Myanmar has failed to protect Rohingya from atrocities: UN

Senegalese Adama Dieng, UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, attends a press conference of MINUSCA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic ) in Bangui, in this October 11, 2017 photo. (AFP)
Updated 19 October 2017
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Myanmar has failed to protect Rohingya from atrocities: UN

UNITED NATIONS: Myanmar’s government has failed to meet its international obligations and protect Rohingya Muslims from the atrocities taking place in Rakhine state, two UN special advisers said Wednesday.
The statement from the UN special adviser on the prevention of genocide, Adama Dieng, and the special adviser on the responsibility to protect, Ivan Simonovic, added the international response to the crisis was a failure.
“Despite warnings issued by us and by many other officials, the government of Myanmar has failed to meet its obligations under international law and primary responsibility to protect the Rohingya population from atrocity crimes,” said a joint statement.
“The international community has equally failed its responsibilities in this regard,” they added.
Since late August more than 500,000 Rohingya have fled an army campaign in Myanmar’s Rakhine state that the United Nations has denounced as ethnic cleansing.
The UN Security Council has called on Myanmar to end military operations in Rakhine, grant access to aid workers and allow the safe return of the Rohingya refugees.
The council however has not followed up its appeal with action such as imposing sanctions, a move diplomats said is opposed by China, a supporter of the Myanmar’s former junta, and Russia.
“Once again, our failure to stop atrocity crimes makes us complicit. When will we live up to our countless promises of ‘never again’?” the advisers asked.
Myanmar authorities argue the military operations in Rakhine are to root out militants following attacks on police posts in late August.
A recent report by the UN human rights office accused Myanmar of seeking to permanently expel the Rohingya, by planting land mines at the border with Bangladesh where the refugees are sheltering.
UN rights officials spoke to refugees who gave accounts of soldiers surrounding homes and firing indiscriminately as residents ran for their lives, and of uniformed men gang-raping women and girls, some as young as five.
“In some cases, before and during the attacks, megaphones were used to announce: ‘You do not belong here — go to Bangladesh. If you do not leave, we will torch your houses and kill you’,” the report said.
The UN’s top political affairs official, Jeffrey Feltman, returned on Tuesday from five days of talks in Myanmar that failed to yield a breakthrough.
Feltman is expected to report to the Security Council on his talks.


Outrage as Philippines probes farmer ‘massacre’

Updated 9 min 41 sec ago
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Outrage as Philippines probes farmer ‘massacre’

  • Up to 40 gunmen attacked a group of about 25 people who had entered the plantation near the city of Sagay just hours earlier to sow their own crops
  • Previously, nine farmers were gunned down in a sugar plantation in central Philippines

MANILA: Philippine authorities said Monday they have launched a probe into the mass slaying of nine farmers gunned down after taking over part of a sugar plantation to grow food for themselves.
The deadly attack has provoked outrage in the Philippines, as well as criticism of Manila’s slow-moving program to redistribute farmland to millions of sharecroppers — tenant farmers who give a part of each crop as rent — who remain mired in poverty.
The violence erupted Saturday on the central island of Negros, the center of the nation’s sugar industry and home to some of the country’s wealthiest landowners as well as some of its poorest farm workers.
Up to 40 gunmen attacked a group of about 25 people who had entered the plantation near the city of Sagay just hours earlier to sow their own crops.
“This was... a grim reflection of the decades-old failure of the government’s agrarian reform program to extricate poor Filipino farmers from vicious and degrading cycle of poverty,” Senator Leila De Lima said.
Authorities said they were investigating reports the farmers were killed by “goons” employed by either the landowner or entities that leased the land.
“We vow to mobilize all available resources to ensure that those responsible are held accountable,” Philippine national police chief Oscar Albayalde told reporters.
The Philippines passed a law in 1988 to redistribute public and private agricultural lands to landless farm workers.
Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones said his ministry has handed out 4.8 million hectares (12 million acres) to nearly three million people, but more than 800,000 hectares have yet to be broken up.
“There are areas such as these where we have not really been able to distribute (land titles), and maybe that’s one reason why some of our farmer brethren resorted to farming land that is not their own,” he said.
Lawsuits are either delaying or completely stopping the effort in some areas, including the Sagay plantation where the violence occurred, he added.
Farm workers account for about 20 million people, a fifth of the Philippine population, who live on less than two dollars a day, the government says.
“Children in Negros work in haciendas (plantations) together with their families because of poverty due to government’s neglect,” the children’s rights group Salinlahi Alliance said Sunday, denounced the killing as a “massacre.”