« There’s a theme issue on penal humanitarianism this week @BorderCrim… »

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  • UN envoy fears ’new crisis’ for Rohingya Muslims if moved to remote Bangladesh island

    A United Nations human rights investigator on #Myanmar has voiced deep concern at Bangladesh’s plan to relocate 23,000 Rohingya refugees to a remote island, saying it may not be habitable and could create a “new crisis”.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-12/un-envoy-fears-new-crisis-for-rohingya-muslims/10890932
    #réfugiés #îles #île #Bangladesh #rohingya #réfugiés_rohingya #asile #migrations #Birmanie

    • Polly Pallister-Wilkins signale sur twitter (https://twitter.com/PollyWilkins/status/1105366496291753984) le lien à faire avec le concept de #penal_humanitarianism (#humanitarisme_pénal)

      Introducing the New Themed Series on Penal Humanitarianism

      Humanitarianism is many things to many people. It is an ethos, an array of sentiments and moral principles, an imperative to intervene, and a way of ‘doing good’ by bettering the human condition through targeting suffering. It is also a form of governance. In Border Criminologies’ new themed series, we look closer at the intersections of humanitarian reason with penal governance, and particularly the transfer of penal power beyond the nation state.

      The study of humanitarian sentiments in criminology has mainly focused on how these sensibilities have ‘humanized’ or ‘civilized’ punishment. As such, the notion of humanism in the study of crime, punishment, and justice is associated with human rights implementation in penal practices and with normative bulwark against penal populism; indeed, with a ‘softening’ of penal power.

      This themed series takes a slightly different approach. While non-punitive forces have a major place in the humanitarian sensibility, we explore how humanitarianism is put to work on and for penal power. In doing so, we look at how muscular forms of power – expulsion, punishment, war – are justified and extended through the invocation of humanitarian reason.

      In the following post, Mary Bosworth revisits themes from her 2017 article and addresses current developments on UK programmes delivered overseas to ‘manage migration’. She shows that through an expansion of these programmes, migration management and crime governance has not only elided, but ‘criminal justice investment appears to have become a humanitarian goal in its own right’. Similarly concerned with what happens at the border, Katja Franko and Helene O.I. Gundhus observed the paradox and contradictions between humanitarian ideals in the performative work of governmental discourses, and the lack of concern for migrants’ vulnerability in their article on Frontex operations.

      However, in their blog post they caution against a one-dimensional understanding of humanitarianism as legitimizing policy and the status quo. It may cloud from view agency and resistance in practice, and, they argue, ‘the dialectics of change arising from the moral discomfort of doing border work’. The critical, difficult question lurking beneath their post asks what language is left if not that of the sanctity of the human, and of humanity.

      Moving outside the European territorial border, Eva Magdalena Stambøl however corroborates the observation that penal power takes on a humanitarian rationale when it travels. Sharing with us some fascinating findings from her current PhD work on EU’s crime control in West Africa, and, more specifically, observations from her fieldwork in Niger, she addresses how the rationale behind the EU’s fight against ‘migrant smugglers’ in Niger is framed as a humanitarian obligation. In the process, however, the EU projects penal power beyond Europe and consolidates power in the ‘host’ state, in this case, Niger.

      Moving beyond nation-state borders and into the ‘international’, ‘global’, and ‘cosmopolitan’, my own research demonstrates how the power to punish is particularly driven by humanitarian reason when punishment is delinked from its association with the national altogether. I delve into the field of international criminal justice and show how it is animated by a humanitarian impetus to ‘do something’ about the suffering of distant others, and how, in particular, the human rights movement have been central to the fight against impunity for international crimes. Through the articulation of moral outrage, humanitarian sensibilities have found their expression in a call for criminal punishment to end impunity for violence against distant others. However, building on an ethnographic study of international criminal justice, which is forthcoming in the Clarendon Studies in Criminology published by Oxford University Press, I demonstrate how penal power remains deeply embedded in structural relations of (global) power, and that it functions to expand and consolidate these global inequalities further. Removed from the checks and balances of democratic institutions, I suggest that penal policies may be more reliant on categorical representations of good and evil, civilization and barbarity, humanity and inhumanity, as such representational dichotomies seem particularly apt to delineate the boundaries of cosmopolitan society.

