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

Kristallnacht in Myanmar

Soe Than Win/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
A resident of Meiktila searched through debris on March 23.
Swe Win
March 29, 2013

MEIKTILA, Myanmar — Not one bullet was fired, not one smoke bomb was dropped as scores of Muslims were attacked and some were burnt alive in Myanmar last week. The security forces just looked on. In a country where they routinely use brute force against political dissidents, villagers who protest land grabs and even monks, their passivity was sadly revealing. 

The violence stemmed from a trivial row over a broken gold clip between a Muslim jeweler and a Buddhist customer last Wednesday morning. The brawl, which left the Buddhist customer with an injury to the head, happened in Meiktila, a trading town of 100,000 people at the center of the country, with an army base and no history of sectarian violence. The town’s Muslims have no links to the stateless Rohingyas in western Myanmar; they have a long and peaceful lineage here. 

Still, by that same afternoon anti-Muslim mobs were destroying the Muslim gold shops of Meiktila’s market area. Then, in revenge, local Muslims stabbed to death a monk traveling from a nearby village. That murder in turn unleashed a killing spree of Muslims on Wednesday night and over the next two days. “Any Muslim, old or young, including babies, was killed that night,” Myo Htut, an eyewitness, told me this week. 

“A Muslim man around 40-years-old had his legs tied to a motorcycle and was dragged on the road. Since he was still half alive after that torture, the crowd beat him up with sticks and then burned him on the motorcycle.” Myo Htut estimated that the death toll from the three days of violence reached around 200. State media put it at 40. 

Other witnesses I spoke to described wild mobs — including saffron-robed monks with sticks and knives — hunting down Muslims and torching entire blocks, including at least five mosques, in Muslim neighborhoods. 

When on Thursday I asked a junior police officer in Meiktila how all of this could have happened in the presence of government forces, he said, with distinct unease: “We received an order to do nothing but extinguish fires. Obedience is more important than anything else in our service.” 

It took the government three days to declare a state of emergency and send in the army. That did stop the violence in Meiktila, but since then attacks against mosques and Muslims’ property have continued to spread across the country. 

More than a week after the violence started, just this Thursday, President Thein Sein explained that government forces had been ordered not to intervene because he did not want to “risk any possible endangerment of our ongoing democratic transition and reform efforts.” 

This is hard to believe. For one thing it doesn’t explain why, short of using lethal force, the police didn’t fire warning shots or throw smoke bombs. For another, the government has not fundamentally softened its policies about state-sanctioned violence: In the same speech on Thursday, Thein Sein also said, “I am firmly committed to using the power vested in me by the Constitution to deploy our security forces and to use existing laws to prevent and protect the life, liberty and security of my fellow citizens.” 

At least he’s not fooling anyone. The Islam Council, based in Yangon, has issued a statement saying the violence had been premeditated to create discord between Buddhists and Muslims. U Sandana, a middle-aged Buddhist abbot in Meiktila, told me that many of the Buddhist monks involved in the violence were strangers to the town. 

U Sandana also explained that the government seems to have had a stake in portraying the clashes as sectarian outbursts. Although the worst of the violence appeared to have been triggered by the revenge killing of that Buddhist monk, he said, in fact “it occurred only because there was a complete absence of law enforcement and the authorities just looked on with their arms folded.”

(There were, indeed, acts of solidarity in the midst of the violence. I met an old Buddhist man, a retired policeman, in Meiktila who was carried away to safety by his Muslim neighbors when the anti-Muslim mobs began their arson attacks.) 

So what explains the government forces’ unusual passivity? 

One theory is that the leaders of the nominally civilian government that now runs Myanmar — high-ranking army generals and the leaders of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development party — deliberately allowed the chaos in order to justify the continued importance of the armed forces. 

Another suspicion is that the government actually wants to derail political reform for fear that continued progress at the recent pace would mean free and fair general elections in 2015 — which most likely would mean a landslide victory for the party of the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. That’s the “possible endangerment” Thein Sein really is worried about.

Reports of ‘state involvement’ in Burma unrest: UN expert

Tomas Quintana, UN special envoy on human rights in Burma, reads his statement during a news conference before his departure in the VIP lounge of the Rangoon International Airport in February 2012. (Reuters)
March 29, 2013

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Burma human rights said Thursday he had received reports of “state involvement” in some of the recent violence between Buddhists and Muslims in the former army-ruled nation. 

At least 40 people have been killed and mosques burned in several towns in central Burma since fresh sectarian strife erupted on 20 March, prompting the government to impose emergency rule and curfews in some areas. 

“I have received reports of State involvement in some of the acts of violence,” Tomas Ojea Quintana said in a statement. 

He also pointed to “instances where the military, police and other civilian law enforcement forces have been standing by while atrocities have been committed before their very eyes, including by well organised ultra-nationalist Buddhist mobs. 

“This may indicate direct involvement by some sections of the State or implicit collusion and support for such actions.” 

According to the statement, Quintana also received information indicating that the military and police may be arbitrarily detaining people based on religious and ethnic profiling. 

“The military and police must now be held to account for human rights violations committed against ethnic and religious minorities,” he said. 

Quintana also called on the government to take “immediate action to stop the violence from spreading to other parts of the country and undermining the reform process.” 

“This includes stemming campaigns of discrimination and hate speech which are fuelling racist and, in particular, anti-Muslim feeling in the country,” he said. 

“Tackling discrimination is fundamental to establishing the rule of law, and impunity for acts of violence and discrimination must no longer be tolerated.” 

His comments come after Burma President Thein Sein vowed a tough response to religious extremists in a national address. 

According to the United Nations, the recent clashes, which were apparently triggered by an argument in a gold shop that turned into a riot, have seen some 12,000 people displaced. 

It is the worst sectarian strife since violence between Buddhists and Muslims in the western state of Arakan last year left at least 180 people dead and more than 110,000 displaced.

State reportedly involved in Myanmar's anti-Muslim violence, says the UN human rights country envoy

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Myanmar (Burma) human rights says he has received reports of "state involvement" in some of the recent violence between Buddhists and Muslims in the former army-ruled nation.

At least 40 people have been killed and mosques burned in several towns in central Myanmar since fresh sectarian strife erupted on March 20, prompting the government to impose emergency rule and curfews in some areas.

"I have received reports of State involvement in some of the acts of violence," Tomas Ojea Quintana said in a statement on Thursday.

He also pointed to "instances where the military, police and other civilian law enforcement forces have been standing by while atrocities have been committed before their very eyes, including by well organised ultra-nationalist Buddhist mobs.

"This may indicate direct involvement by some sections of the State or implicit collusion and support for such actions."

According to the statement, Quintana also received information indicating that the military and police may be arbitrarily detaining people based on religious and ethnic profiling.

Myanmar President Thein Sein vowed a tough response to religious extremists in a national address.

According to the United Nations, the recent clashes - which were apparently triggered by an argument in a gold shop that turned into a riot - have seen some 12,000 people displaced.

It is the worst sectarian strife since violence between Buddhists and Muslims in the western state of Rakhine last year left at least 180 people dead and more than 110,000 displaced.

Myanmar's Muslims - largely of Indian, Chinese and Bangladeshi descent - account for an estimated four per cent of the population of roughly 60 million.

29 March 2013

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"Myanmar Government has simply not done enough to address" anti-Muslim violence and discrimination, says the UN Expert on Burma

28 March 2013 – An independent United Nations human rights expert today called on the Government of Myanmar to take urgent steps to tackle the prejudice and discrimination fuelling violence and destruction between Muslim and Buddhist communities.

