Latest Highlight



August 30, 2015

Police will get five days to question three persons held from Rangamati over the Aug 26 shootout between a border guard patrol and Myanmar separatists in Bandarban.

Ong Owong Rakhain, who the police claim to be an accomplice of the separatist 'Arakan Army', was arrested the same night from a house at Rangamati’s Rajsthali Upazila.

On Aug 28, the caretaker of the house Mongsoang Marma and the former caretaker Chosui Ong Marma were arrested.

On Sunday, police produced them in a Rangamati court and sought ten days to question them. The court granted five days.

On Wednesday morning, a patrol boat of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) came under attack by guerrillas of the ‘Arakan Army’.

The separatists moved back into Myanmar territory after five hours of joint operations by the army and BGB.

Rohingya children collect sticks to sell as firewood in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. The Muslim minority group has become a target of violent attacks by Buddhists and an ethnic cleansing campaign. (Gemunu Amarasinghe / Associated Press)

By Paul Richter
August 30, 2015

The State Department's second-ranking diplomat flew to Myanmar in May to urge the country's leaders not to adopt a tough "population-control" law apparently aimed at halting growth of persecuted ethnic minorities.

President Thein Sein listened politely to Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken. And hours after Blinken departed Yangon, he signed the bill into law.

Myanmar's leaders have repeatedly rebuffed U.S. appeals this year despite a public commitment to reform that led the White House to restore full diplomatic relations in 2012, and to drop most sanctions on the authoritarian government.

Administration officials consider the diplomatic opening to the long-isolated nation, also known as Burma, a marquee achievement in President Obama's first term. In her presidential race, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to portray the thaw as one of her top diplomatic accomplishments.

But three years later, progress is coming slowly in some areas and there is clear backsliding in others. Critics say the administration was hasty in chalking Myanmar, a resource-rich country wedged between India, China and Thailand, on the win list.

"The administration certainly declared victory too soon," said Phil Robertson, deputy director for Asia at Human Rights Watch.

After decades with one of the worst human rights records in the world, the military-dominated leadership in Napyidaw, the capital, eased its grip in 2011, freeing 1,300 political prisoners, allowing the opposition more seats in the parliament and permitting more free speech.

But the reforms preceded another crackdown. In recent months, Thein Sein's government has blocked lawmakers' attempts to liberalize the constitution, forced a top reformer from leadership of the ruling party and stepped up arrests of opponents and journalists. Analysts worry that the military will reassert control before scheduled parliamentary elections in November.

Critics also cite the harsh treatment of the Rohingya, a Muslim minority group of 1 million that's become a target of violent attacks by Buddhists and an ethnic cleansing campaign since the country began its transition.

Thousands of Rohingya have fled squalid camps in boats, setting off a regional migration crisis and undermining international support for Myanmar's government.

Opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, America's chief ally in Myanmar, has declined to condemn the government's tough treatment of the Rohingya.

Obama administration officials continue to press for reforms. Top U.S. officials regularly visit, including Obama and Clinton, who have each gone there twice.

Though "very significant challenges" remain, "the progress is real and it's significant," Blinken told reporters during his May visit.

Myanmar's circumstances have become part of the debate over Obama's assertions that the United States can do more to reform countries by opening diplomatic and commercial ties, than by isolating them, an argument it recently made when it restored diplomatic ties with Cuba after more than half a century.

In the opening to Myanmar, the administration retained some sanctions but front-loaded most of the rewards. They restored diplomatic relations, dropped most economic penalties, began direct U.S. aid, and took steps to allow U.S. companies and international financial institutions to operate there.

"It was a gutsy move," said Jonah Blank, an Asia expert at the nonpartisan Rand Corp. think tank and a former Senate Democratic staffer.

Human rights advocates contend that the administration should have kept more leverage to stop the government from backsliding on reforms.

"They've been generous with their rhetoric, but they haven't used the sticks they have to put pressure on the government," said Simon Billenness, executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Burma, a nonprofit advocacy group.

U.S. lawmakers, many of whom supported the diplomatic opening, are now beginning to call for the use of more penalties.

Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), its ranking minority member, sent a letter to the administration Aug. 11 arguing that Myanmar's human rights abuses "demand a strong response."

They urged Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew to sanction individual officials.

Supporters of the diplomacy say it has helped pull Myanmar away from its most important patron, China, and brought it closer to the United States and its allies. Administration officials deny that was ever a goal.

But Blank, of Rand Corp., says the policy has scored an important win by that standard. Although Myanmar's trade with the United States is still not large, its economy is expanding and it is increasingly interconnected with its region and major powers.

"This was one of the few remaining hermit kingdoms in the world," he said. "Now it's not going to be part of that club."

MP U Shwe Maung speaks during a parliament session at Parliament in Nay Pyi Taw. Photo: Shwe Maung  

August 29, 2015

Rohingya Organizations in Europe have strongly denounced the undemocratic actions of the Election Commission against Rohingya parliamentary candidates under the government’s ‘policy of exclusion’ of the Rohingya, debarring them from contesting in the upcoming crucial election scheduled on November 8, on “a false and fabricated charge that their parents were not citizens,” according to a press release August 28. 

The parents of all Rohingya parliamentary candidates are natural born citizens of Myanmar, according to the NGOs. U Shwe Maung, whose father was a police officer in Myanmar, was elected in 2010 as a member of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) to represent the Rohingya majority township of Buthidaung in North Rakhine for the Lower House. 

The groups say he has been one of the few voices for the voiceless Rohingya in the Myanmar’s Parliament over the last five years. U Kyaw Min, who served the Myanmar government as a teacher and education officer for many years, was elected in 1990 general election and was one of the members of the Committee for Restoration of People’s Parliament (CRPP). Mr. Abu Taher was graduated from Yangon Institute of Technology. According to Myanmar law only full citizens can study at professional institutions including Yangon Institute of Technology. He was qualified candidate of 1990 and 2010 and elections in Myanmar. He is one of the well-known defenders of Rohingya rights, the statement says. 

Despite Rakhine State being their historical homeland, the Thein Sein government has disenfranchised hundreds and thousands of previously eligible Muslim Rohingya voters and excluded them from voting in the upcoming election, the statement says. 

