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

Are the Rohingya militants responsible for derailing Kofi Annan Commission's recommendations?

To start with, Annan's report itself stressed that all the military MPs in the national parliament joined hands with the military-backed former ruling party Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and Rakhine nationalists' Arakan National Party attempted to officially stopped the establishment of Annan Commission in the parliament. They did not succeed.

Within the past 1 year since Annan Commission was created by Aung San Suu Kyi in Sept 2017, the military and its proxies in society - such as Ma Ba Tha, anti-Muslim and anti-Rohingya monk group have pushed non-operation with it, something the final report itself noted.

Weeks before Annan Commission released its final report, the Burmese military high command was very busy, mobilizing and air-lifting hundreds of troops from Light Infantry Division 33, notorious for merciless and indiscriminate killings of civilians in any urban unrest, to Rakhine, arming and training anti-Rohingya Rakhine villagers in fire arms and fighting, blockading the predominantly Rohingya region of N. Rakhine from accessing food and jobs, and spreading fears of attacks on INGOs and UN agencies providing humanitarian assistance.

You can't analyze Rohingya militancy and recent attacks, without taking in to account this build-up of both the government troops and militarizing and arming of hostile local Rakhine villages.

As a matter of the Burmese Commander in Chief Min Aung Hlaing's Burmese language Facebook timeline - updated after his meeting with Kofi Annan in the morning of the day of the Final Report's release - made it clear that the military leadership did not agree with reports' findings. His Facebook posting said the report contained factual errors, meaning not credible.

Min Aung Hlaing also apparently attempted to deceive Kofi Annan and his commission that the Burmese troops are simply engaged in the "clearance operations" targeting only the "Bengali terrorists" in the mountain hideouts where there are hardly any innocent civilians.

Then hours later the Burmese Air Force gunship helicopters were reportedly firing rockets and bombing targeted Rohingya villages.

So, "who is terrorising whom"" is the question that needs to be confronted head on.

There is something else that needs to be called out: the mass media's misframing of Rohingya militants as "jihadists".

Both the realities on the ground and the media narrative covering the realities are quite skewered in favour of the perpetrating Burmese regime's framing. It frames the militant rohingyas as "Jihadists" - a term with a religious connotation as if Rohingyas were religiously motivated along the lines of ISIS. The leader and some rank and files may have been trained in fighting in countries like Pakistan,
but their emergence is not triggered by their extremists interpretations of Islam. By their statements you can definitively tell that they do not want the crippling ghetto-like conditions all Rohingya communities have been forced to live in for almost 40 years.

Their goals are not creating an Islamic state in the predominantly Buddhist country, nor independence from Myanmar. They have made it clear publicly, they want simply what the rest of the public have -
equality before the law, freedom to live in peace, freedom to move about so that they can work, earn a living and feed their children, recognition that they are citizens and they belong in Burma, not in
Bangladesh, whatever the colonial history from 150 years ago.

The least the activists can do on the ground - or internationally - is to correct this narrative.

They are armed with machetes and farm tools, equipped with some mobile phones and use the most primitive type of explosives, which make all this reportage about Rohingyas receiving catches of AK-47s and Saudi money, citing "un-named intelligence sources" utterly non-credible. my own experience with years of dealing with intelligence officials is I take their words with a giant grain of salt: they are simply un-trust worthy, by profession spreaders of misinformation about
target groups.

The western media and government officials (and think tanks) - infested with general Islamophobia - are too quick to frame any Muslim who resists against injustices or fight back any power that subjects their communities to Hell-like conditions as "prospective Jihadist", "jihadist" or "extremist" or "Terrorist".

Suu Kyi's military partners have been attempting to play this "we-are-fighting-the-war-on-terror" game since 2012. Just yesterday, Suu Kyi has just joined this band-wagon when she uses the label "terrorists" to refer to the Rohingya militants and condemns them while she has only defended her father's army against the enormity of allegations of crimes against humanity.

Getting this record straight is one concrete thing activists and Rohingya victims themselves can do.

This is the war that Myanmar - both the army and Suu Kyi's gov - are waging against Rohingyas to further demonize and criminalise them while maintaining the ghettoized conditions on the grounds for more than 1 million Rohingyas.

You lift these conditions, and I guarantee that the Rohingya militancy will immediately stop.

