Sunday, 29 March 2015

Letter From America: ‘Hidden Hands’ Behind Communal Violence in Myanmar - I told you so

Source Asiantribune, 29 March

myanmar-mandalay-riot-july-2014.jpg
Police stand guard on a street in Mandalay, July 2, 2014. AFP

People on their way to the funeral service of Tun Tun, 36, who was killed during clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in Mandalay on July 4, 2014. Photo: Bo Bo/Mizzima
People on their way to the funeral service of Tun Tun, 36, who was killed during clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in Mandalay on July 4, 2014. Photo: Bo Bo/Mizzima 

By Dr. Habib Siddiqui

In a country that has been infested with the blight of unfathomable racism ad bigotry for decades, rumors are enough to trigger communal riots. And if the press, priests, public servants and people's representatives are all working in cahoots as a party to a very sinister program – which I have been calling a 'national eliminationist project' – one does not have to be Einstein to understand the impact of such false rumors. And that is what happened to Mandalay in central Myanmar (formerly Burma) in July of last year when we witnessed anti-Muslim violence there. It was all part of a highly orchestrated criminal program with deep support at every level of the local and central government.

On July 3, 2014, U Soe Min, a Muslim man, was walking to morning prayers (Fajr) at a nearby mosque when a man with a machete struck him dead with a deep blow to his skull. The 51-year-old Mandalay resident, who ran a bicycle shop, was one of two innocent victims that day of communal violence sparked by reports – later proven to be false – that a Buddhist woman had been raped by two Muslim brothers.

Since May of 2012 starting with the gruesome lynching to death of ten Tablighi Muslims by a Rakhine mob, we have witnessed how the Buddhist mob and criminals have often been empowered by such false rumors to terrorize and exterminate Muslims, which sadly have been led by Buddhist monks and security forces.

The May (2012) ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims started under a similar pretext: a Rakhine woman - Ma Thida Htwe - was raped and murdered by 3 Rohingya (the so-called Bengali) Muslims. The dead body was found, rather conveniently, in a Rakhine village – not too far from a Rohingya locality. Interestingly, the lead accused - named Htet Htet - was not a 'Bengali' – and not even a Muslim. He was a married Buddhist Bama who in his childhood was adopted by a Rohingya Muslim family. As we have seen in many such incidents under police and NASAKA custody, Htet Htet was found dead in his prison cell. The police announced that he had killed himself.

Dr. Maung Zarni, a Burmese human rights activist, says that "the rape narrative of the Rakhine woman - the late Ma Thida Htwe - raped by 'Bengali men' was patently false, but spread by President Thein Sein's men the likes of Major Zaw Htay (Hmu Zaw), Colonel Ye Htut (now deputy information minister) as a trigger event to set the fire of genocidal hatred towards the Muslims. Ma Thida Htwe was NOT raped but was simply murdered - the doctor who examined her body told Ko Zaganar [a popular comedian], in no uncertain terms, that there was absolutely no evidence of rape on Ma Thida Htwe's dead body. The doctor was forced to sign the medical report which claims falsely she was raped. The rape story was spread by government agents on the social media and was used as a launching pad to start waves of mass killings against the Rohingya and the Muslims across Burma or Myanmar."

"Within a month of his death - when [Maung Thura[ Zaganar attempted to meet Htet Htet's wife," writes Dr. Zarni in his blog, "she was found dead in a village well. How convenient!" It is believed amongst the independent analysts that NASAKA security forces killed Ma Thida Htwe and possibly Htet Htet's wife.

For years I have been saying that if one is serious about finding the origin of race/ ethnic/ religious riots and pogroms inside military-controlled Myanmar that inquiry should start with the government itself. As subsequent inquiries have revealed I was not wrong: most of the anti-Muslim pogroms and genocidal activities inside Burma (or Myanmar) owe their origin to the government – central and local. These crimes are sometimes scripted and often times sanctioned by the government. True that we sometimes see the faces of angry Buddhist mob taking the lead in such heinous crimes, but these low-lives are often used as pawns in this chess game of ethnic cleansing of the targeted victims. And no one can deny the powerful influence of the Sangha in agitating and mobilizing Buddhists. The terrorist Buddhist monks have been employed by the regime to polarize public opinion against Muslims and aid in its sinister plan.

It is no accident that after his release from prison in 2010, Wirathu – the head abbot of the Masoyein monastery in Mandalay - with a large following has now become the face of Buddhist terrorism. His 969 (fascist) Movement provides the foot soldiers for Nazi-like blitzkrieg against unarmed Muslims. He led a rally of monks in Mandalay in September, 2012 to promote President Thein Sein's controversial plan to expel Rohingyas to a third country. A month later more violence was directed against Muslims in the Rakhine state resulting in displacement of some 140,000 Rohingyas. His fascist movement has been behind all the subsequent pogroms directed against Muslims (and not just limited to Rohingyas) all across Myanmar. His disciples have also been behind all state-managed protest rallies against the NGOs, UN and OIC reps, including the Doctors Without Borders, worsening the humanitarian crisis affecting the Muslims of Myanmar.

With the vast support Wirathu and other racist and bigoted Buddhist monks enjoy within the broader Buddhist community, they have been able to rally hateful Buddhists to attack and kill Muslims and burn their properties with impunity. Police and other security forces, if they did not participate in such heinous crimes themselves would often time stand unperturbed, as if nothing had gone wrong, or that they have no business to stop such horrendous crimes of fellow savage Buddhists.

According to multiple corroborated eyewitnesses, the Mandalay riots of July 2014 were carried out over two straight nights by a small group of Buddhist terrorists on motorcycles carrying clubs and swords who rampaged through Muslim neighborhoods destroying homes, businesses and mosques. This took place in plain view of fully armed riot police, who followed the rioters and watched the mayhem unfold without taking action. As hinted above, Mandalay – the second largest Myanmar city – is home of the terrorist monk Wirathu. The local Panthay (Chinese) Muslims were forced to hide or keep a very low profile.

Justice Trust - an international human rights organization that partners with lawyers and activists in Myanmar to strengthen local communities fighting for justice – investigated the matter. It found 'hidden hands' (read: government hand) in the attack. In its released report, "Hidden Hands Behind Communal Violence in Myanmar: Case Study of the Mandalay Riots," it documented the use of organized gangs of armed men to commit anti-Muslim riots under the guise of spontaneous mob violence.

The NGO held a press conference in Bangkok on March 23, 2015 to release the report.

