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

Burma/Myanmar ‘in transition’? Implications for the displaced

on 25 March Tuesday -

Dr Zarni to speak on the instrumental role of Myanmar government and its state organs in the decades-long persecution of the Rohingya at the international conference on the refugees and stateless persons, Oxford University Refugee Studies Center


on 26 March Wednesday -
Dr Zarni to speak on Burma's transition at the Burma Briefing at Oxford University, 26 March 2014.



Burma/Myanmar ‘in transition’?
Implications for the displaced 

Since 2011 there have been many positive political changes in Myanmar, including the release of political prisoners, relaxation of censorship, peace talks with ethnic armies, and a general election scheduled for 2015. But is this really a country ‘in transition’ towards democracy? For every positive change, there is an equally compelling negative: continuing conflict and human rights violations in Kachin State, state collusion with the mass murder of Rohingya in Rakhine State, failure to conduct or commit to demilitarisation in other ethnic states. How can these political contradictions be resolved? How should they be interpreted? Above all, what are their implications for the hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced persons inside Myanmar and throughout the region? These questions will be the subject of a roundtable at the University of Oxford Refugee Studies Centre on 26th March 2014, organised in conjunction with Ockenden International. 

9.30-11.00 Ethnic nationalities and the question of transition 

This panel will provide an update on the conditions in Burma’s ethnic states and discuss the primary challenges facing refugees in Thailand, India and Malaysia. 

  • Jessica Nhkum, Kachin Women’s Association Thailand 
  • K’nyaw Paw, Karen Women Organisation 
  • Rosalinn Zahau, Chin Human Rights Organisation Delhi 
  • Zoya Phan, Burma Campaign UK 

Chair: Kirsten McConnachie 

11.30-1.00 A new aid paradigm? Donor and aid strategies 

This panel will discuss how donors can most effectively support genuine development in the country. It will also examine potential challenges, such as reduced funding for refugees on the Thailand-Burma border, the potential for internationally-funded programmes to undermine existing community-based projects, and the dangers of poorly coordinated aid. 

  • Jack Dunford, former Executive Director, The Border Consortium 
  • Pippa Curwen, Program Coordinator, Burma Relief Centre 
  • MaryBeth Morand, Policy & Evaluation Unit, UNHCR 

Chair: Gil Loescher 

2.00-4.30 The Rohingya: A regional crisis 

Speakers will discuss the continuing persecution of Rohingya and Burmese Muslims inside Myanmar, and the challenges faced by displaced Rohingya in Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thailand. 

  • Tun Khin, Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK 
  • Kyaw Win, Burmese Muslim Association 
  • Amal de Chickera, Equal Rights Trust 
  • Chris Lewa, Arakan Project 
  • Maung Zarni, University of Malaya 
  • Melanie Teff, Refugees International 

4.30-5.00 Concluding comments 

Registration is essential. Please contact kirsten.mcconnachie@lmh.ox.ac.uk to register.

In contrast to Huffington Post, the New York Times misleads the readers on Myanmar Government's central role in the Rohingya pogroms



New York Times and international media continue to report misleadingly - and wittingly - on their reportage about the Rohingya in Myanmar.   (See the piece below "Trapped Between Home and Refuge, Burmese Muslims Are Brutalized", JANE PERLEZ, NYT, 14 March) attributes the brutal treatment and 'ghettoization' to 'an extreme Buddhist ideology' (held by the local Buddhist Rakhine). 

While there were sectarian tensions between these two religious communities in Rakhine state, in the past 70 years  only one major  communal/horizontal violent conflict took place between these two religious and ethnic communities - in 1942.  

It is in fact Burma or Myanmar military leadership that has self-consciously pursued what amounts to genocidal policies towards the Rohingya, in fact, a borderland people of Burma like Karen, Chin, Kachin, Rakhine, etc, whose roots spread across new boundaries of the post-WWII nation-states. (The violent conflicts in 1942 took place as the result of the British Raj fleeing the country as the Fascist Japanese troops advanced into Burma and occupied the country for the duration of the WWII. The Buddhist Rakhine sided with the fascist Japanese just as the Buddhist Burmese sided with them - while the Rohingya and other non-Buddhist minorities including Indians, Kachin, etc sided with the British. The changing of power equation triggered the violent conflict in 1942 between the Rakhine and the Rohingya. 

But the 'reformist' military state in Myanmar today has been whipping up the mass mania of Muslim hating and scape-goating the Rohingya as a way of 1) diverting popular frustration and pent-up anger towards land-grab, economic loot, power abuses, etc - all by the military and ex-military leaders in power and their families and family-linked Burmese cronies; and 2) mobilizing the discourse of human rights and democracy - of Aung San Suu Kyi - into the primodial racist sentiments about non-Buddhist others. The Rohingya are the most vulnerable in that its social foundation has been eroded over the past 35 years as the direct result of the military's anti-Rohingya policies and practies. It is the only ethnic group of sizable population that does NOT have any armed resistance organization to defend its own people and to negotiate for a humane treatment and place in Burmese political system. 

The New York Times will need to be recorded here for its culpability in the unfolding state-sponsored genocide of the Rohingya.  For New York Times editors and reporters are holding collective nose when it comes to the verfiably instrumental role the State in Burma or Myanmar.   The ruling quasi-civilian government of President Thein Sein is now becoming a fast business and strategic partner of Western commercial and strategic interests.

As a Burmese who has done extensive research on the persecution of the Rohingya, I am persuaded by the Times' coveragae that NYT is culpable in the unfolding Rohingya genocide when it is wittingly creating a verifiably false narrative which puts the blame and responsibility on the Rakhine locals.  When it does it it ignores something that an average politically aware Burmese person knows:  that the Burmese military leaderships have outsourced the task of death and destruction, including instigating Rakhine protests against any international relief agencies providing survival services to the Rohingya in ghettos and IDP camps, where they have been herded into by the state security troops, which impose and enforce ABSOLUTE BAN on physical movement. 

