The Tatmadaw, the military of Myanmar, which has dominated the country’s politics almost since independence, has finally achieved what no one believed was still possible: It has managed to unite all the people of Myanmar, across ethnic and religious divides… against itself.
Just under five years ago, the Tatmadaw, with the explicit backing of the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, decried any criticism of its brutality against the Rohingya Muslims in the western Rakhine state during its “clearance operations” as “fake news.” Now, the brutality that has been aimed toward the multitude of ethnic minorities in the contested borderlands for decades has come home and is currently being dished out against Burmese Buddhists in the heartlands of Naypyidaw, Yangon and Mandalay. And it is being dished out for the same reason: Civilians are objecting to and protesting against being ruled with an iron fist by the Tatmadaw.
For decades, the borderland minorities have been brutalized for asking for some degree of autonomy and self-governance. Now, the ordinary Burmese citizens in the heartlands are asking for the same thing in the form of a democratic voice. And they are being met with the same brutality.
In some ways, it is almost a positive surprise that the military does not appear to have been discriminating along ethnic and religious lines quite like we believed it was. And an even more positive surprise to come from this is that the Burmese majority in the country has been quick to empathize with groups like the Rohingya now that they themselves have experienced the true nature of the Tatmadaw. This was something that should have happened anyway, but it was not necessarily going to happen in response to the events of the past two months. There has been an outpouring of belated, but nonetheless welcome, sympathy and remorseful outreach by ordinary Burmese on social media, apologizing to the Rohingya for not believing them when they were being attacked by the Tatmadaw.
Qatar Charity (QC) has said it is preparing to provide relief aid to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh during the holy month of Ramadan.The food aid will come as part of Qatar Charity’s ‘Ramadan of Hope’ drive to alleviate the suffering of the refugees and help them meet their needs during this blessed month, especially in light of the continued coronavirus pandemic, QC has said in a statement.
This assistance comes within the framework of the relief aid allocated by Qatar Charity for crisis-stricken areas. Refugees, the displaced and the poor are expected to benefit from the relief aid in 25 countries, especially in Syria and neighbouring countries, in addition to the Rohingya refugees.
This relief is expected to benefit the Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar and Bhasan Char, a remote island in Noakhali district of Bangladesh.
In response to the heartbreaking situation of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, Qatar Charity has recently distributed urgent relief aid to 4,380 refugees in the Bhasan Char island, in the presence of local officials, the statement notes.
QC’s team in Bangladesh distributed the aid, which included daily basic foodstuffs, while taking precautionary measures against the coronavirus.
Mohamed Amin Hafiz Omar, country director of Qatar Charity’s Bangladesh office, said the Rohingya refugees are facing various humanitarian crises in the country, emphasizing that QC stands by the Rohingyas to improve their living conditions by regularly delivering relief aid that includes food and daily essentials, in addition to medical and shelter assistance.
Qatar Charity recently distributed relief aid to 4,000 fire-affected Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, which displaced nearly 50,000 refugees from their camps. The aid included clothes, safe drinking water and free medical services. In recent months, hundreds of thousands of refugees were taken to Bhasan Char from Teknaf Upazila in Cox’s Bazar.
Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are living in renewed fear after deadly fires broke out more than 30 times in the southeastern Cox’s Bazar district in recent weeks.Rights activists said these fires are part of a “very worrying trend” in the overcrowded, sprawling shantytown that is home to dozens of interconnected makeshift refugee settlements.
“Every day and night Rohingyas across the camp are living in fear that fire will break out again somewhere in the camp,” a Cox’s Bazar-based Rohingya rights activist who goes by Hussain told VOA. Many Rohingya use only one name.
“Fires are breaking out time and again,” he said, “at least 32 times in different parts of the Rohingya camp in Cox’s Bazar in the past 17 days, after the devastating March 22 fire.”
The rights activist said the perpetrators in recent fires were caught and turned over to authorities.
“We caught seven or eight people red-handed while they were setting ablaze some shacks,” he said. “They were all handed over to police.”
About 1 million Rohingya Muslim refugees have been living in the bamboo and tarpaulin shanties in the congested Cox’s Bazar district since fleeing military clampdowns in neighboring Myanmar in recent years, according to the United Nations. There are 34 encampments within in the district where Rohingya refugees have settled, which are collectively identified as one expansive settlement, including the Balukhali and nearby Kutupalong refugee camps, according to the International Organization for Migration.