"This report shows what most Burmese have known for a long time – that religious hatred between Buddhists and Muslims is being stoked by hidden hands and manipulated as a pretext for maintaining their grip on power," said U Thein Than Oo, a Mandalay lawyer who serves on Justice Trust's steering committee. "We have seen this script many times before – the deployment of plainclothes forces [Swah Ah Shin] rather than uniformed soldiers to commit national-scale political violence, and the scapegoating of minorities to divert public attention away from the country's real needs."

Drawing on six months of research by a team of local and international lawyers, the report analyzes the riots that shook Mandalay in July 2014 and places these riots in the context of previous waves of communal conflict carried out under past military regimes.

The Mandalay riots closely followed every element of this pattern, starting with a false charge of rape spread on Facebook. But unlike in previous riots, where large mobs developed and the violence spun out of control, local people in Mandalay refused to participate despite the best efforts of outside agitators. In fact, local monks, activists and journalists arrived and tried to contain the situation. Without the protective cover of a sympathetic crowd, the outside agitators were exposed, the stage-managed nature of their violence was made visible to the public, and the overall damage was limited.

"The Mandalay riots were designed to appear as a spontaneous outbreak of mob violence, but in fact were perpetuated by an organised gang of armed men brought in from outside Mandalay to enact a pre-determined script written and stage-managed by hidden hands for political ends," the report says.

The report states that: "The case of Mandalay therefore provides the clearest evidence yet of a deliberate political strategy to foment anti-Muslim violence, as well as the best example of countering this strategy through a local early warning system to mobilize an immediate on-the-ground response."

The report says they follow a similar pattern of events, including rape allegations, speaking tours by Wirathu and visits by gangs of fomenting outsiders. "Lots of people recognise that the 969 movement has a history of inciting riots … and once Wirathu posted the [rape] allegation to Facebook, the local civil groups alerted others to the coming storm," said Roger Normand, executive director of Justice Trust.

Mandalay is far from the only orchestrated incident inside Myanmar, which has a long history of military regimes employing the "dual threat of external intervention and internal disintegration" to ensure control, according to the report. Notable examples of such diversions include General Ne Win's anti-Chinese riots in the 1960s to distract from a countrywide rice shortage, and Buddhist-Muslim tensions after democratic mass uprising in 1988.

Anti-Muslim pogroms in Myanmar are not new. They have surfaced periodically in recent decades. The fascist elements within the Buddhist country have exploited their deep-seated racism and bigotry against ethnic minorities and non-Buddhists to glue the fractured Buddhist majority. Their propaganda encourages a blind racist nationalism and an unparallel bigotry, full of references to 'protecting the race and religion', meaning that if the national race Burmans (Bama) do not oppress other nationalities then they will themselves be oppressed and if the Buddhist majority likewise does not expel the non-Buddhists (esp. the Muslims) then they will become a minority, 'national reconsolidation', meaning forced assimilation, and preventing 'disintegration of the Union', meaning that if the Army (Tadmadaw) falls then some kind of ethnic chaos would ensue. In this new Myanmarism, ethno-religio-fascist Buddhism (coined first by self-exiled researcher Dr. Shwe Lu Maung), monks have become the regime's pit bulls that are aided from center to the local level politicians. Even Suu Kyi is a silent partner.

As noted by Human Rights Watch in its report "All You Can Do Is Pray", immediately after the first wave of anti-Muslim genocidal activities in Arakan in June 2012, local Rakhine Buddhist monks circulated pamphlets calling for the isolation of Muslims. For instance, on June 29, monks in Sittwe (formerly Akyab) distributed an incendiary pamphlet telling all Arakanese Buddhists that they "Must not do business with Bengalis [Rohingya]," and "Must not associate with Bengalis [Rohingya]." It implored the Rakhine people to follow the demands to socially and economically isolate the Rohingya to prevent the "extinction of the Arakanese."

On July 5, 2012 monks representing the Sangha in Rathedaung Township, 30 kilometers north of Sittwe, held a meeting and subsequently issued a 12-point statement. The preamble unabashedly presents a plan for the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya:'Arakan Ethnic Cleansing Program'. It called for the establishment of a "rule to control the birth rate of the Muslim Bengali community living in Arakan"; it advocated forced relocation by demanding the government "remove some Bengali villages located near Sittwe University and beside traffic communication roads throughout Arakan State"; and it expresses opposition to any reintegration plans that would "put Buddhist and Muslim people together." Furthermore, the statement called for a "peoples' militia in all ethnic villages along the border and [for the government] to supply sophisticated arms to the people's militia." The statement called for strict adherence to the 1982 Citizenship Law, which effectively prevents Rohingya from obtaining Burmese citizenship. The Rathedaung statement was sent to President Thein Sein, leaders in parliament, and the presidential commission established to investigate the situation in Arakan State.

The statement also called on the Rakhine Buddhists in Rathedaung Township to avoid employing Rohingya in a range of jobs, including day laborers, carpenters, masons, and in farming. It also said that the Rohingya should not to be employed in government offices or by NGOs operating in the township, and that all NGOs providing aid to the Rohingya in the township must withdraw. On July 9, 2012 the monks' association in Mrauk-U (once the capital of Arakan) released a similar statement: "No Arakanese [Rakhine Buddhist] should sell any goods to Bengalis, hire Bengalis as workers, provide any food to Bengalis and have any dealings with them ..."

The ruling RNDP in the Rakhine state also played an instrumental role in stoking fear and encouraging isolation of and violence against the Rohingya. One of the racist provocateurs by the name of Aye Chan depicts Rohingya as 'Influx Virus' which needs extinction. Members of the Buddhist sangha and the RNDP have also called for changes to the demographic makeup of Arakan State and Burma, such as the expulsion of all Rohingya from the country, in interviews with the international media. The monk Sandarthiri likewise told BBC that Rohingya have no right to stay in Burma: "Around the world there are many Muslim countries. They should go there. The Muslim countries will take care of them. They should go to countries with the same religion."

The RNDP leaders issued orders to the Rakhine people to deny food entering the Rohingya part of the villages. "If any food comes, take it, crush it, and destroy it" was a notice on the corner of the road in front of the food market with orders saying no one could allow any food to reach the Rohingya village. On that paper it said that any Buddhist taking money from the Rohingya for rice or other things would be killed.

The HRW report directly implicated "political and religious leaders in Arakan State" in the planning, organization, and incitement of attacks against the Rohingya and other Muslims in October of 2012.

Buddhist monks were again in the headlines in June 2013 when it was reported that participants at a monastic conference were preparing a draft law that would put severe restrictions on inter-faith marriage and penalize Muslim men who married Buddhist women without converting.

