It has been a year since Human Rights Watch/Asia published its report on the repatriation of the Rohingyas. Although the UNHCR has implemented some of the recommendations of the report, including increasing its international staff in Arakan and ensuring regular exchange of staff between Burma and Bangladesh, the SLORC has changed little in its attitude towards the Rohingyas. They are still considered non-citizens and are unwelcome except for the free labor they provide. Indeed, the continued antagonism and racism of many Buddhist Burmese towards members of the Muslim minority in Burma was revealed in violence that broke out in March 1997 when Muslim communities in Burmese cities were attacked by groups of Burmese. Many reports indicated that the violence may have been encouraged by the government to deflect criticism of its treatment of Buddhist monks incarcerated since1988. In Rangoon, Mandalay, Prome, Pegu and Toungoo, mosques were ransacked, Muslim shops looted, and Muslims physically assaulted.30

But the Rohingya Muslims are not the only ethnic minority to suffer abuse at the hands of the Burmese military, nor are they the only refugees to flee Burma. During 1997 the number of refugees in camps in Thailand rose to over 100,000, and there are at least another one million Burmese eking out a precarious existence as illegal migrant workers in Thailand. The refugees in Thailand fare no better than the Rohingyas; indeed, since there is no UNHCR presence in their camps to provide protection from involuntary repatriations, their position may be even worse.31 In the final analysis, while protection must be provided to those fleeing persecution in Burma to neighboring countries, only improvements in the human rights situation in Burma will bring about a lasting solution for the Rohingyas and all of Burma's ethnic minority groups.

Human Rights Watch/Asia

Human Rights Watch is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world.

We stand with victims and activists to bring offenders to justice, to prevent discrimination, to uphold political freedom and to protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime.

We investigate and expose human rights violations and hold abusers accountable.

We challenge governments and those holding power to end abusive practices and respect international human rights law.

We enlist the public and the international community to support the cause of human rights for all.

The staff includes Kenneth Roth, executive director; Susan Osnos, associate director; Michele Alexander, development director; Cynthia Brown, program director; Barbara Guglielmo, finance and administration director; Robert Kimzey, publications director; Jeri Laber, special advisor; Lotte Leicht, Brussels office director; Susan Osnos, communications director; Jemera Rone, counsel; Wilder Tayler, general counsel; and Joanna Weschler, United Nations representative. Robert L. Bernstein is the chair of the board and Adrian W. DeWind is vice chair.

Its Asia division was established in 1985 to monitor and promote the observance of internationally recognized human rights in Asia. Sidney Jones is the executive director; Mike Jendrzejczyk is the Washington director; Robin Munro is the Hong Kong director; Patricia Gossman is the senior researcher; Zunetta Liddell is the research associate; Jeannine Guthrie is NGO liaison; Sarah Cooke is the research assistant; Mickey Spiegel is a consultant; Olga Nousias and Tom Kellogg are associates. Andrew J. Nathan is chair of the advisory committee and Orville Schell is vice chair.

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Refugees International

Founded in 1979 in response to the forced repatriation of thousands of Cambodian and Vietnamese refugees, Refugees International provides early warning in crises of mass exodus. It seeks to serve as the advocate of the unrepresented-the refugee.

In recent years, Refugees International has moved from its initial focus on Indochinese refugees to global coverage, conducting almost 30 emergency missions in the last four years. We have answered the emergency calls of Kurds stranded along the mountainous Turkish border; Burmese forced to flee to Bangladesh; war victims in Bosnia; Africans fleeing strife and famine in Liberia, Ethiopia, and Somalia; and Rwandans surging into Tanzania and Zaire.

The organization mixes quiet diplomacy and the power of the press to mobilize governments and engage the UN. Our on-the-ground emergency assessment paves the way for relief agencies and human rights organizations to step in with life saving measures.

Refugees International accepts no government or UN funds and is heavily reliant on the support of committed and concerned individuals. We are the independent and unfettered voice of refugees and displaced persons.

The Refugees International staff includes Lionel Rosenblatt, president; Dennis Grace, vice-president; Mary Pack, Burma project director; and Yvette Pierpaoli, European representative.

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30 "Burma puts five cities on security alert after religious unrest", AFP March 19, 1997; "Burmese government says religious unrest 'under control'", Associated Press, March 25, 1997. See also Images Asia, Report on the Situation for Muslims in Burma (Bangkok: Images Asia) May 1997. To prevent the spread of violence, curfews were implemented in these towns for periods of up to ten days, but it is not known if any of the perpetrators of the violence were prosecuted. 31 See Human Rights Watch/Asia, "Burma/Thailand: No Safety in Burma, No Sanctuary in Thailand," A Human Rights Watch Short Report, vol. 9, no. 6 (c), July 1997.