Monthly Archives: May 2015

The ICJ has released a statement on the humanitarian crisis in the Andaman sea. It includes specific recommendations for the government of Myanmar. It explains that Myanmar plays a critical role in the  regional efforts addressing the current crisis.

It is clear that discriminatory policies and actions in Myanmar have significantly contributed to this regional humanitarian crisis, the ICJ says.

The ICJ adds that the Rohingya are forced to flee their homes because of ethnic conflict and the policies of the Myanmar government.

“The government has persecuted the Rohingya, refused to extend basic citizenship rights to them and in fact has recently passed legislation to entrench discrimination against the Rohingya such as the Protection of Race and Religion laws,” said Zarifi.

“These are some of the so-called ‘root causes’ that have displaced thousands within Rakhine State and driven the Rohingya to the sea and to the territory of neighboring countries. It is no longer possible to cite ‘sovereignty’ as an excuse for silencing regional discussions about these serious human rights concerns,” he added.

The ICJ has called on Myanmar to scrap laws that discriminate against minorities and to actively prosecute acts of violence fuelled by discrimination as well as crimes of hate speech.

The ICJ has also urged Myanmar to undertake every effort to improve basic living conditions for the Rohingya and Arrakhanese population in Rakhine State by enhancing respect for and protection of their economic, social, and cultural rights.

For the full statement see:


My colleagues Vani Sathisan and Hay Man Oo have published an opinion piece in today’s Myanmar Times on the Letpadung protester’s unfair conviction.

“They can imprison my body, but never my mind,” U Nay Myo Zin told us just before police led him into the Dagon township courtroom last week.

Protesters display banners in front of the Chinese embassy in Yangon on December 25, 2014. Photo: AFP

Protesters display banners in front of the Chinese embassy in Yangon on December 25, 2014. Photo: AFP

For the full story see:

The ICJ today condemned the conviction of six human rights defenders after an unfair trial lasting less than five minutes. The six were charged in connection with their participation in a peaceful demonstration against the fatal shooting of a protestor in Letpadaung.

They were sentenced to four years and four months in prison.

“Under both international and Myanmar law, a fair trial means independent judges, the need for evidence of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and due process. All of these requirements were ignored in the case of these accused, who must be immediately and unconditionally released,” said Sam Zarifi, the ICJ’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.

“Instead of prosecuting peaceful protestors, the Myanmar government must hold those responsible for the killing in Letpadaung accountable and provide justice,” he added.

The ICJ attended today’s hearing at the Yangon Dagon Township Court of Daw Naw Ohn Hla, Daw Sein Htwe, U Nay Myo Zin, Ko Tin Htut Paing, Daw Lay Lay @ Daw San San Win and U Than Swe, who were sentenced for violating Article 18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law, as well as a series of offences under the Penal Code.

These offences include assaulting or preventing a public servant from the discharge of his duty (Section 353); rioting (Section 147); publishing or circulating information which may cause public fear or alarm and may incite persons to commit offences “against the State or against the public tranquility” (Section 505(b)).

It is unclear whether an appeal will be filed, but the ICJ understands that the accused’s appeal in this case would be highly unlikely to succeed.

The ICJ today condemned the decisions of the governments of Indonesia and Malaysia to turn away and push back boats carrying hundreds of Bangladeshis and Rohingyas, including women and children, out to sea. 

The ICJ emphasized that the increase in the number of Rohingya arrivals in Indonesia and Malaysia underscores the need to address the root causes that drive these people to set off on these perilous journeys, including the longstanding human rights abuses to which Rohingyas are subjected.

The decision by the two governments to return the boats to sea came after the arrival of about 2,000 people, mostly believed to be Rohingya and Bangladeshi nationals, onto the shores of Malaysia and Indonesia earlier this week.

“This should be a wake-up call to ASEAN that human rights is not an internal affair of one Member State,” said Sam Zarifi, ICJ’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.

“Had there been action on the part of ASEAN early on to protect the rights of Rohingyas in Myanmar, this looming humanitarian crisis would not have happened,” he added.

For more information see:

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