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Myanmar

    May 22, 2020

    Updated May 22, 2020

    Shocking footage of Rohingya women, men and children being rescued off rickety boats after dangerous sea voyages is still being broadcast around the world.

    According to reports, more boats – carrying hundreds more Rohingya people – are still stranded at sea and in urgent need of rescue. These vessels have nowhere to land, as countries ignore international obligations to allow safe disembarkation, using COVID-19 restrictions as a pretext.

    These policies raise the risk of repeating the dangerous mistakes of 2015, when the break-up of trafficking networks left thousands of Rohingya stranded in Southeast Asian waters, with likely hundreds losing their lives.

    Here, Amnesty International explains why the Rohingya are still risking everything to flee crowded refugee camps in Bangladesh and apartheid conditions in Myanmar.

    We also explain how countries in the region can help, and why the Rohingya shouldn’t be sent back to Myanmar.

    Who are the Rohingya people?

    May 06, 2020

    Nay Zar Tun benefited from good behaviour to secure early release on April 9. Myint Zaw and Khin Cho Naing were released on April 17 and May 4 respectively following a presidential amnesty on Myanmar New Year (April 17).

    They had been held only for exercising their human right to freedom of expression after peacefully protesting politically motivated charges against Nay Zar Tun’s brother, former child soldier Aung Ko Htwe. They should have never been imprisoned in the first place. 

    Expressing gratitude for the appeals Urgent Action writers sent to Myanmar authorities, Khin Cho Naing’s mother, Lay Lay, wrote: “Thank you so much to Amnesty International supporters and members for your support for my family and for campaigning for their release. I hope to be able to say thank you in person.”

    Learn more on how you too can get involved in the Urgent Action Network here. 

    February 24, 2020

    On 21 February 2020, Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi was released from Insein prison in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, after having completed his prison sentence. Arrested on 12 April 2019 for social media posts critical of the military-drafted 2008 Constitution and the military’s role in politics, he was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment on 29 August 2019 under Section 505(a) of Myanmar’s Penal Code.

    He was released after just over ten months behind bars, after receiving routine sentence reductions. During trial he was denied bail on several occasions, despite major health concerns.   

    While we celebrate that Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi is free, the fact remains he should have never been arrested or imprisoned in the first place. His conviction should be quashed.  

    Amnesty International remains deeply concerned about the ongoing prosecution and imprisonment of activists and human rights defenders in Myanmar. We will continue to campaign for the release of all prisoners of conscience in Myanmar, and all those detained solely for the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression.

    October 09, 2019

    We're delighted that Aung Ko Htwe walked free on 6 September 2019 after completing the two years of his sentence. Thank you to the over 30,000 of you who took action and emailed the Myanmar authorities. We know building international pressure on cases like these makes a real impact.

    What happened?

    In October 2005 Aung Ko Htwe was kidnapped by the Myanmar military at the main railway station in Yangon – the country’s largest city – and forced to serve in the army. He was only 13 years old at the time.

    In 2017 he spoke out about what he experienced in a radio interview with Radio Free Asia, shortly after which he was arrested and charged under Section 505(b) of Myanmar’s Penal code – a vague law which severely restricts freedom of expression.

    He was sentenced to the maximum two years in jail.

    August 28, 2019

    Whether we asked about the possibility of going home to Myanmar or the challenges of life in Bangladesh, every Rohingya – old or young – who our Amnesty International delegation interviewed in the refugee camps said the same thing: human rights.

    With the release of our new report, “I Don’t Know What My Future Will Be”, Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh, Amnesty International is echoing that call and looking to the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh, with strong backing and resources from the international community, to ensure that violations end, past abuses are addressed and that the human rights of Rohingya, on both sides of the border, are fully respected and upheld. 

    It is a time for solidarity and for action.  There will be many opportunities for Amnesty International supporters to take action and demonstrate that solidarity over the coming weeks and months.

    February 21, 2019
    Mohammed Ali is a 65 year-old farmer from the village of Kyein Chaung, in the Township of Maungdaw, in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. He and his family now live in the Balukhali Refugee Camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.
    Content warning: violence and violence causing death

    Balukhali Refugee Camp, Bangladesh

    “We’ve been through this before, but never like this.  Never so many people.  And now it feels like it might go on and on. It has been eighteen months, but it feels like forever.”

    Mohammed Ali, a 65-year-old farmer, was returning from his fields to his home in the village of Kyein Chaung, in the Township of Maungdaw, in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in early September, 2017.  And the attack began. The village was surrounded by government soldiers who began shooting at villagers and setting fire to houses as they advanced. The people of Kyein Chaung knew what was coming as they had already seen dead bodies floating down the stream from other neighbouring villages.

    “There was only one thing to do.  We knew we had to leave and we ran.  And fortunately, no one in our own family was injured or killed. But we heard cries around us.  We knew that could easily have been us. And it was only good luck that it was not.”

