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Israel, Myanmar sign agreement to teach about the Holocaust

MEMO | May 31, 2018

Israel and Myanmar have signed a cooperation agreement on educational programmes including curricula on teaching about the Holocaust, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said on Twitter on Tuesday.

“We continue to cooperate with our friends around the world,” Hotovely wrote, referring to Myanmar whose army has been accused by the UN of committing ethnic cleansing against the Muslim Rohingya minority and where hundreds of thousands of survivors have been displaced as refugees.

“The two countries will work to develop two official curricula for schools in both countries to teach about the Holocaust and its lessons as well as the negative consequences of intolerance, racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia,” Haaretz newspaper reported Wednesday.

Israel has continued to supply Myanmar with arms despite allegations of genocide. The armaments sold to Myanmar include over 100 tanks, weapons and boats that have been used to police the country’s border and perpetrate numerous acts of violence against the Rohingya, such that the UN suspects the army is committing ethnic cleansing.

May 31, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , | 1 Comment

Red Cross says life has ‘stopped’ in Myanmar’s Rakhine

Press TV – December 13, 2017

The International Committee of the Red Cross says life has “stopped” in Rakhine state due to the fear of violence, nearly four months after a new wave of crackdown by the government erupted against the persecuted Rohingya Muslims.

The ICRC director of operations, Dominik Stillhart, said Wednesday that tensions between the Muslims and the dominant Buddhist community were preventing Muslim traders from reopening shops and markets.

“The situation in the northern Rakhine has definitely stabilized, there are very sporadic incidents, but tensions are huge between the communities,” Stillhart said after a three-day mission to the remote area. “You get a sense, especially of the two main communities being deeply scared of each other.”

He visited the towns of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung in northern Rakhine, where the ICRC, the only aid agency operating in the violence-hit region, is providing food, water and other aid to 150,000 people.

Stillhart said the Red Cross hoped to reach all of the 180,000 Rohingya it estimated remained in the “politically-sensitive” region after more than 600,000 people fled to Bangladesh.

“You travel through the countryside and you really see on both sides of the road villages that are completely destroyed. It just gives you a bit of a sense of the scale of destruction. There is also this pervasive sense of absence.”

“It is as if life has stopped in its tracks, people do not move, markets are closed in Muangdaw town,” Stillhart said.

He said the main problem facing the Muslims was “the very limited possibilities for them to access their own livelihoods like fields, and especially markets and services.”

Late last month, Bangladesh and Myanmar reached a deal to repatriate the Rohingya refugees within several months.

The Red Cross said the returns must be voluntary and safe. “But for now we really don’t see a significant return movement and I’m also not expecting that we will see massive return anytime soon,” Stillhart said. Citing UN figures, he added that nearly 300 Muslims still fled daily.

About 650,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh since late last year, when Myanmar’s soldiers and Buddhist mobs began vicious attacks on the minority Muslims in Rakhine. The crackdown on the Rohingya has intensified since August 25.

All along, government troops and the Buddhist mobs have been killing, raping, and arbitrarily arresting members of the Muslim community. They have also been setting the houses of the Muslims on fire in hundreds of predominantly-Rohingya villages in the northern parts of Rakhine, where nearly all the Rohingya reside.

Myanmar’s government denies full citizenship to the Rohingya, branding them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Dhaka, in turn, regards the desperate refugees as Myanmarese. The Rohingya, however, track their ancestors many generations back in Myanmar.

The UN has already described the Rohingya as the most persecuted community in the world, calling the situation in Rakhine similar to “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

December 13, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

Rohingya resettlement risky business for Myanmar

By David Scott Mathieson | Asia Times | October 19, 2017

Nothing better illustrates the disconnect between Myanmar government policy plans to address the humanitarian catastrophe in Rakhine state and the reality of the ongoing flight of Rohingya Muslims than to view the stunning drone footage by photographer Roger Arnold from the Myanmar-Bangladesh border.

The aerial footage shows around 15,000 civilians crammed on a thin split of land headed to Cox’s Bazar over the past few days to join over 550,000 others who have fled a brutal military campaign which began seven weeks ago in the wake of attacks by the insurgent Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on Myanmar security forces.

Yet despite the continued exodus from Myanmar to Bangladesh, the embattled and increasingly maligned Aung San Suu Kyi announced plans on October 12 for a comprehensive resettlement of some of the Rohingya who have fled the conflict.

The de facto national leader outlined three priorities: repatriation of those who have crossed over to Bangladesh and the effective provision of humanitarian assistance; resettlement and rehabilitation; and economic development for Rakhine state that leads to durable peace.

While all fine sentiments, if not badly belated, but are they politically feasible? In recent days, Suu Kyi’s government has established a humanitarian assistance, resettlement and develop body she first broached in a recent speech on the Rakhine situation.

The new ‘Committee for the Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance Resettlement and Development Enterprise’, a collective of government, civil society and international groups, will aim to manage both public and private donations for humanitarian relief and resettlement operations, including through an online portal where donors can “Adopt an Area” or make cash donations.

