Myanmar launches report riddled with untruths

Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO)

Press Release: 16 January 2020

Myanmar launches report riddled with untruths

 On January 8, 2020 the Government of Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a report titled “Rakhine State: A Snapshot of Myanmar’s current efforts for peace and reconciliation.” The 15-page report makes blatantly false claims that Myanmar has taken measures to promote peace in the Rakhine. In the report, Myanmar claims that it is addressing five large thematic areas which include access to education, preventing sexual violence, addressing hate speech (fostering inter-faith dialogue), reforming the security sector, and repatriation. But Rohingya continue to be subjected to harsh restrictions on their basic rights and freedoms.

Education

Educational measures do not include Rohingya children. Specifically as noted in this post at Rohingya Khobor – the Child Rights Law does not even recognize Rohingya children. While there are not enough schools for the Rohingya children even for elementary classes, most of the schools in Rohingya villages stand in ruin or are purposefully abandoned. The Buddhist teachers are mostly absent in classes as they are not interested to teach the Rohingya children.

The Rohingya students are unable to attend government schools in detached non-Rohingya places for lack of security or protection. Particularly the Muslim students living in IDP camps and ghettos are at great risk. Since many years the Rohingya students have been barred from higher studies in country’s colleges, universities and seats of learning despite all merits for admission. Lots of Rohingya students had to give up their studies although some of the students try to rely on limited distance learning courses amidst various restrictions and difficulties, where quality education and professional courses are unavailable even for the meritorious students.

Sexual Violence

Myanmar has done nothing to address the systemic sexual violence that is perpetrated by the Tatmadaw as part of its genocidal campaign towards the Rohingya. This behaviour is repeated in other states throughout Myanmar. Further, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has complimented itself on its report “” The Situation of Muslim Women and Girls in Northern Rakhine State” sent to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), yet did not address the Committee’s pointed statement, “Myanmar’s continued denial of the accusations of acts of violence and sexual violence against Muslim women in Rakhine state by its security forces, despite documented evidence of mass atrocities, including widespread killings, torture and rape, as well as indications that sexual violence was orchestrated and perpetuated by Myanmar’s armed forces, guard police and militias.”  As noted during the December 2019 International Court of Justice proceedings, “the word ‘rape’ did not once pass the lips of the agent.” The leadership of Myanmar has shown a blatant disregard for the sexual violence repeatedly exhibited towards the Rohingya people.

Hate speech

The current iterations of the hate speech laws are called into question by civil society and the United Nations. Specifically, the drafting of the bills leave more power in the hands of those who are culprits of disseminating and encouraging hates towards Rohingya people. Just recently, Rohingya rights groups have asked the Myanmar Press Council to review the rhetoric, as it is tantamount to hate speech. Myanmar has allowed for the continued use of racist and pejorative terms, calling into question the sincerity of hate speech laws.  A new addition to the hate speech regime now includes reprisals which have been taken against human rights activists who have been advocating for justice for the Rohingya.

Security Sector

The Independent Commission of Inquiry is run by friends of Myanmar. The international community must call into question the veracity of the findings of the ICOE.  Among the panel members is a representative from Japan. Recently the Japanese Ambassador to Myanmar Ichiro Maruyama denied any wrongdoing in the Rakhine. Before the International Court of Justice, Aung San Suu Kyi stated that the four officers and three soldiers who were given a sentence to ten years in prison with hard labor. Yet she went on to state that they were “given a military pardon” and “many of us in Myanmar were unhappy with this pardon.”  The State Councilor has pointedly expressed the problem with the ICOE yet at the same time is defending the corrupt process.

Repatriation

Finally, Myanmar has noted in the report that two attempts at repatriation failed in 2018 and 2019, but does not discuss whether it has rectified the issues that caused the failure. Since that time, Myanmar has been brought into Court for its failure to uphold its legal obligations under the UN Genocide Convention. To date, by its own admission, the conflict between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army has caused security issues, thus calling into question what measures it could be taking for a safe return. Furthermore, even if the conflict were to stop other issues continue to present problems – including but not limited to food security, landmines , and the land confiscations. The land confiscations highlight the propaganda machine of the government. One should consider if the Rohingya have no lands to return to – how can Myanmar truly claim it is closing the IDP camps?

ARNO calls upon the government of Myanmar to stop inaccurate reporting and conflating of statistics and programs which continue to mislead the international community with regards to the situation in the Rakhine. 

For more details, please contact:
Dr Mohammad Habib Ullah +1-4438158609 or email at info@rohingya.org

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Medieval Rohingya Poetry

Arts/Literature

Medieval Rohingya Poetry

in Arts/Literature — by Atindriyo Chakraborty — June 11, 2018

Medieval Mark-U City of Arakan

People from the Ra-khin countries are called Ra-khin-ye – or the Rohingya. In vernacular Bengali, we had learnt of the place as the Arakan Valleys that lie to the east of Bangladesh – beyond the southern hilly walls of Chittagong. We had surmised that the Arakan must have been a great melting pot of Buddhism, Islam and the tribes. Buddhist and Muslim rulers had lorded over those climes across the medieval times. The ancient past lies buried in totemic prehistory.

One might ask – how did we learn about this? As any high school student who has had Bangla as the first language in either of the two Bengals would attest – from ‘History of Literature’! It is indeed impossible to learn about medieval Bangla literature without learning about the great Rohingya poets and their poetries. Let us turn the clock by four hundred years.

In early 17th century, the Rohingya climes had Buddhist kings. It was also called the Kingdom of Mrauk U. According to  the ‘History of Buddhism in India’ of Lama Taranatha (1575-1634) , the ruler of the Rakhine countries – as of AD 1608 – was a Buddhist king named Chandravahana – literally, the Moon Rider! His father, Balasundara, had lorded over bigger climes – bringing many countries of ancient Ko-Ki – as Tibetans called Myanmar & Kamboja collectively in those days – under his scepter. Other than the land of the Rohingyas, he also held, in sway the land of the Chakmas – as Taranatha attests. Two of Balasundara’s sons – Chandravahana – the Moon Rider and Ativahana – the Superlative Rider – ruled over the climes of the Rohingya and the Chakma people respectively. Had this Balasundara, who is also accredited with the spread of the Mantra-Vehicle Buddhism across vast stretches of Myanmar, foreseen the plight of the subjects of these climes four centuries down the line – one wonders if he would have smiled or frowned.

For, besmirched by the power-mongering necessities of kingdoms, Buddhism had begun to lose its much avowed ‘karuna’. Rabindranath Tagore’s short story ‘Dalia’ is based on a king-tale from the Rakhine countries – where two princesses were put inside a sealed room and left there to die – for such was the manner in which death penalties were executed at behest of the medieval Buddhist kings of Arakan whose religion forbade bloodshed.

The jaati ways endogamy preached by the Hindus, too, had made deep inroads into Buddhist thoughts. Thus, even the Tibetan historian from the 17th century can recall only the Sanskritised names of the kings – forgetting their indigenous ones. The Buddhist kings of 17th century Arakan valley – in whose courts had flourished the great Rohingya poets – too – had taken to the mixed but heavily Sanskritic & Indo-Aryan Bangla language – shunning their own indigenous ones. Thus, we find the son and successor of the Moon Rider king of medieval Arakan Valley, Thiri Thu Thamma (AD 1622-1638), shunning his indigenous name and taking up a Sanskritised Bengali one Sri Sudharma – in all official accounts. The Buddhist kings of those climes considered Bengali as a ‘sacred’ language. Thus, the people, over time, began to lose their indigenous speeches to the aggressive entry of Bengali as the dominant language and culture. This, today, has become the very reason why the Rakhine countries bleed.

