By Dr. Habib Siddiqui
Part 1: Current Situation inside Arakan
Sadly, Mrauk-U is not the only town where Rohingya Muslims are facing a genocidal campaign at the hands of Rakhine terrorists. From the reports collected inside
It is feared that in the last week of October at least 5,000 Rohingya homes were burned to ashes. Satellite imagery shows the utter destruction of a Muslim quarter of the coastal town of
It is an all out extermination campaign against the Rohingyas of Myanmar. In a statement dated Thursday, October 25, Ashok Nigam, a United Nations official in
As I have pointed out earlier in my speeches and writings, the
Not a single Buddhist terrorist has been punished for the gruesome murder of Muslims, not then and not now. All what we heard from the Thein Sein government was that it had identified the instigators behind the violence and pledged to bring them to justice. But as we have witnessed earlier with the June 3 lynching death of 10 Burmese Muslims, such promises have not translated into justice, let alone created an atmosphere that protects the lives and properties of the affected Rohingya minority.
It is obvious that the Thein Sein government is playing the cat-and-mouse game with the world community with false promises made to divert attention away when the satellite pictures are too obvious and difficult to hide such crimes, and once the outside pressure is low to encourage and participate in this heinous crime. As such the pogroms that started in June 3 with nearly a hundred thousand internally displaced Rohingyas have only worsened with extra tens of thousands that are now without any shelter. The once thriving Muslim localities now look like bombed-out territories. No Rohingya has been allowed back in to rebuild those properties. They have been caged in camps that look like the Nazi concentration camps from which they can’t venture out to fetch their livelihood without risking being shot by the Rakhine Buddhist security forces. They have been placed there to slowly die.
Terrorizing the unarmed Rohingya population has become a Rakhine national passion. The Border Security Force (NASAKA) continues to remind the Rohingya people that Arakan is a Rakhine place where there is no place for the Rohingya Muslims and that they must leave or will be killed. Newer territories are added to the list of ethnically cleansed ones to terrorize Rohingya Muslims and exterminate them. The Section 144, which prohibits an assembly of more than five people in an area, is only applied against the Rohingya. They cannot go out to protect their homes, shops, mosques, schools and villages from being looted and set on fire by the Rakhine terrorists who are not stopped from committing such crimes by the security forces.
In most cases, these criminal Rakhines are aided by the government. There have been cases, e.g., as in
Satellite images of Kyauk Pyu and its coastal surroundings, released by the Human Rights Watch at the weekend, show the extent of the devastation. Where once there were houseboats and floating barges moored along a harbor town packed with houses, now there is charred desolation, with 811 homes and other structures destroyed.
All the victims in recent months have also been Muslims and yet the Thein Sein government tries to portray the violence in the Rakhine state as an interracial or communal riot.
What is going on inside the Rakhine state is simply a purposeful policy designed by the Myanmar government in which the members of the majority Rakhine ethnic group, which is Buddhist by faith, are willing executioners to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of the Rohingya ethnic community, which are Muslims, from the geographic areas of Arakan and Myanmar. The United Nations define such activities as ethnic cleansing. No hog-washing by the murderous regime and its supporters at home and abroad will succeed to hide such monumental crimes.
Part 2: Ethnic Cleansing of the Rohingyas of
The ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people is a text book case. It has become a national project that is led by the
It was no accident, therefore, to witness demonstrations of monks, esp. those organized by Young Monks Association, supporting Thein Sein’s plan to expel the Rohingyas from
The worst criminals in this extermination campaign are, however, the fellow Rakhine Buddhists, whose ancestors settled in Arakan beginning in the 11th century, i.e., centuries after the darker complexioned Indo-Bengali ancestors of the Rohingya people had already settled in this coastal territory once ruled by the Hindu Chandra dynasty, which had closer ties with Bengal (today’s
With that intrusion, albeit a violent one, of the Tibeto-Burman people, the forefathers of today’s Rakhine race, who professed Buddhism, the original inhabitant Hindus and Muslims gradually became minority religious groups. However, in 1430 when two contingents of Muslim Army from Bengal, comprising of more than 50,000 soldiers, restored the fleeing Arakanese king Narameikhla (Maung Saw Mawn) to the throne of Arakan, and a great many of them were asked to protect the regime against any future Burmese invasion, the new settlements of the Muslim garrison around the new capital city of Mrohang (Mrauk-U) greatly added to the size of the minority Muslim community.