“The Government must take immediate action to stop the violence from spreading to other parts of the country and undermining the reform process,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana.

He added that those responsible for acts of violence and destruction against religious and ethnic minorities must be held to account.

“Tackling discrimination is fundamental to establishing the rule of law, and impunity for acts of violence and discrimination must no longer be tolerated,” Mr. Quintana said. “The military and police must now be held to account for human rights violations committed against ethnic and religious minorities.”

Fighting last week between communities in the central region of Mandalay displaced 12,000 people and left an unconfirmed number of people dead. A curfew and state of emergency has been imposed in four townships in Mandalay region, as a result. There are reports of violence spreading to Bago and Yangon.

Senior UN officials, including the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar, have repeatedly urged leaders from different communities to work together to diffuse tensions.

In June and October last year, inter-communal violence in Rakhine state in north-west Myanmar left 120,000 internally displaced and, according to Government figures, nearly 200 dead.

Noting that warning signs have existed since June, Mr. Quintana said “the Government has simply not done enough to address the spread of discrimination and prejudice against Muslim communities across the country” or to tackle the “organized and coordinated mobs” that are inciting hatred and violently attacking Muslim communities.

The Special Rapporteur acknowledged the President’s televised address to the nation earlier today for compassion, tolerance, understanding, and empathy amongst people of all faiths in Myanmar.

He called on other institutions such as Parliament, the Supreme Court and the National Human Rights Commission to play their role in protecting constitutionally guaranteed rights, including freedom of religion, as well as the need to include civil society and political parties to tackle prejudice and discrimination.

Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back, in an unpaid capacity, on specific human rights themes.

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Western Industrial-military-media complex and its immoral promotion of Myanmar's official lies

The violence against Burma's ethnic and religious minorities or the plight of the poor Buddhist Burmese farmers who make up the bulk of the population, is NOT what concerns the so-called international community, beyond it making the right noises and barking liberal words. 

But, for the Washington Establishment magazine, this picture that captures an intimate moment between a murderous Burmese general the  Nobel Lady of Immoral Silence over Muslim genocide, the internal colonial war against Christian Kachins and Buddhist farmers' dispossession during the Army Day is more important than such international trivia as the genocide of the Rohingya, the neo-Nazi "Buddhist" violence against the Burmese muslims, the internal colonial war against the Christian Kachins, or the land grab from the bulk of the country's Buddhist farmers.

The international media is repeating Myanmar regime's official line, nay, LIE - that the military is holding the country together and that the religious and ethnic violence is an inevitable or expected by-product of the country's 'democratic transition' - is way beyond western journalists' intellectual laziness or stupidity.  Many of them are in fact the 'cream of the crop' in their own country's educational system and social background.

They however, do know which side of the Myanmar bread is buttered.

So, they are simply licking Naypyidaw-men's testicles because they think that will serve the Anglo-American -and greater Western - interests, governmental, ideological, organizational and individual.

Remember how these scums covered the issue of WMD and the invasion of Iraq?
Ask Seymour Hersh. He can tell you most of the American editors and publishers are immoral scums who in times of "national interests" and immoral imperialist "wars" have closed ranks with the CIA and the Pentagon.

Repeatedly, Hersh's verdict over the Western mainstream media is 'guilty as charged'.

"But pieces of the unresolved past are posing challenges to reform. The end of military rule, which held this multi-ethnic, multi-religious nation together with an iron fist, has unleashed sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslims."  

See a sample of this bullshit from the Associated Press and Washington Post.  Here is another from The Economist.

Here - Race is on for ports, pipelines in Myanmar - is what lies behind the western mainstream media's collaborative role in helping spread the self-serving lies of Myanmar's genocidal regime in Naypyidaw. 

Genocidal Buddhists?: An Interview, Tricycle, 28 March

In 2007, inspiring images of Burmese Buddhist monks leading their compatriots in demonstrations of civil resistance flooded the Western media. Just five years after the series of protests curiously referred to as the “Saffron Revolution” (Burmese monks wear maroon robes, not saffron-colored ones), Buddhist-led violence erupted in the western Rakhine state. Following a monk-led campaign against the Rohingya Muslim minority of Burma, recognized by the UN as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, reports of rioting, killing, and the blocking of humanitarian aid to the Rohingya surfaced here and there in the media, devoid of the enthusiasm that the Burmese monks attracted back in 2007.

Last Wednesday evening, over a Skype call to Indonesia, I spoke with Maung Zarni, a Burmese democracy activist, research fellow at the London School of Economics, and author of “Buddhist Nationalism in Burma” in the current issue of Tricycle, to try and make sense of last year’s anti-Rohingya violence and its historical roots. At the time, news was just reaching him of the spread of anti-Muslim violence to central Burma, which was to be featured by the most prominent Western media outlets by Friday. While Burmese state media reports the “official” death toll for the riots at 32, the number cannot be corroborated by outside reporters, who had to be rescued by Burmese police. (One AP photographer was reportedly held at knifepoint by a monk after snapping several images of the violence.) Following the riots, every witness that the New Statesman interviewed said that the police stood by and did nothing to stop the violence—accounts redolent of Human Rights Watch’s accusations of military complicity in last year’s massacres in western Burma. “Many here believe that this was pre-planned and that the official story, that it began with a dispute in a gold shop, is just a cover for violence against Muslims,” journalist Assed Baig reported on the recent riots. The violence in central Burma, perpetrated by a different Buddhist group (“Burmese Buddhists” rather than Rakhine Buddhists) who targeted Muslims of Indian origin, not Rohingyas, demonstrates a pattern of violence that does not bode well for Burma’s Muslims.

Burmese native Maung Zarni has lent his voice to the Rohingya and other minorities in the predominantly Buddhist nation, advocating for their human rights and distinguishing himself by examining the social and historical causes of the current conflict.

In the current issue of Tricycle you make the case for characterizing the current conflict between the Buddhist and Rohingya peoples in Burma as genocide. But such a conflict has a precedent in 1942, when there were a series of massacres of Rohingya Muslims at the hands of Rakhine Buddhists. How is this particular case different? 

In a rather bad way, the current Rohingya genocide in Burma is a case in which different forces in society and politics have converged to create, basically, a living hell for this particular group. These forces include historically grounded Burmese anti-Indian racism that isn’t just directed against Muslims, but rather against the people of the Indian subcontinent. That racism arose out of the context of British colonial rule of Burma, which created a racially and ethnically divided economy—a colonial political economy—where the British occupied the top echelon of administrative positions and economic control. For some time beginning in the 19th century, British Burma and British India shared a border of over 1,000 kilometers long. Burma was actually annexed by the British Empire as a province of India. The British subsidized the migration of Indian skilled laborers as well as unskilled migratory labor for the new cash economy that they were building in Burma—oil, rice, industrial farming, and other sectors. Those from the then British India occupied the middle layer—the technical and commercial positions in that economy. In that ethnically stratified colonial economy, the Burmese citizens found themselves, for the most part, at the bottom. That triggered a very strong strain of popular Burmese racism toward the Indians. Of course, the Burmese also reacted strongly against the white man that ruled them, that dominated them and controlled them, and thereby achieved independence.

Then, as you mentioned, in 1942, there were clashes between Rakhine Buddhists, who worked with the Japanese during WWII against the British and the allies, whereas the Muslims, Hindus, and others in western Burma worked with the British. So there is a colonial background to this narrative, to this conflict and the racism behind it.

What’s the perceived threat of the Rohingya? 

