Saturday November 25, 2017
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Life of Rohingyas Gets More Difficult After Refuge

“Here we only sleep, eat, sleep again and pray.”

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Sanuar Begum (right) enjoys a meal with husband Abdul Roshid (second from left) and relatives at a camp in Bayeun, East Aceh Regency Image: BenarNews

Sanuar Begum was among more than 1,000 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar who landed in the Indonesian province of Aceh last May, when local fishermen rescued boatloads of desperate and hungry passengers off smugglers’ vessels abandoned at sea.

A year later, only about 250 Rohingyas remain at four refugee camps scattered across the province. But although many of her fellow residents at the Bayeun camp in East Aceh Regency complain about being idle and only being able to “eat, sleep, and pray,” because their refugee status prevents them from applying for local jobs, Sanuar and some others say they are relatively content in their present situation.

“My husband says it is much better here because Acehnese are good people. They welcome us very well,” Sanuar, 20, told BenarNews.

Although she had the opportunity to try to leave Aceh and travel with two older sisters to Malaysia – a prime destination in Southeast Asia for Rohingyas – Sanuar said she turned down the offer because she was pregnant at the time. She has since given birth to a baby boy, Muhammad Nasrullah.

Sanuar and the others were part of a mass exodus by sea that saw more than 3,000 undocumented Rohingyas from Myanmar and migrants from Bangladesh come ashore during an irregular migration crisis that hit Southeast Asia in May 2015, and was precipitated by a Thai crackdown on human trafficking and a Thai maritime blockade on smugglers’ boats.

The residents at Bayeun were so-called “Green Boat” passengers rescued by Acehnese fishermen in the Strait of Malacca on May 20, 2015, after the governments of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia refused to allow their vessel to land.

As many as 434 passengers were rescued in that incident, including dozens of Bangladeshi migrants. Now some 100 Rohingya refugees are left at the camp in Bayeun. Since May 2015, more than 800 Bangladeshis and Rohingyas have been repatriated in three batches, according to local officials.

The camp is housed in an abandoned paper mill. The refugees live there and are supported by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) through aid from Japan, the United States and European Union.

Related article: In Myanmar, monks protest over US Embassy using “Rohingya’ term for Bengali Muslims

Many of the Rohingyas are children who have learned to speak Indonesian fluently. Some of the grown-up residents have married other inmates and dozens of babies have been born at the camps across Aceh.

“I wish to stay in Aceh forever. But if I was not allowed, I would move to Australia or the United States, according to the IOM. So my wife, five of our children and I can live in peace,” Jamal, a 37-year-old Rohinyga resident of the camp, told BenarNews.

Busy but jobless

But others say they are tired of remaining idle and want jobs so they can earn some money for their families back in Myanmar.

When asked what they had been doing for almost a year in Aceh, some replied in unison, “Here we only sleep, eat, sleep again and pray.”

Many of the other Rohingyas had left the camp in search of jobs in Malaysia, where the average wage for Rohingyas is 50 ringgit (U.S. $12.70) per month, Jamal said.

Like countless Rohingyas, Jamal escaped from Myanmar where members of the Muslim minority flee religious persecution and are treated as second-class citizens.

“I was a cook in a hotel. When the riots occurred, I was beaten up. They fired me after that and I lost my job,” he told Benar, referring to riots in his home state of Rakhine in 2012.

Jamal stands out from his fellow inmates at the camp. He keeps up his dignity by wearing a suit every day, along with a pair of donated shoes.

“I have to save my money. I bought their belongings provided by IOM and I sold them to a nearby market. I have five kids and a wife to feed,” he said.

To kill their boredom while being jobless, other residents spend their time at the camp planting vegetables and raising chickens.

Others take English and Arabic classes, as well as learn other skills.

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Rohingyas learn English from textbooks at the camp in Bayeun, March 27, 2016. (Nurdin Hasan/BenarNews)

“We bought the vegetables planted in their garden, and feed them from their own garden. So they can earn a small amount of money. If they can harvest abundantly, we help them sell it in the market,” said Usman A. Rahman, a local government official who is in charge of the camp in Bayeun.

The local government has been working together with IOM and the U.N. refugee agency to train the camp’s residents in various skills, he said. For example, the women have been taking sewing classes.

“We hope that when someday they move to other countries, they have already mastered some skills to easily get jobs,” Usman told BenarNews, noting that the Indonesian government’s policy did not allow refugees to obtain jobs in the country.

‘All I can do now is pray’

Some of the Rohingyas were arrested in North Sumatra after escaping from the refugee camps and while trying to leave for Malaysia.

They were eventually returned to the camps in Aceh. These include Asia Hatu, 23, and her son Muhammad Harun, 6.

“I wanted to leave because my husband is in Malaysia. But now I give up. I don’t want to run away anymore,” she told BenarNews. “All I can do now is pray. I just hope that one day there is a miracle that will reunite me with my husband.” (BenarNews)

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Rohingya Ethnic Group in Myanmar are Targets of Ethnic Cleansing, depicts US Government

The US government stated that abuses directed at the Rohingya ethnic group in Myanmar amount to ethnic cleansing

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Rohingyas are targets of ethnic cleansing. Wikimedia.

Washington, Nov 23: The US government said on Wednesday that abuses directed at the Rohingya ethnic group in Myanmar amount to ethnic cleansing.

“After a careful and thorough analysis of available facts, it is clear that the situation in northern Rakhine state constitutes ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement, Efe news agency reported.