The Arakanese rulers of Mrauk-U dynasty adopted superior Islamic culture from nearby Muslim Bengal/India, and issued coins with Islamic inscriptions. They patronized Bengali literature. They also adopted Muslim names, a practice that was to continue for generations well into the 16th century. Muslims played major roles in administration, courts and defense of this multi-ethnic kingdom that maintained its independence for centuries until its annexation by the Burmese king Bodawpaya in 1784.
Bodawpaya was a Buddhist religious fanatic who tried to demolish everything Islamic. He introduced racism and bigotry into this multi-religious region. He destroyed mosques that once dotted the shorelines of Arakan and patronized building Buddhist monasteries and pagodas. He massacred tens of thousands of Muslims, and took another 20,000 as prisoners during his annexation of Arakan. During his tyrannical rule, some 200,000 Arakanese also fled to Bengal (today’s
During the Second World War, taking advantage of the Japanese occupation of
01. Military Operation (5th
03. Military Operation (2nd Emergency Chin regiment) - March 1951-52
04. Mayu Operation - October 1952-53
05. Mone-thone Operation - October 1954
06. Combined Immigration and Army Operation - January 1955
07. Union Military Police (UMP) Operation - 1955-58
08. Captain Htin Kyaw Operation - 1959
09. Shwe Kyi Operation - October 1966
10. Kyi Gan Operation - October-December 1966
11. Ngazinka Operation - 1967-69
12. Myat Mon Operation - February 1969-71
13. Major Aung Than Operation - 1973
14. Sabe Operation February - 1974-78
15. Naga-Min (King Dragon) Operation - February 1978-79 (resulting in exodus of some 300,000 Rohingyas to
16. Shwe Hintha Operation - August 1978-80
17. Galone Operation - 1979
18. 1984 Pogrom in Taunggok
19. Anti-Muslim riots - Taunggyi (western
20. Pyi Thaya Operation – July 1991-92 (resulting in exodus of some 268,000 Rohingyas to
21. Na-Sa-Ka Operation – since 1992
22. Race riot against Muslims – March 1997 (
23. Anti-Muslim riot in Sittwe – February 2001
24. Anti-Muslim full-scale riot in
25. Anti-Muslim violence throughout central
26. Joint extermination campaign – June 3, 2012 – to date.
Every attempt has been made by the
- •Denial of Citizenship
- •Restriction of Movement or Travel
- •Restriction on Education
- •Restriction on Ability to work
- •Forced Labor
- •Land Confiscation
- •Forced Eviction
- •Destruction of homes, offices, schools, mosques, etc.
- •Religious persecution
- •Ethnic discrimination
- •Restrictions on Marriage of Rohingyas
- •Prevention of reproduction and forced abortion
- •Arbitrary Taxation and Extortion
- •Registration of births and deaths in families and even of cattle, and the associated extortion
- •Arbitrary arrest, torture and extra-judicial killing
- •Abuse of Rohingya Women and Elders
- •Rape as a weapon of war
- •Depopulation of Rohingya community
- •Confiscation of residency/citizenship cards
- •Internally displaced persons or undocumented refugees and statelessness
- •Destruction or alteration of historical Muslim sites and shrines to erase its symbolism or Islamic identity.
Part 3: All Over Arakan It’s
In a meeting (in which I was invited to speak on the Rohingya problem) held in Luton (located 30 miles north of London), UK, on October 13, a British MP mentioned close parallel between what is happening today against the Rohingya Muslims in Arakan and what happened in Bosnia in the early 1990s against the Bosnian Muslims. He is right.
