Monday, October 31, 2016

French role in Nazi internment of Gypsies

President Francois Hollande on Saturday acknowledged the French state’s role in the Nazi persecution of French Gypsies held in Nazi internment camps during World War II.
France’s collaborationist Vichy regime helped deport tens of thousands Jews to death camps and send thousands of Gypsies to internment camps. It wasn’t until 1995 that then-President Jacques Chirac acknowledged the French state’s role in the Holocaust, and on Saturday, Hollande called attention to the Gypsies’ plight.
To read the full news, click here.

Myanmar Army attacks on Rohingya villagers - no longer a myth


Just five months after her party took power, Myanmar’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is facing international pressure over recent reports that soldiers have been killing, raping and burning homes of the country’s long-persecuted Rohingya Muslims. 
          The US state department joined activist and aid groups in raising concerns about new reports of rape and murder, while satellite imagery released on Monday by Human Rights Watch shows that at least three villages in the western state of Rakhine have been burned.
Myanmar government officials deny the reports of attacks, and presidential spokesman Zaw Htay said on Monday that United Nations (UN) representatives should visit “and see the actual situation in that region”. The government has long made access to the region a challenge, generally banning foreign aid workers and journalists.
But the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, said serious violations, including torture, summary executions, arbitrary arrests and destruction of mosques and homes, threaten the country’s fledgling democracy.
“The big picture is that the government does not seem to have any influence over the military,” said Chris Lewa, director of the Arakan Project, an advocacy group that focuses on the Rohingya. Myanmar’s widely criticized constitution was designed to give the armed forces power and independence.
A three-week surge in violence by the military was prompted by the killings of nine police officers at border posts on 9 October in Rakhine, home to Myanmar’s 800,000 Rohingya. There have been no arrests, and a formerly unknown Islamist militant group has taken responsibility.
Although they have lived in Myanmar for generations, Rohingya are barred from citizenship in the nation of 50 million, and instead live as some of the most oppressed people in the world. Since communal violence broke out in 2012, more than 100,000 people have been driven from their homes to live in squalid camps guarded by police. Some have tried to flee by boat, but many ended up becoming victims of human trafficking or were held for ransom.
When Suu Kyi’s party was elected earlier this year after more than five decades of military rule, the political shift offered a short, tense window of peace. But that quickly ended as the former political prisoner and champion of human rights failed to clamp down on military atrocities.
The current crackdown has prompted an estimated 15,000 people in the Rakhine area to flee their homes in the past few weeks. The satellite images from Human Rights Watch show villages burning, and residents report food supplies are growing scarce as they are living under siege.
US ambassador Scot Marciel has urged Myanmar’s foreign ministry to investigate the allegations of attacks and restore access for humanitarian groups trying to help.
“We take reports of abuses very seriously,” said US Embassy spokesman Jamie Ravetz in Yangon, Myanmar. “We have raised concerns with senior government officials and continue to urge the government to be transparent, follow the rule of law, and respect the human rights of all people in responding to the original attacks and subsequent reports of abuses.”
Families in Rakhine depend largely on humanitarian aid for food and health care, but that support has been cut off for weeks by officials who will not allow outsiders into the region. A government-sponsored delegation of aid agencies and foreign diplomats was supposed to visit the region on Monday, but local officials said they hadn’t seen anyone yet, and have not been informed they were coming.
“The government should end its blanket denial of wrongdoing and blocking of aid agencies, and stop making excuses for keeping international monitors from the area,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

Burma: Satellite Images confirm Fire-Damaged Rohingya Villages

New Satellite imagery shows evident fire-related destruction in at least three villages in Burma's northern Rakhine State, Human Rights Watch said today. The Burmese government should urgently allow the United Nations to assist in investigating reported destruction of villages in the area. A government-chaperoned delegation of UN aid agencies and foreign diplomats is expected to visit the area on October 31, 2016, marking the first time international aid agencies have been allowed into the area since October 9, although it is unclear whether they will have full access to affected villages.
A UN-assisted investigation needs to examine the deadly attacks on border guard posts on October 9, and allegations that government security forces subsequently committed summary killings, sexual violence, arson, and other rights abuses against ethnic Rohingya villagers in Rakhine State’s Maungdaw district, Human Rights Watch said.
“New satellite images reveal destruction in Rakhine State that demands an impartial and independent investigation, something the Burmese government has yet to show it’s capable of doing,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The government should end its blanket denial of wrongdoing and blocking of aid agencies, and stop making excuses for keeping international monitors from the area.”  
Human Rights Watch’s review of high-resolution satellite imagery recorded on the morning of October 22 identified multiple areas of probable building destruction in the villages of Kyet Yoe Pyin, Pyaung Pyit (Ngar Sar Kyu), and Wa Peik (Kyee Kan Pyin), in the Maungdaw district. Damage signatures visible in the imagery are consistent with the presence of large burn scars from fires in each of the villages.
Human Rights Watch also reviewed thermal anomaly data collected by an environmental satellite sensor that detected the presence of multiple fires burning in the village of Wa Peik (Kyee Kan Pyin) on October 9 and the village of Kyet Yoe Pyin on October 14.
The discovery of active fires and large burn scars in these villages is consistent with arson attacks reported in Maungdaw district since October 9 by Rohingya groups, human rights organizations, and media accounts quoting witnesses to the violence. Because of limits in the spatial resolution of available satellite imagery and dense tree cover, the exact number of buildings destroyed is uncertain, and the actual damage in Maungdaw may have been underestimated. Human Rights Watch will conduct a revised assessment when more detailed satellite imagery becomes available.
On October 9, gunmen attacked three police outposts in Maungdaw township near the Bangladesh border, reportedly leaving nine police officers dead. The government said that the attackers made off with dozens of weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition. The Burmese government asserts the attack was carried out by a Rohingya group, but actual responsibility remains unclear.
Immediately after the attacks, government forces declared Maungdaw an “operation zone” and began sweeps of the area to find the attackers and lost weapons. They severely restricted the freedom of movement of local populations and imposed extended curfews, which remain in place. Humanitarian aid groups have also been denied access, placing tens of thousands of already vulnerable people at greater risk.
Media and local rights groups have reported numerous human rights abuses against Rohingya following the attack, including extrajudicial killings, rape, torture, arbitrary arrests, and burning of homes. On October 28, Reuters published interviews with Rohingya women who allege they were raped by Burmese soldiers. Government-imposed restrictions on access to the area by journalists and human rights monitors continue to hinder impartial information gathering.
Burma’s army, known as the Tatmadaw, has a long history of abuses, including arbitrary arrest, beatings, torture, sexual abuse and rape, extrajudicial killings, and use of forced labor. Army commanders and soldiers who have committed serious abuses against civilians during operations have enjoyed almost total impunity.  
Burma is obligated under international law to conduct thorough, prompt, and impartial investigations of alleged human rights violations, prosecute those responsible, and provide adequate redress for victims of violations. Standards for such investigations can be found, for example, in the UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, and the UN Guidance on Commissions of Inquiry and Fact-Finding Missions. Burma’s failure to conduct such investigations in the past underscores the need for UN assistance, Human Rights Watch said.


