News / Asia

    Burma Rejects Allegations of Oppressive Rohingya Policies

    FILE - An internally displaced Rohingya woman holds her newborn baby surrounded by children in the foreground of makeshift tents at a camp for Rohingya people in Sittwe, northwestern Rakhine State, Burma.
    FILE - An internally displaced Rohingya woman holds her newborn baby surrounded by children in the foreground of makeshift tents at a camp for Rohingya people in Sittwe, northwestern Rakhine State, Burma.
    Burma, also known as Myanmar, is rejecting allegations by a rights group that the government is committing crimes against humanity by enforcing discriminatory policies against Rohingya Muslims, tens of thousands of whom have fled the Southeast Asian country.

    Government spokesman Ye Htut Tuesday accused the group, called Fortify Rights, of lobbying on behalf of the Rohingya, which the Burmese government calls Bengali.

    "The facts in this report have no validity and the allegations are one-sided so we totally reject them," the spokesman said.  "We have allowed international fact-finding missions, including from the U.N., to visit certain areas in Burma , including the Rakhine State. None of them have accused us of committing such crimes. So, a Thai-based rights group believing the facts provided to them by the Bengalis and publishing a report , is considered a laughing matter." 

    Fortify Rights says a series of leaked government documents reveal severe human rights violations against Rohingya in western Rakhine state, including restrictions on freedom of movement, marriage, and childbirth.

    Matthew Smith, executive director of Fortify Rights, tells VOA the leaked documents and a review of public records show the government's "active role" in both planning and implementing these abuses.

    "What we're saying essentially is that we've got enough evidence to make an allegation that state and central government authorities are implicated in the crime against humanity of persecution," Smith said. "The Rohingya have been singled out because they are Rohingya. We've documented how these abuses are both widespread and systematic, and we've also demonstrated a certain level of knowledge, which is required under the Rome Statute which lays out the element of crimes against humanity."

    Buddhist-Muslim violence erupted in Rakhine state in 2012 and has since spread to other parts of the country. The sectarian fighting has killed at least 240 people and displaced 140,000 others, mainly Rohingya. Many Rohingya have since fled the country.

    Fortify Rights says the government's policies "appear to be designed to make life so intolerable for Rohingya that they will leave the country." In a report released Tuesday, it described how aspects of everyday life are restricted.

    The group said it obtained a regional order that lays the foundation for a policy that "in practice translates to a strict two-child policy" for Rohingya in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships.

    The policy reflects a concern among some majority Buddhists who say birthrates among Muslims, who make up just four percent of the population, and "dangerous" Islamic religious ideals threaten their way of life.

    Smith calls such fears "deeply unreasonable," and says they are spreading in part because of the statements of top government officials.

    "In the documents we've uncovered, we realized these views have been shared with senior government officials since the 1990s," Smith said. "They've been saying the same thing about an 'explosive' population growth of Muslims that they need to control. And they've been making these allegations without any empirical footing whatsoever."

    Rohingya freedom to move within the country also is tightly restricted. Fortify Rights says Rohingya in Rakhine are barred from traveling between townships without authorization and are only allowed to travel outside the state in rare cases.

    The group said those who break the rules are subject to several years in prison or fines.

    Western governments, including the United States, have begun relaxing sanctions against and re-engaging with Burmese leaders since 2011, when the military handed power to a nominally civilian government.

    The new military-dominated government has since overseen a series of political and economic reforms, but many say the country's ethnic minorities have yet to reap the benefits.

    This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Burmese service.

    You May Like

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: lstmohican from: USA
    February 26, 2014 9:50 AM
    The Human Rights issue is a noble purpose to pursue, but if misled conscientiously or unconscientiously it might just be the opposite….How prejudicial is the resolution of the world organization, but what is more reprehensible is a set of parochial reports by the human rights organizations predisposed to anti-Myanmar agenda….the Islamist separatist Bengalis were economic immigrants from what is now Bangladesh, who fought against the Myanmar national army flying Pakistan flag, or the fact that the Bengalis looked always towards their Muslim brothers abroad, al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives inclusive, consolidating the Islamic solidarity.

    They have thus become a menace to the national security of Myanmar. ….Myanmar would not be intimidated or blackmailed. Any measure under foreign pressure could prove counter-productive. Myanmar cannot be pressured to accept the demand for carte blanche citizenship of illegal Bengali immigrants. No country in the world even the United States, an immigrant nation and supposedly the most democratic society, welcomes just anybody who makes it across the border, grants unrestricted mass immigration or unscreened citizenship, let alone to recognize them as a national race with the constitutional rights to a political entity in the Union and a separate state within its territory….”

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora