Friday, September 30, 2016

Abu Mazen's balance sheet

Here is an article on the above subject by Uri Avnery.

Norman Pollack's article on being a Jew

"The test of Judaism is to be an uncompromising supporter of Israel. I reject that," writes Normal Pollack. You can read his article by clicking here.

Shimon Peres: Israel’s Nuclear Man

Here is an article by Ramzy Baroud on Shimon Peres.

India crosses LoC in Kashmir

Tensions are once again soaring along the contested “line of control” that runs through Kashmir, with Indian Army officials claiming to have launched raids into the side controlled by the Pakistani military to conduct “surgical strikes” against militants operating there, apparently getting into fights with the Pakistani troops.
Pakistan confirmed two Pakistani soldiers killed and nine wounded trading small arms fire along the frontier. There were intermittent reports of artillery and mortar fire back and forth over the LOC all day.


To read the full text of the news, click here.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The plight of Myanmar's Rohingya

Please, click here to read an article on the topic - The plight of Myanmar's Rohingya by Hiroshi Kotani; Anchalee Romruen who contributed to this story.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

India's crackdown in Kashmir bound to radicalize everyone

Simmering anger over India's crackdown on 10 weeks of protests in Kashmir risks drawing more young people to radical rebellion, demonstrators and security officials warn, as the sense of despair and alienation from New Delhi deepens.
In the worst unrest in the disputed Himalayan region for six years, more than 80 civilians have been killed and thousands wounded, a widespread curfew is in place and suspected ringleaders are being held without charge.
"They are treating us like 'dons', like we are criminals," said Bilal Bhat, a 27-year-old journalist who is active in a local youth civil rights movement.
Bhat was taken in by police in August and told to stop posting articles on Facebook. It was the second time he has been held. "When I was beaten by the cop, I cursed myself for taking a pen - I should have taken a gun instead," he told Reuters.
A conflict that has seeped for decades and spilled into war twice between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan usually passes little noticed by the international community.
But the scale of the violence and security crackdown, and, more recently, a sharp escalation in tension between the neighbouring countries, have made the outside world sit up and pay attention.
India's security forces have also reinforced their already large presence in Kashmir, drafting in 20,000 paramilitaries and 10,000 more soldiers.
A senior Home Ministry official said India's security forces had reduced their use of pellet ammunition, which has drawn widespread condemnation, and had been instructed only to fire when they felt directly threatened.
"It is clear that the local Kashmiri youths were being used by Pakistan to attack Indian forces," the official said, responding to questions from Reuters about the use of force and risk of youth radicalisation.
"It is true that there is a lot of anger among the Kashmiris, but we cannot legitimise their anger if it is for all the wrong reasons."

ROOT OF THE PROBLEM?

India blames Pakistan for a raid earlier this month on a base that killed 18 soldiers, in the deadliest attack on its army in 14 years, prompting Hindu nationalist supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government to call for revenge.
Several countries, alarmed at the prospect of a military response by India, condemned the attack, while Pakistan denied any involvement.
Journalist Bhat and others see the start of the latest crisis in Kashmir not as the attack on the army camp in Uri on Sept. 18, but the killing by Indian security forces of Burhan Wani, a popular separatist militant leader, on July 8.


Stone-throwing protesters took to the streets in a display of support for the slain insurgent that also reflected deep-rooted unease about a central government they say is pursuing a Hindu-nationalist agenda to pacify and assimilate India's only Muslim-majority region.
Many of those killed in the clashes died from shotgun pellets or rifle bullets fired by police and paramilitary troops, and the supposedly non-lethal pellet rounds have blinded hundreds of bystanders, including children and women.
"The police are using brute force," said one protester, a 27-year-old university graduate who works in the private sector and spoke to Reuters at a safe house in the old town of Srinagar, the summer capital of India's northernmost state.
"They are leaving local boys with no choice but to take up arms. You are creating home-grown rebels by your actions - and then you are labelling them as terrorists."

HOSPITAL WARD FULL

The ophthalmology ward of Srinagar's main SMHS hospital is still overflowing with patients either partly or fully blinded by pellet rounds fired by police or paramilitary troops.
Some, like Mushtaq, a 22-year-old student from the restive district of Pulwama, say they were demonstrating when they were shot at.


Despite being blinded in his right eye, which was swathed in a bandage, Mushtaq said: "I would go out again and protest once I recover."
Others, like an 18-year-old high school student who gave his name as Muhsin, say they were bystanders caught in the crossfire.
Four young boys tried to escape by jumping into the nearby Jhelum river but were fired on by police. Muhsin dived in to try and rescue one boy who had been shot, only to be hit himself in the left eye and blinded.
He was unable to save the boy, who drowned.
The 850-bed hospital has received hundreds of casualties from street clashes, which have died down for now.
"I don't know how we managed," said Dr Nisur Al-Hassan, a consultant at the hospital and president of the Doctors Association of Kashmir.
Hassan said he had seen patients "with eyes gone, spleens gone, kidneys gone. These pellets have pierced their hearts, their abdomens, their brains. We can only operate on three to five patients at a time. You can only imagine."

UK opens files about 1940 terrorists


Here is an interesting news below from British era terrorism:


The call to British military security forces came early in the morning, shortly after 1 a.m., and could not be ignored. The informant's message was alarming: Assassins planned to kill the commander of British forces in Palestine the following morning; evasive action was needed.
The source didn't know the details of the plan, but warned that Gen. Evelyn Barker would be attacked on the brief journey between his home in Jerusalem and his office at British headquarters. The assailants were militant Jews from the Stern Gang, determined to drive the British from the land in their bid for Jewish sovereignty.
Before dawn broke on Nov. 14, 1946, according to secret documents declassified Wednesday by the National Archives, Barker's security team was notified of the imminent threat. He changed his route, other special precautions were put in place, and he arrived without incident.
Barker was particularly controversial because of his incendiary comments after militants bombed Jerusalem's King David Hotel, used by the British as a political and military base, in July 1946, when Britain was still the administrative power in Palestine under an arrangement worked out in 1920, but was increasingly unable to control events as Jews and Arabs sought control.
The King David Hotel blast killed more than 90 people and infuriated Barker, whose offices were in the hotel.
He reacted by banning British troops from having any social or business dealings with Jews, saying that they would be punished "in a way the race dislikes as much as any, by striking at their pockets and showing our contempt for them."
The plot against Barker is only one of hundreds of plans described in the newly public files that detail how British officials were tormented by the militants. The official British attitude toward the Jewish underground is summed up on the file's title page: "Jewish Terrorist Activities in the Middle East."
British influence was waning and the militants sensed a lack of resolve that could be exploited, said Saul Zadka, author of "Blood in Zion: How the Jewish Guerrillas drove the British Out of Palestine."
"They realized getting rid of the British was the key to establishing Jewish sovereignty in Palestine," he said.
"The British didn't have an end game, they didn't know what to do, and the insurgents' operations affected the morale of the armed forces very badly. The British papers were saying, 'If you can't control Palestine, just get out.' And it was very expensive to keep 100,000 soldiers there. So overall, holding onto Palestine was not worth it. The cost was too high."
It is clear from the files that the British were rattled by the constant threat of attack and by fears the violence would spread from the Middle East to Europe and, particularly, to Britain itself.
A July 20, 1946, letter from Lt. Col. Maurice Oldfield to military headquarters warns that two people on the "Jewish Terrorist List" seemed to have infiltrated Paris via an Air France flight.
"This indicates a weakness in our controls," he said, raising concerns that many more people supposedly being watched "may already, unbeknown to us, be scattered throughout Europe."
There is a specific warning from British intelligence to Belgian authorities about five individuals planning a "mission." There are also exchanges between British intelligence and the FBI about the activities of "Jewish commandos" in New York City.
The operational challenge facing British security officials in 1946 was in some ways similar to the ones faced today as Europe's intelligence agencies try to keep Islamic extremists from entering Europe to launch attacks against civilians.
The files contain an official "top secret" request for "special attention security check of all Jews travelling to the U.K." because of the security threat posed by the Stern Gang.
The files also reveal how closely British secret services tracked relations between militant groups like the Stern Gang and Irgun amid fears the rival groups would start to cooperate on joint attacks.
A secret note written on April 14, 1947, warns that a reliable source had told British agents about an agreement between the Stern Gang and the Irgun group to coordinate policy and plans.
"The main point is that terrorist activities are not to be confined only to Palestine — but will take place also in the U.K., France and Italy," the note says, adding that "certain Jewish terrorists" have already arrived in the port city of Alexandria, Egypt, and have purchased a 200-ton ship to be used to transport weapons.
The plots described were many and varied, including a failed plan by militants to blow up the British destroyer Chevron off the coast of Haifa. The files indicate that plotters left a bag of primed explosives and detonators on board and were later arrested on land with concealed explosives.
The files also detail successful kidnappings carried out by the gangs.
The sporadic but deadly attacks spawned extensive British discussions about whether Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin could travel safely to Cairo without undue risk of assassination.
Many attacks were relatively minor, involving small arms fire, grenades, improvised explosives and land mines, but the campaign clearly made it hard for the British to conduct normal business without adding layers of protection. Railways, bridges, government facilities and officers clubs were all targeted.
The state of Israel was proclaimed in 1948; some of the militants went on to become influential figures, including future Israeli prime ministers Menachem Begin, who would sign the landmark Camp David peace accords in 1978, and Yitzhak Shamir.

Shimon Peres: Israeli war criminal - is dead

Shimon Peres, who passed away Wednesday aged 93 after suffering a stroke on 13 September, epitomised the disparity between Israel’s image in the West and the reality of its bloody, colonial policies in Palestine and the wider region.
He is perhaps best known in the West for his role in the negotiations that led to the 1993 Oslo Accords which won him, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, the Nobel Peace Prize (which per Uri Avnery he never truly deserved).
Yet for Palestinians and their neighbours in the Middle East, Peres’ track record is very different from his reputation in the West as a tireless “dove”. Consider some facts below, put forth by Ben White:
Peres has been described as “an architect of Israel’s nuclear weapons programme” which, to this day, “remains outside the scrutiny of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).” In 1975, as secret minutes have since revealed, Peres met with South African Defence Minister PW Botha and “offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime.” In 1986, Peres authorised the Mossad operation that saw nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu kidnapped in Rome.
Peres had a key role in the military regime imposed on Palestinian citizens until 1966, under which authorities carried out mass land theft and displacement.
One such tool was Article 125 which allowed Palestinian land to be declared a closed military zone. Its owners denied access, the land would then be confiscated as “uncultivated”. Peres praised Article 125 as a means to “directly continue the struggle for Jewish settlement and Jewish immigration.”
Another one of Peres’ responsibilities in his capacity as director general of the defence ministry was to “Judaise” the Galilee; that is to say, to pursue policies aimed at reducing the region’s proportion of Palestinian citizens compared to Jewish ones.
In 2005, as Vice Premier in the cabinet of Ariel Sharon, Peres renewed his attack on Palestinian citizens with plans to encourage Jewish Israelis to move to the Galilee. His “development” plan covered 104 communities – 100 of them Jewish.
While Israel’s settlement project in the West Bank has come to be associated primarily with Likud and other right-wing nationalist parties, it was in fact Labor which kick-started the colonisation of the newly-conquered Palestinian territory – and Peres was an enthusiastic participant.
During Peres’ tenure as defence minister, from 1974 to 1977, the Rabin government established a number of key West Bank settlements, including Ofra, large sections of which were built on confiscated privately-owned Palestinian land.
As prime minister in 1996, Peres ordered and oversaw “Operation Grapes of Wrath” when Israeli armed forces killed some 154 civilians in Lebanon and injured another 351. The operation, widely believed to have been a pre-election show of strength, saw Lebanese civilians intentionally targeted.
According to the official Israeli Air Force website (in Hebrew, not English), the operation involved “massive bombing of the Shia villages in South Lebanon in order to cause a flow of civilians north, toward Beirut, thus applying pressure on Syria and Lebanon to restrain Hezbollah.”
The campaign’s most notorious incident was the Qana massacre, when Israel shelled a United Nations compound and killed 106 sheltering civilians. A UN report stated that, contrary to Israeli denials, it was “unlikely” that the shelling “was the result of technical and/or procedural errors.”
Later, Israeli gunners told Israeli television that they had no regrets over the massacre, as the dead were “just a bunch of Arabs”. As for Peres, his conscience was also clean: “Everything was done according to clear logic and in a responsible way,” he said. “I am at peace.”
Peres came into his own as one of Israel’s most important global ambassadors in the last ten years, as the Gaza Strip was subjected to a devastating blockade and three major offensives. Despite global outrage at such policies, Peres has consistently backed collective punishment and military brutality.
In January 2009, for example, despite calls by “Israeli human rights organisations…for ‘Operation Cast Lead’ to be halted”, Peres described “national solidarity behind the military operation” as “Israel’s finest hour.” According to Peres, the aim of the assault “was to provide a strong blow to the people of Gaza so that they would lose their appetite for shooting at Israel.”
In 2014, during an unprecedented bombardment of Gaza, Peres stepped up once again to whitewash war crimes. After Israeli forces killed four small children playing on a beach, Peres knew who to blame – the Palestinians: “It was an area that we warned would be bombed,” he said. “And unfortunately they didn’t take out the children.”
The choking blockade, condemned internationally as a form of prohibited collective punishment, has also been defended by Peres – precisely on the grounds that it is a form of collective punishment. As Peres put it in 2014: “If Gaza ceases fire, there will be no need for a blockade.”
Peres’ support for collective punishment also extended to Iran. Commenting in 2012 on reports that six million Iranians suffering from cancer were unable to get treatment due to sanctions, Peres said: “If they want to return to a normal life, let them become normal.”
Peres was always clear about the goal of a peace deal with the Palestinians. As he said in 2014: “The first priority is preserving Israel as a Jewish state. That is our central goal, that is what we are fighting for.” Last year he reiterated these sentiments in an interview with AP, saying: “Israel should implement the two-state solution for her own sake,” so as not to “lose our [Jewish] majority.”