“These satellite images of village destruction could be the tip of the iceberg given the grave abuses being reported,” Robertson said. “The Burmese government has a responsibility to hold accountable both the perpetrators of the October 9 attacks against state officials, and government security forces who committed – and may still be committing – serious abuses in pursuit of those attackers.” 


Children recycle goods from the ruins of a market which was set on fire at a Rohingya village outside Maugndaw in Rakhine state, Myanmar, October 27, 2016.




Burma sat 1

Homes of Religious Minorities burnt in Madhya Pradesh of India

A series of communal incidents in Madhya Pradesh has raised the question about the security of Muslims. In all these incidents Muslims were the main targets.
According to the findings of a team of All India Secular Forum more than 40 houses and about the same number of shops owned by Muslims were set on fire. Besides destroying the houses and shops the culprits also looted the belongings in houses and various commodities stored in shops.
The destruction was total. According to the report submitted to the Director General of Police the scene in the burnt houses and shops was such as if it was the handiwork of army of an enemy country.
The two villages of Dhar district where arson and loot took place are Gandhwani and Pipalya. The incidents of arson and loot took place on October 12. The affected families related the sequence of events. According to villagers there was a disputed ground which was used by Hindu right wing organisations for religious activities. Some Muslims organisations objected to the misuse of the area. In order to close the controversy the administration in consultation with people belonging to both the communities a police chowki was set up on the land. Despite this the RSS, Bajrangdal installed Ganesh idol later Durga idol on the disputed land. Representatives of Muslim organisations objected recalling that the decision to set up a police chowki was taken at the meeting of "Shanti Samiti". It was also pointed out that Ganesh and Durga idols were installed on a government land where police chowki was already set up. It was also violation of the unanimous decision taken at the meeting of "shanti samiti".
The local administration ignored the objection and the misuse of the govt. land. On the muharram day a tajia procession was taken out. The procession stopped near the chowki. During its stop a rumour was spread that some Muslims insulted the "Havan Kund" which was still there. After this Hindu group started attacking the people of tajia procession. The other party retaliated. During the clash a Hindu young man received serious injuries on his hand. Some Muslim also received injuries.  After this clash thousands of Hindus belonging to the RSS affiliated groups started attacks on Muslims shops and houses. After setting shops on fire in Gandhwani the violent crowd entered Pipalya village and set many houses on fire.
In order to escape the fury of the violent crowd residents left their houses to the destiny. This gave freehand to the crowd which burnt everything in the houses and took away T.V. set, refrigerators and other valuable things like ornaments, food grains, clothes, beddings, children's, books, furniture, Quran Sharif. In fact nothing was left. Valuable clothes and ornaments stored for the forthcoming marriages of young girls were either looted or destroyed. The most interesting thing is all this happened in the presence of police. The team noted that Hindu organisations have adopted a unique method to collect crowd at a short notice. A siren was installed in a multi-storey building.
That night also siren was blown thrice which alerted residents of the nearby villages. The team was informed that night a poet-gathering was on in a nearly village. Hundreds of people were enjoying the Kavi Sammelan. The moment they heard siren they rushed to Pipalya and Gandhwani and started attacking Muslim houses and shops. Many women and children who were still under shock told the team members sordid stories of the violent mood of the crowd. The crowd attacked every Muslim they came across. One woman told that it War like situation. Members of the crowd were hurling choicest abuses like "why you are here go to Pakistan, you traitors".
Another interesting development is that the police officer who did make sincere efforts to control situation was punished. A team of two BJP members of Parliament was sent to these villages and also to Petlawad where earlier communal violence was let loose. It was also on the basis of their report that police personnel were punished perhaps because they did not allow situation to take explosive turn.
A local newspaper (DB Post) carried a special report contributed by N.K. Singh former editor of Hindustan times and Bhaskar with the title "This govt. needs more spine". According to this report "A series of incidents over the past few weeks have sent alarm signals in administrative circles. The RSS, the “social, cultural” organisation, has come into direct conflict with the police on several occasions. With the RSS winning every single round of the skirmish, the consequences are disastrous for the morale of the force. The Congress has lost no time in alleging that the RSS has become an extra-constitutional authority.
"The RSS, in its role as the moral watchdog, has a larger than life presence in MP as in other BJP ruled states. After all, it is linked by umbilical cord to the Sangh. Those ties are so important for the BJP that it had sacrificed power in the 70s over the issue of “dual membership”. In its role as housekeeper, the RSS manages BJP organisation through its full-time workers.
"Hence, although it was unprecedented, but not a huge surprise when nine policemen were booked for attempt to murder, robbery and rioting after they allegedly beat up a RSS Pracharak at Baihar in Balaghat district last month. Many of these policemen are now absconding to avoid arrest. A Pracharak, a whole-time worker, is as important as they come in the Sangh parivar. Balaghat case is a bit different. The police seem to have exceeded its brief. There was no serious charge against the Pracharak, who had been picked up from the Sangh office, dragged out and beaten up just for posting an offensive comment on what’s app.
 
"But what happened at Petlawad in Jhabua district was ominous. There was a communal flare up in the small town on the night of the Muharram. The police registered cases against 400 persons and arrested several of them, including some with RSS background. The RSS has alleged that that action was one-sided and exerted pressure on the administration. The administration responded by suspending and transferring police officers involved in the action.
"It is not the first time that this has happened. Earlier, Anuradha Shankar, one of the most intrepid IPS officers in the State, was transferred after the police had beaten up Bajrang Dal hooligans at Dhar. In July this year the SP of Raisen was transferred because the Sangh was annoyed over "excessive" use of force during a communal flare up."
The quotes from the above report establish the fact that the communal situation was alarming in the state. In view of this the team demanded that those who are guilty of committing acts of communal violence should be punished. The team led by LS Herdenia also demanded hundred percent compensation to the victims of organised attack.
It was pointed out that besides houses and shops the crowd also destroyed vehicles, tractors and two-wheelers owned by Muslims. The team also demanded that the affected Muslims should be assured adequate security. 
 

