Learning to be Fascists, victims, and bystanders (and everything in-between).
We learn to love, hate, kill, slaughter, rape, torture, etc.
This picture which hangs on an exhibit hall of the Hollywood-designed Oscar Schindler's museum (formerly his factory, now a must-see museum in Krakow, within a few minutes' walk from the walled Jewish ghetto).
My Polish sociologist guide taught me something really perceptive using this photo:.
Learning to submit completely -
the Jewish victims of Nazi - Polish Jews in the Nazi-occupied Poland - were taught to behave rather submissively whenever they encountered SS or Gestapo members. For behaving otherwise would result in their death.
Here an Orthodox Jewish man stood with complete docility while a group of SS or Gestapos stopped him and humiliated him in full of of the public.
Learning to be sadistic human monsters - with a small 'm'
ordinary Germans who joined the Nazi security forces learned to behave as perpetrators, sadists, torturers, executioners, rapists, looters, robbers, etc. The more sadistic the better for your career prospects within the Nazi ladder. They learned that they enjoyed BLANKET IMPUNITY to do anything to the marked population GROUPS.
Notice a few Nazi men in uniform posing gleefully for camera with their Jewish victim.
Learning to be indifferent bystanders
Poles and others whom in the Nazi ideology were borderlines Aryans (those who had potentials to be at the bottom of race hierarchy in the Nazi system as labourer population) learned to behave indifferent towards a situation which they knew was grossly barbaric. For showing kindness and acting on this kindness towards the members of the marked population, namely their local Jewish friends, neighbors, etc. as well as Roma gypsies, etc. would invite collective punishment of their own Polish families, friends, etc.
In the photo a few Polish men looked on, wearing the faces of indifference.
Nazism and Nazi behaviours were "taught", through punishment and reward systems.
No human social organisation is immune from this kind of Pavlovian condition.
In my view, the Burmese society is undergoing this experience re; Rohingya victims of state terror, social ostracism/exclusion and the emerging sadistic culture of those who call themselves "Buddhists".
|Photo from the Yalta Conference: Winston S. Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Stalin|
Imagine the Security Council as a place where a small pack of big dogs growl at each other - over a piece of rotten meat, scent of a bitch on heat, a turf to urinate on, etc. You get the drift here.
Contrary to the Pavlovian views and sentiments about what we have been taught to call "world powers", these beastly creatures are NOT moral agents that promote human well-being.
We need to question, challenge and discard the conventional wisdom that makes us cry for their help in promoting human well-being and human rights.
How could powers that have had hand in virtually all conflicts that have re-engulfed the world post-WWII? After all, they happen - how coincidental!! - to be the world's biggest merchants of death, that supply, at hefty costs or with strings attached, their weapons to their preferred parties in wars and conflicts the world over.
Rather these creatures typically behave more like hungry hounds (DOGS) who guard their territories jealously, often showing paranoia that some other dogs might snatch a piece of rotten meat, come to deficate or urinate on their marked turfs.
If you have not looked at the world's most powerful body you should.
All the official discourses of world peace, human rights, sovereignty, etc. are utterly devoid of meaning and substance.
The respective turfs of these hungry, beastly creatures reflects the tacit colonial arrangement of geopolitical projections called "spheres of influence".
As my friend Denis Halliday, who resigned from his Assistant Sec-General position in protest of the second invasion of Iraq, pointed out correctly, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin weren't exactly nice men.
FDR's racist, paranoid, economically jealous policies led to the internment of hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans many of whom were successful farmers during the WWII.
Winston Churchill, really a bastard colonialist who branded anyone who demanded freedom from the yoke of British Empire.
Joseph Stalin - this Georgian man's crimes were too numerous to list, on a par with Hitler really. Heard of gulags?
Everything flows from this extremely dodgy beginning with racist & murderous minds.
Forget the empty rhetoric of humanism.
Have the courage to confront the failed and failing realities of this institution created as a new colonial arrangement.
We do not live in a rule-based, moral world where progress is about taking care of fellow humans and human communities. We live in yet another colonial world order that is cancerously depraved, greed-driven and delusions-dictated.
The world's people have been trained like Pavlovian creatures to play along with the imperialist powers.
Dodgy imperialist powers and humanism don't exist in a single space.
Racism is typically based on racist myths. Racists have no use for facts and truths.
