Confronting genocide in Myanmar — Katherine Southwick

Source: New Mandala

Interethnic divisions in a young democracy cannot be downplayed or wished away, and it’s time Myanmar’s government and the international community acknowledge strong evidence that genocide is being perpetrated against the Rohingya and act to end it, Katherine Southwick writes.

Violence in Myanmar’s western Rakhine State escalated after a 9 October attack on border guard posts, leaving nine officers dead. Humanitarian assistance and media access to the area have been cut off for weeks while the Myanmar authorities conduct a counterinsurgency operation against allegedly Rohingya assailants. Responsibility for the initial attack remains unclear, however. More than a hundred people are thought to have died already, with 30,000 internally displaced adding to the 160,000 people who have been subsisting in squalid displacement camps since previous outbreaks of violence in 2012 and 2013. Human Rights Watch has released satellite imagery showing that over 1,200 buildings in Rohingya villages have been razed in the past month. Government soldiers have reportedly gang-raped Rohingya women and girls.

Bangladesh, which for 30 years has permitted more than 230,000 registered and unregistered Rohingya refugees to shelter in its territory, has been turning people back who seek refuge across the border. Thousands have already crossed and continue to gather at the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.

These events mark a dramatic deterioration in what has long been a desperate situation for a minority that many have identified as among the most persecuted in the world. Most of them are stateless, with the government designating them as “Bengalis” or “illegal immigrants,” despite many having had citizenship in the past and having lived in the region for generations. They have been subjected to forced labour and confined to displacement camps where they do not receive adequate food and medical care, leaving pregnant women and children particularly at risk of agonising illness and death. Read more

Profit vs Humanity: Which side are we on?

Source: Asian Correspondent

In our pursuit of wealth, have we lost our love for humanity? Source: alexmillos/Shutterstock

In our pursuit of wealth, have we lost our love for humanity? Source: alexmillos/Shutterstock

IT’s hard to ignore the ever increasing disparity of wealth throughout our world.

For many, they’ve never had it so good. More money, more possessions, more food than any one person could ever feasibly need. But alongside this world of excess resides a world of abject poverty and despair.

These two worlds are not mutually exclusive; sadly it is often the desperation of those most vulnerable that drives the profits of the wealthy. Major multinational corporations (MNC) are not only exploiting this disparity but enhancing it with systems of production that directly perpetuate the inequalities.

Harsh reminders of this lopsided system have come to light this week in a number of reports detailing extreme labour exploitation occurring throughout the region.

On Wednesday, Amnesty International released its damning report of child labour occurring on Indonesian palm plantations. Children as young as eight were reported to be working in “hazardous” conditions for long hours and low pay. Wilmar International Ltd, the Singapore based company who runs the offending plantations, supplies their product to global consumer companies including Unilever, Nestle, Kellogg and Procter & Gamble.

Another instance came to light from a Guardian investigation into the exploitation of migrant workers in McDonald’s restaurants in Malaysia. The Nepalese workers were deprived of their passports, paid a fraction of their promised wages and made to live in squalor while Human Connection HR, the recruitment company responsible, turned a profit and McDonald’s reaped the benefits of cheap labour. Read more

Rohingya issue affects Malaysia’s security, Putrajaya tells Myanmar

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Wisma Putra said the spillover effect of the Rohingya humanitarian crisis would affect the safety, security and standing of Malaysia. — Reuters pic

Wisma Putra said the spillover effect of the Rohingya humanitarian crisis would affect the safety, security and standing of Malaysia. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 3 — With 56,000 Rohingya in Malaysia, the government cannot close an eye to the “crisis” facing the ethnic Muslims in Myanmar, Wisma Putra said today.

In a strongly-worded statement, the Foreign Ministry said the high number of Rohingya refugees here as well as the hundreds of thousands in other countries was no longer an internal issue for Myanmar but an international issue, and closer to home a security matter for Malaysia.

“As a neighbour and a responsible member of the international community, it is Malaysia’s obligation to ensure that its Asean colleague takes proactive steps to prevent the matter from further deteriorating,” the ministry said, in response to remarks by U Zaw Htay, the deputy director-general of Myanmar’s President’s Office as published in The Myanmar Times yesterday. Read more