JAKARTA, Indonesia

Indonesia strongly denounced the Quran burning during a rally in Sweden and the republication of offensive caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad by the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said those provocative acts offend hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world.

“Those acts are provocative, irresponsible, and contrary to the principles and values ​​of democracy,” she said during a virtual press conference on Friday.

Moreover, those incidents will more likely disunite religious communities around the world, which adds an extra burden to the world amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last Friday, around 300 protesters held a rally in Malmo, Sweden, which later led to a riot, leaving 10 protesters arrested and several police officers injured.

The commotion was triggered by an illegal protest in the largely migrant neighborhood of Rosengard earlier that day, where far-right activists burned a copy of the Quran.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo reprinted the insulting cartoons of Muslim Prophet Mohammad, as the trial opened over the subsequent 2015 terror attack on its Paris office./aa


The tourism services sector in the EU fell by 75% in June on a yearly basis, while the total services sector posted a decrease of 16.4% due to the COVID-19 crisis, the 27-member bloc's statistical office said on Friday.

"Among the detailed sectors within the tourism sector, travel agencies and tour operators fell the most (-83.6%), followed by air transport (-73.8%), accommodation (-66.4%) and restaurants (-38.4%)," Eurostat noted.

Recovery was seen in June versus April, the peak period of the pandemic, due to the reopening of economic activities.

Since originating in China last December, the pandemic has infected millions of people and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives globally.

Measures to stem the novel coronavirus hit several sectors deeply, especially travel, aviation, tourism, and manufacturing.


The World Health Organization said Friday it is unlikely that there will be mass vaccination against the novel coronavirus before the middle of the next year, and the organization's chief said they will only be used when they are safe and effective.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a bi-weekly press webinar said he wanted to tell people in the "anti-vax movement" that vaccines helped fight Ebola in Africa, they reduced child mortality and helped in the eradication of diseases like smallpox.

"Going forward with vaccines for COVID-19, we have a good number of promising ones. They will only be used when they are found to be effective and safe, that is what I would like to assure the world," said Tedros.

Earlier, Margaret Harris, a spokeswoman for the WHO, answered questions at a twice-weekly UN briefing in Geneva about expectations for a novel coronavirus vaccine timeline.

"In terms of realistic timelines, we're really not expecting to see widespread vaccination until the middle of next year," said Harris.

She said there are a considerable number of candidates now that have entered phase three vaccine trials where the WHO knows of at least six to nine that have got quite a long way with the research already.

"The phase three trials is when you compare, you'd have a large group of people and half get the vaccine, half get a placebo, or a different known vaccine, such as the meningitis vaccine.

"Then you essentially have to follow those people and see if there's a difference in those groups," she said.

The difference between the measurements would be checked for the two groups, from those who receive the vaccine and those who do not.

"We're looking at ideally 50% or more. That means that you know that when you give it to a large group, your research has indicated that 50% of them will be protected," said Harris.

"The lower limit of that is 30%. But we want to see at least 50% protection with sort of variation around that."

Harris said the world is seeing many different vaccines, and there is a need to compare them "head to head" to see which one is offering the "best protection and the greatest safety levels as well."

In a virtual press conference on Thursday, major global drug companies said no matter how urgently action is needed against the novel coronavirus, and they will not cut corners and rush a vaccine.

The chief executive officers of Eli Lilly, Gilead, Pfizer, Roche, and Merck spoke at the conference hosted by the Swiss-based International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations.

Harris was asked Friday by one journalist what the WHO thought of the notion that the US might rush through a vaccine before the November presidential election.

"Our work is to get all countries to work together and get all the information and do our utmost to coordinate and ensure that all the information coming in is used to get the very best for the global public good," said the WHO spokeswoman./aa


Iran strongly condemned the republishing of sacrilegious caricatures insulting the Prophet Mohammad by a notorious French magazine.

The provocative move by Charlie Hebdo, a left-wing French magazine infamous for publishing anti-Islamic content, has drawn widespread anger and outrage across the Muslim world.

The caricatures were first published in 2006 by a Danish newspaper Jylllands Posten, sparking a wave of protests across the world then.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that any irreverence to the prophet of Islam or other divine prophets is “unacceptable” for Muslims of the world.

“The French magazine’s offensive move, which has been repeated on the pretext of freedom of speech, has hurt the sentiments of the monotheists,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.

He described the republishing of cartoons as a “provocative move” that amounts to an “insult to the Islamic values and beliefs of over one billion Muslims in the world.”

