Thursday, November 23, 2017

What is Behind the Military Coup in Zimbabwe?

What is Behind the Military Coup in Zimbabwe?

The goy and the golem: James Angleton and the rise of Israel

To read the article by Philip Weiss, click here.

70 Years of Broken Promises

70 Years of Broken Promises: The Untold Story of the Partition Plan

Lebanese PM Suspends Resignation Pending More Talks


Though Hariri reiterated his denial of reports that he was forced to resign during his visit to Saudi Arabia, the fact that he has now suspending the resignation and is suggesting an openness to staying in power outright will doubtless add to speculation that his statements in Saudi Arabia weren’t exactly voluntary.
There’s a lot of concern about a Saudi-led blockade, in the style of the one against Qatar, targeting the nation, and Saudi Arabia is known to prefer Hariri’s brother in power, who is seen as more willing to tow the Saudi line.
The Saudis are positioning Lebanon as part of Iran’s regional bloc, because Hezbollah is a powerful political party there. Lebanon’s government is structured in such a way as to ensure any government includes Shi’ites, Sunnis, and Christians in prominent positions, and the fact that Hezbollah is sch a large Shi’ite party virtually assures they’ll be the member of most viable coalitions.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Causes, consequences and remedies against money laundering

by Ikhtiar Mohammad 

A report by the central bank of Switzerland claims that the total deposit by Bangladeshi citizens in various Swiss banks totalled Tk 5,566 crore in 2016, which was Tk 4,417 in 2015, a 19 per cent increase in deposits over one year. There are speculations that foreign deposits usually increase prior to national elections out of fear and concern.
Every year on an average Bangladeshis are laundering around USD 6.5 billion out of their country.
In between 2005-2014, Bangladesh lost USD 75 billion due to trade misinvoicing and other unrecorded outflows.
According to a UN report in 2010, annually, more than 30 per cent of Bangladesh’s GDP go out of the country.
Bangladesh is now the third largest source of foreign remittance for India. Thousands of Indian executives work in Bangladesh — most of them illegally — and remit billions of dollars to India. It is interesting, neither the government nor the intelligentsia in Bangladesh seem worried about it, at all.
Ironically, someone has commented in social media that plundered money is now the second most important export item — after readymade garments — from Bangladesh. Unfortunately, it happens to be true.
In simple words, money laundering contains all activities to make the illegally earned money legal through legitimate banking channel or business transactions. It involves transfer of money taking a long path to make it legitimate in the legal source so that the origin of this money is laundered or remain concealed.
Dynamic and ever evolving, the process of money laundering is accomplished into three stages: placement, layering and integration. Placement is the first stage of the process which brings the illegal earnings into the financial system. In the second stage, known as layering, the money is moved or transferred into the financial system through multiple transactions so that its authentic origin can be hidden. The last stage is integration though which the illegal money appears legitimate in the financial system.
The fundamental cause of money laundering in any country is the evasion of tax. Same holds true for Bangladesh as well. As the source of earning this money is illegal, for example, drugs dealing, human trafficking, smuggling, bribery, gambling etc., the earner always tries to make the source remain covered with the flavour of legitimate business. Hence, to protect the illegally earned money from confiscation is another reason for money laundering.
In Bangladesh, the prime cause of money laundering is lack of political transparency and good governance which has created and encouraged corruption in all sectors of the society. The second reason is huge informal employment and unimaginably high informal transaction in the economy that left lots of undefined sources. Lastly, political instability or pseudo stability is a major concern for the riches that somehow compel them to look for external destination.
The implications of money laundering for a developing country such as Bangladesh are colossal. Money laundering diminishes government tax revenue. It leads to misallocation of resources and transfers economic power from the market, government, and citizens to criminals. It has severe social and political costs as laundered money may be used to corrupt national institutions. Reputation and trust of the financial institutions are being tarnished by involvement with money laundering.
The major consequence is extra burden on the middle class and honest formal sector tax payers whose tax burden is swelling rapidly. The vacuum of private sector investment is another major outcome of money laundering in Bangladesh.
Money laundering causes hike in price level, which triggers inflation. Gini coefficient, represents the income or wealth distribution of a nation’s residents, and is the most commonly used measure of inequality, will go higher if small part of the society holds significant portion of money of the economy.
If money is remitted to foreign country, then definitely a blow is delivered to the national reserve. Money laundering accelerates crime and illegal activity. When cost of committing crime decreases then the quantity of crime increases and vice versa, and equilibrium is created in the market when the marginal revenue (crime opportunity) and marginal cost (cost of committing crimes) equate.
Therefore, no overnight solution exists for money laundering. The definition of money laundering should scrutinise the informal transactions carefully and bring all of them under tax bracket so that the earners impel to abide by law. Good governance in the tax administration is also a prime factor to stop money laundering.
Specifically, some measures should be applied to control this crime. The government should make a strong string of financial intelligence wing in the financial sectors. The policing to unearth the crime should be intensified so that the origin of crime is contained. The government, therefore, should give some exemplary punishments to those once identified with money laundering and scrutinise the life style of suspected people. In different wings of National Board of Revenue — income tax, customs etc — experts having specialised knowledge of business, criminology and law should be appointed. In Criminal Investigation Department, Anti-Corruption Commission and Comptroller and Auditor General office, the personnel appointed should have specialised knowledge in forensic accounting, at least they should have business educational background. Furthermore, the customs authority need to be vigilant and monitor that both import and export shipments are sticking to the quantities mentioned in their Letter of Credits and both parties concerned paying the right amount of duties and taxes to the government. In addition, the banks need to check that the prices quoted by importers for their goods in their LCs are in line with the international prices.
Bangladesh government should be wary of the unusual amount of money transactions in the banking system. Furthermore, government should motivate such money to be invested into infrastructural projects or to any project which will focus on rural development. This will help to utilise such money for reinvesting into the economy and therefore benefiting mass people. For instance, tax waiver advantage can be offered if anyone buys the share of any rural development project.
However, no matter what strategies are being formulated and action plans are devised, the only key to curb money laundering throughout the world is ensuring transparency and accountability leading to uprooting corruption, which also includes misuse or abuse of power by people having authority — both in public and private domain.
Ikhtiar Mohammad is a development researcher at BRAC Research and Evaluation Division.

