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

Burmese Nobel Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi Has Turned Into an Apologist for Genocide Against Muslims

Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at the polling station to cast vote during Myanmar’s first free and fair election on Nov. 8, 2015 in Yangon, Myanmar.

By Mehdi Hasan 
April 13, 2017

AUNG SAN SUU KYI IS ONE of the most celebrated human rights icons of our age: Nobel Peace Laureate, winner of the Sakharov Prize, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an Amnesty International-recognized prisoner of conscience for 15 long years.

These days, however, she is also an apologist for genocide, ethnic cleansing and mass rape.

For the past year, Aung San Suu Kyi has been State Counselor, or de facto head of government, in Myanmar, where members of the Rohingya Muslim minority in the northern Rakhine state have been shot, stabbed, starved, robbed, raped and driven from their homes in the hundreds of thousands. In December, while the world focused on the fall of Aleppo, more than a dozen Nobel Laureates published an open letter warning of a tragedy in Rakhine “amounting to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.”

In February, a report by the United Nations documented how the Burmese army’s attacks on the Rohingya were “widespread as well as systematic” thus “indicating the very likely commission of crimes against humanity.” More than half of the 101 Rohingya women interviewed by UN investigators across the border in Bangladesh said they had suffered rape or other forms of sexual violence at the hands of security forces. “They beat and killed my husband with a knife,” one survivor recalled. “Five of them took off my clothes and raped me. My eight-month old son was crying of hunger when they were in my house because he wanted to breastfeed, so to silence him they killed him too with a knife.”

And the response of Aung San Suu Kyi? This once-proud campaigner against wartime rape and human rights abuses by the Burmese military has opted to borrow from the Donald Trump playbook of denial and deflection. Her office accused Rohingya women of fabricating stories of sexual violence and put the words “fake rape” — in the form of a banner headline, no less — on its official website. A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry — also controlled directly by Aung San Suu Kyi — dismissed “made-up stories, blown out of proportion.” In February, the State Counselor herself reportedly told the Archbishop of Yangon, Charles Bo, that the international community is exaggerating the Rohingya issue.

This is Trumpism 101: Deny. Discredit. Smear.

A Rohingya boy from Myanmar is photographed during police identification procedures at a newly set up confinement area in Bayeun, Aceh province on May 21, 2015, after more than 400 Rohingya migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh were rescued by Indonesian fishermen off the waters of the province. Photo: Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images

It was all supposed to be so different. In November 2015, Myanmar held its first contested national elections after five decades of military rule. An overwhelming victory for Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) and former political prisoner, was going to usher in a new era of democracy, human rights and respect for minorities. That, at least, was the hope.

The reality has been very different. Less than a year after taking office, Burmese security forces launched a brutal crackdown on the Rohingya after an attack on a border outpost in Rakhine killed nine police officers in October. The northern portion of the state was sealed off by the military and humanitarian aid was blocked, as was access to foreign journalists and human rights groups. Hundreds of Rohingya Muslims are believed to have been slaughtered and tens of thousands driven across the border into Bangladesh.

This is only the latest chapter in the anti-Rohingya saga. The Muslim residents of Rakhine have been subjected to violent attacks by the military since 2012 and were stripped of citizenship, and rendered stateless, as long ago as 1982. The 1-million odd Rohingya Muslims live in apartheid-like conditions: denied access to employment, education and healthcare, forced to obtain permission to marry and subjected to a discriminatory “two-child” policy. “About 10 percent are held in internment camps,” according to Patrick Winn, Asia correspondent for Public Radio International. “The rest are quarantined in militarized districts and forbidden to travel.”

The standard Western media narrative is to accuse The Lady, as she is known by her admirers, of silence and of a grotesque failure to speak out against these human rights abuses. In an editorial last May, the New York Times denounced Suu Kyi’s “cowardly stance on the Rohingya.”

