Last Updated: Monday, 28 July 2014, 16:37 GMT

Chronology for Rohingya (Arakanese) in Burma

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Chronology for Rohingya (Arakanese) in Burma, 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/469f3872c.html [accessed 29 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Date(s) Item
May 1990 The opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi won 392 of the 485 seats in national parliamentary elections. The Burmese Socialist Program Party (BSPP), registered under a new name, the National Unity Party (NUP) won only 10 seats. The remainder of the seats were allocated to 23 other parties. Parties representing ethnic groups achieved particular success: the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy won 23 seats, and the Rakhine Democracy League 11. Despite efforts by the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) to weaken known leaders and eliminate dissidents, 93 parties presented a total of 2,297 candidates to contest the 485 constituencies.
Jul 1990 The SLORC announced that the recent election was only intended to produce a constituent assembly, which is to draft a constitution providing a strong government, under the direction of a national convention to be established by the SLORC.
Aug 1990 Troops killed four protestors at an anti-government protest at Mandalay, commemorating the deaths of thousands of demonstrators at the hands of the armed forces in 1988.
Dec 1990 Opposition politicians agreed with the Democratic Alliance of Burma, a 21-member organization uniting ethnic rebel forces with student dissidents and monks, to form the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB). The aims of the NCGUB are to wage a war with the military rulers and to establish a true democratic government.
May 1, 1991 - May 31, 1990 Two Muslim groups -- the All-Burma Muslim Union (ABMU) and the Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front (ARIF) B said they were ready to join forces with the DAB "to fight the military shoulder to shoulder" in response to what they say is a campaign of repression by the Rangoon military government. A joint statement said thousands of Muslims have fled their villages to neighboring India, Bangladesh, and Thailand in recent months: "[The government] objective is to subjugate and absorb the indigenous races, to stamp out Islam and to establish militarism in the country" (Reuters, 05/06/91). The ABMU and the ARIF would be the first Muslim groups to join the alliance. Their joint statement also indicated that in November about 30,000 Muslims were uprooted from villages in the western coastal state of Arakan and some have crossed the border to the Chittagong area of Bangladesh. Mosques in Rangoon and other towns have been turned into storehouses. The two groups called for the immediate transfer of power to the NLD.
Jun 1, 1991 - Jun 30, 1990 Thousands of Burmese Muslims known as Rohingya are entering Bangladesh illegally each month to escape alleged persecution by the Rangoon authorities (Reuters, 06/14/91). "Our youths are being herded to labor camps, crops are seized and movements of the Muslims are being restricted", Zafar Alam, a leader of the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO) told reporters in Chittagong. The worst persecution was reported in the Muslim-majority Arakan province, where "even mosques were demolished for making the new military barracks". One refugee activist said, "we are in close contact with other organizations such as the All Burma Muslim Union (ABMU) and Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front (ARIF) for the establishment of people's rights and political freedom". Bangladeshi intelligence sources said 200,000 Muslims had been forced from their homes by Burmese soldiers in the past six months.
Jul 1991 At a secret camp deep in the jungle, run by the RSO, young Muslims are training to make war on the Buddhist military government of Burma. The goal of the rebels, calling themselves Mujahideen, is to restore the once-independent Muslim homeland of Arakan on Burma's west coast. It was an independent Muslim kingdom from 1430 to 1784 and now is the only Muslim majority province in Burma (The Associated Press, 07/01/91). Arakan's Muslims are called Rohingya, from Rohang, the ancient name of Arakan. Guerrilla leaders accuse Burmese Buddhists of massacring 200,000 Muslims in the last 50 years. Anti-Muslim activities have increased under the current military regime.
Dec 1991 Burmese soldiers, massed at the border with Bangladesh, have traded gunfire with Muslim rebels and reports indicate that at least 15 people were killed (The Associated Press, 12/26/91). Meanwhile, Muslim rebels belonging to the RSO attacked a Burmese customs forward port and kidnaped eight guards. Relations between Bangladesh and Burma cooled recently after the influx of about 50,000 Muslim refugees into Bangladesh. The Bangladesh Foreign Office summoned the Burmese Ambassador for the second time in less than a week to protest troop buildups along the border. Bangladesh shares a 175-mile strip of border with Burma. The Burmese government claims that Muslim insurgents operate from Bangladeshi territory -- a charge Dhaka denies.
