Monday, May 23, 2016

Democracies end when they are too democratic - an article by Andrew Sullivan

In Eric Hoffer’s classic 1951 tract, The True Believer, he sketches the dynamics of a genuine mass movement. Hoffer’s core insight was to locate the source of all truly mass movements in a collective sense of acute frustration. Not despair, or revolt, or resignation — but frustration simmering with rage. Mass movements, he notes (as did Tocqueville centuries before him), rarely arise when oppression or misery is at its worst (say, 2009); they tend to appear when the worst is behind us but the future seems not so much better (say, 2016).
Mass movements, Hoffer argues, are distinguished by a “facility for make-believe … credulity, a readiness to attempt the impossible.” What, one wonders, could be more impossible than suddenly vetting every single visitor to the U.S. for traces of Islamic belief? What could be more make-believe than a big, beautiful wall stretching across the entire Mexican border, paid for by the Mexican government? What could be more credulous than arguing that we could pay off our national debt through a global trade war? In a conventional political party, and in a rational political discourse, such ideas would be laughed out of contention, their self-evident impossibility disqualifying them from serious consideration. In the emotional fervor of a democratic mass movement, however, these impossibilities become icons of hope, symbols of a new way of conducting politics. Their very impossibility is their appeal.
But the most powerful engine for such a movement — the thing that gets it off the ground, shapes and solidifies and entrenches it — is always the evocation of hatred. It is, as Hoffer put it, “the most accessible and comprehensive of all unifying elements.” And so Trump launched his campaign by calling undocumented Mexican immigrants a population largely of rapists and murderers. He moved on to Muslims, both at home and abroad. He has now added to these enemies — with sly brilliance — the Republican Establishment itself. And what makes Trump uniquely dangerous in the history of American politics — with far broader national appeal than, say, Huey Long or George Wallace — is his response to all three enemies. It’s the threat of blunt coercion and dominance.


Could this explain why Trump and Sanders are popular with the American masses these days?


Andrew Sullivan has written a brilliant article which appears in the May 2, 2016 issue of New York Magazine. It should be a must-read for anyone serious about American (and some western nations) politics where fascist tendencies are seemingly alive and kicking. I quote below a few excerpts from his writing.
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And Socrates seemed pretty clear on one sobering point: that “tyranny is probably established out of no other regime than democracy.” What did Plato mean by that? Democracy, for him, I discovered, was a political system of maximal freedom and equality, where every lifestyle is allowed and public offices are filled by a lottery. And the longer a democracy lasted, Plato argued, the more democratic it would become. Its freedoms would multiply; its equality spread.


And it is when a democracy has ripened as fully as this, Plato argues, that a would-be tyrant will often seize his moment.


Plato, of course, was not clairvoyant. His analysis of how democracy can turn into tyranny is a complex one more keyed toward ancient societies than our own (and contains more wrinkles and eddies than I can summarize here). His disdain for democratic life was fueled in no small part by the fact that a democracy had executed his mentor, Socrates.


Part of American democracy’s stability is owed to the fact that the Founding Fathers had read their Plato. To guard our democracy from the tyranny of the majority and the passions of the mob, they constructed large, hefty barriers between the popular will and the exercise of power. Voting rights were tightly circumscribed. The president and vice-president were not to be popularly elected but selected by an Electoral College, whose representatives were selected by the various states, often through state legislatures. The Senate’s structure (with two members from every state) was designed to temper the power of the more populous states, and its term of office (six years, compared with two for the House) was designed to cool and restrain temporary populist passions. The Supreme Court, picked by the president and confirmed by the Senate, was the final bulwark against any democratic furies that might percolate up from the House and threaten the Constitution. This separation of powers was designed precisely to create sturdy firewalls against democratic wildfires.
Over the centuries, however, many of these undemocratic rules have been weakened or abolished. The franchise has been extended far beyond propertied white men. The presidency is now effectively elected through popular vote, with the Electoral College almost always reflecting the national democratic will. And these formal democratic advances were accompanied by informal ones, as the culture of democracy slowly took deeper root. For a very long time, only the elites of the political parties came to select their candidates at their quadrennial conventions, with the vote largely restricted to party officials from the various states (and often decided in, yes, smoke-filled rooms in large hotel suites). Beginning in the early 1900s, however, the parties began experimenting with primaries, and after the chaos of the 1968 Democratic convention, today’s far more democratic system became the norm.


Direct democracy didn’t just elect Congress and the president anymore; it expanded the notion of who might be qualified for public office.


And so after demonizing most undocumented Mexican immigrants, he then vowed to round up and deport all 11 million of them by force. “They have to go” was the typically blunt phrase he used — and somehow people didn’t immediately recognize the monstrous historical echoes. The sheer scale of the police and military operation that this policy would entail boggles the mind. Worse, he emphasized, after the mass murder in San Bernardino, that even the Muslim-Americans you know intimately may turn around and massacre you at any juncture. “There’s something going on,” he declaimed ominously, giving legitimacy to the most hysterical and ugly of human impulses.




