Calling on Canada to help end Myanmar Genocide of Rohingya at Toronto City Council on 23 Nov 2017

Saying "Sorry!" to a Rohingya brother who survived Myanmar Genocide, Kutupalong Camp, Bangladesh, 7 Nov 2017.

Speaking on the Slow Burning Genocide of Rohingyas in Burma, with Professor Amartya Sen, Harvard University, Nov 2014

N. Ireland peace activist Mairead Maguire presenting Zarni with the Cultivation of Harmony Award on behalf of the Parliament of the World's Religions, Salt Lake City, USA 18 Oct 2015

Meeting with The Minister of Foreign Affairs Rt. Honourable Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, M.P., State Guest House, Dhaka, 4 Nov 2017

"National Traitor and Enemy of the State" for his opposition to Rohingya Genocide. Sun Rays, 16/9/17

Rohingya crisis is 'very deliberate genocide', former UN general Romeo Dallaire says

Romeo Dallaire was awarded the Canada Pearson Peace Medal

The former commander of UN peacekeeping forces in Rwanda says the "will to intervene" on the Rohingya crisis is missing.

By Dominic Waghorn, Diplomatic Editor 
December 13, 2017

A world authority on genocide has told Sky News what is happening to Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims is undoubtedly genocide and the international community must intervene to prevent it.

As commander of UN peacekeeping forces in Rwanda in the early 1990s, Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire warned that genocide was imminent but was ignored.

As a veteran witness of the mass killings in Rwanda, he has been warning of mass murder being planned in Myanmar, and now for the first time has told the Sky News World View programme that genocide is underway.

History, he says, is repeating itself.

He said: "It’s as if they wrote the same book that the hardliners did in Rwanda and how the international community is reacting is following the same book, and this after the great pieces of work like Responsibility to Protect which we’re all afraid to implement and operationalise."

Responsibility to Protect was a UN-backed international agreement to prevent genocide happening again.

General Dallaire believes it has been discarded in the wake of the Rohingya crisis.

The UN has condemned Myanmar's military operation against the Rohingya as "ethnic cleansing".

The country's authorities have been severely criticised for the attacks on the minority group in Rakhine State but criticisms have fallen short of using the word 'genocide'.

Under international treaties, countries are obliged to intervene in cases of genocide, but there has been little appetite for intervention.

This is despite a programme of killings, mass rape, forcible displacement and the systematic burning of Rohingya villages. As many as a million Rohingyas have been forced to flee.

As Sky News reported earlier this month, thousands remain stranded on beaches and the land behind them has been mined by Myanmar's military.

General Dallaire says he has seen the same methods used before.

He told Sky News: "You’re into the mist of a very slow moving and very deliberate genocide, there is no doubt in my military mind that the way they’re operating, the way they’re conducting, the way they’re using their forces.

"The way the government is camouflaging it.

"They’re all very significant indicators of genocide in operation. They want to wipe them out and they’ve said that’s what they operating to do”.

He is calling for an international military intervention to prevent and reverse the genocide and says where there is sufficient international will there should be a way.

General Dallaire said: "We put 60, 70 thousand people in ex-Yugoslavia. Why can’t we do that there?

"They’re more people being killed and martyred, more internally displaced refugees than there was in the whole Yugoslav campaign so it is purely will to intervene which is missing."

General Dallaire is not the only one to have warned of imminent genocide being planned in Myanmar against the Rohingya.

Academics at London's Queen Mary University have been writing to the British Government since 2014 advising all the precursors of genocide were present.

Project for a Rohingya Homeland.

This is Rohingyas' 1947. 

Nothing short of that will work.

#Repatriation of #Myanmar genocide survivors hasn't worked in 39 years. 

There is absolutely no sign or no reason that the recently signed Repatriation Agreement will work. 

The public in Myanmar are thoroughly brainwashed to hate and reject Rohingyas most of whom they have never met in their hate- and ignorance-soaked lives.

The military is fully Fascist - worse than the Nazis.

Our mental culture is categorically GENOCIDAL in the way we think of the enemies we can crush.

We are a kiss-up, kick-down type of pathetic people. Why don't we try taking on 1 million illegal Chinese in Upper Burma? (No, I am not a self-loathing Burmese. I am no longer Burmese inside. I don't do genocide or Fascism). 

Suu Kyi is in effect a Yo-Yo and a shield for the real APower - the military. And her time is up and her use value for democratization is no more. 

Myanmar's Buddhist Order typically is reactionary, anti-thought and deeply closed-minded. 

There is no possibility of Rohingya full citizenship, safety, restoration of basic human rights, reconciliation or reintegration at home.

No country will take over 1 million Rohingyas and rehab them.

Bangladesh is overstretched in its land-population-resource-infrastructure ratio.

Therefore, #Rohingyas do need and deserve a new country where they can rebuild their communities. 

Call it "Republic of Rohingyas". 

World need to support this Project for A Rohingya Homeland.

Twenty One Noteworthy Responses to Myanmar Genocide

1) Myanmar Military 

Let's establish an inquiry commission with former heads of intelligence and civilian Yo-Yos with foreign degrees. We'll say, "not a single shot was fired to kill a non-terrorist".

2) Aung San Suu Kyi - let's form more commissions with my famous international friends. (Enter Kofi and others like Swedish Speaker of the Parliament).

3) the revered Burmese Buddhist monks: it's not a Bad Karma to to slaughter non-Buddhists by the millions as the targets are only 1/2 humans (actually, the monks are worse than Founding Fathers of the United States. At least the White Man in American considered Africans 3/5 humans. Thank you!)

4) Bangladesh - let's sign another Repatriation Agreement.

5) Canada, UN, etc. - Let's form a Fact Finding Mission. 

6) EU. - We talked to Myanmar State Counsellor and we'll give Rohingyas more biscuits from Denmark.

7) UK. - We are the leader in calling for the Security Council Meetings, knowing full well that nothing will come out of these talk-shops where the Council is in a no-return coma.

8) USA. - We believe in corporate-driven democratic transition. Let's make sure our hoped-for proxy Suu Kyi is OK while saying that the Myanmar military in the Chinese pocket is committing "ethnic cleansing."

9) Amnesty International - We discovered 39-years old Apartheid after our meticulous field work.

10) Human Rights Watch - we agree with whatever the UN bureaucrats and political appointees say the crime is.

11) International Crisis Group - ARSA leader is Muslim. Angry Rohingyas are Muslims. Most definitely, terrorism and insurgency are in the making. 

12) Bertil Linter - I am a 30-years-veteran on Burma reporting. Make no mistake. Muslims are coming! They are adopting "human waves" like Maoists in China. Muslims, Maoists. Same difference. 

13) Myanmar Human Rights Defenders - We don't even have HR for ourselves. Who cares about Muslim illegals and their terrorist families?

14) World Food Program - stop labelling our biscuits lest Myanmar Army sells them to ARSA and accuse us of terror aiding-and-abetting. 

15) Donald Trump - Who are the Rohingyas? Are they good for Trump Inc.?

16) Russia. Whatever USA and EU say, we believe in the complete opposite. We do not believe in human rights or dignity. 

17) China. Trump Team have stirred up the troubles along Rakhine Coast Line. US Gov is behind Myanmar Genocide so that they can monkey-wrench Beijing's Long Game of turning our Little Mien brothers Bell Boys along the Myanmar part of the new Silk Road.

18) UNDP - Take $2 billions as commercial lubricant. We call this Development Assistance. What a spectacular country to exploit! for our corporate friends! (I mean a lot of human potential, great universities, a great future markets of brainless Fascists who swallow any racist shit pumped out by the Army Psychological Warfare Division with a vainglorious woman Yo-Yo for the army). 

19). Chechnyan Leader - Nuke the fucking country!

20). Legal Minds (or Mindlessness) - Let the judicial review begin when all Rohingyas are exterminated. 

21). Zarni - Give Rohingyas a country and name it the Republic of Rohingyas.

International Conference Dhaka: Dr. Maung Zarni 29 November 2017

“Ending the genocide is not profitable”

Dr Maung Zarni

By Naznin Tithi
December 5, 2017

Dr Maung Zarni, a UK-based Burmese genocide scholar and human rights activist who campaigns for the end of Myanmar genocide against Rohingyas, talks with The Daily Star's Naznin Tithi about how the international community has failed to take concrete and effective actions to end the state-directed persecution spanning 40 years.

What made you take up the role of an activist on the Rohingya issue?

