Sunday, March 29, 2015

Thoughts on the 44th Year of Bangladesh's Declaration of Independence


It has been more than 43 years that Bangladesh has emerged as an independent state after a nine-month long bloody civil war (more popularly called the War of Liberation) when Pakistan military forces surrendered on December 16, 1971 to joint Bangladesh-Indian forces. Pakistan was dismembered and its eastern wing – East Pakistan – became Bangladesh and it soon became a member of the United Nations.

The country has a rich cultural and historical past, the product of the repeated influx of varied peoples, bringing with them the Dravidian, Indo-Aryan, Mongol-Mughal, Arab, Persian, Turkic, and European cultures. While the contact with Muslim traders began in the 7th century Islam started playing a crucial role in the region's history and politics since the 13th century with conquest of the territories by Ikhtiyar ad-Din Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji. In the 16th century, Bengal (today’s Bangladesh) was absorbed into the Mughal Empire. The territory was ultimately lost to the East India Company beginning in 1757 C.E. when the Nawab of Bengal lost in the Battle of Plassey. In 1859, the British Crown replaced the East India Company, extending British dominion from Bengal in the east to the Indus River in the west. 

The British colonial rule ended in 1947 when a Muslim-majority Pakistan with two wings – East Pakistan and West Pakistan – was established on August 14. Awami League, an East Pakistan based opposition political party, campaigned hard for regional autonomy since the early 1950s. Under its charismatic leader, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (popularly known as Bangabandhu), the Awami League (AL) succeeded in uniting the East Pakistanis behind its Six-Point program in the national election of 1970. The military government of General Yahya Khan, however, refused to hand-over political power to the Awami League, and committed what can arguably be called genocide in 1971. 

No official records exist as to the tolls of the war. As is often the case, the history of Bangladesh came to be written by the victors and not the losers. And there were too many who lost – for being on the wrong side of history. They included the Urdu-speaking minority Muslims who had settled from outside when British India was partitioned. The losers included pro-Pakistan sympathizers – both activists and pacifists – many of whom were Bengali-speaking Muslims. 

More than four decades have passed since Bangladesh gained her independence. The country has made remarkable progress in many sectors. But the country has been very unstable politically since its founder Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib was assassinated in August 15, 1975. Subsequently, four major leaders who had led the provisional government in exile during the Liberation War were also murdered by the same culprits that had killed Sheikh Mujib. The other important polarizing figure Ziaur Rahman - a freedom fighter who had subsequently become president of the country, and founded the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) – also met a similar fate. He was killed in 1981 by members of the Army.

The country was ruled by a military-backed government until democratic elections were held in 1991. The BNP and AL have alternately held power since then, with the exception of a military-backed, emergency caretaker regime that suspended parliamentary elections planned for January 2007 in an effort to reform the political system and root out corruption. That government returned the country to fully democratic rule in December 2008 with the election of the AL. 

Since winning the election in 2008, AL has abandoned the so-called care-taker system of government during election times calling it unconstitutional or against prevalent practices in democratic countries around the globe. As expected in a highly polarized political atmosphere, the opposition parties have not accepted this new ruling, and refused to participate in the national election held last year. Not surprisingly, therefore, more than half of the MPs belonging to the AL-alliance got elected without any serious contender. The opposition alliance led by BNP has called the government of Sheikh Hasina illegitimate demanding fresh election. Hasina government has also charged some of the heavyweight politicians from the opposition alliance, esp. the Jama’at, for their alleged involvement during the War of Liberation as collaborators for the Pakistan military regime or committing war crimes. Many in the opposition see the war crimes tribunal as a facade to eliminate opposition parties like the Jama’at and the BNP, and have protested violently, terrorizing the general population. They not only see the Hasina government as a puppet of India but also as being opposed to Islamic values.

Bangladeshi nation appears highly polarized or divided. The opposition parties have tried to paralyze the country via a series of hartals/bandh, often accompanied with mindless violence, disrupting the communication system within the country. Few hundred civilians have died in recent months as a result of political unrest since November of 2013. In spite of such off-and-on disturbances, the economy of Bangladesh has grown at an average of about six percent over the last two decades. The sole credit for the economic miracle goes to a new breed of Bangladeshi entrepreneurs and hardworking workers who refuse to be broken down by irresponsible acts of the political parties.

Is Bangladesh doomed for failure? As Bangladesh steps into the 44th year of her declaration of independence, her people need to assess her health objectively and come up with prudent goals to make her a viable nation for the 21st century.
There is little doubt that the system of government in Bangladesh remains an illiberal democracy where opposition parties have very little voice for a participative and inclusive democracy. It is unsustainable and needs an overhaul starting with bringing in democracy at the party level, which is missing for the major parties whose leaders sadly have not learned how to walk their talk. But that is what they ought to do if they truly love Bangladesh and are sincere. 



Saturday, March 28, 2015

‘Hidden Hands’ Behind Communal Violence in Myanmar - I told you so


In a country that has been infested with the blight of unfathomable racism and bigotry for decades, rumors are enough to trigger communal riots. And if the press, priests, public servants and people’s representatives are all working in cahoots as a party to a very sinister program – which I have been calling a ‘national eliminationist project’ – one does not have to be Einstein to understand the impact of such false rumors. And that is what happened to Mandalay in central Myanmar (formerly Burma) in July of last year when we witnessed anti-Muslim violence there. It was all part of a highly orchestrated criminal program with deep support at every level of the local and central government.

On July 3, 2014, U Soe Min, a Muslim man, was walking to morning prayers (Fajr) at a nearby mosque when a man with a machete struck him dead with a deep blow to his skull. The 51-year-old Mandalay resident, who ran a bicycle shop, was one of two innocent victims that day of communal violence sparked by reports – later proven to be false – that a Buddhist woman had been raped by two Muslim brothers.

Since May of 2012 starting with the gruesome lynching to death of ten Tablighi Muslims by a Rakhine mob, we have witnessed how the Buddhist mob and criminals have often been empowered by such false rumors to terrorize and exterminate Muslims, which sadly have been led by Buddhist monks and security forces. 

The May (2012) ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims started under a similar pretext: a Rakhine woman - Ma Thida Htwe - was raped and murdered by 3 Rohingya (the so-called Bengali) Muslims. The dead body was found, rather conveniently, in a Rakhine village – not too far from a Rohingya locality. Interestingly, the lead accused - named Htet Htet - was not a 'Bengali' – and not even a Muslim. He was a married Buddhist Bama who in his childhood was adopted by a Rohingya Muslim family. As we have seen in many such incidents under police and NASAKA custody, Htet Htet was found dead in his prison cell. The police announced that he had killed himself.

