UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar welcomes Amnesty report on Rohingya

Rohingya refugee Suray Khatun, 70, is carried by her son Said-A-Lam, 38, as they enter Kutupalong refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh a day after crossing the Myanmar border, on November 20, 2017. (REUTERS/Susana Vera)
Updated 21 November 2017
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UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar welcomes Amnesty report on Rohingya

JAKARTA: The UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar said Tuesday it welcomes a new Amnesty International (AI) report describing widespread and systematic discrimination against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine state that amounts to apartheid.

The head of the mission, Marzuki Darusman, said the report is helpful to the mission, whose mandate has been extended until September 2018. It was originally scheduled to conclude its work in March 2018, a year after its establishment.

“We only have a year to work, while AI has worked on the report for two years,” Darusman told Arab News.

“We hope to continue meeting with AI to further study its findings. We’re open to receiving information from all parties, even from the Myanmar government,” he said.

“Until now, they (the government) still seem unprepared to meet us, but we’re sure we’ll eventually get the opportunity to talk to them,” he added.

Being barred from entering Myanmar to investigate the situation is not an issue for the mission’s work since it can gather facts from reports produced by UN agencies and human rights watchdogs, Darusman said.

“The Myanmar government can have its own account included in our report if it wants to meet us. Otherwise we’ll just stick to the facts we’ve gathered so far,” he added.

Elise Tilet, a member of the AI team on Myanmar, said what the team found during its investigation is that Rohingya life has been restricted in every aspect by Myanmar authorities since 2012.

“This discrimination is so institutionalized and systematic that we concluded it amounts to the crime of apartheid,” Tilet told Arab News.

“What that means is they’re restricted in their freedom of movement and religion, access to health, education, livelihoods and nationality, and their right to participate in public life.”

She said during her visit to some areas in Rakhine, she met villagers who have been confined to their village since 2012, and the only way they are allowed to leave is by using waterways, and only to go to another Muslim village.

The AI report said Myanmar authorities have imposed a curfew on the Rohingya community that prevents them from gathering to practice their religion, and from seeking medical care. The authorities have also refused since 2016 to issue birth certificates to newborns.

“Crimes against humanity are happening on a daily basis in Rakhine,” Tilet said, adding that systematic discrimination is taking place at all levels of government still tightly controlled by the military.

“What needs to happen now for a solution to the situation in Rakhine is that the Myanmar government must immediately start dismantling this system,” she said.

“It must ensure that economic development in Rakhine benefits all communities, and that perpetrators of crimes against humanity are held to account.”


US security chief in Moscow as nuclear treaty hangs in balance

Updated 22 October 2018
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US security chief in Moscow as nuclear treaty hangs in balance

  • John Bolton is expected to discuss Trump’s plan to jettison the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Putin
  • “It is the United States that is eroding the foundations and main elements of this pact” said Putin’s spokesman

MOSCOW: The Kremlin said on Monday that Washington’s withdrawal from a key Cold War-era nuclear treaty would make the world more dangerous, as Donald Trump’s national security adviser met senior Russian officials in Moscow.
John Bolton is expected to discuss Trump’s plan to jettison the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.
On Monday, Bolton discussed the fate of the treaty with Russian Security Council Chief Nikolai Patrushev and was expected to meet with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later in the day.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists that ditching the treaty “will make the world more dangerous” and rejected US claims that Moscow has violated the pact, instead accusing Washington of doing so.
“It is the United States that is eroding the foundations and main elements of this pact” with its missile defense capabilities and drones, he said.
Lavrov said he was waiting to hear Bolton’s “official explanation” regarding Trump’s intentions, adding that for the moment the US side has not initiated the official procedure for exiting the treaty.
Trump on Saturday claimed that Russia had long violated the treaty, known as the INF.
“We’re the ones who have stayed in the agreement and we’ve honored the agreement, but Russia has not unfortunately honored the agreement, so we’re going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to pull out,” he told reporters.
“Russia has violated the agreement. They’ve been violating it for many years,” he said.
“And we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons (while) we’re not allowed to.”
Trump’s announcement raised global concerns, with the European Commission urging the US and Russia to pursue talks to preserve the treaty and China calling on Washington to “think twice.”
The Commission, the 28-nation European Union executive, stressed that the INF has been a mainstay of European defense for the last three decades.
“The US and the Russian Federation need to remain in a constructive dialogue to preserve this treaty and ensure it is fully and verifiably implemented,” spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told reporters.
She said the agreement was important for both European and global security.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said a unilateral withdrawal from the treaty “will have a multitude of negative effects.”
Trump argued that the treaty does nothing to hold non-signatory China back from developing missiles, but Hua said that “it is completely wrong to bring up China when talking about withdrawal from the treaty.”
The treaty banning intermediate-range nuclear and conventional missiles was signed in 1987 by then US president Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader.
Gorbachev on Sunday said that “dropping these agreements... shows a lack of wisdom” and was a “mistake.”
The INF resolved a crisis over Soviet nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles targeting Western capitals.
The latest row between Russia and the United States comes ahead of what is expected to be a second summit between Trump and Putin this year.
Analysts have warned that the latest rift could have lamentable consequences and drag Russia into a new arms race.
The Trump administration has complained of Moscow’s deployment of Novator 9M729 missiles, which Washington says fall under the treaty’s ban on missiles that can travel distances of between 310 and 3,400 miles (500 and 5,500 kilometers).
Britain’s The Guardian newspaper said that Bolton himself is pressuring Trump to leave the INF and had blocked talks to extend the New Start treaty on strategic missiles set to expire in 2021.
US-Russia ties are under deep strain over accusations Moscow meddled in the 2016 US presidential election. The two countries are also at odds over Russian support for the Syrian government in the country’s civil war, and the conflict in Ukraine.
On Friday, the US Justice Department indicted the finance chief of Russia’s leading Internet troll farm for allegedly interfering with US congressional elections to be held in November.
Russia accused the United States of fabricating the charges.
Putin and Trump will both be in Paris on November 11 to attend commemorations marking 100 years since the end of World War I.