Refugee Group: Malaysia Plans to Deport Asylum-Seekers to Myanmar

inhuman move by Malaysia…

Malaysia plans to deport asylum-seekers among the 1,200 Myanmar nationals it is sending home next week, a refugee group told BenarNews on Thursday, while rights groups expressed shock at a move they said would endanger lives after the military coup.

Among those who will be deported are at least nine members of the ethnic Chin community who, like Rohingya Muslims, face state-backed discrimination in their country, said James Bawi Thang Bik, of the Kuala Lumpur-based Alliance of Chin Refugees.

“We have nine people [who want asylum] from my community and they are from the conflict zone in our country,” Thang Bik said late Thursday, referring to the Chin and Rakhine states, where Myanmar’s army and Arakan Army rebels have been involved in deadly clashes since November 2018.

“Our people who are going to be deported to Myanmar, they do not have UNHCR documents because they have not yet been interviewed by UNHCR to determine that they are refugees or asylum seekers. They were detained while waiting for UNHCR. So it is really important to let UNHCR meet them for their status determination.”

Malaysia’s immigration chief said earlier this week that no refugees registered with the United Nations or from Myanmar’s Rohingya minority would be among the deported.

But according to UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, its representatives since August 2019 had not been able to meet those detained to see if they qualify for international protection, because Malaysia had denied it access to immigration detention centers.

The Alliance of Chin Refugees sends the U.N. agency a list of people arrested each month from his community, and so UNHCR is aware of the cases of those seeking asylum, Thang Bik said.

“UNHCR always responds to us saying that they are not allowed by the immigration to visit the detention camps since August 2019, so they can’t do anything. That’s what they always respond to us,” he said.

The U.N. agency confirmed these facts in a statement on Feb. 12.

“UNHCR has not received approval from immigration authorities to access immigration detention centers since August 2019, despite continuous advocacy from UNHCR and others on this matter,” said Yante Ismail, UNHCR spokesperson in Kuala Lumpur.

“This has unfortunately prevented UNHCR from seeing those detained in order to verify their refugee status, and to determine if they are in need of international protection.”

Ismail said she was aware of reports that 1,200 Myanmar nationals were being sent back home from Malaysia, but was trying to get more information from the Malaysian authorities.

“However, we are concerned that there remains in detention in Malaysia a number of people who may be in need of international protection, including vulnerable women and children, whose refugee status has not yet been verified,” she said.

Malaysia is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Malaysia’s action ‘utterly abhorrent’

In related developments, a group of Muslim detainees from Myanmar told the Reuters news agency that 85 of them were among those scheduled to be sent home on Feb. 23.

“They don’t want to go back to Myanmar,” Thu Zar Moung, founder and chairwoman of the Myanmar Muslim Refugee Community, a group that represents non-Rohingya Muslims, told the news agency on Thursday.

“Even during the trip from Malaysia to Myanmar, their lives can be threatened and [it is] dangerous,” she said without being more specific.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s immigration chief confirmed that the Myanmar embassy in Kuala Lumpur had arranged for the repatriation of the country’s citizens, Reuters reported last week.

Malaysia had agreed to return the 1,200 Myanmar citizens after that country’s military, which engineered the Feb. 1 coup, offered to send navy ships to pick them up, Reuters said.

These twin actions of Malaysia’s – working with Myanmar’s military to deport the country’s nationals in the wake of a coup – have shocked rights group Amnesty International and a group of Southeast Asian parliamentarians.

“It is utterly abhorrent that Malaysia is cooperating with the Myanmar junta that has illegally seized power, and even more so to return Myanmar nationals to a situation of danger and unrest,” said Chamnan Chanruang, a member of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), in a statement on Thursday.

“Many of them could be refugees and asylum seekers who will be put back into the hands of the Myanmar military who caused them to flee violence and desperation in the country in the first place.”

The Myanmar military, which has ruled the Southeast Asian country for most of the 73 years since its independence from British rule, is said to have committed serious human rights violations against ethnic minorities, according to Human Rights Watch, the U.N. and other international observers.

