Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Burma: New Satellite Images Confirm Mass Destruction


"The shocking images of destruction in Burma and burgeoning refugee camps in Bangladesh are two sides of the same coin of human misery being inflicted on the Rohingya." - Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director, HRW
“These latest satellite images show why over half a million Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in just four weeks,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “The Burmese military destroyed hundreds of Rohingya villages while committing killings, rapes, and other crimes against humanity that forced Rohingya to flee for their lives.”
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A total of 866 villages in Maungdaw, Rathedaung, and Buthidaung townships in Rakhine State were monitored and analyzed by Human Rights Watch. The most damage occurred in Maungdaw Township, accounting for approximately 90 percent of the areas where destruction happened between August 25 and September 25. Approximately 62 percent of all villages in the township were either partially or completely destroyed, and southern areas of the township were particularly hard hit, with approximately 90 percent of the villages devastated. In many places, satellite imagery showed multiple areas on fire, burning simultaneously over wide areas for extended periods.
Human Rights Watch found that the damage patterns are consistent with fire. Comparing recent imagery with those taken prior to the date of the attacks, analysis showed that most of the damaged villages were 90 to 100 percent destroyed. Many villages which had both Rohingya and Rakhine residing in segregated communities, such as Inn Din and Ywet Hnyo Taung, suffered heavy arson damage from arson attacks, with known Rohingya areas burned to the ground while known Rakhine areas were left intact.

To read and see the images of mass destruction by Myanmar's savage military and Buddhist fascists, click here.

Cornel university to host Rohingya conferences

In recent months, roughly half the 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims living in Myanmar have fled their homes in response to what United Nations officials have labeled “ethnic cleansing.” Two upcoming events will attempt to shed light on the crisis.
The first is a lecture by Gayatri Spivak, Ph.D. ’67, University Professor and professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University. Her talk, “The Rohingya Issue in a Global Context,” will take place Oct. 30 at 4:30 p.m. in Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall.
Spivak is a well-known literary and postcolonial theorist and feminist critic.
On Nov. 7, a roundtable called “The Roots of the Rohingya Crisis: The Eradication of a Myanmar Ethnic Group” will feature Michael W. Charney, Myanmar scholar and professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, along with Burmese filmmaker Eaint Thiri Thu and Cornell associate professor of anthropology Magnus Fiskesj√∂.
The roundtable will take place at 4:30 p.m. in Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium, Klarman Hall.
The series is organized by the Collective of Concerned Students on Global Issues and supported by the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, the Southeast Asia Program, the South Asia Program, the Comparative Muslim Societies Program, and faculty whose work focuses on Myanmar.
The Rohingya are a largely Muslim minority group living in Rakhine state in western Myanmar, a country that is nearly 90 percent Buddhist. Denied citizenship by law, the Rohingya are often described as the most persecuted minority in the world.
On Aug. 23, Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations, delivered recommendations to the president of Myanmar on how to improve conditions for all inhabitants of Rakhine state. Three weeks later, top U.N. officials declared that the Rohingya refugee crisis amounted to ethnic cleansing.
The exodus began after attacks on security personnel by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army in October 2016 led to security operations in northern parts of the state. Recent news reports, refugee accounts and satellite images point to brutal treatment of civilian Rohingya by the Myanmar military, including the burning of many villages.
Hastily built camps are unable to meet the needs of internally displaced people or those who have crossed into Bangladesh, India or Malaysia. The refugees suffer from lack of food, shelter and medicine. Bangladesh is now building a mega-camp for 800,000 people to house new refugees along with those who arrived during previous expulsions.
The mass displacement of Rohingya comes at a time of increasingly virulent Buddhist nationalism in South and Southeast Asia. It also occurs in a context of growing American, Chinese, Indian and Russian interests in Myanmar’s natural resources and strategic Indian Ocean ports.
 

Is War With Iran Now Inevitable?

by Patrick J. Buchanan

 