George Soros: Rebuttal of the October 9 National Consultation in Hungary:

Rebuttal of the October 9 National Consultation in Hungary:
November 20, 2017, www.GeorgeSoros.com

On October 9, 2017, the Hungarian government mailed a national consultation to all eight million eligible Hungarian voters purporting to solicit their opinions about a so-called “Soros Plan.” The statements in the national consultation contain distortions and outright lies that deliberately mislead Hungarians about George Soros’s views on migrants and refugees. Hungarian government officials also falsely claim that George Soros is somehow controlling the European Union decision-making process. In fact, decisions on how to address the migration crisis are made by EU member states and institutions, including the Hungarian government.

With Hungary’s health care and education systems in distress and corruption rife, the current government has sought to create an outside enemy to distract citizens. The government selected George Soros for this purpose, launching a massive anti-Soros media campaign costing tens of millions of euros in taxpayer money, stoking anti-Muslim sentiment, and employing anti-Semitic tropes reminiscent of the 1930s. The national consultation is part of an ongoing propaganda effort that has been underway since May 2015 that included the “Stop Brussels” consultation in the spring of 2017 and the referendum that vilified migrants and refugees in 2016.

George Soros started his giving in Hungary in the 1980s, establishing a foundation there in 1984. Since then, his support for Hungarians has totaled roughly €350 million and has included scholarships, health care services, and humanitarian efforts, including €1 million for reconstruction after the red sludge disaster in 2010. He also funds current efforts to help educate children with learning disabilities, tackle homelessness, and bring public transportation to the Hungarian countryside.

As a concerned citizen, George Soros regularly publishes commentary in newspapers around the world expressing his views and proposing policy approaches on a variety of topics, including the migration crisis. These are all publicly available on his website: www.GeorgeSoros.com.

National Consultation Statement 1:
George Soros wants Brussels to resettle at least one million immigrants per year onto European Union territory, including in Hungary.

FALSE
In a 2015 opinion piece, George Soros said that because of the war in Syria, the European Union would have to “accept at least a million asylum-seekers annually for the foreseeable future. And, to do that, it must share the burden fairly” (“Rebuilding the Asylum System,” Project Syndicate, September 26, 2015). A year later, when circumstances had changed, he suggested that the EU should make a “commitment to admit even a mere 300,000 refugees annually” (“Saving Refugees to Save Europe,” Project Syndicate, September 12, 2016).

National Consultation Statement 2:
Together with officials in Brussels, George Soros is planning to dismantle border fences in EU member states, including in Hungary, to open the borders for immigrants.

FALSE
George Soros has clearly stated his belief that “the EU must regain control of its borders.” He believes that “the EU must build common mechanisms for protecting borders, determining asylum claims, and relocating refugees.” (“Saving Refugees to Save Europe,” Project Syndicate, September 12, 2016).

National Consultation Statement 3:
One part of the Soros Plan is to use Brussels to force the EU-wide distribution of immigrants that have accumulated in Western Europe, with special focus on Eastern European countries. Hungary must also take part in this.

FALSE
In his most recent commentary on the refugee crisis, George Soros endorsed “a voluntary matching mechanism for relocating refugees.” He made clear that “the EU cannot coerce member states to accept refugees they do not want, or refugees to go where they are not wanted.” (“Saving Refugees to Save Europe,” Project Syndicate, September 12, 2016).

