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Myanmar

    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 Until these laws are repealed, journalists and activists remain under a permanent threat of detention and arrest.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.

    November 15, 2018
    DOWNLOAD PDF OF UA 132/18 HERE   UPDATE of November 15, 2018:

    On October 30, Aung Ko Htwe was acquitted of the latest in a series of charges against him after he gave a media interview about being forcibly recruited by the Myanmar military when he was only 13. Despite this acquittal, he remains in prison serving two years and six months on other politically motivated charges. He should be immediately and unconditionally released. Please take action as described in the original Urgent Action below.

     

    Former child solider Aung Ko Htwe is serving two years and six months in prison in connection with a media interview he gave about his experiences in the Myanmar military. He faces a further three years in prison after he protested his conviction. He should be immediately and unconditionally released. 

    November 15, 2018

    Since August 2017, more than 720,000 Rohingya have fled a vicious campaign of violence by the Myanmar security forces and sought refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh.

    This week some refugees could be returned from Bangladesh to Myanmar under an agreement reached earlier between the two governments that sidestepped safeguards mandated under international law.

    Here, Amnesty International explains how this situation has come about and why the forcible return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar is unlawful, being premature, and putting their lives, liberty and other key human rights at risk.

    Who are the Rohingya people?

    The Rohingya are a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority in Myanmar. Until recently, more than a million lived mostly in Rakhine State, in the west of the country, on the border with Bangladesh.

    November 14, 2018

    Bangladesh and Myanmar authorities must immediately halt plans to send Rohingya refugees back to Rakhine State, Amnesty International said today.

    A first wave of organized returns could begin as soon as 15 November, following the announcement of a bilateral agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar last month which falls short of international obligations.

    “This is a reckless move which puts lives at risk,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia.

    “These women, men and children would be sent back into the Myanmar military’s grasp with no protection guarantees, to live alongside those who torched their homes and whose bullets they fled.”

    High risk of forced returns

    On 30 October, representatives of the Bangladesh and Myanmar governments announced they had agreed to start repatriation of some of the more than 720,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar since August 2017.

    November 12, 2018

    Amnesty International announced today that it has withdrawn its highest honour, the Ambassador of Conscience Award, from Aung San Suu Kyi, in light of the Myanmar leader’s shameful betrayal of the values she once stood for.

    On 11 November, Amnesty International’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo wrote to Aung San Suu Kyi to inform her the organization is revoking the 2009 award. Half way through her term in office, and eight years after her release from house arrest, Naidoo expressed the organization’s disappointment that she had not used her political and moral authority to safeguard human rights, justice or equality in Myanmar, citing her apparent indifference to atrocities committed by the Myanmar military and increasing intolerance of freedom of expression.

    “As an Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience, our expectation was that you would continue to use your moral authority to speak out against injustice wherever you saw it, not least within Myanmar itself,” wrote Kumi Naidoo.

    September 27, 2018

    Responding to the UN Human Rights Council’s adoption of a resolution on Myanmar in Geneva today, Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Director, said:

    “Today’s resolution is an important step forward in the fight for accountability in Myanmar, making the prospect of justice possible for the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities who have suffered atrocities at the hands of the country’s security forces.

    “While the UN Security Council remains bogged down by politics, the Human Rights Council has stepped up to the challenge with this serious and constructive approach to pave the way for justice. It sends a clear message of solidarity to the victims and survivors, as well as a stark warning to Myanmar’s military that their crimes will be punished.”
    China’s attempt to block the resolution was stopped – with 35 states voting to adopt, three voting against and seven abstaining.

    September 18, 2018

    GENEVA (18 September 2018) – The Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar on Tuesday released the full 440-page account of the findings of its 15-month examination of the situation in three states in Myanmar. The report also makes dozens of recommendations, including to the United Nations and the international community and to the Government of Myanmar. It reiterates the Fact-Finding Mission’s call for the investigation and prosecution of Myanmar’s Commander-in-Chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and his top military leaders for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

    “Peace will not be achieved while the Tatmadaw remains above the law,” Marzuki Darusman, chair of the Fact-Finding Mission stated. “The Tatmadaw is the greatest impediment to Myanmar’s development as a modern democratic nation. The Commander-in-Chief of the Tatmadaw, Min Aung Hlaing, and all the current leadership must be replaced, and a complete restructuring must be undertaken to place the Tatmadaw under full civilian control. Myanmar’s democratic transition depends on it.”

    September 13, 2018

    Responding to comments by Myanmar's State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi, at the World Economic Forum in Hanoi today defending the conviction of Reuters journalists Wa Lone, and Kyaw Soe Oo, Minar Pimple, Amnesty International’s Senior Director of Global Operations, said:

    “This is a disgraceful attempt by Aung San Suu Kyi to defend the indefensible. To say that this case had ‘nothing to do with freedom of expression’ and that Wa Lone, and Kyaw Soe Oo ‘were not jailed for being journalists’ is a deluded misrepresentation of the facts.

    “These two men were convicted under a draconian, colonial-era law that was deliberately misused to halt their investigations into the appalling atrocities that took place in Rakhine State. From start to finish, the case was nothing more than a brazen attack on freedom of expression and independent journalism in Myanmar

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