Saturday, October 31, 2015

Genocide is Occurring in Myanmar’s Rakhine state



The Genocide Convention was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948 and entered into force in 1951. It declares that genocide is a crime under international law. It imposes affirmative legal obligations on states to prevent genocide from occurring and to punish perpetrators of genocide.

Article II of the Genocide Convention defines genocide as: any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

  1. Killing members of the group;
  2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

As the Genocide Convention recognizes, “genocide is a crime . . . contrary to the spirit and aims of the United Nations and condemned by the civilized world,” the prohibition of the crime of genocide has become an undeniable part of customary international law. Furthermore, it is a principle binding on all states even if they have not consented to the obligation by ratifying the Genocide Convention.

Genocide is not a term to be used lightly. Genocide is the ultimate denial of the right to existence of an entire group of human beings. As such, it is the quintessential human rights crime because it denies its victims’ very humanity.

Recently, the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School has published a legal analysis for Fortify Rights, a human rights organization based in Southeast Asia, on the subject of genocide. The 78-page legal analysis — Persecution of the Rohingya Muslims: Is Genocide Occurring in Myanmar’s Rakhine State? A Legal Analysis— draws on nearly three years of research and documentation provided to the Lowenstein Clinic by Fortify Rights, including eyewitness testimonies, internal government documents as well as UN data, reports, and information.

It is worth noting here that the publication is the first to apply the law of genocide to the situation of the Rohingya in Myanmar. The legal analysis reads, “The Rohingya are a Muslim minority group in Rakhine State, which occupies the western coast of Myanmar. An estimated one million Rohingya live in Rakhine State, primarily in the northern townships.  Since the government passed the 1982 Citizenship Act, Rohingya have been denied equal access to citizenship. Rohingya have also been subjected to grave human rights abuses at the hands of the Myanmar authorities, security forces, police, and local Rakhines (the Buddhist majority population in Rakhine State). These actors have perpetrated violence against Rohingya, claiming thousands of lives. Hundreds more Rohingya have been the victims of torture, arbitrary detention, rape, and other forms of serious physical and mental harm. Whether confined to the three townships in northern Rakhine State or to one of dozens of internally displaced persons camps throughout the state, Rohingya have been deprived of freedom of movement and access to food, clean drinking water, sanitation, medical care, work opportunities, and education.”

It continues, “This legal analysis assesses whether the abuses of Rohingya Muslims’ human rights in Myanmar’s Rakhine State amount to genocide. Part I presents a detailed historical account of the situation of the Rohingya since Myanmar’s independence. Part II applies the law of genocide to the treatment of Rohingya in Rakhine State. This Part considers three questions: First, do Rohingya constitute a protected group under the definition of genocide? Second, do the acts perpetrated against Rohingya fall into the categories enumerated in the Genocide Convention? Third, does the requisite “intent to destroy” Rohingya exist? This analysis concludes that Rohingya constitute a protected group and that the group has suffered enumerated acts. Although the analysis does not support a definitive answer to the third question, the information the Lowenstein Clinic has considered, assuming it is credible and comprehensive and accurately reflects the situation of the Rohingya in Myanmar, provides a strong foundation from which to infer genocidal intent by security forces, government officials, local Rakhine, and others. Thus, this paper finds persuasive evidence that the crime of genocide has been committed against Rohingya Muslims. The legal analysis highlights the urgent need for a full and independent investigation and heightened protection for Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.”

In light of the findings, Fortify Rights said the United Nations must immediately establish a Commission of Inquiry into widespread and systematic human rights violations in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, including into whether the crime of genocide has occurred.

“Allegations of genocide should not be taken lightly,” said Matthew Smith, Executive Director of Fortify Rights. “Rohingya face existential threats, and their situation is worsening. Domestic remedies have failed. It’s time for the international community to act.”

The government of Myanmar has openly attempted to prevent Rohingya births, in policy and legislation. It denies freedom of movement to more than 1 million Rohingya, and at least 140,000 internally displaced Rohingya are confined to more than 60 internment camps throughout Rakhine State. The government is responsible for denying Rohingya access to adequate humanitarian aid, sanitation, and food, and these abuses have led to avoidable deaths. Authorities have effectively forced Rohingya to take deadly journeys by sea, particularly since 2012, knowing the risks of death they face in doing so.

“The plan of the government is to finish our people, to kill our people, but they cannot kill us all by the bullet,” a Rohingya man, 52, told Fortify Rights. “What they can do is deny us food and medicine, and if we don’t die, then we’ll opt to leave the country. [In these cases] the government has used a different option to kill the people. We must understand that.”

The Lowenstein Clinic identifies specific state actors—including the Myanmar Army, the Police Force, and the now-disbanded NaSaKa—as responsible for acts that could constitute genocide. It also exposes links between perpetrators and the central government in Naypyidaw.

Fortify Rights and the Lowenstein Clinic called on the UN Human Rights Council to urgently adopt a resolution mandating an international Commission of Inquiry to fully assess the totality of the situation in Rakhine State, including human rights violations against Rohingya Muslims as well as Rakhine Buddhists. A Commission should objectively evaluate the facts, identify responsible perpetrators, and provide clear recommendations for action to effectively address and prevent further abuses in Rakhine State, Fortify Rights said.

Operationally, a commission should collate existing UN data, hold hearings, interview victims, survivors, government officials, political operatives, leaders of the Buddhist sangha, and others in Myanmar and Southeast Asia.

The UN Human Rights Council, Security Council, General Assembly, Secretary General, and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights all have authority to establish commissions of inquiry. Examples of such commissions exist throughout the world. Most recently, the UN established inquiries into serious human rights violations in Libya, the occupied Palestinian territory, Syria, North Korea, Sri Lanka, and the Central African Republic.

