Thursday, November 19, 2015

UN condemns treatment of Muslim minorities

The UN condemns treatment of Muslim minorities in Myanmar. Here is a link to the news.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Spain issues arrest warrant for Israel's prime minister

Will the war criminals be ever tried for their horrendous crimes against humanity? It seems an untenable wish for many of our peace and human rights activists. But it does not harm to at least dream that our humanity will do what is right and things will one day become better for all of us so that we could all share this planet without hatred and violence and that the criminals would be locked up and serve the time in confined prison cells for their crimes.
The Spanish national court has reopened a 2010 case against seven current and former top Israeli leaders for a naval incident that resulted in the death of 10 Turkish activists.
A Spanish judge has issued arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other former and current government officials for a deadly fight at sea in 2010. As long as the warrant is in effect, if Netanyahu and those officials set foot in the western European country, they could be detained and questioned.
You can read the full text of the news by clicking here.

Israel Approves Another 454 Settlement Homes in East Jerusalem

While the world attention is now diverted to Paris and Brussels, the criminal settler regime in Israel is doing its illegal activities in the occupied territories. You can read the news by clicking here.

A hugely controversial set of settlement expansion plans, mostly in the Ramat Shlomo settlement in occupied East Jerusalem, was announced today by the Israeli government, reviving a plan which was frozen back in 2012 under heavy international pressure.
The Ramat Shlomo plan was for 436 settlement housing units as part of a 660 unit plan back in 2010. This segment was frozen in 2012 amid harsh criticism from US and EU officials. Today’s announcement unfreezes these, and adds 18 m,ore units in Ramot.
Though the prime minister’s office didn’t offer any details on the reasoning, it is widely believed today’s move is “retaliation” for the European Union’s decision to label Israeli products differently if they come out of settlements in the occupied territories.
The settlements are considered illegal under international law, and that includes the ones in East Jerusalem, despite Israel’s attempted annexation of the region after its occupation. Though Israeli officials insist the settlements in East Jerusalem aren’t really settlements because of the annexation, they are still treated as such for foreign policy sake, and are still frozen as concessions and unfrozen out of spite.

False hope, no mercy for fleeing Rohingya migrants from Myanmar

Muhammad Selim was loaded into a sampan with other migrants “like chickens” as he sought better employment in Malaysia. Instead, he worked for six months at a Malaysian construction site before being rounded up by police, abused in prison and sent back home. Stories like this are not uncommon for many of the unfortunate Rohingyas fleeing genocide in Myanmar. Their situation seems hopeless.
Here is an article on this subject from the Globe and the Mail.

Fleeing refugees - an old report

In the aftermath of the terrorism in Paris, Syrian refugees are denied entry by many of the US states. Many of these states are governed by racists and bigots. Many of them found the Paris tragedy as a sufficient justification to object to the entry of these unfortunate refugees from war torn countries to whom the incidents like Paris had been a regular feature.
The Jews of Europe faced similar problems in the 1930s and 1940s. Here is a link to an article on fleeing Jews from Europe in the 1930s.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Robert Fisk on Paris Attacks

Here is an article from veteran journalist Robert Fisk on the Paris attacks.

How the West created Muslim extremism?

Here is an article from Ben Norton of Salon, which should be read by all. He writes, "History takes no prisoners. It shows, with absolute lucidity, that the Islamic extremism ravaging the world today was borne out of the Western foreign policy of yesteryear.
Gore Vidal famously referred to the USA as the United States of Amnesia. The late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai put it a little more delicately, quipping, “One of the delightful things about Americans is that they have absolutely no historical memory.”
In order to understand the rise of militant Salafi groups like ISIS and al-Qaida... we must rekindle this historical memory.... A much-circulated photo of an article published in British newspaper the Independent in 1993 exemplifies the West’s twisted hypocrisy. Titled “Anti-Soviet warrior puts his army on the road to peace,” it features a large photo of Osama bin Laden, who, at the time, was a close Western ally...
The newspaper noted that bin Laden organized a militia of thousands of foreign fighters from throughout the Middle East and North Africa, and “supported them with weapons and his own construction equipment” in their fight against the USSR in the 1980s. “We beat the Soviet Union,” bin Laden boasted.
The mujahedin, this international Islamic extremist militia organized and headed by bin Laden, is what eventually morphed into both al-Qaida and the Taliban.
“When the history of the Afghan resistance movement is written,” the Independent wrote, “Mr Bin Laden’s own contribution to the mujahedin… may turn out to be a turning point in the recent history of militant fundamentalism.”
Click here to see how the western media and government felt about OBL in the 1900s and late 1980s.

Monday, November 16, 2015

China wants to justify its crimes against the persecuted Uighurs in Xinjiang

The terrorist attacks like the one that took place last Friday in Paris always invigorate criminal regimes to unleash their brand of state terrorism on targeted groups that are considered rebellious. We have seen how the events in 9/11 allowed criminal regimes all across the globe from China to Myanmar to Russia to wipe out resistance from the groups they considered hostile to their regimes.
In Myanmar, 9/11 allowed the criminal military regimes to persecute the Rohingya Muslim minorities with a much harsher state sponsored program that was not seen for quite sometime since Ne Win's time. The same was the case with Chinese communist regime against the Uighur Muslims whose lands it grabbed making them a second class citizens in their ancestral home. And the same was true for Russia against the Chechens under Putin.
So, I am not surprised that Chinese government is again trying to take advantage of the Paris attacks to justify its war in East Turkistan, which it calls Xinjiang.  China has appealed for international help in the battle it says it is waging against Islamist militants in its far western region of Xinjiang. You can read the disturbing development by clicking here.

Now the Yazidis are repeating the crimes - burning Muslim homes

Over a year after ISIS captured the city of Sinjar, home to a significant chunk of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, the city was “liberated” by Kurdish forces. Just days later, Yazidis are rampaging through the streets, burning mosques and the homes of Muslims, who they accuse of being in league with ISIS. As before, however, such news are not shown in the western media.
You can read the news by clicking here and here.

