Monday, 24 September 2012

Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi - Recognition, and silence

Burmese human rights activist and politician Aung San Suu Kyi acknowledged sickening effects of a 2-decade long military rule in Burma as she received the Congressional Gold Medal in Washington, United States on Wednesday, 19th September.

The pro-democracy opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, ranked as one of the world's greatest female leaders has been receiving awards and acknowledgements in different countries since her release in November 2010. Recognised as one of the world's greatest political prisoners, she had been detained under house arrest in Burma for almost 15 years. She recently took her seat in parliament, seated just opposite the country's 49-year ruling military opposition.

At the Congressional Gold Medal award ceremony hosted at the infamous Rotunda on Capitol Hill, the world leader praised the US Government for their support of her pro-democracy ideology and movement "during the dark years when freedom and justice seemed beyond our reach," and welcomed the US suspension of sanctions on Burma. She emphasised the ongoing social problems faced by the isolated Burma, a sick reality of the iron-fist military rule in Burma for over 20 years.

The prominent host of Republicans, Democrats, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Former First Lady Laura Bush, heard The Lady (as she is commonly known) speak of democratic reforms, unity and peace, before leaving to visit President Obama at the White House. The Telegraph reports that Clinton mentioned that seeing the former political prisoner in the US as a democratically elected member of her country's own parliament was "too delicious to believe."

Speaking in Burma's capital just before her 17-day US tour, Suu Kyi highlighted that child soldiers recruited by the Burmese army, high infant mortality rates, freedom of speech, violence and sex trafficking were some of her greatest concerns, but failed to mention anything relating to the poorly-reported ethnic cleansing of Burmese Rohingya/ Myanmar Muslims.

Buddhist majorities within Burma do not recognise the minority Rohingya Muslims as Burmese. Ongoing clashes between the majority and minority have resulted in hundreds dead, and hundreds of thousands displaced. Despite Rohingya Muslims being present in Burma since the early nineteenth century, they are still regarded as recent illegal immigrants. Having been denied citizenship for decades, Burmese Muslims really have no place to call home.

Faulty reports of death tolls and refugees from within and around Burma make it difficult to effectively report on the situation. Al Jazeera sources claim 400 000 Rohingya Muslims are displaced and living in makeshift camps, while others are missing. Despite having started rejecting refugees, neighbouring Bangladesh (Rohingya Muslim origin: Rohingya Muslim refugees in Bangladesh) faces thousands of new refugees every day. Violent protests and shootings have erupted in Bangladesh and India since July, with different politicians being targeted for their silence and lack of action against Burmese ethnic cleansing, or having some links or contacts with Burmese politicians and/ or militants.

Founding member of Suu Kyi's NDL (National League for Democracy), U Win Tin, said that social issues in the Muslim-dominated Rakhine State is a result of foreigners (Rohingya Muslims). He fearlessly stated that they are not citizens of Burma in the least, regarding it as a fact known to all in Burma. Despite calling for democratic reforms and peace, President Thein Sein as well as Win Tin both support Rohingya Muslims being placed in refugee camps and then being deported.

But its Suu Kyi's vague replies and silence that is worrying. When asked if  Rohingya Muslims are Burmese citizens, she replied, "I don't know," and has been especially silent on the matter. Even Hillary Clinton expressed her concerns over the Burmese government's failure to deal with ethnic cleansing responsibly after meeting Suu Kyi on Tuesday in Washington.

Sadly, despite the ongoing criticism she faces, The Lady hasn't spoken out in support of the displaced refugees, and seems rather against their will to live in Burma. With her 43/ 45 prominently dominated parliamentary seating and the NDL's support of Rohingya Muslims being deported, she hasn't done or said much to change the situation, nor the public's confusion of her position regarding the fate of Rohingya Muslims. Whether The Lady will support the Mandela legacy, as she often speaks of, remains a troubling question. The Mandela legacy welcomed immigrants, but Burma remains an isolated, mind-sanctioned country, rejecting the century-old, 4% Rohingya Muslims in the country.


















Tuesday, 21 August 2012

A History of Burmese Muslim Persecution

Burma, also known as Myanmar in common English, situated in Southeast Asia and bordered by India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand is the 40th largest in the country in the world, and the second largest in Southeast Asia.

