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Mobs raid homes of Muslims in Myanmar

Press TV – August 25, 2013

Some 1,000 Buddhists have reportedly attacked properties belonging to the Muslim community in northwestern Myanmar.

The rampage broke out shortly before Saturday midnight in the town of Kanbalu. Seven Muslim-owned shops and 15 houses were destroyed by the Buddhist mob.

The mob demanded that Myanmar’s police hand over a man suspected of attempting to rape a Buddhist woman.

Witnesses say police tried to disperse the angry crowd but failed to prevent the destruction.

Muslims are regularly targeted by riots in Myanmar. In 2012, similar violence in the western state of Rakhine left nearly 200 people – mostly Rohingya Muslims – dead.

The Saturday attack comes four days after the UN human rights envoy to Myanmar came under an attack by a group of Buddhists in central Myanmar.

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Tomas Ojea Quintana said on August 21 that 200 angry Buddhists mobbed his car after he landed in the central town of Meikhtila to investigate attacks on Rohingya Muslims in the region.

In March, a wave of anti-Muslim riots killed over 40 people, destroyed hundreds of homes and displaced thousands in Meikhtila.

Over the past months, hundreds of Rohingyas are believed to have been killed and thousands displaced in attacks by extremist Buddhists.

The extremists frequently attack Rohingyas, and Myanmar’s government has been accused of failing to protect the Muslim minority.

Rohingyas are said to be Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan origin, who migrated to Myanmar as early as the eighth century.

August 25, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Video | , , , , | Comments Off on Mobs raid homes of Muslims in Myanmar

Rohingya Population Control: The Onslaught in Burma Continues

By Ramzy Baroud | Palestine Chronicle | June 6 2013  

On April 21, the BBC obtained disturbing video footage shot in Burma. It confirmed extreme reports of what has been taking place in that country, even as it is being touted by the US and European governments as a success story pertaining to political reforms and democracy.

The BBC footage was difficult to watch even when faces of Muslim Rohingya victims were blurred. To say the least, the level of violence exhibited by their Arakan Buddhist attackers was frightening. “The Burmese police (stood) by as shops, homes and mosques are looted and burnt, and failing to intervene as Buddhist mobs, including monks, kill fleeing Muslims,” the BBC reported. A Rohingya man was set ablaze while still alive. The police watched.

To some extent, international media is finally noticing the plight of the Rohingyas who are experiencing what can only be described as genocide. And there are reasons for this. On one hand, the atrocities being carried out by the Burmese state, local police and mobs belonging to nationalist Buddhist groups in the northwestern Arakan State, are unambiguous attempts at removing all Rohingyas from Burma. The Rohingya numbers currently hover between 800,000 and one million. On the other hand, Burma (also known as Myanmar) has, as of late, been placed in the limelight for the wrong reasons – thanks in part to western governments breaking the political and economic siege of the country’s decades-long military dictatorship.

While the ‘new Burma’ is being rebranded in a new positive discourse in order to open Rangoon up for foreign investments and steer it way from growing Chinese influence, western governments are deliberately ignoring the fact that a human rights crisis of unprecedented proportions is taking place. This all being done with the active involvement and encouragement of the government.

In the eyes of many in Burma, the Rohingyas are considered subhumans, and are treated as such. Most Rohingya Muslims are native to the state of “Rohang” – also known as Rakhine or Arakan. The majority of them live in very poor townships – mainly Buthidaung and Maungdaw – in the northwestern part of Arakan, or live in refugee camps. Their population subsists between the nightmare of having no legal status (as they are still denied citizenship), little or no rights and the ethnic purges carried out by their neighbors. The worst of such violence in recent years took place between June and October 2012. However, the onslaught targeting Rohingyas is resurfacing and spreading. This time around the intensity and the parameters of violence grew to include other Muslim minority groups in the country.

The BBC footage is not only revealing in the sense that it confirmed the authorities’ complicity in the violence, but it also reflected the government’s general attitude towards this minority group, described by the UN as the ‘world’s most persecuted people’. Responding to the outcry against his country’s brutal treatment of its minorities, Burmese President Then Sein made an ‘offer’ to the UN last year where he was willing to send the Rohingyas “to any other country willing to accept them.”

This peculiar behavior by the Burmese government is problematic in more than one way. Rangoon doesn’t seem even slightly mindful of international humanitarian laws or simply wishes to ignore it altogether. Its legal frame of reference is hardly a reflection of a repented dictatorship. But what is even more dangerous is that Rangoon has been sending unmistakable messages to nationalist groups who are leading the ethnic purges, that their extremely violent behavior is in fact consistent with the central policies of their governments.

