Latest Highlight

August 31, 2014

Myanmar will start the process of repatriating Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh’s camps within two months in 'a breakthrough' in bilateral relations, the foreign secretary has said.

M Shahidul Haque said they would start the process of taking back 2,415 of its nationals it verified earlier.

The decision was conveyed at the secretary-level talks on Sunday.

Myanmar’s Deputy Foreign Minister U Thant Kyaw led his side to the meeting, known as ‘Foreign Office Consultation’.

Foreign Secretary Haque told journalists after the meeting both sides agreed on a number of measures to take the relations forward.

The meeting was held in “open, frank, and cordial” manner that he said indicated “greater understanding between the two countries”.

Myanmar side was not present at the briefing.

The Rohingya refugee issue has been the main irritant in the relations.

Bangladesh gave shelter to thousands of refugees who fled the Rakhine province after sectarian clashes over the years.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, put the number in Bangladesh at over 200,000 with 30,000 documented refugees living in two government-run camps –the Kutupalong and Nayaparha – within two kilometres of the Myanmar border.

Some estimates suggest more than 500,000 are living outside the camps in Bangladesh.

According to the foreign ministry, Myanmar took back more than 200,000 of their nationals between 1991 and 2005.

The process has since stalled and Myanmar even declined to recognise those living inside Bangladesh as its nationals.

According to media reports, they did not even count Rohingya in their census.

The foreign secretary, however, believed that by agreeing to take back them again “Myanmar acknowledged that they are their citizens”.

He said both sides wanted to strengthen the relations.

“It’s (start of repatriation) a breakthrough,” he said.

He said a joint working group with members from both sides and international organisations would work on the repatriation process.

Bangladesh sought specific timeline from Myanmar on taking back its nationals in the meeting.

The foreign secretary, however, would not make any “hypothetical comment” on whether Myanmar would take back all of its nationals.

He said they had given the number of Myanmar nationals living in Bangladesh during the meeting.

Both sides also decided to form a joint commission to discuss bilateral issues at the foreign ministers level.

Secretary Haque said the Myanmar foreign minister would visit Bangladesh in January for the meeting.

He said Bangladesh also floated the idea and gave them the draft proposal of “a broader framework” between the two countries to discuss all issues.

There would be eight components under the ‘Framework Arrangement on Trust and Cooperation for Development’, he said.

These are strengthening the trust; security and cooperation dialogue; trade and connectivity; energy, environment and natural disaster; agriculture and rural development; education, health and culture; sub-regional cooperation; and cooperation in the Bay-of-Bengal.

“It’ll be a common platform to discuss the issues,” he said.

He said it would be similar to those that already Bangladesh had with India and America.

The meeting also agreed to release prisoners of both sides.

Official figures show 190 Bangladeshis are languishing in Myanmar jails, while the number is 110 of Myammar nationals in Bangladesh prisons.

The import of gas from the Shwe gas field in the Rakhine state has also been discussed.

A consortium of China, India, Myanmar, and South Korea’s Daewoo has developed the field and about 800 km of pipeline laid to take the gas to Kunming, in China.

Bangladesh has already got a positive response from China for the gas supply while officials said they would try to convince the others.

The foreign secretary said Myanmar also made it clear that they would have no problem in giving gas to Bangladesh provided there was surplus and other partners agreed.

He said the four-hour meeting also felt the home secretaries of the two countries must meet to discuss border issues.

“We all agreed to strengthen the relations,” he said.

Despite decades-old irritants in relations, both Bangladesh and Myanmar work actively at the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) grouping.

The talks on the proposed economic corridor under the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) formation were underway.

A new idea of forming a Bay community with Bangladesh, India and Myanmar, particularly after the resolution of the maritime boundary dispute, is also gaining ground.

Bangladesh is planning road connectivity between Chittagong and Kunming, capital of China’s Yunnan province, through Myanmar.

The foreign secretary said they had discussed the revival of a committee for this road link.

“We’ll also look into the possibility of one more route (of road connectivity),” he said.

They also decided to ratify the treaty signed in 1999 for border demarcation along the river Naf.

The Secretary said they felt it “extremely important” to have people-to-people contacts.

Myanmar is interested in offering tourism packages with Bangladesh and Kunming.

They renewed the cultural exchange agreement that expired in 2012 for the next five years.

The foreign secretary said Myanmar would send a team shortly to learn from Bangladesh’s agriculture, fishery and livestock sectors.

“Overall, I would say it’s a breakthrough in bilateral relations,” he said.

Aman Ullah
RB History
August 30, 2014

Following the 1935 Government of India Act’s reforms, the British granted Burma a larger autonomous status with the Government of Burma Act. However, with very few educated Burmese available to do the necessary tasks, most of the government affairs continued to be run by the Indian subjects. This attitude of the British government was resented by most Burmese who started the ‘Burma for Burmese only’ Campaign. The Burmese mob marched to the Muslim (Surti) Bazaar. While the Indian Police broke the violent demonstration, three monks were hurt. Burmese newspapers uses the pictures of Indian police attacking the Buddhist monks to further incite the spread of riots. Muslim properties: shops, houses and mosques were looted, destroyed and burned. They also assaulted and killed Muslims. It spread all over Burma and a recorded 113 mosques were damaged. The Burmese also resented the fact that all the anti-government and race riots were quelled by Indian troops and police forces. 

New waves of anti-Indian violence (more specifically anti-Muslim) were stirred up in July-August 1938 by the Burman in the country’s major cities while general strikes (workers, civil servants and students) paralyzed the economy of the province. Riots began in the capital of Rangoon and spread to almost all of southern and central Burma, including Mandalay. The rioting lasted for a month, officially causing the death of 204 people and leaving 1,000 injured. Buddhist monks took a leading role in organizing these riots. On September 2, 1938 another outbreak of anti-Indian rioting occurred in Rangoon. Although somewhat less severe and restricted to Rangoon only, the disturbance lasted for six days.

On September 22, 1938, the British Governor set up an inquiry committee to investigate the reasons behind the riots. The Riot Inquiry Committee found out that the real cause was the discontent in the Ba Maw government regarding the deterioration in socio-political and economic conditions of Burmans.