Yet hers is not merely a crime of omission, a refusal to denounce or condemn. Hers are much worse crimes of commission. She took a deliberate decision to try and discredit the Rohingya victims of rape. She went out of her way to accuse human rights groups and foreign journalists of exaggerations and fabrications. She demanded that the U.S. government stop using the name “Rohingya” — thereby perpetuating the pernicious myth that the Muslims of Rakhine are “Bengali” interlopers (rather than a Burmese community with a centuries-long presence inside Myanmar.) She also appointed a former army general to investigate the recent attacks on the Rohingya and he produced a report in January that, not surprisingly, whitewashed the well-documented crimes of his former colleagues in the Burmese military.

Silence, therefore, is the least of her sins. Silence also suggests a studied neutrality. Yet there is nothing neutral about Aung San Suu Kyi’s stance. She has picked her side and it is the side of Buddhist nationalism and crude Islamophobia.

In 2013, after an interview with the BBC’s Mishal Husain, Aung San Suu Kyi complained, “No one told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim.” In 2015, ahead of historic parliamentary elections, the NLD leader purged her party of all Muslim candidates, resulting in the country’s first legislature without any Muslim representation whatsoever. Like a Burmese Steve Bannon, she paranoiacally speaks of “global Muslim power” being “very great” — only 4 percent of the Burmese population, incidentally, is Muslim — while conspiratorially dismissing reports of Buddhist-orchestrated massacres in Rakhine as “Muslims killing Muslims.”

This is a form of genocide denial, delivered in a soft tone and posh voice by a telegenic Nobel Peace Prize winner. Genocide, though, sounds like an exaggeration, doesn’t it? Pro-Rohingya propaganda, perhaps? Yet independent study after independent study has come to the same stark and depressing conclusion: genocide is being carried out against the Rohingya. For example, an October 2015 legal analysis by the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School, found “strong evidence… that genocidal acts have been committed against Rohingya” and “that such acts have been committed with the intent to destroy the Rohingya, in whole or in part.”

Rohingya from Myanmar who recently crossed over to Bangladesh huddle in a room at an unregistered refugee camp in Teknaf, near Cox’s Bazar, south of Dhaka, Bangladesh on Dec. 2, 2016. Photo: A.M. Ahad/AP

Another report published in the same month, by the International State Crime Initiative at Queen Mary University of London, concluded that “the Rohingya face the final stages of genocide” and noted how “state-sponsored stigmatisation, discrimination, violence and segregation … make precarious the very existence of the Rohingya.”

Aung San Suu Kyi, argues Maung Zarni, a Burmese scholar and founder of the Free Burma Coalition, holds “genocidal views towards the Rohingya” because “she denies Rohingya identity and history.” Genocide, he tells me, “begins with an attack on identity and history. The victims never existed and … will never exist.”

The State Counselor, from this perspective, is not simply standing by as genocide occurs; she is legitimizing, encouraging and enabling it. When a legendary champion of human rights is in charge of a government that undertakes military operations against “terrorists,” smearing and discrediting the victims of gang rape and loudly denying the burning down of villagesand forced expulsion of families, it makes it much harder for the international community to highlight those crimes, let alone intervene to halt them. In recent years, in fact, Western governments have been rolling back political and economic sanctions on Myanmar, citing the country’s “progress“on democracy and pointing to the election victory of Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD.

Politicians and pundits in the West, observes Zarni, long ago adopted Aung San Suu Kyi as “their liberal darling — petite, attractive, Oxford-educated ‘Oriental’ woman with the most prestigious pedigree, married to a white man, an Oxford don, connected with the British Establishment.” Belatedly, the West’s journalists, diplomats and human rights groups “are waking up to the ugly realities that she is neither principled nor liberal,” he adds.

It may be too little and too late, however. Around 1,000 Rohinga are believedto have been killed since October and more than 70,000 have been forced to flee the country. Yet Aung San Suu Kyi continues to shamelessly tell interviewers, such as the BBC’s Fergal Keane last week, that there is no ethnic cleansing going on and that the Burmese military are “not free to rape, pillage and torture” in Rakhine. Is this the behavior of a Mandela… or a Mugabe?

