in a ravine between two hillocks. An ethnic Rakhine villager cut them with a sword and four soldiers shot them, the statement said.


    The military investigation team suggested that the killings were an act of vengeance.


    “It was found that local ethnics had grievances against those 10 Bengali terrorists involved in the terror attacks and against Bengali villagers who arrested and who had killed U [honorific] Maung Ni without reason, and who threatened and bullied the local ethnics,” the statement said.


    The statement went on to say that action would be taken against the villagers and soldiers who confessed to the murders as well as against officers to whom the soldiers reported.


    Rohingya who fled Inn Din village to seek safety in Bangladesh contend that those killed were all civilians, not terrorists, as the army claims, AgenceFrance-Presse reported on Thursday.



    ‘Unlawful’ killings


    Responding to the press release, Thein Than Oo, a founding member of the Myanmar Lawyers’ Network, questioned the authenticity of the statement.


    “The release doesn’t look like an official release,” he told RFA.


    “The statement is like a radio play with a plot,” he said, adding that it did not read like a statement, but rather a defense of the military.


    “I haven’t seen anything like this before when the military admits that soldiers killed people,” he said. “This is the first time. The military doesn’t have the authority to arrest or kill people, even if they [Rohingya suspects] killed U Maung Ni or not.”


    Thein Than Oo said that in reality some security guards had probably committed the murders, so the incident is “not the entire military’s fault.”


    “But the military’s image will be damaged if it protects these security guards who killed 10 people,” he said.
    “The military has rules of engagement,” he said. “If someone violate these rules, action must be taken against him according to the law. The military should take action against anyone who commits crime. If not, the international community will see the Myanmar Army as an organization that doesn’t operate according to the rule of law.”


    Prominent Myanmar legal activist Robert San Aung said the 10 Rohingya were killed in an “unlawful manner.”


    “Then the military said it killed them because they had killed a man,” he said. “This reason is not acceptable. Killing is killing. If someone is found to have committed murder, then action must be taken against him according to the law.”


    “But because the military has killed people in an unlawful manner, we are having many problems in the country, mostly in ethnic areas,” he said. “This case is a big crime committed by the military.”


    Kyaw Kyaw Win, a lawmaker in the upper house of the national parliament whose constituency encompasses Maungdaw township, noted that it remains largely unknown whether the 10 Rohingya were terrorists, as the military claims.


    “We don’t know whether these 10 people were terrorists or not,” he said. “Only the security guards and some villagers from Inn Din village would know.”


    US, EU weighs in


    Reuters news agency quoted the U.S. ambassador to Myanmar as calling the revelations “an important step” while calling for more transparency and accountability.


    “The military's acknowledgment that the security forces were involved in the killing of these 10 individuals is an important step,” Ambassador Scot Marciel said in a forum on media freedom with journalism students and reporters in the commercial capital Yangon.


    “We hope it is followed up by more transparency and by holding those responsible accountable,” he said. “I would stress this should be done, not as a favor to the international community, but because it’s good for the health of Myanmar’s democracy.”


    Meanwhile, the European Union on Thursday called for a credible investigation into Myanmar military's extrajudicial killings.


    “These brutal killings confirm the urgent need for a thorough and credible investigation into all violent incidents in northern Rakhine state to ensure the accountability of those found responsible for committing atrocities,” said a statement issued by the EU in Yangon.


    The Myanmar government has refused to grant entry to the country to a United Nations fact-finding mission appointed under a resolution in March to investigate atrocities that security forces are said to have committed against the Rohingya during the previous four-month security sweep in Rakhine’s northern townships that began in October 2016.


    In December 2017, the government temporarily barred Yanghee Lee, a U.N. special rapporteur who works with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, from visiting Myanmar this month to evaluate rights developments, particularly in violence-wracked Rakhine state.


    The government said a previous mission report Lee issued was biased and unfair.


    The Myanmar government has also barred the media and some international NGOs from entering the conflict zone.
    “[T]he EU reiterates its call on the government of Myanmar to cooperate fully with the Human Rights Council’s independent international fact-finding mission and other independent observers, including journalists and to provide for their full, safe, and unhindered access to all conflict areas without delay,” the EU’s statement said.


