Genocide of Rohingya in Myanmar


This video says about itself:

Attacks on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar (2013)

Government police attacks on Muslims in Myanmar instigated by extremist Buddhist monk U Wirathu. Graphic and violence content.

By Ramzy Baroud:

MYANMAR‘S SHAME

Tuesday 26th May 1915

The world’s most persecuted minority are being abandoned in their darkest hour, writes RAMZY BAROUD

“NOPE, nope, nope,” was Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s answer to the question whether his country will take in any of the nearly 8,000 Rohingya refugees stranded at sea.

Abbott’s logic is as pitiless as his decision to abandon the world’s most persecuted minority in their darkest hour. “Don’t think that getting on a leaky boat at the behest of a people smuggler is going to do you or your family any good,” he said.

But Abbott is hardly the main party in the ongoing suffering of Rohingyas, a Muslim ethnic group living in Myanmar, or Burma.

The whole south-east Asian region is culpable. It has ignored the plight of the Rohingya for years.

While tens of thousands of Rohingya are being ethnically cleansed, having their villages torched, forced into concentration camps and some into slavery, Myanmar is being celebrated by various Western and Asian powers as a success story of a military junta-turned democracy.

“After Myanmar moved from dictatorship toward democracy in 2011, newfound freedoms of expression gave voice to Buddhist extremists who spewed hatred against the religious minority and said Muslims were taking over the country,” reported the Associated Press from the former Myanmar capital Yangon.

That “newfound freedom of expression” has cost hundreds of people their lives, thousands their properties and “another 140,000 Rohingya were driven from their homes and are now living under apartheid-like conditions in crowded displacement camps.”

While one may accept that freedom of expression sometimes invites hate speech, the idea that Myanmar’s supposed democracy has resulted in the victimisation of the Rohingya is as far from the truth as it gets.

Their endless suffering goes back decades and is considered one of the darkest chapters in south-east Asia’s modern history.

When they were denied citizenship in 1982 — despite the fact that it is believed that they descended from Muslim traders who settled in Arakan and other Myanmar regions over 1,000 years ago — their persecution became almost an official policy.

Even those who take to the sea to escape hardship in Myanmar find the coveted salvation hard to achieve.

“In Myanmar, they are subjected to forced labour, have no land rights and are heavily restricted. In Bangladesh many are also desperately poor, with no documents or job prospects,” reported the BBC.

And since many parties are interested in the promotion of the illusion of the rising Myanmar democracy few governments care about the Rohingya.

Despite recent grandstanding by Malaysia and Indonesia about the willingness to conditionally host the surviving Rohingya who have been stranded at sea for many days, the region as a whole has been “extremely unwelcoming,” according to Chris Lewa of the Rohingya activist group Arakan Project.

The stories of those who survive are as harrowing as those who die while floating at sea, with no food or water.

In a documentary aired late last year, Al-Jazeera reported on some of these stories.

“Muhibullah spent 17 days on a smuggler’s boat where he saw a man thrown overboard. On reaching Thai shores, he was bundled into a truck and delivered to a jungle camp packed with hundreds of refugees and armed men, where his nightmare intensified. Bound to shafts of bamboo, he says he was tortured for two months to extract a $2,000 ransom from his family.

“Despite the regular beatings, he felt worse for women who were dragged into the bush and raped. Some were sold into debt bondage, prostitution and forced marriage.”

Human rights groups report on such horror daily, but much of it fails to make it to media coverage simply because the plight of the Rohingya doesn’t constitute a “pressing matter.”

Human rights only matter when they are tied into an issue of significant political or economic weight.

Yet somehow the Rohingyas seep into our news occasionally, as they did in June 2012 and later months, when Rakhine Buddists went on violent rampages, burning villages and setting people ablaze under the watchful eye of the Myanmar police.

Then Myanmar was being elevated to non-pariah state status, with the support and backing of the US and European countries.

It is not easy to sell Myanmar as a democracy while its people are hunted down like animals, forced into deplorable camps, trapped between the army and the sea where thousands have no other escape but “leaky boats” and the Andaman Sea. Abbott might want to do some research before blaming the Rohingyas for their own misery.

So far, the “democracy” gambit is working, and many companies are now setting up offices in Yangon and preparing for massive profits.

This is all while hundreds of thousands of innocent children, women and men are being caged like animals in their own country, stranded at sea or held for ransom in some neighbouring jungle.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries must understand that good neighbourly relations cannot fully rely on trade and that human rights violators must be held accountable and punished for their crimes.