To read Ben White's entire article, click here.

Congress Overrides Obama’s Veto


Early today, the Senate overwhelmingly voted, 97-1, to override President Obama’s veto of the 9/11 victims bill, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), and after a debate on what to call a VA clinic, the House followed suit, in a 348-77 vote. This was the first override of Obama’s presidency.
Both the House and Senate passed JASTA unanimously, and while the Obama Administration heavily lobbied after the veto, as did the Saudi government, it ultimately didn’t amount to very many lawmakers changing sides in the override votes, which were both overwhelming.
President Obama argued that JASTA was a “dangerous precedent” for American taxpayers, as other nations could reciprocate, setting up lawsuits against the US government for its own substantial misdeeds over the years, as well as for bankrolling foreign armed factions that did such things. He added that since the US is way more active overseas than anyone else, they are the most at risk from this precedent.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter also lobbied against JASTA, warning it threatens the troops, and that the lawsuit against Saudi Arabia might make public certain “American secrets” that would harm national security. He did not elaborate on what secrets the US might have relevant to a bill regarding pre-9/11 planning.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Dresden mosque and congress centre hit by two bomb blasts

Police suspect a far-right motive after two improvised explosive devices detonated outside a mosque and congress centre in Dresden just before and after 10pm on Monday.
No one was injured during the two attacks in the eastern German city, but the mosque’s 46-year-old imam, his wife and their two children were inside the building when the first bomb went off.
Imam Hamza Turan told Sächsische Zeitung newspaper that six bottles filled with explosive gas had been found at the site of the attack. “They attacked us because they hate us, because we are Muslims”, Turan’s 10-year-old son told the local paper.
The second improvised device exploded on a terrace facing the river Elbe, between the International Congress Centre and the Maritim hotel. The hotel bar was evacuated as a result.
Horst Kretzschmar, the president of Dresden’s police force, said that even though no group had claimed responsibility it was assuming a “xenophobic motive” behind the attack.
Kretzschmar said investigators were also assuming a link to the city’s planned festivities around the Day of German Unity next week. Between 1-3 October, Dresden is due to celebrate the 26th anniversary of German reunification with concerts and performances in the city’s historic town centre. The chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the president, Joachim Gauck, are among those expected to attend.
Gauck is due to host a reception on Monday for delegates from across Germany at the International Congress Centre.
Police say they have stepped up security at a number of venues around the city, including Dresden’s three mosques, a prayer room and a inter-faith meeting place.
The mayor of Dresden, Dirk Hilbert, said: “Such an act is not a protest or the expression of an opinion. Such an act is a crime”.
The attacks are a blow to authorities who had hoped the festivities would improve the city’s reputation after Dresden grabbed international headlines for its large-scale anti-refugee protests.
Dresden is the cradle of the anti-Islam Pegida protest movement, whose rallies attracted about 25,000 supporters in January 2015. In recent months, support for the movement has ebbed away, with a rally in September attracting up to 2,300 protesters.
Tourism has suffered in recent months, with visitor numbers in July down by 10% compared with last year.
Stanislaw Tillich, the Christian Democrat president of Saxony, said on Monday he hoped the festivities would help to present the region in the former GDR as “a modern, cosmopolitan and hospitable country”.

Racist activities in the past few days in the USA

A shooter opened fire near a Houston shopping center early Monday morning, injuring nine people before police shot and killed him.
"Multiple officers engaged the suspect, who was shooting randomly at passerbys as well as anybody he could put his sights on," said Houston Police Department Captain Dwayne Ready.
The 911 calls started to come in around 6:30 a.m., and officials estimate it took the first responding officers about 10-15 minutes to arrive.
The shooter was outside out of his car, armed with a handgun and a rifle, and he was using a tree for cover. Nine officers from three different departments fired at the gunman. No officers were injured in the exchange of gunfire.
Both of the weapons used in the shooting were legally obtained by the suspect. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirmed the rifle was purchased in 2009 and the handgun in 2011. The Houston Police Department said other weapons were found at the suspect's home.
Local news stations have identified the suspect as a local attorney, but police would not comment on the his identify pending official identification from the medical examiner and notification of next of kin.
The preliminary investigation hasn't uncovered any links between the suspect and terrorist groups. But the Houston Police Department confirmed they did find personal items with Nazi emblems inside the suspect's car and home.
Between the suspect and the officers, officials say at least 75 bullets were fired, and they're still trying to determine where all the bullets ended up. Six of the nine victims have been treated and released, and doctors expect the three still in the hospital to survive.


This above episode again shows clear double-standards. I'm sure if the shooter was a Muslim, we would have heard of terrorism. But since the shooter is deemed a non-Muslim, at least as of now, that epithet is not used to describe the terrible terrorist crime.


We need a clear cut definition on what qualifies terrorism and what does not. Otherwise, usage of this term loosely, esp. for Muslim related crimes, is doing disservice to all.
==============
On Monday morning, the University of Michigan was hit with racist postings championing white supremacy inside of an academic building, and it's causing outrage on the campus.
A statement from the university's administration confirms the fliers were found at Haven and Mason halls on the UM Central Campus.
Students took to Twitter to post pictures of the fliers. One flier reads, "Why White Women Shouldn't Date Black Men," while a second flier, with a stop sign in the middle, tells "Euro-Americans" to stop "apologizing," "living in fear," and "denying (their) heritage." The bottom of the flier has the words "Alt Right," and the words "Be White."
The fliers went up just two days after several Michigan football players raised their fists during the national anthem on Saturday. It was the first time this season UM players participated in the protest movement sparked by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Last week, residents of a Pennsylvania town were shocked when they found fliers from the KKK as well as lollipops and rocks in bags on their property.
Jaimi Hajzus woke up on Saturday to a flurry of text messages from friends in her hometown who had found the fliers.
“Are there troubles in your neighborhood?” the fliers read. “Contact the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan today!”
The fliers also included an image of a KKK Klansman pointing a finger in the style of the old Uncle Sam recruitment posters along with the slogan: “You can sleep tonight knowing the Klan is awake.”
Hajzus said that the community members feel this is like the result of a new white supremacist cell, but they are unsure what to do about it just yet.
This isn’t the only community to have this problem, with reports of similar fliers being distributed on lawns all over the United States as other white supremacist cells are growing more emboldened.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

BJP's new strategy

Invoking Jan Sangh ideologue Deendayal Upadhyay, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday urged the BJP rank and file to empower the Muslims, Dalits, the poor and deprived.
Launching the year-long birth centenary celebrations of Upadhyay, Modi told a BJP conclave: “Fifty years ago, Deendayal Upadhyayji said Muslims should not be treated as different people. Do not reward them, do not rebuke them, but empower them. They should not be looked down nor should be treated as substance for votes, but consider them your own.”
Is the BJP having a new thought to win over Muslims in India?
Here is the latest news report on this subject.