Thousands of these minorities – the Rohingya, the Karen, the Karenni, the Chin, the Kachin, the Shan, and the Mon – have over the decades fled state-backed persecution in Myanmar.

“The coup is threatening the lives of all vulnerable communities. There is no doubt that the risk of further discrimination and violence against ethnic and religious minorities, including the Rohingya, is high. We know what the Myanmar military is capable of in terms of human rights abuses,” said Teddy Baguilat of APHR.

A widespread crackdown on dissidents after the military coup in Myanmar puts those due to be deported at further risk of human rights violations, said Amnesty International.

“The Malaysian government is recklessly imperiling the lives of over 1,000 Myanmar people by deporting them under a curtain of secrecy to a country in the middle of a coup marred by human rights violations,” Katrina Jorene Maliamauv, executive director of the watchdog group’s Malaysia office, said in a statement on Thursday.

“The Malaysian Immigration authorities claim their ‘repatriation program’ does not involve refugees or asylum seekers, but how have they determined this if the U.N. has been prevented from accessing people in immigration detention for over one and a half years?”

In his statement on Monday, Malaysia’s immigration chief did not touch on the issue of UNHCR being denied access to immigration detention centers since August 2019.

The return of the 1,200 Myanmar nationals is “part of the normal process of deportation of foreigners” who have no travel documents or who stay overtime of violate immigration rules, said Khairul Dzaimee bin Daud, director general of the Immigration Department of Malaysia.

“The department would like to clarify that no UNHCR cardholders or ethnic Rohingya are part of the repatriation program,” he said.

Reported by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.

Arrests, Journalist Beatings as Myanmar Junta Faces Relentless Protests Rejecting Army Rule

With Myanmar’s mass anti-coup demonstrations showing no sign of letting up and even drawing more civil servants, the military junta that seized power this month stepped up arrests of protesters on Thursday and attacked journalists covering the rallies.

Authorities have arrested, charged, or sentenced 521 people since the coup deposed Aung San Suu Kyi and her elected government on Feb. 1, with 44 of them now released, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP Burma). The figure includes top leaders detained in the coup as well as protesters.

Security forces are beating reporters with police batons at protest sites while cracking down on demonstrators, with plainclothes officers photographing and tailing reporters covering the rallies, witnesses said.

Video journalist Kyaw Zey Win, who was covering a protest in Mandalay, said he was beaten by police and detained even though he identified himself as a member of the media.

“One of them who dragged me from the scene began beating me, and I fell as another one kicked me,” he told RFA. “Then, they repeatedly beat my head with batons. They stepped on my face. I covered my face with my hands.”

After police and soldiers put Kyaw Zey Win in one of their vehicles and asked again where he was from, he repeated that he was a journalist, and then was let go, he said.

“The entire time, the police and soldiers asked me if I was really a journalist and whether I was going to tarnish their image with my photos,” he said. “They swore at me the whole time.”

A freelance journalist from Pathein who declined to give his name for safety reasons said security forces were tailing reporters covering the demonstrations.

“I noticed some police in plain clothes who followed me home,” he said. “I also noticed some people on motorbikes circling my house and watching to see if I went out.”

Myanmar police guard the entrance to the Shwe Kyin Monastery where nationalist monks and alleged pro-military thugs were sheltering angry anti-junta protesters in Yangon, Feb. 18, 2021. Credit: RFA

‘They should keep their distance’

Journalist Myint Kyaw warned all reporters covering the protests to maintain a distance from security forces.

“They are giving the reporters payback,” he said. “The authorities dislike the way the media portray them. … Journalists should keep their distance from the action so they can avoid any violence.”

Zaw Htut Lwin, a Mawlamyine-based journalist with the Democratic Voice of Burma, said there are no guarantees for the safety of reporters covering the protests.

He noted that Myanmar’s News Media Law allows journalists to cover protests in line with regulations and forbids security forces from detaining them or confiscating and destroying their recordings.

