Sunday, June 30, 2013

Rohingya Muslims trapped in Ghettos inside Myanmar

The Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar are the worst persecuted people of our time. The Buddhist government and people there, aided by racist monks, are committing genocidal crimes against them. You can learn their latest situation by clicking here.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Wirathu - the Buddhist Terrorist

In its July 1 issue, the Time magazine has covered the recent genocidal activities against the Muslims of Myanmar. In this, reporter Hannah Beech has done an excellent job analyzing the role played by Wirathu, a Buddhist monk, who has become the face of Buddhist terrorism. Her report has stirred up a hornet’s nest among the Buddhists. They are very upset.

Unlike OBL, whose views had forced him to settle for a life of refuge outside the country, Wirathu who likes to call him ‘the Burmese bin Laden’ is quite popular inside Myanmar. He is an abbot who has a significant following not just within the Sangha but also within the government, military, and civilian population of his Buddhist-majority country. Soon after the publication of the Times issue, President Thein Sein came to his defense and said, "Buddhist monks, also known as Sanghas, are noble people who keep the 277 precepts or moral rules, and strive peacefully for the prosperity of Buddhism.” From such testimonials, it is not difficult to understand the level of support that Wirathu’s 969 Movement – or more correctly creed - enjoys inside Myanmar. And this is troubling. It paints a very damning picture not only about Myanmar – long known for its gruesome records of human rights violations but also about its Buddhist faith sanctioning such horrendous crimes.

After all, there is nothing honorable about the 969 Movement, which Wirathu launched in 2001. It draws its inspiration from fascism and Nazism and is racist, bigotry-ridden and apartheid to the core calling for boycott of anything Muslim the same way Jews of Germany were depicted and treated in the 1930s and 1940s until the fall of Hitler. "We have a slogan: When you eat, eat 969; when you go, go 969; when you buy, buy 969," Wirathu declared at his monastery in Mandalay. (Translation: If you're eating, traveling or buying anything, do it with a Buddhist.) This apartheid 969 creed led to sharp increase in anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar, especially after the Bamiyan statues were destroyed by Taliban in March of 2001. As a result, several mosques were destroyed by Buddhist monks. The sporadic violence which included killing of several Muslims and destruction of Muslim properties and mosques would continue until 2003 when he was arrested. The military regime sentenced him to 25 years in prison for distributing anti-Muslim pamphlets that incited communal riots in his birthplace of Kyaukse, a town near Meikhtila. At least 10 Muslims were killed in Kyaukse by a Buddhist mob, according to a U.S. State Department report.

Wirathu was freed last year from jail during an amnesty for hundreds of political prisoners, among the most celebrated reforms of Myanmar's post-military rule. He is now an abbot in Mandalay's Masoeyein Monastery, an expansive complex where he leads about 60 monks and has influence over more than 2,500 residing there. From that power base, he is again preaching hatred and intolerance. Many monks are highly influenced by his hateful messages, and are directly involved in genocidal campaigns against the minority Muslim population in Myanmar. They are also supported by government agencies at all levels - from local to central.

It is widely believed by Dr. Maung Zarni and many other independent researchers that the government of Thein Sein is using Wirathu and his terrorist monks, with wide support within the Buddhist society, to do what it could not do officially. Thus, the crimes of Wirathu cannot be separated from those of Thein Sein. They are in collusion.

Nyi Nyi Lwin, a former monk better known as U Gambira who led the "Saffron Revolution" democracy uprising in 2007 that was crushed by the military told Reuters that if government was serious to stop anti-Muslim pogroms, it could do it. "In the past, they prevented monks from giving speeches about democracy and politics. This time they don't stop these incendiary speeches. They are supporting them," he said. "Because Wirathu is an abbot at a big monastery of about 2,500 monks, no one dares to speak back to him. The government needs to take action against him."

Last year in May-October when Rohingya Muslims were killed in the Arakan state, the Buddhist monks played major roles not only in inciting violence against them, they allowed their monasteries to be used as arms depot and also participated themselves in the slaughter. Government security forces and ultra-racist Rakhine politicians also participated in such raids. The anti-Muslim pogroms last year led to the death of hundreds of Muslims and homelessness of nearly 140,000 Muslims in the Rakhine state. Seventy Muslims were slaughtered in a daylong massacre in one hamlet alone, according to Human Rights Watch. Children were hacked apart and women torched. In several instances, monks were seen goading on frenzied Buddhists. Muslim townships and villages were totally wiped out from the map. As usual, in this Buddhist country not a single Buddhist was found guilty for committing such horrendous crimes against the minority Muslims.

The communal violence, which the government has done little to check, has since migrated to other parts of the country. In March, dozens were killed and tens of thousands left homeless as homes and mosques were razed in Meikhtila. As widely documented, Buddhist monks led the massacre of Muslims and destruction of Muslim properties there. Rioters spray-painted "969" on destroyed businesses. A knife-wielding Buddhist monk was video-taped holding a Muslim girl. "If you follow us, I'll kill her," the monk taunted police, as a Buddhist mob armed with machetes and swords chased nearly 100 Muslims in this city in central Myanmar. It was Thursday, March 21. Within hours, the Buddhist monks led the mob to kill dozens of Muslims. The killings took place in plain view of police, with no intervention by the local or central government. The police were told not to intervene. The region's military commander, Aung Kyaw Moe, could have stopped the riots with a few stern orders - especially given that thousands of soldiers are permanently stationed in Meikhtila and nearby. [That pattern echoed what Reuters reporters found last year in an examination of October's anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar's western Rakhine State. There, a wave of deadly attacks was organized, according to central-government military sources. They were led by Rakhine Buddhist nationalists tied to a powerful political party in the state, incited by Buddhist monks, and assisted by local security forces.]

Graffiti scrawled on one wall in Meikhtila called for a "Muslim extermination." The Buddhist mob dragged their bloodied bodies up a hill in a neighborhood called Mingalarzay Yone and set the corpses on fire. Some were found butchered in a reedy swamp. A Reuters cameraman saw the charred remains of two children, aged 10 or younger. As noted by Min Ko Naing, a revered former political prisoner, bulldozers were used to destroy Muslim properties. Some 1600 Muslim owned homes and businesses were destroyed in Meikhtila. A historic mosque and an orphanage were also burned. By March 29, at least 15 towns and villages in central Myanmar had suffered anti-Muslims pogroms. In many of these incidents, Buddhist monks not only stopped firemen from dousing fire but also participated in killings of Muslims.

In his report, Tomas Ojea Quintana, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar said he had received reports of "state involvement" in the violence. Soldiers and police sometimes stood by "while atrocities have been committed before their very eyes, including by well-organized ultra-nationalist Buddhist mobs," said the rapporteur.

Wirathu had a quick answer to the question of who caused Meikhtila's unrest: the Buddhist woman who tried to sell the hair clip. "She shouldn't have done business with Muslims."

As I have repeatedly said in my speeches and writings, genocide of Muslims has become a national project in Myanmar in which most Buddhists at all levels – from sly President Thein Sein to ignoble Nobel Laureate Suu Kyi to racist politicians to terrorist monk Wirathu to ordinary monks to criminal members of the security forces to general public – are involved one way or another. That is why Suu Kyi is silent on this greatest crime of the 21st century. Her criminal silence to condemn the anti-Muslim pogroms in her country has disgraced the Nobel Peace Prize!

Naturally, Wirathu's fascist movement is working: 969 stickers and signs are proliferating everywhere like mushroom — often accompanied by violence. Anti-Muslim mobs in Bago Region, close to Yangon, erupted after traveling monks preached about the 969 movement. Stickers bearing pastel hues overlaid with the numerals 969 are appearing on street stalls, motorbikes, posters and cars across the central heartlands. In his speech in a community center in Minhla, a town of about 100,000 people, which is a few hours' drive from Yangon, on February 26 and 27, in front of thousands of Buddhist monks, Wimalar Biwuntha, an abbot from Mon State, explained how monks in his state began using 969 to boycott a popular Muslim-owned bus company.

After the speeches, the mood in Minhla turned ugly. Muslims were jeered. A month later, about 800 Buddhists armed with metal pipes and hammers destroyed three mosques and 17 Muslim homes and businesses, according to police. No one was killed, but two-thirds of Minhla's Muslims fled and haven't returned, police said. One attacker was armed with a chainsaw, he said.

