Monday, June 30, 2014

Are the Rohingyas of Myanmar facing GENOCIDE? Dr. Stanton believes so, and so do I.

Are the Rohingyas of Myanmar (Burma) victims of genocide? This debate has been going on for a number of years amongst the human rights groups. As an independent researcher and human rights activist, I have had maintained that they are victims of genocide. It won't be any exaggeration to even claim that amongst the serious activists, I am probably the first to claim that they have been facing genocide and the worldbody should protect them before they become an extinct people.

I am glad that Dr. Gregory Stanton, President of Genocide Watch, has also agreed that the Rohingyas are facing genocide in Myanmar. He wants the world body  to rise up against their extermination campaign by the Buddhist people and government of Myanmar.

Here you can hear Dr. Stanton's speech on the subject.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Warning - my AOL account was hacked while I was in Puerto Rico

Last week I was in Puerto Rico and stayed in a Hyatt hotel outside the capital city. There I accessed my personal account on the computer and now I realize that some hacker was able to access my password. This morning while at work in the USA, I was promptly alerted by a very old friend of mine who had seen a letter sent to him asking for some $3100. The hacker used my email address and said that I got mugged while visiting Turkey with my family and that I needed money to return.

I have never been to Turkey. It is a scam. In the past I have received similar letters in the name of some of my own acquaintances. In the first of such letters, I was visibly concerned about the sad condition of a friend - Mr. Baki. I was almost about to send him the required money via Western Union until a wise friend of mine asked me to call Mr. Baki's home and mobile numbers. I did that and found that it was all a scam. He was not stranded or mugged in the UK.

These scammers have the means to hack computers when insecure servers are used in hotels and/or free internet accesses are used to log in. I was foolish not to realize that my use of computer in Puerto Rico could be compromised in security. Please, don't fall for such scammers/hackers.

I have reset my password since then and my account is active. During a search of my system use, I noticed that last Tuesday my account was used by hackers in Nigeria. A friend of mine - Zafar Naim - even ended up speaking with a hacker who sought money under my name. He could promptly recognize that it was not my voice.

These scammers would do anything to rob people. Their scheme is however weak and flawed. These days, one does not need a ticket to fly out in a aeroplane. With the e-ticket system widely used everywhere, one can just mention the name and present some identity to get the ticket printed at the counter and then fly out. When registering in a hotel, the hotel front desk collects the relevant info on credit card charges, and one need not pay in cash to check out. And still these Nigerian and other scammers try to fool gullible people with their criminal and stupid schemes!

I am doing fine and don't need any help.

Habib Siddiqui

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Cheney’s Obscene Chutzpah

John F. Kennedy's famously said, "Success has many fathers but failure is an orphan." Iraq epitomizes failure of American policy and its failure has multiple credible claims to its paternity.

As the crisis in Iraq deepens so is the finger-pointing on the rise with the Republicans in the USA blaming President Obama for letting the strengthening of the ISIS (sometimes called the ISIL - Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and the Democrats blaming former president George W. Bush for invading Iraq on a false claim. Dick Cheney, Bush’s vice president, even wrote an op-ed column in collaboration with his daughter Liz, in the ultra-conservative newspaper – the Wall Street Journal in which they audaciously blamed President Obama claiming, “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.”

Such delusional comments from an architect and a die-hard neocon proponent of the Iraq invasion do not surprise me. The Cheneys have joined a growing chorus of high profile Republicans who have criticized the Obama administration’s handling of the crisis in Iraq. It seems not only do they have chutzpah – an inexcusable gigantic one, which I must point out – they also suffer from severe case of amnesia. They forgot to mention George W. Bush. The very reason that ISIS, the insurgent group that has seized much of western and northern Iraq and even threatening takeover of the towns not far from Baghdad, exists today is because of Bush-Cheney’s criminal decision to invade Iraq. Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, top Bush officials were insisting that there was an al Qaeda-Iraq connection, which was a security threat to the USA.

After the fall of Saddam Hussein's Ba’athist regime, no documents were unearthed in Iraq proving the myth wrong.  There was no WMD either. The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency had by 2006 translated 34 million pages of massive and meticulous Iraqi records and found that there was nothing to substantiate a "partnership" between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Two years later the Pentagon's own internal think tank, the Institute for Defense Analyses, found no "smoking gun” either after examining 600,000 Iraqi documents and several thousand hours of his regime's audio- and videotapes. Even the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concluded in 2008, as every other investigation had before, that there was no "cooperative relationship" between Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda. The committee also found that "most of the contacts cited between Iraq and al Qaeda before the war by the intelligence community and policy makers have been determined not to have occurred."

All those allegations about ties between the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda were manufactured by neocon warmongers inside Bush’s administration to justify invading and occupying Iraq. They fancied that the cost of the war would be borne out by oil revenues extracted from Iraqi oilfields. Instead of an avoidable four trillion dollar war, the Bush-Cheney-Wolfowitz-Rumsfeld-Rice gang launched a savage campaign that resulted in the mass-murder of Iraqis for no fault of theirs except that they happened to live inside Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. With the leaked out photos of the treatment of the Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib, Rumsfeld’s soldiers and prison guards set a new low standard in the treatment of the POWs.

Then came the Fallujah incidents where the US soldiers and their contractors committed horrendous war crimes - worse than Mai Lai-type massacre of innocent civilians. They also used banned White Phosphorus. The US officials admitted that "more than half of Fallujah's 39,000 homes were damaged during the Operation Phantom Fury, and about 10,000 of those were destroyed". The actual devastation was much worse. According to Mike Marqusee of Iraq Occupation Focus writing in the Guardian, "Fallujah's compensation commissioner has reported that 36,000 of the city's 50,000 homes were destroyed, along with 60 schools and 65 mosques and shrines.” In 2010 it was reported in an academic study [“Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005–2009”, Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, 2010, 7, 2828–2837] that Fallujah since 2004 had seen "a four-fold increase in all cancers and a 12-fold increase in childhood cancer". In addition, the report said the types of cancer were similar to those found amongst the Hiroshima survivors who were exposed to “ionizing radiation from the bomb and uranium in the fallout" and that an 18% fall in the male birth ratio (to 850 per 1000 female births, compared to the usual 1050) was similar to that seen after the Hiroshima atom bombing.