For these young Rohingya men, primitively armed, are not fighting to go to Heaven as Martyrs, they are fighting back because they and their communities are sitting ducks awaiting the next round of mass slaughter.

When these young and 'angry' men - as UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar Professor Yangee Lee put it - fight back the mighty oppressor, Myanmar Tatmadaw, they are making a bad choice, of course, among all bad choices. Do they subject themselves to semi-slavery in the hands of human traffickers, or risk drowning in the high sea? Do they allow themselves and their families to remain in semi-famine conditions? Do they simply lie down and let themselves slaughtered by the organized gangs of racist Rakhine neighbours who want to cleanse the entire N. Rakhine of any and all Rohingya Muslims, with the full backing of the military State? Do they want for UN intervention which will never materialise?

Most everything the world is hearing about all the recent killing spree of civilians in N. Rakhine by "ski-masked gangs" and other stories framed as "terrorist activities" come from the single source: Aung San Suu Kyi's Information Committee. Well, she has become part of the genocidal hell for Rohingyas, covering up and denying the systematic and pervasive rights violations and violence
committed by her father's army.

Finally, Annan, Western Governments (USA, France, UK, etc.) and UN office in Myanmar are too quick to condemn Rohingya militant attacks as "undermining" Kofi Annan's peace and mediation efforts while the very same entities have held their nose on what they know to be at best crimes against humanity and at worst a full-scaled genocide in slow motion which Rohingyas have been subjected to over the last almost 40 years.

Like all previous genocidal cases, wittingly or not these external players are complicit in the verifiably systematic and pervasive attempts by Myanmar to destroy the entire ethnic community.

If there is anyone or group who deserves unequivocal condemnations for the escalation of violence and militancy in N. Rakhine its both the perpetrators and the external enablers which I mentioned above.

Even in Auschwitz and crippling ghettos, Nazi victims and inmates rose up taking as many SS Exterminators as they possibly could with them, knowing full well their eventual fate.

Should we the bystanders condemn the Nazi inmates who attempted to rise up and put the desperate violence of the oppressed on the moral parity with the systematic genocidal violence by the perpetrators?

I for one am NOT prepared to condemn violence across the board, whatever that makes me. I may or I may not chose to resort to violence or militancy were I in Rohingya situation. But I have absolutely no moral authority to condemn them as a privileged man whose family and himself live in comfort and safety.

Above all I respect the dignity and the need for self-respect of even the most wretched among us to decide their own fates, whatever their choice.

Myanmar Military will NOT implement Kofi Annan Commission's Recommendations

(Photo: Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Here is the Kofi Annan Commission's report:

I watched the Press Conference Kofi Annan and his commissioners earlier today.

The Commission proved that it was categorically more than a "shield" used by Myanmar gov. and more than a White Washing Body.

The Commission was made up of 6 Myanmar nationals, BUT no Rohingya representation: 3 Rakhines, anmattd 3 foreigners including Annan and another 3 Myanmar).

The recommendations "faced squarely" even profoundly sensitive issues such as revising the 1982 Citizenship Law, establishing equality before the law for (Rohingya, Rakhine and the rest), ending
restrictions on various Rohingya freedoms, etc.

The military leadership's response was as expected less than positive: Min Aung Hlaing and his team (of about 6 generals 2 of whom I know personally and worked with) sent out teh Burmese language official response on his Facebook. Judging from the generals' faces, Annan's attempts at securing the
generals' buy-in did NOT succeed. The generals considered Annan's reports containing FACTUAL ERRORS AND THE MESSAGE THAT RAKHINE NATIONALISTS CANNOT ACCEPT.

By all indications, the military WILL NOT implement any recommendation that fundamentally undermines their ultimate mission of cleansing Rakhine region of Rohingyas.

This is the institutionalized mission - not dependent on a single crop of generals - with its massive inertia built up over essentially 40+ years since Ne Win's time.

As Kofi Annan himself admitted the commission's role is only advisory, without any power for enforcement.

Annan commission has made positive contributions, I will admit to the wide movement to end Rohingya genocide.

Annan himself made it clear that his commission is no substitute for UN Fact Finding Mission. For Annan commission did not look into the allegations of international crimes committed against Rohingyas - including crimes against humanity and genocide.

Now from One of the "most persecuted groups", Rohingyas are referred as 'the world's largest stateless population".

As far as the Burmese military, the plight of the Rohingyas will remain as bad or worse.