Myanmar's policy of apartheid with the ultimate purpose of erasing the Rohingya as an identity and a community has been put in place in 1978 by Ne Win's military dictatorship and maintained to date by the highest Myanmar authorities including President Thein Sein and his quasi-civilian 'reformist' government.  

Shedding light honestly on the role of the West's new darling, namely the Burmese military leadership in civilian guises - Aung San Suu Kyi is a spent force who has served a PR cover for the West's re-engagement with Myanmar's military - does NOT resonate with the emerging Western narrative about Myanmar and its broad reforms!

Liberal or conservative, don't expect the corporate mainstream media to take the side of the poor, the persecuted - or Fanon's Wretched of the Earth.

Zarni


New York Times: 
By JANE PERLEZ 

excerpted:

Violence against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority by the Rakhine ethnic group, driven by an extreme Buddhist ideology, has led tens of thousands of Rohingya to flee in the last 18 months through smuggling rings that pledge to take them to Malaysia, a Muslim country that quietly accepts the desperate newcomers.

###

March 14, 2014
The Rohingya Crisis: Finding a Way Forward
Michel Gabaudan

Huffington Post (Opinion)

excerpted:

The Myanmar government still imposes an absolute ban on Rohingyas' freedom of movement, slowly converting their camps into de facto ghettos. This ban is also causing new displacement: Rohingyas who were not expelled from their homes by violence, but are subject to the same movement restrictions, have no way to support their families, so many are dismantling their houses to sell the wood. They either move into the camps in order to receive assistance, or try to reach Thailand and Malaysia using unsafe boats controlled by abusive people smugglers. An estimated 80,000 have left Myanmar by sea just in the past year, and dozens have died in the process.

The Rohingyas are increasingly left without any sense of what the future holds for them, and the government's current policies are rapidly pushing them from poverty into absolute misery. Furthermore, many humanitarians are tormented by the fact that their work is practically underwriting segregation and playing into the hands of the authorities.

The international community has expressed concern about the Rohingyas, but it has been careful not to let this crisis poison their broader relationship with Myanmar at a time of major reforms. Western countries are rightly concerned that hard-won changes (including economic liberalization, the release of some political prisoners, and the acceptance of political opposition) could be challenged in the years to come. The elections planned for 2015 could be difficult, and the ongoing review of Myanmar's constitution will pitch political groups against each other in an atmosphere of growing civil society pressure, demands for federalism from the ethnic states, and defensive posturing by the powerful military and its allies.

In this context, it is hard to imagine that the government will fully address the roots of the Rohingya crisis - namely, the Rohingyas' legal status and their acceptance within society - during the next few years. But refusing to propose any initiatives or ducking the problem entirely (as the government did recently after a massacre of Rohingyas in northern Rakhine State) is not an option and cannot be tolerated by Myanmar's international partners. The world should therefore seek concrete, step-by-step improvements in the Rohingyas' situation, in the hope that they will lead to bigger changes over the long term.


Michel Gabaudan became president of Refugees International in September of 2010, leading RI forward in its mission to bring attention and action to refugees and displaced people worldwide. Prior to his role with RI, Michel served as the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) Regional Representative for the United States and the Caribbean.

=======================

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar


19 Feb 2014

 Follow the top link under "most recent special procedures reports".

during his five visits to Rakhine State, and in particular since the June 2012 violence and its aftermath, he concludes that the pattern of widespread and systematic human rights violations in Rakhine State may constitute crimes against humanity as defined under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.


51.

Taking into consideration the information and allegations the Special Rapporteur has received throughout the course of his six years on this mandate,[1] including during his five visits to Rakhine State, and in particular since the June 2012 violence and its aftermath, he concludes that the pattern of widespread and systematic human rights violations in Rakhine State may constitute crimes against humanity as defined under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. He believes that extrajudicial killing, rape and other forms of sexual violence, arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment in detention, denial of due process and fair trial rights, and the forcible transfer and severe deprivation of liberty of populations has taken place on a large scale and has been directed against the Rohingya Muslim population in Rakhine State. He believes that the deprivation of healthcare is deliberately targeting the Rohingya population, and that the increasingly permanent segregation of this population is taking place. Furthermore, he believes that these human rights violations are connected to discriminatory and persecutory policies against the Rohingya Muslim population, which also include ongoing official and unofficial practices from both local and central authorities restricting rights to nationality, movement, marriage, family, health and privacy. In Myanmar’s ongoing process of democratic transition and national reconciliation, the human rights situation in Rakhine State will be a critical challenge for the Myanmar Government and the international community to address

[1] See reports A/63/341 para 61-62, A/64/318 para 70-80, A/HRC/13/48 para 86-94, A/65/368 para 73, A/HRC/16/59, A/66/365 para 29, A/67/383 para 56-67, A/HRC/22/58 para 46-60, A/68/397 para 46-57.
==================================================

March 15, 2014

Doctors Without Borders still excluded from Myanmar's Rakhine state
Patrick Winn, Global Post

(excerpts)

The government has said restrictions on the organization are a result of a broken agreement with the capital. A leaked document suggests there is more to the story.

YANGON, Myanmar — Last month’s decision by the government of Myanmar to suspend the operations of the medical aid charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) prompted widespread concerns about the impact the organization’s withdrawal would have on the tens of thousands reliant on the support they provide.

Since that time, the temporary ban has been revised, and now only covers Rakhine state, on the country’s western coast.

In the wake of the announcement, government spokespersons stressed that the chief reasons for this decision were that MSF had breached the terms of a memorandum of understanding with Naypyidaw—the capital city of Myanmar—and had shown favour unduly toward one ethnic group in Rakhine.