    The U.N. and U.S. have said that the military campaign against the Rohingya has amounted to ethnic cleansing, while others have suggested that the army’s actions may constitute genocide.

    Myanmar Military Releases Details About Killing of Rohingya Villagers

  13. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by misskit View Post
    Meanwhile, the European Union on Thursday called for a credible investigation into Myanmar military's extrajudicial killings.
    Maybe a UNSC meeting to call out all the governments utilising this method of force would be in order, no?

  14. #64
    Thailand Expat HuangLao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OhOh View Post
    Maybe a UNSC meeting to call out all the governments utilising this method of force would be in order, no?
    Wouldn't expect any positives manifesting from that group.
    There's little profit, therefore little interests.

  15. #65
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    Seven Ethnic Rakhines Killed After Myanmar Police Fire on Protest Crowd

    Police in western Myanmar’s volatile Rakhine state shot dead at least seven ethnic Rakhine protesters and wounded 13 others after members of the minority group marking a nationalist Buddhist anniversary tried to take over a local government building, sources said Wednesday.

    More than 4,000 ethnic Rakhines had gathered in the town of Mrauk U Tuesday to take part in an annual event recognizing the end of the ancient ethnic kingdom 233 years earlier, Rakhine state government secretary Tin Maung Swe said, despite organizers having failed to obtain a permit.

    Members of the crowd later protested at the site of the township’s government office, the secretary said, confronting officers and attempting to destroy property in the building, at which point police began to fire at them.

    “The mob came into government office, tried to destroy property, and threw stones at the district administrator’s house,” Tin Maung Swe said.

    “It was violence that hurt stability, and that’s why the police had to shoot at them to get them to disperse,” he said.

    “The police tried to stop them with a warning by loudspeaker, shooting into the air, and then shooting at the crowd with rubber bullets, but the mob wouldn’t stop, and even tried to take the officers’ weapons. Because of this situation, the incident occurred. About 20 police were injured.”

    Tin Maung Swe said authorities had launched an investigation into the shooting and would “take action according to law.”

    It was not immediately clear why violence broke out at the event, but Agence France Presse quoted a police official as saying that the crowd was demanding the “sovereignty of Rakhine state.”

    Rakhines who were present at Tuesday’s protest disputed the police account of the incident.

    Kyaw Tun Oo, a member of the committee that organized the anniversary event, told RFA’s Myanmar Service that he had applied to authorities well in advance for permission, but received no response until the day of the gathering.

    “The order restricting the right to hold the ceremony came only a few hours before we began the ceremony,” he said, suggesting that the police effort to shut down the event had led to the protests.

    A witness in Mrauk U, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told RFA that protesters “believed the police were firing into the air to disperse the crowd, but we saw seconds later that people were bleeding from the shots.”

    Khaine Pyi Soe, the vice-chairman of the Arakan National Party, said the police had failed to follow a step-by-step procedure to deescalate tensions.

    “I think the police skipped the requisite steps and employed disproportionate use of force to crack down on the crowd,” he said.

    On Wednesday, London-based rights group Amnesty International, which said at least eight people had died in the incident, condemned the police shooting in Mrauk U in a statement as “yet another example of Myanmar security forces’ contempt for human life” and urged authorities to launch an investigation.

    “Even if protesters were throwing stones and bricks, nothing can justify police apparently firing into a crowd of thousands. This is a clear case of excessive use of force in violation of the right to life.


    Government response

    Observers also questioned the government’s response to the incident on Wednesday.

    “Using weapons against citizens is not the right way to solve problems … and the EU had provided training to the police on how to address riots,” said Mya Aye, the leader of the National Democratic Force political party.

    “This leaves the government in a difficult situation politically, particularly at a time when the [ruling] NLD (National League for Democracy) has been governing with gunshots,” he added, referring to a brutal military crackdown in Rakhine state that followed attacks on government security posts by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) insurgents in late August 2017.

    Myint Kyaw, a member of the Myanmar Press Council, criticized the government for waiting to release information about the police shooting.