“The UN should truly put human rights up front in Myanmar,” said Matthew Smith, referring to the UN Secretary General’s Human Rights Up Front initiative—an effort to prevent and respond to large-scale violations of human rights. “UN member states should stop tolerating these abuses and take action.”

As a keen observer of the Rohingya crisis for more than a decade, I am not surprised with either the findings of the Fortify Rights or the conclusion of the legal experts of the prestigious Yale Law School. The question of genocide of the Rohingya people has come up a few times in various conferences, especially since 2012 when they, rightly considered the most persecuted people on earth, are targeted for extermination in a national project in the Buddhist majority Myanmar.

Seven months ago (March 30, 2015) I had the privilege to deliver a lecture at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and share the podium with Professor John Ciorciari discussing the same subject “Is genocide unfolding in Myanmar?”

Following a trip in March of this year in the Rakhine state of Myanmar, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum staff believed that ‘conditions are ripe for genocide’ of Rohingyas.

Nearly two years ago, at the First International Rohingya Conference in the USA, Stop Genocide and Restore Rohingya’s Citizenship Rights in Myanmar,held at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, the experts, which included Dr. Greg Stanton, a foremost authority on genocide, concurred that the Rohingyas were victims of genocide. For the last two years, the Genocide Watch has also been arguing that Rohingyas are facing genocide.

On October 21, 2015 the U.S. lawmakers expressed deep concerns about Burma’s backsliding on human rights and commitment to democratization at a hearing by the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. Repression and disenfranchisement of the Rohingya along with the military’s constitutionally guaranteed 25% of parliamentary seats means this election will not be free or fair, before even a single vote is cast. United to End Genocide President Tom Andrews was a featured witness, testifying before the Subcommittee warning of ongoing hate campaigns and abuses that put the country at risk of future mass atrocities and even genocide.

Professor Penny Green of Queen Mary University, UK has also issued a dire warning, “Myanmar’s Rohingya are being slowly annihilated through sporadic massacres, mass flight, systematic weakening and denial of identity. A genocidal process is underway in Myanmar and if it follows the path outlined in our report, it is yet to be completed. It can be stopped but not without confronting the fact that it is, indeed, a genocide.”

The International State Crime Initiative (ISCI) at Queen Mary University of London, based on an 18-month investigation, has recently found “compelling evidence” that Rohingya face “mass annihilation” by the government of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) and that a genocide has been taking place for three decades. Myanmar’s Rohingya minority population is in “the final stages of a genocidal process” comparable to that in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and Rwanda in the 1990s, and attacks against them are planned at the highest levels of government, according to this new report from the British research institute. The 106-page report includes evidence from leaked government documents and detailed accounts from witnesses about the severe lack of food and employment opportunities; difficulties trying to obtain health care; and discrimination and violence from Buddhist monks and non-Muslim villagers.

“You don’t need to engage in mass killing to obliterate an ethnic group. You can do it by other means,” says Professor Penny Green, a professor of law and globalization at Queen Mary University of London and lead researcher of the report who spent four months on the ground in Rakhine as part of her research. Green and her team of researchers were denied access to northern Rakhine state by the government. “You can make life so intolerable that they leave, and those remaining have no agency and are effectively in detention camps,” says Green. “You create a very fragmented diaspora around the world.”

“It’s really important to construct genocide as a social process, because if we don’t, we can never intervene before mass killing takes place,” Penny Green told Newsweek. She added that the elections “reinforce the elimination of the Rohingya from the political realm of responsibility of Myanmar.”

The Rohingya are now two steps away from all-out genocide, having already been subjected to four stages: stigmatization, harassment, isolation and systematic weakening, according to the ISCI. There is evidence that the remaining two stages—extermination and “symbolic enactment,” or erasing the group from Myanmar’s history—are already well underway, says Green. The systematic weakening of the group has been so successful that the Rohingya’s rights have been “effectively destroyed” and “those who can, flee, while those who remain endure the barest of lives,” the report says.

The ISCI report also criticizes the international community for its lack of action.

It goes without saying that the UNSC and the international community have to take up the matter of genocide of the Rohingya people immediately failing which they must bear the responsibility for not stopping the crime.   

Last British Detainee At Guantanamo Goes Home

Almost 14 years after he was first detained by U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Shaker Aamer, the last British detainee held at Guantanamo Bay, was released from the prison today and repatriated back to his home in England. In a statement issued by a spokesperson for British Prime Minister David Cameron, the government indicated that it had no plans to detain him upon his release, and that “he is free to be reunited with his family.”
Aamer’s release today concludes a long legal ordeal that had raised the ire of human rights groups around the world. Despite spending nearly a decade and a half in U.S. custody, Aamer was never charged with any crime, and was cleared for release from the prison on separate occasions in both 2007 and 2009. In a statement issued today through the prisoner advocacy organization CAGE, Moazzam Begg, another former British detainee at Guantanamo and a longtime friend of Aamer, said, “The day has finally arrived…[Aamer’s] family, friends, lawyers, campaigners and well-wishers have fought a battle to free an innocent man and finally, that battle has been won.”
You can read the details by clicking here.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Genocide is Underway in Myanmar

New legal analysis by Yale Law School’s Lowenstein Clinic in conjunction with rights group Fortify Rights presents strong evidence to suggest that genocide is being committed against the Muslim minority group by Myanmar state actors, including the army, police and a recently disbanded border security force known as Nasaka.
The research, launched on Thursday at a press event in Bangkok, applies the 1948 Genocide Convention’s checklist of criminal elements to the Rohingya’s situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. The findings confirm that the Rohingya qualify as a protected group, that they have suffered acts defined under the convention as genocide, and that the state-sponsored acts have been committed with the intent to destroy the Rohingya as a distinct ethnic group, in whole or in part.
[You can read the findings of the report by clicking here.]