French President Emmanuel Macron refused to take action against the magazine owners, defending the move under the garb of “freedom of expression”.

Khatibzadeh, however, said the freedom of expression has a “great value” and must be used in a “constructive way” in line with the idea of peaceful co-existence and understanding among religions.

Many clergymen in Iran also condemned the blasphemous move by the French magazine.

Mohammad Reza Zarie Khormizi, a senior cleric and academic from the city of Qom, told Anadolu Agency that the move was “a deliberate attempt” to hurt the sentiments of Muslims.

“It is not happening for the first time and needs to be condemned in strongest terms,” he said. “Such acts are driven by their hatred for Islamic values and disrespect for revered Islamic figures.”

Prominent Iranian cartoonist Mazyar Bijani, while condemning the move, said it is a conspiracy against Islam and Muslims carried out by their enemies for a long time.

Last week a copy of Muslim holy book Quran was desecrated in Sweden by far-right extremist groups, which also drew strong reaction in Muslim countries.

Ayatollah Alireza Arafi, who heads the religious seminaries in Iran, termed it a “ridiculous act” and called on the international community to “take strong notice” of this extremism./aa

Yahoo News

WASHINGTON — In a contentious interview on the BBC’s “Newshour” on Friday, the president’s new coronavirus adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas, said the United States had actually handled the coronavirus pandemic better than Europe, citing a discredited statistic of unknown origin.

In recent days, Atlas has eclipsed Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx as Trump’s most visible, and presumably trusted, coronavirus adviser. In that role he used his appearance on the BBC to defend aspects of the president’s widely criticized response to COVID-19.

Atlas is affiliated with the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University. An expert in brain imaging, he has no experience with pandemic response but appears to have parlayed his frequent appearances on Fox News into a White House appointment.

Confronted by the BBC interviewer regarding his lack of expertise, Atlas lashed out. “You know, I have to laugh at that,” he said, adding that it was “sort of silly” to think a virologist or immunologist was needed to deal with the pandemic.

Before joining the Trump administration, Atlas made statements that called into question his understanding of the virus. He backed the push by several Republican governors to reopen their states’ economies in early May, while most public health officials, including Fauci, were urging caution. Many states in the Sun Belt did reopen, only to see significant spikes in both infections and deaths.

Later, Atlas tried to blame those spikes on antiracism protests and on immigrants from Mexico. The view of most public health experts is that when governors took the approach Atlas advocated, newly reopened restaurants, bars and other venues quickly became sites of viral transmission.

Atlas has supported the controversial strategy of allowing the virus to spread naturally until enough of the population — around 60 or 70 percent, by varying estimates — has been exposed to achieve what’s called “herd immunity,” at which point the epidemic should end on its own. That was Sweden’s goal in resisting the kinds of lockdowns most other nations instituted. That strategy failed.

Despite having explicitly and repeatedly advocated for the herd immunity approach, Atlas denied being a herd immunity proponent to the BBC, echoing a similar denial he made on CNN earlier this week. “I have never, literally never, advised the president of the United States to pursue a strategy of herd immunity, of opening the doors and letting people get infected,” he said.

While the contents of his advice to the president are not known, his record on herd immunity is unambiguous. Writing in the Hill in April, Atlas said that “infected people without severe illness are the immediately available vehicle for establishing widespread immunity.” That was around the time that Trump and many Republican governors were first growing weary of lockdowns, though those had gone into effect only weeks before.

Atlas was a proponent of that view. “The data is in — stop the panic and end the total isolation,” his Hill op-ed was titled.

He made the same point on Friday, arguing that “the impact of prolonging the lockdown is worse than the impact of the disease,” despite overwhelming evidence that lockdowns helped save lives, and that even nonfatal cases of COVID-19 have been shown to inflict serious and potentially long-lasting damage to the heart and other organs.

Atlas also believes that although nearly 190,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, the nation is on better footing, in relative terms, than many of its counterparts in Europe, where the virus has largely been contained.

At one point the BBC interviewer, James Menendez, noted that the United States has one of the highest coronavirus mortality rates in the world, a statistic that comes from Johns Hopkins University.

“You can’t get away from that, can you?” Menendez asked.

“Excuse me,” an irritated Atlas said. “You can.” He went on to say that the Johns Hopkins number was “wrong” and “incorrect.” It was not clear which statistic was errant. Trump has recently claimed, falsely, that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is vastly inflating fatality counts. Atlas did not appear to be making the same argument.