With his declaration Friday that the Iran nuclear deal is not in the national interest, President Donald Trump may have put us on the road to war with Iran.
Indeed, it is easier to see the collisions that are coming than to see how we get off this road before the shooting starts.
After "de-certifying" the nuclear agreement, signed by all five permanent members of the Security Council, Trump gave Congress 60 days to reimpose the sanctions that it lifted when Teheran signed.
If Congress does not reimpose those sanctions and kill the deal, Trump threatens to kill it himself.
Why? Did Iran violate the terms of the agreement? Almost no one argues that – not the UN nuclear inspectors, not our NATO allies, not even Trump’s national security team.
Iran shipped all its 20 percent enriched uranium out of the country, shut down most of its centrifuges, and allowed intrusive inspections of all nuclear facilities. Even before the deal, 17 U.S. intelligence agencies said they could find no evidence of an Iranian nuclear bomb program.
Indeed, if Iran wanted a bomb, Iran would have had a bomb.
She remains a non-nuclear-weapons state for a simple reason: Iran’s vital national interests dictate that she remain so.
As the largest Shiite nation with 80 million people, among the most advanced in the Mideast, Iran is predestined to become the preeminent power in the Persian Gulf. But on one condition: She avoid the great war with the United States that Saddam Hussein failed to avoid.
Iran shut down any bomb program it had because it does not want to share Iraq’s fate of being smashed and broken apart into Persians, Azeris, Arabs, Kurds and Baluch, as Iraq was broken apart by the Americans into Sunni, Shiite, Turkmen, Yazidis and Kurds.
Tehran does not want war with us. It is the War Party in Washington and its Middle East allies – Bibi Netanyahu and the Saudi royals – who hunger to have the United States come over and smash Iran.
Thus, the Congressional battle to kill, or not to kill, the Iran nuclear deal shapes up as decisive in the Trump presidency.
Yet, even earlier collisions with Iran may be at hand.
In Syria’s east, U.S.-backed and Kurd-led Syrian Democratic Forces are about to take Raqqa. But as we are annihilating ISIS in its capital, the Syrian army is driving to capture Deir Ezzor, capital of the province that sits astride the road from Baghdad to Damascus.
Its capture by Bashar Assad’s army would ensure that the road from Baghdad to Damascus to Hezbollah in Lebanon remains open.
If the U.S. intends to use the SDF to seize the border area, we could find ourselves in a battle with the Syrian army, Shiite militia, the Iranians, and perhaps even the Russians.
Are we up for that?
In Iraq, the national army is moving on oil-rich Kirkuk province and its capital city. The Kurds captured Kirkuk after the Iraqi army fled from the ISIS invasion. Why is a U.S.-trained Iraqi army moving against a U.S.-trained Kurdish army?
The Kurdistan Regional Government voted last month to secede. This raised alarms in Turkey and Iran, as well as Baghdad. An independent Kurdistan could serve as a magnet to Kurds in both those countries.
Baghdad’s army is moving on Kirkuk to prevent its amputation from Iraq in any civil war of secession by the Kurds.
Where does Iran stand in all of this?
In the war against ISIS, they were de facto allies. For ISIS, like al-Qaida, is Sunni and hates Shiites as much as it hates Christians. But if the U.S. intends to use the SDF to capture the Iraqi-Syrian border, Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and Russia could all be aligned against us.
Are we ready for such a clash?
We Americans are coming face to face with some new realities.
The people who are going to decide the future of the Middle East are the people who live there. And among these people, the future will be determined by those most willing to fight, bleed and die for years and in considerable numbers to realize that future.
We Americans, however, are not going to send another army to occupy another country, as we did Kuwait in 1991, Afghanistan in 2001, and Iraq in 2003.
Bashar Assad, his army and air force backed by Vladimir Putin’s air power, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran, and Hezbollah won the Syrian civil war because they were more willing to fight and die to win it. And, truth be told, all had far larger stakes there than did we.
We do not live there. Few Americans are aware of what is going on there. Even fewer care.
Our erstwhile allies in the Middle East naturally want us to fight their 21st-century wars, as the Brits got us to help fight their 20th-century wars.
But Donald Trump was not elected to do that. Or so at least some of us thought.

Burma: At least 288 Rohingya Muslim villages destroyed in just one month

At least 288 Rohingya villages in Burma’s Rakhine state have been partially or totally destroyed since violence in the area worsened at the end of August, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Analysis of satellite images suggests tens of thousands of homes have been razed amid violent clashes that have been blamed mostly on the Burmese army.
Many of the buildings were destroyed after Burmese officials claimed they were no longer carrying out “clearance operations”, the charity said.
Images also suggested that villages belonging to the country’s Rohingya Muslims were destroyed while nearby areas occupied by non-Muslims were left largely untouched. In villages of mixed ethnicity, Rohingya homes were burned to the ground while others were left intact, it added.
Burmese officials have accused the Rohingya of setting fire to their own villages but international observers say there is overwhelming evidence that the atrocities were committed by the country’s military forces.
Burma’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has claimed operations by security forces ended on 5 September but HRW said at least 66 villages have been destroyed since then. Ms Suu Kyi has faced widespread condemnation from the international community over her failure to speak out about violence against the Rohingya.
The latest round of violence erupted on 25 August, when Rohingya militants attacked more than 20 police outposts in Rakhine. The military response of Burmese state forces has forced almost 600,000 Rohingya to flee the country, mostly into neighbouring Bangladesh, and reportedly left thousands dead.
Phil Robertson, HRW’s deputy Asia director, said: “These latest satellite images show why over half a million Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in just four weeks.
“The Burmese military destroyed hundreds of Rohingya villages while committing killings, rapes, and other crimes against humanity that forced Rohingya to flee for their lives.
“The shocking images of destruction in Burma and burgeoning refugee camps in Bangladesh are two sides of the same coin of human misery being inflicted on the Rohingya. Concerned governments need to urgently press for an end to abuses against the Rohingya and ensure that humanitarian aid reaches everyone in need.”
According to HRW, the worst destruction was in Rakhine’s Maungdaw township, where most of the violence took place. There, around 62 per cent of all villages were either partially or totally destroyed in just one month between 25 August and 25 September – a figure that rises to 90 per cent in the southern part of the area.
In the majority of villages, between 90 and 100 per cent of buildings were destroyed.
HRW demanded the UN Security Council impose an arms embargo on Burma and implement individual sanctions on the military leaders that are believed to be responsible for the abuses.
It comes as the UN said up to 15,000 Rohingya refugees had entered Bangladesh via one border crossing point since Sunday – many of them having walked for a week to flee Rakhine after their homes were set on fire.
UN officials said thousands of refugees are living in rice fields near the border while they await permission to enter Bangladesh.

UK Foreign Office Minister Mark Field says it's 'ethnic cleansing''

Claims of ethnic cleansing in Burma by a senior United Nations official appear to be "increasingly an accurate description", the UK Government has said.
Foreign Office minister Mark Field acknowledged Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has stated that violence against the Rohingya people in Burma by the military and militia seemed a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing".
More than half a million people - most of whom are Muslim ethnic minority Rohingya people - have fled the country to Bangladesh amid atrocities and fatalities in Rakhine state.
Mr Field stopped short of declaring the UK believes ethnic cleansing has occurred, explaining it was reluctant to do so for two reasons.
Mr Field told MPs in the Commons: "The broader reason is we're trying diplomatically as far as possible to see movement from the Burmese government and in fact there has been some, quite significantly, from Aung San Suu Kyi.
"There's another slightly more personal reason... my own mother was ethnically cleansed as a German national in the early months of 1945.
"She moved from a part of Germany that my forefathers had lived in since the 1720s. She was able to return to, briefly, as a visitor in her 50s - I have never seen that part of the world.
"It is a phrase, because it is loaded I think with great emotion and a sense of a finality about ethnic cleansing, that I have hitherto been relatively reluctant to use - not in any way in disrespect to the Rohingya but we still maintain a hope that many Rohingya will be allowed to return safely to Burma.
"It may be a forlorn hope.
"However, I do also accept the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights having said it seemed to him like a textbook case of ethnic cleansing.
"And I conclude this appears I'm afraid to be increasingly an accurate description of what has happened."
Mr Field's remarks came after MPs heard that evidence of ethnic cleansing in Burma is overwhelming and the country's military must be held to account.