On March 22, a fire ripped through the Balukhali area of the camp, killing at least 15 refugees, authorities said. Sanjeev Kafley, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies delegation head in Bangladesh, told Reuters that more than 17,000 shelters were destroyed, and thousands of people were displaced in the area because of the fire. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that the fire injured around 550 refugees and left more than 48,000 homeless.
A Turkish charity on Monday distributed 15,000 food packets to Rohingya refugees and their hosts in Bangladesh for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan set to begin this week, said officials of the group, which is tied to Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate or Diyanet.
“For the 2021 Ramadan program we distributed 11,800 food packets for the Rohingya community. But we didn’t forget the host community. We distributed 3,200 food packages for our Bangladeshi brothers and sisters,” Oguzhan Adsiz, the Bangladesh coordinator for Turkey’s Diyanet Foundation (TDF), told Anadolu Agency on Monday night.
Every package for a single family contains 16 items including dates, soybean oil, chickpeas, milk powder, sugar, salt, flour, and other necessities.
The packets are benefiting 80,000 persecuted Rohingya along with thousands of locals, as on an average there are seven members per Rohingya family in Bangladesh’s camps, according to official data.
South Korea has decided to provide emergency support of $1.0 million to the International Organization of Migration (IOM) to support the Rohingya community in Cox’s Bazar.These funds will contribute to the massive humanitarian efforts required to respond to the devastating fire that broke out on March 22 in several Rohingya refugee camps, said a press statement of IOM on Sunday.
IOM is implementing its emergency response in affected camps in close collaboration with the government of Bangladesh, the Inter-Sector Coordination Group (ISCG), other UN agencies, INGOs and NGOs.
Referring to the group’s special packages for various occasions including the holy Eid-al-Adha, Ramadan, and winter, Adsiz added: “The Turkiye Diyanet Foundation has been working since 2012 in Bangladesh. From the start of the Rohingya crisis in August 2017 till now we have done many projects for the Rohingya community.”
For the holy month of Ramadan, he said they have another project to donate 5,000 copies of the holy Quran among the host community.
The group is also producing Eid clothing for Rohingya at its sewing centers where young Rohingya women work.
Earlier, the group produced 45,000 bottles of liquid soap in its camp-based factory and distributed those among the persecuted people to ensure safety during the pandemic, Adsiz said.
Some one million Rohingya took refuge in neighboring Bangladesh amid persecution in Myanmar.
Prime minister sheikh hasina to be recognized for bangladesh’s leadership in tackling climate crisis.The US remains very focused on helping all concerned in finding a solution to the Rohingya crisis and restoring democracy in Myanmar, John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy for climate, said on Friday.
He appreciated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s leadership in demonstrating “extraordinary active generosity” which, he thinks, is very expensive for Bangladesh.
Kerry made the remarks while responding to a question at a joint briefing at state guesthouse Padma after his meeting with Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen in Dhaka.
He said the global community needed to step up in demonstrating their responsibility.
Democracy must be restored in Myanmar to ease the Rohingya refugee burden on Bangladesh, U.S. special envoy John Kerry said Friday during a lightning visit to the South Asian nation to drum up support for a Washington-hosted climate summit.
The American diplomat heaped praise on Bangladesh for its “extraordinary” generosity in sheltering the refugees from Myanmar, and even mentioned Dhaka’s controversial decision to relocate thousands to a flood-prone island.
Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar and Bhashan Char and has sought US support for sustainable and dignified return of Rohingyas to Myanmar.
Kerry arrived in Dhaka on Friday morning to convey President Joe Biden’s commitment to move forward “aggressively” to deal with the global climate crisis.
Foreign Minister Dr Momen and his wife Selina Momen received Kerry upon his arrival at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 11:30am. US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl Miller was also present there.
Kerry, who arrived in Dhaka after wrapping up his four-day India visit, is scheduled to hand over the US president’s invitation to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in person to attend the Leaders Summit on Climate, to be held virtually on April 22-23.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will be recognized at the summit for Bangladesh’s leadership of countries especially vulnerable to climate impacts.