    February 11, 2019

    Dhaka, Bangladesh

    As I arrive in Bangladesh, joining an Amnesty International delegation that is here for two weeks to meet with and hear from Rohingya refugees in the country, a specific question comes to mind. In this world of ours – a world marked of late by far too much conflict, hate and division – when and why is a crisis no longer seen to be a crisis?

    In a world which feels to have an ever-shortening attention span and seems only able to give real attention to two or three emergencies at once, we forget and move on from today’s or this week’s crisis more quickly than ever.

    Meanwhile, politicians regularly bandy the word crisis about to inflame tensions and score political points when it isn’t a crisis by any measure; be it Donald Trump’s manufactured border wall crisis or the overblown rhetoric around a supposed-influx of refugees crossing the Canada/US border. We see quick resort to the word crisis in those situations, largely to undermine support for refugee protection.

    February 08, 2019

    Photos: Ahmer Khan (Twitter, Instagram) Words: Saad Hammadi, South Asia Campaigner (Twitter)

    The Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have yet to come to terms with the trauma they had experienced in Myanmar. Ahmer Khan visited Cox’s Bazar to document in photographs the Rohingya people with what they held dearest to them during their troubled escape from home…writes Saad Hammadi

    Last November, when word spread of a possible repatriation of a few thousand Rohingya refugees, hundreds sought sanctuary in other camps in Cox’s Bazar to escape a forced return and avoid being identified.

    In the desperately overcrowded camps across Ukhiya in Cox’s Bazar, many Rohingya refugees have still not recovered from the trauma they experienced in Myanmar. That painful escape from home still haunts them.

    November 15, 2018

    Since August 2017, more than 720,000 Rohingya have fled a vicious campaign of violence by the Myanmar security forces and sought refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh.

    This week some refugees could be returned from Bangladesh to Myanmar under an agreement reached earlier between the two governments that sidestepped safeguards mandated under international law.

    Here, Amnesty International explains how this situation has come about and why the forcible return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar is unlawful, being premature, and putting their lives, liberty and other key human rights at risk.

    Who are the Rohingya people?

    The Rohingya are a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority in Myanmar. Until recently, more than a million lived mostly in Rakhine State, in the west of the country, on the border with Bangladesh.

    May 07, 2018
    Kutupalong Rohingya refugee camp Bangladesh

    By: Naureen Shah

    In March 2018, I visited the Kutupalong Rohingya refugee camp near Cox’s bazaar in south eastern Bangladesh. 

    Violence and persecution in the western Rakhine State of Myanmar have caused more than 500,000 Rohingya people, an ethnic minority, to flee their homes.The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called the situation a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing," and the crisis has caused a mass exodus of the Rohingya across the border into Bangladesh. I wanted to bring the stories of the Rohingya people living in Cox’s bazaar back to Canada, so they would not be forgotten.

    February 14, 2018

    Traumatized, exhausted, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are living out another chapter in their painful history as an unwanted people. Amnesty’s Deputy South Asia Director, Omar Waraich, joined a research mission to document their experiences in Cox’s Bazar, a district shaped by the sufferings of Rohingya people over centuries.

    November 14, 2017

    By Omar Waraich, Deputy South Asia Director at Amnesty International

    STANDING by Bangladesh’s border with Myanmar, we watched the refugees slowly cross the thick, lime-green paddy fields. They wore signs of exhaustion. Their faces were drawn and their bare feet badly bruised. They gratefully accepted the rations being offered by aid workers: a bottle of water to quench their thirst, a high-energy biscuit to restore their strength, and an offer of rest in the shade after days, sometimes weeks-long, arduous journeys.

    A European aid worker suddenly turned to me and asked, “Do you think there’s any Western country that would take in this many people?” It was a question that did not anticipate an answer. At a time when refugees face what Pope Francis has hauntingly termed “the globalisation of indifference”, Bangladesh stands out for opening its doors.

    October 05, 2017

    By Tirana Hassan, Crisis Response Director at Amnesty International.

    In her five young years, Buthaina has witnessed the type of violence and brutality that powerful people and governments often want to keep hidden.

    Pulled from the rubble of her family home in Yemen’s capital Sana’a, viral images show her sitting up in a hospital bed, clutching a teddy bear. Badly bruised, she struggles to pry open a swollen eye with her fingers, to look out on a world that has dealt her such cruelty. “She had five siblings to play with. Now she has none,”her uncle Ali al-Raymi told Amnesty International.

    October 03, 2017

    http://www.amnesty.ca/sites/amnesty/files/Canada Demand Myanmar stop the violence.pdfJoin Amnesty International in taking action for Rohingya refugees forced to flee their homes in Myanmar. 

    September 29, 2017

    By Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Director of Global Issues.

    *This article was originally published in The Diplomat. 

    For the past month, the world has watched in horror as Myanmar’s army has carried out a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing against members of the Rohingya minority in the west of the country. Almost 500,000 women, men and children have already crossed the border into Bangladesh, leaving behind dead family members, burned villages and a shattered homeland.

    While the international community has rightly focused on the horrors precipitating the mass exodus of Rohingya from Myanmar, Myanmar’s neighbors remain woefully unprepared to handle the spillover effects of the crisis.

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