To call this fascism doesn’t do justice to fascism. Fascism had, in some measure, an ideology and occasional coherence that Trump utterly lacks. But his movement is clearly fascistic in its demonization of foreigners, its hyping of a threat by a domestic minority (Muslims and Mexicans are the new Jews), its focus on a single supreme leader of what can only be called a cult, and its deep belief in violence and coercion in a democracy that has heretofore relied on debate and persuasion. This is the Weimar aspect of our current moment. Just as the English Civil War ended with a dictatorship under Oliver Cromwell, and the French Revolution gave us Napoleon Bonaparte, and the unstable chaos of Russian democracy yielded to Vladimir Putin, and the most recent burst of Egyptian democracy set the conditions for General el-Sisi’s coup, so our paralyzed, emotional hyperdemocracy leads the stumbling, frustrated, angry voter toward the chimerical panacea of Trump.
And while a critical element of 20th-century fascism — its organized street violence — is missing, you can begin to see it in embryonic form.
Trump celebrates torture — the one true love of tyrants everywhere — not because it allegedly produces intelligence but because it has a demonstration effect. At his rallies he has recounted the mythical acts of one General John J. Pershing when confronted with an alleged outbreak of Islamist terrorism in the Philippines. Pershing, in Trump’s telling, lines up 50 Muslim prisoners, swishes a series of bullets in the corpses of freshly slaughtered pigs, and orders his men to put those bullets in their rifles and kill 49 of the captured Muslim men. He spares one captive solely so he can go back and tell his friends. End of the terrorism problem.
In some ways, this story contains all the elements of Trump’s core appeal. The vexing problem of tackling jihadist terror? Torture and murder enough terrorists and they will simply go away.
The racial aspect of this is also unmissable. When the enemy within is Mexican or Muslim, and your ranks are extremely white, you set up a rubric for a racial conflict. And what’s truly terrifying about Trump is that he does not seem to shrink from such a prospect; he relishes it.
For, like all tyrants, he is utterly lacking in self-control.
Those who believe that Trump’s ugly, thuggish populism has no chance of ever making it to the White House seem to me to be missing this dynamic. Neo-fascist movements do not advance gradually by persuasion; they first transform the terms of the debate, create a new movement based on untrammeled emotion, take over existing institutions, and then ruthlessly exploit events. And so current poll numbers are only reassuring if you ignore the potential impact of sudden, external events — an economic downturn or a terror attack in a major city in the months before November. I have no doubt, for example, that Trump is sincere in his desire to “cut the head off” ISIS, whatever that can possibly mean. But it remains a fact that the interests of ISIS and the Trump campaign are now perfectly aligned. Fear is always the would-be tyrant’s greatest ally.

Letter from Tom Andrews, President, United to End Genocide

Here below is a letter from Tom Andrews. Please, support the cause to end genocide of the Rohingya people.
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Thanks to you, it’s not going to be business as usual in Burma.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was pressing hard for President Obama to lift all remaining economic sanctions on Burma. That would have allowed U.S. firms to do business with Burma’s military – a military that continues persecution and threats of genocide against the country’s Rohingya minority.

Thousands of activists like you joined with us and our friends at Fortify Rights, calling on President Obama to maintain the Administration's sanctions authority. And he did!

The Administration lifted some sanctions against certain banks and companies but because of our voices, they maintained the “blacklist” preventing human rights abusers from doing business with the United States.

We knew we were up against a powerful opponent and that it wouldn’t be easy to counter U.S. business interests clamoring for an open Burma despite that government’s systematic persecution of the Rohingya.

Together with our partners at Fortify Rights, we released a report, Supporting Human Rights in Myanmar: Why the U.S. Should Maintain Existing Sanctions Authority, documenting the Burmese government’s egregious denial of human rights through interviews with eyewitnesses and Rohingya survivors of abuse.

Human rights champions in Congress helped as well, sending a plea to President Obama. And Representative James McGovern (D-Mass.) distributed our report to every member of Congress, asking them to join our call for continued sanctions on Burma.

Your actions mattered the most – without the clear voice of American human rights advocates like you, it would be easy for President Obama to forget the Rohingya and yield to business interests.

Our work is far from over. 140,000 Rohingya Muslims suffer in wretched internment camps, while a million others face systemic persecution and discrimination. And the chorus of business leaders who want sanctions removed altogether will not let up.

As I made clear in an interview with Time.com and in a joint Foreign Policy opinion piece with Fortify Rights – now is not the time to ease up on Burma. The sanctions must be used to pressure government officials including Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, whose historic election to office signaled hope for the Rohingya.

Sadly, officials in Suu Kyi’s party have said that dealing with the Rohingya will not be a priority of the new government. Indeed, Suu Kyi avoids even saying the word “Rohingya.”

Thank you again for speaking up for the Rohingya. Our combined voices were critical to countering the voice of U.S. business interests, and I know we can count on you to continue being a voice for the Rohingya until they no longer face persecution and fear of genocide.

Israeli politics

Here is the link to an article on Moshe Yaalon's resignation and current events within the Likud government of Israel.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sumit Ganguly’s pseudo-analysis of Bangladesh

After reading Sumit Ganguly’s article - Bangladesh’s Accommodation of Extremism Spells Danger for Region (YaleGlobal Online) - I could not believe that I was reading an analysis from someone who holds the Rabindranath Tagore Chair in Indian Cultures and Civilizations at Indiana University, Bloomington, and is a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Philadelphia. I feel sorry to state that it is a terrible piece.

It’s a disingenuous attempt by Ganguly to analyze Bangladesh. As an Indian-American of Bengali heritage his piece is full of dada babu (condescending, big brotherly) attitude, which many Bangladeshis would find very offensive. He describes Bangladesh as the "mostly poverty-stricken nation", while hiding the fact that in his native India there are more beggars than found in Bangladesh. Hundreds of millions of Indians don’t have the necessary sanitary and health care facilities. On some of the Human Development Indices, India’s record is simply abysmal and much worse than those of Bangladesh.

Religion is important to most South Asians. The subject matter would have benefited from an objective analysis and not something that is shallow and highly opinionated from an individual whose piece was unnecessarily too long and short on facts, analysis, structure and reflection.

Ganguly’s piece is also marred with many half- and full lies. He also insults the homegrown entrepreneurs that have been the real drivers for the economic miracles inside Bangladesh by foolishly lauding “massive infusions of foreign assistance as well as the dramatic growth of non-governmental organizations” for the economic progress. Where would Bangladesh be today if she had gotten a tenth of foreign assistance that India had received?

Ganguly says that Bangladesh’s “record in guaranteeing the rights of religious, ethnic and other minorities is abysmal.” Really? Let’s look at the facts and not unsubstantiated allegations, which Ganguly lobs so frequently. If he was serious to dig the truth he would have known that the status of Hindu minorities in Bangladesh is much better than those enjoyed by the Muslim minorities - politically, socially and economically - inside India. To her credit, the government of Sheikh Hasina has placed a Hindu as the chief justice bypassing some more qualified judges.

Like any other government in the region, Sheikh Hasina’s government has its share of problems and challenges though, and has been accused by the opposition of being authoritarian. But no one should doubt its record on protecting the rights of minorities. Contrary to Ganguly’s assertion, many have blamed Hasina government of appeasing Hindus at the cost of more qualified Muslims. Rakhine and other Buddhists from Myanmar have fared better inside Bangladesh than Rohingya Muslims.

Although Muslims comprise nearly 14 percent of Indian population, their share in government jobs is less than 2 percent. On the other hand, the share of jobs held by Hindus in Bangladesh government jobs is several times their percentage (9%) inside the country (and so is the case with Buddhists), which once again belies Ganguly's faulty claims to portray Bangladesh negatively.