Why a 3rd party is necessary for the health of American politics?

Here below is a case made by one of the presidential candidates:
In 1854, a few thousand people gathered in Jackson, Michigan to launch an independent challenge to a national political system dominated by two parties. "Of strange, discordant, and even hostile elements," a party leader later recalled, "we gathered from the four winds…[with] every external circumstance against us." This challenge was fueled by the radical abolitionist movement that united white workers and formerly enslaved Africans against the criminal institution of slavery, as a response to the political crisis caused by the Kansas-Nebraska Act.
In just two years, this insurgent third party — created by movement activists — had gained ground across the Northern states, challenging the Whig Party. In short order this insurgent "third party" had become a major opposition party. By 1858 they had won an influential foothold in Congress, and by 1860, that party leader — Abraham Lincoln — was elected President of the United States.
It's painfully obvious that the Republican Party has strayed dramatically from its early radical roots in abolitionism, equality, and peace. But it's also quite fitting that, in 2016, as that party is declining into dangerous reactionary know-nothingism, the opening for a new party rooted in radical equality, environmental justice, and peace to rise up is bigger than ever. Amid the raging flames of austerity, endless war, impending climate change, and the most polarized election in modern memory, a record 57 percent of Americans are yearning for another choice, and for an independent political party that will truly represent their interests, according to a recent Gallup poll.
"Casting a ballot for the lesser evil in a corrupt and failing two-party system — which only promises more of the same — is the very definition of a wasted vote."
This has been a bellwether year for the Green Party. As corporate, mainstream political pundits scoff at and attack my "unlikely" candidacy, we have been traveling throughout the country, talking with people from all walks of life and organizing on the ground with a fast-growing base of support from "unlikely" voters: millennials, indebted students, poor and working class people, immigrants, people of color, and many others who have given up on the two establishment parties out of disgust and frustration. Those who hear our message — for people, planet, and peace over profit, for canceling student debt, and for a Green New Deal that will revive the economy and turn the tide on climate change — become truly inspired and motivated to stand up for justice and democracy, as an engaged and informed citizenry should.
As we grow, we are coming closer to a tipping point for political change.
Just 5 percent of the national vote for the Green Party Stein/Baraka ticket can be a true game-changer for American politics. It will qualify the Green Party for recognition as an official national party, and for federal funding in the 2020 presidential race proportional to the amount of votes received — at least $8 million to $10 million. It would also secure ballot access in a number of states that automatically grant ballot status if the presidential candidate receives anywhere from 1 percent to 5 percent of the vote (varying by state). It means the party can leap over the undemocratic barriers to ballot access for independent parties in many states, and help us lay the groundwork for a truly competitive challenge to the two-party system and the corporate rule it perpetuates.
Our grassroots, people-powered campaign has achieved incredible gains in this election cycle, despite having had a fraction of the media coverage and an even smaller fraction of the vast resources of the two major parties. With the material benefits that come with 5 percent of the popular vote, we will have unprecedented resources to continue building this movement for progressive change, shoring up power from below, and paving the way for a new, sorely needed politics of integrity and transformation.
As Donald Trump's campaign implodes, Hillary Clinton moves ever closer to an electoral-college landslide. This gives voters an unprecedented strategic opportunity to vote Green to achieve the critical 5-percent threshold and launch the independent political movement Americans are clamoring for.
Casting a ballot for the lesser evil in a corrupt and failing two-party system — which only promises more of the same — is the very definition of a wasted vote. In contrast, every vote for Stein/Baraka and the Green Party is a true investment in the future. A majority of Americans are disgusted with the political farce we are enduring. They are desperate for a principled alternative to the predatory bipartisan establishment, and seek a positive path out of the two-party trap. Investing your vote in a 5-percent victory for the Green Party can make it happen.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Ten-year old girl raped by Myanmar border guard police

The news below is from RB News:


A Rohingya girl who is just 10-year-old was raped by Myanmar’s Border Guard Police in Mie Taik village tract in Taung Pyo Lat Wel sub-Towship in Maungdaw district.

On October 27th 2016 a Ten-year-old Rohingya girl, whose identity is being withheld, from Ye Aung Chaung hamlet of Mie Taik village tract was tending to cattle in a field outside of the hamlet. At the same time three Border Guard Police were patrolling near the field while the Rakhine State Chief Minister U Nyi Pu was passing through the village on his way to Sittwe. 

When the Border Guard Police saw her they reportedly detained her and raped her. While one of the police was raping the girl another child who was also tending the cattle saw the incident and yelled for help from the other villagers. When the child was yelling the villagers stopped an left.

The BGP appeared to plan a gang rape, and one villager said they thought if they had done so the girl would have died from injury as result. 

The Myanmar Army and BGP have committed many crimes against humanity since three Border Guard Police outposts were attacked on October 9th. Recently the Rakhine State Chief Minister and other Ministers from Maungdaw visited north Maungdaw and had meetings with Rakhine villagers and other officials, but did no Rohingya were invited to meet with them.

Report contributed by Rohingya Eye.


Destruction of Rohingya villages and desecration of the Qur'an by Myanmar military


The news below is from RB News:
On the 29th of October, 2016, in the morning military forces destroyed several properties, tortured women and committed religious offense while stationed inside of the mosques in U Shey Kyar Village, Northern Maungdaw, Arakan State.

On the 29th October, 2016, at around 11:30 AM, military forces along with NaTaLa villagers raided a mosque and madrassa together in U Shey Kyar’s West Hamlet. While they were there they destroyed copies of the Holy Quran by tearing them apart. 

The military in the village at this time had been divided into four patrol groups, with one headed to the Northern Hamlet where they raided mosques and also desecrated the Holy Quran by tearing it up. Two of the other groups during raids on the Middle Hamlet mosque and a nearby market. 

The four military groups looted properties at this time as well, taking what they wanted and destroying other belongings of he Rohingya living in the village. The soldiers were also reported by locals to have abused and beaten women and elderly at this time. 

Local civilians told RB News that the motivation for the soldiers was to retaliate against the villagers there for talking to the media about other abuses that had been committed over the past month. After the raid at around midnight, the forces gathered again in the mosques, where they cooked and ate goats and chickens they had stolen from the villagers. On October 30th the forces left in the morning, taking with them what they had looted from the villagers there.

While they were in the mosques, they wrote records for themselves which identified who they were. 

The records are pictured here:

 


Photos of military forces after looting in U Shey Kyar Village on 29 of October.

 

 

 

 

 

What can Elizabeth I’s relations with the Islamic world teach us?