The Arakan valley, in the 17th century, was indeed a melting pot of many cultures. The Rakhinye kingdom had fought for independent sovereign identity against the sultans from the Hossain Shahi dynasty of medieval Bengal across the last one century. In fact, from around three and a half centuries between AD 1429 & AD 1785, the Kingdom of Mrauk U held fort as a sovereign entity.

Nonetheless Islamic influences had begun to come in ever since the Sufi Pir Shah Jalal from Persia, a contemporary to Hazarat Nizamuddin Auliya and Amir Khusru, believed by many to be the 28th descendent of Prophet  Mohammed – had come preaching in the hills of & vales Sylhet that touch the north-western crown of this medieval Bengali-Buddhist kingdom of the Rohingya people.

Between 1429 & 1531, the Mrauk U kingdom had become a vassal state to the Hossain Shahi sultans of Gour-Bengal. Since then onwards, the place had deep seated Islamic influence. Many among the royal officials, the nobility, the army, as well as many ordinary citizens – had, by then taken to Islam. Two of the greatest Rohingya court-poets who enriched Bangla literature with their ballads bore Muslim names: Daulat Kazi and Syed Alaol

Come, let us look at their lives, times & works:

Daulat Qazi (1600-1638) was Sufi. So was his patron Ashraf Khan – a commander in the army of king Thiri Thu Thamma. Daulat had given his patron the epithet – the Eye-Jewel of among the Laskar-fighters.

He had written a ballad based on yet another folk ballad. An ancient poet, Miyan Sadhan, from the faraway western climes of Rajasthan, had had scripted those folk ballads down in the Theth-Gohari language. The script by Miyan Sadhan was titled – “Mayank Sat”.  It was the sad, beautiful tale of Lore & Chandrani, alias Moyna the suttee. People from medieval Mithila, across the medieval centuries, had sung, danced & enacted these tales as Lorika – the songs of Lore. These ballad-tales were also popular among the Ahir people of southern Bihar. Thus flowed the music, the poetry and the tales across medieval, folk and bhakti-sufi literatures of the subcontinent and beyond.

Rohingya poet Daulat Qazi had assimilated and translated these tales into Bangla – thus recreating them as original works. He had two working titles for the manuscript – Suttte Moyna – or Moyna the Chaste & Lore Chandrani – or, Lore & the Moon’s Daughter.  He died before he could complete the work. Another Rohingya poet Alaol had, a few decades after Daulat’s death, completed the final one thirds of the work.

Someday, when we stop looking at the Rohingya people as either refugees or terrorists, shall we learn, together, of these stories that their histories share with those of so many communities of the Indian subcontinent and beyond – from Rajasthan to Kamboja. For tonight, let us flow with the a little bit of the verses penned by these Rohingya Sufi poets:

This is from a portion where Daulat Qazi shows how, during the rainy months,                                                      the sad heroine of the tale – Moyna – pines for her beloved who has gone far away:

In the second month of the rains

Moyna feels happy – it would rain on –

Many moods tinge her mind

Water flows all over the earth

It is dark like night all the time

The newlyweds play wild games of love

The skies turn green

The fields turn green

Green are the ten sides

And green is the daylight

Streaks of lightning play with clouds

Wild lovers make love

The nights – strong, dark and terrific

Games and waves go by, as do the colours and the plays 

In the second month of the rains

Waves of the seasons reveal themselves

How do I cross the river without Hori?

Fast flows the ocean and it roars

Winds blow reckless

Fires of parting rise four times higher… 

Sad since birth you are, King’s Daughter,

In vain do you take his name

Know this, that, loving good people with all heart,

is like a garland that becomes new every moment

Soldier-Hero-Jewel brightens the world

Another sample of medieval Bangla poetry penned by Rohingya Sufi Daulat Qazi                                                 who had gone to the Arakans from his birthplace at Chittagong –

Niranjan – the Colourless Emptiness –

Creates humans – as priceless jewels

There is none like the humans

In the Three Worlds

Without humans, there is no mind,

No knowing, no signs

Without humans, there are no holy books

Humans are the utmost gods –

Humans perform all rituals & worship

Seeking utmost Wisdoms

Humans are the divinity, sublime; humans are god and the gods

Without human beings, there is no one to divide the universe, the gods and the religions

Alaol (1597-1673) had a turbulent childhood. He was kidnapped by Portuguese pirates who had begun to establish settlements along the coasts of Bengal and Myanmar by the first years of the 17th century[i]. Shortly, he was sold to the Mrauk U kingdom, then under the rule of its last king Sanda Thudhamma (1658-1684) – noted in contemporary Aryan texts as Sri Chandra Sudharma. Other accounts, including those penned by Syed Alaol himself, indicate that, faced by poverty, he had joined the army of the Mrauk U kings. Soon, King Sanda got to know of his poetic talents. He began to translate many texts of Islamic tales and philosophies from Farsi & Arabic. This included a ballad-tale on Alexander – ‘Secundernama’ and the romantic epic the Seven Beauties alias Haft Paykar (translated AD 1660) – from their original Farsi texts written by Nizami of Ganja in the early 11th centuries.

However, his magnum opus is Padmavati – based on the tale of Queen Padmini of Chittor. This, too, is a work of translation, published in AD 1646. The original is the much celebrated Padumavati, written in AD 1540, in the Awadhi language and the Nasta-liiq script by sufi poet Malik Mohammad Jaysi.

In Alaol’s Bangla Padmaboti we see Persian music mingle with Bangla ‘p(n)achali’ folk music styles. Sufi visions mingle with those of the ancient Sravaka-s and medieval Mahayana, Mantra-yana and Tantra-yana visions – each informed by people’s wisdoms from climes far and wide – from Tibet to far reaches of the subcontinent and Ceylon to those from the far southern Cambodian climes. Let us see a sample of poetry that thus came from the Rohingyas in the 17th century – from Alaol’s Padmaboti –

Ah my life pierces

I stay awake and dream – no more am I on earth

Know not what destiny awaits beyond these karmic sins

I find the touchstone – and then I lose it by mistake

Whom do I tell these tales that sadden my mind?

It shall pain my friends – that pain shall kill me too

Days and nights of sadness stretch beyond epochs and eras

How do I bear with the pain? I suffer like fish without water

For what great Jeeu – life – lies in the holy-pot (GhawT)

The heart is hard stone – no sorrow makes it break

Recalling the wisdom and welfare of the great sage Moses

Humble Alaol sings of the sadness of parting

There is no Bhava without love

There is no Rasa without love

Everything visible in the three worlds

Lies tamed by love

Whosever heart bears saplings of love

becomes free – becomes God of Love

Beholding eyebrows furl in frown

All the snakes wonder and ponder

And slip down to Rasatala – further depths of the netherworlds

In garden-waters hide the deer that played

Those eyes that the wagtail-birds had sung paeans about

Has its lashes & corners reddened by dark collyrium now

Buddhist kings from medieval Myanmar used to encourage translations of such Sufi tales and ballads – even those from faraway Persian climes. Today, things are very different in the subcontinent as they are across Myanmar and across the world. As these sufi poetry of the Rohingya attest – it is not so that there has only been war & conflict between cultures & civilizations. Be it the Buddhist ones or the Abrahamic ones or the totemic ones or even the Hindu ones – these had also informed, enriched and breathed life into all the composite and ever-flowing cultures of each other.