One night in Kunduz, Afghanistan

Laura Gottesdiener is a freelance journalist and a news producer with Democracy Now! The author of A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home, her writing has appeared in Mother Jones, Al Jazeera, Guernica, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and frequently at TomDispatch.

Last month, a hospital run by the MSF was deliberately bombed by the US forces killing many. Laura writes, "MSF’s hospital had been a fixture in Kunduz since August 2011, the only medical facility in the region. A photo snapped a few months after its opening showed a large sign affixed to the front gate of the compound: “The MSF Trauma Centre will prioritize treatment for war-wounded and other seriously injured persons, without regard to their ethnicity or political affiliations, and determined solely by their medical needs. No fee charged.” Above the text was an image of an automatic rifle surrounded by a red circle with two thick lines through it, indicating the hospital’s and the organization’s strict no-weapons policy in its facilities."

"Doctors Without Borders opened the facility two years after it returned to Afghanistan."

"On Friday, October 2nd, staff members from the trauma center in Kunduz, Afghanistan, climbed to the roof of that hospital and laid out two large flags with the name of their organization: Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), the Nobel-Prize-winning medical-humanitarian aid organization best known by its French acronym MSF. This wasn’t something the workers could have done days earlier. The previous Monday, September 28th, Taliban fighters had unexpectedly seized control of the fifth largest city in Afghanistan, as up to 7,000 government troops and police fled. Over the next days, the Afghan government’s efforts to retake the city sparked intense fighting between the Taliban and government troops backed by U.S. Special Operations forces.
As that fighting grew closer to the hospital, stray bullets pierced the ceiling of the intensive care unit and MSF staff were instructed to sleep inside the hospital compound. If any of them left, it was feared, they might be unable to safely return to work the next day."

You can read the full text of her article by clicking here.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Talk to Al Jazeera: Ali Velshi's interview of financier Bill Browder unveils Putin's corruption

After his lawyer was killed for working to expose corruption in Putin's Russia, financier Bill Browder became a human rights activist.
Ali Velshi interviewed him for Al Jazeera in September but was reshown this morning when I viewed it. It can be seen by clicking here.
In his words, "I go from my $2,000 to $20,000. I ended up raising $25 million for an investment fund called the Hermitage Fund. I move to Moscow. I’m the only Wall Street–educated investor on the ground in Moscow at the time... I was the most successful hedge fund. I had more than $1 billion, which was a huge amount of money in any circumstance but certainly back then and in Russia... In 1998 the market crashes. They default. They devalue. It’s all a complete disaster. At this point I’m in a very rough place because I need to make my money back for my investors. And so I decide to try and stick it out and try to fight my way out of this hole for my clients. But what I discover is that the oligarchs, all these rich guys we all have heard about, now they had a completely opposite set of incentives... They start stealing. Then they start doing asset stripping, transfer pricing, embezzlement dilutions. Everything you can think of, they were doing. And so I had to start to fight them to save my last 10 cents on the dollar."
As to Putin factor, Browder says, "Well, I’m just fighting them to stop stealing all the last money that they have left in the company. It was a strange thing, where Vladimir Putin, the oligarchs were stealing power from him. They were stealing money from me. And so, every time that I would publicize a scandal about them, I was going after his enemies.
And that suited him perfectly. I’ve never had a conversation with Vladimir Putin. But I would publicize these things, and he would go around selectively crushing these guys based on my exposes.
For this brief period of time, up until 2003, he was kind of not sure of where he where he was in the whole scenario. He goes out in October of 2003 and arrests the richest man in Russia, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was the owner of Yukos, an oil company. He arrests him. He puts him on trial...
And they say, “Vladimir, what do I have to do to make sure I don’t sit in a cage?”
I wasn’t there, so I’m just speculating here, but I can speculate, based on what I have learned since, is his answer was “50.” Not 50 percent for the Russian government, not 50 percent for the presidential administration of Russia — 50 percent for Vladimir Putin. And at that moment in time, Vladimir Putin becomes the richest man in the world."

It is a very interesting story. To see the interview or read about it, click here.

Uncertainty looms in Myanmar

Here is the link to a good article in the Al Jazeera.

Yemen: Saudi's Vietnam?

How many Yemenis have died in the Saudi-led war in Yemen against the Houthis? At least 5.4 thousand in the last few months. But who is counting when the victims are Yemenis! Usually, the western media don't report such news, and even if they do, it is usually a small news, never to be shown in the TV. For such news, you need Al Jazeera.
Here is a news report on the topic of Yemen's civil war.

Our terrorism double standard

Is there a double standard with matters relating to terrorism? Absolutely. That is how Ben Norton of sees it.
In a must-read article in, Norton writes, "Any time there is an attack on civilians in the post-9/11 West, demagogues immediately blame it on Muslims. They frequently lack evidence, but depend on the blunt force of anti-Muslim bigotry to bolster their accusations.
Actual evidence, on the other hand, shows that less than two percent of terrorist attacks from 2009 to 2013 in the E.U. were religiously motivated. In 2013, just one percent of the 152 terrorist attacks were religious in nature; in 2012, less than three percent of the 219 terrorist attacks were inspired by religion.
The vast majority of terrorist attacks in these years were motivated by ethno-nationalism or separatism. In 2013, 55 percent of terrorist attacks were ethno-nationalist or separatist in nature; in 2012, more than three-quarters (76 percent) of terrorist attacks were inspired by ethno-nationalism or separatism.
These facts, nonetheless, have never stopped the prejudiced pundits from insisting otherwise."