However, documentary evidence and testimony obtained by GlobalPost appears to contradict this publicly stated rationale and instead suggests that the action may be punitive, linked to MSF’s response to a massacre that occurred at the end of January in northern Rakhine state—the same area where the charity's ability to operate remains frozen.

The village of Du Chee Ya Tan lies a few miles south of the town of Maungdaw, not far from Myanmar's border with Bangladesh.

The now deserted settlement is reported to have been the site of mass slayings perpetrated by ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and riot police, accompanied by members of the army, in the early hours of Jan. 14. The attack is believed to have targeted the village's ethnic Rohingya Muslims, and to have been prompted by the alleged killing of a policeman several hours before.

The official position of Naypyidaw on the event in question remains that no massacre occurred and that only the police officer died, a stance affirmed in a recently released internal report commissioned by the government.

By contrast, the United Nations issued a statement in January estimating that nearly 50 people, mainly women and children, had been slaughtered; for their part, MSF reported that they had treated 22 people from the village suffering from a variety of injuries, including gunshot wounds.

Spokesmen for Naypyidaw described the UN's statements on the matter as "unacceptable" and later cited MSF’s statement on the incident as a peripheral reason for their removal, along with the complaint that the charity had employed Rohingya.

Rights groups are now concerned that the operational ban and persistent denial is just a government effort to silence witnesses and responders to the alleged attack.
=================

Here is my overview of the state-sponsored Rohingya group destruction based on my 3-years of research which I have just completed with a researcher colleague of mine.

THE SYSTEMATIC REPRESSION OF THE ROHINGYA MINORITY CONTINUESMaung Zarni
The Dissident Blog, International PEN, 13 March 2014

Excerpted:

This spring, the University of Washington Law School’s academic publication, the Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal, however, is scheduled to publish a three-year study of Myanmar’s atrocities against the group. The article, which I co-authored with a colleague from the London-based Equal Rights Trust’s Statelessness and Nationality Project, is entitled “The Slow-Burning Genocide of Myanmar’s Rohingya.” Our research has persuaded the journal’s editors and anonymous peer-reviewers that since 1978, successive Myanmar governments and local Buddhists have been committing four out of five acts of genocide spelled out in the United Nations' Genocide Convention of 1948. Our study finds Myanmar to be guilty of the first four acts, such as “killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group”.

Still, misleadingly, international media and foreign governments have characterized the Rohingya persecution as simply “sectarian” or “communal.” Not only does this ignore the instrumental role Myanmar’s successive governments have played in the death and destruction of the Rohingya, but it also overlooks the fact that the Rohingya have no rights or means by which to defend themselves.

Since 1978 Myanmar has launched its apartheid against the Rohingya

(Rohingya Muslims look through the gates of a house in a village where many displaced by violence found shelter, near Sittwe April 27, 2013. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj)

Asian Survey 1978 Year End Assessment of Burma Rohingya Persecution



The systematic repression of the Rohingya minority continues


By Maung Zarni
March 13, 2014

“What can we do, brother? There are too many. We can’t kill them all.”

He said it matter-of-factly—a former brigadier and diplomat from my native country, Myanmar, about Rohingya Muslims.

We were in the spacious ambassadorial office at Myanmar Embassy in an ASEAN country when this “brotherly” conversation took place. I am familiar with Myanmar's racist nationalist narrative. I have also worked with the country’s military intelligence services in pushing for the gradual re-engagement between the West and our country, then an international pariah. Apparently, knowledge of my background made the soldier feel so at ease that he could make such a hateful call in a friendly conversation on official premises in total candor: Islamophobia normalized in the highest ranks of the bureaucracy and military in Myanmar.

He wanted to make sure I understood he had special knowledge of the situation, stressing that he was stationed for years in Rakhine state, the state that borders Bangladesh and is the Rohingya ancestral homeland. The diplomat then went on to tell me that Bangladeshi even use folk songs to encourage people to migrate to Myanmar, mythically envisioned as the land of plenty, and cross the river that divides the two countries’ porous borders. He recited one particular stanza:

“There, Buddhist women are beautiful.
Staple rice is plentiful. Land is fertile.
Opportunities are ample. Resources are abundant.
Go ye go to Myanmar.”

His point is that these “Bengali,” a racist local reference to the Rohingya, are “invaders” in our predominantly Buddhist country, whose virus-like spread must be repelled by any means necessary. It’s incredibly important to realize that this conversation is in no way an extreme example in Myanmar. It’s not even that shocking that a relatively better-educated graduate of the country’s elite military academy would express such genocidal views. This is where generations of young—and largely Buddhist Burmese—men between the ages of 16 and 21 are conditioned to view themselves as Myanmar’s future ruling elites. Even more troubling is this: my friend’s view is widely held among virtually all Myanmar people from all walks of life—common men on the street, socially influential Buddhist monks, Christian minorities, former dissident leaders (most notably Aung San Suu Kyi), the mainstream intelligentsia, the ruling generals in uniform and ex-generals in silk skirts.

Myanmar’s prevailing popular psyche has been molded by decades of fear of Islam manufactured by the state. Even Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi chillingly spoke about “the global rise of Muslim power” in a BBC interview.

As a group, the Rohingyas’ ancestral home straddles strategically important western Myanmar, neighboring Bangladesh, and the Bay of Bengal, which opens into the Indian Ocean. The Rohingyas’ demographic and ethnic history is not different from the histories of peoples around the world, like Croatians, Serbs or Macedonians, whose ancestral lands have been erased from the political maps of the big powers. Even within Myanmar itself, the ancestral roots of other “borderland” ethnic peoples (such as the Kachin, the Chin and the Karen) are transnational and predate the post-World War II emergence of new modern nation-states.