Austrian election results

The final result of Austria’s election is still too close to call with counting continuing and a tight battle for second place between the far-right and centre-left.
Interior ministry data as of lunchtime on Tuesday shows the centre-left SPO pulling ahead with 26.9 per cent, with the far-right FPO just behind on 26 per cent.
The conservative OVP, led by 31-year old Sebastian Kurz, is guaranteed first place, with currently 31.5 per cent of the vote; the final result is expected on Thursday.
Whether the FPO or SPO comes second will likely affect the final composition of the government; if the SPO ends up ahead, it has suggested it would be open a deal with the FPO as a junior coalition partner – dropping a four-decade ban on dealing with the far-right.
This would see the conservative OVP excluded from government despite topping the poll.
The SPO has however ruled out a coalition with the FPO if the SPO has to be the junior partner, meaning the FPO would likely join up with the OVP and make Mr Kurz chancellor.
“We are not yet in the phase of coalition talks,” Mr Kurz said on Monday, explaining that he would wait until the final result became known on Thursday.
Speaking in Brussels a spokesperson for the European Commission called on Mr Kurz to negotiate a “stable, pro-European government” – but he would not be drawn on whether this meant the FPO should specifically be excluded.
A deal between the SPO and OVP however seems unlikely, as a previous government formed between the two parties collapsed amid acrimony in the spring.
The last time the FPO entered government in the year 2000, other EU states briefly imposed diplomatic sanctions on Austria with the aim of forcing the extremists from government.
The sanctions were short-lived, however, after warnings that they could be counter-productive and stoke up nationalist sentiment in the country.

Neo-Nazi leader quits movement, calls racism 'rubbish'

A prominent neo-Nazi and former organiser of the National Front has given up his far-right views as well as revealed he is gay and has Jewish heritage.
Kevin Wilshaw was a high-profile figure of the National Front in the 1980s and was speaking at extreme right events as recently as this year.
Speaking to Channel 4 News, he explained he had given up his violent past – which included smashing a chair over someone’s head, vandalising a mosque and being arrested for online hate race offences.
He added that he did not have many friends at school and was looking for “comradeship”.
His comments come as the Home Office confirmed that there had been a rise in hate crime reports by almost a third in the 12 months following the Brexit referendum.
The Government has also been urged to launch an inquiry into far-right extremism in the armed forces after four soldiers were arrested for being alleged members of a banned neo-Nazi group called National Action.
Mr Wilshaw, who joined the BNP and was indirectly involved with other fringe groups, came under abuse from members of his own side, however, when they suspected he was gay.
“It’s a terribly selfish thing to say but it’s true, I saw people being abused, shouted at, spat at in the street – it’s not until it’s directed at you that you suddenly realise that what you’re doing is wrong,” he told the news show.
He also revealed his mother was part Jewish, and her maiden name was Benjamin.
The BNP remains active, including a recent campaign against supposed plans for a mosque in the Lincolnshire town of Louth that local authorities said do not exist.
He added that he felt “appallingly guilty” about his past, but also that he would find it difficult to fill the “void” of far-right activity that has shaped his life.
“I want to do some damage as well, not to ordinary people but the people who are propagating this kind of rubbish – want to hurt them, show what it’s like for those who are living a lie and be on the receiving end of this type of propaganda, I want to hurt them.”
Hope Not Hate, the non-profit which received a “cry for help” from Mr Wilshaw, has helped to expose and document the expansion of the far-right in Europe and in the US under the label of “alt-right” which was coined in 2008. Several high-profile figures in the extreme-right movements were born in the UK, including Milo Yiannopoulos and Paul Joseph Watson.
Mr Wilshaw is not the first neo-Nazi to turn against his past.
Michael Kent from Colorado spent two decades in a violent white supremacist group. After his black, female parole officer influenced him to change his way of life, he had his far-right tattoos removed via Redemption Ink, a national non-profit that offers free removals of hate-related tattoos.

