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  1. #1
    Thailand Expat misskit's Avatar
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    Myanmar Gears up For First Round of Rohingya Repatriations Amid Doubts About Their Sa

    Myanmar is gearing up to take back more than 2,260 Rohingya Muslim and Hindu refugees who fled to Bangladesh during a military crackdown in Rakhine state as its first group of returnees in mid-November under a bilateral repatriation deal made nearly a year ago, a foreign ministry official said Tuesday.

    Soe Han, director general of the ASEAN Affairs Department at Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said officials will process 300 returnees daily at the two reception centers in Taung Pho Letwe and Nga Khu Ya villages in northern Rakhine’s Maungdaw district.

    “Myanmar and Bangladesh’s joint working group [on repatriations] held a meeting a few days ago and agreed to start the first repatriations in mid-November,” he said.

    Refugees arriving by boat will be processed at the Nga Khu Ya center, while those returning by land routes will be processed at the Taung Pyo Letwe center, he said.

    “The two reception centers are ready to accept them,” said Ye Htoo, deputy administrator of Maungdaw district. “We will hold them at the reception centers only overnight to fill out the necessary forms.”

    The Myanmar government is working on accepting more refugees than the number stated in the agreement it signed with Bangladesh last Nov. 23, Soe Han added.

    The second group of returnees will include 2,000 refugees, government officials said.

    Those set to return were among the 720,000 Rohingya who fled the 2017 crackdown amid a campaign of violence by the Myanmar military that included indiscriminate killings, torture, rape, and the burning of Rohingya communities.

    Bangladesh originally sent Myanmar a list of names of 8,032 refugees, of whom Myanmar government officials verified about 6,000 as eligible to return.

    The roughly 2,260 Rohingya refugees who will return in the first group are among the 6,000 verified refugees.

    After the refugees are processed at the two centers, they will be sent to a transit camp in Hla Pho Khaung village for an unspecified amount of time before returning to their previous places of residence.

    The transit camp’s 625 buildings, each with eight rooms, can house 30,000 people, Ye Htoo said.

    The camp and both reception centers have health clinics, each with a group of 10 health care workers, said Than Tun Aung, deputy director general of Myanmar’s Ministry of Health.

    “We have to work very carefully while the government is working on the resettlement process for refugees,” he said. “We will examine all of [them], vaccinate children, and provide health care to pregnant women.”

    “We will also provide urgent care at clinics and have ambulances to transfer patients to Maungdaw Hospital,” he said.

    Safety concerns remain

    During a visit to Bangladesh at the beginning of November to discuss the repatriation program and to meet with Rohingya and Hindus from Myanmar who are living in refugee camps, Myint Thu, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pledged to begin the returns by mid-month.

    Rohingya living in the camps in southeastern Bangladesh have demanded that they be accepted as an official ethnic group and be given full citizenship rights before returning to northern Rakhine.

    Human rights groups and the United Nations have warned that conditions in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where the Rohingya are viewed as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and have faced systematic discrimination for decades, are not ripe for their safe return.

    More than 1,500 ethnic Rakhine Buddhists from Maungdaw, Buthidaung, and Rathedaung districts — the focal points of the 2017 crackdown — staged a street protest in Maungdaw on Nov. 4 against the resettlement of Rohingya refugees, the Hong Kong-based Union of Catholic Asian News reported.

    Yanghee Lee, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, appealed to Bangladesh on Tuesday to stop plans to start repatriating Rohingya refugees, saying that the Myanmar government had failed to provide guarantees that they will not again be subjected to persecution and violence.

    “I have not seen any evidence of the government of Myanmar taking concrete and visible measures to create an environment where the Rohingya can return to their place of origin and live there safely with their fundamental rights guaranteed,” Lee said in a statement issued by the U.N.’s human rights agency.

    Lee has received credible information from refugees living in camps in southeastern Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar that they are deeply distressed about their names appearing on a list of those to be repatriated.