However, the body’s announcement doesn’t once mention the security forces who have driven out over half a million people in one of the swiftest forced population transfers in recent history.

The Union Enterprise appears initially to be a government scheme to spark social support for the reconstruction of Rakhine state, evoking the organic community response and assistance to victims of the devastating 2008 Cyclone Nargis, and the 2015 country-wide flooding when thousands of people raised cash donations and material support for hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the natural disaster.

Myanmar’s business identities too, are being tapped to donate as they often do after natural calamities.

The opposed realities of the official announcements and documentation of the extreme state-sponsored violence makes the resettlement and rehabilitation plan seem surreal. State media reported this week about special government plans for the reconstruction of 48 ethnic Mro houses allegedly destroyed by ARSA terrorists, 22 new Myanmar Post and Telecommunications phone towers, and 156 miles worth of upgraded roads in Maungdaw, an epicenter of the recent violence.

Meanwhile, the economic zone long planned near Maungdaw town has been launched amid the death and destruction. The initiatives would all seem progressive if not for the concurrent release of a devastating Amnesty International report, fittingly titled “My World is Finished”, that documents widespread killings, systematic destruction of villages by arson, and sexual violence in the Myanmar military’s recent ‘clearance operations.’

For now, the government’s repatriation ideas are at an aspirational phase. It is impossible to see conditions anytime soon being in any way conducive to large scale refugee returns, which if done without careful planning would inevitable be another dark chapter in the repression of the Rohingya.

While Suu Kyi’s government forms new committees to give the illusion of progress and planning, the absence of an overarching framework of principles and requisite risk assessments could fuel further violence or an even greater humanitarian catastrophe. There are several serious challenges to resettlement, rehabilitation and development.

First is the security dilemma. At this early stage, it’s hard to fathom who would feel safe to return given the sadistic nature of military’s recent lethal security operations. Government initiatives, committees and Suu Kyi’s speeches do not appear to fully comprehend the gravity of the crisis in terms of its scale, speed and savagery.

How many refugees would voluntarily return when those same security forces remain in the vicinity and are likely to have a heavy hand in the implementation of any repatriation? The threat of renewed ARSA attacks, meanwhile, risk provoking another round of violence targeting civilian populations.

The abysmal conditions in the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar could soon become a petri dish of desperation ripe for recruitment by extremists, drug dealers, and other exploitative forces. If, as the United Nations and the European Union have said in statements in recent weeks, the security operation was pre-planned, why would the security officials who planned and conducted the operation stand by to watch it be reversed, even partly, by resettlement?

Second, where will the refugees be allowed to return in Myanmar and under what circumstances? The government’s scheme in general terms has the air of a sinister ‘Field of Dreams’ scenario: build it and they will (be forced to) come.

The worst case possible is the resettlement sites become squalid, slow-death camps, locked off from regular access to basic provisions and ripe for ARSA recruitment and extremism. Some already see an early phase equivalent of a social engineering scheme to replicate the isolation of Palestinians in Israel’s West Bank.

The least bad scenario is that they become a Rakhine version of Potemkin villages that Suu Kyi can tour and pronounce success as she rolls out the Rakhine Advisory Commission’s recommendations for reconciliation elsewhere in the state.

Her government has already conducted a series of horror tours for diplomats, the media and the UN that clearly illustrate the extent of the carnage in Maungdaw, how the security forces rendered northern Rakhine state a charnel house, and yet then issue blanket denials of the scale of the problem.

Third, what role will Bangladesh play? Bangladesh has had an immense human catastrophe thrown across its border, joining existing Rohingya refugees and migrants the government obviously wants to return. But how much can Dhaka be involved in any returns that reek of refoulement? UN principles of refugee returns being conducted in safety and dignity are a long shot right.

Bilateral relations between Naypyidaw and Dhaka are dreadful and have been for years, and the latest crisis has plunged ties into a new downward spiral. Two previous large scale returns, in 1978 and 1995, were rife with reports of abuses by both sides. What documentation is Bangladesh providing for new arrivals and how will they be accepted under the Myanmar government’s resurrected 1992 repatriation plan?

Those bilateral agreements may have been functionally sufficient then, but the 1992 plan outlines criteria for repatriation, including documents of proof of Myanmar citizenship, almost impossible to fulfill following the several weeks of violence and several years of Myanmar slowly stripping away the legal rights of the Rohingya.

Past bilateral agreements state that after Bangladesh issued Refugee Registration Cards then Myanmar would agree to: “repatriate in batches all persons inter-alia; carrying Myanmar Citizenship Identity Cards/National Registration Cards; those able to present any other documents issued by relevant Myanmar authorities and; all those persons able to furnish evidence of their residence in Myanmar, such as addresses or any other relevant particulars.”

Fourth, what role will the UN and INGOs be allowed to play in the proposed repatriation? The UN is not likely to be willingly complicit in the construction or supply of return settlements that could easily turn out to be detention facilities with even sharper restrictions on basic freedoms than the Rohingya faced before the August 25 ARSA assault that reignited the conflict.

