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

Racism towards Muslims versus anti-Rohingya racism



Racism towards Muslims versus anti-Rohingya racism

Anti-"kular" (of all faith) racism and anti-Rohingya racism are ideologically on the same continuum.

Rohingyas are singled out because they are Muslims, have their own pocket of land next to Bangladesh and have a strong ethnic identity vis-a-vis the rest of the Muslim communities.

As early as 1966, the Burmese military marked them out for extermination: were they Buddhists they would be seen as "integrate-able". the issue is not illegal migration: the issue is the military did not and does not want a concentrated MUSLIM population next to Bangladesh. The first strategic scheme to dilute and modify the Muslim character of N. Rakhine was launched in 1966: Buddhists were brought to predominantly Rohingya region of N. Arakan or Rakhine for settlements.

The mistake many Muslims make is to think that Rohingyas are a special case from which they must distance themselves from.

Buddhism-based ethno-racism cuts across all ethnic issues. It is the poison that the military manufactures, based on the past historical incidents and prejudices.

Consequently, it is destroying the fabric of the society; we squander human resources because the generals are incapable of foresight and intellectual thought or humanistic ideals.

ex-General Khin Nyunt said it secretly, in his lecture to the National Defence College class in 1991 or 92 - to the second line military leaders that Burma military's goal was to double the country's population to 100 million, because of demographic pressure. from the neighbours.

One million Rohingas could be our great human resources, contributing to that military's national strategy of population increase.

The rakhine and Rohingyas are in many way interdependent in the economic lives of both communities.

But the military does NOT want Rohingyas because they are MUSLIMS.

Buddhist Rakhine come in illegally from Bangladesh; they are welcome.

Right under the nose of military intelligence services, Han Chinese came in from Yunnan by the thousands and can hardly speak a word of Burmese; they all have residency or citizenship papers.

A new group of Han chinese in Shan state was granted a new "Myanmar" ethnicity status by the military - by the thousands.

So the Rohingya issue encapsulates genocidal/religion-based racism, nationalist myopia, the military leaderships lack of brain and heart.

Thanks to these military geniuses, the country is going down in history as another Nazi-like country.

The society is so soaked in hatred, fear and racism.

The country is now magnet for international terrorism,

The spillover from this blatant genocidal expulsion and violence against Rohingya will have regiona - and even - global consequences.

Democratisation is dead. Human rights is still-born. Suu Kyi is destroyed internationally, starting with her own Oxford college removing her painting into the storage.

Buddhists are behaving like card-carrying members of Hitler's party.

The majority Buddhist public will remain in the military's bondage.

Rakhines are now known around the world as mean-spirited, inhumane genocidal racists while they are now dependent on the real racial oppressor - the Burmese military.

The ultra-racist Myanmar Tatmadaw leaders - and cronies who will profit from grabbed land and resources - are winners, in the short and immediate terms.

But in the long run, these stupid and racist military leaders have put the country on the irreversible course of self-destruction, internally (fear-soaked life, further religious and racial tensions and violence) and globally (regional wars, terrorism).

Great job, Generals! Carry on. Speed up Myanmar's destruction. The faster the better.

Three Types of Systematic Repression by Myanmar Military

(Photo: MP Hossain/Reuters)

Three Types of Systematic Repression by Myanmar Military

I have heard public complaints from non-Rohingya ethic communities such as Kachins, Karens, etc. that the world only pay attention the Rohingya issue - some might even say "Bengali" issue, whereas the non-Bama ethnic communities, as well as Bama Buddhist themselves have suffered repression and violence by the Tatmadaw.

Yes & No.

Yes, the world picks up on the worst case of repression - "the crime of crimes" (or mother of all crimes), namely GENOCIDE.

No, the world is aware of one of the longest civil war - really an internal colonial war against non-Bama ethnic communities - but respective diaspora communities have not really been able to organize and mobilize the world's opinion to call attention to the war crimes against their communities - save the Shan Women's human rights group with their License To Rape report some 10 years ago.

That said, we need to understand why genocide attracts such acute and sustained attention:

1) Rohingya case

Rohingyas are attacked because of their identity and identity-related historical claim over N. Rakhine or Arakan, both of which have been perceived by the Burmese military as a "threat to national security", in addition to the army operating with the unwritten policy of anti-Muslim racism and hatred since 1962's military coup by General Ne Win, who effectively launched an expulsion of people of Indian origin with its economic nationalization in 1964/65.

When the State attacks you because of who you are, there is nothing Rohingyas can do to stop it. Being Rohingyas and being where they are framed as the THREAT. So, they must be exterminated, by any means and however long it takes.

That's what has been going on since 1978. Forget the history of precolonial root, colonial era migration from East Bengal (Chittagong), Buddhist-Muslim tensions, Rakhine-Rohingya mutual bloodbaths, transitional violence, 'international terrorism', etc. They are all convenient excuses, often heard from anti-Muslim racists, or half-baked experts, diplomats with their rotating assignments to Burma, or some ill-informed media personnel.

2) non-Rohingya ethnic groups in political and military conflict with the Bama central military

The Burmese military attacks them (Kachin, Karen, etc.) because the latter will not submit, surrender or modify their political behaviour: to accept their second class ethnic groups, to allow the military to subjugate them, to let the military control land, population, and resources at will.

Their identities and presence are not questioned, much less attacked as the crime or a threat towards the centralizing/colonizing state.

Submit to the central government/military, these "indigenous" ethnic communities will be allowed to live in peace, although the land and the natural resources will be vacuumed by the generals and the cronies, and international investors.

3) the Bama Buddhist majority public too have suffered under the military rule for 50+ years.

It is true that we the majority too have been pauperized, compelled by ruinous economic conditions in the country to go and work as prostitutes, bondage labourers on Thai and Indonesian fisheries and plantations, migrants labourers , skilled and semi-skilled labourers, and "coolies" in ASEAN countries such as Singapore and Malaysia as well as the wealthy emirates of the Gulf in the Middle East.

But our oppression is NOT ethnic or identity- or culture-based. It is along the lines of the ruling class generals/upper and middle-level military echelons versus the ruled majority masses.

Often we close ranks with our oppressor the ruling Tatmadaw when the institution throws at us, the Bama, the bones of Bama racism and ethno-nationalism of the worst kind.

We bark alongside the generals.

This is precisely what is happening in today's Myanmar in the case of the genocide against the Rohingyas.

Myanmar journalists, former dissidents, academics, diplomats, businessmen, technocrats, writers, MPs, bureaucrats, the city people, "the great unwashed" of the rural communities, the monks, the soldiers, the police - all bark in unison.

Genocide has become a national anthem, popular pastime. Mass slaughter and mass extermination (expelling a population from their land) becomes "national defence".

Mis-informed and ignorant, former US Ambassador Derek Mitchell must not "educate" the West about Rohingyas

(Photo: Cathal McNaughton / Reuters)

Silence is golden, especially when you don't really know what you are talking about.

A case in point is former US Ambassador to my country Derek Mitchell and the genocide of Rohingyas. 

He claimed, in writing to me in 2012, that he understood genocide because he is of Jewish origin. 

Apparently, he still doesn't get it. Genocide begins with an assault on group identity: Jews were persecuted because they were Jews.