    “People were waiting for information for half a day, but it didn’t come out,” he said.

    “There was fear that the situation would be misrepresented on social media, which has led to subsequent incidents in the past due to delays on the release of official information.”

    Writer Chit Oo Nyo said that celebrating the end of the Rakhine Kingdom was an act of “incitement by people who don’t want stability” in Rakhine state, but also condemned the police for “using the wrong method to solve a problem, which led to deaths.”


    Ethnic tension

    Rakhines, also known as Arakanese, are one of 135 officially recognized ethnic groups in Myanmar, but have said that their interests are underrepresented in their own state and in the country’s legislature, which is dominated by majority ethnic Bamar.

    Tensions have flared over the government’s handling of ethnic violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and ethnic Rohingya Muslims in recent years.

    Around 1 million Rohingyas are currently sheltering at cramped and squalid refugee camps in southeastern Bangladesh, after fleeing cycles of violence in Rakhine state across the border, including at least 655,000 who crossed into the country since the military crackdown in August.

    Refugees have accused soldiers of committing random killings, rape, and arson in their villages.

    An estimated 200,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh to avoid communal violence with local Rakhine communities and military operations prior to October 2016.

    On Tuesday, Bangladeshi and Myanmar officials agreed to return hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas to Myanmar from refugee camps in Bangladesh “preferably within two years” of beginning their repatriation, without specifying when the process would begin.

    Later on Tuesday, Rakhine social critic Wai Hin Aung was arrested by police in Sittwe township for defamation after delivering speeches calling for revolt in Mrauk U and Rathedaung townships the previous day, together with Rakhine nationalist lawmaker Aye Maung, who was also an organizer of the anniversary event. An arrest warrant was issued for Aye Maung on Wednesday.

    Both men face charges under Article 17(1) of the Unlawful Association Act and Section 505(b) of the country’s Penal Code, which pertains to sedition.

    Seven Ethnic Rakhines Killed After Myanmar Police Fire on Protest Crowd

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    Myanmar, Bangladesh Pledge to Repatriate Rohingya Refugees ‘Within Two Years’

    Bangladeshi and Myanmar officials have agreed to return hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar from refugee camps in southeastern Bangladesh “preferably within two years” of beginning their repatriation, the two sides said Tuesday, without specifying when the process would begin.

    Following its first round of meetings on Jan. 15-16 in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw, a 30-member joint working group (JWG) led by Bangladesh’s foreign secretary Shahidul Haque and Myanmar’s permanent secretary Myint Thu finalized the text of an arrangement to facilitate the return of Rohingyas from Bangladesh, according to a statement by Bangladesh’s Foreign Ministry.

    “The Physical Arrangement stipulates that the repatriation would be completed preferably within 02 (two) years from the commencement of repatriation,” the statement said, without providing a starting date for the process.

    Under the agreement, Bangladesh will repatriate the Rohingyas through five transit camps to two reception centers in Myanmar, which will “shelter the returnees in a temporary accommodation” and “expeditiously rebuild the houses” to resettle them.

    In the meantime, Myanmar will “consider resettling the people staying at the zero line on a priority basis,” and reiterated its commitment to “stop outflow of Myanmar residents to Bangladesh.”

    The arrangement will also allow for the repatriation of orphans and “children born out of unwarranted incidence,” according to the statement, which Reuters news agency said referred to pregnancies that occurred as the result of rape, citing a Bangladesh foreign ministry official who declined to be identified.

    Interviews with refugees suggest the rape of Rohingya women by Myanmar's security forces was widespread, although the military denies it was involved in any sexual assaults.

    The first round of meetings came days before the Jan. 22 scheduled deadline for the first 100,000 refugees to start returning to their home state of Rakhine. Both countries have touted the process as a voluntary one, by which refugees could choose to stay in Bangladesh or go back to Rakhine.

    Despite agreeing in November to begin the repatriation process later this month, the two countries have not established the necessary protocol for the first batch of refugees to return.