“If the military’s State Administration Council wants to act in line with the law, then it needs to comply with these mandates,” he said. “Only then can there be a guarantee for the security of journalists. If they don’t comply, then it will not be safe for us.”

Major General Zaw Min Tun, deputy minister of information, told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday that journalists’ work should comply with the law.

“We may limit actions that violate the laws, but we cannot give any guarantee that we will not prosecute journalists,” he said.

On Feb.14, police arrested five reporters who were covering an incident where security forces fired their guns during a standoff with protests in front of a power station in Myitkyina, capital of Kachin state. The reporters were released the next day.

On Wednesday, 15 members of the Myanmar Press Council resigned after the Information Ministry issued a directive urging the media to report news ethically and to avoid inciting public unrest.

Schoolteachers demand the release of Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi during an anti-junta protest in Yangon, Feb. 18, 2018. Credit: RFA

Foreign Ministry workers detained

Authorities continued to arrest protesters and striking government employees in various cities across the country of 54 million people on Thursday.

A dozen government employees, including nine from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who were involved in the nationwide civil disobedience movement, were arrested early Thursday in a rental house they share in the capital Naypyidaw.

The whereabouts of more than 30 people arrested in the capital since Monday are still unknown, with some of their relatives threatening to file charges against the military for detaining them for more than the 24 hours that the law allows.

About 64 people arrested on Feb. 15 and 27 underage students were released in the evening. Military-run Myawaddy TV said the detainees were all being held at the Naypyidaw jail and a local police headquarters.

The father of detainee Thandar Moe said he heard that his daughter was being held at a military security regiment in the capital, but when he went to see her, he was told she wasn’t there.

“We heard from Myawaddy TV that there were a total of 12 girls being detained,” he said. “It’s been four days now.”

Also on Thursday in Naypyidaw, over 10,000 people staged a morning protest at the Thabyegon roundabout attempting to block the main road to government offices. Security forces later raided the site using water cannons against the demonstrators, arresting some of them.

“The young women were having a peaceful sit-in protest, and they swooped in from both sides,” said a person who was at the scene. “Around 30 of them were arrested in three truckloads along with about 70 motorbikes parked nearby. A few cars were also towed away.”

Despite the arrests, more than 1,000 engineers staged a protest the same day in the capital.

Train travel was brought to a near standstill in Mandalay, with most of the railway staff joining protesters instead of going to work. But one railway worker was forced at gunpoint to operate a train even though he lacked a license to do so.

Residents said that Chinese-speaking forces were among police and soldiers who raided the residential quarters of striking railway workers on Wednesday.

Citizen video taken at the scene and reviewed by RFA shows security forces from a distance amid the sound of weapons being discharged. At one point, someone can be heard saying “the first target” or “the top goal” in Mandarin.

However, it is not clear from the video who that speaker is and whether he was a Chinese person. Burmese language can also be heard in the video.

RFA emailed the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar for information, but did not receive a response.

When asked about the presence of Chinese-speaking security forces, deputy regional police commander Maung Maung Aye chastised an RFA reporter for asking a “silly question” and denied the presence of any Chinese.

Meanwhile, Zaw Myint Maung, the second vice-chairman of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and chief minister of Mandalay region, was arraigned Thursday in a Mandalay court for statements the party issued in the wake of the coup that the junta says violate public order.

Since his arrest on Feb. 7, he has been detained in Mandalay prison and charged under Section 505(b) of the Penal Code, which criminalizes speech that “is likely to cause fear or alarm in the public.” Past military and quasi-military governments have used the legal provision to penalize critical speech.

Workers on motorbikes demand the release of Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi during an anti-junta protest in Naypyidaw, Feb. 18, 2021. Credit: RFA

Trying to resist the junta

In Myitkyina, capital of Kachin state, nearly 10,000 people marched around the city to protest against the junta, though about 100 soldiers blocked them from nearing the Myanma Economic Bank and later arrested at least three protesters and the driver of a makeshift motorized trailer.

