Wednesday 25 October 2017

‘Suu Kyi government played into the hands of the military’

Source Dhakatribune, 25 Oct

'Suu Kyi government played into the hands of the military'
Director of Euro-Burma Office Harn YawnghweCourtesy

Harn Yawnghwe, director of Euro-Burma Office (European Office for the Development of Democracy in Myanmar), Brussels, recently spoke to the Dhaka Tribune's Syed Zainul Abedin on the Rohingya issue and Myanmar leader Suu Kyi. He shed light on the political instability in Myanmar against the backdrop of recent developments in Rakhine.

Harn is the youngest son of Sao Shwe Thaike, the first president of the Republic of the Union of Burma. Sao was the president of the union from 1948 to 1952. He was arrested in a military coup led by General Ne Win and died in prison in November, 1962. Sao Shwe Thaike and General Aung San were the architects of the 1947 Panglong Agreement, which formed the basis for the modern nation of Burma (the colonial name for Myanmar).

Harn has been in exile in Canada since he was 15 years old. He was forced to leave Myanmar along with his family following the coup on March 2, 1962.
Harn also served as Advisor to Dr Sein Win, prime minister of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB), which claims to be Burma's government in exile.

What is happening in the Rakhine state of Myanmar?

What is happening in Rakhine State is genocide. Article 2 of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1951) defines genocide as any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole, or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. All these conditions apply to the Rohingya people in Myanmar.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres admitted as much when he said on September 13, 2017 that ethnic cleansing is taking place in Myanmar. Genocide includes ethnic cleansing. He did not use the word genocide because if he did, the UN would be legally obliged under the Genocide Convention to take action. For the UN to take action, the Security Council would have to authorise it. But Guterres knows that if he took it to the Security Council, Russia and China would veto it. That is the dilemma.

Rohingya refugees stretch their hands to receive aid distributed by local organisations at Balukhali makeshift camp in Cox's Bazar on September 14, 2017 | Reuters

You have been working on the peace process in Myanmar/Burma for a long time. What are the hurdles in the way of the peace process?

First, the Myanmar military still believes that might is right. They entered into negotiations as a delaying tactic when the then President Thein Sein, a former military general himself, called for peace talks. He defined the peace talks as a political matter which under the 2008 Constitution falls under the mandate of the civilian government. Under the Suu Kyi government, the military has managed to define the peace talks as a security matter which under the constitution falls under the mandate of the military. This means the military will exert force on those who will not agree to peace on the government's terms. If they continue to resist, they will be labeled 'terrorists' and the military can use full force against them – as they are doing now with the Rohingya. The Suu Kyi government does not have a plan or strategy on how to bring the peace talks back to the political arena. It also does not have experienced advisors and negotiators.

In the short-term, the future of the peace talks is bleak. The best that can be done is to keep the talks going in the hope that the government will change its position. Nobody wants to go back to war.

Why are the Rohingya people, from among 135 ethnic groups, being specifically targeted by the government/army of Myanmar?

Myanmar Commander-in-Chief Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing said on September 1, 2017, that the ongoing clearing operations in northern Rakhine is 'unfinished business' from World War 2. After the war, during the division of India, some Rohingya wanted to become part of East Pakistan. There was a Mujahid insurgency which the Myanmar military put down. His 'unfinished business', though, means that the Myanmar military does not accept the outcome of the political settlement in the early 1960's that recognised the Rohingya as citizens of Myanmar.
The military also does not recognise the 1947 Constitution, which states that all people who live within the boundaries of Myanmar at independence (1948) are citizens. That is why after seizing power, General Ne Win launched an operation to drive out the Rohingya in 1978. Not satisfied with that, he also changed the Citizenship Law in 1982, making the Rohingya stateless. Another attempt was made in 1998 to drive out the Rohingya.
This third and current exodus is part of the same plan to make Myanmar a homogeneous and 'pure' nation. It is racist. The Rohingya being Muslim makes it easier for the military to garner support from the Buddhist majority who believe that it is their duty to protect Buddhism from all external influences.

FILE PHOTO: Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar wait to be let through by Bangladeshi border guards after crossing the border in Palang Khali on October 16, 2017 | Reuters

How would you describe the future of democracy in Myanmar?