Religious diversity percentages host a 89:4:4:2:1 ratio as per Buddhism, Christianity, Islam (approximately 6-10% of the population), other religions and Hinduism respectively. Originating from India and China, Muslims were brought to Burma by the colonising British.

More than 20000 Burmese Rohingya Muslims have migrated to Bangladesh over the past 20 years to escape on-going persecution. Rohingya Muslims often still have problems with their citizenship and some still live in Burma as illegal immigrants.

Currently tipping into the 20th century, the spirited anti-Muslim and anti-Indian movement has hosted riots from the early 1900s.

History of Burmese Muslims, and their deaths

Byat Wi, the first Burmese Muslim according to Glass Palace Chronicle , is reported to have been killed under the rule of Mon, a Thaton King, circa 1050 AD, who reputed his strength. The execution of two of Byat Wi's brother's sons followed, as they refused the orders of forced labour by King Mon.

Rahman Khan (Nga Yaman Kan) was assassinated by a sniper for religious and political reason, after committing treason to his king.

The most famous of historic Burmese Muslim killings is arguably the massacre of Mogul Emperor of India Shah Jahan's son, Sultan Shah Juha's followers in Arakan. However, these killings were reportedly unrelated to religion or community, but rather politics. After losing to his brother, Aurangzeb, he is reported to have fled with his family to Arakan where he traded with Arakan and Chittagong pirate king Sandathudama (1652-1687 AD) who eventually grew greedy and attempted to force himself on Shah's daughter. Following a reportedly unsuccessful rebellion, Shah and his followers were killed (Shah's death is disputed, but his death is concluded based on numerous reports).

Muslims who lived under Burmese king Bayintnaung (1550-1589 AD) were prohibited from celebrating Eid as well as eating halal food by means of slaughtering animals according to Islamic ruling. King Alaungpaya (1752–1760) also prohibited Muslims from sacrificing animals in the name of God.

King Bodawpaya (1782–1819) was known for having notoriously killed 4 Burmese Imams (Islamic leader in related context) who refused pork ingestion.
1900s
The 1900s saw many anti-Indian and anti-Muslim riots in Burma under British rule. Originally diverse by race and culture, Muslims were placed as one by the Buddhist majority and the British after the First World War. Tribes of Burma and Yegar Muslims blame the anti-Muslim and anti-Indian sentiments on early persecution of Buddhist and Hindus during the Mogul empire when they were forced to accept Islam. It is also blamed on a lower standard of living, degraded work, Indian colonialists, Indian-controlled monopoly of the economy, competition and the recession.

Riots in 1930 and 1938 proved the extent of anti-Muslim and anti-Indian movement, the motion eventually intervened by the British. Despite an enquiry by The Simon Commission stipulating that separate land be given to Burmese Muslims, that they attain full citizenship, be allowed to follow and practice their religion and customs, be allowed to own and trade property, be allowed to receive government grants as per their educational and charitable institutions, and also encouraged a separate government independent of India, the British rejected all but the separation of government suggestion.

Burmese action against minority groups was shockingly original in defying the British, but using the Muslims and Indians as methods to initiate rebellion had proven easier than simply starting one without anyone to take the fall. Disguised as Muslim and Indian-hatred, riots, protests and political movement were fuelled by extreme media support, newspapers being their main source of inspiration.

1938 saw the Burmese start a campaign against minority groups, sparking violence and brutality. Muslims were assaulted and killed, and their properties destroyed. According to Yegar Muslims, 113 mosques were destroyed in Burma.

Sourced by Yegar Muslims, political movement had been a key factor in Muslim rejection in Burma. After the formation of the Burma Muslim Congress before World War II, influential U Razaq was elected President. However, after rejection of a Muslim department for Muslim affairs, the former party was asked to dissolve. Buddhism was then declared the state of religion against any or all minorities. Ruling against Muslims had intensified, especially in regard to customs, religious sacrifice and pilgrimage.

1962's period worsened the situation when General Ne Win removed Muslims from the Burmese Army. External influence against Muslims in other countries somewhat directly affected Burmese Muslims. Violence and brutality extended to the Burmese Muslims as actions against Islamist extremists in Afghanistan and Indonesia furthered the intensity. Buddhist monks, known to proclaim peace and harmony, destroyed mosques, property and massacred Muslim communities, causing Muslim rebellion and interest in resistance groups.

