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Press Release: No Solution in Sight For Rohingya

For Immediate Release

The stark reality is that there are still around 2,500 Rohingya who are stranded in the Andaman Sea. Their exact location is unknown. Their exact number is unknown and the condition of those on board is unknown.

 

The families they’ve left behind, their compatriots who have managed to reach shores, their extended families who are overseas are known as the ‘forgotten people’; the Rohingya, an ethnic group who Burma whole-heartedly, vehemently and violently reject as rightful citizens.

 

In recent days, some sovereign nations have made offers of support for the Rohingya though not all have been absolutely viable. Take for example Malaysia and Indonesia’s change of heart, when under mounting pressure from the international community, they said they would accept any Rohingya who arrived on their shores from the Andaman Sea. The caveat here being that no assistance would be offered in helping the Rohingya get to their shores. Most of the vessels had been abandoned by their human trafficking captains and crew and so many were and still are unable to find land. Further, the Indonesian and Malaysian Governments imposed a timeline of 12 months for the Rohingya to be resettled elsewhere. The concept of Burma repatriating the stranded Rohingya from the custody of Indonesia and Malaysia is a non-starter.

 

Then there was an offer from The Gambia to resettle all 8,000 stranded. If the vessels struggle to find land a mere 500km from their locations it is highly unlikely they will be able to navigate their wooden fishing boats through the Indian ocean all the way to a small port country in Western Africa.

 

An offer of search and rescue by the US was ruled out by Thai authorities who did not want foreign forces in their waters.

 

And then came the ASEAN meeting of May 29th. Many had hoped that this would be an opportunity to finally assert some pressure on Burma to accept responsibility. The meeting also had US, UN and other observers, however, with a lack of political gusto in terms of leaders, the Burmese spokesman cowered the UNHCR’s opening remarks into a corner. The term Rohingya was not used. There was no solution. There was no roadmap. There remains no solution.

 

‘It is essential that as members of a global community we continue to approach our local leaders to push Governments to lobby against and apply diplomatic pressure on Burma to reach a parity of human rights treatment and grant the Rohingya citizenship.’ is the message from Mabrur Ahmed, Director of Restless Beings.

 

Issuing a rallying call to activists and supports, Ahmed continued, ‘Our voices of concern and support must be continuous. The reality is there are still 2,500 stranded at sea. There are more than 100,000 facing daily misery in the camps of Sittwe. And there is an excess of 1 million people who have no home, no rights and no citizenship. We can not afford to remain silent.’

 

Restless Beings is a UK based international human rights organisation. We are currently working on interactive campaigns which supporters can be a part of. We are also working alongside a number of other individuals and organsiations to ensure that awareness is raised continuously and that the lobby for Rohingya rights is sustained.

http://www.restlessbeings.org/projects/rohingya/no-solution-in-sight-for-rohingya-crisis

The Latest in a Long Line of Abuses Against the Rohingya

brick lane rohingya

Latest in a long line of abuses against the Rohingya
a piece by Mabrur Ahmed
Co-Director & Co-Founder ~ RestlessBeings

Over time it’s very easy to become desensitised to reports which relay ‘the number of dead..’ or ‘the number of displaced..’ etc when we face a barrage of humanitarian disasters, war torn communities and the like on a daily basis. But when you hear about the same community facing the same abuses but just on increasing scales over the period of a generation, more than 50 years, and there is a general apathy towards their silent suffering, we must awaken our senses that we live in a world that readily bows down to fast cars, fast fashion and now seemingly fast news.

I oversimplified the latest scenario of the plight of the Burmese Rohingya earlier in a Facebook post to make the issue as easy to digest as possible. For context sake, this a copy:

Rohingya since June 2012 have been systematically moved towards IDP camps where the conditions are beyond appalling. As a last resort, the Rohingya have tried to flee these conditions and as Bangladesh have strictly denied access beyond their borders, they are faced with no alternative but to travel to Malaysia and Indonesia who have been typically receptive towards Rohingya migrants. In order to get there though, they have to often pass Thailand. Many human traffickers have in the past intercepted the boats and then taken Rohingya captive in ‘slave camps’. the traffickers then hold the captives families to ransom, if they pay up they are passed to other traffickers who take them onward. if they don’t pay, they are beaten and many have been killed. a few days back mass graves were found of those killed by the traffickers. The Thai authorities are now stringently pushing boats on and not allowing to come to Thailand. In previous months, Rohingya boats have then gone on to Malaysia and Indonesia. Over the weekend about 1500 or so landed in Aceh in Indonesia and Langkawi in Malaysia. As a result, Malaysia and Indonesia have now said they will not allow any boats of Rohingya in. This means those boats can’t head back to Burma where the brutal leadership would punish unbearably, they cant risk being in the custody of the murderous traffickers in Thailand and they cant go to Bangladesh where they have been aggresively turned away for the past 2 years. So their fate? Almost certain death in the Andaman sea.
And what is being done about it? Nothing. No international pressure, no regional political pressure, no mainstream media coverage. Nothing.