In March 1939 there were serious communal and agrarian troubles in Shwebo and Myaungmya. Later in the same month additional Military Police units had to be sent to Myaungmya because of Burmese attacks on Indians. Military Police units were also sent to patrol Shwebo and parts of Katha in the north because of attacks by Burmese on Muslim and Zerbadi (Indo-Burmese Muslim) villages. The troubles spread to Tharrawaddy district as well. By April, 1939, riots had spread to Bassein, Pyapon, Pegu, Lower Chindwin, Shwebo and Myaungmya. 

Then the Government of Burma issued a communiqué declaring its intention to examine the question of Indian immigration and announced the nature and scope of the agreed upon between the Government of India and Burma. As a result of correspondence with the Government of India has been reached on a Commission of Enquiry that was entrusted to a sole commission to whom one Burman and one Indian were attached as assessors. 

According the Government of Burma in a Resolution, dated the 15th July 1939, after consultation with the Government of India, appointed the Hon’ble Mr. J. Baxter to examine the question of Indian immigration into Burma, with the assistance of two assessors, U Tin Tut, I.C.S and Mr. Ratilal Desai, M.A,. Later Dr. H. Bernardelli, D. Phil., Head of Department of Economics, University College Rangoon was appointed Secretary to the Commission of Inquiry.

The Commission held eighteen meetings and interviewed over seventy-five witness. Memoranda on questions relating to the enquiry was received from representatives of the more important business firms, from employers of Labour, from a member of Government Departments, from Chambers of Commerce and others. A special enquiry on industrial labour was carried out in connexion with which information in the form of required was received from 1,392 industrial establishments.

The Report of the Commission, more commonly known as the Baxter Report, was completed in October 1940 and was published in Rangoon in 1941 by the Government Printing and Stationery Office. The Report made recommendations which were generally accepted by the Governments of Burma and India. The Agreement provided that the existing Immigration Order of 1937 would continue at least until 1 October 1945, while Indian immigration into Burma would be subject to the new rules contained in the Agreement with effect from 1 October 1941. 

The Government of Burma recognize that, “Indians who were born and bred in Burma, have made Burma their permanent home and regard their future and the future of their families as bound up with its interest are entitled to be regarded as having established a claim if they which to make it, to a Burma domicile and therefore on the benefit of section 144 of the Government of Burma Act, 1935.

About the Indian in Arakan, in chapter VII, paragraph 66 of the Baxter Report mentioned that, “Indian immigration into Arakan shows special characteristics, due to fundamentally to the existence of a Land frontier with India across which movement between Chittagong in the Province of Bengal and Akyab District of Arakan is, because of the natural configuration of this region, easy, quick and cheap. About 97 percent of Indian population in Arakan in 1931 was concentrated in Akyab District. In Arakan Division, total population was 1,008,538 and Indian population was 217, 801.

In Akyab District

Total population was 637, 580 
Indian population was 210, 990. 

The numbers of Indians in Akyab District born in and born outside Burma respectively as follows:

“Females constituted 48.5 per cent of the Indian born in 13.6 per cent of Indian born outside Burma. The great deficiency of females in “born out” population indicates the highly immigrant and unsettled nature of that part of the Indian population while on the other hand the approximation to sex equilibrium in the “born in” population is indicative of its settled character.” 

In paragraph 67, it shows the racial constitution of the Indian population in Akyab District as follows: -

“The Oriyas were practically born outside Burma and were practically all males. Only 677 of 3, 558 Hidustanis were born in Burma and 2, 955 of totals were males. 0f the Bengalis other than Chittagonians, 61 per cent were born in Burma. Of the “born in” the sex ratio was about four females to five males. Of the 5,990 Bengalis born outside Burma only 312 were females. Over 88 per cent of all Indians in Akyab District were of Chittagonians origin and 84 per cent of all Chittagonians were recorded as having been born in Burma. The sex distribution of Chittagonians born in Burma was in the proportion of 94 to 95 females to every 100 males while that Chittagonians born outside Burma was in the ratio of 22 to 23 females to every 100 males.” 

“Of the males earners engaged in agriculture, 9,442 were cultivating landowners, 12, 848 were cultivating tenants and 19, 436 were agricultural labours. It is of interest to note that only 5,570 of the agricultural labours were born outside Burma.” 

In the paragraph 11 of that report, commenting on the population in the Arakan Division, which showed an Indian population of 197,990 in 1911 against a total of 839,896, the report says, “For the reasons already given, the 1881 to 1911 Indian population figures are probably too high since they are believed to include a considerable number of Arakanese Muslims. In 1911, for example, the Hindu and Mohamedan populations in Arakan together amounted to 202,320 persons or only 4,330 more than the number who returned an Indian vernacular.” It is also important to note here that the percentage of Indian population in Arakan actually show a downward trend from 1911 to 1931 going down from 23.5% to 22.7% in 1921 to 21.6% in 1931.” 

In Chapter III, Paragraph 21, the report also provides some information about the Indians living – permanently or temporarily - inside Burma and Arakan when the censuses were taken.

There was a major influx of Indians moving into Burma after the entire country was colonized by the British government. As already noted, many of them came with the colonial administration. A comparison with the census data in 1891 also points to the fact that the 1881 census data for the Indian population born in Burma is unreliable. At the time of 1931 census nearly 77% of the Indians in Arakan were born in Burma. 

Indians born in India and born in Arakan was given as below: -

In the Paragraph 7 the Baxter report, it’s mentioned that, “There was an Arakanese Muslim community settled so long in Akyab District that it had for all intents and purposes to be regarded as an indigenous race. There were also a few Mohamedan Kamans in Arakan and a small but long established Muslim community around Moulemin which could not be regarded as Indian. There is no record of the numbers of any of these categories of Mohamedans in the 1872 census returns and consequently no allowance can be made for them by way of deduction from the Hindu and Mohamedan population figures.” 

In the table provided on Section 8, page 5 of the report it mentioned that, “for the censuses 1881 to 1911 inclusive are probably too high. There is reason to believe that some of the Arakanese Mohamedans returned an Indian vernacular as their mother tongue since although they used Burmese in writing, among themselves they commonly speak the language of their ancestors. The number of Arakanese Muslims who returned an Indian vernacular in 1021 was estimated in the 1931 census report at ten to fifteen thousand persons.” 