Dr. Maung Zarni, a Burmese human rights activist, says that “the rape narrative of the Rakhine woman - the late Ma Thida Htwe - raped by 'Bengali men' was patently false, but spread by President Thein Sein's men the likes of Major Zaw Htay (Hmu Zaw), Colonel Ye Htut (now deputy information minister) as a trigger event to set the fire of genocidal hatred towards the Muslims. Ma Thida Htwe was NOT raped but was simply murdered - the doctor who examined her body told Ko Zaganar [a popular comedian], in no uncertain terms, that there was absolutely no evidence of rape on Ma Thida Htwe's dead body. The doctor was forced to sign the medical report which claims falsely she was raped. The rape story was spread by government agents on the social media and was used as a launching pad to start waves of mass killings against the Rohingya and the Muslims across Burma or Myanmar.”

Within a month of his death - when Zaganar 
[Maung Thura] attempted to meet Htet Htet's wife,” writes Dr. Zarni in his blog, “she was found dead in a village well. How convenient!” It is believed among the independent analysts that NASAKA security forces killed Ma Thida Htwe and possibly Htet Htet’s wife.

For years I have been saying that if one is serious about finding the origin of race/ ethnic/ religious riots and pogroms inside military-controlled Myanmar that inquiry should start with the government itself. As subsequent inquiries have revealed I was not wrong: most of the anti-Muslim pogroms and genocidal activities inside Burma (or Myanmar) owe their origin to the government – central and local. These crimes are sometimes scripted and often times sanctioned by the government. True that we sometimes see the faces of angry Buddhist mob taking the lead in such heinous crimes, but these low-lives are often used as pawns in this chess game of ethnic cleansing of the targeted victims. And no one can deny the powerful influence of the Sangha in agitating and mobilizing Buddhists. The terrorist Buddhist monks have been employed by the regime to polarize public opinion against Muslims and aid in its sinister plan.

It is no accident that after his release from prison in 2010, Wirathu – the
head abbot of the Masoyein monastery in Mandalay - with a large following has now become the face of Buddhist terrorism. His 969 (fascist) Movement provides the foot soldiers for Nazi-like blitzkrieg against unarmed Muslims. He led a rally of monks in Mandalay in September, 2012 to promote President Thein Sein's controversial plan to expel Rohingyas to a third country. A month later more violence was directed against Muslims in the Rakhine state resulting in displacement of some 140,000 Rohingyas. His fascist movement has been behind all the subsequent pogroms directed against Muslims (and not just limited to Rohingyas) all across Myanmar. His disciples have also been behind all state-managed protest rallies against the NGOs, UN and OIC reps, including the Doctors Without Borders, worsening the humanitarian crisis affecting the Muslims of Myanmar.

With the vast support Wirathu and other racist and bigoted Buddhist monks enjoy within the broader Buddhist community, they have been able to rally hateful Buddhists to attack and kill Muslims and burn their properties with impunity. Police and other security forces, if they did not participate in such heinous crimes themselves would often time stand unperturbed, as if nothing had gone wrong, or that they have no business to stop such horrendous crimes of fellow savage Buddhists.

According to multiple corroborated eyewitnesses, the Mandalay riots of July 2014 were carried out over two straight nights by a small group of Buddhist terrorists on motorcycles carrying clubs and swords who rampaged through Muslim neighborhoods destroying homes, businesses and mosques. This took place in plain view of fully armed riot police, who followed the rioters and watched the mayhem unfold without taking action. As hinted above, Mandalay – the second largest Myanmar city – is home of the terrorist monk Wirathu. The local Panthay (Chinese) Muslims were forced to hide or keep a very low profile.

Justice Trust - an international human rights organization that partners with lawyers and activists in Myanmar to strengthen local communities fighting for justice – investigated the matter. It found ‘hidden hands’ (read: government hand) in the attack. In its released report, “Hidden Hands Behind Communal Violence in Myanmar: Case Study of the Mandalay Riots,” it documented the use of organized gangs of armed men to commit anti-Muslim riots under the guise of spontaneous mob violence.

The NGO held a press conference in Bangkok on March 23, 2015 to release the report.
“This report shows what most Burmese have known for a long time – that religious hatred between Buddhists and Muslims is being stoked by hidden hands and manipulated as a pretext for maintaining their grip on power,” said U Thein Than Oo, a Mandalay lawyer who serves on Justice Trust’s steering committee. “We have seen this script many times before – the deployment of plainclothes forces [Swah Ah Shin] rather than uniformed soldiers to commit national-scale political violence, and the scapegoating of minorities to divert public attention away from the country’s real needs.”

Drawing on six months of research by a team of local and international lawyers, the report analyzes the riots that shook Mandalay in July 2014 and places these riots in the context of previous waves of communal conflict carried out under past military regimes.

The Mandalay riots closely followed every element of this pattern, starting with a false charge of rape spread on Facebook. But unlike in previous riots, where large mobs developed and the violence spun out of control, local people in Mandalay refused to participate despite the best efforts of outside agitators. In fact, local monks, activists and journalists arrived and tried to contain the situation. Without the protective cover of a sympathetic crowd, the outside agitators were exposed, the stage-managed nature of their violence was made visible to the public, and the overall damage was limited.

“The Mandalay riots were designed to appear as a spontaneous outbreak of mob violence, but in fact were perpetuated by an organised gang of armed men brought in from outside Mandalay to enact a pre-determined script written and stage-managed by hidden hands for political ends,” the report says.

The report states that: “The case of Mandalay therefore provides the clearest evidence yet of a deliberate political strategy to foment anti-Muslim violence, as well as the best example of countering this strategy through a local early warning system to mobilize an immediate on-the-ground response.”

The report says they follow a similar pattern of events, including rape allegations, speaking tours by Wirathu and visits by gangs of fomenting outsiders. “Lots of people recognise that the 969 movement has a history of inciting riots … and once Wirathu posted the [rape] allegation to Facebook, the local civil groups alerted others to the coming storm,” said Roger Normand, executive director of Justice Trust.

Mandalay is far from the only orchestrated incident inside Myanmar, which has a long history of military regimes employing the “dual threat of external intervention and internal disintegration” to ensure control, according to the report. Notable examples of such diversions include General Ne Win’s anti-Chinese riots in the 1960s to distract from a countrywide rice shortage, and Buddhist-Muslim tensions after democratic mass uprising in 1988.

Anti-Muslim pogroms in Myanmar are not new. They have surfaced periodically in recent decades. The fascist elements within the Buddhist country have exploited their deep-seated racism and bigotry against ethnic minorities and non-Buddhists to glue the fractured Buddhist majority. Their propaganda encourages a blind racist nationalism and an unparallel bigotry, full of references to ‘protecting the race and religion’, meaning that if the national race Burmans (Bama) do not oppress other nationalities then they will themselves be oppressed and if the Buddhist majority likewise does not expel the non-Buddhists (esp. the Muslims) then they will become a minority, ‘national reconsolidation’, meaning forced assimilation, and preventing ‘disintegration of the Union’, meaning that if the Army (Tadmadaw) falls then some kind of ethnic chaos would ensue. In this new Myanmarism, ethno-religio-fascist Buddhism (coined first by self-exiled researcher Dr. Shwe Lu Maung), monks have become the regime’s pit bulls that are aided from center to the local level politicians. Even Suu Kyi is a silent partner.

