Saturday, June 24, 2017

Why Saudi Arabia hates Al Jazeera so much?

To read the Washington Post article, click here.

Teen brutally killed in attack on train in India

The news below filed by Vidhi Doshi is very disturbing and shows how cheap Muslim life has become in Modi's India. It is heartbreaking and simply shocking!
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DELHI — It was going to be a weekend of celebrations. Sixteen-year-old Junaid had just earned the esteemed title of “hafiz,” given to Muslims who memorize the entire Koran. Junaid would need a new suit for the festivities, so his parents sent him to the Indian capital, New Delhi, with his brothers, and 1,500 rupees ($23) in his pocket.
Junaid would never wear the suit. Nor will he have the honor of reciting the Koran in the mosque ever again.
The teenager was brutally killed Thursday evening by a mob on his way home from the city. They slashed his ribs and stabbed him in the chest and then threw him off the train. They called him “mullah,” mocking his religion. They accused him of being a beef-eater, an anti-national, a Pakistani.
A video shows Junaid being cradled by his brother at the platform of a train station just after the attack, with a crowd of people looking on. Junaid's brothers told NDTV that the attackers threw their skullcaps to the floor and pulled their beards.
The family's last name has not been released by authorities or reported by the media.
Junaid's slaying was the latest in a string of anti-Muslim attacks during the holy Islamic period of Ramadan, known in India as Ramazan.
“He was a child. He was just 16. How could they hate us so much to have killed him so brutally?” Junaid's father, Jallaluddin, told the Hindustan Times. “When I reached the spot, my son Hashim was sitting on the station with Junaid’s body soaked in blood in his lap,” he said.
Hashim, Junaid's brother, said the teenager was pinned to the ground by three men as others stabbed him. “Three men held me when I tried to intervene and stabbed me thrice in the back and shoulder. One of us even tried to pull the chain to stop the train, but it was not working,” he told the Hindustan Times.

Onlookers on the train, Hashim said, refused to intervene as the mob closed in on the Muslim passengers. “Instead, they asked those men to finish us all,” he said.
Police are saying the deadly altercation started over a seat space on the train. “There are also allegations that some words which hurt religious sentiments were also said after which things got out of hand,” a police spokesman told NDTV. At least one man has been arrested.
Violence has surged since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist government introduced new rules in May, restricting the sale of cattle for slaughter. The move was widely interpreted as an effort to stop people eating the meat of cows, considered sacred by Hindus. It enraged Muslims, who often sacrifice cows on Eid-al-Fitr to mark the end of a period of austerity and fasting during Ramadan. Some have protested; others have just kept their heads down.
Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is known to have close ideological ties with a far-right organization called the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which has long advocated banning the sale of beef in India. Such efforts during Modi's reign have pitted beef-eating Muslims and low-caste Dalits against the Hindu majority and invigorated young vigilante Hindu bands, who launch attacks on anyone they suspect is a beef-eater. The BJP has often been criticized for failing to rein in such attacks.
Modi has tried to distance himself from cow-related violence. In a speech in 2016, he said such vigilantism was the work of “antisocial elements.”
Eid al-Fitr — marking an end to the month Muslims believe the Koran was revealed by God to the prophet Muhammad — is supposed to be a time of peace and atonement for Muslims. In India, the holiday has become prime season for anti-Muslim violence, as it is also a time when animals are sacrificed to God, a ritual considered immoral by many Hindus. In 2015, a man named Mohammad Akhlaq was dragged from bed and lynched to death by a mob after he was accused of keeping beef in his fridge.
Islam is the second-largest religion in India. Muslims make up 14.2 percent of the nation's population. Tensions between the majority Hindus and Muslims have remained high since the fall of the British Raj in 1947. A Muslim-majority portion of the subcontinent was split off from India, creating the state of Pakistan that same year. In the partition, millions of people were displaced, adding to the ill will.
Muslims in other Indian provinces have pressed for independence. In the northern conflict-torn state of Kashmir, where sectarian violence usually slows down during Ramadan, recent years have seen an uptick of attacks on either side of the separationist divide. This week, a police officer, Mohammed Ayub Pandith, was lynched to death by a mob at the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar, where a sermon supporting al-Qaeda leader Zakir Musa was apparently being held. The details of the incident are unclear, but reports suggest that the plainclothes officer was attacked because he was shooting video at the mosque or because he fired into the crowd. According to the Hindustan Times, Pandith was one of 43 people killed in violent attacks during this year's Ramadan.
For Junaid's family, the tensions struck home. His mother, Saira, only learned about her son's death on the day of his funeral. “I got to know only when his body returned home this morning,” she said Friday. “When he did not reach home last night, I kept asking his father about his whereabouts, but no one answered me. ... No one ever told me that he was no more. How could they hide it from me?” she said.
She will never celebrate Eid again. “This time it was special,” she said. “My son became the hafiz — the preserver [of the Koran]. And a day later I lost him. How can this be justified?”

Thoughts on this year’s Eid-ul-Fitr

This Sunday Muslims in the North America are going to celebrate their Eid-ul-Fitr after a month of fasting. Many parts of the world will celebrate the Eid later based on local citing of the crescent moon.

This Ramadan, like some other previous ones in recent years, has not been trouble-free for many Muslims, esp. for those living in war ravaged countries. They had to run for their lives away from harm’s way, and many are living in refugee camps as they fled from war. The lives of ordinary Muslims, esp. the Rohingya, in Buddhist-majority Myanmar have not improved an iota despite overwhelming worldwide condemnation of Suu Kyi and her government’s handling of on-going genocidal activities against them.

Just hear a 11-year old Rohingya Muslim girl’s story as told to Ilona Alexander of the United Nations. “Her father went into hiding from the military and took her two older sisters with him so that they would be safe. He left the girl at home with her mother and two little brothers because he thought the military wouldn’t hurt children. The military came back to their house twice. The first time, the military came and removed her clothing and kicked her. After the clothing was removed and the girl was beaten, the military suddenly left. The next day they returned with seven soldiers and removed the mother from the house. The soldiers locked themselves in a room with the girl and gang raped her.

The girl told me that she doesn’t even know how many of them raped her because she fell unconscious at times and awoke bleeding and injured after.”


More than half of Rohingya refugee women who were interviewed by the UN reported being raped. The actual numbers are higher. Think of how many nameless 11-year-olds are silently living with this trauma with no access to health and psychological care. Their plight doesn’t end there, they are still vulnerable to exploitation in the refugee camps, where 80% of refugees are women and children.
The Rohingyas continue to face extinction while Suu Kyi denies any charges. What a joke the Nobel peace prize has become because of moral depravity of people like Suu Kyi!

The criminal outfit Daesh (IS) is still active in Iraq and Syria, trying to hold on to their rapidly shrinking territories. Some of their supporters, comprised of the ‘losers’ in both the worlds (here in this world and the hereafter), living in the western countries have tried to kill and/or get killed in their nihilistic attacks. [As can be seen, here, I agree with President Trump in calling these ragtag fighters for the cause of Daesh as losers because nothing can describe them better. Before joining the Daesh and/or purporting to be its brain-washed foot-soldiers they have been mostly losers in life with no direction. They did neither know Islam nor cared about its do’s and don’ts.] To them, anyone who did not agree with their nihilistic goals is a fair game. To them, the vast corpus of hadith literature and Qur’anic dictums forbidding committing fitnah and fasad, let alone suicide attacks, have no meanings. With powerful messaging and videos, nonetheless, they continue to recruit many brain-dead individuals to their nihilistic causes. Thus, the lives of many people – Muslims and non-Muslims alike – have been threatened by these losers.