Thus, in sum according to the Baxter report, we can say that: - 
  • There was an Arakanese Muslim community settled so long in Akyab District that it had for all intents and purposes to be regarded as an indigenous race. There were also a few Mohamedan Kamans in Arakan and a small but long established Muslim community around Moulemin which could not be regarded as Indian. 
  • The 1881 to 1911 Indian population figures are probably too high since they are believed to include a considerable number of Arakanese Muslims and the figures are inaccurate. 
  • At the time of 1931 census nearly 77% of the Indians in Arakan were born in Burma. 
  • The Government of Burma recognize that Indians who were born and bred in Burma, have made Burma their permanent home and regard their future and the future of their families as bound up with its interest are entitled to be regarded as having established a claim if they which to make it, to a Burma domicile and therefore on the benefit of section 144 of the Government of Burma Act, 1935.

A census enumerator takes answers from a family in Rangoon, April 2014. (Photo: DVB)

August 30, 2014

Burma’s Ministry of Immigration and Population released provisional census data on Saturday, showing that the country has a population of 51.4 million people, almost ten million fewer than previous estimates.

The data indicates that of that number, 26,598,244 are women and 24,821,176 are men. A total of 50,213,067 people were enumerated, but the figures include an estimated 1.2 million people who were not counted in parts of Arakan, Kachin and Karen states.

According to a statement by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), about 1.09 million people were not counted in parts of Arakan State.

“Most of those who wanted to self-identify their ethnicity as Rohingya were not enumerated,” the statement read.

Rohingya Muslims are denied citizenship in Burma, as the government and much of the general population considers them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Burma’s national census — the country’s first population count in 30 years, conducted from 29 March to 10 April — was highly contentious partly because it solicited detailed ethnic information.

While questions about ethnicity hit a nerve with many people in Burma, which has struggled with ethnic insurgencies and repression of minorities for decades, it was particularly sensitive in Arakan State, where people who self-identify as Rohingya were instructed to call themselves either “Bengali” or “other”.

The survey was problematic in other parts of the country, as well; census workers were unable to go to several areas controlled by the Kachin Independence Army in northern Burma, where armed conflict has devastated communities since mid-2011.

Fighting in Kachin State and parts of northern Shan State have displaced approximately 120,000 people over the last three years, an unknown number of whom have fled to China. Such displacement has further complicated attempts to accurately depict the population.

In Karen State, southeastern Burma, the UNFPA said that the Karen National Union provided data that they collected independently for one area, but that it was checked against other similar territories and appeared consistent enough to base an estimate upon.

The UNFPA, which has provided technical, logistical and financial support for Burma’s census, said that data collection and analysis were conducted under the guidance of foreign experts and in accordance with international standards.

“The census is a valuable national resource,” said UNFPA representative Janet Jackson, speaking at a meeting in Rangoon on Saturday, 30 August. “For the first time in decades, the country will have data it needs to put roads, schools, health facilities and other essential infrastructure where people need them most.”

The UNFPA said that more detailed information will be available in in May 2015, and that it is not uncommon for the fully analysed data to vary slightly from preliminary results.

Photo: Anurup Kanti Das

By Ananta Yusuf
August 29, 2014

This week the Star interviews a Rohingya refugee who shares his experience of surviving the atrocities perpetrated by the Myanmarese (Burmese) junta

It was a cloudy night of September 15, 2012. Amidst an undulating sea of harvest and blades of tall grass, Alauddin Miah (pseudonym), a rich farmer, took shelter with his extended family. The thunder of clouds and the scream of the wounded, innocent people slowly faded away, but that frightening image remained with him as he says, “It was the third day, we were staying on the beel (wetland used as a paddy field). I can still hear the scream of the wounded. The nearby canal was flooded with blood and corpses.” In fear of ethnic atrocities, Udong, which is 12 km south to Mungdow town of Myanmar, was nearly abandoned. People left behind everything that they had at home in search of a safe place. Like Alauddin, many people took shelter in the wet lands of the beel, they thought it to be a safe hideout. It proved wrong later. 

Alauddin, a middle aged man, wearing a Panjabi, tupi and lungi, still lives with his traumatic memory. He says that these features and his language make him more vulnerable because the dialect is quite similar to Chittagonian. And he believes that it is one of the reasons that Rohingya community was excluded from their citizenship right. 

At the beginning of our conversation he seems happy. But as the conversation goes on and he recollects his chilling experience, his voice becomes louder and wet with grief.

Photo: Anurup Kanti Das

He says that although the tension has always been there in the Rakhain State, a few years ago the situation was quite congenial for living and running business. For that reason, in 2007, he bought some land for cultivation. However, he lost most of it including cultivable lands during the last atrocities in 2012 that took many lives. He says, “My sons were also farmers, and they helped to cultivate my land which I was forced to leave behind. I have 20 kanis of farming land. I have also a garden of shupari, which is 4 kanis. Three years ago I built a three-storied building. Only my daughter-in-law and my wife decided to stay back. We tried to convince them to flee Myanmar but they didn't come with us. The Mogs (Burmese) grabbed all our land and left us nothing to survive on.” 

During last year's ethnic cleansing, the Rohingyas of Udong stayed home during the day but after the dusk, they went to the nearby hideouts and stayed there for the whole night. He recalls, “When the sun rose, one of my sons would check to see whether it was safe to return home. The adults would stay awake the whole night. My family is quite big. So we took care of the children but it was not an easy place to survive in.”

Photo: Anurup Kanti Das

His family consisting of 13 members would lie down on the ground because if the Mogs saw any head above the grass they would shoot at sight. Even if a mosquito bit, they could not hit it with hands, and had to bear the sting, as the resulting sounds could wreak havoc on them. A young boy, Harun, died in a similar situation. After killing him, they threw his body in the river. 

Photo: Anurup Kanti Das

He seems sad while expressing his grievances that still remain fresh in his memory, “I can still recall how two pious men of our village were killed in the village mosque. We were not permitted to visit the mosque, and if the Mogs saw anyone praying in the mosque, they would just shoot at them. A moulvi (priest) was killed while doing his ruku. I was present in the mosque when they killed those pious men, and I managed to flee from the scene. Many others were injured in the assault that day. A Mog tried to stab me with a dagger; I still carry a wound in my thigh. We were lucky to escape.”

