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India ‘s recent deportation of seven Rohingya men to Myanmar has triggered a panic among the country’s Rohingya Muslim refugee community.
Since the seven men were deported in the past three weeks, many Rohingya refugees have gone underground in India and some others have crossed over to Bangladesh, fearing that they could be arrested, jailed or returned to Myanmar.
“After [some people] set fire to our camp in [the north Indian state of] Haryana, three times we fled to West Bengal. We lived peacefully in West Bengal for seven months. After Indian authorities deported seven Rohingyas to Myanmar we got scared. We began fearing that they could even deport us,” said Abdul Goni, 29, who two weeks ago fled a Rohingya refugee camp in West Bengal and is hiding with his wife and three children at an unidentified location in southern India.
“From Haryana, we were around 350 Rohingyas who fled to West Bengal. After the deportation of those seven men we have all fled the West Bengal camp. Some crossed over to Bangladesh. Others have fled to Jammu, Haryana and other places [in India]. I too have moved to another part of India where I am living in hiding now.”
The Indian Home Ministry, which handles the issue or refugees, declined to comment for this story.
Forced to flee
Facing discrimination and violence in Myanmar, minority Rohingya Muslims have for decades fled Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh and other countries, including India.
Currently, approximately 40,000 Rohingya refugees live in different locations across India. About 18,000 are registered with the office of the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.
Stateless, Rohingyas have no way to travel to any country legally and their status as refugees is not always recognized. India did not sign the 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention, and thus treats all Rohingyas entering the country as illegal immigrants.
India has jailed some Rohingyas. The UNHCR estimates more than 200 Rohingya are in Indian jails after being arrested and charged for illegal entry. Rights groups say that figure is at least 500.
The UNHCR issues identity cards to registered refugees to help prevent their arbitrary arrest, detention and deportation. But after the seven men were deported to Myanmar earlier this month, many Rohingyas in India say they fear deportation despite holding UNHCR ID cards.
Among the Rohingyas who have gone in hiding in India or fled to Bangladesh in the past few weeks, many are UNHCR card holders, said Mohammad Junaid, a Rohingya community leader in Bangladesh.
“I know of over 100 Rohingya who have fled to Bangladesh from India in the past weeks. Around 75 percent of them held refugee ID cards issued by the UNHCR Delhi. Yet, they crossed over to Bangladesh because they felt the cards could not protect them from actions by the Indian authorities,” Junaid told VOA.
Cheryl D’Souza, member of a Delhi-based legal rights activist group fighting for the rights of the refugees, also said the Rohingyas are anxious about their future in India despite holding the UNHCR cards.
“While those who have been granted refugee cards and protection by UNHCR cannot be arrested, the panic among the Rohingya regarding arrest by the Indian authorities stems from the complete denial by the government of recognizing the Rohingya as a refugee community in India that is in need of protection and the deliberate terming of them as illegal immigrants to buttress their claims in court for their expulsion,” D’Souza told VOA.
Rohingya refugees have lived in India peacefully for many years. But sentiment against the Muslim minority group has been surging in predominantly Hindu India after the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party led by current Prime Minister Narendra Modi swept to power following a massive election victory in 2014.
Last year in the north Indian city of Jammu, local BJP leaders began a campaign demanding all Rohingya be expelled from the area. The BJP-led Indian federal government subsequently ordered all states to identify and deport all Rohingya Muslims from the country.
Two weeks ago, the government in India’s northeastern state of Assam announced that it was preparing to deport another batch of 23 detained Rohingya that officials described as “illegal immigrants” to Myanmar.
Legal rights activist Prashant Bhushan, who is fighting against the deportation of the Rohingya refugees in India, insists that no Rohingya should be deported to Myanmar.
“A fact finding report by the United Nations Human Rights Council has concluded that [the] Myanmarese military have been responsible for committing crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity against the Rohingya. Various other international organizations have warned that conditions are not conducive for the safe return of Rohingya refugees who have been subjected to torture and detained on repatriation. It is in this context that we are opposing the deportation of the Rohingya refugees to Myanmar,” said Bhushan.
“Refoulement of the seven men to Myanmar was in grave violation of India’s international obligations. The principle of non-refoulement is [indeed] binding on India. It is enshrined in various conventions that India has ratified, such as the ICCPR [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights] and the Convention on Rights of the Child,” he said.
Myanmar’s government has consistently denied allegations that its troops have committed atrocities against the Rohingya.
Altaf Hossen, a Rohingya who fled a camp in West Bengal two weeks ago and crossed over to Bangladesh, said he made a wise decision by leaving India.
“Hindu majority India is growing hostile for Muslim Rohingya refugees. We were facing violence. We held UNHCR cards. Yet, we faced threats of being deported to Myanmar,” Hossen told VOA. “India is unsafe for all Rohingyas. All Rohingyas should leave India for Bangladesh or other countries.” (VOA)
By Nikhila Natarajan
In a continuing study on the effects of machine learning (ML) on public conversation, Twitter has confirmed that its algorithms amplify right-leaning political content. "In six out of seven countries - all but Germany - tweets posted by accounts from the political right receive more algorithmic amplification than the political left when studied as a group," Twitter blogged.
"Right-leaning news outlets, as defined by the independent organisations, see greater algorithmic amplification on Twitter compared to left-leaning news outlets." Since 2016, Twitter users are able to choose between viewing algorithmically ordered tweets first in their home timeline or viewing the most recent tweets in reverse chronological order.