We are told by the Saudi Interior Ministry that a terrorist network intended to violate the security of the Grand Mosque, the holiest place on Earth. Security authorities confirmed that the attacker blew himself up when surrounded by security men. They also confirmed that before the incident, security men, on Friday morning, had arrested a wanted criminal at a house in Al-Asilah neighborhood in east Makkah. The criminal led authorities to the location of the terrorist in Ajyad Al-Masafi neighborhood, behind Al-Safwa Hotel. Another terrorist was arrested in Jeddah. Last July, a terrorist blew himself up near the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. Suicide attacks also occurred in Jeddah and Qatif that month.

Just imagine their audacity and the criminal intent! Which Muslim would ever dare to commit such a grievous crime in either Makkah or Madinah that house two of the most visited mosques in our planet? Still these criminals try to sell their identity as Islamic! What a perversion of faith in the hands of extremists and what a joke!

Equally problematic has been the emergence of non-Muslim vigilantes and terrorist outfits that are trying to kill anyone who looks like a Muslim. Muslims have been stabbed, shot at and mowed over by speeding vehicles. In London, the attacker who killed a Muslim and injured many near a mosque — identified as Darren Osborne, a white 47-year-old man — was said to have screamed “I want to kill more Muslims” before being confronted and handed over unharmed by Muslim bystanders to the police.

President Trump who has been rushing messages when groups like the Daesh are suspected to be involved is regrettably silent when Muslims are victims. Don't forget that early in his tenure, Trump was publicly quiet after a white supremacist shot up a mosque in Quebec City. Such double standards from Trump should not surprise anyone.

As recently noted in the Washington Post by Ishaan Tharoor, “Trump campaigned on anti-Muslim demagoguery and has since sought to implement edicts that many analysts (and some federal courts) consider discriminatory toward Muslims. His administration enlisted senior advisers who don't see Islam as a real religion.”

This year, bucking an annual tradition that stretches back to 1996 — and by other accounts, more than two centuries — the White House did not host an iftar dinner to commemorate Ramadan. “The absence of such an event now speaks volumes — louder, perhaps, than Trump's supposed overtures to the Muslim world while visiting Saudi Arabia last month. Even then, Trump made no mention of the millions of Muslims in his own country and avoided talk of the rich achievements of Islamic empires when extolling the greatness of the Middle East's history. The inference one is compelled to make is that the president has a callous disinterest in the successes of Muslims and is almost exclusively animated by their perceived misdeeds,” Tharoor writes.

Attacks on Muslims in the West does not and did not occur in vacuum. Years of anti-Muslim headlines in tabloid newspapers and Fox TV channels (many owned by Rupert Murdoch), combined with toxic Islamophobia that Muslims are here to impose Shariah and force western women to wear burqa – preached by hate groups like Jihad Watch, Stop Islamization of Europe, Stop Islamization of America – had prepared the groundwork for not only fundamentally dehumanizing Muslim communities living in the West but also providing the necessary ammunitions needed for committing terrorist crimes – against Muslims. [Of course, such heinous crimes are depicted here as only hate crimes and not terrorism (as if the terrorism is synonymous with Muslims).] The Trump White House even includes some of the hateful, anti-Muslim provocateurs.

Trump’s trip to the Middle East has also divided the GCC (seen more as a Gulf Coercive or Conspiracy, and not a Cooperative, Council today) and the Arab world; such a fissure is bound to enrich all those connected with the military industrial complex. Relations with the progressive Qatar by its regressive Arab neighbors have been severed, who have demanded (among 13 outrageous, sovereignty-threatening demands) that Qatar stop Al Jazeera TV network from operating, severe ties with Iran and close the Turkish military base inside Qatar.

Free press has been a threat everywhere to despotic rulers. The latter see it as a mortal challenge to their unbridled authoritarianism. Even in the ‘liberal’ western democracies like the USA, Trump administration has been very hostile to the free press, calling it (all but the Fox News) the ‘fake news’ outlets. So, when it comes to countries that are not even ‘illiberal’ (forget about being liberal) democracies and are, instead, ruled by despots, autocrats, kings and monarchs, one can understand why they want to see Al-Jazeera – the most trusted news media in the world (and not just the Middle East) - shut down.

Thanks to the generous seed money provided by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, Al Jazeera has been a Godsend bringing to the fore the dirty secrets, excesses and abuses of the unpopular regimes and images of depravation and suffering of the ordinary Arabs in that part of the world. Its reporting from the besieged Gaza and bombed-out, mass-murdering fields and streets inside Afghanistan and Iraq during the Bush II era have made it an unsubdued foe of the apartheid state of Israel and its powerful patron - the USA government. [No wonder that the American air raids repeatedly targeted Al Jazeera stations in war-torn countries, even jailing (and inducing such in client or friendly states) its reporters on false charges. In 2003, an Al Jazeera staff member was killed and three other employees were wounded by an American airstrike during the U.S. push into Baghdad. Donald Rumsfeld did not like Al Jazeera coverage on high casualty figures of civilians.] Its real-time coverages of the Arab Spring gave voice to criticisms of autocratic governments in a region where such talk was largely out of bounds. [The network's coverage of the anti-military popular movement in Egypt quickly drew the attention of the new usurper government of El-Sisi, which in 2014 arrested three journalists working for the outlet's English-language division. Its journalist Mahmoud Hussein remains detained since December 20, 2016 after traveling to Cairo for a holiday.]  

All those unpopular, criminal regimes obviously prefer Al Jazeera to simply disappear. They love the status quo; no toppling of their hated regimes, no revolutions that could kill them!

In our time when no opinion of a pundit is 100% unbiased, Al Jazeera, to its credit, has remained reasonably neutral and objective, thus enjoying much admiration all over the globe. So, we can understand why Saudi Arabia and its Gulf partners – all patrons of the extremist Wahabi brand of Islam that morphed monsters like the Daesh – want moderately Salafi state of Qatar to close the only free press in that part of the world.

We can also understand why the US President Donald Trump has taken a tough stance on Qatar, accusing it falsely of being a "high level" sponsor of terrorism. He obviously wants to kill more than one bird with that crisis!

Turkey has backed, and rightfully so, Qatar during the three-week-old crisis. It sent its first ship carrying food aid to Qatar and dispatched a small contingent of soldiers and armoured vehicles there on Thursday, while President Tayyip Erdogan spoke with Saudi Arabia's leaders on calming tension in the region.

We surely live in a difficult time where state despotism is becoming a new normal almost everywhere where the ruling class feels that they can do whatever they like, whether those ruled like it or not; they are there to stay forever. They are a remorseless bunch totally oblivious of their accountability before God on the Day of Resurrection.

The ultimate objective of fasting during the month of Ramadan is to create that God-consciousness (taqwa), which elevates a person to become a real human being that is mindful of its deeds and accountability. If this Ramadan has failed in awakening that nourishing spirit, the coming days will only be more painful. May Allah help us all to be conscious of Him in everything we do!

Eid Mubarak!