From that day onwards, they could not return home and had starved for a week, and when the situation got a little better, they went back to collect some dry food and found that the whole village was looted by the Mogs. He says, “We found some food from our stock. We passed three months surviving on that, and shared it with our neighbours.”

After the recent ethnic violence erupted in September 2012, many Rohingyas were sent to refugee camps all around the state, with strict restrictions placed on their rights to travel, to continue higher education and even on their right to marry. So the young girls were sent to Bangladesh for marriage. In 2013, Alauddin sent his eldest son and one of his daughters to Bangladesh, “It is the only possible way to arrange marriage. They put restriction on every sphere of our lives. And for that reason we sent our girls to Bangladesh to survive.”

He says initially the Muslims tried to resist the attacks. But the Rohingya Muslim leaders warned them to remain silent because they feared that any retaliation by Muslims would lead to an even more dangerous situation. The leaders advised, “Let them do whatever they want to. Just try to be safe. Don't try to fight back. We are not in a situation to fight the Mogs or the Burmese army.” But some of the youths didn't pay heed to the advice, as they couldn't tolerate the murders and the looting any longer. He explains, “But they could not fight them. Is it really possible to fight against machine guns with bamboo sticks? In all these years, I've learnt that there is no other option for Rohingyas but to be killed, either by Mogs or by Bengalis.”

According to Alauddin, he had no other options but to cross the border, as his family was brutally tortured and one of his younger brothers was kidnapped. He says, “If we find the assurance of our own identity in the census as a Rohingya, the return of our grabbed land, and of course security, we are more than willing to leave.” He insists that he wants to go back because, “No one wants to die in a foreign land.”

Gen. Maung Maung Ohn attends the opening ceremony of a high school in Myawaddy, Karen State, as deputy minister for border affairs in 2013. (Photo: Kyaw Kha / The Irrawaddy)

By Nyein Nyein
August 29, 2014

The Arakan State government has sought to dispel what it says were erroneous reports that it had returned a surplus 13 billion kyats (US$13 million) from the state budget to Burma’s central government.

During a meeting on Wednesday, the state’s Chief Minister Maung Maung Ohn told Arakanese civil society groups, town elders and the media that those reports were based on a misunderstanding of state- versus Union-level appropriations in Burma’s second-poorest state.

Aung Mra Kyaw, an Arakan State lawmaker, said an Aug. 23 report from the state’s budget department listed 13 billion kyats out of 109 billion kyats allocated for the 2013-14 fiscal year’s total budget as “extra,” with the state revenue minister inaptly referring to the funds as having been “returned” to the Union government.

The report sparked widespread criticism in the impoverished state this week, apparently fueled by the inability of the Arakan revenue minister to explain the origins of the “extra” money when pressed by lawmakers.

“But on Wednesday, the director of budget/expenses came [to the state parliament] to explain about how it worked, after the whole country had heard about the situation,” Aung Mra Kyaw told The Irrawaddy.

The Arakan government representative noted on Wednesday that the initial fiscal report had led to confusion, and submitted an amended budget that made clear the money had not been “returned.”

Aung Mra Kyaw said lawmakers were told that while the last fiscal year’s total budget was 109 billion, Arakan ministries and departments were only allocated 96 billion. The “extra” 13 million kyats referred to projects in Arakan State that were under the jurisdiction of the Naypyidaw government.

“The chief minister said the money has still been used for Arakan State projects, under the control of the Union [government],” according to Than Htun, an Arakanese town elder in Sittwe who attended the meeting with the chief minister.

Than Htun said those in attendance on Wednesday were told that the state government was limited by law in the scale of projects it could pursue, citing as an example a prohibition against constructing bridges any longer than 150 feet. Larger projects are the purview of the Union-level government, it was explained.

“This year’s budget [198 billion kyats] is more than last year,” said Aung Mra Kyaw. “We do not want such confusion in the next financial report. So the ministries and the department heads in Arakan State should pay attention to their works.”

Since becoming chief minister on July 2, the former general Maung Maung Ohn has met frequently with different groups of politicians, lawmakers and civil society groups to update them on his government’s initiatives.

Maung Maung Ohn on Wednesday said Arakan State had made progress more than two years after communal violence tore through the state, but added that his government was taking precautions to ensure continued stability, according to Than Htay.

Than Htay said the public was updated on a “citizenship scrutiny” pilot project underway in the state’s Myebon Township, an effort to resolve the controversial question of citizenship for Burma’s stateless Rohingya Muslims.

The pilot began in June and is based on Burma’s 1982 Citizenship Law. In order to be eligible for citizenship, state officials are requiring Rohingya Muslims to identify themselves as “Bengali,” the government’s term for the group, which implies that they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

It appears the Muslims—many of whom trace their Burma roots back generations and prefer to self-identify as Rohingya—will not have the chief minister’s blessing if they should choose not to cooperate in the citizenship scrutiny process.

“If the Muslims there continue to call themselves ‘Rohingya,’ there is nothing more to talk about,” Maung Maung Ohn was quoted as saying on Wednesday. “But if they perceive themselves as Bengalis, as they are, and seek citizenship, they could be considered under the Citizenship Law. … It will only lead to bad impacts if they stay outside the law.”

During Wednesday’s meeting, Maung Maung Ohn also reassured attendees that any resettlement program for displaced Muslims in Arakan State would not proceed without consultation with local Arakanese Buddhists.

Two bouts of violence between Buddhists and Muslims in 2012 forced about 140,000 people from their homes in Arakan State. Most of the victims were Rohingya who have lived in squalid camps, primarily on the outskirts of the state capital Sittwe, ever since.

August 29, 2014

Myanmar's first census in more than 30 years has revealed that the country has 9 million fewer people than it thought.

The country's last national survey was in 1983 and until now the government had estimated that the total population was about 60 million.

But figures released on Friday from a census conducted in March and April says the population is just 51 million.

The sensitive count caused tension after officials banned some people from choosing their own ethnicity.


State-run television announced the preliminary results and said a complete set of results would be released next year, which will include data on the country's ethnic groups and religions.

Jonah Fisher, the BBC's Myanmar correspondent, says the tally went smoothly, except in some areas of the western state of Rakhine.

An estimated 800,000 members of a long-persecuted Muslim minority were denied the right to identify themselves as Rohingya, our correspondent says.

The United Nations, which helped Myanmar, also known as Burma, with the survey, had called for all Burmese to be allowed to choose their own ethnicity, but officials refused.