Myanmar's institutionalized genocidal view of Rohingya identity which the military propagates, which NLD leaders, from Aung San Suu Kyi and ex-General Tin Oo, share is this:
Today's Rohingya arrived in Western Burmese colony of Rakhine AFTER 1824, the year of the First Anglo-Burmese War. They arrived in the freshly annexed British territory - called Rakhine when the new conquerer decided to start commercial rice industry along the narrow coastline of their newly acquired territory.
The Land of Arakanese changed hands, from the backward Burmese colonizer based in the central Dry Zone capital of Ava to the superior British colonizer based in Calcutta on the East Coast of British India.
Rooinga, the historical root word on which Rohingya ethnic identity comes to rest, predates the British Annexation of a Burmese colony (AD1785- AD1824), named Rakhine or Arakan.
Here is the irrefutable historical evidence of highest quality primary source. Michael Charney at the School of Oriental and African Studies stated categorically that "no good historian can reject this evidence."
But of course, racism is typically based not on facts, but on racist myths.
Yangee Lee on CNN: Myanmar's crimes against humanity against Rohingya & Rights Abuses in Kachin and Shan States
Stories of horror from Myanmar's Rakhine State
The UN's Special Rapporteur to Myanmar tells Kristie Lu Stout about horrific claims of indiscriminate killings and gang rapes against the Rohingya minority
Genocides are what students of politics call 'path-dependent'.
Once a genocidal process is set in motion it is hard to recall.
Genocide starts with a small group of racists, with multiple motives and multiple strategic aims, out of a genocidal plan.
Then genocidal ideas and worldviews are promoted in society.
Soon these ideas begin to fill the air in society at large: the people breath them actively.
They cannot get enough of it, in due course.
Once genocidal view reaches the level of essential social Oxygen the perpetrating society has lost its ability to be awaken from the national nightmare.
Typically genocidal peoples de-humanize their target group (s).
In the process, the perpetrating people destroy their own collective humanity.
Alongside the destruction of the victim group(s), the perpetrating dominant groups (and those who chose to NOT lift their fingers even when they become aware of Evil engulfing their society at large) set in motion the process of self-destruction.
Even among those who are pained by their knowledge of their own society's genocide learn to develop indifference or feel constrained to publicly display their empathy with Rohingya victims.
All genocides end in tears and destroy humanness in all involved in it, as perpetrators, on-lookers, whitewashers, collaborators, and victims."
We need to remind ourselves that the world - the so-called international community - have, with no exception, sat on its collective hand in every single genocide since the Armenian genocide by the Young Turks in 1915.
The most infamous cases:
Turkey's genocide of Christian Armenians (1915).
The nationalist Turks scapegoated the well-to-do and educated Armenians for the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, and proceeded to liquidate the Armenian population.
Forced death marches of Armenian communities towards the deserts near today's Kurdistan where the victims were expected to die in staggering numbers.
When the death rate proved less than expected, the Turk accelerated the destruction of their victims - by mass killings.
The only Western diplomat - based in Istanbul - who was protesting loudly was the American Ambassador.
In 1915, Britain was the world's superpower. Britain had other concerns: profits for the British firms.
The Holocaust (1933-45)
- nearly 5 million Jews, another 3 million Roma Gypsies, Poles, and other groups, as well as 27-28 million Russians (Western European governments with the exception of Holland and Poland) and USA were engaged - not opposed - Hitler and his men).
The Enlightened western civilization's responses, including Stalin's USSR, varied - from cooperation to appeasement, based on strategic calculations and self-interest.
USA - $$ lenders from Wall Street such as Mr "prestigious" JP Morgan (Oxford awarded him an honorary doctorate) and corporations (e.g., GE corporation) - were in bed with the Third Reich.
Britain - Hitler's men were seated at the top dinner table at the Palace dinners; British Military Intelligence (MI) was desperate to cooperate with the Nazi military intelligence, which had the best intelligence on USSR because Britain's feudal ruling class was paranoid about their property rights regime overthrown by the home-grown Communists, supported by the Soviet moles; anti-Semitism was also widely shared among the ruling institutions of Britain; the British Home Office gleefully issued rally permits to British Fascist (Black Shirts) marches - organized by a palace set the likes of Oswald Mosley; Prince of Wales was a known racist - just like today's Prince Philipps (the English Queen's husband).
Sweden deceived the world by claiming to be neutral, but was doing business with the Nazis. It was providing Hitler's Air Force with SAAB engines which were fitted in the powerful fighter-bombers.