The UN and INGOs were expelled from northern Rakhine state during the first days of this crisis. It is hard to envision a scenario where they will be permitted unfettered access to refugees in need, particularly amid recent vilification as accomplices of ARSA terrorists.

Suu Kyi waving her magic wand of promises seems insufficient to facilitate the reconciliation between Myanmar and the UN anytime soon, even as dysfunctional as the UN’s operations in Myanmar have been. It is not clear Suu Kyi’s government fully comprehends the gravity of the UN’s outrage or that its fact-finding mission is in effect a UN investigation into state security forces.

The issue has incensed UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, seized the attention of the Security Council, and made High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad, apoplectic. The UN Human Rights Council is now on a crusade to document the abuses of the Maungdaw violence and hold Myanmar accountable. Its latest report based on research in Bangladesh concluded widespread abuses that demonstrate pre-planning by security forces to drive out the Rohingya.

Fifth, Myanmar’s domestic appetite for Rohingya returns is at a racist rock-bottom.

If Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy-led government calculated that standing up for the rights of the Rohingya was political suicide before the crisis, then it should be in overdrive for spurious spin to sell the repatriation plan to the country, especially after several weeks of vituperative social media support for the official line against ‘extremist Bengali terrorists.’

Any large-scale returns could inflame the bonfire of Rakhine nationalist anger into a firestorm, and imperil any implementation of the Rakhine Advisory Commission’s recommendations in other parts of the state, particularly without a more acute commitment to ‘do no harm’ principles than previously.

Six, the international community, including Western donors, the UN, rights groups and media, has made the issue one of the central global stories of 2017. Myanmar’s reputation, however unfairly overblown and misreported by sections of the media, is now at its lowest point in decades after a period of accolades for a supposedly successful democratic transition.

Even in a peripatetic international news cycle, the issue of repatriation will rightfully evince intense scrutiny and judgement. The government can expect any report of abuses will be amplified and any restrictions on monitoring intensely condemned. The media will likely report from these resettlement sites on the existing prevailing narrative that Myanmar spontaneously violently expelled and pre-planned the extirpation of the Rohingya.

The government and military have shown themselves to be almost pathologically incapable of presenting the complexity of the situation, putting their trust deficit on the issue in the deep red. It has also made an enemy of the international media and will likely never rebuild the relationship if they continue their current mix of denials, threats and vague remedies.

Finally, Suu Kyi’s government will be dragged into addressing all the many other crucial issues it promised to prioritize that have backslid down its agenda. Two years after a partial nationwide ceasefire was signed by eight insurgent groups, Suu Kyi’s peace process is floundering with many ethnic armed organizations criticizing the government and military for its hardline stance and lack of facilitating negations.

Fighting continues in Shan and Kachin states, with sharp curbs placed by the military on humanitarian assistance and over 100,000 civilians still living in internally displaced people camps.

Myanmar still faces immense development challenges in health, education, and employment and business opportunities, issues the NLD’s dreadful handling of the Rakhine situation and the security forces’ resurgent ruthless character have kept on a back-burner.

And while Suu Kyi and her NLD may feel the need to discuss repatriation and set in train planning ideas, the challenges and complexity of the situation are now well beyond her in-denial government’s control.

David Scott Mathieson is a Yangon-based independent analyst

October 19, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | 2 Comments

14,000 orphans among Rohingya refugees: Bangladesh

Press TV – October 15, 2017

A new influx of Rohingya refugees that hit Bangladesh contains around 14,000 orphans, authorities say, as new details emerge of a brutal crackdown in neighboring Myanmar which forced over half a million Rohingya Muslims to flee their homes.

Bangladesh’s social services department said Sunday that some 13,751 children without a parent or parents were identified in the crowded refugee camps along the country’s border with Myanmar.

“The majority of them said they lost one or both parents in the violence in Rakhine,” said Pritam Kumar Chowdhury, a department deputy director, adding, “Others said they didn’t know what happened to their parents, and they came to Bangladesh with relatives.”

The United Nations says children comprise the bulk of the exodus of Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar since violence erupted in the country’s western state of Rakhine in late August. The total number of arrivals currently stands at 536,000, of which some 320,000 are children, one-third under five years of age.

The exodus began when the army and Buddhist mobs launched sweeping attacks on villages populated by Muslims to the north of Rakhine. The government rejected claims about torching of villages and killing of innocent residents, saying military forces were simply hunting for suspected militants who had carried out deadly attacks on border and police posts on August 25.

However, rights campaigners and international organizations have documented numerous accounts of gang rapes and massacres against the Rohingya Muslims as the refugees continue to recount the violence they suffered back home.

The UN and other agencies have also warned about humanitarian problems that could occur in crowded refugee camps in Bangladesh, especially given the high number of vulnerable children and women living in those areas. Bangladesh is building the world’s largest refugee camp in the area with plans in place for setting up an orphanage to deliver extra assistance and familial support to unaccompanied minors and those without a parent.