From Donald Trump to Brexit supporters, many Westerners view Muslims as a threat and want to close the borders. But 500 years ago, Queen Elizabeth I made alliances with the Shah of Iran and the Ottoman Sultan. What can Elizabeth I’s relations with the Islamic world teach us?
To find the answer, click here.

Rohingya Population Faces ‘Final Stages of Genocide,’ Says ISCI Report

Despite the U.S.-led rolling back of economic sanctions and internationally backed national elections taking place early next month, more than a million people in Burma are facing state-sponsored genocide, according to a new report.
The Rohingya Muslim community of the military-dominated Southeast Asian nation, which is now officially known as Myanmar, has been systematically persecuted and expunged from the national narrative — often at the behest of powerful extremist groups from the country’s majority Buddhist population and even government authorities — to the point where complete extermination is a possibility, according to a damning new study by the International State Crime Initiative (ISCI) at the Queen Mary University of London.
“The Rohingya face the final stages of genocide,” concludes the report.
ISCI uses noted genocide expert Daniel Feierstein’s framework of the six stages of genocide, outlined in his 2014 book Genocide as Social Practice, as a lens through which to view Burma. Through interviews with stakeholders on both sides of what it describes as ethnic cleansing, as well as media reports and leaked government documents, the report enumerates how the Rohingya have undergone the first four stages — stigmatization and dehumanization; harassment, violence and terror; isolation and segregation; systematic weakening — and are on the verge of “mass annihilation.” The sixth stage, which involves the “removal of the victim group from collective history,” is already under way in many respects, the report says.
The report documents a systematic deterioration of the Rohingya’s situation since communal violence broke out in June 2012 in Burma’s Rakhine (formerly Arakan) state.
Although the Burmese government has painted the strife — which saw hundreds of people, mainly Muslims, slaughtered during two main waves of violence that June and October — as a spontaneous outbreak of long-mounting religious tensions following the reported rape of a Buddhist woman, the ISCI report presents compelling evidence that the attacks were premeditated and possibly even organized by local authorities.
Interviews with some of the perpetrators — none of whom have been prosecuted because of a supposed lack of concrete evidence — reveal that they were bused into Rakhine state’s capital city Sittwe from nearby villages, provided two free meals a day and told it was their “duty as Rakhine to participate in an attack on the Muslim population.”
There are also strong indications that the government not only allowed the violence to take place unabated for almost a week, but that police, military and other state security forces participated in the attacks themselves, the report says.
Since then, close to 140,000 Rohingya have been sequestered in squalid camps outside the state’s capital, heavily guarded and prevented from leaving by security forces. The 4,500 that remain in Sittwe reside in a run-down ghetto with similar restrictions on movement. A majority of the Rohingya, numbering about 800,000, are spread out across two townships in northern Rakhine state — another region completely blocked off from the outside world by the military.
A lot of the food rations sent by international aid organizations never make it to the Rohingya camps, and denial of access to adequate health care have turned them into hotbeds for malnutrition and disease. As a result of the apartheid-like conditions, the inhabitants of these camps are also largely prevented from receiving an education and earning any sort of livelihood.
“The abuses that the Rohingya are experiencing are at a level and scale that we have not seen elsewhere in Southeast Asia,” Matthew Smith, the founder and executive director of Bangkok-based nonprofit Fortify Rights, tells TIME. The human-rights organization has been documenting abuses in Burma, and Smith echoes the assertion that there is a strong reason to believe state-enabled ethnic cleansing is taking place in the country.
“The Rohingya don’t have to be annihilated for someone to be held responsible for the crime of genocide,” he says. “They [Burmese authorities] are creating conditions of life for over a million people that are designed to be destructive.”
To read the news, click here.

The dangerous promise of populism


Anne Applebaum is a Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian, who writes for the Washington Post. She wrote an article on populism back in September, which is worth sharing now given the strength of populism that it has steadily gained in the days leading to the presidential election in the USA.


Here is the link to her must-read article on the dangerous promise of populism, which is also shared below (in full).
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The word “populist,” a very old part of the political vocabulary, has lately had a new lease on life. It’s generally used to describe movements of “the people” against “the elite,” whether that takes the form of the French Revolution or a revolt of American farmers. Usually it refers to movements that are said to be “left-wing,” and in recent years, the word has been almost entirely usurped by Latin America, where charismatic populist leaders have galvanized mass movements and pushed through public spending programs ostensibly designed to aid the poor.
Sooner or later, all of them ended in failure — sometimes spectacularly so. Probably the most extraordinary example was Hugo Ch├ívez’s Venezuela. His rhetoric inspired the admiration of left-wing and other would-be populist leaders around the world. Famous Chavistas include Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the British Labour Party, who as recently as June 2015 praised “the achievements of Venezuela, in jobs, in housing, in health, in education.” Lately, the admirers have gone silent, as the combination of profligate spending, nationalization and mismanagement have created galloping inflation, long lines for food and shortages of all kinds.
Ever hopeful, left-wing populism lives on in Greece, Spain and elsewhere. But in most of the rest of the Western world, the most energetic form of populism is “right-wing.” Its “anti-elitism” has new overtones, often taking anti-globalization, anti-trade and anti-immigrant forms. Some of its adherents oppose “political correctness,” which might merely mean that they use racist language. Others like to chant nationalist slogans.
But even if they look and sound different, even if they know how to use social media and techniques borrowed from reality TV, the new populists do share something with the old populists. Like their predecessors, they offer fantasies: sketchy plans, vague ideas, unfulfillable promises and, eventually, free money. Far from representing something new, they stand for something old: The very human longing for rapid, unrealistic, simple solutions to difficult problems — plus more cash.
Whatever you want to call it — utopianism, romanticism — it seems to return every couple of generations. Populist parties from Hungary to France are now talking about nationalization — because if only The People owned the companies, then everything would be fine. We know that scenario from history, and we know how it ends. “Build a wall” and “make American great again” are Donald Trump’s more famous slogans, but he also claims to have an “economic plan” that calls for $4.4 trillion in tax cuts, on top of the existing deficit with no plausible way to pay for them (which, as my Post colleagues have pointed out, is an improvement on his previous plan, which called for $9.25 trillion in tax cuts with no plausible way to pay for them). This is a twist on the Venezuelan scenario — Trump wants to give people money through tax cuts rather than handouts — but if enacted he would bankrupt the state in exactly the same way. He has also hinted that, having acquired this unprecedented debt, he might default on it. We know that scenario from history, too.
A milder version of the free money fantasy was even visible in the debate on the British European Union referendum, when the Leave campaign claimed that Brexit would make it possible to spend 350 million pounds a week on the health-care system. Though the claim was repeatedly disproved (and since the vote has been quietly abandoned), the post-voting polls have shown that of all the arguments made, that was one of the most persuasive: Leave Europe, get more money, no strings attached.
Nationalization, spending promises, empty slogans: Politicians who cynically promise the impossible wind up with hyper-inflation if they deliver — or political catastrophe if they don’t. Failed populism often leads to radical populism, and radical populism to violence: When people don’t get what they’ve been promised, they get angry. These were lessons learned in the 20th century, but it looks like we might have to repeat them in the 21st. Nothing is new about this populist moment, only the faces and flags have changed.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Empty Declarations of Democracy… Vacant Boasts of humanity

