Monday, March 23, 2015

‘Hidden hands’ stoked Mandalay anti-Muslim pogrom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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