Personally, there are layers of connections with this issue.

First, I have been a human rights and political activist for the last 29 years. I can't call myself a human rights defender and turn my back on my own country's genocide, like most human rights defenders in Myanmar are doing today.

Second, and on a more personal level, my own late great uncle was the deputy commander-in-charge of Arakan in the late 1950s when Rohingyas were considered both an ethnic group of the Union of Burma and full citizens. Since my own relative was directly involved in this issue at a time when the army treated them well, I felt that I needed to get involved when the army is treating them so brutally.

The third reason is that I am a Buddhist. And I cannot keep quiet when I see genocide, the most anti-Buddha Dharma, being committed by the military, aided and abetted by the Buddhist society at large, including monks. Every time Suu Kyi denies and dismisses genocide allegations she too is guilty. For denial is part of genocide.

You said genocide has been going on for a long time. How then did it manage to evade international attention?

The problem is not that the UN-clustered world of governments and human rights organisations had not known this. They have known this for a long, long time. But they did not take the persecution of Rohingyas seriously enough to see the genocidal nature of the persecution, much less take any effective policy measures to end it.

Bangladeshi governments since the 1970s have known what has been happening because refugees were flowing into Bangladesh by the hundreds of thousands. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has been aware of this issue since 1978 because it was brought in to help with the first refugee crisis in mid-1978. So if UNHCR knew, it means the UN knew. Countries like the US and UK and key UN agencies have known this for the last 39 years. In 1978, the late US Senator Ted Kennedy, John F Kennedy's younger brother, came to Bangladesh and the US Congress donated about USD 150,000 to manage the refugee crisis.

Dawn, Bangkok Post and Far Eastern Economic Review based in Hong Kong all knew about this. Back in 1978 news headlines were something like “Burmese Muslims, machine-gunned down by the Burmese government troops” or “Burma's brand of apartheid”.

Around two weeks ago, Amnesty International published a report saying dehumanising “apartheid” is ongoing in Myanmar. Well, the word “apartheid” was used as early as July 1978 in a magazine article in the Far Eastern Economic Review. “Burma's brand of apartheid” was the title! It seems the world's oldest human rights watchdog was asleep throughout these decades. For Amnesty International to characterise a full, institutionalised genocide in slow motion as “apartheid” is utterly unconscionable. It is just infinitely pathetic!

The UN has passed resolution every year for the last 25 years with the exception of last year. We have had at least six special rapporteurs since 1993 investigating inter alia the persecution of Rohingyas.

UNHCR has a huge operation in Myanmar. To my deep dismay, it has even issued orders to its staff in Myanmar telling them not to say the word “Rohingya” in any writing but to call them “Muslims from Rakhine” in clear violation of the group's fundamental right to self-identify. The UN Resident Coordinator in Myanmar and World Food Programme were concealing information about the genocide!

So the world did not just “discover” this, it's a lie. Those in international politics and the humanitarian world are not even lifting a finger because helping the Rohingyas is not profitable. Ending genocide is not profitable. Working with the killers is profitable. Because the killers have monopoly over natural gas, strategic coastlines, deep sea ports, visas, etc. So it's not the lack of knowledge. It's self-interest and the pretence of not knowing that are in play.

Dr. Maung Zarni with his late great uncle Zeya Kyaw Htin Major Ant Kywe in November 2005.

The UN has not gone so far as calling it genocide. Your comments?

Legal scholars, genocide scholars and even practitioners of international law from Yale Law School and Queen Mary U Law, from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum to the Permanent People's Tribunal on Myanmar, have all called it genocide.

Because there is no political will to use force to end the genocide, the UN, US and UK play what Austrian philosopher Wittgenstein called “language games”. But some of us including renowned genocide scholars such as Greg Stanton and Daniel Fierstein refuse to use the word “ethnic cleansing”: it is a euphemism that was originally released into mass media by Milosevic, the Serbian genocidal leader.

We now have a new doctrine called “Responsibility to Protect” or R2P, post-Rwanda and Srebrenica. And if a UN member state fails to protect people, not just citizens, who live within its territory, the neighbours and the entire UN system have a responsibility to go in and protect that community and to punish the perpetrating regime such as Myanmar. And that principle can be invoked if four crimes take place; one of them is ethnic cleansing which has no legal basis in international law. My Rwandan friends are outraged that UN is letting another genocide unfold.

So yes, the UN should call it genocide. But even if it is not prepared to call it genocide, ethnic cleansing is enough of an inhuman deed for the international community to intervene. NATO bombed Milosevic's palace, and the genocidal bully was forced to accept a deal to stop the genocide.

How would you assess Bangladesh's role in this crisis?

I want to separate Bangladesh's role in two different ways. There is palpable and genuine compassion and outrage among the Bangladeshi people regarding the genocide next door. This is such a positive and welcome shift in public opinion. Previously, Rohingyas were seen as potential criminals, or exploitable cheap labourers.

The Bangladeshi government does not feel that resolving the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar is its main concern; its main concern is to make sure that the Rohingyas return to their country. Bangladesh is a very populous country. So understandably, Dhaka places its primary emphasis on repatriating the Rohingyas, who belong in Myanmar.

But there is a major problem with that. The Rohingyas did not come here voluntarily nor were they merely displaced across the border. They came as survivors of Myanmar's genocide. These attacks need to be stopped and their safety in Myanmar established with armed UN protection. The solution lies in ending the genocide in Myanmar. Repatriation is just a temporary relief.

Sending the Rohingyas back while what I call “slow-burning genocide” is ongoing will not work and has not worked in 39 years. Dhaka needs to come to terms with the fact that the fate and wellbeing of the Rohingyas have become interlinked with its national interests and stability—they are not two separate issues. Bangladesh has played an exemplary humane role in the world's opinion. This newfound prestige and moral influence should be fully capitalised on, not simply to repatriate the survivors, but also to end the genocide.

Dr Maung Zarni is co-author (with Natalie Brinham) of the pioneering genocide study “The Slow Burning Genocide of Myanmar's Rohingyas” (Pacific Rim Law and Policy Journal, University of Washington School of Law, Spring 2014)

রোহিঙ্গাদের তিলে তিলে মারা হচ্ছে

মং জার্নি

Published by Prothom Alo on December 6, 2017

মহাত্মা গান্ধীকে একবার জিজ্ঞাসা করা হয়েছিল, ‘পশ্চিমা সভ্যতা সম্পর্কে আপনার ভাবনা কী?’ উত্তরে গান্ধী যে বুদ্ধিদীপ্ত সরস মন্তব্য করেন, তা স্মরণীয়। তিনি বলেছিলেন, ‘এটা ভাবনার একটা ভালো বিষয় হতে পারে।’ তিনি মূলত বোঝাতে চেয়েছিলেন, ইউরোপীয় উপনিবেশবাদীদের পশ্চিমা সভ্যতা বৃহত্তর অ-পশ্চিমা জগতের সঙ্গে যে আচরণ করেছে, তা থেকে পশ্চিমা সভ্যতাকে আর যা-ই হোক, সভ্য বলা যায় না।

ইতিহাসে পরিহাসের অভাব নেই। গান্ধী যদি জীবিত থাকতেন, তাহলে তাঁর মতো মহান মানুষ সাদা মানুষদের পশ্চিমা সভ্যতার তুলনায় আমাদের এশীয় সভ্যতার শ্রেষ্ঠত্ব বোধ করতেন কি না, এ নিয়ে আমি নিঃসন্দেহ নই।

মিয়ানমার দক্ষিণ-পূর্ব এশিয়া ও দক্ষিণ এশিয়ার সঙ্গমস্থল। দেশটি আজ সমগ্র রোহিঙ্গা জনগোষ্ঠীর ওপর বর্বর আক্রমণ চালাচ্ছে, সে তাদের আইনি নাম যা-ই হোক না কেন, আর এই নিধনযজ্ঞকে মানবতার বিরুদ্ধে অপরাধ, গণহত্যা বা সাংবাদিকতার পরিভাষায় ‘জাতিগত নিধন’ বা যা-ই বলুন না কেন।

ব্যতিক্রমহীনভাবে আসিয়ান বা সার্কের কোনো রাষ্ট্র বা সরকারপ্রধান মিয়ানমারের উত্তর আরাকান বা রাখাইন প্রদেশের বধ্যভূমি সফর করেননি, সেটা করার মতো উদ্বিগ্ন তাঁরা নন। অথবা তাঁরা কেউই আমার দেশের বৌদ্ধদের পরিচালিত এই গণহত্যা বন্ধ করতে ব্যাপক প্রচেষ্টা হাতে নেননি।