The so-called al Qaeda only formally established itself in Iraq a year and a half after the U.S. invasion. Its leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi issued an online statement on October 17, 2004, pledging allegiance to Osama bin Laden. He succeeded in taking Iraq down the road to civil war. His strategy was to hit the Shia so they would in turn strike the Sunnis, so as to trigger a vicious circle of tit-for-tat violence in which al Qaeda would be seen as the guardians of the Sunnis against the rage of the Shia. It was a strategy that worked all too well, provoking first sectarian conflict in Iraq and later civil war. Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) regularly attacked Shia religious processions, shrines and clerics. The tipping point in the slide toward full-blown civil war was AQI's attack in February 2006 of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, which is one of the most important Shia shrines in the world.

By August 17, 2006 AQI had become the de facto government of the western Iraqi province of Anbar, which is strategically important because it borders Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia and makes up about a third of the landmass of Iraq.

As Peter Bergen noted recently on June 16 in the CNN, “The Bush administration had presided over the rise of precisely what it had said was one of the key goals of the Iraq War to destroy: a safe haven for al Qaeda in the heart of the Arab world.”

By 2007, al Qaeda's unrestrained violence and imposition of Taliban-style ideology provoked a countrywide Sunni backlash against AQI that took the form of Sunni "Awakening" militias. The Sunni militias were later known as the "Sons of Iraq" whose on-the-ground intelligence combined with American firepower proved devastating to AQI. However, AQI did not vanish altogether. The Syrian civil war of the last three years provided the necessary background for its rebirth and transformation into the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria," or ISIS. And now ISIS has marched back into western and northern Iraq.

It is so hilarious reading now Cheney’s op-ed column, or listening to Paul Wolfowitz’s comments! They were the very people that masterminded the Iraqi crisis that has resulted in the death of some 4500 US soldiers, let alone of a million Iraqis. They behave as if they were unaware of the Bush-era agreement mandating that all American troops leave Iraq by the end of 2011, which was signed by George W. Bush, before Obama took office in 2009. As negotiations over departure of the US forces proceeded in Obama's first term, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki refused to grant American troops immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts for their war crimes. Without that immunity, there was simply no way American forces could remain there.

Still, this crisis is partly Obama's child. Had his administration came to the aid of the Syrian resistance fighting Bashar al-Assad’s brutal regime, it is doubtful that ISIS would have emerged in the Iraqi scene. Emboldened by the US indecision, the militias have moved across the border and provided a sense of security to the Sunni minorities which was lacking in Maliki’s Iraq. Maliki has been behaving like a sectarian leader and is no unifier that the country desperately needed in the post-Saddam Hussein years. Sectarian fighting had intensified under his watch.

Dick and Liz Cheney opined that Mr. Obama's actions —before and after ISIS's recent advances in Iraq—have the effect of increasing strategic threat to the security of the United States. They wrote, “This president is willfully blind to the impact of his policies. Despite the threat to America unfolding across the Middle East, aided by his abandonment of Iraq, he has announced he intends to follow the same policy in Afghanistan.”

The Democratic National Committee blasted an email out last Wednesday to reporters that was critical of the op-ed, saying that the "only rhetoric that needs a dose of reality is Mr. Cheney's." On Wednesday morning Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the floor of the chamber to criticize Cheney. "If there is one thing this country does not need is that we should be taking advice from Dick Cheney on wars. Being on the wrong side of Dick Cheney is being on the right side of history," Reid said.

The Cheneys wrote, “President Obama is on track to securing his legacy as the man who betrayed our past and squandered our freedom.” They forget to tell us that it was Bush-Cheney administration that betrayed the trust of all – both inside and outside the USA – by misleading everyone about the rationale behind the Iraq war. Through their arrogant actions, it is they who have squandered American freedom and should have been facing trials as war criminals.

It is shame on our generation to let such war criminals go free and lecture us about trust and betrayal, and the value of freedom!


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Buddhist violence against Muslims in Sri Lanka is a threat to secularism

There was a time when Sri Lanka was an ideal secular state, or so it felt for all - the majority Buddhists, minority Hindus, Muslims and Christians. It was a peaceful island nations of various races and religions. But those days are long gone. These days Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) is known for its ugly, murderous, racist and bigotted Buddhism, setting the country on a competition with the other Buddhist country Myanmar for the ignoble title to the 'Den of Intolerance.' It is a sad commentary to what was and what has become to this multi-religious south Asian country.

Like in Myanmar, the problem lies with militant, terrorist Buddhist monks that are continuously lighting the fire of hatred against anyone non-Buddhist. Muslims are an easy target in both places. They are on a competition to show how terrible Buddhism is. It is not peaceful at all. As a matter of fact it is rotten and violent - or so they make it to be.

You can view some examples of anti-Muslim violence in Sri Lanka by clicking here and here.

Unlike Myanmar, not everything is lost, however, in Sri Lanka. There is even a Muslim minister. While visiting devastated Muslim areas of Aluthgama recently he had his ears full with 'how could this happen' type questions. You can read the news by clicking here.

Raj Gonsalkorale has written a very good article about the current violence against Muslims in Sri Lanka and how it is a threat to secular character of Sri Lanka. You can read this by clicking here.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Nicholas Kristof On the plight of the Rohingyas of Myanmar

New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof has recently visited Rohingya camps, which are like cages. You can view his trip report by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is alarmed on Communal Violence in Sri Lanka

The communal violence of Sri Lanka's Buddhists against Muslims has erupted on Sunday 15 June in the town of Aluthgama following a large rally of the Buddhist group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS). After the rally, violence erupted on both sides as the BBS and supporters moved in procession through Muslim neighbourhoods, chanting anti-Muslim slogans. Homes, shops and mosques were attacked and some set ablaze. Despite a curfew and deployment of approximately 1,200 police, violence apparently continued into the night.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed her deep alarm Monday at inter-communal violence taking place in south-western Sri Lanka in which two, or possibly three, people have reportedly been killed and scores injured. “The Government must urgently do everything it can to arrest this violence, curb the incitement and hate speech which is driving it, and protect all religious minorities,” the High Commissioner said.

“I am very concerned this violence could spread to Muslim communities in other parts of the country,” Pillay continued. “The authorities must immediately bring the perpetrators of such attacks to book and make it clear to the religious leadership on both sides, and to political parties and the general public, that there is no place for inflammatory rhetoric and incitement to violence.”

“At the same time, the security forces must use appropriate measures to contain the situation and ensure this tragic situation is not compounded by any excessive use of force,” she added.

During her visit to Sri Lanka in August 2013, and in her subsequent reports to the Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner warned about the rising level of attacks against religious minorities and the incitement of violence by Sinhala Buddhist nationalist groups. The Government had promised amendments to enhance existing provisions of the Penal Code and ICCPR Act with regard to hate speech, but these have yet to be adopted.

