Thursday, December 14, 2017

MSF estimates more than 6,700 Rohingya killed in Myanmar

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has said it believes at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed in the month after violence broke out in Myanmar in August.
Based on surveys of refugees in Bangladesh, the number is much higher than Myanmar's official figure of 400.
MSF said it was "the clearest indication yet of the widespread violence" by Myanmar authorities.
The Myanmar military blames the violence on "terrorists" and has denied any wrongdoing.
More than 647,000 Rohingya have fled into Bangladesh since August, MSF says.
The aid group's survey found that at least 9,000 Rohingya died in Myanmar, also known as Burma, between 25 August and 24 September.
"In the most conservative estimations" at least 6,700 of those deaths have been caused by violence, including at least 730 children under the age of five, according to MSF.
Previously, the armed forces stated that around 400 people had been killed, most of them described as Muslim terrorists.

A case for the International Criminal Court?

Jonathan Head, South East Asia correspondent

Watch :Rohingya Muslim from Tula Toli village in Rakhine State gave Disturbing account 

Inline image 3▶ 2:01

There have been plenty of detailed reports by journalists and researchers, based on interviews conducted with refugees, which make it hard to dispute that terrible human rights abuses took place at the hands of the security forces.
But many of these reports focussed on the worst cases; there are several media reports about a massacre at one village called Tula Toli. Some Rohingya I interviewed told me they had fled in fear of violence, but had not actually experienced it.
This well-researched figure by MSF suggests the operation conducted by the military was brutal enough to raise the possibility of taking a case to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity.
The problem would be that Myanmar has not ratified the Rome Statute of the ICC and is not bound to co-operate with it. Bringing a case would require the approval of all five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and China has until now given its full support to the Myanmar government's handling of the crisis.

The military crackdown began on 25 August after Rohingya Arsa militants attacked more than 30 police posts.
After an internal investigation, the Myanmar army in November exonerated itself of any blame regarding the crisis.
It denied killing any civilians, burning their villages, raping women and girls, and stealing possessions.
The mostly Muslim minority are denied citizenship by Myanmar, where they are seen as immigrants from Bangladesh. The government does not use the term Rohingya but calls them Bengali Muslims.
The government's assertions contradicted evidence seen by BBC correspondents. The United Nations human rights chief has said it seems like "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing".
An injured Rohingya boy lifts his T-shirt to reveal a large bandage across his stomachImage caption Among the refugees are many young children "What we uncovered was staggering, both in terms of the numbers of people who reported a family member died as a result of violence, and the horrific ways in which they said they were killed or severely injured," MSF Medical Director Sidney Wong said.
According to MSF:
  • 69% of the violence-related deaths were caused by gunshots
  • 9% were due to being burnt to death in their houses
  • 5% were beaten to death.
Among the dead children below the age of five, MSF says more than 59% were reportedly shot, 15% burnt to death, 7% beaten to death and 2% killed by landmine blasts.
Momtaz BegumImage copyright Reuters : Image caption Many refugees have been subject to brutal violence"The numbers of deaths are likely to be an underestimation as we have not surveyed all refugee settlements in Bangladesh and because the surveys don't account for the families who never made it out of Myanmar," Mr Wong said.
In November, Bangladesh signed a deal with Myanmar to return hundreds of thousands of the refugees.
MSF said the agreement was "premature" pointing out that "currently people are still fleeing" and reports of violence have come even in recent weeks.
The group also warned there was still very limited access for aid groups into Rakhine state.
The Rohingya are a stateless Muslim minority who have long experienced persecution in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

German soldier accused of planning to kill politicians, frame refugees


BERLIN (Reuters) - A German soldier was charged on Tuesday with plotting to kill senior politicians because of their support for refugees and trying to make it look like asylum seekers carried out the murders.
The officer, named only as Franco Hans A., was arrested in April in a case that shocked Germans and stirred a debate about the depth of right-wing radicalism in the Bundeswehr military.
 