National Consultation Statement 4:
Based on the Soros Plan, Brussels should force all EU member states, including Hungary, to pay immigrants HUF 9 million (€28,000) in welfare.

FALSE
George Soros did not say that Hungary should be forced to pay HUF 9 million in welfare to immigrants. He did say, “Adequate financing is critical. The EU should provide €15,000 per asylum-seeker for each of the first two years to help cover housing, health care, and education costs—and to make accepting refugees more appealing to member states.” (“Rebuilding the Asylum System,” Project Syndicate, September 26, 2015). This would clearly be a subsidy from the EU to the Hungarian government. Last year George Soros announced that he would contribute to the financial effort by earmarking €430 million of his personal fortune “for investments that specifically address the needs of migrants, refugees and host communities.” (“Why I’m Investing $500 Million in Migrants,” The Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2016).

National Consultation Statement 5:
Another goal of George Soros is to make sure that migrants receive milder criminal sentences for the crimes they commit.

FALSE
Nowhere has Soros made any such statement. This is a lie.

National Consultation Statement 6:
The goal of the Soros Plan is to push the languages and cultures of Europe into the background so that integration of illegal immigrants happens much more quickly.

FALSE
Nowhere has Soros made any such statement. This is a lie.

National Consultation Statement 7:
It is also part of the Soros Plan to initiate political attacks against those countries which oppose immigration, and to severely punish them.

FALSE
Nowhere has Soros made any such statement. This is a lie.

There is a Genocide Going on Right Now in Myanmar and We’re Ignoring It




We said never again. But it’s happening right now, and we are doing nothing to stop it.
Here’s what is going on with Rohingya in Myanmar and why we should be doing much more.
‘Never Again’ - This is what world leaders solemnly promised in the aftermath of World War II, and that promise was the start of the international human rights system. After the horrors of the Holocaust, the world united to agree on minimum standards of dignity – that is, human rights – for all human beings.
Human rights were given weight by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and later made enforceable in Europe under the Human Rights Convention. But what is happening in Myanmar shows that the world’s promise of “never again” does not always apply. We really need to talk about what’s going on, but more crucially, what are we doing to about it.
How Did We Get Here? The Story of the Rohingya in Myanmar
The Rohingya crisis didn’t happen overnight. As always, there were many warning signs. Institutionalised discrimination has been going on for decades, stemming from long-simmering ethnic and religious frictions which were rooted in colonial rule. This has also been exacerbated by the military’s xenophobic nation-building agenda.

Rohingya Muslims have existed in the country for centuries. Myanmar, previously known as Burma, has always been mostly Buddhist, but under British colonial rule in the 182os migrant labour was encouraged to expand rice cultivation. Many Muslim workers from neighbouring Bengal came to the country and the Rohingya community (which has been present since the 12th century) expanded rapidly – tripling between the 1870s and 1910s.
 
Broken Promises and Rebellions


British rulers promised the Rohingya separate land in exchange for support, hence why they sided with them during WWII. After the war though, when Myanmar gained independence from British rule, the Rohingya were denied the promised autonomous state and, at the same time, they were excluded from Myanmar’s population. In 1950, a Rohingya rebellion broke out and was eventually crushed by the army, who called and treated them as terrorists.

After the 1926 military coup, the situation further deteriorated in the 60 years of military rule. In 1978, a heavy-handed government campaign for citizens’ registration pushed more than 200,000 Rohingyas to flee to Bangladesh. In 1982, a new citizenship law branded Rohingyas as illegal immigrants, effectively making them stateless and depriving them of their most fundamental rights. At the beginning of the 1990s, 200,000 Rohingyas flew to Bangladesh to escape forced labour, violence and persecution at the hands of the army.
 
A Transition to Democracy Gone Wrong
A democratic transition has been ongoing since December 2010, when opposition leader and Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest. But things for the Rohingya did not improve, at all. Some even said the democratic transition actually inflamed things. Rohingyas were not included in the census nor allowed to participate in the first democratic elections.
A text book example of ethnic cleansing -
Ra’ad al-Hussein, UN
 


Violence has been greatly escalating in the past two years. Violent attacks in  October 2016 and August 2017 by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army sparked an intense crackdown by the Myanmar military. Massive “clearance operations” have been going on ever since, with Rohingya villages being burned to the ground and survivors telling brutal stories of murder, rape and torture.

Since August 2017 alone more than 600,000 Rohingya have fled. Embarking on a long and dangerous journey to neighbouring Bangladesh, they have joined hundreds of thousands who fled in earlier waves of ethnic violence.
The Rohingya refugee population in Bangladesh is now topping more than 1 million. However, to make matters worse, the country has repeatedly pushed back refugees and is now even talking about offering sterilisation in refugees camps.
Why Aren’t we Calling it Genocide?
The Rohingyas have been commonly dubbed “the world’s most persecuted minority” for a while. According to the United Nations human rights’ chief, what’s going on in Myanmar is “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.  
 