If he did he would not be looking at the Rohingya issues from this paranoid 'security' paradigm as is evidenced in this Atlantic piece. 

The Misunderstood Roots of Burma's Rohingya Crisis


Myanmar will need to create an "autonomous area" for Rohingyas if their identity were recognised as Rohingyas by the State of Myanmar.

That is ignorance of the highest order! 

Here is the crucial historical context and facts Mitchell is himself oblivious to. 

1) Rohingyas WERE officially recognised as an ethnic group by the Ministry of Defence, not just by the parliamentary gov. of U Nu. The official recognition remained in tact 2 years after Parliamentary system was abolished. Myanmar Encyclopedia V. 9 was published in 1964, and the Rohingya language program on Burma Broadcasting Service was allowed until 1964.

2) Rohingyas WERE given a separate administration called Mayu District (named after Mayu River), at Rohingyas' request. It was centrally controlled by the Ministry of Defence's Border Affairs Division under Colonel Saw Myint.

The district was made up of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and part of Rathedaung.

The Mayu District was established in response to the request made by Rohingya leaders to the military leadership of General Ne Win, not to PM U Nu. The request itself was triggered by Rakhine nationalists' demands for Rakhine Region as an autonomous Statehood through the parliamentary politics - led by ICS U Kyaw Min.

Rohingya did not wish to be placed under the Rakhine domination or control from Sittwe, hence the request to be administered by the central Bama power in Rangoon.

NLD Vice Chair (then Lt-Col. Tin Oo) was the one who initially set it up in 1959, during the Caretaker Gov of General Ne Win.

My late great uncle Major Ant Kywe and his superior Lt. Colonel Ye Gaung were the ones who were in charge of the actual implementation of the administrative duties of Mayu District in 1961.

Here is the antidote for this stupid, poisonous view (bringing up this (Muslim) "terrorism" bullshit}:


By Alice Cowley and Maung Zarni | Apr 20, 2017


Myanmar journalists accuse world conspiring against Myanmar, deny ethnic cleansing



Myanmar journalists accuse world conspiring against Myanmar, deny ethnic cleansing and advises military on how to do a better job battling the world in info war.



Crisis in Myanmar: Ethnic Cleansing or genocide?: Interview with Dr. Maung Zarni



Long-time Burmese human rights activist and genocide scholar Dr. Maung Zarni shares his thoughts with the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) on the latest developments concerning the Rohingya people in western Myanmar.

The Failures of Bystanders to Prevent or Stop the Genocide in Rwanda

image by Deutsche Welle

By Fred Grunfeld, Wessel Vermeulen & Jasper Krommendijk
May 8, 2014

This article is part of an E-IR series marking the twentieth commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide.

The aim of this contribution is to explain the international response to the gross human rights violations in Rwanda. In our view, there is no other situation in the world since the Holocaust/Shoah that encompasses all elements of the meaning of ‘genocide’ in its entirety as the intentional killings of the Tutsi people in Rwanda in 1994 by Hutu. All Tutsi had to be murdered irrespective of their views, age, sex, or place of residence in Rwanda, simply because they were born as Tutsi. In a hundred days, 800,000 were deliberately killed during a genocide, which was planned, prepared ,and organised by the Rwandan state and its institutions, comparable with the Nazi persecutions of all Jews in Europe. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda decided without any doubt that the prime minister of Rwanda at the time, Jean Kambanda, was to be sentenced to life imprisonment for genocide and conspiracy in genocide.

The Shoah was unique, but genocide has been repeated in the second half of the twentieth century. The similarities in the organisation and preparation of the genocide on Jews and Tutsi has been studied and revealed by Mukimbiri,[1] making use of the eight stages of genocide developed by Stanton.[2] These similarities – particularly the speed at which the atrocities unfolded – are remarkable taking into account the modern, technological, and bureaucratic way the Nazis in Germany prepared and performed the destruction of all Jews, whilst Rwanda was at that time an undeveloped society where a high number of Tutsi killings were performed with primitive means such as machetes.

In our study, based on theoretical aspects in the academic field of international relations, we researched some patterns in the behaviours of third actors at the state and international level of analysis. Both the international (i.e. external) influences for a state and the domestic (i.e. internal) influences were studied in the foreign policy-making of the states. The attention on internal influences makes it possible to study the process of decision-making in both states and international organisations, such as rational decision-making, organisational decision-making, and bureaucratic politics decision-making. This focus on decision-making is required in order to explain the gap between the warnings and the actions.

1. Warnings and Non-responses: A Short Background to the Rwandan Genocide

The warnings for an emerging genocide in Rwanda were manifold. These warning not only came from NGOs, but also from third states and the UN military commanders of the peacekeeping forces. Since the spring of 1992, Belgium, France, the United States (including its CIA), many UN experts, and rapporteurs of the Commission of Human Rights, plus Human Rights NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, had warned of the deteriorating situation and the possibility of genocide. But no one reacted to these outspoken warnings.[3] The most reliable information came from UN generals in Rwanda, which were sent directly to their colleagues in New York. The so-called genocide fax of UN Force Commander Dallaire of January 1993 – with the information about the preparation of the Hutu extremists to exterminate the Tutsi – was addressed to the military advisor of UN Secretary General Baril. Dallaire did not send this message to the UN Department of Peace Keeping Operations (DPKO), but chose the direct line to the fellow Canadian military adviser of the Secretary General. Baril immediately informed Annan and Riza of DPKO. Annan and Riza, however, did not inform the Secretary General, and they also did not inform the members of the Security Council on the threatening situation. They only instructed that the heads of diplomatic missions in Rwanda should be informed. The inquiry commission later concluded that “the seriousness of the threats in the cable justified informing the Council as whole.”[4]

2. Theoretical Explanations for Failure of Third Parties to Prevent the Rwandan Genocide

We’ll discuss the behaviour of the bystanders – the third parties at international level – with five different theoretical perspectives on foreign policy making: 1) Domestic Influences, 2) Rational Policy Model, 3) Organisational Process Model, 4) Bureaucratic Politics Model, and 5) Cognitive Dissonance.[5]

Domestic Influences

The genocide in Rwanda was not prevented or stopped by third parties. Domestic influences on the foreign policy-making of the third parties were absent before and during the genocide in Rwanda. There was no public pressure that activated Western governments. At the height of the genocide, the American official who was the head of the African Division of the State Department even tried in vain to mobilize an NGO, such as Human Rights Watch.[6] The little domestic influence there was operated in the opposite direction, in favour of non-involvement in Rwanda. That is to say, when ten Belgian peacekeepers were deliberately murdered at the start of the genocide, it had far-reaching political consequences, because public opinion no longer supported the continuation of the peacekeeping mission. Hence, this sly act of the perpetrators facilitated the – almost total – withdrawal of the peacekeeping force from Rwanda. Public support was not only lost due to the Belgian fatalities, but also due to the still fresh memory and reminder to the Americans of the murder and slaughtering of American (and Pakistani) peacekeepers in Mogadishu, Somalia, one year before. Withdrawing the peacekeepers meant that a buffer was taken away and the genocide could continue without any hindrance of a third party.

