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

Myanmar leaders Aung San Suu Kyi and President Thein Sein must come clean on the Rohingya

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, NLD U Win Htein, President Thein Sein, Ma Aa La General Min Aung Hlaing, stop telling the world your racist lies!

Rohingyas are an official ethnic group of Myanmar.

If you think Rohingya are BENGALI read these 5 pages of the Burmese language article.

Tatmadaw or Myanmar Minister of Defence publications are LITTERED with the official references to Rohingya - identity, language, culture, history and politics. 

Tell NLD leader Win Htein (Defense Services Academy Intake-5) Lameduck President Thein Sein (DSA-9) and Min Aung Hlaing (DSA-19) that their own Ministry of Defense publications are littered with the word "Rohingya". 

Tell the Rakhine racists that U Saw Oo, Ne Win's war time famous Rakhine colleague was publishing officially articles about the Rohingya historical background, culture, language and customs. 

Here is the English translation of the oath that the Rohingya leaders took publicly as reported in the Khit Yay (or Current Affairs) journal published by Myawaddy, the official publication of the Army Psych-War Division based in Rangoon managed by Rakhine U Saw Oo. 

"After having renouned our Mujahideen/warriors" uprising against the State of Burma, we hereby register our trust and dependence on the State. In the name of Allah, we pledge our unwavering allegiance to it by promising never to join any future armed revolt against Burma."

- July 1961

Read page 32, first. Then 28, 29, 30 and 31 (the last page of the news article).

Four developments to watch after Burma’s historic elections

Voters wait in line at a polling station in downtown Yangon just after opening on Election Day. (Maya Tudor)

By Maya Tudor
November 21, 2015

The polls are closed and the counting is finished. Burma’s Nov. 8 election has resulted in a landslide victory for Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD). The election itself was deemed ‘competitive and meaningful.’ Voters in the country also known as Myanmar were not systematically disqualified, ballot boxes were not systematically stuffed, and voters in rural regions weren’t cowed into voting for the incumbent party. Still, the elections were structurally unfair, given that the military passed an amendment disqualifying Suu Kyi from the presidency. That 80 percent of eligible voters turned out to support the opposition was an undeniable moment of triumph for the forces of democracy and for the determined and dignified voters who stood for hours to cast their ballots.

The historic election is just the beginning of an arduous and fragile democratic transition for this country of 51 million people. In 1990, after a similar NLD landslide, the military vowed to hand over power to any government creating a new constitution. Months later, it backtracked brutally. While many observers expect 2015 to be different because the military now has constitutionally-reserved powers that allow it a continued say in politics, a democratizing future for Burma is hardly assured. The new government will not be formed for several months. Until then, we are likely to see a lot of shrewd bargaining between the incoming government and the military. Looking ahead, the country’s democratic future hinges most critically on these four questions: 

1. Will the Burmese military relinquish political power? 

Genuine strengthening of the democratic transition will require a constitutional reduction of the military’s role in politics. The 2008 constitution affirms that a basic principle governing the country is to allow the ‘Defence Services to participate in the national political leadership of the state.’ The constitution accords the military 25 percent of the seats in the lower and upper parliament, 30 percent of the seats in regional parliaments, and full control over the three most powerful ministries: Defense, Home Affairs, and Border Affairs. Any constitutional change, including change that would enable Suu Kyi to become a future president, requires a super-majority of more than 75 percent of parliament. This grants the military an effective veto over constitutional change.

Changes to the constitutional structure of power will be foremost among the incoming government’s priorities. Yet diminishing the Tatmadaw’s (Burmese military’s) writ of power requires its own acquiescence. Since militaries with histories of coups are more likely to commit subsequent coups, what prospects are there for the military to willingly and enduringly retreat to the barracks?

The military’s desire to bring the country onto the lucrative development path followed by other East Asian tigers has probably contributed to its surprising decision to liberalize politics in 2011. But will the military stay out of power, as has happened in Indonesia? Or will it dive back into politics at the next opportune moment, as happens in Pakistan and Thailand? Indonesia too had military reservations in parliament – 15 percent of seats just before and 7-8 percent of seats just after the 1998 transition. In Indonesia, the military was induced to draw down its parliamentary and economic footprint over the post-transition decade by international pressure, a vigorously free press and a wide array of civil society organizations working on military and political reform. If the Burmese military is to follow a similar path of willing retreat, it will need continual engagement by these same actors. How the military’s role now evolves will be critical to Burma’s democratic future. 

2. How will the incoming government choose to spend its ample political capital? 

Whether Burma travels Indonesia’s path to democracy or Pakistan’s path to perpetual instability will also be determined by whether the new government can successfully govern and thereby undercut any rationale for future military intervention. In many ways, the new government will face challenges similar to those faced by a new government in many poor countries. How will it promote equitable development and stable ethnic power-sharing? How will it jumpstart modernization of its health and education systems? How will it initiate infrastructure development and manage the flood of foreign investment (and the inevitable environmental threats it raises)?

But unlike other poor and politically unstable countries, this election was fought and won simply on the basis of Suu Kyi’s titanic popularity. Consequently, we know very little about the incoming government’s programmatic agenda. Banking upon Suu Kyi’s personal charisma and legacy of sacrifice worked as an electoral strategy, but it will not suffice as a governing strategy. The NLD now possesses enormous political capital but also the weight of sky-high expectations. What will it choose to do first, how will it choose to do it and crucially, can it deliver? 

3. Will the NLD develop leadership capability beyond Suu Kyi? 

Going forward, Aung San Suu Kyi will serve as Burma’s Sonia Gandhi, selecting a mild-mannered president and ruling ‘from above’ while making all the decisions herself. The president will likely be someone similar to the elderly NLD former Vice Chairman Tin Oo who, not unlike India’s Manmohan Singh, is uninterested in developing an autonomous political career.

But regardless of who rules, will the NLD develop capable party leadership beyond Aung San Suu Kyi? Thus far, the signs have not been encouraging. Before the recent elections, the NLD’s executive committee rejected the candidacy of many vaunted leaders of the 1988 pro-democracy movement who had been crucial party supporters. Younger NLD members who were put forth as candidates for this election were gagged from speaking out on any policy issues. This was probably because the party’s executive committee correctly calculated that detailing policy agendas would subject the NLD to unnecessary criticism when relying on Suu Kyi’s popularity could deliver a landslide. But it is worth remembering that no NLD member has ever held an important elective office and that no NLD member has yet become an important leader through the party itself.

If the democratizing trajectory is to continue, this must change. My research shows that a well-organized national party with many experienced leaders was the single most critical explanation for the divergent democratic trajectories of nearby India and Pakistan. Democratic parties that centralize power in one individual are unlikely to remain in power when that leader passes away. Democratic parties that govern for prolonged periods are typically led by leaders whose careers are defined by party service. While Pakistan could not do without Jinnah at the governing helm of its nationalist movement to preserve its young democratic government, India could and did do without Gandhi at the governing helm of its nationalist movement. Will Suu Kyi encourage NLD leaders to emerge who can challenge her and thereby develop the party’s ability to govern without her, as it eventually must? Or will she continue to govern as a charismatic leader whose party will not long outlive her? 

