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April 17-23, 2015

Weekly Media Monitoring report for Burma
Posted on May 4, 2015

1.      Refugees not welcome [in Malaysia]
International Media:

The Sun Daily, April 17: “Refugees not welcome here – Shahidan

  • Malaysia will not open its doors to refugees and asylum seekers, especially to the Rohingyas from Myanmar, even under humanitarian grounds. The State says they have become a threat.
  • Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim called on the United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees (UNHCR) to speed up the repatriation process.
  • “If we open the gates, the waters will gush in and flood the country … the problem is their presence here is a threat to our security, they are causing a lot of problems here,” Shahidan said.

2. Rohingya crisis
State-owned Media:

Myanmar Times, April 22: “Myanmar asylum seeker in first Cambodia-bound batch

  • A Rohingya asylum seeker is among the first five men to allegedly accept an offer to leave detention on the Pacific island of Nauru for resettlement in Cambodia, according to Refugee Action Coalition.
  • The five would be the first to fulfil a highly controversial refugee deal signed by Cambodia and Australia last September. Australia has promised a nearly US$40 million aid check to Cambodia in return for accepting the refugees.
  • Refugee advocates fear the Abbott government is trying to fast-track the refugee process and exchange claim approval for Cambodian resettlement.

Myanmar Times, April 23: “Regional MPs warn of Rohingya ‘crisis’ ahead of ASEAN meeting

  • The Rohingya “crisis” has all the warning signs of genocide, regional parliamentarians have warned in a new report, adding that ASEAN can no longer afford to ignore what is now a regional issue.
  • Released just days before the 26th ASEAN Summit opens in Malaysia, the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights’ assessment insists that the treatment of the Rohingya is “not just a Myanmar problem – they are an ASEAN problem”.
  • The report states that the persecution of Rohingyas has led to the largest outflow of asylum seekers by sea since the Vietnam War.
  • During its turn at the ASEAN chair, Myanmar kept the Rohingya issue off the agenda by declaring it an internal issue, despite the obvious spillover effects of an estimated 500,000 refugees in neighbouring countries. Myanmar has also previously strongly rejected accusations of genocide or crimes against humanity in Rakhine State.
Privately-owned media

Burma Times, April 18: “One killed in crackdown, another injured

  • A Rohingya Muslim has been killed and another wounded when police opened fire on them during a crackdown in Furma fara, North Maungdaw.
  • The crackdown happened in response to the murder of a government collaborator Syed Hossain on Wednesday night.
  • The operation in the village started at around mid day and lasted for almost four hours on Friday. During this time security forces could not find any other male in the area as they had fled anticipating a crackdown.

Burma Times, April 20: “BGP and police raid village in search of white card

  • BGP and police raided the village tract of Nara Bil in Maungdaw North after information that some Rohingya Muslims have not handed over their white cards.
  • They raided many of the houses but did not find any white cards. During the raid, some BGP personal threatened any Rohingyas holding on to the white cards with ‘a lesson they will never forget till the end of times’.

Irrawaddy, April 22: “South East Asian Leaders Urged to Act on Rohingya Crisis

  • Southeast Asian lawmakers on Wednesday urged their leaders to discuss Burma’s Rohingya Muslim crisis at their summit in Malaysia this weekend, saying it has led to the highest outflow of asylum seekers by sea in the region since the Vietnam War.
  • Burma is home to an estimated 1.3 million Rohingya, and most are considered stateless. 
  • The Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights, a grouping of regional lawmakers, said in a statement that the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations must abandon its policy of not interfering in each other’s affairs, which has been used as a justification to avoid holding a discussion on the Rohingya issue, stating that it has led to a human trafficking epidemic.

Mizzima, April 22: “Parliamentarians call on ASEAN to address Rohingya crisis

  • ASEAN leaders must urgently respond to the escalating crisis situation for Rohingya Muslims and other vulnerable minorities in Myanmar, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) said on April 22 in a public call on regional governments on the eve of the 26th ASEAN Summit.
  • In an open letter to ASEAN heads of state, the collective of parliamentarians called for greater recognition of the serious threat the continued persecution of the Rohingya minority represents not only to Myanmar, but to all of ASEAN. APHR also called for an independent investigation into the growing crisis and the deployment of ASEAN monitors in the lead up to elections scheduled for later this year.

Democratic Voice of Burma, April 23: “ASEAN must protect Rohingya, says panel

  • Includes quote from APHR letter: “Between the Rohingya crisis, anti-Muslim violence and human rights abuses against ethnic minorities, we found that nearly every risk factor for atrocity crimes identified in the UN Framework for Analysis of Atrocity Crimes is present in Myanmar today.”

3. Burma 9th Most Censored Country Globally
Private Media:

Irrawaddy, April 22: “Burma 9th Most Censored Country Globally: Media Freedom Index

  • The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has ranked Burma as the ninth most censored country in the world.
  • CPJ’s annual top 10 was topped by Eritrea and North Korea, while Burma and Cuba were ranked No. 9 and No. 10, respectively. Other Asian nations in the index are Vietnam, ranked No. 6, and China, placed No. 8.
  • The Printers and Publishers Registration Law, enacted in March 2014, bans news that could be considered insulting to religion, disturbing to the rule of law, or harmful to ethnic unity; Publications must be registered under the law, and those found in violation of its vague provisions risk de-registration.
  • National security laws are used to threaten and jail journalists who report on sensitive matters.

4. Paper apologizes for ‘misleading’ photo of Suu Kyi with Muslim leaders
Private Media

Irrawaddy, April 22: “Paper apologizes for ‘misleading’ photo of Suu Kyi with Muslim leaders

  • Local paper The Voice Weekly has apologized for posting a picture of Aung San Suu Kyi that appeared to depict Suu Kyi paying respect to Christian and Muslim leaders in the traditional Buddhist style. The photo caused controversy among some readers who at first questioned the propriety of the gesture.
  • One Facebook commenter wrote: “Is it a Muslim man to whom Aunty Suu is paying respect? We see it clearly, friends!”
  • The picture was taken at an event commemorating the one-year anniversary of Burmese democracy activist Win Tin’s death. Closer scrutiny, however, revealed that in fact Suu Kyi was greeting Buddhist monks who were sitting a few feet away from the Christian and Muslim leaders in the same row.
  • Soon after the picture and attendant criticism went viral, the editor of the newspaper posted a message, saying: “The paper apologizes to the relevant persons for the controversial and misleading picture due to the negligence of the paper’s online editorial team.”
  • The image has since been removed from The Voice’s Facebook page.

5. Myanmar population control law threatens minorities – rights group
Private Media:

Irrawaddy, April 23: “Myanmar population control law threatens minorities – rights group

  • Myanmar's religious and ethnic minorities may be suppressed by a proposed population control law which could be a serious setback for the country's maternal health advances, according to a U.S.-based human rights group Physicians for Human Rights.
  • The group said it was concerned that the bill, passed by Myanmar's parliament earlier this month and awaiting President Thein Sein's approval to become law, could strip women of the freedom and right to choose how they have children.
  • "If this bill is signed and applied selectively in areas where religious or ethnic minorities are already subjected to persistent and pervasive discrimination, we face a heightened risk of grave human rights violations,” said Widney Brown, director of programs.
  • The Muslim Rohingya population in Myanmar's western Rakhine state are at particular risk of abuse, having been subjected to restrictions on marriage, registration of births, and many other human rights violations, Physicians for Human Rights said.
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