Speaking on Myanmar Genocide of Rohingyas, The Oxford Union Genocide Panel, 29 Jan 2018

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

UN chief calls on Myanmar to make Rohingya citizens

Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi (R) shakes hands with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (L) after their press conference at the Foreign Ministry office in Naypyidaw, Myanmar. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo)

August 31, 2016

NAYPYIDAW: Myanmar's stateless Rohingya should be given the right to citizenship after generations living in the country, UN chief Ban Ki-Moon said on Tuesday (Aug 30).

Many from the million-strong Muslim minority are denied citizenship, voting and work rights and reviled as imposters in overwhelmingly Buddhist Myanmar.

More than 120,000 have been displaced, many to squalid displacement camps in western Rakhine state, after fleeing violence stirred by Buddhist nationalists in 2012.

Thousands have fled to other Southeast Asian countries on rickety boats in search of better lives, only to drown or fall victim to human traffickers.

In June, the UN said the Rohingya suffered entrenched discrimination so deep it may amount to crimes against humanity.

"This is not just a question of the Rohingya community's right to self-identify," Ban told a press conference alongside Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

"People who have been living for generations in this country should enjoy the same legal status and citizenship as everyone else."

His comments come as Myanmar's new civilian government is seeking to tackle the seemingly intractable issue that has dogged Nobel laureate Suu Kyi for years.

Even the word Rohingya has become loaded - with Buddhist nationalists having staged protests across the country against using the term. They instead label the group "Bengalis" and cast them as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.

The veteran democracy activist has come under fire from international rights groups for failing to address the plight of the Rohingya, as she seeks to avoid stoking further unrest over the sensitive issue.

Last week, the government announced it would set up an advisory panel chaired by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan to find "lasting solutions to the complex and delicate issues in the Rakhine State".

His appointment has triggered a backlash from nationalists, including the local Arakan National Party, who denounced what they saw as foreign meddling.

Ban said he would support his predecessor's work in Rakhine and work with Myanmar's central authorities to tackle the Rohingya issue.

"The situation is complex (in Rakhine) and the government has assured me of their commitment to address the roots of the problem," he said.

"All of Myanmar's people, of every ethnicity and background, should be able to live in equality and harmony side by side with their neighbours."

Ban's speech comes on the eve of the opening of the new government's flagship peace conference to broker a deal with the country's warring ethnic minorities.

The five-day gathering is Suu Kyi's first big drive to end multiple insurgencies that have raged in Myanmar's borderlands since independence in 1948.

Organisers have been pushing for a unilateral ceasefire, but hopes have been shattered by renewed outbreaks of fighting, according to negotiators.

Human rights, key priority for a peaceful new Myanmar – UN Special Rapporteur

Ethnics leaders and Myanmar government officials attend the opening ceremony of the 21st Century Panglong Conference in Naypyitaw, Myanmar August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
Human rights, key priority for a peaceful new Myanmar – UN Special Rapporteur

21st Century Panglong Conference (31 Aug – 5 Sep)

GENEVA (29 August 2016) – Speaking ahead of a crucial peace conference in Myanmar, United Nations independent expert Yanghee Lee has urged participants to prioritise human rights issues in their discussions over the coming days, and to do more to ensure the process is fully inclusive.

The 21st Century Panglong Conference, which will take place in the capital Naypyidaw from 31 August to 5 September, is the first major peace conference held in Myanmar since Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy assumed power in late March 2016.

“Discrimination, land rights, equitable sharing of natural resources are at the heart of the conflict in Myanmar, and therefore must also be at the heart of the peace discussions and solutions,” said the UN the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. “It is only by addressing and prioritising these issues that the durable peace desired by the people of Myanmar can be achieved.” 

“A lot is at stake with this Panglong Conference,” Ms. Lee stressed. “As with the peace process generally in Myanmar, this is the opportunity to transform the country, into a state that the people of Myanmar have wanted for several decades. But to do so it must be fully inclusive.” 

The human rights expert drew special attention to women’s participation as a vital ingredient in successful and transformative peace agreements. “Unfortunately,” she warned, “women will be underrepresented in the coming discussions despite making up over half of the population in Myanmar.”

Noting that civil society will have a parallel peace forum, Ms. Lee also underlined the need for “civil society organisations, who have been on the front lines of the conflict, to be fully involved in the process at every level.” 