It may be mentioned that Rohingya people exercised the right to vote and to be elected in all public elections held in Myanmar, from 1947 election for Constituent Assembly to the last military held 2010 election, including 2008 referendum for the adoption of the country’s constitution. 

The planned disfranchisement of the Muslim Rohingya, denial of their right to hold public offices and to represent their people in the parliament are parts of the government manifest intention to wipe out Rohingya minority community from their ancestral homeland. 

These actions are based on prejudice and Islamophobia and are outright criminal and unlawful, the groups say.
The groups call on the Election Commission to review its decision in line with international law and practices in the interest of democracy and human rights. 

“We call on the international community to pressurize the Thein Sein government to deal justly with the ethnic Rohingya people and allow them to continue exercising their time-honoured right of franchise, including the right to contest in the approaching election,” the statement says.

Myanmar pro-democracy and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi talks to the media as she attends a Parliament meeting at the Lower House of Parliament in Naypyitaw, Myanmar August 18, 2015. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

August 29, 2015

YANGON - Myanmar has banned political parties from criticizing the army or the military-dominated constitution in state media during campaigning for elections seen as a test of the country's transition from military rule.

The parties standing in the Nov. 8 elections will be allowed to broadcast 15-minute speeches on state television and radio, according to a statement by the Union Election Commission, and publish them in state-owned newspapers.

But the addresses will be vetted by the commission and the Ministry of Information and could be rejected if officials find that they violate the rules.

Statements "that can split the Tatmadaw or that can disgrace and damage the dignity the Tatmadaw," are banned, said the commission, using the term for the Myanmar military.

Parties should also not "disrespect" the 2008 constitution, which reserves 25 percent of parliament and key cabinet posts for the military, giving it an effective veto over politics.

The constitution also bars presidential candidates with a foreign spouse or child, effectively preventing Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming president. Suu Kyi's late husband was British, as are her two sons.

Her National League for Democracy (NLD), expected to win the elections, struck a defiant tone in response to the commission's guidelines.

"We are not afraid," said Win Htein, a member of the NLD's top governing body and one of those responsible for its campaign. "We will continue to criticize whoever we want and however we want."

After ruling for 49 years, the military in 2011 established a semi-civilian government, freed hundreds of political prisoners and opened up the economy.

The announcement by the election commission comes less than three weeks after President Thein Sein ousted the powerful chairman of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, Shwe Mann.

The United States has said Myanmar's failure to amend a military-drafted constitution raises questions about the credibility of reforms.

By DPA
August 29, 2015

Yangon – Myanmar has adopted new laws restricting religious conversion and interfaith marriage, the government said Saturday, despite objections by the United States and human rights activists.

The Buddhist Women’s Special Marriage Bill and the Religious Conversion Bill, drafted under pressure from hard-line Buddhist monks with a staunchly anti-Muslim agenda, were signed by President Thein Sein, the Ministry of Information said.

The two bills were approved by parliament last week before being sent to the president.

The Religious Conversion Law requires anyone who chooses to change their religion to apply with a district level “registration board,” submit to an interview and a 90-day waiting period.

The Special Marriage Law allows local registrars to publicly post marriage applications for 14 days, during which time any objections to the proposed union can be taken to court. A couple may only get married if there are no objections. 

Failure to comply is punishable by a 30-month jail term.

Buddhist women under 20 years old would also require parental consent to marry a non-Buddhist. The law is a deliberate attempt to curb interfaith marriages, according to Human Rights Watch.

In May, Thein Sein enacted the Population Control Health Care Bill requiring mothers in some regions of the country to space their children at least three years apart.

The president's office has sent back a polygamy bill with some amendments to parliament, said a minister at the office. 

“The president hopes to enact all four laws during his term because it is the desire of the Myanmar people,” said a senior official on condition of anonymity.

The four controversial religion bills, part of a package of so-called Laws to Protect Race and Religion, were proposed by the Buddhist nationalist group 969 in June 2013.

Myanmar has suffered inter-communal tensions in many parts of the country after a conflict between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in mid-2012.

Regular Arakanese muslims trying to cross the border into Bangladesh to escape violence in Myanmar.
Image Credit: IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation

By Prashanth Parameswaran
August 28, 2015

Dhaka cracks down following an attack on its forces.

Bangladesh has launched a raid against Myanmar separatists following a gun battle between local forces and the Arakan Army, local media sources reported August 27.

The remote hills on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border have been home to a range of separatist groups from neighboring Myanmar for decades. The groups – including the Arakan Army which was formed in 2009 and fights for the independence of Arakan state – have long posed a problem for Bangladesh’s security forces along a poorly-policed border.

This particular raid comes after an attack by the Arakan Army on Bangladesh border forces in Thanchi in Bandarban. On Wednesday (August 26) morning at around 9:30am local time, members of the Arakan Army opened fire on a team of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) when they were on patrol with army members on a vessel. The incident came just a day after Bangladesh forces had seized 10 Arabian horses from Arakan Army men.

In response, BGB Director General Maj. Gen Aziz said that Bangladesh had immediately sent in reinforcements – including troops and a jet of the Bangladesh Air Force – in a gun battle that continued until around 3:00pm.

After the separatists retreated, Aziz said the BGB and army members had launched a combined operation against them, who he said were in remote bordering forests in Bandarban. He said that additional BGB and army troop reinforcements would subsequently be under way.

“We are sending more force[s] there and will launch an all-out operation tomorrow [Thursday] to flush them out,” Aziz told The Daily Star over the phone.

In addition, he also said that Bangladesh had contacted the Myanmar Army through their embassy in Dhaka and requested that they seal their side of the border so the separatists would not have an opportunity to escape.

“We have requested the Myanmar army to seal the border on their side so that they [Myanmar Army] could take action against the separatists during the drive,” he reportedly said, adding that Naypyidaw had assured Dhaka of what The Daily Star described as “all sorts of help.”

The Army has also claimed that it has nabbed a member of the Arakan Army during a raid between Wednesday night and Thursday morning in Rangamati district. Major Taslim of the 305th Infantry Brigade told bdnews24via email that he was found with Arakan Army uniforms, laptops, digital cameras, motorcycles and two horses in his possession. The rebels are also believed to have sustained between eight to 20 casualties, based on preliminary eyewitness reports.