As reported by Reuters a local police official made a deal with the mob: Rioters were allowed 30 minutes to ransack a mosque before police would disperse the crowd, according to two witnesses. They tore it apart for the next half hour, the witnesses said. A hollowed-out structure remains.

Two days earlier in Gyobingauk, a town of 110,000 people just north of Minhla, a mob destroyed a mosque and 23 houses after three days of speeches by a monk preaching 969. Witnesses said they appeared well organized, razing some buildings with a bulldozer.

On April 2, 13 Muslim boys died in a fire at a Yangon religious school. The floors were surprisingly slick with oil during the blaze, clearly pointing out that the blaze was deliberately set by others. However, the local police blamed the fire on electric problem.

For too long we in the West had entertained a very romantic view of Buddhism. Forgotten or ignored there was the ground reality of Buddhist crimes done under the name of religion, let alone its people. As I have noted in my book ‘Rohingya: the forgotten people of our time’, for hundreds of years the Arakanese Buddhist Maghs terrorized Bengal and neighboring territories of Muslim-ruled India. That history is a blood-soaked history of unfathomable cruelty and savagery that devastated Bengal (today’s Bangladesh and the state of West Bengal of India). According to the words of historian Shihabuddin Talish, an eye witness: "They [Buddhist Maghs] carried off the Hindus and Muslims, male and female, great and small, few and many that they could seize, pierced the palms of their hands, passed thin canes through the holes and threw them one above another under the deck of their ships.” He continued, “The Magh did not leave a bird in the air, or a beast on the land from Chatgaon [Chittagong] to Jagdia, the frontier of Bengal, increased the desolation, thickened the jungles, destroyed the land, closed the road so well that even the snake and the wild could not pass through.”

As also noted by British historian G.E. Harvey, “The Arakan pirates, both Magh and feringhi, used to come by the water-route and plunder Bengal. Mohammedans underwent such oppression, as they had not to suffer in Europe. As they continually practiced raids for a long time, Bengal daily became more and more desolate and less and less able to resist them. Not a house was left inhabited on their side of the rivers lying on their track from Chittagong to Dacca. The district of Bakla [Backergunge and part of Dacca], which formerly abounded in houses and cultivated fields and yield a large revenue as duty on betel-nuts, was swept so clean with their broom of plunder and abduction that none was left to tenant any house or kindle a light in that region.”

While the children of abducted slaves of Africa are recognized as citizens in the USA, the children of those abducted Bengali Muslims, settled in Arakan state and elsewhere inside Myanmar, are now denied their due citizenship rights.

I wish I could have said that the savagery of the Buddhist Maghs and Bamars of Myanmar had stopped. Alas, the recent history of Myanmar has once again proven that they are beyond reform. They never understood civility and like to remain buried in their savage past. Thus, rather than condemning the religio-racist violence led by a criminal Buddhist monk, Wirathu is celebrated as a national hero and his horrendous crimes are condoned by the highest authority of the land. Only in Mogher Mulluk can one witness such an amazing thing!

One should thank the Time magazine and its courageous reporter Hannah Beech for a much needed factual account of a war criminal like Wirathu who is a disgrace to any religion. With the religious edicts he and other terrorist monks make they soil the good name of their faith, and portray the ugly side of what Theravada Buddhism has become in Myanmar that scripts and directs genocide against an unarmed minority. It is disgraceful!
Thein Sein cannot hoodwink the rest of the world with his appeasing comments that these terrorist monks are model Buddhists who only strive for Buddhist prosperity. At whose expense is such prosperity earned? Is genocide or pogrom of another people acceptable in that goal of selective prosperity? If not, his government better stop Wirathu and his terrorist supporters now. If the answer is yes, then he better accept the grim reality that Buddhism in Myanmar means genocide of other non-Buddhists, esp. its Muslim population. Period and simple! Thein Sein and other Buddhists of Myanmar cannot have it both ways.

When asked about the Time cover story, Wirathu said, "This is being done because the Islamic extremists want my downfall. ... If I fall down, it will be very easy for the extremist who wants to overwhelm Burma with their extreme beliefs. They want me to be arrested, or killed. That’s why, they put me on the [Time] cover, I think. … Extremists are trying to turn Burma into an Islamic country. There is financial, technological, human resources support for this, even media support. I’ve observed these things and because I’m speaking out to show these things to the world, I have become their number 1 enemy, so they are targeting me."
He repeats the same mantra uttered by every damn Nazi and fascist before him. Pure nonsense to justify their savagery unto the minority people! It is inexcusable.

Is there any hope in Myanmar? I am glad that a monk like U Pantavunsa is speaking out against such monstrosity done in the name of Buddhism. How far such dissent voices would succeed, I don't know. Nonetheless, it is high time for conscientious human beings inside and outside Burma to condemn the 969 movement and its executioners for the crimes against humanity. They must also demand restoration of citizenship and human rights for all the residents of Myanmar.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The far right in Burma, India and Sri Lanka - an excellent article by Samir Jeraz

Samir Jeraz, a British journalist, has done an excellent job reviewing the religious extremists in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and India. You can read his piece by clicking here. He has provided many links which help to understand the current pogroms in those countries.

More on the fascist 969 Movement of Myanmar

Here is an old report from the Reuters describing the connection of Wirathu's 969 Movement with the anti-Muslim pogrom in Meikhtila.

Holy Lies - understanding communal riots in India

Here is an excellent article by author Pankaj Mishra that should be an essential reading for anyone trying to understand the communal riots in India. This article, written for the Guardian in 2002 in the aftermath of the destruction of historical Babri Mosque provides answers to many questions on this problematic issue.

You will notice the common element within Hindutva and 969 Movement: an admiration for fascism, Mussolini's Italy and Hitler's Germany by their pujaris or devotees.

Last year, Mishra revisited the subject of communal riots in India with updated information. You can read his piece by clicking here.

As you may know that in the anti-Muslim pogrom of Gujarat, February 2002, where more than a thousand Muslims were butchered to death, BJP leader Narendra Modi, who remains the Chief Minister of the state, explicitly instructed civil servants and police not to stand in the killers' way. The pogrom was extensively televised by India's innumerable – and then much less complacent – TV channels. Many middle-class Indians were shocked to hear how even the very young had not been spared – the slayers of Muslims were seen smashing the heads of children against rocks. There was some unease even within Modi's parent outfit, the RSS – whose most revered chief, Guru Golwalkar, wrote in a 1939 book that Nazi Germany had manifested "race pride at its highest" by purging itself of the "Semitic races".

In spite of his criminal involvement with the pogroms of Gujarat, Modi remains the unrivalled leader of the state who has been running the government for more than a decade. He is touted as a business friendly, democratic leader who wants to expand business with the capitalist West.

Ethnic divide in Sri Lanka and the making of ethno-religious fascism

Here is a link to an old article in the BBC to understand about ethnic divide in Sri Lanka, which is recent years has seen Buddhist skinhead monk-directed and state supported pogroms against Hindu, Muslim and Christian minorities there.

The other link here (click here) shows the remarkable similarity between the 969 Movement of Wirathu in Myanmar, and anti-Muslim activities of Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) and Sinhala Echo in Sri Lanka. These groups are led by skinhead Buddhist monks who want to drive out the Muslims.

Interestingly, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa who is brother of the Sri Lankan President said monks are there to protect country, religion and race, something that was recently echoed by President Thein Sein of Myanmar when it came to describing the criminal monk Wirathu. He said, "No one should doubt these clergy. We're here to give you encouragement." Just as in Myanmar, the BBS has top-level support inside Sri Lanka, from president down to an ordinary Buddhist.

The main picture on a Sinhala Facebook page called "My Conscience", with more than 8,000 followers, shows a lion - symbol of the Sinhalese - devouring a wild boar depicted with a crescent and star on its forehead.

When will the Buddhists in Sri Lanka and Myanmar have the courage to call a spade a spade, i.e., their 969 movement in Myanmar and the BBS activities in Sri Lanka are "ethno-religious fascist movement from the dark underside of Myanmar and Sinhala society," respectively?