“Saints should always be judged guilty,” wrote George Orwell, in his famous 1949 essay on Mahatma Gandhi, “until they are proved innocent.” There is no evidence of innocence when it comes to Aung San Suu Kyi and her treatment of the Rohingya — only complicity and collusion in unspeakable crimes. This supposed saint is now an open sinner. The former political prisoner and democracy activist has turned into a genocide-denying, rape-excusing, Muslim-bashing Buddhist nationalist. Forget the house arrest and the Nobel Prize. This is how history will remember The Lady of Myanmar.

White Settlerism in the "Knowledge/Media/Culture Industry"

It will be 30 years next year since I began my post-Burma life as a Burmese, living, studying, working and being activist in the western world of academics, media, activism, human rights, etc. 

Friendships have died; friends died literally. Comrades have turned foes. Some foes became friends. Some have taught me about activism, politics, research, etc. Others I have taught or simply shared what I know. All this is normal, typical and nothing extraordinary.

But one thing that has deeply disturbed me to the core of my existence is what the late Edward Said called, and popularized as, "Orientalism". 

The ugly realities on the ground make this ground-breaking term "Orientalism" a bit too mild, too subtle.

For the phenomenon that Said captured in his seminal writings is in fact really crude, pathetic and pathological.

It is the knowledge/propaganda/culture industry's equivalent of White Settlerism. By this I mean a bunch of western men and women, usually White in exterior, and "acting White" in Judith Butler's sense of "social power-privilege", who "move in" or "settle" in non-white societies, insert themselves into other people's worlds, usually of wars, conflicts, internecine fights, etc. AND arrogate to themselves the sole privilege of determining and describing what is true, what is fact, what is analysis about the places they "settle" or "adopt" as their new "knowledge colonies".

Typically incompetent or utterly lacking in local command of languages, many ill-equipped intellectually, conceptually, analytically, they begin producing country-specific or region-specific "expertly" knowledge, while again acting typically without humility, modesty. 

To me they typically cut pitiful figures - far worse than the proverbial 6 blind Brahmins attempting to describe the Elephant. 

I am reminded of an arrogance-filled remark made by the head of Balliol, one of the oldest colleges of Oxford, at the turn of the 20th century:

"I know knowledge. If I know not it ain't knowledge."

This age-old colonial presumption to know, to name things, people, phenomena, to describe, to decide which is knowledge and what is non-knowledge, IS in fact an integral lump in the bigger White Cancer, that can't know itself to be terminal. 

You find its pervasive spread - and entrenchment - across mass media, academia, "think tanks", governments, schools, culture industry, INGOs- in short, what the late Althuser called State Ideological Apparatuses. 

Sprung out of its 500+ years of ignoble history - and the political economy that has developed around it - this cancer isn't going to go away. Not any time soon. 

But when you see this phenomenon all around the least you can do is call out on it being repeated, reproduced, and reinforced generation after generation. 

You play along and you perpetuate your own plight as a subject. 

We are not Zombies. 

Each of us can and do make our choices.

ေဒၚေအာင္ဆန္းစုၾကည္က ရုိဟင္ဂ်ာမ်ားကုိ လူမ်ဳိးတုန္းသတ္ျဖတ္မႈ မရွိဟု ေျပာၾကားခ်က္ႏွင့္ ပတ္သက္ၿပီး ေဒါက္တာဇာနည္၏ တု႔ံျပန္ခ်က္


ဧၿပီလ (၆) ရက္ေန႔က ႏုိင္ငံေတာ္၏ အတုိင္ပင္ခံပုဂၢဳိလ္ ေဒၚေအာင္ဆန္းစုၾကည္ကုိ ဘီဘီစီ သတင္းဌာနမွ ေတြ႔ဆုံေမးျမန္းခဲ့ရာတြင္ ေဒၚေအာင္ဆန္းစုၾကည္က ရုိဟင္ဂ်ာလူမ်ဳိးမ်ားကုိ လူမ်ဳိးတုန္းသတ္ျဖတ္ေနျခင္း မရွိဟု ေျပာဆုိခဲ့သည္ႏွင့္ ပတ္သက္၍ ဗီြအုိေအျမန္မာပုိင္းက ကေမာၻဒီးယား ဂ်ီႏုိဆုိက္သုေတသနဌာနမွ သုေသတီ ေဒါက္တာဇာနည္ကုိ ေမးျမန္းထားသည္ကုိ ေအာက္ပါ အသံဖုိင္တြင္ နားေထာင္ႏုိင္ပါသည္။

Rohingya Activist ‘Disappointed’ in Myanmar Leader Aung San Suu Kyi

Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi speaks at a memorial ceremony to mark one month from the killing of Ko Ni, prominent legal adviser to the government, and taxi driver Ne Win, Feb.26, 2017, in Yangon, Myanmar.