The Human Rights Council in March 2014 expressed its alarm at the significant surge in attacks against members of religious minority groups in Sri Lanka, including Hindus, Muslims and Christians.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Buddhist violence against Muslims in Sri Lanka

In some of my older articles I have mentioned the nexus between the murderous Buddhist zealots in Myanmar and Sri Lanka. As a matter of fact, the ties are much deeper for such extremists and bigots, and not just limited to those two Buddhist-majority countries. 

As the latest report on Buddhist violence against Muslims in Sri Lanka suggests there is an increasingly alarming similarity between the crimes of bigoted Buddhists against Burma’s Muslim minority and a rising tide of violence against the Muslims of Sri Lanka.

Here I share below the latest information from a newspaper:

Government sources in Colombo protest that there is no resemblance, arguing that the big difference is that no one has been killed in attacks on mosques and Muslim homes in Sri Lanka. Though unofficial reports have suggested that there has been at least one Muslim fatality, there can be no doubting the savagery of attacks on Muslim properties.

The vicious campaign by monks belonging to the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), the Buddhist Brigade, began in earnest in 2013 when a mob attacked a mosque in the capital, which left five people injured. The authorities imposed a clampdown and the police said they at the time that they knew who the attackers were. However, it is not clear that any arrest have ever been made.

Now Sri Lanka’s Muslim community, which makes up around ten percent of the population, has been subjected to further serious attacks by the BBS. This week, after a rally of members in the town Aluthgama, a crowd, many of them monks, set off on a spree of destruction, burning shops and damaging a mosque. It is reported that police did little to intervene until angry Muslims began to strike back at the mob.

A curfew has now been imposed on the town. Using social media, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has promised an investigation into the violence. The culprits in the BBS are of course well known locally in Aluthgama, but Muslim community leaders are not hopeful that any criminal charges will be laid against them.

Nor is there much faith in Rajapaksa promised enquiry. It is not rocket science to see that the monk-led BBS, very probably inspired by the depravities of its counterpart in Burma, lies at the heart of the troubles. The public grounds for their protest are weak. They revolve around a complaint that the Muslim’s enjoy a disproportionate amount of influence. It is no comfort to this fearful minority that the BBS has also in the past attacked Christian churches and properties.

What will be so puzzling for many outsiders is how Buddhists, whose core belief is supposed to be non-violence, can take part in such aggressive and hate-filled crimes. There is some justice to the thought that as a result of the long and bitter fight against Tamil Tiger separatists, many Sri Lankans have been brutalized. And indeed it may be no coincidence that assaults on the Muslim community, only began to pick up once the Tamil separatists had been defeated. It is as if some Buddhists now feel that they must turn their anger on a different minority.

The Buddhist thugs in Burma of course have no such excuse. Though the rule of the Burmese military junta was harsh and the suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations cruel and violent, militant action against the Rohingya and other Muslim groups in the country has long been officially sponsored. Thus Rohingya have been robbed of their citizenship and civil rights. Events in Sri Lanka have not yet reached such a low level. Nevertheless, the Rajapaksa administration should be aware that unless it acts firmly to stop the hate-filled crimes of the BBS, a watching world will become even less impressed with Sri Lanka’s already dubious human rights record.

Dr. Tun Aung to now serve a reduced sentence in Myanmar prison

The Amnesty International has confirmed that Dr Tun Aung, a political prisoner of conscience in Myanmar, has been granted several reductions to his original sentence of 17 years. According to the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) now has one year and one month left to serve in prison.

While we are all glad to learn that Dr. Tun Aung - a family man, doctor, and community leader amongst the Rohingyas of Burma - will serve a much reduced sentence we should not forget that his imprisonment was a crime that was committed by the Myanmar government. He should not have served a single day in the Burmese prison. He has already served two years in the prison for no crime except for being a Rohingya.

Dr. Tun Aung is in poor health. The government should release him immediately.  If not released soon, he may die inside the prison for which the Myanmar regime will ever be held responsible.

Brotherhood of Mankind - the only hope for survival

Nearly 1300 years ago, Hassan al-Basri (R: may Allah have mercy on him), one of the great saints, scholars and preachers of Islam, was asked: "What is Islam, and who are the Muslims?" He answered: "Islam is in the books, and Muslims are in the tomb."

Hassan (R) was a Tabi’i (successor) who had the pleasure of meeting many Companions of the Prophet Muhammad (S: may the blessings of Allah and peace be upon him).  He (21-110 AH, 642-728 CE) was a paragon of the truly pious Muslim. He was an outspoken critic of the political rulers of the Umayyad dynasty (661–750 CE). His political opinions, which were extensions of his religious views, often placed him in precarious situations. During the years 705–714 CE, assan (R) was forced into hiding because of the stance he took regarding the policies of the powerful governor of Iraq, al-ajjāj. After the governor’s death, he came out of hiding and continued to live in Basra until he died. Among later generations of Muslims, he has been remembered for his piety and religious asceticism. [Some of Hassan’s (R) wise sayings can be found in the link here.]

I don’t know when Hassan (R) made the above statement. But I am inclined to guess that it was during the governorship of Hajjaj ibn Yusuf. In his eyes, the period must have been the worst he had ever seen. I don’t know what he would have said had he lived in our time.

As I have noted in an earlier article, the entire world from one end to another seems to be going through a period of grave crisis, witnessing unfathomed crime and violence. No one seems to be safe anymore, anywhere – even in one’s own bedroom! Violence can even come unannounced and unprovoked into a kindergarten classroom or playground that is full of innocent kids that have no clue about what’s going on in the rest of the world.

I wish Muslims had set a better example for the rest of the humanity to follow. After all, theirs is the latest revelation from God – the unmolested, holy Qur’an, which categorically says that if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. [Qur’an 5:32]

The Qur’an says that mankind was one community (2:213) and that all human beings are children of Adam and Eve, i.e., they are essentially brothers and sisters. One of the most important teachings of Islam is brotherhood and sisterhood for the sake of Allah. Unless humanity can embrace each other as brothers and sisters, there is little hope for humanity, and they are doomed for mutual destruction.

It is with this intention of infusing love and brotherhood that I present the following treatise, "The Duties of Brotherhood," written by Imam al-Ghazzali (R). The treatise comes from the second quarter of Ihya'.

Some background information on Imam Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Tusi al-Shafi'i al-Ghazzali (R) may be helpful for our readers. The great Imam was born in 1058 CE at Tus in Iran, and lived till 1111 C.E. This was the time when the Abbasid Caliphate was falling. The Seljuk Turks in the North and the Fatimids in the South began to play leading roles. There was also a great deal of antagonism between all these factions. It was during this critical period that he wrote Ihya' ulum al-din.