The cultures of the Rakhine valleys, like those of its neighbouring Chittangong & Syllhet – reveal such breathtaking amalgamation of Sufi, Buddhism, Hinduism & tribality. This informs much of the much revered treasures of Bangla folk music – be it the Bhawaiya ox-shepherding songs of the multi-totem Rajbanshi people – also known as Songs of the Winds – or ancient lores on how the Gadh-Govindi kings with their hugh sub-Himalayan hill-fortresses, having taken to Hinduism despite much denigration from the Ganga-belt & even the Rarh-belt Brahmans – even among whom the former sniggered at the latter as ‘inferior races’. And yet, as tales of these once-totemic caste name Patro/Patra (Leaf) people of those lands say, when the Sufi faith was brought in to such sub-Himalayan climes by Shah Jalal of Persia and his 360 murids, the Fotress-Govinda kings went back to their totemic chietfaindoms across the Jaintiya Hills shared by India, Bangladesh & Myanmar today – where property and ownership were not encouraged as community practices. Thus, the individual identities of such chiefs, having emerged from their ancient tribality, mingled into their totemic collectives once again. Thus, Khalji generals chasing those Gadh-Govindi chiefs – those known in history as Brahmnas oppressed even by Ballala Sena (1160–1179) – down, no trace could be found beyond the caves and tunnels of the Jayanti hills that separate the mainland subcontinent from the sub-Himalayan climes of the Mon-Khmer speaking people.  There was a reason why the Khalji generals had begun chasing the then Brahminisied Gadh-Govindi kings. In all overzealousness to propagate caste-hatred – the Govindi Kings had conducted at least two beef lynchings – once by killing a boy and his father for bovine sacrificing on occasion of the boy’s birthday and killing a newlywed couple and many of their family members for the same ‘crime’ at their wedding. All these were also the times of when Alauddin Khalji was lording over Delhi (AD 1296-1316)[ii].

Like the Syllheti people who had taken to Islam faced beef-lynchings from the marauding and Hinduised Gaudh-Govindi kings, the Kurmi people – bearing ancient totemic history as evinced by their clan/jaati – name that draws from their ancient tortoise totem – faced chicken lynching from the Hindu fiefs and vassals across the eastern subcontinent during the feudal ages – right from the times of the Sena kings[iii].

In strains of Bhawaiya music – “Folklores of the Breezes” – of the indigenous people of north-eastern climes of Bengal and the south-western ones of Assam, flowing across plains of Nepal and the Terais & the Doars – the last two being the terrains and doors that lead to the Himalayas if one approaches from the Gangetic plains – we hear whistles of the Bull-shepherding clans from times when the gotra­ aggression had not descended among the Rajbongshi people – born, as their collective jaati name affixed by the powerful Sanskritic cultures reveal – into Chieftain-Lineages in ancient times, holding many totems such as that of the bull. Lores and aphorisms hold tales of such songs when bulls and tortoises would be abundant in the frontier climes of the Himalayas – being those Shivalika range mounds and hillocks that dot the boundaries between mainland Bengal and the Himalayan and south-Himalayan climes, fill the air of villages, fields, grazing-grounds and rivers that have all flowed on since far ancient times of community-life.

Across the colonial times, coachmen, while drawing their carriages, would recall songs from their bull-totem shepherd ancestors from grey, forgotten pasts:

O brother driver

How long shall I stare at the roads

(Until) that day (when) the car rolls upstream!

translation from Bhawaiya lyric as in public domain                                                                                               and villagers, speaking of capital-couched urban entertainments, would croon: 

 Brother boatman,

Take an anna

and take me to the famous zoo –

the Royal Rangpur Chiriya-khana

-translation from Bhawaiya lyric as in public domain

Women, in collective recollection of Neolithic inheritance as the first farmers & the first priests,                       would sing on from the huts, barns & shades:

We grind rice with the husking pedal

The wood of the pedals dance

We dance

  • Translated from Bangla folk song in Bonikbarta e-zine, , from the original Bangla scripted out                                                                     by Farq-al-Shabir in his article “Bangla-r Baro Gaan”, 2017)

From inside those huts, grandchildren would giggle to their grandmothers crooning folk-riddle tales involving a tortoise scolding a palm-toddy tree from which a fruit had dropped on the shelly back of the hapless creature:

Oh big black chunk of sugar, why did you grind me?

To this the palm-toddy tree would make reply:

My time had come to fall,

why did you seat below me, Baal

(translated from the Bangla version as told by a grandma from dist. Jessore.

Thus, there is always poetry. If we gaze beyond all the clashes of all the cultures – we stare, Sufiesque and Shamanesque, into the horizons of synthesis along the medieval boundaries between the Indian subcontinent and Myanmar through – we find that, beyond the dark clouds of ‘other’-ing, silvery lines of poetry, music and philosophies playing on, like Lalon’s New Moon moonrise on the 27-starred skies:

(i) know not where the moon stays on New-Moon

When the moon rises in the skies –

it stays where it is. Knowing not

the deep meanings of the New Moon

In vein do I roam, counting stars & dates

Oh every month, I see, the fresh young moon

Taking the same form – during the Full Moon Night

& the New Moon one!

Whom do I ask what does this mean?

You, who know, speak how

the mind eases there. The sky

is made of 27 nakshatra – the lunar-mansions –

There Yoga of Swati – Arcturus – the fourth brightest star

Knowing not when that happens,

in vain doth Lalon cry thy name out!

-Lalon, (1772/74-1890)

After Lalon, as the cultural front of the post-Fakir rebellion colonial Bengal when the zamindari system was digging its claws in provided relief in faith and music to people from all jaatis and religions in the 18th & 19th centuries was on the wane, its  eastern frontiers were being culturally safeguarded from  communal disharmony by Hachhon or Ali the King – Hasan-Raja, alias Ali-Raja (1854-1922)

One kaya – body, one chhaya – shadow

These are the only two

One tan – body, one man – mind, one divinity

One Kaya in the Three Worlds, one Avatara

All creatures worship and chant out towards that one Lord

Premananda Simhasana – Premananda Vrindavana – Premananda Amrita-Lahara

The Lion Thorne in joy of love – Vrindavana in joy of love – Ambrosia-waves in joy of love

  Premenanda Taru-moola, Premananda Phala-phoola –

Tree-roots in joy of love – Fruits & flowers in joy of love

Premananda Rasa madhukara

Nectar-bees in joy of love!

Thus, all down those medieval centuries & millennia of war & peace, right until ripe pre-modernity – we find poetry & music glinting the waves of these cultural. 11 among the 164 poets of Vaishnava ‘Padabali’ literature as listed out by Dinesh Chandra Sen (1866-1939) were Sufi Fakirs. Many among them even sang of Gora, alias, Chaitanya (1486-1534) – a distinctively Hindu power consolidator of medieval Bengal. Thus we find, glinting in the temporal flows of literary history like moonlight does on waves & currents:

Jiu Jiu Mera Man-Chora Gora

Dances all by himself, filled to brim with his own Rasas

(Akbar Shah)

Rasa-tatva, or the body-praxis oriented philosophies that encompass all bodily and natural nectars and fluids – the Orient’s answer to the Occident’s alchemy – as binary enthusiasts might exclaim out loud if acquainted with those philosophies – despite having ancient Tantric origins  as attested to by the ancient Charyapada poets – had, down the medieval times, become a decidedly Vaishnava praxis. And yet, we see even Sufi poets sing on the same!  Thus, the Lalon Fakir sings out & clear:

Come, see the new Bhava brought by Gora

Shaven-headed, donning a blanket, donning a piece of loin-cloth

(Lalon)

A host of other poets from the pre-industrial times of eastern Bengal hoist torches of communal love and harmony across the medieval times.

