Halo goodbye, Suu – the Rohingya crisis

Rolling post started June 2016 | Contents
Last updated September 2018

In which I detail Aung San Suu Kyi’s disgraceful complicity in Myanmar’s ethnic cleasing of the Rohingya Muslims

Photo: Adam Dean / New York Times

‘You do not belong here – go to Bangladesh. If you do not leave, we will torch your houses and kill you.’
Megaphone announcement by the Myanmar military to Rohingya villagers. (UN report)

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Contents

Introduction
History
Suu Kyi’s attitude

Updates
1. UN: ‘crimes against humanity’

June 2016

2. Kofi Annan’s commission

August 2016 – August 2017

3. New ethnic cleansing

October 2016 – September 2018…

 
Footnotes


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Introduction

Remember Aung San Suu Kyi, darling of western liberals, heroine of democracy and human rights, under house arrest in Burma for her beliefs for 15 years before being triumphantly elected as her country’s leader? Well, treasure the golden memory – the reality is disappointingly tarnished.

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Photo: Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters

Suu Kyi’s saintly image suffered badly at an internationally covered election campaign press conference in November 2015. Questioned about the the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar (the new name for Burma), she shocked her worldwide fans by saying only that that it was important not to exaggerate.

As the informed watching world knew, it would have been hard to exaggerate the problems faced by the Rohingya people. They’ve been violently persecuted for many years by state-backed Buddhists in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine. They’re one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. (The UN is supposed to have said that. Apparently they didn’t, but in any case it’s evidently true.)

Since then, Suu Kyi’s image has gone from bad to worse. She won the election as expected. She became Myanmar’s State Counselloreffectively its prime minister – and (despite her government being dominated by unelected junta leftovers) was in a postion to help the Rohingya by at least speaking out about their plight.

Instead, as the violence continued, so did Suu Kyi’s shameful indifference. The Nobel peace prize winner didn’t make peace. Known as The Lady, she wasn’t ladylike – she gracelessly and callously did nothing about it, apart from criticising the critics and telling them to give her government ‘space‘.

Myanmar’s Nelson Mandela, she ain’t.

(However…see Update 2 – Kofi Annan’s commission, below, about an advisory commission Suu Kyi set up, chaired by Kofi Annan.)

(But…see Update 3 – New ethnic cleansing, below, about the vicious resumption of ethnic cleansing.)

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Rohingyas – denied human rights by Suu Kyi’s government | Photo: Dr Nora Rowley (1)

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History

There’s widespread hostility towards the one-million-plus Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State in Myanmar, including among some within Suu Kyi’s own party. Myanmar doesn’t recognise the Rohingya as an ethnic group. It denies them citizenship and basic rights. The previous military junta called them ‘Bengalis’, implying that they were illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, though the Rohingya have had a well established presence in the country since at least the twelfth century.

The history of the Rohingya is complex and not fully understood. It is the subject of academic disagreement in the region. Some academics support the Myanmar government’s line, claiming that the name ‘Rohingya’ is a political invention by Bengali immigrants who have no particular ethnic identity. Others with more integrity argue that the name dates back to at least the 1700s, and that despite historical migrations to and from what is now Bangladesh, the Rohingya have a long history in Rakhine and a distinct ethnic identity and language.

From the 1870s to the 1930s, many people were persuaded by the British empire to move from what’s now Bangladesh to what’s now Rakhine State for the purpose of increasing rice production to supply India. They weren’t illegal immigrants. They integrated and intermarried with the native Rohingya. That doesn’t make the Rohingya ‘Bengalis‘.

During World War Two, in the area now known as Rhakine State, then known as Arakan, Buddhists backed the Japanese, while the Rohingya Muslims backed the British. Both sides were given arms. As well as fighting their nominal enemies, they fought each other. Thousands died on both sides.

Suu Kyi’s government has continued with the policy of claiming that the Rohingya are illegal immigrants. Min Aung Hlaing, smiling head of Myanmar’s powerful military, said at a 2016 press conference, ‘As we have said before, there are no Rohingya.’

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Photo: Htet Naing Zaw / The Irrawaddy

Neighbouring Muslim-majority Bangladesh also doesn’t allow Rohingyas citizenship. In the late 1970s some 200,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh, claiming that the Burmese army had forcibly evicted them, and alleging widespread army brutality, rape and murder. Bangladesh negotiated their return and encouraged it by restricting food supplies.

Then in the early 1990s more than 250,000 Rohingya refugees fled to Bangladesh from forced labour, rape and religious persecution at the hands of the Burmese army. They were brutally repatriated to Burma, a process shamefully overseen by the UN. Respected non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch gives the background and history of these events.

There’s a complex history (2) of conflict over land and resources. In 2012 this led to waves of mob violence against the Rohingya led by hardline Buddhist priests and politicians, and covertly backed by the state. Hundreds of Rohingya were murdered. No one has been prosecuted for the killings.

Buddhist compassion | Photo: Preedeep Ponchevin

More than 100,000 Rohingya were forced to flee their homes and live in decrepit internment camps where they are denied medical services and adequate food. Thousands tried to escape to Malaysia, Indonesia or Thailand on rickety boats. Many Rohingyas, having reached Malaysia and Thailand, were held in detention centres there.

In 2015, the International State Crime Initiative (4) argued that the violence and forced removal amounted to ethnic cleansing, and had reached stage four of six (5) in the process of genocide.

Also in 2015, Genocide Watch (6) said that the Myanmar regime’s gross human rights abuses and its persecution of the Rohingya persisted alongside a pervasive culture of impunity; and that the situation may have reached stages nine and ten of their ten-stage model of genocide (7).

In March 2017, aid agencies estimated that over one million Rohingya had fled Myanmar in the previous 40 years as a result of persecution. (3)

In July 2017 it was reported that a Thai judge, after a two-year trial, had found dozens of people guilty, including a senior army general and a wealthy businessman and former government official, in the country’s largest ever human trafficking trial following the discovery two years ago of mass graves in a squalid jungle camp where hundreds of migrants had been brutally exploited.

Many Rohingya and Bangladeshis paid people smugglers to reach Malaysia or Thailand. When they arrived, the court heard, they were detained in bamboo pens and had to beg their families to pay a ransom for their release.

The case led to a crackdown on smuggling networks that brought people from Myanmar and Bangladesh to Thailand. Smugglers, fearing arrest, then abandoned boatloads of migrants. The UN refugee agency estimated that hundreds died at sea, mainly as a result of starvation, dehydration and beatings by boat crews.


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Suu Kyi’s attitude

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Photo: BBC

Most disappointing of all, Suu Kyi herself seems to be anti-Muslim. In March 2016 she made an off-key off-air comment after being interviewed by Mishal Husain, Muslim presenter of Today, BBC Radio’s flagship UK news and current affairs programme. Suu Kyi lost her temper during the interview when Husain repeatedly asked her to condemn the anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar. Suu Kyi answered angrily and evasively, and after the interview was heard to say, ‘No one told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim.’

In May 2016, Suu Kyi’s ministry of foreign affairs asked the US ambassador to stop using the term ‘Royingya’, which they said was ‘controversial‘. To the USA’s credit, the ambassador said he’d continue to use the term, because that’s what the group calls itself. The European Union, by comparison, has cravenly caved in to Suu Kyi’s demand (see below).

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Photo: Nyein Chan Naing

When US secretary of state John Kerr delicately raised concerns about the issue during a visit in May 2016, Suu Kyi responded: ‘All that we are asking is that people should be aware of the difficulties we are facing and to give us enough space to solve all our problems.’

Weasel words, Suu. Your halo was slipping – off. What would Dave Lee Travis think? What would the world – previously your oyster, thanks to your massive international support – think?

Sadly, the world thinks you’ve gone from saintly reformer to either hypocritical racist or, at best, paralysed pragmatist. The world thinks that your main concern is either to hang on to power or, at best, to preserve Myanmar’s so-called nascent democracy.

You squandered the world’s good will, Suu. The world thinks that, whatever you’ve become and whatever your motives, you’re willingly fronting one of the worst governments in the world, with self-indulgent brutal hatred bordering on racism at its rotten heart.

(I think we’re all racist, and it doesn’t take much to provoke it; but that if we understand the deep roots of our racism, we can choose not to indulge it. See my post about racism, Colour me racist, blame my genes – racism explained as a redundant instinct.)


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Update 1: June 2016
UN: ‘crimes against humanity’

Following its shameful part in the 1990s Bangladesh deportation (see above), the UN partly redeemed itself by issuing a report that urged Suu Kyi’s government to take concrete steps to end the ongoing systemic discrimination and human rights violations against the Rohingya – violations that the UN said could amount to crimes against humanity.

Suu Kyi’s brilliant response was to tell a visiting UN human rights investigator that the Myanmar government wouldn’t use the ‘controversial‘ term ‘Rohingya’.

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Rohingya woman with her malnourished twin babies | Photo: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Sickeningly, European Union ambassador to Myanmar Roland Kobia said in June 2016 that the EU would stop using the term ‘Rohingya’. He pathetically echoed Suu Kyi’s weasel words by adding that Myanmar needed ‘space’ to deal with human rights abuses.

Thank goodness the UK’s leaving the spineless, weaselly EU.

The Royingya – forced to live in concentration camps | Photo: CNN

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Update 2: August 2016
Kofi Annan’s commission

Suu Kyi responded to international pressure by appointing an Advisory Commission on Rakhine State. She somehow persuaded fellow Nobel peace prize winner and former UN head Kofi Annan to chair it. There were two hardline hate-mongering Rakhine Buddhists on board. There were, of course, no Rohingya representatives – after all, they don’t exist.

The commission was strongly opposed by Myanmar nationalists, so perhaps Suu Kyi actually did something right. It started in September 2016 and was due to report a year later – assuming, presumably, that there might still be some Rohingya left alive by then.

March 2017
Annan – interim report

The Annan commission’s interim report called for the closure of Myanmar’s squalid internment camps, where 120,000 Rohingya have lived since the hardline Buddhist violence in 2012.

Annan told Reuters:

‘They [should] close the camps and allow the people in the camps, particularly those who have gone through the [citizenship] verification process, access to freedom of movement and all rights of citizenship‘.

Well said, Kofi. You listening, Suu?

But Suu Kyi had stamped her absurd ban on the name ‘Rohingya’ onto the commission. In a section headed ‘Nomenclature‘, the interim report said:

‘In line with the request of the State Counsellor [Suu Kyi], the Commission uses neither the term “Bengali” nor “Rohingya”, who are referred to as “Muslims” or “the Muslim community in Rakhine”. This does not include the Kaman Muslims, who will simply be referred to as “Kaman”.’

So the Kaman Muslims (a smaller ethnic group of Rakhine Muslims recognised as Myanmar citizens) could be called ‘Kaman’, but the Rohingya Muslims couldn’t be called ‘Rohingya’ – because they don’t exist, of course. The quote above contained the only use of the name ‘Rohingya’ in the report.

Disappointingly craven, Kofi. Still, at least Suu Kyi also asked the commission not to use the name ‘Bengali‘ – the name used by the military junta to falsely assert that the Rohingya were illegal Bengali immigrants. Perhaps a tiny spark of conscience remained.

August 2017
Annan – final report

In August 2017 the Annan commission published its final report. It pointed out that ‘Muslims in Rakhine’ (ie, the Rohingya – see March 2017, above) constituted the single biggest stateless community in the world.

The commission’s report was overshadowed – probably deliberately (see below) – by a new outbreak of violence. Annan said he was ‘gravely concerned’ by the latest outbreak of fighting.

The report urged the government to:

  • speed up the citizenship verification process
  • ensure freedom of movement for all
  • close the internment camps as soon as possible
  • improve camp conditions immediately
  • allow humanitarian and media access
  • give access to health and education services
  • end hate speech by Buddhists.

The report recommended that the government appoint a minister with special responsibility for Rakhine State.

Myanmar president and Suu Kyi ally Htin Kyaw thanked the commission for its ‘visionary and constructive approach’, and said that he agreed with the recommendations. A press release (which is no longer posted) said:

‘The large majority of the recommendations will be implemented promptly with a view to maximum effectiveness. The implementation of a few will be contingent upon the situation on the ground but we believe there will be speedy progress.’

Suu Kyi’s office said that as an immediate step, the government would immediately form a new minister-led committee to implement the commission’s recommendations. Government ministry representatives would be included on the committee.

The committee would be assisted by an advisory board on Rakhine which would include regional and international experts.