Professor Penny Green of Queen Mary University, UK similarly says, “Myanmar’s Rohingya are being slowly annihilated through sporadic massacres, mass flight, systematic weakening and denial of identity. A genocidal process is underway in Myanmar and if it follows the path outlined in our report, it is yet to be completed. It can be stopped but not without confronting the fact that it is, indeed, a genocide.”
---------------
Fortify Rights called on the UN to establish a Commission of Inquiry at a press conference today in Bangkok, following the release of a new legal analysis by the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School. The Lowenstein Clinic's legal analysis, entitled "Persecution of the Rohingya Muslims: Is Genocide Occurring in Myanmar's Rakhine State," finds strong evidence of genocide. Please download the Legal Analysis and read the press release below from Fortify Rights. 


United Nations: Establish Independent Investigation into Genocide in Myanmar

Legal analysis finds strong evidence of genocide against Rohingya Muslims

(BANGKOK, October 29, 2015)—There is strong evidence that the government of Myanmar is responsible for genocide against Rohingya Muslims, according to a legal analysis prepared for Fortify Rights by the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School. In light of the findings, Fortify Rights said the United Nations must immediately establish a Commission of Inquiry into widespread and systematic human rights violations in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, including into whether the crime of genocide has occurred.

“Allegations of genocide should not be taken lightly,” said Matthew Smith, Executive Director of Fortify Rights. “Rohingya face existential threats, and their situation is worsening. Domestic remedies have failed. It’s time for the international community to act.”

The 78-page legal analysis—Persecution of the Rohingya Muslims: Is Genocide Occurring in Myanmar’s Rakhine State? A Legal Analysis—draws on nearly three years of research and documentation provided to the Lowenstein Clinic by Fortify Rights, including eyewitness testimonies, internal government documents as well as UN data, reports, and information.

The publication is the first to apply the law of genocide to the situation of the Rohingya in Myanmar. It concludes that strong evidence exists to establish the elements of the crime of genocide: that Rohingya are a protected group as defined under the Genocide Convention; that Rohingya have suffered acts of genocide as enumerated by the Convention; and that those acts were committed with the intent to destroy Rohingya as a group, in whole or in part.

The government of Myanmar has openly attempted to prevent Rohingya births, in policy and legislation. It denies freedom of movement to more than 1 million Rohingya, and at least 140,000 internally displaced Rohingya are confined to more than 60 internment camps throughout Rakhine State. The government is responsible for denying Rohingya access to adequate humanitarian aid, sanitation, and food, and these abuses have led to avoidable deaths. Authorities have effectively forced Rohingya to take deadly journeys by sea, particularly since 2012, knowing the risks of death they face in doing so.

“The plan of the government is to finish our people, to kill our people, but they cannot kill us all by the bullet,” a Rohingya man, 52, told Fortify Rights. “What they can do is deny us food and medicine, and if we don’t die, then we’ll opt to leave the country. [In these cases] the government has used a different option to kill the people. We must understand that.”

The Lowenstein Clinic identifies specific state actors—including the Myanmar Army, the Police Force, and the now-disbanded NaSaKa—as responsible for acts that could constitute genocide. It also exposes links between perpetrators and the central government in Naypyidaw.

Fortify Rights and the Lowenstein Clinic call on the UN Human Rights Council to urgently adopt a resolution mandating an international Commission of Inquiry to fully assess the totality of the situation in Rakhine State, including human rights violations against Rohingya Muslims as well as Rakhine Buddhists. A Commission should objectively evaluate the facts, identify responsible perpetrators, and provide clear recommendations for action to effectively address and prevent further abuses in Rakhine State, Fortify Rights said.

Operationally, a commission should collate existing UN data, hold hearings, interview victims, survivors, government officials, political operatives, leaders of the Buddhist sangha, and others in Myanmar and Southeast Asia.

The UN Human Rights Council, Security Council, General Assembly, Secretary General, and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights all have authority to establish commissions of inquiry. Examples of such commissions exist throughout the world. Most recently, the UN established inquiries into serious human rights violations in Libya, the occupied Palestinian territory, Syria, North Korea, Sri Lanka, and the Central African Republic.

“The UN should truly put human rights up front in Myanmar,” said Matthew Smith, referring to the UN Secretary General’s Human Rights Up Front initiative—an effort to prevent and respond to large-scale violations of human rights. “UN member states should stop tolerating these abuses and take action.”
    
For more information, please contact:

Matthew Smith, Executive Director, Fortify Rights: +66.85.028.0044 (Thailand);
matthew.smith@fortifyrights.org
; Twitter: @matthewfsmith
 

Christian terrorists of South Sudan release Bangladeshi peacekeepers


South Sudan's Christian terrorists on Thursday released 18 Bangladeshi peacekeepers they had taken captive, but were still holding 12 UN contractors captured along with them on the Nile River.
The 18 Bangladeshi soldiers were later flown out of Kaka by UN helicopter to Malakal.
Around 100 heavily-armed rebels backed by two tanks on Monday detained the crew of a barge carrying fuel for the UN mission, along with the peacekeepers escorting the shipment.
The peacekeepers and the crew were captured north of Malakal, and taken to the town of Kaka, in Upper Nile state.
You can read the news by clicking here and here.

Opposition candidate attacked with machete in Myanmar

Three men attacked National League for Democracy (NLD) member Naing Ngan Lynn, who in running for a regional assembly seat in the commercial capital of Yangon, and two other people while he was campaigning on Thursday evening.
You can read the news by clicking here.

Israeli Police Repeatedly Raid East Jerusalem Hospital


Israeli police have carried out multiple raids against a hospital in occupied East Jerusalem over the past two days, seeking the location of a 15-year-old Palestinian protester who they’d shot, and who they accuse the hospital of “unlawfully” hiding.
You can read the news by clicking here.