Understanding the Fascist 969 movement in Myanmar

Here is an excellent article from the Atlantic on the subject of the 969 movement, which has rightly been described as fascist that has led to the genocidal campaigns against the Muslim minorities in Burma/Myanmar. Although written in April of this year, it is a good piece to understand the basis of this fascist movement that continues to be led by a skinhead monk Wirathu.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Comments on Mizzima Op/Ed

While I appreciate the much needed response from Mizzima opposing bigotry and racism which have become the all too familiar trademarks of Buddhist terrorism inside Myanmar, it should understand that for years, before even the Thein Sein regime came to power, the Rohingya and other Muslim communities have been asking for integration and not segregation in a national reconciliation dialogue. Such calls only met deaf ears from the ultra-racist and bigot elements within the political spectrum of ENC and ANC where the Rohingya and minority Muslim participation was simply disallowed. The so-called Democracy movement had nothing democratic about it; it was as fascist as it could be. The minority views/voices were simply ignored with no place to share within such Diaspora groups that were interested in a federal Burma with democracy being the system of government. This arrogant attitude, in spite of the fact that Rohingya Muslims were almost half the total population inside Arakan, was later to boil up under Thein Sein government, oozing out all the ugliness that Myanmar has now come to be known for. Even the role of the pro-democracy media was pathetic at best.

The all too familiar religio-racist fascism followed the hierarchy: Bamar first, Buddhist second (or interchangably) and nothing for others that did not fit in either of these two categories.

Anyway, it is good to see that the media pundits are now calling for a reconciliation dialogue that includes minority Muslims, and are saying that bigotry is unacceptable. I wish we had heard such calls before the current tragedy had hit which has caused so much sufferings for the Muslim minorities.

The reconciliation dialogue can succeed only with true intent that aims at integration, which begins with citizenship rights for the Muslims. Otherwise, it would be one such hypocrisy which we have seen enough of.

By the way, Mizzima should know that true democracy is not about majoritarianism where only the majority rules, but it is an idea of democracy that is about minority rights and group rights and above all individual human rights. Majority rule says that the loss for the few is justified by the fact that the winners are greater in number. But why should the minority accept this way of looking at it? After all, it is unfair to the minority. Fairness requires that institutions should speak to the vulnerable perspective of minorities and not simply lump them in with everyone else.

Bottom line: legitimate democracies are those that respect minority rights and promote fair and inclusive deliberation. That is, democracy certainly lacks legitimacy if majorities oppress minorities and flaunt their rights. (Note; for a good discussion on this subject the reader may like to read Princeton University professor Stephen Macedo's article: "AGAINST MAJORITARIANISM: DEMOCRATIC VALUES AND INSTITUTIONAL DESIGN")

So, if Myanmar is serious about democracy, it must resist all temptations towards majoritarianism, which can only polarize and divide the nation of many races and tribes.

Hannah Beech's cover story in the Time (July, 2013) on Buddhist Face of Terror

The Time magazine has covered the recent genocidal activities against the Muslims of Myanmar in its July issue. You can read the piece by clicking here. In it, reporter Hannah Beech has done an excellent job analyzing the role played by Wirathu, a Buddhist monk, who has become the face of Buddhist terrorism.

Monday, June 24, 2013

More on Time Coverage on Wirathu - the hateful Buddhist monk

I came across newsclips from the Standard (Hong Kong) and Bangkok Post which say that Myanmar deplores Time for insulting Buddhists and for ignorance of its reporter. In his statement, President Thein Sein said, "Buddhist monks, also known as Sanghas, are noble people who keep the 277 precepts or moral rules, and strive peacefully for the prosperity of Buddhism."
Of course, Myanmar and its majority Buddhists that are guilty of committing genocide against the minority Muslims there are upset with Time magazine and its brilliant reporter Hannah Beech who hit the hornet's nest. They and other supporters of genocidal practices against the minority Muslims hate being on the spotlight for their monstrous crimes against humanity. They will try to tarnish the image of a brave reporter like Hannah for laying out the facts for all to see. So, I am not surprised by Standard's ridiculous one-sided piece to whitewash crimes of Myanmar and its notorious son Wirathu.

For too long we in the West had a very romantic view of Buddhism. Forgotten or ignored there was the ground reality of Buddhist crimes done under the name of religion, let alone its people. As I and others have noted many times, for hundreds of years the Arakanese Buddhist Maghs terrorized Bengal and neighboring territories of Muslim-ruled India. It is full of inexcusable savagery - the worst kind of crimes. Look at places like Cambodia, southern Thailand, Sri Lanka to see the Buddhist dealings with minorities whether they are Muslims or Hindus. Inside Myanmar look at Kachin and Karen states to understand how the Buddhists have been terrorizing Christians and animists.

What the Myanmar government and its majority Buddhist people have been doing with 'other' peoples, esp. the Muslims, is nothing short of a genocidal campaign - piece by piece in which the population are active promoters of the criminal program. It is a national project in Myanmar and there is no escaping from this sad but true commentary.

One should thank the Time magazine and its well informed and investigating reporter Hannah for a much needed factual account of criminals like Wirathu who are disgrace to any religion. With the religious edicts he and other terrorist monks make they soil the good name of their faith, and portray the ugly - the real - side of what Theraveda Buddhism has become in Myanmar that scripts and directs genocide.

Thein Sein cannot hoodwink the rest of the world with his appeasing comments that these terrorist monks are model Buddhists who only strive for Buddhist prosperity. At whose expense? Is genocide, pogrom of another people acceptable in that goal of selective prosperity? If not, his government better stop Wirathu and his terrorist supporters. If the answer is yes, then he better shut his mouth and accept the grim reality that Buddhism in Myanmar means genocide of other non-Buddhists, esp. its Muslim population. Period and simple! Thein Sein and other Buddhists of Myanmar cannot have it both ways.

Criminal Buddhist monk Wirathu's intereview with the Irrawaddy

In recent months, anti-Muslim pogroms have rocked many parts of Burma (Myanmar) and have left scores of Muslims killed and thousands displaced, while thousands of homes were destroyed. Ultra-nationalist, RACIST AND BIGOT monk U Wirathu, 46, has been stirring up this unrest through his nationwide ‘969’ campaign, which calls on Buddhists to shun Muslim-owned businesses and to “think in a nationalist way.”

The 969 symbol has also been found painted on the walls of destroyed Muslim-owned buildings, suggesting that Buddhist rioters were motivated by his words. His controversial campaign has attracted widespread media attention. Last week, Time magazine Asia ran a cover story on the movement and placed a photo of U Wirathu on their July issue, which labeled the monk “The Face of Buddhist Terror”.

Wirathu was interviewed by Irrawaddy recently to comment on the Time magazine. You can read his hateful remarks here.

I sent the comments below for Irrawaddy. Although I am not sure it will post my comments:

One can only pity Wirathu who thinks that Muslims put him behind the Time cover page. His comments are so ridiculously wrong that it is like pigs flying in the sky. As to the cause behind the Time coverage, he says, "This is being done because the Islamic extremists want my downfall. ... If I fall down, it will be very easy for the extremist who wants to overwhelm Burma with their extreme beliefs. They want me to be arrested, or killed. That’s why, they put me on the [Time] cover, I think. … Extremists are trying to turn Burma into an Islamic country. There is financial, technological, human resources support for this, even media support. I’ve observed these things and because I’m speaking out to show these things to the world, I have become their number 1 enemy, so they are targeting me."

He repeats the same mantra uttered by every damn Nazi and fascist before him: Burma would become an Islamic country; Germany would become a Jewish country; India would become a Muslim country. Pure nonsense to justify their savagery unto the minority people! Nothing else.

I am glade that a monk like U Pantavunsa is speaking out against such monstrosity done in the name of Buddhism. How far such dissent voices would succeed, I don't know. Nonetheless, it is high time for conscientious human beings inside and outside Burma to condemn the 969 movement and its executioners for the crimes against humanity.

Ethnic Cleansing of non-Buddhists in Myanmar

The video clip here from RT shows the on-going violence by Buddhist people and government of Myanmar against the Rohingya and Kachin people. As in other parts of Myanmar, rape is used as a weapon of ethnic cleansing of these unfortunate peoples whose only crime is that they are different from the Buddhist majority in this den of intolerance called Myanmar.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Death of a Jew in Israel: a case of paranoia

[Here is the revised version of what I originally posted last week.]