Judge blocks Trump's latest travel ban

A federal judge has halted yet another of Donald Trump’s travel bans, the latest in a series of legal setbacks for the president’s immigration agenda.
In September, Mr Trump unveiled a new executive order - his third on the matter so far - indefinitely banning or curtailing travel from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, Venezuela and North Korea.
U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson on Tuesday blocked implementation of much of that order (his decision does not affect Venezuelan and North Korean nationals) just hours before the ban was set to take effect, writing that it suffered from the same legal weaknesses as previous versions. Judge Watson has repeatedly ruled against the Trump administration in legal clashes over travel bans, blocking an earlier version and later moving to expand the universe of relatives who could be admitted.
The order “discriminates based on nationality” in a way courts have deemed “antithetical...to the founding principles of this Nation”, the judge wrote.
The White House responded by slamming Judge Watson's order and vowing to press ahead with a court battle, arguing the order had been thoroughly vetted and would stand up to legal scrutiny.
“Today’s dangerously flawed district court order undercuts the President’s efforts to keep the American people safe and enforce minimum security standards for entry into the United States”, a White House statement said, adding that “These restrictions are vital to ensuring that foreign nations comply with the minimum security standards required for the integrity of our immigration system and the security of our Nation”.
Seeking to carry through on a campaign vow to crack down on immigration, Mr Trump has now issued three different prohibitions on travelers from mostly Muslim-majority countries. Courts have repeatedly thwarted his efforts, though the Supreme Court preserved a version of an earlier ban.
Donald Trump blast "judicial overreach" as Hawaii judge blocks travel ban .
The Supreme Court ultimately allowed aspects of the earlier travel ban to stand, handing the Trump administration a partial victory. It preserved a temporary halt on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and a suspension of refugee admissions in cases where people could not prove “bona fide” ties to the United States like immediate relatives or job offers. The high court last month cancelled arguments on those restrictions in anticipation of the broader, indefinite ban taking effect.
That latest ban drew a legal challenge from the state of Hawaii, the Muslim Association of Hawaii, an Egyptian-American imam with Syrian relatives and a Yemeni-American man whose Yemeni son-in-law could be prevented from joining his wife. Other state attorneys general have added to the legal barrage.
While Judge Watson said the federal government had not provided evidence that permitting banned travelers would be “detrimental to the United States”, he wrote that Hawaii’s higher education system would suffer and that the ban would unjustifiably lead to “prolonged separation from family members”.
He also maintained that the order would affect the Muslim Association because it diminishes “the vibrancy of its religious practices and instills fear among its members”.
“Defendants, on the other hand, are not likely harmed by having to adhere to immigration procedures that have been in place for years—that is, by maintaining the status quo”, Judge Watson wrote.
The American Civil Liberties Union hailed the ruling, with  Immigrants’ Rights Project head Omar Jadwat saying in a statement that the organization was “glad, but not surprised, that President Trump’s illegal and unconstitutional Muslim ban has been blocked once again”.

John McCain came out swinging at 'half-baked, spurious nationalism' in Philadelphia speech

Sen. John McCain of Arizona set rhetorical fire to what he called "half-baked, spurious nationalism" in a speech in Philadelphia.
McCain was there to accept the National Constitution Center's Liberty Medal, in recognition of his decades of service to the US. Former Vice President Joe Biden presented McCain with the honor on Monday evening.
"To refuse the obligations of international leadership, and our duty to remain the last, best hope of Earth for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems," McCain said, as the audience erupted in a raucous applause.
McCain said that kind of nationalism "is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history."
"We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil," McCain declared, referencing the racist ideologies of Nazi Germany that have resurfaced in the midst of the current white-nationalist movement in the US.
"We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don't," McCain continued.
The senator's critical remarks on Monday did not mention any specific people, but his assertions were not lost on his audience in light of Donald Trump's raucous 2016 campaign and the first nine months of his presidency, in which he and his administration have pursued a decidedly nationalist-leaning agenda.
Since he took office in January, Trump has sought to toughen US immigration laws, implemented an aggressive travel ban targeting people from specific countries, and moved to dissociate the US from landmark international agreements like the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal.
That agenda has been informed in part by Trump's former chief strategist, the far-right conservative figure, Steve Bannon, who was kicked out of the administration in August, but has since generated momentum in his push to declare war on establishment Republicans ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
That movement has taken a disturbing turn in recent months, as seen in places like Charlottesville, Virginia, where a white-nationalist rally turned deadly this past summer.
Trump's equivocations in response to the violence there only fueled speculation that Trump was sympathetic to the nationalist, white-supremacist cause. His handing of Charlottesville invited fiery criticism from both the Republican and Democratic parties, and dealt a significant blow to the president's approval ratings in the weeks that followed.

Monday, October 16, 2017

An appeal from Burma Task Force, USA

Real genocide is taking place in Burma, while most of us are legitimately worried about refugees in Bangladesh who have survived the genocide.

All reports say now Burmese military is starving Rohingyas into death. No one is allowed to take food to them. An estimated 250,000 are detained in the old and the new camps what the New York Times called "the 21st-century concentration camps".

Please read:

Since the remaining Rohingya are in the custody of the Myanmar government, it is responsible for their wellbeing and it must take care of them.

Another 250,000 are trapped in the mountains or forests, or on the seacoast trying to get to Bangladesh. And of course, those who survived by reaching Bangladesh, are in a terrible situation themselves. See below what you can do about them.

3 Clear Asks

After meeting the top government officials of four different countries, including the US and Canada, as well as the UN leadership, we firmly believe that the following 3 point agenda that we have developed is the only right course of action for all those who are willing to stop this genocide:
  1. Call it a Genocide: Determine that it is a genocide, as French President has said, to enable the genocide treaty and R2P to come in  to action.
  2. Establish a Safe Zone: Support the only suggestion on the table offered by the Bangladesh Prime Minister: Establish a safe zone inside Burma with the UN peacekeepers to defend Rohingyas if attacked, until the Kofi Annan recommendations facilitate restoration of Rohingya citizenship and their rights as equal citizens.
  3. Allow Access to Relief:
    • Support full sanctions on Myanmar, minus food and medicine, until they  allow full access to the UN and humanitarian relief and restore the citizenship of Rohingyas.
    • Airlift urgently needed shelter, food supplies, and medicine to Bangladesh with transport helicopters for distribution.

Rohingya Exodus: Fleeing Violence in Myanmar

Half a million Rohingya Muslims have poured over the Myanmar border into Bangladesh in the last seven weeks, fleeing ethnic violence.

