Rohingya insurgents open to peace but Myanmar cease-fire ending

Rohingya refugees walk on a muddy road after collecting relief aid at Kutupalaong refugee camp in Bangladeshi district of Ukhia October 6, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 07 October 2017
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Rohingya insurgents open to peace but Myanmar cease-fire ending

YANGON: Muslim Rohingya insurgents said on Saturday they are ready to respond to any peace move by the Myanmar government but a one-month cease-fire they declared to enable the delivery of aid in violence-racked Rakhine State is about to end.
The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) did not say what action it would take after the cease-fire ends at midnight on Monday but it was “determined to stop the tyranny and oppression” waged against the Rohingya people.
“If at any stage, the Burmese government is inclined to peace, then ARSA will welcome that inclination and reciprocate,” the group said in a statement.
Government spokesmen were not immediately available for comment.
When the ARSA announced its one-month cease-fire from Sept. 10, a government spokesman said: “We have no policy to negotiate with terrorists.”
The rebels launched coordinated attacks on about 30 security posts and an army camp on Aug. 25 with the help of hundreds of disaffected Rohingya villagers, many wielding sticks or machetes, killing about a dozen people.
In response, the military unleashed a sweeping offensive across the north of Rakhine State, driving more than half a million Rohingya villagers into Bangladesh in what the United Nations branded a textbook example of “ethnic cleansing.”
Myanmar rejects that. It says more than 500 people have been killed in the fighting, most of them “terrorists” who have been attacking civilians and torching villages.
The ability of the ARSA, which only surfaced in October last year, to mount any sort of challenge to the Myanmar army is not known but it does not appear to have been able to put up resistance to the military offensive unleashed in August.
Inevitably, there are doubts about how the insurgents can operate in areas where the military has driven out the civilian population, cutting the insurgents off from recruits, food, funds and information.
The ARSA accused the government of using murder, arson and rape as “tools of depopulation.”
The ARSA denies links to foreign Islamists.
In an interview with Reuters in March, ARSA leader Ata Ullah linked the creation of the group to communal violence between Buddhists and Muslims in Rakhine in 2012, when nearly 200 people were killed and 140,000, mostly Rohingya, displaced.
The group says it is fighting for the rights of the Rohingya, who have never been regarded as an indigenous minority in Myanmar and so have been denied citizenship under a law that links nationality to ethnicity.
The group repeated their demand that Rohingya be recognized as a “native indigenous” ethnic group, adding that all Rohingya people should be allowed “to return home safely with dignity ... to freely determine their political status and pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”
The Rohingya have long faced discrimination and repression in Rakhine State where bad blood between them and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, stemming from violence by both sides, goes back generations.
The ARSA condemned the government for blocking humanitarian assistance in Rakhine and said it was willing to discuss cease-fires with international organizations so aid could be delivered.
Some 515,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh but thousands remain in Rakhine.
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has faced scathing criticism for not doing more to stop the violence, although a military-drafted constitution gives her no power over the security forces.
Suu Kyi has condemned rights abuses and said Myanmar was ready to start a process agreed with Bangladesh in 1993 by which anyone verified as a refugee would be accepted back.
Many refugees fear they will not have the paperwork they believe Myanmar will demand to allow them back.


“No-deal” Brexit would hit trucks, airlines and pet owners — govt papers

Updated 24 September 2018
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“No-deal” Brexit would hit trucks, airlines and pet owners — govt papers

LONDON: Leaving the European Union without a proper divorce deal could ground airlines, stop hauliers from lugging goods to the world’s biggest trading bloc and even make headaches for pet owners who want to take their dogs on holiday, according to government documents.
With just six months to go until the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on March 29, Prime Minister Theresa May has warned that negotiations are at an impasse and that the EU must come up with new proposals on how to craft a divorce settlement.
Many business chiefs and investors fear politics could scupper an agreement, thrusting the world’s fifth largest economy into a “no-deal” Brexit that they say would spook financial markets and silt up the arteries of trade.
Britain, which has warned it could leave without a deal, published 25 technical notices on Monday covering everything from commercial road haulage and buying timber to airline regulations and taking pets abroad.
“If the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no agreement in place, UK and EU licensed airlines would lose the automatic right to operate air services between the UK and the EU without seeking advance permission,” the government said.
Overall, the government has published more than 65 such notices giving a glimpse of what a no-deal Brexit — the nightmare scenario for chief executives of most multinationals operating in Britain — would look like.
Amid warnings that trucks could stack up on both sides of the English Channel in the confusion of a no deal, Britain said it would seek to strike bilateral agreements with European countries to ensure hauliers would retain access.
The notices covered a vast swathe of the British economy, warning, for example, that labels on packaged food would have to be changed.
“Use of the term ‘EU’ in origin labelling would no longer be correct for food or ingredients from the UK,” the government said.
Honey producers would have to change their labels while EU countries might not accept British mineral water, the government said.
In the worse case scenario for pet owners, dogs, cats and even ferrets might need health certificates and rabies jabs. Travel plans would have to be discussed with a vet at least four months in advance before traveling to the EU.
That would mean someone wanting to take their pet to the EU on March 30, 2019, the day after Britain leaves the bloc, would have to discuss the trip with a vet before the end of November.
Without a deal, the UK would move from seamless trade with the rest of the EU to customs arrangements set by the World Trade Organization for external states with no preferential deals.
Brexiteers accept there is likely to be some short-term economic pain but say the government is trying to scare voters about the impact of a no-deal Brexit.
Britain, many Brexiteers say, will thrive in the longer term if cut loose from what they see as a doomed experiment in German-dominated unity and excessive debt-funded welfare spending.