খেয়াল করুন পাঠক, আমি এখানে উদ্ধৃতি চিহ্ন ব্যবহার করিনি। তবে আক্রান্ত রোহিঙ্গাদের আশ্রয়দানকারী দেশের প্রধানমন্ত্রী হিসেবে শেখ হাসিনা তাদের শিবির পরিদর্শন করেছেন।

বাংলাদেশের প্রধানমন্ত্রী শেখ হাসিনা মিয়ানমারের গণহত্যা থেকে পালিয়ে বেঁচে যাওয়া রোহিঙ্গাদের আকুতিতে দৃশ্যত আবেগপ্রবণ হলেও মিয়ানমারের নোবেল পুরস্কার বিজয়ী রাজনীতিক অং সান সু চি নিজ দেশের আন্তর্জাতিক অপরাধের কথা স্বীকার করেননি বা এই জনগোষ্ঠীর প্রতি সহমর্মিতা দেখাননি।

বাস্তবতা হলো একদল সুপরিচিত দলবাজ ও জেনারেল দ্বারা পরিবেষ্টিত হয়ে সু চি যেভাবে রাখাইন সফর করলেন তাতে মনে হলো, তিনি বনভোজন করতে গেছেন। আর যে রোহিঙ্গারা এখনো সেখানে টিকে আছে, তাদের বললেন, বৌদ্ধ প্রতিবেশীদের সঙ্গে ‘ঝগড়া করবেন না’। সু চি অক্সফোর্ড থেকে শিক্ষালাভ করে এসেছেন। একসময় তাঁকে ভুলভাবে নেলসন ম্যান্ডেলা, মার্টিন লুথার কিং জুনিয়র ও গান্ধীর কাতারে ফেলা হতো। তাঁর মধ্যে রোহিঙ্গাদের প্রতি দৃশ্যমান সহানুভূতি দেখা যায়নি।

আবার তাঁর মধ্যে সেই বুদ্ধিবৃত্তিক ঝলকও দেখা যায়নি যাতে মনে হতে পারে তিনি বুঝতে পেরেছেন, এই গণহত্যা সুনির্দিষ্টভাবে পূর্বপরিকল্পিত ও রাষ্ট্রনির্দেশিত। এটা প্রতিবেশীদের মধ্যকার বিবাদ নয়, সাম্প্রদায়িক ও উপদলীয় কোন্দল নয়।

মিয়ানমারের সাবেক বৈশ্বিক আইকন, বৌদ্ধদের প্রতি সহানুভূতিশীল ও স্বাধীনতার পরাকাষ্ঠা সন্দেহাতীতভাবেই আরেকজন রাজবংশীয় শাসক হিসেবে আবির্ভূত হয়েছেন। একই সঙ্গে তিনি রাজনীতিক হিসেবে গড়পড়তা। ব্যক্তিগত অভিলাষ পূরণে তিনি যেকোনো কিছু করতে প্রস্তুত, এবং তাঁর উচ্চাভিলাষ আমাদের বোধগম্য। অন্যদিকে সু চির মতো অতটা উজ্জ্বল না হলেও আসিয়ান ও দক্ষিণ এশীয় দেশগুলোর নেতারা রোহিঙ্গাদের দুর্দশার ব্যাপারে তাঁর চেয়ে বেশি উদ্বিগ্ন নন। এটা যেমন চপস্টিক সভ্যতার জাপান, দক্ষিণ কোরিয়া ও চীনের বেলায় সত্য, তেমনি এই অঞ্চলের ভারতীয় সভ্যতার সংস্পর্শে থাকা দেশগুলোর বেলায়ও সত্য।

আমি ও আমার সহগবেষক অ্যালিস কাউলি এই প্রক্রিয়াকে ‘মিয়ানমারের রোহিঙ্গাদের মন্থর গণহত্যা’ হিসেবে আখ্যায়িত করি। ব্যাপারটা হলো মিয়ানমার রাষ্ট্র কর্তৃক রোহিঙ্গাদের এই নিপীড়ন বা যাদের বলির পাঁঠা বানানো হচ্ছে, এই জনগোষ্ঠীকে পুরোপুরি বা আংশিকভাবে নিশ্চিহ্ন করে দেওয়ার লক্ষ্যে তারা এসব করেছে—আমরা এটার নাম দিয়েছি তিলে তিলে গণহত্যা (স্লো বার্নিং জেনোসাইড)। এই গণহত্যার যথেষ্ট প্রমাণ থাকা সত্ত্বেও এশীয় দেশগুলোর নেতারা নৈতিক ঐকমত্য পর্যন্ত গড়ে তুলতে পারেননি। কিন্তু ব্যাপারটা তো এমন নয় যে এশীয় সভ্যতা ও রাজনীতিকেরা এই বর্বরতা সম্পর্কে অবগত নন।

বস্তুত, দূরপ্রাচ্য থেকে দক্ষিণ এশিয়া পর্যন্ত বিভিন্ন স্থানে কিছু জঘন্য রকমের বড় গণহত্যা হয়েছে, জাতিসংঘ তাকে গণহত্যা হিসেবে স্বীকৃতি দিক বা না দিক। উদাহরণ আমাদের চারপাশেই আছে। জাপান চীনে ‘নানকিং ধর্ষণ’ হিসেবে কুখ্যাত গণহত্যা চালিয়েছে। ১৯৬০-এর দশকে ইন্দোনেশিয়ায় কমিউনিস্টবিরোধী কর্মসূচি হিসেবে চীনা বংশোদ্ভূত নাগরিকদের ওপর গণহত্যা চালানো হয়েছে।

১৯৭১ সালে পাকিস্তান আজকের বাংলাদেশে শান্তি প্রতিষ্ঠার নামে গণহত্যা চালিয়েছে, কম্বোডিয়ায় কমিউনিস্ট খেমাররুজরা গণহত্যা চালিয়ে চার বছরের মধ্যে দেশের এক-তৃতীয়াংশ মানুষ মেরেছে; আর শ্রীলঙ্কায় তামিল জনগণের বিরুদ্ধে যুদ্ধাপরাধসহ গণহত্যা চালানো হয়েছে।

মিয়ানমারের অবস্থান সেই দীর্ঘ তালিকার একদম শেষে, যেখানে সমাজ সামগ্রিকভাবে যুদ্ধ, গণহত্যা ও বর্বরতার মতো সবচেয়ে ঘৃণ্য অপরাধে যুক্ত হয়েছে। আর এসব করতে গিয়ে তারা সবাই নৈতিক জায়গা ও মানবতা হারিয়েছে। সমাজের সবচেয়ে অরক্ষিত মানুষদের প্রতি সহানুভূতি হারিয়েছে, যাদের ভুলভাবে সংখ্যাগরিষ্ঠদের জন্য হুমকি মনে করা হয়েছে, সে তারা বৌদ্ধ, মুসলমান বা হিন্দু যা-ই হোক না কেন।

আমাদের মধ্যে যে কজন ব্যক্তি এশীয় সভ্যতার ভ্রম থেকে বেরোতে পেরেছিলেন, রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর তাঁদের অন্যতম। অনেক এশীয় মানুষই এই এশীয় সভ্যতার মুখোশ পরে থাকেন। সন্দেহ নেই, আমাদের অনেক এশীয় ভাইবোন এই মহাদেশের গৌরবজনক অতীতের কল্পনা করেন, যে এশিয়া বিজ্ঞান, দর্শন, ধর্ম ও বৃহত্তর সংস্কৃতির গুরুত্বপূর্ণ কেন্দ্র ছিল। এই এশিয়ায় গৌতম বুদ্ধ ও কনফুসিয়াসের জন্ম হয়েছে, উদ্ভব হয়েছে কাগজ ও গান পাউডারের।

