Monday, September 16, 2019

600,000 Rohingya remain under serious risk of genocide: UN

A United Nations fact-finding mission says Myanmar continues to harbor genocidal intent against Rohingya Muslims, noting that the Rohingya who still remain in the country are facing serious risk of genocide.

The mission to Myanmar, set up by the UN Human Rights Council last year, said in a new report on Monday that some 600,000 Rohingya are living in “deplorable” conditions in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

The mission is to present its final report on Myanmar in Geneva on Tuesday.

Myanmar is “denying wrongdoing, destroying evidence, refusing to conduct effective investigations and clearing, razing, confiscating and building on land from which it displaced Rohingya,” the report said.

The mission believes Rohingya Muslims are living in “inhumane” conditions.
The file photo, taken on September 7, 2017, shows unidentified men with knives and slingshots walking past a burning house in Gawdu Tharya village near Maungdaw in Rakhine state, northern Myanmar. (By AFP) 

Christopher Sidoti, an Australian human rights lawyer and panel member, said in a statement accompanying the report that the “threat of genocide is continuing for the remaining Rohingya.”

The UN investigators also warned in their report that the repatriation of a million people already driven from Myanmar by the army remains “impossible.”

“These facts underscore the impossibility of return for the nearly one million Rohingya refugees, mostly in Bangladesh.”

Myanmar’s security forces stand accused of killing, gang rape and arson during a crackdown that forced more than 740,000 people from homes in Rakhine into neighboring Bangladesh in August 2017.
The fact-finding mission said the army operations in 2017 amounted to “genocide.” It called for the prosecution of top generals, including army chief Min Aung Hlaing.

The UN panel said it had passed the evidence it gathered from nearly 1,300 interviews with witnesses to a new investigative mechanism for Myanmar, which will support any future prosecution in international courts.
The International Criminal Court says it has jurisdiction to probe the forced deportations of Rohingya from Myanmar to Bangladesh as a possible crime against humanity.
It said it had a confidential list of over 100 names, including officials, suspected of being involved in crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The UN investigators repeated calls for foreign governments and companies to sever all business ties with the Myanmar military, urging the establishment of a “moratorium” on investment and development assistance in Rakhine.

The Rohingya have inhabited Rakhine for centuries, but the state denies them citizenship.

Burma Act of 2019

The "BURMA Act of 2019" (H.R.3190) is a bipartisan bill, sponsored by Reps. Eliot Engel (D, NY) and Steve Chabot (R, OH), that would take action to end the genocide in Myanmar. 

Tell your U.S. representatives to vote in favor of the "BURMA Act of 2019" (H.R.3190) when it reaches the full House.
The "BURMA Act of 2019" (H.R.3190) would:
  • prohibit expansion of American military assistance to Burma until reforms take place;
  • require reporting on crimes against humanity, including war crimes and genocide;
  • impose trade, visa and financial restrictions on those responsible for these crimes;
  • support investigations to support the eventual prosecution of war criminals; and
  • promote reforms to limit the Burmese military’s stranglehold on Burma’s natural resources.
When the world says "Never Again" after an incidence of genocide, we have to mean it.
We have the responsibility right now to help end the genocide in Burma (Myanmar). Let’s take action together and take action now.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Thank you senators for standing up for the Uyghurs of China

The United States Senate passed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act.

The bill’s original co-sponsors include Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Coons (D-DE), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Steve Daines (R-MT), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). Additional co-sponsors include Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mike Braun (R-IN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Shelley Capito (R-WV), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), James Lankford (R-OK), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
U.S. Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Tom Suozzi (D-NY) introduced companion legislation in the House.
Thank you for your support of the Uyghur Human Rights Act (S.178). I appreciate you Senators taking a strong stance against a regime (Xi's China) that has created the largest concentration camps since Nazi Germany. 
I urge the Senators to strengthen the bill in the conference and ensure that it becomes law. 

Friday, September 13, 2019

9/11 – Eighteen Years Later

By Habib Siddiqui

On Wednesday the USA observed the 18th anniversary of 9/11. The attacks on the soil of the USA was committed not by a hostile state but reportedly by non-state Muslim zealots that were affiliated with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda. Nearly 3000 individuals of all faiths died in the attacks.