Rational Policy Model

The rational policy model, with its focus on cost-benefit analyses, is well placed to explain the warning-response gap and the near absence of efforts by the international community to prevent the genocide. Most analyses of the international response to intra-state conflicts and genocides have focused on the lack of political will and the absence of strategic interests. Such explanations fit well with the rational policy model. Samantha Power concluded in her study on the US response to several genocides in the 20th century that US policy-makers pursued two goals. On the one hand, avoid becoming involved in conflicts that do not or hardly affect American interests. On the other hand, minimise the political costs and moral shame by giving the impression that the maximum achievable is being done. The costs of avoiding engagement were significantly lower than the costs for increasing the involvement.[7]

The rational actor model can also explain the silence of France in the Security Council during the genocide in Rwanda, because a Hutu victory was a French interest in Africa. France had even a rescue operation, Opération Turquoise, for the Hutu militias authorised by the Security Council after the genocide on June 22, 1994. The rational actor model also explains why the other international actors were primarily interested in rescuing only their own nationals and officials. At the start of the genocide in Rwanda, a huge fighting force arrived to evacuate mostly Western foreign nationals. A total of over 1,700 elite troops from the US, France, Italy, and Belgium were either flown in or put on standby in neighbouring countries immediately after the attack on President Habyarimana’s plane when the evacuation of their nationals was ordered.[8] If these 1,700 well-armed and trained elite troops had been added to the 2,500 UNAMIR soldiers, the total number of troops on the ground in Rwanda would have been 4,200 – exactly the number of soldiers all Rwandan parties to the Arusha Peace Accords had asked for in 1993 and the number that was considered realistic by the military who prepared the peacekeeping mission.[9] A possible combination of this strong military force with the weaker UN peacekeeping force was never tabled in the decision-making processes of any Western capital or at UN Headquarters – a clear signal for the génocidaires that no one from the outside world would oppose the genocide.[10]

Organisational Process Model

The organisational process model is very apt in explaining the early-warning-response gap, because it focuses on bureaucratic cultures within states and international organisations. The most prominent example of work that is focused on bureaucratic culture is the writing of Barnett on the genocide in Rwanda.[11] A bureaucratic culture produces powerful and autonomous bureaucrats, whereby rules and procedures, such as the principles of neutrality and impartiality, become ends in themselves rather than the means to realise a certain objective. The model explains very well why the peacekeeping forces maintained the strict and limited standard operating procedures and routines for keeping the peace, even though the situation on the ground was rapidly deteriorating. In the months preceding the genocide in Rwanda, all early warnings were received by the UN, but they failed to effect a change in the decisions of the UN Secretariat. The Secretariat remained unyieldingly committed to thinking in terms of peace and security and the post-conflict transformation process of installing a new multi-ethnic government.[12] At the outbreak of the genocide, the peacekeeper commander general Dallaire phoned five times with the heads of the DPKO in New York (Annan and Riza), but they decided to prohibit the use of force to give safety to the members of the moderate Rwandese government. They reacted according to the organisational process model as if it was a routine decision, even though the Rwandan prime minister and members of his government were killed. In their bureaucratic vision, the UN had to maintain a traditional neutral and impartial peacekeeping role and not take sides against the perpetrators of the impending genocide with forceful action, as was requested by, for instance, the Canadian UNAMIR commander Roméo Dallaire and the Belgian government. The typical answer derived from this organisational process model is of withdrawing almost all peacekeepers when some soldiers were murdered. The soldiers could no longer stay without the consent of the parties as being one of the conditions for peacekeeping operations. Changing one’s views when the situation has changed is not within the limited routinised way of thinking that is characteristic for this organisational process model. Another consideration which prevented the Secretariat to inform the UNSC was the estimation or anticipation that the Security Council would not authorise any (enlarged) intervention anyhow.[13]

Neutrality and impartiality became ends in themselves rather than the means to realise a certain objective. It is not unreasonable to argue that genocide requires a total opposition from the United Nations, because genocide can be seen as threatening everything the UN has stood for, as laid down in its Charter. But this did not happen. Instead, the UN and UN officials were primarily concerned with the interests of the UN. A UN official in New York stated, “I was more committed to the survival of the UN than I was to the Rwandans.”[14]

Bureaucratic Politics Model

This is the model par excellence to explain the behaviour of the UN in the Rwanda genocide. The Security Council did not adopt any resolution or take any measure to stop the atrocities in Rwanda. On the contrary, DPKO, under the direction of the future SG Kofi Annan, did not provide the full information to the members of the Security Council for fear of harming their own administrative unit DPKO. They misinformed the Security Council and they did not provide the perspective that the peace was no longer to be maintained and restored, but an emerging genocide with slaughtered peoples had to be feared.[15] DPKO especially feared that a failure in the operation after Somalia may endanger the existence of this administrative unit and future peacekeeping operations across the world. All instructions on Rwanda were in accordance with the rules of DPKO as just elaborated, and all events and information were coloured to benefit their sub-organisation. They did their utmost to distort all incoming information by rejecting all that might have changed the views that the peace could no longer be kept, that the Rwandese rulers were preparing a genocide.

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance underlines the way actors in the decision-making avoid and discount information that is inconsistent with their prior views and which would require them to adjust their views. There is consequently no adjustment of the original plan of action. UN officials continued to perceive the situation as a peacemaking process involving the installation of a transitional government, and not as an emerging genocide. The UN Secretariat – and in particular the DPKO – therefore favoured a neutral, rather than a confrontational, position. A shift in perception from facilitating the implementation of a peace accord toward preventing an emerging genocide was needed, but no such shift took place.[16] Instead, information inconsistent with the maintained policy of the administrative unit was neglected or changed in such a way to make it consistent with the interests of the unit. For instance, the worsening situation on the ground was not labelled as an emerging genocide, but as a civil war or tribal struggle.

Another example of cognitive dissonance was that Security Council members did not realise and could not believe that their neighbour in the Security Council was a representative of the génocidaire Hutu regime in Rwanda. Actors also tended to filter incoming information through previously held views and expectations. Bystanders find it difficult to believe the unbelievable or imagine the unimaginable. As a result of this disbelief or denial, atrocities were not recognised or were put in a distorted way to fit existing world-views. Similarly, actors may suffer from wishful thinking, convincing themselves that negative developments are less or unlikely to occur, while they are considerably more optimistic about the likelihood of positive outcomes.