তা সত্ত্বেও এই মহাদেশের সবচেয়ে পরিচিত চিন্তক-কবি রবীন্দ্রনাথ এই সভ্যতার পর্দা খুলে দেখিয়ে দিয়েছেন, এটা কী। তিনি খুব সঠিকভাবেই লিখেছেন, মানুষের মৃতদেহের ওপর সভ্যতা দাঁড়িয়ে আছে। বস্তুত এই সভ্যতা লাখ লাখ মানুষের মৃতদেহের ওপর দাঁড়িয়ে আছে। আজ ভারত তার ‘লুক ইস্ট’ (পূর্ব দিকে নজর দাও) এবং চীন ‘ওয়ান বেল্ট, ওয়ান রোড’ প্রকল্প বানিয়ে ১০ লাখের বেশি রোহিঙ্গার বিনিময়ে গুটিকয়েক অভিজাত মানুষের সমৃদ্ধি নিশ্চিত করতে চাইছে। তারা আজ উভয়েই বড় দেশ, তাদের জনসংখ্যা সম্মিলিতভাবে ৩০০ কোটি।

অন্যদিকে মিয়ানমারের নেতা অং সান সু চি সংখ্যাগরিষ্ঠের উন্নতিকল্পে বিকৃত প্রায়োগিক যুক্তি প্রয়োগ করছেন। সে জন্য তিনি দুর্বল রোহিঙ্গাদের জান-মালের বিসর্জন দিতেও কুণ্ঠিত নন। এই রোহিঙ্গারা বিশ্বের সবচেয়ে বড় রাষ্ট্রবিহীন জাতি, যাদের জাতি-রাষ্ট্র নেই। বর্মি হিসেবে আমার নাড়ি এশীয় সভ্যতার অনেক গভীরে পোঁতা, আমি নিজেকে জিজ্ঞাসা করি, ‘এশীয় সভ্যতা সম্পর্কে আমি কী মনে করি?’ হ্যাঁ, সেটা একটা ভালো চিন্তা হতে পারে।

অনুবাদ: প্রতীক বর্ধন।

মং জার্নি: পাশ্চাত্যে বসবাসরত মিয়ানমারের মানবাধিকারকর্মী ও গণহত্যা বিশেষজ্ঞ।

Asian Civilizations? That would be a good idea

Published by Prothom Alo on December 6, 2017

“What do you think of Western Civilization?” Mahatma Gandhi was asked. Gandhiji famously responded with a memorable quip, “That would be a good idea,” implying that the ‘western civilization’ of European colonisers had been anything but civil and civilized in its conduct vis-à-vis the vast non-western world.

History is not without its ironies. Were Gandhi alive today, I am unsure if the great man would still feel a (concealed) sense of civilizational superiority of us, ‘the Asians’, and our Asian civilizations, vis-à-vis the White Man and his civilization.

In the intersection of what we call South East Asia and the South Asian subcontinent, Myanmar is committing crimes of barbarity against the entire ethnic group of Rohingyas, or whatever be their legal name, crimes against humanity or genocide, or, journalistically, ‘ethnic cleansing’.

With no exception, not a single head of state from either political cluster, namely the Association of South East Asia Nations and the South Asian bloc, is concerned enough to visit the killing fields of Northern Arakan or the Rakhine State of Western Myanmar, or make any serious effort to end my country’s Buddhist genocide - note the absence of quotation marks here. 

The two respective leaders of the two affected Asian nations, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, have each paid a visit to the places where hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas (and in the case of Suu Kyi, other non-Rohingya communities) are sheltered after having been displaced by Myanmar’s scorched earth military campaign of terror, rape and arson, now in its third month.

Though not known for her human rights credentials, Hasina, a former Bengali refugee herself, was visibly moved by the cries and tales of a handful of the Rohingya survivors of Myanmar’s genocidal terror while Myanmar’s Nobel Peace prize winning politician showed no such empathy or acknowledgement of her country’s international crimes. As a matter of fact, flanked by a group of well-known Myanmar cronies and generals, Suu Kyi looked as if she were on a family picnic while telling a small group of Rohingyas “don’t quarrel” (with your Buddhist neighbours). The Oxford-educated iconic dissident, once misplaced in the league of Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr and Gandhi, demonstrated neither visible compassion for the Rohingya victims nor signs of an intellect to comprehend that genocides are systematically pre-planned and state-directed, not a conflict between quarrelsome neighbours who indulge themselves in sectarian or communal violence.

To the world’s dismay, Myanmar’s former world icon of non-violence, Buddhist compassion and freedom, has beyond any reasonable doubt revealed herself as yet another dynastic, but run-of-the-mill politician for whom there is no red line that she is un-prepared to cross in pursuit of her personal ambitions, however those ambitions are couched.

On their part, the Asian politicians with less shine who head ASEAN and South Asian states - from the chopstick civilizations of Japan, South Korea and China to those Indianized states in the region - show no more genuine concern about the plight of Rohingya survivors and victims, than Ms Suu Kyi.

Forget the absence of serious concern about what my research colleague Alice Cowley and I call “the slow burning genocide of Myanmar’s Rohingyas”, that is, Myanmar’s state persecution of Rohingyas as a scapegoat Muslim population through various genocidal technologies, including imposing physical conditions on the target designed to bring about the group’s destruction, in whole or in part. Against this backdrop of a well-documented genocide in slow motion, these Asian heads of state prove incapable of forging a moral consensus that would view Myanmar’s Buddhist genocide, or ‘ethnic cleansing’, if you prefer, as a civilizational redline.

It is not that Asian civilizations and politicians are unfamiliar with such acts of barbarity. 

As a matter of fact, from the Fast East to South Asia, and anything in-between, are ignoble sites of several major genocides, irrespective of whether UN has declared them as such. Examples abound. Japan and its fascist war crimes of which “the rape of Nanking” is the most infamous, Indonesia and its Cold War-era ‘anti-Communist’ pogroms against ethnic Chinese in the early 1960’s, Pakistan and its unsuccessful war of pacification against the Bengali-speaking majority in 1971, communist Khmer Rouge’s genocide which wiped out one-third of the population in less than four years and Sri Lanka and its war crimes and genocide against the Eelam Tamil population.

Myanmar is only the last in a long series of cases where wholescale societies and regimes engage in the most heinous of all crimes - wars, genocides, crimes of barbarity. In so doing, they all lose their moral compass, humanity and compassion for those most vulnerable communities at home, who have falsely been conceived as a threat to the majoritarian political systems and the way of their faith-based dominant societies, be the victims Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, or Hindu.

Rabindranath Tagore was one of the few among us who succeeded in freeing himself from the shackles of the delusions of Asian civilizational grandeur, which many an Asian wear. Many of our fellow Asians imagine, no doubt, the continent’s glorious past during which what we call today Asia, was a major home for science, philosophy, religious paradigms and elaborate cultures. Asia indeed produced Gautam Buddha, Confucius, paper, gunpowder, and so on.

Still, the continent’s most celebrated thinker-poet Rabindranath, stripped bare the essence of civilizations, Asian or otherwise, when he most truthfully penned that “civilizations are built on human corpses”. Indeed corpses by the millions.

Today, in their earnest pursuit of India’s ‘Look East’ or China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’, the giants among Asian civilizations, with the combined population of three billion, are more than prepared to build the prosperity of the elites at the expense of one million-plus Rohingyas. 

On her part, Myanmar’s Suu Kyi, through her twisted utilitarian logic of promoting the majoritarian well-being, is evidently prepared to sacrifice the lives, land and property of helpless Rohingyas who now constitute the world’s largest population of stateless people.

As a Burmese with deep roots to this world of Asian civilizations, I ask myself, “What do I think of Asian civilizations?” Well, that would be a good idea. 

Maung Zarni is a Burmese human rights activist, an adviser to the European Centre for the Study of Extremism based in Cambridge, UK and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Sleuk Rith Institute in Cambodia. He blogs at

Zarni Interview with CBC All in a Day about the Rohingya situation

'The Buddhist society has lost its conscience'

By Ayesha Kabir
November 30, 2017

Zarni is a democracy advocate, Rohingya campaigner, and a former research fellow at the London School of Economics. He lived and worked in the United States for 17 years. In 1995 he founded the Free Burma Coalition and was its director until 2004. Zarni is also a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment. Zarni now works as independent scholar specialising in racism, violence and mass atrocities. He is an adviser to the European Centre for the Study of Extremism based in Cambridge, UK.

During his recent Dhaka trip, Zarni dropped in at the Prothom Alo office and held a discussion with senior journalists of the daily, including the editor Matiur Rahman. He deliberated on a number of issues pertaining to the Rohingya crisis and the predicament of his homeland.

“The Buddhist society has lost its conscience and has turned racist. The army itself has been founded on fascist lines. And a good society has been manipulated to move into this fascist mode.”

