Three Years Of Atroc­ity (Ro­hinja)

The Global Digest (English) - - Contents - Spe­cial Con­tri­bu­tion By Roland Wat­son

Dic­ta­tor Watch’s con­flict blog, Burma Death Watch, is now three years old. The blog will con­tinue, be­cause of the on­go­ing wide­spread atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted against the peo­ple of Burma by the var­i­ous arms of the coun­try’s mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship. The blog is not a gen­eral hu­man rights sur­vey. En­tries, from well over a dozen sources, are lim­ited to news of armed clashes, which in al­most all cases were in­sti­gated by Burma Army units, and which usu­ally re­sulted in many ca­su­al­ties, as well as other se­vere regime-com­mit­ted crimes such as mur­der and rape.

The in­dis­putable ob­ser­va­tion that one can make by scrolling through the blog is of the enor­mous mag­ni­tude of the dic­ta­tor­ship’s crimes against hu­man­ity, all the while not­ing that this cov­ers only three years of the gen­er­als’ fifty plus years reign of ter­ror. The blog’s as­so­ci­ated text doc­u­ment is now ap­proach­ing 350 pages, with 6-7 links per page. Each link con­nects to a news ar­ti­cle or other source and many cover mul­ti­ple atroc­i­ties, plus, there is lit­tle over­lap mul­ti­ple links cov­er­ing the same event. Over­all, the blog re­veals that Burma’s so-called re­form is a farce. The regime has ben­e­fit­ted from re­duced in­ter­na­tional pres­sure, and is prof­it­ing through its many new busi­ness deals with un­eth­i­cal multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions, all the while the peo­ple of the coun­try have seen min­i­mal if any re­lief. Sim­i­larly, the In­ter­na­tional Com­mu­nity has reaped many re­wards. The United States’ pol­icy shift on Burma gave Barack Obama and Hil­lary Clin­ton a sup­posed for­eign af­fairs “vic­tory.” Europe, whose pol­icy as al­ways has been set by the French oil com­pany To­tal, can now openly court Burma’s killers, as ev­i­denced by the many trade del­e­ga­tions ar­riv­ing from Ger­many, the U.K., etc. Even NGO work­ers - those not di­rectly in­volved in sav­ing lives, have found a clever way to ad­vance their ca­reers and oth­er­wise profit from the suf­fer­ing in the coun­try. The blog doc­u­ments thou­sands if not tens of thou­sands of regime crimes in the last three years, for which the vic­tims have yet to re­ceive jus­tice, as well as its chang­ing pat­terns of abuse. It was launched just be­fore the Burma Army’s re­newed of­fen­sive against the Kachin peo­ple in June 2011. One par­tic­u­larly heinous crime, which is now for­got­ten, is the bomb at­tack on an or­phan­age/ school in My­itky­ina in Novem­ber 2011, by regime agents, which killed 10 res­i­dents. The or­phan­age owner was later con­victed of the at­tack in a regime kan­ga­roo court (kachin­land­news). Burma Death Watch is one of many sources of doc­u­men­ta­tion on the dic­ta­tor­ship’s crimes. It will hope­fully prove use­ful when the day comes that Burma is truly freed, and that real jus­tice can be pur­sued. It also serves as an in­for­ma­tion store­house not only for peo­ple who want to stay up-to-date on the con­flict, but for re­searchers and oth­ers who sin­cerely want to un­der­stand what is hap­pen­ing in­side the coun­try.

Por­trait of a geno­cide - As an ex­am­ple of this, the fol­low­ing news items are a par­tial list­ing of crimes that have

been per­pe­trated against the Ro­hingya peo­ple since June2012. Many Burma ob­servers are aware that the eth­nic group is be­ing op­pressed, but few rec­og­nize the full ex­tent - and fun­da­men­tal na­ture – of their suf­fer­ing. As this list­ing makes clear, it is noth­ing less than a geno­cide. You only have to read the de­ter­mi­nants from Ar­ti­cle 2 of the U.N. Con­ven­tion. Four of the five ba­sic ac­tions of geno­cide are be­ing com­mit­ted against the Ro­hingya. The Burma Death Watch blog there­fore also il­lus­trates that what the lead­ers of the In­ter­na­tional Com­mu­nity, and many NGO work­ers, are re­ally do­ing is ig­nor­ing and through this ef­fec­tively di­vert­ing at­ten­tion from the worst hu­man rights abuse of all - geno­cide, and all be­cause they per­son­ally are ben­e­fit­ting from the sta­tus quo in the coun­try and don’t want to rock the boat.