Since the militant group was based in Afghanistan, the mineral rich country was attacked on October 7, 2001 as a retaliation by President George W. Bush. The Taliban regime of Mullah Omar was soon toppled with massive bombing campaigns from the joint Anglo-American forces. Nearly a quarter million innocent Afghan civilians who had no connection with 9/11 were pulverized in the USA-led barbarity.

Next, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which had no connection with 9/11, was invaded. President Bush gave a new meaning to the word - savagery. Truly, never before had humanity seen so much brutality and plundering, especially in the post-World War II era by a government that touted itself as the model of civility and greatness. Probably, a million Iraqi civilians were butchered by Bush and his forces. [Note: Some reliable estimates like the Opinion Research Business (ORB) poll conducted 12–19 August 2007 estimated 1,033,000 violent deaths due to the Iraq War. The range given was 946,000 to 1,120,000 deaths. In the last 12 years, the casualty figures have grown higher.] The Ba’athist regime in Iraq (like the Taliban in Afghanistan) was promptly replaced by a puppet government.

Saddam Hussein was hanged in Iraq. OBL was killed in May 2011 in a raid inside Pakistan. And Mullah Omar reportedly died a natural death inside Afghanistan. Hostile regimes were replaced by friendlier ones to the USA but the elusive peace and security, let alone democracy, never set in. And as it appears, such goals were not even planned or intended by the US-led invaders. Out of all the chaos which have set in, deadlier foes than al Qaeda have emerged posing greater threat to the security not only to the entire region but even to the West.

A resurgent Taliban continues to challenge the authority of the elected government in Afghanistan where the latter’s controls are mostly limited during the daytime; a quarter of Afghanistan remains a contested territory. A small contingent of American forces continue to provide air support and train Afghan government forces in what has become America’s longest war.

With its uncanny capacity to attract and recruit vulnerable youths worldwide to unleash terrors (e.g., in places like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) and temporary success inside Iraq and Syria to hold on to and fight tooth and nail for conquered territories, Daesh (ISIS) with its highly flawed neo-Kharijite tendencies remains a global threat anywhere despite its defeat in the Levant.

The Arab spring blossomed and withered; the desire for a people’s participatory democracy has been ruthlessly subdued in all but Tunisia, and perhaps Sudan that now has a provisional government preparing the ground for democracy. Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian butcher, has been able to solidify his power through mass killings and destroying most of the country. With the on-going civil wars, Somalia, Libya and Yemen have become failed states. Thousands of political dissidents have been executed while tens of thousands continue to rot in Sisi’s notorious prisons. Denied any medical care, Dr. Morsi, Egypt’s first and only democratically elected president, recently died inside the court room, which has been described by many observers including the Turkish President Erdogan as a deliberate murder. Tens of thousands of unarmed civilians continue to die in US drone attacks in places like Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The non-state terrorist outfits like the Boko Haram and the Lord’s Resistance Army continue to terrorize civilians and government alike in sub-Sahara.

The American-led wars – or perhaps more properly the 21st century neo-crusades – have uprooted 21 million Afghan, Iraqi, Pakistani and Syrian people who are now refugees of war or internally displaced. Millions of them have found shelters in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon; a very small number of these refugees have also found asylum in Europe, the USA and Canada.

Immigration issue has dominated the politics of many countries, emboldening and/or electing the far right, supremacists to even catapult some of them to the citadel of power. Sadly, exclusion and not inclusion, intolerance and not tolerance, chauvinism and not diversity have become the new norms in many countries with sizable minorities – legal or illegal.

Ordinary Muslims are the worst victims of this new ‘world disorder’. They are often the targets of hate crimes and persecution under supremacist regimes who continue to exploit 9/11 to terrorize them. As a matter of fact, 9/11 has allowed anti-Muslim forces of all shades of color and creed to form a Kabilite alliance whose aim remains smearing Islam and defeating Muslims everywhere, while the OIC remains emasculated and the Arab League remains dysfunctional.