But uniquely, the Rohingya have been subjected to a government-organized, systematic campaign of mass killing, terror, torture, attempts to prevent births, forced labor, severe restrictions on physical movement, large-scale internal displacement of an estimated 140,000 people, sexual violence, arbitrary arrest, summary execution, land-grabbing and community destruction. Three decades of such policies have produced appalling life conditions for the Rohingya. The doctor-patient ratio is 1:80,000 (the national average is about 1:400), the infant mortality rate is three times the country’s average, and 90 percent of Rohingya are deliberately left illiterate in a country with one of the highest adult literacy rates in all of Asia. Consequently, there have been an unknown number of deaths and large scale exoduses over land and sea to Bangladesh, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Australia and Canada.

The first Myanmar government-organized campaign against the Rohingya was launched as early as 1978, in the guise of an illegal immigration crack-down. Consequently, an estimated 200,000 Rohingya were forced to relocate to newly independent Bangladesh, where they have been equally unwelcome. Even then the Far Eastern Economic Review termed the plight of the Rohingya “Burma’s Apartheid.” Nearly four decades on, during his visit to Rangoon, South Africa’s Desmond Tutu, a veteran anti-apartheid campaigner in his homeland, used the same word, apartheid, to characterize the Rohingya oppression.

It isn’t even as if the Rohingya were never recognized by the central government as a distinct people. Within a decade of independence from Britain in 1948, the government of the Union of Burma officially recognized the group as “Rohingya,” the group’s collective self-referential historical identity. They were granted full citizenship rights and allowed to take part in numerous acts of citizenship, such as serving in parliament. They were able to broadcast three times a week in their own mother tongue, Rohingya, on Myanmar’s then sole national broadcasting service (Burma Broadcasting Service or BBS) and held positions in the country’s security forces and other ministries. Rohingya were permitted to form their own communal, professional and student associations bearing the name “Rohingya,” and above all, granted a special administrative region for the two large pockets in western Burma made up of 70 percent Rohingya Muslims.

The evidence of Myanmar engaging in a systematic persecution of the Rohingya as a distinct ethnic people supports charges of crimes of genocide against the group. So far, the world’s human rights organizations such as the Human Rights Watch, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Irish Centre for Human Rights have fallen short of calling the 35-years of Myanmar’s genocidal persecution of the Muslim Rohingya a genocide. They have stuck wth “crimes against humanity” and “ethnic cleansing” as their preferred charges against Myanmar government.

This spring, the University of Washington Law School’s academic publication, the Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal, however, is scheduled to publish a three-year study of Myanmar’s atrocities against the group. The article, which I co-authored with a colleague from the London-based Equal Rights Trust’s Statelessness and Nationality Project, is entitled “The Slow-Burning Genocide of Myanmar’s Rohingya.” Our research has persuaded the journal’s editors and anonymous peer-reviewers that since 1978, successive Myanmar governments and local Buddhists have been committing four out of five acts of genocide spelled out in the United Nations' Genocide Convention of 1948. Our study finds Myanmar to be guilty of the first four acts, such as “killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group”.

Still, misleadingly, international media and foreign governments have characterized the Rohingya persecution as simply “sectarian” or “communal.” Not only does this ignore the instrumental role Myanmar’s successive governments have played in the death and destruction of the Rohingya, but it also overlooks the fact that the Rohingya have no rights or means by which to defend themselves.

The 1.33 million Rohingya Muslims may be “too many to kill,” but that has not stopped the state security forces or the local ultra-nationalist Rakhine from carrying out waves of pogroms against the Rohingya. The state's racist draconian policies make life so unbearable that the Rohingya would rather risk their lives on voyages across the high seas than wait like sitting ducks to be slaughtered in their ghettos or “open-air prisons,” as the BBC put it.

In my view, despite growing evidence, the international community has avoided calling this “genocide” because none of the permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council have the appetite to forego their commercial and strategic interests in Myanmar to address the slow-burning Rohingya genocide. There’s the domestic political factor for those states, too: no world’s leader would want his or her photo taken shaking the blood-stained hands of the Burmese generals and ex-generals with an unfolding genocide in their backyard. Indeed Myanmar’s genocidal military leaders have re-fashioned themselves ‘Free Market reformists’, opening up the resource-rich country for commercial engagement. On the persecution of the Rohingya, the outside world has taken at face value Myanmar’s narrative of the Rohingya persecution as simply ‘communal’ or ‘sectarian’ conflicts between them and the local Buddhist Rakhines who make up 2/3 of the local population of Rakhine state. Human Rights Watch proved prophetic when the authors of its 2009 report “Perilous Plight: Burma’s Rohingya Take to the Sea” wrote: “Because they [the Rohingya] have no constituency in the West and come from a strategic backwater, no one wants them [and no one is prepared to help end their decades of persecution] even though the world is well aware of their predicament.”
Maung Zarni is a Burmese scholar in exile. He is an expert on the political affairs of Myanmar, and currently Visiting Fellow at London School of Economics. In this article he writes about the oppression of the minority people Rohingya, whom the Burmese government classifies as “immigrants” and thus not eligible for citizenship. 
This article was firstly published by The Dissident Blog.

Asean and the New Orwellianism


Asean and the New Orwellianism

(a poem inspired by periodically cancerous haze within ASEAN).

Asean mother-fuckers!
Here is a new Orwellianism for you, Brother,
Here leader-guided regional destruction is D-E-V-E-L-O-P-M-E-N-T.

H is for H-A-Z-E
Breathe it for your Ha, Ha, Ha ... H-A-P-P-I-N-E-S-S.
It's only dioxins!

Then index it in orientalized Shangri-La Bhutan
Carefully ignore the poor Nepalese, treated like dogs.
So, now
Meditate on those poisonous particles
You think "Asian Values" politicians give a fuck about you, your welfare, your world?

