Friday, 13 February 2009

Thailand Warns Angelina Jolie Over Comments On Rohingyas

Source from thaivisa, 11 Feb 2009
Posted Image

BANGKOK: -- Thai government is not happy with US actress Angelina Jolie and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees for criticising that Thai government did not respect Rohingya boat people's human rights

Thai Foreign Ministry's Permanent Secretary Virasakdi Futrakul said the Rohingya's presence in Thailand is a hot issue. ""It was a coincidence that the Rohingya was a hot news issue at the time. We must warn UNHCR that they should not comment on the matter because they have no mandate."

The warning came after UNHCR's goodwill ambassador Jolie who visited Burmese camps along Thai border last week criticised Thai government of ignoring the plight of Rohinyas and suggested that Thai government should take better care of the Burmese ethnics.

Virasakdi told reporters that Angelina was not focused on the Rohingya, but was visiting Burmese refugee camps.

"The UNHCR should not have brought Jolie, its goodwill ambassador, to one of the nine refugee camps stringing the border which are run by Thailand's interior ministry."

"The Thai government will issue a reprimand letter to UNHCR, asking why it allowed Angelina Jolie to visit the refugee camps," Virasakdi told reporters.   -- The Nation 2009-02-11

Jolie chastised by Thai government over ‘Myanmar migrants’ comments
Source from, 12 Feb 2009

London, Feb 12 (ANI): American actress Angelina Jolie has earned herself the ire of the Thai government after she commented on the plight of Myanmar migrants.
Jolie and Brad Pitt had visited a refugee camp on the Thai-Myanmar border last week, as part of her role as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations (U.N.), and the migrants there told her that the Thai military was mistreating them.

Upon hearing their story, Jolie issued an emotive plea to the Thai government urging the authorities to respect the rights of the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic group from Myanmar.
In her plea the Tomb Raider star asked the Thai government to be “just as generous to the Rohingya refugees who are now arriving on their shores” as they were to the Ban Mai Nai Soi camp’s, 18,000 other refugees from Myanmar.

The Thai army has been accused of detaining and torturing hundreds of Rohingya who, in recent months, fled to Thailand to escape poverty in Myanmar.

But now Jolie has been reprimanded by Thai officials for her comments, and they have stated that the United Nations refugee agency should not have allowed her to visit the centre.
“Angelina was not focused on the Rohingya, but was visiting Myanmar refugee camps,” the Daily Express quoted Virasakdi Futrakul, permanent secretary of the Thai foreign ministry, as saying.

“It was a coincidence that the Rohingya was a hot news issue at the time, therefore we must warn (U.N. refugee agency) UNHCR that they should not comment on this issue because they have no mandate on this issue.
“The Thai government will issue a reprimand letter to UNHCR asking why it allowed Angelina Jolie to visit the refugee camps,” he added.
A representative for UNHCR claims that the Thai Ministry of Interior issued camp passes for both Jolie and Pitt. (ANI)

Rohingya refugees in Malaysia protest Thai actions against boat people

Source from channel news asia, 12 Feb 2009
KUALA LUMPUR : Rohingya refugees in Malaysia held two protests in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday to highlight the plight of their compatriots.

Less than 100 of them turned up at the Thai Embassy to protest against the alleged abuse of Rohingya boat people seeking refuge in Thailand.

They forwarded a memo to embassy staff in which they "condemned Thailand's atrocious human rights record".

On the alleged mistreatment of the boat people by the Thai military, they called for the issue to be brought before the International Court of Justice.

The group then moved on to the Bangladesh Embassy, where they protested the mistreatment of Rohingya refugees detained in Bangladesh.

Over the years, hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh to escape persecution in Myanmar. But they receive little or no support from the Bangladeshi government. - CNA /ls

..........some photos of one of the protest in relation to boat people added by BRAT..............
...........Burmese people protest at Bangladesh embassy, KL
.............Burmese protest at Burmese emabssy, KL

......................memo handing over to a senior staff from Burmese emabssy, KL
...................Burmese protest at Thai emabssy, KL
....................memo handing over to a senior staff from Thai-embassy in KL

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Myanmar Envoy Brands Rohingya "Ugly As Ogres"

Source AFP, 10 Feb 2009
HONG KONG (AFP)-- Myanmar's senior official in Hong Kong has described the Rohingya boatpeople as "ugly as ogres," as a high-profile refugee case has highlighted the group's plight, a report said Wednesday.