October 16, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

UN: Myanmar’s ‘systematic’ crackdown on Rohingya aimed at permanent expulsion

Press TV – October 11, 2017

The United Nations says Myanmar’s “systematic” crackdown on the persecuted Rohingya Muslim community is aimed at permanently expelling them from their home in Rakhine state.

A report published by the UN on Wednesday detailed a campaign by Myanmar’s military to terrorize the Rohingya through atrocities that range from indiscriminate killings to rape.

“Brutal attacks against Rohingya in northern Rakhine State have been well-organized, coordinated and systematic, with the intent of not only driving the population out of Myanmar but preventing them from returning to their homes,” the UN report said.

Myanmar’s troops often operate “in concert with armed Rakhine Buddhist individuals,” the report added.

“In some cases, before and during the attacks, megaphones were used to announce: ‘You do not belong here, go to Bangladesh. If you do not leave, we will torch your houses and kill you’,” it said.

The investigative report also contradicts claims by Myanmar’s government that the crackdown was a response to militant attacks on security posts on August 25. The probe found that the latest wave of military “clearance operations” in Rakhine actually began before that date, possibly in early August.

The investigation outlines an army-led campaign to erase the Rohingya connection to their homeland in the majority Buddhist country.

Teachers, as well as cultural, religious and community leaders have also been targeted in the latest crackdown “in an effort to diminish Rohingya history, culture and knowledge,” the report said.

“Efforts were taken to effectively erase signs of memorable landmarks in the geography of the Rohingya landscape and memory in such a way that a return to their lands would yield nothing but a desolate and unrecognizable terrain.”

The latest UN report is based on interviews with refugees who have fled to Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar area since August 25. The UN team spoke to hundreds of people in a series of 65 interviews, some with individuals and some with groups of up to 40 people.

UN figures show more than half a million people have fled the ongoing violence.

The researchers also found evidence of abuses designed to “instill deep and widespread fear” among the Rohingya. This included accounts of soldiers surrounding homes and firing indiscriminately as residents ran for their lives as well as uniformed men gang-raping women and girls, some as young as five. One statement, “received by an extremely credible source, referred to a (pregnant) woman whose stomach was slit open after she was raped.”

Speaking to reporters in the Swiss city of Geneva, researcher Thomas Hunecke said the UN had “very credible information” that Myanmar’s military had planted landmines along the Bangladesh border. “It is highly likely that these mines have been planted in order to prevent the Rohingya population from returning.”

The United Nations believes the government of Myanmar might have committed ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity in its crackdown. The Rohingya are considered by the UN the “most persecuted minority group in the world.”
Bangladeshi army personnel direct Rohingya volunteers carrying ice boxes with cholera vaccines at the Thangkhali refugee camp in Ukhia district, October 10, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

EU to cut ties with Myanmar military chiefs

The European Union is to cut ties with senior Myanmar military chiefs to protest the “disproportionate use of force” against the Rohingya, according to an agreement approved by EU ambassadors and set to be signed off at a meeting of foreign ministers on Monday.

The agreement said the rapid flight of so many people from Rakhine “strongly indicates a deliberate action to expel a minority.”

“In the light of the disproportionate use of force carried out by the security forces, the EU and its member states will suspend invitations to the commander-in-chief of the Myanmar/Burma armed forces and senior military officers and review all practical defense cooperation,” the agreement says.

According to the agreement, the EU “may consider additional measures” if the crisis does not improve. The bloc currently bans the export of arms and equipment that can be used for “internal repression.”

October 11, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | Leave a comment

Bangladesh set to relocate all Rohingya to mega refugee camp: Official

Press TV – October 5, 2017

Bangladesh says it plans to expand a massive settlement under construction in its southernmost district to house nearly 900,000 persecuted Rohingya Muslims who have fled violence in Myanmar.

Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya, minister for disaster management and relief, said on Thursday that the estimated 890,000 refugees would eventually be moved to the new site near the border town of Cox’s Bazar.

“All of those who are living in scattered places… would be brought into one place. That’s why more land is needed. Slowly all of them will come,” media outlets quoted the minister as saying.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the minister said that families were already moving to the new site, known as the Kutupalong Extension.

There are currently nearly two dozen camps and other makeshift camps along the border. Two of the existing settlements have already been shut down.

Last month, two thousand acres of land next to the existing Kutupalong camp were set aside for the new Rohingya arrivals. Another 1,000 acres were later set aside for the new camp.

The number of newcomers has exceeded 500,000 — adding to 300,000 already in Bangladesh.

The mega camp project has, however, caused concern among doctors and charities on the ground that they fear a disease like cholera could spread quickly through such a congested, overpopulated site.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says the situation is “slowly spiraling into a catastrophe of biblical proportions.”

According to Mark Lowcock, UN emergency relief coordinator, the world body would be seeking around $430 million to scale up the humanitarian operation for the destitute Rohingya.

In a fresh bout of violence in Myanmar, soldiers and Buddhist mobs have been attacking Rohingya Muslims and torching their villages since October 2016. The attacks have seen a sharp rise since August 25, following a number of purported armed attacks on police and military posts in the western state of Rakhine.