 

Friday, June 23, 2017

On-going persecution of Rohingyas


In Suu Kyi's Myanmar nothing has improved for the Rohingya and other minorities who face extinction. As a matter of fact, in some areas, they face more danger than anytime before.
According to Rohingya Vision: Burmese Authorities arrested 10 innocent Rohingyas and released them after torturing and  extorting money in Daibbaingsara (Saufarag) village of, Buthidaung on 16th May 2016, explains a suffering local.
In the incidence 10 of the innocent Rohingyas were driven away from their houses to the BGP camps, where they were inhumanely tortured and abused. “Every night BGP comes and tortures us by taking men and women separately, where they even molest our women and girls” says a suffering local.
Along with arrests, they also looted household goods and ornaments and tortured Rohingyas severely. Later arrestees were released after extorting 3 – 5 lakhs from every person. Among the victims 8 are identified and other 2 remains unidentified.
Identified victims are:
  1. Haroon S\O Ali Bashir, 35
  2. Rashid S\O Ali Hussain, 35
  3. Amir Hakim, S\O Khalu, 25
  4. Abdul hakim S\O Ali Ahmed, 50
  5. Mv Sayed Alam, 30
  6. Muhammed Sadeq S/O Khalu, 19
  7. Abdul Kalek, S/O Ali Ahmed, 50
  8. Muhammed Salim S/O Khalu
Authorities’ arrests, torture and abuses in the region every night have left Rohingyas in extreme fear even to live in their own houses. And even in the month of Ramadan (the  holy month of fasting for Muslims) Rohingyas are unable to fast due to the fear of torture and unrest in the region.

Dr Maung Zarni on Myanmar

The interview below was conducted by Adil Zaman and can be seen in its original form by clicking here.
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Dr. Maung Zarni, an exiled dissident from Myanmar, is a scholar and activist based in the United Kingdom. He is co-author (with Alice Cowley) of The Slow Burning Genocide of Myanmar’s Rohingya and a grassroots activist who coordinated the international consumer boycott of Myanmar in support of the National League for Democracy from 1995-2004, was the founder of the Free Burma Coalition and has been with the London School of Economics as well as Harvard University. Zarni, himself a Buddhist, has been a vocal voice on human rights globally and was interviewed by ADIL ZAMAN for The Citizen. Excerpts:

Q.What is your response to Aung San Suu Kyi government’s denial of a UN probe into the widespread allegations of killings, rapes and torture by security forces against Rohingya Muslims?

As a Burmese activist, who had supported Aung San Suu Kyi as the hope of Burma for 15 years, I am deeply troubled by her government – and the Nobel laureate herself – dismissing and denying all the credible allegations of ethnic cleansing and even a genocide.

My own 3-year-study (Pacific Rim Law and Policy Journal, 2014) conducted with my wife and colleague Alice, was the first comprehensive academic publication on the persecution of the Rohingya. We were persuaded by our findings that my country has long triggered the process of a slow genocide, with periodic waves of large scale violence against this peaceful, vulnerable Muslim community, with a historical claim over their own region of Northern Rakhine. Other studies and reports from Yale Law Clinic, Queen Mary U. of London Law School, etc. have arrived at the same conclusion, further reinforcing our findings.

So, I find it unconscionable that Aung San Suu Kyi herself and virtually all her advisers, officials and spokespersons have been dismissing these numerous reports and studies as “fake rape” “exaggeration” “Muslim-on-Muslim violence” or primarily “centuries-old sectarian conflict” “poverty-induced conflict” between Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya communities in the region, an unfortunate by-product or side effect of multi-ethnic country opening up. The evidence – that the persecution is state-orchestrated and predates Burma’s opening by nearly 30 years – since 1978) – is irrefutable.

Q. More than 75,000 Myanmar Rohingyas have fled to the Bangladesh Border since October, 2016, who is responsible , who will help them ?

Unlike the 2012 waves of violence in June and October where local Rakhines led the mass killings and mass destruction of Rohingyas – with a blanket impunity, the October 2016 violence, displacement, and destruction was carried out by the Burmese security forces including the Burmese police forces.

Although the security forces are not under Suu Kyi-government’s control, the police are under NLD-government, as Aung San Suu Kyi herself admitted in her Channel News Asia interview in early December last year. The Burmese military leadership ordered these ‘security clearance’ operation as a response to the killing of 9 Burmese police men manning two border posts.

Based on my own research -including interviews with Rohingyas, the Burmese military invented its own pretext to launch a large scale “security clearance operations” by setting this up “honey-trap” where the young, angry, militant Rohingyas men were lured into attacking the border posts, in a region that is dotted with Burmese military and police intelligence units and check-points.

The military leaders are directly responsible for the exodus of 75,000 Rohingyas and Aung San Suu Kyi government whitewashes, covers up, denies and dismisses the military’s international human rights crimes against Rohingyas. You know denial is always a part of a genocidal process, from the Nazi genocide to Rwanda – and now to Myanmar genocide of Rohingyas. When a sovereign government, whatever its form or nature, fails to discharge its responsibility to look after humans inhabiting on its soul then it is the responsibility of the international community to intervene, in any possible and conceivable way, to protect and help the victim community. The region’s giant neighbours such as India and China, as well as the regional bloc such as South Asian and South East Asia regional blocs are primarily responsible for taking care of the region.

Q. Has the international community proved ineffective in dealing with Rohingya Crisis?

Yes, absolutely ineffectual. UN High Commission on Refugees based in Geneva has been involved in addressing the needs of period waves of Rohingya refugees since spring of 1978 – (the first wave saw 278,000 Rohingyas fleeing Burma’s terror campaign disguised as “immigration checks”, that was followed by 1991/92 wave with similar number of refugees. Rohingya issue hit the world’s headlines only after the country opened up in 2011.

Since the two bouts of violence in 2012 and now the latest one in 2016, another quarter million Rohingyas have fled the country, according to the UN reports). One reason the international community has been ineffective in addressing the Rohingya Crisis is because it fails to confront the root cause of massive human sufferings of Rohingya as a collective ethnic community, naming the state-led genocidal process.

You know ending genocide may be a moral imperative for communities and circles of ordinary humans like you and me, but it does not advance strategic interests of external, powerful players in international politics. The ugly truth is this: the world revolves around national and corporate interests and nasty struggles over these interests. Rohingya crisis is yet another inconvenient case of international crimes against the faceless, vulnerable, commercially useless human community. The failure of the international community, so-called, to end Rohingya genocide, and other atrocities in places like Sudan or Burundi, is an affront to all the decent humans around the world.

Q. Former UN secretary General Kofi Anan few months ago said “ He would not describe Violence being committed against Myanmar's Rohingya minority as "genocide". Your Comments?

It is utterly pathetic and arrogant that Kofi Annan would weigh in on the Rohingya issue, without having studied the persecution in any appreciable ways, against the backdrop of studies that call Burma’s persecution of Rohingya by its legal name.

Professionally speaking, Annan spent less than a total of 7 days in his whirlwind trips to Rakhine region, speaks no local language, has never been involved in Myanmar political issues, in any appreciable ways. How could someone with zero expertise on local or national issues.

Look. When it comes to dealing with cases involving genocide and ethnic cleansing, Kofi Annan is the last person whose words I would take at face value. As the head of UN Peacekeeping Force based in New York headquarters, this careerist bureaucrat sat on his hands when the head of the Peacekeepers in Rwanda was sending unequivocal messages of an imminent genocidal killings in 1994, simply because the most powerful post-Cold War Masters of the UN – the Americans – didn’t want to hear the “G” word. Annan simply let 800,000 Rwandan Tutsi be slaughtered in a span of a few months. When he was made head of UN, he did nothing, as Sec-Gen., significant to protest the illegal and immoral invasion against Saddam’s Iraq, the legacy of which the Middle East – and the world – are still reeling from.