                     Rohingya refugees carry their belongings as they walk on the Bangladesh side of the Naf River after fleeing Myanmar, on Oct. 2, 2017, in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

More than half a million Rohingya refugees have fled an offensive by Myanmar's military that the United Nations has called 'a textbook example of ethnic cleansing'. The refugee population is expected to swell further, with thousands more Rohingya Muslims said to be making the perilous journey on foot toward the border, or paying smugglers to take them across by water in wooden boats.
Hundreds are known to have died trying to escape, and survivors arrive with horrifying accounts of villages burned, women raped, and scores killed in the 'clearance operations' by Myanmar's army and Buddhist mobs that were sparked by militant attacks on security posts in Rakhine state on Aug. 25.
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
A Rohingya refugee boy is carried in a basket by a relative after crossing the border on the Bangladesh side of the Naf River on Sept. 24.
What the Rohingya refugees flee to is a different kind of suffering in sprawling makeshift camps rife with fears of malnutrition, cholera, and other diseases. Aid organizations are struggling to keep pace with the scale of need and the staggering number of them - an estimated 60 percent - who are children arriving alone.
Bangladesh, whose acceptance of the refugees has been praised by humanitarian officials for saving lives, has urged the creation of an internationally-recognized 'safe zone' where refugees can return, though Rohingya Muslims have long been persecuted in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar.
World leaders are still debating how to confront the country and its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who championed democracy, but now appears unable or unwilling to stop the army's brutal crackdown.
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
A Rohingya refugee woman is helped from a boat as she arrives exhausted on the Bangladesh side of the Naf River at Shah Porir Dwip on Oct. 1.
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Rohingya refugees carry their belongings as they walk through water on the Bangladesh side of the Naf River on Sept. 28.
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                         7. A Rohingya refugee boy desperate for aid cries as he climbs on a truck distributing aid for a local NGO near the Balukali refugee camp on Sept. 20.
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
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                         12. A Rohingya refugee woman is carried by relatives near the border on the Bangladesh side of the Naf River on Oct. 2.
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A woman carries the body of a Rohingya refugee boy as others are seen wrapped in white sheets prior to burial after they died when their boat capsized while fleeing Myanmar on Sept. 29.
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
An elderly Rohingya refugees woman sits outside her shelter in the sprawling Balukali refugee camp on Sept. 22.
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A Rohingya refugee washes at a well at the Palongkali refugee camp on Sept. 26.
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A Rohingya refugee woman holds her child as she stands outside her shelter at the sprawling Balukali refugee camp on Sept. 27.
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images

18. A Rohingya refugee family reacts as they disembark from a boat after arriving on the Bangladesh side of the Naf River at night on Sept. 26.
 

Pictures of genocide of the Rohingyas, drawn by refugee children


 Drawing by a Rohingya boy, Abdul, revealing the horrific experiences he endured while fleeing from Myanmar to Bangladesh, at the children friendly space at the Balukhali makeshift refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar district in Bangladesh.
In Bangladesh, the children of Rohingya refugees are making pictures.
That activity may seem perfectly normal. Except the pictures they are making show the horrors the children experienced recently as they fled Myanmar.
Anthony Lake is the executive director of UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund. He spoke with reporters earlier this month in the Bangladeshi town of Cox’s Bazar. He said that experts believe one way for children to deal with the bad things they remember is to have them draw pictures.
The Rohingya refugees have made pictures of homes being set on fire; of helicopters shooting from the sky; and families running away from gunfire and men armed with knives.
Lake noted that, at some refugee camps, children make happy pictures. But the pictures from the Rohingya boys and girls reflect the terrible things they saw.
Drawing by a Rohingya boy, Kashem, revealing horrific experiences he endured while fleeing from Myanmar to Bangladesh.
Drawing by a Rohingya boy, Kashem, revealing horrific experiences he endured while fleeing from Myanmar to Bangladesh.
“The pictures we have seen here are horrifying,” the UNICEF chief said. “They reflect children seeing things that no child should ever see, much less endure.”
Lake said he spoke with one boy who said he saw other children killed while they were playing football.
“Imagine if you were a child, and you saw that, how long would it take you to recover from that, if you ever could?” he asked.
Myanmar’s army and the civilian government have repeatedly denied claims that the armed forces are harming civilians. They say they will investigate reports of atrocities if evidence is presented to them.
Late last month, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi announced that military operations were suspended after September 5. But people continue crossing the border into Bangladesh. Many new arrivals are likely searching for food.
UNICEF says more than half of the refugees are children, and half of them are under five years old.
One UNICEF official gave a VOA reporter drawings she said were made by children in the Balukhali camp who went to the group’s “child-friendly centers.”
The children who made them are from six to 14 years old, and all were produced over the past few weeks.
Myanmar’s Rakhine State is close to Bangladesh. The area has been largely closed off to aid groups and foreign observers since August 25.
Last month, Myanmar’s government flew reporters to Rakhine to see where a large number of Hindu residents were buried. The government claims the Hindus were victims of the rebel Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.
The group denied the claim.
Last Monday, the Myanmar government gave permission for a group of diplomats and U.N. officials to visit Rakhine State’s Maungdaw Township. In a tweet, one diplomat said the area looked like “a ghost town.”
I’m Dan Friedell.

Joe Freeman reported this story for VOANews.com. Dan Friedell adapted his report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
What do you think of the drawings by Rohingya children? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Press Release from ARNO condemning Myanmar's military chief for distorting history


Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO)
Press release 15 October 2017

How Long Will You Lie To Deny Rohingya Existence
 
We strongly condemn the remarks of Myanmar Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing to American Ambassador Scot Marciel.

On 11 October the General said, “Rohingya are Bengali. The Bengalis were not taken into the country by Myanmar but by the colonialists. British colonialists were responsible for the problem. Their native place is really Bengal. They might have fled to the other country (Bangladesh) with the same language, race and culture as theirs, assuming they would be safer there. They are not the natives and the records prove that they were not even called Rohingya but just Bengalis during the colonial period.”

But the historical evidence or observation by Scottish doctor Francis Buchanan in 1795 proves “... Mohammedans, who have long been settled in Arakan, and who called themselves Rooinga, or natives of Arakan” The former Democratic government of Burma headed by Prime Minister U Nu had recognized Rohingya as an ethnic group of Burma equal to all other ethnic nationalities of the country. On top of that, as a people, the Rohingya have the UN-recognized group's right to self-identify.