Golden Human has come to room, Oh

Flowing, with devotees, in the waves of love

In the room of Srivasa the Pundit

(- Lal Mamud; Srivasa Pundit, as referred to in this poem, was a Brahmin contemporary to Chaitanyta. Hailing from Syllhet – he had made Vaishnavism and Brahminism mingle and take its present pro-caste, pro-gotra Hindu identity.  Syllhet, as a sub-Himalayan border between the mainland subcontinent and the North-east and Myanmar, had, like the climes of the Rohingya people and those of Chittagong, thus, has an intensely syncretic culture. Then again, the same is true, in essence, for all the cultures of the world – except those that kill each other through ceaseless warfare.

Friend Shyam, you calm the mind with nirvana

Without seeing you, on some blessed date, I cannot be

When will you reveal yourself before my moon-like face?

Ill-fated (Radha) I am, my mind trembles in unrest

I die ten times every passing hour, with every punishment

(Mortaza, 17th century AD, Murshidabad) 

Lo and Behold medieval Sufi verses weeping with Radha:

Listen, listen O Radha, Goddess,

the Hindus call you Radha, I call you Khoda

But when I call out to you as Radha –

Mullahs and Munshees resist

(Vasana Udaasa, real names and times unknown)

Though in the early 20th century, Dinesh Chandra Sen (1866-1939) had identified eleven Sufi poets, putting their works to taxonomy as those by Sufi-Vaishnava poets, by the mid 20th century[iv], it becomes daylight that more than hundreds of such medieval and early-modern folk-poets from east bengal can also claim such taxonomical inheritances.

Let us not burden our story with more and more and more proper nouns.

Modern times had led to ever-strengthening of barb-wired and bullet-ridden borders and boundaries, cutting the west and east Bengal out as separate political entities. May friends all around keep on learning & teaching wisdoms of communal harmony that shine in the all these poetries written before the times when mechanized and industrialized agriculture became the living reality of people the world over.

Even beyond the eastern climes of Bengal, there is much to learn on communal harmonies. For instance, even from the Chakama people – spoken about as one of the leading jaati-s of the Ko-ki climes – i.e., of Myanmar, Cambodia etc by early 17th century Tibetan Buddhist Lama Taranatha – we find, in the 19th century, a great queen arise from the totemic dynasties of Myanmar. Kalindi (d. 1873). Despite much resistance from caste-enforcers at many levels, she had sought to harmonise Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, the totemic systems and even the ones of industry and business brought from across the Seven Seas. From across the Himalayas had come wisdom from the Land of the Four Sees – garlanding itself through flowers of poetry in the Mon-khmer languages, in the Austric ones brought from the faraway isles & archipelagoes beyond the southern shores Kamboja – to inform these systems of wisdom on syncretic human cultures. Let us dream that many friends from all these lands near and far would bring forth these poetries and music over the years and decades to come – reminding humanity to shun the paths of oppression on which we have our accelerators up today. As

Today people from the Rakhinye kingdoms of the Arakan Valley, alongside Chakmas, the Kurmi people  and the many-totemed Rajbansis clans of the eastern Himalayan frontiers of the mainland subcontinent, along with all people from all those from ancient clans that had existed as great sovereigns before the gotra system of the Aryan Brahminical Hindu orders began to tear communities apart – suffer in the hands of greed that capitalism ushers, of pride that ideas of nationalism usher and of communal hatred that religions usher when they become big stakeholders of these power-games.

I do not seek to establish that everything was rosy earlier, on and then, in modern times, tragedies begun to strike. From the accounts of Lama Taranatha, we learn that, ‘during the rule of the four Sena kings, one-half of all the monks & apprentices attached to the Nalanda & other Magadhan monasteries were from the Ko-ki countries’[v]. We know what happened to the Buddhist monasteries & its monks in during the rule of the Hindu Sena kings when the newly re-risen caste-orders had begun to grip societies with some of its most brutal practices such as Kulinism & the suttee. Such conflicts also had deep impacts on the indignity of such climes. Written histories hint at these. Unwritten ones hidden behind folklores & clan-names of indigenous people the world over reveal more.

From the ancient times we learn of the totems. In medieval times, we find sufi court poets to the Buddhist Mrauk U kings flourishing and continuing with the ancient tradition of ‘lotasva’-s or translators translating scripted tales from the Indian subcontinent. We find cultures mix and flow on like rivers of magic through the ancient and medieval times. Even in the 19th CE, we find an indigenous queen from the Chakma Circle consolidating ancient terrains with the help of Mahayana Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, totemism & even Christianity. Sadly, by then, most of Buddhism had lost much of its ancient veins of resistance against racism. In any case, that religion hardly ever had any space either for the nature-faced totemism of the adivasi people or the science-faced materialism of the Charvaka people.

Today, all spaces for people to breathe easy have faded from institutional religions, industrial-capitalist economies and from political agents as companies and nation-states which are but big landowners in the Third World and beyond. The war is thus on us from all fronts now.   Today, we see how the nation statesempowered religious ordersbig-capital media & even big-capital do-gooders keep themselves busy in their attempts to portray people from the Arakan Valley either as savages & terrorists or as pitiable refugees. They shall not bother to know about the Alaols, the Daulats & the Hachhon-Raja-s. Power has got nothing to do with poetry – except to find itself being browbeaten by the latter someday – let us dream on.

But let us not bide our whiles in idle-dreaming. While learning of cultures of resistance from the Rohingya & the Chakma communities in peril, while learning how the syncretic as well as violent ways of the complex jaati systems with all its Buddhist, Sufi & totemic inheritances work, while learning how to resist the race-wars that wage reckless the world over, we must rise tall & firm in defiant askance. We must ask ourselves the following question:

Do we think that the people through whom flows such rivers of poetry and music from ancient and medieval times be classified as expendables in these mad, extinction-bound wars that grip the human species today?

[i] Banglar Shahityo-Itihash, Sukumar Sen, Sahitya Akademi, 1965

[ii] Srihatter Itibritta, Achyuta Charan Chowdhury, published by Upendra Pal Chowdhury. Calcutta, 1920

[iii] Bangali Hindu-r Varnabhed, Niharranjan Ray, Visva-Bharati, 1945

[iv] Bangla Shahityer Shampurna Itibritta, by Asit Kr. Bandyopadhyaya, Modern Book Agency, Calcutta, 1966

[v] Taranatha’s History of Buddhism in India, translated from Tibetan into English by Lama Chimpa & Alaka Chattopadhyaya, ed. Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya, Motilal Banarsidass, Shimla, 1970

 Atindriyo Chkraborty is a poet. http://atindriyo.blogspot.in/     Share this:

Source: https://countercurrents.org/2018/06/medieval-rohingya-poetry 

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Message from Nurul Islam, Chairman of the Arakan Rohingya National Organisation on the occasion of the Rohingya National Day 2020

  Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO)

 Message from Nurul Islam, Chairman of the Arakan Rohingya National Organisation on the occasion of the Rohingya National Day 2020

January 3, 2020 | ARNO, ARNO Press Release
“Bismillah, ar-Rahman, ar-Rahim”
“In The Name of Allah, The most Beneficent, the Most Merciful”

 Dear Rohingya brothers and sisters,
Assalamo Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barkatuh!