So… Suu Kyi deflected some international criticism by seeking and apparently accepting Annan’s advice. But would she – could she – implement it?


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Update 3: October 2016 – September 2018…
New ethnic cleansing

Contents
October 2016

Insurgency and retaliation

November 2016

War crimes and denial

December 2016

Malaysia / Amnesty: ‘crimes against humanity’ / ASEAN meeting / Annan / Nobel peace laureate

January 2017

More denial / House of Lords debate / Bangladeshi island

February 2017

Human rights violations / The island / UN numbers / ‘Peace’

March 2017

Bangladesh blocked aid / Annan spoke out / EU blocked full UN investigation / UN fact-finding mission agreed

April 2017

Suu Kyi on TV / Indian deportation / ‘Model’ villages / Guardian editorial

June 2017

UN denied entry

July 2017

UN: children ‘wasting’

August 2017

Myanmar whitewash / Annan report / Violence resumed / Myanmar military started it

September 2017

Mass exodus began / Erdoğan spoke / Security council waffled / Suu Kyi petition / ‘Fake’ news / Homes burning / Suu Kyi recommends harmony / Landmines / UN: ‘ethnic cleansing’ / The island / Myanmar to implement Annan / UN SecGen spoke / Security council: end violence / Female Nobel laureates wrote to SK / Amnesty: ‘scorched earth’ / UK stopped military aid / SK speech / US: ‘stop weapons’

October 2017

Myanmar: ‘refugees can return’ / New Cox’s Bazar camp / The island / UN in Myanmar ‘disfunctional’ / Myanmar civilian-led agency / Charity appeal didn’t use the name ‘Rohingya’ / UN: Myanmar planned ethnic cleansing / War criminal Hlaing / Estimated number of refugees: 603,000

November 2017

She was a day tripper / Israeli arms sales: ‘war crimes on both sides’ / Security council statement / ASEAN meeting ignored the Rohingya / Repatriation agreement signed / Pope said nothing

December 2017

Report: methodical rape by Myanmar soldiers / At least 6,700 killed / Number of refugees now 647,000 / UN human rights chief: Suu Kyi should face justice / UN Myanmar critic won’t seek second term

January 2018

Awkward silence / A solution: autonomy / Suu Kyi friend resigns / Number of refugees now 688,000

February 2018

The island is back – and it’s ‘very nice’

March 2018

Report: 43,000 missing, presumed killed / Island costs – no support

April 2018

ICC seeks jurisdiction to prosecute Myanmar / Security council visit

June 2018

China ‘to build houses’ in Rakhine State / Amnesty and Reuters: Myanmar planned ethnic cleansing

July 2018

Third report: Myanmar planned ethnic cleansing

August 2018

Japan: Myanmar agreed to build villages / UN report: ‘genocide’

September 2018

Reuters journalists jailed / ICC: Myanmar can be prosecuted


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New ethnic cleansing – contents 🔺

October 2016
Insurgency and retaliation

It didn’t take long for the Myanmar government to resume its brutal ethnic cleansing. Claiming that nine police officers and five soldiers were killed by insurgents at border posts, Government forces responded by looting and burning villages and carrying out helicopter gunship attacks. At least 100 Rohingya were killed. The government claimed that their forces were attacked by men with guns, spears, machetes and wooden clubs, and that they responded with a ‘clearing’ operaton. Quite.

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Images and videos on social media showed women and children among those killed. The army was accused of raping Rohingya women. Unbelievably (in both senses) the government said that the ‘insurgents’ had burned their own homes to discredit the army.


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New ethnic cleansing – contents 🔺

November 2016
War crimes and denial

During the conflict, Slippery Suu avoided journalists and press conferences. However, on a Japanese jaunt to get an honorary doctorate she was challenged by the Japanese foreign minister. Suu Kyi replied that the military in Rakhine were operating according to the ‘rule of law‘. Nice one, Doc.


Satellite images released by Human Rights Watch (an NGO known for its impartial reporting) showed that more than 1,200 homes were razed in Rohingya villages during the military operation. The UN estimated that 30,000 Rohingya were forced to flee their homes into Bangladesh. Bangladesh turned many refugees back from the border, and complained to the Myanmar government.

Rohingya refugees from the military crackdown joined the many thousands who’d fled Myanmar to Bangladesh over the last 40 years . Estimates of the number of Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh before the current displacement vary wildly from 35,000 to 500,000. The unreliability of the estimates was a sad indication of the world’s neglect. Most of the refugees in Bangladesh, as with most Rohingya refugees elsewhere, live in squalid camps, lacking adequate food and medical care.

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The UN called for an investigation into alleged human rights abuses. A senior UN official said that Myanmar was seeking the ethnic cleansing of the Muslim Rohingya minority from its territory. Suu Kyi announced a government-led investigation. Big deal.


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New ethnic cleansing – Contents 🔺

December 2016
Malaysia
Amnesty: ‘crimes against humanity’
ASEAN meeting
Annan
Nobel peace laureates


December 2016 – Contents 🔺
Malaysia

Muslim-majority Malaysia spoke up, also describing the violence against the Rohingya as ‘ethnic cleansing‘. At a solidarity rally in Kuala Lumpur, prime minister Najib Razak asked the angry crowd, ‘What’s the use of Aung San Suu Kyi having a Nobel prize?’ Good question.


December 2016 – Contents 🔺
Amnesty: ‘crimes against humanity’

Suu Kyi’s government investigation found – surprise, surprise! – that the security forces had followed the law. So that was alright, then. However, a report by Amnesty International accused the Myanmar military of ‘crimes against humanity’. The Amnesty report called on the Myanmar government and Suu Kyi to order a stop to the violence, publically condemn rights violations, allow unimpeded access to Rakhine and launch an impartial investigation with the UN. Yeah, right – dream on.


December 2016 – Contents 🔺
ASEAN meeting

ASEAN regional leaders met in Yangon (Myanmar’s largest city, formerly its capital, also known as Rangoon) for emergency talks on the violence. Pressurised by the intervention of neighbouring Muslim-majority states Indonesia and Malaysia, Suu Kyi reluctantly addressed the meeting – only to repeat her ridiculous assertion that the army action was legitimate.


December 2016 – Contents 🔺
Annan

The Myanmar government invited Kofi Annan’s advisory committee (see above) to look into the situation. Disappointingly, Annan reportedly said that observers should be ‘very, very careful‘ in using the word genocide, and that Suu Kyi’s government should be given ‘a bit of time, space and patience’. Oh dear – there was that weasel word again.

Annan was possibly right to describe ‘genocide’ as an exaggeration, but perhaps the great (now, sadly, late) man should himself have been ‘very, very careful’ – not to blow his credibility. He sounded worryingly like Suu Kyi, with her ‘Don’t exaggerate’, and her ‘Give us space’. At that rate, next thing, Annan would refuse to use the name ‘Rohingya’. (And guess what? He did just that, at Suu Kyi’s request. See above.)

Annan’s views on the conflict were given in the introduction to his commission’s interim report. (See March 2017, below.)


December 2016 – Contents 🔺
Nobel peace laureates

It was widely reported that – for what it was worth (not much) – 23 of the great and good had written an open letter to the (useless) UN security council about it, describing the action as ethnic cleansing, and demanding that the council put it on their to-do list. More than a dozen of Suu Kyi’s fellow Nobel laureates signed, including Desmond Tutu and Malala Yousafzai.

The letter was wordy but well meant and heartfelt. Perhaps they hoped to stir the dozy security council into action, or at least add to the embarrassment factor for Suu Kyi. (However, our former human rights heroine seemed unembarrassable.)

December 2016 – Contents 🔺


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New ethnic cleansing – contents 🔺

January 2017
More denial
House of Lords debate
Bangladeshi island


January 2017 – Contents 🔺
More denial

Suu Kyi’s commission of investigation said that there was no evidence of genocide against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state. In its interim report, the commission, led by hardline former regional military ruler and current co-vice president Myint Swe, also said there wasn’t enough evidence to support widespread rape allegations. It didn’t mention claims that security forces had been killing people.

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First Vice President Myint Swe  Photo: EPA

January 2017 – Contents 🔺
House of Lords debate

The UK’s secondary parliamentary body, the House of Lords, held a debate on a question tabled by activist and Labour peer Baroness Glenys Kinnock about the Rohingya, and the UK government’s response to their current plight. Four baronesses, three lords and one bishop made knowledgeable and compassionate speeches.

UK government minister Baroness Annabel Goldie replied in a similar tone of concern, but spoiled it by saying that the UK government would, in effect, do nothing.

Goldie said that UK ministers had raised this issue in parliament and in direct discussions with the Myanmar government. She said that the UK government was deeply concerned about the recent military action and the lack of humanitarian access.

Goldie said that the government didn’t find Myint Swe’s commission of investigation (see above) credible, and had expressed its concerns to the UN security council. However, she ended by saying that the UK government was wary of doing anything which might impede Myanmar’s legitimate democratic development.

That wasn’t good enough. As elsewhere, the UK bears considerable historical colonial responsibility for the mess left behind. It should have been clear that the diplomatic approach had failed, that the junta-heavy Myanmar government was no democracy, and that the UK government was defending a dictatorship wearing Suu Kyi like a window dressing.

If we accepted our historical and moral responsibility, we’d instead have been actively defending the Rohingya.


January 2017 – Contents 🔺
Bangladeshi island

The Bangladeshi goverment showed great compassion for its opressed Muslim neighbours by planning to forcibly relocate the recently arrived Rohingya refugees to an even more squalid site. A push to attract tourists was the reason for the move, which had the backing of controversial prime minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed.

The squalid refugee colony, home to the newly exiled Rohingya, is near the world’s longest unbroken beach – and Bangladesh’s largest resort. Officials feared the refugees might put off would-be holidaymakers, and ordered the forced relocation of the Rohingya to a vulnerable island before being repatriated to Myanmar.

The island, flooded by several feet of water at high tide, has no roads or flood defences. It was formed about a decade ago by sediment from a river. Nice. Thanks, Hasina, for your generous hospitality.

(See next island item.)

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January 2017 – Contents 🔺


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New ethnic cleansing – contents 🔺

February 2017
Human rights violations
The island
UN numbers
‘Peace’


February 2017 – Contents 🔺
Human rights violations

Mass gang-rape, killings (including of babies and young children), brutal beatings, disappearances and other serious human rights violations by Myanmar security forces were detailed in a UN report based on interviews with victims in Bangladesh.


February 2017 – Contents 🔺
The island

Bangladesh asked the UN and the international community to support its plan to relocate Rohingyas to an uninhabitable island, Thengar Char (see above).

The briefing was attended by some 60 ambassadors, high commissioners, heads of missions and representatives of various diplomatic missions, as well as representatives from the office of UN resident coordinator Robert D. Watkins, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), UNHCR and other UN agencies.

(See next island item.)


February 2017 – Contents 🔺
UN numbers

UN officials estimated that the death toll from the government ‘clearance’ operation was closer to 1,000. The number who had fled to neighbouring Bangladesh was now thought to be 70,000.


February 2017 – Contents 🔺
‘Peace’

The Myanmar government said that its ‘clearance operation’ had ‘ceased‘. Suu Kyi’s office issued this statement:

‘The situation in northern Rakhine has now stabilised. The clearance operations undertaken by the military have ceased, the curfew has been eased and there remains only a police presence to maintain the peace.’

That was nice, Suu – to describe as ‘peace‘ the aftermath of the army’s 1,000 killings (including the killing of women, children and babies), gang rape, the looting and burning of homes, and the displacement of 70,000 people.

February 2017 – Contents 🔺


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New ethnic cleansing – contents 🔺

March 2017
Bangladesh blocked aid
Annan spoke out
EU blocked full UN investigation
UN fact-finding mission agreed


March 2017 – Contents 🔺
Bangladesh blocked aid

It was reported that the Bangladesh government strongly discouraged the distribution of aid to Rohingya refugees. Bangladesh banned three NGOs from distributing aid, saying that it would encourage more refugees to cross the border. The Bangladeshi interior and foreign ministries apparently declined to comment.

Bangladesh had form for this. In the 1970s they encouraged the return of 200,000 Rohingya refugees by restricting food supplies (see above).


March 2017 – Contents 🔺
Annan spoke out

Kofi Annan’s advisory commission on Rakhine state (see update 2, above) published its interim report on 16 March. In the introduction, Annan, whose commission was asked in December 2016 to look into the current crisis (see above), said:

‘The nature of the crisis facing Rakhine state has changed due to the attacks of 9 October [2016] and the subsequent security operations … There are steps that can be taken immediately…[including] unimpeded access for humanitarian actors and journalists to the affected areas in Northern Rakhine and for independent and impartial investigation of the allegations of crimes committed on and since 9 October 2016. We strongly believe that perpetrators of these crimes must be held to account.’