He continues, "There are hundreds of terrorist attacks in Europe every year. The ones that immediately fill the headlines of every news outlet, however, are the ones carried out by Muslims — not the ones carried out by ethno-nationalists or far-right extremists, which happen to be much more frequent.
Yet it is not just right-wing pundits and the media that give much more attention to attacks like those in Paris; heads of state frequently do so as well. Minutes after the Paris attacks, Presidents Hollande and Obama addressed the world, publicly lamenting the tragedy. Secretary John Kerry condemned them as “heinous, evil, vile acts.”
Notable was the official silence surrounding another horrific terrorist attack that took place only the day before. Two ISIS suicide bombers killed at least 43 people and wounded more than 230 in attacks on a heavily Shia Muslim community in Beirut on November 12. President Obama did not address the world and condemn the bombings, which comprised the worst attack in Beirut in years.
In fact, the opposite happened; the victims of the ISIS attacks were characterized in the U.S. media as Hezbollah human shields and blamed for their own deaths based on the unfortunate coincidence of their geographical location. Some right-wing pundits even went so far as to justify the ISIS attacks because they were assumed to be aimed at Hezbollah.
Nor did the White House interrupt every news broadcast to publicly condemn the ISIS massacre in Turkey in October that left approximately 128 people dead and 500 injured at a peaceful rally for a pro-Kurdish political party.
More strikingly, where were the heads of state when the Western-backed, Saudi-led coalition bombed a Yemeni wedding on September 28, killing 131 civilians, including 80 women? That massacre didn’t go viral, and Obama and Hollande did not apologize, yet alone barely even acknowledge the tragedy.
Do French lives matter more than Lebanese, Turkish, Kurdish, and Yemeni ones? Were these not, too, “heinous, evil, vile acts”?"
You can read the full text of Norton's article by clicking here.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Dealing with the Nihilistic Assaults on Paris

Paris on Friday (Nov. 13) night suffered a series of simultaneous assaults, which left at least 129 people dead and around 350 wounded. They included a mass shooting at a concert hall, several shootings at bars and restaurants, and several bomb detonations, including more than one near France’s national stadium, where a soccer match between the French and German national teams was in progress. It was a brutal attack intended to sow mayhem and terror.


According to the Paris prosecutor, François Molins, the attackers were all armed with heavy weaponry and suicide vests. Their assault began at 9:20 p.m. Friday, when one of the attackers detonated a suicide bomb outside the gates of the soccer stadium on the northern outskirts of Paris. It ended at 12:20 a.m. Saturday when the authorities stormed a concert hall, the Bataclan. One attacker there was killed; two others detonated suicide vests.


According to officials in France and Belgium, 3 of the seven suicide bombers killed in the Paris attacks were French citizens of which 2 of them had been living in the Brussels area and the other in a suburb of Paris. Three other assailants presumably had false passports – one from Syria and two from Turkey. We are also informed that two rented cars from Belgium were used for the attacks and that an eighth assailant might have escaped.

A day earlier on Thursday, in central Beirut – the stronghold for the Hijbullah - 43 persons were killed and 230 wounded in twin suicide attacks, apparently caused by Daesh (an Arabic acronym for ISIS/L) supporters.  [As usual, the western media barely mentioned the carnage in Beirut.] On Thursday US drone attack in Raqqa had also hit the Daesh positions that may have killed its intended target – the so-called Jihadi John.

Was the Paris attack a revenge? I doubt it.


The French casualties included people of all faiths. The assaults came as France, a founder member of the U.S.-led coalition waging air strikes against Daesh, was on high alert for terrorist attacks, raising questions about how the attacks were able to occur.

President Francois Hollande called the attacks an “act of war” carried out by Daesh. In a live address on Saturday morning in France, Hollande said, “It’s an act of war perpetrated by a terrorist army, Daesh, against France, against a free country.” “These attacks were prepared, planned from the outside, with internal complicity.”

Daesh claimed responsibility for the attacks in an apparent statement released on social media in Arabic and French, calling Paris “the capital of prostitution and obscenity,” and said that France’s actions in Syria were a factor in the decision to target the country.

 What is surprising is the level of sophistication in planning and execution that had not been seen since the 2008 attacks in Bombay, India. It was the worst attack on a European city since the Madrid bombings in 2004, when 190 people were killed and more than 1,800 wounded, in four coordinated attacks on commuter trains.


The assaults in Paris took place against the background of two major ongoing international crises: the Syrian conflict and the war against Daesh, and the refugee crisis that now besets Europe. No wonder that they have sparked a cycle of blame and outrage that has become bleakly familiar. The possibility that one of the attackers was a Syrian migrant or had posed as one is sure to further complicate the already vexing problem for Europe of how to handle the unceasing flow of people from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. It could also lend weight to the xenophobic arguments of right-wing extremists like Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front party, who on Saturday held a news conference to declare that “France and the French are no longer safe.” “Islamist fundamentalism must be annihilated, France must ban Islamist organizations, close radical mosques and expel foreigners who preach hatred in our country as well as illegal migrants who have nothing to do here.”

The anti-immigrant right-wing politicians in Europe are already exploiting the tragedy in Paris to create an atmosphere of Islamophobia. Deliberately missing in their narratives is the fact that many of the national soccer players playing for both Germany and France are Muslims, and that some of the victims in the indiscriminate shootings also included Muslims, and that the assailants included native French nationals. Lest we forget, most of the victims of Daesh attacks throughout the Middle East have been Muslims – Sunnis and Shi’as alike. Nor should one be oblivious of the ugly truth that Daesh’s meteoric rise owes it to the civil unrest in Iraq and Syria, and in all likelihood would not have its illegitimate birth had Iraq been not attacked in 2003 in an illegal war by war criminals like Bush and Blaire. Nor should we forget that the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have only brought misery and tragedy to the people and are intrinsically related to the conflicts and the instability of the region.

The right-wing extremists also don’t tell that mass immigration has been a boon to Western Europe. It has brought great economic benefits and helped create societies that are less insular, more vibrant and more cosmopolitan.

Regrettably some western leaders continue to say that Paris attacks were against western values. These are absurd claims since those terrorists did not target symbols of the French state, or of French militarism. They did not even target tourist spots. They targeted, rather, the areas and the places where mainly young, anti-racist, multi-ethnic Parisians (including Muslims) hang out. The cafes, restaurants, bars and music venue that were attacked - Le Carillon, La Belle Equipe, Le Petit Cambodge, and the Bataclan - are in the 10th and 11th arrondissements, areas that, though increasingly gentrified, remain ethnically and culturally mixed and still with a working-class presence.