Activist Zarni’s passionate outburst was tinged with regret as he added, “This is no longer the society where I grew up. People of different faiths and societies living together will invariably have a degree of discomfort when it comes to certain differences, but that should not culminate in violence. When I was growing up the army didn’t have that control. The press was free. Then in 1962 Ne Win took over power and the army began to exert its authority over the culture, the society, even day care centres!”

Highlighting the authoritarian nature of the rule, Zarni said, “The party was God. There had been strength in society, families understood they knew better than the army, the monks opposed the authoritarian rule and were against the fascist ideology. But the army played one religion against the other and propagated its totalitarian ideology. But now the 55 years of the army’s fascist endeavours have culminated in the present predicament of the state.”

Prothom Alo editor Matiur Rahman pointed to people’s support of the peaceful democratic movement, where Aung San Suu Kyi voiced their aspirations. Zarni responded by saying that since 1988 the movement aimed at opposing military dictatorship. This was different from a value driven democratic movement. The movement was opposed to the shooting and violence but not for values and principles. He criticised Aung San Suu Kyi, saying she needed ‘revolution of the spirit’. He said that she and others of her ilk spoke the same language as the military, not of human rights and the sanctity of human lives.

“The military had succeeded in manipulating the people into a totalitarian space. We are worse than Germany under Hitler. Society has to resist, but over 90 per cent of the people back the military.”

Concerning the Myanmar army chief’s aspirations to be president, Zarni said, “Becoming the president is the army chief’s ambition. He is the Milosevic of Burma today. He had the gall to tell the Pope that there was no racist discrimination in the country.”

About the future of Aung San Suu Kyi, he said she may be admired in her country but internationally she had lost her stature as a Nobel Laureate.

As to whether Bangladesh was on the correct path, Zarni said that Bangladesh was a nation state with its own interests. The government of Bangladesh had one sort of stance, given its interests with China and the rest of the region, but the people had shown tremendous compassion towards the Rohingyas. They did not see them as illegal entrants this time, but as victims of genocide. This was a powerful and positive sentiment.

CTV (Canadian TV) 23 Nov 2017, from the Toronto City Council Chambers

By CTV News Channel
November 23, 2017

Human rights activist and Rohingya campaigner Maung Zarni will be part of an dedicated to talking about the crisis at Toronto's City Hall. Maung Zarni joins us now before the event from City Hall in Toronto.

The Rise Of Anti Muslim Attacks In Asia Is A Cause For Concern

By Tasnim Nazeer
December 1, 2017

There has been a worrying rise of anti-Muslim attacks and discrimination in Asia. Buddhist nationalism has been on the increase since the persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority by the Myanmar government and has seen a concerning escalation into countries such as Sri Lanka where there is an uproar of hardline mobs, targeting Muslim civilians, their homes and businesses. Followers of hardline Myanmar monk, Ashin Wirathu who formed the 969 group, collaborating with Sri Lanka’s extremist monk Galabode atthe Gnanasara hold an extreme ideology that believes in “struggling to protect Buddhism in Asia from Muslims”.

It is such extreme ideologies that have influenced the rise of anti-Muslim attacks and have spurred discrimination against Muslims and other minority groups. There has been over 620,000 Rohingya Muslims, more than half their total number, who have fled from Myanmar’s Rakhine state to Bangladesh since August as a result of violence described by the UN as a text book example of ethnic cleansing. However, many world leaders continue to remain tight lipped on the issue and the escalating situation and plight of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Burma continues to go unheard.

Sri Lanka is also facing a spike of anti-Muslim hate crimes with impending mass riots following an attack by hardline mobs against Muslims. Reports from the ground state that a series of Muslim families have been targeted and their homes and businesses heavily attacked. Sri Lanka’s special task police force were sent to the ground on November 17th 2017 following a large scale mob attack and petrol bombs that were thrown at Muslim houses and mosques.

Tensions had been flaring up earlier this year in May 2017 when the hard-line group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) General-Secretary Galagoda Atte Gnanasara had been encouraging his supporters to lead another campaign against Muslims following the deadly Aluthgama riots in June 2014, which attempted to create disunity between Buddhists and Muslims.

President Maithripala Siresena had vowed to investigate anti-Muslim hate crimes, however, attacks have escalated yet again within the last few weeks and are spurring intense tensions amongst the Sri Lankan community with Gnanasara vowing to meet with Myanmar’s Ashin Wirathu to heighten the campaign against Muslims. Frustratingly, little is being done to calm the situation and restore peace within the country.

Dr Muang Zarni, a renowned Buddhist genocide scholar, stated that, “Buddhism nationalism has been on the rise in post-independent countries such as Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burma where Theravada Buddhism is a mass religion. This strain of violent racism with a religious coating is the direct result of manipulation of tradition-bound public’s devotion to Buddhism by the post-colonial majoritarian elites, particularly in Sri Lanka and Myanmar”

In an attempt to restore press for peace and call for an end to the growing spate of discrimination against Muslims, the Pope will be visiting Myanmar and Bangladesh respectively this week, as per information released by by the Vatican, the pope will say two Masses in Buddhist-majority Myanmar and one in Bangladesh, which has a predominant Muslim population.

Richard Weir, Researcher at Human Rights Watch said, “The Pope’s visit presents an opportunity to promote the value of interfaith dialogue and for there to be a continued discussion about the persecution of religious minorities across Burma. But already there are some that are calling for unacceptable moderation. They want the Pope not to call the Rohingya population by their name. This would be a mistake. They Pope shouldn’t be driven to taking a position that only perpetuates the marginalisation and subjugation of one of the world’s most persecuted communities. The Pope should, beyond anything else, use his platform to communicate to Burma’s leaders that it is imperative that they promote and ensure the respect for human rights regardless of one’s chosen religion, be it Buddhism, Islam, or Christianity.”

Tensions continue to escalate and fear of a confrontations amidst the rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes in Asia are growing, but it is hoped that with more awareness of the situation more will be done to put an end to the discrimination and persecution of Muslims in Asia.

Tasnim Nazeer Award-winning journalist, author and producer

Dhaka Conference on Ending Myanmar Genocide, Dhaka University, Bangladesh, 29 Nov 2017

Dhaka Conference on Ending the Slow Burning Genocide of Rohingyas by Myanmar, The University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, 29 Nov 2017

Dhaka Conference on Ending the Slow Burning Genocide of Rohingyas by Myanmar 
The University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, 29 Nov 2017

Over the last three months, the world has witnessed Myanmar’s full fledged genocidal campaign against the most vulnerable and unarmed Rohingya population in northern Arakan or Rakhine State across the borders from Chittagong, Bangladesh. As a significant and welcome departure from the past, Bangladesh society and the government have shown remarkable empathy towards Rohingya survivors, estimated to be 700,000, reaching the rate of 100,000 per week in the first six weeks. As a nation, Bangladesh has been praised worldwide as a humane country that has shown compassion, official and societal, in the face of this massive burden of feeding and sheltering Rohingya survivors of genocide from next door. 

Myanmar government led by Aung San Suu Kyi justifies the violence as a national self-defense against a small band of what they fallaciously call “Bengali extremist terrorists”, namely Arakan National Salvation Army (ARSA). 

Much of the world including governments that have waged the “war on terror” such as USA and UK do not accept the Burmese official narrative that the State of Myanmar is exercising its sovereign responsibility to defend itself. 

Instead, USA, UK, Canada and France have joined the chorus of credible UN officials and genocide scholars who apply the international state crimes perspective that Myanmar as a signatory to the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide is committing “ethnic cleansing”, a euphemism for genocide, as the renowned genocide expert Gregory Stanton put it. 

Whatever the name of the crime, Myanmar is emerging as a neighbour that has committed well-documented crime against Rohingya population, the world’s largest stateless people, who have been stripped of the right to citizenship, a nationality and the right to self-identity. 

This international conference is aimed at generating public discussions among relevant stakeholders, including Rohingya survivors themselves, in terms of the difficult road ahead. One of the objectives of the conference is to shed light on the root causes, behind the recurring waves of Rohingya exodus since 1978 which the Prime Minister from Bangladesh rightly pointed out, “lies in Myanmar”. 

In the light of the repatriation arrangement signed by Dhaka and Naypyidaw, the conference is perfectly set to mobilize ideas and energy among eminent genocide scholars, Dhaka-based Bangladeshi academics and public intellectuals, researchers in the region with relevant expertise, and prominent Burmese activists and scholars who have spoken out in support of the Rohingya people, in the face of scathing attacks on them by Myanmar as “traitors”, “enemies of the State” and so on. 