Well said, Kofi – that was better than your useless comment in December 2016 (see above). Now try to get the UN to pull its finger out.


March 2017 – Contents 🔺
EU blocked UN investigation

The spineless, weaselly European Union (see the EU decision not to use the name ‘Rohingya’, above) blocked a full UN investigation.

The EU historically takes the lead on issues relating to Myanmar on the UN human rights council, which held its annual session in Switzerland. The UN commissioner for human rights wanted a top-level commission of investigation, but the useless EU wanted to give Myanmar’s discredited internal investigation more time. Bless.

The UK wasn’t much better, I’m sorry to say. Our man at the council said that the international community needed to ‘engage [Myanmar] without damaging the delicate civilian-military balance‘.


March 2017 – Contents 🔺
UN fact-finding mission agreed

The EU submitted its weaselly, watered-down resolution to the UN human rights council, presumably with the support of the UK (see above). The resolution (click on ‘E‘ to download it) on the Rohingya, which did at least use their name, was adopted by the council. The resolution specified a weedy ‘fact-finding mission‘, not the high-powered commission of inquiry needed. Pathetic.

Predictably, Suu Kyi rejected the UN decision. In a televised speech, she said that her government would refuse to accept the fact-finding mission. Myanmar’s military head Min Aung Hlaing said in a speech that the mission was a threat to national security.

Without Myanmar’s cooperation, the UN’s fact-finding mission – already toothless – was likely to become a paper tiger.

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Paper bag tiger puppet: Amanda Forman

March 2017 – Contents 🔺


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New ethnic cleansing – contents 🔺

April 2017
Suu Kyi on TV
Indian deportation
‘Model’ villages
Guardian editorial


April 2017 – Contents 🔺
Suu Kyi on TV

Suu Kyi’s first interview this year (with BBC TV) sadly confirmed her shameful indifference to the terrible plight of the Rohingya. Speaking like a cut-price Thatcher, she said that there was no ethnic cleansing, and spoke instead about attacks by Muslims on fellow-Muslims who’d collaborated with the authorities. In a strangely worded comment on the widely alleged troop atrocities, she said that troops had not been ‘free’ to commit crimes. ‘They are not free to rape, pillage and torture,’ she said. ‘They are free to go in and fight.’ Right, thanks, Suu.

Suu Kyi had a sickly, medicated look. Maybe she should consider her legacy, or at least her priorities. Her ambitious programme – to sort out Myanmar’s basket-case economy, make peace amongst the warring factions and bring the military under democratic control – looked unrealistic, but with a change of heart she could have spoken out in support of Myanmar’s opressed Rohingya Muslims; she could have granted them citizenship.

At a stroke, she’d have regained the world’s support – which would have given her leverage to clear out the junta.


April 2017 – Contents 🔺
Indian deportation

India’s right-wing BJP government added to Rohingya misery by backing local moves to deport 8,000 Rohingya refugees from the city of Jammu back to Myanmar. 40,000 refugees fled to India from Myanmar army brutality in 2012.


April 2017 – Contents 🔺
‘Model’ villages

Suu Kyi’s government planned to resettle refugees returning from Bangladesh in ‘model villages‘. The returnees wouldn’t be allowed to permanently rebuild their homes – burnt by security forces – in their villages where they’d farmed and fished.


April 2017 – Contents 🔺
Guardian editorial

A UK Guardian editorial about Suu Kyi said: ‘[Her] moral credibility has been vastly diminished if not demolished by her failure to even acknowledge the brutal persecution of the Rohingya minority in Rakhine state’. (That’s what I said – a year ago.)

April 2017 – Contents 🔺


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New ethnic cleansing – contents 🔺

June 2017
UN denied entry

The Myanmar government refused entry visas to the three members of the UN’s fact-finding mission. It insisted that the domestic investigation headed by former lieutenant general and vice-president Myint Swe (see January 2017, above) was sufficient to look into the allegations of crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

Junta spokesperson Kyaw Zeya (permanent secretary at the ministry of foreign affairs, headed by Suu Kyi) said ‘Why do they try to use unwarranted pressure when the domestic mechanisms have not been exhausted? It will not contribute to our efforts to solve the issues in a holistic manner.’ (Sic – and sick.)


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New ethnic cleansing – contents 🔺

July 2017
UN: children ‘wasting’

Photo: AP

The UN’s World Food Programme warned that more than 80,000 Rohingya children under the age of five in western Myanmar were ‘wasting and would need treatment for acute malnutrition over the next year.

The UN agency report (no longer posted – see below) was based on an assessment of villages in western Rakhine state, where some 75,000 stateless Muslim Rohingya people had fled the army crackdown.

The UN – to its shame – later withdrew the report at the request of the Myanmar government. (See October 2017, below.)


Top 🔺
New ethnic cleansing – contents 🔺

August 2017
Myanmar whitewash
Annan report
Violence resumed
Myanmar military started it


August 2017 – Contents 🔺
Myanmar whitewash

The final report of the Myanmar government’s rubbish commission of enquiry (see November and December 2016, and January 2017, above) concluded – to no one’s surprise – that no crimes were committed during the recent military action.

Deceptively gormless-looking vice president and junta thug Myint Swe – a notorious former general blacklisted by the USA – headed the enquiry. He said there was no evidence of the crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing alleged by the UN. Myint Swe also denied that there had been gang rapes by the military – as reported to the UN by refugees in Bangladesh.


August 2017 – Contents 🔺
Annan report

The advisory commission on Rakhine State headed by Kofi Annan also published its final report. Amongst his many recommendations, Annan asked the government to allow humanitarian and media access to the affected areas. (See Update 2, above.)


August 2017 – Contents 🔺
Violence resumed

The Myanmar president gave Annan’s report a warm welcome, but the love-in didn’t last long. State violence resumed as the military and Buddhist mobs launched a typically disproportionate retaliatory crackdown after attacks on police-posts left twelve members of the security forces dead. There were reports of soldiers burning villages and attacking residents.

Some 400 Rohingya were reported to have been killed. The military claimed that the vast majority of those killed were ‘terrorists’. But refugees said that villagers were indiscriminately beaten, shot or hacked to death; that others were killed after failing to pay the soldiers a ransom; and that many women were raped and killed.

Suu Kyi was quick to smear the Rohingya insurgents as Islamist terrorists. Given the decades of oppression, and the 500,000 Rohingya refugees in Islamist hotbeds Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, insurgency movements with elements of Islamism were inevitable. No doubt there’d been some ‘radicalisation‘.

However, the solution was not a massively disproportionate military crackdown backed by Buddhist mobs – it was to integrate the Myanmar Rohingya into Myanmar. The Islamist mission thrives on despair and anger.

Wierdly, Suu Kyi accused aid workers of supporting terrorism – by supplying biscuits. It was like a mad old lady shouting, ‘You gave them the biscuits! I saw you!’ (Apologies to mad old ladies everywhere.)


August 2017 – Contents 🔺
Myanmar military started it

Myanmar claimed that they’d responded to the insurgent attack, but apparently the military had been busy destabilising the area by arming and training local Buddhists in the weeks before Annan’s final report was due. The insurgents claimed that their action was a response to that provocation.

It was clear that the military had no intention of allowing Annan’s recommendations to be implemented. Through intelligence, or the use of planted provacateurs, they must have expected the insurgency that gave them the pretext for the massive ethnic cleansing operation that followed.

(A UN report in October confirmed this.)

August 2017 – Contents 🔺


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New ethnic cleansing – contents 🔺

September 2017
(A busy month)
Mass exodus began
Erdoğan spoke
Security council waffled
Suu Kyi petition
‘Fake’ news
Homes burning
Suu Kyi recommends harmony
Landmines
UN: ‘ethnic cleansing’
The island
Myanmar to implement Annan
UN SecGen spoke
Security council: end violence
Female Nobel laureates wrote to SK
Amnesty: ‘scorched earth’
UK stopped military aid
SK speech
US: ‘stop weapons’


September 2017 – Contents 🔺
Mass exodus began

In a clear resumption of ethnic cleansing, an estimated 40,000 Rohingya Muslims were forced to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh after the violence erupted a week ago. (Within a month, the number increased to over 580,000.) Many Rohingya drowned trying to cross a river to reach Bangladesh.

Suu Kyi said in a statement, ‘I would like to commend the members of the police and security forces who have acted with great courage in the face of many challenges’. Wow.

UN high commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said that ‘decades of persistent and systematic human rights violations, including the very violent security responses to the attacks since October 2016‘ had contributed to the insurgency that sparked the latest vicious crackdown.

Regime change, anybody?


September 2017 – Contents 🔺
Erdoğan spoke

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stuck his oar in, accusing Myanmar of genocide. Erdoğan’s own record on human rights isn’t great. For instance, he’s been accused of orchestrating the genocide of Turkey’s Kurdish minority. Erdoğan’s intervention at least helped to keep the story in the news.


September 2017 – Contents 🔺
Security council waffled

The UN security council met behind closed doors to discuss the violence but there was no formal statement. UN secretary-general António Guterres said in a statement that he was ‘deeply concerned by the reports of excesses during the security operations conducted by Myanmar’s security forces in Rakhine State’.

So far so good, but Guterres’s conclusion was: ‘The current situation underlines the urgency of seeking holistic approaches to addressing the complex root causes of violence.’ Oh-oh, António. That was weak – and weaselly. The situation actually underlined the urgency of helping the Rohingya by stopping the state violence.

The statement’s conclusion may have been a respectful reference to the complex and nuanced recommendations of Annan’s commission (see August 2017, above), but coming from the UN head in that desperate context, it sounded disappointingly like a queasy combination of the weaselly Myanmar government spokesperson speaking of ‘efforts to solve the issues in a holistic manner’ (see June 2017, above) and slippery US president Donald Trump saying that the vehicle-attack murder of a protester by a White Supremacy supporter indicated ‘blame on many sides‘.

The UN may have been unable to intervene on its own account, true, but its secretary-general needed to show some leadership.

The UN increased its estimate of those forced to flee to Bangladesh from 40,000 to 58,000. Then it was 70,000. Then, 87,000. Then over 120,000. Then 160,000. Tens of thousands were said to be stranded near the border.


September 2017 – Contents 🔺
Suu Kyi petition

A petition was launched, demanding the withdrawal of Suu Kyi’s Nobel Peace Prize. (I signed it, dear reader – how about you?)


September 2017 – Contents 🔺
‘Fake’ news

Suu Kyi’s office said that in a phone call with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (who’d accused Myanmar of genocide – see above) she claimed that ‘fake news‘ was helping the ‘terrorists’.

(Erdoğan may have sympathised with Suu Kyi’s media problems. He’s had difficulties with the Turkish media. His solution is to jail journalists.)

Apparently, some tweeted photos were from other conflicts. But Myanmar, which continued to ban the media, were responsible for the news vacuum – and, therefore, for any fake news which filled it.


September 2017 – Contents 🔺
Homes burning

The Myanmar military blamed Muslims for the burning of thousands of homes. But Human Rights Watch, having analysed satellite imagery and accounts from Rohingya refugees, said the Myanmar security forces deliberately set the fires.

Myanmar allowed some journalists an accompanied visit to an affected area. They inadvertently saw new fires in an abandoned village. An ethnic Rakhine villager said that police and Rakhine Buddhists set the fires. About ten Rakhine men with machetes were seen there.


September 2017 – Contents 🔺
Suu Kyi recommends harmony

Perhaps feeling the pressure, Suu Kyi spoke to the world – and sounded a bit less like a robot. She told Delhi news agency Asian News International:

‘We are implementing recommendations given by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan as quickly as possible to create harmony and peace in the Rakhine state. Our recommendation is harmony and we shall be addressing it quickly.’

Needless to say, she spoiled it by continuing to characterise the current vicious ethnic cleansing as a legitimate anti-terrorist clearing operation. She didn’t mention the Rohingya forced to flee their homes.

The UN increased its estimate of the number of Rohingyas who had fled to Bangladesh in the previous two weeks to over 270,000.


September 2017 – Contents 🔺
Landmines

Respected human rights NGO Amnesty International said it had evidence that Myanmar’s security forces planted internationally banned antipersonnel landmines along its border with Bangladesh.

The landmines seriously injured at least three civilians, including two children, and reportedly killed one man in the past week.