The government insists the Muslim Rohingya are illegal migrants from Bangladesh and calls them Bengalis.

Some isolated parts of northern Kachin state were not counted during the census because they are controlled by ethnic rebels.

August 28, 2014

Washington: US President Barack Obama will visit China, Burma and Australia in November as part of his administration's Asia Pacific re-balance strategy to attend key regional summits and meet G-20 leaders, a senior US official said.

In Beijing, Obama will attend the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Summit on November 10 and 11, for which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also been invited by the Chinese President.

Obama would extend his stay in Beijing for a day on November 12 before travelling to Burma to attend the East Asia Summit. From Burma, the US President would head to Brisbane in Australia for the G-20 summit on November 15 and 16 which would also be attended by Modi.

Robert Wang, Senior Official for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) told foreign journalists that November Summit in Beijing would focus on trade, economy and growth. "The first pillar is the trade and investment pillar, and then the second one is what the Chinese call the innovation, reform, and growth pillar. But in general, those are the set of issues that are related to how we sustain economic growth in the region," he said on Wednesday, adding that the third pillar is the connectivity pillar.

"Essentially, there we have a whole set of issues related to trying to increase the flow of people and goods throughout the APEC economy, so including cross-border education, physical infrastructure, regulatory convergence, things of that nature," he said.

August 27, 2014

Bangladesh will try to address a trust deficit with Myanmar in the upcoming foreign office consultations, the foreign minister has said.

AH Mahmood Ali on Tuesday said a Myanmar delegation led by its Deputy Foreign Minister U Thant Kyaw would join the consultation on Aug 31 in Dhaka.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told bilateral issues including border management and Rohingya refugee would be discussed.

Tensions in Myanmar's Rakhine province that forces thousands of Muslim Rohingyas to flee into Bangladesh is the main irritant of Dhaka-Naypyidaw relations.

Myanmar does not acknowledge them as its citizens.

However, the foreign minister on Tuesday at a discussion on ‘blue economy’ said they were trying to remove thaws in relations.

“It’s a continuous process,” he said, adding that Myanmar is an “important partner” of Bangladesh in the international collaboration.

He cited the regional grouping BIMSTEC – the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation – which has both Bangladesh and Myanmar as members.

The minister said talks on the proposed economic corridor under the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) were underway.

“We are planning railway links from Chittagong to Kunming through Myanmar,” he said.

Different stakeholders at the Tuesday meeting also suggested that the government form “a partnership alliance” with India and Myanmar for exploiting marine resources in the Bay of Bengal, particularly after the settlement of maritime boundary dispute.

The Foreign Office Consultations was rescheduled from June 18.

Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul haque earlier said Naypyidaw responded positively to Dhaka’s proposal to have “security dialogue” to discuss “the problems in the bordering area”.

An official who has knowledge of the consultation said the proposal would be discussed in the meeting.

Once agreed, both sides would sit for talks at a later date on any issues, the official said.

The meeting would discuss holding regular meetings between the chiefs of the two border guards like those between BGB and India’s BSF.

They will also discuss building regular communication mechanism with the civil administrations of the border districts on both sides.

Talks on renewing a cultural exchange agreement which expired two years ago will take place apart from a draft agreement on protection and promotion of investments.

“Basically we are ready to do everything to address trust deficit and enhance co-operation engagements,” the official said.

He said Bangladesh had already addressed Myanmar’s security concerns.

The border guards conducted raids on locations that Myanmar suspected to be hideouts of its rebels.

Myanmar provided the government a list of the locations upon Bangladesh’s request.

Bangladesh also conveyed its “zero tolerance” against terrorism and extremism for regional as well as international security.

A seven-member delegation is expected to join the consultation meeting, according to the foreign ministry.

President Barack Obama meets with President Thein Sein of Burma. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

By Kanbawza Win
Eurasia Review
August 27, 2014

President’s Obama’s foreign policy struggles in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Palestine and most of the Middle East, not to mention Ukraine and the Pacific rim nations is a cause for “a palpable sense of disappointment on the world stage as well.”1

Having failed elsewhere in the world, Obama finds his foreign policy assailed by critics, and his legacy on the global stage in doubt. 2 Details of Secretary of State John Kerry’s talks with both Thein Sein and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, were kept hush even though Kerry offered a slightly more critical assessment in remarks at the East-West Center in Honolulu following his trip to Burma, with the remark that in the end the leadership will have to make the critical choices.3

Next year’s elections will be a key indicator of how Burma wants to move forward, with many an assessment of the reform process hinging on the outcome “all in” on a questionable hand? 4 Among those who will be keenly watching the election returns will be no doubt President Barack Obama, as his stakes are the highest in its foreign policy barometer, as underneath all the rhetoric of democracy, human rights, and free and fair elections, land grabbing, crony economy there is major US commercial and strategic interest in resource-rich country with a growing energetic young population vis-a-vis China.

American businesses are coming to Burma in what looks like an increasingly unstoppable tide, and to facilitate investment, most of the blacklisted tycoons will be whitewash as Secretary of State Kerry demonstrated by putting up in a blacklisted tycoon’s hotel.5 It is also known that a senior State Department officials met privately with some of these tycoons, known by their acronym as SDNs (Specially Designated Nationals) telling them to put forward a request to have their names cleared.6 At least in name they would have to sever ties with the military, avoid involvement in land seizures and respect civilian rule. And they will be removed from the blacklist, having been sufficiently rehabilitated in the eyes of US officials at the Treasury Department. But whether they would be posthumously be granted to the two gentlemen of Rangoon (Khun Sa and Lo Hse Han) is still to be seen. However, Canada has rolled out the red carpet welcome to Lo Hse Han’s son Stephen Lo. Such is the North-American standard of “Business always overrules the conscience”, the established arsenal of democracy.

But it is a fact that 58 percent of Americans disapprove of his foreign policy, according to a June poll, claiming credit for the move toward democracy, such as it is, won’t sit well with the skeptics who assert that reforms remain incomplete and the military and its former generals are still calling the shots in a country that is far from a success story. Many in the dissident’s circles have warned that there should be a Plan B.7

Indeed, many Burmese were counting on the United States to inject some life into a reform program increasingly viewed as stalled. Whatever lingering moral authority remaining in the administration of Barack Obama may fell to dust. In a country like Burma; one is immediately struck by the staggering glibness that tore a great many people to pieces, among them many innocents, particularly the non Myanmar ethnic nationalities. As bad as the “some folks” gambit was, this, this right here, is where the moral authority of the American president and his administration became a dumpster fire.

