Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Hunted Rohingya

This article is to be printed in the March 2013 edition of SISTERS Magazine.
It may be published on any website or blog so long as there is a link and credit to the magazine.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

How to stop a genocide (of the Rohingya) using social media

Recently people have been asking me via Twitter what they can do to help stop the Rohingya genocide so I recorded some tips on how you can all help.

There are also some important tips and links below:

Use of the word genocide - this is not an uprising or clashing. The Rohingya are defenceless unarmed people being picked off one by one and killed, starved and removed from the country.

Few voices - The Rohingya have very limited access to the Internet, only a few voices on social media, so we need to take those voices and amplify them. Please all follow @aungaungsitwe and @shwemaung_mp

Genocide is a huge problem, so requires a huge response. We need the whole world to act. We should be asking the following:
- Governments to pressure the Burmese government to stop this genocide.
- Media to report.
- NGOs to act.

If something is not main news headlines for a number of days the message gets lost so although the Rohingya have been reported about in the media, many people still do not know what is happening.

There is no precedent for using social media to stop a genocide - this is uncharted territory. We need to use social media to create and be the media, us, the people.

Our objectives are to:
1. disseminate information;
2. make connections;
3. encourage people to act.

We can all help. The situation is overwhelming, Rohingya are being starved in their homes and in camps, tortured, raped, driven to sea and drowning. There are terrible reports of atrocities day after day. But even in spite of this the situation is not hopeless. We can all help stop this, but we do need everyone's help.

Tweeting tips:

- Retweet items on the Rohingya, but don't just retweet since RTs don't travel very far. It is better to write your own tweets. I invite anyone to cut an paste any of my tweets that they like - I am not after self promotion, just dissemination of information to promote the Rohingya human rights.
- Follow @aungaungsittwe and ask others to do the same.
- Follow and tweet to the #Rohingya tag.
- Follow this list of tweeps who tweet news about the Rohingya.
- Translate and tweet important tweets to other languages that you may speak.
- Watch and tweet the videos in this Rohingya YouTube list.
- Tweet important to tweets to other people such as:
  • media organisations
  • journalists
  • celebrities
  • government organisations
  • non government organisations (ngos)
  • politicians
  • your member of parliament (even if you hate your politicians, please talk to them)
 Other Social Media:

Post links to Facebook. Here are some Rohingya pages on Facebook you might post to:معاناة-إخواننا-مسلمي-أراكان-بورما-Rohingya-Arakn-Burma/314035402017985

Also you can:
- post to Google+
- write blog posts
- Follow (in addition to this blog) and Alders Ledge
- email your friends and organisations you belong to (ie. mosque or church)

Write and Promote Petitions.
 Here are some you could support:
HM e-petitions (Canada)
Burma muslims (Canada)
        Burma task force canada letter& petition to Dalai Lama (france)
        Petition to US president

The above suggestions are all things you can help with, you don't need permission to act, just act! If you want to tweet me to tell me that you are acting that is great I'm on @jamilahanan chances are however if you are tweeting on the #Rohingya tag I am already following you.

Specific Projects

We do have some other things in progress:

- A #BoycottBurma campaign, targetting those business doing business with Burma to encourage them to reconsider until the genocide has stopped and human rights restored for the Rohingya;
- the building of twitter lists and communications map to help with the dissemination of information;
- a crowdmap of atrocities, soon to be launched, but we need administrators;
- a crowd funded journalist visit to the Arakan state in Burma to report on the Rohingya.

We also need your professional skills, such as legal advice and action, media skills, artistic skills. Maybe you can write a song or a poem, or create a video? Have a think about your skills and contacts and let me know if you can help. My email is If you email me please tell me about yourself - I can keep all information in confidence but it helps a lot with trust and also in identifying skills if you can tell me a bit about your background and who you are, especially since there are spies around from the Burma regime and elsewhere looking to influence and stop our efforts to save the Rohingya.

In addition to online activity, offline activity is also really important. Here are some suggestions:
- Visit your MP. Better still visit with a few friends. Tell them about the Rohingya and ask for urgent action.
- Organise a demonstration in your locality - all it takes is a few friends and a few banners. Anywhere will do.
- Call your local radio station ask if you can talk about the Rohingya and ask people to write to their MPs to ask for action.
- Join local organisations that may be active for the Rohingya.
- Organise a talk about the Rohingya at your church, mosque, school or university. Maybe organise a screening of The Hidden Genocide documentary.
- If you are a journalist, photographer or human rights lawyer please consider visiting the Rohingya in Arakan. Contact me I can help. My email is


We urgently need funds to help get some of our own experienced independent journalists to Burma to do some in depth reporting on the Rohingya and to gather evidence of crimes. We also want to take with our journalists cameras amd cash to give to the Rohingya in person. Please read more about this exciting project here.