As noted by Human Rights Watch in its report “All You Can Do Is Pray”, immediately after the first wave of anti-Muslim genocidal activities in Arakan in June 2012, local Rakhine Buddhist monks circulated pamphlets calling for the isolation of Muslims. For instance, on June 29, monks in Sittwe (formerly Akyab) distributed an incendiary pamphlet telling all Arakanese Buddhists that they “Must not do business with Bengalis [Rohingya],” and “Must not associate with Bengalis [Rohingya].” It implored the Rakhine people to follow the demands to socially and economically isolate the Rohingya to prevent the “extinction of the Arakanese.”

On July 5, 2012 monks representing the Sangha in Rathedaung Township, 30 kilometers north of Sittwe, held a meeting and subsequently issued a 12-point statement. The preamble unabashedly presents a plan for the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya: ‘Arakan Ethnic Cleansing Program’. It called for the establishment of a “rule to control the birth rate of the Muslim Bengali community living in Arakan”; it advocated forced relocation by demanding the government “remove some Bengali villages located near Sittwe University and beside traffic communication roads throughout Arakan State”; and it expresses opposition to any reintegration plans that would “put Buddhist and Muslim people together.” Furthermore, the statement called for a “peoples’ militia in all ethnic villages along the border and [for the government] to supply sophisticated arms to the people’s militia.” The statement called for strict adherence to the 1982 Citizenship Law, which effectively prevents Rohingya from obtaining Burmese citizenship. The Rathedaung statement was sent to President Thein Sein, leaders in parliament, and the presidential commission established to investigate the situation in Arakan State.

The statement also called on the Rakhine Buddhists in Rathedaung Township to avoid employing Rohingya in a range of jobs, including day laborers, carpenters, masons, and in farming. It also said that the Rohingya should not to be employed in government offices or by NGOs operating in the township, and that all NGOs providing aid to the Rohingya in the township must withdraw. On July 9, 2012 the monks' association in Mrauk-U (once the capital of Arakan) released a similar statement: “No Arakanese [Rakhine Buddhist] should sell any goods to Bengalis, hire Bengalis as workers, provide any food to Bengalis and have any dealings with them ...”

The ruling RNDP in the Rakhine state also played an instrumental role in stoking fear and encouraging isolation of and violence against the Rohingya. One of the racist provocateurs by the name of Aye Chan depicts Rohingya as ‘Influx Virus’ which needs extinction. Members of the Buddhist sangha and the RNDP have also called for changes to the demographic makeup of Arakan State and Burma, such as the expulsion of all Rohingya from the country, in interviews with the international media. The monk Sandarthiri likewise told BBC that Rohingya have no right to stay in Burma: “Around the world there are many Muslim countries. They should go there. The Muslim countries will take care of them. They should go to countries with the same religion.”

The RNDP leaders issued orders to the Rakhine people to deny food entering the Rohingya part of the villages. “If any food comes, take it, crush it, and destroy it” was a notice on the corner of the road in front of the food market with orders saying no one could allow any food to reach the Rohingya village. On that paper it said that any  Buddhist taking money from the Rohingya for rice or other things would be killed.

The HRW report directly implicated "political and religious leaders in Arakan State" in the planning, organization, and incitement of attacks against the Rohingya and other Muslims in October of 2012. 
Buddhist monks were again in the headlines in June 2013 when it was reported that participants at a monastic conference were preparing a draft law that would put severe restrictions on inter-faith marriage and penalize Muslim men who married Buddhist women without converting.


The fact-finding reports from multiple NGOs have confirmed what we suspected for a number of years about who these ‘hidden hands’ are that are responsible for genocidal crimes against Muslims and other vulnerable minorities inside Myanmar. It is high time for the world community, esp. the UNSC, to try these fascists in the ICC for their crimes against humanity for surely the strongest antidote to genocide is justice. And nothing will sober the culprits of Myanmarism except such punitive measures.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What happened in Hashimpura 28 years ago? - By Vibhuti Narain Rai

There are some experiences that stick with you throughout your life. They always stay with you like a nightmare and sometimes are like debts on your shoulders. The experience at Hashimpura Massacre was such an experience for me, says Vibhuti Narayan Rai, then Superintendent of Police, Ghaziabad, UP, India. 

On 22 May 1987, in Hashimpura, a locality in the Meerut City of Uttar Pradesh (UP), India 42 innocent Muslims were killed in cold blood by the personnel of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC).

The night of 22-23 May 1987, which I spent in the wild undergrowth along the stream flowing through the Makanpur village situated on the Delhi Ghaziabad border looking for any living souls amidst the dead bodies covered with blood in the dim light of my torch- everything is engraved in my memory like a horror movie. I had returned to Ghaziabad from Hapur at around 10 30 pm. District Magistrate, Nasim Zaidi was with me. So, I dropped him at his house before reaching the residence of the police officer. The moment the headlight of my car fell on the gates of the residence I saw an estranged and shocked Sub Inspector B. B. Singh who was the in charge of the Link road police station at that time.I could tell from my experience that something serious had happened in that area.I instructed my driver to stop the car and go off. B.B.Singh was so horrified that it did not seem possible for him to explain things coherently. Whatever he could convey while stammering about events in a disorderly manner was enough to shock me. I understood that somewhere in his station area the P. A.C. had killed some Muslims.

Why?? How many?? From where?? It was not clear. After asking him to repeat his facts again and again I tried making a narrative of the events piece by piece. According to the picture so drawn B.B. Singh was sitting in his office when around 9′ o clock he heard firing from the direction of Makanpur. He and everybody else at the station thought that there was robbery in progress in the village. Today Makanpur’s name can only be found in the revenue records. Makanpur today has tall magnificent buildings but in 1987 it was all barren land. Through this barren land ran a check road on which B.B. Singh raced his motorcycle towards the village. Behind him sat the station officer and a constable. They had barely covered a 100 yards on the check road when they saw a truck racing towards them from the opposite direction. If they had not ridden the motorcycle off the check road the truck would have ran them over.

According to them what they saw while trying to maintain their balance the truck was yellow in color and had 41 printed on the back. They even saw people in khaki clothes sitting in the back seats. It was not difficult for a police officer to understand that this was a truck belonging to the 41st battalion of the P.A.C. crossing them with some officers of the P.A.C.; but this made the situation more complicated. Why would a P.A.C. truck be coming from Makanpur at this hour?? What was the mystery behind the firing?? B.B. Singh got the motorcycle on the check road and again proceeded towards the village. The scene that he and his officers saw not more than a mile down the road gave them all goose bumps. Before the habitation of the village the check road crosses a stream. The stream goes ahead and enters into the Delhi border. There was a bridge where the check road crossed the stream.

As he reached the bridge and the headlights of B.B. Singh’s motorcycle fell on the undergrowth along the stream; he understood the mystery behind the firing. There were blood stains all over the place. Along the stream, in the undergrowth and in the water there were bodies with fresh wounds in them. B.B. Singh and his men tried to inspect the scene and to guess what happened there. All they could decipher was that there must be a relation between the bodies there and the P.A.C truck they came across on the way. Leaving the constable at the scene B.B. Singh with his fellow officer turned back to the main road. The headquarters of the 41st battalion of the P.A.C. was situated on the Delhi Ghaziabad Marg near the police station. They both headed for the headquarters.