      In the next post I co-wrote with Anette Bringedal Houge, we address the fight against sexual violence in conflict as penal humanitarianism par excellence, building on our study published in Law & Society Review. While attention towards conflict-related sexual violence is critically important, we take issue with the overwhelming dominance of criminal law solutions on academic, policy, and activist agendas, as the fight against conflict-related sexual violence has become the fight against impunity. We observe that the combination of a victim-oriented justification for international justice and graphic reproductions of the violence victims suffer, are central in the advocacy and policy fields responding to this particular type of violence. Indeed, we hold that it epitomizes how humanitarianism facilitates the expansion of penal power but take issue with what it means for how we address this type of violence.

      In the final post of this series, Teresa Degenhardt offers a discomforting view on the dark side of virtue as she reflects on how penal power is reassembled outside the state and within the international, under the aegis of human rights, humanitarianism, and the Responsibility to Protect-doctrine. Through the case of Libya, she claims that the global north, through various international interventions, ‘established its jurisdiction over local events’. Through what she calls a ‘pedagogy of liberal institutions’, Degenhardt argues that ‘the global north shaped governance through sovereign structures at the local level while re-articulating sovereign power at the global level’, in an argument that, albeit on a different scale, parallels that of Stambøl.

      The posts in this themed series raise difficult questions about the nature of penal power, humanitarianism, and the state. Through these diverse examples, each post demonstrates that while the nation state continues to operate as an essential territorial site of punishment, the power to punish has become increasingly complex. This challenges the epistemological privilege of the nation state framework in the study of punishment.

      However, while this thematic series focuses on how penal power travels through humanitarianism, we should, as Franko and Gundhus indicate, be careful of dismissing humanitarian sensibilities and logics as fraudulent rhetoric for a will to power. Indeed, we might – or perhaps should – proceed differently, given that in these times of pushback against international liberalism and human rights, and resurgent religion and nationalism, humanitarian reason is losing traction. Following an unmasking of humanitarianism as a logic of governance by both critical (leftist) scholars and rightwing populism alike, perhaps there is a need to revisit the potency of humanitarianism as normative bulwark against muscular power, and to carve out the boundaries of a humanitarian space of resistance, solidarity and dignity within a criminology of humanitarianism. Such a task can only be done through empirical and meticulous analysis of the uses and abuses of humanitarianism as an ethics of care.

      https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/research-subject-groups/centre-criminology/centreborder-criminologies/blog/2019/03/introducing-new

    • Most Rohingya refugees refuse to go to #Bhasan_Char island – Xchange survey

      Nearly all Rohingya refugees asked about relocating to a silt island in the Bay of Bengal refused to go, a new survey reveals.

      According to a new report published by the migration research and data analysis outfit Xchange Foundation, the vast majority of their respondents (98.4%) ‘categorically refused’ to go to Bhasan Char, while 98.7% of respondents were aware of the plan.

      From the over 1,000 respondents who expressed their opinion, concerns were raised about their safety, security and placement in a location further from Myanmar.

      Decades long limbo

      The findings obtained by the recent Xchange Foundation Report entitled ‘WE DO NOT BELIEVE MYANMAR!,’ chart the protracted living conditions and uncertain future of almost three quarters of a million recent Rohingya refugees living in Cox’s Bazar region of Bangladesh. Accumulated together with previous generations of Rohingya, there are approximately 1.2m living across over a dozen camps in the region.

      This is the sixth survey carried out by the Xchange Foundation on the experiences and conditions facing Rohingya refugees.

      The region has been host to Rohingya refugees for just over the last three decades with the recent crackdown and massacre by the Myanmar military in August 2017 forcing whole families and communities to flee westward to Bangladesh.

      While discussions between the Bangladeshi and Myanmar government over the repatriation of recent Rohingya refugees have been plagued by inertia and lukewarm commitment, the Bangladeshi government has been planning on relocating over 100,000 Rohingya refugees to the silt island of Bhasan Char in the Bay of Bengal. This process was expected to take place in the middle of April, according to a Bangladeshi government minister.

      State Minister for Disaster and Relief Management Md Enamur Rahman, told the Dhaka Tribune ‘Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has instructed last week to complete the relocation 23,000 Rohingya families to Bhashan Char by Apr 15.’

      Is it safe?

      Numerous humanitarian organisations including Human Rights Watch, have expressed their concerns over the government’s proposals, saying there are few assurances that Rohingya refugees will be safe or their access to free movement, health, education and employment will be secured.

      HRW reported in March that the Bangladeshi authorities had issued assurances that there wouldn’t be forcible relocation but that the move was designed to relieve pressure on the refugee camps and settlements across Cox’s Bazar.