The situation in Bosnia and in Rwanda (that is, years of concerted dehumanisation campaigns building up to mass murders) –  arguably meets the criteria for being described as a genocide under international law. Many have drawn parallels to Myanmar.
Calls from academics to label the atrocities against Rohingyas as genocide are on the rise. In fact, the Yale Law School’s human rights clinic released a report suggesting the persecution of the Rohingya fit the legal definition of genocide before the last two cycles of violence in Myanmar.
A genocide is taking place, but there is taking place, but there is little chance the international community will effectively mobilise to stop it
David Simon. Yale University
That notwithstanding, though, world leaders appear very reluctant to use the word “genocide”. The hang-up is a clause in the UN Genocide Convention that requires them to “prevent and punish” it, something the international community is neither willing nor able to do.
David Simon, Director of the Genocide Studies Program at Yale University, added: “A genocide is taking place, but there is little chance that the international community will mobilize effectively to stop it. Questions of national sovereignty and self-interest have almost always trumped international concerns about human rights.”
A Human Rights Symbol Ignores a Genocide?
The inertia of international community also somewhat depends on its leader Aung San Suu Kyi being one of the most celebrated human rights icons of our age.
The Nobel peace laureate has completely failed to call out on the atrocities being committed against the Rohingyas, in what has been called “the clearest act of complicity”. Suu Kyi’s transformation into “genocide apologist” has prompted requests to take away her Nobel prize as well as other honours bestowed to her on grounds of her human rights activists.
The inability of the international community to take any action despite being faced with the most atrocious human rights violations shows a dismaying measure of the state of art of human rights. And this should motivate all of us to keep pushing – harder and stronger – to see the Rohingya genocide acknowledged and accounted for. We said “never again.” Now it is time to show we really meant it.
 

 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

White Supremacist Hate Crimes surge in LA

White supremacist hate crimes in and around Los Angeles soared last year, according to a new report, mirroring a national increase in crime linked to animus against specific groups.
Most of those crimes were acts of vandalism that included swastikas or other hate symbols. Hate crimes grew by 11% in 2016 from 2015 in California.
To read the news, click here.

A History of Idiocy by Uri Avnery

Please, click here to read the article.

Two more Rohingyas lynched to death by Rakhine Buddhists

I just returned from my speaking engagement in NYC where the Rohingya crisis was discussed. And now I heard that another two Rohingyas have been lynched to death by Rakhine Buddhist extremists. Will such killing spree ever end? Do all the Rohingyas have to flee to Bangladesh to stop their extinction by Buddhist fascists of Myanmar, esp. the Rakhine state?
The report is shared from the Arakan Times.
=========
Two Rohingya were killed and the other 2 seriously injured from Nget Chaung refugee camp in Pauktaw Township by Rakhine extremists on 19 November.
 
According to our correspondent report, two Rakhine men from nearby Rakhine village went to the refugee camp and called the four Rohingyas to their village to work as day laborers. They were taken by the two Rakhines saying that no harm would be on them and they would be responsible if anything happen on them.
 
However, the four Rohingyas were assaulted by Rakhine extremists inhumanely while they were working in the work site where 2 were spot dead and the other 2 were critically injured. The two injured victims somehow managed to flee to their camps.
 
The deceased were identified as Mohamed Osman (41) son of U Nur Ahamed and Amir Hussain (30) son of U Du Du Miah of Nget Chaung refugee camp, Pauktaw.
 
No further details are avaiable to Arakan Times.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

South Sudan: Kiir’s government using food as war weapon, UN reports

Click here to read the news about the UN report.

Russia blocks bid to UN inquiry on chemical use in Syria

Here is the link.

Tragedy of the Rohingya: The Burmese crisis and the nation-state

Here is the article by Lawrence who writes for Salon.com. It's an old article but quite relevant to understand fascism that has been the driving force in Myanmar to commit genocidal crimes against the Rohingys and other Muslim minorities.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Concerns, Causes and Countermeasures to the Rohingya Problem

Concerns, Causes and Countermeasures to the Rohingya Problem
By
Dr. Habib Siddiqui

In the last four months, since August 2017, more than 615,000 natives of Arakan – the Rohingya Muslims and Hindus – have been forced to leave their native land to settle in Bangladesh as a refugee. They have left behind everything that was important to them and even family members – as their properties were looted before being burned down with living family members inside. The perpetrators have committed unfathomable crimes against humanity that have been described by the UN Secretary General as the ‘textbook example of ethnic cleansing.’ Human rights activists (including me) and genocide experts have been calling them the victims of Genocide.