Many witnesses and rights groups have reported systematic attacks, including rape, murder and arson, at the hands of the army and Buddhist mobs against Rohingya Muslims, forcing them to leave their generations-old homes and flee to overcrowded and squalid refugee camps in Bangladesh.

The UN has described the crackdown on Rohingya in Myanmar as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.

October 6, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | | 1 Comment

Corbyn criticizes UK foreign policy, Israel oppression, Trump

Press TV – September 27, 2017

British Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn has slammed London’s foreign policy, asserting that “terrorism is thriving in a world our governments have helped to shape.”

“The targeting of our democracy, of teenage girls at a pop concert, of people enjoying a night out, worshipers outside a mosque, commuters going to work — all of these are horrific crimes…But we also know that terrorism is thriving in a world our governments have helped to shape, with its failed states, military interventions and occupations where millions are forced to flee conflict or hunger,” Corbyn said at the party’s annual conference in Brighton on Wednesday.

Military solutions to the threats of terrorism in Europe were another area of Corbyn’s speech.

“We have to do better and swap the knee-jerk response of another bombing campaign for long-term help to solve conflicts rather than fuel them,” Corbyn said.

Corbyn also hinted at the double standards of British foreign policy in the Middle East region, criticizing arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

“Democracy and human rights are not an optional extra to be deployed selectively. So we cannot be silent at the cruel Saudi war in Yemen while continuing to supply arms to Saudi Arabia, or the crushing of democracy in Egypt or Bahrain, or the tragic loss of life in Congo.”

The Labour leader addressed the brutal suppression of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and demanded that Aung San Suu Kyi end the violence against the Rohingya and allow the UN and international aid agencies into Rakhine state. “The Rohingya have suffered for too long,” Corbyn emphasized.

Corbyn criticized Israel’s 50-year oppression of Palestinians and called for an end to the “oppression of the Palestinian people, the 50-year occupation and illegal settlement expansion.”

On Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump’s speech at the UN and his policies were another area that Corbyn critically addressed.

Corbyn said Trump’s UN speech was “devoid of concern for human rights or universal values” and “was not the speech of a world leader.”

Pointing to the historical relationship between the UK and the US, Corbyn said, “If the special relationship means anything, it must mean that we can say to Washington: that way is the wrong way.”

As a veteran peace activist, Corbyn has long been critical of London’s involvement in US-led wars across the world its support of Israel in its unending oppression against Palestinians.

Corbyn has stood up for Palestine and Palestinian rights and has been a strong advocate against Britain’s foreign wars in the Middle East.

September 27, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel refuses to stop arms sales to Myanmar despite Rohingya massacre

Press TV – September 27, 2017

The Israeli regime will not put an end to its sale of ammunition to Myanmar in light of incontrovertible evidence and United Nations data that the Southeast Asian nation’s military has perpetrated various forms of atrocities, including systematic rape and expulsions, against Rohingya Muslims.

English-language Haaretz daily newspaper reported that a group of human rights activists had filed a petition in the so-called High Court of Justice, demanding an end to the arms sales.

Senior Israeli official Shosh Shmueli, in return, said the court should not interfere in Israel’s foreign relations.

Shmueli’s comments came as Israeli arms companies have sold more than 100 battle tanks, as well as patrol boats and light weapons to the Burmese military in recent years.

Meanwhile, TAR Ideal Concepts has trained Burmese special forces in Myanmar’s restive western state of Rakhine, where a wave of serious communal violence continues unabated.

The Tel Aviv-based company posted pictures on its website in August last year, showing its staff training Myanmar’s forces on combat tactics and how to handle weapons.

The High Court of Justice was set to rule on the petition filed by Eitay Mack along with 10 other activists later on Wednesday.

The judges hearing the case – Yoram Danziger, Anat Baron and David Mintz – issued a gag order on Tuesday regarding the court’s decision on the Myanmar arms sales controversy. The measure was adopted at the request of the Israeli regime.

Myanmar’s forces have been attacking Rohingya Muslims and torching their villages in Rakhine since October 2016. The attacks have seen a sharp rise since August 25, following a number of armed attacks on police and military posts in the troubled western state.

The government of de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has snubbed and obstructed UN officials who have sought to investigate the situation. The government has prevented aid agencies from delivering food, water and medicines to the refugees.

Suu Kyi has also rejected UN accusations that Myanmar’s forces are engaged in the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims.

Considering Suu Kyi’s reputation for micromanagement, political analysts say it seems unlikely that the ongoing violence is taking place without her approval.

In early September, peace activists launched an international campaign calling on the Nobel Peace Prize Committee to take back its 1991 prize to Suu Kyi over her complicity in what is viewed as the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya.