It is a slow genocide. No less. Whether the word GENOCIDE is palatable to the UN or any powerful entity is irrelevant.

The victims deserve at least the proper name of the crimes by which they are perishing or their lives destroyed.

Alas, the world's bodies are full of moral and intellectual cowards, for the record.

Khmer Rouge's crimes have not been pronounced genocide, nor have Indonesian or West Pakistan genocides.

Aung San Suu Kyi would want to implement some of the recommendations. But she too lacks the power to do anything that the military will NOT accept.

So, the ball is in the activists' and campaigners' court.

Anti-Semitism and White Racism are as American as Apple Pie

Anti-Semitism and White Racism are as American as Apple Pie

Myanmar Must Nurture Its People as Assets, Not Treat Them as ‘Threats’

By Maung Zarni
The Wire
July 14, 2017

In Myanmar’s waves of racial and religious violence, how many promising individuals have been killed, maimed or otherwise destroyed?

A boy sits in a burnt area after fire destroyed shelters at a camp for internally displaced Rohingya Muslims in the western Rakhine State near Sittwe, Myanmar May 3, 2016. Credit: REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of Myanmar’s defence services, is currently on a goodwill visit to India at the invitation of navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, visiting places of military interest, meeting with Myanmar military officers enrolled in post-graduate programs at Purnea, and learning about the capacity and hardware used by the Indian Armed Forces at Ahmednagar.

The Burmese general would do well to soak in the teachings of Gautam Buddha, Ashoka, Rabindranath Tagore and Gandhiji, who propagated ideals of reconciliation, peace and universal loving kindness, while touring the military facilities and meeting with India’s modern warriors.

After all, despite it being home to one of the world’s longest civil wars and political strife, the Burmese general’s society still has the potential for reconciliation and peace among the warring parties. Hlaing knows this in his heart.

On June 30 in Yangon, something extraordinary happened that lifted the spirit of Myanmar’s people – the generals, National League for Democracy (NLD) supporters, political exiles, journalists and the multi-ethnic population at large.

Mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Aung La Nsang made history by becoming the Myanmar’s first-ever world champion in any sport. Three judges unanimously declared him the winner in the nationally televised match against the defending middleweight champion Vitaly Bigdash from Russia.

Following Nsang’s victory at Thuwunna stadium, another extraordinary thing happened. Hlaing issued an official statement of congratulations, saying the ethnic Kachin fighter embodied the indomitable spirit of Myanmar and was the pride of the nation.

Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing (left), Myanmar’s commander-in-chief, shakes hands with National League for Democracy (NLD) party leader Aung San Suu Kyi before their meeting in Hlaing’s office at Naypyitaw on Dec 2, 2015. Credit: Reuters

Nsang was invited to the defence ministry and presented with a cash award as a token of appreciation and recognition by representatives of all three branches of Myanmar’s armed forces.

As an ethnic Burmese on the other end of the political spectrum from the Tatmadaw’s leaders, I uncharacteristically welcomed the military’s gesture towards Nsang as symbolically and psychologically significant. I celebrated what I saw as a son of Myanmar making the entire nation proud. A nation that has for so long been fractured along ethnic and religious lines.

While the country’s Aung San Suu Kyi-led, military-backed peace process is running aground, and the UN Human Rights Council bangs on the country’s door to allow a fact-finding mission to visit its conflict zones, the emergence of a world champion is an very rare moment of jubilation. But as a son of Myanmar myself, I can’t help but ask a painful question: in our long-running civil wars and waves of racial and religious violence, how many Nsangs have we killed, maimed or otherwise destroyed?

Nsang is no ordinary fighter. In earlier wins outside of Myanmar, Nsang wrapped himself in the flag of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and publicly expressed his desire for peace in his war-torn birthplace, Kachin State.

On Saturday, the South China Morning Post quoted the new champion as saying, “I hope to be an inspiration to the people of Myanmar. This is for them…. It feels like I am very blessed and hopefully I can bring blessings to other people as well.”

I am inspired by this to suspend the scepticism of my intellect, born out of nearly 30 years of political involvement in Burmese affairs as a grassroots activist, hoping that such a nationwide moment of pride may awaken our own better selves, along with a realisation that we are bound as those who “drink the same water and live on the same land”. This bond may have been damaged by decades of war and political strife, but it certainly is not dead.