The government of Sheikh Hasina has put many of the leaders of the Islamic parties not only behind the bar but also executed them audaciously in trials that have been widely criticized by the US and many western governments. And yet, Ganguly sounds alarming and alleges that Hasina government is in ‘denial about religious extremism’.

It is true that a Hindu blogger (Roy), known for his bigotry and hostility against Islam, was allegedly killed by Muslim fanatic(s). There is, however, no proof that the terrorist outfit ISIS, which, by the way, has killed more Muslims than non-Muslims, was ever involved in such a targeted assassination of Roy and other bloggers (mostly from Muslim background), and a university professor inside Bangladesh. The ISIS claims on such matters has no basis, and are seen more as a propaganda tool towards recruitment than anything else. Hasina government’s repeated claims that such killings were perpetrated by some extremists who found the views of those anti-Islamic zealots highly offensive may be quite right.

Ganguly should know that freedom of expression has limits everywhere. One has the right to stretch his/her fist but when it hits the face of someone, it is no longer treated as a right but as a violation of the right of the one being hit. Thus, Prime Minister Hasina was right when she condemned the excesses practiced by the anti-Muslim zealots that abused the freedom of expression to poison the community. She rightly said that “they have no right to write or speak against any religion. … When you are living in a society, you have to honor the social values, you have to honor others’ feelings.” It would be foolish to regard such statements as pandering to the religious extremists. They are actually delivered to inject some common sense to secular fundamentalists and anti-Muslim zealots who seem to be lacking such and have chosen to be oblivious of the limits of freedom.

Ganguly’s piece is full of unsubstantiated claims and gives a very bad name to the very institutions where he works. His accusations that Hasina government finds ‘tacit toleration of religious extremism, whether local or international, are manageable and useful’ or that it is co-opting ‘fundamentalists to further marginalize the already weakened BNP and its allies’ and that it is harnessing ‘religious bigots to pursue political ends’ are so ludicrous that I wish he had done his homework right before writing the article. An inquiry with the religious minded politicians and supporters inside Bangladesh would have shown that no administration has been so hostile to the religious ‘fundamentalists’ and ‘bigots’ since the birth of Bangladesh as the Hasina administration has been. The execution of powerful leaders like Nizami cements the case for her government.

Far from Ganguly’s ridiculous claims that Hasina regime is ‘flirting with Islamists’, it has proved to be the worst enemy of the ‘Islamists.’ In all fairness, his fear of the spread of the virus of extremism should have been directed to India and the Modi regime. After all, Modi’s BJP is a Hindutvadi fascist organization that is a member of the Sangh Parivar with a record of inciting violence against not only Muslims but all minorities inside India. It rules the center and many of the state assemblies. It has banned trading in and slaughter of cow in many of the states. Muslims have been killed on just mere suspicion of storing beef in their refrigerators. Muslim cattle traders have been lynched to death. Since the demolition of the historic Babri Mosque, scores of mosques and churches have been demolished and vandalized by Hindutvadi fascists that are aligned with the Sangh parivar.

With the recent BJP’s win in states like Assam, it is clear which direction India is heading. Prime Minister Modi remarked, “The polls have made it clear that the BJP’s ideology is being accepted, appreciated and supported by more and more people in the country. It is great for democracy.”

Ganguly ought to have known that in spite of many flaws with Bangladesh’s democracy, her people have never put a religiously inclined party to lead the country. Surely, the same cannot be said of his mother India where Hindutvadi fascists are ruling the so-called secular country and are winning big! Shockingly, they are even believed to win in 2019 also!Thus, rather than wasting his readers’ time, Ganguly could have done all of us a favor by focusing on India’s growing accommodation of Hindutvadi fascism which would spill danger for the region.

In recent years, Bangladesh has seen her share of political violence, execution of some top ‘Islamist’ leaders, and killings of anti-Muslim bigots and zealots who had offended Islam, but it would be paralysis of one’s wits to conclude that Bangladesh is accommodating religious extremism. 


In summary, Ganguly’s analysis of Bangladesh is a faulty one, and only unmasks his deplorable bias and offers nothing of substance. Pseudo pundits like him does a disservice to the reputation of institutes that they are attached with

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Where is Israel heading?

General Ya’ir Golan, the deputy Chief of Staff of the Israeli army, delivered a speech on Holocaust Memorial Day. He said, "If there is something that frightens me about the memories of the Holocaust, it is the knowledge of the awful processes which happened in Europe in general, and in Germany in particular, 70, 80, 90 years ago, and finding traces of them here in our midst, today, in 2016."

This speech by General Golan speaks volumes. He has compared today’s Israeli state with Hitler’s Germany. Ninety years ago in 1926 Germany was witnessing one of the last years of the Weimar Republic, which with its collapse brought the Nazis into power in 1933 (almost 80 years ago) who carried out the ‘final solution’ for the Jewish minority there. With an emboldened fascism and unfathomed power, Hitler took his nation into the Second World War (1939-1945) and ultimately committed suicide nearly 70 years ago in 1945, thus ending the Nazi Reich.

By any measure, pre-Hitler Germany was the most cultured European nation. It was the birthplace of Goethe, Beethoven and Kant. And yet 83 years ago, Germany democratically elected a psychopath like Adolf Hitler as its leader!

Today, Israel is touted as the only democracy in the Middle East, in spite of all its flaws.

Under Benjamin Netanyahu, is Israel witnessing the dawning of Jewish fascism? Many Israelis and westerners are dismissive of the brewing trouble, even after the resignation of Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, probably the last of the so-called moderate voices within Netanyahu’s government. By so doing they forget that Hitler’s march to power started in 1929, when a terrible worldwide economic depression hit Germany hard. Hitler was able to exploit the depressing political - e.g., the humiliating surrender of Germany in World War One, the signing of the Versailles Pact, and loss of German territories to France and Belgium - and economic conditions (e.g., loss of millions of jobs) to rally the German crowd behind the Nazi ideology. It took only took another four years for his party to become the most popular party in Germany and put him into power. Fuehrer Hitler was treated as the new savior and saying "Heil Hitler" became the norm everywhere inside Germany.