The Arakan Army, for its part, has claimed that the whole situation has been a product of misunderstanding which it blames on BGB officers. Lunn Shwe of the Arakan Army told Adil Sakhawat of Dhaka Tribune that the initial fighting took place when the BGB officers opened fire despite Arakan Army members trying to explain that they were not enemies of Bangladesh when they encountered them.

“We do not have any policy [or] intentions to have this kind of fight with our neighbors but it was just a horrible misunderstanding and a deplorable incident. From our side we shall try to solve this through peaceful means,” he said.

One of the abandoned boats which carried Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants from Thailand. (Reuters/Beawiharta)

By UNHCR Regional Office for South-East Asia
August 28, 2015

“Where are you?” Abdul asked his wife over the phone.

“I don’t know.”

“Are you in jail?”

“Under examination, in a camp.”

“Is our son there?”

“Sorry?”

“Is our son available?”

“It’s so noisy here. I can’t understand, can you say that again?”

“Where is our son? Where is our son?”

This is the story of Abdul*, a 30-year-old Rohingya man who travelled by boat and arrived in Malaysia in February 2015.

One month later, his wife and infant son set out from their hometown of Maungdaw in Rakhine State, Myanmar, to join him. They were among thousands of refugees and migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh who soon found themselves stranded at sea that May, when the people smugglers and ship crews who had promised to take them to Malaysia abandoned them en masse in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea.



Abdul’s wife and son had boarded the boat on March 6. He knows the exact dates of all these events because he recorded them, as they happened, in a maroon ledger book. In the hundreds of interviews that the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has conducted with Rohingya like Abdul who have recently arrived in Malaysia, he is the first who kept notes about his journey, which took place at the end of 2014, before boats began being abandoned.

One of the crumpled notes Abdul unwraps from a wrinkled plastic bag has the number “73” written in blue. He had kept the number in his head while he was at sea, then wrote it down once he found some paper and a children’s crayon lying around the smuggler’s house where he was sequestered in February in Padang Besar, Thailand, on the border with Malaysia. It is the number of people Abdul says died on his boat.

Two of the 73 had sat within a whisper of Abdul, and he had shared betel nut with them, as well as worries and prayers. The first was a married man from Buthidaung who was visibly ill and struggled. The other was a single man from Maungdaw, who starved quietly until, one night, the person he was crouched next to could not wake him.

Most of the deaths were like this, Abdul says; there was just not enough food for the over 1,000 passengers he thinks were crammed on board. 



After his own arrival in Malaysia, Abdul brokered a deal on April 11 with a Rohingya agent aboard his wife’s boat. The agent acted as a kind of switchboard operator for smugglers demanding payment from relatives, and would allow Abdul to speak to his wife regularly so long as Abdul topped up the agent’s Malaysian SIM card.

Soon after, Abdul’s wife told him from that their son was sick. He became desperate to get them off the boat, so despite warnings not to, he called one of the smugglers, unsolicited. Abdul has a recording of the call, which begins with Abdul introducing himself as a mullah. The smuggler, apparently driving somewhere in southern Thailand and curiously safety-conscious, says he needs to pull over to talk.

“My wife is with our baby, and the baby is sick,” Abdul tells the smuggler. “I would like to request you to kindly bring them to shore.”

“Mothers with small children,” says the smuggler. “There are 22 mothers and 22 small children.” He explains that the women and children have been particularly difficult to disembark, because they are less able to walk through the night undetected. “Can we stop the children from talking?” the smuggler asks, rhetorically.

“Brother,” says Abdul. “My child isn’t big enough to talk. He isn’t even one.”

In both this and another call, Abdul and the smuggler develop a peculiar, strategic rapport. Abdul repeatedly begs the smuggler’s forgiveness for disturbing him, while also reiterating his status as a mullah. And the smuggler seems to heed this subtle warning, expounding on what God would want him to do, boasting of how many Rohingya he has helped reach and survive in Malaysia. “By God’s blessing, I did it,” the smuggler says. “That doesn’t mean I am praising myself.”

Near the end of one of the calls, Abdul directly makes an offer to pay for his wife and son’s release.

“I am a mullah. I am saying this for you to consider. Is the market price right now 7,000 ringgit ($1,650) per person?”

“Okay, I understand,” the smuggler says. “Please be patient. Don’t pray against me. Please don’t do that.”

“No, not today. Even until the judgment day, I won’t pray against you, because you are the only one who is helping people.”

“Let me see what I can do for you, and where God guides me. Pray for me now, I’m driving, and a military man is waiting for me.”

“Assalamualaikum. If there’s an emergency, if I call you, please pick up.” “I have to deal with 1,400 people. Don’t call me. I’ll call you back.”

When UNHCR first met Abdul on May 3, he knew his wife and son were at sea, but he did not know where. A few days later, around May 7 or 8, his wife told him the entire crew had abandoned ship in a speedboat and directed the passengers towards Malaysia.




The Thai number Abdul called to reach his wife worked for two more days after her boat was abandoned, then cut out, Abdul believes, because his wife’s boat had moved into Malaysian territory near the resort island of Langkawi.

The boat was one of two that arrived in Langkawi on May 11, carrying a total of 1,107 passengers. All transferred to the Belantik Immigration Detention Centre in Kedah.

Through a contact in Alor Setar, Abdul was able to speak to his wife again on 21 June. When he met with UNHCR the next day, he played a recording of the call that was saved on his phone along with a photo of his wife and son outside their home in Maungdaw.

On the call, Abdul’s wife tells him that their son is still sick, but when Abdul tries to understand what exactly ails his son, the contact from Alor Setar jumps on the line.

“I’ll call you back later,” the contact says. “Don’t worry.”

“Can you hand the phone to my wife, please.”

“They won’t allow it,” the contact says, referring to the authorities. “Because she’s crying.”

“She won’t cry. I’ll tell her not to cry. Just give her the phone for a while.”

“Hello,” says Abdul’s wife. “Be careful.”

The contact interrupts again. “I don’t know why she’s saying, ‘Be careful.’ There’s nothing to worry about.”

Abdul has not spoken to his wife since then. The contact has not called back, and his number is no longer in service.

