The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Ms Yanghee Lee, isundertaking a visit to various locations of the Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh from today, i.e. 20th February to 23 Febuary 2017 to examine human rights violations on the Rohingyas.
Most in the international community has taken "Symptomatic
Approach" to the Rohingya refugee crisis, viewed the Rohingya refugee
issue only from "Rohingya/Arakan tunnel" and have failed to conduct
local impact assessment on the settlement of the Rohingya refugees on the
local/indigenous communities of the CHTs. The UNHCR which has access to
Nayapara and Kutupalong camps in Cox’s Bazar district and is required to
conduct local impact assessment essentially remained a mute witness since
1. Current influx and ACHR's findings from the field visit to
Rohingya refugees at Ukhia in January 2017
The current influx of the Rohingya refugees started following
the attacks on the Border Guard Police of Myanmar in Rakhine State on 9th
October 2016 by the Rohingya insurgents in which nine Myanmar police officers
were killed. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human
Rights (OHCHR) reporting about “mass gang-rape, killings – including of babies
and young children, brutal beatings, disappearances and other serious human
rights violations by Myanmar’s security forces in a sealed-off area north of
Maungdaw in northern Rakhine State”. By the end of January 2017, the United
Nations was quoted of reporting influx of 65,000 new Rohingya refugees since
From 13-15 January 2017, researchers of of ACHR visited
Rohingya refugees who had taken shelter under Ukhia Subdivision under Cox’s
Bazaar. ACHR researchers found that the Rohingyas refugees are living in
self-made make shift camps and have no intention to return to Myanmar in the
light of the gross human rights violations and absolute lack of guarantees
against non-repetition of human rights violations by the Myanmar's security
forces. At the same time, the Government of Bangladesh is neither registering
them nor issuing identity cards to record their origin which is indispensable
for repatriation to Myanmar. There is no intention on the part of the
Government of Bangladesh to repatriate the Rohingya refugees while Myanmar
shamefully agreed to take back less 2,500 Rohingya refugees.
This calls of local impact assessment since influx of the
Rohingya refugees from 1992.
2. From refugees to rulers: The case of the Rohingya refugees
becoming effective rulers over the Bangladeshi Rakhines i.e. Marmas in
Bandarban district of the CHTs
The latest influx takes the number of Rohingya refugees in
Bangladesh to about 6,00,000 i.e. upto 500,000 undocumented Rohingya refugees
living outside the official camps as per UNCHR in 2014, 32,000 refugees living
in the Nayapara and Kutupalong camps in Cox’s Bazar district as per UNHCR in
2014 and 65,000 refugees who arrived since October 2016.
Majority of these refugees settled in the CHTs. This is
confirmed by the fact the national survey of the Rohingya refugees conducted by
the Government of Bangladesh from 2 to 14 June 2016 focused all the three
districts of the CHTs out of the six districts i.e. Cox’s Bazar, Rangamati,
Bandarban, Khagrachari, Chittagong and Patuakhali. Out of these districts,
Rangamati, Bandarban, Khagrachari are part of the CHTs Regional Council while
two remaining districts i.e. Cox’s Bazaar and Chittagong are bordering
districts of the CHTs region. The Government of Bangladesh has refused to
disclose the number of Rohingya refugees in these districts as none outside the
Nayapara and Kutupalong camps claimed as Rohingyas.
The influx of the Rohingya refugees started in 1992 and as per
the census of Bangladesh, the population of Bandarban district increased from
157,301 persons as per 1991 census to 298,120 persons as per 2001 census i.e.
an increase of 90% against decadal growth rate of 17% in entire Bangladesh
during the same period. In a submission under the Universal Period Review of
the UN Human Rights Council, the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact claimed that over
15,000 families of the Rohingya refugees (i.e. about 105,000 persons) had been
settled in Nakkhyangchari, Ruma, Lama, Alikadam and Sadar area of Bandarban
district with direct support from the authorities of the Government of
Bangladesh. The Marma people whose population is less than 100,000 have already
been reduced to minorities.