The moral failure on Burma in this is so vast as to be bottomless. President Obama isn’t going to get any static from them on the issue; which the Myanmar had inflicted on their enemies.

President Obama has done nothing to bring those responsible to justice surely he knows that former Generals now in mufti, have never admitted their mistakes, nor asked for forgiveness, let alone punishing them, this explicitly means that they will repeat the same atrocities, as they had done for more than half a century, if things doesn’t go their way. Now by lining up with and defending these Generals, he has added his name to the roll call of shame that continues to dishonor the American nation whose hall marks is democracy and human rights. The cruel and despicable a practice which the Burmese Junta has imposed on its own people is not yet lost and it acted that these people are the “real patriots.” “The administration can do more on this issue. As we tie a nice bow on what we call a success story, we need to make sure we aren’t a cheap date when it comes to human rights.” said representative, Jim McGovern of Worcester.8 And warned conditions in Burma had taken “a sharp turn for the worse” and urged more restrictive measures, such as targeted sanctions. More than 70 lawmakers signed on, including all House members from Massachusetts. The Worcester congressman pushed a separate resolution through the House in May that highlighted the Rohingya’s plight, a move he labeled a “friendly reminder” for the White House.

Unblemished it is no more. The legalised assault on Unity Journal’s brave journalists was just like the bad old days. Courageous journalism who had known all the time that the Tatmadaw has used chemical weapons against the ethnic freedom fighters was made bare. Now in Burma suddenly became very much harder to report the truth because as I have often described that the corner stone of the Tatmadaw was “To tell lies against the very concept of truth.” is their unwritten rule in the Tatmadaw. Now that the sanctions are all gone but the job of reform is only half done?9 In the past three months, a coalition of opposition forces has been holding rallies to demand radical reform of the 2008 Nargis Constitution, designed to cut back the dominating role of the military – they hold 25 per cent of parliamentary seats, and remove the arbitrary rule that prevents Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from running for president.10 A petition demanding these changes has gathered five million signatures.11

But Thein Sein and his colleagues have shown no interest whatsoever in even discussing them and yet President Obama is said to be considering a second visit later in the year to this lonely outpost of presidential achievement.

As the United States insists that military engagement with Burma is crucial to promote political reforms, human rights activists and ethnic nationalities are raising who will take responsibility if US assistance to Burma’s armed forces is used to oppress, rather than help, the Burmese people? The ethnic nationalities combined together which formed the majority of the population has been victims of brutal military campaigns and have sent a letter to the US Consulate in Thailand’s Chiang Mai last month, saying they believed US military engagement in the country was premature. “We don’t even know what will happen in 2015. We don’t know whether the election will be free and fair. Now, proportional representation (PR) is being debated and we don’t know how things will develop,”12 said Khun Htun Oo and there is every possibility that the American technologies will be used for ethnic cleansing as they have done in the past. The classic example is the Tatmadaw has signed bilateral ceasefires with most ethnic armed groups since 2012, but over the past three years clashes in northern Burma have left more than 100,000 people displaced. Cherry Zahau, an ethnic Chin human rights activist accused the US that it is due to the geopolitical importance of Burma for US national security and that the Tatmadaw has continuously been a hindrance to reforms by waging battles “It is ridiculous that the US is engaging with the Burmese military to encourage reforms,”13 she said.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is also very disappointed with US policy in Burma, especially its policy of military-to-military engagement.14 Not only the United States, but also the United Kingdom and Australia appear convinced that military engagement is crucial in this time of political reform. They have all already sent military leaders to meet with top-brass officials from the Tatmadaw, Obviously, the Obama administration and other Western countries are eager to work with Burma’s quasi-military government (if they can work with Assad of Syria in face of ISIS threat Burma is a small fry). After half a century of military dictatorship, their rationale is that they want to encourage political reforms and more equitable development for the country’s people. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other dissident leaders clearly do not oppose these goals, or the diplomatic engagement that is likely necessary to achieve them. But whether the international community should go so far as to engage with Burma’s military is a major question, especially lately, when it increasingly appears that the government’s political reforms have stalled.

In the past, when Suu Kyi said something, world leaders listened. Their policy reflected well on her words.15 But now, the situation is different. It is sad to witness that these days, Washington and other Western governments seem to need Thein Sein more, while Suu Kyi is becoming a mere symbol for the international community. Foreign diplomats aren’t missing meetings with the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, but their meetings are more and more appearing as courtesy calls. It is important to listen to both sides. Burmese officials are skilled manipulators, that genuine democracy is not on their agenda, and that the military here still enjoys economic and political privileges. If the United States and others in the international community do not pay attention to these warnings—if they continue to court the president and the armed forces—sooner or later they will witness a proxy hot war.

It’s a pity that Obama and his experts did not know what is the crux of the Burmese problem? The Myanmar race which control the imperial Tatmadaw wanted to colonise all the non-Myanmar ethnic nationalities and that is the sole reason of the struggle as every ethnic race in Burma is fighting against the Myanmar dominated central government (note there is no horizontal struggle between the ethnic like in former Yugoslavia). A vertical struggle indicates that all these want some sort of genuine federalism. More than half a century since 1962, the Myanmar military dominated central government refused to grant them and now because of the unsurmountable pressure from China it has no choice but to go along with the Western democratic standards and began to negotiate grudgingly with the ethnic nationalities. The successful “Divide and Rule” policy of the Burmese government was able to coax the Southern Alliance composed of Karen, the Chin, the Mon, the Karenni and the Southern Shan and the All Burma Student Democratic Front to a cease fire after bribing their leaders outright and giving them some autonomy and economic incentives, however, the Northern Alliance composed mainly of Kachin, WA, the Palong (Tang), the Nagas, the Northern Shan and perhaps the Arakanese want genuine federalism and once it is clear that the Myanmar will not grant them may form their North Federal Military Alliance to resist the pressure. What proof is more wanted when the Central Government has waged an all-out war against the Kachin?