The fact-finding reports from multiple NGOs have confirmed what we suspected for a number of years about who these 'hidden hands' are that are responsible for genocidal crimes against Muslims and other vulnerable minorities inside Myanmar. It is high time for the world community, esp. the UNSC, to try these fascists in the ICC for their crimes against humanity for surely the strongest antidote to genocide is justice. And nothing will sober the culprits of Myanmarism except such punitive measures.

- Asian Tribune -

Myanmar Military Aided Massive Land Grab From Ethnic Minorities: Rights Group

Source Theworldpost, 28 March

BANGKOK, March 26 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Businesses in Myanmar have colluded with military and government officials to seize vast tracts of farmland from ethnic minority villagers in the northeast, using much of the land for rubber plantations, a UK-based rights group said.

Over the past decade, 5.3 million acres (2.1 million hectares) has been leased to investors for commercial agriculture without the consent of landowners, and rubber plantations cover more than a quarter of this area, Global Witness said in a report released on Thursday.

Global Witness's 18-month investigation focused on northeastern Shan state bordering China, and found that the area's regional military command collaborated with district government and private companies to confiscate land, the majority of seizures taking place in 2006.

shan myanmar
Myanmar army soldiers carrying weapons patrol on a road in Kokang, Shan State, Feb. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Eleven Media Group)

"The army went in with company representatives to help them confiscate the land... land that farmers had used for generations," the group's land campaigner, Josie Cohen, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone from Myanmar.

Soldiers showed up in villages with no warning, once even moving into the village chief's house, and marked out the boundaries of the land they wanted with bamboo posts, forcing villagers to clear it, she said.

The main beneficiary of the land seizures in the area Global Witness surveyed was private company Sein Wut Hmon, it said. The owner and director of the company denied all allegations made in the report against him and the company, the report said.

An employee at Sein Wut Hmon, reached by telephone at the company's main office in Yangon, said the company's owner could not be reached for comment.

Global Witness cross-checked government land allocation documents with field investigations and satellite information.

It also interviewed 124 affected residents of 11 villages and more than 20 government officials, retired military officers, journalists and land activists.

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Residents who fled from conflict areas near the Myanmar and Chinese border gather at a temporary refugee camp at a monastery in Lashio, northern Myanmar on Feb. 19, 2015. (Ye Aung Thu/AFP/Getty Images)

The report said Sein Wut Hmon controls the largest amount of land of any rubber company in Shan state with a total of 4,608 acres (1,865 hectares) of plantations.

None of the villagers whose land was seized had land titles, but despite having land tax receipts as proof of ownership, they were not paid for their land, the report said.

"There was very little compensation - 98 percent of the people we interviewed hadn't received any compensation for the land," Cohen said.

Three villages have sent the government letters of protest but have received no response, while in most cases villagers were scared to take action because of the army's firm control of the area, she said.

The report said the main ethnic minority groups in communities affected by the company's rubber operations were Shan, Palaung and Kachin.

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Rice fields in the area of Inle lake, Shan state, Myanmar. (DeAgostini/Getty Images)

Land grabs are widespread in Myanmar, and some disputes over confiscated land turn violent.

In November 2012, more than 70 people were injured when police raided a camp where people were protesting against the expansion of a copper mine in northern Myanmar. Villagers said the expansion involved the unlawful confiscation of thousands of acres of their land.

Cohen said that as Myanmar drafts its new national land policy, Global Witness is lobbying to ensure it is "backward-looking," with a grievance mechanism and restitution for past land grabs.

She also urged international investors buying rubber from Myanmar to "conduct stringent checks to ensure that the rubber they buy doesn't fuel corruption or drive human rights abuses."

Related on HuffPost:

Crime In The Golden Triangle
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Getty Images
  • Thai officials check packs of confiscated narcotics before destroying them marking the UN's International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Ayutthaya province on June 26, 2013. More than 3363 kilograms of confiscated narcotics including methaphetamine, heroin, opium, cocaine and psychotropic substances with an estimated value of 10 billion bahts (324 million USD) were to be burnt. (PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images)

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Burmese fighter jets bomb Kachin outposts during peace agreement talks: KIA

Source DVB, 23 March

Myanmar Air Force Nanchang A-5C Fantan MRD-1 at Rangoon airport (Photo: Wikicommons/ M Radzi Desa)
Myanmar Air Force Nanchang A-5C Fantan MRD-1 at Rangoon airport (Photo: Wikicommons/ M Radzi Desa)

Burmese fighter jets reportedly bombed military positions of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in northern Burma no less than five times on Sunday afternoon while representatives of the Kachin rebels met with government delegates for peace talks in Rangoon.

La Nan, spokesperson of the KIA's political wing, the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), told DVB on Sunday that Kachin outposts in Mansi Township between the villages of Madan Yang and Kai Hteik were bombed by two fighter jets at3:15pm on 22 March following an armed clash nearby the day before.

"We are yet to receive a casualty report but we have been informed that the Burmese air force struck at least five times," he said.

The military clash in Mansi, southern Kachin State, broke out on Saturday evening and continued throughout Sunday. La Nan claimed it is a persistent tactic of government forces to use excessive fire power on enemy outposts, even positions of no strategic advantage, as a form of retaliation when suffering high casualties on the ground.

He said the KIA has informed the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), which represents the main ethnic armed groups at ceasefire talks, about the incident.

Vice chief of staff of the KIA Gen. Gun Maw last week was in Rangoon for the most recent round of ceasefire talksbetween the NCCT and the government's Union Peace-Making Work Committee. A recess has been called on the talks until 30 March after an apparently successful six-day session, during which accord was reached on a number of outstanding issues that have prevented progress in the past.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Myanmar sentences journalists over 'defamation'

Source Aljazeera, 19 March

Myanmar sentences journalists over 'defamation'

Editor and reporter given two-month jail term each in ruling that raises concerns about press freedoms in the country.

On Tuesday a barman and his associates were convicted for posting a flyer on social media showing a Buddha wearing headphones [AP]
On Tuesday a barman and his associates were convicted for posting a flyer on social media showing a Buddha wearing headphones [AP]

A Myanmar court has sentenced two journalists to two months in prison on charges of defamation, in the latest ruling that raises concerns about press freedoms as the country emerges from military rule.

Thursday's conviction is the first time journalists have been convicted of defamation since President Thein Sein's government took office in 2011. 

The Myanmar Post's chief editor, Than Htaik Thu, and reporter Hsan Moe Tun were charged in February 2014 after their weekly newspaper quoted an unnamed lawmaker from southeastern Mon state making comments about military representatives in the parliament having low education.