Despite expressing concern about the plight of the Rohingya, Washington has declined until now to ascribe their suffering to a deliberate campaign of ethnic cleansing.

The statement follows a visit last week to Myanmar by Tillerson, who met with State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and the head of the armed forces, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing.

The country’s “government and security forces must respect the human rights of all persons within its borders, and hold accountable those who fail to do so,” the secretary said Wednesday.

“The United States continues to support a credible, independent investigation to further determine all facts on the ground to aid in these processes of accountability,” he said.

More than 600,000 Rohingyas have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh since Myanmar launched a military operation against the mainly Muslim minority group following the deaths of a dozen members of the security forces in Aug. 25 attacks by a group calling itself the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.

State Department officials said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters that President Donald Trump’s administration is weighing the idea of imposing sanctions on specific individuals in Myanmar found responsible for what they described as “organised and planned” ethnic cleansing.

Senior officials of Myanmar and Bangladesh began talks Wednesday on a plan to repatriate the roughly 622,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladeshi territory.

In a report presented Tuesday in Bangkok, Amnesty International accused Myanmar of subjecting the Rohingya to a system of “institutional” discrimination tantamount to apartheid. (IANS)

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India will soon ask Malaysia to extradite Preacher Zakir Naik

India will soon approach Malaysia with a request to extradite hardline Islamic preacher Zakir Naik.

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India will Request Malayasia to extradite Zakir Naik
India will Request Malayasia to extradite Zakir Naik. wikimedia commons
  • India will seek the Malaysian government’s help in extraditing televangelist Zakir Naik who faces charges of money laundering and inciting hatred through his sermons broadcast on Peace TV, the foreign ministry said Friday.

Zakir Naik obtained permanent residency in Malaysia 

Officials will approach their Malaysian counterparts with the extradition request sometime within the next two weeks, Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar told a weekly news briefing in New Delhi.

“Any formal request seeking the assistance of a foreign government in cases of extradition requires a completion of the internal legal process involving consultation with other ministries involved in the case,” Kumar said.

“At this stage, we are nearing the completion of this process and as soon as this process is complete we will be making an official request to the Malaysian government in this matter,” Kumar said. “It could be a couple of days or a couple of weeks. But it would be soon and the nature of our request would also be clear.”

Naik fled India a month before terrorist carried out a massacre at a café in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in July 2016. This week, Malaysia’s deputy prime minister said the Islamic preacher legally obtained permanent residency in the country, and that Malaysian authorities would arrest him only if he broke local laws or was found to be involved in terrorist activities.

Naik’s speeches allegedly inspired some of the militants who carried out the siege at the Holey Artisan Bakery café in Dhaka, where 29 people, including 20 hostages and five gunmen, were killed.

In November 2016, the Indian government banned Naik’s Mumbai-based NGO Islamic Research Foundation, which partly funded the Peace TV channel that is banned in India, Bangladesh and several other countries.

Kumar said because the Indian government had knowledge of Naik’s whereabouts, the legal procedures would be tailored to requirements between the two countries in their extradition treaty.

Advocate challenges charges

“Naik is being hounded because he hails from a minority community. The charges that the investigating agencies are trying to frame are all stale and are hardly incriminating,” advocate S. Hariharan told BenarNews in a phone interview from Delhi.

“The charges lack veracity and would not stand scrutiny in the court of law. We will be challenging the extradition and deportation.”

Last week, the Indian government filed a 61-page charge sheet against Naik alleging he was involved in a criminal conspiracy by lauding terrorist organizations. In April, a non-bailable warrant was issued against him in an alleged case of money laundering through his NGO and a shell company.

In Malaysia meanwhile, the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) has urged the government to ignore any request from India to extradite Zakir Naik, Reuters reported.

“For Muslim individuals, even when they won by using arguments and not weapons, like Dr. Zakir Naik, they are considered terrorists because their arguments cannot be countered,” PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang wrote last week in an opinion piece published in Harakah Daily.(BenarNews)

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New, Endangered Orangutan Species Found in Indonesia

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Oslo, November 2, 2017, 9:17PM : A new species of orangutan has been identified in remote Indonesian forests and immediately becomes the most endangered type of great ape in the world with just 800 individuals, scientists said on Thursday.

The Tapanuli orangutan, found only in upland forests in North Sumatra, differs from the other two species of orangutan in the shape of its skull and teeth, its genes, and in the way the males make long booming calls across the jungle, they said.

“The differences are very subtle, not easily observable to the naked eye,” Professor Michael Kruetzen of the University of Zurich, who is part of an international team, told Reuters.

“With no more than 800 individuals, this species is the most endangered great ape,” the scientists wrote. Apart from humans, great apes comprise orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos.

The Tapanuli orangutan had probably been isolated from other populations for 10,000-20,000 years, the researchers wrote in the journal Current Biology. The population had been known by scientists since at least 1997 but had not previously been considered a separate species.

The Tapanuli orangutan faces threats including from forest clearance to make way for mining or palm oil plantations. The region also had plans for a hydro-electric dam.

The scientists urged quick conservation measures. Otherwise, “we may see the discovery and extinction of a great ape species within our lifetime,” they wrote.

Laurel Sutherlin of Rainforest Action Network, who was not involved in the study, said the finding “must also serve as a wake up call to all of us from consumers, to global food and paper brands, to investors and local and national governments” to protect forests.(VOA)