India has morphed into an anti-Muslim, intolerant county under prime minister Narendra Modi of the BJP who was re-elected with a landslide victory.  It did not matter an iota to the Hindutvadi voters that as the chief minister of Gujarat he was complicit with the murder of thousands of Muslims and that under his watch lynching of Muslims who are falsely portrayed as ‘invaders’ or outsiders has become a daily phenomenon. He has recently annexed the Muslim-majority state of Kashmir. Millions of Assamese Muslims have lately been robbed of their Indian citizenship and face an unknown future, much like the uprooted Rohingyas of Myanmar. Under the BJP rule, history is distorted, and Muslim-sounding names of cities, towns and villages are now Hinduized to delink Muslims to the territory in which they and their forefathers were born.

The indigenous Rohingyas of the Arakan (renamed Rakhine) state of Myanmar (formerly Burma) have faced genocide in Buddhist Myanmar. As part of a very sinister eliminationist national project, tens of thousands of Rohingyas have been killed and raped in 2017; nearly a million Rohingyas have been forced to take shelter inside Bangladesh where they face an uncertain future with scant chance of ever returning to their ancestral land with dignity and citizenship restored.

Under the pretext of curbing potential terrorist threats, millions of Uyghur Muslims – already marginalized and deprived – are detained in the largest concentration/internment (dubbed disingenuously as re-education) camps in Xinjiang (formerly East Turkestan). Their academics and community leaders are arrested, tortured and face execution in Xi’s authoritarian regime, which is guilty of cultural genocide and Hanification of the PRC (let alone in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region – the historic home of the Uyghur people) to the perils of tens of millions of Muslims there.

Thanks to the power of the Israel-Lobby and colossal betrayal from the Arab leaders/monarchs, the Palestinian issue – that allegedly triggered 9/11 – no longer dominates news headlines. The latter have all but swallowed the Zionist narrative and abandoned their role as champions for an equitable solution to the decades-old problem. With the illegal, incessant annexation of the West Bank territories and Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, all the hopes for a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli problem are fading fast. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on September 10, 2019 that he planned to annex the Jordan Valley, a large swathe of the occupied West Bank, if he wins a closely contested election just a week away. As we have seen with India’s annexation of Kashmir, which has been overlooked as an ‘internal’ affair, we may not hear much hullaballoo about this latest move either if it were to materialize.

The biggest winner from the 9/11 tragedy has been the settler state of Israel. With her mafia-like untouchable status rewarded and the massive failure of the world community to punish her for war crimes in Gaza, plus Arab disunity at an all-time high, with her foes Iraq and Syria decimated, and Iran isolated and denied rights to nuclear power, not-so-covert ties established with some Gulf states, while her capital city in the occupied Jerusalem is declared kosher by the Trump administration, and ‘game theory’ strategists’ meticulously designed plan towards setting the stage for asymmetric power dynamic, Israel is steadily capturing the center stage for global dominance.

Suffice it to say that Muslims are the biggest losers from 9/11. They are divided and weak. Worse still, ruled mostly by authoritarian leaders/rulers who fear no accountability for their criminal actions, they are betrayed by their own kind!

At home, the U.S. war in Afghanistan has led to the deaths of about 2,400 American service members, including 16 in combat action this year. Some 20,000 more have been wounded, many grievously. Data provided by the Pentagon shows that more than 775,000 U.S. service members have been deployed to Afghanistan at least once.

As of June 29, 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Defense casualty website, there were 4,424 total deaths (including both killed in action and non-hostile) and 31,952 wounded in action (WIA) as a result of the Iraq War.

As to the cost of the war, President Donald Trump said that US spent $7 Trillion on Middle East Wars (i.e., the so-called global war on terror). Interest costs would add another $8 trillion in the next four decades. Realizing that Bush-Cheyney-Rumsfeld’s wars, which according to warmongers were supposed to be quick, cheap, effective and beneficial to the U.S. interest, have proven to be pyrrhic, Trump wants America to ‘get the hell out’ of Afghanistan.