Another 10 journalists are serving prison terms for other offences and nearly 20 are facing trials.

Thursday's ruling comes two days after a Myanmar court sentenced a New Zealand bar manager and his two business associates to two years and six months in prison for insulting Buddhism.

The trio were convicted on Tuesday for posting a flyer on social media that showed a psychedelic depiction of Buddha wearing headphones.

Phillip Blackwood, 32, Tun Thurein, 40, and 26-year-old Htut Ko Ko Lwin were given two years for insulting religion and six months for disobeying an order from a public servant.

The trial of the three men came as the predominantly Buddhist nation grapples with a surge of religious nationalism, including violence against members of the minority Muslim community.

They were arrested in December after the image was used on Facebook to promote the tapas bar and lounge, and sparked outrage on social media. 

Source: Agencies

Related

Myanmar police crack down on student protesters

Myanmar police crack down on student protesters

Scores of people protesting against education bill arrested in violent clampdown by baton-wielding police in Yangon.

PoliticsAsia Pacific

Myanmar court jails three for insulting Buddhism

Myanmar court jails three for insulting Buddhism : 

Trio, including a New Zealand national, convicted over Facebook post showing a depiction of Buddha wearing headphones.

Asia PacificMyanmar

Eight years for Rohingya leaders is injustice, says lawyer

Source DVB, 16 March

Local Rohingyas stand on a road in Aung Mingalar, Sittwe (Lux Capio Photography)

Local Rohingyas stand on a road in Aung Mingalar, Sittwe (Lux Capio Photography)        

The recent re-sentencing of three prominent Rohingya community leaders in Arakan State and the ongoing detention of two others points to the uneven application of the rule of law in the restive region, their lawyer claims.

The trio – Ba Tha, Kyaw Myint, and Kyaw Myint's son, Hla Myint – were sentenced by Sittwe's Appellate Court to eight years in prison on 27 February for their alleged role in inciting violence against government officials, and remanded into custody on 8 March.

Their sentencing stems from an incident that occurred in April 2013, when a delegation visited the Rohingya village of Thet Kay Pyin near the state capital of Sittwe to forcibly register its inhabitants as "Bengalis." Another Rohingya community leader, Kyaw Khin, was sentenced in absentia to five years in prison on the same day and is currently in hiding, according to a statement issued by Thailand-based watchdog Fortify Rights.

The officials' arrival at Thet Kay Pyin, on 26 April 2013, prompted a group of some 200 villagers to demonstrate against the registration process, spearheaded by Burma's Ministry of Immigration and Population as part of a contentious "citizenship verification" process that was paused in February 2015.

The Burmese government does not recognise the Rohingya as one of the country's 135 "national races", and most Rohingya reject classification as "Bengali", a term they consider pejorative that implies origins in neighbouring Bangladesh. The trio were sentenced to one and a half years in prison in May 2013, but were released as part of a presidential amnesty in October 2014.

At Thet Kay Pyin, the villagers defiantly chanted, "Rohingya! Rohingya! Rohingya!" in protest, and the demonstration turned violent. Although the circumstances under which violence broke out remain disputed, government officials allegedly sustained injuries after coming under attack by incensed villagers.

Two other individuals charged by the authorities in May 2013 – Suleyman Begum and Muhammad Hashim –remain in prison after being sentenced to three and a half years on charges relating to robbery, intimidation and disturbing civil servants. On 27 February, five additional years were added to their sentences.

According to Hla Myo Myint, a Rangoon-based lawyer representing the Thet Kay Pyin prisoners, the re-sentencing of the three community leaders was prompted by allegations that they abetted the rioters by compelling them to reject registration as Bengali, a charge the trio deny.

"There's no rule of law. It's all bias of race in conflicts," Hla Myo Myint told DVB. He claims that the evidence presented by the prosecution was accepted blindly by the court, and relied heavily on the testimony of one policeman, which he classified as "tainted."

The eight-year sentence was passed down after the defendants were found guilty of violating three sections of Burma's Penal Code:  147, 333, and 395, for rioting, causing "grievous injury" to a public servant, and "dacoity," or banditry, respectively.

Burma's penal code is a piece of colonial-era legislation that was penned back in 1861. Its outdated statutes give the authorities sweeping, arbitrary prosecutory powers, offering the accused few avenues for recourse or a meaningful appeals process. Across Burma's justice system, 90 percent of charges end in conviction, and free legal counsel is not a legally enshrined right.

Hla Myo Myint feels that his clients were arbitrarily singled out due to their prominence in the community. He claims that the authorities have no way of knowing who was responsible for starting the conflict, leading them to slap his clients with trumped-up charges in an attempt to stifle further dissent.

Three years of the sentence justified under Section 395 for "dacoity", for example – a term that originally referred to roving bands of thieves in colonial India – was passed down because the mobile phone of an immigration official went missing during the riot, he claims.

Bias by the ethnic Arakanese [Rakhine Buddhist] judges overseeing the cases – who many feel are likely to be prejudiced against Rohingya plaintiffs – has made a mockery of justice, he feels. "The real problem is the evidence in the case, the justification for punishment. They don't have any evidence," he said. "But Thein Aung, the appellate court judge, is Arakanese, and he is sensitive towards the Rohingya. He can change the primary order, and give punishment."

The government has demanded that stateless Rohingyas currently possessing "white cards" that provide them with temporary identification turn them in at the end of the month, a factor that has contributed to heightened tensions across the state. Despite their non-citizen status, voting rights – facilitated by the possession of "white cards" – have been among the few privileges afforded to Rohingyas by Naypyidaw in recent years, albeit out of self-interest as their votes offset popular support for Arakanese nationalist parties in the 2010 polls.

Hla Myo Myint – an ethnic-Burman Buddhist with close ties to the opposition National League for Democracy – has forged a career taking on contentious cases. He has represented farmers embroiled in land disputes in the Irrawaddy Delta and leading monks in the 2007 "Saffron Revolution" uprising against military rule. In 2009, he represented Aung San Suu Kyi after an American citizen, John Yettaw, swam to her lakeside residence, prompting the authorities to extend her house arrest for an additional eighteen months.

It is exceedingly rare for lawyers in Burma to advocate on behalf of Rohingya clients, owing to their pariah status both in and out of the corridors of power.

But Hla Myo Myint feels that to deny anybody counsel on the grounds of ethnicity would amount to a dereliction of duty. "I'm an advocate, and because I follow the ethic of an advocate, I will take every case. I have no choice. Ethically, I am obligated," he said.