The main gate was closed. Even after arguing for a long time the sentry did not give them the permission to go inside. B.B. Singh then decided to come to the zonal headquarters and tell me about the events.
From what I could understand from the narration it was clear that some event had occurred, the event was horrifying and that Ghaziabad could be in flames the next day. Since the past many weeks the neighboring district of Meerut was facing communal riots and these riots were moving towards Ghaziabad as well.

I first called the district magistrate Nasim Zaidi. He was about to sleep. After that I called the additional S.P. at the district headquarters, a few deputy S.P.s and magistrates and told them all to get ready. In about another 45 minutes we were heading towards the Makanpur village in about 7-8 cars.

Our cars were parked a little distance away from the bridge on the stream. No one had come from the village which was situated on the other side of the stream. It seemed that terror had forced them all to go into hiding in their houses. There were some police officers from the Link road police station though. The weak beams of their torches were falling on the thick shrubs besides the stream but it was difficult to see anything in that little light. I told the drivers to turn the cars towards the stream and turn their headlights on. An area of around 100 yards width was illuminated. What I saw in that light was the nightmare I was referring to in the beginning.

The light of the headlights was not sufficient due which torches were also carried by all the men. The stains of blood had still not dried up and blood was still dripping from them. The bodies of the dead were dumped all around some were stuck in the bushes whereas some were half submerged in the water. To check if anyone was still alive among the bodies seemed more important to me than to count and remove the dead.

We were about 20 people and everybody started looking in different directions to check if anybody was still alive. We would even yell out in between hoping that somebody would answer back, trying to tell them that we were not foes but friends and the injured would be taken to a hospital. But we got no reply. Disappointed some of us sat down on the bridge. The district in charge and I decided that there was no gain in wasting any time. We had to make strategies for the next day and we decided to leave the task of removing the bodies and completing the necessary paper work. We were about to proceed towards the Link Road station when we heard the sound of a cough coming from the stream.

Everyone froze. I leapt towards the stream. Silence fell over the place again. It was clear that there was a survivor but he did not believe that the people looking for him were friends. We started yelling out again and threw light on each individual body and in the end our eyes fell on a body which was moving. Someone was hanging by both hands from a bush with half his body in the stream in such a way that it was difficult for one to tell if he was dead or alive without proper attention. Trembling with terror and believing only after a lot of reassuring that we were there not to hurt but to save, the person who was going to tell us about this horrifying event, his name was Babbudin. The bullet had just missed and went scratching him. Unconscious he fell into the shrubs and in the stampede his killers forgot to check if he was dead or alive. Holding his breath he lay half in the water and half in the bushes and in this way he managed to cheat death. He wasn’t seriously hurt and he walked from the stream to the cars. He even rested on the bridge for some time.

When I met after 21 years while I was collecting material for the book I was writing on Hashimpura, at the same place where the P.A.C. picked him up from, he remembered that I offered him a biddi after taking one from a constable. According to what Babbudin told us that when that day during the regular checking around 50 people were made to sit in the P.A.C. truck they all thought that they were being taken to a station or a jail. The truck was taken off the main road about 45 minutes from Makanpur and stopped at distance down the road. The P.A.C. leapt down from the truck and ordered them to get down from the truck.

Only half the people had hardly got off when the P.A.C. started firing on them. The people still on the truck took cover. Babbudin was one of them. He could only guess what would have happened to the people who got off. The sounds of the firing probably reached the neighboring villages as a result of which noises started coming from them. The P.A.C. people again got on the truck. The truck reversed and again sped off towards Ghaziabad. Here it came to the Makanpur stream and the P.A.C. again ordered everyone to get off.

This time the horrified prisoners refused to get off so they were pulled and dragged from the truck. The one who came out were shot and thrown in the stream and the ones who didn’t were shot on the truck and thrown off. While Babbudin was telling us the whole incident we tried to assess the location of the first crime scene. Someone suggested that the first crime scene could be the stream which flows near the Muradnagar station which is situated on the road from Meerut to Ghaziabad. I called the Muradnagar station using the wireless at the Link road station and found that we were right.

The Muradnagar station had been facing the similar problem just some time ago. Some were found dead in the stream and some were brought back alive to the station.The story after this is a narrative of a long and torturous wait in which the issues relating to the relation between the Indian state and minorities, the unprofessional attitude of the police and the sluggish pace of the frustrating judicial system may be raised.
-----
(The writer was then Superintendent of Police, Ghaziabad. The article first appeared at IndiaResists.com )
Related:
Botched up investigation by UP Police & Govt to protect the culprits weakened the case: Vrinda Grover on Hashimpura judgement

Mandalay mother mourns the murder of his son

Last year in July, Mandalay in central Myanmar witnessed the lynching of Muslims by Buddhist terrorists. It was part of a highly orchestrated program with deep support at every level of the local and central government. First there was the rumor that two Muslim men had raped a Buddhist woman. This was absolutely false news but a serious one to agitate the Buddhist majority. 

You can read more about this by clicking here.

On July 3, 2014, U Soe Min, a Muslim man, was walking to morning prayers (Fajr) at a nearby mosque when a man with a machete struck him dead with a deep blow to his skull. The 51-year-old Mandalay resident, who ran a bicycle shop, was one of two innocent victims that day of communal violence sparked by reports – later proven to be false – that a Buddhist woman had been raped by two Muslim brothers.



Daw Phyu Win at her home in Mandalay. (Stuart Alan Becker/The Myanmar Times)
Daw Phyu Win at her home in Mandalay. (Stuart Alan Becker/The Myanmar Times)

Hours after U Soe Min’s killing, his mother Daw Phyu Win, widow Daw Tin Tin Kyaw and two young daughters spoke toThe Myanmar Times at their home, grief etched into their faces along with disbelief that a man who had such friendly relations with all his neighbours, regardless of their religion, could have met such a fate.

In late February, eight months after the riots, Daw Phyu Win spoke again – about the family’s long history in Mandalay, how they were coping with the loss of her youngest son, and their fears for the future of the city’s Muslim community.
Speaking in excellent English – as a young woman she taught English at the city’s Catholic Don Bosco School – 79-year-old Daw Phyu Win described how she was born in Mandalay of a family that traces its history back 400 years to Amarapura, a former royal capital just south of where Mandalay sits today. Her ancestors had been servants to the last line of Burmese kings and accompanied the royal family when the court moved to Mandalay.

Reflecting on the communal violence last July – in which a Buddhist volunteer ambulance worker was also killed – she said it was the worst time of her whole life, even worse than the Japanese wartime occupation.

She thinks Muslim people in Myanmar are going to be safe and secure during the run-up to national elections in November, but she worries what will happen afterward.

“For the time being, there is no problem, but I think in the future they may do bad things again. After the election we don’t know what will happen to Muslim people – but right now because of the coming election we are staying nicely,” she said.