4. Will Suu Kyi finally speak out against Rohingya persecution? 

During the past few years, Suu Kyi has refused to publicly condemn violence against the Muslim Rohingyas, regularly designated the world’s most persecuted minority. Viewing Suu Kyi through the prism of a Nobel Peace laureate and a beacon of moral courage, international supporters have been hugely disappointed at her willingness to condone the rising levels of anti-Muslim violence.

But when seeing Suu Kyi through the prism of a politician whose predominant aim is to move the country away from military control, this decision can be seen as politically instrumental. The outgoing government’s encouragement of Buddhist extremism amounted to a textbook strategy for mobilizing a majority at the expense of a minority. The outgoing government thereby intentionally put Suu Kyi in a difficult position: if she spoke out against powerful Buddhist extremists, she would have lost votes among religious voters. Remaining silent as she did may have maximized votes but brought criticism from both right and left: for coddling Muslims by the influential Ma Ba Tha extremists and for being morally bankrupt by the international human rights community.

This strategy cannot be morally condoned, but it could be politically understood. Now however, armed with an absolute majority in parliament and the still-copious goodwill of the international community, will she spend some of her newfound political capital condemning the Rohingya violence and speaking out in favor of human rights for all those living within Burma’s borders? Or, paralleling Prime Minister Modi in neighboring India, will she continue to be silent and pander to an extremist base? Her actions at this formative moment will have enduring consequences for whether Myanmar will continue on the bumpy road towards democratic consolidation or falter on the basis of minority exclusion.

Maya Tudor is associate professor of politics and public policy at the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University. She was in Yangon for the Nov. 8 elections as an international observer with the Carter Center and is currently writing a book on when militaries retreat from governing power.

Will Suu Kyi pose threat to a democratic Myanmar?

By Suhas Chakma
November 21, 2015

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide victory in the general election in Myanmar on Nov 8, 2015. The blasphemous question is whether Ms Suu Kyi’s supreme power in the NLD will soon pose a challenge to democratic Myanmar.

Ms Suu Kyi’s silence on the Rohingya issue has received international censure but her democratic credentials, as opposed to her campaign against the military dictatorship, have seldom been scrutinised. The NLD lacks inner party democracy and history is against Ms Suu Kyi.

It is precisely because Ms Suu Kyi lacks a team, unlike many pro-democracy leaders. The Myanmar pro-democracy movement has been mostly about her. The founder of non-violent mass political movements Mahatma Gandhi never had to participate in governance and, within the Congress Party, democracy was entrenched. Gandhi’s candidate for Congress President Dr Bhogaraju Pattabhi Sitaramayya, was defeated by Subhas Chandra Bose in the party elections held in 1939.

During 27 years of imprisonment, Nelson Mandela became the symbol of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa but the African National Congress in the meantime had been led by distinguished leaders such as Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, etc. The NLD lacked such leaders at home while the government of Burma in exile died a natural death for want of leaders of high stature, among other reasons.

Since her release from house arrest, Ms Suu Kyi has shown glimpses of authoritarianism. Seventeen members of Myanmar’s respected “88 generation” were denied NLD tickets to contest the Nov 8 general election. Earlier, reformist Dr Thein Lwin was sacked from the NLD’s auxiliary Central Committee in February 2015 for lending support to the students protesting against the adoption of the National Education Law supported by the NLD in parliament in September 2014. Ms Suu Kyi called on demonstrators to abandon plans for an ill-fated protest march from Mandalay to Yangon in January 2015 but the students refused. Those who defy or question her decisions have been purged. The statement of Ms Suu Kyi on Nov 10 that the elected president of Myanmar “will have no authority, and will act in accordance with the decisions of the party … because in any democratic country, it’s the leader of the winning party that becomes the leader of the government” may be instructive.

While Ms Suu Kyi may still find a rubber-stamp president, the rule of the majority is unlikely to be handy for dealing with the ethnic minorities who have been waging wars against the majority Burmese for the past five decades.

The NLD could not forge any effective alliances with the ethnic minorities while opposing the junta. An effective alliance for power sharing with them may not last long considering the absolute majority of the NLD in parliament and the aspirations of the ethnic nationalities. Cease-fire agreements signed with seven out of the 15 ethnic minority armed groups in October 2015 remain in place but eight other armed groups including the powerful United Wa State Army and Kachin Independence Army remain outside the canvas.

Experiences from Scotland to Catalan of Spain show the struggle of mature Western democracies with the right of self-determination and resource sharing. Ms Suu Kyi has stated numerous times that she is a politician. Should the peace process fail, resulting in renewed armed conflicts, as head of the government or the ruling party, she is unlikely to hesitate to use the army against ethnic insurgents. Obviously, the Rohingya are unlikely to be her nemesis.

Ms Suu Kyi’s rule will however not be undone by the economy. Expectations remain low and the key economic challenge of Myanmar for the economy has been a reduction of Chinese control, one of the key factors behind the loosening of the junta's grip and the start of the democratisation process to facilitate Western investment to counter the Chinese.

Burmanisation of the economy is not new but has become more complex and challenging. In an attempt to Burmanise the business and administration, over 300,000 people of Indian origin were expelled by the architect of the military dictatorship Gen Ne Win in the 1960s. As Chinese have similar physical features to the Burmese they cannot be expelled like the Indians. Further, China holds a seat on the UN Security Council and the position of the second-largest economy in the world. The Myanmar Peace Centre established by the junta government alleged that the United Wa State Army and the Kachin Independence Army did not sign the cease-fire agreement in October 2015 because of Chinese pressure.

The history of transition of pro-democracy leaders into efficient public administrators is not in favour of Ms Suu Kyi. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, with the exception of Nelson Mandela, leaders of the Orange revolution in Ukraine, the Arab Spring or the Maoists of Nepal have failed miserably to deliver.

The NLD won because the people of Myanmar abhor the military but the NLD has been all about Ms Suu Kyi with the second in command, Chairman U Tin Oo being 88 years old. The absolute majority of the NLD and the lack of inner party democracy due to Ms Suu Kyi’s supreme power may soon become a stumbling block to a democratic Myanmar.

Suhas Chakma is director of the Asian Centre for Human Rights.

Aung San Suu Kyi on the suffering of Rohingya and other topics

Aung San Suu Kyi on the campaign trail last month. (Andre Malerba/Getty Images)

By Lally Weymouth
November 20, 2015

NAYPYIDAW, BURMA — Aung San Suu Kyi is no longer sitting in her lakeside home in Yangon, waiting for her restoration. It has finally arrived. The woman who endured house arrest for the better part of 20 years heads the party that won a landslide election victory this month over the very generals who held her captive. In her office here, she talked with The Washington Post’s Lally Weymouth about launching a democracy, ending ethnic violence, sharing power with the military and changing the constitution so that she can become president. Edited excerpts follow.