Welfarism is out
A new Orwellianism is in
with all those "special" Asean characteristics.

Here we have Asean traditions.
Marital rape is legal.
One in four of us, alpha "Asian males", love to rape our wives!
"Asian Values" equal human rights.
Kleptocracy is 'democracy'.
Electoral fraud is a norm.
Don't be too proud, sister.
Your country's election charade is nothing special.
We have the same kind!

Tolerance and liberalisms upset our multiracist Social Order
We do things differently here.
Women's equality disrupts gender harmony.
No argument - Father and Husband know best.
Keep the elections for show, Grandpa!
Human Rights? We really ought to go slow.
There are limits and strangeness in this White Man's Democracy.

Our old men know best, Brothers and Sisters!
Be grateful! Rejoice!  They keep power all in the family.
They won't buy votes or bribe anyone.
They use fear. Aliens, they say, will slash your throats
Defame your God.
Those votes of hate defend our Race and Faith.

Sons, listen now. .
Accept the dynastic truth: inheritance is good for nation's stability.
Don't ever forget.
It's best wealth stays in our family.
Public welfare is bad for economy.
And there isn't such thing as a society.
Citizens are out, consumers are in.
Rising profits lift all boats
But just don't gloat.

Daughters, you want security?
Focus on “securities and bonds” instead.
You can trade those in.
Human security, communal bonds aren’t "future-smart".

Communalism is bad for you.
Corporatism brings forth P-R-O-G-R-E-S-S.
Forest burning or clear-cutting
Either way, that's good for our Asean prosperity.

Who gives a shit about the health of the Planet?
Not even Kipling's White Man!
It's only a giant metallic ball
Just go ahead & ignore Lovelock's GAIA  - that earth is a living organism!
So, breathe in, breathe out
It's only dioxins.

Remember what the Buddha says?
"All life is suffering.
Everything passes
Nothing lasts".

So, embrace our consensually self-murderous alienating Asean-ism.
Don't complain about global warming
to our paternal custodians in 3 piece suits,
who ape the West's homo economicus
with their uncircumcised brains,
Some of them may even be Harvard-trained
They will tell you their policies won't be a planetary drain.

Breathe in, Breathe out.
Poisonous toxins are good for you.

Human rights harms Asean harmony.
Profits unite,human rights divide.

Thank you, Mr Orwell.
"War is Peace", no more.
We have advanced your Orwellianism.

Destruction is now Development.
Profit comes before People.
Bear witness brothers.
See the Asean truths for yourselves sisters.

Come ye back, Mr Orwell
Come ye back to your old racist Burma
And bear witness to our haze-choked Asean Development!

Zarni, happily breathing dioxins in Kualar Lumpur, Malaysia

Burma Without Doctors

Protestor carry the image of a policeman, as others hold banners and placards during a protest march in Sittwe, Rakhine State on February 3. European Pressphoto Agency
 
A crackdown on a humanitarian organization threatens to undermine efforts to reform.
 

Burma's government has been working overtime to rebuild its reputation as it seeks to gain favor with global leaders and investors. Yet a recent dispute with Doctors Without Borders (known by its French acronym, MSF), arising from a longstanding ethnic conflict, threatens to undo the country's progress—and to injure thousands of Burmese civilians.

MSF's clinics in Burma's restive Rakhine state were closed on Feb. 28 after the group publicly stated it had treated 22 members of the Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority for gunshot wounds and beatings in mid-January. The region has been plagued by ethnic violence since the alleged murder of a Buddhist police officer on Jan. 13, but the government denies that the Rohingya treated by MSF were injured by Buddhist mobs storming a Muslim village.

A United Nations investigation concluded on Jan. 24 that at least 40 Rohingya had been murdered with swords, knives and sticks. Yet the government said this week that there was no evidence anyone died. The fact that the government has allowed MSF to reopen clinics elsewhere in Burma except for Rakhine suggests it does not want the world to know about the violence taking place there.

If the Burmese government's aim is to put a lid on a volatile region, denying that the problem exists won't work. Already there is evidence that conflict is escalating within Burma, and the Rohingya are increasingly a cause elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Seven Indonesian men were caught last year in a foiled attempt to bomb the Burmese embassy in Jakarta, and riots there have called for jihad against the Burmese government to defend the Rohingya.

A move to deny health care to thousands of Burmese will only encourage a sense that the country's majority has it in for the Rohingya. MSF clinics, which opened in 1992, have treated more than one million Buddhists and Muslims in Rakhine alone, with the bulk of treatment going to those who don't otherwise have access to medical care. The group's expulsion comes on top of a long list of other perceived injustices against the Rohingya, not least a 1982 law that stripped Rohingya of their citizenship and rights to own property or move freely.

Burma's successes in recent years have come as a result of the government's newfound willingness to open up to the rest of the world. Closing off a region in need of lifesaving aid is a perilous step backward. 
 

The plight of Myanmar's Rohingya

Muslim children in Myanmar's Rakhine state are seen carrying bundles of sticks collected from a forest to sell as firewood. (Gemunu Amarasinghe / Associated Press)

 
The U.N. says the Rohingya, a Muslim minority in an overwhelmingly Buddhist country, are one of the most persecuted groups in the world.

Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma, has made substantial progress in the last few years, moving from military rule toward democracy, releasing political prisoners and freeing from house arrest Nobel Prize-winning democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi. However, the government has relentlessly continued its appalling treatment of the Rohingya population that lives in Rakhine state in western Myanmar. 

A Muslim minority in an overwhelmingly Buddhist country, the Rohingya are effectively denied citizenship unless they can meet onerous requirements, such as tracing their lineage back decades. They are restricted in where they can live and work, are limited to having two children and have been subject to brutal violence at the hands of mobs unchecked by local police. More than 1 million Rohingya live in Myanmar, including about 180,000 in squalid internal displacement camps, according to Human Rights Watch. The United Nations has deemed the Rohingya one of the most persecuted groups in the world. 