“I love the Myanmar land and the Myanmar people,” she said. “But political people change and there are very good Buddhists, but there are also cruel people who have power.
“Good Buddhists have no power; some bad ones have power. All Muslims are afraid of what may happen after the elections – that we may get trouble again.”

Daw Phyu Win said all of her Buddhist neighbours in Mandalay had treated her and her family with great kindness during her whole life – as an undergraduate at Mandalay University, running a middle school with her late husband until it was nationalised under the military rule of Ne Win, and sending her own children to the Don Bosco school even though it was Catholic.
She has vivid memories as a girl living under Japanese occupation, when her family evacuated with others to villages beyond Mandalay Hill, scared of the cruelty of the advancing army.
“When the Japanese came they were very rude and violent. [They] kicked the children. We hated them,” she said. She remembers at the age of seven smoking her first cigarette, offered to her by a black American soldier as allied forces retook Burma.

Above all she remembers that everyone took care of each other, regardless of their religion.
She now lives in a property bought by her grandfather in 1916 – an old brick Burmese-style structure that was destroyed in the war and rebuilt by U Soe Min. She has leased out the space her late son used for his bicycle shop, using the income to support herself and U Soe Min’s widow and daughters.

Contacted again yesterday by The Myanmar Times, Daw Phyu Win declined to comment on last week’s sentencing of the woman who filed the fake rape report and four others to 21 years in prison.

“What happened to my son is fate given by God,” she said. “We can’t change our fate.”

Monday, March 23, 2015

Can communal riots continue without government sanctions?

India has a long history of anti-Muslim riots in which tens of thousands of Muslims have died. Muslims don't get justice in the Indian judicial system for such crimes perpetrated against them. As noted by Senior Advocate Vrinda Grover, who told TCN, “In this country [India] political parties remember Muslims only at the time of election and use them as vote bank, however, when it comes to justice for them, all parties, whether it is BJP, Congress, BSP or SP, pay lip services.”

Here below is an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW of Vibhuti N. Rai BY TEESTA SETALVAD, CO-EDITOR, COMMUNALISM COMBAT:
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Biography of Vibhuti N. Rai:
He is as IPS officer whom the saffron brigade loves to hate. Based on his personal experience as a junior officer during the 1980 communal riots in Allahabad he wrote a novel "Shahar mein curfew" in 1989. On the eve of his promotion as the superintendent of police (SP) of the same city in U.P Ashok Singhal, the general secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, felt enraged enough by its contents to engage in a public burning of the book.
In 1987, he was the SP of Ghaziabad. When in the course of the Meerut riots, the state's Provincial Armed Constabulary [PAC] arbitrarily rounded up a group of Muslims from Hashimpura, packed them in a truck, killed them in cold-blood and dumped them like garbage. He and his men, cried themselves hoarse for three hours in desperate search of a survivor among the victims so that the gruesome tale of 'criminals in uniform' could be told to the world. 
Having succeeded at last in finding Babudeen, the lone survivor he ensured top security to the victim until an F.I.R. was lodged against the murderous PRC men. 
Vibhuti N. Rai is his name. He has 20 years of police service behind him. 
Now a DIG, Border Security Force (BSF), he was posted at Srinagar before he took a year's study leave for research on the subject of communalism and the police force in India. 
Among other things, Rai's interviews with hundreds of riot victims from across the country produced the startling finding that in all riot situations. Hindus consider policemen as their friends while, almost without exception. India's minorities -- Muslims and Sikhs -- experience them as their enemy. 
The implications of his finding are frightening because "losing faith in the police may lead to loss of fa1t.h in the state" itself 
The candour and depth of feeling with which Rai spoke to Combat is rare for a police officer still in service. We reproduce here his interview in full. 

 What is the specific subject of your dissertation?
The subject that has been assigned to me is "Perception of Police Neutrality during Communal Riots", that is, the perception of the police among different strata of society I concentrated on perceptions of police neutrality among all minority segments in Indian society. How they perceive the police was my specific area of research.
To collect information, I framed a questionnaire for a wide cross-section of riot victims from all over the country. The responses that I have got are startling, there is a sharp difference between the perception of the minorities and those of the majority community.
Hindus responded in one way while the response of Muslims and Sikhs was entirely different. From the hundreds of responses that I have collected it is clear that during communal riots, Hindus always visualize the police as their friends while almost every Muslim and Sikh sees them as his enemy.
Now, this is a truly shocking revelation to me. Though I had anticipated that a large majority of Muslims and Sikhs might feel this way, I expected at least some sections from both communities to view the police otherwise. I was shocked to find a near universal minority reponse that the police are enemies.
A second question I asked my respondents was whether they would approach the police during a communal riot when their life was threatened or their property was in danger. The reponses to this question, too, were yet, another revelation to me. The vast majority categorically stated there was no question of their, approaching the police. A few said they would not like to reply to this question. Among those who responded, barely 5- 10 per cent said that they would like to approach the police. These responses, again, are truly shocking.
As a senior police officer what do you feel are the implications of such responses?
 The implications are nothing short of disastrous because the police represents the state. Losing faith in the police may amount to losing faith in the state. But t must make a qualification: one of the heartening findings was that while loss of faith in the police was near total among the minorities, many of the riot victims I interviewed still expressed faith in other organs of the state like the army, the BSF or the CRPF.
 But if the communal virus that is so virulent spreads further. I wonder how long we can keep our army free from it? Especially, if the army is called in so frequently tackle communally explosive situations and jawans are stationed for long durations, there is every likelihood of their catching the same virus. The consolation for now is: at least, the minorities still have some faith in some institutions of the state.
Now that you have completed your research and are near the end of your dissertation what are the major conclusions that you have reached? As an insider who has been extensively researching on the issue, how serious and widespread, according to you, is the problem of communalisation in the Indian police force?
Communal prejudice and bias is so deep and widespread that I feel some drastic steps need to be taken and fast. Especially by the senior leadership within the Indian police. Prejudice governs our actions much more than the fair-play we are sworn to. It is heart-warming to come across instances of decent, non-partisan police officers. But, and I say this with deep regret, such examples are more the exception than the rule
It is useless to decry or condemn or constantly put blame only on politicians. We in the police force have to accept that our house is not in order.
It has become a routine, a fashion almost, after each riot when the allegations begin coming in, senior officers defend the force and counter-allege that the accusations are biased, that they have been leveled by ill-informed persons, etc; that sections of society, the media, social activists, minorities and communists who commonly bring these facts to the notice of the public are biased and that, in a nutshell, their accusations are mala fide.
Personally, I feel that unless we begin by accepting that there is something seriously wrong, we may not be able to rectify it and put our house in order.
Our leadership must improve, IPS officers must stop blaming the force. This applies to Bombay or anywhere else in the country.
There is often a tendency in the force to seek an alibi for their conduct in the role of politicians. For instance, the excuse that "we were not given the necessary orders" is often touted. What are your comments on this?
 There is no denying that in a system of parliamentary democracy like ours, politicians play a decisive and in many cases a final role. But I have never in my whole career come across a situation where an officer who has acted conscientiously and stopped a riot, IS punished for it through political action.
Many times we take shelter behind politicians for our own failures. We say that politicians did not permit it. But no politician can ever ask us to behave in a communal fashion. It is not so easy for even the chief minister of a state ruled by a "Hindutva" party to openly behave like a Hindu communal fanatic and give orders according to his leanings.
 Could you elaborate on this?
 Yes. We now have historical evidence of this kind of inaction and complicity. In 1990, when Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav's government was in power, 300 men were stationed all around and protected the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. Though around a hundred frenzied Persons climbed the domes they could not damage it.
 Two years later, on December 6, 1992, we had a situation where the entire force of the UP police CRPF, ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) totaling 20,000 plus were "guarding the structure. '' The video cassette recording by the Intelligence Bureau clearly documents that not more than 3-4,000 "kar sevaks" were within close proximity of the mosque. In such a scenario could no effective action have been taken?
 The reason why no action was taken lies elsewhere. The same cassette shows policemen rejoicing with their hands held high in victory when the Babri Masjid was destroyed. The district magistrate and other officials were dancing with delight. That is why the "kar sevaks" could not be stopped. There was no desire to do so.
So, if you were in control and were given an order telling you not to fire at the kar sevaks, for example, are you saying that you were not bound to follow this political diktat?
Yes, I am saying that. No government can give illegal orders. The Indian Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code, the Indian Constitution, they are supreme. And no government can give orders contravening these statutes.
As a senior police officer with considerable experience, especially in communal hot-spots in UP, could you cite instances of what you consider open communal bias?
 There are constant refrains from sections of officialdom that the PAC (Provincial Armed Constabulary) in UP is .not communal. My personal evidence is to the contrary. I am constrained to say that their behaviour is like that of an RSS activist. The only difference is that the PAC jawans sport full khaki pants while the RSS cadre wears khaki shorts.
 For me, one of the most glaring instances was the conduct of the PAC in Meerut. I was serving as SP in Ghaziabad (neighbouring district) when the PAC picked up at least 40 Muslims from Hashimpura in Meerut and shot them dead in 1987
During the communal riots there was an official "search" of the mohalla by the army, while both the police and PAC were present. During those 'searches," the PAC arbitrarily picked up Muslims from the area, packed them into a truck and killed them en route to Ghaziabad.