We remind Myanmar civil and military leaders that the true history of Arakan must be studied with minus Bama/Myanmar if they sincerely want to know the Rohingya historicity. Arakan was an independent country for centuries having extensive relations with Bengal (not with Burma) in all fields, political, ethnological, cultural and economic activities. It was Muslims who paid extraordinary contribution to the development of Arakan, with their sublime civilization, towards advancement of administration, literature, agriculture and economic activities.
We emphasize that the ancient people of Arakan were Indian Bengalis and the language then used had no connection with the present Rakhine, who have been largely Burmanized in language, culture and life style. Here the root cause of the problem in Arakan is the Burman annexation of it.  That is why the Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen said, “Rohingya did not come to Burma. But the Burma came to Rohingya”.

We reiterate that Arakan is our ancestral homeland, where Muslim rule and influence lasted for centuries particularly during the glorious period of Mrauk-U dynasty (1430-1784). Followings are some of the realities of Arakan.
  1. Arakan was virtually ruled by Muslims from 1430 to 1531.(Statement of Col. Ba Shin, the then Chairman of the Burma Historical Commission)
  2. Islam spread and deeply rooted in Arakan since 8th century from where it further spread into interior Burma”. (Sasana Ronwas Htunzepho, a book published by military regime in 1997)
  3. The Mrauk dynasty was a new golden age of power and prosperity with hybrid Buddhist-Islamic court, fusing tradition from Persia and India as well as the Buddhist worlds to the east.
  4. Muslim etiquettes and manners, system of administration copying the imperial courts of Delhi and Guar had been practiced. Taslim or Muslim salutation was performed in the king’s palace.
  5. The Muslim played the phenomenal rule of kingmakers with Muslim Prime Ministers, Lashkar Wizirs (Defence/War Ministers), and Ministers, Qadis, other administrators and large contingents of Muslim army. 
  6. The kings had involuntarily as well as voluntarily to adopt Muslim names and titles “Shah” “in addition to Pali names and titles. Mrauk-U kings appeared in Persian-inspired dress and the conical hats of Isfahan and Mughal Delhi.
  7. Members of the Royal families and class of persons enjoying superior intellectual or social or economic status also willingly adopted Muslim names.
  8. Muslim Qazi courts had been set up throughout the kingdom of Arakan.
  9. Persian and Bengali languages were patronized and used as the official and court languages of Arakan.
  10. Coins and medallions inscribing kalima (Islamic declaration of faith) in Persian and Arabic script were minted.
  11. The people followed the Muslim tradition at home. Buddhist women of those days practiced “purda”. 
  1. Muslim missionary works hit the highest point. People converted into Islam in groups.
  2. Muslims were in control of trade and business. They were the main forces of agriculture.

For more details, please contact:
Australia: Dr. Hla Myint + 61-423381904
Bangladesh: Ko Ko Linn: + 880-1726068413
Canada: Nur Hasim +1-519-5725359
Japan: Zaw Min Htut + 81-8030835327
U.K. Ronnie: +44-7783118354
U.S.A: Dr. Habibullah: +1-4438158609

Book Review: Islam & Muslims in the 21st Century


Book Review: Islam & Muslims in the 21st Century by Abdus Sattar Ghazali (2017)
By
Habib Siddiqui
 