"For decades, Israel has held itself out as being the lone “democracy” in the Middle East; a state where the rights of individuals could not and would not be held hostage to the autocratic whims of royalty, but rather a full partner to a free and robust electoral process that guarantees not just meaningful input from the governed but the ability to challenge state policies as the winds of change blow from “the river to the sea.”
Once again, recent events have proven this to be just so much a perverse myth… empty rhetoric… second only to the brazen unfounded Israeli boast of having the “most humane army in the world,” even as the body count of Palestinian children grows in cemeteries and prisons that have become very much its own unique brand of 21st century youth hostel," writes Stanley Cohen.
Recently, Hagai El-Ad, an Israeli and Jew, who serves as executive director of B’Tselem (The Israel Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories), spoke before the UN Security Council urging it to take immediate action against Israel’s illegal settlements.
Not quite 1400 words in its entirety, one paragraph in particular of El-Ad’s testimony sums up life for millions of those captured by a democracy that sees day as night… pain as pleasure. Crushing, despite its brevity, the power and pain of these words could easily be part of an opening statement by a war crimes prosecutor at a tribunal called to hold Israel accountable for crimes unseen since the Nuremburg tribunals some 70 years ago.
“What does it mean, in practical terms, to spend 49 years, a lifetime, under military rule? When violence breaks out, or when particular incidents attract global attention, you get a glimpse into certain aspects of life under occupation. But what about the rest of the time? What about the many “ordinary” days of a 17,898-day-long occupation, which is still going strong? Living under military rule mostly means invisible, bureaucratic, daily, violence. It means living under an endless permit regime, which controls Palestinian life from cradle to grave: Israel controls the population registry; Israel controls work permits; Israel controls who can travel abroad – and who cannot; Israel controls who can visit from abroad – and who cannot; in some villages, Israel maintains lists of who can visit the village, or who is allowed to farm which fields. Permits can sometimes be denied; permits must always be renewed. Thus with every breath they take, Palestinians breathe in occupation. Make a wrong move, and you can lose your freedom of movement, your livelihood, or even the opportunity to marry and build a family with your beloved.”


To read the full article by Stanley Cohen, a lawyer from New York, click here.

When ‘genocide’ unfolds in the backyard of a Nobel laureate


Here is an article by Azeem Ibrahim on Suu Kyi.

Sign the change.org petition to send a statement to the Nobel Committee

For too long, we have witnessed the abuse of Nobel Peace prize which is given to those who don't deserve. Suu Kyi has become a willing endorser of the genocidal pogroms taking place to this date inside Myanmar. It is simply shameful!
Please, consider signing the petition here to protect the rights of the persecuted Rohingyas of Myanmar.

Savarkar Is The New Father Of The Emerging India

Here is the link to an interview of Ashish Nandy (renowned political psychologist ) on Savarkar, the grandfather of Hindutvadi fascism.
While in jail, Savarkar wrote the work describing Hindutva, espousing Hindu nationalism. In 1921, under restrictions after signing a plea for clemency, he was released on the condition that he renounce revolutionary activities. Traveling widely, Savarkar became a forceful orator and writer, advocating Hindu political and social unity. Serving as the president of the Hindu Mahasabha, Savarkar endorsed the ideal of India as a Hindu Rashtra and opposed the Quit India struggle in 1942, calling it a "Quit India but keep your army" movement. He became a fierce critic of the Indian National Congress and its acceptance of India's partition. He was accused of the assassination of Indian leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi but acquitted by the court.


In his latest book, Nandy wrote, "Hindutva is an attack on Hinduism, that Hindutva is an ideology for those whose Hinduism has worn off, and that Hindutva’s triumph will mark the end of Hinduism.”
But most Hindutvadis may not know that Savarkar did not believe in anything (religious). "He refused to give a Hindu funeral to his own wife and said that there was nothing sacred about the cow. He also made fun of (RSS’s second sarsanghchalak) Golwalkar’s fondness for rituals.  Savarkar is the real father of the emerging India. Gandhi is now the stepfather," says Nandy.
 On the question of Indian nationalism, Nandy says, "It must be remembered that the Indic civilisation is different from the Indian nation-state, which is a European concoction just 300 years old.I have this confidence that it is just not possible to mobilise India into a homogenised nation. Tagore said there is no nation in India. That is why he wrote the English word ‘nation’ in Ben­gali. But he had 12 to 15 Bengali words for patriotism. Indians are patriotic. But patriotism is often confused with nationalism.
The nation is a demand for homogenising the people, leaving the individual face-to-face with the state. There is no int­erface—no community, no religion, no sect, no caste, no trade union, simply no intermediary structures. There is just the individual and the state in the ideal nation-state system. I don’t think Indians will go for this beyond a point."

How not be India


Here is the link to an interesting piece on Kashmir.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Rohingya Lives Matter: Stop their ethnic cleansing