The future of democracy in Myanmar is precarious. Everybody wrongly believed that Aung San Suu Kyi would strengthen the democratic transition and make it impossible to return to a military dictatorship.
It is somewhat similar to the situation in Iran when the Shah was overthrown and the Ayatollah Khomeni came to power. He consolidated his power and imposed his own brand of authoritarian rule. The same is true in Myanmar. Democracy is not practiced within the ruling National League for Democracy. Aung San Suu Kyi makes all the decisions. Younger generation leaders are not being groomed. Internal dissent is not tolerated and opposition parties are not encouraged. The active civil society networks are shunned by the NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi. Other than the military-backed Union Solidarity Development Party, there are no viable nationwide political parties to choose from as an alternative to the NLD. Media freedom is also at risk.

Is there any geopolitical issue behind the ongoing situation in Myanmar, triggering this Rohingya crisis?

As mentioned before, geopolitics do play a part. Myanmar is considered to be in China's backyard. Neither Russia nor China want Myanmar to move into the orbit of western powers. They have long seen human rights as a western tool to infiltrate into the region. But the main trigger is domestic. The Myanmar military does not want a democratically-elected government to succeed. It wants to prove that a civilian government does not have the capacity to govern Myanmar.

The Rohingya crisis was re-ignited in 2012 when the Thein Sein government started making headway with its peace talks with the other ethnic minorities. The crisis became full-fledged in 2016 after the Suu Kyi government took power. When it became clear that the Suu Kyi government did not have the capacity to deal with the peace talks, the military took advantage of that weakness to carry out its plan to finally expel the Rohingya as terrorists under the cover of a democratic government. The government's denial of any human rights abuse by the military and the refusal of Suu Kyi to allow a UN Fact-Finding Mission have all played into the hands of the military.

How do you describe the communal harmony in Myanmar?

Myanmar is and has always been a multi-ethnic and a multi-religious society. Different communities used to exist harmoniously in the past. Things changed after Ne Win took over. He expelled all foreigners, especially Chinese and Indians, confiscating their businesses. His agenda, like the Shah's, was to create a modern homogeneous nation and this created problems. Each ethnic group began to look after its own interests for survival. Today people look on each other with mistrust. Fake news and rumours can trigger inter-communal violence as it did in 2012. Many people today are preaching hatred and religious bigotry. People who disagree do not dare to speak out. Fear is beginning to take hold again.

A view of the the Rohingya refugee camp in Tang Khali near Cox's Bazar, on October 18, 2017 | Reuters

How are the rest of the people in Myanmar responding to this crisis?

Most would not react unless it affected them personally. This is especially true of the ethnic minorities. They do not want to draw attention to themselves by speaking out about the Rohingya. But for the majority, they believe what the government is saying – that the Rohingya are foreigners who bought their way into Myanmar; they have four wives and their population is growing rapidly; their plan is to Islamise Myanmar.

Please describe the role of the state-run media in Myanmar.

The state-run media has been managed by the military for over 5 decades. They are putting out the same propaganda as when the country was still under military rule. The sad part is that the private media that used to fight for human rights have also started to toe the government line – that the Rohingya are terrorists and have to be defeated to protect Myanmar's sovereignty.

You wrote an open letter criticising Suu Kyi. Could you please elaborate on that?
I am concerned that she is not nurturing democracy for the time after she steps down. If we want democracy to flourish, we have to start practising it. Authoritarianism, no matter how well-intentioned, will not bring democracy. Democracy is messy and people make mistakes but without starting to practice it, we cannot expect democracy in Myanmar in the future.

Where does the solution to this crisis lie?

The crisis is two-fold. One is the crisis of democracy – how do we ensure that the military does not come back in the future? How can we entrench democracy in the nation? The solution lies with the people of Myanmar. They need to wake up to the crisis and start practicing democracy. It is not too late. We have until 2020, 3 years, to promote democracy.
The other crisis is the Rohingya people. We do not have time. People are dying and hundreds of thousands have been displaced. The clearing operations are continuing in spite of government denials. The UN, Bangladesh and other neighbouring countries need to exercise their Responsibility to Protect. If they do nothing now, the Rohingya will be driven out of Myanmar. But in the longer-term, the solution lies in treating the Rohingya as human beings created in the image of God, equal with all Myanmar citizens.
This will take moral courage on the part of the Myanmar government and determined and well-thought out long-term programmes to eliminate racism, and religious bigotry from Myanmar – something like the civil rights movement in the US.

