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Refugees

    August 28, 2019

    Whether we asked about the possibility of going home to Myanmar or the challenges of life in Bangladesh, every Rohingya – old or young – who our Amnesty International delegation interviewed in the refugee camps said the same thing: human rights.

    With the release of our new report, “I Don’t Know What My Future Will Be”, Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh, Amnesty International is echoing that call and looking to the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh, with strong backing and resources from the international community, to ensure that violations end, past abuses are addressed and that the human rights of Rohingya, on both sides of the border, are fully respected and upheld. 

    It is a time for solidarity and for action.  There will be many opportunities for Amnesty International supporters to take action and demonstrate that solidarity over the coming weeks and months.

    March 12, 2019
    A young Rohingya girl named Bibi Ayeshi, wearing a black hijab and a white top sits in front of a multicolored background.

    By Kate Schuetze and Alex Neve

    Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

    Bibi Ayesha is a 15 year old Rohingya girl who  was born in Bangladesh. Her family fled Myanmar during a wave of human rights violations against the Rohingya community in 1992. They have never been given official refugee status in Bangladesh.  Her father, determined to ensure that education was accessible for his daughter, managed to enroll her in a local school near the Nayapara Refugee Camp where they live. 

    Earlier this year in January, however, the Bangladeshi government began strictly enforcing a long-standing policy that no Rohingya students would be allowed in local schools on the grounds that they are refugees and must go to schools in the camps.  However, the government does not allow formal schools in the camps, because they believe that will encourage refugees to remain in Bangladesh. The only options are the very basic Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) and Learning Centres, which mainly offer a place to play and some very rudimentary lessons.

    February 21, 2019
    Mohammed Ali is a 65 year-old farmer from the village of Kyein Chaung, in the Township of Maungdaw, in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. He and his family now live in the Balukhali Refugee Camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.
    Content warning: violence and violence causing death

    Balukhali Refugee Camp, Bangladesh

    “We’ve been through this before, but never like this.  Never so many people.  And now it feels like it might go on and on. It has been eighteen months, but it feels like forever.”

    Mohammed Ali, a 65-year-old farmer, was returning from his fields to his home in the village of Kyein Chaung, in the Township of Maungdaw, in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in early September, 2017.  And the attack began. The village was surrounded by government soldiers who began shooting at villagers and setting fire to houses as they advanced. The people of Kyein Chaung knew what was coming as they had already seen dead bodies floating down the stream from other neighbouring villages.

    “There was only one thing to do.  We knew we had to leave and we ran.  And fortunately, no one in our own family was injured or killed. But we heard cries around us.  We knew that could easily have been us. And it was only good luck that it was not.”

    January 31, 2019
    Mexico USA border wall with barbed wire at top

    Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve is currently part of a delegation of senior Amnesty leadership who are visiting the Mexico/USA border to witness the impacts of US policy on migrants and asylum seekers.|

    El Paso, Texas

    So many times over the past two years, since Donald Trump’s presidency and assault on the rights of refugees and migrants began, I have asked myself: what more will it take for the Canadian government to agree that the United States is not “safe” when it comes to refugee protection?

    And while I do not have the answer yet, as the accounts of utter contempt for international obligations and the lack of even a minimal sense of compassion mounted during our visit to Tijuana, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez this week, as a Canadian I felt a deepening sense of shame that this remains an open question.

    What more will it take?

    January 30, 2019

    Photo: Mother and son holding hands at the shelter for the Migrant Caravan in November 2018. 

    Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve is currently part of a delegation of senior Amnesty leadership who are visiting the Mexico/USA border to witness the impacts of US policy on migrants and asylum seekers. 

    The polarizing and politicized discourse about refugees, migrant and border policy in the United States revolves around ugly chants and a long list of terms and agencies that are at once sinister and incomprehensible: #BuildTheWall, Migration Protection Protocols, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), Customs and Border Patrol, pushbacks and zero-tolerance.

    But what is truly at stake and so lost in the swirling toxic debate are peoples’ hopes, lives and rights.

    January 28, 2019

    Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve is currently part of a delegation of senior Amnesty leadership who are visiting the Mexico/USA border to witness the impacts of US policy on migrants and asylum seekers. 

    Tijuana, Mexico

    We began the day walking across the border between the United States and Mexico, separating San Ysidro, California and Tijuana. We ended the day back at that exact same border post, accompanying three courageous LGBTQ teens from Honduras as they sought, against considerable odds, to lodge their asylum claims with US officials.

    In between we had ample occasion to see and hear firsthand that despite Donald Trump’s toxic rhetoric, the only crisis that is playing out along this frontier is a politically-driven one that spreads distortions and fear on the backs of people – mainly, but not only, from Mexico and Central America – who are fleeing terrifying persecution, endemic violence and grinding poverty.

    It is a crisis of conscience, compassion and justice.

    May 07, 2018
    Kutupalong Rohingya refugee camp Bangladesh

    By: Naureen Shah

    In March 2018, I visited the Kutupalong Rohingya refugee camp near Cox’s bazaar in south eastern Bangladesh. 

    Violence and persecution in the western Rakhine State of Myanmar have caused more than 500,000 Rohingya people, an ethnic minority, to flee their homes.The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called the situation a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing," and the crisis has caused a mass exodus of the Rohingya across the border into Bangladesh. I wanted to bring the stories of the Rohingya people living in Cox’s bazaar back to Canada, so they would not be forgotten.

