Unión de Myanmar/Birmania

A woman casts her vote at a mobile polling station inside her home in Yangon on 29 October, 2020, as advance voting in the country's elections began for elderly people. Sai Aung Main / AFP

What do the initial results indicate?

The full official results of Myanmar’s 8 November general elections have yet to be announced, but it is already clear that, as expected, the National League for Democracy (NLD) has scored another landslide victory. Aung San Suu Kyi’s party has not only won virtually every seat in the central Burman Buddhist heartland, which constitutes its traditional stronghold, but also increased its haul of seats in many ethnic minority areas. The main national opposition party, the military-established Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), suffered an even more humiliating defeat than in 2015. The ethnic minority parties had mixed success in various states, but they fell far short of their aim of becoming kingmakers in the new parliament.…  Seguir leyendo »

What a difference five years can make. In 2015, many of my fellow Rohingya people cheered as the party of the famed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi won a landslide victory in Myanmar’s first democratic elections of the 21st century, bringing an end to decades of outright military rule. Euphoria reigned. We hoped not only for a new beginning for the country, but also for an end to the oppression against us.

Today, as Myanmar gears up for another general election on Nov. 8, the situation is starkly different. Three years ago, Aung San Suu Kyi, now the country’s de facto head of state, stood by as military leaders launched a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign that killed thousands of Rohingya and drove more than 700,000 across the border into Bangladesh, where they now languish in immense refugee camps.…  Seguir leyendo »

More than 700,000 Rohingya refugees fled to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, after the army crackdown in Myanmar in 2017. Photograph: Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters

The persecution, ethnic cleansing, and attempted genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine state is an affront to the rule of law, a well-documented atrocity and, according to a top international lawyer, a moral stain on “our collective conscience and humanity”. So why are the killings and other horrors continuing while known perpetrators go unpunished?

It’s a question with several possible answers. Maybe poor, isolated Myanmar, formerly Burma, is not important enough a state to warrant sustained international attention. Perhaps, in the western subconscious, the lives of a largely unseen, unknown, brown-skinned Muslim minority do not matter so much at a time of multiple racial, ethnic and refugee crises.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ask yourself: how would you survive in your home country if you had no proof of citizenship or even of your existence? How would your children grow up with minimal access to a school or even a hospital? What would you do if one day, after years of discrimination, your home village was attacked by gunmen? Your neighbors killed as their children looked on? Homes burned to the ground? If you're Rohingya, you grab your children, take what possessions you can carry, and you run for your life.

Three years ago this week, that is exactly what hundreds of thousands of traumatized Rohingya had to do.…  Seguir leyendo »

Laos is a missing link in Asias fight against organized crime

The volume of methamphetamine seized in the region surged around sevenfold in the five years to 2019.

Billions of dollars are being made each year, and the impact is being felt across the Asia-Pacific region.

The majority of those drugs are from the Golden Triangle, the border region where Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet.

Myanmar's Shan State is a particularly important production hub, and in response, Myanmar authorities have conducted major operations against drug labs and complexes in places controlled by independent militias, seizing record amounts of drugs and contraband.

The country's neighbors are also taking action. Thailand has also tasked paramilitary police and the military to confront traffickers along the country's northwestern border with Myanmar, and China is trying to stem the flow of drugs from Myanmar into neighboring Yunnan province.…  Seguir leyendo »

Flooding in a Rohingya refugee camp in Cox's Bazar on Thursday as a result of Cyclone Amphan. (Mayyu Ali)

Cox’s Bazar — In what is often described as the world’s largest refugee settlement, Rohingya refugees who have fled genocide in Myanmar are enduring one disaster after another.

On March 24, Bangladesh confirmed the first covid-19 case in the city of Cox’s Bazar. Since then, the government imposed a lockdown in the area, including for the camps where more than 1 million Rohingya refugees — myself included — are surviving. On May 14, Bangladesh reported the first two confirmed cases within the camps itself — a Rohingya refugee and a local Bangladeshi person.

The nightmare of what we and the world have feared for months had finally arrived at our doorsteps — and it couldn’t have come at a worse time.…  Seguir leyendo »

Coast guards escort Rohingya refugees following a boat capsizing accident in Teknaf on 11 February 2020. Photo: Getty Images.

International criminal justice provides a stark reminder that state sovereignty is not an absolute, and that the world’s most heinous crimes should be prosecuted at an international level, particularly where domestic systems lack the capacity or will to hold perpetrators to account.

