“Writing to MPs, or going to meet your MPs, really does make a difference”, Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK, told the National Student. Asked how students can pressure the government to change its policies and help alleviate the suffering in Burma, Mark said “We have had MPs standing up in Parliament really putting a boot into the minister, based on the fact that they have had constituents meeting them and writing to them.”
Leeds United Football Club’s announcement that it will be bringing the squad to Burma next month was met with widespread condemnation, reports the Democratic Voice of Burma.
Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK, told DVB “There has been no call for a cultural or sports boycott of Burma, but clearly Leeds United haven’t clearly thought through how a visit to Burma at this time would be perceived.”
He added that Burma Campaign UK’s main concern was that the tour is sponsored by AYA Bank, a lender owned by Burmese tycoon Zaw Zaw, who “appears to be involved in the government’s so-called development programme in Rakhine State where the villages of Rohingya forced to flee ethnic cleansing are now being built over.”
The Burmese government has denied that yesterday’s release of political prisoners included seven members of the military who were jailed for 10 years for massacring 10 Rohingya in the village of Inn Din in September 2017. They remain in jail, together with around 90 political prisoners.
The New York Times article quotes Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK: “With the use and scope of repressive laws being increased rather than repealed, it seems that under the NLD government, there is no end in sight to the scourge of political prisoners in Burma’s jails.”
Article in Mizzima News:
Burma Campaign UK yesterday expressed disappointment at the apparent decision by Aung San Suu Kyi’s government to keep around 90 political prisoners in jail.
While the statement notes “The reported release of 36 political prisoners today is wonderful news for those political prisoners and their families, but [it] also represents a decision not to free around 90 other political prisoners currently in jail. Most of those kept in jail are being held awaiting trial so have not even been convicted. This includes Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, two Reuters journalists currently on trial.”
Parliament’s Petitions Committee today held a two hour debate on the Rohingya crisis, triggered by public petitions asking the UK government to impose financial sanctions and stop the genocide.
The Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN) pays tribute to one of its most committed land protectors, peace advocates, and Indigenous rights defenders: Saw O Moo. He was ambushed and shot at by Burma Army soldiers on 5 April while travelling home from a community meeting on his motorbike.
His death, says KESAN, is a casualty of ongoing fighting that has broken out between the Burma Army and the Karen National Liberation Army, as the Burma Army breaks the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement in order to seize territory and construct a military operation road through Indigenous Karen people’s ancestral lands.
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has asked for a ruling on jurisdiction which could allow an ICC investigation into the deportation of Rohingya to Bangladesh, based on Bangladesh being a signatory of the Rome Statute.
Burma Campaign UK welcomes this step by the prosecutor. It is clear that some of the most serious violations of international law have been committed against the Rohingya and so far the Burmese military have been allowed to get away with it.
Great support at NASUWT teachers’ trade union conference in Birmingham this weekend. Delegates supporting our campaign to bring Burma’s generals to justice call for Boris Johnson to back Burma’s referral to the International Criminal Court.
Karen News reports on the open letter from 21 civil society organisations urging the EU to take a stronger stand on the Rohingya crisis.
Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK, explained: “We are highly concerned that … the continuing lack of a concrete response sends the wrong message to the Myanmar Army and the Government of Myanmar, that they can get away with committing such grave crimes against not only the Rohingya, but also against other minorities throughout the country.”
Burma and Bangladesh are planning to send tens of thousands of Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh back to Burma.
Rohingya in Bangladesh haven’t been consulted about the deal, but most say they don’t want to return until it’s safe.
Rohingya won’t be allowed to return to their villages, which have been destroyed. Instead they are being sent to giant prison camps. Rohingya put there will not be allowed to live elsewhere or travel freely.
The government of Burma hasn’t changed any of the laws and policies which discriminate against the Rohingya, and cannot guarantee that the military won’t attack them again when they return.
The government of Burma doesn’t have the resources to build and maintain these prison camps, they can only do it with international support. Incredibly, the governments of Japan and India are providing that support. The Japanese government has pledged $3m and the Indian government has pledged money and offered to construct buildings in the camps. The Burmese government says 80 people will be forced to live in each building.