The other venue attacked was the Stade de France, the national football stadium. France and Germany were playing a game there on Friday night, and French President was in attendance. As noted by Kenan Malik, a British author, the Stade de France, like France's national football team, also “has great cultural resonance. ‘Les Bleus’ - as the team is known - are seen by many as an embodiment of multicultural France, a team consisting of ‘noir, blanc, beur’ (black, white, Arab) players. It was in the Stade de France that Les Bleus, led by Zinedine Zidane, a French Muslim of Algerian descent, famously won the World Cup in 1998.”

What happened in Paris last Friday and elsewhere across Europe earlier are pure nihilistic activities by terrorists who are angry for a plethora of reasons. Finding connection with religion is a silly exercise. “Such attacks are not about making a political point or achieving a political goal but are expressions of nihilistic savagery, the aim of which is solely to create fear. This is not terrorism with a political aim, but terror as an end in itself,” says Malik.


As of writing this piece, not much is known about the terrorists except that they were speaking about France’s presence in Syria, and that one yelled “Allahu Akbar” before opening fire in a crowded concert hall.


The Qur’an forbids such acts unequivocally saying that  if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew all mankind: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind” (5:32).


Muslims around the world, from religious leaders and politicians to ordinary people, meanwhile, are condemning the attacks.


In an official statement, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said, “In the name of the Iranian people, who have themselves been victims of terrorism, I strongly condemn these crimes against humanity and offer my condolences to the grieving French people and government.”

Indonesian president Joko Widodo condemned the “violence that took place in Paris,” and called for more international cooperation to fight terrorism.


Leaders of Arab states called the attacks immoral and inhumane. Qatar’s foreign minister Khaled al-Attiyah denounced the “heinous attacks,” adding, “these acts, which target stability and security in France are against all human and moral values.” Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Sabah called the attacks “criminal acts of terrorism which run counter to all teachings of holy faith and humanitarian values.” The Saudi foreign ministry called for global cooperation to “root out this dangerous and destructive plague.”


The head of Sunni Islam's leading seat of learning, Egypt's Al-Azhar, condemned the "hateful incident" and urged "the world to unite to confront this monster".


The top religious authority in Saudi Arabia, the council of senior ulama (religious scholars), said the attacks were "contrary to Islam and its principles".

Bassem Naim, head of the Islamist Palestinian movement Hamas's Council of International Relations, called the attacks "acts of aggression and barbarity".

In the social media, a British Imam Mansoor Ahmad Clarke tweeted, "I am a British Imam and I condemn these barbaric attacks. I pray to God for all the victims and their families." 


A British author Ayisha Malik tweeted, "Gunmen were heard shouting 'Allahu Akbar' but I did the same tonight, in my room, praying for those killed & their families."

So, what’s next?

After the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris earlier this year, dozens of mosques in France were attacked, and Muslim-owned businesses threatened. Friday’s terror attack may spawn another wave of anti-Muslim violence.


Many of the European states are closing borders ignoring the fact that refugees and migrants are often attempting to flee just the kind of carnage that came to the streets of Paris on Friday. (As rightly noted in a Twitter account, "Over 200,000 people have died in Syria in the past 4.5 years. That's a Paris attack EVERY SINGLE DAY. That's what refugees are fleeing.")


And far from waving migrants across Europe's borders, the EU has spent 25 years building a fortress against migration, protected by militarized border controls. Still the inevitable happened! Paris imploded.

Mr. Hollande vowed to “be unforgiving” with those who were behind the attacks. It is understandable that in the wake of a horror such as that in Paris, he would like to seek quick solutions. But the problem of terrorism is more complicated than that. If he really wants to address the issue of terrorism he ought to address the complexities, too.

He must start with introspection and recognize that the Paris attacks have been the work of home-grown nihilists who have no respect for anyone’s life – Muslim and non-Muslim alike. Pointing the finger at ‘radical’ Muslims or refugees would not only sidestep the problem of home-grown nihilism, but it would also foment more Islamophobia and anti-immigrant hatred, further polarizing European societies.


Our world leaders must recognize that in our age of information superhighways, it is easy for many youths to get self-radicalized and perceive nihilism as the alternative to deal with the problems that they face and the double-standards that they regularly see. Many are confused and fall prey to propaganda.


Many of the third generation European Muslims, born and raised there, are still considered outsiders in those societies. They are denied citizenship. Many face widespread discrimination and harassment. Rather than getting integrated within the society, European pseudo-multiculturalism has failed them miserably. This needs to be corrected for the greater good of Europe.


The fascist and Islamophobic parties have made major electoral gains by stoking fears about multiculturalism. Mainstream politicians have joined in, too, providing a wrong signal to all.


If we want a world in which human dignity is to be respected and honored, and human rights protected, our world leaders must learn to walk their talk. When they are silent about the horrible terrorist attacks in Turkey (that left approximately 128 people dead and 500 injured in October) and Lebanon and are all agog about Paris, they send a wrong message. When they categorize Paris attacks as attacks on ‘civilization’, are we to interpret that the attacks in Beirut and Ankara were not against civilized people? Do French lives matter more than Lebanese, Turkish, Kurdish, and Yemeni ones? Were these not, too, “heinous, evil, vile acts”?" When they define Israel’s war-crimes on Gaza as acts of self-defense that is like mocking history, an insult to the memory of the thousands of dead Gazans, including hundreds of children, killed by the Israeli army. When their drone attacks against targeted individuals (the alleged terrorists) kill mostly unarmed, innocent civilians from Pakistan to Somalia, what they are committing are war crimes. Pure and simple! It is also an act of hypocrisy from a country that claims to be a firm defender of human rights and accountability.