September 27, 2017 Posted by | War Crimes | , | 3 Comments

No way back for Myanmar’s Rohingya refugees

A military plan to strike a new ethnic balance in Rakhine state’s conflict-ridden northwest means a minority of the 420,000 refugees now languishing in Bangladesh will likely ever return home

By Bertil Lintner | Asia Times | September 22, 2017

Yangon – Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi says that her government is prepared to begin taking back Rohingya refugees recently driven into Bangladesh in a national verification process. Suu Kyi said the repatriation can start “at any time” in a speech on September 19, her first since the refugee crisis began in late August after a surge of insurgent attacks and harsh military counter-measures.

The violence has pushed an estimated 420,000 mostly Muslim refugees into Bangladesh, which considers them natives of Myanmar and calls for their full return. While Suu Kyi’s offer to accept “verified” refugees may have aimed to defuse international criticism of military “clearance operations” the United Nations has likened to “ethnic cleansing”, it’s altogether unclear how many of the departed the autonomous armed forces will accept back.

Exactly how many Rohingya live in conflict-ridden western Rakhine state is debatable because Myanmar-conducted censuses don’t recognize the Rohingya as an ethnic group. The 1.1 -1.5 million figures quoted in international media reports are made without reference to any official or credible independent source.

According to the most recent 2014 census and UN estimates, the combined population of Rakhine state’s three northwestern townships of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung – where the conflict is confined – before the recent exodus was around 950,000, of which between 80% and 90% were Muslims. It is uncertain how many of those Muslims would identify themselves as Rohingya – a contested term in Rakhine state where ethnic Kaman and other minority Muslim groups reside – but in any counting the total number of Muslims there is well below one million.

The total population of Rakhine state is 3.2 million with a clear Buddhist majority, according to the latest census. Whatever the correct figure may be, it appears that nearly half of the Muslim population of the three affected northwestern townships have recently been forced to flee into Bangladesh.

Myanmar’s military has deployed more than 70 battalions to Rakhine state to carry out its clearance operations, nominally aimed to flush out insurgents hiding in civilian populations. With both regular and light infantry battalions deployed, security analysts estimate there are between 30,000-35,000 Myanmar troops now on the ground in Rakhine state.

The deployment of that many troops must be motivated by strategic considerations other than suppression of the emergent Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a vicious but small group of rag-tag guerrillas fighting with mostly rudimentary weapons. According to military insiders, the overriding strategic aim is to “balance” the demographic composition of the state’s three Muslim-majority townships.

According to well-placed sources in Yangon, the military aims to reduce the Muslim majority in the northwestern townships to no more than 60%, with Buddhists making up the remaining 40%. Towards that demographic aim, the sources say, the military is now preparing to resettle thousands of ethnic Rakhines and other Buddhists into the Rakhine area’s now abandoned and burned out villages.

The Muslims that are ultimately permitted to return will undoubtedly be put through a deliberately torturous process rooted in deeply contentious history.

Suu Kyi’s reference to a “verification” process harks to an April 1992 joint statement made by then Bangladeshi foreign minister Mostafizur Rahman and his Myanmar counterpart Ohn Gyaw that said Myanmar’s government agreed “there would be no restriction on number of persons [repatriated] as long as they could establish bona fide evidence of their residence in Myanmar.”

At that time, an estimated 250,000 Rohingya Muslims from Rakhine state had taken refuge in Bangladesh after a border skirmish which had resulted in a military crackdown on the Myanmar side. As with the current humanitarian crisis, the flight of refugees into Bangladesh in the early 1990s also attracted big international media attention and support from the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Prince Khaled Sultan Abdul Aziz, then commander of the Saudi Arabian contingent in the 1991 Gulf War, visited Dhaka and recommended a Desert Storm like (the name of the US-led campaign to drive Iraq out of Kuwait) action against Myanmar. That multinational offensive never came to fruition, but Myanmar eventually agreed to take back the refugees under United Nations’ pressure and on the terms of its verification agreement with Bangladesh.

Many but not all returned to Myanmar; it was uncertain how many actually stayed in Rakhine state or returned to Bangladesh because little remained of the villages they had left behind. Some had been destroyed while others were populated in their absence by migrants from other parts of Myanmar. The area between Bangladesh’s city of Chittagong and Teknaf on the Naaf river which forms the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar is still full of people who claim they were born and grew up on the Myanmar side.

The early 1990s exodus was the second big movement in modern times. The first came in 1978 when 200,000 Muslims from Rakhine state fled to Bangladesh as Myanmar security authorities carried out an operation against illegal immigrants codenamed Naga Min, or “Dragon King.” That crisis also led to a repatriation agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh signed on July 9, 1978.

That agreement was not different from what was stated in 1992, namely that Myanmar agreed to the earliest repatriation of its lawful residents on the presentation of [Myanmar] national registration cards. Some, but far from all, Muslims in Rakhine’s three northwestern townships have proper government issued identification cards or citizenship papers. Others have been systematically denied such documents and being effectively stateless face restrictions on their movements in Myanmar.

Now as then, Myanmar’s policy remains the same: only those who can produce proof of citizenship or residency will be allowed back. That may not be an unreasonable demand, but it will be a messy and contentious task given the current chaos and deprivation along the border and in refugee camps. It’s unclear how many of the estimated 420,000 refugees Myanmar will actually be taken back and how much international pressure will factor into that human calculation.