“Motivated by a nationalist attitude, he planned to carry out an attack at an unknown time on high-ranking politicians and public figures who stood up for what the accused regarded as an especially refugee-friendly policy,” the federal prosecutor’s office said.
“He wanted people to believe that his attacks were related to radical Islamist terrorism committed by somebody who had been granted asylum,” it added.
The statement did not say whether the soldier had denied the charges or include any statement from his lawyer.
Among the targets were Justice Minister Heiko Maas, a senior Social Democrat, Greens politician Claudia Roth as well as human rights activists and journalists, the prosecutor’s office added.
Prosecutors suspect that Franco Hans A., along with two accomplices, wanted to implicate refugees in their planned attack by posing as an asylum seeker.
The case had put pressure on centre-right Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government - with her close ally Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen facing criticism for first failing to deal with right-wing extremism in the army and then implying that most soldiers were right-wing radicals.
The federal prosecutor’s office said the soldier was accused of committing a serious act of violent subversion and violating the military weapons control law, as well as gun and explosives laws.
Franco Hans A., who served with an army battalion stationed in France, had used a fake identity to register as a Syrian refugee and moved into a shelter for migrants in Bavaria even though he speaks no Arabic, the prosecutors said.
The soldier had previously been detained  in late January by Austrian authorities on suspicion of having hidden an illegal gun in a bathroom at Vienna’s main airport, they added.

Salat according to Hanafi Madhab - some points to clarify confusion

I was in Bangladesh the past couple of weeks. During my recent trip I was genuinely concerned that many of our friends and family members were unaware about the basis of our Islamic rituals, and are relying upon narratives, which seemingly are weaker or unreliable rather than the guidelines established by Imam Abu Hanifa and his worthy followers based on what they saw and documented from the very fist generation of Muslims who stood next in line to the Prophet (SM) during prayer services. Confusions abound about raising of the hands at various rukus, gesture of the forefinger during seating position for reciting tashahhud, and making du'a, let alone number of rakats during Tarawih and witr (vitr).
There are some excellent books on the  subject, written by genuine ulama (and not self-reading and - proclaiming pseudo scholars), which clearly show that most of the Hanafi prayer rituals are based on hadiths narrated by Abdullah b. Mas'oud and Ali (RA) who were some of the foremost converts (ashab) to Islam who stood in the first row of the prayer behind the prophet (S).
 
One of the good books is Anwarul Muqallideen (available in Bangla). See also the book by Mufti Dr. Taqi Usmani's - Bengali tr. work - Madhab kee and kano (What and Why Madhab?). The English (original) version of the Mufti's book can be viewed by clicking here: http://archive.org/stream/TheLegalStatusOfFollowingAMadhab#page/n3/mode/2up
By the way, on all matters of Islam, esp. Hanafi Madhab, Mowlana Ashraf Ali Thanwi's Behesti Jewar is a great source to de-program from any confusion.
 
The ZamZam Academy of UK has done a great job in guiding the ummah on all such matters and remain a treasure trove to benefit us all, esp. in these days when la madhabi (Saudi induced and funded) charlatans are confusing everyone on the essence of our deen through their easily available books and websites. You can view its site by clicking here: http://www.zamzamacademy.com/courses/pray-as-you-have-seen-me-pray/
 
Discussion on 20 rakat tarawih: https://islamqa.org/hanafi/qibla-hanafi/34687
 
It is narrated that when Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) used to sit down to supplicate, (to recite tashahhud) he used to place his right hand on his right thigh and his left hand on his left thigh. He would indicate at the time of reciting the shahadah by raising his index finger. He would also join the ends of his thumb and middle finger (thereby forming a circle). [Sahih Muslim, chapter on the description of sitting-Hadith no.579] [http://www.sunnah.org/fiqh/hanafi_salah.htm#4.15]
 
Prophet (S) raised his hands to make du'a:
Raising Both the Hands and Making Dua
 

It is narrated that Abdullah Ibn Zubair (radhiallahu anhu) saw a man raising his hands and making dua before completing his salah. When the person had completed his salah, Hazrat Abdullah Ibn Zubair (radhiallahu anhu) went up to him and said: "Verily, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) used to only raise his hands and make dua after completing his salah" (the narrators of this Hadith are all trustworthy — Majmauz Zawaaid, vol. 1, pg. 169).
 
As to the merit of du'a: here are some relevant info from Shaykh Abdur Raheem:
The following discussion can be found in full detail in fath-ul-bari, the commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari, from pages 150-153 volume 12 (Cairo print) under the baab, بَاب الدُّعَاءِ بَعْدَ الصَّلَاةِ (page 397 of the Indian print).