*Abdul’s name has been changed. At least 5,000 passengers on the boats abandoned in May eventually disembarked in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand. Since 2014, nearly 100,000 people are believed to have embarked on the same journey as Abdul’s wife. An estimated 1,100 have died at sea due to starvation, dehydration, disease, and beatings by smugglers and crew members.

UNHCR has since been granted access to Belantik Immigration Detention Centre, but is still in the process of identifying all the Rohingya individuals detained there. More stories of survivors from the boats that landed in Indonesia are available on the UNHCR website.

(Photo: Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)


By Hugo Swire
August 28, 2015

2015 could be the most important year in Burma's recent history. The November general elections are the litmus test for the reform process which began in 2011. Successful elections would consolidate a remarkable, peaceful transition from dictatorship. They would bring an enormous amount of enthusiasm and goodwill from the international community, and potentially unlock an exciting time for Burma's economy. This would be a true legacy achievement for all those whose efforts have taken the country this far. 

I visited Burma for the third time a few weeks ago, as monsoon rains were threatening the floods that have since devastated parts of the country. I met senior figures from within the government, the election commission and the opposition. I stressed to all the need for the elections to be credible and inclusive. The world will be watching intently. 

Kerry McCarthy, speaking for the Labour party, argued on these pages last month that the British Government should reconsider its engagement with Burma in the light of human rights violations there. Quite obviously, with the elections a few months away, it would be the precisely the wrong time to do so. And while she was right in some of her diagnosis of the considerable human rights problems that remain in Burma, I was not at all convinced that she had serious answers as to how these problems, not least the situation of the Rohingya, should best be tackled. 

First of all, the diagnosis. I agree that there have been major setbacks in Burma's transition over the last year. We have seen a shrinking of the democratic space, numbers of political prisoners again on the rise, ongoing instances of sexual violence in conflict affected areas, and the introduction of potentially discriminatory legislation on race and religion. In advance of the elections, we have seen no progress on a deeply flawed constitution that guarantees the Burmese military a quarter of parliamentary seats yet denies National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi the opportunity to stand for President. 

Of all the human rights concerns in Burma, the appalling treatment of the Rohingya community remains the most worrying. During my visit I was determined to go to Rakhine State to see for myself the current situation, and to raise our deep concerns with the government. I was struck by how little things had changed since my previous visit in 2012, not least in the camps for the internally displaced. Indeed, I saw and heard first-hand that for many housed in these 'temporary' camps for the last three years, living conditions have appreciably worsened. For a community already struggling with a lack of basic human rights, the removal of 'white card' identity documents this year - and the prospect of disenfranchisement - has clearly been a moment of great distress. This is now having regional consequences, as we saw with the increasing numbers of Rohingya trying to make the perilous journey across the Andaman Sea in May and June. 

If we want to tackle these problems effectively and in the round, we need to think carefully. We have pressed the Burmese authorities repeatedly on the Rohingya's urgent needs - security, freedom of movement and a pathway to citizenship. We should be vocal and persistent in setting out both the moral imperative for these and the potential economic and social benefits of a better integrated community. We should maintain our efforts to get the rest of the international community and the UN engaged on this. But we must of course remain conscious that the Rohingya issue raises very strong feelings right across Burma. Broader reconciliation is likely to be a longer-term goal that will need patient encouragement and sensitive handling. We need to listen to the concerns of the Rakhine community, and where there are genuine issues we should offer our support. We already provide significant practical assistance to all people in Rakhine State - over £18m of aid since the violence of 2012. 

More broadly, I remain a firm believer that engagement is the best way to encourage forces of moderation and reform. We should not forget, after all, where Burma has come from. Since 2011, thousands of political prisoners have been released, a vibrant media has emerged from decades of absolute press control and a flourishing civil society scene has developed. You can see and feel this on the streets of Rangoon. The peace process, while not at all straight-forward, is closer to bringing a nationwide ceasefire than at any time since Burma's independence, and hundreds of child soldiers have been released. Millions voted in the 2012 by-elections, sending representatives to a parliament which has started to grow in authority - even if the ousting of Shwe Mann as USDP party chairman last week felt more like a reminder of times past. 

The UK is playing its full part in this. We have been involved in supporting preparations for the elections and the peace process. We have led the way on issues like the prevention of sexual violence in conflict, and I was proud to launch the International Protocol in Rangoon during my recent visit. We have a continuous dialogue with the Burmese authorities on the full range of human rights issues and play an active role in raising them up the agenda of the UN. Our aid has made a positive difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, many of them among the very poorest. Along the way we have also promoted responsible investment. It is very reductive to imply there is some sort of binary choice between trade and human rights. Burma's politics will only succeed if its economy succeeds. Responsible trade can lead to much needed jobs, improve education and skills and give people a future. 

Some have questioned, in particular, our engagement with the military. I cannot see how Burma can make genuine political progress without the buy-in of the military, who remain a powerful force in Burma. Of course, our focus is to encourage them to take their rightful place in a democratic system; of course, we are not providing any combat support; and yes, of course, we use our engagement to raise what are real concerns around issues like sexual violence and child soldiers - I have personally discussed both of these with the Commander-in-Chief. But if we want the military to play their part in the reform process, it would be a mistake to think we could achieve this simply by isolating and criticising them. Aung San Suu Kyi, who has visited some of the courses we have run, is of the same mind. 

Around the UK, there is tremendous interest in Burma, and tremendous affection for it. I am continually amazed and impressed by the many stories I hear of individual links being forged between our two countries - from collaboration on a project to restore heritage buildings in downtown Rangoon, to the success of the UK-backed Literary Festival, to Paul Scully being elected as the first MP with Burmese heritage into the British House of Commons this year. I know there will be huge interest here in the elections in November. The international community must do everything it can to support the next milestone in Burma's remarkable journey.

Hugo Swire is Minister of State for the Foreign Office, Conservative MP for East Devon. 

By Natalie Brinham
August 28, 2015

In 2013 Natalie Birnham met and interviewed a Rohingya survivor, named Jamal, in an above-shop office of a local CBO in Kuala Lumpur. He recounted his journey fleeing from Western Myanmar/Burma to Malaysia. 