And the saddest thing of this latest crisis the Rohingya face is the absolute silence from political powers, media outlets and even global aid agencies. The reality is the Rohingya issue is simply not ‘fast news’ enough. It doesn’t have an immediate threat on any Western powers. It doesn’t have any resonance with petro-dollars. It doesn’t even have any bearing on Government within Burma. And because there is no monetary, geographical or political motivation, the lives of Rohingya are not controversial enough to report or to act upon or to rush to assistance.

But the reality is that there is approximately 6,000 Rohingya men, women and children who are stranded in the Andaman Sea who do not have enough space to lie down on their broken fishing boats where up to 500 are crammed. There is no where for them to use the toilet with dignity. There is no water to drink. There is no food to eat. They can see the shores of Aceh and Langkawi. And they hear the Malaysian and Indonesian authorities say that are not welcome on shore, not even for medical attention. There is no chatter or cries on these boats. There is just silence. And a realisation that they will lose their lives at sea. That their silence is reciprocated by the world, our political leaders and our media. The lives of these 6,000 will not change anything politically, monetarily or geographically.

But our silence will forever have an impact on their humanity.

Mabrur Ahmed, Co-Director & Co-Founder ~ RestlessBeings
Email: mabrur@restlessbeings.org

Twitter: http://twitter.com/restlessmabrur
http://www.restlessbeings.org/
http://www.facebook.com/RestlessBeings

Mahatma Gandhi Statue Unveiled in Parliament Square

Historic Statue of Mahatma Gandhi Unveiled in Parliament Square

Photo: Crown copyright Photographer: Arron Hoare https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Photo: Crown copyright
Photographer: Arron Hoare
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

 

Political leaders led by Prime Minister David Cameron and Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley were joined by Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Gopalkrishna Gandhi and Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan at the unveiling ceremony of the bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament Square. The statue will stand alongside Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill.

You can read the speeches of Gopalkrishna Gandhi and PM David Cameron by clicking on the links below:

Gopalkrishna Gandhi’s speech

PM David Cameron’s speech

Repairing the Damage in Israel

Last week, Haaretz reported that Israelis have been working with Mount Zion churches in recent months to repair damage to cemeteries belonging to Jews, Christians and Muslims, whether due to vandalism or simply the ravages of time.

image001

The first project, sponsored by the Society for the Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites, is the restoration of the Protestant cemetery on Mount Zion [above]. The work was done by master masons – Circassians from northern Israel – with funding from the preservation society. After the gravestones were repaired, groups of volunteers — ranging from religious Israeli Jews to overseas Christians studying here — began cleaning up the cemetery and tending the greenery.

“We did this to correct, at least a little, the bad impression left by the authorities’ failure to deal with the hate crimes,” said architect Gil Gordon, who oversaw the work. “They haven’t caught and indicted a single person, and the mayor is ignoring it. If you like, we’re doing this to rescue Israel’s honour, so they’ll know there are also people who care.”

The organizers are talking with the Armenian Church about restoring its cemetery and also with the Dajanis, a respected Palestinian family that has long taken care of Mount Zion’s cemeteries. Next week the volunteers are expected to begin cleaning up the mount’s Muslim cemetery. After that they plan to restore the Sambursky Cemetery, a Jewish site on the mount.

In addition to cleaning up the cemeteries, the volunteers are documenting the graves, some of them very old. They came to remind people that Jerusalem is a multicultural city where we all live, and will continue to live, side by side.

Dr. Yisca Harani

Dr. Yisca Harani

“We began the project after dozens of crosses in the Protestant cemetery were broken,” said Dr. Yisca Harani, a historian of Christianity and one of the project’s initiators.

The volunteers, she added, “came not just to show solidarity, but to show commitment and try to remind people that Jerusalem is a multicultural city where we all live, and will continue to live, side by side.”

Once Mount Zion’s cemeteries have been restored, the plan is to create a tourist route that will cover both the cemeteries and the site’s many cultures and faiths.