"An algorithmic home timeline displays a stream of tweets from accounts we have chosen to follow on Twitter, as well as recommendations of other content Twitter thinks we might be interested in based on accounts we interact with frequently, tweets we engage with, and more. "As a result, what we see on our timeline is a function of how we interact with Twitter's algorithmic system, as well as how the system is designed."
The new research is based on tweets of elected officials of House of Commons members in Canada, the French National Assembly, the German Bundestag, House of Representatives in Japan, Congress of Deputies of Spain, House of Commons in the UK, and official and personal accounts of House of Representatives and Senate members in the US, as well as news outlets, from April 1 to August 15, 2020.
Tweets about political content from elected officials, regardless of party or whether the party is in power, do see algorithmic amplification when compared to political content on the reverse chronological timeline. | Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash
The study was conducted by Ferenc Huszar (Twitter, University of Cambridge), Sofia Ira Ktena (now at DeepMind Technologies), Conor O'Brien (Twitter), Luca Belli (Twitter), Andrew Schlaikjer (Twitter), and Moritz Hardt (UC Berkeley).
The questions probed were:
How much algorithmic amplification does political content from elected officials receive in Twitter's algorithmically ranked Home timeline versus in the reverse chronological timeline? Does this amplification vary across political parties or within a political party?
Are some types of political groups algorithmically amplified more than others? Are these trends consistent across countries?
Are some news outlets amplified more by algorithms than others? Does news media algorithmic amplification favour one side of the political spectrum more than the other?
Tweets about political content from elected officials, regardless of party or whether the party is in power, do see algorithmic amplification when compared to political content on the reverse chronological timeline. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: algorithmically, timeline, algorithmic, tweets, political, survey
Even as India celebrates reaching a milestone of 100 crore Covid vaccine doses, Snapdeal co-founder and COO Rohit Bansal on Friday lauded a man who facilitated 64 registrations for the vaccine on the CoWin portal. In a video shared on his Facebook and Twitter page, Bansal hailed Sonu Kumar as a "citizen celebrity".
Bansal said that Kumar not only helped "just co-workers and family but complete strangers too. With patience, empathy and uncanny jugaad". He added that Kumar joined him "many moons ago" and completed his open school from a parking lot.
"Education has helped this wonderful man enable others to get India back on track. Bravo! The CoWin portal on Thursday mentioned that a total of 100 crore vaccine doses has been administered so far to the eligible population under the vaccination drive in India, nine months after the nationwide inoculation programme was started to protect the people against Covid-19.
"It's a cause of significant celebration and happiness," Bansal said in the video. He said that while people just help a few around them, Kumar "bridged the digital gap" for 64 people, who were finding it difficult to register themselves online on the vaccine portal. Kumar said he doesn't feel that he has contributed much towards the 100 crore vaccine dose count. "I have been able to help only 64 people, if I was able to help more I would have been happier." (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: cowin, covid, india, people, Rohit bansal, Sonu kumar, vaccine
KAMPALA, UGANDA — Uganda has kickstarted a trial for the injectable HIV drugs cabotegravir and rilpivirine. Researchers and those living with HIV say the trial will likely end pill fatigue, fight stigma, improve adherence and ensure patients get the right dosage.
The two drugs have been in use as tablets. The World Health Organization last year licensed their use as injectables.
While the two injectables already went through trials in Europe and North America, this will be the first time they are tested in an African population for efficacy and safety in an African health care system.
Uganda is one of three African countries, along with Kenya and South Africa, which got approval from the WHO to carry out the trials. However, Kenya and South Africa have yet to acquire approvals to start their trials, expected by the end of the year.
Uganda and Kenya will both have three trial sites and there will be two in South Africa, with a total of 512 participants -- 202 from Uganda, 160 from Kenya and 150 from South Africa.
Dr. Ivan Mambule, the lead project researcher at the Joint Clinical Research Center, says participants will need one injection every two months.
"We are going to choose participants who are already on ART [anti-retroviral treatment] and are stable on ART. And we will randomize them to either continue on their normal treatment, which is the pill that they've been taking, or to switch them to this injectable. The injection is on the buttock," he expressed.
In this photo taken in Nov. 15, 2012 a patient, right, is attended to, at the US sponsored Themba Lethu, HIV/AIDS Clinic at the Helen Joseph hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa Image credit: VOA
Uganda has 1.4 million people living with HIV/AIDS. Barbara Kemigisa who is living with HIV and founded the Pill Power Foundation working with rural women, says the injectable drugs will increase adherence to treatment and ensure people get the right dosage.
"One of the things that affects adherence is the fact that people have to hide medicine. In the village, people are hiding medicine in the kitchen roof, in trees, in bushes, in a baby's shoe…If someone is wrapping the medicine in like five plastic bags and digs a hole in the garden and keeps the medicine there, by the time someone is taking that medicine, it's no longer medicine, it's poison," Kemigisa points out.
Nicholas Niwagaba, who has worked with young people living with HIV welcomes the trial, saying it will reduce the pill burden and fight stigma.
"Young people feel like, this is a lot of pills to take. Those who are on the first line, they will have to take one tablet a day. There are those who are on second line and they have to take more than one pill and they have to take it in the morning and in the evening. And of course, this requires you to have actually a balanced diet which is really a challenge for most of young people especially those from vulnerable communities," he says.
According to the WHO, there are 25.7 million people living with HIV in Africa. With only the pill currently available to manage the scourge, this injectable may come as a relief for people living with HIV/AIDS. (VOA/RN)
(This article is originally by Halima Athumani)
Keywords: HIV, WHO, Africa, Research, Uganda