Netanyahu and his Likud Party are seen as the saviors of the Jewish people by many Israelis today while the discrimination against the indigenous Palestinian people is at an all time high -- comparable to the treatment of the Jews in the first phase of Nazi Germany. 

Israeli government actions against protesting Palestinians have been excessively harsh, and often times tantamount to torture. This was also the conclusion of a U.N. panel against torture, which on Friday expressed concerns about allegations of "excessive use of force," including deadly force, by Israeli security forces in the Palestinian Territories, and warned about authorities barring access to detained suspects, including minors.

The Committee Against Torture, which works under the office of the UN human rights chief, released its "concluding observations" about Israel and five other countries that included France, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines — as part of regular reviews by the panel.

In a 12-page segment on Israel, the committee pointed to "allegations of excessive use of force, including lethal force, by security forces" at demonstrations, in response to attacks or alleged attacks against Israelis and took aim at Israel's controversial policy of administrative detention, under which it can arrest suspects and hold them without charge for months at a time. 

The committee said that 700 people — including 12 minors — were reportedly in administrative detention even as its members were discussing the issue with Israeli officials. Panel co-chair Jens Modvig of Denmark said administrative detentions can last "for months or even years," with almost no access to those detained.

But such incriminatory reports from the U.N. will not be able to stop Israeli government crimes against the Palestinian people. Instead, with powerful friends in the West and the U.N., Israel is seemingly on a slippery slope towards fascism under Netanyahu.
As peace activist Uri Avnery has recently pointed out the deluge of racist bills in the Knesset, those already adopted and those in the works, strongly resembles the laws adopted by the Reichstag in the early days of the Nazi regime. Like the racist Nazis, some Jewish rabbis are calling for a boycott of Arab shops.
The call ‘Death to the Arabs’ ("Judah verrecke"?) is regularly heard at soccer matches. A member of parliament has called for the separation between Jewish and Arab newborns in hospital. A Chief Rabbi has declared that Goyim (non-Jews) were created by God to serve the Jews. Our Ministers of Education and Culture are busy subduing the schools, theater and arts to the extreme rightist line, something known in German as Gleichschaltung. The Supreme Court, the pride of Israel, is being relentlessly attacked by the Minister of Justice. The Gaza Strip is a huge ghetto,” opines Avnery.
Netanyahu has recently named Avigdor Lieberman to replace defence minister Yaalon. Lieberman is known for his gross racism, and has called for the execution of Palestinian members of the Israeli parliament who reportedly met with members associated with Hamas, and has signed on to controversial legislation, such as the so-called "loyalty oath" that would be required of Israeli citizens to maintain their citizenship. He has also called for the annexation of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and for the transfer of Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Israel has been a colonial enterprise, and thus, Lieberman’s unfiltered remarks should not come as a surprise to anyone. Since its illegal birth, nearly seven decades ago, the apartheid state has been in the business of grabbing Palestinian-owned land. As I have noted elsewhere the entire litany of episodes that led to the implantation of European Jewry in the Holy Land - from the Balfour Declaration, nearly a century ago, to the highly controversial plan by the United Nations to partition Palestine in the aftermath of World War Two to today's land-grabbing activities - have all been illegal.

Before the apartheid state was born the Jewish community in Palestine owned only 2.5 % of the total land, and yet it was given 56% of the total land in one of the most outrageous crimes of the last century. The Palestinians and neighboring Arabs were not consulted by the UN in this criminal land distribution. The rest is history. Israel was born 68 years ago.

In its so-called War of Independence, the newly declared Jewish state with its Zionist terrorists succeeded not only onto grabbing 77% of the total land, which was 21% more than what the UN allotted, but also into evicting nearly 770,000 indigenous Palestinians from their ancestral homes. In the 1967 War, Israel was able to occupy the remainder part of Palestine. She has been slowly but steadily, ever since, doing everything possible to let the Jewish settlers from outside to grab the personal land properties of the Palestinians. 

Consider, e.g., the case of Muhammad Abu Ta’ah, whose story has been captured recently by Charlotte Silver in the Electronic Intifada. Last November, Abu Ta’ah arrived at his property in Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem only to find it had been fenced off by contractors.

On the three-dunum plot of land, construction had begun on a four-story, 70-office building that would make up the new headquarters for the private settler group Amana.

The property had once been part of an expansive 4,000 dunums (nearly 1,000 acres) of land which Israel expropriated in 1968, one year after its military occupied East Jerusalem. On that land, the state built the French Hill and Ramat Eshkol settlements, in addition to a government compound.

Much of this land had been owned by the Abu Ta’ah family. Until now, they had retained this last slice of property, located between a Palestinian hospital and a main thoroughfare, rented part of it to a car business and turned the rest into a large parking lot.

But now it belongs to Amana, the development arm of the Gush Emunim settlement movement, which has been integral to Israeli colonization of many parts of the occupied West Bank.

Amana also owns Al-Watan, a company based in the West Bank that buys Palestinian land for Jewish settlement and which has been involved in forging Palestinian signatures in dubious land purchases.

new investigation by the settlement watchdog group Peace Now reveals how several Israeli ministries, led by the Israel Land Administration (ILA), went to extraordinary lengths to steal the Abu Ta’ah family’s last piece of land in order to give it to Amana.

The investigation shows that at every step of the way, the ILA helped Amana circumvent bureaucratic roadblocks to ensure the land became theirs.

“First they exempted Amana from the duty to hold a tender,” Hagit Ofran of Peace Now told the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz.

“Then they approved its building plan without it having any real rights to the land. Later the finance minister signed an expropriation in order to retrospectively whitewash the transfer of the land to Amana, and finally, today too, the state continues to fiercely guard this illegal behavior in court, instead of righting the wrongs and returning the land to its owners.”

With all the filthy money pouring in from overseas, the settlement activities in the Occupied Palestine are going on non-stop and I see no cessation of such illegal activities any time soon.

Israel recently celebrated her birthday, while it was a Day of Catastrophe for all Palestinians. They call it ‘Al-Nakbah’ Day. Nada Elia, a Palestinian, wrote on the significance of this day, "Sixty-eight years into our catastrophe, Palestinians in the West Bank are still losing towns, homes, land, olive groves, to the Zionist settlers."