This is an interesting read on how officers in the Libyan Coast Guards were trained by the Italians to intercept and rescue migrant boats near the Libyan coast before reaching international waters. Normally, if European forces intercept migrants, then they should be taken to Italy. But if Libyans pick them up from their water, then they can be taken to Libya instead. You can find the detail of the news in - Can E.U. Shift Migrant Crisis to the Source? In Libya, the Odds Are Long
Arvind Palat (Professor, Department of Sociology, Binghamton University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
It is hard
to think of a more morally bankrupt, intellectually dishonest, and politically
mendacious policy than President Trump’s executive order “Protecting the nation
from foreign terrorist entry into the United States.” It barred the immigrant
or non-immigrant entry into the United States from seven Muslim-majority
countries—Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, and Libya—for 90 days
except for Christian minorities. This ban applied initially also to US legal
permanent residents (LPR) who were born in these countries. And it barred the
entry of refugees from Syria for 120 days.
morally bankrupt because LPR or ‘green card’ holders are subject to most rights
of US citizens including the right not to be discriminated against and the ability
to serve in the military. The executive order would have banned a serving US
military officer from returning to the country after fighting in one of the
numerous wars the US is waging if she or he had been born in one of the seven
‘countries of concern.’ It is telling these warriors that they can shed blood
for the United States but cannot enter it. Is there anything more morally
bankrupt than this?
Geneva Convention on Refugees of which the US is a signatory obligates
countries to take in refugees from wars on humanitarian grounds. As an
international treaty it has the force of law within this country. Admission of
refugees, especially from Syria, is a rigorous process. As is made clear in the
official State department website (https://www.state.gov/j/prm/ra/admissions/),
processing of applications can take 18-24 months. But for many, it takes much
longer. Five years after Sgt. Ali Alsaeedy of the 82nd Airborne division filed
refugee papers for his parents—five long years during which his father
died—when his mother, Hamidyah Al Saeedi finally landed in New York’s JFK
airport last Saturday, she was held for 33 hours, handcuffed for some of the
time, and released only after her son procured a habeas petition. Can there be
anything more morally bankrupt than this?
Many of the
refugees from Iraq are people, like Sgt.Alsaeedy, who had first worked for the
US, saved US lives, and because of that, their own lives became vulnerable.
Doesn’t the US have a moral obligation to these people? Is it morally
acceptable to ban them and their aged parents? Or to hold them at airports for
long? Nada, a Yazidi woman whose husband, Khalas, was an interpreter for the US
forces in Iraq was turned back from boarding a flight in Dubai to come and join
her husband in Washington, DC because of President Trump’s executive order. She
was bundled into a plane back to Iraq where her fate is anything but certain.
Can there be anything more morally bankrupt than this?
Yazidi woman, VianDakhil, the only Yazidi member of the Iraqi parliament who
had pleaded with the world to save her people from extinction at the hands of
ISIS was to arrive in Washington to receive the Lantos Human Rights prize at
the Capitol—a prize named after Congressman Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust
survivor to serve in the US Congress. Yet she is barred by the executive order
from boarding a plane to receive the award. Can there be anything more morally
bankrupt than this?
We must also
investigate how the refugees were created. Take the case of Libya—it was ruled
by an autocrat but it also had high levels of income and standards of living.
It blocked migrants from Africa crossing the Mediterranean. When a small
rebellion broke out, US led airstrikes on the country which destroyed its infrastructure,
killed its dictator, and led to the country being partitioned by warlords. This
was the cause of the refugee crisis. In Yemen, the US and the UK supplied Saudi
Arabia with munitions to intervene in a civil war that created the refugees. In
Iraq, again, the 2003 invasion by US-led forces on the blatantly false claim
that the country was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, destabilized the
country and led to the flow of refugees. If the actions of the US directly
created refugees, on humanitarian grounds does this country not have a
responsibility to care for them?
Candidate Trump called for a total ban on Muslims entering the United States in
December 2015, Mike Pence, then governor of Indiana called it “offensive and
unconstitutional.” House Speaker Paul Ryan railed against Trump’s call for a
ban on Muslims coming to this country. Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell
said it was “completely and totally inconsistent with American values.” And
General Mattis, the new Defence Secretary, said that a ban on Muslims would
make allies think “we have lost faith in reason.” Yet, today these intellectual
titans are all offering support to the president. Can there be anything more
morally bankrupt, intellectually dishonest, and politically mendacious than
In the last
40 years, not a single US citizen has been killed in North America by a citizen
of the seven ‘countries of concern’ named in the executive order. Citizens of
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Lebanon have been responsible
for over 3000 deaths, chiefly from 9/11. Yet, nationals from these countries
are not included in the exclusion order. Strangely enough, the Trump
Organization has investments in most of these countries but not in the
‘countries of concern.’ Can there be anything more morally bankrupt,
intellectually dishonest, and politically mendacious than this?