After 13 Years with No Charges, British Prisoner at Gitmo Finally Released

After thirteen years held without charges at the offshore U.S. prison at Guantanamo, 48-year-old British citizen Shaker Aamer was put on a private jet just after midnight on Friday and sent back to the UK.
According to reporting by Carol Rosenberg at the Miami Herald:
[Aamer] was one of Guantánamo’s best known prisoners because some Britons, including his wife and four children living in London, turned his case into a cause célèbre. In May, a bipartisan delegation of British members of parliament stumped for his release in meetings with Obama administration officials as well as members of Congress.
The transfer left 112 detainees at the Pentagon prison, 52 of them approved for transfer to other countries.
You can read the full story by clicking here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Interesting news about two doctors saving lives of 'others'


Here is a report about two doctors that has appeared in the Washington Post that is quite interesting.

UN has a long history in disappointing Palestinians

To find out about this topic, please, click here.

Israeli deputy foreign minister: I dream of Israeli flag on Temple Mount

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said on Monday that “my dream is to see the Israeli flag flying over the Temple Mount,” and called on the government to allow Jews to go up to the mount and pray there. The deputy foreign minister’s comments, which were disowned by the Prime Minister's Office, came amid diplomatic attempts to quell rising tensions regarding the flashpoint site, which were sparked by Palestinian fears that Israel wanted to change the status quo on the site that is holy to both Jews and Muslims.
“My dream is to see the Israeli flag flying over the Temple Mount,” said Hotovely during a program on the Knesset’s TV channel. "It’s the holiest place for the Jewish people.” In addition, Hotovely reiterated her previously stated position that Jews should be allowed to ascend and pray on the Temple Mount.
To read the news report, please, click here.

Without the Iraq war there would be no Islamic State - confesses Tony Blair


Only one of Tony Blair’s mea culpas in his CNN interview stands out as truly significant: his partial acknowledgment that without the Iraq war there would be no Islamic State (ISIS).
Until now, Blair had refused to link the two, insisting instead in the lead-up to the war that sending western troops would deny jihadis an arena and prevent Saddam Hussein from using them as proxies in his standoff with the west.
The 12 years since have constantly disproved both claims. Within six months of British troops landing in Iraq, the SAS was sent to Baghdad’s western outskirts to attack jihadis who had taken up residence in Ramadi. Back then, they were a mob of foreigners and Iraqis who fed off a broad Sunni discontent fuelled by the invasion; a serendipitous vanguard that not long afterwards organised into al-Qaida in Iraq, then the Islamic State of Iraq and, since mid-2013, Isis.


Please, click here to read the news report.

Netanyahu Says Israel Will Retain All Palestinian Territory

You can read the news report by clicking here.

Are the Saudis are repeating the crimes of the USA in Yemen?

After the US forces criminally bombed an MSF-run hospital now the Saudi government has been found committing the same crime in Yemen.
Adding to concerns about Saudi attacks on civilians in Yemen, an overnight air raid against the capital city of Sanaa pounded a residential district, hitting several homes, a girl’s school, and destroying a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital.
MSF reported the facility was struck multiple times and left in “wreckage.” The first strike hit the operations theater of the hospital, which fortunately was empty at night, and the staff had enough time to evacuate for the most part before a second missile went careening into the maternity ward.
Two MSF staffers were wounded, but there appear to have been no deaths in the hospital strike, though casualties out of the surrounding area are so far not certain. This is the second MSF facility destroyed in an airstrike this month, after the US destroyed one in Afghanistan.
MSF reported they’d provided the coordinates of all facilities in Yemen to the Saudi-led coalition two weeks ago, specifically for fear that the wreckless air campaign would mistakenly hit them.  MSF says that whatever the circumstances, the strike amounts to a war crime.
Saudi officials, as usual, are offering no real details, and after silence on the matter for most of the day they issued a blanket denial, insisting their were no airstrikes anywhere near that district, even though several were reported in the area and the Saudi coalition is the only one launching airstrikes.

Genocide evidence against the Myanmar government - unearthed by al Jazeera



Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit has unearthed documents that analysts say prove the Burmese government has sought to incite anti-Muslim feeling. (You can view the al Jazeera's investigative video about genocide by clicking here.)

One of the most significant items is a presentation used by members of the armed forces at a training session in Naypyidaw, Burma’s capital city. The lecture aid instructs army cadets to view the state’s Muslim population as a threat to the nation as a whole, as well as to Buddhism itself.
Commenting on this document, former military insider and regime defector Sai Thein Win, told Al Jazeera that he recognised the name of the college where the lecture was given, as well its military function, as a centre for psychological warfare.
“They recruit the propagandists and create rumours which spread among the people. In this way they influence the policy of the country,” he says, with the aim to “make the people worry, spread fear, hatreds and create conflicts.”

Entitled “Fear of Losing One’s Race,” the document emphasises the danger posed to Burma by Islam, in part by making the case for the “probability of extinction” as a result of the maneuverings of “Bengali Muslims” in particular.
The term “Bengalis” is used by the government to refer to the Rohingya minorities of Burma.


If the presentation was intended to promote the idea that Burma’s Muslims represent a looming danger to its Buddhist population, then a second internal document appears to have been designed to spread the message that the threat was imminent.
The memo, circulated among government officials in 2013, instructs its readership to make “necessary preparations” to counter a sinister Muslim plot against Buddhists. The paper promoted the idea of an Islamic conspiracy based solely on claims made by an unidentified “friendly group”. Their allegations are treated as fact throughout the text.