It is indeed a great privilege and honour for me to send this message of congratulations to all Rohingya brothers and sisters around the world, on this auspicious occasion of the Rohingya National Day on 3rd January 2020.

Dear brothers and sisters,

Rohingya are a people with rich historical heritage and glorious past. They have connections to the high cultures of Bengal, Persia and Arabia and their sublime civilization have had contributed to the peoples of Arakan and Burma. For centuries Arakan prospered, as an independent kingdom, on international trade, brought into its people new ideas and learning, a flourishing civilization with the most cosmopolitan court in modern Burmese history. History testifies that the heyday of Arakan began with the development of Muslim civilization. Yet, today we are not tolerated in the country for our religion, ethnicity and South Asian appearance in contrast to Southeast Asian of dominant Bamar. We are proud of having resemblance with the people of Bengal or the ancient inhabitants of Arakan. We are nevertheless “Rohingya” by history, by culture and by civilization; and a people indigenous to Arakan, therefore, to Burma/Myanmar.

Dear brothers and sisters,

We have been oppressed and persecuted beyond all measures. Particularly from 1962 military takeover, our people have faced the continuous process of de-legitimization, institutionalized persecution and worsening abuses culminating in genocide. In 2017, the world was appalled by the images of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children fleeing genocide in Burma/Myanmar. We saw houses and villages were burned to the ground, women gang-raped and babies were thrown into the flame. UN Fact-Finding Mission has now called this atrocities “genocide”. Today, Bangladesh is home to more than 1.2 million Rohingya refugees, including those who have been taking refuge over the decades. The Rohingya people are grateful to the people and government of Bangladesh for generously welcoming them, showing solidarity by a bold, merciful and humanitarian gesture despite the economic constraints of this nation.

Dear brothers and sisters,

We Rohingya are victims. We are survivors. Above all, we are innocent people who want to return to our homeland in safety, in dignity, and with justice. Sadly, we have seen no evidence that the Myanmar government is committed to achieving this goal. It has no intention of creating the conditions for a sustainable return, because they have already achieved their goal: eliminating the Rohingya people from Arakan.

Dear brothers and sisters,

Our villages have been bulldozed to erase any signs of former lives and evidence of crimes against Rohingya, including mass graves all over Northern Arakan. Our lands have been appropriated, declared state ownerships and are being allocated to establish increasing Buddhist settler villages and to transform into so-called economic zones in collaboration with greedy exploiters or economic imperialists. We have lost everything –human dignity, human rights and freedoms. We have no opportunity to earn daily bread, even the opportunity to survive. Everything is taken away.

Dear brothers and sisters,

Genocide is still ongoing in Arakan. Nowhere our people are safe. They do not look upon us as people. They tend to regard us as a separate breed. About 80% of our population was expelled to lead a life of humiliation as refugees and baggers in alien lands. Those who are still at home are confined to ghettos and apartheid-like concentration camps without education, healthcare, enough food and necessities for life. For nearly 8 years from 2012, the IDPs in Sittwe and other southern towns are not allowed to return to their original places to rebuild their lives.

Dear brothers and sisters,

We are now in the abyss of our history. We must rise up from this horrible situation for emancipation. National unity is indispensable for our steady victory. Whether we are in the homeland or the in places of refuge we are one national unit. The sacrifice that is demanded of us is not greater than the sacrifice many generations have made. The setback we have faced one after another is not permanent. We never, ever lose hope, and we never lose confidence that we will win one day, Insha-Allah. Remember we do not stand alone. We are not isolated. The freedom-loving and justice upholding people of the world are with us

Dear brothers and sisters,

The Gambia vs. Myanmar hearings concluded on December 12, 2019 at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. We express solidarity with the Republic of Gambia and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and thank them generously for their support of our people. While Rohingya community waits for the decision by the ICJ on provisional measures, we continue to ask the international community to assist by asking for a complete stop to genocide and crimes against humanity against our people and all ethnic minorities within Myanmar. We ask the international community to assist us in returning home in a safe and dignified manner. Specially, we ask for international protection in our return home so that we are safe from perpetrators who still remain at large and face no consequences for their flagrant violations of international law. In addition, we ask agencies who are working with Myanmar to continue to demand that full citizenship be provided to the Rohingya consistent with other ethnic nationalities of the Union of Myanmar.

Dear brothers and sisters,

We want our rights and freedom. We want equal political rights, because without them we will be disabled permanently. We desire nothing else than peace. We want to live peacefully and honorably in Arakan as equals. We cherish the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all peoples live together in harmony and with equal opportunity. The perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing must be brought to justice. We want to solve our crisis peacefully before our patience is at an end. The ball is in the court of Myanmar government. The decision lies in their hand: Give to the Rohingya people their rights and freedom or we will go to fetch them for ourselves.

Long live Rohingya!

Tags:January 3 –2020, ARNO, ARNO Press Release

Source: https://www.rohingya.org/message-from-nurul-islam-chairman…/

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Aung San Suu Kyi party official killed in Rakhine

MYANMAR > INSURGENCY                                                           DECEMBER 26, 2019

Suu Kyi stunned observers when she agreed to lead a team to The Hague in mid-December to represent Myanmar. Photo: AFP

Aung San Suu Kyi party official killed in Rakhine

Rakhine rebels (AA) who had been holding him for weeks said he died during military attacks on Christmas Day

 By AT CONTRIBUTOR

An official from Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party was killed in Rakhine state after planning a show of support for the leader’s defense of Myanmar against genocide allegations at The Hague, a spokesman said Thursday.

The National League for Democracy’s Ye Thein, party chairman in Buthidaung township, had been held for weeks by the Arakan Army (AA), insurgents fighting for more autonomy for ethnic Rakhine Buddhists. The rebels said he was killed in military attacks on Christmas Day but the claim could not be verified and NLD spokesman Myo Nyunt said the group bore responsibility.

Ye Thein was detained on December 11 ahead of demonstrations backing Suu Kyi’s high-profile opening statements at the UN’s top court the same day. “We, all members of NLD, are very sorry for the loss,” Myo Nyunt told AFP. “His gathering to support her was righteous and it was not a crime.”

The Arakan Army has carried out a series of daring kidnappings, bombings and raids against the army and local officials in Rakhine state. Myanmar’s military has hit back hard, deploying thousands of additional soldiers to the western state and carrying out what Amnesty International called enforced disappearances, torture and extrajudicial executions.

The clashes are taking place in the same area where the military drove around 740,000 Rohingya Muslims over the border to Bangladesh in a bloody 2017 campaign. The small African, mainly Muslim state of Gambia opened arguments against Buddhist-majority Myanmar at the International Court of Justice on December 10, accusing it of breaching the 1948 UN genocide convention in its operations against the Rohingya.

Backed by the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Canada and the Netherlands, Gambia sought emergency measures to prevent further violence against the Rohingya, pending a fuller case that could take years.