Oddly, these refugees are probably the lucky ones who could muster their energy and resources to make their way to nearby Bangladesh. The unlucky ones are either murdered by any means imaginable (thousands are feared dead) or rotting in the largest concentration camp that the world has come to know in the 21st century. Since June 2012 nearly a quarter million Rohingyas continue to be either internally displaced or encamped in squalid camps inside the Rakhine (Arakan) state of Myanmar with no access to the rest of the world where they are caged like animals. The international aid agencies are barred from access to these concentration camps.

The lucky ones, i.e., the refugees who have found shelter inside Bangladesh, are the witnesses to the worst types of crimes. A consistent story heard from them is that their women have been sexually violated – some 75,000, according to the International Rescue Committee. Even 9-year old girls have not been spared by Rakhine savages and the ‘rapist’ Myanmar military. Rape is used as a weapon to purge Arakan of non-Buddhists in a very sinister manner that the world has not seen before in this century.

Let’s hear from one such victim, Rashida Begum, whose news was recently broadcast by Salma Abdelaziz of the CNN.

We saw the military digging holes (for mass graves). We were five women with our babies," Rashida said, almost in a whisper. "The grabbed us, dragged us into the house, and shut the door."

The soldiers snatched Rashida's baby son from her arms and killed him.

"I just screamed, I cried but they wouldn't listen to us. They don't even understand our language," Rashida recalled.

The uniformed men showed her no mercy. They slit Rashida's throat and tore off her clothes. She was brutalized and raped alongside the four other women. As Rashida lost consciousness, the men set the house alight and left them for dead.

"I thought I was already dead, but when my skin started to burn I woke up," she said.

I woke up," she said.

"Rashida Begum says she was raped by multiple Myanmar soldiers before she fled to the refugee camps in Bangladesh. "

Naked and disoriented, she ran out of the flames and hid in a nearby field, but she wishes she had not survived.

"It would be good if I too died because if I died then I wouldn't have to remember all these things. My parents were killed too, lots of people were killed," Rashida said as tears streamed down her face.

The soft-spoken 25-year-old was too traumatized to speak further about the assault or the loss of her child, but answered quickly when asked if she wanted revenge.

"We will be pleased if the military who raped us and killed our parents, if they are hanged," she said.

Then Rashida went quiet, her lips quivering, her hands shaking uncontrollably. In her eyes was a distant gaze that made her seem far away.

"I constantly think about what happened," she said. "I can't get it out of my mind."

Rashida's story is not an uncommon one in the sprawling camps along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. Anyone walking along the makeshift camps in Cox’s Bazar can hear their heart-rendering sobbing and crying.

Who would have thought that some seventy years after the Second World War and the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights we shall live to see so much of human suffering and so much of savagery! After the Jewish Holocaust of the last century our fathers said; Never Again would we allow a repeat of that monstrosity. Little did they know that their Declarations under the auspices of the United Nations – the world body – would turn out to be worthless toilet papers under Suu Kyi and her savage military predecessors.

Who would have thought that victims would be singled out for their race and religion! Who would have thought that the perpetrators of the crime against the Rohingya would be a people that claim to believe in the teachings of Gautama Buddha! Haven’t we heard that Buddhism preaches non-violence? Has it been hijacked by fascists? Are these Rakhine and Burmese Buddhists following a different brand of Buddhism that allows killing human beings, raping women, and burning the properties of ‘others’ that are different racially and religiously?

Welcome to Myanmar – the Buddhist-majority country - that earned its independence from the Great Britain on January 4 of 1948. It is an odd country that is made up of some 140 ethnic groups and spread over a connected landmass of 261,970 square miles – almost five times the size of Bangladesh. Of these ethnic groups, the Bama (Burman or Burmese) form a huge majority, comprising roughly 60% of the population of approx. 56 million – who mostly live in the center. They are the dominant group (the First Class) who have ruled Burma (or today’s Myanmar) for most of its checkered history. Next comes the 7 deputy national races (the Second Class) - Rakhine, Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Mon, Chin and Shan – who mostly live in the periphery – border areas – where they are a majority. They dominate over 127 other ethnic groups (the Third Class) that are dispersed in this country. And then, there are class-less races that are not part of the above 135 national races and are considered illegals and unwanted, and thus, ready to be eliminated one way or another via e.g., a policy of ‘slow genocide’ and forced exodus.

The Rohingyas of Arakan whose forefathers were the first settlers to the land, oddly, belong to this last group of the so-called unwanted races who have been facing genocidal pogroms since at least the 1940s. The current episodes of state planned, orchestrated, directed and executed genocide is only the latest in that long series of events dating back to the time of Japanese occupation of Burma during World War II when the forefathers of today’s Rohingya who sided with the British in its war efforts against the Japanese military that had occupied Burma and the Buddhist majority (including Aung San’s BIA) that collaborated with the Japanese fascist forces. Two hundred and ninety-four Rohingya villages were destroyed, more than 100,000 of them lynched to death, and a million (Indian Muslim, including 80,000 Rohingyas) pushed out to British India (including southern Chittagong of the then East Bengal). The Muslim population in Arakan was depopulated in the south and pushed north, close to today’s Bangladesh-Burma border. The pogrom of 1942, where rape was used as a weapon of war against the Arakanese Muslims (Rohingya), almost permanently destroyed any possibility of reconciliation with the Arakanese Buddhists (Rakhine).

