London, UK -- The Burma Human Rights Network is calling on Bangladesh to rescind policies that would stop Rohingya refugees from purchasing sim cards. The Rohingya depend on sim cards to communication their plight to the world and to contact friends and family living outside the camps. The sale of sim cards to refugees was already been regulated to prevent sales to anyone without a National Identity Card, but Bangladesh has now taken the extraordinary steps this week of working with private telecommunications companies to achieve both of the following outcomes. First, to shut off access to areas within the refugee camps during evenings and second enforcing the blocking of sales of sim cards to refugees.
There have been recent incidents of violence in the camps, the origin of which is at times unclear; in some cases, Bangladesh suggests it was the fault of the Rohingya. In other cases evidence suggests that the violence resulted from unprovoked attacks against them by Bangladesh natives. However, there is speculation that the crackdown on sim cards may be in response to a rally held by the Rohingya on August 25th. That rally was organised to recognize 2 years since the Burmese army began a genocidal campaign against the civilian population in 2017. The rally drew over 200,000 refugees who were well organized and by all accounts it was a peaceful event.
London, UK -- Burma Human Rights Network calls upon the Burmese Government to repeal the antiquated and anti-democratic laws that have resulted in the one-year prison sentence with hard labor against filmmaker U Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi for a Facebook post that was critical of the Military. According to the verdict, U Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi was found guilty of causing military personnel to “mutiny” or “otherwise disregard or fail in their duty.” The post in question criticized the role of the military in politics and Burma’s 2008 constitution which gives the military a mandatory 25% of Parliament and veto power.
“This verdict clearly shows Burma has no interest in democratic principles or the fundamental rights of their citizenship but rather functions intentionally to allow the military dominate the political system and punish anyone who is critical of their record of brutality against their own people. Burma, particularly the National League for Democracy, need to make significant efforts to reverse all oppressive laws which violate the fundamental rights of their citizens. In concert with that, it is vital that those who are imprisoned under such draconian laws be pardoned immediately,” said BHRN Executive Director Kyaw Win.
London, UK -- The Burma Human Rights Network is calling upon the international community to speak out against the Burmese-Bangladesh plan for the repatriation of Rohingya refugees back to Burma scheduled to begin on August 22nd. Over 800,000 Rohingya fled Burma between 2016 and 2017 as the Burmese military waged a genocidal campaign, veiled as counter-insurgency, against the civilian population. Similar agreements to repatriate the Rohingya have been planned before, with massive resistance from the Rohingya population who said conditions were not safe or just enough for them to return voluntarily. This most recent announcement also seems to have been planned without input or consent of the Rohingya, and if carried out may amount to refoulement.