Another psychological mechanism used by actors was a normalisation technique. Several actors relied on stereotypical and racial images. Killings in Africa were not seen as especially unusual. US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Bushnell stated, “People didn’t know that it was a genocide. What I was told was, ‘Look, Pru, these people do this from time to time.’”[17] A report of the Inquiry Commission of the AU afterwards also pointed to “the implicit racism” and the “sense that African lives are not valued as high as other lives,” which was visible in the priority given by New York to the peacekeepers in Rwanda to help the rescue of expatriates, even beyond its original mandate.[18] The conflict in Rwanda was also described as ‘chaotic, mad and tribal.’ One consequence of portraying it as an impenetrable Somalia-like chaos with little possibility of resolution is that actors are relieved from any duty to act. Another way of diminishing the urgency to act is by describing the situation in Rwanda as a civil war instead of genocide, which may help bystanders at all levels to disregard the cruel atrocities of the perpetrators.[19]

3. Conclusion

In sum, gross human rights violations were not prevented in Rwanda. In our forthcoming book on Darfur, which also includes a comparative study of Rwanda, Srebrenica, and Darfur, we conclude that Rwanda was not an exception. No effective measures were taken by third parties to stop the atrocities in all three cases. In the book, we depict the role of the bystander in situations of gross human rights violations as burying one’s head in the sand. This happened despite the leading motive that is reiterated after each genocide: that such atrocities should “never again” be allowed to happen. What is the value of such repeated pledges? The statement on Darfur by one of the principle UN decision-makers on Darfur, the former head of the UN Department of Political Affairs Prendergast, is striking:

We don’t mean it when we say that we’re not going to accept other Rwandas, further Rwandas. But I never thought we did mean it. It’s a very sad conclusion, but I don’t think there’s any evidence to sustain the view that we did mean it. We may have meant it at a level of generalized indignation, but when it comes to accepting the consequences of that, we don’t.[20]

Author’s note: This article is based on chapter 3 of the publication Failure to Prevent Gross Human Rights Violations in Darfur; Warnings to and Responses by International Decision Makers (2003-2005) – written by Fred Grünfeld and Wessel N. Vermeulen, in cooperation with Jasper Krommendijk – to be published in June 2014.

[1] Mukimbiri, J. (2005) “The seven stages of the Rwandan Genocide”, Journal of International Criminal Justice, Vol.: 3(4), pp. 823–836.

[2] Stanton, G. H. (1996) The 8 stages of genocide, Genocide Watch, Washington D.C. available at: www.genocidewatch.org/aboutgenocide/8stagesofgenocide.html (last visited November 16, 2013).

[3] Grünfeld, F. and Huijboom, A. (2007) The Failure to Prevent Genocide in Rwanda: The Role of Bystanders. Leiden, Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Brill, pp. 61—126.

[4] United Nations Report of the Independent Inquiry into the Actions of the United Nations during the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda, 15 December 1999, United Nations, Ingvar Carlsson a.o., un Doc.: S/1999/1257, p. 33.

[5] For a further elaboration on these theories, see Allison, G.T. and Zelikov, P. (1999) Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis. 2nd edition. Pearson Publishers.Mintz, A. and DeRouen Jr., K., (2010) Understanding foreign policy decision making. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Stein, J. (2012), “Foreign policy decision making: rational, psychological, and neurological models” in Foreign policy. Theories, actors, cases, by Smith, S., Hadfield, A. and Dunne, T. (eds.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 130–137.

[6] Authors’ interview with Prudence Bushnell, US State Department, Africa Desk, 27 May 2005 (Fred Grünfeld).

[7] Power, S. (2007 [2003]) Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. New York: Perennial, London: Flamingo, pp. 508-509.

[8] Grünfeld and Huijboom (2007), pp. 167—178.

[9] Grünfeld and Huijboom (2007), p. 177.

[10] Smeulers, A. and Grünfeld, F. (eds.), (2011) International Crimes and other Gross Human Rights Violations. A Multi– and Interdisciplinary Textbook. Leiden, Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Brill, p. 398-399.

[11] Barnett, M. (2003) Eyewitness to a genocide: The United Nations and Rwanda. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.

[12] Ibidem, pp. 166 and 255.

[13] Ibidem, p. 15.

[14] Barnett, M. (1997) “The UN Security Council, indifference and genocide in Rwanda,” Cultural Anthropology, Vol.: 12(4), p. 573.

[15] Grünfeld and Huijboom (2007), pp. 249-261.

[16] Grünfeld, F. and Vermeulen, W.N. (2009) “Failures to Prevent Genocide in Rwanda (1994), Srebrenica (1995) and Darfur (since 2003)”, Journal of Genocide Studies and Prevention, Vol.: 4(2), pp. 221–238, p. 233.

[17] Power (2007), pp. 351, 365. See also Suhrke, A. and Jones, B. (2000) “Preventive diplomacy in Rwanda: Failure to act or failure of actions?”, in Opportunities missed, opportunities seized: Preventive diplomacy in the post-Cold War world, by Jentleson, B. W. (ed.), Lanham: Rowan & Littlefield Publishers, p. 256.

[18] Organization of African Unity, The International Panel of Eminent Personalities to Investigate the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda and the Surrounding Events, available at: www.peaceau.org/uploads/report-rowanda-genocide.pdf [accessed 18 December 2013], para. 21.15.

[19] Piiparinen, T. (2008) “The Rise and Fall of Bureaucratic Rationalization: Exploring the Possibilities and Limitations of the un Secretariat in Conflict Prevention”, European Journal of International Relations, Vol.: 14(4), pp. 697–724, p. 719; Piiparinen, T. (2010) The transformation of un conflict management. Producing images of genocide from Rwanda to Darfur and beyond. London, New York: Routledge, p. 76.

[20] PBS Frontline interview with Kieran Prendergast, 29 June 2007, available at: www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/darfur/interviews [accessed 31 August 2013].

Breaking the cycle of expulsion, forced repatriation, and exploitation for Rohingya

By Natalie Brinham
September 28, 2017

Demanding the ‘right of return’ for Rohingya eases the way for countries to forcibly repatriate them back to Myanmar. Again.

Rohingya refugees wait in a line for food aid at the Balukhali refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh on 25 September 2017. KM Asad/NurPhoto/Sipa USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.

Even as Rohingya in Bangladesh watch their villages burn across the Naff river, even as trapped and internally displaced Rohingya desperately seek safe passage around the road blocks and landmines to Bangladesh, all talk it seems is focused on returning Rohingya to Myanmar.

As Bangladesh’s prime minister Sheik Hasina opens the door to 400,000 newly-arrived Rohingya victims of “ethnic cleansing” with one hand, she shakes her fist with the other, calling on Myanmar to stop referring to Rohingya as Bengali and accept their return from Bangladesh. In the same breath as calling on the Myanmar authorities to suspend military action against Rohingya, UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, speaks of “the right of return” for those who have left the country. 

Meanwhile, the government of India is securing the borders and fighting it out in the Supreme Court, seeking permission to deport Rohingya who have fled previous waves of persecution. Thailand is preparing to resume the Navy “push-backs” of Rohingya escaping by sea, and Australia continues to offer Rohingya payments to return to Myanmar – as though the horrors of the last three weeks in Myanmar are just another temporary blip.

For their part, as Rohingya activists desperately await news of their family and friends’ safe arrival in Bangladesh, they also proclaim that their hearts will never leave their ancestral lands in Rakhine state and that they will never lose hope of return. Their bodies, however, are another matter. Approximately 50% of all Rohingya villages now stand empty. Half the population has been displaced in the space of three weeks and unknown thousands – who will remain uncounted – have been killed.

For many Rohingya in diaspora, the latest exodus has displaced the very last of their family members from their homeland – now only dead bodies, ashes and memories are left. As a Rohingya friend living in London told me, “our home town was destroyed. We wept through each night waiting to receive news from our family. Yesterday we heard my brother and sister had finally reached Bangladesh. We are relieved, but they were the last of our relatives in Rakhine. Rakhine was our homeland. We have only memories now”. 