Mathias Eick, EU/ECHO, Rakhine State, Myanmar/Burma, September 2013

In 2013 I met Jamal in in Kuala Lumpur. He recounted his journey fleeing from Western Myanmar/Burma to Malaysia. Jamal (all names have been changed to protect the identity of interviewees) arrived two days before, and was visibly emaciated. Twelve men from his village were not so lucky – they had died after the food and water ran out on board the boat. Jamal sobbed as he told me how he had helped throw their bodies over-board.

Jamal survived both mass state-sponsored violence in Myanmar and the now notorious human trafficking networks that operate the route from the Bay of Bengal to mainland Southeast Asia. He was, in other words, a survivor of both state crimes and of organised crime. 

On route, he encountered the Myanmar Navy after the over-crowded boat he was travelling on ran out of fuel and food.

They told us to come aboard the navy boat two or three at a time. They told us to lie down flat on our stomachs with our face to the floor. They beat each of us as we lay down. We all got five lashes. Some among us could speak Burmese fluently. But those who spoke Burmese got extra lashes. They shouted, ‘Why do you speak Burmese? You are not Burmese.’ Then we were told to get back on our own boat. They gave us no food. No water and no fuel. The Navy boat towed our boat for many hours into the open sea. They confiscated our anchor. When they untied our boat, they told us Thailand is in that direction.[i]

The process of persecuting and de-nationalising Rohingya in Myanmar has intensified since he made his journey – yet by the end of May this year, the Myanmar Navy had been tasked by the international community with searching for and “rescuing” Bangladeshi and Rohingya “irregular migrants”.

So, how did it happen that the military of a government- accused by Human Rights Watch of Crimes against Humanity and ethnic cleansing of Rohingya -should be considered an appropriate body to “rescue” the very same people fleeing their persecution?

No small wonder that questions have been asked about the fate of the rescued Rohingya.

Earlier this year, the Thai government, under rising pressure, began cracking down on the “trafficking camps” where Rohingya and other migrants were held in hostage-like situations during the overland leg of the journey to Malaysia until payment was provided by relatives. The scale of the abuse, exploitation and extortion inflicted on those in the camps became apparent. Mass graves were found and evidence of rape and torture was gathered. Traffickers were arrested – amongst them government officials long complicit.

Despite over ten years of developing anti-trafficking initiatives in the region, protections for victims of trafficking remain grossly inadequate – especially where victims are stateless - and the crackdowns came at a cost for the Rohingya in transit and those needing to flee persecution in Myanmar.

As a consequence of the crackdown, boatloads of refugees and migrants were prevented by state authorities from landing in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia as Southeast Asian states closed down the informal routes of refuge that had previously facilitated Rohingya entry. There was an immediate humanitarian crisis for those abandoned by their agents and drifting at sea.

At the end of May this year, prominent government officials from 17 countries met in Bangkok to discuss how to resolve the immediate humanitarian crisis as well as the on-going issue of “irregular maritime movements”. In a bid to get Myanmar to the table and to extract their cooperation, the decades of persecution of the Rohingya as a root cause of the displacement was not addressed. In fact the word “Rohingya” - a term which is officially rejected by the government of Myanmar – was not even uttered in official transcripts.

Plans were made to cooperate on search and rescue and strengthen responses to human trafficking primarily through prosecution of traffickers. Meanwhile across the world at a conference in Oslo, Nobel laureates and international human rights experts discussed whether the situation for Rohingya in Myanmar constitutes genocide or simply Crimes against Humanity. 

The Bangkok meeting essentially concluded that the “migrant crisis” was due to unscrupulous individuals that were part of human trafficking networks. At the same time George Soros hit the headlines comparing Myanmar’s official segregation and persecution of Rohingya in Myanmar to his personal experience of Nazi occupation of Hungary. 

Anti-trafficking frameworks were developed primarily to tackle cross-border organised crime. To do this, they broadly focus on Prosecution, Protection and Prevention. The aim is to prevent trafficking by prosecuting criminal individuals, educating populations about risks and sometimes by providing safe migration alternatives through bilateral agreements between states. Where victims are stateless, and have also experienced state crime in their countries of origin, such frameworks are impotent. Meetings about the migrant crisis in the Andaman seas took the root cause of the crisis and displaced it from the primary arena of state crime into the secondary realm of international crime syndicates.

Rohingya are extremely vulnerable to organised crime abroad because they are fleeing state crimes at home. The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Trafficking recently noted that refugees and asylum seekers are at increased risk of trafficking and many will leave home knowing they may be exploited.

Mohammed, the uncle of another Rohingya youth I met in KL - who was too traumatised to recall his experience of torture in a trafficking camp on the Thai/Malaysia border that rendered him unable to walk - explained this to me in his own way. In the recent past Rohingya leaving Rakhine State for Malaysia would generally have time to gather financial resources and the support of relatives overseas before getting on the boats. These days they are compelled to leave with urgency and desperation, without resources or contacts –just as his nephews did.

This leaves them more vulnerable to exploitative agents. Mohammed, having initially refused to pay the ransom, was lured into coming to pick up this young nephew’s dead body for burial – only to have the ransom fee extorted in order to take him home, crippled but alive. A week later and the evening before I met Mohammed, he was contacted by agents demanding payment for his two other nephews. He wasn’t sure where the money would come from. He was desperate - the agents, he told me, were resorting to increasingly cruel measures to extract payment.

Despite Myanmar’s state crimes being established as the root cause of the displacement of Rohingya by numerous human rights organisations, policy remedies for the trafficking of Rohingya only tackle organised crime. The tragic outcome of such an approach is that desperate Rohingya are finding it harder and harder to leave Myanmar. The fire door has been blocked off and no equipment has been left to fight future fires. 

The risk of mass violence against the Rohingya and other Muslims in Rakhine State is increasing ahead of Myanmar’s scheduled elections in November, with the intensification of the de-nationalisation process and the enacting of more discriminatory laws. If lessons from the past are learnt, there is one sure way to increase the risk of a situation of ethnic cleansing turning into one of mass killing - and that is to shut off escape routes. 

Of course the killing, torture, rape and extortion of Rohingya on route to a safe country should never be allowed to go unprosecuted. However, there are real risks that come with prosecuting traffickers when the result is to close escape routes. When anti-trafficking frameworks in the region do not provide adequate protections for victims and when organised crime is tackled without addressing the root causes of displacement - namely persecution - it is the victims that pay the ultimate price, not the traffickers.