He has done a great favor to humanity this week by firing his hawkish National Security Advisor, John Bolton – an architect behind the Iraqi invasion, who remains an unapologetic and unabashed drum-beater for the War Party and the ‘Amen Corner’ in the Capitol Hill. Bolton wanted America to go to war against Iran to help the Zionist cause. Experts have warned that the Iraq war would be child’s play compared to a war against Iran, who will put up a fight, far worse than all of the wars in the Middle East since 1948 combined. Much of the Middle East will be in flames. American casualties will be many times that of the Iraq war.

These days, political news about Trump’s tweets and debates of the Democratic hopefuls for the presidential nomination dominate the headlines. Even the news of the trial date for 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) and his cohorts did not make any headline. It is set for January 11, 2021. Most observers like Kelley Beaucar Vlahos don’t think it’ll happen, not in January 2021 or ever. Why? Torture - like waterboarding, sensory/sleep-deprivation, beatings, electric shocks and more.

According to Vlahos, “The U.S. military and the CIA took KSM and other high-level detainees who later spent time at the infamous GTMO off the battlefield and into “black” interrogation sites that most Americans would rather forget ever existed…  They tortured these individuals for information before bringing them to GTMO and then tortured them some more. The reason why KSM and his four cohorts have not gone to trial yet is because there is a dispute over whether their confessions are admissible because they were gleaned through torture sessions in CIA prisons. By law any evidence obtained under these conditions is inadmissible.”

Many of the detainees at Guantanamo at its peak were low level Taliban fighters, Al Qaeda lackeys, or worse, they were innocent souls who were at the wrong place at the right time. Many were turned in for money or revenge. Most of those men have long been repatriated. As of 2018, 40 detainees remain.

With the death of OBL, KSM remains the highest-level 9/11 suspect alive. When he was captured in Pakistan in 2003, he was taken to different black sites for months and subjected to the CIA extreme interrogation techniques that the Bush Administration had approved early in the war. He was reportedly waterboarded 183 times.

Guantanamo Bay detention center, thanks to Bush Jr. Administration, will continue to stain America’s image as a nation that endorsed torture.

While Trump’s America appears more divided than ever before with white supremacist terrorism becoming the new norms, there is some silver lining in the post-9/11 era. Two Muslim women – first in the US history – now serve as congresswomen. They are not afraid to speak truth to power. They have been able to shake the establishment – the White House and unmask many of the closet fascists and robots at the service of the War Party.

Who knows one day America will self-correct itself and evolve into a more inclusive society that cares for all!

A message from Amnesty International: Uighur Academic: TASHPOLAT TIYIP FACES EXECUTION IN CHINA

9 September 2019, Index number: ASA 17/1006/2019
Fears are mounting that the Chinese authorities will imminently carry out the execution of Tashpolat Tiyip, a prominent Uyghur academic who was convicted in a secret and grossly unfair trial. Subjected to an enforced disappearance in 2017, he has been arbitrarily detained since then. No information has been made available about charges and proceedings against him and his current whereabouts remain unknown.

First UA: 119/19 Index: ASA 17/1006/2019 China Date: 9 September 2019


Fears are mounting that the Chinese authorities will imminently carry out the execution of Tashpolat Tiyip, a prominent Uyghur academic who was convicted in a secret and grossly unfair trial. Subjected to an enforced disappearance in 2017, he has been arbitrarily detained since then. No information has been made available about charges and proceedings against him and his current whereabouts remain unknown.
President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping
Xichengqu, Beijing Shi 100017
People’s Republic of China
Fax: +86 10 6238 1025

Dear President,
I am writing to ask for your urgent intervention to halt the execution of Tashpolat Tiyip which could be carried out as soon as September.
Tashpolat Tiyip was the President of Xinjiang University when he was forcibly disappeared in 2017, while travelling to Germany with a group of students for a conference. He has been detained since then and his whereabouts remain unknown. He was convicted of “separatism” in secret and grossly unfair proceedings.
Sentenced to a “suspended death sentence”, which includes the possibility of commutation after two years’ imprisonment when no other crimes are committed, he now faces imminent execution.
I call on you to:
  1. Immediately halt plans to carry out the execution of Tashpolat Tiyip;
  2. Release Tashpolat Tiyip unconditionally, unless there is sufficient credible and admissible evidence that he committed an internationally recognized offence and is granted a fair trial in line with international standards.
  3. Yours sincerely,