The right to (forced) repatriation

There is a fine line to walk between securing the “right of return” for Rohingya and enabling refoulement or forced repatriation. Talk of the “right of return” correctly reasserts Rohingya’s rightful claim to belong to Myanmar. That citizenship is rightly theirs – even if they have no papers to prove it.1 But there is a distinct danger that the focus on return – before fleeing Rohingya families have even found shelter from the rain – could open the door for forced repatriation of Rohingya to Myanmar. 

Again. 

And, in waiting for return, the failure to secure durable solutions for Rohingya outside Myanmar could lead to high risk journeys and exploitation, as they seek refuge in a third or fourth countries. 

Again. 

Rohingyas know all about forced repatriation. It’s a staple of their collective memories and oral histories. Each time Rohingya have fled, Myanmar has been outmanoeuvred and has been forced to accept Rohingya back into the country. In 1978, 270,000 Rohingya were driven from Myanmar into Bangladesh during Operation Nagamin – which targeted all Rohingya under the guise of an immigration sweep. Within sixteen months the vast majority had been returned to Myanmar, under duress with no change in conditions in Myanmar. Food rations were withheld in Bangladesh to ensure return. An estimated 12,000 Rohingya perished. Shortly afterwards and partially in response to the repatriations, the 1982 Citizenship Law was brought in leaving the vast majority of Rohingya unrecognised as citizens. 

In 1991-2, 250,000 Rohingya fleeing human rights abuses in Myanmar arrived in Bangladesh. 

Again. 

Between 1992 and 1994, most of these refugees were returned to Myanmar.

Again. 

Protests against repatriation broke out in the camps in Bangladesh. Excessive force was used to return them. UNHCR oversaw the repatriations and attempted to secure documentation for Rohingya. Promises did not materialise. There were no changes in the conditions on the ground in Rakhine State. Abuses in Myanmar continued unabated. 

Again.

And this time around? 

The de-facto leader of the Myanmar government, Suu Kyi, in her attempts to placate the growing international condemnation, has claimed that Myanmar stands ready to take back those “verified as refugees from this country (Myanmar)”. An announcement of a bilateral agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar on repatriations is expected in the next few days. But they will not verify the vast majority of Rohingya as their own. Rohingyas in Bangladesh are defiantly waving their ration cards printed with: “Country: Myanmar, Nationality: Rohingya”, but Myanmar persistently denies their roots and their collective identity.

The Rohingya refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh on 19 September 2017. Can Erok/Depo Photos/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved.

Stateless by design

Rohingya citizenship in its substantive sense was not singlehandedly revoked by the 1982 Citizenship Act, as is often claimed.2 A 40-year process, beginning under military rule and continuing until today, has slowly and torturously severed Rohingyas’ relationship with their homeland and the state. This has laid the groundwork for the persecution of Rohingya through law and policy as well as collective violence. The Myanmar military are not about to welcome them back. Much less in safety and dignity.

The production of Rohingya statelessness by the Myanmar military and government is best understood not as the result of historical disputes, but as a deliberate attempt to purify or cleanse the nation of racial and religious ‘others’ through bureaucratic means.3 Citizenship law in Myanmar – with its 135 fixed, immutable and externally-ascribed categories of ‘national races’ or Tai Yin Tha4– serves an additional, less ‘bureaucratic’ purpose.

It is the single most powerful and immovable discourse there is regarding race and exclusion in Myanmar. It cements revisionist historical narratives that exclude Rohingya and legitimises primordial notions of race that feed hatred. As Hinton explains in his 2002 book Genocide and Anthropology, genocidal regimes “manufacture difference by constructing essentialized categories of identity and belonging … linked to emotionally resonant notions of purity and contamination”. Killing is then motivated out of resultant “ideologies of hate”5 a la the Nuremburg laws in Nazi Germany.

International efforts to address Rohingya statelessness over past decades have attempted to provide pathways to “paper citizenship” for Rohingya in the hope that human rights will somehow follow. It’s a vain hope echoed in the final report of the Myanmar government’s Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, headed by Kofi Annan.

Yet Rohingya statelessness is not a documentation issue. It’s a tool of genocide that aims to destroy the Rohingya as a group, not only by removing their rights, but also by destroying their identity from the inside out. It is the statelessness that Hannah Arendt and Raphael Lemkin6 wrote about in the 1940s – the kind that foreshadowed and preceded the holocaust, not the kind for which UNHCR usually offers technical assistance to states to resolve. Indeed, as Rohingyas know only too well, the government’s documentation processes cost them the right to self-identify as Rohingya. For this reason, most Rohingya do not seek documentation, or paper citizenship, at any cost. They know the state has been destroying their identity and their collective “belonging” to Myanmar over decades. 

Rohingya that cannot be removed from Myanmar by bureaucratic means or through the production of their statelessness, are removed through military operations and pogroms that have taken place over decades and have recently escalated. What we are witnessing now is the Myanmar military attempting to prevent a repeat of the past cycles of repatriation – an attempt to remove them from the territory and sever their links to home. Forever. Shooting Rohingyas in the back as they flee, placing landmines in their flight paths across the border, targeting babies and children, burning Rohingya village after Rohingya village. By law, land, once burnt, reverts to ownership of the state. These tactics are all designed to prevent return and complete the “unfinished business”.

A bleak future

Survival for Rohingya in their homeland, for the time being, has become untenable. This is devastating not only for the most recent Rohingya victims, but also for the many Rohingya living in diaspora. It is absolutely right that Myanmar is internationally condemned for its genocidal project. But to break the decades-long cycle of displacement, repatriation, and exploitation of Rohingya, it is to also necessary to ensure Rohingya are able to live in safety and dignity outside the country. Not contained in camps for decades, not dependent on aid or kept in limbo with irregular status, not denied access to integration and resettlement programmes. Instead, provided with opportunities for work and education, opportunities for movement and family reunification across borders, opportunities for meaningful contribution to the localities they’ve ended up in. 

Again.

Each Rohingya exodus from Myanmar in recent years has been accompanied by a spike in the numbers of Rohingya leaving Bangladesh, seeking safety and security elsewhere. As we witnessed in 2012, as Rohingya become increasingly desperate the levels of extortion and exploitation they face on their journeys rise as well. Those unable to pay the full cost of their passage frequently become trapped by debt bondage into horrific labour conditions, such as in the factories and rubbish dumps in India. They are imprisoned in jungle camps, where they are beaten and tortured to extort money from their relatives in Malaysia and Thailand. Some die on route or are killed in the camps when they become a financial liability to the smugglers.

As long as Rohingya have no options for safe migration and decent work to support their families, the prosecutions of traffickers, even the high-profile cases recently in Thailand, will not bring about the end of these forms of exploitation. There are around one and a half million Rohingya living outside Myanmar. Of these, many are in situations of protracted displacement in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, India and beyond.

Some have been there for decades. Some have tried two or three countries and have been repeatedly displaced. Some have been stuck in indefinite detention for years. In these conditions they continue to struggle for their survival. Unable to regularise their status, they eke out a living in dangerous and insecure jobs in the informal economy, without security or protection from arrest, dependent on the good will of local populations, and sometimes the subject of politically-instigated hate-campaigns. 