Finally, the conference intends to generate ideas and networks of individuals who can contribute to the efforts of Dhaka and other concerned international actors such as the UN who seek to find durable and viable end to both genocide and resultant displacement of up to 1 million Rohingya survivors on Bangladeshi soil.

Prime Time interview called Channel i X-clusive Interview with Dr Maung Zarni, Bangladesh, 26 Nov 2017

Prime Time interview called Channel i X-clusive Interview with Dr Maung Zarni, Bangladesh, 26 Nov 2017

Dr Zarni: "I had supported both Suu Kyi and the generals, in good faith. But they've crossed the line."

Separating Fact from Fiction about Myanmar’s Rohingya

By Gregory Poling
Center for Strategic and International Studies
February 13, 2014

Rakhine State in western Myanmar has been the site of repeated outbreaks of violence between the Buddhists majority and its Muslim Rohingya minority, most recently on January 13. The details of what happened remain unclear, but it seems that dozens were killed. This follows widespread violence in 2012 that left more than 200 dead and 140,000 displaced.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says it has credible evidence that at least 48 Rohingya were killed on January 13 during an attack by their Buddhist Rakhine neighbors and security forces. The non-governmental organization Doctors Without Borders said its personnel treated 22 Rohingya who were wounded during the attack. The government of Myanmar has denied any large-scale violence occurred, insists only one policeman died, and has refused calls for an international investigation.

All the details might never become known, but the incident in Du Chee Yar Tan, and the government’s angry and dismissive reaction, have refocused international attention on the larger plight of the Rohingya. Strangers in their own country, they are disenfranchised, discriminated against, and subject to unpredictable cycles of violence. Many in Myanmar, including prominent Buddhist monks and political leaders among the Buddhist Rakhine ethnic group, demand that they be driven from Myanmar by any means necessary.

Rohingya have few defenders within Myanmar, with hatred of them seeming to be one of the few issues that can bridge the country’s political divide. Any public figure who stands up for them can expect to be persona non grata. The narrative of the Rohingya has been overtaken by fiction, with their place in Myanmar’s history expunged by a succession of military governments looking for scapegoats and aided by the country’s already strong sense of Buddhist nationalism.

Q1: Who are the Rohingya?

A1: The Rohingya are a Muslim minority living in Myanmar’s Rakhine State and adjacent areas of neighboring Bangladesh. They are not recognized by the Myanmar government as an official ethnic group and are denied citizenship. Their population within Myanmar has been estimated at roughly 800,000. Most of this population lives in the townships of Maungdaw and Buthidaung, where Rohingya are the majority, as well as in neighboring towns and the state capital, Sittwe.

Myanmar’s government claims that the Rohingya are not eligible for citizenship under the country’s military-drafted 1982 Citizenship Law. That document defines full citizens as members of ethnic groups that had permanently settled within the boundaries of modern-day Myanmar prior to 1823, the year before the first Anglo-Burman War. The government of General Ne Win drew up a list of the 135 ethnic groups that supposedly meet this requirement. That list is still in use by Myanmar’s current civilian government.

The British colonial government encouraged immigration to Myanmar from modern-day India and Bangladesh. This is a source of continued resentment within Myanmar, which is why 1823 was used as a cut-off for citizenship. The dominant narrative within the country is that the term “Rohingya” is a recent invention, and those who claim to belong to the group are actually the descendants of these colonial-era immigrants from Bangladesh.

But this narrative is demonstrably false. In 1799, Francis Buchanan, a surgeon with the British East India Company, traveled to Myanmar and met members of a Muslim ethnic group “who have long settled in Arakan [Rakhine], and who call themselves Rooinga, or natives of Arakan.” That would indicate there were self-identified Rohingya living in Rakhine at least 25 years before the 1823 cut-off for citizenship.

Even if the name “Rohingya” is too taboo to be accepted inside Myanmar, the historical record is clear that the ethnic group itself has existed in Arakan, or Rakhine State, for centuries. A significant Muslim population lived in the independent Kingdom of Mrauk-U that ruled modern-day Rakhine State from the mid-fifteenth to late eighteenth centuries. Many of the Buddhist kings of Mrauk-U even took Muslim honorifics. The evidence suggests that this community is the origin of today’s Rohingya. The group likely assimilated later waves of immigrants from Bangladesh during and after British rule, but it did not begin with them.

Q2: How have previous governments viewed the Rohingya?

A2: Following independence from the United Kingdom, Myanmar’s 1948-1962 parliamentary government recognized the Rohingya as citizens. Prime Minister U Nu referred to the group by the name “Rohingya,” undermining the current narrative that the term is a recent invention. They were issued government identification cards and official documents, enjoyed all the benefits of citizenship, and the national public radio even broadcast several segments a week in the Rohingya language.

Maung Zarni, most recently a fellow at the London School of Economics, has uploaded several Burmese-language documents showing government recognition of the Rohingya during the government of U Nu and the early years of military dictator Ne Win’s reign. These include public statements, official radio broadcasts, government-printed books, and government-issued licenses.

Several members of Myanmar’s post-independence parliament publicly identified themselves as Rohingya. They opposed the inclusion of Rohingya-majority areas in a proposed Arakan State, which would later become Rakhine. As a result, U Nu in 1961 decided to carve out Buthidaung, Maungdaw, and part of nearby Rathedaung townships as the Mayu Frontier Administration, named after the river that runs through the area. It was administered separately from Buddhist-majority Arakan.

Life changed dramatically for the Rohingya under the military government of Ne Win. Benedict Rogers, in his Burma: A Nation at the Crossroads, cites a former minister in Ne Win’s government saying that the dictator “had ‘an unwritten policy’ to get rid of Muslims, Christians, Karens and other ethnic peoples, in that order.” Ne Win’s government systematically stripped citizenship from the Rohingya, starting with the 1974 Emergency Immigration Act and culminating with the 1982 Citizenship Law. The Rohingya-majority Mayu Frontier Administration was folded into Arakan State, and hundreds of thousands of them fled to Bangladesh during brutal crackdowns in 1978 and 1991.

Since then, the Rohingya have been systematically stripped of the rights of citizens. They have been blocked from travel, education, government assistance, land ownership, and even marriage and the right to have more than two children. They have been scrubbed from the national consciousness, and several generations in Myanmar have grown up being told by their government that the Rohingya are interlopers, stealing land and economic opportunities, with the eventual goal of overthrowing Buddhism as the country’s majority religion.

Q3: What comes next?

A3: In late March, the government of Myanmar will launch its first nationwide census in three decades. The Rohingya and many of their international defenders are concerned that the census will mark the first step in a campaign to cement their status as non-citizens. They will not be listed as one of the country’s 135 ethnic groups, and many Rohingya communities have so far resisted efforts by government officials to force them to register as “Bengalis.”

There appears to be some hope, as central government officials have recently affirmed that Rohingya may self-identify as such by marking “other” and writing in their ethnicity. Whether or not they will really be free to do so remains to be seen, as local and federal officials have a history of intimidation and violence against Rohingya during previous registration and census drives.

In the long-term, the census will not end the Rohingya’s quest to be accepted as a national ethnic group. Officials assert that it will only be a statistical exercise, and that any redefinition of the country’s ethnic groups will be decided by the parliament. All the momentum in the treatment of the Rohingya seems to be moving in the wrong direction, with legislative efforts underway to cement their status as illegal immigrants.

The outcry from the international community is likely the only reason that this has not yet happened. The U.S. and UK embassies in Myanmar issued a joint statement following the violence in Du Chee Yar Tan expressing concern and calling on the government to investigate. U.S. and European officials have repeatedly raised their concerns about the Rohingya during official visits to Myanmar. And even Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa raised the issue on the sidelines of an ASEAN foreign ministers meeting in January—the first meeting Myanmar hosted as ASEAN chair this year.

All of this international opprobrium has not led to an improvement in the lives of the Rohingya, but it has helped prevent further deterioration. Myanmar officials have asked foreign counterparts stop meddling in the country’s internal affairs and have angrily demanded that foreign officials and media only rely on Myanmar government spokespersons for information on the Rohingya. These reactions show just how explosive the issue has become within Myanmar. But it also shows that the government is discomfited by the international criticism.

Continued attention from abroad, and explicit promises that Myanmar’s good relations with foreign countries will be damaged by continued abuses against the Rohingya, are essential. It is also important that international actors not accept double-speak and falsifications regarding the Rohingya and their history.

