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Myanmar

    October 21, 2019

    Amnesty International has gathered fresh evidence that the Myanmar military is continuing to commit atrocities against ethnic minorities in the north of the country, with civilians bearing the brunt of offensives against multiple armed groups. The conflicts show no sign of abating, raising the prospect of further violations.

    A new report, “Caught in the middle”: Abuses against civilians amid conflict in Myanmar’s northern Shan State, details the harrowing conditions of civilians arbitrarily arrested, detained and tortured by the military. It also highlights the abusive tactics used by ethnic armed groups as they confront the military and each other to exert control in the region.

    “The Myanmar military is as relentless and ruthless as ever, committing war crimes against civilians in northern Shan State with absolute impunity,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southeast Asia. “Soldiers – and more importantly commanders – are subjecting civilians to the military’s hallmark brutality in the absence of any form of accountability.”

    October 09, 2019

    We're delighted that Aung Ko Htwe walked free on 6 September 2019 after completing the two years of his sentence. Thank you to the over 30,000 of you who took action and emailed the Myanmar authorities. We know building international pressure on cases like these makes a real impact.

    What happened?

    In October 2005 Aung Ko Htwe was kidnapped by the Myanmar military at the main railway station in Yangon – the country’s largest city – and forced to serve in the army. He was only 13 years old at the time.

    In 2017 he spoke out about what he experienced in a radio interview with Radio Free Asia, shortly after which he was arrested and charged under Section 505(b) of Myanmar’s Penal code – a vague law which severely restricts freedom of expression.

    He was sentenced to the maximum two years in jail.

    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.

    August 22, 2019
    Spokespeople available for interviews

    With the threat of returns to Myanmar once again looming over Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, Amnesty International warned that Rakhine State remains unsafe while those responsible for atrocities continue to evade justice. Action from the Canadian government is urged as the needs of refugees pivot from shorter-term humanitarian response, to sustained human rights protections.

    This Sunday marks two years since the Myanmar military launched operations in Rakhine State which forced more than 740,000 Rohingya women, men and children to flee their homes and villages. The brutal campaign was marked by widespread atrocities, which a UN investigation team has said amount to crimes against humanity and likely genocide.

    June 26, 2019

    Myanmar authorities should immediately end an internet shutdown imposed in conflict-affected areas of Rakhine and Chin States since 21 June 2019, said Amnesty International today. The shutdown has created an information black hole in an area where the Myanmar military has committed serious violations – including war crimes – raising serious concerns about the safety of civilians. It is essential that the Myanmar authorities ensure the right to information in times of crisis.

    June 17, 2019

    Tens of thousands of older women and men from ethnic minorities across Myanmar who faced military atrocities and were forced to flee their homes are being let down by a humanitarian system that often fails to adequately address their rights and needs, Amnesty International said in a report published today.

    “Fleeing my whole life”: Older people’s experience of conflict and displacement in Myanmar is the organization’s first comprehensive investigation into the specific ways older people’s rights and dignity are not respected amid armed conflict and crisis, as well in the provision of humanitarian assistance.
     
    “For decades, Myanmar’s ethnic minorities have suffered recurrent abuse at the hands of the military. Many older people racked by atrocities amid recent military operations lived through similar crimes as children or younger adults. Their experience lays bare the military’s longstanding brutality, and the need for justice,” said Matthew Wells, Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International.

    May 28, 2019
    New abuses come after government order to “crush” armed group Military units responsible for past atrocities are committing war crimes, while deployment of additional units suggests involvement of senior generals International community is failing – ICC referral urgently needed

    Following a recent investigation in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, Amnesty International has gathered new evidence that the Myanmar military is committing war crimes and other human rights violations. The military operation is ongoing, raising the prospect of additional crimes being committed.

    The new report, “No one can protect us”: War crimes and abuses in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, details how the Myanmar military, also known as the Tatmadaw, have killed and injured civilians in indiscriminate attacks since January 2019. The Tatmadaw forces have also carried out extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests, torture and other ill-treatment, and enforced disappearances.

    May 07, 2019

    Responding to news of the amnesty and release of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s East and Southeast Asia Director said:

    “Today marks an important victory for press freedom in Myanmar. The case against Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo was a travesty of justice from start to finish and they should never have spent a day in prison.

    “While all those who campaigned for their release welcome the government’s decision, the reality is the country retains a range of repressive laws used to detain journalists, activists and any perceived critic of the authorities. Until these laws are repealed, journalists and activists remain under a permanent threat of detention and arrest.

    “In recent weeks, Amnesty International has recorded a surge in politically motivated arrests – most for criticism of the military. The government must follow through its rightful decision to free Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo by releasing all other journalists and prisoners of conscience detained on hollow charges, and by repealing all laws that keep a chokehold on freedom of expression.”