But more problematic is the attitude of Israeli Jews on the recent execution style murder of an injured Palestinian youth in Hebron by a trigger-happy Israeli soldier. The latter is treated as a hero, and asked to be decorated by the state. During his trial, Lieberman entered the crowded courtroom in order to express his solidarity with the soldier. Prime Minister Netanyahu also called his father to assure him of his support.

When a war criminal is celebrated as a celebrity, there is something utterly wrong in that society.

General Golan has been quite prophetic about the recent appointment of Lieberman as the Defense Minister. The appointment says a lot about the direction Israel is heading.

History has shown that democracy is not a sufficient bulwark against the rise of fascism – something that needs to be pondered seriously not only by the Israelis but also by the Americans and Europeans with the rise of populist fascists in their midst these days.


Why Rohingya? - an article by Wai Wai Nu

Growing up as a Rohingya inside Myanmar is not an easy thing. It is actually quite dangerous. Wai Wai Nu is a courageous Rohingya young woman who has written a very good article on this subject. Her article can be read by clicking here.

Parallels between Netanyahu's Israel and Hitler's Germany

Uri Avnery's latest article can be viewed by clicking here.

How Israel grabs Palestinian-owned private lands

Since the illegal birth of the State of Israel, nearly seven decades ago, the apartheid state has been in the business of grabbing Palestinian-owned land. As I have noted elsewhere the entire litany of episodes that led to the implantation of European Jewry in the Holy Land - from the Balfour Declaration, nearly a century ago, to the highly controversial plan by the United Nations to partition Palestine in the aftermath of World War Two to today's land-grabbing activities - have all been illegal.

Before the apartheid state was born the Jewish community in Palestine owned only 2.5 % of the total land, and yet it was given 56% of the total land in one of the most outrageous crimes of the last century. The Palestinians and neighboring Arabs were not consulted by the UN in this criminal land distribution. The rest is history. Israel was born 68 years ago.

In its so-called War of Independence, the Jewish state with its Zionist terrorists went not only onto grabbing 77% of the total land, which was 21% more than what the UN gave it, but also into evicting nearly 770,000 indigenous Palestinians from their ancestral homes. In the 1967 War, Israel was able to occupy the remainder part of Palestine. Slowly but steadily ever since, it has been doing everything to let the Jewish settlers from outside to grab personal land properties of Palestinians.

Charlotte Silver has posted the story of a Palestinian victim Muhammad Abu Ta’ah in the Electronic Intifada. Last November, Abu Ta’ah arrived at his property in Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem only to find it had been fenced off by contractors.

On the three-dunum plot of land, construction had begun on a four-story, 70-office building that would make up the new headquarters for the private settler group Amana.

The property had once been part of an expansive 4,000 dunums (nearly 1,000 acres) of land which Israel expropriated in 1968, one year after its military occupied East Jerusalem. On that land, the state built the French Hill and Ramat Eshkol settlements, in addition to a government compound.

Much of this land had been owned by the Abu Ta’ah family. Until now, they had retained this last slice of property, located between a Palestinian hospital and a main thoroughfare, rented part of it to a car business and turned the rest into a large parking lot.

But now it belongs to Amana, the development arm of the Gush Emunim settlement movement, which has been integral to Israeli colonization of many parts of the occupied West Bank.

Amana also owns Al-Watan, a company based in the West Bank that buys Palestinian land for Jewish settlement and which has been involved in forging Palestinian signatures in dubious land purchases.

A new investigation by the settlement watchdog group Peace Now reveals how several Israeli ministries, led by the Israel Land Administration (ILA), went to extraordinary lengths to steal the Abu Ta’ah family’s last piece of land in order to give it to Amana.

The investigation shows that at every step of the way, the ILA helped Amana circumvent bureaucratic roadblocks to ensure the land became theirs.

“First they exempted Amana from the duty to hold a tender,” Hagit Ofran of Peace Now told the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz.

“Then they approved its building plan without it having any real rights to the land. Later the finance minister signed an expropriation in order to retrospectively whitewash the transfer of the land to Amana, and finally, today too, the state continues to fiercely guard this illegal behavior in court, instead of righting the wrongs and returning the land to its owners.”

To read the story of Israeli government's theft of Palestinian-owned lands, click here.

US General is responsible for the deadly attack on MSF hospital

US General Sean Swindell bears responsibility for deadly Kunduz hospital attack. To read more click here.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Misadventures of the Modi government


"Back in the summer of 2014, almost anything was possible for the BJP government. The once-in-a-generation mandate had endowed the government with enormous political capital that could be used to implement any reform, including some long-pending and difficult reforms. Alas, two years after May 2014, the government has become a punchline for jokes." - writes P. Chidambaram
He writes, on Pseudo-nationalism: "Starting with the bogus sedition case against a bunch of JNU students based on a doctored video, the government launched a nationwide campaign to create the perception of an “enemy within”. The only thing this strategy seems to have achieved is to turn college campuses from Hyderabad to Pune to Aligarh to Jadavpur into war zones. Add to that the stoking of divisive fires like ‘ban beef’, ‘say Bharat Mata ki Jai’, ‘kill rationalists’ etc, and the stage is set for deeper polarisation and the ghettoisation of towns and cities. Equating nationalism with Hindutva and a right-wing, atavistic agenda is the final blow to ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’."
You can read his article by clicking here.

BDS co-founder's interview

Despite having lived in Israel for 22 years with no criminal record of any kind, Omar Barghouti was this week denied the right to travel outside the country.  As one of the pioneers of the increasingly powerful movement to impose boycotts, sanctions and divestment measures (BDS) on Israel, Barghouti, an articulate, English-speaking activist, has frequently traveled around the world advocating his position. The Israeli government’s refusal to allow him to travel is obviously intended to suppress his speech and activism.
Just as if to mock free speech, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was one of the world leaders who traveled last year to Paris to participate in that city’s “free speech rally.”
Barghouti was interviewed recently, which you can read by clicking here.

UN panel condemns Israel


A U.N. panel against torture on Friday expressed concerns about allegations of "excessive use of force," including deadly force, by Israeli security forces in the Palestinian Territories, and warned about authorities barring access to detained suspects, including minors.

The Committee Against Torture, which works under the office of the UN human rights chief, released its "concluding observations" about Israel and five other countries — France, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Philippines — as part of regular reviews by the panel.