“Young people, whose futures are most affected by the outcome of the conference should also have a voice in this and future discussions,” the human rights expert said. “But the young people themselves must also remember the importance of inclusivity not just amongst armed groups but within all communities.” 

Ms. Lee called the conference “a historic moment” but cautioned against celebrating too much too early. “This is the first brick into the paving of a long road ahead. There is so much, much more to be discussed and negotiated after the first 21st Panglong Conference.” She called for all parties to “be committed and to work together in full steam to achieve a sustainable, inclusive and transformative peace.”

“This is the beginning of the process of creating a beautiful mosaic of a diverse, harmonious, and peaceful new Myanmar,” emphasised the UN Special Rapporteur.

Ms. Yanghee Lee (Republic of Korea) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014 as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. Ms. Lee served as member and chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2003-2011). She is currently a professor at Sungkyunwan University, Seoul, and serves on the Advisory Committee of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea. Ms. Lee is the founding President of International Child Rights Center, and serves as Vice-chair of the National Unification Advisory Council. Learn more, go to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/CountriesMandates/MM/Pages/SRMyanmar.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

Check the Special Rapporteur’s latest report on Myanmar (A/HRC/31/71): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session31/Pages/ListReports.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – Myanmar: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/MMIndex.aspx

Original here.

Myanmar Military and Its 12-point Value Set

Myanmar Military and Its 12-point Value Set

Not unlike all other human relations and interactions, peace negotiations have a value component.

The following components that form a cohesive and institutionalized value foundation makes it inconceivable for any lasting peace in Myanmar.

Let's have a brutally honest look at Myanmar Military's institutionalized values - as opposed to rhetorical ones.

1) feudalistic Patron-Client value (adopt a boss, and adopt a loyalist)

2) Kiss-up, kick-down (feudal value)

3) Shut up and share your spoil across the hierarchy (theft and loot)

4) Total Obedience (shut up, listen and follow the orders, right or wrong)

5) Un-adulterated and delutional Patriotism

6) Bama-, Myanmar-,Burmese- or Burman-centric Historical View

7) Cancer-like Internally Colonial Mindset (of the 3rd rate quality and capabilities vis-a-vis world class colonialist mindset of Anglo-American strain)

8) Twofold Racism (inferioity complex towards the White world, and the superiority complex towards people of dark skin as well as the non-Bama "children of the sons")

9) Islamophobia

10) Mysogenistic male chauvinism

11) Nepotism

12) Anti-Human Rights

The Annan Commission needs to be successful

Dr Habib Siddiqui
Asian Tribune
August 28, 2016

On Friday, 19 August 2016, the first World Rohingya Day demonstrations took place around the world. Rallies and demonstrations took place in London, UK; Washington DC, Toronto, Canada, New York, Chicago; Stockholm, Sweden; Boston; Los Angeles; and many other places. The speakers demanded end to the ongoing genocide of Rohingya people who are indigenous people of Myanmar (formerly Burma) living in their ancestral lands.

The Rohingyas of Myanmar are a stateless people who are the most persecuted people in our time. They have been facing genocidal campaigns, especially since 2012, which saw a series of ethnic cleansing drives by the Rakhine Buddhists of Arakan – planned and aided by the local and central government and organized and mobilized by racist politicians and bigoted monks. It was a national project put into practice for the elimination of the Rohingya, who differ in ethnicity and religion from the majority Buddhists in this country of 55 million people. As a result, probably thousands were lynched to death, a quarter million lost their homes, tens of thousands were forced to choose exodus from this Buddhist den of intolerance and hatred, and an estimated 140,000 Rohingya internally displaced persons were caged in concentration camps in and around Sittwe (formerly Akyab). 

So evil was this proto-Nazi criminal eliminationist policy that anytime a fact-finding international aid agency or an NGO tried to voice its concern on deplorable inhuman condition of the Rohingya people, it was not only silenced by hateful Buddhist mobs that quickly rallied with hateful banners and posters, but was also barred from visiting the place next time. In this series of government sponsored pogroms, Ma Ba Tha – the terrorist organization of Buddhist monks, led by Wirathu – naturally played the role of Thein Sein’s hound dogs, and made the life of Muslims, living both inside and outside the Arakan state, unlivable. In essence, the world saw Buddhist Nazism in practice in much of Myanmar, especially in the western state of Arakan (Rakhine), bordering Bangladesh, where the Rohingyas have been living for centuries. 