March 1997 furthered Muslim persecution when a special, historic Buddha statue was vandalised. ‘Houtman and Gustaaf's Mental Culture in Burmese Crisis Politics,’ states that the statue was left with a gaping hole in the centre where a magical ruby of victory was presumed to have been. A crowd of 1000-1500 Burmese monks and citizens began rioting against Muslims in Kaingdan, Mandalay on March 16th, 1997, after a supposed rape of a girl by Muslim men. Homes and shops were looted, mosques and transportation destroyed and burnt. Image Asia had originally provided pictures, but has removed them. The Chronology for Rohingya (Arakanese) in Burma reports that three people were killed and 100 monks arrested.

Extreme rebellion was displayed in 2001 when Burmese monks and anti-Muslim protesters began distributing pamphlets called Myo Pyauk Hmar Soe Kyauk Sa Yar (The Fear of Losing Ones Race). However, Crackdown of Burmese Muslims, published in July 2002 states that the origin of the anti-Muslim movement in this case was somewhat based on the unrest in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. Anti-Muslim riots in May 2001 hosted violent, brutal killings and destruction in the Pegu division of Taungoo. Around 200 Muslims were killed, 11 mosques demolished and 400 houses burnt down. 20 Muslim men were killed whilst praying in the Han Tha mosque, and others beaten to death.

Flourishing in 2012, Burmese Muslim persecution and the general sense of overlooking the abused human rights situation in Burma is troubling. It’s late to realise the on-going extent of persecution and ignorance, but correcting the lack of action is worthy. Mainstream media has been slow in reporting, and Burmese censorship over state information has limited journalists from distributing material. Surprisingly, the law is claimed to have been altered this week, according to the Buddhist-controlled Burmese authorities, and the media have been slightly more active in involvement. However, the silence of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi has questioned her credibility, with only rumours to fuel her already-doubted position. As the internationally acclaimed and active face of Burmese politics and human rights in Burma, her unexpected lack of opinion as well as action is shocking. Rumours of her request for European military intervention are without source, and Burmese military action itself is poor. One can only hope she does in fact, live up to her image.


The sources for early Burmese Muslim persecution are minimal - any comments and additional sources would be helpful.

For details on 2012's Burmese Muslim persecution, read my next post.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Hammy

I love a girl. Well, yes, I love her.

Debatable as to whether you can love someone who you’ve never met, never had a full conversation with and only just follow on twitter, but just like challenging social practice, I guess this is a form of challenge too.

I suppose what I love most is her eyes, then probably her sarcasm- maybe the sarcasm in her eyes.

She’s got the biggest eyes. They glow. Her Mom bugs her to wear eyeliner but even if she didn’t, her eyes wouldn’t be any less beautiful. Again- it’s debatable, but if you never let your mind go for a bit, then do it now and imagine. Her eyes are bright, round but almond-shaped (yes, imagine) and she seems to stare right at you when I suppose she’s just looking. I would like to see her in reality but I cannot at the moment. I live at the bottom of the earth- she is miles away. I’d like to see whether her eyes tell the same story that they do in her pictures, whether they tell of truth and a confident exterior, but of amusement, intrigue and happiness too.

Sarcasm, by book, is the use of irony to mock or convey attempt. Out of the book and on social networks, its amusement through making the intended victim the subject/object of mockery. However, there are two lines that are drawn- the one where if crossed, you are judged immensely; and the one where if crossed, well, you’re an idiot and you kill rabbits for fun. She crosses the one and leaves the other. She doesn’t really know it, but I do. She knows the art, and I guess that’s all to sarcasm- knowing how to spell it (a little) out and achieve the most reaction possible- whether agreeable or detested.

So, I see sarcasm in her eyes too. Sarcasm - pure, blunt sarcasm. The kind that you’d have to think about a comeback for if you were at the receiving end, but it makes me happy.

It makes me very happy.

Knowing that people out there understand criticism and know how to write about it makes me happy. Seeing fearless people say what they want to makes me happy. Most of all, seeing a blunt, sarcastic, food-loving, big and brown-eyed budding-journalist say the things she does makes me happy.