USSR had a pact with Hitler, deceived the Eastern European anti-Nazi resistance groups such as the Polish Partisans. Heard of Warsaw Ghetto Uprisings
Indonesian genocide of the Chinese (CIA ) - 1964
US Gov. had a list of "communists" that wanted gone, and the Indonesian leaders had their own list.
(West) Pakistan's genocide of East Pakistani (Bengali) - (1971)
(Indira Gandhi's government used the Indian Armed Forces to put and end to the genocidal killing by West Pakistani army whose general ordered the troops "I want the land, not the people).
Khmer Rouge Genocide (1975-79)
(not yet declared a genocide by UN or lawyers, but commonly accepted as a genocide)
1/3 of Cambodia's population perished.
The backdrop was the carpet bombing of Cambodia by the United States as part of the military strategy to defeat the VietCom (N. Vietnam's Communist resistance), which received help from the Soviet Union.
The genocide was ended by the neighboring Vietnamese army.
Politically and financially, US (starting with Jimmy Carter), UK and China propped up the defeated Pol Pot regime, which regrouped and licked its wounds along Khmer-Thai border. The Thai military/gov provided logistical support, at the US's 'request'; Singapore led the whitewash of Pol Pot.
the genocidal policies were put in place since 1978 - Ngaga Min Operation - and the operational strategies have since evolved.
The United Nations have KNOWN all along what has been done to the Rohingya. It has gagged its staff about the truths. Only in the 38th year of persecution - 2016 - did the UN break the silence. That is after half the population of Rohingya have been driven out, killed, starved, or otherwise destroyed by Burma.
(Then there were Bosnia, South Sudan and other cases which I am less informed about).
A human rights activist and genocide scholar from Burma Dr. Maung Zarni visits Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi Extermination Camp and calls on European governments - Britain, France, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Denmark, Hungary and Germany not to collaborate with the Evil - like they did with Hitler 75 years ago.
Thousands of children’s lives at stake as ‘indirect victims’ of Burmese crackdown on Rohingya Muslims, UN warns
|A Rohingya refugee girl peeks through a hole made in a plastic wall dividing the shelters at Balu Kali Refugee Camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, 28 February, 2017 Reuters|
By Sara Perria
March 2, 2017
Exclusive: Number of undocumented victims of an alleged campaign of persecution could exceed total reported killed to date
Rangoon -- Fears are growing for the lives of several thousand children in northwest Burma suffering from severe malnutrition and lack of medical care but denied vital aid after a sweeping military crackdown against suspected Rohingya militants.
UN agencies were unable to maintain lifesaving services for more than 3,000 registered children, mostly from the minority Rohingya Muslim community, in two townships of northern Rakhine state after the military sealed off the area during operations in response to the killing of nine policemen in attacks on border posts on 9 October.
Following an international outcry, the military allowed the UN to resume limited aid operations in Buthidaung township in mid-December and last month in Maungdaw North.
But many of the children originally receiving aid still have not been reached while others needing help were feared also to be succumbing to severe malnourishment.
Aid workers classify the children as “indirect victims” of the conflict. They say they may be dead, missing or among the almost 70,000 who have fled across the border to Bangladesh.
“We have reports of children who died from malnutrition,” Chris Lewa, director of Arakan Project, an NGO operating for years in northern Rakhine, told The Independent. “The indirect victims of the conflict might be more than those killed,” she said. Arakan Project estimates that some 200 people were killed by the military. Other estimates range up to 1,000.
The death rate for acutely malnourished children left without support is between 30 to 50 per cent if not assisted within the first weeks, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“We know from experience that as soon as there is closure then infections and diseases spread. So people who are coming [to get aid] might be completely new beneficiaries who have now become malnourished,” said one aid worker who asked not to be named.
The military said last week it had ceased operations but the conflict zone remains closed to all foreigners. Non-Burmese UN staffers have had limited access, making full counts and assessments impossible.
The 3,466 children were among a total of 13,155 listed in surveys last year as suffering from severe acute malnutrition in the two townships. An additional 60,000 children had been categorised as suffering from moderate acute malnutrition. Most belong to the stateless Rohingya minority living in utter poverty and deprived of basic rights and services for years.
“Children were receiving lifesaving and prevention treatment, and children in need who don’t receive it have a high risk of dying,” Sabah Barigou, head of the Burma nutrition unit at the World Food Programme (WFP), told The Independent.