Jan 1992 Although Burmese Muslims have fled into Bangladesh before, they say this time the military junta is determined to drive them out once and for all (Sunday Telegraph, 01/26/92). Although Bangladesh has said it will not forcibly return any refugees, it does want Burma to accept any that do go back. Burma insists that it will only accept genuine Burmese citizens. A few newspapers in Dhaka have begun calling for a military attack to defend fellow Muslims and to pay Burma back for a border raid on December 21 that left one Bangladeshi solider dead and several others wounded.
Feb 1992 Burma says the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the Voice of America (VOA) dish out fancy versions of the "Rohingya Fable". It states that "lately the Rohingya fable from the Rakhine (Arakan) state has been invoked in the programmes of such broadcasting stations as the BBC and VOA. Actually, it is not a new story at all, but a very old and well-known story which is being dished out by these malicious foreign broadcasting stations in new and fancy packaging" (Voice of Myanmar, Rangoon Home Service 0713 gmt 02/07/92, BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 02/08/92). Bangladesh has appealed to the UN and the international community for emergency relief to support the Rohingya refugees. Responding to the call, the UNHCR has already released $100,000 from the emergency fund. A team from the UNHCR is now in Bangladesh making an assessment and meeting senior Dhaka officials.
Mar 1992 Bangladeshi military sources state that Burma is reinforcing its border to stop more than 170,000 Muslims driven into Bangladesh by the army from returning home (Washington Times, 03/10/92). Malaysia has urged its fellow members in the ASEAN to reverse its non-confrontational stance towards Burma. ASEAN has been resisting strong pressure from Western countries to impose economic sanctions on Burma to protest Rangoon's dismal human rights record. Kuala Lumpur has called the attention of other Muslim countries and the UN to the refugee plight, likening them to the Palestinians. In a letter to the UN Secretary General, Iranian Foreign Minister Velayati calls on the UN to halt the "genocide" of Burmese Muslims by the military government. He urges the UN to set the stage for the recognition of the political and social rights of Burmese Muslims as well as the return of those Muslims living as refugees in Bangladesh (Arab Press Service Organization, 03/14/92). Amnesty International urged Burma's rulers to halt a campaign of terror and violence against Muslims that has caused tens of thousands to flee the country. The report stated that "Muslim men have been rounded up in large numbers and pressed into forced labor for the military, often as porters". They are ill fed and abused. Many are reported to have been beaten to death when they became too weak to carry their loads. Muslim women [have been] raped...". According to Amnesty International, more than 200,000 Muslims have fled Burma to Bangladesh since 1991 when the anti-Muslim campaign began (The Associated Press, 03/19/92).
Apr 1, 1992 - Apr 30, 2004 200 people were killed when government troops opened fire at a mosque in Arakan on April 5. Bangladeshi officials quoted refugee Azizul Huq as saying, "Our only offense was that we used the closed-down mosque as the venue for our prayers", marking the end of Ramadan, a month-long period of fasting (Inter Press Service, 04/09/92). Further signs that the purge against the Muslims is continuing is the appearance of 20,000 Muslims from Burma's eastern provinces seeking refuge in rebel-held territories near the Thai border. "The plight of Muslims in eastern Burma is as serious as that confronting the Rohingyas in Arakan state in the West", Colonel Tin Maung That, head of the All-Burma Muslim Union told reporters at the border. Jan Eliasson, the visiting UN envoy, was given assurances by Rangoon that it was prepared to accept the return of the refugees back to their homeland in Arakan. Burma had earlier refused to take back the refugees insisting the Rohingyas, natives of Arakan, were aliens, not Burmese citizens. But Rohingya leaders are doubtful the scheme would work. "In 1974 and in 1978, our people went back under a similar situation with U.N. help, but our fate did not change, so I am pessimistic about the chances of success this time", said Younus, President of the RSO. He asserted that the Rohingya would only return if the Rangoon government guaranteed their citizenship and protection of their religious and political rights (IPS, 04/09/92). During a visit to China, the Iranian Foreign Minister raised the issue of Burmese refugees with his counterpart and noted the world of Islam's sensitivity towards Myanmar Muslim refugees. Bangladesh and Burma opened talks on the future of more than 212,000 Muslim refugees who have fled Burma since March, 1991. The Foreign Minister of Burma, Ohn Gyaw, lead a 14-member delegation to the talks. Burma says most of the refugees are actually illegal immigrants and that it will not take them back unless they can prove Burmese citizenship (The Associated Press, 04/24/92). An agreement was reached on repatriation that would begin next month. The hardline General Saw Maung was ousted last week as the head of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) by the more pragmatic General Than Shwe. The new leader has promised another constitution in six months. Even with a new constitution, there are doubts that the junta, thought to be still under the control of General Ne Win, Burma's veteran leader, will bow to democracy.
