New York- The BBC is reporting yet another round of violence against the stateless Rohingya being perpetrated by the Bangladeshi authorities. One of the most violently persecuted people in the world today, the Rohingya cannot seem to find safe quarter anywhere. Every so often, the Bangladesh Rifles and border police seem to like to go into one of their ad hoc refugee settlements and give them a good thrashing to put them in their place. Bangladesh is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and does not feel the need to adhere to people’s most basic human rights. The Rohingya have not feared much better upon landing ashore in Thailand where many of them have been pushed back out to sea by the Thai armed forces to drown. Two years ago I reported on the plight of the Rohingya for the Huffington Post; first on the underground migrant scene in Karachi, Pakistan, and then on the squalid refugee camps of Bangladesh’s deep southeast. Apparently nothing has improved for these immensely desperate people and nothing looks to change in the near term. After coming back to New York from South Asia in the spring of 2008, I just happened to meet Ismat Jahan, who was then the Bangladeshi ambassador to the UN and politely but firmly asked her to assist these people in what I termed a South Asian Darfur. She demurred saying that the UN was sending her on a good governance junket to Sierra Leone while her own country festered. Isn’t the international system just fabulous!
New York- While I am in total go mode getting ready to launch my new publication, Militant Leadership Monitor, from the Jamestown Foundation, I want to quickly plug a couple of friend’s projects. Jen Marlowe is still hard at work traipsing around South Sudan, first on the Huffington Post, and now on PBS’s World Focus site with a story titled “In South Sudan, schools still function under trees“ about the difficulties of building a basic school facility (I suppose as ostensibly simple task in other places) in Warrap State, a previously non-existent political entity that was created under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement where the GoSS is to build it’s first oil refinery.
Belén Fernandez is back reporting on the ongoing political crisis in Tegucigalpa where she has been working for Counterpunch and is getting ready to release her book Coffee with Hezbollah, slated for wider release in March, about her and her friend Amelia’s post-war 2006 trip to South Lebanon. I’ll be reviewing it here on TWD when it comes out.