We don’t yet know what price Rohingya in Myanmar will pay for the crackdown on trafficking syndicates. We do know that for Rohingya and other stateless or persecuted persons, anti-trafficking frameworks are never going to muscle-up unless they are integrated into approaches that also tackle the primary cause of victims’ flight: state crime.


[i] Interviews I conducted as part of my work with Equal Rights Trust. Also quoted in Zarni, M. and Cowley, A. (Natalie Brinham’s pseudonym) “The Slow-burning genocide of Myanmar’s Rohingya”, Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal, University of Washington, volume 23 no.3, June 2014.

Natalie Brinham studied an MA in Education, Gender and International Development while working as a Senior Support Worker with women trafficked into the UK. Since graduating in 2009, Natalie has continued to blend front-line support work for refugees, migrants and survivors of trafficking with research and advocacy. From 2011 to 2015, Natalie worked as a consultant on the Equal Rights Trust’s statelessness projects, based in London, Brunei and Malaysia.

This included a multi-country study of the human rights of stateless Rohingya from Myanmar and involved desk and field work with Rohingya survivors of mass violence and trafficking. Natalie co-authored a study with Maung Zarni, entitled “The slow-burning genocide of Myanmar’s Rohingya”, under the pseudonym Alice Cowley which was published in the Pacific Rim Law and Policy Journal. This continues to be used to advocate for better protection for Rohingya and Myanmar Muslims at international conferences. Natalie continues to work on the issues of migration, statelessness, citizenship and trafficking. She was recently awarded a PhD scholarship at the newly formed UK Institute of Migration Research in Canterbury exploring the topic of life after trafficking: short and long term outcomes for survivors of trafficking in the UK.



By UNHCR
August 28, 2015

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 28 August 2015, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR is calling for urgent action before the end of the monsoon season unleashes a new wave of people leaving on boats from the Bay of Bengal.

A new UNHCR report estimates that in the first six months of this year, some 31,000 Rohingya and Bangladeshis departed from the Bay of Bengal on smugglers' boats. This marks a 34-percent increase over the same period last year, and brings to 94,000 the estimated number of people who have risked their lives making the dangerous journey since 2014. Over 1,100 people are estimated to have died in these waters since 2014, including 370 in 2015.

The UNHCR report traces the events of May 2015 – when such maritime movements and government responses were thrust into the spotlight following the discovery of mass graves of people who died from abuse or deprivation in smugglers' camps along the Thailand-Malaysia border. Last weekend's discovery of 24 more bodies in north-western Malaysia is a reminder about the ruthlessness of the smugglers.

In a feature story accompanying the new report, survivors interviewed by UNHCR detail their long and difficult journeys and claim to have often been towed or guided by authorities from one territorial water to another. At least 5,000 people were abandoned by smugglers at sea in May and eventually disembarked in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand. Another 1,000 people remain unaccounted for but may have disembarked without the knowledge of the authorities. At least 70 people are estimated to have died on the boats that were abandoned in May.

The boat movements have temporarily stopped due to the monsoon rains, which have caused severe flooding in many areas across Myanmar. However, the maritime departures are expected to resume once the weather improves in the coming weeks.

UNHCR is urging governments to avert another crisis at sea by acting now on proposals made to affected States in the context of the Bangkok Special Meeting in May.

Of those disembarked in May, most of the Bangladeshi nationals have been assisted home with the support of their government. The Rohingya, who cannot return to Myanmar at the moment, remain in the countries in which they were disembarked. UNHCR continues to advocate that the protection needs of this population are met and that they are given access to basic services while the root causes of their displacement are addressed.

UNHCR's appeal for $13 million to respond and seek solutions to the recent maritime crisis is only 20 per cent funded, with contributions from the governments of Australia, Bangladesh, Japan, Korea and Norway, as well as a private contribution from the United Arab Emirates. More funds are needed in the coming months to enhance protection interventions for the Rohingya population in host countries, and to meet the humanitarian, human rights and development needs in source countries.

With the next "sailing season" expected to start in the coming weeks, UNHCR is working with agencies and other partners on an information campaign warning potential travellers of the risks of getting on smugglers' boats.

At the regional level, more must be done to put systems in place to respond to the need for rescue at sea and for safe and predictable disembarkation. UNHCR looks forward to the establishment of a task force recommended at the Bangkok Special Meeting and reiterated at the Emergency ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime in July. UNHCR is also participating in global discussions on migration and human mobility next month, including mixed movements involving migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

In Bangkok, Vivian Tan on mobile +66 818 270 280
In Geneva, Andreas Needham on mobile +41 79 217 3140

August 28, 2015

Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) chief Maj-Gen Aziz Ahmed says operations against the 'Arakan Army', a Myanmar separatist group, will continue.

The BGB was joined by the army and the police in combing operations in Rangamati district. Troops were also massed on the border region of Bandarban, specially around Thanchi, where the gunbattle took place on Wednesday.

"We have got some indications about rebel casualties. Locals say they found the rebels drag away eight to 20 of their comrades, we have also seen blood trails at the spot of the encounter," Maj-Gen Aziz told journalists at BGB's Peelkhana headquarters.

He said the BGB operations started early on Thursday and the patrols managed to recover many leftovers of the rebels -- from belt to bullets.


An accomplice of the 'Arakan Army' was nabbed from Rangamati on Thursday, raising hopes of leads about the rebel movements and intentions.

The BGB chief said the Myanmar separatists might move back and forth across a hilly and forested border, but there was no chance for them to set up a base there.

He said his force tackled the situation well and fast but operations had to continue.

He also said Bangladesh and Myanmar would work together to prevent the rebels from getting to be a problem.

“We exchange information during any such operation,” he said.

Maj-Gen Aziz said the BGB patrol that was attacked on Wednesday was patrolling the area on a boat.

“The attack was swift and unexpected. We were not ready as we find the borders with India and Myanmar always calm,” he said.

The attack is believed to be a result of the seizure of 10 horses used as transport by the Arakan army on Tuesday.

Learning in exile Rohingya children in a makeshift classroom at the refugee camp. Photos: Vijay Pandey


By Sahal Muhammed & Salmanul Farisy
August 28, 2015

Rohingya refugees in India are stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to keeping their faith alive.