Children belonging to a second group of 3,200 under a separate “moderate acute malnutrition” programme are now feared to have fallen into the category of severely acutely malnourished, with their lives at risk if help is not promptly resumed, senior UN sources said.
A reported increase in military checkpoints might have deterred families from travelling to obtain aid.
“The reports we have been receiving indicate that some people are not leaving their villages out of fear, even when services are available,” said Mark Cutts, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. “The suspension of critical lifesaving humanitarian operations for over two months clearly had consequences, particularly for children who were already severely malnourished.”
But without proper access it was difficult for the UN to quantify, he added.
“Humanitarian action is not just about delivering food and other relief supplies. It's about ensuring that people are safe and that they have adequate access to health care and other essential services,” said Mr Cutts.
Procedures to check whether some children had reached refugee camps in the port of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh are moving slowly as most lack any documentation.
The crackdown is the worst since 2012 when communal violence between the Muslim minority and the military backed Buddhist majority resulted in more than 200 deaths and the forced detention of over 140,000 people, mostly Rohingya, in camps.
According to Unicef, Burma is one of 36 countries with the highest burden of chronic malnutrition. A third of children under five are identified as “stunted”.
Malnutrition has been exacerbated by decades of low-level conflict in ethnically mixed border areas, not just Rakhine where poverty is also widespread among the majority Buddhist population. However malnutrition rates are higher among the Rohingya, with one in five children acutely malnourished.
In the conflict areas of Maungdaw and Buthidaung acute malnutrition was above the WHO emergency threshold even before the military crackdown began in October. The World Food Programme had been delivering therapeutic food fortified with supplements, and medical care. Mothers were also taught how to nourish children unable to eat or drink due to illnesses.
Burma’s civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, who has little or no control over the military in their nearly year-old power-sharing arrangement, is starting to react to mounting international pressure. A damning report by the UN human rights office prompted the government to set up a commission to investigate alleged human rights abuses despite its initial denials of reports of killings, rape and mass arrests.
The military also established a commission. At a press conference on Tuesday, the military defended its actions as lawful. “I want to say that I am very sad because of these kind of reckless accusations and neglect of the good things that the government and the military have done for them,” said General Mya Tun Oo, chief of the General Staff, referring to media reports quoting Rohingya residents describing alleged rights abuses.
|Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons|
By David Hutt
March 1, 2017
The life of a politician is made infinitely easier when, as the saying goes, their actions are judged by their reputation, and not the other way around. Such a phrase is befitting of Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whom the media can describe with a number of glowing phrases: Nobel prize laureate, democracy icon, human rights defender, champion of the Myanmar people.
However, Keith Harper, who served as former U.S. President Barack Obama’s ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council, had these words to say about her on Monday:
Unfortunately, what has become increasingly clear over the ensuing months, is that while Daw Suu Kyi was perfectly comfortable reaping benefits as a human rights icon for her own pro-democracy struggle, she is not prepared to display the political courage necessary to take a stand for an unpopular Muslim minority group and prevent the grave and systematic denial of their human rights.
A few more choice extracts from the statement include:
For far too many, her iconic status as pro-democracy crusader makes it difficult to hold accountable a Suu Kyi-led government no matter the well-documented human rights violations…
Her Nobel Prize has become a most awful kind of shield from proper scrutiny…
Even accepting that Suu Kyi does not sufficiently control the military, she has utterly failed to utilize her considerable bully pulpit which would undoubtedly be impactful.
The phrase“scathing attack” might have been apt to describe this statement if it wasn’t for the clarity and logic of its argument. But when one criticizes Suu Kyi there is the sneaking suspicion that you will be palmed off as just an iconoclast or, perhaps worse, unfair. I can already hear the thoughts of her apologists: “Leave her alone, she’s trying her best. Look at what she’s up against.”
Very well. She is up against a military (Tatmadaw) that still automatically controls a quarter of seats in the parliament and three key ministries and has proven to be largely independent of the NLD government. And then there is a resurgent movement of chauvinist Buddhists, openly calling for the persecution of the Rohingya and finding a good deal support among the general public.
But Suu Kyi has known what she is up against for decades (these are hardly new developments) and, even under the perilous situation of house arrest, was happy to deride her opponents for what they were: dictators and murderers and oppressors of the people of Myanmar.