June 2012 - Fol­low­ing re­ports of a rape against a woman from Arakan State, for which regime po­lice ar­rest 3 Ro­hingya men - their guilt is never proven, nor even that the crime con­clu­sively took place - Rakhine ex­trem­ists start ag­i­tat­ing against the lo­cal Ro­hingya pop­u­la­tion, of­fi­cially, Ben­gali by Burmese gov­ern­ment. On June 3rd, a bus is at­tacked by a mob and 10 Mus­lim men are killed. (Though not Ro­hingya, they are mis­taken as such.) No one is ar­rested. Regime me­dia out­lets start mak­ing deroga­tory com­ments about Mus­lims. Then, on June 9th, in the Maung­daw area and ac­com­pa­nied by regime po­lice, the ex­trem­ists be­gin a se­ries of wide­spread at­tacks against Ro­hingya com­mu­ni­ties. 100 or more Ro­hingya vil­lagers are re­ported as be­ing killed. Their bod­ies are never re­turned and they pre­sum­ably are buried in mass graves. Dozens of women are raped. This is the be­gin­ning of the first wide­spread Ro­hingya pogrom. The killing con­tin­ues the next day, ac­com­pa­nied by the burn­ing of Ro­hingya vil­lages and mosques. One re­port says that an­other 70 Ro­hingya are killed. This pat­tern of vi­o­lence goes on for an­other week, dur­ing which pe­riod many more homes are burned and Ro­hingya peo­ple ar­rested and “dis­ap­peared.” At this point, in re­sponse to in­ter­na­tional me­dia con­dem­na­tion, the regime starts to clamp down on the vi­o­lence. 32,000 new Ro­hingya refugees are re­ported. By June 20th, the num­ber of refugees is an­nounced by the World Food Pro­gram as 90,000. Re­ports also come in of Army he­li­copters shoot­ing Ro­hingya vil­lagers. The deaths are now be­lieved to be as many as 650, and with 1,200 more miss­ing. Thou­sands of Ro­hingya homes and busi­nesses have been de­stroyed.

July 2012 - Rakhine groups de­mand the right to form bor­der guard units (sup­pos­edly for the bor­der with Bangladesh) and to be given guns. Regime po­lice and other se­cu­rity agents con­tinue to make mass ar­rests of Ro­hingya peo­ple, es­pe­cially men. Many in­di­vid­u­als are killed. An apartheid is es­tab­lished, and Ro­hingya peo­ple are no longer seen in pub­lic ar­eas of Arakan State.

Au­gust - Septem­ber 2012 - There is a re­newal of largescale at­tacks against the Ro­hingya. Many more vil­lages are burned. In one lo­ca­tion, over 20 Ro­hingya peo­ple are re­ported killed. There are thou­sands of new refugees, and a re­port that 1,500Ro­hingya peo­ple are either miss­ing or killed in Sit­twe. The at­tacks, al­beit on a smaller scale, then con­tinue into Septem­ber.

Oc­to­ber 2012 - Jan­uary 2013 - Ro­hingya refugee camps now re­sem­ble con­cen­tra­tion camps. Aid worker ac­cess is lim­ited. Rakhine ex­trem­ist mili­tia are trained and armed by the regime. Ar­rests and killings con­tinue. The num­ber of in­ter­nally dis­placed Ro­hingya peo­ple con­tin­ues to rise. Then, late in Oc­to­ber an­other spasm of eth­nic cleans­ing erupts. The sec­ond wide­spread Ro­hingya pogrom be­gins. In the vil­lage tract of Min Bya, near Sit­twe, 450 homes are burned and twenty peo­ple killed. Many other vil­lages are burned in­clud­ing in Mrauk U. Over­all, 2,000 homes are de­stroyed and some 100 peo­ple killed. Bud­dhist monks call on the Ro­hingya to be tar­geted. Deaths then rise into the hun­dreds, and a new refugee cri­sis be­gins. 28,000 new refugees are re­ported. Thou­sands also at­tempt to flee by boat, and hun­dreds of peo­ple drown. Stu­dents to­gether with monks and 88-Gen­er­a­tion lead­ers hold an anti-Ro­hingya demon­stra­tion in Sit­twe. The en­tire Mus­lim quar­ter of Kyauk-Pyu is burned to the ground; also Pauk Taw. Mosques are at­tacked in other parts of Burma. Ro­hingya in camps are ar­rested if they refuse to say that they are from Bangladesh. In Novem­ber, Pres­i­dent Obama vis­its Burma, and yet an­other Ro­hingya vil­lage is burned that day. Al­though the open at­tacks are fi­nally stopped, the eth­nic cleans­ing con­tin­ues into 2013.

Fe­bru­ary - June 2013 - All Mus­lim travel in Western Burma is re­stricted. There is forced reg­is­tra­tion of