Atlas said a better comparison was of “excess mortality,” a measure of how many more people died during a period of time than had been expected to, based on historical patterns.

“Europe has done 38 percent worse than the United States in excess mortality,” he said. “No one talks about this.”

Trump and Republicans have repeatedly asserted in recent weeks that excess mortality in Europe is 40 percent higher than that in the United States. The principal problem with this assertion is that it is not true. Trump appears to have simply made up the statistic, and a fact check of the claim by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found it to be false.

It is not clear where the 38 percent figure cited by Atlas comes from. He did not respond to a request for comment from Yahoo News. The White House also did not respond to a request for explanation.

Like many of the president’s supporters and the president himself, Atlas selectively deploys statistics that portray the nation’s pandemic in the most favorable light possible, while downplaying both past mistakes and remaining challenges.

“We’re doing much better,” he said in his BBC interview, which came on the same day that the United States saw yet another day of more than 1,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

A report analyzing the flash point of Black Lives Matter protests across the U.S. this summer found more than 90 percent of the demonstrations against racial injustice were nonviolent.

An analysis by the nonprofit Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project identified more than 7,750 demonstrations across 2,400 cities between May 26 — the day after the death of George Floyd — and Aug. 22.

Fewer than 220 of those events were marked by violence or destructive activity and were “largely confined to specific blocks,” according to the report.

“The vast majority of the demonstration events associated with the BLM movement are non-violent,” the group’s analysis reads. “In more than 93% of all demonstrations connected to the movement, demonstrators have not engaged in violence or destructive activity. Peaceful protests are reported in over 2,400 distinct locations around the country.”

An analysis by the Armed Conflict Location and Data Project found that 95% percent of protests associated with the Black Lives Matter movement this summer were nonviolent.

Nationwide protests against police violence and racial injustice surged after the killing of Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died in police custody May 25 when a Minneapolis officer knelt on his neck for about eight minutes. Three other officers failed to intervene as Floyd, 46, complained that he could not breathe. All four officers have since been fired and criminally charged.

Floyd’s final moments were captured on camera, sparking national outcry and demands for police reform.

Police arrest 2 after another night of Jacob Blake marches in downtown Sacramento

California, New York, Florida and Illinois saw the vast majority of BLM-linked protests this summer, data show.

More recently, demonstrators have taken to the streets in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where police were seen on video shooting an unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake, seven times in the back.

Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr., said his son is now paralyzed from the waist down, CNN reported.

While protests have remained “overwhelmingly” peaceful, researchers warned that “violent political polarization” could intensify ahead of the November election.

“In this hyper-polarized environment, state forces are taking a more heavy-handed approach to dissent, non-state actors are becoming more active and assertive, and counter-demonstrators are looking to resolve their political disputes in the street,” authors wrote. “Without significant mitigation efforts, these risks will continue to intensify in the lead-up to the vote, threatening to boil over in November if election results are delayed, inconclusive, or rejected as fraudulent.”

The ACLED analysis also highlights the disproportionate police response to the protests, noting that one in 10 Black Lives Matter protests have been met with state-sanctioned intervention compared to 3% of all other demonstrations. Though police were there to keep the peace, the authors said militarized law enforcement presence actually stokes tensions.

Sacramento City Council to debate ‘defunding’ millions from police, fire budgets

“In demonstrations where authorities are present, they use force more often than not,” according to the report. “Data show that they have disproportionately used force while intervening in demonstrations associated with the BLM movement, relative to other types of demonstrations.”

The report also points to other issues that have shaped protest trends in the country, including the coronavirus pandemic, hate crimes and violence targeting women.

Other key findings from the ACLED analysis include:

•             The group identified more than 100 events in which non-state actors intervened in demonstrations including militia groups, hate groups and individual agitators.

•             Armed individuals are becoming more prevalent at protest events.

•             State intervention and use of force at demonstrations have increased compared to this time last year.

If this headline seems very familiar, that's because it is. 2020's Ridiculously Resilient Ridge of heat in the Western U.S. is back for an encore this weekend, and in some areas the heat will be even more intense than the historic heat wave just weeks ago, when Death Valley reached the highest temperature ever reliably measured on Earth: 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Los Angeles National Weather Service issued a strongly worded statement to Southern Californians on Wednesday warning of an "exceptionally dangerous event" — explaining that it will be even hotter than the recent mid-August heat wave.

"Temperatures this high, and this widespread, are rarely ever seen in the area. All daytime outdoor activities should be limited or cancelled," the forecasters said.