One prevalent fear has to do with Islamic marriage customs. In Islam, or at least its popular practice in Burma, a Muslim person cannot marry a non-Islamic spouse, who would have to convert. Until she converts to Islam, she will be barred from wifehood. And if she’s not considered a wife, she will not be entitled to property, inheritance, and control of the children. I think that that has been one of the major points of contention between Buddhist society and Islamic minorities in Burma, where Buddhists understand this as a structurally imposed conversion of Buddhist women to the Islamic faith.

The overall perceived threat, however, is that the Rohingya are agents of Islamicization. If you look at the formerly Malay or Indonesian Buddhist world, they used to be Buddhist, Hindu countries, but they were completely Islamicized by Muslim traders and others. The logic here is to preempt the growth of the Islamic population so that Burma won’t be susceptible to a similar type of Islamicization.

What’s the role of the Burmese state and military in the current conflict? 

This is the most important element. After the military proxy party lost by a landslide in the most recent elections, they decided that the time was right to drive out the Rohingya in order to both curry Buddhist majority favor and demonstrate their relevance in reformed Burma. But you know, it's not possible for any state in this day and age to destroy an entire population of 800,000 to one million. Not after Nazi Germany. Instead, the military has created a situation where there would be communal riots. In doing so, the military state has attempted to do what amounts to outsourcing genocide.

Here, I think genocide needs to be understood not simply as an act of overt violence against a population. If you look at the policies toward the Rohingya by the Burmese state over the past 40 plus years, it involves attempts to control their birthrate. If you attempt to control a people through population policies or restricting their movement—in short, creating living conditions so unbearable that the population would rather flee, risking their lives at sea or crossing a border—that is genocide. It is not just about how many people were killed. Of course that’s included, but it's the intent, the intent of the policy. Also, the use of the term “communal violence” between the Buddhist Rakhine and the Muslim Rohingya in the media is completely misleading. Of course there is a communal branch to this violence, but that’s only a small part of the story. The larger part of the story is the centrality of the Burmese military and the generals who have attempted to eliminate this population through different strategies.

Why hasn’t any organization called this conflict genocide? 

No government, no international body, with the exception of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), is prepared to use the word genocide. Because if you do, it automatically triggers a sequence of policy action that would require the UN to intervene. But the West is no longer interested in punishing or isolating the Burmese generals. It has a different agenda, where human rights are being placed on the back burner in favor of economic reforms, the commercialization of Burma, and the opening up of the country as a new market—a frontier market. This has to do with the rebalancing of Western, especially American, power in Asia—as Obama put it, the Asian “pivot.”

When commercial priorities assume center stage, the structural violation of the human rights of the Rohingya becomes less important. That's why I call this “the genocide that cannot be called genocide for political reasons.” Not because it doesn't qualify as genocide, but because the West has no political will to see through the actions that using the word genocide would warrant.

How do the religions of the Rakhine and Rohingya come into play? 

I think to say that the intent to kill and expel the Rohingya has no religious undertone would be to greatly underestimate the anti-Islamic popular racism of Burmese society. This is not simply about the Burmese military state; this involves the society at large. And of course, the Islamic world is going to react strongly against the killing and destruction of a particular Islamic community. So there is a very strong religious element here.

Just yesterday there was the looting, destruction, ransacking of Muslim businesses and Muslim homes in the dry zone in central Burma, in a town called Meikhtila. They were looting and destroying in broad daylight, under the nose of the police and military authority. This has nothing to do with the Rohingyas or the alleged illegal migration; it has everything to do with the fact that these businesses belonged to Muslim merchants and businesspeople. The public itself is involved in attacking anything that has Muslim signs. The irony here is that the Muslims do not control the Burmese economy. If any one ethnic group controls the Burmese economy, it is the Chinese.

The Saffron Revolution of 2007 was touted as a new paradigm for what’s called engaged Buddhism—Buddhism involved with politics, human rights, and social issues. Now, with these same monks taking to the streets and terrorizing a religious and ethnic minority, are we getting a wakeup call? It seems that Buddhists, or “engaged” Buddhists for that matter, don’t hold any kind of privileged position of righteousness—that they’re just as corruptible as anyone else. The key is not to romanticize Buddhism at the level of popular practice. If you look at some of the worst genocidal conflicts in recent history—in Sri Lanka, for example, a very deeply Buddhist society—you see how Buddhist leaders and communities behave. There was the mass killing of the non-Buddhists Tamils in Sri Lanka after their surrender. And look at what’s going on now in the Islamic south of Thailand by the Thai Buddhist society and military. Why is the West holding onto this romanticized, fetishized image of Buddhist societies as peaceful, “mindful” societies when some of the most violent societies in the world are Buddhist?

In terms of engaged Buddhism, well, I think the term is a misnomer, because Buddhism is about engagement with reality, and that involves poverty, that involves violence, and that involves our own individual greed. There is a disconnect between what Buddhists say they are and what they really are. What they really are, what we Buddhists really are, is as imperfect, as flawed, as greedy, as jealous, as violent as anyone else.

—Alex Caring-Lobel

Posted by Alex Caring-Lobel on 28 Mar 2013 

Read Maung Zarni's article, "Buddhist Nationalism in Burma," from the current issue.

Go to the original


The logo of 969, Burma's neo-Nazi group that incorporates Indian Emperor Ashoka's lions, the Buddhist wheel of Dharma and the flag of the Buddhist faith.

When most Westerners think of Buddhism, they think of smiling men with potbellies and inspirational quotes from Phil Jackson. “Buddhist neo-Nazi” sounds like a contradiction in terms.

But in Burma, vicious anti-Muslim sentiment has been on the rise, and Buddhist extremists are responsible for attacking Muslims and burning down their houses and mosques, a state of affairs that was largely ignored until Anonymous launched a Twitter campaign to teach the world about the genocide against the Rohingya people, the officially stateless Muslims who many believe will be massacred if the world does not respond.

According to Dr. Maung, a Burmese human rights activist and research fellow at the London School of Economics, much of the blame for the current situation in Burma can be laid at the feet of the 969 group, which he describes as an neo-Nazi organization of hatemongers who are using Hitlerian tactics to “purify” the country by getting rid of the Muslims—it’s also, he says, one of the fastest-growing movements in the country.

I spoke to Dr. Zarni to find out more about what’s going on in Burma and how a Buddhist can be a "Nazi."

VICE: Who are the 969, and what does the number mean?

Dr. Muang Zarni: The 969 leaders are Burmese men in monks’ robes. It’s a bit difficult to describe them as genuine monks because they are preaching a message of anti-Muslim hatred and Islamophobia that is completely incompatible with the Buddhist message of universal kindness. The 969 number stands for three things: the 9 stands for the special attributes of Buddha, the founder of the religion; the 6 stands for attributes of his teachings of dharma; and finally, the last 9 stands for special characteristics or attributes of the clergy.

You’ve described the 969 group as “Burma’s fastest-growing neo-Nazi ‘Buddhist’ nationalist movement.” What makes them neo-Nazis and why are they targeting Muslims?

I use the word neo-Nazi because their intent is genocidal in the sense that the Muslims of Burma—all of them, including the ethnically Burmese—are considered leeches in our society the way the Jews were considered leeches and bloodsuckers during the Third Reich when Nazism was taking root.

There is a parallel between what we saw in Nazi Germany and what we are seeing today in Burma. The 969 movement and its leading spokespersons call for attacking the Muslims of Burma—not just the Rohingyas in western Burma who were incorrectly framed as illegal migrants from Bangladesh, but all Muslims from Burma. Buddhist people who try to help Muslims or buy groceries from Muslim businesses are either beaten up or intimidated or ostracized by other Buddhists.