Were you surprised by your landslide? 

No, not surprised. We knew we had the support of the public, but we were worried there might be too many irregularities. It started off with all the voting lists being not quite adequate.

There were problems with the voter lists? 

Early on, just before the official campaign period started, the Union Election Commission chairman said he would be responsible for only 30 percent of the voter lists. That was a little bit worrying. So, I said to the public, “We’ll have to take care of the rest of the 70 percent that remains, won’t we?”

In some regions, people didn’t even vote for their ethnic parties — they voted for you. 

We have had landslides before, don’t forget.

In 1990, right? Were you worried the military might interfere like they did then? 

We still haven’t finished the process [of transitioning governance from military to civilian control]. And that goes on until March, according to the constitution. Of course, this is not 1990. Communications are so good, and the public is playing a very active role in making sure that everything goes as it should go.

The military controls 25 percent of parliament. Do you think you will be able to work with the commander in chief, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing? 

We can work with anybody. . . . You can’t avoid working with the military if you’re going to form a government.

Soon you’ll discuss the transition with the president and the commander in chief? 

They say they are going to meet me after the election commission has finished its work. I’m not quite sure what that means.

So they haven’t given you a date? 

No. Not yet. I suppose it means that they will wait 45 days. It is not very specific.

Are you worried? 

Of course, we are concerned. We’ve had too many rather strange experiences in the past not to be concerned. But we know the public is right behind us and that everybody who has been involved in the process has made public statements to the effect that they will honor the results of the election.

I can’t imagine spending almost 20 years under house arrest. 

I’m not sure that 20 years in that house was a difficult thing. I quite like that house. I got to read a lot. I got a lot of sleep, which I don’t do now.

You believed that democracy would come one day? 

Oh, yes. Because if you believe in the people, you believe in democracy.

You recently said that you are going to be “above the president” in the new government. Does that mean you want to change the constitution, which bars you from becoming president because you have children who are citizens of another country? 

I don’t really see what is so attractive about the title of president. What we want is the opportunity to be able to work for our country. And whether I am called president or something else, that is not relevant, really.

But it is relevant in some ways. When there is a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations — or another gathering of heads of state — they are going to want you there. They are not going to want someone else. 

I’ll go there. I’ll go along with the president, and he can sit beside me.

Do you believe the foreign-born-children provision was written into the constitution to prevent you from becoming president? 

I think so.

Can you persuade the military to change it? 

They may not change it immediately. And that is something we have to be prepared for. Changing a constitution sometimes takes time.

But in the past you have said that constitutions are made to be changed. 

I do believe the constitution will be changed sometime. But I’m not saying it will be changed in the next two months. I think it should be changed within a reasonable period of time.

So you are going to appoint a president? 


Who would you appoint? 

I am not going to tell you that.

Would you accept the position of speaker of the parliament? 

I am going to be the one who is managing the government. I think that’s as far as I should go.

How do you see your country’s relationship with the United States? 

Good, I hope.

Do you give the U.S. administration some credit for the fact these elections transpired the way they did? 

No, the reason we were elected is because of our people. Not because of anybody else.

The Obama administration took a big interest in this country. 

A lot of administrations are taking a big interest in what is going on here.

But the United States lifted most of the sanctions. Then President Obama and Secretaries of State Clinton and Kerry visited. It seems they made a huge effort. 

Yes. But a lot of other countries have made an effort, too: Great Britain and Norway and the Scandinavian countries. A lot of countries have been very supportive of our democratization process, so I don’t want to single out any particular one.

But as I am writing for an American paper, the Americans are interested in hearing about our contribution. 

We have very, very good American friends, and I am very appreciative of all they have done over so many years. And I hope they will continue doing their best.

Does that mean lifting the remaining sanctions? 

Sanctions are not the only thing that matters with regard to progress in this country.

What else would you like to see the U.S. and the international community do? 

At the moment, I hope that everybody will support a smooth and peaceful transition and that everybody will understand that the people have expressed their will very clearly, and this must be respected.

But then what? 

Once we are in government, we will tell you what we want.

I assume you would like businesses to come here? 

Of course. But I want the right kind of businesses with the right kind of attitude. I have always said that I want businesses that are successful. But, on the other hand, we have got to profit out of the relationship as well. It is not going to be a one-sided business.

Would you like to see the rest of the U.S. sanctions lifted? 

Well, with a genuinely democratic government in power, I do not see why they would need to keep sanctions on.

So what else is on your wish list for when you come to power? 

I don’t like to think of it as a wish list. I like to think of it as my hardworking agenda.

How do you see Myanmar’s relationship with China? 

Good. We intend to maintain good relations with all our neighbors.

In the non-aligned pattern? 

Yes. We have been very successful with that foreign policy since we gained independence.

There is a lot of discussion about China’s motives — are they good, are they bad? What is their aim in the South China Sea? What is your view? 

Of course the United States’ view of China is not exactly the same as other people’s views.

So what is your view? 

Our view is that China is our neighbor, and we intend to have good relations with our neighbors.

Do you think you can really change this country? You say you want to enhance the standard of living. 

There are lots of things we want to enhance, beginning with peace and security.

Are you referring to the recent cease-fire between the government and some of Myanmar’s ethnic groups? 

Security is not just about the cease-fire. It is also about the rule of law. People need to feel secure in the towns. They never know what rules they have to play by, because there is no rule of law. . . . We want courts that are clean. And we have good laws, but we want to make sure that these laws are implemented in the right way with due process.

Another concern of the international community is the treatment of Myanmar’s Rohingya ethnic group, which is Muslim. 

That is a problem. I don’t deny it. But I wonder why they think there are no other problems in this country. It is a very skewed view of the situation — to look at it as if this is the only problem our country has to cope with. We were talking about the cease-fire agreement earlier. Seventeen groups need to sign the cease-fire, and only eight so far have signed. I would have thought that was a problem, too.

Do you have any sympathy for the Rohingyas? 

I have sympathy for all people who are suffering in the world. Not just in Burma.

Some say the current government encouraged extremist Buddhist monks, like the group Ma Ba Tha, to attack Muslims and inflame ethnic tensions during the campaign. 

I have to say that a lot of religious propaganda was used against the National League for Democracy [my party] during the campaign. We have filed official complaints, and we have even filed cases with the police in some areas.

Ma Ba Tha charged that if people voted for the NLD, that would jeopardize Myanmar’s ethnic purity — that the country would be overrun by Muslims. 

Absolutely. That is wrong, and it is unconstitutional. The constitution states very clearly that religion must not be used for political purposes. But the authorities did nothing about all this propaganda.