Professor Penny Green of the International State Crime Initiative, a research centre based at the University of London, told Al Jazeera that she thought the document was intended to heighten community tensions for political purposes.
“I think this is absolutely propaganda issued by the state. It’s a pedagogical exercise. It’s encouraging all township directors and instructing township administrators to make sure they are controlling their Muslim population.”
Matthew Smith, Executive Director of Fortify Rights, a Bangkok-based advocacy group, told Al Jazeera that it contained content that resembled anti-Muslim propaganda circulated across the country, in some cases prior to outbreaks of violence.
“If you take a population of Buddhists in various parts of the country that already feel, whether it’s unreasonable or not, that their culture and their religion are under threat, and then if you take that sensibility and you layer on top allegations that Muslims are going to incite riots or perpetrate violence against Buddhist populations, this could have the effect of inciting widespread violence,” said Smith.
“In fact, we’ve seen similar situations like this in other parts of the country as well. In Rakhine [Arakan] State, there were a number of pamphlets being distributed before the widespread violence in June 2012 and October 2012 indicating that Muslims were taking land, raping women, posing a threat to the Buddhist religion and to Burma’s national sovereignty.
“These types of allegations of existential threats against Buddhism and Buddhists are being used to incite violence in the country against Muslims.”
In 2014, a broadcast on Myawaddy, a military-owned but publicly available channel, featured a monk’s sermon in which he rehearsed a virtually identical account of Muslim abuse.
Matthew Walton, Myanmar expert at Oxford University’s St. Anthony College, says there is symmetry between the government documents in the film and broader anti-Muslim propaganda in Burma.
The evidence, he told Al Jazeera, “paints a … picture of the coordination in messaging” between parts of the government and practitioners of hate speech.
“By reinforcing these messages that demonise Muslims, state officials are laying the groundwork for further discrimination and violence, not only legitimised by religious authorities but now also by political ones.”


Al Jazeera also found clear evidences of how false rumors about rape were used as weapons to justify pogroms against the Rohingya and other Muslim minorities of Myanmar.


Calls for investigation of the Myanmar regime for its genocidal crimes against the minority Rohingya are growing as a result of  a joint investigation between Al Jazeera and Yale University Law School which revealed strong evidence of a genocide coordinated by the Myanmar Government. (E.g., click here).

Click here for further links:

Sunday, October 25, 2015

How India's "Untouchable" Women Are Fighting Back Against Sexual Violence

Here is a good article on how India's untouchables are fighting back against sexual violence, which they face more than any other group in India.

Manisha Mashaal was five years old when her schoolteacher first called her an “untouchable” in front of the rest of her class. 

“That’s when I found out why my family’s house was so close to the trash dumpsite of the village, and why it was so separated from houses of the dominant castes,” Mashaal said. 

India is home to more than 100 million Dalit women, according to the 2011 national census. The Dalit, sometimes referred to as "untouchables," have long been considered the lowest rung of the Indian caste system.
For Dalit victims of sexual violence, Marshaal said, response from police officers is often "How can you have been raped? You’re a Dalit — touching you would make anyone spiritually impure."

And Mashaal was far from alone. A study by the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights found that more than half of Dalit women had suffered physical assault. More than 46% have suffered sexual harassment. Twenty-three percent have said they had been raped. 


Here is another article on sexual violence faced by Dalit women in India. The author is a Dalit woman who says the Hindu Caste system breeds such rape incidents - 'India' cast culture is a rape culture'. You can read the piece by clicking here.

Indian Union Minister VK Singh walking on Modi's path

Senior Samajwadi Party leader and state cabinet minister Mohammed Azam Khan on Thursday lashed out at Union minister VK Singh's controversial statement on the Faridabad incident where a dalit family was burnt alive and said he was "walking the path that Modi has shown him".
Referring to Modi as 'Badshaah' (emperor), Khan said, "Where does one learn such things? He learns such a culture from his seniors and elders. Badshah had compared the Muslims of Godhra to a puppy and now his minister has compared to dalits to dogs. The minister is only taking Badshaah's chain of thought further. It is clear where the culture is emanating from. This is nothing new. Be it the 'Ramzyaade' comment or Yogi Adityanath saying Hindus are ready fight with tann (body), mann (mind), dhan (wealth) and gun. There is a culture of hate and the leader is breeding it."

Claiming that minorities were living in a state of fear, he said, "We don't know what to do. Muslims and dalits are in a state of perpetual fear. There is an intolerant atmosphere of hate and has been very strategically created by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Dalits will be accorded a very bad place in their version of Hindu Rashtra."

He added saying, "Western UP has become the newest laboratory for them (RSS). Fortunately, they did not get the kind of success they had hoped for after the Dadri lynching case. The media immediately jumped in and cornered them. It is because of the media that they were forced to relook their strategy."

Khan said the 2017 assembly polls will hinge on caste-equations instead of religious polarization. "The polls are less than two years away and western UP will definitely play an important role. The caste-equation will make a big difference. It will matter which caste goes with which party."

You can read the full story by clicking here.

Masked Jewish man attacks head of Rabbis for Human Rights

The head of a Jewish human rights organization was attacked Friday by a masked Jewish man near a settlement in the West Bank. The incident, which was caught on video, was labeled by the police as an altercation between left and right wing activists. The Jewish assailant was seen accosting Rabbi Arik Ascherman, who heads Rabbis For Human Rights, and threatening him with a knife during a Palestinian olive harvest near the Jewish settlement of Itamar. The Israel Police's political crimes unit has opened an investigation into the incident.
You can read the story by clicking here.

Israel eases Al-Aqsa limits as 90 wounded in Gaza, West Bank


You can read the news report by clicking here.

Why the New York Times blows it again on the Israel-Palestine coverage getting it so wrong

Here is a good article critiquing the news coverage on  the Palestine-Israel conflict, in the NY Times.