No efforts should be spared to help fleeing Rohingyas, and real international pressure must be enforced so that Myanmar abandons its infuriating arrogance.

Even if we are to accept that Rohingyas are not a distinct minority, as the Myanmar government argues, that doesn’t justify the unbearable persecution they have been enduring for years and the periodic acts of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

A minority or not, they are human, deserving of full protection under national and international law.

While one is not asking the US and its allies for war or sanctions, the least one should expect is that Myanmar must not be rewarded for its fraudulent democracy as it brutalises its minorities.

Failure to do so should compel civil society organisations to stage boycott campaigns of companies that conduct business with the Myanmar government.

Ramzy Baroud is the author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. He is currently completing his PhD studies at the University of Exeter. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).

Drunk English nazis arrested


This video from Britain is called EDL nazis.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Racist EDL supporters arrested during demo

Monday 25th May 2015

SIX supporters of the racist English Defence League were arrested in Halifax in West Yorkshire on Saturday during a demonstration.

Around 150 racists marched in a tightly packed bunch with a close police escort surrounding them.

The racists were reported to have drunk heavily in local pubs before the march, culminating in a demonstration outside Halifax town hall.

The arrests involved offences for breach of the peace, racially aggravated public disorder and indecent exposure.

Chants by the racists included “Muslim paedos off our streets.”

In addition to tight police protection for the EDL, dozens of police were deployed around Halifax town centre.

The EDL has made Halifax a regular target for its provocations.

The Calderdale district, of which Halifax is the main town, was the first Yorkshire community to see the election of a British National Party (BNP) councillor in 2003.

The electorate has now cleansed the council of the BNP.

African-American poetess Aja Monet on police bruatality


Aja Monet, Say her name

From the Huffington Post in the USA:

Poet Aja Monet Confronts Police Brutality Against Black Women With #SayHerName

Posted: 05/21/2015 3:32 pm EDT Updated: 05/22/2015 5:59 pm EDT

Melissa Williams,” Aja Monet reads, “Darnisha Harris.” Her voice is strong; it marches along, but it shakes a little, although not from nerves. She’s performing a poem that includes the forgotten names of girls and women who’ve been injured or killed by the police. She finishes forcefully, then pauses, exhales. “Can I do that again?” she asks. “It’s my first time reading it out loud, and … ” she trails off.

Monet had written the poem — a contribution to the #SayHerName campaign, a necessary continuation of the Black Lives Matter movement focusing on overlooked police violence against women — earlier that morning. That evening, she’d read it at a vigil. Now, she was practicing on camera, surprised by the power of her own words.

As a poet, Monet is prolific. She’s been performing both music and readings for some time — at 19, she was the youngest ever winner of New York City’s Nuyorican Poet’s Café Grand Slam — and her work has brought her to France, Bermuda and Cuba, from where her grandmother fled, and where she recently learned she still has extended family. Next month, she’ll return to visit them. But first, she wants to contribute to a campaign she believes in.

Though she’s disheartened that a hashtag is necessary to capture people’s attention — “I think #SayHerName is the surface level of the issues but beneath that there is the real question of, ‘Why?’” she says — Monet wields her art to achieve social and political justice. While discussing political poetry with a fellow artist in Palestine, he observed, “Art is more political than politics.” “I feel him,” she says. “I think he’s right.”

Can you explain #SayHerName in your own words?

It is us calling out the lack of attention on women of color also affected by state violence. We recognize the power of our voices and so we raise the spirits of our sisters by daring to utter their names.

A recent Washington Post write-up said it’s difficult to even quantify police brutality against black women. How will #SayHerName honor those whose stories are lost?

I can’t speak for what a hashtag will do in the actual hearts of people but I know that anything worth paying attention to these days in America has to be sold and marketed as if worth buying into. We recognize that the attention span of our generation is so short: How else do we make the issues we care about accessible and also relevant? This is what activism has come to. This is where we are at in the age of the Internet. We must be honest with ourselves about how human interaction is now only affirmed or confronted based on the projected world we live in through screens.

I think #SayHerName is the surface level of the issues, but beneath that there is the real question of “Why?” Why do I need to make saying her name a hashtag for you to pay attention? The goal is to use this as an opportunity to redirect the attention of people, to hopefully get folks researching the names and stories of all the women we’ve lost. To educate themselves so we are all more informed on how policing works. Black women’s bodies are the most policed bodies in this country.