1 - The first proof of evidence of the Hanafi School of Fiqh comes from the Qur'an, surah Qaaf (Surah 50, v. 40), where Almighty Allah says, "وَمِنَ اللَّيْلِ فَسَبِّحْهُ وَأَدْبَارَ السُّجُودِ". Some of the commentators of the Qur'an, on the commentary of this ayat, have said that this ayat is referring to congregational Dua after salah.

2 - Secondly, Imam Abu Daud and Imam Nasai have narrated from Hazrat Mua'z Ibn Jabal radhiyallahu anhu that the Holy Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam said to him,

يَا مُعَاذ إِنِّي واللہ لَأُحِبّك ، فَلَا تَدَع دُبُر كُلّ صَلَاة أَنْ تَقُول : اللَّهُمَّ أَعِنِّي عَلَى ذِكْرك وَشُكْرك وَحُسْن عِبَادَتك
Imam Ibn Hibaan and Imam Hakim have classified this Hadith as authentic.

3 - Imam Tirmizi has narrated from Hazrat Abu Umamah radhiyallahu anhu that the Holy Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam was asked,

أَيّ الدُّعَاء أَسْمَع ؟ قَالَ : جَوْف اللَّيْل الْأَخِير وَدُبُر الصَّلَوَات الْمَكْتُوبَات قِيلَ يَا رَسُول اللہ
4 - Imam Hakim, Imam Nasai, Imam Tirmizi and Imam Ahmad have said that the following Hadith is authentic, narrated from Hazrat Abu Bakarah,

حَدِيث أَبِي بَكْرَة فِي قَوْل " اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذ بِك مِنْ الْكُفْر وَالْفَقْر وَعَذَاب الْقَبْر ، كَانَ النَّبِيّ صَلَّى اللہ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَدْعُو بِهِنَّ دُبُر كُلّ صَلَاة " أَخْرَجَهُ أَحْمَد وَالتِّرْمِذِيّ وَالنَّسَائِيُّ وَصَحَّحَهُ الْحَاكِم ۔
There are many more proofs from the ahadith, which prove that Dua after Salah is a practice of the Holy Prophet (May peace and blessings be upon him) himself, but I have omitted them to prevent prolonging the answer.

Hazrat Shaikh Yunus Sahib (of India, Saharanpoor, and the great Khalifah of the late Hazrat Shaikh Zakariya rahmatullahi alaiyah), has said that the majority of the evidence points towards the Dua after salah.
 
According to Shaykh Muhammad al-Akili (a scholar whom I met in Philadelphia, who is a translator of some classic books on Islam) congregational du'a, although not mandatory, is preferred since it is the essence (Mukkhul) of ibadat and has more chance of being answered than made solo. There are many ahadith pointing to benefit of group zikr and other praises of Allah and his prophet (S).

Letter from U2 calls for Freedom of City awarded to Aung San Suu Kyi be withdrawn

Dear Councillor,
We write as long-time supporters of Amnesty International, and as extremely proud recipients of the Freedom of the City. We remember very clearly the day when we received that honour alongside Aung San Suu Kyi whose son Kim accepted on her behalf.
The day was a very special one for us first and foremost because Dublin is our hometown. Of the various “awards” - deserved or not - we’ve been lucky enough to receive over the years, this is by far the one that means the most to us. It was also special because we’d been so moved by the strength and fortitude shown by Aung San Suu Kyi in then-Burma. We were campaigning for her release and were proud of Dublin’s recognition of her courage, and that of her colleagues, to bring about fledgling democracy against all odds… against one of the most brutal regimes of modern times.
So it saddens us to be writing to you today as you discuss recent events in Myanmar and decide whether that merits the rescinding of the honour you bestowed on her.
We believe it does.
You have the same facts as we have, which indicate that deliberate and brutal violence, rape, and murder are being used to drive the Rohingya from Rakhine State. This persecution has been authorised and led by Min Aung Hlaing, the Head of Myanmar’s military. While Aung San Suu Kyi does not have the capacity to control the military, she does have the responsibility to condemn their actions.
The civilian government that she leads is responsible for everyone in her country, and no matter how difficult her position is, to stand by while half a million lives and livelihoods are deliberately decimated by the Myanmar Military is beyond comprehension. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”
The decision of who should and shouldn’t have this honour lies with you. But we felt compelled to write given our history with you, and with Aung San Suu Kyi. We believe her failure to stand up for the rights of the Rohingya constitutes a betrayal of the principles for which she was so revered… and for which she received the Freedom of the City. The City of Dublin sent a very strong message in defence of human rights in 1999, we believe an equally strong message in defence of human rights is just as important now.