Abdul Shakur sits in a small room devoid of any furniture, with a thin rag on the floor masquerading as a bed in Uttam Nagar, New Delhi. The 28-year-old short-statured Rohingya Muslim refugee with a wide smile has an extraordinary story to tell. His faith, that led to his persecution in his homeland Myanmar, was put to a different kind of test in India.

Three years after reaching India, Shakur and his wife Yasmin ended up at a refugee camp in west Delhi’s Ranhaula area run under the name of Rohingya Christian Assembly. There he was given a rickshaw and his debts were paid off. He was also baptised and converted to Christianity.

However, six months later, he decided to leave the camp owing to ‘unease’ with his new religion. His rickshaw was taken back and the money also allegedly retrieved. Now he stays in the room, a month’s rent paid by friends, facing a future as uncertain as when he crossed the Naaf river to Bangladesh on a fishing boat.

Shakur and Yasmin had crossed into West Bengal from Bangladesh with the help of an agent. After reaching there, they were left to their own devices, scrambling for food or shelter. Shakur tells Tehelka about yet another unexpected blow: “I went to get food for my wife, but when I returned, I found that she was gone.” He searched for her, but in vain. Without a refugee card, he felt he lacked the wherewithal to approach the state authorities for help.

Undaunted, he decided to seek help from the UNHCR office. India does not prevent the UN agency from giving refugee cards to the Rohingya. However, the card has little use other than saving the refugees from arbitrary detention. It is not even entertained as an identity proof to get phone sim cards issued. It is also not a work permit, which means even the most educated refugee are confined to menial jobs. Shakur ended up washing dishes in a hotel.

Two years later, he got information that his wife was in a Kolkata jail. Taking his earnings and borrowing from his friends, Shakur set out to free her. Luck was on his side this time as he managed to get her released, but not without paying bribes to officials.

Shakur and his wife were now free but penniless. They spent two days and two nights in a park near the UNHCR office in Vikaspuri. At a juncture when they had no one to turn to, they met a Christian convert. It was this gentleman who led them to the Ranhaula camp.

Shakur’s is one of the three families who left the camp: 18 families still reside there. Amir Ahmad, who was at the camp temporarily, has his own story to tell. He says his friend Ismail had promised he would get a rickshaw and free rations for two months at the camp. “They told me if my wife doesn’t come with me, I would get a new wife there,” he says. Heeding his friend’s words, Amir went alone to the camp, leaving his wife behind in Mehwat, Haryana. He stayed at the camp for two months but left because he “didn’t like the religion”.

Mohammed Syed was staying in Bangladesh when his parents, who had been converted to Christianity back in Myanmar, asked him to cross over to India. He says he decided to join the camp when he was tired of being hungry all the time. “After I came here, I decided to survive on my own,” he says.

The journey for the Rohingya coming from Myanmar sometimes resembles an intricate video game, with the finishing point at the UNHCR office.

Rohingya have been systematically discriminated against by successive governments who have wielded Burmese nationalism mixed with Theravada Buddhism is an effective tool. This has led to an entire generation of Rohingya growing up without citizenship rights and as refugees in their own country.

Ironically, the Rohingyas are accused of being immigrants from Bengal, both during the British rule and after independence. In 2014, the government abolished the term Rohingya and insists on calling them ‘Bengalis’.

The first wave of refugees fled the communal riots that shook Rakhine, a province of Myanmar, in 2012. The persecution and genocide that followed was perpetrated by the security forces. Shakur removes his shirt to show the scars left by the security forces.

Life in refuge Rohingyas are struggling to piece together their lives.

Those who make it out of Myanmar travel to different directions in search of asylum. Those who choose India, their purported ancestral home, exit via Bangladesh. To get there, they must cross the Naaf river (separating Myanmar and Bangladesh), which takes around two hours to cross in fishing boats – a perilous journey that takes many lives.

Bangladesh does not give refugee status to the Rohingya. “The situation in Bangladesh was such that if anyone found out we are from Myanmar, we could be thrown into jail. I had to spend eight months there surviving on frugal meals and doing odd jobs before I could find an agent to cross to India,” says Abdul Khan. The agents charge around 7,500 taka for the service.

Most of the refugees who enter Delhi end up at a camp in a stretch of wasteland in south-east Delhi, owned by the Zakat Foundation. The families live in a small enclosures measuring around 10ft x 10ft, with walls made of tin and plastic sheets for roofs. No electricity has been provided to the camp despite families living there for over three years. The condition in these camps worsens during summer when the sun heats up the tin walls and plastic sheets, and the only source of water is a handpump at the centre of the camp.

“In principle, all refugees in India, including Rohingya, have access to government health and education services but sometimes they have difficulty in accessing these facilities,” a UNHCR official tells Tehelka. The difference between principle and practice appears stark. Last year, 12 kids were admitted to schools nearby through a UNHCR programme. This year, though, the kids have not been admitted and spend their days frolicking in the squalid surroundings of the camp. Many, unsurprisingly, develop skin diseases.

About three months ago, a snake bit three kids in the camp. Two of them died and only a 14-year-old girl survived because she was rushed to aims.

Uncertain future Abdul Shakur sits in his rented room

In comparison, living conditions at the Ranhaula Christian camp seems to be better. And religion seems like a small sacrifice to be a part of it. The people are provided free rations for the first two months and given a rickshaw to earn for themselves and there are doctors who are brought in on request.

The camp is run under the supervision of a Rohingya named Shonamiya, who converted to Christianity long ago. The prayer ceremonies are all done under his leadership. However, the source of the funds that come from outside remains unclear. The conversion certificates of Shakur and Yasmin have only the name and signature of Shonamiya with a seal of the Rohingya Christian Assembly.

Shonamiya, speaking to Tehelka, admits that Shakur has been converted in India but insists that he is the only one. “We were all converted to Christianity back in 2004,” he says. “I don’t know anything about the funds. We make our living driving cycle rickshaws.”

Ignored by the government, help has been hard to come by for the Rohingya. “In addition to the bigger support Rohingya receive from local civil society, UNHCR has provided sanitary material to them,” says UNHCR.

Despite the plight of the Rohingya receiving worldwide attention as hundreds of them were stuck on boats off the coast of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand and having had to drink their own urine to survive, help from civil society in India has been noticeably absent.

