Tuesday, October 27, 2015
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).
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