As hinted above, while the Buddhist majority in Burma allied itself with fascist Japan, the Muslims (including Rohingyas) of Burma remained loyal through the entire period of WW II, even when the British government had retreated in the face of Japanese invasion in 1942. Rohingyas were recruited heavily into the V-Force, the guerilla force, against the fascist military.

In January 1944, the British took Maungdaw, with V Force playing an important supporting role. It was not until December 1944, however, that the British forces finally took Buthidaung. Once this stronghold had been captured the Japanese position rapidly collapsed, and by early January 1945 most of the Arakan was in British hands.

According to Kurt Jonassohn and Karin Solveig Bj√∂rnson, “During World War II the Rohingyas remained loyal to the British, even when they retreated to India. They paid dearly for this choice: advancing Japanese and Burmese armies tortured, raped, and massacred thousands of Rohingyas … After reconquering the region in 1945, the British rewarded the Rohingyas for their loyalty by setting up a civilian administration for the Rohingyas in Arakan.”

The dream of Rohingya autonomy was rather short-lived as Arakan was incorporated into Burma which gained independence on January 4, 1948. As we have seen with colonized Muslims everywhere, sadly, the British colonial government betrayed the Rohingya cause. Instead of linking northern Arakan where the Rohingyas were a solid majority with East Pakistan the area was made part of Union of Burma. The once independent Arakan (pre-1784) lost its sovereignty also, sowing frustration and open rebellion by the armed Rakhines. The Rohingyas who had fled to British India were not allowed to return to their homes in the newly independent Burma.

The Union of Burma became an artificial state, behaving like a dysfunctional family, where Buddhist and Bama chauvinism ruled supreme. Soon after independence, the Rohingyas – racially and religiously different from others - were barred and removed from the Military, Police and civil services and their leaders were placed under arrest while the ordinary Muslims faced daily persecution, discrimination and abuse. The continuous persecution led to Rohingya insurgency against the Burmese military in the early 1950s.

Some of the major armed operations against the Rohingya people, orchestrated by the Burmese government since 1948 until early 2012, are mentioned below:

01. Military Operation (5th Burma Regiment) – November 1948

02. Burma Territorial Force (BTF) – Operation 1949-50

03. Military Operation (2nd Emergency Chin regiment) – March 1951-52

04. Mayu Operation – October 1952-53

05. Mone-thone Operation – October 1954

06. Combined Immigration and Army Operation – January 1955

07. Union Military Police (UMP) Operation – 1955-58

08. Captain Htin Kyaw Operation –” 1959

09. Shwe Kyi Operation – October 1966

10. Kyi Gan Operation – October-December 1966

11. Ngazinka Operation – 1967-69

12. Myat Mon Operation – February 1969-71

13. Major Aung Than Operation –” 1973

14. Sabe Operation February – 1974-78

15. Naga-Min (King Dragon) Operation – February 1978-79 (resulting in exodus of some 300,000 Rohingyas to Bangladesh)

16. Shwe Hintha Operation – August 1978-80

17. Galone Operation – 1979

18. Pyi Thaya Operation – July 1991-92 (resulting in exodus of some 268,000 Rohingyas to Bangladesh)

19. Na-Sa-Ka Operation – 1992 - 2012

 

In my Keynote speech at the JARO Conference in Tokyo, more than 10 years ago, on July 16, 2007, I said, “It is not difficult to understand why half the Rohingya population, numbering some million and a half, opted for a life of exile and uncertainty. They live as unwanted refugees and illegal immigrants in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Malaysia and the U.A.E.”

That situation has simply worsened since May of 2012. Now add to that list another 615,000 and growing number of refugees, let alone the tens of thousands that had left between July 2007-July 2017! Perhaps less than a quarter of the Rohingya population is inside Apartheid Myanmar -  the den of intolerance.

I have been calling the crimes against the Muslims of Myanmar, esp. the Rohingyas of Arakan, as part of a very sinister national project in Myanmar to eliminate them altogether that draws active support from the military to ministers to monks to the ordinary Maungs. Genocide is written all over those crimes. If we are to look for root cause(s) of violence against the Rohingya (and other Muslim minorities) one simply cannot be oblivious of racism and bigotry – the two major evils that have been exploited to the hilt.  

The Burmese leaders – past and present – have always been chauvinists, feudal, racists and bigots to whom trend-setting ideas like diversity or pluralism are simply worthless. (The current leader Suu Kyi is no different than other Bamars.)