September 2017 – Contents 🔺
UN: ‘ethnic cleansing’

UN high commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya appeared to be a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.

He denounced the ‘brutal security operation’ against the Rohingya, which he said was ‘clearly disproportionate’ to insurgent attacks carried out last month.

The UN estimate of the number of Rohingyas who had fled to Bangladesh in the previous two weeks increased to 313,000. Then, 370,000. Then 389,000. Then over 400,000.


September 2017 – Contents 🔺
The island

Bangladesh still planned to move the refugees to a barren flood-prone island. (See above, January 2017.)

Bangladesh subsequently announced plans to build a massive refugee detention camp near the border with Myanmar. This was apparently planned to be developed concurrently with the island camp.

(See next island item.)

Rohingya refugees come ashore to Bangladesh | Photo: Danish Siddiqui / Reuters

September 2017 – Contents 🔺
Myanmar to implement Annan

Myanmar president and Suu Kyi ally Htin Kyaw has appointed a committee to implement Annan’s recommendedations and to ‘take prompt measures’ in granting citizenship to those eligible in accordance with the 1982 Citizenship Law.

Invoking the 1982 law was clearly an obstructive tactic. Regarding that law, a former UN human rights ‘special rapporteur’ said:

‘The Government of Myanmar should consider the revision of the 1982 Citizenship Law to abolish its burdensome requirements for citizenship. The law should not apply its categories of second-class citizenship, which have discriminatory effects on racial or ethnic minorities, particularly the Rakhine Muslim population. It should be brought into line with the principles embodied in the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness of 30 August 1961.’

Human Rights Watch has urged the Myanmar government to repeal the 1982 Citizenship Law (or else amend it in accordance with the recommendations of the UN special rapporteur) and to grant all Rohingya full citizenship and rights.


September 2017 – Contents 🔺
UN SecGen spoke

The UN secretary-general beefed up his comments. At a press conference he called on Myanmar’s authorities to:

‘suspend military action, end the violence, uphold the rule of law, and recognise the right of return of all those who had to leave the country.’


September 2017 – Contents 🔺
Security council: end violence

The UN security council, which includes Myanmar supporters Russia and China, was reported to have:

‘expressed concern about reports of excessive violence during the security operations and called for immediate steps to end the violence in Rakhine, de-escalate the situation, re-establish law and order, ensure the protection of civilians, restore normal socio-economic conditions, and resolve the refugee problem.’

(International news agency Reuters reported this as a security council statement. UK ambassador to the UN Michael Rycroft was reported as saying that it was the first time in nine years that the council had agreed a statement on Myanmar. However, I couldn’t find the statement on the security council website. I asked them about it. They said that it wasn’t a formal statement but was in remarks by the UK ambassador after a closed meeting. I asked Rycroft and Reuters about this. They haven’t replied.)


September 2017 – Contents 🔺
Female Nobel laureates wrote to SK

Five female Nobel peace prize winners wrote an open letter urging ‘sister’ Suu to defend Rohingya Muslims. They asked her:

‘How many Rohingya have to die; how many Rohingya women will be raped; how many communities will be razed before you raise your voice in defence of those who have no voice?’


September 2017 – Contents 🔺
Amnesty: ‘scorched earth’

Amnesty International revealed new evidence of a scorched-earth campaign, with Myanmar security forces and vigilante mobs burning down entire Rohingya villages and shooting people at random as they tried to flee.


September 2017 – Contents 🔺
UK stopped military aid

Following intensive pressure from campaign groups, including the excellent (and presumably ironically named) Burma Campaign UK, UK premier Theresa May announced that the UK would suspend the training of Burmese military.

Speaking at the UN general assembly in New York, May said the UK would end all engagement with the Burmese military until military action against civilians in Rakhine state had stopped.


September 2017 – Contents 🔺
SK speech

Suu Kyi made a speech about the crisis. The speech was denounced as a ‘mix of untruths and victim-blaming’ by Amnesty International. The UK Guardian published an illuminating fact-check on the speech.

Aid agencies estimated that 480,000 Rohingya refugees had fled to Bangladesh. The UN then estimated the number to be over 500,000.


September 2017 – Contents 🔺
US: ‘stop weapons’

The US ambassador to the UN called on countries to suspend weapons supplies to Myanmar until the military had put accountability measures in place.

The ambassador said that Myanmar’s ‘brutal, sustained campaign to cleanse the country of an ethnic minority’ meant that ‘those who have been accused of committing abuses should be removed from command responsibilities immediately and prosecuted for wrongdoing.’

The US – apparently keen to counter China’s influence in resource-rich Myanmar – stopped short of threatening to resume the sanctions dropped under the Obama regime.

September 2017 – Contents 🔺


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New ethnic cleansing – contents 🔺

October 2017
(Another busy month for ethnic cleansing)
Myanmar: ‘refugees can return’
New Cox’s Bazar camp
The island
UN in Myanmar ‘disfunctional’
Myanmar civilian-led agency
Charity appeal didn’t use the name ‘Rohingya’
UN: Myanmar planned ethnic cleansing
War criminal Hlaing
Estimated number of refugees: 603,000


October 2017 – Contents 🔺
Myanmar: ‘refugees can return’

Myanmar told the United Nations refugee agency that its – Myanmar’s – top priority was to bring back Rohingyas who’d fled to Bangladesh. A Myanmar government minister said:

‘The repatriation process can start any time for those who wish to return to Myanmar. The verification of refugees will be based on the agreement between the Myanmar and Bangladesh governments in 1993.’

This was presumably a reference to the 250,000 Rohingya refugees who, in the early 1990s, fled to Bangladesh from forced labour, rape and religious persecution at the hands of the Burmese army. They were brutally repatriated to Burma, a process shamefully overseen by the UN.

This time, many refugees fled with nothing, but even if they had verification documents, many were wary about returning without an assurance of full citizenship, without which they’d face the same persecution and curbs they’ve endured for years. A Rohingya refugee said:

‘If we go there, we’ll just have to come back here. If they give us our rights, we will go, but people did this before and they had to return.’

There was also, of course, the little problem of Bangladesh refusing to give official refugee status to the Rohingya refugees.


October 2017 – Contents 🔺
New Cox’s Bazar camp

Bangladesh announced that it would build one of the world’s biggest refugee camps to house all the 800,000-plus Rohingya Muslims who’d sought asylum from violence in Myanmar. (This would include the estimated 300,000 Rohingya refugees who fled to Bangladesh during earlier violence.)

Bangladeshi authorities planned to expand a refugee camp at Kutupalong near the border town of Cox’s Bazar to accommodate the Rohingya. 400 hectares (1,000 acres) had been set aside for the new camp next to the existing camp.


October 2017 – Contents 🔺
The island

On her return from a UN meeting in New York, Bangladeshi premier Sheikh Hasina Wazed promised to help the Rohingya, offering – somewhat unconvincingly – to eat only one meal a day if necessary.

However, she ruined this saintly image of pity, generosity and self-sacrifice by blithely adding (in confirmation of the announcement made a month ago) that Bangladesh was planning to build temporary shelters for the Rohingya on an island, with the help of international aid agencies. She praised the aid agencies for their support.

The island was Thengar Char (recently renamed Bhasan Char, also known as Char piya). Wazed first planned to forcibly move the Rohingya refugees to this island in January 2017. (See above).

Thengar/Bhasan Char | Photo: Mohammad Ponir Hossain / Reuters

Bhasan Char was formed about a decade ago by sediment from a river. With no roads or flood defences, it was used sporadically by fishermen and by farmers seeking to graze their animals. It regularly flooded during the June-September monsoons and, when seas were calm, pirates kidnapped fishermen for ransom.

Really, Hasina?

The Bangladeshi government said a month ago that they’d establish a 2,000-acre camp near Cox’s Bazar to house 250,000 Rohingya. So the 1,000-acre camp now planned will presumably house 125,000 people – not the 800,000 claimed in the recent announcement.

The government was speeding up work at Bhasan Char with a view to building a 10,000-acre facility that could house hundreds of thousands of Rohingya.

As the originally planned 2,000-acre camp near Kutupalong was meant to house 250,000 people, the 10,000-acre camp planned for the island would presumably hold up to 1,250,000 people – that is, all the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

Clearly Bangladesh was planning to move all the Rohingya refugees to the remote and barren island detention camp until such a time as they could be returned to Myanmar (which, the way things were going, looked like never).

Once the troublesome refugees had been moved, Cox’s Bazar, with its world’s longest unbroken beach, could be further developed for tourism. Kerching!

An excellent February 2017 article shed light on this murky plan.

When the island first appeared eleven years ago, it was considered as a possible solution to Bangladesh’s land scarcity. But because most of the island is submerged during the monsoon season; and because trafficking routes converge around the island, and criminals roam its waters, talk of populating it died out.

Then in January 2017, the government issued an order directing officials to relocate Rohingya refugees to the island. A district administrator estimated that the island, about 116 square miles, might support as many as 50,000 Rohingya.

Some officials expressed misgivings. A forestry department official involved in planting mangroves on the island said:

‘The ground is too soft to support sturdy structures, and the weather changes erratically. In my opinion, it is not habitable.’

According to the February 2017 report, Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said of the planned relocation:

‘This is a human rights and humanitarian disaster in the making, and the Bangladesh government should be ashamed for even considering it, much less asking for a budget for it from every international donor they come across. What Bangladesh is really proposing is to put the Rohingya out of sight and out of mind on an island, and hope they are forgotten by the international community.’

The February 2017 report also said that UN refugee agency UNHCR recommended that any relocation plan be carried out through a consultative and voluntary process, after its feasibility has been assessed.

UNHCR Bangladesh representative Shinji Kubo said that a better plan would be to simply register and document the Rohingya in Bangladesh no matter where they were. Kubo said:

‘This helps the government to know who is on its soil, and helps humanitarian agencies to deliver assistance to those who need it.’

If Bangladesh’s fascistic plan was to be stopped by aid agency opposition, the opposition of UNHCR would be needed. UNHCR representative Kubo, a proactive hustler for human rights, would perhaps do the right thing, and oppose the plan.

(See next island item.)


October 2017 – Contents 🔺
UN in Myanmar ‘disfunctional’

The UN was recently accused of taking a long-term political view in Myanmar and down-playing the urgent Rohigya issue. A leaked memo (there’s always a leaked memo) suggested a central policy creep heading in that direction, making normal UN activity ‘disfunctional’.

The UN’s shortcomings in responding to the Rohingya crisis were a product of long-standing internal squabbles over turf and policy, compounded by a 1977 decision to allow the UN development program (UNDP) to appoint the UN’s top local officials, the resident coordinators.

As an agency that relies on governments’ cooperation to do its work, UNDP has historically avoided confronting governments that commit abuses. That has led to a culture of silence, and to allegations that the UN has been complicit in atrocities, from Myanmar to Sri Lanka.

A UN report, entitled The Role of the United Nations in Rakhine state, was commissioned by (UNDP-appointed) resident coordinator Renata Lok-Dessallien – and was then supressed by her when she didn’t like its conclusions.

Lok-Dessallien was accused of preventing discussion of the Rohingya crisis at UN meetings. The UN closed ranks and responded angrily and defensively to the criticism. However, Lok-Dessallien was conveniently ‘rotated’ out of the way. Or rather she was supposed to be. Several months later Lok-Dessallien was still there, the Myanmar government having rejected her proposed successor.

The UN eventually got Norwegian Knut Ostby accepted as interim resident coordinator. The appointment of a temporary placeholder was expected after Myanmar blocked an upgrade of the UN Myanmar chief from resident coordinator to assistant secretary-general.

Suu Kyi had told diplomats that she was frustrated with the UN’s human rights arm. Bless. Still, she’d be OK with another UNDP placeperson in charge.

Another sign of the UN being too cooperative with Myanmar was the news that the report by the UN food agency that Rohingya children were ‘wasting’ (see July 2017, above) had been shelved at Myanmar’s request.

The July assessment by the World Food Programme warned that more than 80,000 children under the age of five living in majority-Muslim areas were ‘wasting’ — a potentially fatal condition of rapid weight loss.

Anyone wondering why the UN sometimes seems too compliant with the Myanmar government should remember: the USA is the UN’s chief paymaster – and the USA is competing with China to tap into Myanmar’s rich but undeveloped natural resources.


October 2017 – Contents 🔺
Myanmar civilian-led agency

Suu Kyi, sounding almost human, announced plans to set up a new Myanmar civilian-led agency which with foreign assistance, she said, would deliver relief and would help to resettle Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state, as well as implement projects in the region. Hmmm.