He intends to bring the Thet Kay Pyin prisoners' case to Burma's supreme court in Naypyidaw, but it remains to be seen if the case will be re-opened. As far as he is concerned, however, there's no reason why it shouldn't be. "I have good legal grounds for revision," he said.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Muslims in Burma

Source Burmatimesnet, 14 March
By Nurul Islam 

Burma is home to numerous ethnic nationalities. Burma official information shows that 4 percent population practices Islam. But "Burma's statistics are not reliable, and many millions of Arakan Muslims or Rohingya are not included in these statistics."1 Some-times, Muslims themselves prefer to hide their religious affiliation to circumvent disapproval. However, Muslim population can be conveniently estimated to be 12-15 percent of the Burma's population of about 55 million.

Muslims in Burma are dispersed geographically and are highly diverse in ethnicity:–  Rohingya in Arakan, Putonghua (Mandarin) speaking Panthay or Chinese Muslims in northeastern Burma, Malay speaking Pashu in Kawthaung in southern Tenansarin, and Burmese speaking Bama Muslim or Burmese Muslims (sometimes called Pathi) mainly in cites with some pockets in lower and central Burma. Rohingya speak a language similar to what is spoken in southern Chittagong region of Bangladesh, mixed primarily with words from the  Urdu, Hindi, Persian and Arabic languages. The "Traditional Homeland" of Rohingya, in North Arakan is the largest Muslim concentration. Rohingya population is estimated to be 3.5 million, including a Rohingya diaspora of around 1.6  million persons.

Since 8th century Islam spread and deeply rooted in Arakan from where it spread into interior Burma."…Beginning in the sixteenth century, Burmese kings settled Muslim prisoners, refugees and soldiers in central Burma. Chinese Muslims, referred to as Panthay, arrived in Burma as early as thirteenth century, and greatest numbers in the late nineteenth century following the Ch'ing government's crushing of the Islamic sultanate in Yunnan."3 On the whole "the current Muslim population of Burma are descendants of  Arabs, Persians, Turks, Moors, Indian-Muslims, Sheikhs, Pakistanis, Pathans, Bengalis, Chinese Muslims and Malays who settled and intermarried with local Burmese and many Burma's ethnic groups such as Rakhine, Shan, Karen, Mon etc." 4

Arakan was virtually ruled by Muslims from 1430 to 1531.5 From 1430 to 1645, for a period of more than two hundred years the Arakanese Buddhist kings took Muslim titles and used Muslim names in their coins. They followed Muslim traditions and culture at home. There were Prime Ministers, War/Defence Ministers and other efficient ministers, high civil and military officers and celebrated court poets who were Muslims and who had served the kingdom. They contributed a great deal to the growth of Islamic culture in Arakan. In fact, the heyday of Arakan began with the influence and spread of Muslim civilization there. It was Muslims who developed the agriculture in Arakan and they were the backbone of its economy. The Muslims had also served the Burmese kings playing phenomenal roles.

Historically, Muslims have often been the targets of communal violence, especially under the military government that has ruled since 1962. The ruling civil-military hybrid government of Thein Sein is the worst, and it has carried crimes against humanity and atrocity crimes against the Rohingyas and other Muslims.

Generally all groups of Muslims in Burma have become unwanted. They are not considered to be citizens, not issued National Registration Cards (NRCs), not accepted for government services. Chronically they face physical and ideological assaults from government and non-state actors including Buddhist monks. Particularly the Muslim Rohingyas are rendered stateless in their own homeland, denied their basic freedoms, including freedom of movement, education, marriage, access to healthcare, adequate food and humanitarian aids. Many hundreds of mosques and madrassahs were demolished or closed down all over the country. A number of religious sites of historical importance, including the ancient Sandi Kahn mosque built in 1433 in Arakan by an Arakan king, were razed to the ground.

 

Genocidal Onslaughts against Muslims

From June-October 2012 series of state sponsored and condoned organized deadly violence, genocidal massacres, arson attacks and destructions were carried out against Rohingya in Arakan by Buddhist Rakhine Maghs. In 2013 similar bloodshed and destructions were also carried out by Buddhist extremists against Bama/Burmese Muslims in the city of Meiktila and other places.

Muslims killed in Burma/Myanmar

Muslims killed in Burma/Myanmar

An estimated 4000 Rohingya and other Muslims were killed, drowned and missing; many hundreds of Muslim women were raped, large Muslim settlements with mosques and madrassahs were devastated, closed down; at least 2000 innocent Muslims were arrested, about 150,000 Rohingya and Kaman Muslims in Arakan are still confined to concentration camps and are starving to death, while many thou-sands of Burmese Muslim communities are dispersed in Burma proper. Those who identified as Rohingya were excluded from the latest UN sponsored census. Now they are being pressurized to denounce their ethnic identity "Rohingya".

More than two years have lapsed there is no improvement of human right situation of Muslims. The racial hatred and Islamophobia is spreading like a cancer all across Burma. The '969' ultra-Buddhist nationalist movement led by controversial monk U Wirathu have fanned the flames of intolerance and fabricated stories of rape and Muslim's plot to dominate Burma in order to incite anti-Muslim violence. Wirathu opposes anyone supporting the genuine case and cause of the persecuted Rohingya or Muslims. Recently, in a mass assembly, he insulted the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights for Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, calling her a 'whore' and a 'bitch'. His "sexist" and "insulting" language against Ms. Lee has been strongly condemned. How President Thein Sein praised Wirathu, a morally bankrupt monk, as son of God, whereas the famous monks U Pandavunsa and U Thawbita said that promoting hate speech is against the code of ethics of Buddhist monks and  that his words could hurt Buddhism very badly."

Burma should guarantee human rights and freedom, including total religious freedom, to all Muslims. They should be treated justly on "equal terms". The Rohingya should be allowed to coexist as equals in Arakan with full citizenship and ethnic rights. On top of that they require "collective rights" as a people. for their protection and humanitarian assistance is vital. An international investigation to the atrocity crimes perpetrated against Rohingya and other Muslims and ethnic peoples is imperative.

1 J.A. Berlie, "The Burmanization of Myanmar's Muslim", White Lotus Co., Ltd, G.P.O. Box  1141, Bangkok 10501, Thailand, p.1

2 "Sasana Ronwa Htunzepho" in Burmese , official publication of the military government, SLORC about the religions in Burma, 1997,

3 "Voice of Islam in Southeast Asia", compiled by edited by Greg Fealy and Virginia Hooker, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, 2006, pp.23-24.