Q. What is the 969 group ? What makes them neo-Nazis and why are they targeting Muslims?

969 is just a name, a reference to a mixed group of Bama nationalists, both laymen (and -women) and nuns and monks. The group’s name has changed from 969 to Ma Ba Tha and others. But the core players – funders, lay supporters, protectors within the military, propagandists in the Burmese language media, etc. – remain the same.

What makes them Nazi-sh is their core belief that Muslims – all Muslims – and Islam – are a major threat to the world in general and to Burma as the predominantly Buddhist country.

It’s like Hitler and Nazi ideology that scapegoated the Jewish peoples as the source of all evils – the Russian Revolution, the international banking system, etc. It is this extreme-racist ideology that compels the Burmese anti-Muslim racists organized themselves as 969, Ma Ba Tha, Patriotic Monks Association, Wunthanu Philanthropy - that’s the latest banner of 969, after its name is declared “illegal” by the national governing body of monks a month ago – to target all Muslim communities.

The crucial point I want to emphasise here is the role of the military-controlled government and governmental institutions in propping up these racist groups. The most powerful generals including the Commander in Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and still influentially networked ex-Chief of Intelligence and ex-General Khin Nyunt are known patrons of individual leaders of these neo-Nazi groups such as Sitagu monk and Wirathu monk.

Q.What are the threats to ethnic minorities in this region or according to you in the Buddhist Triangle( Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand) – How did it originate ?

Of the three Theravada Buddhist countries, Sri Lanka and Myanmar are former British colonies. The threat they have posed to ethnic and religious minorities – in the case of Sri Lanka, the autonomy-seeking Eelam Tamils and Muslims and Christians – stems from the fact that the countries’ post-colonial governments, their respective ideologies, and constitutive institutions have enshrined “Buddhist racism” – an oxymoron – towards non-believers.

Over the last 50 years at least, these two states have crystalized unitary state structures that rest on this majoritarian Buddhist racism. In a warped way, although the Buddhists in these two countries are the majorities, they seem themselves in global terms – Buddhists are minorities in the sea of 1.7 billion Muslims in 57 Muslim countries. They look at the history of the spread Islam in places like the Malay World, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central Asia, etc. - through the Sword, in the historical understanding or misunderstanding in these predominantly Buddhist societies. They look at the violence that has engulfed the Middle East and terrorist attacks in USA and Europe and conclude that Islam is “a virus of violence” and Muslims are “carriers”.

The popular Burmese discourses in the social media – and in face to face conversations – are informed by this fear and perception of Muslims as an existential threat to Buddhists and other non-Muslims. In the case of Thailand, the Thai kingdom has never been colonized by a Christian European power. So, the Thai state has been the patron of Buddhism and Buddhist clergy.

Q. Your forthcoming book on Burma is going to be published this year. Any details you could share?

My book is a commissioned work by Yale University Press. It is a history and analysis of my own society, where I deviate from the typical court- or state-centred narrative. In other words, I am writing a mini-version of a “people’s history” of Burma, marginalizing the century-old elite voices. I am in fact struggling with it in terms of time. I am an activist through and through. I can’t sit down and simply focus on writing this long form of analysis and story-telling. I feel I need to respond to the deeply disturbing developments “at home” – like the rise of violence, the lies of Aung San Suu Kyi and the generals, the popularization of Islamophobia.



Greg Constantine - the exiled photographer

Photographer Greg Constantine has dedicated a decade of his life to exposing the tragedy of statelessness. His photos capture the trauma and hopelessness that afflict the millions of people who are not citizens of any country, including the million Rohingyas who were born in and rejected by Myanmar.
Last November, Constantine was blocked by the Myanmar government from entering the country to attend his exhibition Nowhere People in Yangon, which heavily covers the plight of the Rohingya.
To roughly coincide with World Refugee Day, which was June 20, the photographer released the seven-minute video “Exiled To Nowhere-Burma’s Rohingya“, which includes footage from his 12 visits over nine years to Rohingya communities in Bangladesh and Myanmar.

“Today, millions of stateless people around the world continue to struggle to secure their right to equality, access to justice, and recognition in the places they call home. Discrimination, racism, intolerance, and the failure of governments and the international community continue to fuel and perpetuate the statelessness of so many men, woman, children, and entire communities around the world, including the Rohingya in Burma,” the photographer wrote in a Facebook post accompanying the video.
The video contains scenes of squalor in displaced persons’ camps and scenes of tension as police loom over the Rohingyas’ open-air prisons, as well as the quotidian labor of fishermen, trishaw drivers, and parents, all trying to make a life despite their political paralysis. It also shows the rage and intolerance of the Myanmar public, which helps keeps the Rohingya in these conditions.
The video also includes audio recordings Constantine recorded over those nine years.
In the video description, he writes: “It hopefully presents a view of how their situation continues to worsen and how little has been accomplished by those inside Burma and internationally to end the ongoing destruction of this community.”
The video is a doleful reminder of the privileges of citizenship and the cruelty of the powers that confer it. We hope you check it out below: 

Video:Exiled To Nowhere-Burma's Rohingya on Vimeo

Mass sexual violence against the Rohingya - by Alexandra Bradford

The United Nations has documented shocking accounts of sexual violence, including gang rape, against Rohingya women and girls at the hands of Myanmar’s military. News Deeply spoke with a U.N. investigator about what she found when she talked to survivors.
MASS SEXUAL VIOLENCE against the Rohinyga minority in northern Myanmar has been documented in a recent United Nations report.
 
The spate of violence, which includes gang rape and involves survivors as young as 11 years old, was found to have been perpetrated by Myanmar’s security forces,
On October 9, 2016, the Burmese military entered northern Rakhine state – and over the next four months detained and killed men, women and children. Soldiers burned down houses and raped women and young girls. The U.N. report says these actions amount to possible crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.
The military insists this “clearance operation” was a justified counterinsurgency operation following an October 9 attack on security forces near the Bangladesh border, which resulted in the deaths of nine policemen. The violence caused more than 69,000 Rohingya to flee from Myanmar to Bangladesh, where they are currently living in eight makeshift camps in Dhaka and Cox Bazar.
Myanmar’s Rohinyga population lives in villages in northern Rakhine state, near the Bangladesh border. They are known as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. Their Muslim faith is viewed as a security threat by Buddhist groups in Myanmar, which means they receive limited access to basic services such as education. They are also prohibited from claiming citizenship and moving freely throughout the country.
The United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) sent a four-person team, including human rights officer Ilona Alexander, to Bangladesh in early January of this year to investigate these human rights violations. Their investigation included testimony from 101 Rohingya women who experienced violence at the hands of the military: More than half reported being sexually assaulted.
Women & Girls spoke to Ilona Alexander about the evidence she gathered on the sexual violence inflicted on Rohingya women and girls.

Women & Girls: The military indicated that it was conducting “area clearance operations” in the region – what exactly does this mean?

Ilona Alexander: Based on the interviews we conducted, the “area clearance operations” followed this pattern: Large numbers of armed men (often from both the Myanmar Armed Forces and the police, sometimes accompanied by Rakhine villagers) would arrive in the village. As is confirmed by satellite imagery analysis, they would proceed to destroy many houses, mosques, schools and shops.
They would separate the women from the men. Women would be rounded up, and either told to stay inside a school or other building or outside in the burning sun. Many would be raped or would experience others forms of sexual violence, often during strip searches, either during roundups or in homes.