    Bangladesh’s refugee relief and rehabilitation commissioner told Human Rights Watch last week that his country had selected the names of refugees on registration lists at random without consulting them to see if they wanted to return or have their personal details shared with Myanmar officials.

    Rakhine state, Sept. 22, 2017.">
    A woman sleeps next to a baby on the floor of a makeshift camp for displaced Hindus at a disused soccer stadium in Sittwe, western Myanmar's <br /> Rakhine state, Sept. 22, 2017. Credit: AFP

    Hindus struggle to survive

    Meanwhile, more than 1,200 Hindus displaced inside Myanmar by the Rakhine violence have accused the Myanmar government, the U.N., and domestic and international NGOs of neglecting them by failing to provide enough support for their survival.

    The displaced Hindus have been living in temporary huts behind Maungdaw district’s administrative offices since fleeing their homes during the violence.

    “We had some food provided by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement for only a month and a half at the beginning,” said displaced Hindu Maung Hla. “After that, it stopped helping us, and no one else helped us for almost four months. We are in trouble.”

    A Hindu named Amina said the Rakhine state government gave them only 15 bamboo poles to build a hut, but they were not enough to construct adequate shelters.

    “We had to find whatever we needed for our huts by ourselves,” she said.

    Myint Khine said that Myanmar officials do not want Hindu refugees to depend only on the government’s help, but wants them to work for their survival.

    But Hla Tun Kyaw, a lower house lawmaker from Maungdaw township, said the government should not ignore Hindu refugees who have been living together with local ethnic Rakhine Buddhists for a long time in the multiethnic state.

    Hindu leaders said more than 290 families lost their homes in northern Rakhine state, though government officials have approved only 226 of them for new homes.

    Myint Khine, administrator of Maungdaw township, said authorities will place all of them in 200 houses in the town’s Myoma East Quarter, Shwezar village, and Kyein Chaung village by the end of November.

    The houses in Myoma East Quarter and Kyein Chaung village have been finished, while the structures in Shwezar village are only half-completed, he added.

    Hindus residing in northern Rakhine suffered violence at the hands of Muslim militants who invaded their villages and drove out or killed them following deadly attacks on police outposts that sparked the 2017 crackdown on Rohingya communities.

    The militants detained nearly 100 people from several Hindu villages in the Kha Maung Seik village tract in August 2017, killed most of them, and dumped their corpses in mass graves.

    They also forced the young Hindu women to convert to Islam and took them to a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh, the Hindus told reporters at the time.

    International human rights groups have condemned the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) for its attacks on Myanmar police outposts and Hindu villages, while pointing out that Myanmar security forces backed by ethnic Rakhine villagers committed widespread atrocities against Rohingya civilians that came in response to the ARSA attacks.

  2. #2
    Thailand Expat
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    Where troubles melt like lemon drops
    Lets hope for happy endings for all.

  3. #3
    harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Well I'm sure if they can resist the temptation to return to their old extremist ways, they will be fine.

    Violence begets violence and all that.

  4. #4
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    Where troubles melt like lemon drops
    I've always been an optimist, not gonna change now.

  5. #5
    Thailand Expat misskit's Avatar
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    Dozens of ‘Terrorists’ Among Rohingya Slated For Repatriation, Myanmar Official Says

    Myanmar officials say that dozens of nearly 6,500 Rohingya Muslims from Rakhine state whose names appear on a list of refugees from displacement camps in Bangladesh to be considered for repatriation have been “involved in terrorism.”

    Soe Han, director general of the ASEAN Affairs Department at Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told RFA’s Myanmar Service on Thursday that 54 of 6,472 Rohingya on the list have been identified as having been involved in “terrorism,” without specifying the type, timing, or location of the alleged activities.

    “Myanmar sent the list of these people involved in terrorism to Bangladesh and has asked it to take action against them, but nothing has happened yet,” he said, adding that the state cannot reveal any information about them for security or diplomatic reasons.