34 Years After the Sabra-Shatila Massacre

Franklin Lamb volunteers with the Lebanon, France, and USA based Meals for Syrian Refugee Children Lebanon (MSRCL) which seeks to provide hot nutritional meals to Syrian and other refugee children in Lebanon.
He recently wrote, "Thirty four years after the 1982 Massacre at Sabra-Shatila, the dream of Return to Palestine endures, and the struggle for Full Return shall never die. Not until the victims of 34 years ago in Beirut, and all Palestinians martyred before and after the 1948 Nakba receive posthumous justice. Determination among Palestinians in Lebanon to Return exceeds their Despondency and Cynicism caused by injustice. And it gives rise to hope for a better future."
Here is his article on the Palestinian refugee camps.

On Giuliani - by David Rosen


Here is an article by Dave Rosen to know about Giuliani, former NY mayor, a Trump surrogate.

American Public Problem (revised version)


With the latest news of arrest of the suspect in Washington state, here below is the revised version. - Habib Siddiqui
============================

Too many things are going wrong inside the USA in this election year. On Friday night, a gunman killed four women and a man in a shooting at a Macy's store at Cascade Mall in Burlington, about 65 miles north of Seattle. After a massive manhunt, the suspect was arrested in Oak Harbor at around 6:30 p.m. on Saturday while walking down the street. He was identified as Arcan Cetin (20), an immigrant from Turkey — a legal permanent resident of the United States who lives in Oak Harbor, according to police. The Sheriff’s office described the suspect - "He was kind of zombie-like." He seems to be a mental health patient who faced three assault charges in domestic violence cases in 2014 (but not convicted). Officials previously said it appears the gunman, reportedly a Hispanic male wearing gray, acted alone and they have no indication it was terrorism. Now that the identity of Cetin is known, they are not ruling out bringing terrorism charges.

On the other hand, the act of Dahir Ahmed Adan, the Somali young man accused of going on a stabbing spree at a Minnesota mall over the last weekend is considered a terrorist act. The 20-year-old from St. Cloud allegedly stabbed 10 people before being shot dead by an off-duty police officer, ending what authorities called a "potential act of terrorism" at the mall Saturday (9/17/16). Fortunately, none of the 10 people wounded suffered life-threatening injuries. While an ISIS-affiliated media outlet claimed the attacker was a "soldier" of the terror group, no evidence has emerged to suggest ISIS or Daesh had a hand in planning or executing the attack.

In the meantime, recent police-involved shootings of the Blacks reveal that in spite of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s not much has changed. Violent protests have erupted in some parts of the USA centering the unnecessary death of Terrance Crutcher after his SUV stopped in a roadway last week. Crutcher can be seen with his hands raised above his head prior to his death. He walks away from the police officer towards his car. There was no weapon found in his car. Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby was charged last Thursday with felony manslaughter in the 1st degree for his murder.

Last Tuesday (9/20/16), Keith Lamont Scott, another Black man and a father of seven, was shot to death in Charlotte, NC, by another police officer, at an apartment complex parking lot. It has spurred protests in Charlotte over the past four nights with angry protesters chanting: "No tapes; no peace." Rioting killed one protester, shattered windows and rattled finance executives whose salaries boost the city's median income to $10,000 above the national average.

The status of the videos held by police -- body camera and dash-cam footage -- has been a point of contention between police and Scott's family, with authorities declining to release them throughout the week. However, a few minutes ago, this Saturday evening, a body-cam video has been released by the police (with the first 23 seconds of the audio silent). The other released dash-cam video shows the actual shooting. These two separate videos, however, fail to explain why Scott’s life was to be lost by police shooting.

Scott's widow released her cell phone recording of the shooting -- the first to be released publicly -- on Friday. "Don't shoot him. He has no weapon," Rakeyia Scott can be heard saying in the footage. The first portions of the shaky video appear to show a number of police officers surround a vehicle in a parking lot. Rakeyia Scott is heard saying, "He doesn't have a gun. He has a TBI (traumatic brain injury)." [Scott's family has said he was disabled after being in a near-death motorcycle crash last year.] She is also heard pleading with the police not to shoot her husband, "He's not going to do anything to you guys. He just took his medicine." And yet, he was killed, according to police, by an officer after Scott had failed to heed commands to drop a gun. His family has said he didn't have a gun. One wonders if this sad event be de-escalated!

Such ‘trigger-happy’ shootings are not uncommon in the USA. In the mid-1990s, as Charlotte pushed to become a world-class city, its leaders cracked down on crime with a heavy-handed police force. Longtime African-American residents remember James Cooper, a 19-year-old black man killed by a white officer in 1996 as he reached back in his car window during a traffic stop to check on his 4-year-old daughter. The officer said he thought he had a gun.

The black community has been left feeling justice was not served. Jonathan Ferrell was a 24-year-old unarmed black man shot 10 times by white officer Randall Kerrick. Ferrell had just crashed his car in a suburban neighborhood and banged on a neighbor's door looking for help. She (the neighbor), however, called 911.

Charlotte police charged Kerrick with voluntary manslaughter one day later. But the jury couldn't reach a unanimous verdict at his trial, and state prosecutors decided not to retry the case. There were peaceful protests then, which prompted headlines like, "How Charlotte Avoided Ferguson's Fate."

As the protesters marched in Charlotte this past week their pain has just been made worse by recent shootings in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and elsewhere.

This Saturday, President Obama officially opened the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in the capital that through thousands of artifacts captures the 400-year long history of African-Americans in this country.  He said the $540 million museum represented a "common journey towards freedom". "The very fact of this day does not prove that America is perfect, but it does validate the ideas of our founding - that this country born of change, of revolution, of we the people, that this country can get better."

Just as the lynching murder of Emmett Till in 1955, exhibited now in the museum, helped spark the civil rights movement, could the death of Crutcher and Scott spark a new movement in the 21st century? We may not know the answer yet.

There is little doubt, however, that America is polarized these days along racial and ethnic lines. Many whites, esp. southerners, have discovered their new messiah in Trump to transform ‘America great’ again! They are emboldened by the prospect of this casino and real estate mogul - whose well-known racism and bigotry that they have embraced - winning the coming presidential election. Their anger is often vented against minorities. And as you will notice below from my own experience the past week they are seemingly not ashamed of showing their ugly side.