Thanks for your time.

Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr and Adam Clayton

End disgraceful inaction on Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis - urges Amnesty International to UNSC

UN Security Council: End disgraceful inaction on Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis

Japan should use its United Nations Security Council presidency to end three and a half months of deadlock in the face of ongoing crimes against humanity targeting the Rohingya in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State, Amnesty International said today.
The Security Council will again discuss the situation of Myanmar’s Rohingya on Tuesday 12 December, a week after the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution condemning the ongoing violations against them and other ethnic minorities in the country. The resolution was accompanied by a warning from the High Commissioner for Human Rights that recent military operations in western Rakhine state could include ‘elements of genocide.’
“The United Nations Security Council’s woefully inadequate response to this crisis has been disgraceful. Since late August, more than 620,000 Rohingya people have fled unspeakable atrocities, yet the Council has issued only a single statement – this fails to match the gravity of the situation on the ground,” said Sherine Tadros, Head of Amnesty International’s UN office in New York.
“Japan’s Security Council presidency faces a moment of truth: will its legacy include sitting idly by while hundreds of thousands of Rohingya faced ethnic cleansing on top of a longstanding apartheid regime in Myanmar’s Rakhine State? The Security Council must build on last week’s Human Rights Council resolution by imposing an arms embargo, and targeted sanctions on Myanmar’s military leadership.
“Myanmar’s authorities must immediately allow unfettered access to the UN Fact-Finding Mission, humanitarian aid and independent human rights monitors into the country, and into northern Rakhine State in particular. This is crucial to expose the truth, lay the groundwork for accountability for atrocities against Rohingya women, men and children, and ensure the voluntary, safe and dignified return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees.”
Amnesty International is also calling on the UN Security Council to take concrete steps to ensure accountability for crimes against humanity in Myanmar, following a call by the UN Special Rapporteur on Sexual Violence and the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva last week.
Background
In a resolution adopted last week, the UN Human Rights Council condemned the systematic and gross violations of human rights in Myanmar, in particular against the Rohingya in Rakhine State. Burundi, China and the Philippines voted against the measure, but 33 states voted in favour, with nine states, including Japan, abstaining.
More than 620,000 people have fled into Bangladesh in a matter of months as security forces unleashed a targeted campaign of violence against the Rohingya: killing an unknown number of women, men and children; raping women and girls; laying landmines; and burning entire Rohingya villages.
Rohingya people who remain in the country are trapped in a dehumanizing state-sponsored system of apartheid, where virtually every aspect of their lives is severely restricted. Dismantling this system of apartheid is essential to ensure the safe, voluntary and dignified return of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who have fled Myanmar.
Amnesty International has also documented how Myanmar’s security forces are committing wide-ranging violations against other ethnic minorities, in particular in Kachin and northern Shan States. These include extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, torture and forced labour.

Whose land is it?

Whose land is it?
Excerpted from Muhammad Asad’s 'The Road to Mecca' which recounts his short exchange with Chaim Weizmann, who went onto become the first President of Israel.
===============
‘But it is our country,’ replied Dr. Weizmann, raising his eyebrows. ‘We are doing no more than taking back what we have been wrongly deprived of.’
But you have been away from Palestine for nearly two thousand years! Before that you had ruled this country, and hardly ever the whole of it, for less than five hundred years. Don’t you think that the Arabs could, with equal justification, demand Spain for themselves – for, after all, they held sway in Spain for nearly seven hundred years and lost it entirely only five hundred years ago?’

Dr. Weizmann became visibly impatient: ‘Nonsense. The Arabs had only conquered Spain; it had never been their original homeland, and so it was only right that in the end they were driven out by the Spaniards.’