Groups like Human Rights Watch (HRW) have become markedly more outspoken regarding the violence against the Rohingya. To quell growing criticism, perhaps fearing a backlash in terms of lucrative business contracts, the Burmese government decided to investigate the ‘sectarian violence’ through a supposed independent commission. Its recommendations were as equally disturbing as the violence itself.

The government Inquiry Commission on the Sectarian Violence in Rakhine State, assembled last August, was composed of 27-members, all Arkanese Buddhists, none of them from the Rohingya minority. The long-awaited report on the violence finally emerged on April 29, 2013. Its major findings included concerns over “rapid population growth” among Rohingya and Kaman Muslims. Its recommendations compelled a swift response from local authorities that moved in to limit the birth rate of Muslim Rohingya in two large townships.

On May 26, Arakan State spokesperson Win Myaing told journalists that the findings of the commission were consistent with the 2005 law that limits birth rate among Roghingya Muslims to two children per family. That discriminatory law goes back to 1994 where severe marriage restrictions were imposed on the Rohingya community, requiring long and complicated procedures. The BBC said, “it is not clear how (the ‘two-child policy’) will be enforced.”

Regardless of what sort of mechanisms Burmese authorities plan to put in place to implement the ‘law’, limiting population growth of the Rohingya people, is an abhorrent principle in and of itself. It even compelled celebrated ‘democracy icon’ Aung San Suu Kyi to break her silence regarding the violence against Rohingyas, however, she carefully selected her language.

“It is not good to have such discrimination. And it is not in line with human rights either,” Suu Kyi told reporters, although “she could not confirm whether the policy was being implemented,” reported the BBC online on May 27.

Considering the level of violence directed at Rohingyas and the fact that more than 125,000 Rohingya have already been pushed into internally displaced camps, (tens of thousands more have already been forced to flee the country and are scattered in refugee camps throughout Southeast Asia) one can only imagine the kind of sinister plans which are being put into action, amid the deafening international silence.

In fact, ‘silence’ is an understatement, for following the early wave of devastating violence, European officials welcomed the country’s ‘measured response’ and spokesperson for the EU’s high representative on foreign affairs, Catherine Ashton, said on June 11: “We believe that the security forces are handling this difficult inter-communal violence in an appropriate way.”

Meanwhile, western countries led by the United States, are clamoring to divide the large Burmese economic cake amongst themselves. As Rohingya boats were floating (or sinking) in various waters, Burma’s President Sein met with Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg in a ‘landmark’ visit in Oslo on February 26. Regarding the conflict in Arakan, Jens Stoltenberg unambiguously declared it to be an internal Burmese affair, reducing it to the most belittling statements. In regards to ‘disagreements’ over citizenship, he said, “we have encouraged dialogue, but we will not demand that Burma’s government give citizenship to the Rohingyas.” Moreover, to reward Sein for his supposedly bold democratic reforms, Norway took the lead by waving off nearly half of its debt and other countries followed suit, including Japan which dropped $3 billion last year.

Meanwhile, the Rohingyas are left to ponder their punishment for flouting one discriminatory law or another. “Fear of punishment under the two-child rule compel far too many Rohingya women to risk their lives and turn to desperate and dangerous measures to self-induce abortions,” Asia director at HRW, Brad Adams said in a report published May 28.

No words can suffice to describe the plight of the Rohingyas who are trying to survive an unprecedentedly violent ethnic purge, with support and complicity of the Burmese government and silence of the very western governments that never cease to preach democracy and human rights.

Matthew Smith is a researcher for HRW and author of the organization’s report, “All You Can Do is Pray”: Crimes Against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s Arakan State.’ Concluding a commentary in CNN online, Smith wrote: “The world should not be blinded by the excitement of Myanmar’s political opening. Rohingya are paying for that approach with their lives.” Since then, more Rohingyas were killed, many more homes, mosques, shops and orphanages were burned to the ground and there has been no international uproar as of yet.

~

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of Palestine Chronicle His latest book is: My Father was A Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press).

June 6, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | Comments Off on Rohingya Population Control: The Onslaught in Burma Continues

Myanmar Buddhists set Muslim villages on fire, kill 11 Muslims in Rakhine

Press TV – October 22, 2012

At least eleven Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar have been killed after extremist Buddhists set fire to their houses in two Muslim villages in the city of Sittwe in the western Rakhine state, a report says.