Maung Zarni: Military-Controlled Ethnocracy in Myanmar Causing Exodus of 100,000 Rohingyas Every Week

Source FarsNewsAgency, 18 Oct

TEHRAN -- Activist and scholar Maung Zarni says that the plight of Muslim Rohingyas has gotten worse under the administration of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and now there are about 100,000 Rohingyas fleeing their homeland every week.

The Burmese scholar in an exclusive interview with FNA said that Aung San SuuKyi's leadership has been the direct product of the icon manufacturing by Western media and activists which was intended to give acceptability to what, he believes, is a "military-controlled ethnocracy, wrapped in Buddhism".

According to the rights activist, Rohingyas in Myanmar live under restrictive measures of movement, marriage and child control in either open prisons or internally displaced persons camps (IDP camps). He also added that the Muslim minority's access to food supplies and medical care is awfully limited.

Maung Zarni is a democracy advocate, Rohingya campaigner, and an adviser to European Centre for the Study of Extremism. He is also a research fellow at Genocide Documentation Centre and has been frequently interviewed by international media outlets such as BBC, Al Jazeera, Press TV and TRT World.

FNA has conducted an interview with Maung Zarni about the terrible living conditions of the Rohingya Muslims and the reasons behind the inaction by the so-called international community to stop what the United Nations calls "textbook ethnic cleansing" of Rohingya.

Below you will find the full text of the interview.

Q: Rohingya Muslims are not included in Myanmar's list of 135 official minorities meaning they are deprived of the right to citizenship. Why do you think the Rohingyas have been left stateless by their own government in the first place?

Firstly, 135 official minorities are nothing but a fiction used by the Burmese military to justify their institutional narrative that Myanmar faces constant threat of Balkanization, if the military return to the barracks. So, I don't and won't repeat the regime's self-serving propaganda. The military has since early 1960's shifted its policy of the official embrace of Rohingyas as an ethnic community of the Union of Burma to a radical strategic perspective according to which a sizeable pocket of Muslims in a single geographic pocket next to a populous Muslim region of the then Pakistan was a threat to Burma's national security. Every wave of expulsion, violence, death and destruction of Rohingyas over the last 40 years has been triggered by this dangerous strategic paradigm. 

Q: Aung San SuuKyi's coming to power as the Nobel Peace laureate and first democratic government brought about major hopes to the Burmese including the Rohingya. In your opinion, has anything changed for the Muslim minority since she took office?

Suu Kyi's leadership, and Suu Kyi the person, have been the direct product of the icon manufacturing by Western media and activists. Her ascendency to de facto leadership has only lent the veneer of acceptability to what really is a military-controlled ethnocracy, wrapped in Buddhism. The plight of Muslim Rohingyas has gotten worse, with 100,000 fleeing every week. Mirroring the military's Muslim-free armed forces, she presides over her party, National League for Democracy (NLD), and the NLD-controlled Parliament, with not a single Muslim representation. 

Q: There are reports about mosques across Burma being damaged or completely destroyed and authorities have been refusing to allow Muslims to repair their mosques. Why is the government refusing to allow the Muslim minority to access their place of worship which is considered to be a fundamental right to freedom of expression and religion?

Mosques – like any places of worship in any religion – serve as the anchor of Muslim communities throughout Burma. The severe restrictions on the repair, renovation, or expansion of mosques are motivated by the intent to prevent the growth of the community in spirit and strength. It is a part of the Buddhist ethnocratic state's attempt to monitor, control and subjugate Muslim communities – although Islam in Burma has long been a peaceful religion for centuries since it arrived centuries ago.

Q: Could you please let us know about the conditions of displaced Rohingyas living both in and outside Myanmar's borders?