Yet, we are to believe that it is perfectly defensible, now she has achieved a position of power, that her once famed audacity to stand up to the forces of the Tatmadaw and chauvinists in society has become conspicuously quiet. A recent article in the Harvard Political Review intoned an odd mixture of feebleness and sophistry:
While Suu Kyi deserves some of the criticism for her failure to effectively deal with the violence against the Rohingya, her silence does not stem from a naive hatred of the group, but from a careful standoff between her, Myanmar’s military forces, and Buddhist nationalists.
Of course she doesn’t hate the Rohingya. Few sensible people claim as much. And the use of the word “careful” appears odd, since in this reading the NLD is in the most perilous position. Nevertheless, the intent of this opinion has become something of an orthodox view of many commentators, warranting two questions.
First, isn’t it an indication of opportunism and cynicism, not careful or sensible politics, to negate one’s principles when in a position of power? Indeed, how else can one look at the situation other than that Suu Kyi possessed greater courage to stand up to the military junta and its civilian frontmen when under house arrest (with no power) than she does now as the de facto leader of an elected government, with a number of ministries to her name and the freedom to travel the world as an elected official (with the apparent ability to raise awareness of the issue and cash through the goodwill she is owed by some international statesman).
In a 1989 essay, Suu Kyi wrote that “it is undeniably easier to ignore the hardships of those who are too weak to demand their rights than to respond sensitively to their needs.” How the prophetic becomes the pathetic.
Moreover, and this is important: she has not been “silent” on the persecution of Rohingya as some people like to say. Instead she called the accusations of human rights violations “fabrications.” This is not avoiding the issue; it’s taking the side of the perpetrator.
Let us, for a moment, quickly look at what Suu Kyi believes to be fabrications. Here is just one story of many documented in a February report by the UNCHR on the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, which also stated that as many as 66,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since October escape what has been called “human rights violations.” This is told by an 11-year-old girl:
The next time the military came, there were eight to 10 of them, they were asking where my father and sisters were. They were also saying that they were searching for people from Bangladesh. They removed all my clothes and all my mother’s clothes and kicked us with their boots. Then they left. I do not know why. But the next day they came again. This time there were seven of them. They dragged my mother outside the house and locked themselves in the room with me. I do not know if they all abused me, I lost consciousness at some point. My mother woke me up with water. I was bleeding a lot.
In 2011 Suu Kyi was lauded by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when the pair met for the first time. During this address at the meeting, Clinton spoke warmly about the famed speech Suu Kyi delivered at a UN conference in Beijing in 1995 on women’s rights.
During that speech Suu Kyi oscillated between the blatantly false and the blatantly obvious, but it had a powerful effect anyway. “To the best of my knowledge,” she said, “no war was ever started by women. But it is women and children who have always suffered most in situations of conflict.”
Two decades on, all Suu Kyi had to say on a conflict in which girls as young as 11 were gang-raped by the military personnel of the country she represents was that the claims were “fabrications.” As for no woman starting a war, she might have overlooked other cases such as the fact that Queen Victoria was on the throne during the Second and Third Anglo-Burmese War. (Or was Victoria as “passive” in these wars as Suu Kyi is in Myanmar’s persecution of the Rohingya? Hardly). Nevertheless, it is clear that Suu Kyi hasn’t also done much to end the current war on the Rohingya, only fanned some of the flames.
Now, returning to the orthodox view, the second line of argument is that her supposed reticence to speak out about the violations against the Rohingya and the actions of Buddhist chauvinists is a calculated decision, somehow reasoned to be for the greater good. She is gradually building a democratic society and does not want to anger the Tatmadaw, sparking a possible coup against the NLD, so the argument goes.
If this reason is to be accepted, then it is clear Suu Kyi has placed politics and pragmatism above any ideals. Fair enough, but then one should see her for what she has become, a mere mortal politician, not the icon she is still thought of as (the Asian Nelson Mandela shown in the likes of Luc Besson’s The Lady).
Moreover, if it is some calculated decision, she had better show some results soon. At the moment, the social change the electorate thought it was voting for is happening at snail’s pace, if at all.
The NLD ran its 2015 campaign on the slogan, “Time for Change.” “Vote for us, just look to the party flag,” Suu Kyi told a crowd in August that year. “It’s time for change, let’s vote for NLD and have real change!”
Instead of the change, the NLD government has cracked down on free speech, allegedly formed close ties with “crony capitalists,” and seen hundreds of NLD activists quit, claiming the party’s leaders have become too authoritarian. It has failed utterly to deal with demands of the various ethnic groups and the economy has hardly surged as predicted. Moreover, the whole saga of Suu Kyi not being able to become president left a bad taste in the mouth.