Like many of the other colonial enterprises, the French society is imploding. Like the British and U.S. governments, it used the "civilizing" and “liberalizing” narrative to deny sovereignty, justify the colonization process and build an empire. Under Sarkozy, it defended the fallacy of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to support an illegal war. These “civilizing”, “liberalizing” or "national security" justifications were wrongful foreign policy narratives that have brought extensive suffering and had disastrous and long-term implications not only for the ‘other’ people in ‘liberated’ countries but also their own societies. As Malcolm X would say, the chickens have now come home to roost.
As long as the powerful governments fail to learn from its past mistakes they will likely perpetuate the long-lasting injustice of the area, obviate further atrocities, and prolong the suffering of entire populations. There is no escape from this sad outcome.

UK let a mass murderer in

Toby Cadman is an international lawyer who has been advising the government of the Republic of Maldives on legal and constitutional reform. His article on double standards in international politics appeared in Al Jazeera some 3 months ago. He bemoans the fact that David Cameron's government has not been consistent in applying the same international standard for all mass murderers.
It is a good piece and can be viewed by clicking here.

Modi's UK visit

Narendra Modi has done it again. He was able to rally thousands of supporters in his latest trip outside India. This time it was in the UK.

Modi is the third in a string of controversial state leaders hosted by Britain in the past two months, following Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit last month and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's stay in September.

 Modi is the first Indian prime minister to visit the UK since 2006, and his visit has polarized opinion among British politicians and the Indian diaspora.

In 2002, an alleged arson attack on a train in Gujarat province, where Modi was chief minister, killed some Hindu pilgrims and sparked anti-Muslim pogroms. Estimates vary, but over the following few months, nearly 2,000 Muslims were killed by Hindus. Women were raped, mosques destroyed and bodies dumped into mass graves.

 Modi was accused of not only turning a blind eye to the killings but also of being implicitly involved in this genocidal attacks against minority Muslims in his state. The UK, US and EU swiftly cut off diplomatic relations with him.

A decade later, India's Supreme Court cleared Modi of complicity in the killings - a ruling challenged by some Indian Muslims - but criticized him for showing a lack of remorse for the tragedy. Soon after the court ruling, the ban on Modi visiting the UK was lifted in 2012.

 Modi is now the prime minister of India, the largest illiberal democracy in the world. He has made clever use of social media to promote his rise in popularity, both at home and abroad. He was the first Indian politician to open a Twitter account and now has nearly 16 million followers, making him the second most followed politician after US President Barack Obama.

 Modi is very popular amongst many diaspora Indians living outside India, who have increasingly become backers of the Hindutvadi fascist ideology, advocated by the BJP, Modi's party. These fascist sympathizers want India to be a state for Hindus only, and not any other minorities.

 Already measures are taking place all across India to marginalize Muslim minorities economically, socially and politically. Christian churches and Muslim mosques are routinely attacked and false cases are filed to take possession of such places of worship unless they could be razed to the ground Babri-masjid style.

 The slaughter of cows has been banned in many Indian states, and even the traders in this business have faced coordinated attacks from Hindutvadi fascists inside India. Haryana, which made sale of beef a non-bailable offence a few days after Maharashtra in March this year, is the 13th such state.  In March 2015, Maharashtra government extended its ban on cow slaughter to bullocks. As bulls are the main source for hides, this has caused a severe shortage in the leather market. Ninety-eight tanneries closed in Kanpur alone. In Maharashtra, the leather business is said to have gone down by nearly 90% after the state extended the ban on cow slaughter to bullocks in March this year.  Businessmen running tanneries say that Gujarat and Maharashtra, both important coastal states, are not even letting containers of imported hides and other raw, semi-processed leather material pass through easily. This has resulted in huge cost overruns.

 A total of 3,000 tanneries are estimated to be running in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Punjab, besides Kanpur, which is the leather hub of India. Together, they export roughly Rs 10,000 crore worth of processed leather from India. This market was estimated to double by 2020.

 In its effort to protect cows, the BJP has potentially delivered a death knell to India's leather industry.

 Lately, there are much talk about stopping the leather and tannery industry all across India, which is mostly run by many Muslims. Already, as many as 1.5 lakh people have lost their jobs in this period. All these measures are taking place to economically ruin Indian Muslims, creating an environment in which they would be forced to leave their homeland for an uncertain future.

 It goes without saying that Modi remains a highly controversial political figure in our time. In July, 39 British MPs signed an Early Day Motion calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to raise human rights concerns with Modi during his visit. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is a supporter of the motion. It calls for the release of Indian political prisoners, several of whom are on hunger strike, draws attention to human rights abuses in Kashmir, and criticizes the Indian government's ban on the BBC documentary "India's Daughter," which covers the gang rape and murder of a young woman in Delhi.

Modi also faces condemnation for stopping Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai from coming to Britain as she was about to board her plane. Pillai was on her way to brief MPs on her work.

In 2013, Corbyn called on the-then coalition government to reinstate a ban on Modi entering the UK. However, the leader of the opposition recently announced his plans to meet with the Indian leader privately on Saturday to discuss human rights.

 Over 200 prominent authors including Rushdie had asked Prime Minister Cameron in a letter to raise the issue of “rising climate of fear” and “growing intolerance” in India with Modi. Booker Prize winner Rushdie, recent Booker prize shortlisted British-Indian author Neel Mukherjee and other well-known names like Ian McEwan and Hari Kunzru were among the signatories of the open letter to Cameron.

 Modi's visit to UK was organized by Europe India Forum in partnership with 450 organizations, many of which are owned and/or run by rich Hindutvadis.

 On Friday afternoon, Modi addressed some 60,000 people - almost all British Indians - at a grand reception entitled: "Two Great Nations. One Glorious Future" in Wembley Arena. As it has happened before with Modi's visit in New York City, and thanks to the rich supporters of the BJP within the diaspora community, there were unmistakable signs of the 'Modi-mania' with a huge display of fireworks, which coincided with the Hindu cultural event Diwali.

 Not all British Indians were happy with Modi's visit though.

