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Burma Sentences UN Staff to Prison for Rakhine Violence
« on: August 29, 2012, 09:39:58 AM »
Daniel Schearf
August 27, 2012


BANGKOK —  Burma has sentenced two United Nations staff members and one U.N. partner, detained since June, to prison terms for alleged involvement in communal violence in western Rakhine state.
 
A United Nations spokesman in Rangoon confirmed Monday a Burma court sentenced two of its staff members and a third U.N. partner to prison.
 
Aye Win said a district court in Maungdaw, in Burma’s western Rakhine state, handed down the sentences on Friday. But authorities have yet to explain the details. He said they were not informed of the trial in advance and the accused were refused lawyers.
 
“Well, we haven’t had access to these staff members," said Aye Win. "And, we’ve asked for access and we’ve asked for clarification on the sentences.”
 
Hla Thein, chairman of the government’s Rakhine Riot Information Committee, denied the three were refused lawyers.
 
He told VOA’s Burmese Service one U.N. staff member was found guilty of arson and given six years in prison. Others were guilty of inciting violence and promoting hatred between Buddhists and Muslims and were given between two and three years. All three were guilty of having illegal amounts of foreign currency, he says, and all of them worked for the U.N.’s refugee agency, the UNHCR.
 
U.N. Spokesman Aye Win said one UNHCR and one WFP staff member were jailed along with a third unidentified UNHCR partner.
 
He said all of them are Burma nationals.
 
"Well, obviously [we’re] very disappointed at the outcome of these cases," he said. "Especially as we had a very positive development when some of the staffers were released last week. So, we had hoped also that these staffers who were under detention would be given the same consideration."
 
Burma media reports say authorities last week released two people working for the United Nations and four working for Doctors Without Borders.
 
Burma detained at least twelve humanitarian aid workers, including U.N. staff, in June for alleged involvement in Rakhine state communal unrest.
 
Sectarian violence between the majority Buddhist Rakhine and minority Muslim Rohingya exploded after a busload of Rohingya were killed over an alleged rape.
 
Rohingya and Rakhine mobs attacked and burned villages, leaving at least 88 people dead.
 
The United Nations and other international bodies called for a credible investigation into the violence.
 
Burma’s government appointed a commission to look into the incidents, which it says will act independently. -- http://www.voanews.com/

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Re: Burma Sentences UN Staff to Prison for Rakhine Violence
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2012, 09:40:34 AM »

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« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2012, 09:42:01 AM »
Burma's President Pardons 2 UN Staffers, Another Aid Worker
VOA News
August 28, 2012


Burmese President Thein Sein has pardoned two U.N. personnel and a third aid worker who were sentenced to prison last week for their alleged involvement in a deadly outbreak of Buddhist-Muslim violence in June.

The Burmese presidential office said Tuesday that Thein Sein granted the pardon to the three aid workers employed by the U.N.'s World Food Program, the U.N. refugee agency, and a Burmese non-government organization affiliated to the refugee agency. All three are Burmese Muslims. A U.N. official in New York said the two staffers had been released and had expressed hope the aid worker also would be freed.

A court in western Burma's Rakhine state had sentenced the aid workers to prison terms of two to six years on Friday, after convicting them on charges including arson and inciting unrest between majority Buddhists and minority Rohingya Muslims. Burmese officials have said at least 80 people were killed in a wave of Buddhist-Muslim violence in Rakhine that began in June.

On Monday, U.N. envoy for Burma's human rights situation Tomas Ojea Quintana had told VOA's Burmese service that the Burmese government should release the three detainees immediately.
 
Quintana said the allegations against the U.N. staff were unfounded. He also said many of the aid workers, recently detained by Burmese authorities in connection with the violence, did not have a chance to consult a lawyer, present evidence or cross-examine witnesses.

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« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2012, 09:42:59 AM »

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Tomas Ojea Quintana, U.N. human rights envoy to Burma, talks to journalists during a press
conference at Rangoon International Airport, Burma, August 4, 2012. (AP)

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« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2012, 09:45:15 AM »
Rakhine State, like many parts of Myanmar, has a diverse ethnic population. Official figures state Rakhine State's population as 3,983,330 while population estimation (in lieu of lack of proper census since 1983) for 2010 placed the state's population at 4 million.

The ethnic Rakhine make up the majority. The Rakhine reside mainly in the lowland valleys as well as Ramree and Manaung (Cheduba) islands. A number of other ethnic minorities like the Rohingya, Chin, Mro, Chakma, Khami, Dainet, Bangali and Maramagri inhabit mainly in the hill regions of the state. Most of the Tibeto-Burmans living in Rakhine State adhere to Theravada Buddhism. Even the Chin, who are usually related with Protestant Christianity or Animism, of Rakhine state adhere to Buddhism due to the cultural influence of the Rakhine people.