Even the Nobel Laureate for peace, the much hyped democracy icon, Suu Kyi, chose to ignore the serious existential plight of this unfortunate people. An official census taken last year purposefully excluded the Rohingya denying them the voting right in country’s general election. All the political organizations that once represented the Rohingya people were disallowed from contesting in the election, and so were the former elected Rohingya MPs. It was all part of a very sinister plan to eliminate the Rohingya politically, socially and economically. 

The fate of the Rohingya refugees did not fare well in the next-door Bangladesh either; not only were they unwelcome there but aid organizations that provide a modicum of relief to Rohingya continue to be doggedly harassed by government agencies. 

With the election win of Suu Kyi’s NLD in the general election last year, a flicker of hope emerged within the international community who expected that she would self-correct her inexcusable role and do the needful towards improving the lot of the persecuted Rohingya. She had her own problems, too. Constitutional roadblocks were put on her way by Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government that denied her the right to become the president of the country. But she was able to outmaneuver USDP’s intent smartly by creating a new post with more power. 

However, as days turned into months, nothing positive happened even as Suu Kyi took the reign of the government in Myanmar earlier this year. More problematically, she came under widespread international criticism for refusing to even mention the name “Rohingya” and rebuked an American diplomatic who did. Equally disturbingly, she revealed her own prejudice when after a heated interview with BBC’s veteran journalist, Mishal Husain, she was reportedly heard to say angrily, “No one told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim.” The case of the Rohingya looked utterly hopeless!

Then like a lightning bolt came the latest news: Suu Kyi has solicited the aid of Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the UN, to lead an “Advisory Commission on the Rakhine State.” The Annan-led commission includes both national and international officials who will recommend “lasting solutions to complex and delicate issues” in Rakhine state. 

What brought this change of heart? Is it because Suu Kyi’s government has realized that for Myanmar to move forward it must loosen its ties with her problematic past that had earned only bad reputation from the international community? Is it because of the realization that the ongoing abuse and discrimination of the Rohingya is also threatening to undermine Myanmar’s historic opening and democratic transition, let alone delaying the needed economic prosperity? 

Whatever may be the true intent of Suu Kyi’s government, there is little doubt that this decision was a timely one, and it was a bold one, too. Many Buddhists inside Myanmar, esp. in the Rakhine state, are die-hard racists and bigots. They resent this decision. They would rather see Rohingya and other religious minorities eliminated altogether from their country one way or another. Decades of falsification of historical truths and hateful propaganda that were propagated by the military government and hate provocateurs like (late) Aye Kyaw and Aye Chan have turned them into killers, justifying and allowing them to do savage crimes against the Rohingya and other Muslims. Forgotten in that lacunar worldview was the hard fact that the forefathers of today’s Rohingya people had settled in Arakan before those of the Rakhine people. 

Myanmar needs the necessary foreign investment to move up economically, and cannot allow a delay of that process until investors’ perception of human rights of the country improves significantly. The international community has been dissatisfied with Suu Kyi’s slow response to ensuring protection, fairness, and justice for all of its people, esp. the Rohingya people whose plight is simply inhumane and unacceptable. Human rights groups have long been demanding donors to leverage their aid, and for the broader international community to pressure the Suu Kyi government to end the repression. They have been demanding that Myanmar respect international law, end its complicity in violating Rohingya rights and punish those promoting and carrying out ethnic cleansing whatever their motivation.

Suu Kyi, thus, had to find someone like Mr. Annan with a prudent track record that would provide the necessary positive publicity for her government, let alone infusion of the needed foreign money. 

After leaving the UN, Mr. Annan has undertaken a few of these missions. In 2007, a disputed election in Kenya lead to widespread communal violence and threatened to unravel and otherwise thriving country. He mediated between the two parties and helped establish a commission of inquiry that investigated post-election violence, turning its findings over the International Criminal Court. He mediated a power sharing agreement that ended the prospect of further violence. It was no accident that groups like the Amnesty International have welcomed the decision. “Today’s announcement is a sign that Myanmar’s authorities are taking the situation in Rakhine state seriously. But it will only have been a worthwhile exercise if it paves the way for the realization of human rights for all people in the state,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific said in a statement released earlier.

