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Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK: “With the use and scope of repressive laws being increased rather than repealed, it seems that under the NLD government, there is no end in sight to the scourge of political prisoners in Burma’s jails.”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.
The agreement between Burma and Bangladesh to repatriate Rohingya refugees is like expecting 1940s Jews to return to Nazi Germany, says Sky News.
Mark Farmaner from Burma Campaign UK told Sky News: “Bangladesh and Burma are effectively playing ping pong with the Rohingya, while the rest of the international community stands by. They will be returned to giant prison camps, have no rights, and be at constant risk of further attacks by the Burmese military.”
On his visit the pope appealed to Burma’s leading Buddhist monks to combat prejudice and intolerance, but left out any specific reference to the Rohingya.
“You don’t counter racism and prejudice by backing down to it,” Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK, told the Atlantic. “Already nationalists are gloating about the pope not using the word ‘Rohingya.’ His failure to use the word will only embolden those who want to expel all Rohingya from Myanmar.”