    Start date unclear

    Myint Kyaing, Myanmar’s permanent secretary of the Ministry of Labor, Immigration, and Population, told RFA’s Myanmar Service Tuesday that government staff were mostly in position to “begin the process of accepting refugees,” adding that “buildings and other necessary items are ready.”

    He noted that the refugees include orphans, which he said Myanmar will accept “if their parents really lived in Rakhine state,” based on comparisons between his government’s data and “court documents from Bangladesh.”

    Myanmar’s state media reported Monday that a 124-acre camp in Hla Po Khaung—the nation’s first repatriation facility—will hold around 30,000 people in 625 buildings, and that at least 100 buildings will be completed by the end of the month.

    Bangladesh’s state minister for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam told reporters Tuesday he could not give an exact start date for the repatriation, but said it should begin “by late January or early February.”

    The 100,000 refugees targeted for the first wave of repatriation are among about 1 million Rohingyas sheltering at cramped and squalid refugee camps in southeastern Bangladesh, who fled cycles of violence in neighboring Rakhine state.

    These refugees include at least 655,000 Rohingyas who crossed into Bangladesh since late August 2017 amid a brutal military crackdown that followed attacks on government security posts by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) insurgents. Refugees have accused soldiers of committing random killings, rape, and arson in their villages.

    Tuesday’s arrangement does not allow for the return of an estimated 200,000 Rohingyas who fled to Bangladesh to avoid communal violence and military operations prior to October 2016.


    UNHCR concerns

    UNHCR, the United Nations’ Refugee Agency, underscored the importance of ensuring that the protection of refugees is guaranteed in Bangladesh and on return in Myanmar in a statement Tuesday, and said it was willing to assist in the process.

    “In any refugee situation, UNHCR hopes that refugees will be able to return home when they themselves choose to,” the agency said.

    “Before considering return to Myanmar, some Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have informed UNHCR staff that they would need to see positive developments in relation to their legal status and citizenship, the security situation in Rakhine State, and their ability to enjoy basic rights back home.”

    Rohingyas are not recognized as an ethnic group in Myanmar and are ineligible for citizenship and accompanying rights under the country’s Citizenship Law. According to the government, Rohingyas must first obtain national verification cards before they can be granted a status according to the law, such as “guest citizens” or people who can apply for citizenship.

    UNHCR called on both sides to ensure that refugees are “informed about the situation in their areas of origin and potential return and consulted on their wishes; that their safety is ensured throughout … and that the environment in the areas of return is conducive for safe and sustainable return.”

    The agency urged Myanmar’s government to grant it “unhindered access” in Rakhine state, in order to assess the situation, provide support to those in need, and to help with rebuilding efforts.

    Myanmar has strictly limited access by international agencies and media to the conflict zone in Rakhine.


    Local fears

    Meanwhile, officials from government-aligned groups observing the situation in Rakhine state mostly addressed the concerns of the region’s majority Rakhine ethnic group when speaking with RFA about the refugee repatriation on Tuesday.

    Al-Haj U Aye Lwin, a Muslim leader in Myanmar and a member of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, welcomed Tuesday’s agreement and Myanmar’s pledge to “return [refugees] to their homes and improve their living standards,” although he acknowledged that the process could be difficult.

    “[The refugees] have endured trauma, and local ethnic groups also fear more problems with them—it is reasonable for both communities to have concerns,” he said.

    He said that “many Muslims never left and instead built trust with local ethnic groups,” while it was unclear whether those who fled Myanmar did so because of “imagined fear or legitimate threats.”

    He also questioned the role of NGOs in assisting with the repatriation, saying that “each side has organizations and individuals who both help and incite them.”

    Aung Tun Thet, the chief coordinator of Myanmar’s Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development (UEHRD), said the repatriation process will be handled with extreme scrutiny to address local fears.

    “The authorities keep saying that the refugees will be sent to their old homes, but they will first be sent to a place where they are verified … and only then will we try to send them home—as much as possible,” he said.

    “It is very important to check if there are any terrorists among the people who come back from Bangladesh. We have heard the concerns of local ethnic groups and we must consider them in the process.”


    Myanmar, Bangladesh Pledge to Repatriate Rohingya Refugees ?Within Two Years?

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