      The move would see the relocation of 23,000 Rohingya families to a specially constructed complex of 1,440 housing blocks, equipped with flood and cyclone shelter and flood walls. The project is estimated to have cost the Bangladeshi government over €250 million.

      To prepare the island, joint efforts of British engineering and environmental hydraulics company HR Wallingford and the Chinese construction company Sinohydro, have been responsible for the construction of a 13km flood embankment which encircles the island.

      When asked by the Xchange survey team one Male Rohingya of 28 years old said, ‘We saw videos of Bhasan Char; it’s not a safe place and also during the raining season it floods.’ An older female of 42 said, ‘I’m afraid to go to Bhasan Char, because I think there is a risk to my life and my children.’

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DM8wlvLddnw

      Threat of flooding

      Bhasan Char or ‘Thengar Char,’ didn’t exist 20 years ago.

      The island is understood to have formed through gradual silt deposits forming a island around 30km from the Bangladeshi mainland. Until now, human activity on the island has been very minimal with it being largely used for cattle and only reachable by a 3.5 hour boat trip.

      But, the island is subject to the tides. It is reported that the island loses around 5,000 square acres of its territory from low to high tide (15,000 – 10,000 acres (54 square kilometres) respectively).

      This is worsened by the threat of the monsoon and cyclone season which according to HRW’s testimony can result in parts of the island eroding. This is recorded as being around one kilometre a year, ABC News reports.

      Golam Mahabub Sarwar of the Bangladeshi Ministry of Land, says that a high tide during a strong cyclone could completely flood the island. This is exemplifed by the 6 metre tidal range which is seen on fellow islands.

      New crisis

      The UN Envoy Yanghee Lee has warned that the Bangladesh government goes through with the relocation, it could risk creating a ‘new crisis’.

      Lee warned that she was uncertain of the island was ‘truly habitable’ for the over 23,000 families expected to live there.

      The Special Rapporteur to Myanmar made the comments to the Human Rights Council in March, saying that if the relocations were made without consent from the people it would affect, it had, ‘potential to create a new crisis.’

      She stressed that before refugees are relocated, the United Nations, ‘must be allowed to conduct a full technical and humanitarian assessment’ as well as allowing the beneficiary communities to visit and decide if it is right for them.

      https://www.newsbook.com.mt/artikli/2019/05/07/most-rohingya-refugees-refuse-to-go-to-bhasan-char-island-xchange-survey/?lang=en

    • Rohingya Refugees to Move to Flood-Prone Bangladesh Island

      Thousands of Rohingya living in Bangladesh refugee camps have agreed to move to an island in the #Bay_of_Bengal, officials said Sunday, despite fears the site is prone to flooding.

      Dhaka has long wanted to move 100,000 refugees to the muddy silt islet, saying it would take pressure off the overcrowded border camps where almost a million Rohingya live.

      Some 740,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar in August 2017 in the face of a military crackdown, joining 200,000 refugees already in makeshift tent settlements at Cox’s Bazar.

      Relocations begin soon

      Bangladesh’s refugee commissioner, Mahbub Alam, said officials overseeing the relocation would be posted to #Bhashan_Char_island in the next few days.

      Approximately 6,000-7,000 refugees have expressed their willingness to be relocated to Bhashan Char, Alam told AFP from Cox’s Bazar, adding that “the number is rising.”

      He did not say when the refugees would be moved, but a senior Navy officer involved in building facilities on the island said it could start by December, with some 500 refugees sent daily.

      Bangladesh had been planning since last year to relocate Rohingya to the desolate flood-prone site, which is an hour by boat from the mainland.

      Rights groups have warned the island, which emerged from the sea only about two decades ago, might not be able to withstand violent storms during the annual monsoon season.

      In the past half-century, powerful cyclones have killed hundreds of thousands of people in the Meghna river estuary where the island is located.

      Rohingya leaders would be taken to Bhashan Char to view the facilities and living conditions, Alam said.

      Safety facilities built on the island include a 9-feet (3 meter) high embankment along its perimeter to keep out tidal surges during cyclones, and a warehouse to store months’ worth of rations, he added.

      Overcrowding in camp

      Rohingya father-of-four Nur Hossain, 50, said he and his family agreed to relocate to #Bhashan_Char after they were shown video footage of the shelters.

      “I have agreed to go. The camp here (at Leda) is very overcrowded. There are food and housing problems,” the 50-year-old told AFP.

