Aboard rickety boats or swimming, over 750 Rohingya reach Bangladesh

Rohingya refugees sit on a makeshift boat as they get interrogated by the Border Guard of Bangladesh after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, at Shah Porir Dwip near Cox's Bazar Friday. (Reuters)
Updated 10 November 2017
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Aboard rickety boats or swimming, over 750 Rohingya reach Bangladesh

COX’S BAZAR/YANGON: They came in boats, others on flimsy rafts, some even swam. Around 750 Rohingya Muslims made their escape from Myanmar on Friday to reach Bangladesh, where the greatest danger is malnutrition and disease in teeming refugee camps.
Over 613,000 Rohingya have already taken refuge in the camps since a Myanmar military clearance operation forced them to abandon their villages in northern Rakhine state.
Rohingya who have reached Bangladesh have recounted horror stories of rape and murder. A top UN official described the military’s actions as “ethnic cleansing,” though Myanmar denied that, saying its operation was needed for national security after Rohingya militants attacked 30 security posts on Aug. 25.
Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Myanmar’s less than two-year-old administration, was in Vietnam on Friday, attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. She was expected to hold talks with several leaders on the sidelines of the gathering, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Having won the Nobel Peace Prize for defying the generals who ruled predominantly Buddhist Myanmar with an iron fist for nearly half a century, Suu Kyi’s reputation as a stateswoman has suffered due to her failure to speak out more strongly over the Rohingya crisis.
Under a constitution written before the junta gave way, the civilian administration still has to share power with the generals, and has little say over defense and security issues.
Still, leaders at APEC, and two other regional summits to be hosted by the Philippines in the coming days, are expected to exert pressure on Suu Kyi to do more to stem the crisis.
And on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will meet with Suu Kyi in Naypyitaw, the Myanmar capital, with senators back in Washington pressing to impose sanctions targeting the military.
International Rescue Committee, the leading aid agency headquartered in New York and led by former British Foreign Minister David Miliband, reckoned that up to two-thirds of the 300,000 Rohingya remaining in Myanmar will join the exodus to Bangladesh in the coming months.
The IRC in a statement highlighted the extremely dangerous health conditions for Rohingya living in camps in the port city of Cox’s Bazar.
A nutrition survey led by its partner Action Contre la Faim had found 40,000 Rohingya children faced malnutrition and required life-saving assistance.
It said 95 percent of the population was drinking contaminated water — and agencies had reported that two-thirds of Cox’s Bazar’s water was contaminated with feces.
“The conditions we are seeing in Cox’s Bazaar create a perfect storm for a public health crisis on an unimaginable scale,” said Cat Mahony, the IRC’s emergency response director in Cox’s Bazar.
“The situation will only deteriorate with more arrivals and a greater strain on already overstretched resources.”
Still, Rohingya too scared to stay in Myanmar were ready to risk their lives crossing the waters around the mouth of the Naf River to reach Bangladesh.
They were helped on Friday by another day of calm seas, though more than 200 have drowned attempting the crossing during the past two months.
Bangladesh officials said significant numbers were arriving on rafts they had built from bamboo, lashing plastic jerrycans to the poles for extra buoyancy. They said more Rohingya had swum across on Thursday.
A Reuters photographer saw up to 10 rafts landing on the beaches of Teknaf, at the southern tip of Cox’s Bazar, on Friday.
People reaching the shore have told Reuters that there are thousands living in desperate conditions on the strand of beach by the river’s mouth at Pa Nyaung Pin Gyi, as they waited for a chance to cross over.
Dil Muhammad, 30, from Buthidaung, one of the Rakhine regions that bore the brunt of the military operation, finally made it across with his wife and three children after weeks of living on the sand because he could not afford to pay a boatman.


Hong Kong court finds academic guilty in ‘yoga-ball’ murder case

Updated 19 September 2018
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Hong Kong court finds academic guilty in ‘yoga-ball’ murder case

  • The wife, Wong Siew-fing, and 16-year-old daughter Lily were found by the roadside in a locked yellow Mini Cooper in 2015
  • Police found a deflated yoga ball in the back of the car

HONG KONG: A Malaysian professor was jailed for life in Hong Kong Wednesday for murdering his wife and teenage daughter using a yoga ball filled with carbon monoxide which he had placed in their car.
Khaw Kim-sun, 53, shook his head and looked at his three other children sitting in court on hearing the verdict, broadcaster RTHK reported. One of them burst into tears.
Prosecutors had told the High Court that Khaw left the inflatable ball in the boot of a car and the gas leaked out and killed them.
His wife Wong Siew-fing and 16-year-old daughter Lily were found by the roadside in a locked yellow Mini Cooper in 2015 in a case which initially baffled police.
The pair were certified dead at the same hospital where Khaw worked and a post-mortem concluded they had died from inhaling carbon monoxide. Police found a deflated yoga ball in the back of the car.
Prosecutors accused Khaw, a specialist in anaesthesiology and an associate professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, of hatching a murder plot because he was having an affair with a student.
The court heard earlier in the trial that Khaw had told colleagues he planned to use the gas on rabbits. He later told police he had taken it to get rid of rats at home.
The professor also told police after his arrest that Lily knew about the dangerous gas in the yoga ball, and suggested she may have wanted to commit suicide.
Khaw’s case was the second murder investigation involving an academic in recent months.
In August a University of Hong Kong professor was arrested on suspicion of killing his wife after police found a body stuffed in a suitcase in his office.