    “If they are sent back to Myanmar, we have to take action against them according to the law,” he said.

    Myanmar has agreed to take back some of the more than 800,000 Rohingya refugees who fled across the border during the two crackdowns in 2016 and 2017 in response to deadly attacks on border guard stations and police outposts, respectively, by a militant Muslim group known as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).

    Myanmar has largely denied or played down widely documented atrocities against Rohingya before and during their exodus to Bangladesh, while urging its critics to focus on the actions by the shadowy ARSA that triggered the crackdown.

    Officials also have verified that 4,654 of those on the list actually lived in northern Rakhine state prior to crackdowns there by Myanmar security forces in 2016 and 2017, Soe Han said.

    Another group, numbering 1,764, have no documents at all that can prove they lived in the state.

    “If they can submit something that shows they lived in Rakhine, we will verify them again,” he said.

    Those who wish to return to northern Rakhine must do so voluntarily, though they must prove that they were residents of the region prior to the two campaigns that expelled them.

    The much-delayed repatriations, which were agreed to in an agreement Myanmar and Bangladesh signed nearly a year ago, will begin in mid-November, according to Myanmar officials.

    In the meantime, the United Nations development (UNDP) and refugee (UNHCR) agencies are in the region conducting surveys in villages to identify community initiatives to support the government’s efforts to improve the lives of all populations affected by the violence, build trust in the multiethnic region, and promote social cohesion among communities.

    “We have been working together with the U.N. agencies by arranging field trips to 50 villages,” said Chan Aye, director general of the Consular and Legal Affairs Department under Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, adding that the UNDP and UNHCR must survey about 100 additional villages.

    “The U.N. agencies have shared with us what they found on their field trips and have suggested to us what we should do,” he said without providing details.

    Despite Myanmar’s readiness to begin repatriations in mid-month, the UNHCR has said that conditions in northern Rakhine are still not conducive for refugee returns.

    The U.N., human rights groups, and some Western nations also have called on Myanmar and Bangladesh to continue putting off repatriations until the safety of returning Rohingya can be ensured. They say that the Rohingya, whom Myanmar views as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, will likely to face the same persecution and systematic discrimination that they suffered before fleeing.

    A draft U.N. resolution condemning abuses against the Rohingya and calling on the Myanmar government to end discrimination and provide a means for them to become citizens was circulated at the U.N. in New York on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.

    The General Assembly's human rights committee is expected to vote on the measure, sponsored by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, more than 25 European countries, and Canada, on Nov. 15, the report said.

    Dutch minister discusses Rakhine

    On Thursday, Sigrid Kaag, the country’s minister for foreign trade and development cooperation, discussed the Rohingya crisis with State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi during a meeting in Naypyidaw, Soe Han said.

    Aung San Suu Kyi, who also serves as foreign affairs minister, informed Kaag about issues in Rakhine as well as Myanmar’s progress with the recommendations by an advisory commission on the state, led by late former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, he said.

    “[Kaag] mainly raised questions about how we are implementing the recommendations by the Kofi Annan commission,” Soe Han said. “We then explained what we have implemented and what remains to be done.”

    The commission called for reviews of the country’s Citizenship Law, which effectively prevents the Rohingya from becoming Myanmar citizens and for an end to restrictions on the stateless minority to prevent further violence in the beleaguered region.

    The Myanmar government has previously said that it has already implemented 81 of the panel’s 88 recommendations.

    Sigrid and Aung San Suu Kyi also talked about what the Netherlands can do to help address communal violence in Rakhine state, assist in the peace process by ending hostilities between ethnic armies and the Myanmar military, and support the country’s transition to democracy.

    Kaag is visiting Myanmar and Bangladesh this week to gain insight into the refugee crisis, the authorities’ response, and humanitarian aid being offered.