Cox’s Bazar Rohingya Refugee Camp had one of highest rates of primary and secondary age children out of school. Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the multilateral global fund dedicated to education in emergencies and protracted crises, immediately allocated millions to urgently scale up learning spaces for displaced Rohingya children. ECW is preparing an additional multi-year allocation to support continuous learning opportunities for Rohingya children in 2021 and beyond.
– Although learning centres in Cox’s Bazar Kutupalong Refugee Camp are closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mariom Akhter, a Rohingya mother of four, is grateful not only for the schooling her children have had but the training sessions she as a parent was able to attend. The skills she learnt has helped her assist her children with their education at home in a crisis.
It’s something she’s likely needed to help her children with over the last few weeks after a Mar. 22 fire spread through the camp, destroying the shelters of at least 45,000 people as well as important infrastructure, including hospitals, learning centres, aid distribution points and a registration centre. At least 15 people were reported dead and 400 missing.
“I have learnt many things from the sessions about the education assistance of the children that should be given in any crisis. The sessions played a significant role in ensuring education of the children during this crisis period when all the learning centres are closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” Akhter told IPS before the fire
In 2017, Bangladesh became host to 1.1 million Rohingya when 750,000 people fled a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. [Some 300,000 Rohingya had already taken refuge in the country after various insurgencies in earlier years.]
And as families settled in the Cox’s Bazar Kutupalong Refugee Camp, the area had one of highest rates of primary and secondary age children out of school.
The plea by Mohammad Salimullah has sought an urgent intervention by the apex court since those detained in Jammu could at any time be deported to Myanmar from where they fled because of persecution .The Supreme Court will on Thursday deliver its order on a plea seeking the release of at least 150 Rohingya refugees detained in a Jammu sub-jail and stalling their deportation.The plea has sought an urgent intervention by the apex court since those detained in Jammu could at any time be deported to Myanmar from where they fled because of persecution.
A bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde and justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian reserved its order on the plea on March 26.
The Centre on March 26 opposed the plea by Mohammad Salimullah while emphasising that India cannot become “the international capital of illegal immigrants”.
The government called the Rohingya “absolutely illegal immigrants” who posed “serious threats to the national security” and also contended that the right to settle in India could not be asserted by illegal immigrants under the garb of the Constitution’s Article 21, which guarantees the right to life and liberty.
On March 6, on the instructions of the Union ministry of home affairs, the Jammu & Kashmir administration started a verification drive of the Rohingya, and moved some of them to a holding centre, pending their potential deportation.
There are close to 7,000 Rohingya refugees in Jammu & Kashmir, numbers that have increased since the late 2000s when they first arrived in the region after escaping from Myanmar, where they were facing religious persecution. India has previously deported Rohingya refugees.
Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on March 26 submitted that a similar application to stop the deportation of Rohingya from Assam was dismissed by the top court in 2018 and that the present application must meet the same fate.
A massive fire that swept through the refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, on March 22 has left 10,000 families—roughly 45,000 people—displaced and in urgent need of food, water, and sanitation services. The fire was yet another devastating blow to the Rohingya people who fled shocking violence and persecution in Myanmar.
The fire started at 4pm and spread rapidly for several hours in the densely populated camps, destroying thousands of bamboo and tarpaulin shelters, until government fire and rescue services managed to control the blaze. The damage is extensive and still being assessed, but early reports suggest that 15 people were killed, and at least 560 people were injured, while hundreds remain missing.
“The worst affected areas have been reduced to ash—the only things left standing are shelter foundations and bits of household metal like pots and sewing machines. The level of destruction is unlike anything our team has seen before,” said Enamul Hoque, who leads Oxfam’s Rapid Response Team.
“We are deeply concerned for the safety and wellbeing of the 10,000 families displaced by the fire,” Hoque said. “The blaze has destroyed critical infrastructure, including water stands and sanitation facilities. Refugee families are in urgent need of food, drinking water, and safe toilet facilities.”
