34 Rohingya women, children found stranded on Malaysia beach

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Rohingya refugees, who landed on an isolated northern shore near the Malaysia-Thai border, huddle in a group in Kangar on March 1, 2019, following their detention by Malaysian immigration authorities. (AFP)
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Rohingya refugees, who landed on an isolated northern shore near the Malaysia-Thai border, huddle in a group in Kangar on March 1, 2019, following their detention by Malaysian immigration authorities. (AFP)
Updated 02 March 2019

34 Rohingya women, children found stranded on Malaysia beach

  • The UN General Assembly approved a resolution in December condemning “gross human rights violations and abuses” against Myanmar’s Rohingya

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: More than 30 Muslim Rohingya women and children were found stranded along a beach in Malaysia’s northernmost state, and are believed to have been dropped off by human traffickers, authorities said.
A police official in Kangar, the capital of northern Perlis state, said villagers early Friday found the 34 people, including nine children, weak, hungry and covered in mud as they made their way through the coast. A Myanmar welfare group said the group is believed to have been trafficked into Thailand from Bangladesh, before heading to Malaysia, whose dominant Malay Muslim population makes it a sympathetic destination.
More than 700,000 ethnic Rohingya have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh since August 2017, when a group of militants attacked security forces, triggering a massive retaliation by Myanmar’s army. The exodus came after hundreds of thousands of other Rohingya escaped previous bouts of violence and persecution.
The police official, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue, said they have been fed and handed over to immigration officials.
Nur Aziah Mohamad Shariff, an official with the National Security Council, said his office was aware of the illegal entry and is investigating.
Zafar Ahmad Ghani, who heads the Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization of Malaysia, said he obtained information that many more Rohingya are being tricked by traffickers into leaving Bangladesh after being warned they may face death if repatriated to Myanmar.
Pictures and videos obtained by members of the group showed a long rope placed across the shore at low tide to help the Rohingya walk through the mud.
Chris Lewa, founder of the Arakan Project, which works to improve conditions for Rohingya, said the women and children may be part of a large group that sailed from Bangladesh in two boats in mid-February. She said the total number of passengers was unclear, with estimates of about 150, and that it was unclear what happened to the others.
She said the Arakan Project spoke to a Rohingya man who landed in northern Malaysia in late February on a boat that had arrived undetected with 85 aboard.
Lewa said it was unclear why the women and children were stranded, and that the two boats were the only ones they knew had sailed from Bangladesh this year.
Most people in Buddhist-majority Myanmar don’t accept Rohingya Muslims as a native ethnic group. They are, instead, viewed as having migrated illegally from Bangladesh, though generations of Rohingya have lived in Myanmar.
Nearly all have been denied citizenship since 1982 and lack access to education and hospitals.
The UN General Assembly approved a resolution in December condemning “gross human rights violations and abuses” against Myanmar’s Rohingya.
Myanmar’s government denies claims of genocide and ethnic cleansing. The country rejects the UN investigators’ work and the General Assembly resolution as biased.


US, Russia among naval powers heading to Manila for global meet

Updated 2 min 35 sec ago

US, Russia among naval powers heading to Manila for global meet

  • Meet to be “a promising platform to enhance naval cooperation and establish maritime security initiatives”

MANILA: Warships and navy delegates from around the world will converge in Manila for a three-day event in May as the Philippines hosts the International Fleet Review (IFR) for the first time. America, Russia and China have all confirmed their presence at the event, so the IFR will bring together naval powers whose encounters at sea have often been fraught with tension.

The IFR is part of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS), which will take place from May 19 to 21.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the Philippine Navy’s Flag Officer-in-Command Rear Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo talked about the significance of the IFR and WPNS in the context of evolving maritime geopolitics and the increasing complexity of its challenges.

“These are confidence-building activities that show navies can work together for a common cause,” Bacordo said.

He described the WPNS, a biennial meeting of navies bordering the Pacific region, as “a promising platform to enhance naval cooperation and establish maritime security initiatives.”

Bacordo added that the WPNS, in particular, aims to build trust and confidence between navies by providing a framework to enable “the discussion of maritime issues of mutual interest, the exchange of information, the practice and demonstration of capabilities, and the exchange of personnel.”

“It is more than just a navy protecting (its) own country, but rather navies protecting the world,” he said.

As for the IFR, Bacordo said this was a major diplomatic event which will show that “these ships can exist in one space without causing tensions.”

He explained: “When they arrive here, the main program will be the symposium for the chiefs of navies. Then after a two-day discussion, on day three we expect to have the IFR, which will be held at Manila Bay, in the vicinity of Corregidor and Bataan.”

Navies from 24 nations, including Australia, Brunei, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam, as well as observer countries including Pakistan and Myanmar are expected to participate in the three-day event.

While the 24 member states are all expected to send delegates to the event, 14 of them — including Russia, the US, Vietnam and Thailand — have committed to sending ships.

On Monday, Russia’s Ambassador to Manila Igor Khovaev confirmed to Arab News that Moscow will be deploying “a detachment of Russian navy ships and a submarine” for the IFR — marking the first time a Russian submarine will be in the Philippines.

“Yes, (it will be) the first time — but as partners and friends. I would be happy to invite you to visit the Russian submarine just to communicate with the Russian seamen and (to) see that all of them are normal, friendly people,” Khovaev said at the reception for Russian Armed Forces Day on Monday.

The US is reportedly considering sending one of its aircraft carriers to take part, while China is also expected to deploy vessels for the event, Bacordo said.