The country's Consul General Ye Myint Aung wrote to heads of foreign missions in Hong Kong and local newspapers insisting the Muslim tribe should not be described as being from Myanmar, the South China Morning Post reported.

"In reality, Rohingya are neither Myanmar people nor Myanmar's ethnic group," he said.

The envoy contrasted the "dark brown" Rohingya complexion with the "fair and soft" skin of people from Myanmar, according to the Post.

"It is quite different from what you have seen and read in the papers.

(They are as ugly as ogres)," Ye Myint Aung was said to have written. It is not immediately clear why the phrase was in brackets in the original letter.

The Rohingya are stateless and face religious and ethnic persecution from Myanmar's military regime, forcing thousands to take to rickety boats each year in a bid to escape poverty and oppression, rights groups say.

But Myanmar's junta denies the existence of the Rohingya as an ethnic group in the mainly Buddhist country and says the migrants are Bangladeshis.

Thailand's military was accused in January of towing hundreds of Rohingya out to sea in poorly equipped boats with scant food and water after they tried to flee Myanmar, a charge Thailand has "categorically denied."

The accusations surfaced after nearly 650 Rohingya were rescued off India and Indonesia, some saying they had been beaten by Thai soldiers.

Hundreds of the boat people are still believed to be missing at sea.

The case has raised the profile of the group's struggle, prompting Ye Myint Aung's letter, the Post said.

No one from Myanmar's Hong Kong consulate was immediately available to comment when contacted.
Pl see the letter attached by BRAT