      There was no immediate comment from the U.N., although Bangladeshi officials said they expect a delegation would visit the island in the next few weeks.

      https://www.voanews.com/south-central-asia/rohingya-refugees-move-flood-prone-bangladesh-island

    • Bangladesh : des réfugiés rohingyas acceptent de partir sur une île

      Des milliers de Rohingyas vivant dans des camps de réfugiés au Bangladesh ont accepté de partir pour une île isolée du golfe du Bengale, ont annoncé dimanche les autorités, en dépit des risques d’inondations.

      Dacca a depuis longtemps fait part de son intention de transférer 100.000 réfugiés musulmans rohingyas des camps de réfugiés surpeuplés, près de la frontière birmane, vers un îlot de vase boueux et isolé du golfe du Bengale.

      Le gouvernement du Bangladesh y voit une solution pour résoudre le problème des camps de réfugiés surpeuplés où vivent près d’un million de Rohingyas.

      Environ 740.000 Rohingyas ont fui la Birmanie pour le Bangladesh en 2017 pour échapper à une répression militaire massive. Ils ont rejoint les quelque 200.000 réfugiés vivant déjà dans le district bangladais frontalier de Cox’s Bazar (sud-est).

      Le commissaire bangladais aux réfugiés, Mahbub Alam, a indiqué que des fonctionnaires seront détachés, dans les prochains jours, afin de superviser cette installation.

      « Environ 6.000 à 7.000 réfugiés ont déjà exprimé leur volonté d’être réinstallés à Bhashan Char », a déclaré Alam à l’AFP depuis Cox’s Bazar, affirmant que « leur nombre est en augmentation ».

      Il n’a cependant pas donné de chiffres sur le nombre de réfugiés qui seront ainsi déplacés.

      Selon un officier supérieur de la marine qui participe à la construction d’installations sur l’île, cette opération pourrait débuter en décembre et environ 500 réfugiés seraient envoyés quotidiennement sur cette île située à une heure de bateau de la terre ferme la plus proche.

      Des groupes de défense des droits affirment que Bhashan Char est susceptible d’être submergée lors des moussons.

      Au cours des cinquante dernières années, de puissants cyclones ont fait des centaines de milliers de morts dans l’estuaire de la rivière Meghna, où l’île se situe.

      Des responsables rohingyas seront conduits à Bhashan Char afin d’y découvrir les installations et leurs conditions de vie, a affirmé M. Alam.

      Des responsables locaux ont assuré qu’une digue de trois mètres a été construite autour de l’île pour la protéger de la montée des eaux en cas de cyclone.

      Nur Hossain, un réfugié rohingya, père de quatre enfants, a déclaré que sa famille et lui ont accepté de partir pour Bhashan Char après avoir vu des images vidéo des abris.

      « Le camp ici (à Leda) est très surpeuplé. Il y a des problèmes de nourriture et de logement », a déclaré à l’AFP cet homme de 50 ans.

      L’ONU n’a jusqu’à présent pas fait de déclaration à ce sujet. Des responsables bangladais ont cependant déclaré qu’une délégation des Nations unies se rendra sur l’île au cours des prochaines semaines.

      https://www.courrierinternational.com/depeche/bangladesh-des-refugies-rohingyas-acceptent-de-partir-sur-une

    • Rohingya: il Bangladesh vuole trasferirli su un’isola sperduta e pericolosa

      Le violenze dell’esercito del Myanmar avevano costretto centinaia di migliaia di Rohingya a rifugiarsi in Bangladesh nel 2017. E quando ancora un rientro nelle loro terre d’origine sembra lontano, Dacca cerca di mandarne 100 mila su un’isola remota e pericolosa nel Golfo del Bengala

      Non sono bastate le violenze dell’esercito del Myanmar e degli estremisti buddisti, che nell’agosto 2017 hanno costretto centinaia di migliaia di Rohingya a rifugiarsi in Bangladesh. E non bastano neanche le condizioni precarie in cui vivono nei fatiscenti campi profughi gestiti da Dacca. Il dramma di questa popolazione, che secondo le Nazioni Unite è una delle minoranze più perseguitate al mondo, non sembra avere fine.