The Arakan Army said ahead of the hearings that it endorsed the case in a rare display of solidarity with the Rohingya, who are seen in Myanmar as non-citizens.

Suu Kyi stunned observers when she agreed to lead a team to The Hague in mid-December to represent Myanmar. The former democracy icon’s reputation lies in tatters over the crisis but at home she enjoys broad support and several events across the country were organized to cheer her on.

Suu Kyi said in her opening statement there was no proof of “genocidal intent” and said army operations were in response to Rohingya militant attacks. – AFP

 Tags: Aung San Suu Kyi, National League For Democracy, Genocide The Hague, AFP

 Source: https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/12/article/aung-san-suu-kyi-party-official-killed-in-rakhine/

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Suu Kyi – the Bama Supremacist

  OPINION > EDITOR

 Suu Kyi – the Bama Supremacist

Sun, 2019-12-15 12:14 — editor

 An extraordinary event took place on Thursday (December 12, 2019) in The Hague, the Netherlands. An International Court of Justice (ICJ) panel wound up the first phase of a legal process aimed at determining whether Myanmar committed an act of genocide against the Rohingya ethnic minority. It is the first step toward justice for the Rohingya people: our world’s longest-suffering and most persecuted people.

Dr. Habib Siddiqui, Author

In August 2017, under the pretext of counterterrorism operation, the Buddhist-dominated Myanmar military launched a genocidal campaign that killed tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims and drove nearly a million of them into the neighboring Bangladesh.

The case against Myanmar was brought about by the tiny African nation of The Gambia whose attorney general and justice minister, Abubacarr Marie Tambadou, urged the ICJ to impose protective “provisional measures” to prevent further killings and genocide of the Rohingya people in Myanmar.

Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Myanmar, appeared at the world court to defend the indefensible. She responded to the accusation by dismissing it as an “incomplete and misleading factual picture of the situation”. The violence had been triggered by terrorist attacks from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), she claimed. She argued that the UN court should not have jurisdiction: “Myanmar requests the court to remove the case from its list.”

Suu Kyi’s defense was simply farcical. When Suu Kyi rose to denounce genocide charges against her country at the “world court” three victims of Myanmar’s genocidal campaign were sitting close behind her – disbelieving and seething with anger. The three – Hamida Khatun, Yousuf Ali and Hasina Begum – had travelled from the sprawling Kutupalong refugee camp outside Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh to sit on the legal delegation attending the ICJ’s emergency hearing.

Those Rohingya victims were not the only ones who were irritated with what they were hearing from Suu Kyi, once touted – rather wrongly – as the ‘democracy-icon’ by the international community. She has long proven to be a fake icon who is utterly immoral, a Bama supremacist and a bigot.

The Rohingya survivor – Ali arrived in The Hague with a treasured archive of personal Myanmar documents and photographs, which he displayed with pride. “They say we are Bengali immigrants, but these papers show we have a right to residency,” he said. “I brought these papers so that [Suu Kyi] could not lie about us not belonging. There should be equal rights for all the groups in the country. She has persecuted us and we need to let the world know. It was very difficult to remain silent in court.”

Suu Kyi remains unrepentant and is in the denial of the truth to this very day. One may recall her interviews with the press during the European tour in June of 2012 when she said that she did not know whether the Rohingya people were Myanmar nationals or illegal Bengali immigrants. Her answer raised eyebrows in many quarters. Just as she demonstrated once again in her ICJ response, she would not even utter the ‘R (Rohingya)’ word, which has been a taboo in Buddhist Myanmar to deny the very existence of this very people. The Rohingya are wrongly depicted as outsiders simply because of their religious and ethnic identities that are dissimilar to the Buddhist majority living inside today’s Myanmar (formerly Burma). Deliberately ignored are the facts that their forefathers (the so-called Bengalis) were the first settlers to the coastal territories of Arakan (Rakhine) before the Mongoloids (the Tibeto-Burmans) moved in there in the second half of the 10th century C.E.

The experts have long shown that the denial of one’s identity is an egregious crime and is one of the key features of the tell-tale signs of genocide. The use of the Rohingya term is forbidden inside Myanmar, as if these people don’t exist or have no roots to the soil that they and their forefathers once lived. The international NGOs and even the UN officials (including Special Rapporteur Dr. Yanghee Lee) working inside were warned repeatedly by the officials of the Myanmar government not to use the R-word.

But the genocidal crimes committed by Suu Kyi’s government and its murderous and rapist security forces against the Rohingya could not be hidden. Thanks to the satellite images, the entire world saw the savagery of the Buddhist mob, monks and military as part of a highly sinister national elimination project while Suu Kyi ‘fiddled’ a la Nero-style. She neither visited nor allowed anyone from the UN and international NGOs to visit the killing fields to ascertain the gravity of the situation, let alone investigate the accusations. Rohingya dwellings were burned and bull-dozed to obliterate their very existence.

Whom is Suu Kyi trying to fool now with her denial of the Rohingya genocide? Perhaps, only her mesmerized Buddhist countrymen! Bred and raised in an environment of unfathomed hatred and intolerance towards the non-Buddhists since the Ne Win era, these chauvinists are needed for her political ascendancy to the citadel of power, not as a de facto but as de jure leader of Myanmar. It is not difficult to understand that with the 2020 national elections in mind, Suu Kyi is keen to be seen to defend Myanmar against external criticism. She knows that the genocidal operations in the Rakhine State in 2016 and 2017 were popular with many of her Bama Buddhist constituents, who have long viewed the Rohingyas as illegal Bengali immigrants who follow an alien and potentially dangerous religion.

Not surprisingly, we are told that thousands of supporters of Suu Kyi thronged the streets of Myanmar’s capital on Saturday (December 14, 2019) to celebrate her arrival back from The Hague. While her reputation reached a new low outside Myanmar, at home however, the daughter of Burma’s founding father Aung San is still revered by many. Such is the sad reality in the ‘den of intolerance’! The proceedings in The Hague have spurred the supporters to stage rallies across the country chanting “Stand with Suu Kyi” and waving flags. They are proud of the horrendous crimes of their fellow Buddhists and are looking forward to the ‘final solution’ to the unfinished Rohingya problem; they want them terminated or evicted from Myanmar. Blind racism has robbed them of their humanity and made them brain-dead!

As rightly noted by Dr. Shwe Lu Maung in his must-read book ‘Is Suu Kyi a racist?’, the answer to the question in the title of the book is an obvious one. She is not only a racist but a Bama supremacist who believes in the supremacy of her Bama race that is at the apex of the ethnic national race triangle comprising of some 135 groups inside Myanmar.

It should be noted here that the Myanmar national order was born in the concept of a master race – the ruling Bama (Burman) people to whom Suu Kyi belongs.

To quote Dr. Maung from his book: The Rakhine Violence (vol. 1: The Rakhine Revolution and 2: The Rohingya), “Myanmar national order is a Burmese variety of racial ethnocentric colonialism, in which the larger ethnic group rules the smaller ones with the sovereign power emanating from the Bama National Race.”

The Myanmar independence struggle was brought into force by the ‘We Burman Association’ or ‘Dobama Asiayone’ in the second decade of the 20th century. Their slogan was ‘We Bama The Master Race’. At that time Bama was Myanmar and Myanmar was Bama. The Bama National Race, not surprisingly, constituting roughly 40% of the total Myanmar population, represents the First-Class Citizens and is the ruling class and colonial masters. Their powerhouse is known as the Burma Proper that consists of 7 administrative Divisions.