And I don’t even know her name.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Lift, Lifta

Last year, a group called, “1948 Lest We Forget,” filed an application to the World Monuments Fund (WMF) for Lifta, a Palestinian village, to be included on the 2012 World Monuments Watch list. The reason the WMF were chosen was because they’re an independent organization (registered as a charity in New York) who require no national or state endorsement for nominations.  They are linked to the saving of many historical and treasured places in the world.
 Research was carried out by the group- Lifta’s history, architecture, cultural and social character and they had, “found it to be an embodiment of everything Palestinian.”
However, Lifta’s history is being somewhat hidden behind its very own domed roofs.
Lifta is the only Palestinian village that has been left as it was before the Zionist war in 1948, when 500 Arab villages throughout Palestine were demolished by colonial Zionists. The now depopulated Lifta was built by its own inhabitants, who constructed, “cube-like buildings,” topped by the well-known domed roofs. The domed roofs were made from the “single natural material that the inhabitants employed”- The Special Jerusalem Stone. The community had built their houses without hindering the natural beauty of the area or destroying the gentle hills- the houses had looked and felt like it belonged there. Many of the homes remain intact to date, in view of the speciality of the Jerusalem stone. The village itself dates back to biblical times of Muslims, Christians and Jews living harmoniously.
Lifta was occupied in 1948, one of the main strategic reasons being that it was in close proximity to Jerusalem. Both Muslim and Christians were evicted from their homes by use of, “brutal, racist tactics,” and the Jews given place to stay, thereby achieving the Zionist goal of ethnic cleansing.
Currently, the few inhabitants are Jewish, but most of Lifta has been kept deserted by Israeli authorities. In an attempt to stop the original owners from claiming their land, squatters, drug dealers and gangs have been roaming the area destroying the domed roofs of the houses. Lifta now faces demolition by private developers at the hands of The Israel Land Administration (ILA) who will eventually rid this village off any Palestinian history and memory. The ILA’s plans include a, “building of 212 housing units exclusively for Jews, a luxury hotel, a shopping mall and a museum.”  In addition to the current efforts of driving the original occupants away from attempting to claim their homes, the redevelopment is also in aid of totally nullifying any potential efforts made by the depopulated at getting their homes back. They were evicted, and by law, no longer hold the right to return to their land- they cannot gain citizenship nor return to their homeland.
 Daphna Golan, a Professor of Law at the Hebrew University described the move as being primarily political, having a face of rejuvenation in an ‘abandoned village.’ “It is a building plan geared towards erasing the past,” she says. “In other words, serving to continue the process of judaization of the land- a policy which aims to eradicate Palestinian history, memory and presence.”
The museum, if built, confirms some claims that ILA plans are, “aimed at seizing the identity and completing the Judaization process of the last remaining Palestinian village,” as the museum will only display Jewish history. Adding more to the attempt at wiping Palestinian history out, is the ILA’s designation of Lifta’s cemetery as “public land” in the plan, allowing it to be used as land for future construction in time to come.
Why is Lifta important, really?
Lifta is politically important, above the obvious architectural, social and cultural reasons. Politics played a part in the “formation and evolution” of Lifta’s architecture. After being rejected by the WMF, 1948 Lest We Forget questioned if it was for Lifta’s political history, that they were de-classified off the Watch List. The group had posted this regarding their attempt at getting Lifta on to the Watch List:
“Lifta, without doubt, is considered a “hot potato” because it is as much a symbol of the Palestinian tragedy as it is a physical manifestation of it. Could it have been, we tried to guess, Lifta’s “political” dimension which de-classified it from the Watch List?
In order that a future re-nomination of Lifta may be attempted, it was important for us to get an absolute understanding of the reasons why Lifta was de-selected in order that we
may avoid derailment in the future. We spoke to Avrami at the WMF and, after a brief discussion, we asked her, “was the decision to exclude Lifta a political one?” The answer came in an email about two weeks later and it confirmed our worst fears:
“The Watch nomination for Lifta village incorrectly located the site in the Palestinian Territory, when it is in fact within the current borders of Israel [our emphasis]. Factual inaccuracies are something taken into consideration in the review and selection process.”
It is worth repeating here that our application was accepted and validated back in February and there were no questions raised at the time, or since, about Lifta’s geographical location. Our application had clearly showed Lifta’s coordinates on the map which accompanied the application and positively placed it inside the Corpus Separatum zone designated by the 1947 Partition Plan under UN Resolution 181.
As the reason for disqualifying Lifta is seen now to be its geographical location and not necessarily the other criteria, we felt that we were about to be embroiled in a debate on an
issue which sits at the core of the Israel-Palestine question.
For the sake of historical correctness, we had no choice but to rely on international conventions to safeguard Lifta from physical oblivion. An extract of the UN Resolution 181 Partition map was sent to the WMF with another map showing the UN designated are of Jerusalem and its environs within the Corpus Separatum international zone. Lifta sat comfortably inside that zone, and as the WMF response emphasized “the current borders of Israel,” we also sent the WMF another extract of the UN map showing the 1949 Armistice Lines which wrapped around West Jerusalem and the village of Lifta at the cessation of hostilities.
We explained that these lines are exactly what they were meant to be according to international legal definitions: “Armistice Lines represent where the hostilities between the parties ceased until the warring parties reach final agreement.” This is in accordance with international law and the Geneva Convention.
In its response dated 1 November, the WMF wrote:
“World Monuments Fund is a private, not-for-profit organization that undertakes the World Monuments Watch as part of advocacy work on behalf of heritage around the world. We are not an intergovernmental organization that must abide by international conventions …” (emphasis).
However, the WMF is part of the United Nations, listed under the “Official Relations” section of UNESCO. By definition, therefore, it is required to respect international law (“UNESCO - World Monuments Fund).
But as is usually the case at the UN, rights take a back seat to politics. The US State Department’s “Diplomacy In Action” section created the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, which has donated over $2 million to the WMF. In view of the fact that the US has punished UNESCO for admitting Palestine as a member on 31 October 2011, the political link between the State Department funding and the WMF cannot be underestimated.”