War, danger and strife

Almost 250 years after the founding – on ethnic Mon land, no less – of Myanmar’s former capital of Yangon, whose name means “end of war, danger and strife,” the country’s conflicts have multiplied, expanded and deepened. This is largely thanks to misguided political decisions that, in turn, compound the violence and suffering we have inherited.

The result is the ongoing displacement of communities, so much so that Myanmar is now ranked eighth in the world in its outflow of refugees. The number of forced migrants, according to the recently released UN Global Trends report, topped 490,000 at the end of 2016.

Aung La Nsang. Credit: Youtube

This increase is mainly due to the large numbers of Muslim Rohingya refugees fleeing the western region of Rakhine or Arakan to Bangladesh. Here, a 50-year-old strategy aimed at controlling and managing cross-border migration among Rohingya Muslims of Northern Rakhine, has degenerated into one of widespread concern for sustained atrocities.

In the Shan and Kachin highlands, the breakdown of a 17-year ceasefire agreement between the KIO and Myanmar’s former government led by Thein Sein has had a devastating impact on the country’s commercial and political transformation, as well as on the many different ethnic communities that live in the strategic Sino-Burmese borderlands.

In society at large, Islamophobia, dating back to the colonial era, and violent anti-Rohingya racism have poisoned the minds of a generally acquiescing and decent public.

In addition to this, the military’s arrest of Burmese journalists from the Irrawaddy and the Democratic Voice of Burma, and the NLD government’s dismissal of the outrage over media freedom as “low priority”, marks a re-emergence of hostilities between the country’s ruling institutions and the press – a crucial pillar of civil society.

While blame and responsibilities may be apportioned, Myanmar now needs to take a deep, collective breath as a multi-ethnic nation so that we may regain our common moral sense of what is in the nation’s long-term best interests.

A cathartic moment

While our shared sentiments of jubilation over Nsang’s supreme victory are still fresh, people from Myanmar who care about the well-being and future of our birthplace must honestly and critically reflect on the futility of continuing conflicts over claims and counter-claims of our contributions, histories, territories, revenues, resources and entitlements.

Myanmar is blessed with trillions of dollars worth of natural resources, both above and below ground, tapped and untapped. But more importantly, Myanmar’s people are its greatest asset, its most potent creative energy. Our strength in unity as an incredibly diverse ethnic community has been damaged, and even destroyed, with each passing year of unresolved conflict.

Having worked intimately and transparently with Burmese military leaders, I know that there are members of the Tatmadaw who are keen to push for a more representative government in Myanmar. Despite differences of opinion on how to go about instituting such a government, we share a common desire for a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Union of Myanmar.

A young colonel, who is now a four-star general in the commander-in-chief’s office, asked me ten years ago: “Do you think Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is the only person among us who can bring about democratisation in our country?” He didn’t mean it rhetorically and was keen to know my honest answer.

My response then was “no”. And it remains unequivocally so.

Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi waves to supporters before giving a speech during her campaign in her constituency of Kawhmu township outside Yangon September 21, 2015. Credit: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun

But neither the military nor NLD leaders can expect to succeed in their one-year-old joint effort at facilitating a democratic transition without the inspired participation of the public. Nor can these powerful military figures and popular political parties accomplish their stated objectives of defending and developing a multi-ethnic Myanmar until and unless there is a fundamental shift in their mindsets.

Sometimes a national tragedy or a moment of collective jubilation can serve as a cathartic moment, from which springs a nation’s revival, renewal and reconciliation. Again as a Burmese whose family has over three generations had organic ties with the military, I hope that Nsang’s world championship may turn out to be one such moment for our country.

Nurture, rather than destroy

Leaders from both the NLD and the military must see in every person who calls Myanmar their birthplace a potential Nsang, an embodiment of pride for our multi-ethnic nation, an asset to our national defence and a building block for our development.

Myanmar are blessed with many Nsangs in various fields such as journalism, civil society development, human rights promotion, minority rights protection, as well as in the creative domains of art and literature, science and technology, medicine and engineering, agriculture and forestry, interfaith harmony and peace-building, environmental protection and scholarship.

Internationally, many of Myanmar’s distinguished sons and daughters have – as refugees, expatriates, and exiles – worked in “world class” institutions or independently.

Myanmar does not need to wait for a new generation of citizens to emerge. The country’s leaders need to realise and appreciate the potentially invaluable contributions that the yet-to-be recognised Nsangs could make towards peace, security, development and harmony.