‘Adivasi Campaign’ demands rejection of the Land Acquisition Ordinance 2014

Adivasi land rights

 

A letter from Gladson Dungdung, Convenor of Adivasi Campaign for Human Rights

 

On behalf of the “Adivasi Campaign for Human Rights”, I have the pleasure to share its first brief report, “Adivasi Campaign demands rejection of the Land Acquisition Ordinance, 2014″ which is available to view at:

http://www.adivasirights.org/full_news.php?news_id=2

The ‘Adivasi Campaign for Human Rights’ (Adivasi Campaign) has been recently established to lead the national campaign of the Adivasis/Indigenous Peoples of India, majority of whom, are notified as Scheduled Tribes under the Constitution of India.

In public domain in India, Adivasis/Indigenous Peoples are largely perceived either as victims or beneficiaries, but they are seldom considered as decision makers by government, non-governmental organizations, donors, international organisations etc. There is a serious lack of representation/participation of the Adivasis/indigenous peoples in the discussion, debate, policy formation, law making, budgeting, etc relating to them.

Therefore, it was decided to establish the ‘Adivasi Campaign for Human Rights’ with the aim to seek and ensure representation/participation of the Adivasis/Indigenous Peoples, among others, in discussion, debate, policy formation, law making and implementation of programmes relating to Adivasis/Indigenous Peoples by NGOs, donors, governments, UN bodies, etc.

The Adivasi Campaign is committed to promote, protect and ensure the rights of the Adivasis /Indigenous Peoples guaranteed under the Constitution of India and United Nations human rights instruments including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Gladson Dungdung

Convenor, Adivasi Campaign for Human Rights
Website: www.adivasirights.org

Dr Ursula King’s lecture from the Gandhi Foundation Multifaith Celebration

Ursula KIng

Ursula KIng

The Gandhi Foundation Multifaith Celebration was held on Saturday 31st January 2015 at the London Interfaith Centre. We were delighted to have Dr Ursula King from the University of Bristol giving our main lecture entitled ‘Caring for the Future of People and Planet – Religions, Ecology and Spirituality’. Dr Ursula King is Professor Emerita of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Bristol. She has lectured in many countries and has published on such subjects as religion & gender, interfaith dialogue, modern Hinduism, Christian mystics, and the French scientist and theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

You can read the full lecture by clicking in the link below:
CARING FOR THE FUTURE OF PEOPLE AND PLANET Religions, Ecology and Spirituality by Dr Ursula King

Understanding the Ambedkar – Gandhi Debate By Rajmohan Gandhi

Dr B R Ambedkar in 1951

Dr B R Ambedkar in 1951

In 1936, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was invited to deliver a lecture in Lahore – then very much part of India – by a Hindu group opposed to untouchability. When the group saw an advance text of the lecture, which was entitled Annihilation of Caste, they cancelled the invitation because towards the lecture’s end, the author had declared his intention of leaving the Hindu fold. In a riposte to the cancellation, Dr. Ambedkar published Annihilation of Caste. Its contents elicited an immediate comment from Gandhi in his journal, Harijan, to which Ambedkar issued a rejoinder.

A major text from India’s recent history, Annihilation of Caste has been republished many times and has been translated into several languages, often with the Ambedkar–Gandhi exchange added to the main text. In March 2014, a new edition was published in Delhi by Navayana. In this new edition, Annihilation of Caste is preceded by a 153-page text by Arundhati Roy, entitled ‘The Doctor and the Saint’, which is presented as an introduction to Ambedkar’s classic ‘undelivered’ lecture.

This little book is a response to Arundhati Roy’s ‘The Doctor and the Saint’. However, it also bears an indirect connection to the historic debate between Ambedkar and Gandhi, which took place during a period well removed from our times. While Gandhi’s assassination occurred nearly seven decades into the past, Ambedkar died in 1956, almost six decades ago.

The two were involved in a positive, if impersonal, relationship during the 1920s. Though they did not meet each other in this period, Ambedkar appreciated Gandhi’s concern for the plight of Dalits, and he also welcomed the method of satyagraha that Gandhi had introduced. However, the 1930s saw sharp, and from a historian’s standpoint revealing, exchanges between the two.

The exchanges help our understanding not only of two powerful individuals in history, but also of continuing flaws in Indian society and the tension in the first half of the twentieth century between the goals of national independence and social justice.

To read the full article click here: Independence and Social Justice – Jan 2015

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