Security forces used loudspeakers to remind people of the dusk-to-dawn curfew, while two other columns of protesters, including government employees, marched along the city streets.

In Yangon, tens of thousands of people converged at the Sule Pagoda in downtown Yangon, the Hledan junction near Yangon University, and the Myae Ni Gone junction to rally against the junta as they have done in past days.

One column of demonstrators, comprising groups of various ethnic nationalities, marched from the Myae Ni Gone junction to the Chinese, Russian, and Thai embassies and demanded that no assistance be given to the military regime.

“We are trying to resist the military dictators in our own way,” said ethnic Karen woman at the scene. “We are all here with common hopes for a common goal. As you all know, the military have always tried to cause dissent among our various ethnic groups. We have to overcome this and build a new union.”

In Loikaw, capital of Kayah state, nearly 50,000 people took part in protests, including schoolteachers.

“We are here to condemn the military takeover,” said a schoolteacher who declined to be named. “We want other government employees to join the movement. We are here for the sake of the younger generations.”

In Hpa-an, capital of neighboring Kayin state, over 10,000 people took part in protest marches.

The arrests and crackdowns on protesters and others prompted the United Kingdom and Canada to announce sanctions against top generals, following on the heels of the U.S. which did the same last week.

“The UK condemns the military coup and the arbitrary detention of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political figures,” said Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in a statement.

“We, alongside our international allies, will hold the Myanmar military to account for their violations of human rights and pursue justice for the Myanmar people,” he said.

Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane and Ye Kaung Myint Maung. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.



Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Keith Wilson
9:08 AM (13 hours ago)

I wrote the following post six years ago, but sadly, it is still needed today. The title is from a line of The Beatles song “Blackbird” which is a tribute to the struggle by African-Americans for their civil rights. The song was sung by Paul McCartney with writing credits to both him and John Lennon, although McCartney was the lead.

“Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free

Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the…

View original post 694 more words

We are the One we Seek — normabobb

Photo credited to We have a tendency to look outside of ourselves for solutions, not knowing that the reservoir of all knowledge resides within us. We are co-creators in this Universe, we can give life to our vision of the world we want to live in. We can do it, we must do it […]

We are the One we Seek — normabobb

In the Race for Dirtiest Water, Indiana Pulls Ahead with Repeal of Wetlands Protections

In the Race for Dirtiest Water, Indiana Pulls Ahead with Repeal of Wetlands Protections

The state just doubled down on its dirty water status by embracing the Trump administration’s weakened regulation.

Barbara Deardorff draws water from her tap in Wheatfield, Indiana, where toxic chemicals from a local coal ash pond have leached into her community's water supply.

Barbara Deardorff draws water from her tap in Wheatfield, Indiana, where toxic chemicals from a local coal ash pond have leached into her community’s water supply. The state recently repealed its water protections in favor of the Trump administration’s “Dirty Water Rule,” leaving residents more vulnerable to chemical poisoning.

Alex Garcia for Earthjustice

Last month, Indiana legislators started gutting the state’s few wetlands protections in favor of the weaker regulation of the Trump administration’s Dirty Water Rule. Many wetlands in Indiana lack any protection from pollution by state laws or EPA under the Clean Water Act. Indiana’s latest action exposes the big lie that Dirty Water States use as cover for their support of the Trump administration’s clean water rollbacks. Simply put, these states are racing to the bottom, opting for less EPA protection and less state protection.

Last year the Trump administration rolled back protections for our nation’s waters; protections that have been in place for over 40 years. The Dirty Water Rule, officially called the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, followed the Trump administration’s orders to the EPA to eliminate Clean Water Act protections for thousands of waterbodies across the nation. Those rules prohibited the dumping of pollutants into waters and wetlands, and they prevented the destruction of those resources for mining, industrial agriculture, and real estate developments.

This gutting of the Clean Water Act runs contrary to both science and the law – EPA’s own Science Advisory Board admitted this under Trump — yet it fulfills the wildest dreams of environmentally harmful industries and, strangely, the political leadership of many states, who favor industry over residents.

Make America Dirty Again?