‘Forgive me,’ I retorted, ‘but it seems to me that there is some historical oversight here. After all, the Hebrews also came as conquerors to Palestine. Long before them were other Semitic and non-Semitic tribes settled here – the Amorites, the Edomites, the Philistines, the Moabites, the Hittites. Those tribes continued living here even in the days of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah. They continued living here after the Romans drove our ancestors away. They are living here today. The Arabs who settled in Syria and Palestine after their conquest in the seventh century were always only a small minority of the population; the rest of what we describe today as Palestinian or Syrian “Arabs” are in reality only the Arabianized, original inhabitants of the country. Some of them became Muslims in the course of centuries, others remained Christians; the Muslims naturally inter-married with their co-religionists from Arabia. But can you deny that the bulk of those people in Palestine, who speak Arabic, whether Muslims or Christians, are direct-line descendants of the original inhabitants: original in the sense of having lived in this country centuries before the Hebrews came to it?’


Dr. Weizmann smiled politely at my outburst and turned the conversation to other topics.'

Speech by Federica Mogherini at the European Parliament


Speech by Federica Mogherini at the European Parliament plenary session on the situation of the Rohingya people

Last month I was in Bangladesh together with two Foreign Ministers of two Member States - Germany and Sweden - another way of showing teamwork and the joint action of the European Union institutions plus Member States, in one of the largest camps hosting Rohingya refugees.
When you see the camps with your own eyes, when you talk with the people there, when you hear the stories, when you see the reality on the ground, it makes quite a difference.
The thing that struck me the most was the number of young children – children of my little daughter's age, 6, 7 years old – taking care of even younger children – 2 or 3 years old. These were children that were travelling together – the older ones were raising the little ones. But we are talking about children that are very, very, young. It is hard to imagine what that must feel like. These kids are forced to grow up, they're stripped of their right to childhood, and this is going to stay for the rest of their lives.
I also met a group of women, and heard from them about the violence they had suffered and the violence against their children. Stories that when you hear them, you would never ever forget them. And when you hear these stories, action is not just a political priority any more, it becomes a moral imperative.
I'm telling this because sometimes you have to link the political dynamics to stories, faces and people.
That same night, I met with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, not only to express the European Union's support to the country, but also most of all to discuss possible solutions to the crisis. Also because the camp is in an area where when the rainy season starts the situation will become impossible to manage. And it is a camp hosting 650,000 in just one place.
The day after that visit, the day after having talked with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, I was in Myanmar for the Asia-Europe meeting. And right before the Summit, we asked to set up a special meeting with all the Ministers who were there – including Aung San Suu Kyi – to discuss the situation of the Rohingya and find a way forward.
It was a quiet meeting: no cameras, no publicity, but it was a very important one. We agreed at that meeting on a shared perspective to start facing the crisis. Step-by-step but with commitments and with a strong regional and international involvement.
Just three days later, a deal between Myanmar and Bangladesh was announced and signed. We had discussed that deal during the meeting, we had encouraged the two parties to discuss together the first steps that could have been taken.
We know very well that it is still an extremely difficult situation. We know very well that the implementation of that agreement will have to be accompanied and monitored extremely carefully by the international community. But this is finally a first step in the right direction after months if not years, if not decades of inaction, or actually – even worse – sometimes of looking the other way.
It could be an entry point to address the crisis – from a bilateral point of view, between Bangladesh and Myanmar, and together with the Agencies, starting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR].
For us, this comes after several months of intense engagement. I was here when you adopted your last resolution in September. One month later, we adopted conclusions on the crisis in the Foreign Affairs Council.
In the light of disproportionate use of force by the army, we also decided to suspend invitations to the Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar armed forces and other senior military officers, and to review ongoing practical defence cooperation.
Meanwhile, we have active at the UN Human Rights Council: first, we supported the extension of the Fact-Finding Mission's mandate; second, we supported a Special Session on Myanmar last week, and the resolution proposed by Bangladesh. We also supported a resolution at the UN General Assembly's Third Committee.
Beyond public statements, beyond the political and diplomatic work we have carried out in these months, we've stepped up our humanitarian assistance and co-hosted the UN Pledging Conference in October in Geneva.
As usual, the European Union has been the one pledging more money than anybody else. And if you look at the EU and Member States together, we pledged more than the rest of the world combined. And let me add that our pledges always turn into real money, into real projects that help real people, meaning that we always deliver on our pledges.