I have been a frequent flyer for more than a decade. Last Monday, I was in an American Airlines flight (AA 5606) to Savannah, Georgia. The flight was late by almost two hours and I was hungry. During the flight, when the main cabin air-hostess, Nicole, was serving juice/drinks to the passengers, I asked her if I could buy snacks for my lunch. She replied that there was no snack available to sell. Minutes later, however, when she proceeded to serve a couple - who were sitting two rows in front of me – they asked of snacks to buy. Nicole told them that she could sell them for credit card only. When the couple said that they had only cash and no credit card, she did not mind giving them two lunch snack packs for free. I was simply stunned to see such a naked demonstration of bias from a white air-hostess!

My return flight AA 5606 to Philadelphia was on time last Friday. However, during my flight I encountered the same discrimination from another white air-hostess (who was assigned to the first class cabin). After serving the first class cabin passengers, she came to assist her colleague serving drinks and cookies/pretzels in the main cabin where I was seated in an aisle seat. She asked the passengers on my both sides about their choice, but ignored me totally, as if I did not exist. Then she went on to serve rows behind me, while I stared at her with disbelief. When she was returning to the first class cabin, I asked her for the reason of ignoring me. She replied, “You were sleeping.” I could not believe that she would tell a lie to excuse her unprofessional behavior; I was all awake and occasionally was glancing at her – hoping that she would ask me about my choice of fruit juice. She did not apologize for her rude behavior.

What’s America coming to these days? As a frequent flyer with the American Airlines, I probably need to rethink my choice of flying American the next time I travel.

But more importantly, American citizens need to come to grips with the ugly reality that is poisoning their environment. Anger is building up on all sides, and sometimes it is oozing out unpleasantly.

Many White Americans, especially those living in the southern states feel that ultra-liberal values of the powerful and vocal 1% - living mostly in the northeastern and the western states - have been pushed down the throats of the ‘silent’ 99% to digest. They are upset with the Obama administration for passing such controversial laws. Many white conservatives, including women, are thus flocking to Trump’s camp in spite of the latter’s sexist and degrading remarks about women. The ‘rigged’ politics of yesteryears – run by and for the politicians – is challenged by their new avatar – a shrewd and immoral businessman - who is making them dream for a better future. They are dismissive of Trump’s fascist leanings and are willing to take a chance with him to ‘fix’ things and make ‘America great’ again. They are equally oblivious of the fact that demagogues rise to power on the backs of workers, citizens, and average “Joe” or “Jane.”

For the minority blacks, the distrust of the police runs very deep. They continue to be racially profiled by the police and are harassed routinely. Obama’s presidency has not made much of a difference in their lives. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, notes, “When people work two jobs but don't make enough to own a home, they get discouraged, and seeing video after video of black men dying makes them lose hope and start to wonder if they matter to society.” Under such circumstances, as we have noticed with the army veteran Micah Johnson in Dallas this summer, some will fight back, and kill before getting killed.

Some highly vulnerable youths are disturbed by the news of daily violence in the TV and the Internet that they read or see faced by their fellow people in war-torn countries. Some are self-radicalized by propaganda messages that incite them to choose death over life.

Many minorities, esp., Muslims, have lost jobs in recent months as a result of America’s untiring and noxious heritage of hatred, discrimination, racism and bigotry. As psychologists would say it won’t be irrational to suspect that the terrorist acts of guys like Mateen, Adan and Rahami (and even Tamerlane Tsarnaev) were motivated more by their uncontrolled resentment at losing jobs than any ideology. The ‘land of opportunity’ had simply failed them to earn an honest living!

Sociologist Charles Kurzman has recently stated in the USA Today (September 22, 2016) that terror fears are out of proportion to risks. Since 9/11, only 118 people in the USA became victims of terrorism - perpetrated by Muslims. In the same 15-year period more than 230,000 Americans have been murdered by their fellow Americans; thus, terrorist victims of Muslims accounted for only 0.05%. Yet, because of American obsession with terrorism, Muslims are demonized for the crimes of the few in their rank.

Trump, like many of the ultra-right, anti-immigrant, racist and bigot leaders of our time, has been able to exploit their worst fears and emotions. But, is Trump to be blamed solely for his evil tactics?

“America, truly, has more than a ‘Donald Trump’ problem. More ominously, we have an American public problem,” argues Anthony DiMaggio, an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Lehigh University, “that cuts to the very core of the quality of our democracy.” “If Donald Trump is enjoying electoral success, it’s because the public – passively or actively – allowed it to happen. What makes Trump’s case more disturbing than the norm of across-the-board voter ignorance is that such a large contingent of Americans know full-well about his bigotry, and embrace it. The ascendance of Donald Trump tells us much about the quality of American character – particularly about our enduring and toxic legacy of hate, ignorance, bigotry, and white-supremacy," writes Anthony DiMaggio.

White supremacy never disappeared from America’s political culture, and DiMaggio opines that hate culture has returned with all its ugliness.

To understand the depth of the American public problem, just consider the facts below.

Public Policy Polling (PPP) found that in August 2015, 54 percent of Republicans, and 61 percent of Trump supporters still believed Obama was born in another. In May 2016, a PPP poll found 65 percent of Trump supporters said Obama was a Muslim and 59 percent said he was born outside the U.S.

A Reuters-Ipsos June 2016 survey, for example, found that 58 percent of Trump supporters said they held a “somewhat unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” view of Islam. This type of blanket hatred is troublesome when Pew Research Center polling finds that the vast majority of American Muslims reject terrorism, and hold moderate, rather than extreme political values. A Texas Policy Project poll from June 2016 also found that 76 percent of Republicans “somewhat supported” or “strongly supported” a blanket ban of Muslims from entering the U.S.

Seventy percent of Republicans agreed in an August 2016 Pew survey that “undocumented immigrants are more likely to commit serious crimes.” This view persists, despite statistics from the Public Policy Institute of California concluding that immigrants actually commit fewer crimes than U.S. citizens.

Reuters polling from June 2016 finds that nearly half of Trump supporters agree that African Americans are more “violent” and “criminal” than whites. Similarly, 40 percent say African Americans are more “lazy” than whites. These findings are prominent on the reactionary right, despite social scientists’ longstanding findings that race is not a significant predictor of Americans’ level of commitment to work, or hours worked, and despite the reality that the vast majority of whites, African Americans, and Hispanics are employed.

American public problem can only be defeated by restoring American sanity. And American sanity cannot be restored in the vacuum. It needs tangible results that better the life of ordinary people of all races and religions. The media have a serious role to bust those popular myths that are at the heart of the American public problem, propagated by hateful hosts and preachers that want Americans to embrace fascism over democracy, division or segregation over unity, and supremacy over equal rights for all. The results of the November election will show how well they have succeeded in this crucial task.