It was the custom of early Muslims following the example of the Prophet (S) and his Companions (RA: may Allah be pleased with them) to commit themselves to a "contract" of brotherhood with fellow Muslims. Commenting on this "contract" al-Ghazzali wrote, "Know that the contract of brotherhood is a bond between two persons, like the contract of marriage between two spouses. For just as marriage gives rise to certain duties which must be fulfilled when it is entered into, so does the contract of brotherhood confer upon your brother a certain right touching your property, your person, your tongue and your heart - by way of forgiveness, prayer, sincerity, loyalty, relief and considerateness."

According to Imam al-Ghazzali (R) there are eight duties of brotherhood in Islam (and by extension, for entire humanity).

The first duty is the material one. Muhammad (S) said, "Two brothers are likened to a pair of hands, one of which washes the other." That means the two are like one person. In thus sharing one's property with one's brother there are three degrees -- (i) the lowest degree is where he places his brother on the same footing as his servant, attending to his needs from his surplus. To oblige him to ask is the ultimate shortcoming in brotherly duty; (ii) at the second degree he places his brother on the same footing as himself. He shares his property equally with him; (iii) at the third degree he prefers his brother to himself and sets his need before his own. This is the degree of the siddiq. Self-sacrifice is one of the fruits of this degree. If any of these stages are not present, then the contract of brotherhood is not yet concluded.

In his treatise, al-Ghazzali (R) quotes several true stories from early generations of Muslims.

A man came to Ibrahim ibn-Adham (R) as the latter was leaving for Jerusalem, and said, "I wish to be your traveling companion." [1]

Ibrahim: "On condition that I have more right to your goods than you yourself."

-- "No."

-- "I admire your sincerity," replied Ibrahim ibn-Adham (R).

He would only take those as his companions who were in harmony with him.

Ali (RA) said, "Twenty dirhams I give to my brother in God are dearer to me than one hundred I give in alms to the needy." Muhammad (S) said, "Each time two people are in company together, the dearer to God is he who is kinder to his companion."

Ali ibn-Husayn ibn-Ali (R) said to a man, "Does one of you put your hand in the pocket or purse of his brother and take what he needs without his permission?"


-- "Then you are not brothers,” was his reply.

Abu Sulayman al-Darani (R) used to say, "If I owned the whole world to put in the mouth of a brother of mine I would still deem it too little for him."

The second duty is to render personal aid in the satisfaction of needs, attending to them without waiting to be asked, and giving them priority over personal needs. Jafar ibn-Muhammad (R) said, "I make haste to satisfy the needs of my enemies, lest I reject them and they do without me." If this be the attitude towards enemies, what about friends that are dearer?

A Muslim in those days would see to the maintenance of his brother's wife and children for forty years after his brother's death, attending to their needs, visiting them daily, and providing for them from his wealth so that they missed only the father's person; indeed, they were treated as not even by their father in his life time.

Maymun ibn-Mihran (R) said, "If you reap no benefit from a man's friendship, his enmity will not hurt you." Al-Hassan (RA) used to say, "Our brothers are dearer to us than our families and our children, because our families remind us of this world while our brothers remind us of the Other." Ata (R) said, "Seek out your brothers after three occasions. If they are sick, visit them. If they are busy, help them. If they have forgotten, remind them."

Ibn-Abbas (RA) was asked, "Who is dearest of men to you?"

--"One who sits in my company,” he replied.

He also said, "If someone sits in my company three times without having need of me, I learn where he is placed in the world."

The third duty concerns the tongue, which should be silent, and at other times speak out. As for silence, the tongue should not mention a brother's faults in his absence or presence. Rather one should feign ignorance. He should not contradict his brother when he talks, nor dispute nor argue with him. He should keep silent about the secrets his brother confides in him, and on no account divulge them to a third party - not even to the closest friends of his brother; keep silent from criticism of his dear ones, his family and his children; also from relating other people's criticism of him. However, he should not hide any praise he may hear. Concealment here would mean envy. Muhammad (S) said, "Seek refuge with God from the bad neighbor who sees some good and conceals it, sees some bad and reveals it."

As for mentioning his misdeeds and faults, this is slander and unlawful. Two things should turn one away from it. First, examine his own condition and if he finds there one blameworthy thing then he should be tolerant of what he sees in his brother. Second, he cannot find a blame-less person.

Ibn -al Mubarak (R) said, "The believer tries to find excuses for others, while the hypocrite looks out for mistakes." Muhammad (S) said, "God has forbidden a believer to temper with the blood, property or honor of another, or to hold a bad suspicion of him." Concealing faults, feigning ignorance of them and overlooking them --this is the mark of religious people. Muhammad (S) said, "If a man veils his brother's shame, God will veil him in this world and the Hereafter."

Silence includes abstaining from dispute and contradiction whatever his brother talks about. Ibn-Abbas (RA) said, "Do not dispute with the fool, for he will hurt you; nor with the mild man, for he will dislike you." Al-Hassan (RA) said, "Do not buy the enmity of one man for the love of a thousand men."

The fourth duty is to use the tongue to speak out. He should use the tongue to express affection for his brother. Muhammad (S) said, "If one of you loves his brother, let him know it." Umar (RA) said, "There are three ways of showing sincere brotherly love: give him the greeting "Salam" when you first meet him, make him comfortable, and call him by his favorite names." Still fundamental is that he communicates to him the praise of anyone who praises him, showing his pleasure, for to hide such praise would be pure envy. Ali (RA) said, "He who does not praise his brother for his good intention will not praise him for his good deed."

Muhammad (S) said, "The Muslim is brother to the Muslim. He does not wrong him, does not forsake him, and does not betray him." He also said, "Abu Hirr! Be a good neighbor to your neighbor and you will be a Muslim. Be a good fellow to your companion and you will be a Mu'min." Note the distinction between the excellence of Iman and the excellence of Islam.

The duty to use the tongue also embraces instruction and advice. If one teaches and instructs his brother and yet he does not act in accordance with the knowledge conveyed, then one is obliged to advise. Imam al-Shafi'i (R) said, "To admonish your brother in private is to advise him and improve him. But to admonish him publicly is to disgrace and shame him." Dhul-Nun (R) said, "In fellowship with God, only concord. In fellowship with men, only sincere advice. With the self, only opposition. With Shaytan, only enmity."

The fifth duty is forgiveness of mistakes and failings. The failings of a friend must be one of two kinds -- either in his religion or in his duty (to you). In the case of religion, when he commits an offence and persists in it, he must be advised kindly. If he remains obstinate at this point, there seems to be a divergence in opinion among the Sahabas and Tabi'ins (R). Abu Dharr (RA) said, "If your brother turns his back on his duty, hate him as you used to love him." This course he considered to be dictated by love for Allah's sake and hate for Allah's sake.