Women & Girls: How did the victims describe the attacks?

Alexander: The vast majority of those interviewed had experienced multiple violations. Families may have had members killed, beaten, raped or taken away to an unknown location, while at the same time their homes were burned and looted. For most interviewees, separation from their families is a major concern.
Many of the men have been detained or killed. This is one of the saddest things, because these women have experienced tremendous sexual violence – but sometimes they broke down even more when they talked about their missing husbands.
For me, the touching thing was hearing stories from the little boys who feel that now that their fathers are gone, they are responsible for protecting their mothers and sisters. But these boys have had to watch their sisters and mothers being beaten and raped, and now they feel like they have failed to protect their mothers.
AFP : Yanghee Lee (second left), the U.N.’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, visits the Balu Khali Rohingya camp in Cox’s Bazar on Feb. 21, 2017.

Women & Girls: Your investigations found that one girl as young as 11 years old was gang raped by military forces. Can you describe this case?

Alexander: For this girl, she started by describing to me how life was peaceful in her village before … suddenly the military appeared and started killing people [and] abusing women.
She told me how she witnessed a man who was about 40 years old have his throat cut with a cleaver in front of her. After, the military came to her house and badly beat her parents.
After this incident, her father went into hiding from the military and took her two older sisters with him so that they would be safe. He left the girl at home with her mother and two little brothers because he thought the military wouldn’t hurt children.
The military came back to their house twice. The first time, the military came and removed her clothing and kicked her. After the clothing was removed and the girl was beaten, the military suddenly left. The next day they returned with seven soldiers and removed the mother from the house. The soldiers locked themselves in a room with the girl and gang raped her. The girl told me that she doesn’t even know how many of them raped her because she fell unconscious at times and awoke bleeding and injured after.

Women & Girls: Why were some of the women you spoke to targeted for gang rape, while others weren’t?

Alexander: They wanted to terrorize the population, so they took some women into public places like mosques and gang raped them while other women were outside and listening. They wanted the women outside to know what was happening so they were terrorized.
They would have around eight women and 20 men from the military in the mosque, and the men would take a turn with each woman.
I had this one 15-year-old girl tell me that she was only raped by one solider because she was not as beautiful as the girls who were gang raped. When she told me this I thought, “My God, what kind of culture is this where women think they aren’t beautiful enough to be gang raped?”
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. This article originally appeared on Women & Girls Hub. For weekly updates, you can sign up to the Women & Girls Hub email list.

Will Kovind as president be a champion for Dalit justice? - by Prof. Vivek Kumar

Will Kovind as president be a champion for Dalit justice? Will he uphold the values of the constitution?

Ram Nath Kovind.
It is still not very clear why the BJP made Ram Nath Kovind, a non-Jatav Dalit from Uttar Pradesh, its nominee for the president’s post. Is it to arrest the disenchantment and alienation of Dalits with the BJP over the last three years? Is it to counter the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which still has 22% vote share in UP? Is it to neutralise the opposition and Dalits so they cannot brand the BJP as anti-Dalit? Is it to silence the educated and mobile Dalits who are fed up with the politics of symbolism and patron-client politics, and are demanding effective representation in the decision-making process? Or does it have some other hidden ideological agenda? Whatever the long term agenda, the immediate agenda is very clear. It is to cajole the anger of the agitating Dalit youths from Hyderabad to UP via Gujarat.
Humiliation, exclusion and suppression
We have seen how Dalits have suffered exclusion and suppression over the last three years, how have they faced the worst type of humiliation under BJP regimes. First, Rohith Vemula, a research scholar from Hyderabad Central University, was driven to suicide by the draconian university administration. However, the victim’s mother and friends have alleged that it all happened because of the pressure mounted by local and national BJP leadership in the university’s administration. When his mother demanded justice, a member of the commission set up by central government humiliated her by going beyond its mandate to ascertain her pedigree.
Dalits were humiliated by V.K. Singh, a cabinet minister in the NDA government, who compared them  to dogs and went scot-free. Who can forget Una where Dalits were mercilessly beaten by gau rakshaks in broad daylight? The Gujarat government took cognisance of the incident only because it went viral on social media. After that, whenever Dalits protested, they were attacked. The Dalits continue to be agitated without justice.
The BJP’s anti-Dalit face came to fore once again in UP, where its vice president used obnoxious and vulgar language to describe Mayawati, one of the tallest Dalit leaders. After BSP cadres, as well as Mayawati herself, protested against him in the Rajya Sabha, he was symbolically shown the door. Later, the BJP’s leadership further humiliated Dalits by not only giving an assembly ticket to the ousted leader’s wife, but also making her a cabinet minister when the BJP came to power in UP. To rub salt on the wound of Dalits, soon after the formation of the government, the same leader was reinstated in the party with great fanfare.
Then came the cases of Delta Meghwal in Rajasthan and the rape of Dalit women in Bhadana, Haryana. Dalit women were raped and the guilty were not brought to book. One can add Saharanpur in UP to this list, where Dalits were beaten and their huts were burnt by so-called upper castes. The newly elected BJP government portrayed the Dalit youth-led Bhim Army to be the villain. Dalits were further humiliated in UP when the civil administration gave Dalits soap and shampoo before chief minster Adityanath’s visit. When people protested, no satisfactory answer was given by the government.
A leadership problem
On each of these occasions, angry Dalits protested with full might, on the roads and on virtual media, but they did not get justice. They were humiliated by government enquiries as the guilty were protected by BJP’s leadership.
Humiliation reached its zenith when BJP leaders had food with Dalits in their houses on camera. The same symbolism was depicted when BJP president Amit Shah took samrasta snan with Dalits in Madhya Pradesh. These gestures are blatantly humiliating. The so-called upper castes are simply reminding Dalits, ‘look you are so lowly even when we are eating with you or bathing with you’. The question is why do you have to remind Dalits again and again of their structural location and prove your hegemonic benevolence?
At another level, Dalits feel humiliated and demoralised when so-called Dalit leaders belonging to the BJP and NDA, like Ram Vilas Paswan, Thawar Chand Gehlot, Ramdas Athavle and Udit Raj, don’t speak a world on these gross atrocities on Dalits. In the same vein, the BJP-led NDA government took months to appoint a scheduled caste commissioner under Article 338 of the Indian constitution. Even after the appointment he remains silent. There is never a BJP Dalit spokesperson on TV to air the anguish of Dalits.
The prime minister’s statement, ‘shoot me if you want, but don’t target Dalits’, does not ask for stern action against the perpetrators of atrocities on Dalits. The statement depicts the prime minister’s helplessness and lack of political will, further demoralising Dalits, especially Dalit youth.
Presidential opportunity
The first particular challenge for Kovind is to cushion the pain and agony of Dalits, who have been suffering for the past three years. How will he restore the lost pride of the Dalits? Moreover, will he be able to succeed in making reforms for their effective representation in different institutions of government if he becomes president of India? If he doesn’t succeed in doing so, he will not be able to halt the Dalits’ disenchantment with the BJP. The precedent suggests that chances of his success are very bleak.
I say this because it is not the first time that a Dalit has been fielded for the post of president of India. In 1997, exactly two decades earlier, K.R. Narayanan was elected as the first Dalit president. The Congress had nominated Narayanan to the post to counter the ever-increasing influence of BSP, not only in UP, but all over the country. However, the Congress could not stop the rise of the BSP in UP and it would gradually go on to wipe out Congress from UP. Whether the BJP will meet the same fate, only time will tell.
Constitutional values and Dalit justice
Another challenge for Kovind is to match the political acumen, assertion and independent nature of Narayanan. We have to accept the fact that Narayanan was one of the most assertive presidents of the country who upheld constitutional values to the core. At the outset, he was the first president who exercised his franchise by standing in a queue like an ordinary citizen of the country. This can be considered as a revolutionary step in democratic politics, because presidents before him feared to be dubbed as partisan.
He was also one of the few presidents who faced politically turbulent times under two different regimes, National Front (1997) and then BJP-led NDA government (1998). Amidst the chaos, he did not lose constitutional ethos. With strong political acumen, he upheld constitutional value, twice asking the government of the day to reconsider its advice on the use of Article 356.
First, in October 1997, he asked National Front’s cabinet to reconsider its decision to dismiss the then Kalyan Singh-led BJP government in UP, and forced them to hail his effort as a ‘victory of democracy’. Again in October 1998, Narayanan returned a Union cabinet resolution seeking the imposition of president’s rule in Bihar and the suspension of the assembly.
It is a coincidence that the outgoing president, Pranab Mukherjee, accepted both recommendations of presidential rule (first in Arunachal Pradesh and then in Uttarakhand) by the present BJP government. However, even the president’s ascent could not withhold the scrutiny of Supreme Court of India.
Can Kovind uphold constitutional values in the way Narayanan did? Can he raise the voice of the Dalits, as Narayanan did when he raised the issue of under-representation of marginalised sections in the Supreme Court? It is on these particular and national issues that Kovind’s candidature will be tested by the nation as a whole and by Dalits in particular.
Vivek Kumar is a professor of sociology at the school of social sciences, JNU.

