Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Boat carrying hundreds of Rohingya Muslim evacuees capsizes off Myanmar

Al Jazeera
May 14, 2013.
Vessel with 200 Rohingya Muslims evacuating camps ahead of storm sinks after hitting rocks off Pauktaw township.
Barbara Manzi, head of the Myanmar office at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said on Tuesday that the boat struck rocks off the Pauktaw township in Rakhine State, and sank late on Monday.

Kirsten Mildren, also of OCHA, told Al Jazeera that there were 200 people on the boat, and that there is only one confirmed survivor.

Many of those aboard, now missing, are feared dead.

Cyclone Mahasen is expected on Thursday and Friday, with the UN warning it could lead to "life-threatening conditions".

Myanmar state television said on Monday that thousands of people displaced by communal violence last year had been evacuated from makeshift camps to safer ground in the event of the storm.

The report said authorities had moved 5,158 people from low-lying camps in the Rakhine state capital, Sittwe, to safer shelter.

But human rights groups said that the government has been too slow to act, and ignored earlier warnings to provide shelter to displaced people.

"The Burmese government didn't heed the repeated warnings by governments and humanitarian aid groups to relocate displaced Muslims ahead of Burma’s rainy season," said Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch Asia director.

"If the government fails to evacuate those at risk, any disaster that results will not be natural, but man-made," he said.
Read the rest here.

Comment: The Burmese government could care less about the Rohingya - they are the victims of the most brutal oppression of any people, anywhere, at this troubling time.

Meanwhile, President Thein Sein is reportedly close to making an official visit to the US. 

His slated visit will marks the first time in five decades that a Burmese (Myanmar) leader has embarked on a state visit to the US.

Obama and his generals will no doubt offer Thein Sein even more congratulations and plaudits for the 'humanitarian' turnaround he and Aung San Suu Kyi are pursuing.  And, of course, not a word will be mentioned about the systematic oppression of the Rohingya by his government and Buddhist monks.

Speaking of the turncoat Nobel Peace laureate, her spokesperson and confidant, Nyan Win, "confirmed that Aung San Suu Kyi has no plans to champion the Rohingya cause despite criticism swirling around her silence on the crisis."

This confirmation was made known in a Global Post interview where Nyan Win said:
“She believes, in Burma, there is no Rohingya ethnic group. It is a made-up name of the Bengali. So she can’t say anything about Rohingya. But there is international pressure for her to speak about Rohingya. It’s a problem.”
Really?  So those people being persecuted by her new friends in the government are just figments of the imagination then?

How blatantly inhumane a position to take.  And, one must assume that this is her thinking since she has not retracted the statement or the sentiment conveyed by Nyan Win.

So, we are to assume then that Aung San Suu Kyi supports the erasure of the Muslim Rohingya in Burma - this is genocidal in intent, is it not?

She has become a sham and should be repudiated.  Her president's visit to the US should also be condemned/protested by peace and justice loving people everywhere - as I am sure it will be.

Hat tip to DD for reposting part of the Global Post article and interview (May 3) with Nyan Win at Mirage A' Trois.


UPDATE (May 14, 9:20 pm CAT):

For more information on the dire Rohingya situation see "Burma: Lest we don't see, a genocide is in the making" by Bonojit Hussain in Countercurrents (May 14).

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