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).

As delegates from 19 countries gather today in Bangkok for a meeting on “irregular migration in the Indian Ocean,” more evidence has emerged of the horrors facing thousands of Bangladeshis and Rohingya Muslims from Burma fleeing persecution and poverty. All of the countries attending the meeting, in one way or another, bear responsibility for their plight: here.

Life inside a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh: here.

Ferguson police militarisation, inspiration for Myanmar dictatorship


This video from the USA says about itself:

St Louis Police brutally assault Ferguson woman after her car breaks down

12 August 2014

St Louis County Police stop at the car of a woman whose car was broken down. They tell her she is under arrest and she asks to put her phone down, then they body slam her to the concrete, then the video starts.

By Patrick Winn in the USA:

Myanmar is using Ferguson to justify its latest crackdown on protesters

Apr 6, 2015 @ 6:54 AM

YANGON, Myanmar — There are plenty of reasons why cities and towns in America shouldn’t be using military-grade weapons or armored vehicles to scatter protests.

But here’s one that might not have occurred to you. Over-the-top police aggression — as witnessed in Ferguson, Missouri last summer — is a gift to authoritarian nations looking to justify crackdowns of their own.

One of them is Myanmar. The country formerly known as Burma was for decades notorious for its violent control over dissent. It has been the recipient of countless lectures from White House officials and others over the years for subjugating its citizens under military rule.

The country is now undergoing a messy transition from despotism to a freer society. But that metamorphosis is far from complete.

This was underscored when police assaulted unarmed student protesters — who rallied to fix a desperately broke education system — last month. The peaceful protests took place in the small town of Letpadan which, like Ferguson, has rocketed from obscurity to a household name. It all ended when rampaging cops started cracking heads and making dubious arrests. A dozen activists remain in prison almost a month later.

This 10 March 2015 video is about police cracking down in Letpadan, Myanmar.

The scenes made everyone who follows Myanmar nervous that the government had regressed. But there is no need to fear, according to Myanmar’s most visible official, Ye Htut, the minister of information. After all, he says, the United States sometimes uses brute force to break up protests too.

In a statement, Ye Htut cited the crackdowns on both Occupy Wall Street and Ferguson and noted that, unlike in Myanmar, “nobody spoke of US democracy having backtracked.”

GlobalPost caught up with Ye Htut in Yangon, Myanmar, and asked him to elaborate.

“Even in the US,” he said, “individual police will react under pressure differently. There’s reasonable force and excessive force. That’s the problem we were facing … the actions of some individuals didn’t meet the code of conduct, our rules for handling demonstrations.”

“Sometimes,” Ye Htut said, “there’s a very emotional response to a situation. That’s why we need more anger management.”

For decades, the US government slammed Myanmar’s treatment of anti-government protesters, some of whom are lionized and even funded by American agencies. Last month, during a speech in Selma, Alabama, US President Barack Obama exalted the many dissidents in Myanmar who “went to prison rather than submit to military rule.”

Officials in Myanmar, who are near giddy at the prospect of receiving American aid and investment, refrained from responding. And, anyway, they haven’t really earned the moral high ground to do so. The country remains a place where laws are weak and opposing the government is dangerous. But it’s hard not to detect the schadenfreude some officials in Myanmar felt after the Ferguson debacle.

USA: Police militarization has roots in the backlash to the 1960s civil rights movement: here.

According to the New York Times, Obama used his visit to “crack down on overly aggressive police tactics,” and “limit … military-style equipment for police forces.” These claims are based on Obama’s announcement that the White House will no longer transfer a small range of highly-specialized military assets to local police departments, including bayonets, .50 caliber rifles and tracked fighting vehicles. These types of ordnance are, from a military counterinsurgency standpoint, either obsolete or inappropriate. The US Army, for example, has dropped bayonet training for recruits, while .50 caliber rifles are generally not considered anti-personnel weapons. They are used instead to target communications systems, grounded aircraft and radar installations, meaning that no sensible anti-civilian death squad would carry them: here.

There’s a loophole in Obama’s effort to keep military weapons from the police: here.