In 1978 Professor Edward Said’s book – Orientalism – was published. It was a groundbreaking critique of the West's historical, cultural, and political perceptions of the East by the (late) Columbia University professor. Nearly four decades after its first publication, the book remains a modern classic. In this wide-ranging, intellectually vigorous study, Professor Said traced the origins of "orientalism" to the centuries-long period during which Europe dominated the Middle and Near East and, from its position of power, defined "the orient" simply as "other than" the occident.
In August 2003, nearly 23 months after 9/11, writing for the Al Ahram (weekly online), Professor Said wrote, “I wish I could say that general understanding of the Middle East, the Arabs and Islam in the United States has improved somewhat, but alas, it really hasn't.” He was referring to his seminal work, Orientalism.
The trillion-dollar question that we must ask today is: has the situation improved since 2003? The answer is provided by veteran journalist and author of half a dozen books - Abdus Sattar Ghazali in his book - Islam & Muslims in the 21st Century. He shows that our world is more divided politically and ideologically today than ever before even though we are more connected virtually via electronic alternative media.
American forces are still in Afghanistan, some 16 years after the country was invaded and occupied. Iraq is in a gargantuan mess since American invasion and subsequent occupation, defying world opinion including the UN, in 2003 with millions of displaced folks everywhere. Thanks to the neo-imperial manipulation, the country may eventually get divided along ethnic lines with Kurds getting their own state in the north, creating further tension in the region, esp. with Turkey which has a sizable number of Kurds living in the east. Syria is under civil war where its majority Sunnis have been bearing the brunt of Assad’s mass murder. Millions of Sunnis have been forced to seek refuge in nearby countries, including western Europe. A new nemesis – Daesh (or ISIS), replacing Al Qa’eda – falsely claiming to be Islamic and religious – has appeared in the bloody scene to further complicate the scenario and resurrect old Orientalism with the fabric of Islamophobia. Like the RAND-robots in the USA, the ISIS-robots are doing their best to terrorize everyone, redefining the clash of civilizations – ‘us’ against ‘them’. Not accidentally, the vast majority of the victims have been Muslims.
The extremist, ultra-nationalist and fascist forces are on the rise in many parts of our world (including the USA) and are even running governments in places like Austria, Poland, India, Myanmar, the Philippines, Hungary, Bulgaria and (arguably) the USA.
America has a new president in Donald J. Trump who purportedly wants to make America great again whatever greatness means to him. He won by stoking fear much like fascist leaders of the past. Many experts, thus, see him as a fascist-in-making. He has proven himself to be arrogant, confrontational, vulgar, rude, egotistic, self-contradictory and tweeter-crazy – just to name a fraction of his long list of depraved attributes that includes lying. He is also hostile to the Blacks, Hispanics and esp. Muslims. He wants to ban Muslims from immigrating into or taking refuge in the USA. Recently, he has decertified the Iran nuclear deal – a stupid proposition that is making every world leader nervous. Although he has replaced or removed some white supremacists from his inner circle of the White House advisers (e.g., Bannon and Gorka), Trump remains a very temperamental world leader and, as such, is the most dangerous person on earth who can do the greatest harm to humanity.
Sitting in the citadel of worldly power, surrounded by empire-dreaming neoconservatives and lunatics, the temptation to be a neo-Pharaoh in our age is often too great to rewrite history by ignoring the mere fact that history cannot be white-washed or swept clean like a blackboard so that "we" in the Christian Occident might engrave our own future in ‘them’ - the non-Christian Orient - and impose our own forms of life and culture, including polity, for these ‘lesser people’ to follow.
During the Bush Jr. era of ‘global war on terror’, esp. after 9/11, we heard the high officials in Washington and elsewhere speak of changing the map of the Middle East, as if ancient societies and innumerable peoples with their myriad sediments of history, which include countless histories – good and bad, great and ugly – and a dizzying variety of peoples, languages, experiences, and cultures, don’t matter and can simply be swept aside or ignored like rubbish, or tossed around like a pile of playing cards or peanuts in a jar. Haughty and irrational though it may seem, the sad fact is, as Ghazali shows in his book, there has not been any shortage of such ‘civilizational’ plans and attempts since the dawn of this new century.
Libya’s Gaddafi was lynched to death and replaced in 2011 turning the once stable, desert oasis, people’s republic into a failed and fractured state of two competing governments each vying for legitimacy. Egypt’s former dictator Mubarak had a better luck, albeit replaced through a popular revolution that brought a civilian government – the first in Egyptian modern history – that was soon to be violently replaced in a military coup via courtesy of the corrupt regimes in the Gulf (namely, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE). While murderous Mubarak’s death sentence was commuted to prison time to be ultimately released free, the popularly elected President Dr. Morsi and thousands of leaders and members of the Ikhwan-al-Muslimin are rotting in the prisons awaiting execution, with many already being executed, in Sisi’s Egypt – the new Pharaoh.
The Arab Spring – the popular Arab uprising against the autocratic and repressive regimes that was supposed to better the life of hundreds of millions of ordinary Arabs - was torpedoed by world powers (all paragons of democracy) and their client (undemocratic) states in the Gulf (except Qatar) that wanted to weaken the Arabs by letting them kill each other or maintain the status quo, respectively. Yemen and Syria are in a mess with hundreds of thousands killed and millions of people displaced from their bombed and burned out homes, towns and cities.
The drone attacks by the US and NATO forces are a daily nuisance in some parts of the Muslim world traumatizing millions of innocent civilians, esp. children. None of the policy makers in Washington and Brussels is willing to discuss the consequence of such attacks until a suicide bomber blows himself up somewhere because of being self-radicalized through social media.
Seemingly, the life of an ordinary Muslim has become so cheap that no one really cares about it any longer. Every new day is proving to be a worse day than the day before. Even Muslims living far away from the Middle East in places like Myanmar, the Philippines, China and India are not safe from repressive, ultra-nationalist – or more correctly, fascist – governments who are exploiting the terror card to kill and/or evict Muslims from their ancestral homes.
In India, under the name of protection of the cow, Hindu vigilantes and Hindutvadi fascists are lynching Muslims even on the suspicion of herding, transporting, storing and eating beef. Taj Mahal, one of the finest examples of Islamic architecture that is visited by hundreds of thousands of international tourists each year generating hundreds of millions for the Indian treasury, was recently removed from an official booklet on the State of Uttar Pradesh’s tourist destinations. This comes on the heels of the State’s Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, declaring that the Taj Mahal does not “reflect Indian culture.” The monument’s Muslim-ness or Islamic character is unacceptable to the Hindu fascists of the BJP. Adityanath’s initiation into the broader Hindu Nationalist clique – which includes the militant Sangh Parivar/Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) and umbrella Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) – began with an act of iconoclasm. He was also an activist behind the Ram Temple that saw the demolition of the historic Babri mosque (a 16th century house of worship built by the Mughal dynasty’s founder, Muhammad Babar) in Ayodhya.