It is interesting in that it didn’t really work. 

It did work in some areas — in a few areas on the borders. But we had to make people understand that this was false propaganda.

Do you share the view that in the past year or so, this government has been backsliding on reforms? 

They’ve been backsliding on reforms for a few years now.

In what way? 

I heard that a couple of days ago one of our journalists — he is the editor of Eleven Weekly, which is very supportive of the democratic movement — was stopped at the airport from leaving the country. He was just leaving for a visit. That seems a little strange.

Going back to the military, what do you think their red lines are for your government? And what are your red lines? 

I don’t think that is something we can discuss now. I have to meet the commander in chief first.

Are you in favor of amnesty for the armed forces? 

The term we use is “national reconciliation.” 

But there must be people who are very bitter about the way they were treated. 

I don’t know that bitterness really helps anybody.

But that’s hard to say to people who were put in jail. 

Life is hard. A lot of us have been put in jail. I can trot out any number of people from the NLD who have been in prison. I always say: “You want to see people who have been in prison? What do you want — five years, six years, 10 years, 20 years? We can provide all of them from the NLD.” And they are not bitter. A lot of people who have suffered tremendously are only interested in building up a better future.

Where would you like to see the country five years from now? 

Not where it is now. I always think of the future of a country as an unending process. I want to see it much further along the road than it is now.

The electricity appears to be really a problem here. It goes on and off frequently. 

I always say when the lights go off, “This proves that we are in Burma.” It is normal. The lights going off is the least of our problems.

How big an issue is land reform? 

Agriculture is a big thing. Seventy percent of our people live in rural areas.

There are no land titles, is that correct? 

Under the constitution, the state owns all the land. So every owner has the land for as long as the state allows him or her to have it. When it comes to our farmers, they are not able to use the land as collateral. That is a pretty big problem, and we need to sort it out.

Don’t you also need land titles to create a tax system? 

Taxation is also a big problem in this country. We don’t have a “tax culture” as such.

So how do you raise revenue? 

We have got to make people understand why they have to pay taxes. We have got to prove that taxes are used for their benefit and not to line the pockets of those in power, which is what has been happening for many decades. There is taxation now, but it is not something the state could live off.

What would you like your legacy to be? 

I would like to think that our age was the age that got the country going. I haven’t even started yet. So let’s wait until then before we start talking about legacies.

Myanmar Military is pursuing a win-win strategy

(Photo: Reuters)

Propaganda soothes human souls. Realities are generally hard to accept. So, take another dose - this time, from the New York Times. For the Pavlovian, if New York Times (or any other hegemonic outlets in the West) report so then it must be true.

Life, in the final instance, oscillates between - or move on the continuum between - the two poles of opiate-like, comforting words coming from respectable figures, respectable institution and respectable propaganda outlets and the occasional rude-awaking from bitter realities.

“The official results are still being tabulated, but all signs, so far, point to that rarest of things: An authoritarian government peacefully giving up power after what outside election monitors have deemed a credible vote.”

Thomas Fuller, New York Times, 

"With Myanmar climbing to the world top five countries in terms of proven oil and gas reserves, terms such as genocides, military juntas and human rights are abruptly and largely omitted from the new discourse. Indeed, a whole new narrative is being conveniently drafted, written jointly by the Myanmar army, nationalist parties, Suu Kyi’s NLD, western investors and anyone else who stands to benefit from the treasures of one of the world’s worst human rights violators."

Celebrating sham democracy 

Ramzy Baroud 
Published — Tuesday 17 November 2015

#Myanmar military leaders have a win-win strategy: 

1) concede the undeniable if surprised defeat and claim they have given birth to a new burmese version of democracy; 

2) congratulate the Lady and create the false impression that the military rule has ended (as Thomas Fuller of NYT has been dutifully reporting, using long-time regime whitewashers like Priscilla Clap, Thant Myint-U and Richard Horsey as credible Myanmar analysts!; 

3) sweet-talk to the Western interests whom they know they got wrapped around their fingers vis-a-vis China; 

4) tell the world the generals will stick around as the "Regents" keeping a close watch on the Destiny Woman as long as there is no peace nationwide (No Peace, No Exit from REAL POWER); 

5) re-escalate the war against the Shan and the Kachin, fabricating and staging acts of 'provcations'; 

6) let the masses celebrate their euphoria and sedate them away from Rohingya genocide, internal colonial wars against minorities, grinding poverty and natural resource depletion; and 

7) facilitate foreign business interests to drip from their tongues with saliva over the prospect of ASSK's privatisation scheme.


Every 5 years Myanmar military leaders will throw the bones at the media, the masses and the self-interested Burma or Myanmar experts.

In 2010, it was 'extraordinary reforms'.

In 2015, it was the "Free and Fair" election, that is designed to usher in the Dyarchy reminiscient of the old British Raj (1920's and 1930's), that is, two-tiered system of power where the Viceroy/Governor kept concentrated power in his hand while the colonized were made to believe they had a say in how the White Master managed their affairs.

In 2020, well, your guess is as good as mine. That's why I am called "expert"! 


Writing in the New York Times in an article entitled, “Myanmar Generals Set the State for Their Own Exit”, Thomas Fuller expressed his and the media’s failure to recognize the total fraud that is Burmese democracy. “The official results are still being tabulated,” he wrote, “but all signs, so far, point to that rarest of things: An authoritarian government peacefully giving up power after what outside election monitors have deemed a credible vote.” 

Fuller, who said nothing about the persecuted Rohingya minority and little about the other millions of Burmese who were denied the right to vote, only managed to contribute to the seemingly baffling media euphoria about the country’s alleged democracy. Reporting from Burma — also known as Myanmar — Timothy McLaughlin dealt with the Rohingya subject directly; however, he offered a misleading sentiment that the oppressed minority, which was excluded from the vote, can see a “glimmer of hope” in the outcome of the elections. 

According to results, the National League for Democracy (NLD), under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi, has won a stunning victory over its rivals in the ruling party, by garnering 348 seats, in contrast with only 40 seats obtained by the military-controlled party that has ruled Myanmar since 1962. 

There is no real basis for that supposed “glimmer of hope,” aside from a non-binding statement made by an NLD official, Win Htein, that the Citizenship Act of 1982 “must be reviewed” — an Act which served as the basis for discrimination against the Rohingya. 

Win Htein’s comments are disingenuous, let alone non-committal, at best. The Citizenship Act “must be reviewed because it is too extreme... review that law and make necessary amendments so that we consider those people who are already in our country, maybe second generation, so they will be considered as citizens,” he told Reuters. His comments promote the myth that the well over one million Rohingya are “Bangladeshis,” who came to Myanmar only recently as hapless immigrants. 

While Myanmar, like any other ASEAN country has its fair share of immigrants, the fact is that most Rohingya Muslims are native to the state of “Rohang” (originally a kingdom in itself), officially known as Rakhine or Arakan. 