The Second Class Citizens or the Deputy Ruling Races, comprising of about 40% of the total Myanmar population, are made up of seven major national races, namely, (1) Kachin National Races (with 12 sub races), (2) Kaya National Races (with 9 sub races), (3) Kayin National Races (with 12 sub races), (4) Chin National Races (with 51 sub races), (5) Mon National Races (with no sub race), (6) Rakhine National Races (with 7 sub races), and (7) Shan National Races (with 34 sub races).

The Third-Class Citizens, constituting the 127 small sub races, make up about 15% of the total Myanmar population. Each of these sub races is less than 0.5% of the total population. They virtually have no political clout. [Note: The above three classes belong to three major racial groups (all part of Mongoloid races): the Mon-Khmers, the Tibeto-Bamars and the Thai-Shans. They are recognized as citizens; everyone else (see below for the 4th class) are depicted as the aliens with no rights.]

And then there are the Nameless Races, the Fourth-Class Citizens, who are classified as the immigrants from the Indian sub-continent and China. They make up about 5% of the total Burmese population and are derogatorily known as the Kala and the Tayut, respectively. They are classified as the guest-citizens or outsiders. The Muslims of the Rakhine State strongly dispute this classification and they identify themselves as the Rohingya, natives of Arakan. Other Indian descendants like the Sikh, the Gurkha, the Bengali, the Tamil, etc. keep a very low profile in this artificial country of many races and religions, once controlled through the barrel of the British cannon, and now maintained by the Bama master race where rape is used as a weapon to shame and subdue the non-Bama races.

As noted by Dr. Maung, the toxic ethno-religio-fascist ideology of Myanmarism derives its legitimacy from its past imperialism. In this cherished concept the imperialism is an accepted means of unification of the tribal, feudal and small national kingdoms into an empire or a greater nation. As of today, it is equated with modern nationhood of the Union of Myanmar. The Burman (Bama) ruling race selects three most significant kings out of more than one hundred as the source of the ‘imperial order’ and devolution of state and national legitimacy. Their statues grace and bless Nay Pyi Taw, the nation’s capital.

King Anawrahta (1044-1077 CE) was the first person who, with pragmatism and militarism, institutionalized the Myanmar Way and Myanmar Style. He is the central figure in this triune, flanked by Kings Kyansittha (1084-1113 CE) and Bayinnaung (1550-1581 CE). It is said that Anawrahta started, Kyansittha consolidated and Bayinnaung glorified Myanmar.

Every king after King Anawrahta tried to follow his footsteps. Bayinnaung and Alaungphaya (1714-1760 CE) came in par with him and were recorded as the founder of the Second (1540-1599 CE) and Third (1753-1885 CE) Myanmar Empires, respectively.

Since the days of General Ne Win’s rule (1962-1988) the official historians has called the independent Union of Myanmar the Fourth Myanmar Union. The First, the Second, the Third Myanmar Empires are now labeled as the First, the Second, the Third Myanmar Union. After Ne Win’s successors Saw Maung and Than Shwe asserted that the Fourth Myanmar Union was founded by Aung San, the father of Suu Kyi.

A perusal of Burmese history makes it quite evident that all those empires were built on murder, subjugation, exploitation and rape of ‘others’. Back in 2011, Suu Kyi herself made the point. She said, “Rape is used in my country as a weapon against those who only want to live in peace, who only want to assert their basic human rights, especially in areas of ethnic nationalities. Rape is rife. It is used as a weapon by the armed forces to intimidate the ethnic nationalities and divide our country.” [Ref: >b>Is Suu Kyi a Racist?] Interestingly, she made those remarks not inside but outside Myanmar. She deliberately downplayed the racial and religious aspects of the Bama and non-Bama conflicts. For example, the rebel Kachins and Chins are all Christians. Nearly a quarter of the Karens are Christians. The Rohingyas are Muslims.

As a true Bama supremacist, Suu Kyi tried to hide the identity of her own Bama race that is responsible for perpetrating much of the ethno-religious wars towards establishing its supremacy over the non-Bama and non-Buddhist people. Shamelessly, she had no qualms now about defending the same Tatmadaw that killed and raped so many Rohingyas!

Not to be forgotten is the fact that Aung San, Suu Kyi’s father, was the founder of the Tatmadaw (the Myanmar military) that has been guilty of genocidal crimes against the Rohingya. Her father is well-known for the Bama proverb, “If you meet a viper and a Rakhine, kill the Rakhine first.” <.i>Is this be the attitude towards a non-Bama, and yet a fellow Buddhist, what chances do Rohingyas have in Suu Kyi’s Myanmar where race and religion are increasingly used as the litmus tests for one’s very survival or non-existence?

Suu Kyi’s appearance in the ICJ has made it clear that she truly never cared about human rights of non-Buddhist races like the Rohingya, and that she has been a sly politician all along with no moral reservations. It is further evidence of her sense of duty towards her country, or more specifically, towards her own supremacist Bama group. Thus, she is not only an integral constituent of this Bama supremacy; she is, in essence, its mouthpiece, savior and governor. 

– Asian Tribune –

Source: http://www.asiantribune.com/node/93269

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Rights groups launch Myanmar boycott ahead of Hague genocide hearings

Home > World > East Asia
Published at 11:25 pm December 9th, 2019

 Rights groups launch Myanmar boycott ahead of Hague genocide hearings

By Reuters

     A Rohingya refugee reacts while holding his dead son after crossing the Naf river from Myanmar into Bangladesh in Whaikhyang on October 9, 2017 AFP

More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar in 2017 after a military-led crackdown

Human rights campaigners supporting Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority on Monday called for a global boycott of the country, a day before genocide hearings begin at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Myanmar leader and Nobel Peace prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who arrived in the Netherlands on Sunday, will defend her country’s record during three days of hearings initiated after a lawsuit was filed by Gambia in November.

On Monday the Netherlands and Canada put out a joint statement in support of Gambia, the tiny, mainly Muslim West African country that filed the suit in which the Buddhist-majority Myanmar is accused of genocide against its Rohingya Muslim minority.

“Canada and the Netherlands consider it their obligation to support The Gambia before the International Court of Justice, as it concerns all of humanity,” the two countries said. More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar in 2017 after a military-led crackdown. The United Nations has said the campaign was executed with “genocidal intent” and included mass killings and rape.

  Ten Rohingya Muslim men with their hands bound kneel in Inn Din village, Myanmar, September 1, 2017 | Reuters

Myanmar authorities have strongly disputed that conclusion, categorizing the military operation as a legitimate counterterrorism response to attacks by Rohingya militants. During three days of hearings, Gambia’s legal team will ask the 17-member panel of UN judges at the ICJ to impose “provisional measures” to protect the Rohingya before the case can be heard in full.

Suu Kyi’s office said last month that she would lead her country’s team in The Hague to “defend the national interest”. Several demonstrations are planned in coming days in The Hague by Rohingya survivor groups, as well as by government supporters.

Refugees pray

The Free Rohingya Coalition said in a statement it was starting the “Boycott Myanmar Campaign” with 30 organizations in 10 countries. It called on “corporations, foreign investors, professional and cultural organizations to sever their institutional ties with Myanmar”.