For years I have been complaining about the gung-ho, trigger-happy mentality of the Israeli security forces in the occupied territories of Palestine. The latest episode on Friday involving the murder of an unarmed Israeli, who happens to be Jewish, once again highlights the problem.

Doron Shlus, a 46-year old Jewish visitor at Jerusalem's Western (Wailing) Wall, the holiest Jewish site where Jews can pray, came out of public restrooms and was heard shouting 'Allahu Akbar', which in Arabic means - Allah (God) is Great. The security guard drew his weapon and fired several shots - and not one - at the visitor suspecting him to be a Palestinian militant. The Jewish visitor died from his wounds a few moments later.

No one knows why Doron Shlus had shouted 'Allahu Akbar.' The shooting took place a few minutes before 8 am (0500 GMT) as the plaza in front of the Wall was filled with worshippers for morning prayers ahead of the start of the Jewish Sabbath at sundown. Public radio quoted the private security guard as telling police investigators that he thought the man was pulling something from his pocket as he shouted and was about to attack him. It said that police found nothing suspicious on the man's person.

Just imagine the level of paranoia, suspicion and nervousness which can lead to this kind of trigger-happy enthusiasm! Doron Shlus, the Jewish visitor, had no resemblance to a nominal Palestinian and yet he was executed as a result of a quick decision made by an Israeli Jewish security guard who considered him to be a threat to his life. So before the potential suspect who had uttered the ‘forbidden’ words – Allahu Akbar - could ‘harm’ him, the guard made sure to finish off the job with a pre-emptive strike. A single shot to the suspect's leg or shoulder would have been enough to injure him and deter him from committing any harm. But no, the security guard wanted to be absolutely sure that his target could never harm him. So, he ended up shooting multiple times killing the suspect.

What happened with the unfortunate Jewish visitor last Friday, sadly, has been the story of Palestinian victims for decades under Israeli occupation!

The way they look, talk or sometimes dress the Palestinian people can't hide their differences with the Jewish people inside Israel. These differences, by default, make them suspects - potential terrorists - who want to harm the Zionist state. This ‘different’ identity alone has been a sufficient justification for the zealous Israeli security forces to kill or maim their suspects whenever they felt like. Even if the suspect had done nothing suspicious, the Israeli shooters –civilians and security forces alike - could and always had the justification saying that they felt threatened from an impending attack from that Palestinian, much like what we heard from the Israeli security guard who killed the unarmed Jewish visitor on Friday.

It did not matter that Doron Shlus did not look like a typical Palestinian and was an Israeli Jew who was known to Jerusalem police at the Western Wall compound as a volunteer cook for the Chabad movement who had been coming to the site nearly every day, but he had uttered that forbidden phrase – Allahu Akbar; so he was perceived to be a Muslim Jihadist who had disguised himself as a Jewish visitor visiting the Wailing Wall of Jerusalem. Here symbolism – the utterance of Allahu Akbar – was sufficient to determine his fate! It is the perception that counted – that became the reality for Shlus.

The Shlus-shooting incident should open up a public debate about the democratic health of the Zionist state, touted by many of its blind admirers, as the best model of democracy in the world outside the USA, Western Europe, Australia and Canada. Is this the type of democracy desirable in which a man is killed simply because he is perceived to be a threat, a militant or a person of another faith or ethnicity? But that has become the unmistakable reality of Israel today. Any goyim (non-Jew) and even a Jew who sounds non-Jewish, esp. Islamic or Jihadist, can be perceived to be a threat to the security of this apartheid state, requiring elimination of that person. So, the pre-emptive strikes against the suspected terrorists and future militants have become integral to the security paranoia of the apartheid state. Such acts of targeted murders are sanctified as being kosher, let alone necessary!

Is pre-emptive attack justified? What this Israeli security guard has done is nothing unusual: he has followed the flawed rule of engagement so meticulously codified and practiced by his security agency, mimicking the behavior of the powerful nations on earth, including his own Israeli state, to settling their disputes with others. It has a simple, albeit savage, rule: 'kill first, ask questions later'. Of course, to ask questions, the suspect must survive or the wound should not be fatal. But in majority of the cases, so massive were the gunshots that the suspects didn't survive to answer any question. The flawed system deliberately ignores legitimate questions like what if the suspect had no intention to kill and/or that he/she had put his/her hand in the pocket as part of his/her habit or whatever.

But the paranoid mind is always suspicious. It is programmed to think the worst of the 'other' people, who is relegated to a monster-like figure, which if not killed will kill you. So goes the rationale: why take the risk or chance assuming innocence of the suspect? That is the savage logic behind all these state-played mayhems - unjustifiable mass murders, genocides, ethnocide, etc. today whether it is in Myanmar, the Occupied Kashmir, Palestine, or in the frontier territories of Pakistan and Yemen where the drone attacks have become so common under Obama’s direction.

When will such obsession and paranoia end?

As I see it, dehumanization of the ‘others’ is inseparable from one’s own dehumanization. Victimizing others will eventually victimize you. To paraphrase Malcolm X: “The death of Doron Shlus was the result of a long line of violent acts, the culmination of hate and suspicion and doubt in the State of Israel. You see, that country has allowed the Israeli people to kill and brutalize those they don't like. The killing of Shlus is a result of that way of life and thinking. The chickens came home to roost; that's all there is to it. The State of Israel — at the death of the Shlus —just reaped what it had been sowing.”

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Et tu, Thai monks!

I first visited Bangkok, Thailand nearly 35 years ago as a transit passenger on my way to Canada to pursue my studies. I stayed in a local hotel, courtesy of the Thai Airways, for one night. After taking a shower in the hotel in the late afternoon, I thought of taking a walk outside the hotel. Hardly have I gone outside the lobby of the hotel when I was approached by a pimp trying to allure me to a massage parlor. He tried to show pictures of naked Thai girls. After brushing him away, I tried to walk outside the hotel compound. Soon a taxi cab stopped by and its driver wanted to know if I wanted to go to a massage parlor. To allure me he tried to show me pictures of nude girls. Like before, I told him that I had no interest. And this type of nuisance continued a few times during my half an hour walk outside the hotel.

At one point, frustrated and angry, I thought I had enough of my walk and decided to return to my hotel. Near the lobby there was a ball room lit with dim lights where I could see young girls, scantly dressed, serving drinks to their customers. I returned to my room.

The next time I returned to Bangkok was in the summer of 1982, again as a transit passenger from California where I was pursuing my doctoral work. The sex trade had not changed an iota there. As a tourist or transit passenger, it was a nuisance that one had to learn to avoid and say 'no' politely.

For decades, Bangkok and many of the Thai smaller cities have attracted many western perverts to settle down or travel solely for fulfilling their sexual fantasies, which included sex with young girls and boys as young as seven years old. As noted by New York Times' reporter Nicholas Kristof, Thailand used to have a great deal of forced prostitution as recently as the 1990s. These days, Thai girls in Thai brothels mostly work voluntarily and keep a share of the money they earn, while foreign girls — especially Cambodians and Burmese — are often imprisoned in the Thai brothels and aren’t paid.

In the last 35 years, I have visited many major cities in Asia, Europe and the Americas. I have never found a city which felt more like a big brothel than Bangkok. It appeared that too many people in this city were engaged in this oldest profession in one way or another.

Today I came across a newsclip in the Huffington Post which shows how far Thailand has gone in this business.  Thai police said Wednesday they had arrested two monks for procuring a 14-year-old boy to perform sexual acts with an abbot, in the latest scandal to shake the kingdom's Buddhist clergy. Based on the accounts of the victim and a driver, the two monks -- aged 20 and 23 -- are alleged to have taken the boy to see the abbot at the temple in Chiang Dao district in the Chiang Mai Province several times since February, police said.

Thailand's Buddhist clergy has been hit by a series of scandals involving monks, with local media reporting cases of drug-taking, drinking, gambling and visiting prostitutes.

I should have guessed!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Myanmar - the Buddhist Country where justice denied to the Muslim victims is the norm

Here below is an excerpt from the Irrawaddy covering Burma.

RANGOON— A Burmese court has imprisoned two Muslim women for sparking communal violence earlier this year in the town of Okkan, near Rangoon, in the latest conviction of minority Muslims while Buddhist suspects have yet to face trial.