May 1992 Four Muslim groups have joined the Democratic Alliance of Burma (DAB) (The Nation, 05/19/92). The groups are: the Central Rohingya Jammatul Ulama, the Ittehadul Mujahiddial, the Rohingya Islamic Liberation Organization, and the Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front. Tin Maung That of the ABMU criticized the agreement between Rangoon and Dhaka on the repatriation of the refugees. He said the repatriation should be monitored by the UNHCR, "otherwise history will repeat itself".
Jul 1992 On June 19, Burmese soldiers beat elected MP Mohammed Ilyas to death after he refused to try to persuade fellow Muslims taking refuge in Bangladesh to return home. The troops ordered Ilyas, a member of the Human Rights and Democracy Party, and four others to cross into Bangladesh and try to persuade Burmese refugees to return (Washington Times, 07/06/92). Some Burmese refugees are smuggling guns into their camps to prevent officials from repatriating them, and Bangladesh is taking steps to isolate the "troublemakers" (The Associated Press, 07/20/92). A Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry official stated that "Anti-repatriation miscreants are intimidating those who are willing to go". Bangladeshi officials state that the return of 270,000 Muslim refugees to Burma has stalled again after Burmese authorities refused to allow the UNHCR to monitor the process (07/24/92).
Oct 1992 A second group of refugees -- 63 members of 12 families -- was sent to Burma. In April, Dhaka and Rangoon signed an agreement to start the repatriation on May 15, but the deal remained ineffective, largely because most of the refugees insisted they would not go back without UNHCR supervision. Burma rejected this condition.
Nov 1993 About 30,000 refugees are reported to have fled Bangladeshi camps to avoid repatriation to Burma. "We are worried by the sudden spate in slipping out, especially after Rangoon signed an agreement on Friday allowing the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to supervise repatriation of the Rohingya Muslims on their side", one Bangladeshi official said (Reuters, 11/08/93). Some 46,000 refugees have returned home since the repatriation began in September, 1992.
Jan 1994 The police report that Muslim refugees battled villagers with spears and knives near their camp in southeast Bangladesh, leaving at least 20 people injured. The fighting erupted after villagers chased a refugee, suspected of being involved in robberies.
Feb 1994 For the first time, the junta permitted a foreign visitor, US representative Bill Richardson (D-N.M.) to meet with Aung San Suu Kai. Richardson, a UN official, and a New York Times reporter meet twice with Ms. Suu Kyi. The Representative delivered a letter to her from President Clinton expressing the President's continued support for the democratic movement in Myanmar. Richardson also met with Lt. General Khin Nyunt, Burma's military intelligence chief.
Mar 1994 More than 100 Burmese Muslims crossed into Bangladesh, jeopardizing efforts to repatriate more than 200,000 refugees. New arrivals are likely to make it difficult to convince the remaining refugees to return to Myanmar (Reuters, 03/08/94).
May 1994 Press reports from Bangladesh indicate that the army and Muslim insurgents have stepped up activities in the north-west province of Arakan, which borders Bangladesh. Five soldiers and two guerrillas were killed earlier this month in separate engagements (United Press International, 05/25/94).
Feb 1995 The repatriation of some 250,000 Burmese refugees has been gaining momentum and is expected to end shortly, the Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh said. (Agence France Presse, 02/02/95). Since last year, about 150,000 refugees have returned.
Feb 21, 1995 Another 543 Myanmar Muslims returned home from Bangladesh. Since, September of 1992, 162,440 Muslims have returned to Burma (Xinhua News Agency, 02/21/95).
Mar 1995 Muslims at Three-Pagoda pass and nearby villages at the Thai-Burmese border have been banned from staging gatherings of more than five people for religious purposes. This is the first time that such a small number of Muslims have been banned from meeting for religious purposes (Reuter Textline: Bangkok Post, 03/31/95).
Apr 1995 Another 1470 Rohingya Muslims have left Bangladesh to return home (Xinhua News Agency, 04/01/95).
