South Sudan’s Ceasefire

Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

A permanent ceasefire was signed on the 22nd of December between the military forces of South Sudan, led by President Salva Kiir, and the opposition forces led by former vice-president Riek Machar. A permanent ceasefire is a much needed first step towards ending the five-year conflict which began as a duel for power between Kiir and Machar. After a failed peace deal in 2015, the conflict evolved to include several more armed opposition groups. The ceasefire was negotiated in Addis Ababa, and brokered by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in Eastern Africa, and includes multiple parties of the conflict. The factions also agreed to grant humanitarian access to areas most affected by conflict, providing hope that aid may be able to reach those who need it most and more information will be made available in these conflict areas.

Despite the high hopes placed on this ceasefire, which went into effect on December 24th, there have been reports of violence between South Sudanese armed forces and opposition groups in Unity state, near the town of Koch. Both sides claimed they were acting in self-defense, creating more confusion just as the ceasefire came into effect. NPR’s East Africa correspondent, Eyder Peralta reports that some on the opposition side view the violence as an attempt by the government to grab as much land as possible before peace talks begin in early 2018, which reflects the fear that the ceasefire may not represent the future that the international community was hoping for during the building of this initial agreement.

Learn More:
South Sudan Cease-Fire Is Signed, but ‘Difficult’ Period Awaits, NYT
South Sudan army, rebels clash hours after ceasefire, Reuters
South Sudan’s Prospects For 2018, NPR

Joint Appeal to the UN Security Council to Act on Myanmar’s Rohingya Crisis

In advance of the United Nations Security Council’s December 12 meeting on the situation in
Myanmar, we, a global coalition of 148 human rights, faith-based and humanitarian organizations, urgently call on the Council to take immediate action to address the campaign of ethnic cleansing and mass atrocity crimes, including crimes against humanity, committed against the ethnic Rohingya population by Myanmar’s security forces in northern Rakhine State, as well as the continuing restrictions on humanitarian assistance throughout the state since October 2016.

Words of condemnation by the UN, including the Security Council’s Presidential Statement on
November 6 and the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee’s adoption of a resolution on
Myanmar, have not resulted in Myanmar’s government ending its abuses or holding those
responsible to account. It is time for prompt, concerted and effective international action.

Myanmar authorities are still heavily restricting access to northern Rakhine State for most
international humanitarian organizations, human rights monitors, and independent media. Most of Myanmar’s Rohingya population, estimated at more than one million, have been forced to flee to Bangladesh as refugees. Despite a bilateral agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh, there are insufficient guarantees that return at this time can be informed, safe and voluntary, that requirements for documentation of prior residence will not be used as a pretext to reject legitimate returns, that temporary holding centers will not become semi-permanent internment camps and that returnees will have the same rights of movement, access to livelihoods and health and education services as other residents of Rakhine State. The UN Fact-Finding Mission, which is tasked with preparing a report on abuses nationwide, has thus far been prevented from gaining access to the country.

Over 646,000 Rohingya have been made refugees since August 25, when Myanmar security forces launched “clearance operations” in response to armed attacks on security posts by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). Refugee testimonies provide overwhelming evidence of
Myanmar military-led atrocities during these operations, and a similar campaign that had begun in October 2016. The crimes against humanity perpetrated against the Rohingya include massacres and other unlawful killings, widespread rape and other sexual violence, looting, deportation and mass arson of hundreds of Rohingya villages. The violence also displaced tens of thousands of people from other ethnic minorities. Rohingya who remain in Myanmar continue to face severe food insecurity and threats in addition to systematic violations of their rights to a nationality, freedom of movement, and access to healthcare, education, and livelihood opportunities.

The Myanmar government has the primary responsibility to protect its diverse population without discrimination and regardless of ethnicity, religion or citizenship status. But, the civilian and military leadership of Myanmar, including the military’s Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, refuse to even acknowledge the serious human rights violations against the Rohingya and continue to deny any wrongdoing by state security forces in Rakhine State while ignoring decades of institutionalized discrimination against the Rohingya community.

We urge the Security Council to immediately impose an arms embargo against Myanmar’s military
that covers the direct and indirect supply, sale or transfer, including transit and transshipment of all weapons, munitions, and other military and security equipment, as well as the provision of training and other military and security assistance. The Security Council should also place targeted sanctions on senior officers responsible for crimes against humanity or other serious human rights violations. Financial sanctions should target senior officers who ordered criminal acts or are liable as a matter of command responsibility. The Security Council should explore all avenues for justice and accountability, including through international courts.

If the pledge to “never again” allow atrocities means anything, the Security Council cannot delay action any longer.