Myanmar’s government said that the October 9 raids were conducted by the Aqamul Mujahidin organization, which it described as being affiliated with an extremist group. On the other hand, a previously unknown group - Faith Movement - has released a press statement on October 15 in which it claimed itself as the sons of Arakan soil who were compelled by the dire situation that they faced to make their own destiny through uprising, self-determination in self-defense. “We stand as an independent body which is free from all elements of terror in any nature,” the press release stated “that seeks fundamental but legitimate rights and justice for all ARAKANESE including our innocent Rohingyas and OTHER civilians dying from the continuous military assaults.”
An outcome like this was only waiting to happen given that history has repeatedly shown that such prolonged encampment in IDP concentration camps create a sense of ultimate abandonment by the state, pushing even the most moderates to take violent means to redress their plight. The initial attacks, in which three border police outposts were overrun by hundreds of people, most only lightly armed, showed a degree of sophistication not seen before in violence involving the Rohingya, but did not suggest the group was especially well-funded or armed, diplomats said.
Myanmar’s military (Tatmadaw) has since been deployed in the Rohingya populated northern part of Arakan (Rakhine) state. And what we are witnessing there is simply shocking. War crimes are perpetrated. Under the pretext of finding the Rohingya perpetrators, the Tatmadaw has been doing what it has always done – using its criminal scorched-earth tactics. As a result, since the October 9 attacks (as of October 26), at least 138 unarmed Rohingyas (mostly children and women) have been killed, or have died in custody. At least 144 Rohingyas have been detained, several villages and more than a thousand homes and several mosques have been burned by the security forces forcing an internal displacement of at least 15,000 people, who are even denied humanitarian aid. At least 20 women have also been raped by Myanmar security forces. Many of the local elders and Imams have also been killed extra-judicially after they were asked to report to the local military camp.
Chris Lewa of the Arakan Project, a monitoring group, said the army was using "typical counter-insurgency measures against civilians", including "shooting civilians on sight, burning homes, looting property and arbitrary arrests".
Foreign reporters have not been allowed into the area the military has declared an "operation zone", but Reuters was able to contact some residents and community leaders by telephone. The people, who did not want to be identified, contradicted several of the reports in state media, saying that the death toll in the area was higher than reported and that a number of those killed were unarmed. In one of the disputed accounts, the state-run Myanma Alinn newspaper said 30 Muslims attacked government forces on Oct. 11 near Kyetyoepyin village, and that 10 Rohingyas were killed in the subsequent fighting. After the clash, the insurgents fled, setting fire to homes, the report said. But several Rohingya residents from the area said they believed at least 19 people, including eight women, were killed by security forces that day. They also say it was the soldiers who set a large part of the village on fire.
The United Nations has said the violence is preventing aid agencies from delivering food and medicines to the region.
The UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) issued a report on Tuesday (October 25) documenting the systemic discrimination of minorities in Myanmar and calling for concrete steps end these human rights violations. The report focused on particular concern of the treatment of Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine region.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned in a statement Friday (October 21) that as troops poured into the region and authorities blocked off the delivery of humanitarian aid to Maungdaw, aid agencies have not been able to conduct a needs assessment. The statement quoted a World Food Program (WFP) partnerships officer as saying they had requested access “from township level to Union level”. WFP told HRW that 50,000 people remain without food aid in Maungdaw.
Brad Adams, the group’s Asia director, said the recent violence “has led the army to deny access to aid agencies that provide essential health care and food to people at grave risk”. “The Rohingya and others have been especially vulnerable since the ethnic cleansing campaign in 2012, and many rely on humanitarian aid to survive,” he added.
Rohingya advocacy groups have expressed concerns over what they claim is a continued crackdown in the area, with global groups releasing a statement on October 23 claiming security forces have been indiscriminately killing Rohingya and torching and plundering their homes and villages, under the pretext of looking for the attackers.
Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) has also criticized the government of Myanmar. Its latest press release read, “Burmese army is in violation of UN Security Council resolution 1820, regarding the protection of women and girls in conflict zones. Reports indicate that the Burmese army is giving impunity to soldiers who are committing sexual assault and raping women. The use of rape in war is considered a Crime Against Humanity and in clear violation of Rome Statute Article 7(1), The Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Article 3, and The Law on the Establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), Article 5. As these reports emerge it is imperative that the international community take them seriously and seek to investigate them as such.” The advocacy group called upon the Myanmar Government to investigate all claims of sexual assault, torture, and rape by Burmese soldiers and hold all responsible parties accountable.
The latest ethnic cleansing drives against the Rohingya are simply sickening in a country that is led by someone like Suu Kyi who was honored with a Nobel Prize for peace. What a joke this award is becoming! Apparently, she has failed to learn lessons from history, esp. why her wise father Aung San had organized the Panglong Conference in the pre-independence days.
Suu Kyi should have known better than most Burmese that such military excesses only weaken the very foundation of an artificial geographic entity like Burma (and today’s Myanmar) that comprises peoples of many nationalities, races, ethnicities and religions. Since the time of Pagan King Anawrahta (11th century, CE), her country has been kept together by strong arms tactics of feudal kings, the British Raj and the military governments that ruled. ‘Divide and rule’ and fear-mongering against a perceived foe became prudent methods to administer this diverse country. But such tactics failed to create nationhood. There was never a sense of belonging except for the dominant group.
This much-needed task for forging national unity was taken up by visionaries like Aung San (who represented the Interim Burmese government), Sao Shwe Thaik (Shan leader) and others (including U Razak of AFPFL, a Muslim) in the late 1940s. That was the background for the Panglong Conference, which was held in Southern Shan state on February 1947. However, the spirit of Panglong Agreement that was reached between Aung San and other ethnic and community leaders in an attempt to unite everyone - irrespective of race, ethnicity and religion, Buddhists and non-Buddhists - for a common goal of independence was dead following Aung San's assassination (along with U Razak who was Education and National Planning Minister in Aung San's cabinet, and six other cabinet ministers) on July 19, 1947, less than six months before Union of Burma was to emerge as an independent state in the global arena. It should be noted that the Agreement, amongst other provisions, accepted full autonomy in internal administration for the “Frontier Areas" (bordering British India, Thailand, Laos, China) in principle and envisioned the creation of a Kachin State by the Constituent Assembly.
The founding fathers of Burma were very serious to foster unity in their future state. Thus, in 1946 General Aung San assured full rights and privileges to Rohingya/Arakanese Muslims as an indigenous people, saying: “I give (offer) you a blank cheque. We will live together and die together. Demand what you want. I will do my best to fulfill them. If native people are divided, it will be difficult to achieve independence for Burma.”