Recently, violence against the Rohingya has escalated, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Two attacks in January left an estimated four dozen Rohingya dead in a village in Rakhine, according to the U.N. report. Myanmar's response has been to deny that it happened. 

Late last month, Doctors Without Borders was ordered by the government to shut down its extensive operations across the country. Two days later, it was allowed to resume working everywhere except in Rakhine, where the organization provided primary care to tens of thousands of Rohingya. 

This state-sponsored oppression must end. Myanmar needs to lift restrictions against the Rohingya and revamp its citizenship requirements. Security forces under government control should be deployed to Rakhine to supplant or oversee local police, who are often too prejudiced against the Rohingya to do their jobs properly. The government should also allow humanitarian groups back into Rakhine to provide aid and to monitor how the Rohingya are treated. 

And it should investigate this latest mass killing. The U.N. report notes that some of the Rohingya played a role in the violence — they killed a police sergeant in retaliation for the initial killing of eight Rohingya villagers. That's not excusable, but it's also no excuse for continued mistreatment of the entire group. 

Over the last few years, the U.S. has generously applauded the government of Myanmar for its steps toward democracy. President Obama has visited the country; an American ambassador has been installed. Now the United States should press President Thein Sein harder and call for him to extend that democracy to the Rohingya. 

It's unconscionable that Suu Kyi, a human rights icon, has not wielded her considerable moral authority to talk about this issue. She should abandon her diffident stand on the plight of the Rohingya and forcefully condemn the repression of and violence against them. It's heartening that she is a member of the Burmese Parliament now and hopes to secure a change in the constitution that would allow her to run for president. But a strong leader would not allow short-term political expediency to keep her from speaking out on a critical, life-and-death issue. 

Rohingya dying from lack of health care in Myanmar

In this Jan. 17, 2014 photo, Raduan, left, helps her ailing mother Noor Jahan to steady her weak body at their living room in The' Chaung village in north of Sittwe, Rakhine state, Myanmar. As part of one of the community's richest families, Jahan, who later died, should have been in a hospital getting tests and medicine for her failing liver and kidneys, but it wasn't available to her. She was an ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar's northwestern state of Rakhine, forced to live segregated behind security checkpoints in a dirt-floor bamboo hut about a quarter mile from the sea. Photo: Gemunu Amarasinghe, AP

By Margie Mason
 
THE' CHAUNG, Myanmar — Noor Jahan rocked slowly on the floor, trying to steady her weak body. Her chest heaved and her eyes closed with each raspy breath. She could no longer eat or speak, throwing up even spoonfuls of tea.

Two years ago, she would have left her upscale home — one of the nicest in the community — and gone to a hospital to get tests and medicine for her failing liver and kidneys. But that was before Buddhist mobs torched and pillaged her neighborhood, forcing thousands of ethnic Rohingya like herself to flee to a hot, desert-like patch of land on the outskirts of town.

She was then stuck in a dirt-floor bamboo hut about a quarter-mile from the sea. She and others from the Muslim minority group have been forced to live segregated behind security checkpoints and cannot leave, except for medical emergencies. Often not even then.

Living conditions in The' Chaung village and surrounding camps of Myanmar's northwestern state of Rakhine are desperate for the healthiest residents. For those who are sick, they are unbearable. The situation became even worse two weeks ago, when the aid group Doctors Without Borders was forced to stop working in Rakhine, where most Rohingya live.

The government considers all 1.3 million Rohingya to be illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh, though many of them were born in Myanmar to families who have lived here for generations. Presidential spokesman Ye Htut accused Doctors Without Borders of unfairly providing more care to Muslims than Buddhists and inflaming communal tensions by hiring "Bengalis," the name the government uses to refer to the Rohingya.

Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist nation of 60 million, emerged from a half-century of isolating military rule in 2011. Nascent democratic reforms have generated optimism in the international community — the World Bank recently pledged $2 billion in development aid — but waves of ethnic violence, mainly against the Rohingya, have raised concerns from the U.S. and others.

Before Doctors Without Borders was shut down, Rakhine Buddhists regularly protested the group in what Vickie Hawkins, its deputy head of mission in Myanmar, described as a slow strangulation. Staff members were intimidated. Landlords became too fearful to rent houses for their operation. Boat captains declined to ferry patients.

The situation intensified after the organization said it treated 22 Rohingya patients who were wounded and traumatized following an attack in January. The government has staunchly denied that a Buddhist mob rampaged through a village, killing women and children, but the United Nations concluded more than 40 people may have been killed.

Talks are still ongoing between the government and Doctors Without Borders over whether the group will be allowed to continue working in Rakhine state. Dr. Soe Lwin Nyein, the Health Ministry's deputy director general, said Wednesday that the government was continuing to accept HIV and tuberculosis drugs from the group for patients in Rakhine.

Many sick patients located in the camps outside of the state capital, Sittwe, prefer to visit Doctors Without Borders' small facility that sits among a tangle of flimsy thatch-roofed shacks. It is a trusted source of care, having worked in Rakhine state for two decades.

To see a doctor now, patients living in the camps must secure referrals from government physicians and frequently pay bribes to security guards to get past checkpoints. Treatment is then only permitted at one hospital, forcing some from remote areas to travel for hours.

Additionally, many fear violence outside their Muslim area. Aid workers said protesters once stormed a hospital in town, forcing officials to lock the doors while some Rohingya patients fled in terror.

Rohingya in Myanmar have faced decades of systematic discrimination that bars them from certain jobs and requires special permission for them to marry, among other restrictions. But their lives were far more peaceful before ethnic violence erupted in mid-2012. Up to 280 people have been killed in Rakhine and tens of thousands more have fled their homes, most of them Rohingya.