If these be the new faces of secular India under the rule of Hindutvadi fascists what can Muslims expect in Suu Kyi’s Buddhist Burma (Myanmar) in which they face extinction as part of a very sinister national project to wipe out Muslim identity! Denied of any right, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Muslim minorities, esp. the Rohingya, there are victims of a ‘slow-burning’ genocide that has seen in the last few weeks alone the forced exodus of more than 530,000 of this ‘most persecuted’ people to Bangladesh, let alone the wholesale destruction of all their worldly possessions. Their males, including children have been killed, women raped and properties looted before their homes, schools, shops, business centers, madrasas and mosques are burned down.
As we have repeatedly seen in matters relating to Kashmir, Palestine, East Turkestan and Chechnya – just to name a few – when it comes to saving Muslim lives in harm’s way, the United Nations have failed them miserably. One can only wonder what stops the UNSC to take punitive actions against the savages inside Suu Kyi’s government and security forces for their crimes against humanity! Don’t the Rohingyas qualify for the R2P (Responsibility to Protect) that was unanimously adopted by all members of the United Nations General Assembly at the 2005 World Summit?
Do they have to be children of a ‘higher’ God to qualify for such protection?
What future awaits humanity, including the Muslims, in this age of social media and information superhighway?
Knowing the value of controlling the mind, as Ghazali duly notes, the return of orientalism is currently taking place more in popular literature than in academic works in the US and western Europe. The shock and impact of 9/11 has created a fertile ground for the proliferation of what can be called an alarmist literature that are filled with shabby screeds bearing screaming headlines and titles about Islam and terror. There is such a mushrooming of pseudo-experts, polemicists and pundits on Islam who cares to learn the truth about Islam and Muslims from its original sources and writings of Islamic savants – like Rumi, Ghazali or Sa’di – and genuine experts or witnessing the lives of the pious believers!
While covering Islam and Muslims, the western media continue to apply negative images and characterization for Muslims to widen the clash of civilizations – ‘us’ against ‘them’.
Islamophobia has become a big business and is sold as an elixir these days by those who want to expedite the Armageddon. President Eisenhower’s fear of ‘industrial military complex’ is no longer a myth but has become a reality. Regional unrest is not only tolerated but it is encouraged to solidify the control of all those involved with the war industry.
Ghazali quotes a Rand study (December 2004) that suggested that Sunni, Shiite and Arab, non-Arab divides should be exploited to promote the US policy objectives in the Muslim world.
For academics like Samuel Huntington, Islam is ideologically hostile and anti-Western; it is also a military threat due to Chinese (Confucian) arms supplies; Islam is bloody, with a long warring tradition against the West (the fact that Muslims have often been the victims rather than the perpetrators of violence from Bosnia to India hardly troubles him). As such, Huntington justifies military solutions to bring about the ‘desired’ result. Suffice it to say that Huntington's entire argument about Islam and civilizations is full of contradictions and superficialities; it is also 'culturally racist'.
According to Ghazali, “Islamophobia is systematically promoted and financially supported in the United States in the form of books, reports, websites, blogs, and carefully crafted talking points that are well funded by hate groups. The project of Islamophobia which has cost more than $40 million over the past ten years has been funded by seven foundations in the United States: 1. Richard Mellon Scaife Foundation; 2. Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation; 3. Newton and Rochelle Becker; 4. Foundation and Newton and Rochelle Becker Charitable Trust; 5. Russell Berrie Foundation, Anchorage Charitable Fund and William Rosenwald; 6. Family Fund; 7. Fairbrook Foundation.”
Islamophobia has essentially become the neo-orientalism of the 21st century. Not surprisingly, the self-proclaimed Islamic expert Steven Emerson collected $3.39 million for his for-profit company in 2008 for researching alleged ties between American Muslims and overseas terrorism. Even American politicians are banking on it to draw bigoted supporters. “In late March 2015, Senator Ted Cruze appeared at the New England Freedom Conference with anti-Muslim hate group leader, Robert Spencer, a blogger whose work was cited approvingly by the Norway terrorist Anders Breivik. Spencer’s organization, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), is the group behind controversial and provocative anti-Islam metro and bus ads,” Ghazali writes (p. 145).
Ghazali shows that 39 years after the publication Professor Said’s book - Orientalism – modern imperialism never ended. While its goal to maximize benefits remains the same, its method to achieve that goal, however, has changed. It wants division along the fault lines - territorial, tribal, ethnic or whatever – so that the Muslim world remain ever weak and goes back to the days of the pre-Islamic Jahiliya with never-ending wars while buying weapons to fight each other. As events have proven, the scheme of the neo-imperial masters and planners is working.
To schmooze, the Arabs and Muslims have been told that victimology and dwelling on the depredations of empire is only a way of evading responsibility in the present. “You have failed, you have gone wrong, says the modern Orientalist.” But such a narrative would exhibit only a serious amnesia about the reality of imperial intrusion that continues to work its way in the lives of Muslims who comprise roughly 23% of world population.
Paul Wolfowitz, the former US Deputy Defense Secretary, a leading neocon, confided on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003: "We need an Islamic reformation and I think there is real hope for one." Iraq became the first casualty of that experiment. But the conspiracy lingers!
The Rand Study, released on March 18, 2004, unveiled the neocons’ plan for global ‘revamping’ of Islam, which calls for a strategy to distinguish between Muslims with whom peaceful relationships and dialogue are possible.
As a result of the meticulously planned and organized onslaught against Islam, Professor Sa’id observed that the Muslim world has slipped into an “easy anti-Americanism that shows little understanding of what the US is really like as a society… The world-wide protests before the war began in Iraq would not have been possible were it not for the existence of alternative communities all across the world, informed by alternative information, and keenly aware of the environmental, human rights and libertarian impulses that bind us together in this tiny planet.”
Is there then a hope to defeat the merchants and profiteers of war through alternative media? One must, however, be reminded here that massive protest marches of millions of conscientious global citizens did not sway a bit the Bush Jr. administration from manufacturing lies and carrying out its planned war that killed nearly a million innocent Iraqis. As usual, the UN failed to slow down Bush Jr.

In spite of the evil plan of its enemies to turn our world into perennial war zones and killing fields, the Muslim world needs serious introspection by its genuinely enlightened intellectuals that can diagnose its plethora of illnesses that had transformed it into a world of zeros with no voice in the global arena. The task is not easy though, as Ghazali reminds us of the peculiar way the political development has taken place in the Muslim countries that have created elite groups that care about only themselves in which there is no share for the ordinary masses. They are for self-aggrandizement and don’t mind selling the interest of the people and the country to the highest foreign bidder. No wonder the Muslim world has so many of these self-serving puppets, despots and autocrats ruling its people who has no fear of accountability either to God or His creation!


Will that scenario change any time soon? 

Ghazail’s book is a treasure trove that delves into the problems and challenges faced by the Muslims of the 21st century by filling in the void left open after Professor Said’s death. I strongly recommend it.