Rakhine state Current Affairs - 2019

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US slaps sanctions against Myanmar’s military chief for killing of Rohingya Muslims

The United States of America has slapped sanctions against Myanmar’s Military Chief Min Aung Hlaing and three other top officers for gross human rights violations, including killing of Rohingya Muslims. The announcement in this regard was made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Key Highlights

Following the US sanctions, Myanmar’s Army Chief and others namely Deputy Commander-in-Chief Soe Win, Brigadier General Aung Aung and Brigadier General Than Oo along with their immediate family members have been banned from entering US. In 2018 US had designated two other generals Lieutenant General Aung Kyaw Zaw and General Maung Maung Soe.

With this move US has become 1st government to publicly take action with respect to most senior leadership of Burmese military.

Arguments by US

Ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas is an example of continued and severe lack of accountability for military and its top leadership.

US State Department has taken action against Army Chief and others after finding credible evidence of their involvement in violence 2 years ago (in 2017) that led to fleeing of 740,000 Rohingyas over border to Bangladesh since the violence erupted.

US remains deeply concerned about human rights situation in Myanmar, mainly in conflict-affected Rakhine State and other violence-affected areas of Myanmar like Kachin state and Shan states.

Who are Rohingya?

Rohingya are an ethnic group, largely comprising Muslims are one of the largest stateless populations in the world.

This group predominantly lives in Western Myanmar province of Rakhine state. They speak a dialect of Bengali, as opposed to commonly spoken Burmese language.

Although they have been living in South East Asian country for generations, Myanmar considers them as persons who migrated to their land during Colonial rule and thus Rohingyas are not granted full citizenship. According the 1982 Citizenship Law of Burma, a Rohingya (or any ethnic minority) is eligible for citizenship only if he/she provides proof that his/her ancestors have lived in country prior to 1823 or else, they are classified as resident foreigners or as associate citizens (even if one of the parent is a Myanmar citizen).

Rohingya Crisis

Rohingya’s, one of the most persecuted community in world, are not recognised as citizens of Myanmar and face widespread discrimination from authorities.

Prior to their exodus from Myanmar, tens of thousands of Rohingya have already been living as refugees in several neighbouring countries.

The plight of Rohingya’s reached its peak in Myanmar during August 2017 when country’s military cracked down on minority group in Rakhine State sparked mass exodus.

Inn Din village Massacre

The massacre in Inn Din village in Rakhine state of Myanmar in September 2017 was a mass execution of Rohingyas by Myanmar Army and armed locals. The officials and soldiers involved in brutal killings were released on the directions of Commander in Chief Hlaing. US have accorded this as a mockery of accountability for military and its senior leadership.

India hands over 250 pre-fabricated houses to Myanmar’s Rakhine State

India handed over 250 pre-fabricated houses for use of displaced Muslim minorities, who are currently residing in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. The houses delivered to Myanmar for displaced Rohingya returnees in Rakhine State are under India’s ‘Rakhine State Development Programme’ (RSDP) for $25 Million for a period of 5 years.

Background

In December 2017 a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between India and Myanmar on Rakhine State Development Programme (RSDP). $25 million RSDP focused on providing a sustainable solution in violence-torn Rakhine state for socio-economic development. It also aimed towards contributing to socio-economic development in northern Rakhine State.

Need: Due to rising violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, 1000s of them have entered India and Bangladesh to seek refuge.

Key Highlights

Saurabh Kumar, Ambassador of India to Myanmar, handed over documents related to 250 pre-fabricated houses for use of displaced returnees from Bangladesh to U Aung Kyaw Zan, Joint-chairman of Returnee Resettlement Work Committee and Minister for Electricity, Industry and Transportation of Rakhine State Government at a ceremony in Maung Daw, Rakhine State.

Out of 250 pre-fabricated houses put together by India in three villages in Northern Rakhine region 148 units are in Shwe Zar village, 60 in Kyein Chaung village and 42 in Nan Thar Taung.

These houses besides being rust free and water proof are designed to survive earthquakes and cyclonic storms.

Houses Made By: The project was undertaken by Indian companies- M/s Hindustan Prefab Limited as Project Management Consultant and M/s Enertech Limited as contractor.

Way Ahead: Construction of 250 houses was 1st initiative under RSDP has been successfully completed. Now another 22 proposals which include construction-related projects, capacity building projects, solar power related projects and agriculture mechanisation projects are presently under consideration.