My comments on Bertil Lintner

Bertil Lintner is a discredited journalist who made a living out of white journalism. He has been in the business to distort facts and exaggerate his hypotheses, which have often been proven to be wrong. Sadly though, his half-baked theories have only given license to genocidal regimes in south- and south-east Asia to justify their crimes against humanity, targeting marginalized communities that face extinction from their ancestral homes. Shame on his kind!
 
Fortunately, truth has been always more powerful than falsehood. As such, no yellow journalism of intellectual frauds and pimps like Bertil Lintner will be able to hide the truth, not too long any way.

Rohingya Issue: How we got here - by Nurul Islam

The Rohingya, a predominantly Muslim community, a people developed from the interactions of various ethnicities over the period of many centuries, have inhabited Arakan with a long history. In terms of their origin and culture, as well as their present geographical location, they have more in common with people from India rather than the other Burmese races. This has encouraged vested quarters backed by the military to unleash a successful propaganda campaign against this Muslim race to a point their very existence is not tolerated by people from other races in the country, despite the unceasing imploration of the minority community for peaceful co-existence. 

The Rohingya problem is a longstanding issue of ethnic, religious and political persecution to rid Arakan of the Muslim population. “… with increasing frequency over time, … 1942, 1977, 1991, 2012 and 2014, waves of Muslim minority Rohingya fled Rakhine (Arakan) due to extreme forms of repression from the authorities dominated by the majority Buddhist and Burmese people.”[1] The horrific Muslim massacre of 1942 where about a hundred thousand were slaughtered by a Rakhine dominated militia is now a forgotten chapter in the pages of history lost amidst the gory backdrop of the Second World War. 

With the 1962 military takeover, the determination of the military regime to expel the Rohingya entered a new phase, quickly assuming the nature of ethnic cleansing and genocide that by now mankind has made regrettably conventional in many other corners of the world. Since then, for decades, the defenseless Rohingya have been stripped of their citizenship rendering them stateless in their own homeland of Arakan/Burma and refugees beyond its borders. Violently rejected in Burma and unwanted in neighbouring Bangladesh and elsewhere, the poor Rohingya are even in a realm hardened by terror and genocide, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, a race without a country, adrift on the sea of sorrow. 

Sensing a bleak future amidst a hostile militant Buddhist environment, the 1942 pogrom motivated many Rohingya youths to embark on an armed revolution, on the eve of Burma’s independence in 1948, under the honorific nomenclature of Mujahid Party/Movement in order to safeguard the rights and freedom of their people. The Mujahids enjoyed widespread community support so long as they remained disciplined and steadfast. 

Unlike Buddhist Rakhine groups -- whether communist or nationalist movements -- the mainstream Mujahid and all succeeding Rohingya freedom movements never demanded separatism, although Burmese regime(s) and vested interests have engaged in a calculated and pernicious propaganda to tarnish the image of Rohingya emancipation movement as separatist, extremist, terrorist and having links with international terrorist organisations. However, Rohingya people did not show up in struggles outside their country and remained committed only as a community within Arakan. After the Mujahids ceased activities in 1961 in return for concessions promised by the regime, no significant Rohingya armed revolutionary groups have emerged only because the vast majority continued to believe in the path of peaceful political settlements, despite the continuous setbacks that followed. All armed remnants, including the much publicised Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO) has become defunct for a long time. Nevertheless, there was no change of attitude by the government or representatives from the majority Buddhist communities towards the Rohingya people. They soon became invariably subjected to horrific crimes against humanity which amounts to ethnic cleansing and genocide. Giving little or no attention to the predicament and current terrible situation besetting the Rohingya people, those who practice unethical journalism have over the years shifted the Rohingya issue to that of illegal immigration and extremism rather than what it really is - - a case of the ethnic cleansing of a defenseless minority. 

Deviating from his previous position, a renowned Swedish Journalist Bertil Lintner recently wrote in his article titled “Militancy in Arakan State” dated 15 December 2016 that Muslims of Arakan who now call themselves “Rohingya” are unlikely to have anything to do with the Rooinga- as recorded by East India Company’s Scottish ethno-linguist Buchanan in 1789. He continued that it was not until the late 1950s that the name Rohingya came into use and the government recognised the designation. U Nu, who had resigned as prime minister in 1958 to give way to a military caretaker government headed by Gen Ne Win, wanted to get the Muslim vote when he sought re-election in 1960 – and the creation of the Mayu Frontier Administration as well as the recognition of the name of Rohingya was part of the campaign, according to Lintner. It is devoid of meaning as there was no such statement or record. The acceptance of ‘Rohingya’ as an ethnic name was also accepted by Prime Minister U Nu’s socialist rival U Ba Swe. On top of that no credible Rakhine political Party at that time did ever raise any citable objections to the recognition of Rohingya as one of the ethnic nationalities of the Union of Burma. In fact, “the plan to set up Mayu Frontier Administration (MFA) for the predominantly Rohingya was made by the Ministry of Defence Border Affairs Division as the Rohingya leaders from North Arakan townships were bitterly opposed to granting Rakhine an autonomous statehood as promised by U Nu –and even long before that.”[2] At that time Gen Ne Win was Chief of Staff and Brigadier Aung Gyi was Deputy Chief of Staff. It may be pointed that the concept of MFA was based on “Muslim Area of North Arakan” that the British Military Command declared vide its announcement No. 110-CC/42 dated 31 December 1942.