The two women were blamed for sparking the violence in April after they were involved in an altercation with a Buddhist monk that angered local Buddhists, leading to anti-Muslim rioting in the city about 100 kilometers from Rangoon. One Muslim man was killed and nine were injured in the unrest, while 81 homes and a mosque were burned to the ground.

“The court gave them a sentence of two years each in prison and hard labor on June 5,” an official from the court in Taik Kyi Township, where Okkan is located, told The Irrawaddy.

Burma has seen clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in several states this year, but so far only Muslims have been imprisoned. Muslims make up only about 5 percent of the country’s 60 million or so population.

In Okkan, the violence erupted on April 31 after a Muslim woman bumped into a novice monk, spilling his food and breaking his alms bowl. The woman and the monk were detained by the police following the incident, and both were released about two hours later after the woman apologized.

But when they left the police station, another Muslim woman grabbed the young monk and shook him, accusing him of lying to the police. This prompted both Muslim women to be detained. A mostly Buddhist crowd gathered outside the police station and began destroying Muslim properties in neighborhood.

The two women were charged with offending religion in Buddhist-majority Burma. An article of the country’s penal code prohibits people from engaging in “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.”

In the unrest this year, the government has convicted more than 10 Muslims but no Buddhists.

In east Burma’s Lashio Township, a Muslim man was sentenced to 26 years in prison last week after an incident in late May which sparked an outbreak of anti-Muslim violence that left one person dead and displaced about 1,400 Muslim residents. He was convicted of attempted murder, voluntarily causing grievous harm and two drug-related charges.

In the central Burma town of Meikhtila, the Muslim owners of a gold shop and an employee were sentenced in April to more than a decade in prison after a dispute with a Buddhist customer in March sparked anti-Muslim riots that left at least 43 people dead and destroyed hundreds of homes. Last month, seven Muslim men were also imprisoned for the death of a Buddhist monk during that unrest.

BBC report on attack on Muslims in Myanmar

The BBC in its report back in April showed how the Police and security forces in Myanmar were complicit in the Buddhist attacks against Muslims. Here is the link for the report. The footage showed a mob destroying a Muslim gold shop and then setting fire to houses.

It was filmed in March 2013, when at least 43 people were killed in Meiktila. The video from Meiktila, in Mandalay Region, is remarkable both for the comprehensive way it documents the violence and because much of it was shot by the Burmese police themselves.

In the sequence where policemen look on as a man rolls on the ground having been set on fire, someone in the watching crowd is heard to say: "No water for him - let him die."

Another sequence shows a young man attempting to flee and getting caught, after which he is beaten by a group of men which includes a monk. Finally he is struck with a sword strikes him and left on the ground, apparently dead.

The footage corroborates eyewitness testimony. A row at a Muslim-owned gold shop on 20 March was said to have started the violence, when a dispute involving a Buddhist couple escalated into a fight.

This was followed by an attack on a Buddhist monk who later died in hospital. News of that incident appeared to have sparked off sustained communal violence.

The violence then spread to other towns and led to curfews being imposed. There were reports of mosques and houses being torched in at least three towns.

As usual, the prosecuted ones in Myanmar are always Muslims. The gold shop's owner, his wife and an employee were convicted of assault on 12 April and jailed for 14 years. Dozens of other Muslims are said to be under investigation. That is the Myanmar form of justice!

To read more: click here.

Dr Maung Zarni's interview on Genocidal Buddhists

Here is a link to Dr Maung Zarni's interview, which has appeared in the Tricycle. Dr. Zarni has been an outspoken critic of the government of Myanmar, and has chided his fellow Buddhists for their criminal silence and worse yet, endorsement of the genocide of Muslims in that country.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Iran and the USA: Poll and People

Iran had a presidential election last week. The voter turnout was nearly 73%. That is, more than 36 million of nearly 50 million of eligible voters had cast their votes. The results are out. More than half the voters opted for the 64-year-old Hasan Rowhani – the only cleric to run in this presidential election. He, thus, narrowly cleared the margin that would have forced a two-candidate runoff. Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf and nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili came in distant second and third, respectively.

Two weeks ago no one gave any chance to Rowhani. But with the endorsements coming from former presidents Hashem Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami, others joined in to rally behind him. In the closing days, Rowhani was drawing huge crowds and the race was suddenly transformed to give him the victory. Only in a true democracy such an outcome is possible! The election results once again proved the fairness of the election system in Iran. There was no vote-rigging – neither this time nor in 2009 when the incumbent president Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won his reelection against the Green Movement leader Mir Hossein Mousavi and opposition figure Mahdi Karroubi.

The jubilant supporters chanted, "Long live Rowhani." Rowhani is not new to Iranian politics — having served in governments and in the highly sensitive role of nuclear negotiator. Between 2003 and 2005, he was actually the head of Iran's nuclear program. He has been critical of the combative international policies of outgoing President Dr. Ahmadinejad and others.

In his first statement after the results were announced, Rowhani said that "a new opportunity has been created ... for those who truly respect democracy, interaction and free dialogue." "I've never been an extremist," he said, "I support moderation." "I thank God that once again rationality and moderation has shined on Iran," he continued. "This is the victory of wisdom, a victory of moderation and a victory of commitment over extremism."

Rowhani’s victory could sharply lower the political temperature between Iran and the West. The White House congratulated Iranian voters for "their courage in making their voices heard." Washington urged Tehran's leadership to "heed the will of the Iranian people and make responsible choices," while noting the U.S. remained open for direct dialogue with Iran.

By ‘responsible’ choices, what the White House, really means is stopping the nuclear program – something that no Iranian leader would do. The Iranian officials, including Rowhani and others who have been in opposition in the past eight years, insist that the country's nuclear efforts are only for peaceful energy and medical purposes. It is also the ‘courageous voices’ of the Iranian people. There is absolute national consensus on this vital nuclear issue. And the White House should have known better! It would be, thus, irresponsible of the White House to insist on something that no Iranian leader could deliver. That would be simply undemocratic – going against the will of the Iranian people!

As I have pointed out elsewhere the USA cannot go on committing diplomatic blunders and war crimes, surrogating for the rogue state of Israel. When the null hypothesis was there was no Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD) in Iraq, something that was repeatedly verified by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the U.S. and her allies under the leadership of Bush and Blair invaded Iraq, committing Type 1 error. For years, Israel’s Amen Corner inside the Capitol Hill has been making the case for invasion of Iraq, and with their men solidly implanted inside the Bush administration, forgotten were the alpha risks and the associated cost of being wrong in the decision making or committing blunder – trillions of dollars, let alone the casualties of the war.

One would have hoped that the White House has become wiser and won’t repeat the blunders of 2003. Sadly, one dumb, intellectually challenged, mass murderer has been replaced by a sly mass murderer with a forked tongue. The same powerful Amen Corner still exists inside the Capitol Hill who with dual – no, scrap it – rather sole, unquestioning and robotic allegiance to the rogue state still pushes the country to fight her dirty war. So, all these Washington talks about ‘direct dialogue’ with Tehran are disingenuous and are aimed at relaying the third party’s utterly aggressive and insupportable demands.

If the USA is serious about peace and nuclear security in that part of the world, let it neuter its rogue ally first. After all, Israel has not signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and possesses hundreds of nuclear bombs. It has been at war with all its neighbors and has attacked those countries without any provocation. She is the paramount threat to peace and security in that part of the world. She is a repeat offender violating international laws and her leaders are guilty of war crimes. If Obama administration does not have the guts – and let’s not kid around since it will never have - to rein upon Netanyahu government, let it not exhibit its moral bankruptcy by attacking others who don’t deserve war.

Rather than lecturing Iranian leaders as to how they should mend their fences, President Obama may like to listen, at least once in a while, to the voices of the courageous people within the USA who are critical of his administration’s policies – at home and abroad. Rather than prosecuting the courageous people like Bradley Manning and Eric Snowden, he should recognize them for their moral fortitude, which his administration surely lacks. As men with higher moral compasses, these two individuals simply refused to keep quiet on matters that affect the lives of so many. Much in contrast to the claims made by those Washington politicians – Democrats and Republicans -- none of these brave and noble souls has betrayed America and its people. They are no traitors, but are true patriots. I wish American people could say the same for their politicians. According to Gallup’s “confidence in institutions” poll, trust in nation’s institutions is at an historic low, with Congress clocking in at a 13 percent approval rating in 2012. Yes, this is the same Congress that has “oversight” of the government spying programs. Truly, more people in America have a favorable opinion of Snowden and Manning than the Congress.