Oxfam’s Rohingya volunteers were the first responders, followed by Oxfam’s Rapid Response Team, which deployed immediately with water trucks—on standby for such emergencies—and rushed to the camps to help extinguish the blaze. The team also transported water in jerry cans to refugees in areas that the water trucks could not reach. Barbed wire fencing around the camps impeded both refugees’ ability to escape and the Oxfam response team’s ability to provide aid in time and at scale.
“The Rapid Response team worked through the night, setting up water tankers and installing tap stands to distribute emergency drinking water. The team also provided displaced refugees with hygiene kits and emergency latrines,” Hoque said.
In the coming weeks, Oxfam will also work with partners to distribute food and household essentials like solar lights. Oxfam has helped about 22,750 fire survivors so far with clean water, jerry cans, and desludging of latrines. Oxfam staff estimate they are helping about 60 percent of the people affected by the fires.
KUALA LUMPUR: Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani, a Rohingya Muslim refugee and activist who fled persecution and ethnic strife in Myanmar, has called Malaysia home for nearly three decades.Zafar, 51, has not left his home on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur for nearly a year, after misinformation spread online that he had demanded Malaysian citizenship, triggering a wave of hate speech and death threats against him and his family.
“I’m still scared. For a year, I’ve not set foot outside. I’ve not seen the earth outside,” said the father of three.
Zafar has reported the false accusations and online attacks to the police, but to his knowledge, no charges have been filed. He has denied making any demand for citizenship or the same rights as citizens for Rohingya in Malaysia.
More than 100,000 Rohingya live in Muslim-majority Malaysia, long seen as friendly to the persecuted minority even though they are not officially recognised as refugees.
The welcoming sentiment soured a year ago as people started saying Rohingya were spreading COVID-19.
Hate speech calling for violence against Rohingya and other undocumented migrants spread widely online. A significant portion of the volume targeted Zafar, who heads a prominent Rohingya refugee rights organisation.
Zafar still receives abusive calls and messages on his phone and social media accounts daily, and details and photos of his family have been circulated online, according to screenshots shown to Reuters.
His Malaysian wife, Maslina Abu Hassan, said the attacks have taken a heavy toll. Their children no longer attend school due to safety concerns, and last year, Zafar was diagnosed with depression and began taking medication to cope, she said.
Zafar, who is registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), applied to be moved to another country but his request was rejected after the agency said he did not meet its criteria for resettlement.
A UNHCR spokeswoman in Kuala Lumpur said in an email the agency could not comment on individual cases. Resettlement decisions depend on various factors, she said, but ultimately lie with any potential host countries.
Zafar said he hopes the agency will reconsider his case because he no longer feels safe in Malaysia.
The persecuted muslim group doesn’t have a rohingya translation of islam’s holiest book.For the first time, the Rohingya Muslims will be able to listen to an authentic recitation of the Quran in their own language as an audio and video translation of Islam’s holiest scripture will go online in a few days.
The translation, which is based on Saudi Arabia’s King Fahad English version of the Quran, will be released in instalments with the first few parts expected to be shared in the coming Ramadan, starting from mid-April, the organisers behind the project tell TRT World.
Rohingya are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, according to the United Nations. More than 800,000 people, a large number of women and children among them, have been forced to flee their homes in Myanmar after a brutal military operation.
Human rights activists have recorded multiple cases of rape, extrajudicial killings and entire villages being burned down to ashes in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, formerly known as Arakan.
But decades of persecution and state censure by the Buddhist government also decimated the Rohingya language with their books and scriptures destroyed and education banned.
“We were not allowed to read and write in Rohingya. They will give us maximum punishment for that, which was either being killed or getting jailed,” says Muhammad Noor, a Rohingya activist and entrepreneur, who is part of the translation campaign.
Past attempts at the Rohingya translation have been incomplete and mostly been in the text form, which used Urdu, Arabic or Latin alphabets, he says.
Illiteracy is rife among the Rohingyas – most of whom now live in congested refugee camps in Bangladesh. They have been deprived of education and jobs for decades by the Myanmar state, which even refuses to call the ethnic minority by its name.
It is the Rohingya diaspora, such as Noor whose parents fled Myanmar in the 1960s to the Middle East, that has been trying to revive the community’s culture and heritage.
But while the Rohingya language is spoken and understood by 1.8 million people, its written format- the alphabets and vocabulary – has gone through several changes over the centuries.