Also, the military is involved with this movement. At best, the military authorities are tolerating the message of hatred coming from the Buddhist preachers. At worst, and I believe this to be true, elements within the military leadership are passively backing this movement. Over the past 50 years since the military came to power, there has been a consistent pattern of the military leadership using proxy organizations within Burmese communities across the country to incite violence against targeted groups, be they dissidents, Chinese, or now, Muslims.

What does the Burmese government have to gain from this violence?

There are three goals, as far as I can tell. One is, the military leadership has swapped their generals’ uniforms for civilian clothing, but at heart, they still remain irredeemably authoritarian and dictatorial. They are security obsessed and some of them feel the reforms that are unfolding in the country are going too far. So they want to slow it down and roll back the reform process. In order to do that, they must create social instability and use volatile situations as an excuse to say, “The people can’t handle freedom of speech, freedom of movement, and freedom of organization. Therefore, we need to have a strong handle on the situation to make sure people stay in line and don’t kill each other.”

Secondly, when all these waves of violence against Rohingya Muslims started last year, the military and the proxy political party of the military was in a worrisome situation because it lost by a landslide in the elections. So within two months of their defeat, they decided to create this very powerful anti-Muslim communal sentiment around the country. And now, [activist and political leader An San] Suu Kyi is in a difficult situation because she can only speak the liberal language of human rights and democracy, which is not as powerful as the ideology that the military and these neo-Nazi monks have whipped up. When it comes to fighting this kind of abnormal religious movement, the language of human rights is never enough.

Thirdly, I think the military is not leaving anything to chance. They have another round of elections in 2015, and they want to make sure that they have a new proxy political movement that they can use to square off Suu Kyi’s party. As a result, the 969 neo-Nazi movement is the most popular movement in the country.

In a YouTube video of a sermon given by Wirathu, one of 969’s leaders, he says that Muslims are taking over the country and destroying the Buddhist way of life. Is this way of thinking only popular in extremist circles, or are everyday Burmese buying it?
The reaction is mixed. We Burmese tend to be prejudiced against people with darker skin color. And that’s typical among Far East or Southeast Asian countries where lighter, paler skin is considered more prestigious and desirable. This 969 movement is preying on the historical and cultural prejudices we have as a society towards darker skin color.

Also, when you have a country that is the poorest in Southeast Asia, the language of economic nationalism is appealing, and that’s what the neo-Nazi movement is using. They tell people they are poor because their wealth is taken away by the “Islamic leeches.”

What role, if any, do Western governments have in this?
Burma is a crucial element in Obama’s new foreign policy of rebalancing American interests and power. It sits in between two major powers: India and China. And we’re also next to Thailand, which is the United States’s strategic hub for diplomatic, economic, and intelligence operations in Southeast Asia.

American and EU businesses are looking for new markets to get out of their economic decline and Burma has massive resources of oil, gas, uranium, timber, you name it. So they’re not going to frame their new business partner in an emerging market as genocidal.

If the West portrays what is happening in Burma accurately as genocidal, the international community will demand action and demand the perpetrators be brought to justice. That’s why I think the international community is going very easy on the Burmese military.

By Ray Downs
 27 March 2013

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Burmese Military is a neo-Fascist institution when it comes to 'race' and religion

General Aung San Suu Kyi attends Burma's Armed Forces Day

Aung San Suu Kyi, seen among her beloved neo-Fascist officers, in Naypyidaw's parade ground on the Armed Forces Day (originally, anti-Fascist Japan Revolution Day), 27 Mar 2013

Despite, the military's 50-years of genocidal records and human rights atrocities, Burma's Nobel Peace Prize winner and former activist has repeatedly and reportedly expressed her "genuine fondness' for the country's neo-fascist military organization.  Her martyred father Aung San founded the modern Burma Army with the help and patronage of Fascist militarists in Japan during the WWII.

Charred bodies of Burmese Muslims including Muslim students burned to death by organized neo-Nazi mobs backed by the entire might of the country's security forces, the largest in Southeast Asia after VietNam, Meikhtila, 22-25, 2013 

Burma's self-proclaimed national elites who are suffering from the institutional disease of a sense of entitlement to rule the country through eternity via its Constitution of 2008.
Seen here at the Armed Forces Day ceremony, (which was originally termed the anti-Fascist Japanese Revolution Day), March 27, 2013, Naypyidaw, Burma

"Burmese Military is a neo-Fascist institution when it comes to 'race' and religion.... Its mobilization of religious and ethnic prejudices is an extremely dangerous strategy. Burma has had refugee issues since the 18th century. Racism in Burma is State-mobilized and state-orchestrated."

- Maung Zarni, Visiting Fellow (2011-13), Civil Society and Human Security Research Unit, London School of Economics

from the 5th segment or part of a total of 6.

"Through the Burmese Generals' Eyes: A No-nonsense Conversation With Maung Zarni"

Moderated by Veronica Pedrosa
The Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT), Bangkok, Thailand, Fall 2012.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

My 22-minute in-depth analysis of Burma's most troubling developments, New York's Pacifica News Station

Interview with Maung Zarni

Broadcast, 2100 hrs EST, New York, 25 March 2013

This 22-minutes audio-analysis of mine covers virtually every important aspect of the developments in Burma, including the anti-Muslim violence, the way the regime typically strategizes, the rationales behind the reforms, the complicit role of the international community, especially Western interests, the role of the Burmese military and militarized State in the waves of anti-Muslim violence, the land confiscation for mining and mega-development projects, Aung San Suu Kyi's neutered politics, the regime's attempts to roll back the reforms, the international media's typically shallow and at times rather inaccurate and inadequate coverage of Burma.

It has some solid educational value. It is based on my 2-decades of grounded research on my own country of birth and some years of first-hand engagement with the regime in Burma.

It starts at 10 minutes and 10 seconds and ends around 32 minutes.

It was broadcast last night at 2100 hr EST in New York (25 March).

Listen here.

Here is the info about Burma program on the radio station -

New York City's free speech Pacifica News station that operates out of the Empire State Building on Wall Street.

Anti-Muslim Violence in Burma

Burma/Myanmar: Its Conflicts, Western Advocacy, and Country Impact

By Maung Zarni
 "Reinventing Peace", official blog of the World Peace Foundation, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, USA:

Burma’s conflicts are neither new nor are they singular. Conflicts along multiple-lines – class and ideology, civil society and the military, and ethnic groups– have been going on for nearly 65 years, that is, since Burma’s independence from Britain in 1947/1948.[1]Understanding its conflict requires appreciation of the ‘deep’ historical dimensions; Burmese modern history is conflict-soaked(1947-present). Historically, the country was born out of pre-colonial and colonial conflicts in terms of ethnic relations, class divisions, and domestic power cliques, and into a new set of conflicts upon independence in January 1948. We can roughly divide the periods of conflict thus: the Cold War (1945-1989), the immediate post-Cold War period with its signature Western triumphalism (e.g., ‘The End of History’) (1988/89-2008), and the ‘new Cold War’ or new ‘Containment’[2] (2008-present)

When we talk about conflicts and advocacy, this periodization is crucial, because shifting external contexts and macro-level developments in international relations and the world economy have had significant impacts on both the country’s internal conflicts and the Burma advocacy, whether the advocacy is done by the West or the Burmese themselves.

It is inaccurate to frame Burma’s conflicts as ‘internal’ and advocacy as ‘Western.’ The term ‘internal conflicts’ is misleading because it implies neat discursive boundaries, as if Burma’s internal conflicts were simply confined within the country’s geographic national boundaries, with no real or significant outside players or interests (for instance, the U.S., the EU, ASEAN, China, India, and so on).Historically and sociologically, the methods of advocacy, the ethics or official rationale behind certain Western policy stances, and the impacts on the targeted conflict(s) (that is, Burma’s conflicts) shift depending on the discourse of security at play.