Also, I didn’t read the Washington Post write-up, but it seems silly to me. Like, of course it’s difficult to quantify any brutality against human beings. It’s not more difficult when it comes to black women, I think it’s just easier for us to ignore them because if we acknowledge them then we must acknowledge all of the women affected by violence and brutality, not just by police but by an entire patriarchal, racist system. We keep scratching the surface of these issues and neglecting the root, which is this country never loved black people, and of course that meant black women. We who birth the men they also hate. We are an extension of each other.

What inspired this poem, and what inspires your poetry in general?

I was at an event where I read a poem in solidarity with my Palestinian brothers and sisters, and Eve Ensler was in the audience. We spoke briefly after and she admired the poem I read. I was honored and she gave me her email. I followed up immediately the next day and informed her that if she ever needed a poet at any point, I’d be there, no questions asked.

She responded with this vigil for #SayHerName and asked if I’d be willing to read a poem. I have been meditating on this issue of women of color affected by police brutality, but the poem hadn’t quite come to me yet. I started writing a piece for Rekia Boyd but it just isn’t ready to be done yet. So I woke early the morning of the vigil and forced myself to write this poem. I sat with all the names of the women and I asked them that I may find the words to do justice. They came to me hours before I had to meet with you all to record.

And maybe they’ll change, but the process of inspiration is a strange thing. For the most part I call on my ancestors. Not to be all, “I call on my ancestors,” but it’s true. I know I’m not the only one writing when I write. I also know that more times than not inspiration is subjective. You can find inspiration in anything if you pay attention. If you’re careful enough to notice how divine this world is and we are, to be here together, creating.

Obviously you appreciate overtly political art — why do you think political art can be powerful?

I met an artist in Palestine who said “art is more political than politics.” I feel him. I think he’s right.

I think being an artist, you are in the business of telling it like it is. You create of the world you live in, unapologetically. What that means is you aren’t catering to an eye or group or specific niche so much as your own truth as you see fit. Politicians, on the other hand, are constantly determining their worth and issue relevance based on approval ratings and polls. They are always campaigning, which becomes less about the issues we need to be dealing with and more about who can be bought to speak about what you want them to speak about. It’s an ugly game I want no business in.

Art that addresses the business of politics recognizes its power and influence. It unveils the mask of “politics” and gets to the people we are fighting for. It does the difficult work of reaching people’s hearts and minds. No great change takes place without art. It’s necessary.

Who are some fellow poets you currently admire?

Since we are in the spirit of saying her name, here’s a few names: Jayne Cortez, Wanda Coleman, Carolyn Rodgers, June Jordan, Audre Lorde and, of course, my sister, Phillis Wheatley.

Monet’s two books of poetry, Inner City Chants and Cyborg Ciphers and The Black Unicorn Sings are available online.

German police torture of refugees


This video from Germany says about itself:

Refugees in hunger strike for freedom in Germany

7 June 2014

Yassir, since 10 days in hunger strike in a refugee protest in a camp in Hannover. Days ago three other Sudanese refugees from the camp joined him in solidarity for their demands.

Yassir start his hunger strike at 28 May, a day after German police attacked the camp without any reason.

They decided to continue their hunger strike until their demands are realized, including freedom to move.

By Verena Nees in Germany:

German police officer accused of torturing refugees

21 May 2015

The pictures inevitably recall the most disturbing images from Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. But this time they come from the German city of Hannover.

A police officer has been accused of abuse in Hannover, allegedly having tortured refugees in holding cells. According to research by regional broadcaster NDR, there were at least two cases of abuse. They allegedly took place at the holding cells of the federal police at Hannover’s main train station in 2014.

The victim, a 29-year-old refugee from Afghanistan, had no passport when he was checked in March 2014 and was therefore taken into custody at the train station. His treatment was described in a message written by the officer to police colleagues using the Whatsapp messaging service: “[I] have put him away. An Afghan. With a travel ban. Stuck my finger in his nose. And poked. Was funny. And dragged by the bound feet through the cell. That was nice. Squealed like a pig. That was a present from Allah.”

The second case involved a 19-year-old Moroccan from Tangiers. He was detained by the federal police in Hannover, according to NDR, because he was travelling in a train without a ticket. The officers allegedly found marijuana in his socks.

