Regional


Minorities in Burma are among the world’s most vulnerable to mass killing, a leading rights group warned on Wednesday, as the country struggles to appease the international community amid a refugee crisis at its western shore.
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Rohingya women who are sheltering in Kedawang here are finally able to enjoy restful sleep as they no longer fear abductions and rape that they endured constantly in their villages in the Rakhine state of Myanmar.
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Twenty-seven international humanitarian aid and advocacy organisations have written today, 20 May, to the United Nations Secretary-General, urging him to give his “personal attention” to the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State, Myanmar (Burma) and to take “a personal lead” in negotiating for humanitarian access to all areas of Rakhine State.
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A senior U.S. state department official will visit Myanmar on Thursday for talks with the government about a “boat people” crisis in the Andaman Sea.
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The month of May has brought a terrifying humanitarian crisis to the seas of Southeast Asia. Thousands of people, Rohingya Muslims from Burma and Bangladesh, fleeing persecution and poverty, are adrift on rickety boats in the Andaman Sea and the Straits of Malacca, risking their lives in search of a better life. But Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia have turned unwelcoming. There is a very real chance thousands will die at sea from hunger, dehydration or drowning.
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Myanmar’s membership of the Association of South-East Asian Nations, achieved in 1997, has always been a test of the rules and norms that govern the regional body.
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Burma’s Information Minister Ye Htut on Monday said that Burma will repatriate any so-called ‘boat people’ – so long as they can show evidence of Burmese citizenship.
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Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing has denied accusations that the artillery shells that landed on Chinese territory on 14 and 15 May were fired by Burmese government forces.
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The Southeast Asian grouping known as ASEAN has made a point of not pressuring member nations over internal issues such as rights abuses, and in the case of Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya minority, the policy has come back to haunt it.
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The Philippines has said it is open to sheltering up to 3,000 “boat people” from Myanmar and Bangladesh according to a 19 May report on rappler.com.
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The Indonesian military told local fishermen not to help boats carrying migrants and refugees land unless they were sinking, a spokesman said Tuesday, adding that passengers may have been deliberately thrown overboard to attract attention.
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Brokers have threatened that they will kill all their 52 victims, who include five women, if the victims’ family members tell police that their relatives were trafficked from Arakan State and sold in China.
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Some 2000 men, women and children are believed to be stranded on human traffickers’ boats off Myanmar’s Rakhine State coast and are in urgent need of help, the UN Refugee Agency said yesterday as it appealed to the government to intervene.
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Thousands of Bangladeshis and ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar are seeking refuge after the rickety boats they were fleeing on were abandoned by human traffickers caught up in a recent dragnet. Many have been taken into temporary camps in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, but those countries have grown reluctant to take on more, with aid agencies estimating that several boats remain on the waters between Thailand and Indonesia. Here’s a look at the current crisis by the numbers.
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Burma’s opposition leader appears to be cowed by her need to dampen ethnic tensions and win votes from an electorate in the thrall of Islamophobia.
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Sitting in a bamboo hut in a filthy wasteland of southeast Delhi, Mohammed Salim Ullah, a stateless Rohingya, seemed unaware of the crisis facing members of his community stranded in Southeast Asian waters.
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The boy was shoved onto the wooden vessel with hundreds of other Rohingya Muslims. For days, the 14-year-old sat with his knees bent into his chest, pressed up against sweaty bodies in the cabin’s rancid heat.
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Persecution of the Rohingya minority by the Myanmar government amounts to genocide, according to field research from the International State Crime Initiative (ISCI), based at Queen Mary University of London, according to a press release issued on 16 May 2015. (more…)

The head of Burma’s Armed Forces has blamed Kokang insurgents for artillery fire that landed across the Chinese border and wounded five people in a Yunnan province village last week.
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Fully legal trading with Thailand will begin “soon” at an additional border station in southeastern Burma following a boom in overland trade between the two countries, according to a Ministry of Commerce official.
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