October 2017 – Contents 🔺
Charity appeal didn’t use the name ‘Rohingya’

The UK Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an umbrella charity for other charities, recently launched an appeal ‘for people fleeing Myanmar’.

The casual viewer of the appeal’s full-page newspaper adverts might have wondered if that was something to do with the 500,000 Rohingya refugees extensively reported in the news.

Myanmar refuses to use the name ‘Rohingya’ – and Bangladesh refuses to give official refugee status to the Rohingya refugees. I asked DEC if that was why the advert didn’t use the words ‘Rohingya’ or ‘refugees’.

DEC said that as they’re an umbrella charity, decisions on appeal names have to be made collectively by all the charities involved – 13 in this case.

DEC said that some member charities, particularly the few allowed to continue operating in Rakhine state, were concerned that naming the Rohingya would cause difficulties.

DEC also said that some member charities had concerns about the word ‘refugee’ – because Bangladesh hadn’t granted many of the displaced people refugee status.

This is design by committee gone mad. DEC told me that decisions are made by consenus. But DEC, whilst posing as a neutral coordinator, is actually more powerful than that. Its umbrella appeals boost money and profile for its member charities.

DEC should have had the balls, the common sense and the integrity to insist on the use of the words ‘Rohingya‘ and ‘refugee‘.

The vast majority of the ‘people fleeing Myanmar’ are Rohingya; and whatever Bangladesh says, they’re clearly all refugees.

Not calling them Rohingya looks like collusion with Myanmar’s pre-genocidal attempt to deny their existence. Not calling them refugees looks like collusion with Bangladesh’s heartless reluctance to grant refugee status.

Also, less well informed potential donors who’d heard about Rohingya refugees in the news might have glanced at the advert, not realised what the appeal was for – and might not have donated.

Nevertheless, dear (UK) reader, please donate. Every little helps.


October 2017 – Contents 🔺
UN: Myanmar planned ethnic cleansing

A UN report says that the Myanmar military started deliberately destabilising the area before the ‘terrorist insurrection’. (See August 2017, above.) The report highlighted a strategy to instil deep and widespread fear and trauma – physical, emotional and psychological – among the Rohingya population.

After the ‘insurrection’, brutal attacks against Rohingya in northern Rakhine State were well-organised, coordinated and systematic, with the intent of not only driving the population out of Myanmar but preventing them from returning to their homes.

Efforts were taken to effectively erase signs of memorable landmarks in the geography of the Rohingya landscape and memory in such a way that a return to their lands would yield nothing but a desolate and unrecognizable terrain.

Myanmar security forces targeted teachers, cultural and religious leaders, and other people of influence in the Rohingya community in an effort to diminish Rohingya history, culture and knowledge.

Security forces torched dwellings and entire villages, were responsible for extrajudicial and summary executions, rape and other forms of sexual violence, torture and attacks on places of worship.

Megaphones were used to announce:

‘You do not belong here – go to Bangladesh. If you do not leave, we will torch your houses and kill you.’


October 2017 – Contents 🔺
War criminal Hlaing

Myanmar military head and de facto dictator Senior General Min Aung Hlaing should clearly be prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) – based in the city of The Hague in the Netherlands (also known as Holland) in north-west Europe – only has autonomous jurisdiction in countries that have signed the Rome statute that established the ICC in 1998 – and Myanmar isn’t a signatory.

However, the ICC can also have jurisdiction anywhere – if it’s authorized by the UN security council.

In the 1990s, during the preparatory work by the UN to establish the ICC, the security council established two ad hoc international criminal tribunals.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia was established in 1993 following massive violations of humanitarian law during fighting in that region. It was the first war-crimes court created by the UN and the first international war-crimes tribunal since the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals at the end of the Second World War.

The security council also established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 1994 to prosecute those responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law.

US secretary of state (top foreign policy official) Rex Tillerson said that the USA held Myanmar’s military leadership responsible for its harsh crackdown on the Rohingya. He said:

‘The world can’t just stand idly by and be witness to the atrocities that are being reported in the area, We really hold the military leadership accountable for what’s happening.’

Fine words, Mr Secretary. But standing idly by was apparently exactly what the USA planned to do. Tillerson stopped short of saying that the USA would take action against Myanmar’s military leaders. The USA has established close ties with Myanmar in the face of competition from strategic rival China.

The USA has form for cosying up to murderous regimes for strategic reasons. Remember US-backed mass-murderer, embezzler and Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet?

In any case, Myanmar allies Russia and China would probably block any move to establish a tribunal for Myanmar, so – for now – war criminal Hlaing goes free.


October 2017 – Contents 🔺
Estimated number of refugees: 603,000

The UN said said that an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 Rohingya had recently fled, raising the estimate of the number of refugees who’d left Myanmar since 25 August to 582,000 .

The new arrivals were stranded in border wetlands with no shelter or food, waiting for permission from Bangladesh to move on to the camps.

From the Myanmar side, smoke from burning villages continued to be seen, and the sound of gunfire continued to be heard.

The stranded refugees were eventually allowed through. The estimated number of refugees was raised to 603,000. Tens of thousands more were said to be trying to cross to Bangladesh.

The International Rescue Committee estimated that 300,000 more Rohingya were expected to flee to Bangladesh in the coming weeks.

October 2017 – Contents 🔺


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New ethnic cleansing – contents 🔺

November 2017
She was a day tripper
Israeli arms sales: ‘war crimes on both sides’
Security Council statement
ASEAN meeting ignored the Rohingya
Repatriation agreement signed
Pope said nothing


November 2017 – Contents 🔺
She was a day tripper

A Myanmar government spokesman said that Suu Kyi had gone to Rakhine state capital Sittwe and would go to Maungdaw and Buthiduang. ‘It will be a day trip,’ he added.

Suu Kyi in Sittwe | AFP / Getty Images

This was Suu Kyi’s first visit to Rakhine since taking office. It’s not clear why she went. No press were allowed to accompany her.

There was no progress in starting the process of repatriating Rohingya refugees.


November 2017 – Contents 🔺
Israeli arms sales: ‘war crimes on both sides’

Justifying Israeli arms sales to Myanmar, an Israeli New York senior diplomat ridiculously told Jewish human rights group T’ruah (who’d protested against arms sales to a regime carrying out brutal ethnic cleansing against a minority population) that ‘the two sides in the conflict are conducting war crimes‘.

Oh well, that’s alright, then! The diplomat’s response was a wierd combinanation of stupidity, admission and arrogance.

It was stupid in that an attack on armed border posts by a handful of badly armed insurgents can’t by any stretch of imagination be described as a war crime.

The diplomat seemed to be admitting that Israel’s arms customer, the Myanmar military, had committed war crimes.

The diplomat’s response was arrogant in the manner of all Israeli defence pronouncements. Israel will do whatever they need to do – the world can like it or lump it. So one of Israel’s arms customers has committed war crimes – so what?


November 2017 – Contents 🔺
Security Council statement

The UN security council finally managed to make a statement about the Rohingya crisis. The statement began:

‘The Security Council strongly condemns the widespread violence that has taken place in Rakhine State, Myanmar, since 25 August, which has led to the mass displacement of more than 607,000 individuals, the vast majority belonging to the Rohingya community.

‘The Security Council further expresses grave concern over reports of human rights violations and abuses in Rakhine State, including by the Myanmar security forces, in particular against persons belonging to the Rohingya community, including those involving the systematic use of force and intimidation, killing of men, women, and children, sexual violence, and including the destruction and burning of homes and property.’

The statement called on the government ‘to ensure no further excessive use of military force in Rakhine state, to restore civilian administration and apply the rule of law.’

The statement was watered down by Myanmar ally China. They weakened the language on citizenship rights and rejected a demand that Myanmar allow a UN human rights mission into the country. But at least they agreed to the highly critical statement – as did Myanmar’s other security council ally, Russia.

Russia was being pressed by its Muslim-majority republic of Chechnya to abandon its military and diplomatic support for the Myanmar regime.

Myannar’s response was to criticise the UN statement, saying that it ‘could potentially and seriously harm the bilateral negotiations between the two countries which have been proceeding smoothly and expeditiously’.

Perhaps any lack of negotiating smoothness is actually due to Myanmar insisting that those returning must be verified, and Bangladesh refusing to register the refugees.

UN paymaster the USA not only agreed the security council statement, but beefed up its own response.

US secretary of state Rex Tillerson was due to visit Myanmar this month. Tillerson planned to meet Suu Kyi as well as army chief and war criminal General Min Aung Hlaing.

The US said it was seeking a diplomatic solution to the crisis but hadn’t ruled out sanctions.

Also, draft US legislation would reduce military cooperation with Myanmar and impose visa bans on senior Myanmar military officers considered responsible for human rights violations.


November 2017 – Contents 🔺
ASEAN meeting ignored the Rohingya

A statement issued after the recent ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) summit in Manila attended by Suu Kyi mentioned the importance of humanitarian relief provided for victims of natural disasters in Vietnam and a recent urban battle with Islamist militants in the Philippines, as well as ‘affected communities’ in northern Rakhine state, but made no mention of the exodus of Rohingya Muslims.

However, Suu Kyi did apparently give an assurance about the return of refugees, after two unnamed ASEAN leaders raised the issue during a plenary session. According to a Philippines presidential spokesperson, Suu Kyi said:

‘The process of repatriation of IDPs [internally displaced persons] will conclude within three weeks after a signing of a memorandum of agreement for understanding with Bangladesh.’

Suu Kyi has benefited from ASEAN’s policy of non-interference – but when she led the fight for democracy in Myanmar two decades ago, she opposed that policy.

In a 1999 editorial in Thailand’s The Nation newspaper Suu Kyi said that ASEAN’s policy of non-interference was ‘just an excuse for not helping’. ‘In this day and age,’ she wrote, ‘you cannot avoid interference in the matters of other countries.

How times change, eh, Suu?


November 2017 – Contents 🔺
Repatriation agreement signed

Bangladesh signed a deal with Myanmar to return the Rohingya. Myanmar’s conditions of return remained unclear, and many Rohingya were understandably terrified of being sent back.

Myanmar military head and war criminal Min Aung Hlaing told US secretary of state Rex Tillerson that ‘the Bengalis’ could return to Myanmar only if ‘real citizens’ accepted them – meaning Rakhine Buddhists.

A joint working group was due to be set up within three weeks. Bangladesh said that an arrangement for repatriation ‘will be concluded in a speedy manner’ and the return of the refugees should start within two months.

Aid groups scrambled to respond to Myanmar’s controversial plans to create new internment camps for displaced Rohingya.

Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch called Myanmar’s camp proposal ‘a human rights disaster‘. Robertson said:

‘The international community will rue the day if they decide to go along with this plan…for an open-air Rohingya prison, surrounded by barbed wire, hostile security forces and hateful Rakhine communities. The international community should boycott this proposal and demand that the right to return means going back to the locations where people lived before this latest wave of ethnic cleansing, and rebuilding there.’

A spokesman for the office of the UN resident coordinator in Myanmar said: ‘The return of IDPs and refugees should be voluntary and to the places of origin where they have the highest prospect of rebuilding their lives.’

Fine words, but note the UN representative’s avoidance of the name ‘Rohingya‘, favouring Suu Kyi’s terminology: IDPs (internally displaced persons). It seemed that the new UN resident coordinator was following in the footsteps of his predecessor by downplaying human rights issues and sucking up to the Junta.

The UN’s weak approach had apparently resulted in it being sidelined by Myanmar in their plan to imprison the Rohingya. The worst outcome would be a rerun of the disastrous 1990s scenario: brutally forced repatriation, shamefully overseen by the UN.


November 2017 – Contents 🔺
Pope said nothing

Photo: Zarni Phyo

During his visit to Myanmar, Pope Francis, like Suu Kyi, disappointed the watching world by failing to speak up for the Rohingya. He took the advice of weaselly prelates not use the word ‘Rohingya’ in case Myanmar’s catholics might be put at risk.

He made a vague and waffling reference to minorities, but was shamefully silent on the plight of the Rohingya.

Pathetic, your Holiness.

November 2017 – Contents 🔺


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New ethnic cleansing – contents 🔺

December 2017
Report: methodical rape by Myanmar soldiers
At least 6,700 killed
Number of refugees now 647,000
UN human rights chief: Suu Kyi should face justice
UN Myanmar critic won’t seek second term


December 2017 – Contents 🔺
Report: methodical rape by Myanmar soldiers

The rape of Rohingya women by Myanmar security forces was sweeping and methodical, according to a report by Associated Press (AP).