It is also a fact that Northern alliance have to rely on the narco-production to finance their war efforts and Burma ranks only second to Afghanistan in narco-production.16 So with the active support of the US, (now that there is a military cooperation between the two countries of USA and Burma) it may launch an all-out war against the Northern Alliance as the imperial Tatmadaw has done to the Kachin. But the WA traditional supporters are the Chinese who has already given them some sophisticated weapons including helicopters gunships. Hence, there is every possibility that President’s Obama’s foreign policy on Burma will lead to a proxy hot war in the impending Cold War with China just like Korea. In an address at West Point in May, President Obama claimed, “We’re now supporting reform and badly needed national reconciliation through assistance and investment through coaxing and, at times, public criticism. And progress there could be reversed, but if Burma succeeds, we will have gained a new partner without having fired a shot.”

Mr. President, the ethnic nationalities of Burma desire genuine federalism within the Union of Burma and does not want to be a slave in an ivory tower of development but rather be a free man staying in a small hut. We are not asking development or even democracy what we want is to live a free men and die a free men even though we may be poor and wretched. Neither your development scheme prevails or democracy establish as the narco production will not lack until and unless it is tackle at the source of it by listening to the local leaders and giving them a better choice. It’s time to rethink you foreign policy objectives in Burma.

1. The New York Times 15-8-2014
2. Zaw: Aung. On Obama’s Foreign Policy Report Card, Burma Gets a Pass The Irrawaddy 19-8-2014
3. Secretary’s Remarks: U.S. Vision for Asia-Pacific Engagement 13-8-2014 U.S. Press Release by State Dept
4. Zaw: Aung. On Obama’s Foreign Policy Report Card, Burma Gets a Pass The Irrawaddy 19-8-2014
5. John Kerry Stayed at US-Blacklisted Tycoon’s Hotel owner Zaw Zaw, one of Burma’s youngest and best-connected tycoons. A P News 12-8-2014
6. Zaw: Aung. On Obama’s Foreign Policy Report Card, Burma Gets a Pass The Irrawaddy 19-8-2014
7. Ibid
8. Meyers; Jessica, John Kerry urged to take harder line on rights issues in Burma Boston Globe 7-8-2014
9. Popham;Peter, President jails brave journalists and Burma heads back to the bad old days The Independent8-8-2-14
10. Popham;Peter, President jails brave journalists and Burma heads back to the bad old days The Independent8-8-2-14
11. Petition to amend constitution attracts 5 million signatures Mizzima News 7-8-2014
12. Naing Zaw; Htet, Ethnic Minorities Question US-Burma Military Ties The Irrawaddy 21-8-2014
13. Ibid
14. Moe; Kyaw Zwa, Has the United States Forgotten Suu Kyi? The Irrawaddy 21-8-2014
15. Ibid
16. According to the US Bureau of International Narcotic and Law Enforcement Affairs, 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Burma Country Report of 2014:

United Nations special envoy to Myanmar Vijay Nambiar (right) talks with residents of an IDP camp at Myae Pone Township in Rakhine State on August 24. Mr Nambiar visited Rakhine from August 23 to 25. Photo: Nyunt Win/EPA

By Kay Zue
August 27, 2014

Rakhine Chief Minister U Maung Maung Ohn has told the state's Emergency Coordination Centre that a plan to resettle about 170,000 people living in camps for the internally displaced has been delayed, ECC member U Than Tun told Mizzima on August 27.

U Maung Maung Ohn advised the ECC of the decision at about 6pm the previous day, said U Than Tun.

The State Minister for Transport and Construction, U Hla Han, had announced earlier on August 26 that the Rakhine government would resettle the IDPs in October as part of the Rakhine Action Plan unveiled on July 23.

Speaking on August 26, U Than Tun criticised the state government for not discussing the plan in advance with the ECC, which was appointed by the Union government to oversee the activities of humanitarian organisations in Rakhine after Medicins Sans Frontieres was expelled from the state in February.

IDP camps in the state capital, Sittway, and nine other cities and towns are sheltering more than 140,000 Muslims and more than 30,000 ethnic Rakhine.

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi speaking in Yangon, Myanmar, Aug. 25, 2014. She is to meet with Hanegbi during his visit.. (Photo: AP)

By Haaretz
August 27, 2014

Moshe Dayan made last official visit as foreign minister in 1979; developing economy attracting Israeli business entrepreneurs.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tzachi Hanegbi, is due to arrive in Myanmar Wednesday, making Israel's first official visit to the Southeast Asian country in 35 years.

Moshe Dayan, when he was foreign minister, was the last Israeli to pay an official visit to Myanmar when he was there in 1979.

"Myanmar has a friendly and long standing relationship with Israel, beginning in the 1950’s, when Burma’s Prime Minister, U Nu, visited Israel (1959) and Israel’s David Ben Gurion reciprocated (1961)," the Israeli Foreign Ministry's Jerusalem Spokesperson's Bureau announced.

The bureau stated that Myanmar's intensive development of its economy makes it "an attractive destination for investors, including companies and businessmen from Israel."

Hanegbi is scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Wanna Maung Lwin, a former Myanmar Ambassador to Israel, and political personalities, including Nobel Peace Laureate and leader of the opposition, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi. The official visit lasts through Friday.

The two countries are slated to sign a framework cooperation agreement in culture and sport, the bureau added.

Rohingya Muslims pass time near their shelter at a refugee camp outside Sittwe, on June 4, 2014. Over 140,000 people, mostly Rohingya, have been living in sprawling, squalid displacement camps in Rakhine following two bouts of violence in 2012. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

By Thin Lei Win
August 27, 2014

There was a time when ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and stateless Rohingya Muslims in western Myanmar lived and worked together. They were once neighbours, albeit uneasy ones, sharing a tense but relatively stable existence.

Then in June 2012, religious clashes between the two groups drove them apart and forced 140,000 people - mostly Rohingya - from their homes.

When I first met the displaced Rohingya in May 2013 in makeshift camps outside the Rakhine capital Sittwe, I thought their displacement would be temporary, the conflict somehow eventually resolved. But when I went again two months ago, I was struck by how these camps – home to two-thirds of those displaced by the violence – had started to look like permanent segregated ghettos.

Houses, clinics and schools were larger, sturdier. There were newly-opened shops and pharmacies, where the displaced – whose movements are tightly restricted and who have lost all property and any means for making a living – sold their aid rations to buy medicines and other goods.