For decades, tension has brewed between Buddhists and Muslims in the region. Eventually, the majority, backed by a military junta, prevailed over the minority, which had no serious regional or international backers. A rising tide of Buddhist nationalism has reached genocidal levels in recent years and is targeting not only Rohingya Muslims, but also Christian and other minority groups in the country. 

Not only did the elections disempower and further alienate the Rohingya, but it also empowered political groups that have openly sought the “mass annihilation” of the defenseless minority, most of whom are living in abject poverty within closed refugee camps, while thousands have perished at sea in a bid to escape the violence. 

The sad fact is that much of the reporting on the Myanmar elections stoked false hope that a democracy has finally prevailed in that country, and either brushed over or completely ignored the plight of the Rohingya altogether. 

But how could anyone with a reasonable degree of knowledge in the political, constitutional and historical context of the November elections ignore the major discrepancies of the army-championed style of “Discipline Flourishing Democracy” program announced in August 2003 by Gen. Khin Nyunt? 

Myanmar’s generals have organized every facet of their sham democratic campaign since the early 1990s so that they give an illusion of democracy, while retaining power. 

When the outcome of the 1990 elections did not work in their favor, they crushed their opponents and placed the leaders of the NLD under house-arrests or prison. This action, however, cost them international isolation outside the domain of China and a few ASEAN countries. 

The most recent elections have been, by far, the most successful of the generals’ democracy schemes in recent years. 

This clever scheme is rooted partly in the 2008 Constitution, “which elevates core interests of the military (such as the military budget, appointments, business conglomerates and security matters) above the law and parliamentary oversight,” wrote Maung Zarni in the Guardian. 

According to the controversial constitution, “the military serves as the ultimate custodian with the power to discipline any elected government or MP who dares to stray from the military’s chosen path and its definition of parliamentary democracy,” Zarni wrote. 

In fact, just last June, the military, defeated an attempt by parliamentarian to rescind its veto power. This is why the military remains the upper hand in the country, regardless of who wins or loses the elections. By reserving for itself a quarter of the seats in parliament, the military will continue to enjoy a veto power. 

Then, why is there all this excitement about Myanmar democracy? Simple — the rivalry between China and the United States, and their respective allies have reached a point where the massive amount of untapped wealth of oil and natural gas in Myanmar can no longer be ignored. 

The US, UK and other countries are salivating at the limitless potential of economic opportunities in that country, estimated at “3.2 billion barrels of oil and 18 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves.” According to a UK government report, under the theme, a “hotspot for exploration,” Burma’s “unproven resources may be vastly greater.”

With Myanmar climbing to the world top five countries in terms of proven oil and gas reserves, terms such as genocides, military juntas and human rights are abruptly and largely omitted from the new discourse. Indeed, a whole new narrative is being conveniently drafted, written jointly by the Myanmar army, nationalist parties, Suu Kyi’s NLD, western investors and anyone else who stands to benefit from the treasures of one of the world’s worst human rights violators.

The Lady and the Toddler, New York Times cartoon, 15 Nov 2015

Cartoon: Heng on Democracy’s First Steps in Myanmar

By The New York Times
November 15, 2015

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, won a solid majority in parliamentary elections.

Democracy or not, war with ethnic groups continues

A fighter of the Shan State Army (SSA) guards Doi Tai Lang, near the Thai border in northern Myanmar. (EPA photo)

By Anthony Davis 
November 17, 2015

Far from the hoopla and euphoria surrounding Myanmar's national elections last week, it has been mainly business as usual for army units in the country's northern borderlands. At the end of the rains, business as usual centres on preparing for upcoming dry season offensives against ethnic insurgents aimed at improving what the military sees as the real balance of national power.

This year in central Shan State, preparations have started early with aggressive probing attacks by the army or "Tatmadaw" against the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N), one of a clutch of major ethnic factions -- Shan, Kachin, Wa, Kokang and Paluang -- which in mid-October declined to sign a so-called "national ceasefire accord".

Participation in an embarrassingly empty photo-op in Nay Pyi Taw -- which in the event was neither national nor resulted in a cease-fire -- was left to eight other groups. Four of them were tiny ethnic factions mainly notable for their total military irrelevance. Four others which do actually field armed forces are based along the Thai border and were reportedly encouraged to sign up by a military government in Bangkok which is understandably keen to promote cross-border trade.

But the real threat to stability in Myanmar lies in the North where the SSA-N has been coming under Tatmadaw artillery fire since Oct 6 -- a full week before its no-show at Nay Pyi Taw made it a "legitimate" target. Since then, desultory shelling and air strikes have closed in on the rebel headquarters at Wanhai not far from the Salween River in central Shan State, driving some 7,000 villagers from their homes.

Army attacks on the SSA-N are hardly new. They began in 2011 following the refusal of the group to subordinate itself Tatmadaw command as a "border guard force". They increased in intensity in 2012 and 2013, even after the signing of a bilateral ceasefire in the Shan State capital of Taunggyi in January 2012.

This year, however the stakes are higher with a growing possibility that in the coming weeks the Tatmadaw will make a final push to overrun Wanhai, a cluster of villages now largely empty of civilians. In addition to expelling the 3,500-strong Shan guerrilla force from its last remaining stronghold, a ground offensive against Wanhai would have important political repercussions.

First -- and even before the electorally victorious National League for Democracy forms a government -- it will bluntly underscore the reality that in Myanmar, matters of war and peace will continue to be decided by the military, not the elected government. Directly impacting relations between the country's Burman majority and its ethnic minorities, those decisions have always been about centralising power and resisting any suggestion of the federalism for which the ethnic groups are calling, and to which the NLD is, at least in theory, committed.

Secondly, and more importantly, the Wanhai offensive would send a loud message to the largest of Myanmar's ethnic armed factions, the United Wa State Army (UWSA). Since it emerged from the collapse of the Communist Party of Burma in 1989, the UWSA has observed a cease-fire with the Tatmadaw. But in their stronghold east of the Salween -- just across the river from SSA-N turf -- the Wa run a fully autonomous "special region", an awkward example of de facto federalism that is a standing affront to the Tatmadaw's vision of a centralised Myanmar.

Since 2009 when the UWSA made clear it had no interest in surrendering either its guns or its autonomy, relations with the military have soured. They were not improved when in 2012 Wa leaders reiterated earlier demands that their "special region" -- which is part of Shan State -- be elevated to a fully-fledged "Wa State" within Myanmar.

This year, tensions have escalated dangerously. Nay Pyi Taw has accused the Wa -- apparently with some justification -- of supporting Kokang rebels who since February have been inflicting hundreds of casualties on the military. In May, an angry official commentary in the state-run media revisited the UWSA's less-than-secret involvement in the drugs trade and accused the Wa of being "on the path towards secession" and "willing to engage (in) a military challenge".