AP interviwed 29 women and girls who’d fled to Bangladesh. They were from several refugee camps, and were interviewed separately and extensively. Ranging in age from 13 to 35, they described assaults between October 2016 and mid-September.

The interviewees recounted experiences of sexual assault by troops that revealed a sickening sameness and a distinct pattern to the abuse. The horrific accounts typically involve the murder of men, children and babies, and the gang-rape of women.

The testimonies support the UN’s contention that Myanmar’s armed forces were systematically employing rape. UN special representative on sexual violence Pramila Patten said that sexual violence was used as a ‘calculated tool of terror to force targeted populations to flee‘.

Bangladeshi government health officer Dr Misbah Uddin Ahmed said the women who managed to overcome their fear and make it to his clinics were usually the ones in the deepest trouble. Many others suffered in silence, he said.

Doctors and aid workers were said to be stunned at the sheer volume of rapes, and to suspect that only a fraction of raped women had come forward. Médecins Sans Frontières doctors had treated 113 sexual violence survivors since August, a third of them under 18. The youngest was nine.

When journalists asked about rape allegations during a government-organised trip to Rakhine in September, Rakhine State minister for security and border affairs Colonel Phone Tint said:

‘These women were claiming they were raped, but look at their appearances — do you think they are that attractive to be raped?’

The very attractive Colonel Phone Tint | Photo EPA

The use of sexual violence by Myanmar’s security forces isn’t new. Before she became Myanmar’s civilian leader, Suu Kyi herself condemned military abuses. In a video message to a 2011 Nobel Women’s Initiative conference in Montebello, Canada, she said:

‘Rape is rife. It is used as a weapon by armed forces to intimidate the ethnic nationalities and to divide our country.’

But the new Suu Kyi dismissed accounts of systematic rape as lies. In December 2016, her government department issued a press release disputing Rohingya women’s reports of sexual assaults, accompanied by an image showing the words ‘Fake Rape.’


December 2017 – Contents 🔺
At least 6,700 killed

Surveys by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Bangladeshi refugee camps indicated that at least 6,700 Rohingya were estimated to have been killed (many more than Myanmar’s official figure of 400). This included at least 730 children below the age of five.

According to MSF, some 4,625 people were killed by gunshots, 600 were burnt to death in their houses, and 335 were beaten to death.

Some children were killed by landmines.


December 2017 – Contents 🔺
Number of refugees now 647,000

A news release from the International Organization for Migration gave a revised figure of 647,000 refugees having fled to Bangladesh since August.


December 2017 – Contents 🔺
UN human rights chief: Suu Kyi should face justice

UN high commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein told UK national broadcaster the BBC that the perpetrators of the horrors committed against the Rohingya, including not only General Hlaing but Suu Kyi herself, should face justice – and could be charged with genocide.

In an interview for the BBC TV investigative documentary programme Panorama, Hussein called for a criminal investigation. He said:

‘Given the scale of the military operation, clearly these would have to be decisions taken at a high level.’

Hussein said that even if Suu Kyi didn’t order the ethnic cleansing, knowing about the crime and doing nothing to stop it would make her culpable.

The programme’s investigations confirmed UN findings that Myanmar security forces began systematic destruction in Rakhine before the Rohingya insurgent attacks in August.


December 2017 – Contents 🔺
UN Myanmar critic won’t seek second term

UN high commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein – the only top UN official to unreservedly criticize Myanmardramatically announced his decision not to seek a second term in September 2018.

In a statement to his staff, Hussein explained his decision not to seek a second term:

‘To do so, in the current geopolitical context, might involve bending a knee in supplication, muting a statement of advocacy, or lessening the independence and integrity of my voice.’

It was uncertain whether Hussein’s boss, UN secretary general António Guterres, would support him seeking a second term – or whether the five veto-wielding permanent members of the UN security council would use their influence to block it. Hussein had criticised them all.

Besides denouncing the Chinese-backed government of Myanmar, Hussein had critised the Russian-backed government of Syria, US president Trump’s travel ban on citizens of Muslim-majority countries and Trump’s response to US white supremacist demonstrations.

After his recent call for those responsible for the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya to be held to account, Hussein apparently tried (and presumably failed) to get the UN to investigate those crimes.

Hussein, the first human rights chief from the Middle East, is a sharp critic of violations by Arab governments; a Muslim who condemned Islamist militants; and a Jordanian prince who discarded his title to take the job and become an advocate for victims.

Hussein’s reference to ‘the current geopolitical context‘ confirmed the toothlessness of the UN, which is largely funded and controlled by the USA. UN agencies trying to uphold fundamental human rights were apparently deeply worried about US president Trump’s rhetoric on key issues, from migrants to torture – and the consequent prospect of a post-human-rights world.

It was still not too late for our former human rights heroine Suu Kyi to redeem herself and restore some balance by speaking out on behalf of the Rohingya – and all other oppressed people. You could have done it, Suu.

December 2017 – Contents 🔺


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January 2018
Awkward silence
A solution: autonomy
Suu Kyi friend resigns
Number of refugees now 688,000


January 2018 – Contents 🔺
Awkward silence

Hello? Ethnic cleansing? War crimes? Crimes against humanity? Possible genocide? Anyone?

The awkward silence from the world community shamed the United Nations. It might be thought that because the UN was behaving like a toothless tiger, it didn’t have the constitutional right to intervene – but it did have the right.

A 2005 UN world summit meeting agreed that all countries have a shared responsibility to prevent and respond to the most serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

The summit agreed that the principle of state sovereignty carried with it the obligation of the state to protect its own citizens. However, if a state was unable or unwilling to do so, the international community was empowered to intervene. The summit outcome document says:

‘…we are prepared to take collective action in a timely and decisive manner … should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.’

To its great shame, the UN never has taken such action – and probably never will.


January 2018 – Contents 🔺
A solution: autonomy

The refugee return plan outlined in October was due to go ahead despite protests from the Rohingya and the UN. To the watching world, the plan looked mad: move 200,000 refugees to camps in Myanmar. With no official UN involvement, there was no security guarantee.

The only viable solution was for an autonomous region to be given to the Rohingya by Myanmar, and perhaps Bangladesh. This solution was suggested in a book chapter by Anthony Ware (senior lecturer at Deakin University, Melbourne, and former director of the Australia Myanmar Institute).

In the conclusion to his chapter, Ware argued that:

‘…the Rakhine State conflict should not be treated as a special case completely independent from the broader discussions about national identities and possible semi-autonomous and federal state arrangement to ensure the voice of minorities in their own affairs… both Rakhine and so-called ‘Rohingya’ need to be part of this process if peace is to be achieved.’

(Ware’s expression “so-called ‘Rohingya'” looks bad, but I hope it’s a pedantic reference to the uncertain origins of the name, rather than a clichéd expression of anti-Rohingya propaganda. Ware’s well researched chapter shows an unusally balanced and impartial point of view.)

A semi-autonomous and federal state arrangement could be implemented by Myanmar and, perhaps, Bangladesh. Interested superpowers the USA, China and Russia could urge them to do that. It’d bring peace and stability to the region, and would therefore be in everyone’s interest.

So, probably not going to happen…


January 2018 – Contents 🔺
Suu Kyi friend resigned

Bill Richardson, a seasoned US diplomat and friend of Suu Kyi, resigned from an international panel set up by Suu Kyi to advise on the Rohingya crisis. The panel was set up last year to advise on implementing the findings of the Annan commission. See August and September, 2017, above.)

Richardson, a former adviser to the US Clinton administration, had known Suu Kyi for decades, and visited her while she was under house arrest in the 1990s. Richardson claimed that the panel was a ‘whitewash‘ and accused Suu Kyi of lacking ‘moral leadership‘.

Suu Kyi had been ‘furious’ when he raised the case of two Reuters reporters on trial in Myanmar. The journalists had been charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act (a left-over British colonial law) while covering the Rohingya crisis.

Suu Kyi ‘exploded‘ at Richardson when he mentioned the journalists, he told the New York Times. ‘Her face was quivering, and if she had been a little closer to me, she might have hit me, she was so furious,’ Richardson said.

Richardson, who was acting in a non-official personal capacity, told Reuters that he’d resigned from the advisory board because it was a ‘whitewash‘, and he didn’t want to be part of a ‘cheerleading squad for the government‘.

He was ‘alarmed by the lack of sincerity with which the critical issue of citizenship was discussed,’ he wrote in a statement. Annan had emphasised this issue in his report, which had a positive reception from the Myanmar government. (See above.)

Richardson’s account alarmingly implied that Annan’s commission was a cynical ploy by Myanmar to deflect international criticism; and that Suu Kyi had broken her promise of harmony

Further light was shed on Suu Kyi’s attitude by an excellent BBC collection of the things Suu Kyi had said – from her idealistic Nobel prize speech to her more recent weaselly pronouncements.


January 2018 – Contents 🔺
Number of refugees now 688,000

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHR), the number of refugees registered since 25 August was 688.000. The OHCR report said this was causing suffering on a catastrophic scale. Did you read that, Suu?

January 2018 – Contents 🔺


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February 2018
The island is back – and it’s ‘very nice’

Reuters reported that Bangladesh planned to relocate 100,000 Rohingya refugees to a flood-prone and uninhabitable island. Premier Sheikh Hasina absurdly described the island as ‘very nice’.

British and Chinese engineers were helping to prepare the island to receive refugees before the onset of monsoon rains. Plans showed metal-roofed, brick buildings raised on pylons and fitted with solar panels. There were due to be 1,440 blocks, each housing 16 families.

Bangladeshi premier Sheikh Hasina first planned to forcibly move Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugees to the island, Bhasan Char (originally called Thengar Char, also known as Char piya) in January 2017. (See above).

Bhasan Char, a flood-prone island formed in the Bay of Bengal about a decade ago by sediment from a river, has been used sporadically by fishermen and by farmers grazing their animals. It regularly floods during the April-September monsoons. Pirates operate in that area and kidnap fishermen for ransom.

Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said in February 2017 of the planned relocation:

‘This is a human rights and humanitarian disaster in the making, and the Bangladesh government should be ashamed for even considering it, much less asking for a budget for it from every international donor they come across. What Bangladesh is really proposing is to put the Rohingya out of sight and out of mind on an island, and hope they are forgotten by the international community.’

In October 2017 Hasina confirmed that Bangladesh was planning to build temporary shelters for the Rohingya on the island with the help of international aid agencies. (See above).

Explaining the new announcement, prime ministerial political adviser Hossain Toufique Imam said that once there, the Rohingya would only be able to leave the island if they wanted to go back to Myanmar or were selected for asylum by a third country. ‘It’s not a concentration camp, but there may be some restrictions’. he added. The island would have a police encampment with 40-50 armed personnel.

Imam said that the question of selecting Rohingya in Cox’s Bazar to move to the island had not been finalised, but it could be decided by lottery or on a voluntary basis.

At a news conference in Dhaka, premier Hasina said of the island, ‘from a natural point of view it is very nice‘. Riiiight. Hasina said that although the initial plan was to put 100,000 people there, it had room for as many as 1 million. She said that this was a temporary arrangement to ease congestion at Cox’s Bazar. She didn’t mention her concerns about the refugees’ impact on tourism at the Cox’s Bazar holiday resort.

(See next island item.)


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March 2018
Report: 43,000 missing, presumed killed
Island costs – no support


March 2018 – Contents 🔺
Report: 43,000 missing, presumed killed

US magazine Time reported that more than 43,000 Rohingya parents were lost, presumed dead since Myanmar’s military crackdown last August, according to the summary of a fact-finding mission to Bangladesh by ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR).

This far exceeded Myanmar’s official figure of 400 Rohingya killed, and Médecins Sans Frontières’ December estimate of 6,700 killed.

Based on surveys of refugees in Bangladesh, 28,300 Rohingya children had lost at least one parent, while an additional 7,700 children had lost both parents, according to APHR, citing data from the Bangladeshi government. That put the estimate of ‘lost’ parents as high as 43,700.


March 2018 – Contents 🔺
Island costs – no support

Reuters reported that Bangladesh, having failed to get support from aid agencies (despite premier Hasina, in October 2017, prematurely praising aid agencies  for their help), was paying the $280m cost of building homes on flood-prone island Bhasan Char, and of fortifying the island against monsoon flooding and cyclones.

