ARAKAN ROHINGYA UNION NARRATIVE REPORT TO OIC Development on the Ground in Arakan State, Burma/Myanmar

June 2, 2020 1:34 pm
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The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has issued an order to the Government of Burma on
“provisional measures” on January 23, 2020, requiring the Government to submit its first
report within four months from the date of the issuance of the order, followed by reports
every six months in order to safeguard the highly vulnerable Rohingya ethnic minority in
Arakan State, Burma. The Government of Burma has submitted its first report to the ICJ on
May 22, 2020. In the meantime, there is no sign of abatement of the volatile situation in
Arakan State where armed conflicts continue and the rule of law has turned out to be a
mockery.
Armed conflict in Arakan persists while civilian casualties and displacements mount
Armed clashes between the Burmese military and ethnic Buddhist Rakhine’s Arakan Army
continue in Northern Rakhine State where no sign of abatement is in sight. On May 29, 2020,
at 2 am, in Thazin Myaing village of Rathedaung Township, fighting between Myanmar
Government armed forces and Arakan Army reportedly broke out. Residents in nearby
villages were alarmed by the loud gunfire and explosion noises during the predawn gunfire
exchanges. “We were all suddenly awakened by the loud artillery noises; the fight lasted until
5 am, and then subsided; we were all shaken but stayed put until the sunrise” a village elderly
said. A total of 10 Burmese police personnel and a family of three civilians were reportedly
missing; however, on May 30, 2020, the family of three were released by the Arakan Army.
Sources have indicated that the missing 10 police personnel were feared dead and an
additional 7 personnel were injured. It is not known whether there was any casualty in the
Arakan Army during this clash.
On May 12, 2020, an explosion in the Shakir village (Thayetpyin) of Buthidaung Township
killed two Rohingya children and injured a third one. The victims, a 10-year-old girl from
Shakir village and a 15-year-old boy from Fui Mali village (Phone Nyo Leik), reportedly came
to the part of the deserted Rohingya village of Thayetpyin to collect fruits when they were
hit by explosion. The 10-year-old victim died on the spot as a result of brain injury and the
15-year-old who received severe bodily injury died while on the way to Buthidaung hospital.
The third person, a 12-year-old girl, who received injury in her right arm, has survived.
Sources from the ground have indicated that it was possibly a landmine or an explosive
device left behind by either the Burmese military or ethnic Buddhist Rakhine’s Arakan Army.
The vicinity of Shakir village has reportedly been a volatile area where the fighting between
the Burmese military and Arakan Army has led to displacement of hundreds of village
residents.
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The armed clashes during past several days has been on the rise, particularly along the
eastside of the Mayu range from Buthidaung Township to further south in Rathedaung
Township. Residents in the Sindi Ferang and nearby villages area have been reportedly on
high alert as heavy artillery and gunfire is going on and off almost daily.
Submission of Burma report to ICJ and developments on the ground
Government of Burma has reportedly submitted its first report to the International Court of
Justice (ICJ) on May 22, 2020, detailing what it has done to protect the Rohingya ethnic
minority from genocide. Submission of the first report within four months, and subsequently
every six months, was ordered to Burma by ICJ on January 23, 2020, asking Burma to
safeguard the Rohingya ethnic minority in Arakan State as part of “provisional measures” at
the start of a trial that is expected to last years.
Prior to the submission of the report to ICJ, there have been some new developments in
Burma, particularly since April 8, 2020, when the Office of the President of Burma released
two directives, one on compliance of the provisional measures and the other on
preservation of evidence of crimes committed by the Burmese military. Some of the new
developments include: 1) the Government of Burma dropping charges against Rohingya
families who fled to Central Burma to take refuge while the armed-conflict between
Burmese military and Arakan Army rages in Arakan; 2) the release of Rohingya prisoners
as part of traditional presidential pardon marking Burma’s New Year; 3) a plan by the
Government of Burma to resettle Rohingya IDPs in Kyaukpyu; 4) lifting the internet
blackout in Maungdaw Township; and 5) the Government order for removal of illegal
Buddhist Rakhine settlers from occupied Rohingya properties in Seyton Su Muslim
quarter in Sittwe.
Rescinding order of removal of illegal Buddhist Rakhine settlers from occupied
Rohingya properties
Authorities in Arakan State have revoked an order from the Government requiring
Buddhist Rakhine settlers to vacate the occupied properties of Rohingya in a Rohingya
ward in Sittwe township that was razed in 2012, RFA reports. A massive wave of brutal
slayings and attacks on Rohingya across Arakan in June 2012 has left hundreds of
Rohingya dead and over 140,000 internally displaced. “This is a clear sign of the lack of
law and order in Myanmar; If the government would only comply with existing laws, this
would solve many problems.” RFA has quoted a Rohingya community leader as saying. In
fact, it is a classic example of how the extremist elements in Rakhine State thrive when
government chooses not to enforce its own rule of law.
Ward Chairman assassinated in relation to the eviction order
On May 24, 2020, the Ward Chairman of Seyton Su was killed by a group of four Buddhist
Rakhine assailants wearing masks while he was shopping. The assailants came in two
motor cycles, knocked him down and fatally stabbed three time and fled.
A Buddhist Rakhine resident of Seyton Su reportedly welcomed the decision by the
authorities to withdraw the order of eviction of the Buddhist Rakhine settlers from the
Rohingya properties, now filled with structures illegally built by squatters moving from
rural areas to Sittwe. “We were all upset at the order issued by the government that all
1,255 shelters built here would have to be vacated, which we learned about from an RFA
news broadcast on May 18; but the next day, we came across a notice posted at the
administration office saying that the order had been revoked; we are all very happy now.”,
RFA has quoted the Rakhine resident as saying.
Burmese parliament approves half-a-million USD for ICJ genocide defense
The Burmese Parliament has approved a budget of 680 million kyats (US$484,000) for
the country’s defense at the International Court of Justice against genocide charges
filed by The Gambia, The Irrawaddy Reports.
Union Minister for International Cooperation U Kyaw Tin defended the government’s
budget before a vote, responding to criticism from a military-appointed lawmaker by
saying that the budget was made in line with laws and procedures.
The budget for the defense at the ICJ falls under the budget of the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs. The joint public accounts committee suggested slashing 626.7 million kyats
(US$446,000) from the 4.4 billion kyat-budget proposed by the Ministry. The Union
Parliament reportedly accepted the cut and approved the adjusted budget of the
Ministry.
Recommendations
The OIC and the international community must demand the Government of Burma:
§ To expedite implementation of all the provisional measures ordered by the ICJ.
§ To protect Rohingya village residents while it is engaged in armed conflict with any group
in Arakan.
§ To strictly enforce the rule of law and reinstate its original order of eviction of the illegal
Buddhist Rakhine settlers from Rohingya properties in Seyton Su in Sittwe.
§ To expand the order for removal of the illegal Buddhist Rakhine settlers from Rohingya
lands to all the townships in Arakan State. This must include the Natala (Government
planned settlements) from confiscated Rohingya farmlands.
§ To repatriate the IDPs in Kyaukpyu to their original properties, not to any other isolated
locations, and deal any opposing Buddhist Rakhine group in Kyaukpyu firmly following
the rule of law.
§ To immediately implement the agreement for safe, dignified, and voluntary return the
Rohingya refugees to their original homes in Arakan with their full citizenship and basic
rights with security, unconditionally.
§ To expand the lifting of internet blackout in Northern Arakan.
§ To make healthcare and emergency services accessible to all Rohingya in Arakan.

 

Submitted by
Dr. Wakar Uddin, Director General
Arakan Rohingya Union.