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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 07, 2020
    DOWNLOAD PDF OF UA 87/19 HERE

    Aung Marm Oo, an ethnic Rakhine editor-in-chief of a news agency based in Rakhine State, has been in hiding for more than a year after charges were filed against him for violating the Unlawful Associations Act. His news agency, Development Media Group (DMG), has been reporting on violations during the ongoing armed conflict between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army, an ethnic Rakhine armed group. If convicted under this repressive law, often used to target ethnic minorities in Myanmar, he faces up to five years in prison. 

    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.

    February 24, 2020

    Nay Myo Zin © Amnesty International

    DOWNLOAD PDF OF UA 13/20 HERE

    Three activists are facing prison sentences for giving speeches criticizing the military and calling for constitutional reform at a peaceful rally in April 2019. If convicted, they face up to two years in prison. Two of the men are on bail, while one is already serving one year in prison and facing further charges for speaking at other peaceful rallies. The Myanmar authorities should release him immediately and unconditionally, quash his conviction, and drop all remaining charges against the three activists. 

    Amnesty International believes the prosecution of the activists to be politically motivated and urges the government to immediately and unconditionally release Nay Myo Zin and drop all charges against the three men. 

    January 30, 2020

    Last week, in the lead up to the International Day of Education, Amnesty International once again pressed the government of Bangladesh and the international community to address the continuing failure to provide education to Rohingya refugee children, and the lack of educational opportunities for many children in host communities near the refugee camps in Bangladesh.

    What a difference a week makes! On Tuesday, the Bangladeshi government announced it will open up the prospect of going to school for hundreds of thousands of refugee children who have been denied that right for years.

    It is tremendous news, and Canada is well-placed to work with Bangladesh to ensure that vital promise becomes reality.

    The International Day of Education draws attention to the vital role that education plays in advancing peace and development in our world. It is grounded in recognition that access to education is an important human right, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and numerous other international treaties adopted over the decades. Recognition as well, though, that around the world it is a right far too frequently violated and ignored.

    January 16, 2020

    Ahead of President Xi Jinping’s two-day state visit to Myanmar, which begins on Friday 17 January 2020, Amnesty International’s Regional Director, Nicholas Bequelin, said:

    “President Xi’s government has expressed its desire to help solve the situation in Rakhine State. While this is welcome in principle, the reality is that China’s engagement has failed to yield positive results for the people of Myanmar.

    “China must stop using its position in the UN Security Council to shield Myanmar’s senior generals from accountability. This has only emboldened the military’s relentless campaign of human rights violations and war crimes against ethnic minorities across the country.

    “Almost a million Rohingya languish in refugee camps in Bangladesh while 600,000 still in Myanmar continue to live under appalling conditions of apartheid. If it fails to pressure Myanmar to ensure justice and restore Rohingya’s rights, China’s efforts to resolve the situation will remain ineffective – and counter-productive.

    December 11, 2019

    Responding to the statement made by Aung San Suu Kyi at the International Court of Justice in The Hague today, Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director, said:

    “Aung San Suu Kyi tried to downplay the severity of the crimes committed against the Rohingya population. In fact, she wouldn’t even refer to them by name or acknowledge the scale of the abuses. Such denials are deliberate,  deceitful and dangerous.

    “The exodus of more than three quarters of a million people from their homes and country was nothing but the result of an orchestrated campaign of murder, rape and terror. To suggest that the military ‘did not distinguish clearly enough between fighters and civilians’ defies belief. Likewise, the suggestion that Myanmar authorities can currently and independently investigate and prosecute those suspected of crimes under international law is nothing but a fantasy, in particular in the case of senior military perpetrators who have enjoyed decades of total impunity.

    December 10, 2019
    ‘Rohingya Right of Reply’ public event on 11 December 2019

    Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s State Counsellor and de facto head of state, is leading Myanmar’s delegation to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands, to respond to a case alleging that Myanmar has breached its obligations under the UN Genocide Convention. The case was filed by The Gambia on 11 November 2019.

    On Wednesday, 11 December 2019, Myanmar will respond to The Gambia's allegations in court for the first time.

    The first public hearings will take place between 10-12 December. The Gambia has asked the ICJ to order Myanmar to take ‘provisional measures’ ‘to protect the rights of the Rohingya group’ and prevent all acts that amount to or contribute to the crime of genocide against the community, pending formal hearings on the case.

    Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director, said:

    October 21, 2019

    Amnesty International has gathered fresh evidence that the Myanmar military is continuing to commit atrocities against ethnic minorities in the north of the country, with civilians bearing the brunt of offensives against multiple armed groups. The conflicts show no sign of abating, raising the prospect of further violations.

    A new report, “Caught in the middle”: Abuses against civilians amid conflict in Myanmar’s northern Shan State, details the harrowing conditions of civilians arbitrarily arrested, detained and tortured by the military. It also highlights the abusive tactics used by ethnic armed groups as they confront the military and each other to exert control in the region.

    “The Myanmar military is as relentless and ruthless as ever, committing war crimes against civilians in northern Shan State with absolute impunity,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southeast Asia. “Soldiers – and more importantly commanders – are subjecting civilians to the military’s hallmark brutality in the absence of any form of accountability.”

    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.

    August 22, 2019
    Spokespeople available for interviews

    With the threat of returns to Myanmar once again looming over Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, Amnesty International warned that Rakhine State remains unsafe while those responsible for atrocities continue to evade justice. Action from the Canadian government is urged as the needs of refugees pivot from shorter-term humanitarian response, to sustained human rights protections.

    This Sunday marks two years since the Myanmar military launched operations in Rakhine State which forced more than 740,000 Rohingya women, men and children to flee their homes and villages. The brutal campaign was marked by widespread atrocities, which a UN investigation team has said amount to crimes against humanity and likely genocide.

    June 26, 2019

    Myanmar authorities should immediately end an internet shutdown imposed in conflict-affected areas of Rakhine and Chin States since 21 June 2019, said Amnesty International today. The shutdown has created an information black hole in an area where the Myanmar military has committed serious violations – including war crimes – raising serious concerns about the safety of civilians. It is essential that the Myanmar authorities ensure the right to information in times of crisis.

    June 17, 2019

    Tens of thousands of older women and men from ethnic minorities across Myanmar who faced military atrocities and were forced to flee their homes are being let down by a humanitarian system that often fails to adequately address their rights and needs, Amnesty International said in a report published today.

    “Fleeing my whole life”: Older people’s experience of conflict and displacement in Myanmar is the organization’s first comprehensive investigation into the specific ways older people’s rights and dignity are not respected amid armed conflict and crisis, as well in the provision of humanitarian assistance.
     
    “For decades, Myanmar’s ethnic minorities have suffered recurrent abuse at the hands of the military. Many older people racked by atrocities amid recent military operations lived through similar crimes as children or younger adults. Their experience lays bare the military’s longstanding brutality, and the need for justice,” said Matthew Wells, Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International.

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