What is clear is that the Myanmar armed forces that carried out the brutal and controversial clearance operations in border areas don’t want the Muslims back as strategic planners aim to rebalance the region’s ethnic demographics.

Judging from anti-Rohingya and anti-Muslim demonstrations recently held in Yangon and other Myanmar cities, it’s a stance shared by many Myanmar citizens who don’t consider the Rohingya a national ethnic group but rather illegal immigrants.

Yet another bilateral repatriation agreement will likely be signed in the coming days that allows for some refugees to return to Myanmar to placate both Bangladesh and the international community. But given the deliberately high hurdles to proving Myanmar citizenship or residency, and a military bent on using the crisis as an opportunity to change the area’s demographics, the repatriation will likely be smaller than seen in the late 1970s and early 1990s.

In the meantime, Rakhine state’s once predominantly Muslim region will remain heavily militarized, both to guard against ARSA from carrying out further attacks on undermanned security outposts and to prevent unverified refugees from returning across the border.

Regardless of any new bilateral agreement, recent events will be leveraged to create a new ethnic balance in Rakhine state, one with less Muslims, more Buddhists and over which Myanmar’s military has absolute control.

September 22, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , | Leave a comment

Over 80,000 Rohingya children ‘wasting’ from hunger in Myanmar: UN

Press TV – July 17, 2017

The United Nations has warned that tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslim children under the age of five are in dire need of treatment for “acute malnutrition” in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine.

The World Food Program (WFP) reported on Monday that 80,500 children living in the areas are “wasting” and will need treatment for acute malnutrition within the next 12 months.

According to WFP spokesperson in Myanmar, the “wasting” condition, which is a rapid weight loss that can become fatal, impairs the functioning of the immune system.

“Based on the household hunger scale, about 38,000 households corresponding to 225,800 people are suffering from hunger and are in need of humanitarian assistance,” said the report.

The agency warned that “households with children under the age of five,” and those that composed of only one female adult, had the highest frequency of episodes of severe hunger.

The report was based an assessment in April of villages in the Rakhine state, which has been under a military lockdown since October 2016, when the military launched a campaign to hunt down those who allegedly staged deadly attacks on police posts.

A quarter of all Rohingya households composed of only one female adult because the men had left due to the military campaign, it added.

Since the beginning of the army’s operation, some 75,000 Rohingya have fled Rakhine to Bangladesh, according to UN estimates. Those who remain are now reeling from a food crisis.

There have also been numerous accounts by eyewitnesses of summary executions, rapes, and arson attacks against Muslims since the crackdown began.

The United Nations Human Rights Council agreed in March to send an international fact-finding mission to Myanmar, but the country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has so far denied entry to members of the mission.

July 17, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

US Still Seeks Regime Change Across Asia

By Ulson Gunnar – New Eastern Outlook – 26.11.2016

While the US could accurately be described as a global power in decline, the ambitions of prominent special interests at the center of its economic and political power still pose a potent threat to global stability and national sovereignty worldwide. In Asia particularly, despite a clear shift in a regional balance of power that has persisted for nearly a century, the US is still actively involved in attempting to dictate which governments come to power in respective nation-states and how they rule and all in an attempt to create a balance of power in Asia that serves US interests.

From Myanmar to Vietnam, US Ambitions Still a Clear and Present Danger 

US ambition to transform Asia manifests itself in a number of ways. In Malaysia, it has been fueling for years the so-called Bersih movement and its campaign for “clean and fair elections.” While the movement attempted to appear spontaneous and independent of any political party, it was quickly revealed that its core leadership was funded by the US State Department via the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Open Society. It was also revealed that Bersih was in fact an auxiliary front of a political coalition headed by US-backed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim who quite literally led the protests in the streets himself.

Extensive US support has been provided to the now ruling government of Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar, including the creation of Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy’s (NLD) entire media capabilities. Pro-NLD media platforms created and funded annually by the US government include the New Era Journal, the Irrawaddy, and the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB). It was also revealed that Suu Kyi’s Minister of Information, Pe Myint, was quite literally trained in Bangkok by the US government-funded Indochina Media Memorial Foundation, which now co-occupies the Western media’s Foreign Correspondents Club (FCCT) office in Bangkok.

In Thailand, in addition to the substantial lobbying support the above mentioned FCCT provides the ousted US-backed regime of Thaksin Shinawatra and his also-ousted sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, the US government funds a large number of supposed “nongovernmental organizations” (NGOs) in a bid to create the illusion of a legitimate, pro-democracy opposition. The Shinawatra family also enjoys continued lobbying support from Washington, with influential firms having registered on their behalf every year since at least as early as 2006.

Currently, US lobbyists are still active in supporting the Shinawatra regime and their political supporters within Thailand. The Shinawatra’s themselves are still positioning themselves to retake power, and the US media is still turning out a large amount of content aimed at setting the stage for continued political conflict within the country.