Could there be an Arab Spring against those dictators that began in 2010 without Manning’s WikiLeaks? Because of Manning, Americans came to know that their government was repeating the crimes of My Lai in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that those unarmed civilians were killed deliberately by trigger-happy soldiers and bombers. His leaked materials showed how inhumanly the detainees were treated. Only because of Snowden do Americans know today that their intimate conversations were recorded by the National Security Agency (NSA). Both these gentlemen have done a public service by informing their fellow citizens what is going wrong under their name and security.

How could America’s treatment of the detainees be right? How could America’s bombing or shooting of unarmed civilians be right? How could NSA’s spying program be right? Are American citizens supposed to respect institutions so much so that they are not entitled to information about how their government treats others, how they are being spied on, even when it involves their private communications, by government institutions? How is the U.S. government different than Stalin’s Soviet Union in this respect?

It is no surprise that the same Obama administration that is bitter about the Guardian leaks on spying opted not to prosecute its workers who destroyed CIA interrogation records with Muslim detainees that might have implicated the government in law breaking. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper blatantly lied to Congress about the activity of the NSA, and there seems to be no ramifications. Why? Where is America heading when her law-breakers are exonerated and whistle-blowers are prosecuted for performing their moral duties?

As hinted above, the Obama administration is setting a new low standard for America in many facets of American lives. The former Vice President Al Gore chided the Obama Administration last Friday for the NSA’s blanket collection of US citizens' phone records. He said that it was "not really the American way", declaring that he believed the practice to be unlawful. He was unsparing in his criticism of the surveillance apparatus, telling the Guardian security considerations should never overwhelm the basic rights of American citizens. He also urged Barack Obama and Congress to review and amend the laws under which the NSA operated.

"This in my view violates the constitution. The fourth amendment and the first amendment – and the fourth amendment language is crystal clear," Gore said. "It is not acceptable to have a secret interpretation of a law that goes far beyond any reasonable reading of either the law or the constitution and then classify as top secret what the actual law is." Gore added: "This is not right." He rejected outright calls by the Republican chair of the house homeland security committee, Peter King, for prosecution of journalists who cover security leaks, such as the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald.

"I quite understand the viewpoint that many have expressed that they are fine with it and they just want to be safe but that is not really the American way," Gore said in a telephone interview. "Benjamin Franklin famously wrote that those who would give up essential liberty to try to gain some temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

If Peter King, the congressman from New York, was wise he should have known the wisdom behind Ben Franklin’s well-known statement. But to obsessed and paranoid guys like him such words of wisdom don’t mean anything these days. Thus, when letters containing deadly chemical ricin were sent to President Obama, New York City Mayor Bloomberg and the head of the Washington D.C. lobbying group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, none of these demented lawmakers, including Peter King, and mayors is referring to these acts as terrorism in spite of the fact that civilians and non-military officials were targeted. Even the press is silent.

Clearly, to them when white Jewish/Christian guys and gals send murderous mails and commit horrendous crimes terrorizing civilian population they are merely acting irrationally and doing something wrong, but they are not terrorists since that epithet only belongs to Muslims who present a singular threat to our ‘civilized’ society! They tell us that the American obsession with privacy, civil rights and basic freedoms are archaic and stale when compared to the ominous threat posed by hypothetical barbarian hordes of 'Islamists' who want to impose shariah.

So the neo-fascist lawmakers of our time are rewriting the laws to prioritize safety over liberty, paranoia and obsession over trust and common sense. One by one, slowly but steadily newer laws granting wire-tapping, eaves-dropping, e-mail tracking, etc. are introduced. Since 9/11, its first casualty inside the USA has been the Muslim Americans, and now it is everyone. Thanks to Snowden for letting us know of this secret information which the US government wanted to hide.

Mr. Obama needs to heed to the will of the American people and make responsible choices by stopping this paranoia now. To most Americans today, he is increasingly viewed as someone acting and behaving like Josef Stalin and neither like the founding fathers of this nation who gave us the American constitution nor its protector. And this unsugar-coated view should be a sufficient wake-up call for him to change the course. But will he?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Serial Killers

I was in Erie, Pennsylvania last week. The city is named after the famous lake and the Native American tribe that lived along its southern shore. In the middle of a meeting on Friday I got a recorded voice message from the US Airways stating that my return flight to Philadelphia had been cancelled because of an anticipated storm hitting the area in the evening. I called the America Express travel agent to find out if there were any other flights I could take to return home. She said that I could fly from Buffalo, New York at night. This arrangement would, however, require driving all the way from Erie to Buffalo, which would take nearly two hours and hoping that the flight from there would leave on time. Since there was no such guarantee and that there was no other flight leaving Erie for Philadelphia until Sunday, I surmised that I was probably better off driving all the way to Philadelphia, which is nearly 400 miles away.

After returning the rental car at the airport, I rented another one from Hertz for my one-way trip. I left Erie airport around 3 p.m. It was a long trip lasting more than six hours. And I was glad that the traffic condition was good and I could reach home shortly after 9 p.m., i.e., an hour before the scheduled arrival time for the flight from Buffalo. On my way home, I stopped by a McDonald’s and tried to call home. But I did not have any luck. I later learnt that the storm, although a mild one, had knocked out electric power in the evening in my neighborhood.

I listened to the NPR - my favorite radio station and some other ones just to keep my mind engaged in this solo trip so as to avoid falling into sleep. I learned that Richard Ramirez, the demonic serial killer known as the Night Stalker, had died that morning - early Friday in a hospital.

Ramirez, a Catholic Christian - originally from El Paso, Texas, was convicted of 13 murders that terrorized Southern California in 1984 and 1985 as well as charges of rape, sodomy, oral copulation, burglary and attempted murder. Back then I was a resident of California, and still remember how he had terrorized the city. The residents were warned to lock their doors and windows at night.

The killing spree reached its peak in the hot summer of 1985, as the night-time killer entered homes through unlocked windows and doors and killed men and women with gunshot blasts to the head or knives to the throat, sexually assaulted female victims, and burglarized the residence.

Some of the crimes were horrid beyond imagination: A Muslim man was murdered in his bed and his wife was raped beside the dead body. The killer beat a small child and attempted to sodomize him. He tried to rape even an old lady. He was demon possessed and never repented for his crimes.

At his first court appearance, Ramirez raised a hand with a pentagram drawn on it and yelled, "Hail, Satan." The jury recommended death penalty for his gruesome crimes. After the conviction, Ramirez flashed a two-fingered "devil sign" to photographers and muttered a single word: "Evil."

Like most serial killers, he had many admirers – mostly women who fell in love with him. A magazine editor even married him in 1996 while he was serving death sentence in the prison.

Ramirez had been housed on death row for decades in San Quentin prison and was awaiting execution. And now with his natural death, he seemed to have dodged execution.

Richard Ramirez, of course, won’t be the last of the serial killers. He was “unlucky” to have been caught and punished for his crime.

What about other more sinister killers – the mass murderers - of our time who kill thousands of innocent people? If you are pondering about the difference between the two terms – here is a hint from the U.S. Department of Justice, Statistics Bureau. Serial killers commit many murders in a series of events (three or more) -- usually one murder per event – with ‘cooling off’ periods in between events lasting over a long period of time. Mass murderers, on the other hand, commit many murders in a single event or in multiple events - involving four or more victims per event per location. Terrorism – committed by an individual or a group - and government sanctioned murders qualify as mass murders.

The latter categories of mass murderers often claim that their murders are ‘legal’ and/or ‘justified,’ and sometimes necessary for the greater good of the society – especially, when those crimes are perpetrated by a state or a group. Their crime is tied up with myth, false assumptions, and misinformation – often sensationalized in the press, while the complex motivations of the perpetrator are ignored or soon forgotten. The individual mass murderer is often a psychopath and rarely a crazy killer who lashes out against his victims in a mindless frenzy of violence. The precise knowledge of what makes a non-state, individual mass murderer tick is harder to come by than in a case of a serial killer. The former usually doesn’t commit mass murders more than once, while the same cannot be said about a state perpetrator.