Apr 18, 1995 Members of the All Burma Muslim Union (ABMU) and the Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front (ARIF) have pledged to report the maltreatment of Muslims in Burma to the Overseas Islamic Countries and to the International Islamic Organization. ABMU chairman Abdul Razak states that the SLORC has been violating the basic human rights of Muslim communities through actions such as occupying mosques. Further, a number of mosques in towns along the Kyaidon-Myawaddy route have reportedly been demolished in order to construct roads. The ABMU says that Muslims in Burma are not allowed to assume important government posts, to enter the army, and to own land in certain towns (Reuter Textline: Bangkok Post, 04/18/95).
Apr 26, 1995 Almost 800 Myanmar Muslims who fled Rakhine (Arakan) state into Bangladesh in 1991 have returned to Burma under a 1992 agreement between the Burmese and Bangladeshi governments (Xinhua News Agency, 04/26/95).
May 1995 Muslims in Burma claim that they are being unlawfully taxed for animals that are slaughtered on the holy feast day of Eid Al Adha. The feast day marks the end of a three month fasting period by Islamic communities. As it is a religious rite, Muslims worldwide are exempted from paying taxes when they sacrifice animals on the feast day. In 1994, the SLORC decided to levy a tax on each animal killed. It is estimated that some 25,000 cows and buffaloes and around 200,000 goats and sheep are sacrificed across Burma (Reuter Textline: Bangkok Post, 05/10/95). The US State Department's 1994 Report on Human Rights Practices in Burma indicates that in early May, the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO) detonated a number of bombs in towns and villages near the western border of Arakan State. There were several deaths and injuries. The report also notes that it is very difficult for Muslim groups to obtain permission to build mosques. There are reported to be more than 5000 mosques in Burma, although the most recent one was built in 1975. The military government has also been accused of removing cemeteries from urban areas, despite the religious concerns of various minorities. The State Department says that in March of 1994, four trustees of a Muslim cemetery were arrested in Mandalay when they protested the destruction of a historic graveyard and religious buildings (03/95).
Jun 1995 Bangladesh fears that up to 10,000 Rohingya Muslims may have slipped out of refugee camps and spread out across the country. Of the more than 250,000 Rohingya refugees that fled to Bangladesh in 1991, only about 58,000 remain in nine UN-run refugee camps. Recent efforts to repatriate the remaining refugees have stalled due to Burmese government claims that Bangladeshis are also being infiltrated into Burma with the refugees (UPI, 06/26/95; Asiaweek, 07/21/95).
Jul 1995 The Rohingya National Alliance (RNA) says that the recent release of jailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will pave the way for national reconciliation. The RNA was recently formed from the merger of two rival Muslim groups, the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO), and the Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front (ARIF) (Reuters, 07/13/95).
Oct 1995 Around 200 Rohingya Muslims returned home from Bangladesh, bringing the total to 193,000 out of an estimated 250,000 (Xinhua News Agency, 10/14/95).
Nov 1995 Two Muslim groups, the All Burma Muslim Union and the Arakan Liberation Party, have been expelled from the Democratic Alliance of Burma (DAB), the umbrella group of parties that oppose the country's military dictatorship. The two Muslim parties were among a group of five organizations that were ousted for reportedly signing ceasefire agreements with the SLORC (Japan Economic Newswire, 11/15/95).
Dec 1995 205 Muslims have returned home from Bangladesh. So far, more than 195,000 of the estimated 250,000 Muslims that fled Burma in 1991 have returned home (Xinhua News Agency, 12/13/95).
Apr 1996 Over 300 Rohingyas have tried to flee Burma in the past week. Some 30 Muslims caught at the Bangladesh border will be sent back. Seventeen others who were also trying to flee died during their attempts (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Reuters, 04/21/96).
May 1996 Myanmar and Bangladesh hold their 20th high-level coordination meeting on the repatriation of Burmese Muslim refugees. Since 1992, some 197,000 refugees have been repatriated from Bangladesh to Burma (Xinhua News Agency, 05/20/96).
Jun 1996 An influx of Burmese Rohingyas into Bangladesh has been underway since March. The UNHCR says some 5500 Muslims have entered Bangladesh; other estimates put the figure as high as 10,000. The Rohingyas assert that they are subject to forced labor and torture in Burma. Some 700 have been deported (Reuters, 06/02/96).