“We had approached Jamaat-e-Islami for help. They told us that they did not have enough budget and it is up to the Almighty,” says Khan. President of the Zakat Foundation, asked about the help they give refugees, only had this much to say: “We have earmarked the land on which they are residing.”

“Refugees from many other countries in India have proper income sources, education and all, but we have nothing. No education, no money, no place, not even dreams,” says Salim, who runs a small shop in the Kadar camp.

There are signs that India is starting to look at the Rohingya as a security threat rather than a humanitarian crisis. In June, a meeting was called of officials of seven states where they are settled to monitor their activities. “There is a fear that the members of the community could be vulnerable to radicalisation. We have to be cautious before things go out of hand,” an official told pti. He also called attention to the “alarming development” of Rohingya marrying Indian girls.

Life has been an unrelenting challenge for Shakur and others who had to leave their homeland and the camp that provided them sustenance because of their faith. The irony of his fate is not what is bothering Shakur now. “My nine-month-old daughter is suffering from pneumonia,” he says while fishing out prescriptions from a plastic bag that contains among other things, his conversion certificate. “It has cost me 7,500 so far to treat her. I don’t have any more money,” he says.

U Shwe Mann, speaker of the lower house of Burma’s parliament, speaks during a meeting with locals in his constituency on Aug. 22. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

By Editorial Board
August 28, 2015

BURMA’S PARLIAMENTARY election Nov. 8 should have been a moment to anticipate with joy: another step in the nation’s emergence from military rule. But democracy is not strictly about the ballot box. It is also about the process — the nature of the competition for power, and whether that political struggle is free, fair and inclusive of all. By this measure, Burma is falling short.

Some of the problems are long-standing. Twenty-five percent of parliament seats are reserved for unelected members of the military. The country’s most popular figure, Aung San Suu Kyi, is barred from running for president by a provision in the constitution, written with her in mind, that the military and its allies recently refused to alter.

The regime of generals and former generals who began the transition away from military rule still exert a heavy hand on the political process. This month, President Thein Sein dramatically ousted a rival from the ruling party’s leadership — the rival was speaker of the lower house of parliament and considered a potential future president — in an abrupt and arbitrary purge that appears to have been at the behest of the military. Not very democratic at all.

“We are supposed to be going along the path of democratization but events over the last couple of weeks show that we are not very far along that path yet,” Aung San Suu Kyi said in an interview with Agence France-Presse.

Burma’s regime is aggravating and exploiting ethnic conflicts in the Southeast Asian nation of 56 million people also known as Myanmar. Most egregious has been its treatment of the Rohingya, a Muslim minority that has long been persecuted and that increasingly has been subject to violence and denied citizenship. In recent days, the country’s election commission ruled that a sitting Rohingya member of parliament who had served in the government’s ruling party could not run for reelection because he was not a citizen, and thus ineligible. The New York Times reported that the commission said the parents of U Shwe Maung were not citizens at the time of his birth. He said the finding was absurd, that his father was a career-long officer in the national police force, and he is appealing.

Behind the incident is a much larger process of culling Rohingya from voter rolls being carried out as a result of pressure from Buddhist nationalists. Tens of thousands of Rohingya voters may lose their right to vote in November, although they have voted in the past. This kind of mass disenfranchisement is intolerable for a genuine democracy.

For too long, the Obama administration has been overly optimistic about Burma’s transition. Before the election — now — would be a good time to broadcast a necessary and unvarnished message to Burma’s leaders that a Potemkin democracy just won’t do. The election process and the vote itself must be free, fair and all-inclusive.

(Photo: Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Joint Statement on Disenfranchisement and ‘policy of exclusion’ of the Rohingya

The undersigned Rohingya Organizations in Europe have strongly denounced the undemocratic actions of the Election Commission against Rohingya parliamentary candidates under the government’s ‘policy of exclusion’ of the Rohingya, debarring them from contesting in the upcoming crucial election scheduled on November 8, 2015, on a false and fabricated charge that their parents were not citizens. 

The parents of all Rohingya parliamentary candidates are natural born citizens of Burma. U Shwe Maung, whose father was a police officer in Burma, was elected in 2010 as a member of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) to represents the Rohingya majority township of Buthidaung in North Arakan for Lower House. He has been one of the few voices for the voiceless Rohingya in the Burma’s Parliament since last five years. U Kyaw Min, who served the Burmese government as a teacher and education officer for many years, was elected in 1990 general election and was one of the members of the Committee for Restoration of People’s Parliament (CRPP). Mr. Abu Taher was graduated from Yangon Institute of Technology. According to Myanmar law only full citizens can study at professional institutions including Yangon Institute of Technology. He was qualified candidate of 1990 and 2010 and elections in Burma. He is one of the well-known defenders of Rohingya rights. 

Despite Arakan being their historical homeland, Thein Sein government has disenfranchised hundreds and thousands of previously eligible Muslim Rohingya voters and excluded them from voting in the upcoming election. 

It may be mentioned that Rohingya people exercised the right to vote and to be elected in all public elections held in Burma, from 1947 election for Constituent Assembly to the last military held 2010 election, including 2008 referendum for the adoption of the country’s constitution. 

The planned disfranchisement of the Muslim Rohingya, denial of their right to hold public offices and to represent their people in the parliament are parts of the government manifest intention to wipe out Rohingya minority community from their ancestral homeland of Arakan. These actions are based on prejudice and Islamophobia and are outright criminal and unlawful. 

We urge upon the Burma Election Commission to review its decision in line with international law and practices in the interest of democracy and human rights. .

We call on the international community to pressurize the Thein Sein government to deal justly with the ethnic Rohingya people and allow them to continue exercising their time-honoured right of franchise, including the right to contest in the approaching election. 

Signatories;

1. Arakan Rohingya National Organisation 
2. Bradford Rohingya Community in UK
3. Burmese Rohingya Community in Denmark
4. Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK
5. Rohingya Community in Netherlands 
6. Rohingya Community in Germany
7. Rohingya Community in Switzerland
8. Rohingya Organisation Norway
9. Rohingya Community in Finland
10. Rohingya Community in Italy
11. Rohingya Community in Sweden

For more information please contact;

Tun Khin +44 7888714866
Nay San Lwin +49 1796535213

Dated: 28th August 2015

Rohingya Exodus