In this ominous context, the possible fall of Wanhai matters critically to the UWSA. The breaking of Shan resistance risks bringing Tatmadaw forces closer to Salween crossings and strategic heights on the west bank of the river. From there, heavy artillery would command wide fields of fire across Wa territory to the East and could potentially cut roads to the Wa capital at Panghsang on the Chinese border.

Pushing the Wa into corners is a high-risk game, however. During a 26-year long ceasefire, the UWSA has quietly built up its forces to become the largest military non-state actor in the Asian region. With an estimated 20,000 trained regular troops, some of them based along Thailand's northern border, it fields a range of modern Chinese weaponry including heavy artillery, armoured vehicles, wire-guided anti-tank missiles, and man-portable surface-to-air missiles.

Chinese diplomats generally prefer not to discuss Wa armaments in polite company, but some officials, when pushed, have been willing to concede that in the past a little black-market corruption and cross-border hanky-panky may have been going on in far-flung Yunnan province.

In the real world, however, quantities of sophisticated missiles and heavy artillery systems do not as a rule "fall off the back of a truck" -- least of all on China's border with a country of the strategic significance of Myanmar. Rather more likely is that the UWSA's impressive arsenal has grown courtesy of China's grey market in munitions, a zone of plausible deniability peopled by well-connected "private-sector" middle-men, but which is no mystery to policy-makers in Beijing.

In other words, UWSA muscle is about rather more than hill-tribe aspirations for autonomy. It also reflects Beijing's need for a solid stick in a complex, carrot-and-stick relationship with Nay Pyi Taw that will ensure its key foreign policy interests are respected. Those interests include developing friendly relations and trade, protecting substantial commercial and energy investments, and, not least, checking the ambitions of Western or Japanese interlopers seeking to extend their influence along China's southwestern flank.

Against this backdrop, Tatmadaw attempts to secure the west bank of the Salween and tighten the squeeze on the Wa are unlikely to be taken lying down. Indeed, the coming months are likely to see either increasing Wa military aid channelled to Shan and other insurgent allies; or, quite possibly Wa troops -- perhaps not in their own uniforms -- moving West of the river themselves. At that point, Tatmadaw operations in central Shan state risk escalating well beyond business as usual.

Anthony Davis is a security consultant and analyst with IHS-Jane's.

Free Burma or Myanmar Activism, Interview with Zarni, USA, 1996

Free Burma or Myanmar Activism, Interview with Zarni, USA, 1996

Myanmar Rulers Exit, Successfully (Poem)

A poem - Myanmar Rulers exit, successfully 

(original Burmese, by poet Swe Mon) 

(adaptive English translation by Zarni, 13 Nov)

Myanmar Rulers Exit, Successfully

People, let me be blunt.
Un-ashamed, the usurpers seem to have stopped their election game,
Having chosen the moral high ground and leaving the landsliders to be blamed - for a country lying in ruins.
After all, they have in fact raked in everything and vacuumed anything
That is, everything which is worth anything.
So, for the Big Bosses, there are no losses to speak of.
"Let the new game begin," they say smuggedly.

Alas, Myanmar now is our barren land.
But, but ... what's left erect in this barren land of ours?
No more forests, no real people's assets.
All they have left us is People's Global Debt.
Empty-handed or empty-headed,
That's all there is left of us.

Gone are vast quantities of natural gas.
Claiming the proceeds back?
But there is no recourse yet.
All has been grabbed.
Land, land, land. ...
Virtually every plot of land, mini, medium, large, mega.
Your land, my land. his land, our land, aunty's land, Mommy's land.
All leased, sold, grabbed ....
Forget those winding rivers and longish creeks
Commodified and privatized, they have all been the rulers' instruments of greed.

City Parks, Virgin Plots. Fertile farms.
Let's reclaim them, please.
There must be a recourse, at least.
Alas, they call themselves "patriots:
- the generals, the ex-generals, the cronies, presidential advisers -
They all say they are Buddhists, with Gotama on their sleeves.
Look what they have achieved:
Us, the People on the streets
We are intellectually neutered with many of us morally bankrupt
Milling about, strolling around or simply hanging out
with nothing positively spiritual in our Karmic accounts.
The rulers say, "Hey, none of this is your business. Keep your nose off my business. Eat a meal a day. Be content. And go away."

They say to themselves, "let's get on with our patiotic loot"
For us, We the People,
Do we actually - and finally - win through?
Tell me, Sirs! What really is left after your treasure chests?
Tell me Madam, What really is left after their Grand Theft?

Didn't they slaugter our fellow civilians?
Why did ​they ​not spare even the robed holly men? The good monks, that is.
Remember Letpadaung? Have we forgotten the white phosperous and firebombed monks?
Brother, protests are bad for the "Rule of Law"
That was what Mommy Suu told us all.
In international business, we are to trust, she said.
So, sit back, relax and just accept the generals' ban on anti-mine-protests.

Here comes the (rulers') Grand Strategy
Turning "democracy" on its head, that's the generals' war chess.
Others wage 'war on poverty' 'war on drugs'
They wage "war on people", no matter what faith, race.
"People Power" means pitting us all one another.
Media reforms mean state propaganda, deformed.
Bad Monks, Unleashed.
Fake Monks are there
To lead the Buddhist Nation to Hell.

Nothing is out of bound,
Brother, can't you see?
On fire have our neighbors been
And towns are burned down by the shaven-heads in gown.
Alas, their killers and arsons are only duty-bound.
Power! Power! Power!
That's the generals' mantra.
Nothing is out of bound.
Let a thousand Rohingya drown.

Were I reborn in the next cycle of life
"Discipline Flourishing Democracy," I would not like.
Oh, how I long, you know, how I long
for our fellow wretched
to be spared of Myanmar's Nwa (selfish animal) Presidents
Who radio-addresss us as "Dear Esteemed Benefactors and Beloved Masses"
Before proceeding to screw our collective a-r-s-e-s.

Here is my hearty toast to you all:
You, You, You. Yes, you Myanmar's Wretched

"In Samsara (in the coming cycle of life)
May you/we all be free
Free from these Ruling Thugs and Thieves
Trouble-givers, Looters and Hell-creators
And all the perils of being "the Generals' Beloved People"!