If you prefer to give charity I highly recommend donating to Partner Relief, and excellent organisation doing real hands on work with the Rohingya, one of the few ngos to have access to the unofficial camps in the state of Arakan.

You can donate to Partners Relief here.

Read about disturbing evidence of an imminent third massacre of the Rohingya here.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Letter to Mr Swire about the Rohingya

This is my video letter that I presented to Mr Hugo Swire, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK government, during his #AskFCO live Twitter session at 11.30am on 13th February 2013, on the topic of Burma. In it I put a question to him about the Rohingya.

13th February 2013

Dear Mr Swire,

I have been campaigning for the Rohingya since last Summer when thousands of homes were burnt down and many people were slaughtered in a most inhumane manner, including little children who were stabbed with spears, chopped into pieces and even thrown alive on to fires, whilst the Burmese security forces at best stood and observed, and at worst participated in the burnings and killings and then marched out thousands of Rohingya from their homes, miles out of the city, to live in squalid camps in remote areas, never to return again.

No sooner had they been marched out than bulldozers were brought in by the central government to level the ground in preparation for new developments. Even Rohingya houses that had not been burnt were also levelled.

During this time my friend and I were interviewing a Rohingya village leader on the ground by telephone and he spoke of great suffering, untreated injuries, and starvation. When they tried to get access to aid they were shot at. He also reported Rakhine dressing  like mullahs go into Muslim villages to burn and kill, as well as Rakhine shaving the heads of Rohingya dead bodies to make them look like Buddhists. He told us that the reports that Rohingya were burning houses was a complete lie and we have been told the same by other Rohingya since then too.

The media reported the happenings as ethnic  tension,  inter communal violence and riots. They failed to mention the mountains of propaganda distributed beforehand, the confiscation of computers and cameras from the Rohingya just before the events, the throwing out of NGOs and journalists from the land, and the Internet blackout to try and keep the outside world from knowing the truth about these crimes. In addition no one spoke about the numerous genocidal efforts by the Burmese regime to wipe out the Rohingya in recent history, including Operation Dragon in 1978 and Operation Clean and Beautiful Nation in 1991. Noone wanted to hear this because everyone was busy watching Aung San Suu Kyi do her world tour for the reformed Junta who had decided to put on suits and become politicians.

As the second wave of violence took place and thousands more Rohingya were burnt out of their land and thousands took to sea in desperation to try and escape, I made friends with a Rohingya refugee who had had his house burnt down and had managed to get hold of a phone to send out tweets from one of the camps. To this day he has called villages all across Arakan every day and tweeted updates on what is happening and has emailed me every bit of information he can get hold of. What he reported was most disturbing. I remember one particular day well as it was my birthday, as we desperately tried to get help for 10 thousand Rohingya stuck stranded at sea for days without food or water. Young children were dying in the boats. As the Rohingya tried to land they were shot at by the security forces. It was reported that even a lady who had given birth on the boat was shot at and killed as was her baby as they tried to get out of the water.

To get access to the official IDP camps and measly portions of rice, Rohingya were forced to register as Bengali immigrants in order to keep their families barely alive, whilst those who preferred to hold on to their ethnic name whatever the cost set up makeshift camps where life was much harder. Those that remained in their homes were barricaded off from the rest of the world by the military who stated that they were protecting them, but they stopped anyone and everything from entering or leaving these camps, refusing to allow people to work or buy or sell, stopping them from farming their own land or going out to fish, as well as blocking all access to healthcare. Outside hospitals, signs have been erected stating 'No Kalar allowed'. Those Rakine caught selling to the Rohingya are paraded around the towns with signs around their necks to mark them as traitors to be ridiculed. The only people that seem to have free access to these enclaves are the military who enter as they wish to rape the women and girls and to arrest and hold hostage whoever they wish until a ransom is paid or else keep hold of them for torture and gratification of their sadistic perversions.