Saturday, 7 February 2009

Over 90 organisations worldwide call for Rohingya and Bangladeshi protection

Statement on the treatment of Rohingya and Bangladeshi ‘Boat People’ in Asia - February 6, 2009
Source from,
We, the undersigned organizations, are extremely concerned about the treatment of over a thousand Rohingyas from Burma and migrants from Bangladesh who have been forcibly expelled and abandoned in international waters by the Thai security forces since December 2008.
Over the past few weeks, several boats have been rescued off the coasts of Indonesia and the Andaman Islands of India. Survivors tell of having been detained in Thailand, beaten, and towed out to sea on boats without engines or sufficient food and water. Several hundred remain missing and are feared dead.We are also concerned about the fate, including possible refoulement, of the Rohingya who remain in detention in Thailand, Indonesia and India. If Rohingyas are returned to Burma they could face widespread human rights violations, including forced labour, forced eviction, land confiscation and severe restrictions on freedom of movement. Refoulement of such individuals is prohibited under customary international law.
Over the past two years, the number of people leaving Bangladesh and Burma by boat for Southeast Asia has grown. They have fled in search of protection, safety and/or work. Most are Rohingyas, a Muslim minority from western Burma.
The Rohingya have been rendered stateless in Burma and have experienced systematic discrimination, exclusion, and human rights violations in Burma for decades, prompting hundreds of thousands to seek refuge in neighbouring countries, most notably Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thailand. Most are without legal status and are vulnerable to arrest, imprisonment, detention and deportation.
Aside from the Rohingya, millions of ethnic minorities and political activists have fled Burma, fearing persecution, violence and human rights abuses.
Specific Concerns
We are concerned by the following reports about the Rohingya:
  • The ill-treatment and failure to provide adequate assistance to hundreds who were arrested and detained in Thailand. Since December 2008, those captured at sea by the Thai Navy were directly transferred to the custody of the Thai Army at Koh Sai Daeng. Despite their weak condition, they were not provided with adequate food, were forced to sleep outside under armed guard, and were subject to ill-treatment such as kicking and beatings with a stick. They were then forced to board boats that were not seaworthy, were given inadequate provisions, and then towed out to sea and abandoned.
  • Those who initially refused to board the vessel were threatened at gunpoint. Four men were thrown overboard with their hands tied.
  • Hundreds, perhaps thousands, remain missing, including children.
  • Thailand and Indonesia have announced their intention to deport the Rohingya in their custody.
We recognize that:
  • The Indonesian and Indian Governments have conducted rescue at sea operations, providing relief and medical attention to rescued Rohingyas and Bangladeshis.
  • On 26 January 2009, the Thai Government transferred 78 new arrivals to Police and Immigration authorities rather than the Army.
  • The Thai Government has indicated that it will postpone the deportation of the 78 Rohingya arrivals until further investigation of their injuries. The Thai Government has also called for a regional solution to the plight of Rohingya.
Given the gravity of situation, we recommend that:
The Burmese Government:
  • End the systematic persecution of the Rohingya ethnic minority and recognise them as citizens with full rights and protection.
The Thai Government:
  • Cease forcibly expelling the Rohingyas, which is in violation of international law. Investigate serious allegations of mistreatment by the Thai security forces which may be in serious violation of Thailand’s obligations under the 1984 the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and bring to justice those responsible.
  • Ensure that detainees have access to humanitarian assistance, protection and independent legal counsel by relevant international and local agencies. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees) should have access to all detainees to ensure fair determination of their status.
  • Facilitate an open and independent inquiry by the Thai National Human Rights Commission and/or an international body into the allegations of human rights violations, providing them with full access to survivors and detainees, relevant government and army officials, and records related to the events.
The Indonesian and Indian Governments:
  • Respect the principle of non-refoulement in relation to those rescued at sea and currently being detained.
  • Ensure that detainees have access to humanitarian assistance, protection and independent legal counsel by relevant international and local agencies. UNHCR should have access to all detainees to ensure fair determination of their status.
The Bangladeshi Government:
  • Uphold its international obligations as a country of first asylum to ensure the protection and assistance of Rohingya with the support of the international community.
The members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Bay of Bengal Multi-Sectoral Initiative for Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC):
  • Launch immediate search and rescue operations for the remaining boats pushed back into international waters, as well as other boats of migrants reported to have left Bangladesh.
  • Work with the UNHCR, the international community and civil society groups to find equitable regional solutions that meet the protection needs of those forced to leave Burma, with responsibility-sharing arrangements regionally and internationally.
  • Urge the Burmese Government to stop the systematic persecution of the Rohingya minority, which is the root cause of their flight to neighbouring countries.
  • Meet their obligations as state parties to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 1974 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the 1979 International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR).
  • Urge all members to ratify the 1951 Convention Related to the Status of Refugees, its 1967 Protocol, the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, and the 1990 International Convention for the Protection of the Right of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.
The United Nations and the International Community:
  • Continue to support the governments of Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand and its neighbours to find a durable solution to the protection needs of Burmese refugees throughout the region, ensuring consultation with civil society.
  • Engage the Burmese Government to solve the ongoing human rights crisis there, including amending the 1982 Citizenship Law which renders the Rohingya stateless.
  • Ensure that urgent humanitarian assistance is provided to Rohingyas and Bangladeshis who have fled on boats.
  • Ensure that human rights complaints related to the treatment of these people are thoroughly investigated and reported to the Human Rights Council
This statement was written by members of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN), and has been endorsed by the following organizations and individuals:
1. A Just Australia
2. Act for Peace, National Council of Churches Australia (NCCA)
3. Austcare
4. Burmese Rohingya Community in Australia (BRCA)
5. Children Out of Detention (ChilOut)
6. Dr Savitri Taylor, School of Law, La Trobe University
7. Rosie Scott, International Detention Coalition
8. The Association of Survivors of Torture and Trauma (ASeTTS)
9. The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
10. The Ethnic Communities Council of WA and the Multicultural Services Centre of WA
11. The Refugee Council of Australia
12. The South Australian Refugee Health Network
13. The Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture
14. Union Aid Abroad APHEDA
15. West Coast Refugee Sanctuary Group Inc.
16. Westgate Baptist Community
17. Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK)
18. Empowerment through Law of the Common People (ELCOP)
19. IMA Research Foundation
20. Odhikar
21. Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO)
22. Shan Women’s Action Network
23. The Egyptian Foundation for Refugee Rights
Hong Kong
24. Hong Kong Refugee Advice Centre
25. Centre for Development and Human Rights
26. Human Rights Working Group
27. Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI)
28. David Dickson, Solidarity House International
29. Korea Women’s Hotline
30. Korean Public Interest Lawyers Group (GONGGAM)
31. The Refugee Pnan
32. Frontiers Ruwad Association
33. All Women’s Action Society
34. Amnesty International Malaysia
35. Borneo Child Aid Society/Humana
36. Building and Wood Workers International (BWI)
37. Center for Orang Asli Concerns
38. Civil Rights Committee of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
39. Coalition of Burma Ethnic Groups in Malaysia (COBEM)
40. Community Residents Association of Selangor and Federal Territory (PERMAS)
41. Council of Churches of Malaysia
42. Health Equity Initiatives (HEI)
43. Empower (Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor)
44. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
45. Justice, Peace and Solidarity In Mission, The Good Shepherd Sisters
46. Kumpulan ACTS
47. Malaysia Youth and Student Democratic Movement (DEMA)
48. Organization of Karenni Development (OKD)
49. Pusat Jagaan Kanak Kanak NurSalam, Chow Kit
50. Pusat Komas (Community Communication Centre)
51. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
52. Tenaganita (Women’s Force)
53. The National Human Rights Society (HAKAM)
54. Women’s Aid Organisation
55. Workers Organisation
56. National Center Against Violence
57. All Nepal Women’s Association
58. INHURED International
59. ESCR-Asia
60. Pakistan International Human Rights Organization (PIHRO)
61. Center for Migrant Advocacy
62. Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA)
63. The Pax _Romana-International Movement of Catholic Students
64. Virgilio “Boy” Hernandez
65. Singapore Working Group for Asean Human Rights Mechanism (MARUAH)
66. UNI Apro
South Africa
67. Lawyers for Human Rights
Sri Lanka
68. Andrew Samuel, Community Development Services, Colombo
69. Commission for Justice and Peace (CJP) of the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka
70. South Asian Network for Refugees, IDPs & Migrants (SANRIM)
71. Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma
72. Arakan Project
73. Mekong Ecumenical Partnership Program, Christian Conference of Asia
74. Serge Auguste, Maryknoll
75. Shining Som Mekong Alumni Network
76. U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI)
United Kingdom
77. Forest Peoples Programme
78. The Equal Rights Trust
United States
79. Asylum Access (US/Thailand)
80. Church World Service, Immigration and Refugee Program
81. Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center
82. Refugees International
83. U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI)
84. Africa Internally Displaced Persons Voice (Africa IDP Voice)
85. Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD)
86. Asian Solidarity for Peoples’ Advocacy (SAPA)
87. Christian Conference of Asia
88. Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility (CARAM Asia)
89. Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW)
90. International Detention Coalition
91. Nonviolence International Southeast Asia (NISEA)
92. The Asian Center for the Progress of Peoples
93. The Asian Human Rights Commissionl