The post-Cold War period witnessed a dramatic rise in the number of international tribunals with jurisdiction over war crimes and serious human rights abuses in countries including Cambodia, East Timor, Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Yugoslavia. With these processes approaching, or having reached the end of their dockets, many have called for the creation of new tribunals to address more recent conflicts, including the army crackdown in Myanmar in 2017 that resulted in evidence of crimes against humanity against the Rohingya.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rohingya refugees walk in a market area in Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh on March 24. (Suzauddin Rubel/AFP via Getty Images)

The coronavirus has unleashed so many problems around the world that it’s almost impossible to keep track of them all. Even so, it’s worth taking a moment to consider the situation facing one of the planet’s most vulnerable groups. They’ve been persecuted, maligned and terrorized — and now they’re preparing to confront the virus with minimal protection.

In the summer and fall of 2017, the Myanmar military launched a campaign of terror against the ethnic group known as the Rohingya, driving some 700,000 of them across the border into neighboring Bangladesh. Myanmar’s predominantly Buddhist ruling elite has long discriminated against the Muslim Rohingya, treating them as a nefarious alien presence in the country’s midst even though most have lived there for generations.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rohingya refugees pray as they gather to mark the second anniversary in August of the exodus at the Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Rafiqur Rahman/Reuters)

Recently, the United Nations’ top court ordered Myanmar to take urgent measures to protect Rohingya Muslims from genocide. In a unanimous decision, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that without such measures, the vulnerable Rohingya minority could suffer “irreparable harm.” This legally binding decision has been hailed by human rights advocates as a “first taste of justice” for the Rohingya. However, whether it actually protects the Rohingya will depend on the diplomacy that comes next.

Calls for justice for the Rohingya have intensified

The Rohingya have long suffered from discrimination and political exclusion in Myanmar. In recent years, government forces have led a campaign of violent attacks against them, leading nearly 1 million to flee to neighboring Bangladesh since mid-2017.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rohingya walk through a paddy field after crossing into Bangladesh in 2017. (Bernat Armangue/AP)

On Thursday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued a unanimous ruling that ordered Myanmar to “take all measures within its power” to protect its ethnic minority Rohingya population from genocide. The case — against which Myanmar’s civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, argued unsuccessfully — ended up in front of the ICJ because of a tiny African country thousands of miles away. Here’s what you need to know about this story.

How the case got started

The case before the ICJ started a few weeks ago, when Gambia accused Myanmar of violating the United Nations’ 1948 Convention on Genocide. Suu Kyi flew to The Hague to defend her country, arguing that her government’s actions were legitimate counterinsurgency efforts against rebels in Rakhine state.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rohingya refugees watch ICJ proceedings at a restaurant in a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh in December. Photo: Getty Images.

The decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Myanmar should take all measures available to prevent acts of genocide against the persecuted Rohingya minority is truly ground-breaking. The case shows how small states can play an important role in upholding international law and holding other states accountable.

The Gambia, acting with the support of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, skilfully used Article IX of the Genocide Convention, which allows for a state party to the convention to pursue cases against another state party where it is felt there has been a dispute regarding the ‘interpretation, application or fulfilment’ of the convention.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last month, Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi took the stand at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague to rebut allegations that her country’s systematic persecution of its Rohingya population amounts to genocide. Aung San Suu Kyi, once lionized for her stand against an oppressive military dictatorship, strenuously denied the charges — despite reams of evidence and the presence of nearly 1 million Rohingyas in refugee camps in Bangladesh. They ended up there after fleeing a so-called counterterrorism campaign by the Myanmar military in 2017 that left uncounted thousands dead.

The ICJ has announced that it will issue a preliminary judgment in the case on Jan.…  Seguir leyendo »

An extraordinary event took place in the Netherlands this week: a hearing at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that is a first small step toward justice for one of the world’s longest-suffering minority groups.

On Thursday, an ICJ panel wound up the first phase of a legal process aimed at determining whether Myanmar committed an act of genocide against the Rohingya ethnic minority. In August 2017, using a counterterrorism operation as a pretext, the Buddhist-dominated Myanmar military launched an ethnic-cleansing campaign that killed thousands of Muslim Rohingya and drove nearly 1 million of them into neighboring Bangladesh.

The ICJ investigation is likely to continue for years.…  Seguir leyendo »

A billboard depicting Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Su Kyi with the three military ministers in front of a background showing the building of the International Court of Justice in The Hague is displayed along a main road in Hpa-an, Karen State. AFP

Why is Myanmar before the International Court of Justice?