On November 8, Awaaz Network activists projected a picture of the Indian prime minister alongside a swastika onto the Houses of Parliament, angering Modi supporters around the world. The Awaaz Network is an alliance of organizations involved in the #ModiNotWelcome campaign. It includes the groups Sikh Federation UK, Caste Watch UK, Southall Black Sisters, Indian Muslim Federation and Voice of Dalit International.

 More than 800 protesters, community members and women's rights groups gathered outside 10 Downing Street and opposite the Houses of Parliament on Thursday. As reported by Al Jazeera, the chants of "Free Palestine" could be heard among others, such as "Modi is a terrorist." "We are at this demonstration today to protest against Modi and the Indian government for their illegal occupation of Kashmir and the massacre of our people," said Najib Afsar, the chief coordinator for Jammu Kashmir Liberation Council.

 Sikh protester Mindy Kawr said, "Modi's government is treating us like second-class citizens. They're not recognizing the Sikhs; they say there's no such thing as Sikhs." She said, "We want justice and we want people to know that what happened was genocide."

 Nepali protesters Santosh Kharel and Rakash Sapkota were there to protest against what they see as a blockade of Nepal by the Indian government. "Nepalis have suffered from an earthquake recently and now they are suffering more with Modi's blockades," explained Kharel. "We are here to protest against him and his and his government's attitudes towards us."

 By any measure, Modi's trip was a successful one. Prince William and Kate's Kensington Palace office said on Friday that the royal couple would make their first visit to India in spring 2016.

 Cameron and Modi announced more than 20 business deals worth $13.7bn between the two countries following their meeting on Thursday, including a two billion pound ($3bn) British investment in solar power in India, and more than one billion ($1.5bn) worth of London-issued bonds to finance the expansion of India's rail network and other projects.

 In our time with a lack of focus on human rights in international relations, I am not surprised with such genuflections with an accused mass murderer.

Monday, November 9, 2015

West Bank of the East: Burma’s Social Engineering Project by Francis Wade

Francis Wade has done a good job analyzing the real problems in Burma. However, he should have known that the May-June 2012 pogroms against Burmese and Rohingya Muslims were based on a false rumor that some Rohingya Muslims had raped a Rakhine woman. As subsequently found out by investigative reporters, however, there was no truth to that allegation. It was a planted story to exterminate the minority Muslims of Burma in what can be described as part of a very sinister genocidal plan. All the other pogroms that followed in the last three years and the half were part of that national project to not only kill and forcibly cause their exodus from Burma but also to disenfranchise them en masse. The recently concluded November election where they were barred from voting was the last of such criminal ploys to add to their plight.
For Burma to avoid being a failed state, it must embrace federalism, human rights and integrate its born Muslims and other ethnic minorities as full citizens. Otherwise, the previous methods tried by the USDP and its predecessors will only undo the false sense of imposed unity and nationhood -- fracturing the country along its many fault lines.

Global warming no longer a myth

Global warming is no longer treated as a myth but as a hard fact. Based on the records of temperature around the globe it is said that we may breach the average 1 deg C rise in temperature this year, which is sure to make this worse for tens of millions of people, esp. some 62 million people living in South Asia (formerly known as Indian Sub-continent). Many of the low lying territories like the Maldives would have its coastal territories vulnerable to the rising sea water level.
It is a bad news for our planet unless we all make a big difference in lowering the use of greenhouse gases like CO2 and CH4 (carbon dioxide and methane).
Can the developing countries like India and China that are using the fossil fuels to move up in technology and meet the energy needs of the growing population that are now more dependent on such than anytime before make the desired change? Or it will all be the same as usual with finger pointing for the root cause of the problem that threatens us all?

Myanmar's election results

Here is the latest info from the BBC on Myanmar election:
Myanmar's opposition National League for Democracy says it is confident of victory in the first openly contested national election in 25 years.
An NLD spokesman said it expected to win about 70% of seats. Party leader Aung San Suu Kyi said: "I think you all have the idea of the results."
Official results have been released for just 12 seats, all won by the NLD.
The military-backed Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP) has been in power since 2011.
"We are on track to win more than 70% of seats around the country, but the election commission has not officially confirmed yet," NLD spokesman Win Htein told AFP news agency. The 12 seats announced so far are all in Yangon.
The acting chairman of the USDP has told BBC Burmese that he has lost his own seat in the constituency of Hinthada to the NLD - seen as a key indicator of election results.
In spite of such victories for the NLD and loss for the ruling USDP, without the full count and announcement it is too premature to call it a win for Suu Kyi now.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Narendra Modi's visit of IOK

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India recently visited Indian Occupied Kashmir in which he tried to sell his development mantra with very few takers taking him seriously. Shortly after his visit, violence broke out and a demonstrator was killed in clashes with government troops.
Police opened fire and used tear gas to disperse the crowds, but the news of the death brought more protesters onto the streets of the city of Srinagar.
You can read the news by clicking here and here.

Burma awaits results of election

Here is a good article from the CBC on Burma's recently held election.

With tremendous excitement and hope, millions of citizens voted Sunday in Burma's historic general election that will test whether the military's long-standing grip on power can be loosened, with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party expected to secure an easy victory.
Even if the NLD wins, the military is guaranteed key ministerial posts — defence, interior and border security. It is not under the government's control and could continue attacks against ethnic groups. But critics are most concerned about the military's constitutional right to retake direct control of government, as well as its direct and indirect control over the country's economy.
Richard Horsey, a Myanmar analyst, said that given the powers it has, the military will not be too perturbed about allowing a transfer of power to the NLD if it wins. "It's very difficult to imagine that anyone will be running the country without having the support of the military."
There are concerns also about the vote's credibility, because for the first time about 500,000 eligible voters from the country's 1.3 million-strong Rohingya Muslim minority have been barred from casting ballots. The government considers them foreigners even though many have lived in Burma for generations. Neither the NLD nor the USDP is fielding a single Muslim candidate.
Abdul Melik, a 29-year-old Rohingya, spent election day watching other people vote. He stared out from a camp on the outskirts of western Rakhine state's capital, Sittwe, where the Rohingya are forced to live in squalid camps and can't leave without official approval.
"I can see the Buddhist Rakhine, the Kaman Muslim and Hindus voting at a polling station close to the barricades," he said in a telephone conversation. "We were hoping that somehow we'd be allowed to vote. But today I have lost hope of any change in my lifetime."
"This is the day that hope ends," he added.