Macy's store shooter identified


Police said Arcan Cetin (20) was arrested in Oak Harbor at around 6:30 p.m. (Saturday night) while walking down the street — one night after the shooting at Burlington's Cascade Mall sparked a massive search for the suspect.
The tragedy unfolded on Friday night at the Macy's department store. Security footage showed the suspect entering the mall, apparently without a weapon. Footage from about 10 minutes later showed him entering Macy's with a rifle and firing "multiple times," Mount Vernon police Lt. Chris Cammock said.
Four female victims were pronounced dead that evening, and a male victim later died at a local hospital.
A motive in the shooting is still under investigation, Cammock, part of a multi-agency task force, said at a news conference Saturday night. When asked whether authorities were considering terrorism as a possible motive, Cammock said he wasn't ruling anything out. However, he cautioned that it was "just too early to tell" and said his response doesn't mean the investigation is going in that direction. Officials previously said it appears the gunman acted alone and they have no indication it was terrorism.
Cetin — an immigrant from Turkey — is a legal permanent resident of the United States and lives in Oak Harbor, according to police. He was arrested in Island County last year on a case of simple assault.
Cammock said investigators are in touch with Cetin's family and police have a good working relationship with them.
As I hinted in my earlier article, as long as the shooter was considered a Hispanic or non-Muslim, terrorism was not considered. But now that he is from Turkey, and may actually be a Muslim, quickly the talk of terrorism has emerged.
What do you call this attitude - double standards?