    Prior to her visit, she issued a statement, saying, “The Netherlands continues to underline that return is only possible if it happens voluntarily and in a safe, dignified and sustainable manner.”

    U.S. diplomats in Buthidaung

    Meanwhile, Richard Albright, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state who is responsible for humanitarian assistance programs in Asia, and U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar Scot Marciel are on a routine visit to Rakhine state.

    The visit is part of a broader trip by American diplomats to observe U.S. humanitarian assistance programs throughout Myanmar, said Aryani Manring, a spokeswoman at the U.S. embassy in Yangon, in an interview with RFA.

    The two diplomats visited Buthidaung district on Thursday — one of three districts in northern Rakhine affected by the violence from the 2017 crackdown — where he and Marciel met with 10 ethnic Rakhine people and 10 Rohingya in Ywama village.

    “We told them about the difficulties we have regarding our survival and transportation,” said village chief Aung Zan, referring to tighter restrictions on the Rohingyas’ movements and access to basic services in the wake of the 2017 violence.

    A village resident who declined to give his name said that in the past, members of the community were allowed to go to a nearby forest to collect firewood any time they wanted and could even sleep there overnight.

    But now their movements are more limited, with many checkpoints along the road to the forest and they need permission from local officials to sleep there.

    “So we can’t finish our work [in the forest] in time,” he said.

    Manring said the diplomats are meeting with people from different ethnic communities in Rakhine state to find out how the U.S. can help them.

    “We’re interested in talking to all communities in Rakhine State because we are trying to look for ways in which the United States can help,” she said.

    “And we think that addressing the human rights abuses that occurred in Rakhine state in an honest and forthright way is critical not only for the communities in Rakhine state, but also for the entire country to be able to make progress on the transition to democracy,” Manring said.

    Albright on Wednesday told a group of Rohingya leaders in Thet Kae Pyin village in Sittwe township that he would press the Myanmar government to grant basic rights, including citizenship and freedom of movement, to members of the ethnic minority group who live in the vicinity of the state capital.

    The two American diplomats also met that day with leaders from the Arakan National Party (ANP), the dominant political party in the state which represents the interests of the ethnic Rakhine people.

    The group told Albright and Marciel that returning Rohingya refugees should not be placed in the northern Maungdaw district region, another focal point of the violence, said ANP Secretary Aung Mya Kyaw.

    “This proposal was approved by the Rakhine state parliament as well,” he told RFA.

    “We also told them to ensure that the Bengalis are accepted back according to the 1982 Citizenship Law,” he said using a derogatory name for the Rohingya.

    Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have called for full citizenship rights if they return to Myanmar — something that most of them are denied under the 2012 Citizenship Law which does not recognize them as one of the country’s official ethnic groups.

    Albright told the ANP that the U.S. will not interfere in the repatriation process and will only help provide humanitarian assistance, Aung Mya Kyaw said.

  6. #6
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    China offers Myanmar support over Rohingya issue after U.S. rebuke

    BEIJING (Reuters) - China supports the Myanmar government’s efforts to protect domestic stability and approach to resolving the Rohingya issue, Premier Li Keqiang told the country’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence offered a strong rebuke.

    "Pence on Wednesday voiced Washington’s strongest condemnation yet of Myanmar’s treatment of Rohingya Muslims, telling Suu Kyi that “persecution” by her country’s army was “without excuse”.

    Meeting Suu Kyi on the sidelines of a Southeast Asian summit in Singapore, Li said China attaches great importance to its ties with Myanmar and would build on their tradition of friendship, China’s Foreign Ministry said late on Thursday.

    “The Chinese side supports Myanmar’s efforts in maintaining its domestic stability, and supports Myanmar and Bangladesh appropriately resolving the Rakhine state issue via dialogue and consultation,” the ministry cited Li as saying.

    China is “willing to provide the relevant parties with necessary support in this regard”, he added, without elaborating.