The reappearance of scorching heat is unwelcome news for firefighters who are still battling dozens of wildfires across the state. The second and third biggest fires in California history — the SCU and LNU Lightning Complex fires — are mostly contained, but this heat wave promises to make conditions even more flammable through early next week. Remarkably, three of the top 10 largest fires in California history took place last month.

While the August fires were fueled by heat and lightning strikes, often the most dangerous ingredient in spreading fires — gusty winds — were mostly missing. However, this time around may be a different story. Right on the heels of the heat wave, some computer models are forecasting a gusty wind event for California on Tuesday. But with several days to go, the jury is still out on that.

Need to watch for fire weather. Intense #heatdome builds across CA through weekend into early week - then - the European model drives a strong upper low into the four corners region. If this happens, record shattering heat is followed by strong gusty, downslope winds. #heatwave

September 2, 2020

Excessive heat watches and warnings are already posted for 50 million people in California, Nevada and Arizona from Friday to Monday. For 40 million of those residents, temperatures will exceed 100 degrees at some point over the next several days. As of now, 150 record high temperatures are in jeopardy through early next week, with the heat wave peaking on Sunday.

Cities like Burbank and Fresno in the southern half of California, and Sacramento and Redding in the northern half of the state, are forecast to reach or exceed 110 degrees. But the heat will not be confined to California. Phoenix and Las Vegas are forecast to max out between 110-115, Death Valley near 125, and even Medford, Oregon peaking at 106.

The surge in heat is being caused by another historic heat dome in the mid-levels of the atmosphere, building from the Desert Southwest northward along the West Coast. The heat dome will be about as intense as any experienced during September since records have been kept.

Once again with 6000 meter heights forecast in the SW this weekend, we find ourselves in record territory. If this verifies this would be the strongest 500 mb ridge on record in September for the general area. In layman terms, the hotter the air the more it expands... 1/2

September 2, 2020

For many parts of the Southwest, the searing heat has been relentless all summer and in some cases the hottest summer on record. That is true for Phoenix, which beat its old record by 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit, an achievement the National Weather Service called "astonishing." So far this summer in Phoenix has had 50 days of 110 degrees or higher, shattering the old record of 33 in 2011 — with several more days above 110 still expected.

We did it! 50 days of 110 or greater this summer in Phoenix. #azwx

August 28, 2020

And this summer's heat wasn't just in the West. Cities like Miami, Chicago, Hartford, Providence, and Norfolk, Virginia and more have all experienced their hottest summers on record, and New York City had one of its hottest.

August was a particularly brutal month across various parts of the nation. The ratio of record high temperatures to record low temperatures was 12 to 1, and about half of the West experienced its hottest August on record.

see the red? every red place had its hottest august ever recorded this year.

September 2, 2020

Temperatures in the Southwest, including cities like Las Vegas and Tucson, are warming faster than anywhere else in the continental U.S. as a result of human-caused climate change. Although heat waves are caused by a combination of natural cycles amplified by global warming, a recent study from Columbia University found that the human component is in the process of overtaking natural forces. The study shows that during this decade, the 2020s, human-caused climate change will become the "main driver" of heat waves in the Western United States — the first region of the U.S. for this to happen.

Montenegro Muslims have received the death threats from Democratic Front (DF) supporters following Sunday polls resulted in the victory of the For the Future of Montenegro alliance -- led by the DF which is known for its anti-NATO stance and closeness to the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC).

Muslims living in Montenegro were threatened with genocide after the Sunday general election results showed the country's future policy leaning more towards Russia and Serbia.

Elections resulted in the long-governing Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) winning majority of the votes. However, it lost majority in the National Assembly to the opposition For the Future of Montenegro alliance, led by the Democratic Front (DF), leaning more towards Russia and Serbia.

The DF is known for its anti-NATO stance and closeness to the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC).

Those who gathered around the churches sang Serbian nationalist songs before taking some provocative actions against the Muslim population in the region from the night of the elections throughout the week.

Some people have targeted the Islamic Union building in the northern part of Montenegro Pljevlja town. While the windows of the building were smashed by unknown people, threatening statements were made against the Muslim in the city on a piece of paper thrown inside.

On the paper, it was written that Pljevlja would be like Srebrenica, where more than 8,000 Bosniak civilians were killed by Serbs in 1995 during the Bosnian War.

The chief imam of Pljevlja, Samir Kadribasic, told Anadolu Agency that Muslims in the region no longer feel safe because of these attacks. "This attack is too much now. I don't know where things will go, but I am afraid that there will be chaos with the reaction of the other side," said Kadribasic.