Before the clashes, Jahan's family lived comfortably in the heart of Sittwe. They were well-known among both Buddhists and Muslims, owned five houses and ran a construction supply business. When surrounding Muslim areas started burning nearly two years ago, they paid the police to guard their concrete home and believed they were protected. But mobs torched and looted it anyway.

The family fled their now-bulldozed house with some jewelry and around $5,000 in cash. They can no longer access additional money in their bank accounts because they left their identity cards behind.

The stress was especially hard on 48-year-old Jahan. Suffering from diabetes, liver and kidney disease, she started deteriorating about three months after being corralled into the Muslim area, when the family ran out of medicine and food became scarce.

She fell unconscious in December, and her husband, Mohamad Frukan, traveled with her to a nearby government clinic and waited for an emergency referral. Eventually, the Red Cross was able to take them to a Sittwe hospital since the clinic itself has no doctors.

Once in town, Frukan said, a security guard shouted ethnic slurs at them and a nurse tried to give them different drugs than the doctor had prescribed. The family was not able to leave the facility, and was forced to rely on guards to bring them food. He said some were helpful, while others were indifferent or downright mean.

Jahan was told she needed to see a specialist in the country's main city of Yangon, but Rohingya need special permission for such a trip — a process that was too complicated and costly for the couple. Instead, after being treated for nine days, she was sent back to the dilapidated house made of bamboo slats and pieces of corrugated tin — still one of the nicest homes in the neighborhood, when compared to the saggy huts surrounding it.

Jahan's condition soon worsened. She couldn't stand or lie down, so she sat, drawing one agonizing breath after another. The doctor asked that she return a week or two later for a checkup, but by then, Frukan said, security around the camp had tightened and there was no way for the family to leave.

Instead, he decided to pay $300 for a boat to take his wife to Bangladesh. He was prepared to carry her through chest-high water for 45 minutes to reach the vessel, but when he tried to arrange it, the boat captain took a look at her and simply shook his head. He wouldn't take the risk of her dying on the way.

There was little that Frukan could do but cry. The couple had traveled to Yangon for care just four years ago, and if the violence hadn't uprooted their lives, they could have done it again.

"Life is so miserable for us," Frukan said. "Sometimes I am out of my mind thinking about her, but she never knows that. Whenever I look at her, it just hurts so much, and it's so painful. I think my daughters might even die seeing their mother every day and night."

Lives have always been at greater risk in Rakhine, the second-poorest state of one of Asia's poorest countries. The situation is worse away from the Sittwe camps, in isolated and predominantly Muslim northern Rakhine state.

In 2011, before the violence erupted, the European Community Humanitarian Office reported that acute malnutrition rates in parts of northern Rakhine reached 23 percent, far above the 15 percent emergency level set by the World Health Organization. In one township, the number of deaths among children under 5 is nearly triple the national rate, according to the U.N.

Now the situation is even more dire, with families split and lives disrupted. An estimated 75,000 Rohingya have left the country by boat, including Jahan's son and son-in-law, though neighboring countries are reluctant to accept them.

In the camps, many suffer from diarrhea and respiratory illnesses, including tuberculosis, in cramped shelters with no ventilation. Agencies such as UNICEF highlight poor hygiene, sanitation and a lack of clean drinking water. It's a possible public health disaster in the making, especially during the rainy season, when the choking dust turns to gooey mud. Potential outbreaks such as measles and cholera remain a worry.

Pregnant women are particularly at risk. A quarter of Doctors Without Borders' emergency referrals involved complications during labor. One Rohingya woman, Asamatu, started bleeding four days before giving birth to a baby girl last month and died three days later in a camp filled with barefoot children and open sewage ditches.

"She was so weak at the end she couldn't stand," said sister Hasinara as she breast-fed her 15-day-old niece. "If we hadn't been here, the father would be working normally and earning money and she would have given birth in a better place."

The strain is hardest on the poor, who cannot even afford basic medication sold at small pharmacies along a road near several of the camps. An underground group has been smuggling everything from antibiotics to aspirin into the area using business channels, but it's far from enough.

And sometimes, money doesn't matter.

In early March, two months after his desperate efforts to get his wife to a doctor, Frukan walked along a dusty potholed road before sunset in a white skull cap and a crisp shirt. He had been praying for Jahan, whom he fell in love with and married 35 years ago. He would have handed over his entire fortune to save her.

"She died in the middle of nothing," he said. "We couldn't do anything in the middle of nothing."

Now all Frukan has left is his guilt and a mound of fresh dirt surrounding a large white concrete grave. The best he could give her.

"If I talk about her, I feel I will die," he said sitting in a shady courtyard outside the house. "I try to make myself comfortable by going to the mosque, but if I talk about what happened to her, I will die."

____

Associated Press writers Esther Htusan in The' Chaung and Robin McDowell in Yangon contributed to this report.