April 7, 2017

The director general of an international coalition of 61 Rohingya organizations said he was “disappointed” at Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi for saying ethnic cleansing was “too strong” a term to describe what was happening in the Muslim-majority Rakhine region.

Wakar Uddin also called on her to reinstate a pre-independence system that showed Rohingya’s citizenship.

“I was very disappointed,” said Uddin of the Arakan Rohingya Union. “I can understand why she said that because she’s the head of state. If she admits it is ethnic cleansing, and for that matter genocide, there will be consequences from the international community.”

BBC televised a rare interview with the Myanmar’s state counselor on Wednesday. Attacks on Myanmar border guard posts in October last year by a previously unknown insurgent group set off the biggest crisis of Aung San Suu Kyi's year in power. More than 75,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in the ensuing army crackdown.

"I don't think there is ethnic cleansing going on," Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi said of the situation in Rakhine state. "I think ethnic cleansing is too strong an expression to use for what is happening."

"It is not just a matter of ethnic cleansing,” she said. “It is a matter of people on different sides of a divide, and this divide we are trying to close up as best as possible and not to widen it further.”

"What we are trying to go for is reconciliation, not condemnation," Aung San Suu Kyi told the BBC. "It is Muslims killing Muslims as well."

Uddin, a professor of plant pathology and environmental microbiology at Penn State University, said in response that "Ethnic cleansing … is defined by what is going on on the ground. … She needs to understand, to know, the truth of what is going on -- the violence, the turbulence, the population displacement."

To escape violence in Rakhine state during the military crackdown there, in November 2016, Rohingya woman Haresa Begum fled to Bangladesh with her four children, leaving her husband in Myanmar.

The recent violence is the latest in a long cycle. Zar Ni, a genocide scholar in London, said “Half of the [Rohingya] population was deported from the country in 1978. Almost 300,000 were then driven out of [Myanmar]. About 200,000 of them later came back. This kind of harassment is repeated every five or 10 years.

“The expression ‘genocide’ is used based on these actions of about 40 years,” he said. “There is no necessity to actively kill the entire population to say that is genocide.”

Burmese authorities consider most Rohingya to be "resident foreigners," not citizens, according to Human Rights Watch. In a report, the organization says “This lack of full citizenship rights means that the Rohingya are subject to other abuses, including restrictions on their freedom of movement, discriminatory limitations on access to education, and arbitrary confiscation of property.”

Uddin called on Aung San Suu Kyi to reinstate the national registration certificate (NRC), cards issued to Rohingya as proof of citizenship in 1947, a year before Myanmar - then known as Burma - gained independence from Britain. The military effectively voided the NRC with the 1982 citizenship law, by defining who was not a citizen and making some 800,000 Rohingya stateless.

“Reinstate the NRC,” Uddin said. “Many people still have those cards. The NRC cardholders and their children, who hold white cards, Aung San Suu Kyi can reinstate those and go from there. That is a fundamental issue.”

Myanmar has launched its own probe into possible crimes in Rakhine and appointed former United Nations chief Kofi Annan to head a commission tasked with healing long-simmering divisions between Buddhists and Muslims.

A U.N. human rights report issued earlier this year said Myanmar's security forces had committed mass killings and gang rapes against Rohingya during their campaign against the insurgents, which may amount to crimes against humanity.

The military has denied the accusations, saying it was engaged in a legitimate counterinsurgency operation. The U.N. Human Rights Council has called for an investigation, which Myanmar has refused to accommodate.

In the interview, Aung San Suu Kyi tried to reassure those who fled that "if they come back they will be safe."

Thar Nyunt Oo contributed to this report which originated with the VOA Burmese Service.