In Cambodia, opposition leader Sam Rainsy has received years of support from the US government and America’s European allies, including regular political and media support from the US State Department’s Voice of America (VOA) network.

Indonesia strains under pressure put on the government and society by US and Saudi-backed groups capable of mobilizing large numbers of protesters both to augment their own political power and to put pressure on the current ruling government in a bid to roll back growing ties between Jakarta and Beijing.

And while Vietnam lacks any clearly visible, central opposition figure, the US has steadfastly built up an opposition movement with which to pressure the Vietnamese government.

Cultural Colonization via YSEALI 

Collectively, across the entire Southeast Asian region, the US is engaged in what some analysts have called “cultural colonization,” particularly with a program it calls Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) in which the US State Department actively recruits, indoctrinates and directs young Asian students and professionals toward building a pro-Western opposition front. This includes a program called “Generation: Go NGO!” in which the US creates and directs a growing network of US government funded fronts posing as “nongovernmental organizations.”

Mirroring a modern day version of the very sort of imperial networks constructed by the British Empire across Asia, America’s reach into Asia seeks to reinvent and reassert Western domination across Asia Pacific. Not only does it seek to dominate the respective people, resources, economies and politics of nations in Southeast Asia, but it also seeks the creation of a united front with which to encircle, contain and eventually displace Beijing’s growing influence in the region.

Asserting Economic Hegemony via the TPP

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a decidedly US dominated project, sought to string Asian states together in an economic alliance opposed to China’s rising regional and global influence. The deal’s details were introduced and brokered in secret, contravening any sense of self-determination for those nations and people subjected to it. Ultimately, the inequitable conditions of the deal required coercion and bribery to move forward, and despite great efforts, it appears that it will not likely succeed.

Nations like Thailand have categorically refused to sign the deal thus far, and nations like Vietnam who had initially promised to sign it, have wavered. The US’ desperation in moving through deals like the TPP may also explain the expansive networks it has constructed and continues to construct to apply pressure on both Asia as a region, and each nation individually.

Combating US Primacy 

Such aspirations are more than mere speculation, and are instead derived from the writings of prominent US policymakers, including Robert Blackwill who in 2015 penned an entire paper about reasserting US “primacy” over Asia. Blackwill, it should be noted, served as a lobbyist for the above mentioned US proxy Thaksin Shinawatra of Thailand.

For Asia collectively, and for each nation respectively, the need for an international voice as Russia’s RT or China’s CCTV has granted Moscow and Beijing , is essential for challenging and overcoming divisive and destructive narratives perpetuated by the Western media. It is also an important factor in exposing and diminishing the influence of US-backed political opposition parties and the army of US-funded fronts posing as “NGOs.”

And while instinctively, building closer ties with China may seem to be a viable formula to balancing a US that seeks to reassert itself, such ties must be done within a larger regional framework to build a sustainable balance of power. Simply trading US hegemony in for Chinese hegemony, would fail to serve the rest of Asia’s interests well. For each respective Asian state, strong domestic institutions, economies, education systems and military institutions ensures not only America’s inability of asserting its interests over those of each nation’s, but also heads off China from filling in and exploiting the void left by a retreating United States.

November 26, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Myanmar army forces about 2,000 Rohingyas from homes

Press TV – October 24, 2016

The Myanmar army has forced about 2,000 Rohingya Muslims to abandon their homes in a village, as part of a crackdown on the religious minority following the recent attacks on border security forces.

Sources said border guards on Sunday went to Kyee Kan Pyin village, in the central region of Mandalay, and ordered about 2,000 villagers to evacuate it, giving them just enough time to collect basic household items.

The villagers were forced for a second night to stay and hide in rice fields without shelter.

“I was kicked out from my house yesterday afternoon, now I live in a paddy field outside of my village with some 200 people including my family, I became homeless,” said a Rohingya man from the raided village.

“After the soldiers arrived at our village, they said that if all of us didn’t leave, they would shoot us,” he added.

Witnesses and Rohingya community elders have confirmed the report.

A Myanmar government spokesman said the government was unable to contact anyone in the area because it was a militarily-operated “red zone.”

The move is believed to have been prompted after Myanmar police officials announced that attacks on three police posts along the country’s western border with Bangladesh on October 9 had claimed the lives of at least two officers while six more remain unaccounted for. An assault that was later blamed on the minority group.

Rakhine, home to around a million members of the minority Rohingya Muslim community, has been the scene of communal violence since 2012. Many of the Muslims have been killed while tens of thousands have been forced to flee as a result of attacks by Buddhists. The Rohingyas are largely living in camps in dire situations.

The Rohingyas have no militant faction to fight for them but police in Myanmar and Bangladesh have blamed a number of attacks in the past on the Muslims.

Over 1.3 million Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar face discrimination, including controls on their movements, family size and access to jobs.

Myanmar denies full citizenship to the Rohingya population in the country. According to the United Nations, Rohingya Muslims are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.

The violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar has triggered an influx of refugees into neighboring countries, namely Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

October 25, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , | Leave a comment