Ibrahim al-Nakha'i (R) said, "Do not break off from your brother and do not shun him on account of a sin he has committed, for he may commit it today but give it up tomorrow."

Fellowship is a bond of flesh, like the bond of blood-kinship, and it is not permissible to shun a kinsman on account of his offence. Brotherhood in religion is firmer than brotherhood in kinship. Al-Hassan (RA) used to say, "How many a brother was not born of your mother." Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (R) said, "The affection of a day is a link. That of a month is kinship. That of a year is a blood-tie. If anyone cuts it, God will cut him off." [2]

As for his error in brotherly duty (to you), by which he causes alienation, he should be forgiven and shown patience. It has been said that one should seek seventy excuses for one's brother's misdeed, and if his heart will accept none of them he should turn the blame upon himself, saying to his heart, "How hard you are! Your brother pleads seventy excuses, yet you will not accept him. You are the one at fault, not your brother."

Whenever his brother apologizes to him, he should accept his excuse -- be he lying or telling the truth. Muhammad (S) said, "If a man's brother apologizes to him and he does not accept his excuse, he incurs a sin like that of a tax-collector." He also said, "The believer is quick to anger, quick to be content." Umar (RA) said, "Let not your love become attachment, nor your hate become destruction." That is, do not perish yourself by wishing your fellow's destruction.

The sixth duty is to pray for one's brother, during his life and after his death. He should pray for him as he prays for himself, making no distinction at all between them. For in reality his prayer for his brother is a prayer for himself. Muhammad (S) said, "Whenever a man prays for his brother in secret, the angel says, And to you the same." According to a tradition: a man's prayer for his brother, in secret, is not rejected. Abu Darda (RA) used to say, "I pray for seventy of my brothers during my prostration, naming them by their names."

It is related that Muhammad (S) said, "The dead man in his grave is like one ship-wrecked, completely dependent for everything. He waits for a prayer from a son or brother or relative." Truly, lights like mountains enter the tombs of the dead from the prayer of the living.

The seventh duty is loyalty and sincerity. The meaning of loyalty is steadfastness in love and maintaining it to the death with one's brother, and after his death with his children and his fellows. The prophet (S) said, "Among the seven whom Allah keeps in His shadow are also two men who love each other for His sake, constant whether together or apart." Someone said, "A little loyalty after death is better than much during a lifetime." Allah said, "Tell My servants to say what is kindlier. Surely, Shaytan sets them in variance." (Al-Qur'an 17:53). Lasting affection is that which is for Allah's sake.

Part of loyalty is not to let the relationship with the brother degenerate into humiliation. One of the early believers counseled his son, "My son, take no man for your fellow unless he draws near you when you need him and is not jealous of you when you can manage without him. When his station is exalted he should not lord it over you." Loyalty includes not listening to gossip about one's friend, not befriending his enemy either. Imam al-Shafi'i (R) said, "If your friend obeys your enemy, they share in enmity towards you."

The eighth duty is relief from discomfort and inconvenience. One should not discomfort one's brother with things that are awkward for him, he should not ask him for help with money or influence. No, the sole objective of his love should be God, being blessed by his brother's prayer, enjoying his company, receiving assistance from him in his religion, drawing close to God through attending to his rights and bearing his provision.

Someone said, "He who demands of his brothers what they do not demand, wrongs them. He who demands of them the same as they demand, wearies them. He who makes no demands is their benefactor."

Complete relief means wiping out discomfort until the brother feels no more embarrassment (from you) than from himself. Al-Junayed (R) said, "If two became brothers for God's sake, and one of them is uncomfortable or embarrassed with his fellow, there must be a fault in one of them." A'isha (RA) said, "The believer is brother to the believer. He does not plunder him, nor does he embarrass him."

There are three kinds of people: a man from whose fellowship one can benefit; a man one can be of benefit to, and by whom one will not be hurt, though one cannot benefit from him; and a man whom one cannot benefit and by whom one will be hurt, namely the fool or man of evil character. The third type one should avoid. As for the second, one should not shun him, for one will benefit in the Other World by his intercession and prayers, and by one's reward for attending to him.

One of the Companions (RA) said, "Allah has cursed those who cause discomfort." Relief and lack of fuss is only complete when one considers oneself beneath his brothers and thinks highly of them, but poorly of him. When he considers them better than himself, he is actually better than they! Perfection lies seeing the greater merit in the brother. A brother should never be belittled. The Prophet (S) said, "The believer can do no worse than belittle his brother."

The completion of comfort and freedom from embarrassment includes consulting one's brothers in all his plans, and in accepting their suggestions. None of his secrets should be hidden from them.

As I have hinted earlier, no time in history has the world appeared this chaotic - so unruly, so radar-less and so immoral. Every new day appears worse than the day before. Something has fundamentally gone wrong in our world. Unless humanity can embrace each other as brothers and sisters, there is little hope for humanity to survive this mess. It is there that the teachings of Imam Ghazali (R) come as a lifesaving tablet not only for Muslims but for all humanity.
May we all benefit from these noble teachings of Islam.

[Presented at NABIC conference, June 14, 2014, St. John’s University, N.Y.]

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Another Hindu Minister 'justifying' rape in India

Shaikh’s Murder – Is it the start of a sinister plan in Modi’s India?

A 28-year-old Muslim man was beaten to death in Pune, India on Monday night (June 2) by Hindutvadi zealots with suspected links to a Hindu fundamentalist outfit over a Facebook message they found offensive, according to police. The victim - Mohsin Mohammed Sadique Shaikh - had been living in Pune since 2006 and was working as a young IT manager with Ujjwala Enterprises in Pune for the last four years.

Shaikh was bludgeoned to death after being beaten with hockey sticks near Hadapsar area on the outskirts of Pune. Shaikh's cousin Salman said that the victim and his roommate were returning home in Bankar colony on their motorcycle after picking up their dinner.

"A gang of youths blocked his way near the lane just behind his house and started hitting him with sticks. While the roommate managed to escape, they bludgeoned my cousin with stones and fled. He was lying covered in blood for about 15 minutes. His brother rushed there and took him to a nearby hospital where he died during treatment," he said.

A little before the murder, the same Hindu youths had beaten up two other Muslims (Izaz Yusuf Bagwan, 25, and Ameen Shaikh, 25) at the same spot. On Tuesday night, the police had arrested seven Hindus suspected of committing the crimes. They were remanded in police custody till June 9.