As Myanmar votes, Muslim group suffers disenfranchisement, captivity

The Miami Herald has recently posted a good article on the condition of Muslims of Myanmar who were disenfranchised in the election held today. You can view this by clicking here.

Here is another good article on the subject of disenfranchisement  by the Globe.

Only in Mogher Mulluk can one expect such a mockery of justice

Last week on Nov. 2,  two Rohingyas from Mrauk-U and Minbya Township in Arakan State of Myanmar were attacked by Rakhine extremists. One Rohingya was murdered by the Buddhist extremists and one was killed while the other victim was able to escape. When the matter was reported to the police instead of going after the Rakhine criminals, the police has imprisoned the other victim. Only in Mogher Mulluk (land of the lawless Moghs) can one find such a mockery of justice! 
According to Mr. Arakani, "There were two Rohingya young men who work at farms as daily wages workers, one named Sadek S/o Shofi Alam (Aged 20) from Si Thay village Mrauk-U Township who worke at the farm of Hason in the same village, while another young man is named Shomshu Alam S/o Dil Mohammed (Aged 18) from Nagara village, Minbya Township, working at the farm of Mohammed Shah in Si Thay village, Mrauk-U Township. 

On November 2nd at 5pm both of them went to paddy field to cut some grass to feed their cattle. While they were cutting and collecting the grass, a group of Rakhinese Dai-net (Samma Buddhists) extremists from Nan Kya Rakhine village nearby the paddy field came and surrounded them and started attacking both with swords and knives. 

Despite this Shomshu Alam was able to flee with injuries, Sadek, however, was unable to escape and was brutally killed by the extremists group. While Shomshu Alam was trying to escape from the extremists, he reached to Nan Kya Rakhine village and he was beaten again by the Rakhine villagers at there. The police have received information informing them that Shomshul Alam was attacked. The police came to the village at 11pm on that day and brought him to police custody at Min Bwe station, Mrauk-U Township. 

Shomshul Alam has been in police custody in Min Bwe police station and no one is allowed to meet or talk with him. 

The dead body of Sadek was found at 8am on November 3rd. 

Now the police have charged that Sadek was killed by a Rohingya man from Pe Pin Yin village in Mrauk-U Township even with Shomshul Alam as an eye-witness dismissing this accusation. The police mean to arrest the man who stands accused instead of arresting the Rakhine extremists group."

Burma elections: Buddhist monks warm to military

The Independent of UK has published a good article from Peter Popham on election on Burma. It is about two days old but very helpful to understand the depth of bigotry within the Buddhists of Burma. Lies are propagated by Buddhist monks of the terrorist organization Ma Ba Tha to foment genocidal hatred against the Rohingya and other Muslims. By the way, the Rakhine state which saw most of the genocidal pogroms against the Rohingya is not alone in this genocidal crime. Even Rangoon, the former capital with a big Muslim population, is witnessing such unfathomed hatred and animosity.
“A long time ago there were no divisions,” said San Tin Kyaw, a Muslim running for election in central Rangoon. “Buddhists and Muslims lived together and struggled for independence under one flag.” But the paranoid nationalism of successive Burmese rulers, starting with General Ne Win, has slowly eroded their position: children today learn only about Buddhism, not other religions, and increasingly Muslims found it harder to move around the country and get decent jobs.
To read more, please, click here.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Myanmar goes to the polls today

Today Myanmar (previously Burma) is holding its first contested vote since 1990. Since achieving independence from Britain in 1948, the country had a very difficult start. Military has ruled the country for more than half a century since 1962. Although an election was held in 1990 in which the National League for Democracy (NLD), the opposition party of Suu Kyi, daughter of Aung San, considered the father of the nation (who was murdered by his rivals six months before independence) came out as the winner, the military refused to cede power. Suu Kyi spent most of the next 23 years under house arrest, becoming an iconic figure at home and abroad. To put pressure on the hated military regime, she was even granted a Nobel Prize for peace.

Over the last four years, Myanmar’s military has loosened its grip, allowing a ‘reformist’ quasi-civil-military government to come to power under a former general, Thein Sein. Sein has received accolades for liberating political prisoners and reintroducing some press freedoms. In return, the United States and other countries have suspended sanctions against Myanmar, and President Barack Obama visited in 2012.

Some 30 million voters are expected to cast their ballots today and pick among the 6,065 candidates to fill the two houses of the national parliament and regional assemblies. In the run up to the election campaign voter lists were published, which were flawed. Dead people have been listed, and many of those alive have not been included outside the already vote-robbed Rohingya Muslims.

The two-month long campaign period saw not only the stripping of the right to vote of an estimated two million Muslims who were born in this Buddhist majority country but also deadly armed fighting in rebel-held areas in northern border states; minority candidates have been harassed and an opposition candidate was also attacked. In the meantime civil servants, police, election workers and accredited journalists were allowed to vote in advance until Saturday.

Most voters would like to see a change from the military dominated government, which may make Suu Kyi's NLD to win the election. Already allegations of voting irregularities have been made.

On Friday night, the president Thein Sein delivered a televised address urging eligible citizens to vote, while vowing that "the government and the army will respect the results" of the election. The statement followed allegations by Suu Kyi, who on Thursday told a packed news conference, of incidents of voter fraud. A week ago, a gang used machetes to attack a NLD member of Parliament, Naing Ngan Lynn, in Yangon (formerly known as Rangoon).

On Saturday, Human Rights Watch accused the head of the country's election commission, U Tin Aye, of bias in favor of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). 