Aug 1996 Twenty-eight non-governmental organizations in Malaysia including the Malaysian MuslimYouth Movement and the Burma Solidarity Group Malaysia protest the chairman of the SLORC's visit to Malaysia due to the country's human rights abuses (Agence France Presse, 08/14/96).
Sep 1996 Burmese border security forces, officially known as Nasaka, have reportedly planted mines along the border with Bangladesh to check cross-border violations. Officials of the Bangladesh Rifles protested the planting of the mines and the deaths that have resulted while meeting with their Burmese counterparts (Agence France Presse, 09/02/96).
Jan 1997 Bangladesh and Burma agree to complete the repatriation of the remaining 26,000 Rohingya refugees by March 31. The agreement was reached after a senior-level meeting in Bangladesh in early January (BBC, 01/10/97).
Jan 15, 1997 Representatives of fifteen ethnic groups from across Burma, including the Rohingya Muslims, attended a meeting in Karen-held territory. The groups signed the Mae Tha Raw Hta agreement which calls for the establishment of a democratic, federal union in Burma. Among those present at the meeting were representatives of the Wa, Karenni, Kachin, and Mon groups with whom the ruling junta has signed ceasefire agreements over the last few years. The delegates also expressed support for Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), and for the need for a tripartite dialogue between the Burmese regime, the NLD, and ethnic groups. The State Law and Order Restoration Council's (SLORC) efforts to draft a new constitution were described as a "sham" (Inter Press Service, 02/12/97)
Feb 1997 Seventeen ethnic rebel factions including Rohingya Muslim groups meet in Karen-controlled territory under the banner of the newly-revived National Democratic Front (NDF). The NDF fought against the military in the 1970s and 1980s until the KIA signed a cease-fire agreement with the government in 1992 . A spokesman says that several rebel groups are set to renege on their cease-fire deals and resume fighting. Reports indicate that the government has launched a military offensive in Karen areas to stop the groups from reuniting (Inter Press Service, 02/12/97; Reuters, 02/06/97).
Feb 1997 The Rohingya repatriation was slowed last year after reports indicated that the refugees that returned to Burma were subject to violence and other abuses. Bangladesh also allegedly forced back some Rohingyas which it believes are economic migrants rather than refugees. In April last year, 15 Rohingyas drowned near Teknaf when their boat capsized after Bangladeshi security forces ordered them back to Burma (US Department of State Human Rights Country Reports, 02/97).
Mar 1997 Religious conflict has been growing in Myanmar since the middle of the month and officials tightened security on March 21 after an attack on a mosque in the capital, Rangoon. Mandalay, the second largest city, is still under a nighttime curfew imposed last weekend when Buddhist monks went on a rampage, attacking eight mosques and starting street protests. The unrest in Mandalay allegedly began after reports of an attempted rape of a girl by Muslim men. At least three people have been killed and around 100 monks arrested. The All-Burma Muslim Union, a group associated with Burmese exile groups based on the Burmese-Thai border, accuses the government of being behind the latest Buddhist- Muslim strife. It says the military regime has systematically caused trouble for Muslims. Burma's BuddhistYouth Wing asserts that officials made up the rape story to cover up protests over the custodial deaths of 16 monks. The military has denied the Youths' claim, stating that the unrest was a politically motivated attempt to stall Burma's entry in ASEAN (Agence France Presse, 03/25/97; BBC, 03/21/97; New York Times, 03/2497).
Apr 1997 Since mid-March, attacks by Buddhist monks have spread from the northern city of Mandalay to the capital Rangoon, the central towns of Pegu and Prome and most recently Toungoo, a small railway town some 200 kms from Rangoon. A curfew remains in force in Mandalay and the army is patrolling the streets in many cities. In Mandalay alone, 18 mosques were destroyed and Muslim-owned businesses and property vandalized. Copies of the Koran were burnt. The last time anti-Muslim riots took place was during the peak of the pro-democracy movement in 1988. It appears that the junta is willing to turn a blind eye to the disturbances as hundreds of monks, many wielding batons and sticks, have been allowed to freely roam the streets, attack and ransack mosques, and clamber atop minarets (Inter Press Service, 04/09/97).
Apr 18, 1997 A Thai Member of Parliament expresses concern over the recent large influx of Burmese Muslims into Thailand. He believes the Foreign Ministry should try to solve the problem of Muslim migrants from Burma by requesting assistance from Thailand's Muslim neighbors (The Nation, 04/18/97).