Dear Mr Swire, I understand you have visited the Rohingya in some of the displaced camps in Arakan. I understand you saw people living in a dire situation. But you saw the best of the camps, and I am told now that those not in camps but in their own homes are in an even worse state as they have no access to aid and are dying now from untreated diseases and starvation.

In addition to the many thousands suffering in the camps and the villages there are also literally thousands of completely innocent Rohingya now  languishing in prisons where they are tortured so inhumanely that one cannot begin to imagine. A recent report from now released prisoners speaks of torture like something one would only imagine taking place in the middle ages, it is so gruesome to even describe here.

It is no surprise therefore that Rohingya are risking drowning at sea rather than suffering such torment on their own land. But are you aware of the authorities involvement and coordinated operation in order to ship as many out to sea as possible? Are you aware that a hotline telephone number was distributed to the Rohingya for them to call should they wish to book a place on a boat, with assurances that there was no need to worry about the RNDP politicians or NaSaKa as they were involved. Boats are filled with fuel and Rohingya pushed off to sea by the hundreds every week, but sadly many don't make it anywhere, some dying from dehydration and starvation, others by drowning due to accident, but are you aware that Rakhine boats are intentionally being sent out to attack and sink boats so that no one will ever  know just how many really left?

Mr Swire, one day my Rohingya friend told me that they are being treated worse than the Jews in Nazi Germany. I disagreed suggesting maybe as bad, but surely no worse. However now I am starting to think he could actually be right. Looking at the mountain of evidence arising, and the blatant hatred amongst the majority of the Burmese population for the Rohingya, and the open request of Thein Sein for all Rohingya to be removed from the land, it is not difficult to draw to the conclusion that this is indeed genocide, a textbook case. And yet no one is protecting these people. Country after country sends its envoys to visit the Rohingya and then pours yet more aid into the pockets of the Burmese government, but I am quite sure that for any sack of rice that ever reaches the Rohingya there is ten times that amount being spent on increasing the oppression against these people to drive them out of the land.

Every government in every country professes to believe in justice, yet justice is compromised when it is not in the national interest, and that is no justice at all. Clearly the Rohingya is not in any countries' national interest as everyone clamours to get a piece of the investment  opportunities arising from the new Shwe gas pipeline starting in Sittwe in the Arakan state crossing over to another persecuted people, the Kachin. So politicians will not call this genocide but will play along with the Burmese authorities lies, because that is the truth everyone would prefer to believe. And the United Nations and the World Food Program will forever be restricted from stating the facts exactly as they are, due to political sensitivities. And NGOs will bite their tongues in order to get visas and not get arrested whilst trying desperately to save a few lives. So who will speak up for these people and who will speak truth?

Mr Swire, you can't say it, but I can. This is genocide, and the whole world is complicit in its silence. And in years to come everyone will be analysing what happened as they dig up the bodies and politicians will declare that they simple didn't have the right information. And everyone will say 'Never Again' once more. But Mr Swire, I've told you, so now you have this information.

And my question to you, Mr Swire, is what are you going to do to save the Rohingya?

Ms Jamila Hanan

I am grateful to Mr Swire for retweeting my question and also responding with this reply:

All questions that Hugo Swire responded to on Burma during his Twitter question time can be read here.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Rohingya Exodus 2012

This was the Rohingya Exodus that took place in the Summer of 2012. Please watch to the end.

Over 100,000 are now living in squalid camps with little to no aid and thousands of others are under blockade in their homes slowly starving to death.

Find out more about the Rohingya genocide my following my video blog updates.

Rohingya Report 4 - My Hero Aung Aung

In this video blog I speak about my Rohingya friend @aungaungsittwe and why his tweets are so significant.

Rohingya Report 3 - tragic story, one of thousands

In this video blog I discuss this tragic story The Courage to Live by @oddnygumaer fouunder of Partners Relief.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Rohingya Report 2 - why boatpeople are fleeing Burma in droves

Here I discuss why the Rohingya are risking death at sea in Burma, and what I think about the Thai decision to push back more boats to sea. I also run through two days tweets from my Rohingya friend @aungaungsittwe to help you understand the current situation in the Arakan state of Burma.

Channel Four have also just published this excellent report on the Rohingya boatpeople arriving in Thailand. It states that it has been reported that there are 30,000 or more Rohingya people also waiting to flee by sea.

"We are so hungry. Please help us!"
You can listen to my first Rohingya Report here and you can also read more about the Rohingya boatpeople here.