4 "The Muslims of Burma", A Study of a Minority Group, by Moshe Yegar, 1972, Otto Harrzssowitz Wiesbaden, pp.31-32.

5  "The Coming of Muslims to Burma, 1700 AD", A paper presented by Colonel Bashin, Chairman of the Burma Historical Commission, at a Seminar held in Azad Bhavan, New Delhi, in 1961, p.4.

The current condition has made Burma a "tinderbox". International response to the needs of the vulnerable Muslims

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Rohingya Global Protest held in Kuala Lumpur

Source Rvision, 11 March
statement detail through the link here

Kuala Lumpur (Rohingya Vision) — The Rohingya people in Malaysia joined hands in solidarity with the Rohingya people demonstrating worldwide today demanding the government of Myanmar to restore the full citizenship status of the Rohingya and to end the ongoing atrocities against the people in the Arakan state of Myanmar.

Rohingyas in Malaysia Join Worldwide Rohingya Demonstrations

The protesters demanded "restore indigenous rights of Rohingyas, restore their Citizenship without any verification as they are by birth citizens, give them Suffrage and stop the ongoing genocidal acts against Rohingyas in Arakan State, Myanmar."

Furthermore, they requested the international community to give the necessary attentions to their plight and help them solve the problems for durable solutions.

(For more pictures: https://www.facebook.com/RohingyaVisionTV/posts/871151616271216)

The protests was organized by Mr. Mohammed Sadek, Director of Rohingya Arakanese Refugee Committee (RARC); Mr. Mohammed Rafique, Chairman of Ethnic Rohingya Committee Arakan (ERCA); Ust. Jaaber, President of Majlis Ulama Rohingya (MUR); and some other Rohingya activists. Around 50 Rohingyas participated in the event!

The protests started from 10:00AM and successfully ended around 12:00 Noon after the submission of the memorandum to the Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.

Further demands by the joined global Rohingya demonstrations named Global Rohingya Campaign (RGC) are mentioned in the statement or memorandum shown below.


Myanmar groups in Malaysia protest against Letpadan crackdown

Source Channelnews, 11 March

Myanmar Buddhist activists staged a protest alongside Rohingya Muslims in Kuala Lumpur, calling for an immediate end to the violent crackdown against student protesters in Myanmar. 


Ethnic Myanmar Rohingya refugees hold placards during a protest outside the Myanmar Embassy in Kuala Lumpur on March 11, 2015. (Photo: AFP/Manan Vatsyayana)

KUALA LUMPUR: Scores of Myanmar Buddhist activists have staged a protest alongside Rohingya Muslims in the Malaysian capital.

The Buddhist activists were calling for an immediate end to the violent crackdown against student protesters in Myanmar. This comes just a day before Myanmar President Thein Sein is scheduled to arrive for a 2-day state visit.

Rohingya Muslims and the Myanmar Buddhist community do not usually mix in Malaysia where both groups have sizable numbers in residence. That is why the police and special branch were taking no chances when both groups decided to protest and hand over memoranda to the Myanmar government.

The Chin National Front group and the 88 Generation leaders' representatives where demanding an immediate release of the students taken into detention after clashes with police in central Myanmar. Over 100 students fighting for educational freedom were arrested in Letpadan as a result of violent clashes with the police.

"If he could hear us, let him make situation in Myanmar in a positive way not a dictatorship way," said Alfred Aung Myin Myint from the Chin National Front.

View image on Twitter
 melissa goh @melgoh :Myanmar activists protesting in Msia, want Thein Sein govt to immediately release detained students@ChannelNewsAsia     8:05 PM - 10 Mar 2015

The Rohingya community, too, was condemning the use of violence. There are some 80,000 Rohingya Muslims in Malaysia, mostly refugees. President Thein Sein will visit Malaysia on March 12 and they will be using the opportunity to call on him to recognise their basic human rights.

Mohammad Sadek, program coordinator for the Rohingya Arakanese Refugee Committee Malaysia, said: "We are part of Myanmar and we must have voting right to support the government for democratic process"

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are over 130,000 Myanmar refugees in Malaysia and regardless of their ethnicity, many do not feel safe in Malaysia

"We are not safe at all here, because we are foreigners, we are not documented people," said Alfred Aung Myin Myint.

Mohammad Sadek added: "We are also afraid of Malaysia's enforcement law. The Malaysia immigration penal code does not allow anyone to escape any country."

It is a plight that many in the Myanmar diaspora can relate to. They feel that Thein Sein's self-styled reformist government is now letting the country's reforms slip backwards.

Many, like Yaw Han, the Chairman of the Chin National Front, still believe in pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is their only hope. "We trust in her than anyone else in Myanmar because she is Aung San's daughter and Aung San who we trust him alone." 

Action demanded against UN Advisor Dr. Jacques Lieder

Source RB 

Action demanded against UN Advisor Dr. Jacques Lieder

We undersigned Rohingya organizations strongly condemns Dr. Jacques Lieder, advisor to the UN resident coordinator in Burma Ms. Rentala Lok-Dessallien, for asking innocent Rohingya villagers intricate and irrelevant questions about history and ethnic origin in the Community Service Centre (CSC) of Alethan Kyaw village of Maungdaw township on 23 February 2015. 

Dr. Lieder's questions were not constructive and helpful to the oppressed and persecuted indigenous Rohingya minority of Arakan. Apparently it was an attempt to establish his distorted writings on the subject of Rohingya ethnicity. 

Dr. Lieder asked the people why former Prime Minister U Nu's Health and Education Minister Mr. Sultan Mahmud called the Muslims of Arakan as "Arakanese Muslims". This is an irresponsible question which he should not ask the simple villagers as a UN official. As a historian, of course he knows that the name 'Arakan' was given by British colonialists and as such the Muslims living in Arakan were called 'Arakanese Muslims' after the place name of Arakan. We are concerned that such questions are being asked with ulterior motives. 

The Rohingya have an indisputably long history living in Arakan as an ethnic group who emerged from peoples of different ethnical backgrounds over a period of centuries. They have been living in a well-defined geographical territory in North Arakan and they have a distinct language, culture and civilization of their own. Yet, they are constantly denied recognition of this basic identity and, instead, they have been targets of crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and persecution by successive military governments, extremist Rakhine Buddhists and other vested interest groups. The persistent denial of their identity together with unending targeting amounts to a policy of extermination. Most recently, their rights to vote and to stand for elected office – which they exercised in all elections held in the country before and after the independence of Burma until the last general election of 2010 – have been taken away, making them in effect illegal in their own homeland. Remarkably, Dr. Lieder, as a UN officer responsible for Arakan affairs, reportedly did not even mention a word of concern over this serious issue or the deteriorating situation. 