The Arakan state, which per estimates made by Dr. Shwe Lu Maung alias Shahnewaz Khan, in his book – The Price of Silence: Muslim-Buddhist War of Bangladesh and Myanmar – a Social Darwinist’s Analysis – had probably as many Rohingya Muslims as there were Rakhine Buddhists living in its four districts before the latest extermination campaign that began on June 3 of this year, is now almost devoid of any Muslim village that is unharmed or intact by Buddhist Rakhine terrorism.
The UN and other international human rights groups have called the Rohingya Muslims, and rightly so, the worst persecuted people in our planet. Because of their race and religion, they are victims of genocide in the Buddhist-majority
Truly, no other word in the English language but genocide can describe what the Rohingya people are facing. The use of this term should not come as a surprise since the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines genocide as "the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political or cultural group.” As noted by experts, the term can be applied to such destructions in whole or in part of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group. By any definition, the Rohingya people of Arakan are ethnically, racially, religiously different than the Rakhine Buddhists and majority Burmans in
In his book – Worse than War – Dr. Daniel Jonah Goldhagen cites five principal forms of elimination: transformation, repression, expulsion, prevention of reproduction, and extermination. Transformation involves the destruction of a targeted group’s essential and defining political, social, or cultural identities. As I have mentioned earlier, in spite of their ties to the soil of Arakan since time immemorial, the Rohingyas are falsely alleged by the dominant ethnic groups as new settlers from nearby
Repression entails keeping the hated, deprecated, or feared people within territorial reach and reducing, with violent domination, their ability to inflict real or imagined harm upon others. Such repression has been a regular feature of Rohingya life inside
Expulsion, often called deportation, is a third eliminationist option. It removes unwanted people more thoroughly, by driving them beyond a country’s borders, or from one region of a country to another, or compelling them en masse into camps. The
Prevention of reproduction is the fourth eliminationist act, which the
Extermination is the fifth eliminationist act in which the targeted groups are killed, often with the excuse that their very existence poses a mortal threat. It promises not an interim, not a piecemeal, not only a probable, but a “final solution” to the putative problem. It is not difficult to see why in recent weeks, poisoned oil and food were sold to the Rohingya people by Rakhine businessmen to kill them. The latest activities by the Rakhine terrorists, aided by racist monks and others within the larger
A comparison with the previously cited list of crimes of the
Genocide requires preparation and planning. It begins in the minds of men and needs mass mobilization to commit the horror against the targeted group. The perpetrators or the executioners must not only feel secure but also must be self-motivated and zealous to commit their horrendous crimes. Often times, the task of preparing the mind is left to ideologues and chauvinist intellectuals who sell the poison tablet of intolerance against the targeted group. Without political leadership the overwhelming majority of the perpetrators would not lift a finger in harm. However, once set in motion, typically with a few encouraging and enabling words, they, both the eliminationist regimes’ shock troops and their societies’ ordinary members give themselves, body and soul, to death. They do so easily, effortlessly. And this is what we are witnessing today in
Taking a cue from other places where genocides have taken place, the leaders of this greatest crime of our time - the Myanmar government, the local Rakhine politicians and intelligentsia, and their racist Buddhist monks within the general population -- have been feeding many myths for public consumption that not only distort the history of the Rohingyas and other non-Buddhists but also exaggerate the potential benefits that could come from ‘purifying’ the soils of Myanmar and Arakan by eliminating the ‘other’ people, esp. the Rohingya Muslims. Thanks to the poisonous writings of Rakhine chauvinists like Aye Chan, (late) Aye Kyaw, Khin Maung Saw and others, the Muslim population is deemed an ‘influx virus,’ a threat to the Buddhist identity of
The causes of mass murder can often be found in the ideology that the state espouses. Social and ethnic compositions are usually the fault lines along which such elimination projects emanate. As I have noted elsewhere, the
In 1935, years before the Jewish Holocaust happened in