Three discourses of security as a macro-analytical framework dominate:

 1) ‘National Security’ (i.e., ‘regime security’) – internal interests and value system

 2) Global Security (For whom? Toward what end(s)? In whose interest?)

 3) Human Security (i.e., security of humans as individuals and communities) (a liberal humanistic discourse of well-being, physical safety, and public welfare, which contrasts sharply with the former two institution-centered securities/interests)

The first two are more or less two sides of the same dominant coin. Interstate global capitalism is stitched together by the UN, ASEAN, the EU, the ANU, the OIC, and IFIs (IMF, World Bank, ADB, etc.), where nation-states, both the institutions and the individuals who manage them, serve as building blocks of the global political economy in which private corporate interests reign supreme. This is a marriage of convenience—although there may or may not be love in these marriages, namely an ideological/cultural affinity or compatibility. And there is certainly room for intra-marriage conflicts and competition, but also internal elite interests and outside/external interests.

The third – human- or people-centered – security trails asa distant third in Western policy making. This reality is opposed to public discussions, where the omnipresent rhetoric of human rights masks its diminished status.

Advocacy in the Burmese context

My discussion will be confined to two periods: the post-Cold War Western triumphalist era (starting with the fall of Berlin Wall in 1989 and ending with the first Obama presidency, which marked the beginning of a radical shift in Washington’s Burma policy) and the new ‘Cold War’ or ‘China Containment.’

In the Post-Cold War era, he chief advocates were (in order of importance and influence):Aung San SuuKyi and her Burmese followers and international supporters, individual and institutional, from grassroots to ‘high-level advocacy’ (a loose global coalition of activists, advocates, lobbyists, and institutions in the fields of Human Rights, Environment, Policy and Legislative Affairs, Corporate Social Responsibility, Religion, Social Justice, and Women’s Affairs); and ethnic minority advocates. Their work was grounded in liberal ideals including freedom, democracy and human rights, as well as non- violence and new environmental/ecological outlooks and ideas.

Their methods of advocacy included old-fashioned face-to-face lobbying, grassroots direct actions, media advocacy, personal connections (the ‘champions,’ GOP Senator Mitch McConnell, Andrew Samak, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and St. Antony’s College web of Michael Aris and colleagues and friends). The policies they advocated were largely punitive, more sticks than carrots. There were three waves of punitive measures since the uprisings and bloody crackdowns in the fall of 1988, further facilitated by the nearing end of the Cold War: starting with the downgrading of U.S. diplomatic relations from Ambassadorial to Charge d’Affairs, eventually culminating in various economic sanctions, including the highly restrictive financial sanctions, denial of ‘development assistance,’ humanitarian aid, and resumption of loans from the World Bank and other IFIs and development banks).

Here it is crucial to recognize the ‘circularity’ or ‘circular nature’ of policy substance, messages, and rationales. To be more specific, the chief advocate in Burma, Aung San SuuKyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD), and Western Burma advocates – Burmese and non-Burmese, individual and institutional, grassroots and high-level – crafted the messages and rationale in a concerted fashion for about twenty years. Some messages originated in Rangoon and were amplified in the West, while others were formulated in key Western capitals such as Washington and London and subsequently ‘blessed’ by the NLD leadership.

Unlike during the Cold War era, with regard to Burma policy advocacy efforts, insofar as they existed, the effective promotion of circular Burma policy ideas and substance was greatly enhanced by the rise of the information technology, such as the worldwide web, personal e-mails, fax machines, and other digital technologies.

Impacts on the conflicts inside Burma—and society at large 

Burma has already been isolated for 25 years under the one-party dictatorship of General Ne Win (1962-88),which was fully supported by the West, when, following the Cold War, the West shifted its Burma policy discourse and priorities, and, in line with calls from the NDL activists, further isolated the country internationally. The result was to arrest Burma’s ‘natural’ political and societal evolution with devastating long-term social and institutional consequences.

Contrast this to the Western approach to the equally repressive VietNam, especially Washington’s embrace of VietNam while both Rangoon and Hanoi attempted to open their countries’ economies along the state-led ‘Free Marketization’ process. Western advocacy further inflamed the main society-military conflicts as the former pushed for democratization and human rights in Burma. Among the ruling military circles in Burma and in ASEAN and Asian governments, this was nothing more than a typical Western double standard (as the West continued to support Suharto’s Indonesia and patched up with authoritarian VietNam).

Fearful of the West’s ‘hidden agenda’ under the disguise of human rights and democracy, the military intensified its repression against the Western-backed dissidents led by Aung San SuuKyi, while making ceasefire deals with armed ethnic minority resistance groups, thereby constraining the Burmese generals’ fight to a single-front battle, against the mainstream opposition of Aung San SuuKyi and the West.

This liberal Western advocacy was made possible because Burma was one of the places where the West felt it could afford to live out its liberal values,as it was pursuing its ‘core interests’ in places like the Middle East and, to a lesser extent, elsewhere in East and Southeast Asia. In other words, advocacy of human security was allowed to dominate Burma policy discussions and media coverage because other Western interests in Burma were not deemed very important.

Further, a typical defense of the West’s pro-isolationist and categorically punitive policies towards Burma in those years is that as a liberal democratic bloc it had no choice but to adopt the sanctions against the country under military rule. For the military held the general elections in 1990 and then simply nullified the NLD’s landslide electoral victory, a rather weak rationale considering that the West behaved differently towards Algeria and Nigeria which too held the elections the same year.

One significant negative impact of the last twenty-five years is the manufacturing of Aung San SuuKyi as a human rights icon and the adoption of her as ‘the darling of the capitalist West’ whose messages of individual rights lacked any critical class and economic analyses. Consequently, mainstream society’s conflict with the ruling military came to be personalized, erasing all other important aspects of the domestic conflicts such as class and ideological differences within the pro-democracy opposition and promoting the narrative of an Oxford-educated daughter of a martyred Asian nationalist taking on a beastly military regime of home-grown thugs and brutes This liberal narrative devoid of a crucial class understanding resonated with do-gooding Western audiences that generally view their West as a global force for good.

Despite the circulation of liberal vocabularies such as human rights or democracy, Suu Kyi’s opposition – and its societal supporters – failed to internalize any ideals they advocated – human rights, ethnic equality, liberty, universal brotherhood (and sisterhood). The opposition’s notable silence, starting with Aung San SuuKyi’s refusal to condemn the state-facilitated violence primarily against the Muslim Rohingya population, to the second and third line leaderships, is a case in point of the absence of any value transformation in the Burmese opposition in particular and in the pro-opposition society in general. This needs to be viewed as the inefficacy of the Western advocacy model to facilitate diverse voices for human rights and democratization. The West was trapped in its choice method of anointing a single voice – that is, Aung San SuuKyi – as the sole voice of the voiceless Burmese people, “the hope of Burma”.

Also noteworthy is that the nearly two dozen ethnic minority resistance groups, with the exception of the Karen National Union (KNU), the oldest armed non-state revolutionary group, did not feel a need to engage with Western advocacy because they were in various disparate ceasefire arrangements with the Burmese military . Even if these groups had engaged with the West on its Burma policies, it is doubtful whether their voices would have been taken as seriously as that of Aung San SuuKyi and the National League for Democracy. The KNU certainly did not gain any support, material or otherwise, from any Western government it had lobbied.