The power of the dominant Bamar race and military is also rooted in racism that has permeated Burmese society for centuries. This racism is not limited to the racial supremacy complex, but also playing the card of ethnic racism of one against the other. Myanmarism, the state ideology, encourages a blind and toxic religious-racist nationalism (i.e., Buddhist fascism) that is full of references to ‘protecting the race and religion’, meaning that if Burmans do not oppress other nationalities or religious minorities then they will themselves be oppressed, ‘national reconsolidation’, meaning forced assimilation, and preventing ‘disintegration of the Union’, meaning that if the Tatmadaw falls then some kind of chaos would engulf the divided nation. Myanmar military rulers as the authors and executioners of this toxic ideology have been able to exploit these myths to the hilt since the early days of Burma’s independence from Britain. 

Suu Kyi’s criminal regime is in denial of the Rohingya identity, falsely alleging that the latter are intruders from Bangladesh, or British India, as if there was no Muslim presence predating English occupation of Arakan. Willfully forgotten there is the mere fact that the history of the origin of Muslims in the crescent of Arakan is not much different to that of Muslims who now live in many parts of Bangladesh, esp. Chittagong. Historian Abdul Karim said, “In fact the forefathers of Rohingyas had entered into Arakan from time immemorial.” Muslims of Arakan played a significant role during Mrauk-U dynasty (1430-1784), comprising roughly one-third of Arakanese population, a proportion which was to maintain when the English East India Company occupied Arakan in 1824, and this, in spite of Burmese King Bodawpaya’s marauding campaign in 1784 and the subsequent rule of the territory that tried to wipe out Muslim identity by killing tens of thousands of Muslims, and uprooting many who took shelter in East India Company administered Bengal (today’s Bangladesh).

Forgotten in Myanmar’s criminal amnesia is also the fact that during the Mughal period, the Rakhine Buddhist Maghs – the ancestors of today’s Rakhine people – terrorized lower Bengal for hundreds of years until they were subjugated by Shaista Khan, the Governor of Bengal, in 1666. They raped women, looted everything that could be hauled away and abducted Bengalis and enslaved them to work in their pagodas and paddy fields along the Kaladan River. Historian Michael Charney estimates that between 1617 and 1666 CE, the total number of those Bengali captives could be 147,000. The ancestors of many of today’s Rohingyas were those kidnapped Bengalis.

As part of purging Muslims out and making Myanmar for Buddhists only, the Burmese government did not include Rohingya as one of the national races or ethnicities. During military rule of Ne Win, the Rohingyas were robbed of citizenship, thanks to Aye Kyaw – a racist Rakhine academic – who helped to draft the 1982 Citizenship Law. To Aye Kyaw it was like killing two birds with a single stone: destroy Rohingya both politically and economically – within Burma and esp. inside Arakan (the Rakhine state), thus, sealing their fate permanently as a subservient class to the Rakhine majority, if they could not be pushed out of the state or killed.

As I have stated in my speech in Bangkok, this highly discriminatory law violates several fundamental principles of international customary law standards, offends the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and leaves Rohingyas exposed to no legal protection of their rights. The law has made the Rohingya stateless. They are denied all the 30 rights enshrined in the UNDHR, and rightly described as the ‘most persecuted’ people in our planet. They are derogatorily called the Kala or Kalar people (synonymous to the English word ‘nigger’).

Kofi Annan and other world dignitaries have appealed to Suu Kyi to change the discriminatory Citizenship law thus allowing the Rohingya to be integrated fairly within Myanmar.

As I have noted elsewhere, the Rohingyas are distinct by language, culture and religion from the rest of the peoples of Myanmar, and have a shared history and group identification. As such, they are an ethnic group by any definition. This fact has been duly recognized in the encyclopedia where they are named as an ethnic group. More importantly, the Rohingya people identify themselves by this name, and no one should have the audacity to deny them that right of self-identification. After all, every nation has the right to call itself by whatever name it chooses.

The Rohingyas of Myanmar are facing genocide, which must be stopped immediately by any means possible. I am genuinely concerned that if the genocidal pogroms against the Rohingya people are allowed to continue there won’t be a single Rohingya left inside Arakan within the next decade. They will be an extinct community, much like what had happened to the native population of Tasmania.

That is why, it is important for our generation to punish the criminals of Myanmar and the Rakhine state. These savage criminals need to be tried at The Hague for their heinous crimes against humanity and punished, much like the Nuremburg Trial.

Peace is an illusion without justice. Soft talks with the criminal Myanmar regime would only prolong the suffering of the Rohingya victims. The UN Security Council must get its acts together and do what is necessary to save the Rohingya people, and earn the moral authority it now lacks. In the meantime, punitive measures affecting the state apparatus and against the major players must be taken to weaken the apartheid regime.

But will the world body do its duty to save humanity? Is there political will to stop this genocide?