Weep, Beloved Country - by Uri Avnery

As to sensitivity around the Haram al-Sharif, Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery writes, "After the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans some 1945 years ago, the place was desecrated by the Christians who turned it into a dunghill. When it was conquered by the Muslims in 635, the humane Khalif Omar ordered it cleaned. Two holy Muslim buildings were erected – the beautiful Dome of the Rock, with its conspicuous golden dome, and the even holier al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest mosque in Islam.
If one wants to cause trouble, this is the place to start. The cry that al-Aqsa is in danger arouses every Palestinian, and every Muslim around the world. It excites moderately religious Muslims (as most Arabs are) as well as religious fanatics. It is a call to arms, to self-sacrifice.
This has happened several times in the past. The terrible "events" of 1929, in which the ancient Jewish community in Hebron was massacred, were started by a Jewish provocation at the Western Wall, part of the wall that encloses the Mount. The second intifada broke out because Ariel Sharon led a provocative demonstration on the Mount, with the express permission of the then Labor Party Prime Minister, Ehud Barak.
The present trouble started with visits by Jewish extreme right-wing leaders, including a minister and members of the Knesset, to the Temple Mount. This in itself is not forbidden. (Except by Orthodox Jewish law, because ordinary Jews are not allowed to tread were once the Holy of Holies was located.) The mount is a paramount tourist attraction.
To regulate things, something called the Status Quo is in place. When the Israeli army occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-day war, it was decided that the Temple Mount enclosure, though now under Israeli rule, would be run by Muslims under Jordanian jurisdiction. (Why Jordanian? Because Israel did not agree to Palestinian jurisdiction.) Jews were allowed to enter the enclosure, but not to pray there.
Binyamin Netanyahu maintains that the Status Quo was not broken. But lately groups of fanatical right-wing Israelis have entered the enclosure, protected by the Israeli police, and prayed. For the Muslims, that was a breach of the status.
Moreover, much publicity has been given to Jewish groups who are preparing to rebuild the Jewish Temple after destroying the Muslim shrines. The clothes and instruments prescribed by the Bible are being prepared by fanatics.
In normal times, at a normal place, this could be settled peacefully. But not on the Temple Mount, and not now, with Jewish settlers starting to secure footholds in the Arab villages surrounding the Shrines. All over the occupied territories and among the Arab citizens of Israel the cry went up: the Holy Places are in danger. The Israeli leaders shouted back that this was all a pack of lies.
Young Palestinians took up the knives and started stabbing Israelis, knowing full well that they would probably be shot dead on the spot. Israeli leaders called upon Jewish citizens to bear arms at all times and shoot at once when they see an attack. "
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Saturday, October 24, 2015

When paranoia rules, everything seems so kosher!


Last Wednesday night Israeli (IDF) soldiers shot and killed a man they thought to be a terrorist in Jerusalem, after the man attacked them and tried to grab one of the weapons they were carrying.

According to police, the incident began when two soldiers boarding a bus near the entrance to the capital were asked for identification by an unknown man. When the soldiers, in response, asked the man to identify himself and submit to a search, he began physically assaulting them and tried to seize one of the firearms they were carrying, according to a police account.

The soldiers opened fire on the man, who was pronounced dead at the scene. The man, however, did not have a knife on him, as previously reported. A search on his body revealed an Israeli ID card, and reports indicated he was Jewish. But police said they were still working to identify him.

The incident occurred on Yirmiyahu Street, in the city’s Romema neighborhood, and came after another day of attacks against Israelis.

Hatred and paranoia are like cancer and take one to the point of no return. The Israeli society is now sick with these ailments. Until lately they have been killing Palestinians just on mere suspicion that they could attack them. All the civilized norms were abandoned in this new resurgence of hatred and paranoia. As the above incident showed, even their own Jewish people were insecure in the hand of trigger-happy security forces!

Illegal occupation is not an easy thing no matter how it is sanctified by an apartheid system and those in the business of selling religion for worldly purposes. Yes, for too long political Zionism has corrupted Judaism and made it subservient. That is why, I was not surprised to hear from the Israeli media reports that some Jewish Rabbis have declared the killing of Palestinian resistance fighters “a religious duty”. Israeli news website Walla reported that right-wing rabbis replied to questions including: “Am I allowed to kick the insurgent, hit him or shoot him in order to kill him after he has been arrested or is this prohibited?”

Rabbi Rav Benzion Mutzafi replied: “It is not only desirable to do so, but it is a religious duty that you hold his head down to the ground and hit him until his last breath.”

Fortunately, not all the Jews uphold Mutzafi's criminal views. Rabbi David said it is prohibited for people to attack a Palestinian perpetrator of an operation after he has been injured or when he is posing no danger. Mutzafi responded: “Do not listen to Staph because those who have mercy on the cruel will end up being cruel toward the righteous.”

Unfortunately, within Israel Mutzafi has major supporters behind his extremist views. Chief Rabbi of the city of Safed Shmuel Eliyahu is one such person. He called for all Israeli police officers and soldiers who allow Palestinian resistance fighters to live after their arrest to be tough, i.e., to kill them. “It is prohibited to keep the vandal alive after the operation, because if he is left alive, there is a fear that he would be released and then he would kill others,” Eliyahu wrote on Facebook.




Many of today's violent settler fanatics are often followers of (now dead) Rabbi Meir Kahane. The ultra-Zionist terrorists who burned a Palestinian baby to death with a fire bomb near Nablus are likely to be modern day followers of Kahane.

It is not difficult to connect the extra-judicial criminal activities of the Jewish settlers and the IDF against the Palestinian civilians with the toxic religious indoctrination that they have been receiving from hateful Rabbis. Let’s also not forget why they feel so untouchable for such crimes. They have their patron as the head of the government. Lest we forget most of the support for the rogue government of Benjamin Netanyahu actually comes from these extremist Jews who consider killing Palestinian a religious duty in the occupied territories.