The New Cold War Era (2008-present)

There is a new crop of chief advocates that has come to overpower the old Burma democracy advocates, including Aung San SuuKyi. With regard to outside interests, for instance, Washington and the EU, both national governments and as a bloc, have reassessed and re-prioritized their respective Burma policies in the context of the decline of Western global influence and economic woes at home .None other than Obama’s White House led the charge in shifting Western advocacy from a focus on democracy and human rights, into line with the ‘Asian pivot’ or ‘new balancing’ paradigm. Luckily for the West, because it has long made Aung San SuuKyi the ‘voice of the voiceless’ in Burma, it found it relatively easy to bring on board a single dissident leader to accept the terms of (her) engagement with the ruling military.

Meanwhile, a ‘new’ discourse of ‘civil society’ has been developed and promoted by various Western advocacy groups, INGOs, media outlets, business interests, and faith-based organizations backed by Western governments, international development agencies, the UN, and other multilateral organizations. I put the word ‘new’ in quotation marks because this political and analytical notion has been around in modern political history since the days of the resistance movements against authoritarian regimes in Eastern Europe. But, only in the later days of Western advocacy did Western governmental-sponsors of social and institutional change along ‘free market’ lines (for instance, the U.S. State Department and the U.K.’s Department of International Development) begin to promote the language of civil society, breeding a new group of urban elite Burmese tolerated by and/or with symbiotic ties to the Burmese military and its ruling circles.

One of the most crucial developments to note here is that Western advocacy is no longer circular in its direction or substance. In the new era of ‘re-balancing’ or the ‘Asian pivot,’ the West, specifically Washington, no longer needed Burmese dissidents, morally speaking, for the substance of its strategic and policy messages beyond Aung San SuuKyi’s public ‘blessings.’ On their part, the mushrooming of civil society groups and advocates – many of them led by Western-funded and -trained ‘civil society actors’ – are used as an alternative ‘domestic’ social force, a dynamic alternative to the snail-paced, elderly-dominated National League for Democracy of Aung San SuuKyi. Many of these Burmese ‘civil society’ actors are used in Western advocacy at multiple levels: at the grassroots, these local groups are supported by the West in what I call the ‘NGO-ization’ of national and local politics, while the ones with close ties to the generals and ex-generals serve as ‘fixers' or ‘high-level advocacy’ local proxies for Western interests.

Further, since 2008, when the Obama Administration began its Burma policy review as part of its overall national security interest paradigm shift,the West has focused on lobbying the Burmese regime. This time, Washington has a new Burma mission: to create a new comfort zone for the generals and ex- generals wherein they would do business with the West, one step removed from Beijing. The new Western advocacy is about realpolitik while it continues to speak of Burma’s internal national reconciliation, gradual democratic transition, and human rights.

One other important development in terms of the emergence of new chief advocates is the fact that individuals and institutions with close ties to Western strategic and commercial interests (for instance, the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, etc.) have come to occupy the center stage of Burma advocacy. Instead of the usual liberal human rights discourse, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke of bringing world-class American investors to Burma and sending the CIA chief to Burma in promotion of the country’s reforms. On their part, international financial institutions (IFIs), development banks and organizations, the UN, and humanitarian INGOs have gotten with the program.

As is to be expected, Burma advocates and advocacy groups – with their human rights, environmental issues, corporate social responsibility, women’s and ethnic rights, etc. –have found themselves on their back foot in the face of the ‘new’ Burma advocacy groups who speak the language of ‘political pragmatism,’ ‘economic developmentalism,’ ‘the Middle-Class-before-human-rights,’ ‘gradualism,’ and so on.
Despite the same pervasive human rights violations, perpetual humanitarian crises, the genocide against the Rohingya, a full-blown war against the Kachins in northern Burma, and mining and development-induced mass displacement of rural and ethnic communities, President Obama went on to frame Burma, in effect, as ‘a success story’ of his U.S. foreign policy.

The Messages

Human rights is out. ‘State capacity building’ is in. Ethnic conflicts are no longer to be resolved, but to be allowed to run their course without outside intervention – the kind that Ed Luttwak suggested in the case of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the kind the Sri Lankan army pursued.

In the name of political realism, the same Western advocacy that punished the Burmese generals for refusing to honor the results of the 1990 general elections, which would have made Aung San SuuKyi effectively a new Prime Minister in the post-Ne Win era, is now rewarding the same military, albeit under a new management, for allowing her to take her a largely symbolic seat in the Parliament that was created in accord with the anti-democratic – not just unfair or undemocratic – Constitution written by and for the military.

The Ethics

In spite of the liberal veneer of reforms, democratic transition and the operational rationale behind a new Western advocacy – this time dominated by powerful national security and commercial interests in Western capitals – is realpolitik through and through. When ‘pragmatism’ roars, liberal humanism retreats into quiet if disgruntled quarters populated by marginalized Burmese dissidents and their international Western solidarity groups. The new discourses of civil society, gradual reforms, and democratic transition are still justified in the name of human welfare and the human progress of the Burmese. This new ‘messaging’ can only be fully understood and appreciated if one places the new Western advocacy – insofar as it has been completely taken over by national security and commercial interests – in the typology of the‘three securities’ – national/regime security (of the Burmese regime), global security of commercial and strategic interests, and human security.

This time, the dominant Western advocacy no longer deems the promotion of human rights, beyond the rhetoric of Western and Burmese officials, as something affordable. But the ugly realities of human insecurity as lived by the great majority of Burmese Buddhist farmers, Rohingya Muslims, and Burmese Christians are difficult, if not impossible to address. So, Western advocacy is experiencing a Buddhist turn for the first time in the past twenty-five years: it’s all in the state of mind. If you can’t change the reality, change your perception, and the way you frame it, especially when doing so advances your national interest, however defined – hence, President Obama and his showcasing Burma as ‘a success story’ of his foreign policy.

The Impacts

The full consequences of this new Western advocacy will not be known for a long time. But if history is any indication, Western engagement with Burma’s authoritarian regimes (or, for that matter, with any other unsavory regimes) that is not informed by any humanistic principles but is largely driven by the West’s ‘core interests’ in Burma has not advanced the cause of public welfare.

[1]Post-WWII Britain in effect agreed to Burma’s independence the same year as India’s independence–1947, but for astrological reasons the Burmese nationalist leaders chose to do the formal transfer of power only in the early morningof4 January 1948.

[2]I amusing the Cold War-era vocabularies with full awareness of differences and new developments in the emerging ‘balance of power' scenarios and the Cold War-past.

Maung Zarni is Visiting Fellow (2011-2013), Civil Society and Human Security Research Unit, London School of Economics & Visiting Senior Research Fellow, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur.

Buddha Buzz: Dagger-Wielding Monks and Mindfulness in Service of the Bottom Line

Meikhtila, Burma, March 21, 2013 (photo - Soe Zeya Tun / REUTERS)
Just hours ago, Burmese President Thein Sein declared a state of emergency in central Burma due to killing, destruction of property, and general rioting in the streets of the town of Meikhtila. Violence erupted following a dispute between a Muslim gold shop owner and Buddhist customers. After four nearby gold shops were burnt to the ground, a 1,000-strong mob of Buddhists ran riot through the Muslim neighborhood. The death toll is currently being reported at at least 20, but this number will likely rise. TIME reports:

Meikhtila, Burma, March 21, 2013, AP Photo.
Journalists attempting to report in the area have been threatened. A photographer for the Associated Press reportedly had a foot-long dagger placed against his neck by a monk who had his face covered. The confrontation was defused when the photographer handed over his camera’s memory card. Late on Friday, the Burmese government said that nine reporters trapped amid the unrest had been rescued by local police and evacuated from the area. 