Rakhine state has a large Muslim minority. Amongst them, the Rohingya who live in northern part of the state are the best known, making up approximately 25% of the state's population. According to the UN, they are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. The 'Rohingya' population, who number about 723,000 according to a 2009 UN estimate, are denied their rights as citizens by the military government.

There were intense sectarian clashes in June 2012. Casualty figures were updated to 80 deaths and estimated 90,000 people were displaced and taking refuge in temporary camps according to official reports. 109 people were injured. A total of 4,822 houses, 17 mosques, 15 monasteries, 3 schools were burnt down. State of Emergency was declared for the whole State on 10th June 2012. Because of those clashes, 60 relief camps were opened in Sittway, 4 in Yathedaung and 7 in Maungtaw, totaling 71, for providing help to 55,495 persons. 9 villages with 470 houses were burnt down. --Wiki


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« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2012, 05:55:18 PM »
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Burmese Rohingya refugees
one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, according to the UN
Republic Act 8485 (Animal Welfare Act of 1998, Philippines), as amended and strengthened by House  Bill 6893 of 2013--- violation means a maximum of P250,000 fine with a corresponding three-year jail term and a minimum of P30,000 fine and six months imprisonment

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« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2012, 08:38:45 PM »
Buddhist oppressors? Hmm... ::)

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« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2012, 10:15:01 PM »
sadly, sometimes, ethnicity takes precedence over the ideals of religion. :(


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« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2012, 10:21:58 PM »
Washington’s ambassador to Myanmar hinted last week that the US may have a new foe in the reforming dictatorship.  Derek Mitchell, whose appointment this year marked a significant warming of relations between the two countries, spoke of the vile fallout from sectarian unrest in June that has overshadowed Myanmar’s reform efforts.  Challenges to the establishment of a democracy there are now “broader than what our traditional concern is, which is the system, or the government, or the military”, Mitchell told the Wall Street Journal.  Pointing a finger at the volley of abuse aimed at the Rohingya minority, who were pitted against Rakhine Buddhists in protracted rioting, Mitchell explained that the job of diplomacy had now become more complicated.

“This had to do with the deep-seated intolerance that seemed to be within the society writ large.  So I think that’s where the deep disappointment came.  And it creates a division between them and us to a degree.”

more at Aung San Suu Kyi’s shaky moral high ground by Francis Wade, September 01, 2012, The Nation, http://www.nation.com.pk/

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« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2012, 10:55:11 PM »
Who are the Rohingya?

The Rohingya are a Muslim people who live in the Arakan region in western Myanmar (Burma).  As of 2012, 800,000 Rohingya live in Myanmar.  According to the UN, they are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.  Many Rohingya have fled to ghettos and refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh, and to areas along the Thai-Myanmar border.

Regions with significant Rohingya populations:

 Burma (Arakan region)    800,000    
 Bangladesh                     300,000    
 Pakistan                         200,000    
 Thailand                         100,000    
 Malaysia                           24,000

/wikipedia

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note:  there exists in the internet highway some pictures of the june 2012 sectarian unrest (buddhists vs. muslims) rohingya victims in myanmar.  they're too disturbing, i opted not to post them here.

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« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2012, 10:59:45 PM »
The Rohingya people have been described as “among the world’s least wanted” and “one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.”  They have been stripped of their citizenship since a 1982 citizenship law.  They are not allowed to travel without official permission, are banned from owning land and are required to sign a commitment to have not more than two children.

/wikipedia

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« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2012, 11:01:41 PM »
According to Amnesty International, the Muslim Rohingya people have continued to suffer from human rights violations under the Burmese junta since 1978, and many have fled to neighboring Bangladesh as a result.

    "The Rohingyas’ freedom of movement is severely restricted and the vast majority of them have effectively been denied Burma citizenship.  They are also subjected to various forms of extortion and arbitrary taxation; land confiscation; forced eviction and house destruction; and financial restrictions on marriage.  Rohingyas continue to be used as forced labourers on roads and at military camps, although the amount of forced labour in northern Rakhine State has decreased over the last decade."

/wikipedia


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« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2012, 11:03:31 PM »
    "In 1978 over 200,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh, following the ‘Nagamin’ (‘Dragon King’) operation of the Myanmar army.  Officially this campaign aimed at "scrutinising each individual living in the state, designating citizens and foreigners in accordance with the law and taking actions against foreigners who have filtered into the country illegally."  This military campaign directly targeted civilians, and resulted in widespread killings, rape and destruction of mosques and further religious persecution."

/wikipedia

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« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2012, 11:04:52 PM »
    "During 1991-92 a new wave of over a quarter of a million Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh.  They reported widespread forced labour, as well as summary executions, torture, and rape.  Rohingyas were forced to work without pay by the Burmese army on infrastructure and economic projects, often under harsh conditions.  Many other human rights violations occurred in the context of forced labour of Rohingya civilians by the security forces."

/wikipedia



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