The incident occurred when a number of Buddhists backed by army and border forces set fire to houses of Muslims in the villages of Mamra and Mraut late Sunday, Radio Banga reported on Monday.

Myanmar army forces allegedly provided the Buddhists with big containers of petrol to set ablaze the houses of Muslim villagers and force them to flee their houses.

The silence of the human rights organizations towards abuses against the Rohingya Muslims has emboldened the extremist Buddhists and Myanmar’s government forces.

The Buddhist-majority government of Myanmar refuses to recognize Rohingyas and has classified them as illegal migrants, even though the Rohingyas are said to be Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan origin, who migrated to Myanmar as early as the 8th century.

According to reports, thousands of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims are living in dire conditions in refugee camps after government forces and Buddhist extremists started burning down their villages on August 10.

Reports say some 650 Rohingyas have been killed in the Rakhine state in the west of the country in recent months. This is while 1,200 others are missing and 80,000 more have been displaced.

October 22, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 2 Comments

US rewarding Myanmar for massacring Muslims

An undated photo shows a Rohingya refugee woman carrying a child in an unregistered camp in Kutupalong, some 400 kilometers southeast of Dhaka.
An undated photo shows a Rohingya refugee woman carrying a child in an unregistered camp in Kutupalong, some 400 kilometers southeast of Dhaka.
By Kevin Barrett | Press TV | August 26, 2012

I am writing to every contact listed at Buddhanet.info’s American Buddhist Directory to ask:

Are you aware of the ongoing genocide in Myanmar (Burma) — a genocide that is being committed in the name of Buddhism?

And did you know that the United States of America bears responsibility for this genocide, since the US has been rewarding the Myanmar regime with ever-closer political and economic ties during recent months of accelerating atrocities?

As American Buddhists, you are in a position to help stop this genocide, by pressuring the US and Myanmar governments as well as international human rights organizations. Your visible participation in the campaign to save the Rohingya people from extermination by murderous Buddhist fanatics will not only help draw the world’s attention to this horrific situation, but also help restore the image of Buddhism as a religion of compassion.

The facts about the genocide in Myanmar are not in dispute. The fanatical Buddhist nationalists, who unfortunately represent a large segment of the roughly 60 million Buddhists in Myanmar, admit that they are trying to uproot and exterminate the roughly one million Muslim Rohingya from land that the Rohingya have lived on for centuries.

Here is what a typical genocidal Buddhist fanatic from Myanmar wrote in a comment on a Wall Street Journal article:

“Burma is Buddhist nation created for the 135 Tibeto-Burman tribes. People do not get citizenship just because born there or illegally lived there for centuries. Please do not interfere with the law and internal affairs of Burma just as you do not like other nations to poke their nose in your internal affairs.”

“People do not get citizenship just because born there or illegally lived there for centuries.” This statement, which aptly sums up the official policy of the Burmese regime, could get the person who made it, and the government that follows it, hanged for crimes against humanity. Obviously, being born in a modern nation to a family that has been there for centuries automatically confers citizenship. And obviously, any modern nation that denies citizenship to such people, burns their homes and communities, and murders them en masse, with the aim of removing them from the nation of their birth, is committing the internationally-recognized crime of genocide.

In recent weeks, many thousands of homes, and more than 20 mosques, have been burned by murderous Buddhist mobs, backed by national security forces, in the Arakan state of Myanmar. Estimates of the number of Rohingya Muslims murdered, whether directly or by drowning in the Naf River, as they flee the killers, range from the thousands to the tens of thousands. Every one of the more than 500 mosques in Arakan has been taken over by the genocidal regime’s security forces and shut down, and they are being demolished one-by-one. (This happened during the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims are supposed to spend as much time as possible in a mosque.)

Muslims have been living in Burma since roughly 800 c.e. — that is, nearly for as long as the religion of Islam has existed. And Arakan has been a Muslim region, ruled by Muslim kings and/or populated by Bengali Muslims, since 1430. The most notable population increase of Muslims in Arakan took place in the 1600s. The idea that the Rohingya people are somehow “recent immigrants” to the region is clinically insane — a symptom of the larger insanity known as nationalist fanaticism.”