On social media, residents reported seeing bodies scattered by the side of the road and women and children lying helpless, their homes destroyed. U Aung, a Muslim lawyer living in Meikhtila, told TIME that the violence was already spreading to nearby townships. “They are burning mosques and houses and stealing Muslim property,” said Aung.Tricycle readers will be familiar with the Buddhist-led violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority in western Burma from the article "Buddhist Nationalism in Burma" in the current issue. In the article, Burmese dissident and democracy activist Maung Zarni makes a convincing argument for the characterization of recent anti-Rohingya violence as genocide. Zarni highlights the harnessing of the same sangha-led forces that occasioned the "Saffron Revolution" (2007) to accomplish these ends.

Recent unrest in Meikhtila suggests two important things. First, anti-Muslim violence and rioting has spread beyond the western Burmese Rakhine state and into the heart of Burma. Second, since the violence appears to be directed at Muslims of Indian origin—not Rohingya Muslims—this would seem to corroborate Zarni's assertion of the anti-Muslim, religious sentiment of these riots, repeatedly dismissed as "sectarian violence" by many mainstream media outlets at the time of the outbreak of violence last year. (TIME quotes Chris Lew, founder of The Arakan Project: "the perception of last year's unrest as sectarian rather than religious was inaccurate.") Zarni makes this contention in his article for Tricycle and reiterated the point when I interviewed him over Skype from Indonesia the day before the last. We also spoke about his objection to the term "communal violence," which TIME has used in the article quoted above, and the reasons why the conflict hasn't been called a genocide. The anti-Muslim racism we're currently witnessing can be tracked back to Burma's colonial past, which Zarni adumbrates in the article and further elaborates in our interview. Zarni's article for Tricycle can be found here and our interview will run on the Tricycle blog on Wednesday.

In other news, Ariana Huffington, chair, president, and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, has authored an article on corporate mindfulness on her site. Titled "Mindfulness, Meditation, Wellness and Their Connection to Corporate America's Bottom Line," the article peddles the benefits of corporate values and its platitudes regarding "performance and productivity": "I do want to talk about maximizing profits and beating expectations—by emphasizing the notion that what's good for us as individuals is also good for corporate America's bottom line." Most of the piece focuses on cutting healthcare costs to corporations by promoting mindfulness meditation.

Ironically, the research touted here was conducted through a partnership between healthcare behemoth Aetna and Duke University, in which yoga and other mind-body therapies were made available to all Aetna employees nationwide. Apparently, Aetna is not only too cheap to pay their patrons' medical costs, they're also too cheap to pay those of their own employees.

The one company that Ariana Huffington reports "gets it," is Google, whose in-house mindfulness consultant Chade-Meng Tan ensures the happiness of its employees through the stresses and invasiveness of 80-hour workweeks. In such a context, mindfulness reveals itself as the most recent incarnation of industrial psychology, a field of knowledge that has proven effective in pacifying workers and improving their "performance and productivity," regardless of any inhumane workplace conditions and expectations, or the deleterious effects of their work on the world-at-large (such mindfulness practice has most famously been taught to Monsanto workers).

Huffington ends the article, out of the blue, by quoting Institute for Mindful Leadership founder Janice Marturano: "We have one life. What's most important is that you be awake for it." More honest and in keeping with the rest of the article might be, "We have one life. What's most important is the bottom line." 

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Burmese Neo-Nazi Movement Rising Against Muslims

A small shop displaying 969 (source:

A troubling new movement spells disaster if left unchecked

When Dr. Maung Zarni, an outspoken activist academic, labeled the ongoing anti-Rohingya and anti-Muslim movement in Burma as neo-Nazi, some Burmese said Zarni was exaggerating. Western commentators have also avoided the term.

But Zarni has been proven right by emerging photos of an anti-Muslim riot in Meiktila in central Myanmar that broke out on March 20. The riot, which grew from a quarrel between Muslim gold shop owners and Buddhist customers, has taken more than 30 lives, and more than 10 mosques, Islamic schools and houses have been destroyed. Thousands of local residents, both Buddhist and Muslim, have fled the town, leaving Meiktila with ashes, burnt buildings, flames and dead bodies.

On the evening of March 21, the Yangon-based Eleven News published photos of a long queue of Muslims being forced to leave the town. What is significant in the photos is that the refugees, including women, children and elders, were ordered to keep their hands up as they were escorted out of the town by security guards. Nearby were local Buddhists and monks holding weapons and watching as many hundreds of Muslims left. These photos resemble the depressing images of thousands of Jewish refugees being escorted by German soldiers to Nazi concentration camps during the World War II.

It is not only the photos that make the anti-Muslim movement in Burma a neo-Nazi spectacle. The campaigners' actions and ideologies - especially ethno-religious ideology if not gender and class - resemble what characterized Nazi Germany under Hitler.

First, there is a series of consistent and observable actions. The most crucial element is the new 969 campaign' invented early this year. In a country where numerology has a powerful appeal, it is a mass-based Buddhist movement led by extremist monks including a firebrand named Wirathu. The number, 969, was derived from Buddhist tradition in which the Three Jewels or Tiratana is composed of 24 attributes (9 Buddha, 6 Dhamma, 9 Sangha).

Listen to a typical anti-Muslim hate speech below by the leading skinhead fake-monk  Mr Wirathu where he stresses the Muslims of Burma as the country's #1 Enemy that needs to be targeted and defeated in every conceivable way: 

However it is said by the movement to follow the model of the Muslim ?786', which is only used in South Asian Muslim tradition, a representation of a Quranic phrase "In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful"

The Burmese have long misinterpreted 786 as a Muslim conspiracy to take over the world in the 21st century, as they see 786 to represent 21 (7+8+6=21). In opposition to 786, the movement invented 969 as a symbol of a religious movement. Stickers are the flags of the movement and can be seen in many cities and towns across the country, as this is a public campaign. In the past few weeks, more taxis and motorbikes have been seen with the stickers.

To the campaigners, 969 is about protecting race and religion by peaceful means. In practice, it is explicitly an anti-Muslim campaign, not about preaching people the Buddha-nature of all beings, as taught and practiced by Lord Buddha himself. In many townships across Myanmar, including capital regions, there are local 969 committees that organize events and religious summons and distribute anti-Muslim materials such as CDs, books and leaflets.

The 969 campaign targets economic aspects by alleging that Muslims are dominating the Burmese economy, and that therefore Buddhists must not trade with Muslims. Instead, the campaigners recommend that Buddhists buy and sell at Buddhist shops that display 969 signs and stickers. In Karen state, Buddhists are even forced to trade only with Buddhists. There are local reports about Buddhists being beaten by members of 969 civilians and monks for trading with Muslims.

As of now, 969 covers a range of shops and stores from medium-size restaurants and teashops to food stalls and street venders.

The mushrooming summons of Buddhist monks across the country these days are much about 969. Audio and video CDs of the summons as well as anti-Muslim stickers and notes are being sold at grocery stores, phone shops, tea shops and so on. Information about where the stickers and 969 materials can be bought are available online as well. The CDs are played in the streets and even at grocery stores in Yangon. In short, 969 messages are spreading everywhere as the monks and campaigners travel across the country.

Muslims in Myanmar are portrayed as dangerous foreigners who came to the country only to dominate its every aspect. They are accused of dominating the economy, destroying the cultural fabric of society by spreading Islam in every way possible, luring women into Islam, and then monopolizing political power. The prime anxiety is that the Burmese race/nation will become extinct if liars, aliens, ruthless people, and those who bite the hands of their own masters (referring to Muslims as dogs) are not expelled.