‘Extinct’ Jerdon’s babbler rediscovered in Myanmar


The Myanmar Jerdon’s babbler (Chrysomma altirostre altirostre) had not been seen in Myanmar since July 1941, where it was last found in grasslands near the town of Myitkyo, Bago Region near the Sittaung River. Image credit: © Robert Tizard / WCS

From Wildlife Extra:

Extinct’ Jerdon’s babbler found live and well in Myanmar

A bird thought to have been extinct has been spotted by scientists alive and well in Myanmar, 74 years after the last sighting.

Jerdon’s babbler was re-discovered near abandoned agricultural research station by a scientist from Wildlife Conservation Society [and] National University of Singapore.

Jerdon’s babbler (Chrysomma altirostre) had not been seen in Myanmar since July 1941, where it was last found in grasslands near the town of Myitkyo, Bago Region near the Sittaung River.

The team found the bird while surveying a site around an abandoned agricultural station that still contained some grassland habitat. After hearing the bird’s distinct call, the scientists played back a recording and were rewarded with the sighting of an adult Jerdon’s babbler. Over the next 48 hours, the team repeatedly found Jerdon’s babblers at several locations in the immediate vicinity and managed to obtain blood samples and high-quality photographs.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the species was common in the vast natural grassland that once covered the Ayeyarwady and Sittaung flood plains around Yangon. Since then, agriculture and communities have gradually replaced most of these grasslands as the area has developed.

The Jerdon’s Babbler in Myanmar is one of three subspecies found in the Indus, Bhramaputra, and Ayeyarwady River basins in South Asia. All show subtle differences and may yet prove to be distinctive species.

“The degradation of these vast grasslands had led many to consider this subspecies of Jerdon’s Babbler extinct,” said Colin Poole, Director of WCS’s Regional Conservation Hub in Singapore.

“This discovery not only proves that the species still exists in Myanmar but that the habitat can still be found as well. Future work is needed to identify remaining pockets of natural grassland and develop systems for local communities to conserve and benefit from them.”

Burmese Muslim political prisoner freed


This 30 November 2013 video, in English, with French subtitles, is called Dr Tun Aung, Myanmar.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Rights groups welcome the release of Rohingya doctor

Wednesday 21st January 2015

RIGHTS groups welcomed the release of a prominent Rohingya Muslim doctor Tun Aung, who was arrested while trying to calm rioters during sectarian violence.

The case against Dr Aung, sentenced to 17 years in prison following what was widely considered an unfair trial, received international attention.

He was accused of inciting violence between Rohingya Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists in June 2012, though rights groups said the doctor and community leader had been asked by authorities to intervene.

Assistance Association for Political Prisoners founder Bo Kyi said Dr Aung had been released on Monday.

Myanmar has freed more than 1,000 political prisoners since its former military rulers relinquished power, but jails continue to be refilled with protesters.

“Everyone incarcerated for their beliefs should be freed immediately,” said Equality Myanmar director Aung Myo Min, adding that the government “releases a few political prisoners, and then arrests a few more.”

Saudi video maker arrested for filming beheading of woman


This video is about the horrible beheading of Ms Laila Bint Abdul Muttalib Basim in Saudi Arabia. Not fit to watch for children and sensitive people.

From the International Business Times:

Saudi Arabia: Man arrested for filming officers publicly beheading woman in street

By Jack Moore

January 19, 2015 12:02 GMT

Saudi authorities have arrested a man who filmed a viral video of authorities publicly beheading a woman in the street, according to local media reports.

Saudi news outlets revealed that the man had been arrested but did not state what he would be charged with.

However, an Interior Ministry spokesman confirmed that filming the incident would be classed as a cybercrime under the country’s strict form of Sharia law, based on the Quran.

The Burmese woman, Laila Bint Abdul Muttalib Basim, was hacked to death by sword in the holy city of Mecca after being dragged through the street and held down by four police officers.

She was convicted of the sexual abuse and murder of her seven-year-old step-daughter.

In the video she can be heard saying in Arabic: “I did not kill. There is no God but God. I did not kill.”

Haram. Haram. Haram. Haram. I did not kill … I do not forgive you … This is an injustice,” she continues.

The arrest of the man who documented the execution comes after the kingdom suspended the public flogging of a Saudi activist, Raif Badawi, on medical grounds and sent his case for review at the Supreme Court.

Badawi’s sentence of 1,000 lashes has been condemned by the United States and United Nations.