Both Buddhism and Islam are universalist religions: They proclaim truths that are valid for all people, indeed for all of existence. And the core truth that both religions proclaim is the primacy of compassion. In Buddhism, a central feature of the Buddha nature is compassion for all beings. If one were to choose a single hallmark of a successful advanced practitioner of Buddhism, it would be a highly-developed sense of compassion.

Whatever has happened to the Myanmar Buddhists’ compassion for their fellow citizens who happen to be born as Rohingyas?

Islam, too, views compassion as a central reality of creation. Muslim theologians, like the more advanced Christian and Jewish religious thinkers, view God as ineffable; but the primary and overriding tangible characteristic of God in Islam (with the proviso that no tangible characteristics fully express the reality of the one ineffable God) is rahma, or compassion. The two adjectives Muslims use the most to “describe” God are ar-rahman ar-rahim, usually translated as “the merciful, the compassionate.” (The root of rahma and its cognates derives from the word for “womb,” suggesting that this “compassion” has something in common with the nurturing, all-embracing, unconditional love that mothers feel for their children.)

Additionally, both Buddhism and Islam teach us to transcend or even annihilate the (tribal) ego. Buddhism offers a set of teachings that take its practitioners beyond the ego, which is the source of the endless desire that is the cause of the pervasive suffering or disappointment that characterizes ordinary human existence. Likewise, Islam teaches its serious practitioners to annihilate the “ego that desires evil” through absolute submission to God. Each religion offers a very similar cure for the unhappiness of the ordinary human condition.

The kind of chest-thumping egotistical nationalism that proclaims “I am a Buddhist, my heroic nation is Buddhist, I am so much better than those non-Buddhists that I must kill them or exile them” is about as far from the compassionate teachings of the Buddha as it is possible to get. Likewise, extremist Muslims who proclaim that their narrow version of Islam is the only truth, and that everyone who disagrees should be killed, are equally far from the universal, all-compassionate message proclaimed by God through Prophet Muhammad (peace upon him).

Muslims and Buddhists ought to unite against ego-driven nationalist fanaticism, which is an affront to both religious traditions.

August 26, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stateless Rohingya… Running on Empty

By January 12, 2012

Rohingyas, the ethnic Muslim minority in Burma, are treated as aliens and discriminated in their own country despite their continued existence there for centuries. They face systematic oppression of forced labor, arbitrary arrest, and land confiscation. Only Rohingyas must apply for travel passes even to go to the next village less than a mile away. So, they cannot go to mosques for prayer or to marry or even study or work. Only Rohingyas, but not Buddhist Arakanese, face exorbitant and outrageous taxation for land, property, and activities such as repairing houses, marrying someone, and giving birth. Thus, they are without human and civil rights. They live in fear and without freedom.

July 21, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | Comments Off on Stateless Rohingya… Running on Empty

Democracy and slaughter in Myanmar: Gold Rush overrides Human Rights

By Ramzy Baroud | Press TV | July 16, 2012

The widespread killings of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar – have received only passing and dispassionate coverage in most media. What they actually warrant is widespread outrage and decisive efforts to bring further human rights abuses to an immediate halt.

“Burmese helicopter set fire to three boats carrying nearly 50 Muslim Rohingyas fleeing sectarian violence in western Burma in an attack that is believed to have killed everyone on board,” reported Radio Free Europe on July 12.

Why would anyone take such fatal risks? Refugees are attempting to escape imminent death, torture or arrest at the hands of the Ethnic Buddhist Rakhine majority, which has the full support of the Myanmar government.

The relatively little media interest in Myanmar’s ‘ethnic clashes’ is by no means an indication of the significance of the story. The recent flaring of violence followed the raping and killing of a Rhakine woman on May 28, allegedly by three Rohingya men. The incident ushered a rare movement of unity between many sectors of Myanmar society, including the government, security forces and so-called pro-democracy activists and groups. The first order of business was the beating to death of ten innocent Muslims. The victims, who were dragged out of a bus and attacked by a mob of 300 strong Buddhist Rhakine, were not even Rohingyas, according to the Bangkok Post (June 22). Not all Muslims in Myanmar are from the Rohingya ethnic group. Some are descendants of Indian immigrants, some have Chinese ancestry, and some even have early Arab and Persian origins. Myanmar is a country with a population of an estimated 60 million, only 4 percent of whom are Muslim.

