US border agents fire tear gas at Central American migrants

Migrants trying to cross with an improvised rope made of clothing faced Border Patrol agents and after a few minutes clash — wet sand against pepper spray — they gave up in their attempt. (AFP)
Updated 22 March 2019

US border agents fire tear gas at Central American migrants

  • A group of migrants, including children, used an improvised rope to try to scale fencing installed on the beach between Tijuana and San Diego
  • They were forced back with tear gas

TIJUANA, Mexico: US Border Patrol agents on Thursday fired tear gas at Central American migrants attempting to cross the border from the Mexican city of Tijuana, AFP journalists saw.
A group of migrants, including children, used an improvised rope to try to scale fencing installed on the beach between Tijuana and San Diego, California — but were forced back with tear gas, which agents had not deployed since January 1.
An AFP journalist witnessed only one migrant cross the border, where he was immediately detained.
It marked the third time in a week that a group of Central Americans had tried to cross the border to ask for asylum on the grounds their lives were threatened by violence at home.
On the first occasion, a week ago, around 50 people made it across, with about 10 more crossing on Tuesday. All were detained by authorities.
“Someone brought them here, they train them because they know that upon crossing they must ask for asylum and that way they won’t be deported and they have to be processed according to US laws,” said one Tijuana policeman, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak.
Last November, hundreds of Central Americans that arrived from Honduras as part of a large caravan tried to cross en masse — but only a few succeeded as the crowd was met with tear gas.
In recent months, thousands of Central Americans have arrived in Mexico in several caravans in the hope of finding a better life in the United States.
US President Donald Trump has branded such migrants a threat to national security, demanding billions of dollars from Congress to build a wall on the southern US border.


Hague hearing offers ray of hope to Bangladesh’s Rohingya

Updated 10 December 2019

Hague hearing offers ray of hope to Bangladesh’s Rohingya

  • International Court of Justice seeks to address atrocities committed by Myanmar

DHAKA: Several members of the Rohingya community in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar expressed optimism on Monday that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would rule in their favor once it began its three-day hearing against Myanmar on Tuesday.

The case was filed by Gambia on behalf of all Muslim nations from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) with the ICJ over the alleged persecution of the Rohingya by the Myanmar military.

On Nov. 18, the court decided to hold the hearings from Dec.10 to 12. Gambia’s justice minister will lead his country during the hearings.

Both Canada and Bangladesh have been supporting Gambia by providing different data and information regarding the atrocities against the Rohingya.

Myanmar’s state councillor and its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has already reached  the Netherlands to lead the defense lawyers on behalf of her country at the ICJ.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque will remain present at the courtroom to witness the process.

He will lead a 20-member team, comprising government officials and civil society representatives.

Rohingya at Cox’s Bazar are highly optimistic of securing justice at the ICJ.

“We think justice will be ensured because all international human rights groups, different UN organizations and the international community have got evidence of the persecution on the Rohingya. All of them have visited the refugee camps many times and listened to the plight of the Rohingya,” Sawyed Ullah, a community leader from Jamtoli, told Arab News.

“Also, we have strong evidences of atrocities committed by the Myanmar government to root out the Rohingya from their birth place, Rakhine,” Ullah added.

“Without ensuring accountability, there will not be any safety and justice in Rakhine. Once the accountability is restored,  all of us will be able to go back home.”

Ramjan Ali, another refugee from the Kutupalang camp, said: “Myanmar’s government has forcibly displaced the Rohingya from their own land and that compelled us to shelter here at the refugee camps. Isn’t it enough evidence to justify our allegations against the Myanmar government?”

Ramjan Ali added: “Still the situation in Rakhine is very bad as we receive information from our relatives over there. We need protection from the international forces before any repatriation, and the ICJ’s decision will be helpful for us in this regard.”

Rohingya human rights activist Nay San Lwin, co-founder of the German-based Free Rohingya Coalition described the ICJ’s move as historic.

“It is first ever since we are persecuted. We have been seeking for justice since very long time,” Lwin told Arab News, adding that “finally the case is now at the world court and although it will take several years we are now excited for provisional measures from the court.”

Lwin, along with some 200 Rohingya rights activists from around the world, is set to hold a protest rally at the Hague from Dec. 11 during the ICJ’s hearing.

“We are expecting very much from the ICJ. Regardless whether Myanmar follows the decisions of the court this will have a huge impact. There won’t be any other justice mechanisms if this international court of justice can’t ensure the justice for us,” added Lwin.

Expressing his frustration on the repatriation process, Lwin said that the Myanmar government still had a “genocidal policy” on the Rohingya.

“I don’t think repatriation of the Rohingya will take place soon unless the government is considering to fulfill our demands,” he said.

The ICJ’s final decision will hold strong significance as any decisions taken by the ICJ are binding on member states.

Both Gambia and Myanmar are signatories of the Genocide Convention.