Gregory Poling is a fellow with the Sumitro Chair for Southeast Asia Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. 

Critical Questions is produced by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a private, tax-exempt institution focusing on international public policy issues. Its research is nonpartisan and nonproprietary. CSIS does not take specific policy positions. Accordingly, all views, positions, and conclusions expressed in this publication should be understood to be solely those of the author(s).

‘Ethnic cleansing’ against Rohingya in Myanmar should be classified genocide: scholar

A Rohingya Muslim girl carries a vegetable from the market on the outskirts of Kutupalong refugee camp on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, in Bangladesh. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

By Rachel Lau
November 21, 2017

Since August, more than 620,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar‘s Rakhine state to Bangladesh, in search of safety against what the country’s military describes as “clearance operations.”

Maung Zarni, a Buddhist native of Burma, genocide scholar and human rights activist, explains the crisis started as an insurgent rising up of the Rohingya people against an oppressive regime — contrary to the belief that the state is defending itself against a rebellious population.

“‘The problem is the international community, including the UN and national governments, are buying into this,” he told Global News.

“No, no, no. We are looking at a situation where the population is essentially held prisoners for 40 years.”

In 2013, the United Nations (UN) declared Myanmar’s Rohingya population one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.

Over the last 39 years, the Rohingyas, indigenous to western Myanmar, have faced several military crackdowns — most recently in 2016 to 2017.

Zarni insists that this is genocide — contrary to UN officials and Human Rights Watch (HRW), who have described Myanmar’s persecution of the Rohingya as an “ethnic cleansing.”

“If there is a genocide happening, member states have the obligation to use force to end it, but because there is no political will within the security council who can make the decision, senior officials are not prepared to call it genocide,” he told Global News.

“The UN has been a failure since the end of the Second World War. Every case of genocide, the UN has failed.”

Zarni points out Rohingya have no legal rights in Myanmar.

In fact, the country’s 1982 Citizenship Act denies citizenship to Rohingya people on the basis of ethnicity.

“The Burmese government has imposed conditions that have been designed to make life unsustainable, intentionally,” Zarni told Global News.

“Why is the UN still sitting on its hands? By the time the UN comes out and says this is genocide, there will be not one Rohingya left in the country.”

Amnesty International said Tuesday that the “Rohingya people in Myanmar are trapped in a vicious system of state-sponsored, institutionalized discrimination that amounts to apartheid.”

“Their rights are violated daily and the repression has only intensified in recent years,” said Anna Neistat, Amnesty International’s senior director for research.

“This system appears designed to make Rohingyas’ lives as hopeless and humiliating as possible.”

“The security forces’ brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing in the past three months is just another extreme manifestation of this appalling attitude.”

Unlike previous years, the international outcry has accelerated in recent weeks with public figures, including Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, whom the Taliban attempted to kill, condemning the actions of the Burmese government.

“This the very first genocide that has been witnessed on Facebook and Twitter — think about it,” Zarni said.

“The staggering number — 100,000 women and children, elderly people — filing out every week consecutively for six weeks has to hit international headlines.”

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi (who has honorary Canadian citizenship) in Danang, Vietnam to discuss evidence of the state-led violence that set off an international refugee crisis.

Kyle Matthews, executive director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) at Concordia University argues Canadians should care about what’s happening in Myanmar.

“There’s still at least half a million people that are still facing danger by the Myanmar military,” he told Global News.

“That’s where Canada can stand up and try to be more forceful and not just hope that Aung San Suu Kyi will take action, by forcing her to take action or at least push her to be stronger, otherwise it’ll make the promise of ‘never again’ another unfulfilled promise.”

Since Trudeau’s meeting with Suu Kyi in Vietnam, Canadian government officials say they have committed to help refugees safely return home.

“The most disappointing thing to me is not the western disappointment that Buddhist are killing,” Zarni said.

“The most painful thing [is] that, to me, the society that I was raised in has grown totalitarian and fascist.”

Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar, with Maung Zarni

Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar, with Maung Zarni

By Asia Pacific Forum

The humanitarian crisis at the border of Myanmar and Bangladesh has become a global political flashpoint lately, as hundreds of thousands of Rohingya ethnic Muslim refugees have fled across the border to escape mass violence by the state and by hostile Buddhist factions. It’s a horror that many describe as genocide, but which has been met by stunning indifference and cover-ups by Myanmar’s supposed reform government. Human rights scholar Maung Zarni recently spoke about the crisis of the Rohingyas at a talk at Columbia University sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine. He was joined by social theorist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak to discuss the path forward for the refugees to provide safety, basic rights and an opportunity for full and equal citizenship.

"International community must boycott Bama artists who are in solidarity with their genocidal government."

"International community must boycott Bama artists who are in solidarity with their genocidal government."

Sawangwongse Yawnghwe, 
a Shan-Canadian painter

This one was by the Irrawaddy cartoonist Han Lay.

This one is by Au Pi Kyae, independent cartoonist with a Harvard Kennedy School Education, depicting Rohingyas as crocodiles lying and shedding tears.

A CARTOON (below) published by Burmese magazine The Irrawaddy has been slammed by critics as “disgusting”, “xenophobic” and “dangerous”.

NO DELUSIONS: A conversation with Dr. Maung Zarni on the Rohingya genocide


A conversation with Dr. Maung Zarni on the Rohingya genocide

Illustration by Eve O'Shea

published November 17, 2017

content warning: state violence, sexual violence, genocide, Islamophobia, graphic bodily mutilation

This fall, the persecution of Rohingya people overwhelmed global media in the wake of renewed waves of military violence. Yet the uptick in brutality against Myanmar’s Muslim minority does not represent a rupture in the history of ethnic violence—rather a continuation of a genocide lasting over four decades. Since the late 1970s, Myanmar’s Buddhist government has systematically disenfranched and persecuted its minority Rohingya Muslim population in the Rakhine state. Over one million Rohingyas have fled their historic homeland to harsh camp conditions in Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, and Malaysia, among other countries. Hundreds of villages have burned and thousands have been killed. Meanwhile, the Burmese government conceals precise numbers, circulates false narratives, and denies accusations that it is initiating a genocide. 

As these atrocities escalate, the Independent Skyped with Dr. Maung Zarni, a longtime Burmese human rights activist and a research fellow with the Genocide Documentation Center of Cambodia. Merging scholarship with activism, Dr. Zarni has organized numerous international conferences on the Rohingya crisis, published extensively on Burmese politics and peace processes, initiated the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on Myanmar in 2013, and founded the Free Burma Coalition in 1995. 

When we spoke this November, Dr. Zarni had just returned from Bangladesh, where he worked with international investigators to gather testimony from interviews with Rohingya refugees. 

The College Hill Independent: Can you tell us about your work in Bangladesh? What did you discover from talking to survivors? 

Dr. Maung Zarni: The stories survivors told me were unimaginable. We’re looking at over a million stories right now, each usually including one death. That is a staggering number. And this is not just overnight; it has been occurring for over 40 years. In last year’s wave, close to 90,000 Rohingyas fled across the border to Bangladesh. I interviewed children, rape victims, young mothers, and older men who had survived previous waves of attacks and have been living at the refugee camps for decades. 

One girl told me about how she watched from the window as her father ran into the house where her sister was about to be gang-raped by Burmese soldiers. A soldier shot her father in the head, stuck his hand into his skull to show the remnants of his brain in the village yard. I’ve visited Auschwitz—we’re talking about a situation in that league. This is systematic and sadistic killing, mass executions, based on racial, religious, and ethnic hatred. These people are not raped or burned alive as individuals; they are members of a group singled out for extermination. 

I’m starting a long-term project that involves collecting these stories to preserve the memories of this genocide. It’s one thing to lose your family, but another thing to forget what happened to them. That’s the least those of us privileged to live through this crisis can do, despite the overwhelming power of my country’s fascist state. If their identity is recognized and they are given a home, perhaps not all is lost. In the long run it is the perpetrators that lose, not the survivors.

The Indy: What accounts for the recent surge in global attention? 

MZ: The issue first hit the headlines around 2012, which coincided with media reforms in Burma that enabled foreign reporters to open offices in Burma (of course in conjunction with government-controlled media organizations). This liberalization of the media—a way to placate the international community, occurring coincidentally as Western commercial interest in the country grew—was the only positive thing to come out of the government’s military-led, top-down reform process. For the past four years, the formerly inaccessible areas of the Rakhine state became accessible, and their stories began to find the spotlight. 

