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Myanmar

    January 16, 2020

    Ahead of President Xi Jinping’s two-day state visit to Myanmar, which begins on Friday 17 January 2020, Amnesty International’s Regional Director, Nicholas Bequelin, said:

    “President Xi’s government has expressed its desire to help solve the situation in Rakhine State. While this is welcome in principle, the reality is that China’s engagement has failed to yield positive results for the people of Myanmar.

    “China must stop using its position in the UN Security Council to shield Myanmar’s senior generals from accountability. This has only emboldened the military’s relentless campaign of human rights violations and war crimes against ethnic minorities across the country.

    “Almost a million Rohingya languish in refugee camps in Bangladesh while 600,000 still in Myanmar continue to live under appalling conditions of apartheid. If it fails to pressure Myanmar to ensure justice and restore Rohingya’s rights, China’s efforts to resolve the situation will remain ineffective – and counter-productive.

    December 11, 2019

    Responding to the statement made by Aung San Suu Kyi at the International Court of Justice in The Hague today, Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director, said:

    “Aung San Suu Kyi tried to downplay the severity of the crimes committed against the Rohingya population. In fact, she wouldn’t even refer to them by name or acknowledge the scale of the abuses. Such denials are deliberate,  deceitful and dangerous.

    “The exodus of more than three quarters of a million people from their homes and country was nothing but the result of an orchestrated campaign of murder, rape and terror. To suggest that the military ‘did not distinguish clearly enough between fighters and civilians’ defies belief. Likewise, the suggestion that Myanmar authorities can currently and independently investigate and prosecute those suspected of crimes under international law is nothing but a fantasy, in particular in the case of senior military perpetrators who have enjoyed decades of total impunity.

    December 10, 2019
    ‘Rohingya Right of Reply’ public event on 11 December 2019

    Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s State Counsellor and de facto head of state, is leading Myanmar’s delegation to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands, to respond to a case alleging that Myanmar has breached its obligations under the UN Genocide Convention. The case was filed by The Gambia on 11 November 2019.

    On Wednesday, 11 December 2019, Myanmar will respond to The Gambia's allegations in court for the first time.

    The first public hearings will take place between 10-12 December. The Gambia has asked the ICJ to order Myanmar to take ‘provisional measures’ ‘to protect the rights of the Rohingya group’ and prevent all acts that amount to or contribute to the crime of genocide against the community, pending formal hearings on the case.

    Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director, said:

    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.

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