It is unethical and dangerous that Dr. Lieder posed sensitive questions asking innocent villagers about Rohingya armed group leaders and, at the same time, enquired which organizations they support from among the existing Rohingya organizations inside and outside the country. It appears that he is echoing the false allegations from hostile Rakhines, with troublemaker Dr. Aye Maung and extremist Buddhists led by ultranationalist Buddhist monks that the Rohingya do not exist in Burma, that they are Bengalis, and that their so-called armed groups are carrying on violent activities against the native Buddhist communities. 

Therefore, we demand that Dr. Lieder stops making such intellectual harassment of the innocent Rohingya villagers, and placing them at risk. We also urge the UN Secretary General and UN Resident Coordinator to take action against Dr. Jacques Lieder for his unrelated, controversial activities and to replace him with an unbiased officer who will work carefully and professionally in the interests of reconciliation, human rights, peace and development. 

Signatories to this joint Statement; 
  • Arakan Rohingya National Organisation 
  • Burmese Rohingya Community in Denmark 
  • Burmese Rohingya Community in Netherlands 
  • Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK 
  • Bradford Rohingya Community in UK 
  • Rohingya Community in Germany 
  • Rohingya Community in Switzerland 
  • Rohingya Organisation Norway 
  • Rohingya Community in Sweden 
  • Rohingya Community in Finland 

For more information please contact;

Nurul Islam + 44 7947854652
Nay San Lwin +49 1796535213

Monday, 9 March 2015

Rohingya Man Shot By Rakhine Group In Duchiradan, Maungdaw

Source RB, 08 March




Maungdaw, Arakan – A Rohingya man was shot by a Rakhine group in the forest nearby Duchiradan village in Maungdaw Township of Arakan State this morning. 

Today, in the early morning, a Rohingya man named Faizullah s/o Omar Miah (Aged 45) and his 12-year-old son from Duchiradan village in Southern Maungdaw Township left from the village to gather firewood. They went into the forest in the east of the village. At about 10 am, while the father and son were gathering firewood in different places, suddenly four Rakhines from Kin Chaung village arrived and took his son. The Rakhine tried to kill the boy with a sword, but as the boy shouted the father came and tried to rescue his son from being killed by Rakhines. 

While the father tried to rescue his son, he was shot and wounded in the chest. After the shooting the Rakhine group fled the area.

The father and son came back to the village and informed the incident to village in-charge Sultan. The village in-charge took the victim to the Border Guard Police office based in Gawduthara village and the incident was filed to Police Major Nyein Chan Aye. No report of arrests of the Rakhine group has been heard of.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Action demanded against UN Advisor Dr. Jacques Lieder

by Admin, 
Joint statement 

Action demanded against UN Advisor Dr. Jacques Lieder

 

We undersigned Rohingya organizations  strongly condemns Dr. Jacques Lieder, advisor to the UN resident coordinator in Burma Ms. Rentala Lok-Dessallien, for asking innocent Rohingya villagers intricate and irrelevant questions about history and ethnic origin in the Community Service Centre (CSC) of Alethan Kyaw village of Maungdaw township on 23 February 2015.


Dr. Lieder's questions were not constructive and helpful to the oppressed and persecuted indigenous Rohingya minority of Arakan.  Apparently it was an attempt to establish his distorted writings on the subject of Rohingya ethnicity.


Dr. Lieder asked the people why former Prime Minister U Nu's Health and Education Minister Mr. Sultan Mahmud called the Muslims of Arakan as "Arakanese Muslims".  This is an irresponsible question which he should not ask the simple villagers as a UN official.  As a historian, of course he knows that the name 'Arakan' was given by British colonialists and as such the Muslims living in Arakan were called 'Arakanese Muslims' after the place name of Arakan.  We are concerned that such questions are being asked with ulterior motives.


The Rohingya have an indisputably long history living in Arakan as an ethnic group who emerged from peoples of different ethnical backgrounds over a period of centuries.  They have been living in a well-defined geographical territory in North Arakan and they have a distinct language, culture and civilization of their own.  Yet, they are constantly denied recognition of this basic identity and, instead, they have been targets of crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and persecution by successive military governments, extremist Rakhine Buddhists and other vested interest groups.  The persistent denial of their identity together with unending targeting amounts to a policy of extermination.  Most recently, their rights to vote and to stand for elected office – which they exercised in all elections held in the country before and after the independence of Burma until the last general election of 2010 – have been taken away, making them in effect illegal in their own homeland.  Remarkably, Dr. Lieder, as a UN officer responsible for Arakan affairs, reportedly did not even mention a word of concern over this serious issue or the deteriorating situation.


It is unethical and dangerous  that Dr. Lieder posed sensitive questions asking innocent villagers about Rohingya armed group leaders and, at the same time, enquired which organizations they support from among the existing Rohingya organizations inside and outside the country.  It appears that he is echoing the false allegations from hostile Rakhines, with troublemaker Dr. Aye Maung and extremist Buddhists led by ultranationalist Buddhist monks that the Rohingya do not exist in Burma, that they are Bengalis, and that their so-called armed groups are carrying on violent activities against the native Buddhist communities.


Therefore, we demand that Dr. Lieder stops making such intellectual harassment of the innocent Rohingya villagers, and placing them at risk.  We also urge the UN Secretary General and UN Resident Coordinator to take action against Dr. Jacques Lieder for his unrelated, controversial activities and to replace him with an unbiased officer who will work carefully and professionally in the interests of reconciliation, human rights, peace and development.


Signatories to this joint   Statement;

  • Arakan Rohingya National Organisation           
  • Burmese Rohingya Community in Denmark      
  • Burmese Rohingya Community in Netherlands
  • Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK
  • Bradford Rohingya Community in UK
  • Rohingya Community in Germany
  • Rohingya Community in Switzerland
  • Rohingya Organisation Norway
  • Rohingya Community in Sweden
  • Rohingya Community in Finland

For more information please contact;


Nurul Islam   + 44 7947854652

Nay San Lwin +49 1796535213

 

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Myanmar: "Rohingya subjected to a slow genocide"

Source amnestypress, 2 Feb

Maung Zarni comes from a military family and left Burma to make a career. It was only in exile, he became a dissident and activist, and an advocate for the country's most vulnerable minority - the Muslim Rohingya ethnic group. Amnesty Press met Maung Zarni when he visited Stockholm.