The Clean Water Act was passed by a robust bipartisan vote in the early 1970s after decades of Congress trying unsuccessfully to get states to clean up their streams and rivers. Congress had thrown hundreds of millions of dollars of funding at states to coax them to clean up, but those efforts failed miserably.

Earthjustice rejects this race to the bottom and is working hard to change course. We are fighting in the courts to secure the promises of the Clean Water Act and prevent both industry and states from gaming the system. We look forward to working with the Biden administration to ensure that science and the law direct new and improved rules for protecting U.S. waters. In the meantime, we call on states like Indiana to listen to their residents, reject the Dirty Water rule, and end this race to the bottom.

Yet states like Indiana claim that they, not the federal government, should regulate pollution of the waters within their borders. These states and the polluting industries they support justify the removal of federal water protections by arguing for “states’ rights,” “constitutional commerce clause limits,” “federalism,” or the need for “regulatory flexibility.”

These arguments are a cloaks to advance an anti-regulatory agenda — a race to the bottom that puts industry before people. If they weren’t, states would be racing to strengthen their own water protections after the Trump administration forced its Dirty Water Rule on the country. Instead, these states have either accepted the weaker protections, or in cases such as Indiana and Florida, weakened protections even more.

The Big Lie

The deception that less EPA protection will somehow result in stronger water protections is what industry wants people to believe. There are two obvious reasons for this lie:

First, the Clean Water Act already gives state agencies the ability and obligation to develop their own water quality standards for all uses of water, including drinking, swimming, boating, fishing, wildlife and commerce. Under the Act, states get a first crack at writing and enforcing permit requirements for companies that could pollute state waters. The Clean Water Act allows and even encourages states to enact more stringent protections of state waters than required by federal law, which Indiana has refused to do.

In fact, the state passed a law repealing the few additional wetlands protections on its books, opting instead for the deficient coverage of the Dirty Water Rule. The effect is that many Indiana wetlands will have no protections at all, despite almost 75% of the state’s voters believing that their waterways are too polluted and need to be cleaned up. This is what “local control” and “regulatory flexibility” look like in practice: the sacrifice of communities and their environment in favor of corporate profits.

The second reason Dirty States tell the lie that federal water protections are bad for states is that most states have not been meeting minimum requirements of the Clean Water Act and have no intention of doing so in the future. While they claim that states should be responsible for regulating their own waters, those states have no laws that create the motivation to meet the responsibility.

When a waterbody or wetland unprotected by state laws is also stripped of Clean Water Act protections, as was the case with the Trump administration’s Dirty Water Rule, those waters have no protection from pollution or destruction from the state or federal governments. This is what just happened to Indiana wetlands.

But Indiana is not alone: Eight other states have laws that forbid state regulators from doing more than the Clean Water Act requires. Eighteen more states are making it impossible to be more protective, and 29 states have no permitting requirements for isolated wetlands, leaving them vulnerable to mining, development, industrial farming, and pollution discharges — all with no government oversight. Thirty-two states don’t even have wetland monitoring and assessment programs to be aware of who is polluting which waters and for what reasons. And now that the Dirty Water Rule has stripped them of Clean Water Act protections, the EPA won’t either.

Earthjustice rejects this race to the bottom and is working hard to change course. We are fighting in the courts to secure the promises of the Clean Water Act and prevent dirty industries and states from gaming the system. We look forward to working with the Biden administration to ensure that science and the law direct new and improved rules for protecting U.S. waters. In the meantime, we call on states like Indiana to listen to their residents, reject the Dirty Water rule, and end this race to the bottom.

Has Translation: 

La vie-the life – Houcin

In giving importance to the lives of others:, sick, handicapped, old people, poor people, children… .. At the same time, we give importance to our life. So we double the importance of our life and those of others. Conclusion life has a certain value By giving importance to the lives of others :, sick, disabled, old people, poor people, children… .. At the same time, we give importance to our life. So, we double the importance of our life and those of others. Conclusion life has a certain value Source: La vie-the life – Houcin