Sadly, there is hardly any international mechanism to convict the state perpetrators in mass murders, unless of course, they are defeated or routed out from office! They are often the ‘lucky’ ones who save their necks. In spite of their horrendous crimes at home or abroad, they can be quite popular – dead or alive - in their own countries.

Consider President Bashar al-Assad of Syria who has been killing his people for the last couple of years. He has already killed more than 70,000 Syrians and will probably continue to murder more unless his tyrannical regime falls. Aided by its huge supply of racist and bigot Buddhists, the Myanmar government has been killing thousands of its Muslim population in the recent years in a calculated way to wipe off the Muslim identity and force them to leave in what can best be described as genocidal campaigns. Former U.S. President George W. Bush, in his attempts to oust the Taliban regime and the Ba’athist regime, has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Afghan and Iraqi civilians, respectively, who had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 and the WMDs. The mass murder of the innocent civilians is still going on under President Barack Obama. Thousands of Pakistanis have died and will probably continue to die. But who is there to stop Obama’s mass murder? His Attorney General says whatever he is doing is all legal, even when the victims included American citizens!

President Obama had no problem killing American citizens, even a teenager. Not surprisingly, the lawyers of the Department of Justice argued in a court filing this week that the Obama Administration's targeted drone strikes against American citizens were constitutional in part because the president said so. "The Attorney General’s statement last month that the use of remotely piloted aircraft and the targeting of Anwar Al-Aulaqi were subject to 'exceptionally rigorous interagency legal review' and determined to be lawful -- along with the President’s statement that those actions were legal -- only support the conclusion that those actions were lawful, and certainly were not clearly established to be unconstitutional in 2011," the government said in a Wednesday court filing signed by Paul E. Werner, a trial lawyer in the Justice Department's Civil Division.

The government was responding to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of the estates of three American citizens killed in drone strikes. The lawsuit, Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta, alleges that the government's killing of Al-Aulaqi and his 16-year-old son, Abdur-Rahman Al-Aulaqi, and Samir Khan were unconstitutional because they were not given due process.

The administration's court filing also claimed that the government deserved qualified immunity because the plaintiffs "failed to allege the violation of any clearly established constitutional rights." The previously classified information disclosed by Obama and Holder is "wholly consistent with Defendants’ showing that Anwar Al-Aulaqi’s due process rights were not violated," the government said. The government also argued that because Khan and Abdur-Rahman Al-Aulaqi were not specifically targeted by the government, they cannot claim they were subjected to an unconstitutional process.

The Obama administration claims its use of lethal force, including with drones, is "legal", "ethical", and "wise". But, as rightly noted by the Amnesty International (AI) and the ACLU and rights groups the Obama administration is killing people outside the bounds of human rights and the law. International law permits the use of lethal force in very restricted circumstances. But the U.S. drone strike policy allows extrajudicial executions in violation of the right to life, virtually anywhere in the world.

So, how is President Obama different than Richard Ramirez – the serial killer? To most human rights activists and legal experts, Obama is actually worse.

If Obama is serious of not having this epithet, as AI has recently called for: the Obama administration must follow the international law that restricts the use of lethal force. He must stop his drone attacks that kill innocent human beings. The U.S. Congress and the courts must uphold international law and stop a mass murderer. They owe it to the people who put them in the office. After all, Obama’s drone attacks are only breeding more terrorists who want to wreak havoc by attacking American citizens for no fault of their own except that they have elected a monster who has brought so much pain on so many. When we belittle other people’s pains, which we have caused, we only buy insecurity for ourselves!

[This essay is revised on June 11, 2013]

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Will Myanmar’s Extermination Campaign Ever End?

Long time ago I learned never to say ‘never again’ when it comes to Myanmar’s savagery. The latest mayhem against the Muslims in the Shan state, far away from the western Rakhine state – bordering Bangladesh, once again shows that for this religious minority Myanmar is proving to be hell on earth. Seemingly, there is no conscientious Buddhist living inside this den of hatred and intolerance that is bold enough to challenge this status quo. Daw Suu Kyi, once darling of the West, has long shown her despicable hypocrisy when she tried to ignore the monumental crimes of her Buddhist people and the government against the Rohingyas of Myanmar, considered the worst persecuted people on earth.

For years the Rohingya people living in the western Myanmar state of Rakhine, formerly known as Arakan, have been subjected to ethnic cleansing practices, and denied every right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Now that racial hatred and religious bigotry is spreading like a cancer all across Myanmar to include other Muslims in the country.

Rumors now seem to have become a major weapon to justify elimination of a persecuted minority. Last year (May-October), we saw the result of this evil concoction: with the rumor of an alleged rape and murder of a Rakhine woman, the brainwashed Rakhine terrorists went on an extermination campaign that witnessed the gruesome murder and rape of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, and the wholesale destruction of Muslim properties, schools, madrassas, mosques and shrines. Nothing of value was left intact by the marauding Buddhist savages. This ethnic cleansing drive resulted in internal displacement of some 140,000 Rohingyas within Myanmar who are living in wretched refugee camps. At least thirteen thousand Rohingyas have fled the country by sea with some seven hundred losing their lives while trying to brave the ocean to find refuge elsewhere.

In October 21-25, two townships - Pauktaw and Kyaukphyu - saw the near-total expulsion of long-established Muslim populations, in what could only be described as ethnic cleansing. One village Yin Thei saw a massacre of at least 51 Muslims, among them 21 women. That violence started with a heated argument within a very poor Muslim family where the husband (Tun Naing) had lost his job and the apartheid like restrictions had prevented him from finding job outside his Muslim village. It stirred up ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in the next village, who began shouting anti-Muslim slurs. Tun Naing's village was soon besieged by hundreds of Rakhines. The next morning, Monday, October 22, hundreds of Rakhine men gathered on the southern outskirts of Mrauk-U, an ancient capital, located nearly 15 miles north of Paik Thay. Then they marched to Tha Yet Oak, a Muslim fishing village of about 1,100 people, and set alight its flimsy bamboo homes. Rakhine terrorists hurled Molotov cocktails and fired homemade guns, and the entire Muslim village was burned to ashes. The same episode was repeated in Sam Ba Le, a village in neighboring Minbya Township, where more than 200 homes were set ablaze.

Next day, the massacre began in which the Rakhine mob was aided by police who shot Muslims. As Yin Thei burned, the last of nearly 4,000 Rohingya Muslims were fleeing the large port town of Pauktaw, in a dramatic exodus by sea that had begun five days earlier.

About 30 minutes after the last boat pushed out to sea, the two Rohingya neighborhoods in Pauktaw were set ablaze. All 335 homes were destroyed. The charred and roofless frame of a once-busy mosque was marked with graffiti: "Rakhines will drink kalar blood," using the slur for Muslims. Tuesday night fell. Soon a new inferno began in Kyaukphyu, a sleepy port town 65 miles southeast of Sittwe, targeting Kaman Muslims. Most Kyaukphyu Muslims lived in East Pikesake, a neighborhood wedged between Rakhine communities and the jade-green waters of the Bay of Bengal. By Wednesday, all the Muslim homes were set on fire. The Muslims had only one exit: the sea. A flotilla of fishing boats was preparing to leave its blazing shores.

"People swam out to the boats but were chased down and stabbed before they got there," said Abdullah, 35, a Rohingya fisherman to a reporter from the Reuters. Xanabibi, 46, a Kaman woman, said she watched from a boat as three Rakhine men with swords set upon a Muslim teenager. "I watched them ... cut up his body into four pieces," she said. The extermination campaign was touted as majority Rakhine’s way to teaching a lesson to minority of Muslims.

The week-long pogrom, by official count, claimed 89 lives, its worst in decades. The Reuters investigation painted a more troubling picture: The wave of attacks was organized, central-government military sources told Reuters. They were led by Rakhine nationalists tied to a powerful political party in the state, incited by Buddhist monks, and abetted at times by local security forces.

In March of this year, the extermination campaign moved to towns in central Myanmar, including Meiktila, which is located nearly 1oo miles north of the capital city Naypyitaw. There mobs of men, including Buddhist monks hacked to death at least 44 Muslim women and children. And all these savagery under the pretext of a rumor that a Muslim gold shop owner in Meiktila had harassed his Buddhist customers, which spiraled into a street brawl. Soon thereafter Buddhist mobs roamed the streets with sticks and swords and set Muslim-owned buildings including mosques ablaze. Rioting and arson attacks spread to 11 townships and villages outside Meiktila, as mobs of Buddhists, some led by monks, continued a three-day rampage through Muslim areas. Eight hundred Muslim homes and five mosques were torched. The violence ended with another 12,000 people displaced.