They further stated that the village’s fate seemed to be directly relevant to the organization’s work:
“Bonnie Burnham, the WMF’s president, in a 2006 interview with the National Trust for Historic Preservation: “Time, war, and politics are destroyers of monuments. Which is the biggest threat? In a global context, unquestionably, the biggest is war. In addition to destroying buildings, armed conflict destroys the entire national capacity to deal with heritage” (“The Short Answer: Bonnie Burnham”).
If the WMF was prepared to address that threat, surely it would be acting to save Lifta.”

If the ILA’a plans are approved, a Jewish community will thrive in Lifta, a Palestinian place that neither belonged to them nor given to them, but stolen from Palestine- history and land. The early biblical depiction of harmony and peace between Christians and Jews may never be remembered, but the prevalence of the colonial Zionist regime will always be remembered.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Israel and South Africa- the tie never broken

If you're reading this, you know what Zionism is. What you might not know, however, is the relationship South Africa and Israel bore during Apartheid South Africa. The nations held a relationship of co-production in weaponry, as well as economic and military collaboration.

Within the current South African Intelligence service, there are openly a number of zionists who aren't afraid to use South Africa's resources for their own agenda, despite the recent declaration by South Africa that Israel has been declared an Apartheid, and Zionist nation.

Their goals aren't concealed; two of which have been clearly prevalent. The promotion of Islamophobia in South Africa, and the attempt to turn previously disadvantaged- now the elite black community, against the 4th generation Muslims who, alongside the denser black population, have fought against Apartheid within the African National Congress (ANC- ruling party) and other freedom parties.

Zionist, Barry Gilder, co-ordinator of the inter-agency National Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee (NICOC) mentioned that, "agents were watching certain individuals and organizations, including foreign visitors, who might be involved in international terrorism," widely recognized as being directed at South African Muslims who,"vehemently oppose Israel’s occupation of Palestine and Israeli apartheid policies against Palestinians."

South African and Israeli Jews, since the Apartheid era, have had control of most of the South African economy. By pushing the fantasy of presence of Al-Qaeda in South Africa, people close to the Zionist regime of Israel have blindly covered up the crimes of gambling, white slavery and drug trade, headed by Israeli mafia since the Apartheid era.