"Communal prejudice and bias is so deep and widespread that I feel some drastic steps need to be taken and fast, especially by the senior leadership within the Indian police. Prejudice governs our actions much more than the fair-play we are sworn to. It is heart-warming to come across instances of decent, non-partisan police officers. But, and I say this with deep regret, such examples are more the exception than the rule"
As SP, Ghaziabad reached the spot within a few hours. It took me more than three hours of patrolling among a field of corpses - one of the most gruesome jobs of my whole career- to locate the stray survivor of that massacre. 
My men and I shouted ourselves hoarse, trying to convince any survivor among the victims that we were there to save them. But how could we expect them to believe us since we donned the same hateful uniform? Finally, after several hours, we could reach
Babudeen, one of the few survivors of that PAC assault. It was due to our relentless efforts that the F.I.R. against the PAC officials was registered in his name. He had to have top notch security for many days
The case was then handed over to the CID, UP. Eight years later, I was recently told that the (the CID) have finally fired a charge-sheet against officers of the PAC! The charge-sheet reached the court only. A few months back. The case is now languishing with the government yet to decide whether or not-to give sanction to prosecute.
It may be argued that you are over-generalising from a few capes, however shocking?
This is only one of the examples. If we try to ignore these, call them exceptions and explain it away saying that their (PAC) normal conduct is secular, it would amount to brushing the dust under the carpet. We will have to accept that something is seriously wrong with the PAC.
In almost every riot in UP over the past 20 ears the PAC has been indicted Personally, I feel that such repeated allegations call for drastic steps to improve the PAC.
Another ghastly case IS the conduct of the Bihar police in the 1989 riots in Bhagalpur, especially in the villages of Loghain and Chanderi where 100 Muslims were slaughtered in cold blood. In Loghain particularly, the conduct of the police and the administration was truly shocking because the bodies of those slaughtered were recovered only one-and-a-half-months later, buried in a field over which cauliflower was being grown.
 The reason was that the officials of the district police and administration, located barely 20 kilometers from the site, just kept on denying the incidents despite repeated allegations especially in the media.
 You can imagine the killing of over 100 persons in cold blood within 20 kilometers of officialdom and both the police and administration trying to hide it. That was the height of callousness. There were serious allegations against the Bihar police for their gross conduct. On a recent visit to Bhagalpur, I was also told that only one PSI has even been charge-sheeted.
 I strongly feel that action should have been taken against the senior police officer on duty also. Punishing an ASI or a head constable is not enough The SP or the DSP, the 18, commissioner or DIG, the DM, punishing someone at the top 1s a must.
Why? To send a strong message down to the lower levels of the police force and the administration?
 Exactly, that way a clear message is sent down. If you punish the SP, if you tell the DM and the SP that if there are riots you will be accountable, there will be no riots. I strongly believe that if a riot break out and is not controlled within 24 hours, the DM and the SP should both be placed under immediate suspension.   
What you are implying then is that any communal riot anywhere in India can be effectively controlled by the administration and the police within 24 hours if they desire to do so. If they do not, they should be held directly responsible for the failure?
 Yes, absolutely. Recently, I attended a session at a training course for probationers. It was the unanimous opinion of all senior officials present that no communal riot in India can last for more than 24 hours without the consent of the state.
 I have repeatedly made this proposition at every forum that I have addressed: In any city or state of the country, a riot can be controlled within 24 hours unless the state wants it otherwise. B the state I mean the forces which represent the state whether it is police or the district administration, or local governments.
 Indian society is not a hostile or volatile society like West Asia, Europe or other parts of the world where sections of civil society are fighting the state with the use of weapons. Few situations like that prevail in India, the exceptions being terrorist-infested areas like Punjab, Kashmir and the northeast. In the rest of the country, if the police and administration are unable to control a riot within 24 hours, it only means that our actions, conduct and behaviour need introspection.

"Many times we take shelter behind politicians for our own failures. We say that politicians did not permit it. But no politician can ever ask us to behave in a communal fashion. It is not so easy for even the chief minister of a state ruled by a “Hindutva” party to openly behave like a Hindu communal fanatic. It is often our own inbuilt communal bias, that makes us behave in a communally biased fashion"
 It is my strong personal view that it is the deep-rooted communal bias in the police and the administration that prevents us from controlling communal flare-ups within 24 hours. Statistics also bear this out.
 Muslims have been the worst sufferers, the victims of every riot since Independence. Some 20- 25 per cent of those affected might be Hindus but over 76 per cent are Muslims. Similarly, It is Muslims who constitute the large majority of victims of police bullets in each riot. Despite this, statistics also show that more Muslims are arrested before, during and after a riot than Hindus. How can this happen, unfailingly, each time, unless there is deep-seated communal bias?
What kind of action do you think is needed to put the house in order as you put it?
The action will have to be manifold. For example, I would recommend that, first and foremost, minorities must be given proper representation in the police force. We must have reservations for this. This kind of affirmative action has been adopted in countries like the USA and the UK for blacks and other racial and ethnic groups, and they have found it useful. In Indian society, which is a plural society composed of so many ethnic, linguistic and religious groups. I think that fair representation of all these groups is a must. It is absolutely necessary.