But the humanitarian work alone is not enough; we have to solve the problem.
It is now up to Myanmar to improve the situation in Rakhine State, so that everyone can go back to their homes in a safe and dignified way. Rule of law and full humanitarian access must be granted as a first step. The government has granted access so far to the Red Cross and the World Food Programme in Rakhine State, but we will continue to press for full access to the broader UN and NGO community.
At the same time, the people of Rakhine must be guaranteed the right to education, basic social services and the difficult issue of citizenship must be addressed – all in line with the Annan Plan.
Let me say that this is maybe the most important political point for me. The authorities of Myanmar have declared their intention to fully implement the Annan Plan.
Aung San Suu Kyi has expressed her willingness and her commitment to do so, including in our private meetings but also in our common press activities and publicly several times.
We know very well that she faces an extremely complex situation in the country.
The democracy of Myanmar is a very young one. The country is still in a democratic transition, and the path towards an inclusive and pluralistic democracy is never easy, particularly after so many years of military rule.
I believe that Aung San Suu Kyi needs and wants our support to implement fully the Annan plan, and to translate the political commitment into real action and to do it step-by-step, accompanied by the international community and other countries in the region.
In the coming days and weeks we will continue to work for dignified, voluntary returns, based on the bilateral agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar. We will push for humanitarian access in Rakhine State, based on the first openings made by the government. And we will work to address the root causes of the crisis, and push for the full implementation of the Annan report.
I am sure that the European Parliament will continue to contribute to such work that will hopefully bring results – probably not in too short a time period – but I believe that the first steps in the right direction finally have been taken, even if I am not hiding all the limits, all the difficulties, and all the shortcomings that we will still be facing in the months ahead. This is why we have to continue working in that direction together.
Thank you.
Closing remarks
Thank you very much Mr President. First of all, let me say that it is always useful to hear your [the Members of the European Parliament] views, to take them into consideration for the continuation of our work on the ground and continue to use all the instruments that we have.
As many of you said, there is a certain amount of work that we can do; there are other things that are not in our power or in our hands to solve, but the fact that we are by far the largest humanitarian donor, literally keeping people alive in very difficult conditions, is already a very important component of our work.
The work we are doing on stabilisation and development assistance; the work we are doing on political dialogue – again, I would like to stress the fact that the bilateral agreement was reached after our pressure and our meetings together with both the Bangladesh and the Myanmar sides.
We will continue on the monitoring of the implementation of this agreement, on the specific support to human rights and democracy; and - let me mention one point that was raised by one of you and that I believe is extremely important - the work we do on accountability and the fight against impunity. Clearly this has to be part of the commitments that are taken by the Myanmar authorities.
Knowing very well, as I said in the beginning and as you are all extremely aware of, that Myanmar is even more than a young democracy, I would say it is a country still in transition.
We have to be aware of the fact that we have to do two difficult exercises at the same time: on one side, finding a solution to the issue of the Rohingya – finding a solution that is sustainable, that is in full respect of all of their rights, and this is doable with the full implementation of the Annan Report, to which Aung San Suu Kyi has committed herself; and on the other side, we have to strengthen the democratic process in Myanmar, knowing very well that there is a political fight in the country and that things are complicated to say the least.
We also have to avoid that the clock turns backwards in Myanmar itself. After so many years of military rule, this is always a risk.
So this is the exercise that we are doing, with a strong commitment and engagement from the European Union side. We will continue to do so. 
Last two points. One, returns obviously have to be happening in a dignified and safe manner, in full respect of all of their rights and with international standards. It is not an issue that is going to be solved easily; on the contrary. But again, I believe that one first small step – extremely partial – but encouraging has happened. 
Obviously it is not a bilateral issue between Myanmar and Bangladesh, but without that first bilateral step, the international work to try to solve the problem would also not be possible. We will continue to work also to push for the international community and in particular, as I said, UNHCR and international NGOs to have a full role in this process.
It is still going to be a long process that will require all our political determination. The Council [of the European Union] will for sure come back to this point: we just adopted Council Conclusions in October; I am ready to put the issue on the agenda again at any time to continue to try to help and push for a solution to this issue.
I thank you very much for keeping this issue high on the agenda. I believe this is useful and I count on your full on the continuation of our work there.
Thank you.
Link to the video:  http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I148126