Apr 30, 1997 Human Rights Watch contends that in several cases the UNHCR has failed to provide information on the SLORC's abuses against returning Muslim refugees. The HRW says that while the UN body had evidence that some Rohingya from Burma were arrested by Burmese authorities or "disappeared" when they returned from Bangladesh in 1992 and 1996, it did not provide exiles in Bangladesh with that information (Inter Press Service, 04/30/97).
May 1997 The Malaysian MuslimYouth Movement protests against what it says is the SLORC's actions to suppress the Burmese Muslim community and it urges the Malaysian government to defer its entry into ASEAN (Asia Pulse, 05/2897).
May 27, 1997 Reports indicate that since March at least 30 mosques and Muslim properties have been attacked in Burma (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 05/27/97).
Jun 1997 More than 3,000 Burmese Muslims have crossed the border into Bangladesh, alleging that Burmese authorities are engaging in a fresh wave of atrocities against minority groups. The new arrivals are from the border towns of Maungdaw and Buthiadong (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 06/28/97).
Jul 1997 Bangladesh forcibly returns some 212 Rohingyas housed in its Kutupalong refugee camp to Burma. The group is the latest of some 7500 people who have been singled out to be sent back. According to the UNHCR, only two of the families agreed to return home . Bangladeshi anti-riot police used tear gas and rubber bullets to stop the refugees' protests against being forcibly repatriated. One Muslim refugee told a UNHCR official that he preferred to die rather than return to Burma (Inter Press Service, 07/2297).
Jul 24, 1997 Bangladeshi officials have postponed a scheduled repatriation of some 200 Rohingyas amid growing unrest in two frontier camps over claims that refugees were being returned against their will. The current repatriation resumed amid reports of fresh attempts by Burmese Muslims to enter Bangladesh. Bangladesh has stepped up surveillance along the frontier to prevent a fresh influx. The US Committee for Refugees says that some 15,000 Muslims have reportedly entered the country in the past year despite efforts to keep them out, and Bangladesh has barred UNHCR officials and non-governmental organizations from assisting them (Agence France Presse, 07/24/97).
Jul 26, 1997 Malaysia says that Burma's government should take action to stop the alleged harassment of the country's Muslim minority in an effort to reassure its Islamic partners in ASEAN (e.g. Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia) (Japan Economic Newswire, 07/26/97).
Jul 31, 1997 Bangladesh will ask Burma to extend a deadline for repatriating 7000 Burmese Muslim refugees due to unrest and a wave of hunger strikes by refugees who oppose their repatriation. The government had earlier said that 7000 of the 20,000 refugees cleared for repatriation in the Kutupalong and Noapara camps would be sent home by the August 15 deadline set by Burma. Dhaka also rejected a UNHCR request to settle the refugees in Bangladesh (Agence France Presse, 07/30-31/97).
Aug 1997 A group representing Burmese Muslims who fled alleged persecution in Burma contends that more refugees will flow into Bangladesh unless their security could be guaranteed. The Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO) claims that up to 14,000 new Burmese Muslims had already crossed the border into Bangladesh since June because of persecution from the security forces and for "economic" reasons. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) puts the number of Rohingyas at 7000, while the Bangladesh government officially puts their numbers at "several thousand." The UNHCR describes the new Rohingya arrivals as both "economic and political" migrants (Agence France Presse, 08/03/97).
Aug 8, 1997 Some Rohingya refugees in Bangladeshi camps state that they will not return home until there is a democratic system in Burma. Some reports indicate that the refugees are receiving military training in the camps. A new organization, the Mama Democratic Rohingya Refugee Committee, has been established in Bangladesh to pursue the refugees' demands (Guardian, 08/08/97).
Aug 16, 1997 The repatriation of some 7000 of the 21,000 Burmese Muslim refugees still in Bangladesh is uncertain after the expiry of yesterday's deadline set by Rangoon. The repatriation, which started July 20, was stalled by violent protests by the refugees after a few hundred were forcibly deported (Agence France Presse, 08/16/97).
Aug 26, 1997 Canada and the US have imposed economic sanctions against Burma due to its human rights record (British Broadcasting Corporation, 08/26/97).
Oct 1997 Amnesty International calls for fresh international support for Bangladesh to help look after the Burmese Rohingya refugees (Agence France Presse, 10/09/97).
