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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

‘Adivasi Campaign’ demands rejection of the Land Acquisition Ordinance, 2014 By Gladson Dungdung

Gladson Dungdung

Gladson Dungdung

‘Adivasi Campaign’ demands rejection of the Land Acquisition Ordinance, 2014
By Gladson Dungdung

In order to address historic injustices committed against mainly indigenous peoples of India under the Land Acquisition Act of 1894, the Government of India enacted the ‘Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013’ (LARRA) on 27 September, 2013 and the Rules for the LARRA on 19 December, 2013. The present BJP led National Democratic Alliance government introduced an ordinance on 31st December 2014 to amend the LARRA. The Ordinance set aside the five major safeguards – social impact assessment, mandatory consent of the affected people, provisions to safeguard food security of the communities, punishment to the government officials and returning of unutilised land to the original land owners.
These amendments effectively reintroduced the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 and ought to be rejected.

To read the full article and reasons why these amendments should be rejected click here

www.adivasirights.org

Gladson Dungdung is a human rights activist and writer and lives in Jharkhand, India

Songlines Encounters Music Festival

Shikor Bangladesh All Stars

Shikor Bangladesh All Stars

 

The Songlines Encounters Festival at King’s Place, York Way, London N1

Thursday 4th – Saturday 6th June 2015

The fifth Songlines Encounters Festival features musicians from Portugal, Cyprus, Iran, the UK and Bangladesh. There are some UK premieres, some first time collaborations and lots of supremely inspirational music from artists that have impressed us at Songlines magazine. We will welcome some great female voices – Gisela João from Portugal and Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat from Iran, alongside sublime Scottish fiddling, and brilliant roots music from Bangladesh, both alone and in collaboration with London’s own Lokkhi Terra. And for the first time a night of very danceable live Afro-electronica from Afriquoi and the chance for children to discover klezmer and Balkan music with the help of the talented musicians of She’Koyokh. As ever with Songlines Encounters, the idea is to discover something new – and memorable. – Simon Broughton (Songlines Editor-in-Chief)

The Shikor Bangladesh All Stars features seven of the country’s best traditional musicians. There’s folk singer Baby Akhtar, a specialist in songs from all over the country, spectacular dhol drummer Nazrul Islam and the maestro of Baul music Rob Fakir, who lives near the shrine of the most celebrated (19th C) Baul poet Lalon Fakir. For the first time in the UK, the All Stars will present a vivid sample of the country’s vibrant folk heritage.

In the second part, the Shikor Bangladesh All Stars will join London’s superb Anglo-Bangladeshi Afrobeat Latin group Lokkhi Terra, with pianist Kishon Khan and vocalists Sohini Alam and Aanon Siddiqua, to bring Songlines Encounters 2015 to a rousing conclusion.

For more information and booking: http://www.kingsplace.co.uk/whats-on-book-tickets/curated-weeks/songlines-encounters-festival-2015#.VUm0IflVikp

The Need for a New Approach to Adivasi Development By Gladson Dungdung

Gladson Dungdung

Gladson Dungdung

On 28 February 2015, Arun Jaitley, India’s Union Finance Minister, presented the first full budget of Modi’s new NDA Government. Yet there is nothing new to cheer for in it, as far as the country’s 104 million Adivasis (Scheduled Tribes – STs) are concerned. The Government has not announced any new programme, scheme or legislation for the Adivasis in the budget. Instead, budgetary allocation for STs’ welfare and development was reduced from Rs.26,715 crore (267.15 million rupees) during 2014-15 down to Rs.19,980 crore (199.8 million rupees). Yet the Finance Minister claimed that his ‘Government being sensitive to the needs of the poor, under-privileged and the disadvantaged’!1 This reduction is blamed on ‘serious constraints’,2 with no mention of what these might be. Business as usual: this all comes under the Government’s ‘Tribal Sub-Plan’ (TSP).

To read the full article click on the link: A need of new approach to Adivasi Development Gladson Dungdung

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

Inspired by Gandhi 2015 – An International Writing Competition

gandhi book2

An International Writing Competition organised by Sampad
– South Asian Arts Development

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world”
~ Mahatma Gandhi ~

Mahatma Gandhi is a towering figure in history whose philosophy of non-violence, passion for equality and independence and socio-political intelligence continues to be an inspiration for many leaders.

Sampad’s latest international writing competition provides an opportunity for aspiring writers to connect with this immensely philosophical and influential thinker and leader, and express their own response through inspired writing.

Key motivations for delivering this project:

  • Stimulate research into Gandhi’s life and philosophy
  • Motivate young and old to express themselves through creative writing
  • Inform new and uninformed generations about this amazing personality
  • Engage with wide audiences and participants across the globe as an on-line project

The publication which will be produced at the end of the competition will be a valuable educational tool and source of inspiration for young people in schools and colleges and beyond, helping to keep Gandhi’s message alive for future generations.

More details of how to enter the competition can be found at:
http://www.sampad.org.uk/special-projects/inspired-by/gandhi/

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