In his report in the New York Times Thomas Fuller wrote, “Images from Meiktila showed entire neighborhoods burned to the ground, some with only blackened trees left standing. Lifeless legs poked from beneath rubble. And charred corpses spoke to the use of fire as a main tool of the rioting mobs.” President Thein Sein later declared a state of emergency.

The latest manifestation of extermination campaign came last week in the northern city of Lashio, where terrified Muslims were sheltering under army guard after their homes, shops and mosque were burned down. The unrest in the northern Myanmar city of Lashio, a city located nearly 430 miles from Myanmar’s commercial capital of Rangoon (Yangon), shows how far anti-Muslim extermination campaign has spread in this Buddhist-dominated country. For years, the Shan state bordering China has been a peaceful state. And now in clear reminiscent of Meiktila, its Lashio city witnessed swarms of Buddhist men roaming Lashio's crumbling streets, armed with rocks and sticks and machetes. Before police and army troops stepped in, the Buddhist mob had torched scores of Muslim-owned shops, sending plumes of black smoke into the sky. The crowd then rampaged through the town, setting fire to Lashio's largest mosque. The mob also set fire to a Muslim school and orphanage that was so badly charred that only two walls remained

According to official report, one Muslim was killed and five people wounded including a journalist attacked by a Buddhist mob in Wednesday’s clashes. Some 1,200 Muslims were moved to Mansu Monastery after Buddhist mobs had terrorized the city – again showing government’s slow response to anti-Muslim pogroms.

As reported by the Reuters, Thein Maing, who took shelter at the monastery with his family, said they only dared to leave their house when they saw soldiers patrolling the streets on Wednesday. “I approached the soldiers and said, ‘We are afraid and we don’t know where to go. Please help us’, and they sent us here.” Khin Kyi’s family hid in the house of an ethnic Chinese neighbor, while Buddhist men with sticks and swords prowled the area. “We were very scared. This has never happened before,” she said.

The violence was sparked by a rumor last Tuesday that a Muslim man had badly burnt a Buddhist woman who sold fuel by the side of the road. After police detained the man, Buddhists surrounded the police station and demanded that he be handed over for public lynching. Badanta Ponnya Nanda, head monk of Mansu Monastery, said he tried to reason with the crowd, telling them to respect the law. “After that they went and burned the mosque,” he said.

As I have noted before, it would be wrong to think that these are isolated events. These are, in fact, part of a highly organized eliminationist policy in which Myanmar government and its Buddhist community are joint partners. For years their neo-Nazi intellectuals and bigot monks have been playing the role of Julius Streicher selling, rather very successfully, the poison pill of racial and religious purity in a country that has been multi-ethnic, multi-racial and multi-religious for hundreds of years.

Pale-skinned and shaven-headed Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu has become the public face of a Buddhist campaign, called ‘969’, to exclude and isolate Myanmar's Muslim minority. Wirathu is a self-confessed admirer of neo-Nazi groups like the English Defense League of the UK. He has become to the 969 fascist movement in Myanmar what Goebbels was to the Nazis in Germany. He says that his goals and methods are intended to counteract what he regards as growing Muslim power and numbers. His "969" campaign calls for boycotting Muslim-owned businesses and opposes intermarriage with Buddhists. He insists that 22 per cent of the nation's 60 million people are Muslim - the official estimate is only 4 per cent.

There are many Buddhists in Myanmar who take this hateful monk as their spiritual guide. It is no accident, therefore, that his 969 campaign has coincided with a surge of bloody violence in which Muslims have become the main victims. Wirathu is such a diabolical figure that he has no problem in lying or talking with a twisted tongue. When hundreds of Muslim villages and townships were burned in the Rakhine state, he had an explanation: "The Rohingya there burned down their own houses so that they could live easily in the refugee camps." As to the burning and killing by the Buddhist mob in Meiktila, he said their crimes were "forgivable”. He added, "As far as Muslims go, a snake is a snake. Snakes are dangerous, so we shouldn't let them be." It is a classic example to dehumanize one’s enemy so that violence against them can be sanctified.

As I have noted elsewhere Wirathu – the evil preacher - however, is not alone justifying the elimination campaign against the Muslims of Myanmar. There have been depraved ideologues like Aye Chan, (late) Aye Kyaw and Khin Maung Saw who for years have been parroting the government’s negative stereotypes against the minority Muslims to deny their ancestral ties to Burma. As Dr. Shwe Lu Maung (Shahnawaz Khan) and other objective researchers have repeatedly shown the first settlers of Arakan were the darker-skinned people who are now known as the Rohingya. Simply put, their ties to the soil of Arakan are older than those of the Rakhine Buddhists. Obviously, facts are never important to an ultra-racist and bigot, but myth-making is to justify their eliminationist policy against a targeted minority. Thus, the indigenous, and yet endangered, Rohingya are conveniently dumped as the illegals from Bangladesh and denied their citizenship rights in Myanmar - the last apartheid state of the 21st century.

"Ahimsa," meaning not to harm others, once considered fundamental to Buddhism, has become a forgotten principle in today’s Myanmar. The denial of existence has meant denial of rights for the minority Muslims, which in turn, has translated into their extermination in which from top to bottom every Buddhist of Myanmar is intimately linked as part of a national project to that end. What the past military governments have always wanted in terms of the minority Muslims is now done by its civilian partners in crime. After all, what was possible in a military dictatorship is no longer kosher in a hybrid civil-military government, run by a reform-minded Thein Sein! What a mockery with people’s intelligence! It is, therefore, no accident that the government security forces are silent witnesses, if not active participants, in such an eliminationist project, and are always the last ones to arrive at the crime scene when the cleansing task has already been accomplished by their fellow Buddhist terrorists. It is also no accident that while the victims are always Muslims, those jailed for taking part in clashes with marauding Buddhists – whether in the Rakhine state or in central Myanmar – are always Muslims. Not a single Buddhist has been convicted so far. What a mockery of justice in Thein Sein’s Myanmar!

In spite of decades-long campaign to eliminate the Muslim minorities of Myanmar, they are still there. It is not the Rohingya Muslims alone, there are Kaman Muslims, there are Karen Muslims, and there are Shan Muslims, there are Panthay Muslims and many others who call Myanmar their home. And this realization has made the hateful provocateurs and their local agents very angry, and more determined than ever before to finish off the eliminationist project. So, the persecuted Rohingya must now adhere to the two-child policy in clear violation of their human rights.

Ignored once again in this immoral order is the fact that Myanmar has ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which obliges State parties to respect and protect the right of women and men “to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights.”

Tom├ís Ojea Quintana, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, has condemned the order: “These orders provide further ammunition to local authorities, including the border security force Nasaka, to discriminate against and persecute the most vulnerable and marginalized group in Myanmar.” “Only by addressing this discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities can the Government of Myanmar hope to forge integrated communities that live together in equality, peace and harmony,” he underscored.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has also called on the Government not to restrict the number of children of Rohingya people.

As to the recent pogroms, the UN has voiced concerns about violence against the Rohingyas and has adopted a resolution in the General Assembly (Number 12-59569) on “The Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar,” which urged the Government of Myanmar to accelerate its efforts to address discrimination, human rights violations, violence, displacement, and economic deprivation affecting various ethnic minorities and, expressing particular concern about the situation of the Rohingya minority. Unfortunately, the UN fell short of either proposing any action to save the victims or punishing the major culprits who are responsible for the tragedy of this unfortunate people. The nuclear Brahmins, shamelessly, are more interested in getting their shares of the pie of Myanmar than punishing the rogue, apartheid state for its monumental failure to protect the lives and properties of minority Muslims there. More sickening is the attitude of the ASEAN, which as a regional power, has failed to chastise one of its own. They must demand a stop to this extermination campaign against the minority Muslims with a definite timeline. They must ensure full citizenship and human rights of these Muslims. Otherwise, the local problem will not remain local and become a regional one endangering regional security and stability, if it has not already reached that magnitude.

Can ASEAN afford such a catastrophe in the making? How about South Asia?