Even seasoned humanitarian workers would tell you how shocked they are at the first sight of the conditions under which Rohingyas living in India and Bangladesh. Inside Myanmar, Rohingyas live in two different types of situation: open vast prisons and the internally displaced persons camps. They have no freedom of movement; all aspects of their lives are totally controlled by the Burmese military authorities at the top of the administrative structures and local Buddhist Rakhine who occupy the majority of the admin posts. Rohingyas' access to food and food systems (such as streams and rivers, paddy fields, etc.) as well as opportunities to earn a living has been controlled and restricted. Doctor-patience ratio for the two major towns – Buthidaung and Maungdaw – are estimated to be 1: 150,000 – while the national average is 1: 1,000 – 2,000. Extreme malnutrition is prevalent with sub-Sahara-like conditions. Only Rohingyas are singled out for strict marriage control and child control. Rape and gang-rape of Rohingya women and even girls are rampant. Mass arrests of Rohingya males are routine. Summary execution, forced labour, extortions, etc. are routinely practised by the security troops that split Rohingya region into two dozen security grids. It is this kind of inhuman conditions under which Rohingyas are forced to exist – not live as humans – that has been a major push factor behind regular, if less dramatic and less reported than the most recent one, waves of fleeing Rohingyas. Emphatically, I must state that these conditions are maintained as a matter of policy by the central governments since the late 1970's: to destroy life as we know it, for the entire Rohingya community as a distinct ethnic group, whether recognized by the State officially, as such or not. Precisely because of the policy of destroying Rohingya community as a group I have been calling this a genocide – a textbook genocidal act as defined by the Genocide Convention. 

Q: The state counsellor faces mounting criticism over what the United Nations calls "textbook ethnic cleansing" of Rohingya. This systematic persecution has been ongoing for years. Why do you think we do not see any strong reaction by international human rights organizations, namely the United Nations to stop all the injustice and atrocities?

To the UN and all the world powers, typically all genocides are inconveniences. The refusal to recognize the nature of the heinous crimes by its proper legal name, that is, genocide speaks volumes about the absence of collective will to end this international crime. I find it utterly disgusting that UN and even human rights agencies opting to call it by Milosevic's original euphemism. The genocidal Serb was a clever bastard who knew 'ethnic cleansing' was not a crime under international law. If a crime is recognized as genocide that the UN system would be obliged to intervene to end it. Truth is international law is nothing without the political will to enforce it. Ending genocide has never been deemed strategically or commercially profitable. Hence, empty talks and outcome less meetings.

Q: On several occasions we have seen the western countries, namely the US and the UK, acting without a mandate from the United Nations Security Council. We have seen them imposing sanctions and even taking military action against countries solely based on their own political and geopolitical interests. But when it comes to Myanmar, they do not seem to be much concerned about the ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing as we do not see any strong reaction. What do you think is the reason behind the double standard?

UK and USA are known to bypass the Security Council, in pursuing their strategic interests, however defined. They have launched invasions in countries throughout the world, from Korea and Vietnam to Africa and the Middle East. But ending genocides is viewed as part of their strategic interest. Additionally, they delude themselves into thinking that some semblance of democracy and human rights regime can still be salvaged with its Burmese proxy Aung San Suu Kyi, although she has lost the support and admiration of the world. The truth is UN and international law, as well as the institutions of global governance do not work for the oppressed majority of peoples around the world. Rohingyas are not an exception. 

Q: Aung SanSuu Kyi did not attend this year's UN General Assembly session. She did so without providing any reason for the withdrawal. As we discussed, the United Nations so far has failed to act properly to stop the violence. Why do you think then she decided to cancel her trip to the UN?

It's a clear sign that she now views the world as a hostile place for her to go. The world no longer sees her as "the hopes of Burma", let alone "the voice of the voiceless". She has become world-infamous for hiding her head in the sand when it comes to issues of crucial import to the country. Forget going to the UN where she expected strong criticism of her leadership failures. She has no moral or intellectual integrity to confront inconvenient realities of her country, particularly the issue of Rohingya genocide that concerns the world.

Wednesday 4 October 2017

The Situation in Myanmar : What Should Australia Do

by Admin,

A number of proposals for what should Australia do, been proposed in this discussion..
Also pointed out Ms. Suu Kyi misusing of her power through out posting fake photos, claiming fake rapes, lying situation on the ground, defending military's brutal heinous crimes, blocking UN Inquiry Commission and aid supplies for Rohingya, Kachin and Shan displaced victims..
Participants include-
Amnesty International, communities representatives, local council members,
international students, members from Deakin & RMIT university, members of APHEDA, and others.