As I have noted in my keynote speech at the Bangkok Conference on “Contemplating Burma’s Rohingya People’s Future in Reconciliation and (Democratic) Reform,” the new Myanmarism, espoused by the Buddhist political leadership inside
Sadly, however, because of the western appetite for
There is, however, no doubt that in spite of
Soon thereafter one after another of the western governments, too keen to eat their share of the pie, lifted all previous bans against the murderous regime. They promised huge investments. Emboldened by such moves, the Thein Sein government does not feel that it is obligated to honor any previous pledge made to the world community. Soon after his return from the UN session, the racist Buddhist monks conducted stage managed demonstrations asking the government to force out or relocate Muslims. In government managed newspapers, they announced dire consequences against anyone doing any business with Muslims including selling food and buying or renting out homes to and from them. As hinted above, it is a copy of the Nazi era policy. It is a total package of ethnically cleansing
As I have noted elsewhere, ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people has now become a national project in
None of these attacks since June 3 are isolated, unplanned, or spontaneous offenses. Already made stateless by the highly discriminatory 1982 Citizenship Law that is at variance with scores of international laws, the Rohingyas are falsely blamed by fascist Rakhine politicians for crimes that they did not commit so that the Buddhist populace could be incited to accept and assist the progressively savage operations of "race purification." Lynching attacks are organized by Aye Maung’s fascist party - RNDP and other equally racist Rakhine politicians and greedy businessmen to loot Rohingya properties and burn their homes, businesses and mosques. Rohingya property is confiscated. In this task the Rakhine-dominated security forces and police are willing partners. As a result, the Rohingyas are now caged in concentration-like camps and ghettos or pushed into exile. The genocidal program is progressing in fury and irresponsibility to the "final solution" to make them an extinct people.
We can still stop this extinction if our powerful western governments act. They can pressure the Thein Sein government through the UN Security Council not only to stop this ethnic cleansing and restore Rohingya citizenship, but also ensure that the Rohingyas are compensated for their loss of lives and properties and live with safety and security under UN-monitored safe havens created to the west of the
Unfortunately, the attitude of the powerful nations towards the Rohingya problem is a reminiscent of the Nazi era; they refuse to see and hear the obvious truth. It is simply immoral and inexcusable. They are buying and parroting the
The Rakhine (Arakan) state now looks like a prison-like ghetto for the Rohingya people. Now, the Rohingya homes are ring-fenced by burnt-out buildings and military checkpoints. Outside the capital city of
How many Rohingya deaths and destruction of their homes would qualify for these powerful nations to act and stop this most far-flung and terrible racial persecution of our time? How can we ignore or tolerate such a calculated, malignant and devastating crime, which epitomizes racial hatreds, religious bigotry, terrorism and violence, and the arrogance and cruelty of power?
It is sad to see that we have not learned anything from genocides of the past – neither from Hitler’s
In his closing remarks before the International Military Tribunal at the Nuremberg Trials in 1946, Robert Jackson, the U.S. Chief Prosecutor, issued the following warning: “The reality is that in the long perspective of history the present century will not hold an admirable position, unless its second half is to redeem its first. These two-score years in the twentieth century will be recorded in the book of years as one of the most bloody in all annals. Two World Wars have left a legacy of dead which number more than all the armies engaged in any way that made ancient or medieval history. No half-century ever witnessed slaughter on such a scale, such cruelties and inhumanities, such wholesale deportations of peoples into slavery, such annihilations of minorities. The terror of Torquemada pales before the Nazi Inquisition. These deeds are the overshadowing historical facts by which generations to come will remember this decade. If we cannot eliminate the causes and prevent the repetition of these barbaric events, it is not an irresponsible prophecy to say that this twentieth century may yet succeed in bringing the doom of civilization.”
Witnessing the latest genocidal campaign against the Rohingyas of Myanmar, it is obvious that we have failed on both counts - to eliminate "the causes" and to prevent "the repetition of these barbaric events."
By Dr. Habib Siddiqui