Regardless of numbers, the abuses are widespread and rioters are facing little or no repercussions for their actions. “The Rohingyas…face some of the worst discrimination in the world,” reported Reuters on July 4, citing rights groups. UK-based Equal Rights Trust indicated that the recent violence is not merely due to ethnic clashes, but actually involves active government participation. “From June 16 onwards, the military became more actively involved in committing acts of violence and other human rights abuses against the Rohingya including killings and mass-scale arrests of Rohingya men and boys in North Rakhine State.”

The ‘pro-democracy’ Myanmar’s groups and individuals celebrated by Western governments for objecting to the country’s military junta are also taking part in the war against minorities. Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald on July 8, Hanna Hindstrom reported that one pro-democracy group stated on Twitter that “[t]he so-called Rohingya are liars,” while another social media user said, “We must kill all the kalar.” Kalar is a racist slur applied to dark-skinned people from the Indian subcontinent

Politically, Myanmar has a poor reputation. A protracted civil war has ravaged the country shortly after its independence from Britain in 1948. The colonial era was exceptionally destructive as the country was used as a battleground for great powers. Many Myanmar people were slaughtered in a situation that was not of their making. As foreign powers divided the country according to their own purposes, an ensuing civil war was almost predictable. It supposedly ended when a military junta took over from 1962 to 2011, but many of the underlying problems remained unresolved.

Per western media coverage, Myanmar is defined by a few ‘iconic’ individuals’ quest for democracy, notwithstanding opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Since an election last year brought a civilian government to power, we have been led to believe that a happy ending is now in the making. “Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi made her historic parliamentary debut on Monday (July 9), marking a new phase in her near quarter century struggle to bring democracy to her army-dominated homeland,” reported the British Telegraph.

But aside from mere ‘concerns’ over the ethnic violence, Aung San Suu Kyi is staying on the fence – as if the slaughter of the country’s ‘dark-skinned Indians’ is not as urgent as having a parliamentary representation for her party, the National League for Democracy in Myanmar. Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu called on ‘The Lady’ to do something, anything. “As a Nobel Peace Laureate, we are confident that the first step of your journey towards ensuring peace in the world would start from your own doorstep and that you would play a positive role in bringing an end to the violence that has afflicted Arakan State,” he wrote. However, “Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy continues to carefully sidestep the hot-button issue,” according to Foreign Policy.

The violent targeting of Burmese minorities arrived at an interesting time for the US and Britain. Their pro-democracy campaign was largely called off when the junta agreed to provide semi-democratic reforms. Eager to offset the near exclusive Chinese influence over the Myanmar economy, Western companies jumped into Myanmar as if one of the most oppressive regimes in the world was suddenly resurrected into an oasis for democracy.

“The gold rush for Burma has begun,” wrote Alex Spillius in the British Guardian. It was ushered in by US President Barak Obama’s recent lifting of the ban on American investment in the country. Britain immediately followed suit, as a UK trade office was hurriedly opened in Rangoon on July 11. “Its aim is to forge links with one of the last unexploited markets in Asia, a country blessed by ample resources of hydro-carbons, minerals, gems and timber, not to mention a cheap labour force, which thanks to years of isolation and sanctions is near virgin territory for foreign investors.” Since US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made her ‘historic’ visit to Myanmar in December 2011, a recurring media theme has been ‘Myanmar riches’ and the ‘race for Myanmar’. Little else is being discussed, and certainly not minority rights.

Recently, Clinton held a meeting with Myanmar’s President Thein Sein, who is now being branded as another success story for US diplomacy. On the agenda are US concerns regarding the “lack of transparency in Myanmar’s investment environment and the military’s role in the economy” (CNN, July 12). Thein Sein, however, is guilty of much greater sins, for he is providing a dangerous political discourse that could possibly lead to more killings, or even genocide. The ‘reformist’ president told the UN that “refugee camps or deportation is the solution for nearly a million Rohingya Muslims,” according to ABC Australia. He offered to send the Rohingyas away “if any third country would accept them.”

The Rohingyas are currently undergoing one of the most violent episodes of their history, and their suffering is one of the most pressing issues anywhere in the world. Yet their plight is suspiciously absent from regional and international priorities, or is undercut by giddiness over the country’s “ample resources of hydro-carbons, minerals, gems and timber.”

Meanwhile, the stateless and defenseless Rohingyas continue to suffer and die. Those lucky to make it to Bangladesh are being turned back. Aside from few courageous journalists – indifferent to the country’s promise for ‘democracy’ and other fables – most are simply looking the other way. This tragic attitude must immediately change if human rights matter in the least.

July 16, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 2 Comments