REPORTAGE | 2015-02-22 
BY: IVAR ANDERSEN
  •  

Flyktingl√§gret Taung Paw i Myebon i Rakhine i december 2012. Foto: UN Photo/David Ohana

The concept of slow genocide is not Maung Zarnis own. Parallel to that, he published studies and reports he was looking for a suitable terminology to explain the situation in Rakhine, the state in western Burma, which represent ethnic group Rohingya traditional home. During a conference at Harvard in the US came from Nobel laureate Amartya Sen with a proposal.

- He said we should call it slow genocide, says Maung Zarni. Legally, it would have been enough to call it genocide but there is a misconception that the definition of genocide is that many have been killed during a short time. Genocide is basically about to destroy the conditions for a people to be able to think of themselves as just a people.

The UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines five intentional acts which - together or in combination - constitute genocide if carried out in order to "wholly or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group". They do both dead and physically harming people from the group, but also to attack the group's cultural identity.

- That's a little more complicated to define, says Maung Zarni. But imagine that you are walking down the street here in Stockholm and a police officer stops you and asks where you are from. When you reply that you are Swedish, he hits you and says "no you are norwegian, go home", and continue beating until you provide with you. So, the Burmese government acted for 40 years, it says "you are not Rohingya, you are Bengali and do not belong here."

Maung Zarni visited Stockholm in February. Photo: Ivar Andersen

People Group Rohingya's fate has long been an invisible tragedy. According to Amnesty International, the human rights continuously violated by Burma's central power since 1978, but few news has leaked from it for a long time closed country and the Rohingya have been largely voiceless. In addition to the Muslim Rohingya Rakhine is also home to the Buddhist community the state takes its name from. People Group rakhines is, unlike Rohingya, recognized as one of Burma's 135 national minorities and represent approximately 75 percent of the state's four million inhabitants.

Tensions between rakhines and Rohingya have long existed, but exploded in the summer of 2012 in large-scale violence. The origin is disputed, but the Rohingya were the clear losers. Hundreds were killed when villages were set on fire, tens of thousands were displaced. At least 100,000 Rohingya live today interned in camps in dire humanitarian conditions.

Maung Zarni mean that what outwardly described as an ethnic conflict is in fact the result of an active approach from the Burmese regime.

- Both rakhines and Rohingya victims of Burmese colonization. When Burma became a sovereign state in 1948 was shot groups off against each other. Rakhines demanded independence, but the Rohingya of Burma helped to put down their rebellion. As a thank you became Rohingya recognized as citizens, but rakhines has never forgiven them. Now, the regime has revived the old antagonisms.

Military Handlebar end of 2011, the rakhines opportunity for local political representation, and greater opportunity to make demands on the central government.

- Rakhines demanded autonomy and to take part of the revenues from natural gas development in the state, said Maung Zarni. The claims were directed against the Burmese military, so the military decided to direct their anger against Rohingya instead.

Data on military involvement in the violence that erupted in 2012 quickly spread. Human Rights Watch , who argue that what is happening in Rakhine constitute ethnic cleansing, has in a report gathered dozens of testimonies of the armed forces actively participated in the expulsion of the Rohingya.

Rohingya's modern history is in many ways a case study in how Burma's military regime worked. After initially favored and used it as a buffer against other minorities requirements Rohingya lost his favor with the junta. 1982 was deprived of his Burmese Rohingya citizenship and considered since then officially as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Maung Zarni argues that what he calls "national security paranoia" has hit extra hard against the Rohingya, the only Muslim group along the 275 km long border with the populous neighbor to the west.

- 1978 regime launched a plan to clean up the country's border areas. It was not specifically directed against, but was particularly deadly for, Rohingya. Many fled to Bangladesh, and the reason that they were deprived of their citizenship was to Bangladesh in 1982 threatened to arm the refugees unless Burma took them back.

In the autumn of 2015 planned general elections in Burma. The government has announced that Rohingya will be allowed to vote. A step on the road to restoring the long-suffering minority status as Burmese citizens in democratic reforms wake? Not at all, says Maung Zarni.

- What you must understand is that this is still a military government and that they see everything as a military operation. The Constitution was an operation that automatically gave them 25 percent of the seats in Parliament. And when they give Rohingya right to vote, they buy themselves automatically 500,000 votes with one stroke of the pen. Rohingya do not support the government and know that it is complicit in atrocities against them, but they know that the government is the only force that has the ability to improve their situation. Many Rohingya supported the former National Leauge for Democracy , but after the democratic party turned its back on them. No one will forget it.

Maung Zarni is disappointed with Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the main opposition party NLD: "It's hard for me she does not say anything about the Rohingya". Photo: Ivar Andersen

During the junta's rule supported Aung Saan Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize winner and leader of the opposition National League for Democracy, NLD, the Rohingya's struggle for civil rights. But since the democratic process started, the support turned into eloquent silence. Maung Zarni believe that tactical considerations underlie and his sentence is harsh:

- Aung Saan Suu Kyi feels she can not win anything on standing up for the Rohingya. The army will be upset, the party supports her. And she has relativiserat abuse by attempting to describe it as a conflict between two complicit parties. It's hard for me she does not say anything about the Rohingya. Amnesty International was fighting for her freedom for decades and she goes out into CNN and says that she is not an activist for human rights without a political leader. But you can be both. What values ​​drive one if you do not fight for human rights?

Personally, Maung Zarni an easy unlikely champion of what the UNHCR called "one of the world's most vulnerable minorities". He comes from a military family and considered himself a career in the armed forces, but ambition and adventurousness wanted different. He took employment as a guide for getting to know tourists, and to get their help to arrange employment abroad. A requirement for obtaining an exit permit.

- When I was 24, in 1988, so I left the country to study in the US. There were no political reasons, I was not part of the student movement. My goal was to go back and marry my girlfriend, not to become a political dissident.

Activist for Rohingya rights became Maung Zarni not until he met the British woman who later became his wife: 
- My wife is a researcher, it was she who taught me about the Rohingya. I had lived in Burma for 24 years but never even heard of them. My English wife had to educate myself about my own country! Eventually I began to feel ashamed. We call ourselves Burmese Buddhists and face the world with a friendly smile but we treat these people as the Nazis treated the Jews.

Ivar Andersen

Facts / Maung Zarni
• Is scholars and human rights activist. 
• Teach at Harvard Medical School faculty for global health. Has previously conducted research at Oxford,London School of Economics and Malay University of Malaya . 
• Said in 2013 up from a managerial position at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam then the employer urged him to stop advocating democracy in the Sultanate of Brunei. 
• Blogs about Rohingya situation, Buddhist nationalism and Burmese Policy on www.maungzarni.net/