The panel, which generally conducts reviews of assenting countries every four or five years, does not have investigative or fact-finding powers of its own and relies mostly on information from the media, advocacy groups, the UN, and other sources in drawing up its findings.
In a 12-page segment on Israel, the committee pointed to "allegations of excessive use of force, including lethal force, by security forces" at demonstrations, in response to attacks or alleged attacks against Israelis and took aim at Israel's controversial policy of administrative detention, under which it can arrest suspects and hold them without charge for months at a time.
The committee said 700 people — including 12 minors — were reportedly in administrative detention even as its members were discussing the issue with Israeli officials. Panel co-chair Jens Modvig of Denmark said administrative detentions can last "for months or even years," with almost no access to those detained.

Al Nakba Day

May 15 is observed annually as “Al Nakba Day” by millions of Palestinians and groups all around the globe hold actions and events to commemorate the fateful months of 1947-48. This was the day that the state of Israel was born in what can be called the disaster for the indigenous Palestinian people forcing some 770,000 of its people forced out of their ancestral land. Dozens of villages were destroyed, erased of the map, to allow for Israel to become a “Jewish homeland” in historic Palestine.  
Here is an article by Nada Elia, a Palestinian, on the significance of this day. Nada writes, "Sixty-eight years into our catastrophe, Palestinians in the West Bank are still losing towns, homes, land, olive groves, to the Zionist settlers."

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Myanmar's 'Rohingya' problem


Human rights groups say the Rohingya people are one of the most persecuted ethnic groups in the world. My own research work on endangered people has also shown that they are the most persecuted people in our time. More than a million people in Myanmar from the Muslim minority are currently stateless, and genocidal violence in the country's west has put nearly 140,000 of them in internment camps.

Although Myanmar has gone through a political change with an elected government running the state, it still doesn't want to recognize its Rohingya people whose ties to the soil of Arakan (Rakhine) state are older than others. This is a sad matter for all the human rights groups around the globe who expected better from a government that is now led by Suu Kyi. With her inexcusable silences to condemn the crimes of her Buddhist people against unarmed Rohingya and other minority Muslims living inside Myanmar she has been a disappointing icon since the latest genocidal pogroms started in 2012. But there was always that hope in the midst of hopelessness that she will eventually self-correct and do the right thing once put into power. 

Well, all such wishful hopes are evaporating fast. Suu Kyi does not want to recognize the existence of the Rohingya people, but more problematically doesn't want the U.S. to, either call this most persecuted people as the ‘Rohingya’.

According to the New York Times, her government recently made an official request to the US ambassador to Myanmar to not even use the term “Rohingya.” “We won’t use the term Rohingya because Rohingya are not recognized as among the 135 official ethnic groups,” said Kyaw Zay Ya, a foreign ministry official quoted by the Times. “Our position is that using the controversial term does not support the national reconciliation process and solving problems.”

So, here is the problem. Though they’ve lived in Myanmar for centuries, the Rohingya are viewed by many in this Buddhist majority country, which has transformed into what I have been calling a den of unfathomable intolerance, as illegal immigrants from nearby Bangladesh because of their racial and religious similarities with them. The Myanmar majority (approximately 80%) practices Buddhism and supports anti-Muslim policies. Like their government, they refuse to use the term “Rohingya,” and instead use “Bengalis.”

Suu Kyi supporters including the Dalai Lama had hoped she would defend the stateless Rohingya after her party’s big victory in elections last November. But this newest diplomatic request suggests an end to the crisis is perhaps even further away than expected.

Since mid-2012, the Rohingyas of the Arakan (Rakhine) state have been confined to concentration camps, where conditions are simply atrocious, and had their citizenship revoked. Some have attempted to flee by taking a dangerous ocean voyage in rickety boats, often with tragic results.

Last month’s tragic boat accident off the coast of Burma’s Arakan State killed an estimated 21 Rohingya Muslims, including nine children, and left another 20 missing. The government-controlled newspaper, Global New Light of Myanmar, made a rare admission that the tragedy, in which a packed boat capsized in heavy seas, resulted from government travel restrictions that prevent Rohingya from traveling overland, forcing them to travel by boat even when conditions are dangerous.

The accident underscores the serious plight of Burma’s long-persecuted Rohingya minority. The boat was making a regular trip from an internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camp in Pauktaw to the markets near camps around the state capital, Sittwe.

With the latest directive from the government of Suu Kyi banning the use of the ‘Rohingya’ term, it is highly doubtful that the deplorable condition of this most persecuted people will improve any time soon.

The Buddhist monks of the fascist organization Ma Ba Tha are also making sure that there is no let down on the Rohingya problem whom they want either eliminated inside or forced out, thus making a mockery of their so-called peaceful religion. They have been behind the ethnic cleansing/ genocidal drives in Myanmar against the minority Muslims that resulted in internal displacement of nearly a million people since 2012, let alone the torching of hundreds of Muslim towns and villages, and deaths of thousands. They were the gay hound-dogs of the erstwhile Thein Sein's military regime and were very vocal against the NLD in the last election. Although their anti-NLD campaign failed to sway the voters away who elected Suu Kyi’s party with a landslide victory, as a powerful and revered group in this Buddhist majority country, the fascist monks continue to rekindle the flames of intolerance and hatred to create problem for the new government. Typical of the genocidal maniacs of the past, they deny the very existence of the targeted victim - the Rohingya people.

In recent weeks, hundreds of demonstrators, including Buddhist monks, denounced the United States for its use of the term Rohingya to describe Myanmar's stateless Muslim community during a protest outside of the U.S. embassy in Yangon on Thursday. The demonstration was sparked by a statement from the embassy last week expressing condolences for an estimated 21 people, who media said were Rohingya, who drowned off the coast of Rakhine State and came just a day after President Htin Kyaw accepted the credentials of the new U.S. Ambassador, Scot Marciel.

"Today, we, from here, want to declare to the U.S. embassy and the ambassador to Myanmar, to all the other countries, that there is no Rohingya in our country," Parmaukkha, a monk and member of the hardline Buddhist group Ma Ba Tha, told about 300 people who gathered on a busy road across from the embassy compound. "If the U.S. accepts the term 'Rohingya,' you (U.S.) should take them back to your country."

Just imagine the audacity of these fascist monks who have hijacked Buddhism!

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy said the United States supports the right to demonstrate and added that "around the world, people have the ability to self-identify".