Jan 1998 Officials of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees are rushing to Dhaka for talks with the government and armed refugees from neighboring Myanmar who have seized Noapara camp in southeastern Bangladesh. The armed refugees are thought to be members of the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO), an insurgent group in Myanmar, which is reportedly backed by several Bangladeshi Muslim fundamentalist groups. The official Bangladesh news agency recently reported that 10 "Pakistani-financed" insurgent groups from Arakan were operating in the area (Agence France Presse, 01/23/98).
Jan 26, 1998 Three people are killed in a clash between the RSO and Burmese security forces near the border with Bangladesh (AAP Newsfeed, 01/26/98).
Mar 1998 Some 64 Rohingyas are jailed after clashing with police and setting fire to part of the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh. The police raided the camp and arrested the militants who had seized control of the camp several days ago (Agence France Presse, 03/07/98).
Apr 1998 Myanmar and Bangladesh agree to set up a joint commission to bolster political and economic ties between the two neighboring countries (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 04/17/98).
Jun 1998 Germany provides $350,000 in aid for the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh (Agence France Presse, 06/15/98).
Jun 19, 1998 Amnesty International claims that the SLORC is responsible for extrajudicial killings, forcible relocations, and torture against ethnic minorities (M2 Presswire, 06/19/98).
Jul 1998 The Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM) will continue to render humanitarian aid and services at the international level despite the country's economic downturn. The ABIM aid has been giving aid to Cambodia and Vietnam but the organization has been having difficulty in trying to help the Rohingyas in Myanmar (Malaysia General News, 07/03/98).
Dec 1998 Burmese opposition groups state that twenty-three ethnic and political organizations attend a seminar on National Solidarity at Thoo Mwe Klo in Karen territory from December 12 to 14. The organizations signed an agreement that calls for the abolishment of the military government, the establishment of a democratic, federal union, the convening of the parliament based on the NLD electoral victory in 1990, and a ban on foreign investment until the regime changes. A Coordinating and Organizing Committee is formed to implement the organizations' decisions. Among those who sign the agreement are the All Burma Muslim Union, the Muslim Liberation Organization, the Arakan League for Democracy, the Arakan Liberation Party, the Chin National Front, the Chin NLD, the Karen National Union, the Shan Democratic Union, the ABSDF, and representatives of the Wa, Palaung, and Lau ethnic groups (British Broadcasting Corporation, 12/21/98).
Dec 22, 1998 The repatriation of Rohingya refugees staying in Bangladesh has been stalled again less than one month after it was resumed in late November. Burma recently conveyed to Bangladesh that it could not take back the refugees during Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims across the world. Bangladesh insisted that it would continue the repatriation process in accordance with the agreement reached earlier between the two sides (Xinhua News Agency, 12/22/98).
Mar 1999 Jane's Intelligence Review states that India's intelligence organization, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), aided Burmese rebel groups in acquiring arms from Khmer Rouge members in Thailand for nearly two years. The groups include the Chin National Army, the Karen National Union, and the Arakan Army (03/01/99).
Apr 1999 The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) proposes that the Bangladesh government launch some income-generating projects for the over 22,000 Rohingyas rather than keeping them in refugee camps. It says that these camps will receive less aid as it is being diverted to help refugees in Kosovo, Yugoslavia (The Independent, 04/22/99).
Jun 1999 Five minority groups still fighting the Burmese junta meet in Karen territory near the Thai-Burma to form an alliance. After two days of meetings, the groups agree to cooperate on military, intelligence, and political issues to unify the groups. Hosted by the Karen National Union, the meeting is also attended by the Shan State Army, the Arakan Liberation Party, the Karenni National Progressive Party and the Chin National Front. A commander of the Shan State Army says that the rebels are outnumbered 10 to 1 by the Burmese forces (Agence France Presse, 06/16/99).
Jul 1999 Burma's Foreign Minister U Win Aung ends a three-day official visit to Bangladesh during which both countries agreed to build a bridge over a river to facilitate border trade. The two neighbors also decided to establish a joint commission to speed up the settlement of disputes, including the repatriation of all Myanmar Muslim refugees who had fled to Bangladesh alleging persecution at home (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 07/19/99).
Jul 30, 1999 The repatriation of the Rohingya refugees appears uncertain again after Burma's Foreign Minister refuses to give Bangladesh concrete assurances that they will return home. Bangladesh expects all the refugees to be repatriated by the end of the year. Since November of last year, Burma has only been accepting 50 refugees a week (Inter Press Service, 07/30/99).

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