Many Rohingya in the diaspora are traumatised by the atrocities they have already borne or witnessed, and their daily lives are little more than hand-to-mouth survival. Already they are at breaking point, and now they are anxiously wondering how to move relatives beyond the desperate and untenable humanitarian crisis in Bangladesh. Their desperation and urgency has a direct effect on their bargaining power. With their resources so low, and with so many risks involved, they are knowingly and unknowingly entering into relationships of exploitation and extortion with the brokers. 

Again.

Bangladesh cannot absorb 800,000 Rohingya into its ailing local economy on the borderlands near Myanmar, or support them indefinitely. The responsibility needs to be one that is shared internationally – with the acknowledgement that home might not be a safe option for a long time to come. A joined-up effort to secure durable solutions for Rohingya outside Myanmar (the new-comers and the old) – from both concerned Western and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries is vital. Efforts to provide Rohingya with safe passage to countries in which they can build their lives should accompany the pledges of aid. This will avert the secondary humanitarian crisis as Rohingya once again take to the seas and smuggling routes on which so many lives have already been lost. 

One of the conditions for returning Rohingya to Myanmar will likely be access to (future) nationality or citizenship. Sometimes documentation has been conflated with citizenship. The international community has fallen, time and time again, for Myanmar’s false promises relating to documenting Rohingya with a view towards citizenship. Long ago the documentation processes themselves became sites of persecution for Rohingya. When Rohingya statelessness is understood within the context of wider genocidal processes7, it is clear that Rohingya don’t just need documents to return to Myanmar, they need their group identity to be recognised there as well. And for toxic, primordial notions of race to be dismantled from the top down. History is on repeat and the cycle of persecution, displacement, forced repatriation and exploitation needs to be broken before the Myanmar military ends the cycle their way.

  1. See Para’s 19 & 20 of UN Human Rights Committee (HRC), CCPR General Comment No. 27: Article 12 (Freedom of Movement), 2 November 1999, CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.9. 
  2. See Nyi Nyi Kyaw (2017) ‘Unpacking the presumed statelessness of Rohingyas’, Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies, 15(3), 269-286. 
  3. Robert M. Hayden describes how nationality laws in the former-Yugoslavia, that were based on primordial notions of race, were used as “bureaucratic ethnic cleansing” and were a precursor for mass expulsions and mass killings. See Hayden (2002), ‘Imagined communities and real victims: self-determination and ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia’, American Ethnologist, 23(4), 783-801. ↩︎
  4. See Nick Cheesman (2017) ‘How in Myanmar “national races” came to surpass citizenship and exclude Rohingya’, Journal of Contemporary Asia, 47(3), 461-483. 
  5. Alexander Laban Hinton, Alexander Laban(, 2002, ), ‘Genocide: An Anthropological Reader’, p10. 
  6. Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term “Genocide” and tirelessly campaigned for the inclusion of genocide in international criminal law, used the term “denationalisation” to describe the production of statelessness as part of the genocidal process. Lemkin understood genocide to involve “destruction of the national pattern” or social engineering by the oppressors to destroy a group both culturally and physically. 
  7. For a historic account of these processes, see Zarni and Cowley (2014), ‘The slow-burning genocide of Myanmar’s Rohingya’, Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal, 23(3). 


About the author

Natalie Brinham is a PhD student at Queen Mary University of London researching statelessness. She has worked for many years in NGOs in the UK and Southeast Asia on forced migration, trafficking and statelessness in both frontline service provision roles and research and advocacy roles. She holds an MA from UCL Institute of Education and a BA from SOAS.

Israeli Weapons Are Being Used To Ethnically Cleanse The Rohingya. This Must Stop.

(Photo: Getty Images)

By Matthew Gindin
September 28, 2017

As hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people are expelled from their homes in Myanmar in one of the most severe examples of ethnic cleansing in recent times, Myanmar has been getting weapons, military training, and skills from a dismaying source: Israel.

I’m not the only one who feels dismay that the Jewish State is allowing the supply of Myanmar with the tools of ethnic cleansing. Yesterday, Eitay Mack, an Israeli human rights lawyer, filed a petition in the Israeli Supreme Court asking for the state to halt the supply of weapons and skills which have been used in the Rakhine State in a brutal campaign of violence against the Rohingya.

On the same day, in an open letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and government ministers, several Israeli rabbis and religious leaders joined their voices to the call to stop the collaboration with the Burmese military. The spiritual leaders wrote that it was unthinkable that the Jewish state, “built on the vision of the prophets of Israel,” would assist this regime. “As rabbis, female religious leaders, educators and communal leaders who go in the ways of the Torah, ‘whose ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peaceful,’ we cannot be silent when the State of Israel assists those in the world who destroy in their destruction,” wrote the leaders.

Rakhine is home to an estimated 1.1 million Rohingya, a stateless Muslim minority that has suffered from more than forty years of persecution. This most recent escalation of state violence against the Rohingya began when attacks were launched on dozens of state security stations by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), killing twelve people. The resultant government “cleansing operation” has sent nearly 400,00 Rohingya fleeing Myanmar into neighboring Bangladesh since August 25.

Escaping refugees report extra-judicial killings, gang rape, infanticide and the throwing of elderly people into burning buildings to their death. Satellite imagery, showing widespread destruction of Rohingya villages, backs up their claims. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has called recent events “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” Maung Zarni, a Burmese Buddhist human rights activist with the European Center For The Study of Extremism, active for years in defense of the Rohingya, goes even further. “This is genocide,” he told me.

Ethnic cleansing requires tools. The arms and training from Israel comes from companies like TAR Ideal Concepts, which bills itself as a “police and military equipment one-stop shop” and has been supplying tanks, weapons, and training to the Burmese special forces.

Israel is complicit because the Israeli government determines what countries Israeli firms can sell to; their customers are directly determined by the state, says Mack. Indeed, the State’s defense in court has not been that Israeli firms can sell to whoever they want, but rather, the question of who Israelis sell arms to is a matter of foreign policy and should not be determined by civil courts.

But Israel also has a long history of friendship with Myanmar, dating back to before the coup that put the military in power for more than fifty years. Burma was the first Asian country to recognize Israel, and in 1961, Ben-Gurion, prior to a diplomatic visit to the young Union of Burma, said, “In all of Asia, there is no more friendly nation to Israel than Burma.” Then head of state U Nu was the first foreign prime minister to visit Israel on a state trip.

Both Israel and Burma gained independence from Britain in 1948, and both faced severe conflict between the majority and minority ethnicities in their young nations. When General Ne Win led a coup against U Nu’s government in 1962, he replaced it with a hardline Burmese nationalist government that has since systematically disempowered and oppressed non-Burmese minorities.

Through it all, Israel has retained close diplomatic and military ties with Burma (now renamed Myanmar), notwithstanding Myanmar’s widely known human rights abuses, says Mack.

Perhaps the most egregious example of Israeli friendship with the Burmese military came in 2015, when Min Aung Hlaing, the Burmese Military Chief of Staff, visited Israel. Though Israel had not announced the tour and was quiet about its details, Mack says Hlaing was eager to share them on his Burmese-English Facebook page, where he detailed his tour of IDF bases and his sampling of Israeli military goodies. Hlaing, who is widely seen as a war criminal, is regarded as the chief architect of the violent campaign against Rohingya civilians in Oct 2016 which sent 74,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh and led to 100,000 homeless Rohingya ending up in displaced persons camps in Rakhine State.