As atrocities continued and attitudes hardened, the community slid towards desolation leading to desperation, especially among the young generation. It was in the midst of this already volatile situation that in 2012, the anti-Muslim riots took place, virtually obliterating the social fabric of the Rohingya community. It was an event where almost everybody from Maungdaw to Kyauktaw lost someone dear to them. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had long been the last beacon of hope for the Rohingya Muslims, but instead she attempted to shield the military rulers and the perpetrators of this gruesome violence. Gradually her stance moved more towards the anti-Muslim bloc till a time came when she started to pin the blame on the victims. It was a great shock for the Rohingyas, a community whose members had almost unanimously prayed for the day she would rule Burma. The so-called democratic transition made the Rohingya even more disenfranchised subsequently excluding them from the 2014 census. By then, many from the Rohingya young generation whether in their homeland or in their places of refuge were ready to listen to anyone who offered them a message of violent retaliation. 

Even then, it was four years after the public declaration of the Tatmadaw and their nationalist allies to annihilate the Rohingyas that the attacks on the Border Guard Police headquarters and its two outposts in Maungdaw district took place, on 9 October 2016. The attackers belonged to a hitherto unknown Rohingya group, apparently in hundreds, under the name of Harakat al-Yakeen (the Faith Movement or the Movement of Hope). It is, however, worth mentioning that the Border Guard Police (BGP), formerly NaSaKa, has been established by the former infamous Gen Khin Nyunt to steadily annihilate the Rohingya community from their ancestral homeland. The members of the BGP and security forces are unofficially licensed to indulge in extra-judicial killing, arbitrary arrest, rape, arson, destruction, looting, extortion, and other inhuman acts against the Rohingya community. 

The military under the pretext of cleansing operation or counter insurgency retaliated with excessive force indulging in summary executions including that of infant children, mass rapes and destruction of the properties of innocent Rohingya civilians, while aid organisations, foreign journalists and international observers were denied access. The government announced that the group was well trained and well-funded and backed by Middle Eastern patrons, ringing alarm bells across foreign capitals. In reality, the evidence and videos released suggest that the attackers while belonging to the country’s long oppressed Rohingya Muslim minority are ill quipped, and a significant majority of them are children under 12, armed with few assorted obsolete arms, swords, spears, sticks and even farm tools, devoid of proper uniforms or shoes; the attacks were confined to the Rohingya area of Northern Maungdaw; and their tactics and behaviours did not seem sophisticated. As a researcher with the Burma Human Rights Network points out in an article analysing the new insurgent group, “The feeling quickly sinks in that these children are being marched to their deaths for something they are not even old enough to understand. Frankly, it is horrifying.”[3]

It is impossible to comprehend how a force like the Tatmadaw, fighting guerilla movements for more than six decades missed the textbook conditions that were brewing up leading to the present armed insurgency in Arakan. The Armed Forces, well versed in ‘counter insurgency’ knew very well what was going to hit them. Whatever the objectives of the ill equipped attackers, they had played right into the hands of the shrewd Tatmadaw officials who have long been waiting for an opportunity to execute another bout of ethnic cleansing similar to 2012, but one that could be continued over time with more brutal efficiency. Intentions of such a violent confrontation with ill equipped Rohingya villagers would be to (i) frustrate regional and international efforts for communal reconciliation and to address the human rights situation in Arakan, (ii) keep the Rohingya majority area of northern Arakan under military control raising false security alarm from the angle of so-called terrorism thereby to create an “exclusive military administration within the government” and slowly but surely weaken the NLD-led government (iii) diminish the existing sympathy and support of the international community for oppressed and persecuted Rohingya by portraying them as having connections with militant Islam (iv) produce IDPs in Maungdaw district as in Akyab/Sittwe with the intention to ultimately destroy the whole community; (vi) push the Rohingyas into Bangladesh (vii) permanently divide the two sister communities of Rohingya and Rakhine on ethnic and religious lines; and (viii) divert the attention of the people away from the ongoing wars in Kachin and Shan states.

A report by the Brussels based International Crisis Group (ICG) published under an unfavourable title, “A new Muslim insurgency in Rakhine State”, perhaps unwittingly gave the Myanmar regime invaluable support. It does not help that Rohingyas are Muslims. In all fairness, the ICG report calls for addressing the root causes of the Rohingya insurgency. It condemns atrocities against the Muslim population and identifies the failure of the government as the reasons this insurgency was born. One of the authors of the ICG report said, it is at heart motivated by local grievances rather than trans-national Jihad like IS or al-Qaeda. Yet the practical truth is the ICG report did not lead the international media to carry headlines such as “Crimes Against Humanity or Genocide or Ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas creating new Muslim insurgency”. Rather the headlines read more like ‘Myanmar’s Rohingya insurgency has links to Saudi, Pakistan’, giving impetus to the government claim it was fighting well funded terrorists at a time when Rohingya villagers, including women and children were being slaughtered indiscriminately in what was a colossal assault on defenseless civilians and not a counter-insurgency operation. Through no fault of their own, the Muslim community was placed on the wrong side of the war on terror, with the situation playing into the hands of one of the world’s most brutal security forces. As for the group’s funds, by now it is well known they were indeed being financed by another ragtag band of refugees based only in Saudi Arabia, and not by conventional governments or oil barons. At a time when their friends and relatives were being slaughtered, with children being thrown into the fire, the bewildered Rohingya had to bear with allegations of supporting militant outfits whose very names sounded strange to their ears. 

It is shocking that the writer Bertil Lintner was callous to writes, “it is also not known whether today’s militants, as suggested, want to establish an Islamic state in northwestern Arakan State, or are only looking for operations in the region, including perhaps even India”. He intentionally avoids highlighting the clear statement of the Harakat al-Yakeen that rejected the trans-national terrorist label, called for the restoration of rights and freedom, demanded to resolve the Rohingya problem and redress the grievances of the beleaguered community, and expressed a feeling of abandonment by the international community, while calling on the Myanmar government to end the decades-old civil war with the ethnic nationalities in the country. Despite the fact that Rakhine youths are ganging up with the security forces in unleashing violence against Rohingya villagers, no Rakhine miscreants have been targeted by the members of the Harakat al-Yakeen. Their demands are minimum and legitimate. When all other remedies are completely exhausted, self-defense will accrue from all standpoints. 

[1] “Sanction Myanmar And Give The Rohingya A State Of Their Own”, an article by Anders Corr Contributor, Forbes, 28 December 2016 

[2] Bertiil Linter makes facts up about Rohingya while playing to popular and policy-Islamophobia, an article by Dr. Maung Zar Ni, 17 December 2016. 

[3] Taking the Rohingya Insurgency at Face Value”, an article by Richard Potter in Diplomat dated October 30, 2016

Nurul Islam is Chairman of Arakan Rohingya National Organisation. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Eid-ul-Fitr in the USA

For a good discussion on the subject, click here.

Did Daesh destroy the iconic al-Nuri mosque in Mosul?

The terrorist Islamic State group Daesh is believed to have destroyed Mosul’s al-Nuri mosque and its iconic leaning minaret known as al-Hadba late Wednesday night when fighters detonated explosives inside the structures, according to Iraq’s Ministry of Defense.
The iconic leaning minaret of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri has stood over Mosul for 800 years. But on Wednesday, one of the most iconic religious sites in the country came crashing down as the Iraqi army fought to take the city back from Islamic State militants.
What happened to al-Nuri mosque? The Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency quickly argued that the mosque was destroyed in a U.S. airstrike. But the U.S.-led coalition denied that, suggesting instead that the Islamic State had blown up the mosque as they retreated.
Grainy video footage released by Iraq’s joint operations command to reporters appears to offer the best chance to assess these competing claims. The footage appears to have come from cameras the Iraqi army set up along the Mosul front line to watch the Islamic State's positions.