The First President, Sao Shwe Thaik, who was the last Saopha of Yawnghwe, famously said, “If the Rohingyas are not indigenous, nor am I.”
After Myanmar gained independence on January 4, 1948, communists and ethnic/national/religious minorities in the country began a series of insurgencies displaying their grave discontent towards the newly formed post-independence government as they believed that the Panglong Agreement was not honored and that they were being unfairly excluded from governing the country. Their overwhelming perception was that the new government was a state for, by and of the majority Bamar and Buddhists only, and not for other minorities.
Sao Shwe Thaik who had led and organized the Panglong conference became the first president of the Union of Burma. His public speech on 4 January 1949 at a mass rally held outside City Hall to mark the first anniversary of Independence Day captures the troubled mood of the state: “Cooperation and understanding cannot come about so long as the element of violence or threat of violence exists, for violence has no counterpart in freedom, and liberty ends where violence begins.”
There were also widespread practice of discrimination against anyone who was not a Buddhist. For example, it was noted that many Christian Karen and Muslim and Sikh military officials, who were originally appointed by the British, were replaced with Buddhist Bamars by the new parliament. The situation was much worse for Muslims everywhere - from Arakan to Rangoon. As a result of serious discrimination, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs lost their jobs in every government sector – civilian, police and military. Many lost their businesses, too, and were looked down upon as either British-era migrants or their children thereof. Loss for them was craved as a net gain for the majority Buddhist. Steadily, intolerance of the minority became the law of the land.
The occupation of Burma by Japan during the early years of the World War II, when Rakhine Buddhists had allied themselves with the occupying fascist Japanese forces while the Arakanese Muslims collaborated with the British Raj to defeat Japan, had already poisoned the relationship between these two dominant groups in Arakan. After Burma earned its independence, many Rakhine Buddhists took advantage of the emerging situation to ethnically cleanse Muslims from many parts of Arakan, esp. the southern part of the state. This led to the ghettoization of Muslims in towns and villages bordering today’s Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan).
It is not difficult to understand why almost every racial/religious entity, including the Mujahedeen (made up of Arakanese/Rohingya Muslims), outside the majority Bamar/Buddhist race/religion rebelled in the early years. Being betrayed by the British Raj, in spite of their valuable services rendered during and after the WWII, it was no brainer that some Arakanese Muslims had felt that they had to protect themselves against marauding Buddhist incursions into their northern Mayu Frontier Territories. Muslim rebellion against the central government ultimately stopped when promises for their wider acceptance were made by government officials. Even then the persecution of the Rohingya and other Muslims continued.
According to the Pakistan Times (August 26, 1959), some 10,000 refugees had by then taken shelter in East Pakistan. In 1959, Burma agreed with East Pakistan governor Zakir Hossain to take back Rohingya refugees who had taken shelter in Chittagong in 1958. When questioned ‘why refugees were pouring into Pakistan from Burma, the governor replied that the government of Burma had nothing to do with it. Actually the Moghs [ie, Buddhist Rakhines] of Arakan were creating the trouble.’ (Pakistan Times, August 27, 1959) Governor Zakir Hossain’s reply once again underscored the deep hostility of the racist Rakhines against the minority Rohingyas. On October 27, 1960, the Daily Guardian, Rangoon, reported that Burmese ‘Supreme Court quashes expulsion orders against Arakanese Muslims,’ which once again shows that the Arakanese [Rohingya] Muslims faced much problems in their reintegration.
Armed resistance by various ethnic and religious minorities and communists became the new norms and not the exceptions, which continued for more than a decade until the military was able to crush such through its savage scorched-earth tactics.  Even then armed struggle is a reality in many parts of Myanmar to this very day.
The two largest insurgent factions in Myanmar were the communists, led by the Communist Party of Burma (CPB), and ethnic Karen insurgents, led by the Karen National Union (KNU). The KNU favored an independent state, forged out of Karen State (Kayin State) and Karenni State (Kayah State), in Outer Myanmar (Lower Burma), administered solely by the Karen people.
Even the Rakhine Buddhist separatists were not behind in such insurgency movements, nor were the Chins. Rakhine insurgent groups, such as the Arakan Army (AA) and Arakan Liberation Army (ALA) continue to have hostilities towards the government, though major violence has been rare since political reforms and peace talks. The AA, founded in 2009, is currently the largest insurgent group in Rakhine State, with an estimated 1,500–2,500 fighters active in the region. Its goal is an independent Rakhine state.
In the early 1960s, the Burmese government refused to adopt a federal system, to the dismay of insurgent groups such as the CPB, who proposed adopting the system during peace talks. By the early 1980s, politically motivated armed insurgencies (like the communist) had largely disappeared, while ethnic-based insurgencies continued.
The Panglong Agreement of 1947 offered the Shan the option to split from Myanmar a decade after independence if they were unsatisfied with the central government. This was, however, not honored following Aung San's assassination. Instead, what they got are – severe mistreatment, torture, robbery, rape, unlawful arrest, and massacre. As a result, an armed resistance movement, led by Sao Noi and Saw Yanna, was launched in May of 1958 in the Shan State. One of the largest Shan insurgent groups in Myanmar is the Shan State Army - South (SSA-S), which has some 6,000 to 8,000 soldiers, with its bases along the Myanmar-Thailand border.
In October 2012, the ongoing conflicts in Myanmar included the Kachin conflict, between the Christian Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the government; a series of genocidal pogroms directed against the Rohingya Muslims that were participated by Rakhine Buddhists, and aided by the government and non-government groups in Rakhine State, including the Buddhist clergy; and a conflict between the Shan, Lahu, and Karen minority groups, and the government in the eastern half of the country.  Armed conflict between ethnic Chinese rebels and the Myanmar Armed Forces have resulted in the Kokang offensive in February 2015. The conflict had forced 40,000 to 50,000 civilians to flee their homes and seek shelter on the Chinese side of the border.
In 2012 alone, fighting between the KIA and the government resulted in around 2,500 casualties (both civilian and military); 211 of whom were government soldiers. The violence resulted in the displacement of nearly 100,000 civilians, and the complete or partial abandonment of 364 villages.
Several insurgent groups have negotiated ceasefires and peace agreements with successive governments, which until political reforms that begun in 2011 and ended in 2015, had largely fallen apart. That reality marshaled in the Second Panglong-type conference held in Naypyidaw this August to end the decades-long insurgencies in many of the ethnic areas.
As can be seen from the brief review above, civil/genocidal wars have been a constant feature of Myanmar's socio-political landscape since her independence as Union of Burma in 1948. These wars are predominantly struggles for ethnic and sub-national autonomy, with the areas surrounding the ethnically Bamar central districts of the country serving as the primary geographical setting of conflict.
The Rohingya and other Muslims inside Myanmar had been in the receiving end of annihilation. They have faced dozens of extermination campaigns since 1942. Denied each of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, truly, the Rohingyas of Myanmar remain the most persecuted people in our planet. And yet, until this latest episode of attacks by some disgruntled Rohingya youths for daily dehumanization that their family members face, they have been the most unarmed, passive and peaceful of all the communities that make up the fractured mosaic of Myanmar. This, in spite of the fact, more than 1 in 2 Rohingyas now live a life of a refugee outside Myanmar.