Ro­hingyas as “Ben­galis.” Six Ro­hingya fish­er­men are mur­dered. Other mass mur­ders con­tinue into March. At this point, a new or­ches­trated cam­paign of at­tacks is ini­ti­ated, as Bud­dhist mobs tar­get Mus­lims in Meikhtila in Cen­tral Burma. This is the be­gin­ning of the third wide­spread an­tiMus­lim pogrom. Dozens of peo­ple are killed and thou­sands dis­placed. For­eign jour­nal­ists are or­dered at gun­point to de­stroy their film of the atroc­i­ties. In one in­stance, a Bud­dhist monk puts a knife to a jour­nal­ist’s throat. The monk-led an­tiMus­lim Burma neo-Nazi 969 move­ment is es­tab­lished. In an­other at­tack, 32 Mus­lims stu­dents are killed. The wave of vi­o­lence then ex­pands into sur­round­ing vil­lages, yield­ing 8,000 new refugees. The Mus­lim quar­ter in Pegu is at­tacked. In April, 13 more Mus­lim stu­dents are killed. There is a re­port that the Burma Army is hold­ing 20 Ro­hingya women as sex slaves. At the end of April and into May, new anti-Mus­lim riots erupt. The town of Oakken is burned down. Vi­o­lence then spreads to vil­lages near Rangoon. Anti-Mus­lim un­rest be­gins in Kachin and Shan states. Two hun­dred more Ro­hingya drown in Arakan State af­ter en­coun­ter­ing a storm when flee­ing the coun­try in boats. Other Ro­hingya are forced by the po­lice to move to beaches in the hopes that the storm - a cy­clone - will kill them. In early June, more vil­lages are at­tacked in Cen­tral Burma and there are many new mur­ders.

July - Oc­to­ber 2013 - There are at­tacks in Thandwe, Arakan State. The 969 Move­ment grows. At­tacks oc­cur around Sit­twe in Au­gust. 42 houses and 19 busi­nesses are burned in Sa­gaing Divi­sion. Anti-Mus­lim rapes and mur­ders con­tinue into Septem­ber. Sev­enty homes are burned by ex­trem­ists in Sandoway in Oc­to­ber. Six Mus­lims are re­port­edly killed there. More at­tacks oc­cur around Rangoon. 10 Ro­hingya refugees die when their boat sinks.

Novem­ber - De­cem­ber 2013 - Mur­ders of Ro­hingya con­tinue. An­other 70 Ro­hingya women and chil­dren drown while flee­ing the eth­nic cleans­ing, when their boat sinks. More shops are burned, and Ro­hingya peo­ple tor­tured. 1,500 Ro­hingya refugees are de­tained in South­ern Thai­land, and 16 of them are killed.

Jan­uary - March 2014 - Po­lice and Rakhine ex­trem­ists raid vil­lages around Duchi­radan in Maung­daw.16 peo­ple are ini­tially re­ported as hav­ing been killed, and one woman raped. Over 100 are miss­ing, and a mass grave is found. Ro­hingya vil­lage heads are ar­rested. Se­cu­rity forces “hunt” Ro­hingya IDPs. The ca­su­al­ties are later in­creased to 52 killed, with 330 homes de­stroyed. Regime se­cu­rity agents are evac­u­ated the night be­fore an in­quiry com­mis­sion ar­rives. An­other Ro­hingya woman is gang-raped, and a fa­ther and his two sons mur­dered. Ad­di­tional ar­sons and abuses oc­cur in the area. An in­ves­tiga­tive re­port by For­tify Rights in­dicts the regime for crimes against hu­man­ity for ex­plic­itly tar­get­ing the Ro­hingya. 11 Ro­hingya are killed in early March, while trav­el­ing to Rangoon. 11 more homes are burned in Duchi­radan; 40 other homes are burned in Dar Paing vil­lage. 113homes are burned in Maung­daw. Ar­son at­tacks are then per­pe­trated against two more neigh­bor­hoods. 5 Ro­hingya women are tor­tured by the po­lice to say that they started th­ese fires. The Doe-Dan vil­lage bazaar is burned. Mean­while, the con­cen­tra­tion camp treat­ment of the 100,000 or so Ro­hingya refugees con­tin­ues. Many chil­dren and el­derly are dy­ing of mal­nu­tri­tion and dis­ease. Bud­dhist racists at­tack aid work­ers who are try­ing to help them. And fi­nally, the dic­ta­tor­ship an­nounces that Ro­hingya peo­ple can­not self-iden­tify as such in the up­com­ing na­tional cen­sus.

Clos­ing note - As of the be­gin­ning of April 2014, the crimes against the Ro­hingya peo­ple of Burma have in no way ceased. Al­though an ac­cu­rate count is im­pos­si­ble, it seems clear that their deaths have reached at least the low thou­sands. How­ever, the In­ter­na­tional Com­mu­nity - and hu­man rights icon Aung San Su­uKyi - have done their best to ig­nore this fact. Suu Kyi won’t even speak the word “Ro­hingya.” In con­clu­sion, while the abuse that the Ro­hingya peo­ple have been sub­jected to is not iden­ti­cal to the ac­tions of the Nazisor in Rwanda, it is clearly a geno­cide. This is what geno­cide in 2014looks like. Also of note, abuses against many other eth­nic groups through­out Burma con­tin­ued dur­ing the same pe­riod.

Con­fronta­tion be­tween Burmese Po­lices and Ro­hinja, also called Ben­gali

Roland Wat­son is the founder of Dic­ta­tor Watch, a front-line ac­tivist plat­form, and has been work­ing for free­dom and democ­racy in Burma for twenty years. He is also the author of Lessons in Democ­racy, a ba­sic guide to the demo­cratic sys­tem that has been trans­lated into Burmese, Chi­nese and other lan­guages.

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