Assistant public prosecutor told the court that the custodial interrogation of the suspects was essential for recovering the hockey sticks and stones allegedly used in committing the murder.

According to police, the trigger for the attack was apparently uploading of morphed images of a late Hindu Maratha warlord Chhatrapati Shivaji and late Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray - much revered by Hindutvadi forces inside India - on Facebook by unknown persons. In a riot-prone, hateful environment, which India has gotten used to since 1947 Muslims are, however, suspected, by default, of posting such images in the Facebook. As such, Shaikh, who had nothing to do with the posting, became an easy target for the murderous Hindu zealots.

As expected, the posting of the 'offensive' pictures in the Facebook has agitated the Hindutvadi extremists of the RSS and HRS (Hindu Rashtra Sena) who called a massive strike (bandh) to protest the posting.

It is worth noting here that HRS first came into focus when it carried an attack on the office of a Marathi television channel in 2007 protesting their coverage of an incident involving a Hindu minor girl who had eloped with a Muslim boy. In the past decade, its firebrand leader - the 34-year-old Dhananjay Desai - has been slapped with as many as 20 cases in various police stations in Pune. The cases were mostly against rioting and giving inflammatory speeches in which Desai has secured bail.

Soon after killing IT graduate Mohsin Shaikh members of the extremist group HRS exchanged an ominous message on their mobiles. The message said "pahili wicket padli" or the first wicket has fallen.

Scores of buses and shops owned by Muslims were damaged during the bandh called by right wing elements to protest the objectionable Facebook post. A Muslim bakery shop was also put on fire. A Hindu mob of around 25 persons came on motorbikes and started attacking members of the Muslim community at a nearby location.

While protesters in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad went on the rampage on Saturday, on Sunday, traffic was held up at the Khalapur toll plaza on the Mumbai-Pune expressway for about half-an-hour. Also, shops were shut in Nerul, Koparkhairane and Ghansoli in Navi Mumbai over rumors that a political party had called for a bandh.

Meanwhile, HRS chief Desai, who was arrested in connection with distribution of inflammatory literature on Tuesday, has denied any involvement of his organization in the violent incidents. He was later released on bail. He was again arrested on Wednesday in connection with a similar case (circulation of provocative pamphlets) by police in suburban Loni Kalbhor.

Police issued an appeal asking people not to believe or spread rumors and said Mohsin Shaikh, who stayed at Hadapsar since 2006, was not involved with any organization.

The police are still to trace the Internet Protocol address of the person (yet unidentified) who posted the material online but are not ruling out the possibility that a proxy server may have been used. Cases against unidentified persons have been filed in Mumbai, Nerul, Pune, Nashik, Yeola, Aurangabad, Satara and Sangli.

While the situation in the area has remained peaceful since Tuesday with heavy deployment of security force, city police commissioner Satish Mathur said stringent provisions of Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act (MPDA) would be invoked to book the miscreants suspected of involvement in inciting violence. Police have also applied Section 295A IPC which deals with deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings.

In an attempt to contain protests over "objectionable" posts on a social networking site the Maharashtra police have decided to take action even against those who 'like' the controversial posts. Those who 'like' such posts will be booked under the Information Technology Act and under the Code of Criminal Procedure. A person could face three to five years in jail if convicted under Section 66 (a) of the IT Act (punishment for sending offensive messages through communication service, etc.), applied in this case.

If the past is any indicator to predict the future outcome, I believe that this latest witch-hunting measure by the Police is misdirected and would only victimize innocent cyber users while the criminal elements of the Hindutvadi forces go Scot-free. Already the hate crime against Shaikh has been dubbed in state government's report as an ordinary crime. Many observers believe that Maharashtra government may be under pressure not to project Shaikh's murder as a communal incident, given that it may not go down well with the minority Muslim community ahead of state polls later this year.

Surely, with the emergence of the BJP in the central stage in India, Hindutvadi forces are in the offensive and would provoke similar incidents to bring about their desired Ram Rajya minus non-Hindus. I won't be surprised to learn that they may actually have been behind the Facebook posting to stir Hindu-Muslim and even Dalit-Muslim tension. The inclusion of images of Dr. Ambedkar (a revered figure amongst the Dalits) in the Facebook surely points to the Hindutvadi connection.

Not to be overlooked in this context is the recent gang rape and murder of two Dalit girls in Katra Sadatganj village of Badaun district of Uttar Pradesh (UP), which once again underscores why India is now the least safe place on earth for females. Five accused — brothers Pappu Yadav, Awadhesh Yadav and Urvesh Yadav and police constables Chhatrapal Yadav and Sarvesh Yadav — all Hindus – were arrested in connection with the gruesome rape, murder and subsequent hanging of those two teenage girls. The morphed image of Dr. Ambedkar in the Facebook may well be an attempt by Hindutvadi fascists to direct and realign Dalit anger away from fellow Hindus towards Muslims.

The state DGP A.L. Banerjee on Saturday turned the narrative so far on its head to suggest that the killings might have been triggered by property dispute and family honor. He also said only one of the two girls was raped and that both were hung after they were killed, contradicting Badaun SSP's comment last week that the girls were hanged to death. His disclosures suggest the five men - two of whom are UP police constables - arrested for the rape and murder could be innocent.

The Madhya Pradesh home minister Babulal Gaur Yadav from the ruling Narendra Modi’s BJP has stirred a hornet’s nest on Thursday when he described rape as a social crime, saying “sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong”. Gaur also expressed sympathy with Mulayam Singh Yadav, head of the regional Samajwadi Party that runs UP. In the recent election, Mulayam criticized legal changes that foresee the death penalty for gang rape, saying: 'Boys commit mistakes: Will they be hanged for rape?'

The father and uncle of one of the Badaun victims said they tried to report the crime to local police but had been turned away. Although a rape is reported in India every 21 minutes on average, law enforcement failures mean that such crimes - a symptom of pervasive sexual and caste oppression - are often not reported or properly investigated. Not too long ago, another woman in a nearby district of Uttar Pradesh was gang-raped, forced to drink acid and strangled to death. Another was shot dead in northeast India while resisting attackers.

The rape and murder incident has also highlighted India’s dismal record on sanitation. The Badaun girls were abducted as they went to relieve themselves. According to the 2011 Census, 53 per cent households in the country don't have toilet facilities while the figure is much higher at 69.3 per cent in rural areas. Over 78 per cent of rural households in states like Jharkhand, Bihar, Rajasthan, Odisha and Chhattisgarh don't have toilets. That is like 4 in 5 without toilet facility!

Surely India needs more toilets than Hindu temples. It is high time for India to straighten her priorities rather than stoking hatred and fear that only divide this country of many castes and creeds.