Today, NLD members and Suu Kyi seldom speak to the media, one might guess because they will be asked difficult questions they don’t want to answer. It even took her a month to make a public comment on the murder of prominent Muslim lawyer and activist U Ko Ni, an old comrade and friend.
Of course, some reforms have taken place. But they are nothing like the ones promised. On the issue of change, Suu Kyi has offered only excuses. She said last month: “Our citizens who have been struggling hard for many decades may think it’s a very long time. But for the history of a country, for the history of a government, 10 months or one year is not much. This is just a short period.”
Wasn’t this the same line of the ancien regime (give us more time to reform and change)? And where is the sense of urgency that motivated the NLD before their victory? Some apologists have tried the line that expectations were simply too high after the NLD won in 2015, consciously turning the blame on the electorate, not the NLD. I have even seen in print the suggestion that Suu Kyi’s fawning over the military is, perhaps, akin to Stockholm syndrome (which is either hyperbole or an admission that she is unfit to lead).
One conclusion, drawn by Kirsten McConnachie of the University of Warwick, writing in The Conversation in February, is that “the new government looks much like the old regime.” Another is that the whole saga speaks not of patient or clever politics (however unsavory that would be given the context) but of a government and a leader completely out of their depth. Maybe rumors of declining health also factor into this.
Towards the end of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, the character of Nick Carraway comments that “the loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.” There is a stirring emotion to feel some sympathy for Suu Kyi; she has fought for decades and sacrificed a great deal (more than most would forego) to get to where she is.
But such sympathy quickly fades when one considers that it is the people of Myanmar who have truly suffered, and that these are the same people being let down by the person who promised them genuine change and has, so far, failed to deliver. Then again, another emotion stirs: I desire nothing more than to be proven wrong.
Kachin and Rohingya activists in diaspora launch an international opinion tribunal on Myanmar's atrocity crimes against their communities at home
|Kachin and Rohingya activists in diaspora launch an international opinion tribunal on Myanmar's atrocity crimes against their communities at home|
Kachin and Rohingya activists in diaspora launch an international opinion tribunal on Myanmar's atrocity crimes against their communities at home
Media Advisory, February 23, 2017
The Rome-based Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) will be holding the inaugural session of its first-ever Tribunal on Myanmar at Queen Mary University of London International State Crime Initiative on 6 and 7 March. (https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/permanent-peoples-tribunal-myanmar-state-crimes-against-rohingya-and-other-ethnic-minorities-tickets-31967250908)
The establishment of this people’s tribunal is in response to the requests made by Myanmar’s Rohingya and Kachin victims who have made credible allegations that their respective ethnic communities have suffered international crimes at the hands of Myanmar government troops, including crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.
Subsequent tribunal hearings are envisaged in in USA and Malaysia before the jury reach the verdict later this year.
The PPT includes renowned genocide scholars such as Daniel Feierstein, past President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, Dr Helen Jarvis, former Public Affairs Officer at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Dennis Halliday, former Assistant Secretary of the UN and winner of Gandhi International Peace Award (2003). The Tribunal is in the process of selecting members of the Panel of Jury from amongst a list of public figures whose nominations are based on their established personal integrity, professional competence and concerns for the victims.
Among the experts who will appear before the PPT will be Dr Mandy Sadan, Associate Dean of Research at School of African and Oriental Studies, University of London & author of Being & Becoming Kachin: Histories Beyond the State in the Borderworlds of Burma (Oxford University Press, 2013), Professor Penny Green of the International State Crime Initiative, and Azril Mohammad Amin of the Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy (Centhra), Malaysia.
“The gravity of Myanmar’s alleged mistreatment of these ethnic communities has been a concern for us at the PPT for a number of years. My colleagues and I are glad to be able to respond positively to the victims’ request for a credible moral tribunal on what appear to be international crimes being committed by the government of Myanmar,” said Dr Gianni Tognoni, Secretary General of Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal.
The People’s Tribunal has a long history as an effective means of transforming communities marred by state sponsored crimes. It has convened forty-three times to deliver judgements that have guided societies through such struggles as post-colonialism, globalization, war, and economic injustice. It is renowned for its rigorous selection criteria for its jury members.