ALTSEAN-Burma
African Council of Imams
African Life Center
Al-Heera Islamic Institute
Al-Janed Islamic Center
Ameinu
American Jewish World Service
Amnesty International
Andalusia Islamic Center
Arab American Bar Association
Association Suisse Birmanie
Baitul Islam Masjid & Community Center Inc.
Brooklyn Broadway Jame Masjid & Islamic Center
Brooklyn Islamic Center
Burma Action Ireland
Burma Campaign UK
Burma Human Rights Network
Burma Task Force
Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
Canarsie Islamic Center
Carl Wilkens Fellowship
Center for Development of International Law
Center for Justice & Accountability
Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding (CEMESP-Liberia)
Darfur Women’s Action Group
David Rockefeller Fund
Emgage Action
Entrepreneurs du Monde
Equal Rights Trust
European Rohingya Council
Fortify Rights
Foundation for Ethnic Understanding
Franciscan Action Network
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Genocide Watch
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
Global Justice Center
Global Network of Women Peacebuilders
Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict – Southeast Asia (GPPAC-SEA)
Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition
Harlem Islamic Cultural Center
Hillside Islamic Center
Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College
Hudson Valley Islamic Community Center
Human Rights First
Human Rights Now
Human Rights Watch
Humanity United Action
Info Birmanie
Initiatives for International Dialogue
Interfaith Center of New York
International Campaign for the Rohingya
International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect ICR2P
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Investors Against Genocide
Islamic Center of Five Town
Islamic Center of Long Island
Islamic Circle of North America – NY
Islamic Foundation Of New York
Islamic Mission of America
Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights
Jewish Alliance of Concern over Burma (JACOB)
Jewish World Watch
Law at the Margins
Long Island Muslim Society
Majlis Ashura – The Islamic Leadership Council of New York
Markaz Saqafi
Masji Al-Ansar
Masjid Abdul Muhaymin
Masjid Ahlu Sunna Walkhurabba’a
Masjid Al Tawheed
Masjid Al-Arqam
Masjid Al-Hamdu-Lilla
Masjid Alaqsa
Masjid Alfarouqe
Masjid Allah Akbar
Masjid Darul Da’wah
Masjid Darul Quran
Masjid Hefaz
Masjid Highbridge Islamic Center
Masjid Ibaadu Rahmaan
Masjid Ibun Abass
Masjid Iqamatiddeen
Masjid Kawthar
Masjid Makkie
Masjid Manhattan
Masjid Musa’b bin Umair
Masjid Nassr
Masjid Noor
Masjid Omar Ben-Abdel Aziz
Masjid Rahma
Masjid Rahman
Masjid Rahmatillah
Masjid Sabur
Masjid Siddiq
Masjid Ta Ha
Masjid Taqwa
Masjid Tawba
Masjid Tawheed
Masjid Wahab
Médecins du Monde
Mid Hudson Islamic
Middle East and North Africa Partnership for Preventing of Armed Conflict (MENAPPAC)
Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood Inc.
Muslim American Society (MAS) – Community Center
Muslim American Society (MAS) – New York
Muslim American Society (MAS) – Sheepshead Bay
Muslim American Society (MAS) – Upper NY Bronx Muslim Center
Muslim American Society (MAS) – Youth Center
Muslim Bar Association of New York
Muslim Center of New York
Muslim Community Center
Muslim Foundation of America
Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
Muslim Ummah of North America
Muslin Social Justice Initiative (MSJI)
National Lawyer’s Guild – International
Network of Spiritual Progressives
Nurudeen Islamic Charity Org.
Parkchester Islamic Center
Partners Relief & Development
Pax Christi Metro New York
Permanent Peace Movement (PPM)
Physicians for Human Rights
Rabbinical Assembly
Refugee Center Online
Refugees International
Rohingya Community Ireland
Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus
Save the Children
Society for Threatened Peoples – Germany
STAND Canada
Stanley Foundation
Stop Genocide Now
Swedish Burma Committee
Syrian Network for Human Rights
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Tauhid: Center for Islamic Development
The Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights
The Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies
Turning Point for Women and Children
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Nations Association – Sweden
Viet Tan
Woodhaven Jame Masjid
World Federalist Movement – Canada
World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP)

Myanmar Military Denies Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya

 

Tens of thousands of Rohingya have fled to refugee camps in Bangladesh since October. MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP

The Myanmar military is denying all accounts of widespread violence towards the Rohingya population in Rakhine state. While the military has denied the genocide for some time now, Tatmadaw True News Information Team posted the results of a military investigation which claims that the Myanmar military followed rules of engagement, never shot at innocent “Bengalis,” did not burn houses, committed no rape or sexual violence, and did not use excessive force. The report further notes that any violence committed was by “Bengali” terrorists, and any violence used by the military was used against “terrorists” and “terrorist mobs.” The military gave power to civilian government in late 2015, however they retain control of some ministries, giving them particular power in ending or continuing the conflict.

These claims are directly refuted by the BBC, the United Nations, and Amnesty International, which have based their investigations on the half-million refugees that have fled Myanmar and reported widespread murder, rape, and the burning of villages by local Buddhist mobs supported by the Myanmar military.  Amnesty International has responded to the report, calling it an attempt to “whitewash crimes against humanity,” and pointing to an earlier report exploring the satellite and human rights evidence that shows that Rohingya areas were being targeted, while the homes of others were kept safe. Aung San Suu Kyi has further distorted the truth by falsely claiming that the military has ended their attacks on Rohingya villages, and denying the discrimination against the people in Rakhine prior to the violence.