Sikh Violence at the Golden Temple, Amritsar, India

Thirty years ago, in 1984 the Sikh Golden Temple at Amritsar was raided by the Indian military to flush out Sikh separatists of the Khalistan movement that was led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. The then prime minister Indira Gandhi called in the operation in which many Sikhs got killed resisting the raid.

Last Friday rival groups of Sikhs clashed at the shrine. Ceremonial swords and staffs were swung in anger, resulting in injuries and panic.

The violence broke out after a group of "radical Sikh activists" wanted to brandish their swords and chant slogans calling for a separate Sikh homeland, or Khalistan, according to the Times of India. The newspaper says at least 12 people were injured. Video from the shrine shows tightly packed groups of agitated men wearing orange, yellow or blue turbans, yelling and arguing in the shrine complex as sword fights broke out. As the sound of clanging metal rang out, attendees rushed to get out of the way of the blows. In one sequence that recalled a scene from an old movie, men swung swords at one another as they fought their way up and down a staircase.

You can view the clash at the temple site by clicking here.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Is a Federal System necessary for Burma?

I just got a letter from a reader who wrote: "I have just checked your website and I wonder your proposal of a federal state within Burma. How can it be possible , is this federal system a solution to almost all the conflicting peoples in the world now?"

My reply follows:

Surely, not every state requires a federal state. But Burma does need it badly since it is a conglomerate state, artificially curved out by the British in 1948 that has hundreds of ethnicites and many religions. The population has very little in common - the very ingredients necessary for nation-building.
Without a federal structure I see little hope of survival of this country. The bullets are never a guarantee to hold a together an artificial state made of diverse and racist communities.
But the federal state formula alone will not cut it for Burma since it is also mired in obnoxious racism and bigotry against anyone who is not a Buddhist, esp. the Rohingya Muslims. So, its political leadership must learn the hard-earned lessons from other parts of the multi-religious societies of our world and amend its ways to make the state more inclusive and plural. Citizenship of the Rohingya people towards their genuine integration can be the starting formula in this long journey of nation-building.
But will the Buddhists leadership and its xenophobic, murderous cadre and monks understand this and implement changes necessary for Burma's survival?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Appalling Apartheid State of the Rohingyas Must End

Nicholas Kristof is a very well-known news reporter and columnist for the New York Times where over the years he has posted many articles that are based on his firsthand account of the subject matter. In his latest article “Myanmar’s Appalling Apartheid” (NYT, May 28, 2014), Kristof wrote about Myanmar and the appalling apartheid nature of the murderous regime and its Buddhist populace that have long refused to accept the presence of the non-Mongoloid, Indian-Bangladeshi looking and racial group of people that are mostly Muslims and are known as the Rohingya people of Arakan (now called the Rakhine state), Burma’s western frontier state bordering Bangladesh.

Unlike many news reporters, Mr. Kristof is a very well read person and criticizes the racist attitude of the Buddhist people in Myanmar and its rogue regime.

He writes, "There are more than one million Rohingya in Rakhine State in the northwest of Myanmar. They are distinct from the local Buddhists both by darker skin and by their Islamic faith. For decades, Myanmar’s military rulers have tried systematically to erase the Rohingya’s existence with oppression, periodic mass expulsions and denials of their identity.

“There are no people called Rohingya in Myanmar,” U Win Myaing, a spokesman for Rakhine State, told me. He said that most are simply illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

This narrative is absurd, as well as racist. A document as far back as 1799 refers to the Rohingya population here, and an 1826 report estimates that 30 percent of the population of this region was Muslim."

Mr. Kristof is 100 percent right. Dr. Francis Buchanan’s work testifies to the existence of the Rohingya people in Burma in the late 18th century, a quarter century before Arakan was colonized by the East India Company (EIC). He (1762-1829) was a surgeon working for the EIC. He was also a surveyor and botanist who lived in India and Burma for decades. His work is one of the most detailed sources for the social and cultural history of Arakan, Burma and India in the late 18th and early 19th century.

 As noted in the JSTOR, Buchanan was born at Branziet near Bardowie, Stirlingshire. After qualifying in medicine in 1783 at the University of Edinburgh, he became a medical officer with the East India Company, spending time in Asia in 1785, 1788-1789 and 1791. He was finally employed as assistant surgeon in Bengal (1794-1815), giving him the opportunity to explore large parts of the Indian subcontinent, where he hoped to collect plants. His first major collections were made in Burma (Myanmar) in 1795, where he accompanied Captain Michael Symes on a political mission to Ava. In 1800 he was commissioned to survey South India following the British victory in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War, and later made a further, wide-ranging survey of all the areas under the jurisdiction of the British East India Company. This task took him some seven years from 1807 and covered not only topography and natural resources but also aspects of local culture, religion and history and archaeology.

Travelling through Burma and the Andaman Islands (1795), Chittagong (1798), Nepal (1800-1803), North Bengal and Bihar (1807-1809), Dr. Buchanan made detailed observations and prepared extensive reports. His work A Comparative Vocabulary of Some of the Languages Spoken in the Burma Empire” was published by the Asiatic Researches in 1799. This work provided one of the first major Western surveys of the languages of Burma, and more importantly, provided important data on the ethno-cultural identities and identifications of the various population groups in the first half of Bodawpaya’s reign (1782-1819).

Dr. Buchanan wrote, “The proper natives of Arakan call themselves Yakain, which name is also commonly given to them by the Burmas [Burmese]. By the people of Pegu, they are named Takain. By the Bengal Hindus [i.e., Bengali-speaking Hindus], at least by such of them as have been settled in Arakan, the country is called Rossaum, from whence, I suppose, Mr. Rennell has been induced to make a country named Roshaum occupy part of his map, not conceiving that it would be Arakan, or the kingdom of the Mugs [Maghs], as we often call it. Whence this name of Mug, given by the Europeans to the natives of Arakan, has been derived, I know not; but, as far as I could learn, it is totally unknown to the natives and their neighbours, except such of them as, by their intercourse with us, have learned its use. The Mahommedans [Muslims] settled at Arakan, call the country Rovingaw; the Persians call it Rekan.” [Note: the parentheses [] within the quotes of Dr. Buchanan’s statement are mine. – HS]

Dr. Buchanan continued, “I shall now add three dialects, spoken in the Burma Empire, but evidently derived from the language of the Hindu nation.

The first is that spoken by the Mohammedans, who have long settled in Arakan, and who call themselves Rooinga, or natives of Arakan.