Barry Gilder, just a mere example of a zionist, has sounded a number of false alarms of terrorists in South Africa, along with other zionists (most of whom are members left from the dissolved Apartheid era National Intelligence Service), but no case has ever been brought up against any Muslim due to lack of evidence to substantiate the accusations. Israeli crime syndicates are buried deep beneath the images of freedom, post-Apartheid and a rainbow nation.

The South African National Intelligence Agency was headed by Ronnie Kasrils, a Jew who openly detested Israeli policies towards Palestinians, but his face as the image of intelligence was not enough. The agency is being moulded into an instrument of Israel's anti-Islam crusade and South Africa's resources and being blood sucked, used for the benefit of the Zionist regime.

Recently, a delegation of Israelis were sent to South African campuses "to create some doubt in South African students minds" and were slapped around, nothing to say or do. They left, tail between the legs.
This is the review by BDS South Africa: "At a public level their propaganda was decisively thwarted. At a private level, the delegation attempted to gain some sort of recognition through setting up back door meetings with some political figures and groups (In the Western Cape, for example, they had a small meeting with the local youth branch of the Democratic Alliance). Their lobbying efforts were clearly limited by the strength of our public campaign. " They also stated that the party originally claimed to have been self-funded and diverse but dropped that after it was exposed that they were government trained, university-funded and their official intake criteria listed the (racist) ideology of Zionism as a requirement. The events held were poorly attended, and those who did attend were mainly from the Israel's local pro-Israeli hosts and partners. Another review was: "The Israeli delegation's PR mission to South Africa was a failure. If anything it has strengthened the resolve of South African students to further the boycott movement of Israel." Covering of the Israeli mission to South Africa can be viewed: www.youtube.com/bdssouthafrica

This brings in to light a previous statement. The economy of South Africa is very much still controlled by the Jews, and the display of university funding clearly demonstrates the prevalence of Israeli supporting members and/or zionists.

So, the relationship between South Africa and Israel may be a good relationship based on co-functioning as a result of previous (Apartheid) ties held, or it may be a bad relationship based on the declaration by South Africa of Israel being an Apartheid, Zionist nation, but fact remains that whatever the relationship may be, South African politics, universities, policies and the economy's weight are shifted skillfully by many zionists. Whether they can proved as zionists is not my mission, mine is simply to make you aware that a nation that overcame Apartheid, that boasts that they're a rainbow nation, hosts major worldly events and is now the most modern country in Africa still maintains ties with a nation that illegally occupies Palestinian land, allows the South African economy to be run by zionists who haven't left, and a nation that hides behind lies that South African students look right through.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Virgin Blogger

So, I'm a virgin blogger.
I've only ever read blogs; never attempted to post my own, nor comment on one, but I'm bored- of shutting up, that is.

And that's exactly what my first post will be: NOT SHUTTING UP.

Why do you stay silent? Why do you think your opinions should be kept to yourself? Is it because the person's blog you just read was swamped with big words you didn't understand and readers agreeing with just about every word? Is it because you think, "Hey, what's one person's view gonna do?" Well, one person's view is not just his. Its a view that could be, or is currently shared, regardless of how absurd it may be. It's shared by the people who speak out for the voiceless, and the people who choose to be voiceless.

This is not an inspirational, motivational post that after reading, you'll feel like a presidential candidate, but just a few simple words to encourage you to speak out, just as I am.

To hear, to speak, to think- those are qualities that some don't possess. So, if you are blessed, then why not voice yourself? Why not feel like the person who's just gained 500 followers or the person who's just been praised because they've simply been brave enough to speak out. No one's saying go on a wild rampage and throw out accusations, racism and other crap, but if you take an interest in being a citizen of the the world, then don't sit back and watch people who you could stand with. Don't stand on the side and be a wimp. In today's world, networking is the easiest, quickest way to speak out. You might gain some haters, some who share your concerns, and some who think what you're saying makes no difference in the world. After all, you're just one person, unknown to the world, sitting in front of your screen and silently thinking. Of course. Except, you forget, that's where the most opinionated people sit too. That's where the person's who's post you're reading is sitting.

So, don't be a sitting duck. Sit, and eat duck. Eat 'em all.