Saturday, September 24, 2016

American Public Problem


Too many things are going wrong inside the USA in this election year. People are harassed and discriminated based on their ethnicity, religion and color. Many minorities are losing jobs simply because of looking different.
On Friday night, a Hispanic gunman killed four women and a man in a shooting at a Macy's store at Cascade Mall in Burlington, about 65 miles north of Seattle. He remains at large, police said. There was no immediate motive but no indication that the event was terror related, apparently because the shooter is considered a non-Muslim.
On the other hand, the act of Dahir Ahmed Adan, the Somali young man accused of going on a stabbing spree at a Minnesota mall over the last weekend is considered a terrorist act. The 20-year-old from St. Cloud allegedly stabbed 10 people before being shot dead by an off-duty police officer, ending what authorities called a "potential act of terrorism" at the mall Saturday (9/17/16). Fortunately, none of the 10 people wounded suffered life-threatening injuries. While an ISIS-affiliated media outlet claimed the attacker was a "soldier" of the terror group, no evidence has emerged to suggest ISIS or Daesh had a hand in planning or executing the attack.
In the meantime, recent police-involved shootings of the Blacks reveal that in spite of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s not much has changed. Violent protests have erupted in some parts of the USA centering the unnecessary death of Terrance Crutcher after his SUV stopped in a roadway last week. Crutcher can be seen with his hands raised above his head prior to his death. He walks away from the police officer towards his car. There was no weapon found in his car. Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby was charged last Thursday with felony manslaughter in the 1st degree for his murder.
Last Tuesday (9/20/16), Keith Lamont Scott, another Black man and a father of seven, was shot to death in Charlotte, NC, by another police officer, at an apartment complex parking lot. It has spurred protests in Charlotte over the past four nights with angry protesters chanting: "No tapes; no peace." Rioting killed one protester, shattered windows and rattled finance executives whose salaries boost the city's median income to $10,000 above the national average.
The status of the videos held by police -- body camera and dash-cam footage -- has been a point of contention between police and Scott's family, with authorities declining to release them throughout the week. However, a few minutes ago, this Saturday evening, a body-cam video has been released by the police (with the first 23 seconds of the audio silent). The other released dash-cam video shows the actual shooting. These two separate videos, however, fail to explain why Scott’s life was to be lost by police shooting.
Scott's widow released her cell phone recording of the shooting -- the first to be released publicly -- on Friday. "Don't shoot him. He has no weapon," Rakeyia Scott can be heard saying in the footage. The first portions of the shaky video appear to show a number of police officers surround a vehicle in a parking lot. Rakeyia Scott is heard saying, "He doesn't have a gun. He has a TBI (traumatic brain injury)." [Scott's family has said he was disabled after being in a near-death motorcycle crash last year.] She is also heard pleading with the police not to shoot her husband, "He's not going to do anything to you guys. He just took his medicine." And yet, he was killed, according to police, by an officer after Scott had failed to heed commands to drop a gun. His family has said he didn't have a gun. One wonders if this sad event be de-escalated!
Such ‘trigger-happy’ shootings are not uncommon in the USA. In the mid-1990s, as Charlotte pushed to become a world-class city, its leaders cracked down on crime with a heavy-handed police force. Longtime African-American residents remember James Cooper, a 19-year-old black man killed by a white officer in 1996 as he reached back in his car window during a traffic stop to check on his 4-year-old daughter. The officer said he thought he had a gun.
The black community has been left feeling justice was not served. Jonathan Ferrell was a 24-year-old unarmed black man shot 10 times by white officer Randall Kerrick. Ferrell had just crashed his car in a suburban neighborhood and banged on a neighbor's door looking for help. She (the neighbor), however, called 911.
Charlotte police charged Kerrick with voluntary manslaughter one day later. But the jury couldn't reach a unanimous verdict at his trial, and state prosecutors decided not to retry the case. There were peaceful protests then, which prompted headlines like, "How Charlotte Avoided Ferguson's Fate."
As the protesters marched in Charlotte this past week their pain has just been made worse by recent shootings in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and elsewhere.
This Saturday, President Obama officially opened the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in the capital that through thousands of artifacts captures the 400-year long history of African-Americans in this country.  He said the $540 million museum represented a "common journey towards freedom". "The very fact of this day does not prove that America is perfect, but it does validate the ideas of our founding - that this country born of change, of revolution, of we the people, that this country can get better."
Just as the lynching murder of Emmett Till in 1955, exhibited now in the museum, helped spark the civil rights movement, could the death of Crutcher and Scott spark a new movement in the 21st century? We may not know the answer yet.
There is little doubt, however, that America is polarized these days along racial and ethnic lines. Many whites, esp. southerners, have discovered their new messiah in Trump to transform ‘America great’ again! They are emboldened by the prospect of this casino and real estate mogul - whose well-known racism and bigotry that they have embraced - winning the coming presidential election. Their anger is often vented against minorities. And as you will notice below from my own experience the past week they are seemingly not ashamed of showing their ugly side.
I have been a frequent flyer for more than a decade. Last Monday, I was in an American Airlines flight (AA 5606) to Savannah, Georgia. The flight was late by almost two hours and I was hungry. During the flight, when the main cabin air-hostess, Nicole, was serving juice/drinks to the passengers, I asked her if I could buy snacks for my lunch. She replied that there was no snack available to sell. Minutes later, however, when she proceeded to serve a couple - who were sitting two rows in front of me – they asked of snacks to buy. Nicole told them that she could sell them for credit card only. When the couple said that they had only cash and no credit card, she did not mind giving them two lunch snack packs for free. I was simply stunned to see such a naked demonstration of bias from a white air-hostess!
My return flight AA 5606 to Philadelphia was on time last Friday. However, during my flight I encountered the same discrimination from another white air-hostess (who was assigned to the first class cabin). After serving the first class cabin passengers, she came to assist her colleague serving drinks and cookies/pretzels in the main cabin where I was seated in an aisle seat. She asked the passengers on my both sides about their choice, but ignored me totally, as if I did not exist. Then she went on to serve rows behind me, while I stared at her with disbelief. When she was returning to the first class cabin, I asked her for the reason of ignoring me. She replied, “You were sleeping.” I could not believe that she would tell a lie to excuse her unprofessional behavior; I was all awake and occasionally was glancing at her – hoping that she would ask me about my choice of fruit juice. She did not apologize for her rude behavior.
What’s America coming to these days? As a frequent flyer with the American Airlines, I probably need to rethink my choice of flying American the next time I travel.
But more importantly, American citizens need to come to grips with the ugly reality that is poisoning their environment. Anger is building up on all sides, and sometimes it is oozing out unpleasantly.
Many White Americans, especially those living in the southern states feel that ultra-liberal values of the powerful and vocal 1% - living mostly in the northeastern and the western states - have been pushed down the throats of the ‘silent’ 99% to digest. They are upset with the Obama administration for passing such controversial laws. Many white conservatives, including women, are thus flocking to Trump’s camp in spite of the latter’s sexist and degrading remarks about women. The ‘rigged’ politics of yesteryears – run by and for the politicians – is challenged by their new avatar – a shrewd and immoral businessman - who is making them dream for a better future. They are dismissive of Trump’s fascist leanings and are willing to take a chance with him to ‘fix’ things and make ‘America great’ again. They are equally oblivious of the fact that demagogues rise to power on the backs of workers, citizens, and average “Joe” or “Jane.”
For the minority blacks, the distrust of the police runs very deep. They continue to be racially profiled by the police and are harassed routinely. Obama’s presidency has not made much of a difference in their lives. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, notes, “When people work two jobs but don't make enough to own a home, they get discouraged, and seeing video after video of black men dying makes them lose hope and start to wonder if they matter to society.” Under such circumstances, as we have noticed with the army veteran Micah Johnson in Dallas this summer, some will fight back, and kill before getting killed.
Some highly vulnerable youths are disturbed by the news of daily violence in the TV and the Internet that they read or see faced by their fellow people in war-torn countries. Some are self-radicalized by propaganda messages that incite them to choose death over life.
Many minorities, esp., Muslims, have lost jobs in recent months as a result of America’s untiring and noxious heritage of hatred, discrimination, racism and bigotry. As psychologists would say it won’t be irrational to suspect that the terrorist acts of guys like Mateen, Adan and Rahami (and even Tamerlane Tsarnaev) were motivated more by their uncontrolled resentment at losing jobs than any ideology. The ‘land of opportunity’ had simply failed them to earn an honest living!
Sociologist Charles Kurzman has recently stated in the USA Today (September 22, 2016) that terror fears are out of proportion to risks. Since 9/11, only 118 people in the USA became victims of terrorism - perpetrated by Muslims. In the same 15-year period more than 230,000 Americans have been murdered by their fellow Americans; thus, terrorist victims of Muslims accounted for only 0.05%. Yet, because of American obsession with terrorism, Muslims are demonized for the crimes of the few in their rank.
Trump, like many of the ultra-right, anti-immigrant, racist and bigot leaders of our time, has been able to exploit their worst fears and emotions. But, is Trump to be blamed solely for his evil tactics?
“America, truly, has more than a ‘Donald Trump’ problem. More ominously, we have an American public problem,” argues Anthony DiMaggio, an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Lehigh University, “that cuts to the very core of the quality of our democracy.” “If Donald Trump is enjoying electoral success, it’s because the public – passively or actively – allowed it to happen. What makes Trump’s case more disturbing than the norm of across-the-board voter ignorance is that such a large contingent of Americans know full-well about his bigotry, and embrace it. The ascendance of Donald Trump tells us much about the quality of American character – particularly about our enduring and toxic legacy of hate, ignorance, bigotry, and white-supremacy," writes Anthony DiMaggio.
White supremacy never disappeared from America’s political culture, and DiMaggio opines that hate culture has returned with all its ugliness.
To understand the depth of the American public problem, just consider the facts below.
Public Policy Polling (PPP) found that in August 2015, 54 percent of Republicans, and 61 percent of Trump supporters still believed Obama was born in another. In May 2016, a PPP poll found 65 percent of Trump supporters said Obama was a Muslim and 59 percent said he was born outside the U.S.
A Reuters-Ipsos June 2016 survey, for example, found that 58 percent of Trump supporters said they held a “somewhat unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” view of Islam. This type of blanket hatred is troublesome when Pew Research Center polling finds that the vast majority of American Muslims reject terrorism, and hold moderate, rather than extreme political values. A Texas Policy Project poll from June 2016 also found that 76 percent of Republicans “somewhat supported” or “strongly supported” a blanket ban of Muslims from entering the U.S.
Seventy percent of Republicans agreed in an August 2016 Pew survey that “undocumented immigrants are more likely to commit serious crimes.” This view persists, despite statistics from the Public Policy Institute of California concluding that immigrants actually commit fewer crimes than U.S. citizens.
Reuters polling from June 2016 finds that nearly half of Trump supporters agree that African Americans are more “violent” and “criminal” than whites. Similarly, 40 percent say African Americans are more “lazy” than whites. These findings are prominent on the reactionary right, despite social scientists’ longstanding findings that race is not a significant predictor of Americans’ level of commitment to work, or hours worked, and despite the reality that the vast majority of whites, African Americans, and Hispanics are employed.
American public problem can only be defeated by restoring American sanity. And American sanity cannot be restored in the vacuum. It needs tangible results that better the life of ordinary people of all races and religions. The media have a serious role to bust those popular myths that are at the heart of the American public problem, propagated by hateful hosts and preachers that want Americans to embrace fascism over democracy, division or segregation over unity, and supremacy over equal rights for all. The results of the November election will show how well they have succeeded in this crucial task.