Not all the seats in the Hluttaw (parliament) are up for grabs. As part of what the generals call "disciplined democracy", the military-drafted constitution of 2008 guarantees that unelected military representatives will take up a quarter of the seats in the Hluttaw and have a veto over constitutional change. So, even if Suu Kyi’s NLD were to win a majority in this election, I won’t be surprised if she is not allowed to form a government in the center.

In 1990 the NLD won 392 of the 492 available seats, taking 52.5% of the national vote. In the 2012 election, the NLD claimed 43 of those 45 seats offered, accruing about 66% of the available votes. As noted in a BBC report, the geographic spread of seats contested in the 2012 by-elections suited the NLD because they were mainly in ethnic Bamar areas. When the genocidal activities against the Rohingya and other Muslim minorities shortly followed in mid-2012, Suu Kyi refused to get drawn into the issue. When the civilized world, esp. the human rights groups, expected her to condemn such atrocities by her fellow Buddhists she and her NLD simply kept silent. She appeared politically opportunistic, morally bankrupt, and more interested in getting elected than standing out for what was moral, noble, right and just.  Only the election results will tell us if her immoral means had justified the ends to retain the support within the racist Buddhist populace at the 2012 levels.

Unlike 2012’s election, this year's vote has two distinct battlegrounds: in central and southern areas where there is an ethnic Bamar majority, and in the regions along the country's borders, where smaller ethnic groups have localized dominance. According to the BBC, in the seven central and southern regions where the Bamar dominate, the NLD are set for a large win. Up for grabs are 291 seats, or 44% of the entire Hluttaw (parliament), and it's possible that the current ruling party the USDP will only win a handful. But that won't give the NLD an overall majority. The NLD on Sunday must win 67% seats nationwide (min. 332) – either by itself or in coalition – to rule without having to constantly cut deals with the Parliament’s military bloc.

So the key battleground for the campaign is going to be in the minority ethnic states where 207 seats (31%) should, stability permitting, be contested. Parties based along ethnic lines are likely to win most of the seats but even small gains made by the NLD here could pave the way for an overall majority.

In the last three years, we have also noticed the highly toxic influence of the terrorist monk Wirathu and his criminal group - Ma Ba Tha towards organizing genocidal activities against the Muslim minorities.  They have been able to polarize the fractured country further along the fault lines and are seen as Thein Sein’s hound dogs. They are credited for the passage of extremely discriminatory religious laws. For the last 18 months they have been running a nationalist campaign arguing that the country's Buddhist identity is under threat from Islam, and that the NLD is the party of the Muslims. And this propaganda, in spite of Suu Kyi’s silence with the entire Buddhist-directed genocidal activities against the Muslims of Myanmar! While these terrorist monks have drawn large crowds, Sunday’s election will be the first test of how deeply their message has resonated with other Buddhists.

Even if the NLD wins a majority, the constitution will not allow Suu Kyi to become the president. The 2008 constitution states that Myanmar cannot elect a president with family who are foreign citizens. That requirement, clearly aimed at Suu Kyi, effectively bans her from the presidency, since her late husband was British, as are her two sons. It is also worth noting that in Myanmar, the president is elected indirectly. The 2008 constitution sets out a complex process whereby the Hluttaw (parliament) chooses a president. Though the general election is today it's likely to be March 2016 before this takes place.

As explained in a BBC report, firstly the Hluttaw will divide into three groups: the elected representatives of the Lower House, the elected representatives of the Upper House, and the unelected army representatives. Each group will put forward a candidate and then the three of them would face a vote in a joint session that would include all the elected and unelected representatives of both Houses. The winner will become president and the two losers vice-presidents.

What it means in practice is if the NLD want to be able to choose the next president it needs its candidate to get the most votes in this joint session.

If Suu Kyi’s party wins, and she can’t get elected as the president, she made clear that she intends to hold the reins of power, regardless of who holds the title of president. In a news conference Thursday at her family’s lakeside estate in Yangon, she said that she would be “above the president.” Many see hints of dictatorship in her remark.

In recent months, Suu Kyi’s stubborn style has raised eyebrows among Myanmar’s intelligentsia, some of whom fear the country could be trading one autocrat for another. Even so, she remains hugely popular among rural Burmese, who see her as their only hope for escaping poverty and corruption. They have shown up by the tens of thousands as she has campaigned across Myanmar’s vast hinterlands. A decisive NLD win would give the opposition the right to pick the next president, alongside the military. An NLD majority would also allow her to maneuver politically, paving the way for constitutional amendments, and eventually an appointment to the presidency.

Sunday's election has been declared by the United Nations as a "watershed moment" in the country's democratic transition, even as it urged the government of President Thein Sein "to ensure that respect for human rights is front and center" in the run-up to the polls.

According to government figures, more than 10,000 foreign and local observers are on hand to monitor the election, including a team from the Carter Center, founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

“We have been told we will have access to all polling places,” said Jonathan Stonestreet, who is heading up the Carter Center mission in Myanmar. “If we show up and we don’t have access, then that will be a concern.”

While much desired, the November election has disenfranchised millions of Muslims and other minorities in war torn states. And that would always tarnish the results of this election for surely a democracy cannot afford to disenfranchise its born citizens. Even formerly elected Muslim MPs were barred from running in this election.

Religious minorities, especially the Muslim population, have been consistently subjected to state sponsored discrimination and violent abuse, while simultaneously denied representation in the political sphere or in civil society in Myanmar. In the last year, the government has consistently flouted the right to freedom of expression except in cases in which they directly benefit, such as in regards to the hate speech of Ma Ba Tha, certain politicians and other social forces using inflammatory language to incite genocidal violence against the Rohingya. The government has not only failed to protect the rights of the Rohingya and the wider Muslim community, it has in many cases actively contributed to their continued mistreatment.

If elected, will Suu Kyi’s NLD right the wrong and integrate Muslim and other minorities?

We have to just tune in to see what direction Myanmar chooses – a path of integration or fracture?