There is little sign of reconciliation or effort to bring the two communities together again: More than two years after they were driven out, Muslims who used to live and work in Sittwe are still barred from entering the city, and thousands of Rohingya may spend the rest of their lives in prison-like displacement camps, with no hope of going home and a perilous voyage by sea as the only way out.

“We're concerned that segregation is becoming permanent and not enough is being done to change it, let alone protect the fundamental rights of the displaced,” said Matthew Smith, executive director of Fortify Rights, a group that monitors Rohingya issues.

“Members of government at all levels still feel as though the Rohingya don't belong in the country, and that's part of the reason why the Rohingya remain segregated in ghettos.”


Further deteriorating the situation, Rakhine leaders have proposed a plan that would make the segregation permanent - on paper - and force all undocumented Rohingya to live in detention camps.

Local leaders are organising a public meeting this week to drum up support for the plan, which would apply to Rohingya who were driven from Sittwe into displacement camps, as well as those who were not forced from their homes and still live in nearby villages, according to Than Tun, a Sittwe resident and member of the government’s Emergency Coordination Committee set up to scrutinise humanitarian aid workers.

This would basically mean detention for all Rohingya - a minority group of around 1.33 million who are stateless despite living in Myanmar for generations. Critics say Myanmar’s 1982 Citizenship Law makes it almost impossible for them to become citizens.

As Rakhine leaders push the segregation plan, the government is conducting a “verification process” to determine the citizenship status of Rohingya, but this is more or less a pointless exercise that forces Rohingya to identify themselves as Bengalis – a label that many Rohingya reject because it amounts to an admission that they are illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.


In another sign I spotted of the Rohingya settling in for the long haul at the displacement camps, there were small, dusty shops selling snacks and plastic bags of milk powder, pharmacies with shelves full of medicines with faded labels, mobile phone charging stations and people selling fresh fruit, vegetables and fish.

Some analysts see optimism in such commerce because it points to the resumption of small-scale trade between the Rohingya and the Rakhines, who are the main source of goods from the outside world.

Others say it underscores the irreconcilable differences that may separate them forever.

“As long as Rakhine extremists continue to monitor and target anyone in their community who reaches out to the Rohingya, it’s going to be hard to see how reconciliation can get started,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch.

In the meantime, their lives are precarious.

While at The Chaung camp outside Sittwe in June, I met Sayed Hussain, who used to work as manual labourer in Sittwe market and now lives with his wife and four children in a displacement camp outside town. Their mud-floored hut was a patchwork of walls made of sodden cardboard and old rice sacks, and a roof of ragged plastic and thatch.

“My wife has kidney problems and my children have coughs and diarrhea, but we have no money to go to the hospital,” 60-year-old Hussain told me.

As the early monsoon drizzle turned into a downpour, I wondered if his ramshackle shelter – and for that matter, his family – would survive the most ferocious rains of the monsoon season.

(Additional reporting by Min Zayar Oo and Paul Mooney; editing by Alisa Tang)

By Krista R. Burdine
August 27, 2014


Ostensibly as a result of the amount of violence that continually erupts during discussions of what to do about the Rohingya minority living in Myanmar, the government has strongly discouraged foreign officials from any mention of the group by its self-chosen name for the Muslim minority. This effectively represses news from spreading about the situation of this people group who have no citizenship, with many currently living in squalid refugee camps without access to basic human needs such as water, food, and shelter and sanitation.

The Rohingya are a group of people who practice Islam and are named after the Indo-European language they speak.

Most recently, the situations facing the Rohingya have only worsened. Than Tun is a member of Myanmar’s Emergency Coordination Committee and a Buddhist leader in the state of Arakan will be proposing a plan that will imprison the Rohingya in concentration camps. The nation regards the group, including the newborn children, as illegal immigrants, and the proposal is a citizenship verification process designed to detain the minorities indefinitely.

About two years ago, the primarily Buddhist natives of Myanmar began to push 1.3 million Rohingya Muslims from their homes throughout the country, and consolidate them into the country’s western state of Rakhine. About one in 10 of them live in camps without clean water or other aid while the rest are effectively trapped in small towns without fresh water or access to food supplies and cut off from national services such as health care and education. This only worsens the situation in what was already the poorest part of the country with almost 25% child malnutrition rates before the push began.

Although the Burmese government recognizes 135 minority groups living within the country, the Rohingya group is not formally considered one of them because they were originally a group of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Now after decades of simmering hostility, a mob mentality seems to have seized the nation to drive out the group and exterminate them.

The UN generally advocates human rights around the globe, and the Rohingya group seems a prime candidate for protection. Instead, the UN appears to be steppinggingerly in formal appearances, so as not to offend the government. Likewise, the US government has spoken affirmatively of the rights of the Rohingya in the past, with President Obama urging university students to care for the dignity of this group as innocent people instead of visiting violence upon them. But that was two years ago, before the current repression became so terrible.

So how can the UN and the US bring aid to the Rohingya now? They don’t appear to be working very effectively as they are abiding by the restriction on even mentioning the group by name. In his recent visit, John Kerry managed to avoid mention of the group by name, although he did discuss the situation in the Rakhine province. Unfortunately, this in a way affords the Burmese government victory in its quest to minimize the group before a global audience.

But no doubt this is to avoid inflaming a difficult situation. The official practice of the US is to avoid using descriptive terms that would offend either side. To be fair, US representatives working with the government there also avoided referring to the group as “Bengali,” the government’s preferred name for them. It seems likely that the delicacy of the situation calls for proceeding with care, so that human rights advocates are given the greatest opportunity to bring aid when the door finally opens to do so.

Unfortunately, diplomacy often proceeds with painful slowness under excruciating circumstances. To those who advocate for and support US foreign aid to victims of religious oppression, the current state of US involvement in supporting this people group seems weak and utterly inadequate. Playing a petty name game set by a government on the edge of committing genocide appears more like support for the oppressor than careful diplomacy

Regardless of their name, a group defined by their religion as much as race endures severe oppression in the westernmost state of Myanmar. As human beings, they deserve to partake in basic human rights just as much as any other person on the planet. In the words of President Barack Obama, “The Rohingya hold within themselves the same dignity as you do, and I do.”


Rohingya Exodus