The formation of the advisory commission should be a matter of celebration. However, as hinted above, many Buddhists, esp. Rakhines (e.g., Arakan National Party – a racist group) are opposed to the Annan commission. They don’t want to solve the Rohingya problem. [The ANP has lately objected to the granting of citizenship of 29 white-card holding Muslims in Buthidaung in the Rakhine state. Prior to the 2015 election, the ANP had thrown its weight behind a successful push to disenfranchise white-card holders. It is worth noting here that according to government figures supplied, there were nearly 800,000 white-card holders in Myanmar at the time they were revoked last year, with over 660,000 in Rakhine State. White cards were first issued as a stop-gap measure in the early 1990s, with many of the state’s Muslims being assured it would pave the way to full citizenship.]

For years, the official Burmese mantra has been that "no foreigner can possibly understand Rakhine's problems". Thus, for the first time, the Burmese government is seeking international expertise to try and solve one of the country's most complex problems. It is a big shift for the government in Myanmar. 

Many human rights are also concerned because of the inclusion of Daw Khin Saw Tint - a known racist and bigot - in the commission. She is a Rakhine Buddhist who chairs the Rakhine Literature and Culture Association (Yangon), responsible for promoting intolerance against the Rohingya people. As Burmese human rights activist, Dr. Maung Zarni has shown in his blog, Ms. Khin Saw Tint remains a very hostile, anti-Rohingya zealot who falsely considers that Rohingyas have no history prior to the Burma's independence from Great Britain. I wish Suu Kyi had been more careful in selection of the members of the Advisory Commission. 

After being named in the commission, Khin Saw Tint said she believes working together with independent and highly respected international figures will present a clear image of what is happening in Rakhine State to the international community. “The problem can only be solved with a bilateral approach,” she said. I pray that she is not speaking with a forked tongue and does not torpedo the needed task of the commission, which does not include a single Rohingya. 

The Annan commission is expected to start work in September and will release a full report, including a set of recommendations on “conflict prevention, prevention, humanitarian assistance, rights and reconciliation, institution building and promotion of development of Rakhine state” by the second half of 2017. However, as we all know too well, the litmus test going forward is whether or not the government will accept and implement those recommendations.

No Rohingya On Commission To Address Their Fate

By Abdul Malik Mujahid
August 27, 2016

Rights Groups Doubt that Systemic Discrimination against Rohingya Will Be Resolved

As manifested in the United States, race and religion are extremely delicate topics for politicians to explore. And eradicating widespread endemic prejudices against certain racial and religious groups is a notoriously explosive proposition. However, that is exactly what is required in Burma, where a slow-burning genocide against the Rohingya people is becoming an urgent priority for the international community. On Aug. 23 2016 Burma’s Nobel Peace Laureate and de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi announced the establishment of a 9-member Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, where the Rohingya primarily live, as “a national initiative to resolve protracted issues in the region”. This sounds, at first blush, like a promising step — considering that the peaceful Rohingya were not invited to the Norway peace conference with other ethnic organizations (EAOs).

Burma Task Force welcomes Ms. Suu Kyi’s belated response to the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State and the conditions of poverty and oppression that instigated it. But we are extremely troubled by signs that this Commission has already been compromised by inclusion of staunch defenders of the previous military regime as well as deniers of mass atrocity crimes. The inclusion of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan cannot restore the balance to this advisory commission — especially since Secretary Annan himself has expressed regret at not doing a better job to handle the Rwandan genocide of 1994. We can pray that he will apply the lessons he learned from Rwanda throughout his work on this Commission, but I fear his voice may be drowned out by the extremist Buddhist nationalists who have expressed quite hostile views of the Rohingya. Most importantly, no Rohingya representatives have been included! I am profoundly dismayed by Ms Suu Kyi’s failure to appoint a single Rohingya leader to a commission tasked to discuss their fate. What could be more damning?

