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Update on the Rohingya in Burma - August 2013

Update on the Rohingya in Burma - August 2013

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Published by David Ward
Please share these so that other people are made aware of the issues facing the Rohingya. The update explains about what is currently happening in Burma, and provides a summary of news from and about Burma for August 2013.

I am often meeting with members of the Rohingya community in Bradford which I hope I can keep you updated about. If you would like the most the up-to-date information from me regarding this issue please follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DavidWardMP
For more information from Burma Campaign UK, please follow them on Twitter: https://twitter.com/burmacampaignuk
Please share these so that other people are made aware of the issues facing the Rohingya. The update explains about what is currently happening in Burma, and provides a summary of news from and about Burma for August 2013.

I am often meeting with members of the Rohingya community in Bradford which I hope I can keep you updated about. If you would like the most the up-to-date information from me regarding this issue please follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DavidWardMP
For more information from Burma Campaign UK, please follow them on Twitter: https://twitter.com/burmacampaignuk

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Published by: David Ward on Sep 12, 2013
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07/22/2014

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LAST MONTH IN BURMA
News from and about Burma
To subscribe to Last Month in Burma, simply send a blank email to:
burmabriefng-subscribe@lists.burmacampaign.org.uk
UN Human Rights Envoy highlights “critical challenges”
UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rightsin Myanmar Tomás Ojea Quintana made a ten-day visit toBurma in August. As well as Rangoon and Naypyidaw, hevisited Rakhine State, Kachin State, Shan State, Chin State,Mandalay and Meiktila township. In Naypyidaw, he met with
government ministers and ofcials, Aung San Suu Kyi, and
other MPs. In Rangoon, he met activists and visited politicalprisoners in Insein prison.He highlighted ongoing human rights violations, includingthe continued detention of political prisoners, continuedrestrictions on aid delivery, particularly in Arakan and KachinState, and the use of repressive laws. Quintana criticised theso-called ‘Right to Protest’ law, saying that he had met several people “detained and charged under thePeaceful Assembly and Demonstration Act for their involvement in peaceful protests, including on landissues. I reiterate that this legislation is not in line with international human rights standards.”Following his visit to Arakan State, Quintana expressed concern that the separation and segregation of communities in Arakan/Rakhine State is becoming increasingly permanent, which is having a particularlynegative impact on the Muslim community. Quintana also spoke of the hundreds of Muslims detained after 
the violence of June and October 2012, many of whom have been “arbitrarily detained and tried in awed
trials”.On his arrival at Sittwe airport, he was greeted by a group of Arakan protesters who were angry atQuintana’s report to the UN about the violence in Arakan State.He was met with further protest when he visited Meiktila, where anti-Muslim violence took place in March.Quintana described how his “car was descended upon by a crowd of around 200 people who proceededto punch and kick the windows and doors of the car while shouting abuse. Due to these serious securityconcerns, I had to abandon my proposed visit to an IDP camp containing around 1,600 Muslims who hadbeen displaced following the March violence.”Quintana also had to cancel his planned visit to the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) headquartersin Laiza after the government refused to give him permission to visit.
88 Uprising anniversary commemorated
8 August marked the 25th anniversary of the pro-democracy uprising in 1988, when thousands of students and protestors died when the military andsecurity forces crushed the uprising.Several thousand people gathered at the Myanmar Convention Center in Rangoon to mark theanniversary, with speakers including 88 GenerationStudent leader Min Ko Naing and Aung San SuuKyi.Burma Campaign UK called on President Thein Seinto reveal the exact role he played in suppressingthe uprising and for the abuses to be investigatedand those responsible held to account. Thein Seinhas never publicly spoken about the exact role thathe played in suppressing the uprising. A leaked USembassy diplomatic cable dated 20th October 2004said Thein Sein ‘distinguished’ himself crackingdown against the 1988 uprising.
 AUGUST2013
Quintana gives a press brieng before leaving Burma
.
 
2
It stated: ‘Major Thein Sein served as commander of Light Infantry Division (LID)-55, one of theelite organizations loyal to the Burmese SocialistProgram Party (BSPP). In that capacity, hedistinguished himself, as did Soe Win, in thecrackdown against the 1988 uprising in support of democracy.’More than 20 years later, on 30th March 2011, in his
rst speech to Parliament after becoming President,
Thein Sein praised the actions of the military incrushing the uprising in 1988, stating: “Also in 1988,the Tatmadaw government saved the country fromdeteriorating conditions in various sectors andreconstructed the country.”
Peaceful protestors continue to be arrested
During August, peaceful activists and protestorscontinued to be harassed and arrested.On 13th August 2013, Naw Ohn Hla andher supporters were arrested for staging anunauthorised protest against the Letpadaungcopper mine project. Naw Ohn Hla went aheadwith the protest after being refused nine times bythe police for a protest permit. Naw Ohn Hla is aformer political prisoner and a leading member of the Democracy and Peace Women Network,which campaigns for women’s rights, equality anddemocracy in Burma.The Letpadaung project is a venture betweenChina’s Wan Bao Company, the military-ownedUnion of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd andthe Burmese government. It has resulted in land
conscations, environmental degradation, and
the implementation of a policy of arresting andharassing peaceful protestors.Naw Ohn Hla has been sentenced to 2 years inprison under Section 505(b) and her trial continuesfor a remaining charge.On 6 August, a monastery near the Letpadaungcopper mine was raided at around 2am by militarypolice, apparently in search of activists campaigningfor land rights.In Rangoon 6 activists were arrested after they leda peaceful march to protest against the PeacefulGathering and Demonstration Law.
Anti-Muslim attacks continue
 Anti-Muslim violence in Burma continues. On 24
 August, a mob of around 1000 Buddhists set re
to dozens of Muslim-owned homes and shops inSagaing Division, following rumors that a Muslimman had sexually assaulted a local woman. At least20 homes were destroyed as well as over a dozenshops and a local rice mill.On 20 August, Physicians for Human Rightsreleased a report. ‘Patterns of Anti-Muslim Violencein Burma: A Call for Accountability and Prevention’,documenting the violence against Muslimsthroughout Burma and showing how the governmenthas created a culture of impunity and has failed toprotect the Muslim minority.
US renews ban on gems imports
On 7 August President Obama repealed theBurmese Freedom and Democracy Act (BFDA)banning imports from Burma into the USA after the Act expired in July. However, the ban on gemsremains. A statement from the White House said, “due tocontinuing concerns, including with respect to labor 
and human rights in specic sectors, this Executive
Order reinstates the prohibitions and restrictionson the importation into the United States of jadeiteand rubies mined or extracted from Burma, andon articles of jewelry containing them, that wasoriginally imposed by the Tom Lantos BlockBurmese JADE (Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act of 2008, which amended the BFDA. The
 Administration is maintaining restrictions on specic
activities and actors that contribute to human rightsabuses or undermine Burma’s democratic reformprocess.”
Draft Association Law criticised
 A recently published draft law regulating civil societyorganisations and nongovernmental organisations(NGOs) has been widely criticised for restrictingfreedom of speech and association. Among other requirements, it would require all
NGOs to obtain ofcial registration to operate.
Members of unregistered groups could faceprosecution.
Naw Ohn Hla

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