In the sprawling Bangladeshi camps where they now live as refugees, some Rohingya said they were praying to see justice delivered. One man read aloud to a group from a newspaper article about the hearings.

In her tent, 31-year-old Momtaz Begum shed tears as she recalled how soldiers locked her in her house in northern Rakhine state and set fire to the roof. She escaped to find her three sons dead and her daughter beaten and bleeding, she said.

File Photo: Rohingya men and women migrating to different camps in Cox Bazar | Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

 The army killed my husband,” she said. “They raped me and torched my house, they stabbed my 6-year-old daughter in the head. Why did they kill our innocent people, our kids? Why did they torture and rape our women? We demand justice.”

Myanmar has previously denied almost all allegations made by refugees against its troops, including of mass rape, killings and arson, and promised to punish any soldiers involved in what it says were isolated cases of wrongdoing.

In Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin state in northern Myanmar near the border with China, hundreds of people marched in support of the Suu Kyi. More demonstrations are planned in the major cities Yangon and Mandalay when the hearings begin.

Tags: Myanmar, Rohingya Refugees, International Court of Justice (ICJ)

 Source: https://www.dhakatribune.com/world/east-asia/2019/12/09/rights-groups-launch-myanmar-boycott-ahead-of-hague-genocide-hearings 

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Trampling of Rohingya Rights: Make Myanmar take urgent steps

Home > Front Page
December 09, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:24 AM, December 09, 2019

Trampling of Rohingya Rights: Make Myanmar take urgent steps

Fortify Rights urges ICJ as hearing on genocide case starts tomorrow

  File Photo : Rohingya Refugees crossing Naf River by boat in August 2017.

Diplomatic Correspondent

 Myanmar continues to violate the rights of the Rohingyas and fails to comply with its obligations under the UN Genocide Convention, regional rights body Fortify Rights has said, calling for urgent action by the top UN court that starts historic hearing of the genocide case against the country tomorrow.

 The International Court of Justice should issue “provisional measures” to Myanmar in response to the urgent situation of the Rohingyas there, it said in a statement on Saturday ahead of the court hearing in The Hague on December 10-12.

New evidence indicates how Myanmar authorities are using Rohingyas for slave labour, systematically restricting their freedom of movement and denying them the right to nationality.

 More than 500,000 Rohingyas now live in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. “Forced labour and systematic restrictions on freedom of movement may constitute the infliction of conditions of life designed to destroy a group in whole or in part — a prohibited act of genocide,” said the Bangkok-based rights body.

“Myanmar authorities are defiant and continue to violate the rights of Rohingya. These ongoing violations aggravate the issue of genocide before the court and require urgent action,” said Matthew Smith, chief executive officer at Fortify Rights that works on human rights in Southeast Asia.

“We are confident the court will urgently and appropriately respond to the situation,” he said in the statement.

The Gambia, on behalf of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), filed the lawsuit against Myanmar on November 11, accusing it of violating the UN Genocide Convention.

The move came more than two years after some 7,50,000 Rohingyas fled a brutal military campaign in Rakhine and took shelter in Bangladesh.

Gambia Attorney General and Justice Minister Abubacarr Marie Tambadou will lead a panel of lawyers on behalf of his country while Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi will head a team of counsels on behalf of her country at tomorrow’s hearing.

In the lawsuit, the Gambia said Rohingyas have been facing persecution and discrimination for long. In October 2016, Myanmar military and security forces launched widespread and systematic “clearance operations” against the community.

From August 2017 onwards, such genocidal acts continued with Myanmar’s resumption of “clearance operations” on a more massive and wider geographical scale. The Gambia requested the court to “issue provisional measures to Myanmar as a matter of extreme urgency” and to “protect against further, irreparable harm to the rights of the Rohingya group under the Genocide Convention”.

In previous cases, the ICJ indicated provisional measures when it found that it was “not inconceivable” that the violations in dispute might occur again and where the affected group remained at risk of additional violations. In the current case before the court, these conditions for provisional measures are met, said Fortify Rights.

FORCED LABOUR

Fortify Rights interviewed 12 Rohingya survivors of recent human rights violations in Rakhine, documenting seven cases of Rohingya forced labour by the Myanmar Army Light Infantry Battalions (LIBs) 551, 552, and 564 as well as the Border Guard Police (BGP) as recent as September this year in Buthidaung Township.

Citing an example, it said, on September 19, Myanmar Army personnel from LIB 551 entered Sindi Parang village, also known as Tha Pyay Taw, in Buthidaung Township, detained 30 men and boys, and forced them to carry military equipment for nearly the entire day without food or water.

A Rohingya survivor, 35, told Fortify Rights, “[Soldiers] kicked and punched me more than seven times along the way. I was hit on my head. They beat me because I was not walking as fast as they wanted.

“They hit me on my head with the gun. One of the soldiers yelled, ‘Move quickly. Move quickly’. When I was hit with the gun, I fell to my knees. My friend helped me stand up. I was very dizzy, and I had a hard time walking.” Soldiers also forced Rohingya boys, aged 13 to 14, to work as porters. “The boys were crying,” a survivor told Fortify Rights. “They were struggling to carry the bags the military gave them.”

RESTRICTIONS ON FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT

Myanmar continues to deny Rohingyas freedom of movement and arbitrarily detain those who attempt to travel outside their villages without official approval. These restrictions prevent Rohingyas from accessing health care, livelihoods and means of subsistence, said Fortify Rights.

For instance, on September 26, 2019, Myanmar police arrested a group of 30 Rohingyas in Irrawaddy region after they arrived by boat from Sittwe, where the government continues to confine more than 125,000 civilians, mostly Rohingyas, in more than 20 internment camps.

The police denied the 30 Rohingyas due process and access to lawyers, and on October 4, the Ngapudaw Township Court sentenced 21 of them to two years in Pathein prison. A Myanmar-based lawyer told Fortify Rights that the authorities prevented her from providing legal support for the detained Rohingyas.

Rohingyas frequently face arrest and prosecution for attempting to travel between townships or outside Rakhine, said the rights body. It also documented how Myanmar authorities beat, extort, and arbitrarily detain Rohingyas at checkpoints and while travelling in Rakhine.

“Myanmar authorities enforce discriminatory restrictions on the right to freedom of movement against Rohingyas through a series of decades-old orders, which remain in effect.”

Myanmar continues to deny Rohingyas the right to nationality. It coerced Rohingyas to accept National Verification Cards, which effectively identify them as “foreigners” and deprive them of access to full citizenship rights, read the statement.

“Rohingya in Myanmar are at grave risk,” said Matthew Smith. “The government continues to deny any violations against Rohingya and is using the ICJ case to rouse nationalistic, anti-Rohingya sentiment at home, which could easily turn deadly. Provisional measures are certainly needed,” he said.

Fortify Rights called upon the UN member states to support the ICJ case against Myanmar. It suggested that the UN Security Council urgently refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court or create an ad hoc criminal tribunal.

“The international community should support all initiatives for justice as well as seek alternative solutions to the ongoing violations in Myanmar,” said the CEO of the rights body. “Every possible avenue for justice, accountability, and the protection of rights should be used without delay,” he added.

Tags: Fortify Rights, Trampling of Rohingya Rights

Source:https://www.thedailystar.net/frontpage/news/trampling-rohingya-rights-make-myanmar-take-urgent-steps-1837684

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Posted in International, Media, Myanmar, Publication, Report, Rohingya
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