If the media
and the Democrats have been relentless in critiquing the executive order, it is
important to recall that the order itself did not refer to the seven countries;
it barred the entry into the US “of aliens from countries referred to in
section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12).” This referred to the
Omnibus Appropriations Act of Fiscal Year 2016 signed into law by President
Obama in December 2015. It was the Obama administration which initially
highlighted problems with individuals from these countries—and as we have seen
none of them have been responsible for acts of ‘terrorism’ in the United
earlier, after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995—the perpetrators of which were
white Christian Americans—President Clinton pushed the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act which was the first legislation
to authorize fast-track deportation of refugees and even LPR. The Democrats, in
other words, created the laws that enabled President Trump to issue his
Islamophobic executive order. It is intellectually dishonest for news media to
blank out this information in its report of President Trump’s executive order.
the executive order violates international and US domestic law: there can be no
religious exceptions to immigration; signatories to the Geneva Convention have
an obligation to extend protection on a humanitarian basis. Violating these
legal obligations underlines the United States’ position as an exceptional
nation: an exceptionally morally bankrupt one.
Here is a news piece by Walden Bello on Trump's recent immigration ban that hardly is a national security concern. He says, the Philippine government should vocally,publicly condemn this ban on immigration on the pretext of national security, or else it will soon affect citizens across the globe, including Philippines' citizens.
Five days ago, the new American President, Donald Trump, signed an executive order proposing a 90 day suspension of visas for people belonging to seven countries.
(Photo: The New York Magazine)
While there were widespread protests across the US, the following is the letter by academics against the executive order.
The letter is hosted at notoimmigrationban.com, and can be endorsed by sending an email to NoToImmigrationEO@gmail.com
President Donald Trump has signed an Executive Order (EO) proposing a 90-day suspension of visas and other immigration benefits to all nationals of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia. The unrealistic conditions required for discontinuing the suspension make it very likely that this EO will turn into a permanent ban. We, the undersigned academics and researchers from a variety of fields of study, backgrounds, and personal convictions, would like to voice our concern and strongly oppose this measure on three grounds:
1. This Executive Order is discriminatory. The EO unfairly targets a large group of immigrants and non-immigrants on the basis of their countries of origin, all of which are nations with a majority Muslim population. This is a major step towards implementing the stringent racial and religious profiling promised on the campaign trail. The United States is a democratic nation, and ethnic and religious profiling are in stark contrast to the values and principles we hold.
2. This Executive Order is detrimental to the national interests of the United States. The EO significantly damages American leadership in higher education and research. US research institutes host a significant number of researchers from the nations subjected to the upcoming restrictions. From Iran alone, more than 3000 students have received PhDs from American universities in the past 3 years. The proposed EO limits collaborations with researchers from these nations by restricting entry of these researchers to the US and can potentially lead to departure of many talented individuals who are current and future researchers and entrepreneurs in the US. We strongly believe the immediate and long term consequences of this EO do not serve our national interests.
3. This Executive Order imposes undue burden on members of our community. The people whose status in the United States would be reconsidered under this EO are our students, friends, colleagues, and members of our communities. The implementation of this EO will necessarily tear families apart by restricting entry for family members who live outside of the US and limiting the ability to travel for those who reside and work in the US. These restrictions would be applied to nearly all individuals from these countries, regardless of their immigration status or any other circumstances. This measure is fatally disruptive to the lives of these immigrants, their families, and the communities of which they form an integral part. It is inhumane, ineffective, and un-American.
These bans, as proposed, have consequences that reach beyond the scope of national security. The unethical and discriminatory treatment of law-abiding, hard-working, and well-integrated immigrants fundamentally contravenes the founding principles of the United States.
We strongly denounce this ban and urge the President to reconsider going forward with this Executive Order.
[Dr. Arup Kumar Sen works at Serampore College and he can be reached at email@example.com]
[Editor's note: On 31st December, new year's eve, Bangalore was witness to wide spread mass-molestation of women. This report on the condition of women garment workers in Bangalore, is a timely reminder that gendered violence is endemic in society, and those at the bottom of the pecking order, are affected by it everyday.]
has earned its fame as the IT capital of India. The headquarters of two IT
giants, Infosys and Wipro, are located in the city. But, a dark side of city
life is seldom discussed in the media. A large percentage of the city’s
population, about 18 percent, live in slums. In addition to the recognized
slums, a large number of poor households live in unrecognized low-income
settlements and urban villages. The story of opulence and that of poverty go
side by side. The recent two day protests by the garment workers in the city
made the dark side of the moon more pronounced.