    April 10, 2018
    Don't Let Children Grow Up in Jail

    Kids and their parents are stuck in what are known as “baby jails.” Their so-called crime? Fleeing violence and dreaming of safety in the United States.

    Every year, tens of thousands of people come to the U.S. southern border seeking safety. They are trying to escape horrific violence and persecution, and going there to ask for asylum, a form of protection recognized under U.S. and international law.

    The Problem

    January 29, 2018
    Fatima Khatun, 60, lies on her hospital bed in Bangladesh in October 2017

    The Myanmar Army must end its campaign of violence in Rakhine State and put an end to crimes against humanity.

    Systematic, organized and ruthless attacks against the Rohingya people in Rakhine State have amounted to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The Myanmar military killed Rohingya women, men and children; raped Rohingya women and girls; and burnt entire Rohingya villages to the ground. More than a half million Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh. Those who stayed behind are still at risk. Myanmar’s authorities are restricting their access to lifesaving humanitarian aid and assistance. The Rohingya continue to live under a system of institutionalized discrimination and segregation which amounts to apartheid.

    No one has been held to account for these atrocities. The Myanmar authorities are trying to stop the world from seeing what’s actually happening on the ground. These crimes against humanity must end and the system of apartheid must be dismantled.

    Call on Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs to demand an end to the human rights atrocities in Myanmar.

    January 26, 2018

    Saúl* (we are not sharing his real name or his face because of ongoing risks for his family) fled to Mexico from Honduras after surviving an armed attack that caused him to fear for his life.

    He applied for asylum but Mexican authorities rejected his claim, arguing that Saul could find safety in Honduras. He was swiftly deported in violation of his right to appeal the decision.

    Amnesty International researchers interviewed Saúl in Honduras three weeks later. He expressed an acute fear for his life and had already suffered an attack in his house on arriving home. A few days later, Saúl was murdered.

    This is no isolated case.  

    Mexican migration authorities routinely turn back thousands of people from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to their countries without considering the risk to their life and security upon return.

    October 16, 2017
    Refugee Camp in Uganda

    Moses Moini had such hope for his home and family in South Sudan.  In 2011 South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan, following years of conflict.  Resources began to pour into the country.  Moses was so pleased that he could help his mother build the best home she had ever had in their village in Kajo Kaji Country in Central Equatoria State. He believed she could live the rest of her life in comfort aided by the money he sent from Canada.  She would never need to flee again.  She was safe.

    Sadly the hope was short lived, by 2013 fighting had broken out between members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) loyal to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to the then Vice-President Riek Machar.  The conflict took on an increasingly ethnic dimension, with the leaders of the two main opposing factions belonging to the two largest ethnic groups - President Kiir, a Dinka, and former Vice-President Machar, a Nuer.  They each drew much of their support from members of their own ethnic groups.  A peace deal, signed in August 2015 by President Kiir and Machar, which reinstated Machar as Vice-President, was never fully implemented and eventually collapsed in July 2016.

    September 28, 2017
    Amnesty members marching

    Today, we want to hear from you. We’ve told you people’s stories and shared lots of ideas on how you can make a difference.

    But you’re the expert - you’re the one with the interest in and knowledge of your own community. So tell us, what do you think you, or others, could do to welcome refugees?

    Are there things we haven’t thought of that you think could work? Have you seen an initiative in your local community that you think is interesting or different?

    Please share these ideas and thoughts with us. We definitely don’t have all the answers, and to make this work, we need action and input from people like you.

    Thank you once again for all your support.

    September 27, 2017

    We’re coming to the last few days left in the 30 days, but your efforts don’t have to stop here.

    Keep following us on Facebook, like and share any and all posts you agree with from anyone anywhere that talk about refugees, and above all, keep talking about refugee issues any time you get the chance.

    You’ve come a long way over this past month, perhaps without realising it. You’ve taken in a lot of knowledge and done a lot of research into your own situation.

    Share that expertise and passion with anyone you can at all opportunities. Slowly but surely, as more and more people come to understand and empathise with refugee issues, you will see a real change to your society as a whole.

    Here’s a reminder of what Gloria Nafziger from Amnesty International says about how you can make change happen. Don’t stop now!

    September 17, 2017

    Today, we want you to hear and share stories of refugees.

    Whether you go along to a refugee group in your community and hear stories told there, or just read the many stories about refugees on UNHCR’s website, listen to people’s stories as this is the best way to understand the issues facing refugees.

    The more you listen, the more you ask questions, the better you will understand refugees and see that these are just people in a really difficult situation.

    And you might be surprised about how much you get from this experience.

    September 08, 2017

    We told you yesterday about the story of Baraa , who we were able to help thanks to the support of people like you. We can’t thank you enough for all that you’re doing to help refugees.

    Today, we’re asking you to speak out about the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in detention centres in Canada.

    Did you know that over the last 10 years over 800 children have been held in immigration detention in Canada? Children are placed in detention with or without their families for several weeks, and sometimes for up to a year. In February 2016 a 16 year old Syrian refugee boy was help in solitary confinement in immigration detention for 3 weeks.

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