Israel is not alone in shamelessly befriending Hlaing. He made several similar visits to India, the UK, and Europe. But Jews know from ethnic cleansing; the Jewish State was founded as a response to it. As such, Israel should know better.

Hlaing’s visit is not the only recent example of Israeli cozying up to the Burmese military. Mack’s petition also points out that the head of the defense exports branch of the Israeli Defense Ministry, Brig. Gen. Mishel Ben Baruch, visited Myanmar in June 2016 and met with heads of military regime there.

Mack points out that prior to the various petitions he has launched before the court on this and related issues, including historic Freedom of Information requests, there was no legal oversight of Israeli security exports. Last year, when Mack put forward a petition dealing with Israeli collaboration with Rwanda and Bosnia during their ethnic cleansing campaigns, the state asked for a gag order on the trial and the judge agreed. That hasn’t happened this time.

“The Israeli public is watching,” Mack told me. “I do not see how the Supreme Court can support aiding and abetting crimes against humanity. By doing the right thing now they have a chance not to repeat history.”

There is no moral justification for Israel to allow the sale of arms to states implicated in human rights abuses and crimes against humanity. Until Myanmar has truly undergone radical reform (and signs suggest that’s a long way away), Israeli collaboration with Myanmar must stop.

Update: Since this piece was published, the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs and the State Attorney have successfully filed an urgent request to retroactively classify the entire case of Israeli sales of arms and training to Myanmar. As a result of this “retro-active classification” the court’s decision on Israeli arms and training being supplied to Myanmar will in fact not be made public.

Matthew Gindin is a journalist, educator and freelance writer located in Vancouver, BC.


"Classic Genocide of Rohingyas Underway, Suu Kyi - Military On Same Page": Burmese Dissident Maung Zarni


By Seema Mustafa
September 28, 2017

NEW DELHI/LONDON: “I think we are seeing nothing short of a classic genocide in Burma, long drawn out unlike the Nazi gas chambers and execution camps---but genocide nevertheless. How can it be anything else when everyone in the country, from the military to the civilian government to business to civil society, is fully engaged in a hate campaign against the Rohingyas,” said Dr. Maung Zarni, exiled dissident and scholar from Myanmar, in a hard hitting interview to The Citizen.

Based in London, Zarni has worked with Aung San Suu Kyi during her more democratic years, and has recently set up a Peoples Tribunal on the Rohingya crisis in the UK. He was a founder of the Free Burma Coalition, and has been with the London School of Economics and Harvard University, Himself a Buddhist, he is a strong voice on human rights and does not mince his words as this interview demonstrates.

Zarni said, that the hatred, racism and fear of the Rohingya’s was the result of a direct campaign of systematic hatred coming out of Military Intellgence. He said the process began in 1964 after the Burmese military introduced changes in the citizenship rules whereby Rohingya’s recognised as a legal ethnic group were deprived of this status altogether.

“Policies became increasingly oppressive, children were blacklisted in mothers womb and born stateless. Others if born in Burma can have Burmese citizenship, but not the Rohingyas who get no birth certificate and no death certificate. It is utterly immaterial to the Burmese state whether the Rohingyas live or die.”

Zarni said since 1966 there has been unrecognised, unofficial apartheid in Arakan. At the top is the military, the local administration was provide by Rakhine Budhists with the Rohingyas second class citizens subject to state directed terror. The first exodus was in 1978, he said, when 280000 Rohingyas fled the country. Most went to Bangladesh that was under a military ruler at the time. The pretext used this time was surprise illegal migration checks, used by the Burmese Army to brutalise the Rohingyas and create terror.

39 years ago “it was an information blackhole” and very few details of the horror faced by them was in the public domain. Even so Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Indonesia raised a storm of protest. And Bangladesh, Zarni said, that had received the refugees told Burma to take them, or else they would have no choice but to “train them to fight against you.”This worked and 220000 refugees returned to Burma, with the remaining absorbed in Cox Bazaar.

Aung San Suu Kyi came out in their support in 1990-91, Zarin recalled with Rohingyas backing her every step of the way. She visited the Rakhine towns, set up party offices and took their support for her fight for democratic reforms. The Burmese Army set up a Border Affairs Unit of inter intelligence agencies Zarni said, and stepped up its offensive against the Rohingyas. According to him this was prompted by the overall strategy to free Burma of the Muslims, and this Unit created security zones for the Rohingyas to restrict their movements. And also to ensure that the community did not grow in numbers, the Unit restricted marriages by introducing the system of permits that took two or more years to be issued, and made them sign documents that they would not have more than two children.

This Zarni pointed out “ took the policy of Burma on the Rohingyas into genocidal territory. Attempts to control a communitys growth rate is considered broadly genocidal.” Under this Unit there was extortion,rape, executions of Rohingyas with the oppression growing steadily. In 2012-2015 250000 Rohingyas fled Burma. By this time the propaganda of extremism had been started, with the community being branded terrorists, jihadists.

The current attack by the Burmese military has reached new levels altogether. Zarni does not believe their propaganda. And wondered at the news being released recently of bodies of 29 Hindus being found in a mass grave. He said this came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s endorsement to Suu Kyi, adding, “I do not believe it at all, not at all.” Thousands have been killed, where are their bodies, their mass graves, he asked.

The information has come from the Burmese military and government and not an independent source. If this is so then let the government bring in the United Nations to investigate these mass graves and determine whether indeed this crime has taken place at all, he said.

Zarni said that Suu Kyi was on a different page from the military on the issue of democratic reforms. But on the Rohingyas and a Muslim free Burma she has no differences with the junta at all. They are both on the same page, he said. He said that currently there are 10,000 military cadets coming out of Burma’s military schools. “Every single military cadet is assigned to engage in anti Muslim, anti Rohingya campaigns on the social media, for two hours each” he added saying that the ordinary citizen thus could not even be expected to have any resistance against this as he or she would not know the truth from the lie.

The Burmese military has used different narratives to wipe out the Rohingyas, Zarni said. Now it is the security narrative, of how the community poses a threat to national security, being extremist and jihadist under the discourse of Burma’s war on terrorism.

The scholar pointed out that the silver lining in all this is that several powerful western countries are completely against the narrative being put out by Myanmar, and have not accepted a word of it. In fact several of the lies spun by the Burmese military have been nailed, he added. However, South Asia has bit into the narrative as was visible when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi went and stood beside Suu Kyi despite strong world criticism, Zarni pointed out.

“What is really scary is the Burmese military’s attempt to expand the circle of enemies against the Rohingyas,” Zarni said.

Asked about Suu Kyi’s support for the military position he said this comes from her own Buddhist credentials no, sharing the sense of entitlement that comes with being the majority community. And her willingness to accept the military narrative without question. Zarni pointed out that currently she has surrounded herself with former military officers, and Rakhine nationalists. According to him the Nobel Laureate is disdainful of international NGOs and of western governments “and uses them as a bargaining chip”.

According to Zarni, while Suu Kyi is on the same page as the Army on Burma for Buddhists, she could accept the Rohingyas as legal residents. The military will not, and wants to exterminate them, he said.

Suu Kyi, Zarni insisted, had a blind spot for her father and part of her support for the military now came from this. She admitted in an interview that she had wanted to be a soldier, and Zarni is of the view that much of her gestures towards the Burmese military comes from this ‘psychological’ admiration for her father who died when she was just two years old.