      La scorsa settimana il governo del Bangladesh ha annunciato che alla fine di novembre inizierà il trasferimento di 100 mila rifugiati Rohingya a Bhasan Char, una remota isola nel Golfo del Bengala. Per le autorità questa mossa sarebbe necessaria a causa del «disperato sovraffollamento» nei campi di Cox’s Bazar, una città al confine con la ex-Birmania, che ora ospita oltre 700 mila sfollati. Ma la scelta della nuova collocazione ha sollevato una serie di preoccupazioni per la salute e la sicurezza dei Rohingya che verranno trasferiti.

      Rohinghya in Bangladesh: l’isola in mezzo al nulla

      Yanghee Lee, relatore speciale delle Nazioni Unite sulla situazione dei diritti umani in Myanmar, che ha visitato l’isola nel gennaio 2019, ha espresso seri dubbi e preoccupazioni sul fatto che «l’isola sia davvero abitabile». Bhasan Char, infatti, è soggetta frequentemente ad inondazioni e cicloni. Lee ha anche avvertito che «un trasferimento mal pianificato e senza il consenso degli stessi rifugiati, creerebbe una nuova crisi per i Rohingya».

      Il governo di Dacca ha spiegato che tutte le ricollocazioni a Bhasan Char saranno rigorosamente volontarie e che oltre 7 mila rifugiati hanno già accettato di trasferirsi. Non sappiamo, però, se questi Rohingya siano effettivamente consapevoli dell’isolamento e della pericolosità del contesto in cui andranno a vivere. L’isola, infatti, è a ore di navigazione dalla terraferma e le condizioni del mare non sono delle migliori. Durante il periodo dei monsoni i pochi residenti sono bloccati in mezzo alle acque per lunghi periodi.

      Rohingya a rischio sussistenza

      Sebbene le autorità abbiano migliorato le infrastrutture a Bhasan Char, per cercare di contrastare i rischi di inondazioni e costruito più di 1.400 edifici per ospitare gli sfollati, l’isola non ha un adeguato sistema di agricoltura e le attività commerciali sono quasi inesistenti. Inoltre vanno aggiunte le difficoltà per quanto riguarda l’istruzione e la sanità. Problematiche già presenti nei campi di Cox’s Bazar, che nei mesi scorsi avevano anche lanciato l’allarme del radicalismo islamico.

      Nell’ultimo periodo, infatti, nelle strutture dove hanno trovato rifugio i Rohingya scappati dal Myanmar sono proliferate centinaia di scuole coraniche gestite da Hefazat-e-Islam, un gruppo estremista locale fondato nel 2010, che in passato ha organizzato numerose proteste di piazza. Questa organizzazione, finanziata da alcuni Paesi del Golfo, ha di fatto riempito il vuoto educativo imposto da Dacca, che ha vietato alla minoranza musulmana di frequentare gli istituti locali.

      Chi sono i Rohingya e perché sono perseguitati

      I Rohingya sono un popolo invisibile. Di fede musulmana, dall’ottavo secolo vivono nel Nord-Ovest del Myanmar, ma non vengono considerati ufficialmente un’etnia dal governo. Proprio per questo non hanno alcun diritto e la maggior parte di loro non ha cittadinanza nel paese guidato dal premio Nobel per la pace Aung San Suu Kyi. Senza il diritto di avere cure mediche e istruzione, non possono possedere nulla e non possono avere più di due figli.

      Si è tornato a parlare della loro drammatica situazione nell’agosto di due anni fa, a causa delle persecuzioni dei militari birmani, che li hanno costretti ad un esodo nel vicino Bangladesh. Le poche testimonianze di prima mano arrivate in quei giorni del 2017 parlavano di brutalità inaudite e quotidiane: centinaia di morti, stupri, mine, sparizioni, villaggi dati alle fiamme e torture.

      Rohingya: il difficile ritorno in Myanmar

      Negli ultimi due anni, il governo del Myanmar ha negato la sua colpevolezza per le atrocità commesse e ha vietato alle organizzazioni e agli osservatori internazionali, incluso il relatore speciale delle Nazioni Unite Lee, di accedere nello stato Rakhine, dove la maggior parte dei Rohingya viveva prima dello spargimento di sangue del 2017.

      Proprio per queste ragioni, un ritorno in sicurezza in patria per la popolazione musulmana sembra, per ora, molto difficile. Lo stesso Lee, a settembre, ha dichiarato che il Paese della Suu Kyi «non ha fatto nulla per smantellare il sistema di violenza e persecuzione contro i Rohingya».

      https://www.osservatoriodiritti.it/2019/10/31/rohingya-myanmar-bangladesh-perseguitati