An earlier report revealed the involvement of Chinese construction company Sinohydro – better known for building China’s disastrous Three Gorges Dam – and British engineering and environmental hydraulics consultancy HR Wallingford, the privatised government establishment formerly known as the Hydraulics Research Station. (Neo-liberalism rules! Create a useful public institution paid for by tax, then privatise it because of dodgy 1980s economic theory, so that it can then profit – with minimal oversight – from the dodgy plans, rejected by all NGOs, of a dodgy premier.)

A Reuters graphic explained the development of the island.

A Bangladeshi minister said that no refugees would be moved against their will. This was an improvement on the earlier suggestion of a possible lottery to decide who would be moved.

March 2018 – Contents 🔺


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April 2018
ICC seeks jurisdiction to prosecute Myanmar
Security council visit


April 2018 – Contents 🔺
ICC seeks jurisdiction to prosecute Myanmar

International criminal court (ICC) chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda wanted to investigate Myanmar for crimes against the Rohingya. She was asking for a ruling on whether she could go ahead on the basis that although Myanmar is not a signatory to the Rome ICC statute, Bangladesh is. She said:

‘The prosecution seeks … to verify that the court has territorial jurisdiction when persons are deported from the territory of a state which is not a party to the Statute directly into the territory of a state which is a party to the Statute.’

The ICC doesn’t have a great track record and lacks international support. The USA, Russia and China haven’t joined, and continue to obstruct its functioning in the UN security council. It has no enforcement officers – it relies on signatory countries carrying out their own arrests. It didn’t look hopeful – but at least Bensouda was signalling that war criminal General Hlaing was a wanted man.


April 2018 – Contents 🔺
Security council visit

It was reported that senior diplomats from each of the 15 UN security council member states would travel to Bangladesh and Myanmar.

The ambassadors were due to visit refugee camps in Bangladesh before meeting Suu Kyi and going by helicopter to Rakhine state,

In an attempt to restore her battered reputation, Suu Kyi also agreed to allow UN human rights and development organisations to enter Myanmar to prepare the ground for the large-scale return of Rohingya Muslims.

The presidential election last month of Win Myint, a close Suu Kyi ally and a more assertive figure than his predecessor, was said to have strengthened Suu Kyi’s position.

Maybe there was hope for our former heroine – and for the 1m Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh – after all.

Super-traders and serial security council vetoers Russia and China could persuade their trading partner, the Myanmar junta, to implement a semi-autonomous federated region – to be overseen by UN peacekeepers – where the Rohingya refugees could rebuild their shattered and suspended lives. In the circumstances, issues of citizenship and military accountability could be deferred.

April 2018 – Contents 🔺


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New ethnic cleansing – contents 🔺

June 2018
China ‘to build houses’ in Rakhine State
Amnesty and Reuters: Myanmar planned ethnic cleansing


June 2018 – Contents 🔺
China ‘to build houses’ in Rakhine State

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Photo: foreign ministry of Bangladesh

China, evidently not particularly interested in human rights but perhaps needing regional stability, moved sluggishly in the direction of helping the Rohingya refugees to return home.

Chinese rising star, foreign minister and powerful state councillor Wang Yi told Bangladesh foreign minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali at a bilateral meeting in Beijing that China would improve the resettlement environment in Rakhine State by helping with building houses and creating economic opportunities.

Better than Myanmar’s prison camps, at least.


June 2018 – Contents 🔺
Amnesty and Reuters: Myanmar planned ethnic cleansing

Two new reports show that Myanmar planned the ethnic cleansing, and that the programme began before the 25 August attacks by Rohingya insurgent group ARSA .

In October 2017, a UN report found that the Myanmar military started deliberately destabilising the northern Rakhine State area before the ‘terrorist insurrection’. (See above.)

A new investigation by human rights NGO Amnesty International confirmed this in shocking detail. Amnesty’s report included detailed evidence showing that the Myanmar military subjected Rohingya men and boys to arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances and torture in the weeks leading up to 25 August 2017.

The torture included beatings, burning, waterboarding and sexual violence, with the perpetrators trying to extract confessions or information about ARSA.

Myanmar military commander-in-chief and de-facto dictator Senior General Min Aung Hlaing ordered the deployment of shock troop battalions of the 33rd and 99th Light Infantry Divisions (LIDs) to northern Rakhine State in August 2017. Amnesty International published a report in June 2017 showing that soldiers from the 33rd and 99th LIDs committed war crimes against civilians from ethnic minorities in northern Shan State.

The new Amnesty report implicated Hlaing and 12 other named individuals in crimes against humanity committed during the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya population in northern Rakhine State.

A separate investigation by international news agency Reuters, titled Tip of the Spear, confirmed Amnesty’s findings. Reuters presented evidence including social media posts by soldiers to show that hundreds of battle-hardened soldiers from the elite 33rd and 99th LIDs (referred to by Western military analysts as Myanmar’s ‘tip of the spear‘) flew into Northern Rakhine in early August, weeks before the ARSA ‘insurrection’.

Suu Kyi’s government said in a statement at the time that the deployment would bring ‘peace, stability and security‘. But the influx of heavily armed combat troops with a long history of human rights abuses had the opposite effect – it stoked fear and tension across a volatile region.

The Reuters report also showed the close link between those elite troops and war criminal Hlaing.

June 2018 – Contents 🔺


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July 2018
Third report: Myanmar planned ethnic cleansing

Following the June Amnesty and Reuters reports, Southeast Asian human rights NGO Fortify Rights produced its own independent report claiming that Myanmar made meticulous preparations for attacks against the Rohingya with ‘genocidal intent‘ in the weeks before last year’s purge.

The 162-page report, ‘They gave them long swords‘ was based on testimony from 254 survivors, officials and workers over a 21-month period. It named 22 military and police officers as directly responsible for the campaign, including war criminal General Hlaing.

July 2018 – Contents 🔺


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New ethnic cleansing – contents 🔺

August2018
Japan: Myanmar agreed to build villages
UN report: ‘genocide’


August 2018 – Contents 🔺
Japan: Myanmar agreed to build villages

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Maverick and the Lady Photo: Kyodo

Japan said that Myanmar had accepted a proposal to expedite the process of building modern villages for returning Rohingya.

At a meeting in Dhaka, Bangladeshi and Japanese foreign ministers Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali and Taro Kono discussed Japan’s five proposal for the quick and sustainable return of the Rohingya.

After the meeting, Ali said that Japan had agreed to provide the necessary support for the repatriation and resettlement of the Rohingyas. In a separate briefing, a Japanese spokesperson said that Kono had shared the five proposals with Myanmar, and that Myanmar ‘gladly accepted’ the proposals.

The Japanese spokesperson said that it was ‘very rare’ for a Japanese foreign minister to visit a country twice in a year. But Kono had visited Bangladesh and Myanmar twice in six months ‘because he saw some positive developments regarding the Rakhine State such as setting up independent enquiry commission by the Myanmar government and signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Myanmar and the UN agencies’.

The June 2018 MoU and Myanmar’s July 2018 ‘independent’ commission of enquiry have both been widely discredited. The secret MoU was rejected by Rohingya representatives and was criticised by NGOs. Myanmar said that the July commission of enquiry would ‘investigate the allegations of human rights violations‘, but chair Rosario Manalo (an obscure Philippine diplomat) said that there would be ‘no blaming of anybody’.

Rising star Kono has been described as a ‘maverick’ politician. His misplaced enthusiasm for the failed MoU and the useless commission perhaps showed the downside of a maverick mind.

Konos’s five proposals urged Myanmar to:

  1. Fully cooperate with the independent commission of enquiry [presumably a reference to the July 2018 commission].
  2. Fully cooperate with UN agencies according to the MoU.
  3. Close the camps for internally displaced persons in Myanmar.
  4. Expedite the process of building modern villages.
  5. Conduct regular briefings in Rohingya refugee camps about the steps being taken to enable their safe return.

The Japanese spokesperson’s enthusiastic claim that the proposals were ‘glady accepted‘ was overblown. The Japanese foreign affairs website said that Suu Kyi ‘responded that she understood the importance of the prompt implementation of the proposals offered by Minister Kono, and that the Government of Myanmar would put them in execution.’

At a press conference after Kono’s meeting with her on 6 August 2018, Suu Kyi said, ‘Japan expressed its interest and discussed the Rakhine issue as a good friend who is trying to find out [how] to help solve our problem. We really value such an approach.’

Yeh, right.

However, given that Myanmar paymaster China had spoken recently about building houses (see June 2018, above), perhaps Myanmar was rethinking its plan to place returnees in camps.

The prospect for Rohingya refugees of new homes and villages in Myanmar was presumably better than Myanmar’s prison camps – or Bangladesh’s prison island.


August 2018 – Contents 🔺
UN report: ‘genocide’

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Paper bag tiger puppet: Amanda Forman

The paper tiger roared! The UN’s fact-finding mission, despite being underpowered (see March 2017, above) and banned from Myanmar, delivered a damning report, saying that Myanmar leaders must be investigated for genocidal intent, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Genocidal intent is genocide according to the 1948 UN genocide convention, which defined genocide as the ‘intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group’. This was codified in UN treaty 1021, which was ratified by Myanmar in 1949.

A BBC report explained the UN mission’s painstaking approach to its investigation, which also looked into rights abuses in Kachin and Shan states.

The UN report named, shamed and blamed the usual supects – including de facto dictator and war criminal General Min Aung Hlaing.

The report called for the UN security council to refer Hlaing and his gang to the International Criminal Court, or to create an ad hoc tribunal. Needless to say, when this was put to the council, Russia and China vetoed it.

The report accused Suu Kyi – and the civilian part of the government she controlled – of lying, denying, obstructing investigations, destroying evidence, and contributing to the atrocity. it said:

‘The State Counsellor, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has not used her de facto position as Head of Government, nor her moral authority, to stem or prevent the unfolding events, or seek alternative avenues to meet a responsibility to protect the civilian population. On the contrary, the civilian authorities have spread false narratives; denied the Tatmadaw’s wrongdoing; blocked independent investigations, including of the Fact-Finding Mission; and overseen destruction of evidence. Through their acts and omissions, the civilian authorities have contributed to the commission of atrocity crimes.’

Outgoing UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein (see above) said that Suu Kyi should have resigned last year. He told the BBC that she should have considered returning to house arrest rather than excusing the military.

August 2018 – Contents 🔺


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New ethnic cleansing – contents 🔺

September 2018
Reuters journalists jailed
ICC: Myanmar can be prosecuted


September 2018 – Contents 🔺
Reuters journalists jailed

Perhaps in a defiant response to the recent damning UN report (see above), a  court in Yangon (Myanmar’s largest city, formerly its capital, also known as Rangoon) sentenced two Reuters journalists to seven years in prison on the trumped-up charge of stealing state secrets.

The Reuters journalists were charged under Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act, created by the British colonial government in 1923 to criminalise the sharing of almost any kind of information held by the government. Under the act, the Myanmar government can say that any information is an official secret, and can thereby hide corruption and wrongdoing. Empire legacy had struck again.

The British government, accepting that the law violated freedom of expression, replaced their Official Secrets Act in 1989. The Myanmar junta clearly found the old repressive version just fine.

The two journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, were investigating violence against the Rohingya when they were clumsily framed by the police. The Myanmar police force is, of course, controlled by war criminal General Hlaing.

In his ridiculous ruling, ‘judge’ U Ye Lwin said that the journalists ‘tried many times to get their hands on secret documents and pass them to others. They did not behave like normal journalists.’

The supreme court of Myanmar supposedly has supervisory powers over all Myanmar courts, and could therefore have righted the wrong. However, the chief justice of the supreme court, Htun Htun Oo, is an ex-military man.


September 2018 – Contents 🔺
ICC: Myanmar can be prosecuted

The international criminal court (ICC) ruled that it could prosecute Myanmar for alleged crimes against the Rohingya.

The ruling was in reponse to the question put by ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in April 2018 (see above) as to whether an investigation could proceed on the basis that although the alleged crime was committed in Myanmar – which isn’t a signatory to the ICC Rome treaty – the crime was, in effect, completed in Bangladesh, which is a signatory.

Bensouda’s question was about the ‘alleged’ criminal deportation of the Rohingya. However, the ICC judges’ ruling went further, saying that the court could also exercise its jurisdiction with regard to any other crime set out in the Rome statute, ‘such as the crimes against humanity of persecution and/or other inhumane acts‘.

The ICC was now due to begin an investigation, as a prelude to prosecution. This was likely to take many years, and – with the inevitable lack of cooperation from Myanmar – would be difficult to complete.