notification was made on February 10, 2016 regarding change in the provisions
of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) Act. The workers feared that this change
would impact them adversely. Their chief concern was that they would not be
able to withdraw employer’s contribution to the Provident Fund corpus until the
retirement age of 58. The garment workers became apprehensive of the new
Ordinance passed by the Central government as they depend on withdrawals from
the Provident Fund for payment of house rent and school fees of children, and
for health-related emergencies and other financial emergencies. This led to the
mass walk-out of “footloose” garment workers from their factories and participation
in a series of spontaneous demonstrations on April 18-19, 2016, in various
parts of Bangalore. It is reported that at least 50000 garment workers, most of
whom were women, participated in the protests. The workers interviewed by an
investigating team stated that peaceful protests turned violent on April 19 due
to police brutality on women workers on day-one. Reportedly, male police
officers started raining blows on the women workers, in spite of their repeated
assurances that they intended to protest peacefully. Based on personal
interviews with garment workers, the investigating team observed that “the
level of brutality exhibited by the police throughout the protest as well as in
the following weeks was due to a calculated effort by the police to create an
atmosphere of fear and intimidation amongst the workers.”1
fear is very much a part of everyday life of garment workers in Bangalore.
There are about 500000 garment workers in the city of Bangalore, working in
big, small and medium-sized factories and producing for global giants including
Wal-Mart, TESCO and Primark. The industry employs mainly women workers, who
constitute around ninety per cent of the total workforce. Deprived of their
right to associate or unionize due to intimidation and reprisals by management,
the space for articulation of protest against workplace harassment and low
payment is very limited.2 To put it in the words of one woman
worker, “They treat us like dogs”. There are instances of women who committed
suicide to evade their oppression in everyday life. Women aged between 18 and
45 are often found running towards the factory gate to reach just on time.
Otherwise, they face harassment to get permission to work for the day. In a
particular case, a woman worker crashed in the factory gate and got severely
injured. The security men present at the gate did not lift her. She was saved
by her co-workers. In another case, a pregnant woman started feeling unwell
after reporting for duty. She appealed to management for her release at around
10-10.30 am. She was granted leave at around 12.30. Finally, they let her off
at 1pm. With the cooperation of a younger woman, she got into an auto and
became unconscious there after giving birth to a baby, who died for lack of
care. A study of PUCL, Karnataka, in collaboration with other human rights
organizations, bears testimony to multiple oppressions suffered by women
garment workers in Bangalore. The story of oppression as documented in the PUCL
Report is summarized below:
in the factory finishes at 9.30 AM. On days when one is late, she has to stand
at the security check for an hour or so till the HR manager permits her to
enter and start work. On days like this, she has to make up the lost one hour
by forgoing her lunch time or staying after working hours to finish the given
target for the day. The women workers also face sexual harassments including
verbal abuse of a sexual nature. The male supervisors, floor in-charges and
managers call them by abusive names, such as dog, pig, monkey, ‘loose’ etc. and
cast aspersions on their character. The women do not report about sexual
harassments to higher authorities in the fear that they would lose their
jobs. Being allowed limited toilet
breaks, workers are forced to reduce their consumption of water considerably,
and many women faint inside the factory due to dehydration. When a woman goes
to the toilet, someone follows her to ensure that she does not waste time. No
concessions are given to women workers during advanced stages of pregnancy. It
is difficult to withstand such mental stress and agony. It is a common sight to
find many women crying and weeping in the factory. However, they are not in a
position to give farewell to this dirty world of the factory, as most of the women
come from a modest financial background, and they are either the sole
breadwinner of their families or their income constitutes a substantial part of
their family income.3
struggles of workers in the city of Bangalore should focus on minimum wages and
other basic necessities for the survival of “footloose” workers. But, the
multiple oppressions faced by women garment workers in their everyday life must
be an organic part of the struggles for ensuring their right to live with
1.For the protests and their aftermath,
see People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), Karnataka, and Women against
Sexual Violence and State Repression, Karnataka, Bangalore Garment Workers’ Protest Demonstration: A Preliminary
Fact-finding Report, 2016.
2.PUCL, Karnataka, NLSIU, Bangalore, Vimochana,
Alternative Law Forum(ALF), Concern-IISC, Manthan Law and Garments Mahila
Karmikara Munnade, “Production of
Torture”: A Study on Working Conditions including work place harassments faced by Women Garment
Workers in Bangalore and other districts.