Uyghurs are a mainly Muslim ethnic minority who are concentrated primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang) in China. Since the 1980s, the Uyghurs have been the target of systematic and extensive human rights violations. This includes arbitrary detention and imprisonment, incommunicado detention, and restrictions on religious freedom as well as cultural and social rights. Local authorities maintain tight control over religious practice, including prohibiting all government employees and children under the age of 18 from worshiping at mosques. Chinese government policies limit the use of the Uyghur language, impose severe restrictions on freedom of religion and encourage sustained influx of Han migrants into the region.
In May 2014, a one-year “strike hard” campaign was launched in Xinjiang, and officials prioritized speedy arrests, quick trials and mass sentencing of Uyghurs. The government called for greater “co-operation” between prosecuting authorities and courts, raising additional concerns that accused individuals would not receive fair trials. The “strike hard” campaign has been extended in the subsequent years, and the authorities have massively increased their expenditure on police. Under such circumstances, many Uyghurs make the decision to flee the country. The Chinese authorities have responded by harassing the relatives of those who have left in order to pressure them to return and increasing attempts to curtail the political and human rights activities of Uyghur activists in other countries. This has led to growing fears among many Uyghurs abroad, including asylum seekers and refugees, of being forcibly returned to China. In recent years, dozens of Uyghur asylum seekers have been forcibly returned from South East Asian or Central Asian countries, to China.
Media reports illustrated the extent of the new draconian security measures implemented since Chen Quanguo came into power as Xinjiang’s Party Secretary in 2016, including over 90,000 new security-related positions being advertised within a one-year period. In October 2016, there were numerous reports that authorities in the region had confiscated Uyghur passports in an attempt to further curtail their freedom of movement. In March 2017, the Xinjiang government enacted the “De-extremification Regulation” that identifies and prohibits a wide range of behaviours labelled “extremist”, such as “spreading extremist thought”, denigrating or refusing to watch public radio and TV programmes, wearing burkas, having an “abnormal” beard, resisting national policies, and publishing, downloading, storing, or reading articles, publications, or audio-visual materials containing “extremist content”. The regulation also set up a “responsibility system” for government cadres for “anti-extremism” work and established annual reviews of their performance. According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), Chinese authorities compelled Uyghur students enrolled in universities abroad to return to China since May 2017. In early July 2017, about 200 Uyghurs were detained in Egypt by order of the Chinese authorities, with 16 who have been forcibly returned have not been heard from since.
The Chinese authorities had denied the existence of “transformation through-education” facilities until October 2018, when acknowledging the camps they described them as voluntary, free “vocational training” centres. They claim that the objective of this vocational training is to provide the people with technical and vocational education to enable them to find jobs and become “useful” citizens. China’s explanation, however, contradicts the reports of beatings, food deprivation and solitary confinement we have collected from former detainees.
Amnesty International has also remained concerned about the secretive use of the death penalty in Xinjiang, in the context of the increased security measures in the “strike hard” campaigns. Such campaigns have typically been associated with the increased use of the death penalty, and scholars have criticized the proceedings used as part of these crackdowns for their lack of fair trial safeguards and the likelihood of “wrongful executions”.
An in-depth investigation published by Amnesty International in April 2017, China’s Deadly Secrets, shows that despite claims by China that it is making progress towards transparency in the criminal justice system, Chinese authorities enforce an elaborate secrecy system to obfuscate the extent of executions. This investigation found hundreds of executions in public media reports are missing from a national online court database, “China Judgements Online”, even though such case should be uploaded according to Chinese regulations. This was also particularly relevant to death penalty cases relating to the Xinjiang region. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases and under any circumstances, as a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The organization has been campaigning for global abolition of the death penalty for over 40 years.
You can also write in your own language.
Please check with the Amnesty office in your country if you wish to send appeals after the deadline.