In closing let me share an essay that Roland Watson, a fellow activist, wrote last December (on a similar theme that I presented a decade earlier):

“Imagine you are a Rohingya villager. You live in a small village in Western Burma. You live a simple life, but basically you get by. Actually, you do more than get by. You have a happy family, a rich culture, and a lot of friends.

You know that in the past your people have been targeted many times, by soldiers, police and other agents of the military dictatorship, and by local Rakhine groups. But you have been okay. You, and your village, have not been attacked.

This time, though, it's different. The Burma Army and police are perpetrating a literal "scorched earth" offensive throughout the Rohingya homeland. They have raided village after village and then in many cases burned them down, leaving only the smoldering remains. As they do, they murder or arrest the men (many of the detainees are killed later); rape the women; steal everything of value; and often kill the women, elderly and children as well. You truly are being subjected to an organized, systematic campaign of terror.

What do you do? You are frantic - at night, you're unable to sleep from fear. There is a road directly to your village. They can arrive at any time. You make whatever plans you can, and hope that lookouts and your dogs will give you a moment's warning - a head-start - before truckloads of killers and rapists come.

You have a problem, though. Your area is very flat, just miles and miles of fields. You can run, but it is easy for the killers to follow. All you can do is move as fast and as far as possible, including with the elderly and the children, and hope that they don't catch you.

In this way, your situation is different from the ethnic nationalities who have been terrorized for decades on the other side of Burma: the Mon, Karen, Karenni, Shan, Kachin, and other groups. Many live in the hills. They can run into forests, which offer much better hiding places. Some Karen, for instance, have had to flee so many times that they have learned to hide food supplies and emergency shelters, in the deepest jungles. Of course, the Burma Army soldiers often mine their villages, so they can't return safely, and shoot them on sight if they are caught out in the open. (These areas are also "Black Zones.") Still, their conditions - sometimes at least - allow an easier initial escape.

You don't have that option. You're stuck. You can wait for the killers to assault your home, or you can give up and flee to Bangladesh. (Just as so many refugees in Eastern Burma have fled to Thailand, Laos and China.) But for reasons that aren't that clear, Bangladesh isn't very welcoming at the moment. The country already has large Rohingya refugee camps from earlier periods of repression in Burma. It seems the government just doesn't want to give anyone else sanctuary. Indeed, hundreds of the new refugees have already been forced back.

This is what it means now to be a Rohingya in Burma, although it's not the entire story. Individuals who are injured or sick can't get medical care. There's not enough food, and many people are starving. It's truly monstrous, a living hell.

The famous saying is that you should put yourself in another person's shoes, to really understand them. I wrote this for everyone, especially outside of Burma, who doesn't grasp what is being done to the Rohingya people. They are peaceful. With rare exceptions, they are not fighting back in self-defense. Very few of us have ever experienced anything like this. It is so bad, it's difficult to comprehend. But this is what is taking place. The Rohingya are being exterminated, one by one and in small groups, and suffering incredible brutality before they are killed.

This is abominable. It's genocide. It must be stopped, now. Anyone who has any power at all to influence the dictatorship of Burma (foremost political leaders and diplomats), starting with its cover propagandist, Aung San Suu Kyi, is obliged to act. If you don't, if you don't want to risk your career, or if you are simply cold-hearted and don't care, then you are a terrible person as well. I don't know how you can live with yourself.”

Watson wrote the above essay in 2016. The situation today is much worse for the Rohingya. Can we afford to behave deaf, dumb, blind and silent when it is a gross crime to do so?

I often question what is the basis for a nation’s claim to independence or self-determination? Must a people wander in the wilderness for two millennia and suffer repeated persecution, humiliation and genocide to qualify? Until now, history’s answer to the question has been pragmatic and brutal – a nation is a people tough enough to grab the land it wants and hangs onto it. Period!

How about the rights of a minority community to survive with their culture and traditions intact? Do they need to be ‘children’ of a ‘higher’ God or follow Judeo-Christian morality to qualify? What makes the children of a ‘lesser’ God to be forgotten and denied the same treatment and privilege that was granted hitherto to the people of East Timor and South Sudan? Could not a U.N.-sponsored plebiscite determine the fate of these forgotten people of our time to decide for themselves what is best for them? What about all those scores of statutes and articles of Declaration of Human Rights, Geneva Convention, Treatment of Prisoners (political and non-combatants), etc., etc.? Don’t they matter? Which agency is responsible to guarantee those rights? If it is the U.N., why is it failing to bring about desired change?

How will our generation be judged by our posterity for letting the genocide of the Rohingya to continue for this long? Shame on us if we fail to stop Rohingya genocide!

[Keynote speech by the author at a seminar on Rohingya Crisis, organized by the Human Rights and Development for Bangladesh (HRDB), in York College, Jamaica, NY, Nov. 19, 2017.]