Swe Mon

အမွန္အတိုင္းေျပာရရင္ ေရြးေကာက္ပြဲမွာ တမင္အ႐ွဳံးခံၿပီး အႏိုင္နဲ႔ပိုင္းေျပးတယ္လို႔ေတာင္ ေျပာႏုိုင္မယ္။
တို႔ျပည္ တို႔ေျမ တို႔လက္က်န္ေျမ
က်န္သမွ် သစ္ငုတ္၊
႐ွိသမွ်က ေႂကြးထုတ္၊
ျပည္သူေတြ ငုတ္တုတ္ျဖစ္ေအာင္
သူတို႔ေတြ အဟုတ္လုပ္ပစ္ခဲ့ၾကတယ္။
သံယံဇာတဆို လာထား၊
ဓာတ္ေငြ႕ အေျပာင္၀ါး၊
ၿမိဳ႕ေျမ ေတာေျမ လယ္ေျမ အကုန္ေပါင္း
ျမစ္ေရေတာင္ မခ်န္ေရာင္းစားပစ္ၾကတယ္။
အက်င့္စာရိတၱေတြ ပိန္လိမ္၊
ပညာေတြ တိမ္တိမ္ျဖစ္ေအာင္
လူမ်ဳိးတူ၊ ဘာသာတူေတြက
လူမ်ဳိးတူ၊ ဘာသာတူအခ်င္းခ်င္းကို သင္းသတ္ပစ္ခဲ့ၾကတယ္။
ဒီေနရာ မင္းနဲ႔မဆိုင္၊ ဟိုေနရာ မင္းနဲ႔ မပိုင္၊
မင္းမပါနဲ႔၊ ငါ့ဟာေတြခ်ည္း၊
အိတ္ႀကီးေတြေဖာင္းေအာင္ လုပ္ပစ္ခဲ့ၾကတယ္။
အရပ္သားကိုသတ္၊ ဘုန္းႀကီးကို ျဖတ္၊
ေက်ာင္းသားကို ဗ်င္း၊ ျပည္သူကို႐ွင္း
လိုရင္လိုသလို မညႇာတမ္း
မီးဆြမ္းေတြ ကပ္ပစ္ခဲ့ၾကတယ္။
ျပည္သူကို ျပည္သူနဲ႔တိုက္
မီဒီယာကို မီဒီယာနဲ႔တိုက္
ဘုန္းႀကီးကို ဘုန္းႀကီးနဲ႔တိုက္
အာဏာအတြက္ ဘယ္အရာမဆိုစေတးလို႔၊ ၿမိဳ႕ရြာေတြ ေလာင္မီးတိုက္ခဲ့ၾကတယ္။
ေနာင္ဘ၀ဆိုတာမ်ား ငါတကယ္ျပန္ရရင္ေလ...
သုံးလူ႕ထြဋ္ထား၊ ျမတ္ဘုရားေ႐ွ႕မွာ
အႀကိမ္ႀကိမ္သာ ဆုေတာင္းမိမွာ
"မိဘျပည္သူမ်ားခံဗ်ား" တို႔ အုပ္ခ်ဳပ္မႈေအာက္ကေန
အဖက္ဖက္က ဒုကၡေပးကြၽမ္းက်င္တဲ့
"မင္းေဘး" ကေန
၁၂ ႏို၀င္ဘာ ၂၀၁၅

ကာတြန္းပံုႏွစ္ပံုကို ျမင္မိရင္း ထြက္လာသမွ် ေရးကာခ်မိျခင္းသာ။

Elections in a divided city

Rohingya Muslims pray in Baw Du Pa IDP camp (PHOTO: CARLOS SARDIÑA GALACHE)

November 13, 2015

Sunday was a day of heady celebrations in many cities and towns throughout most of Burma, as people in the country could vote for the first time in 25 years in an election where the results were not predetermined by military generals. Most of downtown Sittwe, the dusty capital of Arakan State, was not an exception.

But in this deeply divided city, the contrast between those who exercised their right to vote and those who have been disenfranchised could not be greater. The way the two communities view the election, the issues they discuss, and what is actually at stake for them are so separate that they barely touch.

On one side, the citizens eligible to vote, the overwhelming majority of them Arakanese, went en masse to the polling stations. In some stations, the turnout was so huge and the voting process so slow that when closing time arrived there were some chaotic scenes of people pushing to get inside the stations to cast their ballots.

“This election is our chance to build a democratic federal state and share everything equally with the Burmese,” Maung Thin Khane, the Arakan National Party (ANP) Lower House candidate, told DVB. The ANP was widely expected to sweep most of the state, and Maung Thin Khane won his seat.

On the other side of the divide, tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims living in camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) near the city and in Aung Mingalar, the Muslim ghetto downtown, had little to celebrate. The Rohingya, who have been suffering persecution by the Burmese government for decades and were rendered stateless by the controversial Citizenship Law passed in 1982, were disenfranchised in this election, thus furthering their marginalisation from mainstream Burmese society.

“My heart was broken in many pieces because we couldn’t vote. Now we are afraid of not having any representatives or any voice in parliament. It means we are definitely excluded in Burma,” said Kyaw Hla Aung, a 76-year-old Rohingya retired lawyer who was a candidate in 1990 elections for the National Democratic Party for Human Rights, and has been imprisoned four times by the military regime and Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian administration for his activism.

A Mostly Arakanese Election

The heat and the punishing sun did not prevent thousands of voters from going to polling stations throughout the day to cast their ballots. In every polling station visited by DVB, there were long queues throughout the day. Many left the buildings showing proudly their little finger stained with indelible ink to confirm that they had already voted.

For many Arakanese, it was the first chance to cast a ballot. Aung Nyein is a 21-year-old who was not able to vote in 2010 because he was working in Singapore. “I hope our country will change for the better with this election,” he told DVB. “I have voted for the ANP because I think its leaders will do what is best for Arakanese people,” he said after leaving his polling station in South Lammadaw Quarter.

Ma Sein Nyo, a 77-year-old mother of nine, was voting for the third time in her life, after the elections in 1990 and 2010. While she said she also had voted for the ANP, she showed less enthusiasm than the young man. “I haven’t seen much change during my life, so I can’t say that things are going to change with this election,” she said at the exit of the same polling station. “I have voted because it’s my duty as a citizen, but politicians will do whatever they like,” she added.

Later in the day, as closing time approached, there were still dozens queuing at that polling station, and some chaotic scenes ensued when the authorities announced that they were going to close its doors. Eventually, voting time was extended by a few hours. Down the road, only one hundred metres from the polling stations, dozens of ANP supporters gathered at night in front of the party’s headquarters, cheering as the provisional results from some townships were coming in.

The Arakanese have a strong sense of their identity, and the ANP presents itself as the representative of the nationality. While the National League for Democracy (NLD) appear to have won the most seats in all parliaments representing Arakan State, they may be willing to strike an alliance with the ANP. “I trust the NLD a little. There are no ethnic minorities represented in the top of the party, it is a Bamar [Burman] party, but we think that they believe in the rights of the Burmese minorities. The father of Daw Suu, Aung San, believed in federalism,” explained the candidate Maung Thin Khane.

The Ghetto

The atmosphere contrasts sharply in Aung Mingalar, the only Muslim quarter left in downtown Sittwe. Around 4,000 people are confined there since a wave of communal riots swept the city and many other areas in Arakan State in 2012, with the Rohingya Muslims facing the brunt of the violence.