Many senior police officials argue that reservation is not the answer. Why do you feel such a step la justified?
I do not find any force or justification in these arguments. I find that those who put forward these arguments are basically trying to hide their own communal bias under the guise of maintaining discipline or morale of the force. They argue that in fact having reservations might encourage fights or dissensions within the force, that it may lead to a situation where the lower rank policemen might refuse to obey the commands of an officer from another community etc.
 I find these arguments utterly baseless. In fact, I feel that if there is a representation within the police force of members from each segment of society, it will help them to understand "the other point of view." If there is representation of Muslims, Sikhs and Christians among policemen posted at the district level, I am sure there will be a marked change in the overall behaviorial pattern. I feel certain of this.
What have we achieved by not having reservation? Despite recommendation after recommendation made annually by the National Police Commission, why are we reluctant to implement this basic safeguard?
 May I give you a tragic example of what the lack of reservation can do? Within days of the 1980 communal carnage at Muradabad, the then UP chief minister announced the creation of five battalions of a special unit, the Vishesh Sewa Dal, “especially for the protection of minorities.” Seven years later, it was the 41st PAC batallion, consisting of these same five battalions of the Vishesh Sewa Dal, ostensibly constituted for the protection of minorities that was responsible for the atrocities at Hashimpura. Can there be a clearer example of what lack of reservations can do?
Could you explain how a more representative force will make a difference at a practical level?
 Our police functions on the basis of minimum strength. For example, the PAC of Uttar Pradesh will not be split in less than a section and the BSF will not be split in less than one platoon. A section means 11-12 persons. So, imagine if these 11-12 persons are stationed at one particular place, and out of this number there are 2-3 belonging to the minority community. They sleep together in one barrack, relax together, dine together. Through all this, a sort of camaraderie, a sort of brotherhood, develops that affects their behaviour in a communally tense situation also.
You say that a quality leadership within the police force can make all the difference in controlling a communally tense situation. What is needed to ensure this quality leadership?
 Forces are run by their leaders. As Napolean has so rightly said, "There are no bad soldiers, only bad generals." So, leadership not only makes a substantial difference, it is the most vital, the most decisive factor in the functioning of a force whether we are talking of the police, the paramilitary or the army.
If the leader becomes communal, his actions are tainted with bias, it is certainly going to reflect in the behaviour of the force also. Certain interventions are needed. Among the remedies, I would rate training as the most important. New training inputs will have to be evolved.
At the end of the police training we have to be able to create a conviction in the probationers that once they don khaki, they seize to be Hindu or Muslim. Their faith remains their individual faith but once they sport their uniform they are simply police officers with one solitary duty: to maintain law and order.
You were serving in UP at the height of the Ramjanmabhoomi mobilisation. Can you tell us bristly how the communal virus came 10 infect the various segments and institutions of society?
 Those were the worst years. Communalisation had flowed down from the upper classes and castes to even lower caste Hindus. Those were the worst days. I had never seen anything like it. Every segment of society was deeply affected by the virus: the media, the police, lawyers, the magistracy, the bureaucracy.
 Lawyers of the Allahabad High Court had led a procession screaming pro-Godse and anti-Gandhi slogans during that time. Professors and lecturers of the Allahabad University had issued letters and joint statements in favour of the demolition and the construction of the Ram temple.
 What was the role of the media during this period?
 The role of the media was the worst of all. Newspapers Aaj, Jaagran, Amar Ujala have been severely censored by the Press Council for their role. For example, reports on the news of the death toll of kar sevaks in 1990 revealed the worst bias in the media. Hardly 25-odd persons had been killed. But thanks to the local press, the figure reached 25-30,000! Some papers began by exaggerating the figures - just another name for lying - to 500, then 1,000, 2.000. Within a few days these figures had- reached 25-30,000. You just could not believe what was happening. The aim of these publications was clear – to whip up anger and frenzy.
 There is the other example from Aligarh. Local newspapers around the same time published a complete lie stating that in the hospital attached to Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), all Hindu patients had been killed. The "news" appeared one morning. Immediately riots started in and around Aligarh, spreading to neighbouring districts and villages. Imagine the effect ... violence breaking out on the basis of a totally false report, maliciously printed.

        "I would recommend that first and foremost, minorities must be given proper representation in the police force. We must have reservations. This kind of affirmative action has been adopted in countries like the USA and the UK for blacks and other racial and ethnic groups, and they have found it useful. In Indian society, which is a plural society composed of so many ethnic, linguistic and religious groups, I think that fair representation of all these groups is a must"
 Within a few hours, a respected couple from Aligarh, G. P. Singh and his wife, Mamta Singh (writers in Hindi) went to the hospital and found each and every patient safe. Patients even told them that after this rumour had been systematically spread Muslim doctors and medical college students guarded them the whole night. They were actually worried that people may take inspiration from the rumour.
 And what happened to the newspaper? It escaped unscathed, except for a reprimand from the Press Council. And what would a reprimand do to a publication like this? It made no difference.
 What was the conduct of the UP police during this period?
Policemen. Too, were reading the same papers. Almost the entire police force in UP began believing that 25-30.000 had been killed at Ayodhya when they had gone for kar seva.
 The fascist way of preparing ground and gaining support from the majority community works like this: it results in ordinary people starting to believe that they are victims and under threat. Through insidiously planted propaganda it secures the participation of ordinary persons in violence against the other", in the belief that 'they are actually defending themselves. The media, especially in that period, served the fascist cause admirably by printing blatant lies.
You said that part of your research work was to explore how the RSS functions before, in and during a riot situation. What are your findings in' this regard?
 The most recent example of the RSS' manipulation of the mass psyche was evident in Hubli (Karnataka) in the flag-hoisting controversy. I was there by January 19, several days before Republic Day, as part of my research. It gave me first hand knowledge, yet again, of the manner in which lies are assiduously propagated, and a myth systematically sown deep into the mass psyche. It bore close similarity to the myth and lies that were manufactured, for the Ramjanmabhoomi mobilisation.
 Until about 1984-85, we always read or heard the words Babri Masjid used to describe the monument around which Hindutva forces had launched their mobilisation. This was the case with the private as much as the official, government-controlled television and radio media.
Then, gradually, the terms of reference changed: it first began to be referred to as the Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhoomi dispute then to Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute; finally, by the time we reached 1990, most of the media -including the government controlled television and radio - had begun to refer to it as vivadit dhancha (disputed structure).
Similarly, in Hubli, the Idgah maidan had been given in 1922 on a 999 year-long lease to the Anjuman-e-Islam. Since then the location has been referred to as Idgah maidan. Even all the cases that have been filed contesting the claims of ownership, including the one by the RGSS (Rashtriya Gaurav Samman Samiti) refer to the location as Idgah maidan.
But now, suddenly, they have found a different name. There is a local historical figure, a symbol of resistance to British imperialism, Rani Chinamma. A statue of this historical figure, a woman locally respected for her struggle, has suddenly been installed within 100 yards at the structure at the crossroads. She is a powerful local symbol who has been sought by the local forces of Hindutva.
Now, this park which has for 72 years been called ldgah maidan, suddenly been re-named Rani Chinamma maidan! The local press has followed suit and begun to refer to it as Idgah maiden-Rani Chinamma maidan. I recently told a friend in Hubli that very soon it will be renamed Rani Chinamma-ldgah maiden and, finally, a disputed maidan.
This is how the RSS creates a mythical dispute, works on the minds of a vast majority of Hindus who "then begin believing falsified accounts and accept them to be the truth.