About the future of Burma now, Zarni is categorical. He said that while Nazi Germany destroyed the Jews, it also destroyed German society. “In my view we are going down the same road in history as Nazi Germany, we have joined the ranks of genocidal countries that have never had happy endings,” he said.

Burmese society, Zarni said, had lost its collective conscience, its moral compassion, and is engaged in mocking the Rohingyas, hating them, ridiculing them despite the horrific images. “So while we are destroying the Rohingays, our society is also being destroyed by its hate,” he added.

“We are on a very dangerous, slippery slope here, we in Burma and you in India, I give Burma a maximum of ten years before it starts sliding downhill towards destruction,” Dr Maung Zarni concluded.

"Classic Genocide of Rohingyas Underway, Suu Kyi - Military On Same Page": Burmese Dissident Maung Zarni



By Seema Mustafa
September 28, 2017

NEW DELHI/LONDON: “I think we are seeing nothing short of a classic genocide in Burma, long drawn out unlike the Nazi gas chambers and execution camps---but genocide nevertheless. How can it be anything else when everyone in the country, from the military to the civilian government to business to civil society, is fully engaged in a hate campaign against the Rohingyas,” said Dr. Maung Zarni, exiled dissident and scholar from Myanmar, in a hard hitting interview to The Citizen.

Based in London, Zarni has worked with Aung San Suu Kyi during her more democratic years, and has recently set up a Peoples Tribunal on the Rohingya crisis in the UK. He was a founder of the Free Burma Coalition, and has been with the London School of Economics and Harvard University, Himself a Buddhist, he is a strong voice on human rights and does not mince his words as this interview demonstrates.

Zarni said, that the hatred, racism and fear of the Rohingya’s was the result of a direct campaign of systematic hatred coming out of Military Intellgence. He said the process began in 1964 after the Burmese military introduced changes in the citizenship rules whereby Rohingya’s recognised as a legal ethnic group were deprived of this status altogether.

“Policies became increasingly oppressive, children were blacklisted in mothers womb and born stateless. Others if born in Burma can have Burmese citizenship, but not the Rohingyas who get no birth certificate and no death certificate. It is utterly immaterial to the Burmese state whether the Rohingyas live or die.”

Zarni said since 1966 there has been unrecognised, unofficial apartheid in Arakan. At the top is the military, the local administration was provide by Rakhine Budhists with the Rohingyas second class citizens subject to state directed terror. The first exodus was in 1978, he said, when 280000 Rohingyas fled the country. Most went to Bangladesh that was under a military ruler at the time. The pretext used this time was surprise illegal migration checks, used by the Burmese Army to brutalise the Rohingyas and create terror.

39 years ago “it was an information blackhole” and very few details of the horror faced by them was in the public domain. Even so Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Indonesia raised a storm of protest. And Bangladesh, Zarni said, that had received the refugees told Burma to take them, or else they would have no choice but to “train them to fight against you.”This worked and 220000 refugees returned to Burma, with the remaining absorbed in Cox Bazaar.

Aung San Suu Kyi came out in their support in 1990-91, Zarin recalled with Rohingyas backing her every step of the way. She visited the Rakhine towns, set up party offices and took their support for her fight for democratic reforms. The Burmese Army set up a Border Affairs Unit of inter intelligence agencies Zarni said, and stepped up its offensive against the Rohingyas. According to him this was prompted by the overall strategy to free Burma of the Muslims, and this Unit created security zones for the Rohingyas to restrict their movements. And also to ensure that the community did not grow in numbers, the Unit restricted marriages by introducing the system of permits that took two or more years to be issued, and made them sign documents that they would not have more than two children.

This Zarni pointed out “ took the policy of Burma on the Rohingyas into genocidal territory. Attempts to control a communitys growth rate is considered broadly genocidal.” Under this Unit there was extortion,rape, executions of Rohingyas with the oppression growing steadily. In 2012-2015 250000 Rohingyas fled Burma. By this time the propaganda of extremism had been started, with the community being branded terrorists, jihadists.

The current attack by the Burmese military has reached new levels altogether. Zarni does not believe their propaganda. And wondered at the news being released recently of bodies of 29 Hindus being found in a mass grave. He said this came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s endorsement to Suu Kyi, adding, “I do not believe it at all, not at all.” Thousands have been killed, where are their bodies, their mass graves, he asked.

The information has come from the Burmese military and government and not an independent source. If this is so then let the government bring in the United Nations to investigate these mass graves and determine whether indeed this crime has taken place at all, he said.

Zarni said that Suu Kyi was on a different page from the military on the issue of democratic reforms. But on the Rohingyas and a Muslim free Burma she has no differences with the junta at all. They are both on the same page, he said. He said that currently there are 10,000 military cadets coming out of Burma’s military schools. “Every single military cadet is assigned to engage in anti Muslim, anti Rohingya campaigns on the social media, for two hours each” he added saying that the ordinary citizen thus could not even be expected to have any resistance against this as he or she would not know the truth from the lie.

The Burmese military has used different narratives to wipe out the Rohingyas, Zarni said. Now it is the security narrative, of how the community poses a threat to national security, being extremist and jihadist under the discourse of Burma’s war on terrorism.

The scholar pointed out that the silver lining in all this is that several powerful western countries are completely against the narrative being put out by Myanmar, and have not accepted a word of it. In fact several of the lies spun by the Burmese military have been nailed, he added. However, South Asia has bit into the narrative as was visible when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi went and stood beside Suu Kyi despite strong world criticism, Zarni pointed out.

“What is really scary is the Burmese military’s attempt to expand the circle of enemies against the Rohingyas,” Zarni said.

Asked about Suu Kyi’s support for the military position he said this comes from her own Buddhist credentials no, sharing the sense of entitlement that comes with being the majority community. And her willingness to accept the military narrative without question. Zarni pointed out that currently she has surrounded herself with former military officers, and Rakhine nationalists. According to him the Nobel Laureate is disdainful of international NGOs and of western governments “and uses them as a bargaining chip”.

According to Zarni, while Suu Kyi is on the same page as the Army on Burma for Buddhists, she could accept the Rohingyas as legal residents. The military will not, and wants to exterminate them, he said.

Suu Kyi, Zarni insisted, had a blind spot for her father and part of her support for the military now came from this. She admitted in an interview that she had wanted to be a soldier, and Zarni is of the view that much of her gestures towards the Burmese military comes from this ‘psychological’ admiration for her father who died when she was just two years old.

About the future of Burma now, Zarni is categorical. He said that while Nazi Germany destroyed the Jews, it also destroyed German society. “In my view we are going down the same road in history as Nazi Germany, we have joined the ranks of genocidal countries that have never had happy endings,” he said.

Burmese society, Zarni said, had lost its collective conscience, its moral compassion, and is engaged in mocking the Rohingyas, hating them, ridiculing them despite the horrific images. “So while we are destroying the Rohingays, our society is also being destroyed by its hate,” he added.

“We are on a very dangerous, slippery slope here, we in Burma and you in India, I give Burma a maximum of ten years before it starts sliding downhill towards destruction,” Dr Maung Zarni concluded.