Self-victimization seems to be a key. The consistent theme is that it is Muslims who are doing all the harm to communities and the country. Even supposedly one the most recognized peace advocate monks, Ashin Nyanissara, told the Democratic Voice of Burma on March 21, the second day of the riot, that Muslims as guests should respect and be polite to their hosts as if the ongoing religious tension was the Muslims' fault.

There are other important elements. Different volumes of anti-Muslim books written by Buddhist monks are all similarly titled: "Fearful of losing race/nation". These books, being circulated for the past few years, are the guidebooks of the campaign, featuring stories of dangerous and hateful Muslims unfairly marrying Buddhist women or marrying without consent, attempting to replace Buddhism with Islam, and undertaking universal missions to dominate the world economically, politically and culturally. Muslims allegedly will take over the Buddhist nation unless effective actions are taken to neutralize them and destroy every Muslim establishment. Citizenship is supposed to be defined in term of bloodline, as Immigration minister Khin Yi said recently.

But a neo-Nazi movement doesn't work without popular support. That hundreds of people listen to the 969 summons attests to its rise. This is not just public acceptance, but follow up to actions such as destroying Muslim shops in Mon state early this month after a 969 summons.

On social media websites, particularly Facebook, various groups relate to the 969 movement such as private groups with group names spelled in Burmese. Members range from 90 to a few hundred. There are public pages such as the Myanmar National Movement Committee, which has recorded 15,499 likes. Popular support is also reflected in the comments of the Burmese Facebook users. The following English translation of comments made to the Facebook pages of two local Muslim news websites reveals the seriousness:

"Happy, hey happy. Let's drive out dog-kind, dog-sons, prostitutes."

"Good news, all Muslims must die!"

"It's too few that only 20 people died. They all have to die. Also, all mosques in Myanmar must be destroyed."

In short, the neo-Nazi movement that Dr. Maung Zarni has been crying out against is on the rise. Those behind the movement are freely traveling the country, mobilizing supporters and distributing hate messages at an alarming level.

Without addressing this movement, perpetual violence and communal tension in such an ethnically diverse country is the future. That a personal quarrel at a shop ended up as large-scale violence in Meiktila is a troubling alert.

Written by Kosak Tuscangate
Asia Sentinel, FRIDAY, 22 MARCH 2013

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The Good Burmese Monks Speak Out Against anti-Muslim Violence

Burma's Good Buddhist Monks from "the Saffron Revolt Web" speak out against the violence and caution the public not to fall for the strategic trap set up by behind-the-scene players:

the gist of their message: there is definitely an organized group of players who have begun creating disturbances and instability since April by-elections (which the NLD won in a landslide). This is the pattern of strategic acts which successive military regimes have resorted to in order to reap political and strategic gains. There are other commercial predators in the county  that are playing along with these depraved elements in the regime.

Stop 969, Burma's fastest growing neo-Nazi 'Buddhist' nationalist movement

The logo of the fast-growing "Buddhist" neo-Nazi group '969',
with all the Buddhist emblems and symbols, including the lions of
(Indian) Emperor Ashoka.
Wirathu, the leader of the 969 skinhead movement in Burma caption, is seen with ex-General Khin Nyunt, former head of Burma's Military Intelligence, 2012.
Listen to a typical anti-Islam hate speech by 969 leader Wirathu here.

What is 9-6-9 or 969?

It is the most dangerous, but fast-growing neo-Nazi "Buddhist" movement in Burma founded by Burma's skinhead monks after the one-sided and large scale Rakhine racist violent slaughter of the Rohingya Muslims in Western Burma last year.

It is led, most prominently by a Saffron-robed pseudo-monk Mr Wirathu.  Mr Wirathu, a Saffron-robed fake Buddhist monk and preacher, who was jailed in 2003 for his direct involvement in the massacre of Muslim families and destruction of a mosque in the up-country town of Kyauk-hse, the birthplace of the aging and retired despot Senior General Than Shwe.  (See this Asia Times article about his neo-Nazi hate-mongering against the Muslims of Burma as early as 2003).

In its national network are Buddhist Sar-thin-tike or teaching Buddhist colleges. In broad day light Buddhist lecturers and teachers from this network, for instance, in Moulmein were seen giving hate-speeches disguised as "Buddhist sermons", with absolutely no interruptions from local authorities.

969 is Myanmar's home-grown neo-Nazi group founded and led by extremist Buddhist monks with the avowed aim of defending Buddhist faith, Myanmar race and Buddhist nation from Burmese Muslims.
9 stands for the nine special attributes of Lord Buddha, 6 for the six special attributes of Buddha's teachings and the last 9 for the nine special attributes of the Buddhist Sangha or Order.

969 appears to work in close collaboration with Burma's security forces, the new Burmese media and the People's Relations and Psychological Warfare Division of the Ko Ministry of Defense.

A categorically anti-Muslim/anti-Islam message tinged with the language of nationalist and national security is consistently and commonly coming from these sources:

1) Myanmar's new media such as the late medical Dr Nay Win Maung's The Voice, another medical Dr Than Tun Aung's Eleven News Group; 

2) official media outlets and offices such as the Ministry of Defense-run Myawaddy News and President Office's spokesperson Hmu Zaw or ex-Major Zaw Htay; and

3) 969 of Buddhist skin-heads the likes of Wirathu and his fellow skinhead monks

President Thein Sein's reformist government at best tolerates its categorically anti-Islam hate speeches and activities and at worst backs, if tacitly, the group and its incitement of violence against the country's Muslims.

Any democratic country in the world where hate speech is not protected by' the freedom of speech' would certainly arrest the leaders of 969 for their fear-mongering, hate speeches against a particular religious community.

969 calls for boycott of Muslim businesses, social ostracism of all Muslims and purging of Burmese Muslims from all positions of wealth, influence and power in Burma. It also stokes the historical anti-Muslim and anti-Indian popular sentiment among the predominantly Buddhist population of the country.

One should not be surprised if 969 turns out to be a strategic proxy organization founded by the radical, hard-line elements within the military leadership that plans to discredit Aung San Suu Kyi and other opposition figures in Burma through the 969's messages of anti-civilian politicians and activists.
969 openly frames Aung San Suu Kyi as a stooge of rich and cunning Muslim enemies who are hell-bent on taking over Buddhist Myanmar nation and destroying Buddhism.

969 leaders position themselves as the ones who are most nationalistically mindful and who are best positioned to defend 'Buddhist faith, Bama or Myanmar race and Buddhist nation' against the sole enemy of Muslims'.

Picture above:  Here the leading skinhead leader Wirathu is seen posing for  a photo-op as a 'loving kindness' monk offering words of support and 'metta' to the Muslim survivors of the 3-days of Meikhtila massacres.  Next to him is Presidential adviser and crony Hla Maung Shwe from Myanmar Egress.  Wirathu reportedly made sure his picture was taken along side 88 Generation Group Leader Min Ko Naing.   

Through its incitement of religious discrimination, Buddhist apartheid, violence against Muslims and acts of grassroots hate-mobilization against the country's Muslims, 969 is most definitely involved in violent crimes against the Muslims in Burma. It is a group whose activities need to be closely monitored by the international community.  

Before the next wave of skin-head violence by organized "Buddhist" mobs against the Muslims and other religious and ethnic minorities hits the poverty-soaked country of otherwise peaceful and acquiescent Burmese of all ethnic and religious backgrounds, the anti-hate speech campaigners and concerned citizens, governments and international NGOs must get pro-active in nipping this home-grown "Buddhist" neo-Nazi movement in the military-ruled Myanmar in its bud.