These actions reminded people of bloody war scenes of the 1990s in the region.

Following the victory of the opposition wing, some separatist Serb politicians in the region shared congratulatory messages. Celebrations in the Serbian regions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the waving of banners belonging to the Chetnik movement, which had done countless massacres in the region in the past, also pointed to the seriousness of the situation.

Many have chanted fascist slogans and written some of them on the walls since the election day.

The northern city of Pljevlja in Montenegro saw slogans such as "Turks, go from here", "Who will drink Turkish blood first," and "Every place and everybody should become Serbian"./aa

Myanmar has returned dozens of Rohingya to camps in conflict-wracked Rakhine state, officials said Thursday, after arresting them at sea as they tried to flee what rights groups brand as "apartheid" conditions.

A group of 42 Rohingya Muslims -- including two children -- was detained last Thursday offshore of Bogale in Ayeyarwady region, local police told AFP.

The long-persecuted Rohingya are widely regarded as illegal immigrants in Myanmar, refused citizenship and unable to travel freely.

One of the group tested positive for coronavirus, but the rest arrived Wednesday night in Kyaukphyu in central Rakhine state, local MP Ba Shein told AFP.

His constituents were "very worried" by the coronavirus risk, he said.

Local officials said the group was due to be sent by boat to camps further north on Friday.

Military operations in 2017 forced some 750,000 Rohingya to flee from northern Rakhine to Bangladesh in violence that now sees Myanmar facing genocide charges at the UN's top court.

But around 600,000 more Rohingya remain in Myanmar, living in what Amnesty International describe as "apartheid" conditions.

Kyaukphyu is one of many strictly segregated towns with its Muslim population of over 1,000 people confined to a camp since inter-communal violence in 2012.

It is mainly home to Kaman Muslims, a minority that -- unlike the Rohingya -- is officially recognised in the Buddhist-majority country, even though they also suffer discrimination.

The detained Rohingya were taken to the Muslim camp, where its inhabitants were told they had no choice but to accept them, one resident told AFP, asking not to be named.

"They had been travelling without sleep or we agreed to let them come in," he said, adding his community was scared it would be even more stigmatised because of the coronavirus risk.

"We're already facing huge problems -- they (the authorities) are just causing more trouble for us."

Hundreds of Rohingya have been arrested while trying to flee Rakhine state and seek refuge in other countries, many spending months or even years behind bars.

Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) last week called for more international pressure on Myanmar in its report titled "Nowhere to Run in Burma: Rohingya trapped between an open-air prison and jail".

Executive Director Kyaw Win decried the "weaponisation" of Myanmar's legal system "against an entire ethno-religious group born and living in the country for generations"./france24

Rohingya rights groups in Bangladesh published an open letter to Myanmar election officials on Thursday urging them to allow all Myanmar nationals, including Rohingya refugees, to vote in and contest that country’s general election Nov. 8, community leaders told BenarNews,

Their letter came after Myanmar’s Union Election Commission had lately rejected at least five Rohingya men from competing in the upcoming polls. The commission disqualified four of them, saying their parents weren’t Myanmar citizens when the candidates were born.

“In recent weeks, the Union Election Commission rejected several Rohingya candidates for office in Myanmar,” said the letter from 14 rights groups. “We call upon the Election Commission to reverse these decisions and uphold the right of Rohingya to participate in the elections. As citizens of Myanmar, we hold the right to vote.”

In July, the commission announced that Myanmar nationals living abroad could vote in this year’s national election by casting early ballots. The government similarly provided absentee voting in the 2010 and 2015 elections.

The rights groups who wrote to the election commission represent many of the more than 740,000 Rohingya who fled to neighboring Bangladesh after the Myanmar military launched a brutal crackdown on Rohingya communities in northern Rakhine state three years ago, in the wake of attacks carried out by insurgents on police and army posts there.

Southeast Asia-based rights group Fortify Rights also issued a statement Thursday supporting the 14 Rohingya groups’ letter, urging that members of the stateless minority group be allowed to vote in the upcoming elections.

“Rohingya globally should have the right to vote and participate in their home country’s political life,” said Ismail Wolff, Regional Director of the group, in a statement. “The international community should reignite their moral imagination and call for refugees’ right to vote – it is possible.”

The Muslim Rohingya have centuries of history in Myanmar, a former British colony that became independent in 1948. But they are considered illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh and denied citizenship and voting rights, prevented from obtaining jobs and formal education, and restricted from traveling freely.