The mosque — also known as Mosul’s Great Mosque — is where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a so-called Islamic caliphate in 2014 shortly after the city was overrun by the militants and was seen as a key symbolic prize in the fight for Iraq’s second largest city. The minaret that leaned like Italy’s Tower of Pisa stood for more than 840 years.
In a statement posted online Wednesday night after the Ministry of Defense statement, IS claimed an airstrike carried out by the United States destroyed the mosque and minaret.
IS fighters initially attempted to destroy the minaret in July 2014. The militants said the structure contradicted their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, but Mosul residents converged on the area and formed a human chain to protect it. IS demolished dozens of historic and archaeological sites in and around Mosul, saying they promoted idolatry.
The mosque sat on the southern edge of the Old City, the last IS stronghold inside Mosul. Iraqi forces launched a push into the Old City earlier this week, but have made slow progress as the last IS fighters there are holed up with an estimated 100,000 civilians according to the United Nations.
Earlier this month Mosul residents reported IS fighters began sealing off the area around the mosque. Residents said IS fighters ordered families living in the area to evacuate in preparation for a final stand.
The fight to retake Mosul was launched more than eight months ago and has displaced more than 850,000 people. While Iraqi forces have experienced periods of swift gains, combat inside the city has been grueling and deadly for both Iraqi forces and civilians.

The Nikki Haley Doctrine

Israel vs. the United Nations: The Nikki Haley Doctrine  Posted on  

The United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, seems to be championing a single cause: Israel.
When Haley speaks about Israel, her language is not merely emotive nor tailored to fit the need of a specific occasion. Rather, her words are resolute, consistent and are matched by a clear plan of action.
Along with Haley, the rightwing Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu is moving fast to cultivate the unique opportunity of dismissing the United Nations, thus, any attempt at criticizing the Israeli Occupation.
Unlike previous UN ambassadors who strongly backed Israel, Haley refrains from any coded language or any attempt, however poor, to appear balanced. Last March, she told a crowd of 18,000 supporters at the Israel lobby, AIPAC’s annual policy conference, that this is a new era for US-Israel relations.
“I wear heels. It’s not for a fashion statement,” she told the crowd that was thrilled by her speech. “It’s because if I see something wrong, we’re going to kick ’em every single time.”
Trump’s new sheriff/ambassador, condemned, in retrospect, UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which strongly criticized Israel’s illegal settlements. While still in its final days in office, the Obama Administration did not vote for – but did not veto the Resolution, either – thus setting a precedent that has not been witnessed in many years.
The US abstention, according to Haley, was as if the "entire country felt a kick in the gut."
What made Israel particularly angry over Obama’s last act at the UN was the fact that it violated a tradition that has extended for many years, most notably during the term of John Negroponte, US Ambassador to the UN, during the first W. Bush’s term in office.
What became known as the “Negroponte doctrine” was a declared US policy – that Washington will oppose any resolution that criticizes Israel that does not also condemn Palestinians.
But Israel, not the Palestinians, is the occupying power which refuses to honor dozens of UN resolutions and various international treaties and laws. By making that decision, and, indeed, following through to ensure its implementation, the US managed to sideline the UN as an “irrelevant” institution. “irrelevant
Sidelining the UN, then, also meant that the US would have complete control over managing the Middle East, but especially the situation in Palestine.
However, under Trump, even the US-led and self-tailored “peace process” has become obsolete.
This is the real moral but, also political, crisis of the Haley doctrine, for it goes beyond Negroponte’s silencing any criticism of Israel at the UN, into removing the UN entirely – thus international law – from being a factor in resolving the conflict.
In a talk at the Geneva-based Human Rights Council – which is made up of 47 member countries – Haley declared that her country is ‘reviewing its participation’ in the Council altogether. She claimed that Israel is the “only country permanently on the body’s calendar,” an inaccurate statement that is often uttered by Israel with little basis in truth.
If Haley read the report on the 35th session of the Human Rights Council, she would have realized that the Rights body discussed many issues, pertaining to women rights and empowerment, forced marriages and human rights violations in many countries.
But considering that Israel has recently “celebrated” 50 years of occupying Palestinians, Haley should not be surprised that Israel is also an item on the agenda. In fact, any country that has occupied and oppressed another for so long should also remain an item on international agenda.
Following her speech in which she derided and threatened UN member states in Geneva, she went to Israel to further emphasize her country’s insistence to challenge the international community on behalf of Israel.
Along with notorious hasbara expert, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, Haley toured the Israeli border with Gaza, showing sympathy with supposedly besieged Israeli communities – while on the other side, nearly 2 million Palestinians in Gaza have been trapped for over a decade in a very small region, behind sealed shut borders.
Speaking in Jerusalem on June 7, Haley took on the UN “bullies,” who have ‘bullied’ Israel for too long.
She said, “I have never taken kindly to bullies and the UN has bullied Israel for a very long time and we are not going to let that happen anymore," adding "it is a new day for Israel in the United Nations.”
By agreeing to live in Israel’s pseudo-reality, where bullies complain of being bullied, the US is moving further and further away from any international consensus on human rights and international law. This becomes more pronounced and dangerous when we consider the Donald Trump Administration’s decision to pull out from the Paris accords on global warming.
Trump argued that the decision was of benefit to American businesses. Even if one agrees with such an unsubstantiated assertion, Haley’s new doctrine on Israel and the UN, by contrast, can hardly be of any benefit to the United States in the short or long run. It simply degrades US standing, leadership and even goes below the lowest standards of credibility practiced under previous administrations.
Worse still, inspired and empowered by Haley’s blank check, Israeli leaders are now moving forward to physically remove the UN from Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Two alarming developments have taken place on that front:
One took place early May when Culture and Sport Minister, Miri Regev, made a formal demand to the Israeli cabinet to shut down the UN headquarters in Jerusalem, to punish UNESCO for restating the international position on the status of Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem.
The second was earlier this month, when Prime Minister Netanyahu called on Haley to shut down UNRWA, the UN body responsible for the welfare of 5 million Palestinian refugees.
According to Netanyahu, UNRWA “perpetuates” refugee problems. However, the refugees’ problem is not UNRWA per se, but the fact that Israel refuses to honor UN resolution 194 pertaining to their return and compensation.
These developments, and more, are all outcomes of the Haley doctrine. Her arrival at the UN has ignited a US-Israeli hate fest, not only targeting UN member states, but international law and everything that the United Nations has stood for over the decades.
The US has supported Israel quite blindly at the UN throughout the years. Haley seems to adopt an entirely Israeli position with no regard whatsoever for her country’s allies, or the possible repercussions of dismissing the only international body that still serves as a platform for international engagement and conflict resolution.
Haley seems to truly think of herself as the new sheriff in town, who will “kick ’em every single time”, before riddling the bullies with bullets and riding into the sunset, along with Netanyahu. However, with a huge leadership vacuum and no law to guide the international community in resolving a 70-year-old conflict, Haley’s cowboy tactics are likely to do much harm to an already bleeding region.
Since the Negroponte doctrine of 2002, thousands of Palestinians and hundreds of Israelis were killed in an occupation that seems to know no ends. Further disengagement from international law will likely yield a greater toll and more suffering.
Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is a media consultant, an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father was A Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press).