In the last few years alone, they have seen only death and destruction of their folks; desperation has set in, and many have fled the country, while some 150,000 remain internally displaced with no shelters except concentration camps within the Arakan state. Their ID cards were confiscated and they were denied the right to vote; their political parties banned; and not a single Muslim candidate was allowed to contest in the election. Suu Kyi has come to power and refuses to identify them as ‘Rohingya’. She even did not invite them into the peace/unity conference in Naypyidaw. In spite of mounting international pressure, the Rohingya continue to be denied the basic rights and means of livelihood; their women continue to be raped by Tatmadaw as weapons of war to bring collective shame upon them and force them out of their ancestral homeland.
Many Rohingya women continue to be gang raped by the Tatmadaw in its latest ethnic cleansing drives. As we have seen with the previous military regimes, Myanmar’s civilian government officials continue to deny such accusations. But recently, Reuters has been able to confirm that Myanmar soldiers raped or sexually assaulted dozens of women in a remote village in the northwest of the country during the biggest upsurge in violence against the persecuted minority in four years. Eight Rohingya women, all from U Shey Kya village in Rakhine State, described in detail how soldiers last week raided their homes, looted property and raped them at gun point.
Reuters interviewed three of the women in person and five by telephone, and spoke to human rights groups and community leaders. One 40-year-old woman told the news agency that she was held down by a group of soldiers in her home, and then raped. Her 15-year-old daughter was also allegedly sexually assaulted by them before they made away with the family's jewelry and money. "They took me inside the house. They tore my clothes and they took my head scarf off," the woman said. "Two men held me, one holding each arm, and another one held me by my hair from the back and they raped me."
Reuters reporters traveled to U Shey Kya village on Thursday (October 27), passing nearby villages where dozens of houses were recently burned down, and interviewed three women who said they were raped by soldiers. Five other women from U Shey Kya have also detailed in a series of telephone interviews how Myanmar soldiers raped them. The accounts are backed up by at least three male residents of the village and a Rohingya community leader in Maungdaw who has gathered reports about the incident.
The residents said some 150 soldiers arrived near U Shey Kya on October 19.
A 30-year-old woman described being knocked off her feet by soldiers and repeatedly raped. "They told me, 'We will kill you. We will not allow you to live in this country,'" she said. The women said soldiers took gold, money and other property, and spoiled rice stores with sand.
"We can't move to another village to find medical care," said a 32-year-old survivor. "I don't have clothes now or food to eat. It was all destroyed. I'm feeling ashamed and scared."
As usual, the military did not respond to Reuters inquiry.
The new pogrom inside the Rohingya populated territories of northern Arakan state once again underlines the power the army retains in Myanmar, which is guilty of committing war crimes against an unarmed civilian population.  Such brutality against the Rohingya Muslims also unmasks the Buddhist government’s double-standards when dealing with non-Buddhists. Army generals continue to run the home ministry, which inflicts the worst form of collective punishment against the Muslims (but not against the Buddhist rebels). This is quite evident when the Rakhine Buddhist extremists of the Arakan Army attacked the military, which it has done 15 times since 28 December, 2015, in which several soldiers got killed, interestingly no such scorched-earth and combing operation to flush them out was undertaken by the military.  
I wish the persecution of the Rohingya and other Muslims did not extend to other parts of Myanmar. Seemingly, however, no place is secure for these unfortunate victims in Suu Kyi’s den of intolerance.
Border guards went to Kyee Kan Pyin village Sunday (October 23, 2016), which is in the central region of Mandalay, and ordered about 2,000 villagers to evacuate it. Residents only had enough time to collect basic household necessities and valuables. They were then forced for a second night to stay and hide in rice fields without shelter.
“I was kicked out of my house yesterday afternoon, now I live in a paddy field outside of a my village with some 200 people including my family—I became homeless,” an unidentified Rohingya man told Reuters.
Suu Kyi can start the process of reintegration of the Rohingya, by following the footsteps of her wise father. She can immediately withdraw the military from Rohingya towns and villages where they are committing war crimes. She can restore the citizenship rights of the Rohingya on the basis of the First Schedule to the Burma Independence Act 1947. That Act clearly stated that the Rohingya and all other Muslims who were British subjects - who were born in Burma or whose father or paternal grandfather was born in Burma - were considered citizens of the Union of Burma. Under Annex A of the Aung San-Attlee Agreement, 27 January, 1947, Rohingyas were citizens of the Union of Burma: “A Burma National is defined for the purposes of eligibility to vote and to stand as a candidate of the forthcoming elections as a British subject or the subject of an Indian State who was born in Burma and resided there for a total period of not less than eight years in the ten years immediately preceding either 1st January, 1942 or 1st January, 1947.”
The Nu-Attlee Agreement (1947), signed between Prime Minister U Nu (Burma) and Prime Minister Clement Attlee (Great Britain) on Oct. 17, 1947 on transferring power to Burma was very important as to the determination of the citizenship status of the peoples and races in Burma. Article 3 of the Agreement states: “Any person who at the date of the coming into force of the present Treaty is, by virtue of the Constitution of the Union of Burma, a citizen thereof and who is, or by virtue of a subsequent election is deemed to be, also a British subject, may make a declaration of alienage in the manner prescribed by the law of the Union, and thereupon shall cease to be a citizen of the Union.”
Human rights group, including the Faith Movement, have called for: restoration of human rights including citizenship rights for their Rohingya people; immediate relocation of the Rohingyas from the IDP camps back to their places of origin (before the genocidal campaigns ensued in 2012), return of their confiscated assets, repeal of the 1982 Citizenship Law so that they can be treated as equals in Myanmar, compensation to IDP detainees towards rebuilding their burnt/destroyed homes and places of worship, a cessation of military offensives against all ethnic groups of Myanmar, and prevention of all kinds of religious persecution including hate speeches by Buddhist extremists. They have also demanded international investigation and intervention to stop Rohingya Genocide, and have sought their protection.
So, if Suu Kyi’s government is serious about bringing peace in Arakan, it should seriously fulfil such legitimate demands for the greater good of all. After all, in all fairness, none of these demands is irrational and within the capacity of the Myanmar government to implement. If she continues to overlook such demands and follows the dictates of her savage Tatmadaw that has been committing war crimes in its conflicts against the ethnic minorities, I am afraid, it won’t be too long that Myanmar would divide into many states, and that many of the top generals and ministers could be charged with committing crimes against humanity in the International Criminal Court. The international community may also find it necessary to demand that the Mayu Frontier Territories (in northern Arakan) be declared a ‘safe’ territory for the persecuted Rohingyas of Myanmar so that they could live there with honor, dignity, safety and security.
Behaving like an ostrich with its head buried in the sand is no solution for Suu Kyi. Such a behavior can actually be perceived that Rohingya lives don’t matter to her government, which may actually be the reason behind the border raids.
Wake up Suu Kyi! Do the math and figure out what is better for your fractured and artificial country. The sooner the better!