Netanyahu’s apartheid regime is criminally silent on the crimes of his fellow settlers, and their Rabbis who justify violence against unarmed Palestinians.  Israeli "justice" minister Ayelet Shaked (who slandered Palestinian children in genocidal terms as "little snakes" during last year's war on the Gaza Strip) and a former deputy-speaker of the Knesset have openly called for genocide against Palestinians (he called for all Palestinians to be forced out of Gaza and put in "encampments," where they would be "concentrated."). And there are many more members within the government and the Knesset that have called for such extermination campaigns against Palestinians.

Netanyahu himself has been a very diabolical figure in Israeli politics, personally believed to be responsible for the murder of a former prime minister. His hatred of the Palestinians people is well known. To hide his crimes against them, he has always found something else to deflect public opinion. After his failed attempt to demonize Iran and its leadership, he has now found a new villain – Haj Amin.  Recently, he has publicly asserted that Adolf Hitler had no intention of exterminating Europe’s Jews until a Palestinian persuaded him to do it. His assertion was so outlandish even his greatest backers inside and outside Israel and the Jewish community had to chide him for distorting history.

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian peace negotiator, in a statement described Netanyahu’s remarks as “morally indefensible and inflammatory.” Erekat said that by “blaming the Palestinians for the Holocaust “ Netanyahu had completely absolved Adolph Hitler’s heinous and reprehensible genocide of the Jewish people…the leader of the Israeli government hates his neighbor so much that he is willing to absolve the most notorious war criminal in history, Adolph Hitler, of the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust.”

Through his absurd claim against Haj Amin, Netanyahu was basically escalating incitement against and demonization of the Palestinian people living under his country’s military and settler-colonial rule.

Under his leadership the Israeli democracy is sliding downwards towards an ultra-nationalist, racist, religious society. His fascist supporters can be heard on TV, with faces contorted by hatred, shouting "Death to the Arabs!" at soccer matches until they are hoarse, or demonstrating after each violent incident in the mixed Jewish-Arab towns "All Arabs are Terrorists! Kill them all!"

Under Netanyahu’s watch, unemployment of the Palestinian people has risen to an alarming portion, and more and more the occupied indigenous people find them cornered to a place of no hope and no future. Israeli crackdown on Palestinian unrest, particularly in occupied East Jerusalem, has left hundreds of people wounded. However, they face ever-growing restrictions of movement, even their access to hospitals is blocked by IDF soldiers. They are suddenly surrounded with checkpoints, and which Israeli security forces are heavily restricting access to. Even the doctors and other staff at these hospitals are struggling to get to work. For patients, in many cases, it’s nearly impossible, with people who used to live less than 10 minutes from the hospital finding waits of an hour or more just to get around a military checkpoint, and report Israeli troops firing live rounds at them as they try to get wounded relatives to receive care. Some Palestinian patients have died as a result of such harsh restrictions.

Add to that list of dehumanization of the Palestinians, the periodic evictions and demolitions of their homes. For instance, while the IDF and settlers were killing Palestinians unprovoked in the last few days, the Israeli police on last Monday helped settlers carry out the eviction of a Palestinian extended family in East Jerusalem, which has been occupied by Israel since the war of June 1967. “A large police force was deployed [Monday] morning to evict the Abu Nab family. Street was put under curfew,” Betty Herschman, the international relations and advocacy director for Ir Amin, a nonprofit advocacy group in Jerusalem that monitors settlement activity, told Al Jazeera.

“My family has been renting this house since 1948,” Abdullah Abu Nab told Al Jazeera after the court decision, noting that his family had been expelled from present-day West Jerusalem, which fell under Israeli control after the 1948 war that accompanied Israel’s creation.

In the last several weeks some three scores (I have lost count!) of Palestinians were murdered by the settlers and security forces of the Apartheid State of Israel. So serious was the deteriorating condition inside the Occupied Territories that the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had to visit the killing fields of the Occupied Palestine and tell Netanyahu that "the walls, checkpoints, harsh responses by the security forces and house demolitions cannot sustain the peace and safety that you need and must have."

Then came the pressure from the USA. Whether it is the pressure from the US Secretary Kerry or someone else, facts are that last Friday, after weeks of illegal restrictions, ultimately Netanyahu caved in and lifted the restriction on Muslims of all ages to come and pray inside the Haram al-Sharif, Islam’s third holiest site.

So, at the end, some calm has settled in the Occupied Territories.

My question is: what did Netanyahu achieve except the death of some 60 people? Well, what the rest of the world has learned is that the rogue state has two sets of laws: one for the occupied Palestinian victims and the other for the occupying forces and the settlers. The latter has the right to kill the former even when unthreatened. Netanyahu can arrogantly claim his state to be a bastion of democracy in an un-democratic region, a bastion of civilization in an allegedly uncivilized region, a model state where human rights are upheld and people are fairly and treated irrespective of their race and religion, the ugly fact that has emerged is that all those are bogus claims and nothing else.




Friday, October 23, 2015

Dr. Ram Puniyani's article on recent killings in India

Dr Ram Puniyani writes in the Citizen:
 "When Dr. Dabholkar, Com Pansare and then Prof Kalburgi were killed over a period of months, the danger signals started being perceived but still it took the beef lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq to give a message that something has drastically changed in the society , and the spate of returning  of Sahiya Academy, National and state, awards followed in quick succession. Their protest was against the rising intolerance in the society. The incidents that followed and ran parallel to these ‘award-returns’ were equally horrific. The killing of a trucker on the assumption that he is carrying cows for slaughter; beating of a MLA in Kashmir Assembly by BJP legislatures and the scattered incidents of attacks on Muslims on the ground of beef consumption are too striking. We are currently facing a situation where anybody can incite the violence by just uttering the word beef, while seeing mutton or some such thing. We are living in an atmosphere where cow cannot be shooed away even if she is blocking the traffic.
 