Given these efforts to deny the reality of widespread violence, verifying statements against those of organizations such as Amnesty International and the United Nations is of vital importance to those wishing to understand ongoing conflict in Myanmar. Even when the news cycle moves on, the Rohingya people in Myanmar continue to suffer. We may hope that violence will go down as time goes on, but current actions and presentations by the Myanmar military makes it clear that violence is continuing, and they are maintaining the façade of innocence. Now is the time to put pressure on government officials, and other organizations, to condemn the investigation, and pressure Myanmar to give unfettered access to human rights investigators and journalists.

#DemandTheSupply of products made with conflict-free minerals from Congo

Conflict minerals have fueled and continue to help sustain the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These minerals – tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold – are valuable on the international market because they are used in products ranging from cell phones to jewelry to cars to kitchen appliances. This also has made them a lucrative source of funding for deadly armed groups in Congo who take control of mining areas through violence, committing serious abuses including sexual violence and the recruitment of child soldiers.

Years of pressure from Congolese civil society and international consumers, legislative action, and corporate leadership have slowly begun to turn the tide in Congo’s 3TG mining in positive directions. Parts of the mining sector are beginning to formalize, improving security in some areas and offering economic benefits to miners and their communities.

Enough’s 2017 rankings assess top-selling companies in the consumer electronics and jewelry retail industries in order to celebrate advances made since Enough conducted its first company rankings in 2010, and expose the considerable and urgent need for improvement.

This Black Friday, join the Enough Project and Stop Genocide Now to #DemandtheSupply of products made with conflict-free minerals from Congo 

TAKE ACTION:

Join the Thunderclap to share the message! The #DemandtheSupply Thunderclap will launch on Black Friday, the largest consumer holiday in the U.S., to get the attention of companies Enough ranked and send them an important message: their customers want products that are manufactured with conflict-free minerals from Congo, made by companies with conflict-free supply chains.

Share the campaign leading up to Black Friday by using Enough’s #DemandtheSupply Social Media Kit.

The Syrian Refugee Deportations in Jordan, and Why They Matter

Muhammad Hamed / Reuters

Jordan, despite severely limited water and agricultural resources, has hosted, since 2011, almost 655,000 Syrian refugees, making it the second largest refugee-hosting country in the world, in proportion to its population. According to a Human Rights Watch report, however, starting in early 2017, Jordan has been summarily deporting over 1000 Syrian refugees per month, without opportunity to challenge their removal or properly investigating the danger posed by their return.[1][2] The reality is that there is a real danger to refugees who are returned, either from airstrikes, or being perceived as an enemy of Daesh or President Assad’s forces.

The interviews in the Human Rights Watch Report suggest that many of these collective deportations are done without a given reason.[3] Additionally, of the deportations that have a reason, many serve as punishment for persons allegedly connected to militant groups. The punishment, however, can be far reaching, and anyone from family members to other families from the same village of origin can be deported. Many refugees are now avoiding calling or taking calls from relatives still living in Syria, because connections to people simply living in Syria can be grounds for deportation, regardless of whether those people are connected to militant groups.

The report notes that Jordan is a party to the Arab Charter of Human Rights, which in no uncertain terms prohibits collective expulsion.[4] By punishing and expelling family members and villages, Jordan is failing to uphold its obligations under this charter. Furthermore, Jordan has also pledged to uphold the “customary international law principle of nonrefoulement,” which discourages returning refugees to places where they would be persecuted or at risk of cruel or inhumane treatment.[5] The report, which interviewed 35 Syrian refugees in Jordan, and 13 Syrian refugees who had been deported, is a poignant example of this. Not one of the thirteen Syrian refugees who had been deported felt safe upon their return, nor have they been able to return to their homes.[6]

 

TAKE ACTION

This all leads to the question of: What can be done for readers that are not determining policy in Jordan? How can the average person develop crisis resiliency from afar?*

The report notes concrete objectives for Donor Governments, so here’s some ideas:

Contact your government officials and ask them to increase aid to nations supporting refugees, like Jordan!

You might say: Hello, my name is _______ and I’m calling from [town name, state name]. Please tell the [Senator/Rep] that I support refugees and aid to nations that support refugees. I’d like to see more aid going to nations, such as Jordan, that support an enormous load to provide assistance to those in need. [Senator/Rep X] should support increased funding for both international refugee assistance and for refugee resettlement in the U.S. Thank you for your time!

Type in your zip code to find your representative in the:

House of Representatives – https://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Senate – https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

White House – https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

 

*If you are determining policy in Jordan, the HRW report has concrete recommendations for you near its beginning!


[1] Human Rights Watch. “I Have No Idea Why They Sent Us Back” Jordanian Deportations and Expulsions of Syrian Refugees. United States of America, 2017. Accessed 10/9/2017.

[2] “Jordan: Syrian Refugees Being Summarily Deported: No Due Process Protection; Risk of Serious Harm.” Human Rights Watch. (Retrieved 10/9/2017).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.



c