Thursday, 5 February 2009

United States Says United Nations Should Screen Rohingya Migrants

Source from US Policy, 03 Feb 2009

United States has resettled some Rohingya referred by U.N. agency.

By Stephen Kaufman
Staff Writer
Washington — The Obama administration says countries to which Burmese Rohingya migrants have fled should carefully screen them — with the involvement of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) — to determine if they need protection.

The United States considers the Muslim Rohingya people, who live mainly in the Burmese state of Northern Rakhine, to be a religious and ethnic minority that is being persecuted by the country’s military regime.
Burma does not recognize them as citizens, despite their centuries-long presence in the country. The junta also has placed severe economic, travel and other restrictions on the community and forcibly converted some to Buddhism. (See “Burma’s Muslims Are Long-standing Victims of Military Regime.”)

Agence France Presse (AFP) reported February 3 that Indonesian fishermen had found a group of nearly 200 Rohingya men adrift off the northern tip of Sumatra weeks after the men attempted to flee to Thailand in makeshift boats. The survivors told AFP they had been detained and beaten by Thai military personnel before being sent back to sea on boats without motors or adequate food and water supplies.
An additional 650 Rohingya were found in Indonesian and Indian territorial waters in January, AFP said, and nearly 1,000 Rohingya attempted to flee by sea to Thailand in 2008.

Laura Tischler, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, told February 3 that a small number of Rohingya who had been referred by UNHCR had been accepted by the United States for resettlement. The Obama administration also will “consider additional referrals … on a case-by-case basis,” she said.

Along with urging countries to work with UNHCR to determine who needs protection, the United States called on Burma’s neighbors to “press the government of Burma to end its persecution of Rohingya,” so that “those who have already fled can return home safely,” Tischler said.
She added that the Obama administration welcomes efforts by other concerned governments to work together on a common approach for protecting Rohingya people.