Militaries, political parties, religious organisations and virtually all communities have made mistakes – some grave and consequential. No nation or national institution is complete, finished or beyond redemption. Therefore, it is not too late for the Myanmar community to turn the land we love into one that nurtures rather than destroys future Nsangs, irrespective of differences in migratory histories, faiths or opinions.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all Burmese citizens could be brought together into a national programme in which they were encouraged to share their opinions and expertise, publicly and privately, towards the shared goal of building a true democratic Union of Myanmar?

​As evidenced in Britain’s Brexit and Trump’s America, racism and prejudice divides and weakens nations. Myanmar must overcome the weight of its past, and embrace a reality where every one – soldier and civilian, majority and minority, Buddhist, Christian and Muslim – sees our individual achievements celebrated as those of one nation.​

Maung Zarni is a Burmese human rights activist and scholar who has been involved in his country’s affairs for nearly 30 years. He blogs at

Is Irrawaddy News Group Leading the Genocide Propaganda?

Myanmar Groups whipping up Genocidal Racism Against Rohingyas (& Muslims).

Irrawaddy News Group has joined the likes of ex-Chief of Military Intelligence, Wirathu, & Rakhine Racist Groups.

First with this outrageously racist cartoon (the first image), May 2016.


See the story about this cartoon at this link below:

Today with another cartoon (the second image), illustrating what is officially characterised as "My,anmar's Western Gate Problem", the title of the Burmese language book published by ex-General and ex-Spy chief Khin Nyunt last year (the third image).

On 13 July 2017, in his half-hour interview with ex-Information Minister ex-Colonel Ye Htut, Aung Zaw, Managing Editor and Founder of Irrawaddy, repeatedly drove home a very clear message that Burma is now under the real threat of Jihadist attacks (by Rohingyas) in Western Burma. 

See the video here: 

The Rakhine Race Defence Group published the Burmese language book in 2012 (the fourth image & fifth image).

The last image the book cover of a booklet - "Fearing that our Race and Faith Will Disappear" - which is part of the Burmese language series which was, I suspect, published by the Burma Army Psychological Warfare Department & the Religious Affairs Department. (Reuters has documented the direct involvement of the senior most military leaders in systematically promoting anti-Muslim hatred and racism since early 1990's - since the days of the late Senior General Saw Maung). 

All these are not necessarily coordinated, but spring from the more or less same source of anti-Muslim racism, genocidal view towards Rohingyas, etc. 

Among this diverse group of influential racists are ex-General Khin Nyunt, Ne Win's grandsons, Ma Ba Tha, Sitagu, Wirathu, Irrawaddy News Group, the late Nay Win Maung's The Voice, Than Tun Aung's Eleven News Group, the military's Psychological Warfare Division (Department of People's Relations, officially named), Religious Affairs Ministry (formerly Religious Affairs Department under Home Affairs), Thein Sein Administration, Rakhine nationalists, etc. 

These Myanmar hate- and racism-promoters do not necessarily form a single cohesive group, nor do they share common aims, logic, interests or methods. 

But the psychological impact of their work on the Burmese society at large is profoundly devastating: the society is soaked in racist poison - Islamophobia in general and genocidal strain of racism towards Rohingya. 

This genocidal propaganda targeted at the Rohingya is going to have the irreversible impact on religious relations within the society at large.

Myanmar Muslim communities scattered all throughout Burma too will become a subject of violence, both by state institutions and tradition-bound, gullible Buddhist communities. 

None of this augurs well for the promotion of either human rights or democracy. 

Ultimately, the Buddhist society itself will pay the price for their participating in this racist, hate-campaign against the most vulnerable communities - not just the Rohingyas but other Muslims as well. 

We might as well forget about civil liberties, press freedom, human rights or democratisation - if and when a Jihad is ever waged against Myanmar. The military will gleefully suspend or drastically curtail any of these freedoms and rights in the name of "national security". The military will be the real and ultimate winner - if and when a Jihad materialises. Threats to public security are typically used to justify suspending freedoms and human rights - even in countries with very well-established traditions of liberalism. US and UK spring to mind.

Mark my words: Burma has not seen the worst yet. 

We are well on its way to be a fully genocidal country, in due course. 

(Unless you think democracy, human rights and economic development are conceivable when the country sleepwalks into a full-blown genocide it is in everyone's interest to try to stop this madness.)