In this Jan. 17, 2014 photo, ailing Noor Jahan, right, sits with her husband Mohamad Frukan, left, and children while she suffers in pain in their living room at The' Chaung village in north of Sittwe, Rakhine state, Myanmar. As part of one of the community's richest families, Jahan, who later died, should have been in a hospital getting tests and medicine for her failing liver and kidneys, but it wasn't available to her. She was an ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar's northwestern state of Rakhine, forced to live segregated behind security checkpoints in a dirt-floor bamboo hut about a quarter mile from the sea. Photo: Gemunu Amarasinghe, AP 
In this Feb. 27, 2014 photo, Mohamad Frukan stands next to the grave of his wife Noor Jahan, an ethnic Rohingya who died due to kidney disease, in The' Chaung village, north of Sittwe, Rakhine state, Myanmar. Photo: Pyae Phyo Thant Zin, AP 
In this Jan. 17, 2014 photo, trainee Rohingya nurses at Dapaing Village Hospital in north of Sittwe, Rakhine state, Myanmar. Data on Rohingya health is almost nonexistent. However, Rakhine is the nation's second-poorest state and lives have always been at greater risk there. Away from the camps, in isolated and predominantly Muslim northern Rakhine state, the health situation is even worse and reaching a hospital is nearly impossible. Photo: Gemunu Amarasinghe, AP 
In this Jan. 17, 2014 photo, an empty ward at Dapaing Village Hospital in north of Sittwe, Rakhine state, Myanmar. Data on Rohingya health is almost nonexistent. However, Rakhine is the nation's second-poorest state and lives have always been at greater risk there. Away from the camps in isolated predominantly Muslim Northern Rakhine, the health situation is even worse and reaching a hospital is nearly impossible. Photo: Gemunu Amarasinghe, AP
In this Feb. 27, 2014 photo, Hasinara, left, holds 15 day-old Minara Begum, whoes mother died after giving birth to Minara as Anawara Begum watches at a camp for refugees in Thatkapyin village, north of Sittwe, Rakhine state, Myanmar. Data on Rohingya health is almost nonexistent. However, Rakhine is the nation's second-poorest state and lives have always been at greater risk there. Away from the camps, in isolated and predominantly Muslim northern Rakhine state, the health situation is even worse and reaching a hospital is nearly impossible. Photo: Pyae Phyo Thant Zin, AP 
In this Feb. 27, 2014 photo, a 7-year old malnourished ethnic Rohingya boy, Rabi Allarm sits at The' Chaung village, north of Sittwe, Rakhine State, Myanmar. According to a 2011 report by the European Community Humanitarian Office, even before the latest burst of violence erupted in June 2012, acute malnutrition rates in parts of northern Rakhine reached 23 percent, far above the 15 percent emergency level set by the World Health Organization. Photo: Pyae Phyo Thant Zin, AP 
In this Jan. 17, 2014 photo, an empty bed at Dapaing Village Hospital is seen in north of Sittwe, Rakhine State, Myanmar. Data on Rohingya health is almost nonexistent. However, Rakhine is the nation's second-poorest state and lives have always been at greater risk there. Away from the camps, in isolated and predominantly Muslim northern Rakhine state, the health situation is even worse and reaching a hospital is nearly impossible. Photo: Gemunu Amarasinghe, AP 
In this Feb. 27, 2014 photo, a Rohingya man rides on a bus on near The' Chaung village, Rakhine state, Myanmar. Thousands of Muslims from the persecuted ethnic minority were forced to flee to this dusty patch of land after sectarian violence erupted nearly two years ago when Buddhist mobs burned their homes. The segregated group faces health issues because they cannot easily access care at hospitals outside their encampment area. Photo: Margie Mason, AP
In this Feb. 26, 2014 photo, Rohingya children play along a road in The' Chaung village, Rakhine state, Myanmar. Thousands of Muslims from the persecuted ethnic minority were forced to flee to this dusty patch of land after sectarian violence erupted nearly two years ago when Buddhist mobs burned their homes. The segregated group faces health issues because they cannot easily access care at hospitals outside their encampment area. Photo: Margie Mason, AP
In this Jan. 15, 2014 photo, a Rohingya child and an elder sibling stand in the foreground of Saytamar Gyi school in north of Sittwe, Rakhine state, Myanmar. According to a 2011 report by the European Community Humanitarian Office, even before the latest burst of violence erupted in June 2012, acute malnutrition rates in parts of northern Rakhine state reached 23 percent, far above the 15 percent emergency level set by the World Health Organization. Photo: Gemunu Amarasinghe, AP 
In this Jan. 17, 2014 photo, ethnic Rohingya people gather around a makeshift pharmacy in The' Chaung village in north of Sittwe, Rakhine state, Myanmar. Small pharmacies dot the road leading to several camps, but only people with money can afford basic medication. An underground group has been ferrying everything from antibiotics to aspirin and diarrhea medicine into the area using business channels, but it's far from enough. Photo: Gemunu Amarasinghe, AP 
In this Feb. 27, 2014 photo, Rohingya women wash clothes in Thatkapyin village camp, Rakhine state, Myanmar. Thousands of Muslims from the persecuted ethnic minority were forced to flee to this dusty patch of land after sectarian violence erupted nearly two years ago when Buddhist mobs burned their homes. The segregated group faces health issues because they cannot easily access care at hospitals outside their encampment area. Photo: Margie Mason, AP 
In this Feb. 26, 2014 photo, Mohamad Frukan stands outside his makeshift bamboo house in The' Chaung village, Rakhine state, Myanmar. His wife died in January 2014 after not being able to access proper medical care. Thousands of Muslims from the persecuted ethnic Rohingya minority have been forced to flee to this dusty patch of land after sectarian violence erupted nearly two years ago when Buddhist mobs burned their homes. Photo: Margie Mason, AP

 

The future of Burma: A Panel Discussion at Harvard University


Chairs: 
  • Professor Amartya Sen, Thomas W. Lamont University Professor
  • Professor Arthur Kleinman, Victor and William Fung Director, Harvard University Asia Center; Esther and Sidney Rabb Professor, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University; Professor of Medical Anthropology in Global Health and Social Medicine and Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

Panelists: 
  • Professor David Dapice; Ash Center, Harvard Kennedy School; Department of Economics, Tufts University
  • Professor Adam Richards, Division of General Medicine, UCLA
  • Dr. Maung Zarni, Center for Democracy and Elections, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur
  • Ms. Hseng Noung, Shan Women Action Network and Women’s League of Burma
  • Ms. Cheery Zahau, Human Rights Activist

Sponsored by the Harvard University Asia Center and the Harvard Global Equity Initiative