The Gambia has lodged a case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal UN judicial body based in The Hague, alleging violations of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (usually known as the Genocide Convention) in Myanmar’s treatment of ethnic Rohingya Muslims. The charges stem from atrocities committed by Myanmar’s security forces in northern Rakhine State, which have forced over 700,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh since August 2017. The Gambia, relying on the Convention’s provision that the ICJ can adjudicate disputes over such charges, brought this case on behalf of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.…  Seguir leyendo »

This week the case will commence at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) before the glare of the world’s media, drawn not only by the significance of the case itself, but in particular by the direct role Aung Sang Suu Kyi is set to play in the defence of her government. On 11 November, The Gambia instituted proceedings against Myanmar at the ICJ, based in The Hague. The Gambia’s application alleges that the Government of Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya constitutes a manifest violation of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

The persecution of the Rohingya has been ongoing for decades; their status as the ‘other’ has been a convenient outlet for the oppressive, violent and, all too often, deadly impulses of Buddhist nationalism stretching back to well before the independence of the state in 1948.…  Seguir leyendo »

The office of Aung San Suu Kyi — Nobel Peace Prize laureate and de facto leader of Myanmar — has just announced that she will travel to The Hague in December to answer a suit brought against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the Rohingya genocide. And apparently this has been decided in agreement with the country’s powerful generals, who control foreign affairs and security and who have carried out the “clearance operations” for which the state of Myanmar stands accused.

This is a baffling but welcome state of affairs. Why would Suu Kyi and the government of Myanmar acknowledge the jurisdiction of the ICJ — thereby implicitly granting the court standing to pass judgment on the Rohingya genocide?…  Seguir leyendo »

Rohingya refugees gathered in Bangladesh on Aug. 28 on the second anniversary of the 2017 refugee crisis. Credit K.M. Asad/LightRocket, via Getty Images

Late last month, some 200,000 Rohingya living in refugee camps in southeastern Bangladesh gathered to mark the anniversary of the brutal crackdown by the Myanmar military that drove more than 700,000 people to flee western Myanmar in August 2017. Citing security concerns, the Bangladeshi government promptly banned phone companies from providing mobile services to the refugees living in the camps of Cox’s Bazar — one million or so. The authorities have become increasingly worried about an uptick in crime in and around the camps, an increase in drug smuggling from Myanmar and the potential influence of foreign jihadists among the Rohingya.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rohingya refugees gather behind a barbed-wire fence in a temporary settlement set up in a border zone between Myanmar and Bangladesh, in a photo taken from Maungdaw district, Myanmar's Rakhine state, in April 2018. (Ye Aung Thu/AFP/Getty Images)

I am Rohingya. When I was 3, my parents and I fled Myanmar to escape violence against my community — an ethnic minority group that is largely Muslim. Now, from afar, I watch in horror as a genocide against my people is unfolding. In the past two years, more than 700,000 Rohingya have fled murder, rape and torture for refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh.

This week, a United Nations investigative report laid bare the suffering and abuse that my people have endured in Myanmar (which we call Burma). It says that the 600,000 Rohingya who remain in Rakhine state are living in “unbearable conditions.”…  Seguir leyendo »

On Monday, a United Nations-authorized investigative team released a report that exposes the economic interests supporting the Myanmar military and its well-documented human rights violations against the country’s ethnic minority groups. The investigators call for the targeted financial sanctions against all military-owned companies.

The report comes on the heels of the State Department’s announcement last month of travel bans against four Myanmar generals, including the armed forces’ commander in chief, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, for their role in what has been called genocide of the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority.

As the two-year anniversary of the coordinated attacks against the Rohingya approaches, with more than 800,000 people displaced and no end to the persecution or accountability for its perpetrators in sight, it is clear that the international community’s response has been inadequate and ineffective.…  Seguir leyendo »

Bangladesh is once again calling for the establishment of "safe zones" for the Rohingya in Myanmar so that it can begin resettling some of the 1 million or so refugees in its care around the district of Cox's Bazar . This is not the first time the government in Dhaka has pushed for this. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pressed Myanmar on the issue before the United Nations General Assembly in September 2017.

Now, Bangladesh's new foreign minister, Abulkalam Abdul Momen , has started lobbying Russia, China and India, as well as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, to try to use their influence to persuade Myanmar to establish safe zones within its territory.…  Seguir leyendo »