Thursday, March 22, 2012

84 - Rohingya ‘victims of crimes against humanity’

Abuses perpetrated by the Burmese government against the ethnic Rohingya minority in the country’s western region may constitute crimes against humanity, an expert on international human rights law says.

Forced labour, religious persecution and systematic rape by Burmese army officers are widespread against the Rohingya, according to the ‘Crimes Against Humanity in Western Burma‘ report, supervised by Professor William Schabas and released by the Irish Centre for Human Rights (ICHR). Schabas was part of the team behind Sierra Leone’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Schabas said that the minority group had “for decades…endured grave human rights violations in north Arakan state”, which borders Bangladesh. The report added however that their “plight has been overlooked for years and the root causes of their situation still remain under-examined”.

The treatment of the Rohingya, a Muslim group that is denied legal status in Burma, “[appears] to satisfy the requirements under international criminal law for the perpetration of crimes against humanity”, it added.

Ireland’s foreign minister, Michael Martin, said at the launch of the report in Dublin that the evidence published by the group was “compelling and credible”. It follows a report to the UN security council by Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN’s special rapporteur to Burma, in which he similarly called for an investigation into possible crimes against humanity against the minority group.

The investigation for the ICHR report was carried out by Nancie Prudhomme and Joseph Powderly, who spent four weeks visiting Thailand, Bangladesh and Burma in 2009. Bangladesh is home to as many as 400,000 Rohingya refugees, while Thailand came under the spotlight in early 2009 after it pushed a boatload of Rohingya out to sea with no food or water, many of whom died.

The predominantly Buddhist Burmese government refuses to recognise the nearly 800,000-strong Rohingya minority as Burmese, and thus denies them legal rights and formal access to education and healthcare in the country. The Paris-based medical aid group Medicins Sans Frontiers (MSF) has described the Rohingya as one of the world populations ‘most in danger of extinction’.

Out of an estimated 400,000 Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh’s eastern Cox’s Bazaar, less than 30,000 are registered by the UN and allowed to live in UN-run camps. Dhaka is believed to have resisted attempts by the UN to register those remaining, claiming that it would trigger an influx of more Rohingya into the country.

Prudhomme and Powderly’s fieldwork in the Bangladeshi camps was assisted by John Ralston, former chief of investigations at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the ICHR said.

Over 4,000 NFPE students sit for exam in two refugee camps

Source: Kaladan Press News
Teknaf, Cox’s Bazar: Over 4,000 Non-Formal Primary Education (NFPE-2) or Grade-2 students have been sitting for final examination of 2010 in two official refugee camps since June 23, said a refugee teacher from the camp.

There are 2, 069 grade-2 students in Nayapara camp and nearly 2,000 grade-2 students in Kutupalong camp are sitting for their exam in the schools of refugee camps. Their exam will be finished on July 29.

In refugee schools, only Bengali, English, Mathematic, Environment and Burmese subjects are being taught. But, science, history and geography subjects are not being taught, so the students are lack of knowledge of these subjects.

After grade-2 exam, the students will continue to study from July 2010 to till July 1011 as grade-3 students. After passing the Grade-3 level exam, the students will join to class V. But, there is no facility for students after passing class V.

“Education is the back bone of the nation. But, our children have no facility to study after passing the exam of grade-3. As a result, our next generation has no future,” said a refugee leader from the camp.

A refugee student from Nayapara camp said, “We want to study more after exam of Grade-3 in the camp, but we have no scope for further study.”

Another refugee female student said, “I want to become a doctor. Our community has no doctors and nurses to work for the community. But we have no facility.”

Besides, there are 776 students in formal class-1, 645 students in formal class-2 and 731 pre-primary students are studying in 10 schools in Nayapara camp. In total, over 4,000 students are studying only in Nayapara camp, said another refugee master from the camp.

In similar way, there are over 4,000 students are studying in Kutupalong camp. Therefore, nearly 10,000 students are studying in refugee schools. After the education in refugee cams, where they will go for further study, asked a refugee elder from Nayapara camp.

Refugees are very eager to educate their boys and girls. They have no other scope to do, said a local elder nearby camp.

Refugee teachers are occasionally trained by Research Training and Management International ( RTMI) supported by UN Children's Fund(UNICEF) and UN high Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR)

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