More importantly, Ambassador Marciel said on Tuesday he will keep using the term Rohingya for the persecuted Muslim minority, even after the government controlled by Suu Kyi asked him to refrain from it. "Our position globally and our international practice is to recognize that communities anywhere have the ability to choose what they should be called... and we respect that," said Marciel, in response to a question on whether he intended to continue using the term Rohingya.

He added that this has been Washington's policy before and that the administration intended to stick to it. It takes moral courage for a new ambassador to restate its government’s policy on such an ‘unpopular’ matter. My sincere appreciation and salutation to the Ambassador for his courage to stand for what is right.

The US Embassy’s stand on the Rohingya issue is morally right and laudable. Denial of the right to self-identify is tantamount to serious crime, e.g., genocide, and should never be taken lightly.

In a recent interview with Frontier at his Yangon home on March 26, the former chief minister of Arakan State, Gen. Maung Ohn, was quoted to have said that the 2012 violence should never be repeated. This is a delayed realization from a former top official of the government but a good one, nonetheless. If they are really serious to avoid a repeat of the genocidal crimes, they must understand that the Burmese government’s rejection of Rohingya claims to self-identification along with discriminatory citizenship and other laws fuels public animosity toward the group and encourages repressive local regulations.

The Rohingyas of Myanmar expect better from the Suu Kyi’s government. They expect her to stand for what is right, away from the Buddhist mob culture of hatred and intolerance against the persecuted Muslim minorities. Before leaving office, outgoing President Thein Sein lifted the state of emergency in Arakan State that had been imposed following the outbreak of genocidal violence against the Rohingya and other Muslim minorities in 2012. Yet local authorities have maintained restrictions on the movement of Rohingya in IDP camps and in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships that limit their access to health care and education, make it nearly impossible to work, and impinge on religious freedoms. Such restrictions must be lifted immediately.

International attention has focused on Arakan State since an estimated 31,000 Rohingya fled the region by boat in the first half of 2015. But so far the feared resumption of the maritime exodus of Rohingya asylum seekers and migrant workers has not materialized, partly the result of limits on boat departures and harsh pushbacks from Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thailand.

United Nations and European Union officials recently stated that the drop in maritime departures and a UN-backed government program to resettle 25,000 Rohingya in new homes heralds an improved situation. This is premature given the fact that Burmese government laws and policies that deny the stateless Rohingya their rights and basic freedoms remain. The latest maritime disaster again underscores the need to finding a genuine solution to the old Rohingya crisis urgently. The desperate humanitarian situation and the potential for anti-Rohingya violence needs to be urgently addressed. This is no time for complacency.

The new government of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy could markedly improve the everyday lives of the Rohingya by removing the restrictions that led to last month’s boat accident, and from there establish the Rohingya’s genuine inclusion in a more rights-respecting Burma. As we have learned from history, a nonchalance attitude towards growing fascism can be disastrous. As such, if NLD is serious about stopping such fascistic trends, it must come hard on those fascist Ma Ba Tha monks and their supporters within the Buddhist country. Failing this, the country can revert back to days of targeted pogroms again, thus seriously tampering its much needed economic growth through investments from the international community.

But will Suu Kyi tighten the screw against the criminal Ma Ba Tha? That question remains unanswered now.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Wars displace record 40.8 million people

The number of internally displaced people rose to a record 40.8 million people in 2015, according to a joint report released Wednesday by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).
"This is the highest figure ever recorded, and twice the number of refugees worldwide," said Jan Egeland, the NRC's secretary-general.
There were 8.6 million people newly displaced within borders last year, nearly half from conflict zones in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, the report said.
"As the world's attention focused on the flow of refugees out of the region, millions were displaced internally in the Middle East, more than in the rest of the world combined," said Carsten Hansen, NRC's regional director in the Middle East.
The number of internally displaced in Syria and Iraq increased by 1.3 and 1.1 million, respectively, adding to the millions already forced from their homes in those long-running conflicts.
Yemen was hit the worst, with "a staggering 2.2 million forced to flee their homes as a result of the Saudi-led airstrikes." Saudi Arabia and allied Gulf states launched a military operation and economic blockade against Houthi rebels in Yemen last year, creating a humanitarian disaster.
The more than 1 million refugees who reached Europe last year were just the tip of the iceberg of global displacement, which internally can simmer for years before bursting beyond borders.
"While richer, stable countries have been scheming to keep asylum seekers out of their borders and deny them protection, millions remain trapped in their own countries with death staring them just around the corner," Hansen said.
Five countries - Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, South Sudan and Sudan - have been among the top 10 countries with displaced people for more than a decade.
"This is further evidence that in the absence of the help displaced people need, displacement tends to drag on for years and even decades," said IDMC Director Alexandra Bilak.
The report also said natural disasters had created 19.2 million internally displaced people last year, led by India, China and Nepal.

Diary of an Abu Ghraib interrogator

After working as an interrogator for a U.S. military contractor in Iraq, Eric Fair took a job as an analyst for the National Security Agency. When he went to the NSA, Fair was reckoning with the torture of Iraqi prisoners, torture he had witnessed and in which he had participated.
Fair would go on to write a memoir detailing his experiences in Iraq; the book, Consequence, was published last month.
In Consequence, he recounts the daily work of manipulating and mistreating prisoners even as he became disillusioned with the idea that such interrogations produced any intelligence of value.
He writes about shoving detainees into walls and throwing chairs, seeing men naked in freezing temperatures and subjecting them to sleep deprivation. He sees detainees being struck by other interrogators. He describes a technique known as the “Palestinian chair,” rumored to have been taught to U.S. forces by Israeli interrogators. Fair describes the torture of one Iraqi detainee in the chair in excruciating detail. “His hands are tied to his ankles. The chair forces him to lean forward in a crouch, forcing all of his weight onto his thighs. … He is blindfolded. His head has collapsed into his chest. He wheezes and gasps for air. There is a pool of urine at his feet.”
He writes, “I am not disgusted by my actions” is readable amid the black bars. So is “I am disgusted by how good it felt to wield power.”

