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 Myanmar junta promises "measures" over Rohingya

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BerichtOnderwerp: Myanmar junta promises "measures" over Rohingya   Myanmar junta promises "measures" over Rohingya Icon_minitimevr 30 jan 2009 - 23:05

Myanmar junta promises "measures" over Rohingya
Fri Jan 30, 2009 7:21am EST


YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar's junta stepped into the deepening Rohingya crisis on Friday, denying any of the Muslim boat people washing up in Thailand, India and Indonesia were from its soil, but promising to take unspecified "measures."

"The Rohinja is not included in over 100 national races of the Union of Myanmar," it said in all state-controlled papers, its first reaction since reports surfaced two weeks ago of the Thai army towing migrants out to sea and leaving them to die.

Rohinja is an alternative spelling for the Muslim minority from Rakhine state in the former Burma's northwest.

"Moreover, a statement released yesterday by Thailand did not mention that those who made attempt to illegally enter Thailand from the sea were from Myanmar," the announcement added.

"Nevertheless, the departments concerned of the Government of Myanmar will take necessary measures in connection with the above matter," it continued, without elaboration.

Narinjara News, a Dhaka-based Rakhine news agency, reported this week that a Myanmar artillery battalion had been redeployed in December from the former capital, Yangon, to Buthidaung, a town in the midst of Rohingya villages.

More than 500 Rohingya are feared to have drowned since early December after being towed out to sea by the Thai military and abandoned in rickety boats without functioning engines.

The army has admitted cutting them loose, but said they had food and water and denied the engines were sabotaged.

Thailand is trying to depict them as illegal economic migrants, and paraded a group of 78 intercepted on Monday on domestic television, showing off wounds the migrants said were inflicted by Myanmar naval officials.

DEPORTATION FEARS

Survivors of some of the Thai "push-backs" have corroborated the reports of Myanmar abuse, with one man who washed up on Indonesia's Aceh province in early January telling Al Jazeera television he faced certain death if sent back to Myanmar.

Indonesia's foreign ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said an investigation so far indicated that 193 Rohingya being housed in a naval base in Aceh were economic migrants and that Jakarta was checking if the men were sent back they would be safe.

The probe also indicated suspicions of people smugglers being involved, he told a media briefing, without elaborating.

In a bid to avert international outrage, Thailand allowed UN refugee workers on Thursday to see 12 children among the 78, who are in police custody in the southern province of Ranong awaiting almost certain deportation.

However, deputy Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongpajkdi said the UN visit to the 12 had "no implications for their legal status."

UN Spokeswoman Kitty McKinsey said she could not discuss the children's testimony without approval from the Thai government.

According to the UNHCR, 230,000 Rohingya now live a precarious stateless existence in Bangladesh, having fled their ancestral homes in Rakhine state in northwest Myanmar. Those who have not fled are restricted from travel inside the country.

In 2004, rights group Amnesty International said there were between 700,000 and 1.5 million Muslims in Rakine state, most of them Rohingya. Besides Bangladesh, there are large numbers in Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

(Additional reporting and writing by Ed Cropley and Telly Nathlia in Jakarta;Editing by Darren Schuettler and Sanjeev Miglani)


©️ Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved
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BerichtOnderwerp: Re: Myanmar junta promises "measures" over Rohingya   Myanmar junta promises "measures" over Rohingya Icon_minitimevr 30 jan 2009 - 23:06

"Don't send us back to Myanmar," Rohingyas beg
Thu Jan 29, 2009 6:39am EST Email | Print | Share| Reprints | Single Page[-] Text [+]
By Olivia Rondonuwu

JAKARTA, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Sobbing in an Indonesian hospital, a Rohingya migrant from Myanmar said on Thursday he faced certain death if forced home, piling more pressure on countries in the region to treat the Muslim minority as refugees. "We have heard we'd be sent back to Myanmar," Noor Mohammad, one of a group of Rohingya who washed up off the coast of Indonesia's Aceh province three weeks ago, told Al Jazeera English Television.

"In that case, we will ask the Indonesians to kill us. Better we die in the hands of Muslims," he added. "If we go back, we'll definitely be killed."

His testimony shines a harsh light on the plight of the former Burma's estimated 800,000 Rohingya, and the Thai military's handling of the hundreds who flee in rickety wooden boats every year in search of better lives.

The Thai army has admitted to towing hundreds far out to sea before cutting them adrift, but has insisted they had adequate food and water and denied persistent reports the boats' engines were sabotaged.

Of 1,000 Rohingya given such treatment since early December, 550 are feared to have drowned.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who has made much of his respect for human rights in his six weeks in office, has also tried to paint the Rohingya as illegal economic migrants rather than genuine asylum seekers.

In its preliminary look at the 193 who washed up on Aceh, Jakarta came to a similar conclusion.

Neither Thailand nor Indonesia are signatories to the widely accepted 1951 Refugee Convention which defines who is a refugee, their rights and the legal obligation of states.

TRANSPARENT INVESTIGATION PROMISED

The view of Indonesia and Thailand that they are economic migrants is at odds with Mohammad's testimony, as well as that of a group 78 Rohingya now in Thai police custody with wounds on their bodies they say were inflicted by Myanmar naval officials.

Mohammad said his group were intercepted by the Myanmar navy as they chugged south towards Thailand and Malaysia, and were beaten but then released.

"We were told by the navy not to come this way again and to tell others to also not come this way," he said, adding they were then given some fuel, a compass and directions to Thailand. "When we got to Thailand we were tortured and detained."

Thailand promised a transparent investigation into the allegations of army abuse, but said the probe would be led by the shadowy military unit at the heart of the scandal.

More than two weeks after the reports first emerged, it remains unclear why the army's Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), set up in the Cold War to oversee anti-communist death squads, is now in charge of stopping Rohingya migrants.

"It's our internal arrangement and if the military investigation is not satisfactory, we can set up another group to do it," Foreign Minister Kasit Piromyas told reporters after meeting U.N. refugee officials in Bangkok.

Shortly after the meeting, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) officials were allowed access to 12 minors among the 78 in police custody in the Thai province of Ranong. The group are due to be deported after five days detention.

UNHCR spokeswoman Kitty McKinsey said the children, aged between 14 and 17, were in good condition, wearing clean clothes and able to talk freely. She said she could not reveal details of what they said before approval from the Thai government.

"They expressed their extreme gratitude to the Thai navy for saving their lives," she said.

According to the UNHCR, 230,000 Rohingya now live in Bangladesh, having fled their ancestral homes in northwest Myanmar after decades of abuse and harassment at the hands of its Buddhist military rulers.

The junta does not recognise them as one of the country's 130-odd ethnic minorities, and those in the northwest are restricted from travel inside the country. Besides Bangladesh, there are large numbers of Rohingya in Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. (For a FACTBOX on the Rohingya, click on [nBKK406291]) (Writing by Ed Cropley; Editing by Darren Schuettler and Jeremy Laurence)



©️ Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved
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BerichtOnderwerp: Re: Myanmar junta promises "measures" over Rohingya   Myanmar junta promises "measures" over Rohingya Icon_minitimeza 31 jan 2009 - 22:42

Ja, and somehow it's not difficult to imagine what that Junta has in mind, didn't someone somewhere say they (the Junta) were planning a fishing trip? I suppose you could count that as measures too!
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