The second dialect is that spoken by the Hindus of Arakan. I procured it from a Brahmen [Brahmin] and his attendants, who had been brought to Amarapura by the king’s eldest son, on his return from the conquest of Arakan. They call themselves Rossawn, and, for what reason I do not know, wanted to persuade me that theirs was the common language of Arakan. Both these tribes, by the real natives of Arakan, are called Kulaw Yakain, or stranger Arakan.

The last dialect of the Hindustanee [Hindustani] which I shall mention, is that of a people called, by the Burmas [Burmese], Aykobat, many of them are slaves at Amarapura [i.e., capital of Burmese kingdom]. By one of them I was informed, that they had called themselves Banga; that formerly they had kings of their own; but that, in his father’s time, their kingdom had been overturned by the king of Munnypura [Manipur in north-eastern India], who carried away a great part of the inhabitants to his residence.

When that was taken last by the Burmas, which was about fifteen years ago, this man was one of the many captives who were brought to Ava. He said also, that Banga was seven days’ journey south-west from Munnypura: it must, therefore, be on the frontiers of Bengal, and may, perhaps, be the country called in our maps Cashar [Cachar district in today’s Assam].” [Note: the parentheses [] within the quotes of Dr. Buchanan’s statement are mine. – HS]

As I have noted in some of my own well-researched articles, some two centuries before the travel of Dr. Buchanan, Bengali literature that emanated from Arakan speaks about the territory as Roshang (or Rohang in local southern dialect where the letter ‘s’ is silent) Desh [i.e., land of the Roshang people]. As per established local customs and rules, it is no accident that the people of Roshang or Rohang will be called Rohingya in the local dialect [just as the people of Chatga or Chatgaon are called Chatgaiya, and the people of Dhaka are Dhakaiya].  

In their masterpiece work "Arakan Rajsabhay Bangala Sahitya,” Abdul Karim Shahitya Visarad and Dr. Enamul Haq wrote, "The way Bangali flourished in the court of the 17th century Arakan, nothing of that sort is found in its [Bengal’s] own soil. It is surprising that during the exile of Bengali language in Arakan, it was greatly appreciated by the Muslim courtiers of the Arakanese kings and the Muslim poets of East Bengal, especially those of the [greater] Chittagong Division.”

These scholars further wrote, “The study of Bengali literature that the Muslim initiated reached perfection under the aegis of the courtiers of the Roshang kings. It is needless to say that the Kings’ Court of Roshang got filled up with Muslim influence long before this. From the beginning of the 15th century AD the Kings’ Court of Roshang by luck was compelled to heartily receive the Muslim influence…

…. [T]he powerful intrusion of the Muslim influence that penetrated into the Kings’ Court of Roshang in the fifteenth century AD grew all the more in the following centuries. This influence gradually grew so strong that it reached the highest point in the seventeenth century. The Bengali literature in this century shows the full picture of the Muslim influence in the King’s Court of Roshang.”

How can this piece of history about flourishing Bengali literature and the presence of Muslim courtiers and subjects in Arakan be ignored by any objective analyst? Only a chauvinist can deny the overwhelming historical evidences about the existence of the forefathers of today's Rohingya people to the soil of Arakan. As many reputed historians concur the forefathers of today’s Rohingyas are the first settlers of this landmass of Arakan (that have been renamed as the Rakhine state today by the Buddhist racists). They have more rights to the territory than anyone else.

Simply because of a flawed decision - and this I say with much deliberation on the whole issue surrounding the inhuman treatment of vulnerable minorities – of the British colonial administration, the fate of the people of Arakan (separated by the Naaf River) has been tied up with those of the rest of Burma (and not with Bengal or as a separate entity) when the territories were occupied beginning with the First Anglo-Burmese War of 1824. When later Burma was de-colonized in 1948, Arakan was made a part of Burma (today's Myanmar).

Had the colonial government wished, Arakan could have had a much deserving independent status, or even be made part of East Pakistan (later Bangladesh) because of its historical ties to Chittagong and rest of Bengal for centuries before the Burmese colonization in 1784. But the colonial government decided to seal its fate with the rest of Buddhist-majority Burma. And this happened because of the promises made by the founding fathers of Burma - which included Suu Kyi's father Aung San - that the rights of the minorities in the frontier territories would be honored and won't be compromised an iota.

However, soon after the assassination of the founding fathers by Buddhist chauvinists who did not like the multi-racial and -religious character of the future Burma, the fate of the Rohingya Muslims took a very wrong turn. They were targeted for elimination. Being threatened they waged guerrilla war against the regime, which, by the way, was more a norm than an exception in those early days of independent Burma when all the racial and religious minorities including the communists were fighting their own wars against the central government. The Rohingya Mujahids laid down their arms when promises to integrate them on an equal footing were made by the government and military generals.

But one betrayal followed another. And soon draconian measures followed, which aimed at rendering the Rohingya people stateless in their ancestral land. In one of the greatest constitutional crimes of the last century, the Rohingyas - the first settlers to the crescent of Arakan- were declared stateless, i.e., they don't qualify as citizens in Burma. In our world, there is no such parallel. It is the worst amongst the apartheid policies that our world has ever seen.

Shamelessly, however, many Buddhists and Burmese people have now bought and swallowed that apartheid pill from the hated regime and its racist and bigoted supporters within today's Myanmar. This apartheid state must come to an end for not only the genuine restoration of the persecuted Rohingya people but also for regional safety and security. The recent killing of a Bangladeshi Border Guard by trigger-happy security forces of Myanmar once again underscores the importance of finding an equitable solution to the appalling apartheid state of the Rohingya people.

Denying the very existence of a slow-burning but “smart” genocide, committed by the racist Buddhist regime and its criminal supporters within the wider Myanmar society is simply unacceptable. Denied access by the doctors, the Rohingya people are in worse shape today than any time before. They are being slowly strangled to death with lack of food, medical care, and hope. Fortify Rights has lately reported that there are as few as one physician per 83,000 Rohingyas, while for the Buddhist-majority there is one physician for every 681 persons. What an apartheid state!

Mr. Kristof writes, "Obama has lately noted that his foreign policy options are limited, and that military interventions often backfire. True enough, but in Myanmar he has political capital that he has not fully used. As a university student, Obama denounced apartheid in South Africa. As president, he should stand up to an even more appalling apartheid — one in Myanmar that deprives members of one ethnic group even of health care. Myanmar seeks American investment and approval. We must make clear that it will get neither unless it treats Rohingya as human beings."

I endorse fully the above statement. It is time for the USA to do what is needed to change the appalling inhuman condition of the Rohingya people. The sooner the better!

You can read Nicholar Kristof's article by clicking here.