The UN must stop war crimes in Syria and help the White Helmets


Syrian people are killed by the terrorist government of Bashar al-Assad who drops barrel bombs on its people without any regard for human life. As I write, Assad's forces and Russian air force are pounding the city of Aleppo with bombs and missiles for the last three days. The White Helmet, a voluntary organization of first responders, are finding their task almost impossible to do under such a situation.
When the bombs rain down, the volunteers of the Syrian Civil Defence rush in. In a place where public services no longer function these unarmed volunteers risk their lives to help anyone in need - regardless of their religion or politics. Known as the White Helmets these volunteer rescue workers operate in the most dangerous place on earth.
As the conflict in Syria worsens, ordinary people are paying the highest price. More than 50 bombs and mortars a day land on some neighborhoods in Syria. Many are rusty barrels filled with nails and explosives, rolled out the back of government helicopters -- bakeries and markets are the most commonly hit targets. When this happens the White Helmets rush in to search for life in the rubble - fully aware that more bombs may fall on the same site. These volunteers have saved 60,000 lives - and this number is growing daily.
"Barrel bombs - sometimes filled with chlorine - are the biggest killer of civilians in Syria today. Our unarmed and neutral rescue workers have saved more than 60,000 people from the attacks in Syria, but there are many we cannot reach. There are children trapped in rubble we cannot hear. For them, the UN Security Council must follow through on its demand to stop the barrel bombs, by introducing a 'no-fly zone' if necessary." - Raed Saleh, head of the White Helmets, the Syrian Civil Defence.
The UN and its security council must stop the war crimes of the Syrian government so that civilian lives are secure.

Halt demolition of mosques in Burma


Eleven Rohingya organizations have called on the Rakhine State government not to destroy mosques, Muslim schools, and Rohingya houses that the State claims have been built illegally. (See below for their joint statement,)
In a joint statement on September 23, the groups said they “strongly condemned the Arakan (Rakhine) State government’s plans to demolish more than 3000 Rohingyas’ buildings, including 12 mosques and 35 madrasas, in the townships of Maungdaw and Buthidaung, under the pretext of illegal construction.”
The announcement of the demolition order on 18 September has caused consternation to the entire Rohingya community. 
They claimed the “demolition project is part of their long-drawn-out annihilation and ethnic cleansing policy of the defenceless Rohingya people.”
According to their statement, they said this was “a joint conspiracy of the Arakan State government and Rakhine Buddhist extremist leaders to destabilize the situation in the territory with intentions to frustrate any attempts to bring about peace and stability in Arakan and produce more internally displaced Rohingyas to be housed in apartheid-like concentration camps also in Maungdaw district.”
Concern was expressed that these actions did not match the words of the Myanmar government.
“It is surprising that this sinister design was announced at a time when the State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, in her first address to the 71st U.N. General Assembly, was defending her government’s effort to resolve the crisis over treatment of the Rohingya or Muslim minority by pointing out to the establishment of an advisory commission for Arakan State chaired by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan at the same time assuring that everybody in Arakan would be safe and secure,” the statement said.
==========
We, the undersigned organizations, strongly condemned the Arakan (Rakhine) State government’s plans to demolish more than 3000 Rohingyas’ buildings, including 12 mosques and 35 madrasas, in the townships of Maungdaw and Buthidaung, under the pretext of illegal construction.

The announcement of the demolition order on 18 September by Arakan State’s Security and Border Affairs Minister Col. Htein Lin at Maungdaw, which was reaffirmed by Maungdaw District General Administrator U Ye Htut, has caused consternation to the entire Rohingya community. This demolition project is part of their long-drawn-out annihilation and ethnic cleansing policy of the defenseless Rohingya people.

It is a joint conspiracy of the Arakan State government and Rakhine Buddhist extremist leaders to destabilize the situation in the territory with intentions to frustrate any attempts to bring about peace and stability in Arakan and produce more internally displaced Rohingyas to be housed in apartheid-like concentration camps also in Maungdaw district.

It is surprising that this sinister design was announced at a time when the State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, in her first address to the 71st U.N. General Assembly, was defending her government’s effort to resolve the crisis over treatment of the Rohingya or Muslim minority by pointing out to the establishment of an advisory commission for Arakan State chaired by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan at the same time assuring that everybody in Arakan would be safe and secure.
Since Ne Win’s military rule in 1962, the basic rights and freedoms of the Rohingya have been severely restricted subjecting them to systematic ethnic, religious and political persecution that amount to crimes against humanity and slow genocide resulting in their deaths, massive destruction of their settlements and holy places of worship causing unprecedented refugee influxes into Bangladesh and other places as witnessed in 1988 and 1991-92.

Since the establishment of NaSaKa border task force in 1992 in north Arakan no building can be built or extended without permission from the authorities. Even to repair and fence the housing, permission is necessary. Building mosques and madrassa has been long stopped whereas intermittent but planned destructions of Islamic edifices and holy places of worship have been regular phenomenon all over Arakan. The famous Sandhi Khan Mosque of historical importance built by Muslim army at Mintayabyin, Mrauk-U in 1433 A.D was also destroyed by Gen. Khin Nyunt in 1992.

The deadly violence and genocidal onslaughts occurred and reoccurred from June 2012 in Arakan against the Rohingya minority have claimed many hundreds of Muslim lives, left over 160,000 of them homeless, forced thousands of them to take dangerous voyages by rackety boats towards Southeast Asian countries where a number of them were drowned or ended up in human- traffickers’ mass graves.

In spite of all these happenings the Arakan State government has no conscience about its lying and cruelty against Rohingya on grounds of their ethnicity and religion. The alleged existence of any illegal buildings is unfounded and politically motivated since their construction could not have been possible without approval of the concerned authorities.

It is important that international community have to take effective collective action in time to protect the Muslim Rohingya people in Arakan, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. Or otherwise this unprotected minority community will be wiped out.

We, therefore, request the international community, United Nations, OIC, EU, ASEAN, US and UK to put pressure on NLD-led government:

(1) To stop forthwith the plans to demolish mosques, madrasas and Rohingyas’ buildings or structures in Arakan under the pretext of illegal construction.
(2)  To ensure freedom of religion and worship, protection of religious sites, and to immediately restore all basic freedoms, including freedom of movement, marriage, education, healthcare and peaceful-living, and to lift all aid restrictions in Rakhine/Arakan State.

(3)  To end all persecution and ghettoization and to immediately rehabilitate and reintegrate all IDPs in their original places and properties.
 
Meanwhile, we urge upon the international community to support a UN Commission of Inquiry into the atrocity crimes against Rohingya and other Burmese people in order to publicly announce its findings and bring the perpetrators to justice.



Signatories;

1.      Arakan Rohingya National Organisation

2.      Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK

3.      Bradford Rohingya Community in UK

4.      Burmese Rohingya Community in Denmark

5.      Rohingya Community in Germany

6.      Rohingya Community in Switzerland

7.      Rohingya Organisation Norway

8.      Rohingya Community in Finland

9.      Rohingya Community in Italy

10.  Rohingya Community in Sweden

11.  Rohingya Society Netherlands