The viciousness of atmosphere is not lost on the social perceptions. The insecurity of minorities has gone up by leaps and bounds. One knows that since the present NDA regime came to power all those ‘spewing hate’ are working overtime. For one Akbaruddudin Owaisi there is an army of Sakshi Mahraj, Sadhvis, Yogis and what have you. This army of mostly saffron robed or the one’s with the association with Hindu Nationalist politics has high position within their political combine, what is known as Sangh Parivar. The prime Minister himself had exerted the Hindu youth to emulate Maharana Pratap to save the honor of Mother cow during the election speeches. During this last over one year, words like Haramjades  (illegitimate) have been used with gay abandon. On the mere suspicion; a Pune techie Mohsin Shaikh was done to death. Serial attacks on Churches were passed off as thefts, the love jihad bogey was kept alive and the likes of Yogi Adityanath, the top BJP leader from UP, stated that for every one Hindu girl marrying a Muslim, Hindus should bring 100 Muslim girls. Muslim youth have been barred from participating in festivals like Navaratri. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the BJP’s Muslim face advised those wanting to eat beef to go to Pakistan. The glorification of Mahatma’s killer Godse has been stepped up and temples are being planned in his memory, while a BJP MP from Kerala stated that Godse was right but he chose a wrong target. Atmosphere of communal violence has gone up in a big way during the preceding year.
 
Even after the awards started being returned the BJP leadership looked down upon the writers/scholars and overlooked the phenomenon which has lead to returning of awards. To mock these writers Buddhi Shuddhi puja path (purification of intellect ritual) has been organized and BJP spokespersons are humiliating them in talk shows with all their ferocity. To cap it all the Haryana Chief Minister, an old RSS pracharak, said that Muslims can live here but only if they will give up beef eating. No doubt the BJP Chief Amit Shah has talked to some of these leaders behind the close doors, but that does seem to be a mock drill as the leaders concerned did say that they went to meet their chief for some other reasons and none of them gave any serious apology.
 
Disturbed by what is going on, the President Pranab Mukherjee on three occasions urged the nation to uphold, pluralism, the core civilizational value of the country and to uphold tolerance. The Vice President Hamid Ansari reminded the Government that it is the duty of the state to uphold the ‘right to life’ of citizens. The index of the changing social atmosphere is reflected by the statements of two outstanding citizens of the country. Julio Reibero, the top cop, expressed his pain and anguish by saying that “as a Christian suddenly I feel stranger in my own country.” And the renowned actor Naseeruddin Shah had to point out that “Have never been aware of my identity as a Muslim until now.”
 
These are not ordinary times. The values of pluralism and tolerance have been pushed to the margins. With this Government in power all the wings of communal politics, the RSS affiliates, have unleashed themselves in full blast. Communalism is not just the number of deaths due to violence, it is much more. The foundation of this violence begins with the manufacture of perceptions about the religious minorities. These perceptions based on history and some selective aspects of present society are given an anti human tilt and interpretation. This is used to create hatred for the minorities and that’s where the communal elements can unleash violence either as a massive violence like Gujarat or Mumbai or Bhagalpur or Muzzafarnagar or the one in Dadri. This creates the divides in society which over a period of time is converted into polarization. And polarization is the foundation of electoral strength of party wanting a nation in the name of religion. As per Yale study, the communal violence is the vehicle which strengthens BJP at electoral level.
 
Communalism has been planted in India over a century and a half ago. The British policy of ‘divide and rule’ used communal historiography as a major weapon. This type of interpretation of history was picked up by communal organizations and given an anti Hindu or anti Muslim tilt and gradually this has been strengthened after every act of violence which has been the outcome of their politics. The present phase is the one where the cup of communalism is spilling out from its earlier levels or boundaries. The intensity of ‘Hate’ constructed around temple destructions, love jihad has been supplemented by the oft used tool of beef. In the present situation where the divisive elements, who are in center stage of politics also know that they are safe and secure as the present Government precisely wants what they are doing, their contrary posturing notwithstanding.
 
The present combination of the Government guided by the ideology of Hindu nationalism and the ‘fringe elements’ having same ideology, has a vast network and with a wide reach. This party has the advantage that mostly it does not have to dirty its hands in the local agenda of sectarian nationalism, and so there are many elements which can do the local work for dividing the society. The so called fringe elements now are occupying the center stage, and so the ‘qualitative change’ in the situation.  The flood of awards being returned is due to the situation created by deeper communalization of society. This is manifested in growing intolerance, attack on plurality and is leading to the insecurity of minorities, which has qualitatively transcended the earlier limits. The question is how to uphold the values of Indian Constitution in the current times?"
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Bangkok needs to address its brutal mistreatment of the persecuted Rohingya minority

For years Thailand has been a refuge for many fleeing from the killing fields of Myanmar. However, while the Thai Police and government have been tolerant of the Buddhists fleeing there but when it comes to Rohingya and other non-Buddhist minorities they were quite intolerant. Many times they would handover the fleeing refugees back to the Myanmar security forces who would either kill those unfortunate ones or put them indefinitely in prison cells.

In May 2015, gruesome mass graves were unearthed in southern Thailand, revealing scores of bodies belonging to mostly Rohingya refugees who had been victimized by human traffickers. The discovery placed Thailand under a global spotlight exactly at the time when the country was seeking to be upgraded by the United States in terms of its handling of human trafficking. Here is an article that discusses the need for Thailand to stop its own atrocities against the Rohingyas. This article is part of “Southeast Asia: Refugees in Crisis,” an ongoing series by The Diplomat for summer and fall 2015 featuring exclusive articles from scholars and practitioners tackling Southeast Asia’s ongoing refugee crisis. All articles in the series can be found here.