However, it was another important nail in the political coffins of human rights betrayer Suu Kyi and war criminal General Hlaing.

September 2018 – Contents 🔺
New ethnic cleansing – contents 🔺


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Contents 🔺

Footnotes – contents

Serious stuff
1. Dr Nora Rowley
2. Some background information
3. Aljazeera map of fleeing Rohingya
4. International State Crime Initiative
5. Feierstein/ISCI’s six steps to genocide
6. Genocide Watch
7. Genocide Watch’s ten steps to genocide
8. The Bone Sparrow
9. A Nobel Peace Prize winner is standing idly by as her country moves closer to genocide

Trivia
10. Dave Lee Travis
11. Title recall
12. Suu me


Footnotes – contents 🔺

Footnote 1
Dr Nora Rowley

Dr Rowley, besides being an accomplished photographer, is a human rights activist and advocate for the Rohingya. I contacted her about this post. She replied, saying that Suu Kyi is powerless to change anything because the military still control the government, and they continue to oppress the Rohingya and other minority groups.

Fair point, Doc, but even so, Suu Kyi’s attitude stinks. She has the world’s ear and, as the Dalai Lama has told her, could at least speak out on behalf of the Rohingya. Instead, she tells the UN that she won’t use their name.

Back to link 🔺


Footnotes – contents 🔺

Footnote 2
Some background information

a) The Rohingyas – The most persecuted people on Earth?

This 2015 Economist article explains the complex history of the conflict in exhaustive detail, with the aid of a map and some charts.

b) Secessionist Aspects to the Buddhist-Muslim Conflict in Rakhine State, Myanmar

This 2015 chapter by Dr Anthony Ware, senior lecturer in international and community development at Deakin University, Australia, from the book Territorial Separatism in Global Politics gives an excellent and fair perspective on the struggle. Ware presciently concludes that semi-autonomous and federal state arrangements may be needed to achieve peace.

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Footnotes – contents 🔺

Footnote 3
Aljazeera map of fleeing Rohingya

March 2017

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Footnote 4
International State Crime Initiative

This UK research centre aims to further the understanding of state crime, nicely defined as organisational deviance violating human rights. Penny Green, professor of law and globalisation at Queen Mary University, London, and a director of ISCI, said in the Economist article referenced above that the situation had reached stage four of ISCI’s six stages of genocide.

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Footnote 5
Feierstein/ISCI’s six steps to genocide

1. Stigmatisation and dehumanisation ✔
2. Harassment, violence and terror ✔
3. Isolation and segregation ✔
4. Systematic weakening of the group ✔
5. Mass annihilation
6. Erasure from the country’s history

Formulated by Daniel Feierstein in his book, Genocide as Social Practice, and adapted by ISCI (above). Feierstein is director of the Centre of Genocide Studies at the National University of Tres de Febrero, Buenos Aires. He gave his views on the legal difficulties of holding modern genocide perpetrators to account in this Logos article.

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Footnote 6
Genocide Watch

This US NGO co-ordinates the International Alliance to End Genocide, a coalition of 40 campaign groups. A Genocide Watch statement on the Rohingya said that Myanmar may have reached stages nine and ten of their ten stages of genocide.

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Footnote 7
Genocide Watch’s ten steps to genocide

1. Classification ✔
2. Symbolisation ✔
3. Discrimination ✔
4. Dehumanisation ✔
5. Organisation ✔
6. Polarisation ✔
7. Preparation ✔
8. Persecution ✔
9. Extermination ❔
10. Denial ❔

Formulated by Gregory Stanton, founder and president of Genocide Watch (above), and research professor in genocide studies and prevention at George Mason University, Virginia, USA.

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Footnote 8
The Bone Sparrow

I came across this beautiful and moving childrens’ book by Australian author Zana Fraillon about a Rohingya boy in a detention camp.

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Footnote 9
A Nobel Peace Prize winner is standing idly by as her country moves closer to genocide

This article on liberal news website Vox is one of the best I’ve come across.


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Footnote 10
Dave Lee Travis

Dave Lee Travis, also known as DLT, was a very successful UK BBC radio DJ and regular Top of the Pops TV presenter in the 1970s and 80s. On his popular weekend breakfast show he called himself The Hairy Cornflake.

In the 1980s and 90s Travis presented a BBC World Service music request show supposedly much enjoyed by Suu Kyi while she was under house arrest.

After her release in 2010, Suu Kyi spoke publicly of her regard for Travis. This charmingly incongruous pairing caught the UK public’s attention. Suu Kyi met Travis at the BBC in London. The reputation of both has suffered since that meeting.

The Lady and the Cornflake – happier times for both | Photo: Jeff Overs / BBC / PA

DLT’s well known downfall: the little-known facts

After a high-profile arrest in 2012 by London Metropolitan Police’s Operation Yewtree, which was investigating historical allegations of sexual abuse by DJ Jimmy Savile and others, in 2013 Travis was charged (under his real name of David Griffin) with 14 offences.

In 2014 he was found not guilty on twelve counts, and the jury failed to reach a verdict on the remaining two counts. At a second trial he was found guilty of one count of indecent assault on a 22-year-old woman in 1995.

Travis was sentenced to three months imprisonment, suspended for two years. The judge said that the offences of other Yewtree convictees were of a different order of magnitude. Travis lost an appeal in 2015.

To cover his three-year legal costs, he sold his mansion and moved to a bungalow. He lost his commercial radio work when he was arrested. He says that as a result of the long, drawn-out legal process his wife’s health has suffered. (Send him a card, Suu. He’s paid his debt – and more.)

Or was it Bob?

Can I have a ‘P’ please, Bob? | Photo: Challenge TV / ITV / Rex Features

Some say that Suu Kyi got her World Service presenters mixed up, and she was actually thinking of a similar show presented by Bob Holness, much-loved presenter of 80s UK TV teenage quiz show Blockbuster. In any case, at the time of Suu Kyi’s UK visit in 2010, Holness was very ill, and probably wouldn’t have been able to meet her. Sadly, he died in 2012, aged 83.


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Footnote 11
Title recall

Sad Paul after Brian Epstein’s death in 1967 | Photo: Jean-Marie Périer

Hello Goodbye by The Beatles

This 1967 McCartney song was a massive hit single worldwide and a track on side two of the US Magical Mystery Tour album. Featuring Paul’s experimental minimalist lyrics, it’s beautiful but underrated (especially by John, who thought his ‘I Am The Walrus‘, the single’s B side, should have been the A side).

Copyright Northern Songs, 1967. Title borrowed and mangled without permission. (Halo goodbye – geddit? Please yourself.)


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Footnote 12
Suu me

image
Photo: Peter Muhly / AFP / Getty Images

Call me Suu

Apparently, Aung San Suu Kyi’s friends call her ‘Suu’. We western liberals spent so long supporting her during her house arrest that we feel she’s a friend – one we’re a bit worried about.


That’s enough footnotes – Ed

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Please feel free to comment

24 thoughts on “Halo goodbye, Suu – the Rohingya crisis

  1. OK , Mr genius blogger.You are saying British brought those Muslims to Rakhine and they are legal ethnic minority. OK ,the last British census was conducted in 1931 with 250 thousands Muslim in Rakhine.That census can view in India e library OR https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rohingya_people , Just look at in wikipedia census information Today you are saying Millions of Rohingya world wide around 2.5 millions( according to your picture from AJ and some article even claim 3.5 millions world wide https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/rohingya-crisis ..I have just one question for you. How that 250 thousands in 1930s could multiply to 2.5 to 3.5 millions today. How ? According to census the whole Myanmar increase population around 2.5 to 3 time during that duration Bangladesh increase around 3 times . from 1930s to today . so How 250 thousands could become 2.5 to 3 millions ? …. Don’t forget they are human beings ,not rabbits.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Zekhong. I don’t think I’ve said the world Rohingya population is 2.5m. I’d accept Wikipedia’s estimate of 1.5-2m. Why do you raise this issue? Whats your opinion on the Rohingya crisis?

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      1. 2.5 Millions came from your picture of AJ . OK even 1.5 to 2 millions , It was still more than natural growth. 250K to 3 times is 750K . 1.5 millions is 6 times and 2 millions is 8 times to multiply. My point is there was net migration up to 1980s .Don’t forget Myanmar was a better economy in 1950s to 1970s. Conditions reversed after 1990s. So you can’t say all are indigenous and British brought. If they currently migrated in 1979 or 1980 will they eligible for indigenous status. I have no problem to give citizenship for them but it must be naturalized citizen. They can’t claim as indigenous status. For Example , will USA give a migrant the same status as Indigenous Indians (Red Indians)?
        Let me explain with Geography Do you think Rakhine State is just plain straight contact with Mainland? look at Google earth , not different color fancy maps. There is a high mountain Ridge between Rakhine State and Mainland Burma. That is the problem between 2 millions Rakhine and 1.5 millions Muslims . 99% of Mainland Burmese never see those so called Rohingya in their life.Do you know How diplomats and journalist reach there? With Aircraft and helicopter.So that 2 millions local Rakhine has legitimate concern of their identify will disappear.I think you are Canadian , Suppose Middle east has disaster and the world power want to let in 25 millions Saudi , (suppose they are not like Rohingya , they have their assets in their bank account and educated to some extent . Will local 35 millions Canadians willingly accept that 25 millions as dilution? Come on! Think in with your empathy , If I were they …
        Geography is not end there , why Rohingya 1.5 millions are in small areas top of Rakhine State? Their area https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayu_Frontier_District . Compare to 2 millions Rakhine has alot of Area in South? Look at Geography there is Mayu Mountain ridge between North and South that part of Rakhine State. They came there in the hope of coming into mainland and Southern part of Rakhine State but Geography is not favorable . You have to pass those tunnels http://mm.geoview.info/the_tunnel_of_buthidaung_to_maungdaw_rain_season,40581239p
        So you might think I am just playing blaming game to the past and I don’t have solution.Do you think that 1.5 millions will fit back in that Nothern small part of Rakhine State with the technology they are surviving? (I means farming and fishing) . No! Simply No . That why in this violence 650K left that area and around 400K left . That 400K has good position of their own . That is the only comfortable population for that area with that technology.Unless you have enough money to make a million population city in that area. That why the most viable solution is let them accept the NVC card which is equivalent of Green card or PR status and let them come into more resource rich central and lower mainland Burma . Check this https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/travel-04192018165606.html
        Don’t put un-sincere agenda of Western Power to give Rohingya indigenous status and let that 2 indigenous groups fight for the rest of time and destabilize Rakhine State just to disturb Chinese Indian Ocean Port in that area. Don’t forget Whatever western Narrative and Scholar create the remnant of civilization will tell the other way around


        Rohingya are not indigenous . They can only get citizen status like Chinese and Indian in Myanmar.There are over millions of Indians and Chinese in Myanmar and they never claimed themselves as indigenous.

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          1. I already told .the most viable solution is let them accept the NVC card which is equivalent of Green card or PR status and let them come into more resource rich central and lower mainland Burma . Check this https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/travel-04192018165606.html . Don’t forget Rakhine State is one of the poorest States in Myanmar.Get the PR status and allow to go better income area is much more practical than indigenous status.
            They can only get citizen status like Chinese and Indian in Myanmar.There are over millions of Indians and Chinese in Myanmar and they never claimed themselves as indigenous.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_people_in_Myanma
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burmese_Indians

            Indigenous status already get by one Muslim population in Rakhine . They are called Kamein https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamein

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  2. You should had known ZEKHONG is Kachin name one of ethnic group of Burma. If you want to argue ,just debate fact by fact.

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    1. Like the formerly independent ‘Irriwaddy’ online publication, which changed when it supported Suu Kyi’s NLD party, you parrot the nationalist narrative which sees the Rohingya as illegal ‘Bengali’ immigrants, and which claims that foreign news coverage is biased. An Irrawady cartoon showed a dark-skinned, shirtless man wearing a sign reading “boat people” — obviously a Rohingya — barging his way to the front of a queue of people dressed as Myanmar’s other national groups. After last August’s attacks, Irrawaddy began to use the term “self-identifying Rohingya” and then “Muslim in Rakhine” on the second reference. Most of the anti-Rohingya hate speech is based on what nationalists say happened under British colonialism: that Muslims from India came here to help the British administration and married Burmese women, occupying the land. These stories are revived and poorly interpreted. No doubt Kachin Muslims resent the lack of coverage of their own persecution by the military, but it’s sad to see this translated into fake anti-Rohingya news claiming that the Rohingya are not indigenous.

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