Hkanhpa Sadan, the General Secretary of the Kachin National Organization (KNO), representing many in the Kachin diaspora, said, “Our Kachin people have been crying out for justice and accountability since Myanmar government unilaterally ended the 17-year ceasefire with the Kachin Independence Organization nearly 6 years ago. While talking up democratic transition in the media, Myanmar government has been bombing – even using fighter jets and gunship helicopters – our communities in Northern Myanmar, displacing thousands of our people, including women, elderly, children and infants from their own homes.” He pointed out that Myanmar is blocking humanitarian assistance and supplies to Kachin war refugees while refusing to permit the UN Special Rapporteur Professor Yanghee Lee access to the area last month to travel to the internally displaced people (IDP) camps where IDP thousands of families are freezing in make-shift camps in the high altitude mountainous, with little food or medical supplies.
Tun Khin, President of Burmese Rohingya Association UK, a participating organization, expresses his appreciation for the PPT staff for the tribunal. “We Rohingyas are grateful that this tribunal effort is materializing at this crucial juncture. Generations of us Rohingya have suffered what we experience as a genocide in our own ancestral lands.” He continues, “my grandfather was a proud Rohingya parliamentary secretary in democratic Burma in the 1950’s, and in 2017, my family and I are refugees in UK now. We are subject to Myanmar’s policy of extermination because of our religion and ethnicity.”
On the western frontier region of Rakhine, Myanmar troops have been accused of “very likely” committing crimes against humanity by the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner’s team. On 3 February the UN Office of High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued a 43-page report of interviews with 200+ persecution-fleeing Rohingya men and women in Bangladesh’s refugee camps, which detailed harrowing accounts of rape, gang-rape, wanton killings, arson, helicopter and rocket launcher attacks and other numerous forms of inhumane atrocities against unarmed, peaceful Rohingyas.
The UN report states,” “The testimonies gathered by the team – the killing of babies, toddlers, children, women and elderly; opening fire at people fleeing; burning of entire villages; massive detention; massive and systematic rape and sexual violence; deliberate destruction of food and sources of food – speak volumes of the apparent disregard by Tatmadaw and BGP officers that operate in the lockdown zone for international human rights law, in particular the total disdain for the right to life of Rohingyas.”
For decades, the Muslim Rohingya minority in Burma have suffered state crimes that many human rights investigators and scholars conclude amount to crimes against humanity and even a “slow genocide” as stated by Amartya Sen. They have been stripped of their citizenship and rendered stateless; prohibited from travelling even between villages; forbidden from obtaining education or gainful employment; forced into labour; physically brutalized including extrajudicial killings, rape,
and torture; driven from their burning homes and villages; and dehumanized because of their faith & skin colour.
In addition to Rohingya and Kachin organizations in diaspora, International State Crime Initiative at Queen Mary University of London, Burma Task Force USA, JUST and the Centre for Human Rights
Research and Advocacy (Centhra) from Malaysia, USA-based Genocide Watch, South Africa’s Protect the Rohingya and Burmese Muslim Association are supporting the tribunal. Cambodia Genocide survivor and genocide prevention campaigner Youk Chhang and Burmese genocide scholar Dr Maung Zarni are also among the tribunal’s individual supporters.
Within the United Nations, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, has reportedly said that she will be recommending a UN-mandated Commission of Inquiry on Rohingyas in her official Mission report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, which she is scheduled to present on 13 March.
Myanmar’s hybrid government of Aung San Suu Kyi and the military has responded to these serious international crimes allegations first by dismissing them as “fake news” and later setting up its own “national investigation commission” headed by ex-general and Vice President Myint Swe. UN Special Adviser on Genocide Prevention Adama Dieng has officially dismissed Myanmar’s national commission as “not a credible option” while Ms Yanghee Lee said, “it doesn’t even have the methodology” to investigate the atrocity crimes. Dr Maung Zarni said “Myanmar’s own investigation would be like wolves figuring out who ate the chickens.”
There has been a concerted activist campaign worldwide for UN member states to adopt a resolution to establish a UN inquiry. UK government has come under strong criticism from human rights campaign groups for privileging its business interests in Burma while ignoring serious allegations of crimes against humanity committed by Myanmar Security troops which the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) says the British Armed Forces are training on human rights and accountability.
Dr Gianni Tognoni, Secretary General of Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal, Rome, Italy
Tun Khin, President, Burmese Rohingya Organization UK
Hkun Htoi Layang, Deputy Secretary, Kachin National Organization