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Mayor Sadiq Khan


Sadiq Khan, son of a Muslim  immigrant to the UK, has recently been elected Mayor of London. He defeated Zac Goldsmith who gratuitously exploited anti-Muslim prejudice in order to win  London mayoral election, but failed miserably. Lifelong Conservative Peter Oborne has described Goldsmith’s campaign as “the most repulsive I have ever seen as a political reporter”. Former Conservative candidate Shazia Awan has denounced the campaign as “racist”. “This is not the Zac Goldsmith I know,” says Tory Baroness Warsi.
Here is Mr. Khan's story.
 You can read also another good piece on him, by clicking here.

Hindu Sena and Donald Trump - bigots united

Bigotry runs very deep in the veins of Hindu Sena, the Hindu fascists of India. To these low lives, the simple formula - enemy of my enemy is my friend - is the mantra to live by. With his bigoted and hateful remarks, Donald Trump has now become their idol, the avatar.
To pledge their “support” for the billionaire businessman, over a dozen Hindu Sena members gathered at Jantar Mantar with a pandit in tow and posters of Trump, either beaming or waving, in their hands. The havan began at 12.30 pm and continued for an hour, during which Hindu Sena members urged god to shower his blessings on Trump.ho will save them.
Gupta also has plans to write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and request him to make an appeal to the international community to garner support for the Republican frontrunner.

Deafening silence around the Dalit vote

Five policemen stand guard outside the house at the far end of the Dalit colony in the village. From inside the dark single-room house emerges a young woman. “I am C Kausalya, Sankar’s wife,” she says.
Just two months ago, Sankar was hacked to death in Udumalpet town for marrying Kausalya, 19, who belongs to the Thevar caste, a powerful OBC group in Tamil Nadu. Sankar died on the way to hospital. Kausalya survived, after 36 stitches to her head. The assailants were alleged to have been hired by Kausalya’a family. Eleven people, including her parents and her mother’s brother, and eight others are in Kovai prison.
To read the full story, click here.

My thanks to Ambassador Scot Marciel

It requires courage to say what is right, esp. in the face of much opposition. The term 'Rohingya' has become an unacceptable word for the hateful Myanmar and its Buddhist majority who are in the denial of this people of the soil of Arakan. They like to portray the persecuted Rohingya people as infiltrators from the nearby Bangladesh and calls them Bengalis. Everyone hoped that with the coming into power of Suu Kyi, such genocidal mindset would be replaced by one of integration and understanding. But our expectations with Suu Kyi continue to be premature. Her newly formed government advised foreign leaders, including the US Ambassador to Myanmar not to utter the word Rohingya when describing the persecuted Muslim minority.
To my great delight, the new ambassador of the United States to Myanmar said on Tuesday he will keep using the term Rohingya for the persecuted Muslim minority, even after the government controlled by Nobel prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi asked him to refrain from it. Scot Marciel took over as the head of the U.S. mission at a critical time after Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide victory in historic elections, following decades of pro-democracy struggle.
"Our position globally and our international practice is to recognize that communities anywhere have the ability to choose what they should be called... and we respect that," said Marciel, in response to a question on whether he intended to continue using the term Rohingya.
He added that this has been Washington's policy before and that the administration intended to stick to it.
My sincere appreciation and salutation to the Ambassador for his courage to stand for what is right.

Israel bars founder of BDS to travel abroad

Israel has refused to issue a travel permit to Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel, saying that his residency rights in Israel are currently being reconsidered. You can read the news by clicking here.

Noam Chomsky's article: Who rules the world?

Excerpts from Noam Chomsky’s new book, Who Rules the World? (Metropolitan Books) can be seen by  clicking here (Part 1) and here (part 2).

America's two-faced policy on Iran


The Obama administration seeks to demonize Iran — along with Russia and China — while also demanding their help in areas of U.S. interest, an approach that is both disingenuous and dangerous, as former British diplomat Alastair Crooke explains.
To read his article, click here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

State terrorism in Ethiopia

On April 15, 2016, the Ethiopian Federal High Court acquitted two men, Yoantan Wolde and Bahiru Degu, who spent more than 600 days incarcerated on terrorism charges that critics allege were politically motivated. Zelalem Workagenehu, a third man, was not so lucky. He was convicted and will be sentenced on May 10. (On April 26, the public prosecutor submitted a sentence aggravation statement to the court, and Zelalem was asked to file a sentence mitigation letter on his part.) Zelalem is a human rights advocate and a scholar who regularly contributed to the diaspora-run website DeBirhan.
All three were accused under Ethiopia's Anti-Terror Proclamation, which was adopted in July 2009. State officials defend the law, saying it is modeled on existing legislation in countries such as the United Kingdom.
Yonatan Wolde and Bahiru Degu were released after spending 647 days—almost two years—in prison, demonstrating a disturbing trend in Ethiopia where prisoners of conscience are locked away for long periods without a trial.
Bahiru Degu, who attended his former co-defendant's trial last week, struggles the most among the three men. He told the court he experienced extensive torture during the first three months of his detention:
I was forced to get naked and was regularly beaten. Due to the severity of the beating, I was unable to control my bowels [sic]. I was forced to drink my own urine.
To read their story, click here.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The battle over the use of the 'R' word

Rohingyas  are the indigenous people of Arakan who live in the western part of the Buddhist majority country of Myanmar. They are the worst persecuted people in our time as a result of their religion and race. The fascist Buddhists are denying the rights of the Rohingya to self-identify themselves, which is a clear sign of what others have called the 'slow genocide'. They are opposed to the use of the 'R' word by anyone, including the US government. 
Hundreds of people gathered outside the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon, Burma, on Thursday with a simple demand: The United States must stop using the word "Rohingya." 
Here is a good article analyzing the issue. 

Left for Dead

In recent years, democratic reforms have swept through Myanmar, a country that for decades was ruled by a military junta. As the reforms took hold, however, things were growing progressively worse for the Rohingya, the most persecuted ethnic Muslim minority in the world who are concentrated in the country's western state of Rakhine.
The 2012 alleged gang rape and murder of a Buddhist woman by three Muslim men ignited violent riots in which hundreds were killed as Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya attacked each other. In the following months, tens of thousands of Rohingya were rounded up and forced to live in squalid camps; Human Rights Watch deemed the attacks crimes against humanity that amounted to ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya. Thousands of Rohingya have since attempted to leave the country, fueling the region's intricate and brutal human trafficking network.
VICE News traveled to Myanmar to investigate the violence and discrimination faced by the country's Muslim minority. You can view the trailer by clicking here.