More recently, Western media coverage has surged largely due to social media—much more so than mainstream media (since banned from the Rakhine state). Social media has enabled Rohingya activists to set up the information infrastructure. This is the first ever Facebooked genocide in the 21st century. It’s a genocide brought to you by your service provider on your mobile phone. You can see footage of women and children running for their lives while you wait for the train. 

The Burmese military made a mistake in not considering the power of social media when it turned the Rakhine state into an informational black hole. Now, the government is scrambling, accusing humanitarian NGOs and UN agencies of aiding and abetting Rohingya militant groups.

The Indy: What is your view on the way Western media has covered the crisis so far? 

MZ: The first major problematic aspect of the media coverage is that mainstream news outlets have long adopted the spin that Burma’s quasi-civilian government feeds it. This is that the military are just attempting to maintain social order in a Balkans-like scenario, where animosities have erupted into mass violence after the democratic transition. In the midst of the chaos, the military (the institution initiating genocide), peddles the view it is just playing referee. The media fell for it. 

Second, the fact that the Buddhist military is persecuting Muslims plays into these meta-templates of stories that the West knows how to consume. It’s Muslims versus Buddhists; two religious civilizations fighting head-to-head as the military is trying to sort things out. As a result, the segregation and ghettoization of Rohingyas becomes normalized, because the logic goes that if these communities are not separated by the state, they will just kill each other. In other words, the Burmese military plays up the local conflicts between Buddhists and Rohingyas in their shared Rakhine state, and doesn’t talk about the fact that its pitting these groups against each other. So the media looks at these non-Western civilizations as still premodern and fighting based on primordialist emotions, instead of understanding the ways in which the Burmese military has fabricated a divide-and-rule strategy, playing the race and religion cards which were never front-loaded historically. 

Lastly, two different orientalisms play into Western coverage of this conflict. There’s negative orientalism in that there’s the problematic association of Islam with violence. Some of my old fellow dissidents now openly say that human rights don’t apply to Rohingyas because they are a threat to national security. And then in the case of Burma and Buddhism, there’s positive orientalism. The West romanticizes the Buddhists as peaceful, meditating people who wouldn’t kill a fly. But the reality is that Buddhism can be violent, vile, and hateful like any other religious community—it has nothing to do with the religion.

All of these discursive problems make Western media much more susceptible to accepting government lies that Rohingyas are not among the indigenous national races of Burma—which I keep hearing reporters say. All it takes is a Google search to understand Rohingyas are from Burma, but no—the media continues to go with the state narrative. The society—from Suu Kyi to the ex-generals to the vile racists on the street of Yangon to the racist Burmese journalists—unanimously says that Rohingyas are Bengali and don’t belong to Burma. It’s like saying Mexicans don’t belong in California; they were there before the others arrived. 

The Indy: International critics have been talking a lot about the silent complicity of Nobel Prize-winning activist and Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi. Can you talk a bit about the paradox between what she symbolizes—Burma’s supposed democratization of its recently-installed civilian government—and the state’s heightened militarism? 

MZ: Something seriously flawed is going on in the Western thinking if people think that out of a genocidal process there still is a possibility of a liberal democracy and human rights regime rising from Burma’s civilian government. The US government, EU, UK, and others assumed Suu Kyi, a presentable media-genic woman who speaks English with a posher accent than the Queen of England, would invest in democracy when she came to power. This delusion continues to be entertained despite overwhelming evidence that Burmese society has turned fascist. 

We cannot separate Suu Kyi and her civilian government from the actions of the military. It is true that Suu Kyi and the military leadership do not see eye-to-eye on democratization, and Suu Kyi would ideally like a liberal regime with more human rights and faster implementation of reform. But on the question of the Rohingyas, these historical antagonists are on exactly the same page. Suu Kyi has dismissed allegations of ethnic cleansing as an exaggeration. 

In my country, human rights activists like Suu Kyi speak the language of their former jailers [the socialist military government that the West so opposed], which is national security and defense. In a society supposedly undergoing a democratic transition, we’re seeing a surge in vulgar nationalism and deep Islamophobia—an essentially totalitarian ethos. History has reversed: the regime, society, spiritual leaders, and the Burmese media, who fought so long for press freedom and called for solidarity with imprisoned activists, now work to justify genocide.

The Indy: The international community has so far failed to act, raising the specter of another Rwanda. What would a responsible humanitarian response look like? How should foreign governments negotiate between immediate aid and long-term intervention, given the risks of the latter? 

MZ: The UN and Human Rights Council in Geneva have both officially described this crisis as ethnic cleansing. But I object to that word. Ethnic cleansing is a euphemism [infamously used by former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milošević to conceal the genocide in Bosnia]. As murderous as Milošević was, he was smart enough to know that there was no international law that would indict him at the International Criminal Court if his crimes were just called ethnic cleansing, a word that carries something positive with it, as though it’s merely preventing future violence between ethnic groups. 

For me, the best scenario would be what was implemented in Kosovo. Rohingyas would return to their birthplace under UN protection in a completely demilitarized zone. Bangladesh should open the border and allow the Rohingyas to participate in the economy. Of course, you can’t simply repatriate people and allow them to languish as Burmese society neglects them. Perhaps it will take a generation or more to reverse the psychological effects of the past 40 years of Burmese state propaganda and to convince society that Rohingyas belong in their homes and are not illegal. 

But before we can change the social psychology of the nation, we have to make sure Rohingyas have access to livelihoods. We have to staff the clinics, give them access to health care (currently there is one doctor for every 150,000 Rohingya patients), provide nutrition (80,000 children under the age of five are living in a famine), build schools (80 percent of Rohingya adults are illiterate). If Burmese society neglects them, let the Rohingyas interact with the larger world. This to me is the only viable solution, provided that there is the political will, which is a different story. 

At the moment, UN military intervention is unlikely because it requires Security Council authorization. Even the ICC requires Security Council authorization. And because China and Russia have made it clear that they consider this a Burmese internal affair and a complex humanitarian situation (Russia even considers it an issue of rebel terrorism), any intervention would likely face a veto from either of these countries. 

It’s a trope at this point—every genocide requires the paralysis of the Security Council. The difficult situation here is that there is no regional or world power that will put its foot down and say we must stop this genocide. That is why the Burmese military is so confident that there will be such few consequences. 

If you look at international involvement in economic and strategic projects within Rakhine state itself, humanitarian intervention becomes even less likely. In this small strip of the state, you have China exploring titanium deposits and building a deep-sea port, India building a deep-sea port, and a massive special economic zone designed for corporate tax-havens. Japan, South Korea, Vietnam—everyone’s invested. And offshore, you have gas deposits where over 30 countries have a stake.

The current killing fields, 100 kilometers long, are going to be turned into a special economic zone. The Burmese government has already said that if the Rohingyas return, they would not be going back to where they have lived for generations, they will be quarantined in an apartheid-like situation. It doesn’t pay to end genocide, and the Rohingyas control nothing that is valuable to these powerful countries. Only concerted international effort could make a difference. If Russia and China don’t get on board, there are still 180+ member states of the UN that can exert pressure. 

The Indy: As we continue to see this genocide streamed live, along with all the other violence in the world, how might we break out of what some call ‘compassion fatigue,’ paralysis in the face of this horror, and toward deep solidarity, engagement, and direct action? 

MZ: You can never be fatigued if you know that there’s a genocide going on. Genocide is not war. The only way we can honor Jewish victims who walked to the gas chambers, and all those killed in past genocides, is to speak out. ‘Never again’ is not just a bumper sticker. It has to mean something. It has to be sacred. 

Yes, we’re just individuals, but there is strength in numbers. We need to keep screaming, saying that this is unacceptable, that this is not in our name. It’s not just about Muslims or Rohingyas, but about a human community being slaughtered. After watching on your cell phone, what are you going to tell your children? ‘Oh, I watched a genocide on Facebook when I was 20, but I was powerless’? 

I was the only Burmese five years ago to blow the whistle and say, look, this is genocide. I was called all kinds of names, portrayed as a mad-activist exaggerating things. My job is to tell it like it is, and that’s what I’m doing still. 

I think we’re not as powerless as we often feel. Whether the world listens is separate from whether we do what is right. 

Dr. Zarni will be speaking at the Watson Institute (Joukowsky Forum) at Brown University on Monday, November 20, at 12 PM.