While the presence of two Christians on the Commission will hopefully add a breath of fresh interfaith air, two Rakhine members — namely U Win Mra (Chair of the National Human Rights Commission) and Saw Khin Tint (Chairperson, Rakhine Literature and Culture Association and Vice-Chairperson of the Rakhine Women’s Association) have engaged in denial of mass atrocity crimes committed by the extremist Buddhist nationalists. It’s easy to doubt the comment one of the newly appointed Commission members, Aye Lwin, made to the Democratic Voice of Burma: “This is very impartial third-party intervention.”

An ethnic Rakhine, Win Mra is the chair of the Myanmar Human Rights Commission (MHRC), an organization whose name could not be more misleading. The MHRC officially refuses to accept or utter the name of the Rohingya in blatant disregard for the international norm that any group has the right to self-identify. In fact, established by the previous President and ex-General Thein Sein on whose watch two separate waves of violent pogroms against the Rohingya and other Muslim communities took place, MHRC has been in the fore-front of denying the existence, identity, and history of the Rohingya people.

Mrs Saw Khin Tint is an even more unconscionable choice. A nationally-known Rakhine leader who is on the record condoning the slaughter of all Rohingya as early as December ‘12, within 2 months of the second wave of organized and state-sanctioned killing and community destruction of the Rohingya people, she gave a speech in which she remarked:

“Seeing their [non-Rohingya natives of Myanmar] great anger and compassion, and hear them say, ‘We just want to go and kill all of those Bengali people with our own hands!’ we’ve now got the advantage of gaining the support of all the national races all over Myanmar on the incidents that we’ve sacrificed so far.” (The bi-lingual English-Burmese transcript of the speech delivered by Saw Khin Tint at the gathering of the Rakhines in Yangon on 22 December 2012.)

“Bengali” is the inflammatory and insulting term extremist Buddhist nationalists use to imply that Rohingya do not belong to Burma, but rather are illegal interlopers from Bangladesh. This false narrative is the prime excuse the genocidaires have been using to facilitate the Rohingya’s extermination.

International experts have unequivocally agreed with Burma Task Force’s strong designation of the Rohingya persecution as ‘genocide’ — including Professor Amartya Sen, Suu Kyi’s teacher at Delhi University and a close friend of her late husband Michael Aris. Professor Gregory Stanton, President of the Genocide Watch and past President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, is in accord with this assessment. So are two widely publicized studies by Queen Mary University of London and Yale University Human Rights Law Clinic. It appears that, in the choice of her Commission members, Suu Kyi is far more interested in pleasing the ubiquitous monks than in heeding the warnings of trustworthy international scholars. Peace will not come to Rakhine State, let alone development, if pandering is a higher priority than good policy.

Despite 4 consecutive years of deafening silence, evasion, and dismissal of the concern as “exaggeration”, Suu Kyi should not be able to ignore the mounting criticisms from across the worldwide political spectrum — voices including Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama, George Soros, and Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi—alarmed that 150,000 Rohingya Muslims live in concentration camps and other “conditions calculated to bring about their destruction”. Nor, fortunately, can she prevent the international community, particularly the United States government, from respecting the group right of the Rohingya to self-identify. In brave opposition to the powerful monks’ hate groups, United States Ambassador to Burma Scot Marciel has held to the international norm of self identification & insisted that the Rohingya do exist. Around the globe, World Rohingya Day rallies were held last Friday, 19 August, to demonstrate the Rohingya’s positive existence and clear desert for equal rights in their home country.

Ms Suu Kyi must not shy away from her responsibility with regards to the Rohingya genocide. She must end the wide spread suffering and honor the Rohingya’s legitimate and verifiable claim to full and equal citizenship rights as Burmese citizens. International partners must not be fooled by empty or misleading gestures. Instead, to be true friends of Burma, local and international stakeholders must demand that more appropriate members be added to this Advisory Commission, and that the Commission be fully transparent in its deliberations on this urgent issue. The MaBaTha, the society established by extremist monks to “protect race and religion”, has been disbanded; this is an excellent first step, but will in no way stamp out the hateful prejudices of many Rakhine and other Burmese against the defenseless Rohingya minority. It is imperative that Suu Kyi include Rohingya voices on this Commission, and that concrete steps be taken to restore balance, equality & human decency in Rakhine State.

Abdul Malik Mujahid is President of Sound Vision; Chair of Burma Task Force USA

Follow Abdul Malik Mujahid on Twitter: www.twitter.com/malikmujahid