    More than 700,000 Rohingya refugees crossed into Bangladesh from western Myanmar’s Rakhine state, U.N. agencies say, after Rohingya insurgent attacks on Myanmar security forces in August 2017 triggered a sweeping military crackdown.

    The two countries agreed on Oct. 30 to begin returning refugees to Myanmar in mid-November. The U.N. refugee agency has said conditions in Rakhine are “not yet conducive for returns”.

    China has close relations with Myanmar, and backs what Myanmar officials have called a legitimate counter-insurgency operation in Rakhine.

    China’s statement cited Suu Kyi as expressing thanks to China for the many times it has extended help to Myanmar, especially the constant understanding and support for the Myanmar peace process and the Rakhine issue.

    A plan to begin repatriating hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees to Myanmar stalled on Thursday, amid protests by refugees at camps in Bangladesh and recriminations between the officials in both countries."

    ameristan stirring the shit and dividing foreign communities, as usual.

    China supporting a foreign democratically elected government, as usual.
    A tray full of GOLD is not worth a moment in time.

  7. #7
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    Too close for comfort: China to build port in Myanmar, 3rd in India’s vicinity

    "India will be closely following the developments following an agreement between China and Myanmar on Thursday to develop a multi-billion dollar deep sea port in Kyaukpyu on the coast of Bay of Bengal, third in India’s neighbourhood.

    China has already helped build port in Gwadar in Pakistan and Hambantota in Sri Lanka. It is also funding the development of the Chittagong port in Bangladesh.

    Located on the western coast of Myanmar in Rakhine state, the scaled-down port, part of a special economic zone (SEZ), when developed will not be far away from a submarine base India is developing on its east coast, close to Vishakhapatnam.

    Though the total China-Myanmar investment into the Kyaukpyu project has been scaled down to $1.3 billion (initial phase) from the earlier $7 billion figure, the port will be of great strategic significance to China as it navigates its way into the Bay of Bengal – and the Indian Ocean -- considered within New Delhi’s range of influence.

    China’s investment in the project was reduced following Myanmar’s concerns of falling into a debt-trap.

    Nonetheless, the port will boost the China-Myanmar economic corridor and will be another road-sea link under President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

    Oil and natural gas pipelines are already functioning between the fishing town of Kyaukpyu and Kunming in China’s Yunnan province, bordering Myanmar.

    For Myanmar, the project promises employment to thousands and billions in tax revenue in the future, according to Chinese media. The deal took years to finalise because of differences on “…financing and other issues,” the tabloid Global Times said in report.

    “At a ceremony in the Myanmar capital of Nay Pyi Taw, the Chinese consortium led by State-owned conglomerate Citic Group signed the framework agreement with the Kyaukpyu Special Economic Zone Management Committee on the development of the deep-sea port,” the report said.

    China will invest 70 per cent of the $1.3 billion while Myanmar will finance the rest in the initial phase, which will include two berths.

    The signing of the framework agreement marks a significant step for the port project, which has been stalled since 2015, and for the continued implementation of BRI, under increased scrutiny because of cases such as the Kyaukpyu port project.

    “Prolonged negotiations fueled criticism of the BRI, which some foreign critics said could add to local debts and even threaten other countries’ sovereignty,” the GT report said.

    China has maintained that the BRI is an open platform to facilitate regional and global economic integration and help countries along the routes with economic growth and job creation.

    “The Kyaukpyu project is estimated to bring 100,000 jobs to the local community and will contribute as much as $15 billion in tax revenue to Myanmar. Once completed, the port will have an annual gross output of $3.2 billion,” the report added.

    The CITIC Consortium comprises China Harbor Engineering Company Ltd. (CHEC), China Merchants Holdings (International) Co. LTD (CMHI), TEDA Investment Holding (TEDA) and Yunnan Construction Engineering Group(YNJG) as well as Thailand’s Charoen Pokphand Group Company Limited (CP Group)."
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