In 1982, Myanmar passed a Citizenship Law which stated that only members of the “national races” who settled in Myanmar before British colonial rule began in 1824 were entitled to citizenship. The Rohingya were excluded from the 135 officially recognized ethnic groups, which then left them without full citizenship and therefore without the right to vote.

“The [Myanmar] government should amend the 1982 Citizenship Law to bring it in line with international laws and standards and ensure equal access to full citizenship rights, regardless of ethnic identity, race, or religion,” Fortify Rights said on Thursday.

The group also said that Myanmar should do away with its requirement of multiple forms of identification for Rohingya. National Verification Cards, National Registration Cards and White Cards are three key identity documents among a plethora of government-issued and U.N.-issued IDs for the Rohingya.

“The law should provide for a single status of full citizenship as opposed to three and cease basing access to citizenship on ethnic categories,” according to Fortify Rights.

In their letter, the Rohingya rights groups said they were citizens of Myanmar and therefore had a right to vote.

“We are Myanmar nationals. Before the elections, the Myanmar government should restore our citizenship rights and uphold our rights to vote and participate in the general election,” the rights groups said in their letter Thursday.

Myanmar: ‘They must be citizens’

In Myanmar, election commission spokesperson U Myint Naing did not respond to a BenarNews email seeking comment on the prospect of Rohingya refugees voting in the upcoming election.

In an interview last month with Radio Free Asia (RFA), a sister agency of BenarNews, commission chairman U Hla Thein set out two requirements to be allowed to vote.

“We do not look into who they are and what religious background they believe in, but only two requirements,” he said. “One, they must be 18 years of age, and two, they must be citizens or approved-citizens. Just the two things we look for [not whether they are Rohingya or Muslim].”

Delwar Hossain, a professor of international relations at Dhaka University, however believes Myanmar won’t allow Rohingya refugees to vote.

“Myanmar does not recognize the Rohingya as citizens, even as a small ethnic group. They have been claiming that Rohingya are illegal immigrants,” Hossain told BenarNews.

“There is no such situation in Myanmar that the authorities will heed the demands of Rohingya or will give any importance to their letter at all.”

Still, he said, the letter was a “positive effort” because the Rohingya had made their demands “democratically in an open letter,” which would now “remain a document for the future.”

Some Rohingya refugees are hopeful, though.

“We hope the international community will put pressure on the Myanmar authorities so that we can participate in the elections, which will be held under a government led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy,” Rahim, a Rohingya refugee leader, told BenarNews.

5 Rohingya candidates disqualified

The rights groups in their letter also urged the election commission to allow Rohingya to run for election in November.

Dil Mohammad, a Rohingya leader stranded at the zero line along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, isn’t optimistic that will happen.

“Rohingya were not allowed to run in the 2015 elections,” he said. “The Burmese have already drawn up a blueprint to prevent them from participating in the elections this year.”

He called the situation “disgusting.”

Last month, Abdul Rasheed, a member of the Rohingya-led Democracy and Human Rights Party, who filed to contest a parliamentary seat in the November polls was disqualified. Election authorities said his parents weren’t Myanmar citizens when he was born.

The disqualification shows that Myanmar officially discriminates against Rohingya, Rasheed told RFA.

“It is obvious that my mother became a citizen before I was born because she has a three-fold national ID card,” he said, referring to one of the three main forms of identification issued by the government.

“I’m disappointed that other people who hold the same types of ID cards are allowed to be candidates. Their citizenship is not being questioned. Why is my citizenship as a Muslim or a Rohingya being questioned?”

Myanmar’s election commission chairman told RFA that Rasheed being Muslim or Rohingya had nothing to do with his disqualification.

“We are not approving candidates based on their race and religion,” U Hla Thein said. “Regardless of their race and religion, we approve all candidates if they fulfill the qualifications required to be a candidate.”

Days after Rasheed’s disqualification, four other Rohingya candidates were considered ineligible to run by the election authorities. These candidates too were told their parents weren’t citizens when the candidates were born.

“This is our fundamental right – the basic rights of an ethnic group since the time of Myanmar’s independence,” Kyaw Min, one of the four candidates told RFA’s Myanmar Service. “They are now rejecting us, claiming our parents are not citizens.”

Since the crackdown on Rohingya in August 2017, the international community has criticized the Aung San Suu Kyi’s government for its handling of the military’s brutalities.

Myanmar also faces genocide-related charges at the International Criminal Court for the treatment of the Rohingya during the crackdown. Suu Kyi and the military have denied these charges./benarnews