The feeling of despondency was palpable in this ghetto the day after the elections. Unable to get out and work, the residents seem to wander aimlessly through the streets without having much to do. As they are not technically internally displaced persons, or IDPs, they receive virtually no aid from foreign agencies and the economy of the place depends largely on remittances from relatives in Rangoon or abroad.

In the small market, several stalls display fish that few can afford. The price is ten times more expensive than in the main market in town, as it is necessary to pay a bribe to police manning the checkpoints located in every street leading to the quarter.

An acute sense of insecurity also pervades the slum. According to a local leader who asked to remain anonymous, during the days ahead of the election, the community organised a group of 70 young people to provide security at night, fearing an attack from “Arakanese extremists.”

Baser is a 26-year-old Rohingya man who lives with his wife and three children within the limits of Aung Mingalar. Only a few metres of land separate his home from a row of houses owned by Arakanese Buddhists. According to him, a dozen of people gathered some 50 metres from his house the night after the election to shout abuse at his family, singing Arakanese nationalist songs and throwing stones at his windows.

The Votes from the Ghetto

While Arakanese Buddhist voters in Sittwe are counted in the tens of thousands, only a few Muslims could cast their ballots. They are the Kaman, a Muslim minority which, unlike the Rohingya, is included in the list of 135 ethnic groups officially recognised by the Burmese government.

The Kaman are Burmese citizens and are not regarded as “illegal immigrants” from Bangladesh like the Rohingya, but many of them suffer the same apartheid-like conditions as their fellow Muslims since the already fragile coexistence between the Arakanese and Rohingya communities was further poisoned three years ago, perhaps irremediably, by successive waves of violence.

Many of the Kaman living in Sittwe lost their houses and businesses during the violence and now live in camps outside the town, while others are confined in Aung Mingalar. Twenty-six Kaman from Aung Mingalar and around 70 from the IDP camps had the opportunity to vote on Sunday.

Ma Ma Lay is a 50-year-old Kaman woman who lives in a house in Aung Mingalar with seven relatives. “I voted with Arakanese people in a polling station nearby. It was the first time I saw some Arakanese acquaintances since the violence in 2012. They asked me about my family and I was happy to see them. I don’t feel hatred in my heart,” she said.

“I voted for the National League for Democracy and the Kaman Development Party. What we need is peace, to work and live our lives with tranquility. I think Aung San Suu Kyi will help Muslims in Burma, but our fate is in the hands of God,” she added.

Ba Thin is another Kaman who had the chance to vote on Sunday. The 50-year-old man lives with his family in That Kal Pyin camp for IDPs near Sittwe. He lost all of his properties during the violence in 2012. As other Kaman voters interviewed by DVB, he has pinned his hopes on the NLD. “Aung San Suu Kyi is an experienced leader and won a Nobel Peace Prize, so I think a victory for her party would be good for Muslims in Burma,” he said.

The chief of the camp, Ozan, a 38-year-old Rohingya man who was not allowed to vote, also expects that an NLD government will bring improvements for Rohingya people and other Muslims in Burma. “I feel very sad because we couldn’t vote, but I think that a victory for the NLD will bring change for us. Aung San Suu Kyi’s father was a friend of the Muslims; U Razak was very close to him, for instance, and I think she will follow in his footsteps. I think she will change the 1982 Citizenship Law,” he said.

When asked by DVB during a press conference several days before the election whether she had any plan to try and change the Citizenship Law, Suu Kyi answered: “This is something that I don’t decide on my own. When it comes to laws, it is something that will be decided by the legislature in full.”

Other Rohingya interviewed by DVB were more skeptical about the NLD. Kyaw Hla Aung, a veteran lawyer and activist, said that he did not think that Suu Kyi would improve the situation for his beleaguered people in the camps. “She has never come here, but she is denying the existence of the Rohingya. She is denying the genocide against Rohingya. She didn’t come and study what’s going on in this area,” he said.

“We have no choice. There are two parties: USDP and NLD. USDP is torturing Rohingyas, so we have to take the other side. She won the Nobel Prize and the international community is supporting and giving advice to her, so our Rohingya people expect that we can get something from her,” he added.

In any case, what many Muslims in Arakan State fear the most is a victory for the ANP. When asked about a possible alliance between ANP and NLD, Kyaw Hla Aung said, “The situation would become worse for Rohingyas and Muslims in Burma.”

“If the ANP wins in Arakan, they could ask the government to wipe us off from Arakan. Dr. Aye Maung [the ANP chairman] led the violence against us before, but the government didn’t do anything about it,” said a community leader in Aung Mingalar who asked to remain anonymous.

According an investigation carried out by Reuters in November 2012, the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP), the previous incarnation of the ANP before it merged with the Arakan League for Democracy, organised the attacks against Muslims in October 2012, which left entire Muslims quarters destroyed in towns like Kyaukphyu.

‘A Fragile Peace’

Three years after deadly violence swept Arakan State, the situation remains deceptively calm in Sittwe. Except for Aung Mingalar, the city has been completely cleansed of any Muslim presence, and the separation between communities has been entrenched to become the status quo, which could prove extremely difficult to change: the camps and the ghetto-isation of Rohingya seems to be here to stay indefinitely.

“We have peace now in Arakan State,” says Tun Myint Thein, one of the directors of Wan Lark Foundation, a local Arakanese NGO loosely associated with the ANP and working with rural communities in the state. “The problem with the Muslims happened because of the government. The Muslims are the rope that the government has put around the neck of our people,” he said.

“Only the ANP can defend our people. We support the NLD and we support an alliance between the ANP and the NLD, but we can’t believe Aung San Suu Kyi on the Muslim issue, because she’s under pressure from the western world. We don’t believe the USDP can solve this problem either, because they created the problem in the first place,” he explained.

But for Tun Myint Thein, the main issue at stake for Arakan in the elections was not so much the ‘Muslim problem’, but the development of the state and their benefits it can reap from its natural resources. “Arakanese people don’t benefit from the gas offshore. It belongs to the government; they sell the gas to the Chinese and get all the profits. We hope that the ANP will try to change that,” he explains.

But those problems seem to be far from the minds of the Rohingya. And what looks like peace on one side of the divide is a hopeless sense of resignation on the other. Little has changed in the camps since they were set up three years ago. Healthcare, education and food are still woefully inadequate, but they are turning into an ecosystem which is deeply affecting the morale of many, particularly the youth.

“I worry about the children; their character has changed. Now they are used to begging because they see that everybody lives from handouts by aid organisations, so they don’t feel the need to work. The schools are not good because they are staffed with people from the camps without proper preparation and it’s difficult to keep children going,” explains Ozan, the chief of Tat Kal Pyin camp.

While the election has offered hope to millions of Muslims, for many Rohingya the meaning is very different: the last proof of their exclusion. “I don’t think it will be possible to live together again with the Arakanese,” says Kareem, a young teacher in Aung Mingalar. “So I think the only option we have is to go to a third country, because there’s no future for us here,” he adds.