"If you punish the SP, if you tell the DM and the SP that if there are riots you will be accountable there will be no riots I strongly believe that if a riot breaks out and is not controlled within 24 hours, the DM and the SP should both be placed under immediate suspension"

‘Hidden hands’ stoked Mandalay anti-Muslim pogrom

For years I have been saying that most of the anti-Muslim pogroms and genocidal activities inside Burma (or Myanmar) owe their origin to government. They are sanctioned by the government and often the terrorist Buddhist monks (esp. those affiliated with the 969 Fascist Movement) have been utilized by the regime to polarize public opinion against Muslims. 


It is no accident that after his release from prison, Buddhist monk Wirathu has now become the face of Buddhist terrorism, whose 969 fascist movement is at the forefront of Nazi-like blitzkrieg against unarmed Muslims. With the vast support he and other racist Buddhist monks enjoy within the broader Buddhist community, these SS Nazi type monks have been able to rally Buddhists to attack, kill and burn Muslims. Police and other security forces, if they did not participate in such heinous crimes themselves would often time stand unperturbed, as if nothing went wrong, or that they have no business to stop such horrendous crimes of savage Buddhists. 

Since May of 2012 starting with the savage lynching to death of ten tablighi Muslims by Rakhine Buddhist mob, we have witnessed how the Buddhist terrorists have went on to rampage to exterminate Muslims, often time led by Buddhist monks and security forces. 

In July of 2014, Muslims in Mandalay were viciously attacked and killed by a Buddhist mob. Justice Trust is an international human rights organization that partners with lawyers and activists in Myanmar to strengthen local communities fighting for justice. It found 'hidden hands' (read: government hand) in the attack. Here below is the report:



The Justice Trust has just released a report, “Hidden Hands Behind Communal Violence in Myanmar: Case Study of the Mandalay Riots,” documenting the use of organized gangs of armed men to commit anti-Muslim riots under the guise of spontaneous mob violence.
The NGO held a press conference in Bangkok on March 23 to release the report.
“This report shows what most Burmese have known for a long time – that religious hatred between Buddhists and Muslims is being stoked by hidden hands and manipulated as a pretext for maintaining their grip on power,” said U Thein Than Oo, a Mandalay lawyer who serves on Justice Trust’s steering committee. “We have seen this script many times before – the deployment of plainclothes forces [Swah Ah Shin] rather than uniformed soldiers to commit national-scale political violence, and the scapegoating of minorities to divert public attention away from the country’s real needs.”
Drawing on six months of research by a team of local and international lawyers, the report analyzes the riots that shook Mandalay in July 2014 – the latest in a series of communal attacks across the country – and places these riots in the context of previous waves of communal conflict carried out under past military regimes.
The Mandalay riots closely followed every element of this pattern, starting with a false charge of rape spread on Facebook. But unlike in previous riots, where large mobs developed and the violence spun out of control, local people in Mandalay refused to participate despite the best efforts of outside agitators. In fact, local monks, activists and journalists arrived and tried to contain the situation. Without the protective cover of a sympathetic crowd, the outside agitators were exposed, the stage-managed nature of their violence was made visible to the public, and the overall damage was limited.
The Mandalay riots were designed to appear as a spontaneous outbreak of mob violence, but in fact were perpetuated by an organised gang of armed men brought in from outside Mandalay to enact a pre-determined script written and stage-managed by hidden hands for political ends,” the report says.

The report states that: “The case of Mandalay therefore provides the clearest evidence yet of a deliberate political strategy to foment anti-Muslim violence, as well as the best example of countering this strategy through a local early warning system to mobilize an immediate on-the-ground response.”
According to multiple corroborated eyewitnesses, the Mandalay riots were carried out over two straight nights by a small group of men on motorcycles who rampaged through Muslim neighborhoods. This took place in plain view of fully armed riot police, who followed the rioters and watched the mayhem unfold without taking action.
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Following an eruption of what the report calls “genuine communal antagonism” in Rakhine State in 2012 that saw over 250 people killed, subsequent outbreaks of violence – in Meiktila, Mandalay and Lashio, among others – have occurred across the country in areas that had no history of communal conflict. The report says they follow a similar pattern of events, including rape allegations, speaking tours by Ashin Wirathu and visits by gangs of fomenting outsiders. They also appear timed to divert attention from other political issues.
“If you’re busy thinking about the so-called Muslim threat in Myanmar, you probably won’t be worried about the widespread land grabs taking place, resource extractions by multi-national corporations, the upcoming 2015 elections, and much-needed reforms to the constitution,” U Thein Win Aung, an analyst from Mandalay, said in the report.

“Lots of people recognise that the 969 movement has a history of inciting riots … and once Wirathu posted the [rape] allegation to Facebook, the local civil groups alerted others to the coming storm,” said Roger Normand, executive director of Justice Trust.

Mandalay is far from the only orchestrated incident. Myanmar has a long history of military regimes employing the “dual threat of external intervention and internal disintegration” to ensure control, according to the report. Famed examples of such diversions include General Ne Win’s anti-Chinese riots in the 1960s to distract from a countrywide rice shortage, and Buddhist-Muslim tensions after democratic mass uprising in 1988.

“Buddhist anti-Muslim actions in Myanmar are not new – they have surfaced periodically in recent decades,” said Southeast Asia historian Peter Coclanis.

“Adding to … historical factors, obviously, are more immediate factors having to do with ethnic scapegoating, the desire to ramp up Buddhist Bamar national feeling [and] short-run political advantage in the run-up to the election.”

In January, US assistant secretary of state Tom Malinowski warned that by inflaming radical religious divides Myanmar is stoking the flames of a fire it isn’t ready to handle.

“The use of religion in particular, to divide people - whether it is done for political or any other purposes, is incredibly dangerous, particularly in an election year,” he said.

However, Mr Normand from Justice Trust said such chaos might be exactly what the crony networks of the “hidden hands” are trying to whip up for their own benefit.

“For some, the minority hard-liners, sectarian riots spinning out of control will likely improve their electoral chances, but for those with a vision of long-term good for the country it’s very dangerous,” he said.

“Once these things are out, they cannot just be pushed back in the bottle.”