    April 23, 2019

    Responding to the decision by Myanmar’s Supreme Court to uphold the conviction and seven year prison sentence of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Nicholas Bequelin Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia said:

    “The Supreme Court’s rejection of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo’s appeal compounds a grave injustice and marks a dark day for press freedom in Myanmar. This case shows the authorities’ resolve to ensure there can be no independent reporting on the military’s atrocities in Rakhine State – even at the cost of debasing the country’s judicial system.

    “Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are not isolated cases. In recent weeks, we have seen a disturbing surge in the number of people being arrested on politically motivated charges, most of them for criticism of the military.

    “Ahead of the 2020 general election, the international community must put much more pressure on the government to immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience and amend or repeal the oppressive laws that are being used to curtail freedom of expression.”

    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.”

    February 15, 2019

    Responding to the conviction of four people in connection with the assassination of prominent lawyer Ko Ni in Myanmar, Amnesty International’s Director of Crisis Response, Tirana Hassan, said: 

    “Despite today’s verdict, serious questions remain about whether all those responsible have been brought to justice. Myanmar’s authorities have shown time and again that they are unable to conduct credible investigations or ensure accountability, and this has perpetuated a climate of impunity in the country. This long and tortuous trial has done little to bring light to the assassination of one of the country’s most prominent lawyers. 

    “Although no-one sentenced to capital punishment has been executed since 1988, we are disturbed that two of the defendants have been sentenced to death. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and without exception.”  

    Background 

    February 11, 2019

    Dhaka, Bangladesh

    As I arrive in Bangladesh, joining an Amnesty International delegation that is here for two weeks to meet with and hear from Rohingya refugees in the country, a specific question comes to mind. In this world of ours – a world marked of late by far too much conflict, hate and division – when and why is a crisis no longer seen to be a crisis?

    In a world which feels to have an ever-shortening attention span and seems only able to give real attention to two or three emergencies at once, we forget and move on from today’s or this week’s crisis more quickly than ever.

    Meanwhile, politicians regularly bandy the word crisis about to inflame tensions and score political points when it isn’t a crisis by any measure; be it Donald Trump’s manufactured border wall crisis or the overblown rhetoric around a supposed-influx of refugees crossing the Canada/US border. We see quick resort to the word crisis in those situations, largely to undermine support for refugee protection.

    February 11, 2019
    Military is blocking access to food and shelling villages Operation involves units responsible for past atrocities 5,200 civilians displaced since December

    Myanmar security forces have shelled villages and blocked civilians from accessing food and humanitarian assistance in Rakhine State, Amnesty International said today, amid a crackdown since armed attacks by the Arakan Army in early January. Security forces have also used vague and repressive laws to detain civilians in the area.

    “These latest operations are yet another reminder that the Myanmar military operates without any regard for human rights. Shelling inhabited villages and withholding food supplies are unjustifiable under any circumstances,” said Tirana Hassan, Director of Crisis Response at Amnesty International.

    Amnesty International has received reports that army divisions involved in atrocities against the Rohingya in August and September 2017 have been deployed to Rakhine State again in recent weeks.

    February 08, 2019

    Photos: Ahmer Khan (Twitter, Instagram) Words: Saad Hammadi, South Asia Campaigner (Twitter)

    The Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have yet to come to terms with the trauma they had experienced in Myanmar. Ahmer Khan visited Cox’s Bazar to document in photographs the Rohingya people with what they held dearest to them during their troubled escape from home…writes Saad Hammadi

    Last November, when word spread of a possible repatriation of a few thousand Rohingya refugees, hundreds sought sanctuary in other camps in Cox’s Bazar to escape a forced return and avoid being identified.

    In the desperately overcrowded camps across Ukhiya in Cox’s Bazar, many Rohingya refugees have still not recovered from the trauma they experienced in Myanmar. That painful escape from home still haunts them.

    December 07, 2018

    Responding to the guilty verdict and six-month prison sentences handed to three activists today for their role in a peaceful protest in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State, Amnesty International’s Director of Crisis Response, Tirana Hassan, said:

    “Today’s appalling verdict against three peaceful activists shows the government’s determination to silence any criticism of their actions in this deadly conflict – and repress any peaceful opposition to the military whatsoever.

    “These jail sentences reflect a pattern of continued attacks, intimidation, threats and prosecutions against human rights defenders, journalists and community leaders who peacefully speak out in defence of civilian victims of military operations. It sends a chilling warning to any humanitarian actor or activist who wants to tell the truth about the Myanmar military’s brutality in Kachin and northern Shan states and beyond.

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