Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


(Picture-Ye Myint Aung - handsome?)
If, like me, you believe that sheer greed is causing western countries to throw money into Burma and that perhaps they should hang on to establish the smoke and mirrors of this beleaguered country first – then perhaps you might want to trot along to the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand for an event by Human Rights Watch.

Sure the gates to Burma have opened again and major foreign companies are moving in and there is a tourist explosion. But let’s hang on a minute here.  

To all intents and purposes, according to HRW, and a lot of other people, the government is involved in the genocide, or at least ethnic cleansing of one of its minorities, the Rohingya.  And let’s not forget what they are doing to the Kachin minority.

Pic - The Miller Project
A website down in Phuket – Phuketwan – has been consistently flagging up what has been happening to the Rohingya in Thailand – and notifying the international media too I assume.

Now they have been having a go at the inaction of Aung San Suu Gyi. And they have a point. I interviewed her in 1988 after the mass demonstrations and killing, in the lull before the military took full control again. Of course it was not the major issue at the time, but it was a subject she point blank did not want to discuss.

Who is not just a pretty face?

Phuketwan this week ran an editorial in which asked if she was racist. They also produced the following dialogue from an AFP story in 2009.

“Perhaps the most convincing evidence that Burma's deeply ingrained racism needs to be addressed remains a letter written in 2009 to Hong Kong diplomats by then Consul General Ye Myint Aung, soon after the secret ''pushbacks'' of Rohingya boats from Thailand were exposed.
A Flying Sporran Comment
“He did not mince words. The Rohingya, he said, were ''ugly as ogres.''

In a letter to all heads of foreign missions in Hong Kong and local newspapers, he wrote: ''In reality, Rohingya are neither 'Myanmar people' nor Myanmar's ethnic group.
''You will see in the photos that their complexion is 'dark brown,''' he added, noting that the complexion of Myanmese is ''fair and soft, good-looking as well.'
He noted that his own complexion is a ''typical genuine one'' of the Myanmese ''gentleman'' and ''you will accept how handsome your colleague Mr Ye is.''

''It is quite different from what you have seen and read in the papers. (They are as ugly as ogres),'' Ye Myint Aung wrote.

Here follows the HRW blurb for the event at the FCCT.  If this did not, see if the HRW guys can raise your ire. (To read an anti-colonial viewpoint you can of course go to Burmese Days - George Orwell)

Crimes Against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Burma's Arakan State 
In June 2012, deadly violence erupted between Arakanese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in four townships of Burma's Arakan State. In October, after months of meetings and public statements promoting ethnic cleansing, Arakanese mobs attacked Muslim communities in nine townships, razing villages and killing residents.  
State security forces operating in Arakan State are implicated in failing to prevent atrocities or directly participating in them. One soldier told a Muslim man who was pleading for protection as his village was being burned: "The only thing you can do is pray to save your lives." 
Human Rights Watch's investigation, based on visits to Arakan state and interviews with over 100 persons, uncovered clear evidence of government complicity in ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity against Rohingya Muslims. 
These abuses continue through today by authorities' actions to deny aid and impose severe restrictions on movement of the estimated 125,000 internally displaced persons in Arakan state. 
Human Rights Watch will release its report, "All You Can Do is Pray": Crimes Against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Burma's Arakan State, at the FCCT on Monday, April 22, from 10:30 to 12:00. 
Featured speakers will be: Phil Robertson, Deputy Director, Asia Division, Human Rights Watch, Matt Smith, report author and consultant, Human Rights Watch.
The event is free and open to the public. For more information  email:


Sam said...

Quite a tragic photo that gent pleading for the lives of his children no doubt.

I hope the fcct meeting is 10.30pm and not am....allows time for a beverage or 3.

Sam said...

Thanks for the link to the Phuketwan...I had not known before reading all of this that it was happening to such an extent. Unbelievable really in this day and age.

Gerry westerby said...

Unbelievable in this day and age?

You have got to be kidding. The concept of human rights in S.E Asia is an oxymoron, always was and shall be for at least another generation or two or three, if not even longer than that.
Problem is, in world historical terms it was only 75 years ago when both Germany and Japan were practising industrial slaughter against those whom they perceived as their social inferiors. Now, given the reality that most of this region has only recently emerged from what may charitably be described as a feudal state it is scarcely surprising that they are quite uncivilised and savage in their conduct towards each other.

Nothing anyone can do. The Bangladeshis, from where the Rohingya originated, don't want anything to do with the problem so, frankly, they are buggered.

The only way to compel these Asians to act like human beings is to force them through economic sanction but that is not an option when one considers China calls the shots here. I fear the only viable solution for the Rohingya is to let them migrate to Australia which is apparently quite civilised and more than wealthy enough to accommodate them and has the space too.

The latter option is more likely to succeed than, say, a junta of Burmese generals typing out the UN declaration on Human Rights from memory.

Sam said...

Yes...unbelievable that in this day and age of technology and knowledge...that slave camps can and do still exist.
SEA manages to 'get' many other modern concepts...why you forgive them for being ignorant with this one ?

Gerry westerby said...

Taking Thailand as the focus, what modern concepts do they actually embrace rather than just paying lip service? Free press, government accountability, rule of law applicable to all without fear or favour,mmmmmmmm........Oh I know, all those UN conventions such as CITES and Human Trafficking? Err, perhaps not.

Flogging a dead horse here Sam. Cambodia is the pits, Laos is still dwelling in some weird socialist dystopia, Vietnam is a totalitarian state, Burma of course is an abomination, Malaysia still arrests anyone they care to without trial under the security act, has no free press and is a corruptocracy, Philippines is a car accident which leaves Indonesia which could revert to a full on Islamic state with all that that would entail. I suppose one might single out Singapore but trade unionism and worker's rights are labelled as subversive and no one really gets a decent trial if you have offended the PAP.

Reckon that leaves the Aussies.

Unknown said...

''Australia turns out to be a sensational place, albeit one of the most comfortably racist places I've ever been in. They've really settled into their intolerance like an old resentful slipper.'' A British analyst working for US television's The Daily Show gets it right. Intelligent Australians will sit back and watch the extermination of the Rohingya on the telly, just like the rest of the world's self-obsessed onlookers. Men, women and children who have nothing are, in the eyes of the world, worthless. Who needs them?

Thanks, Andrew, for giving the issue some air. What a shame the mainstream media is also full of comfortable racists. There isn't even a single Rohingya reality tv celebrity so they can't be worth saving, can they?

Sam said...

Now there is an idea.......'Rohingya Survivor'