The Moroccan teen also ended up in the Hannover holding cells where he was humiliated by the police, held on the floor and forced to eat rancid pork.

The evidence of this was provided by the accused officer who presented a mobile phone picture. It shows a man lying on the floor in an unnatural position, the hands secured by handcuffs and the face distorted in pain. It appears as though the man was held down by two policemen, as the tips of their boots can be seen in the picture.

In the text message cited by NDR, it states, “This is a Moroccan, I turned him white. XY [the immediate superior] said that he heard him upstairs, and that he had squealed like a pig. Then the bastard ate the rest of the rotten pork from the fridge like an animal from the floor.”

A colleague described the incident: “He got the rancid pork from the fridge. It was the leftovers of our breakfast at the weekend. The food was green, so obviously off. As he got it, he said he wanted to do something good, because he was a friend of humanity. His tone made clear that he meant this ironically. And then we were asked to leave the room. I assume that he actually gave him the ground pork.”

The Hannover state prosecutor is investigating initial suspicion of bodily harm by a police officer on duty and the breach of the arms law, after two unnamed individuals filed complaints against the officer. They were not associated with the victim and are likely fellow police officers. The accusers in any case are well-informed, and knew about the messages.

During a search of the service quarters of the accused officer, as well as his private home on Friday, an illegal weapon was found, according to senior state prosecutor Klinge. As the two complainants asserted, the man held his service weapon to the temple of a colleague in 2013 and demanded that he perform sexual acts. Five other officers allegedly witnessed the incident. There had been a number of other occasions in the police department when weapons were turned on colleagues, an insider told NDR.

The facts revealed thus far have produced horror across the country. Holger Nitz, from the Lower Saxony association of criminal defence lawyers stated in an NDR report on Monday that the incidents bordered on torture and recalled “grim associations” and he was “reminded of “very grim times.”

The refugee organisation ProAsyl declared that the incidents displayed a horrifying degree of racism and inhumanity. ProAsyl director Günter Burkhardt called for criminal prosecutions, including the prosecution of those who potentially knew about the incidents. “The scandal within the scandal is the inactivity of those in police uniforms who knew what was happening,” said Burkhardt.

By contrast, officials from the police trade union (GdP) and politicians from the Social Democrats (SPD) and Christian Democratic Union (CDU) described the scandal as a one-off event. …

In reality, the torture practiced by the federal police in Hannover is only the high point of a growing number of incidents in which police have abused refugees.

The abuse of refugees at a centre in North Rhein-Westphalia was made public last autumn. The residents were systematically humiliated and tortured by employees of a private security firm. In this case also, representatives of all the political parties sought to present it as an exceptional case. It was claimed that problem was the private security services, within which individual criminals had developed. While the police investigated the security firm Burbach, it was revealed that the police had previously known about the abuses taking place at the facility.

The mistreatment of refugees now extends to the police themselves. The sadism of the police officer and his possible accomplices is shocking. Even more horrifying is his open sharing of his acts with his colleagues over Whatsapp and in text messages. Obviously the perpetrator believed that many of his colleagues would approve of such torture practices against refugees.

These anti-social attitudes are being encouraged by a political climate of agitation against refugees and hostility towards Muslims promoted by the German government and the European Union. The suspension of rescue missions in the Mediterranean Sea last year resulted in the horrifying deaths of around 2,000 refugees within a few days. Now they are responding by proceeding with military operations to stem the flow of refugees.

At the same time, the abuses are a warning sign of changes within the state apparatus. In 2002, the use of the threat of torture to extract a confession in the kidnapping of a banker’s son provoked a month-long public debate about the legitimacy of torture, which was promoted by many. The WSWS warned at the time of a step in the direction of a police state. Ultimately, a series of court rulings, the last in 2012, confirmed the ban on torture and issued a symbolic fine to the state of Hesse which employed the officers.

The current incidents involving the federal police in Hannover, based on what is already known, make clear that in spite of an official ban, torture has established itself as a routine part of police activity behind the backs of the population. While refugees fleeing from the wars in the Middle East and North Africa are the immediate target for torture, such practices are aimed ultimately at the working class and will be deployed to suppress social opposition to militarism, war and the growing assault on social rights.

German police brutality scandal: Officers in Hanover accused of racism. A rights organization has accused German federal police of “an appalling level of racism and contempt for human beings.” Prosecutors are looking into the torture of migrants by officers in Hanover: here.