Burmese military admits soldiers killed Rohingya found in mass grave

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

In a first, Burmese military admits that soldiers killed Rohingya found in mass grave

 January 10 at 4:23 PM

Burmese troops and villagers were behind the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims whose bodies were found in a mass grave in Rakhine state’s Inn Din village, the military’s commander in chief, Min Aung Hlaing, said Wednesday in a statement on Facebook.

The admission marks the first time that Burma’s powerful military has acknowledged wrongdoing in the violence that gripped Rakhine last year. In just a few months, more than 650,000 members of the Rohingya minority fled across the border into Bangladesh. The crisis was labeled a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” by the United Nations’ top human rights official.

The military statement may also offer further hints to help address one of the most urgent questions in a crisis that is thought to have left thousands dead: Where are the bodies? Late last year, the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders estimated that at least 6,700 Rohingya had died violently during the exodus last year, mostly from gunshot wounds. The government of Burma, which is also known as Myanmar, has blocked numerous attempts by outside groups to investigate on the ground.

“It’s not as though there are human remains lying around everywhere,” said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “We have reason to suspect that authorities have disposed of human remains, whether maliciously to hide evidence or for other reasons.”

With access to the area limited, proof of killings has been hard to establish. U.N. human rights investigators and others have been denied access to the areas hit hardest by violence, while two Reuters journalists who were reported to be investigating evidence of a mass grave at Inn Din are on trial in Rangoon. Prosecutors are seeking charges that could impose a maximum prison sentence of 14 years, according to the reporters’ attorney.

Matthew Smith, chief executive officer of the human rights group Fortify Rights, said it was noteworthy that the grave referenced on Wednesday was the same being investigated by the Reuters journalists. “The authorities appear to have arrested them in order to halt the investigation while also sending a chilling message to other journalists and would-be truth tellers,” Smith wrote in an email.

After numerous accounts of massacres emerged from survivors, human rights groups resorted to using commercial satellite imagery to look for evidence of violence. Matt Wells, senior crisis adviser at Amnesty International, said that although it was difficult to find mass graves using that technique, images seen by Amnesty had made it clear that Rohingya homes in the Inn Din area were burned down in what appeared to be a coordinated campaign.

“It is one of the most striking examples of how targeted the burning has been in the military’s campaign,” Wells said in a phone call. “The Rohingya portion of the village has been completely burned to the ground, whereas non-Rohingya buildings very nearby have been completely untouched.”

In Wednesday’s military statement, the office of the Burmese military’s commander in chief said that villagers and security forces had acknowledged that they killed “10 Bengali terrorists” — a reference to the Rohingya whose bodies were found in Inn Din last year. The statement went on to claim that the soldiers involved were responding to provocations but added that they would be dealt with.

“The army will take charge of those who are responsible for the killings and who broke the rules of engagement,” the statement continued, according to an Associated Press translation. “This incident happened because ethnic Buddhist villagers were threatened and provoked by the terrorists.”

The Rohingya have been established in Burma for generations, but the government refuses to recognize members of the minority community as citizens and refers to them as Bengalis, implying that they are immigrants from Bangladesh who live in Burma illegally.

Though limited in scope, Wednesday’s message appears to contradict previous denials of a Burmese military involvement in violence against the Rohingya. In a report released in November, the military exonerated itself of accusations involving several atrocities, including rape and killings.

The government has strongly denied suggestions of “ethnic cleansing” in Rakhine. It has estimated that 400 Rohingya died last year but said that 376 of them were terrorists involved in an armed insurgency. Last year, a group of foreign journalists was flown into the country to see a mass grave in northern Rakhine that authorities said contained the bodies of Hindu villagers who had been killed by Rohingya insurgents.

Rights groups said that Wednesday’s acknowledgment of involvement showed the need for Burma to allow outside investigators into Rakhine.

“This grisly admission is a sharp departure from the army’s policy of blanket denial of any wrongdoing,” James Gomez, Amnesty International’s regional director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said in a statement. “However, it is only the tip of the iceberg and warrants serious independent investigation into what other atrocities were committed amid the ethnic cleansing campaign.”

Human Rights Watch’s Sifton said of the Burmese military: “This is not an institution that has any credibility. That is precisely why you need international observers and investigators involved now.”

Pope Francis To Visit Burma In Late November

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY)

 

.- When Pope Francis visits Burma, also known as Myanmar, later this month, his visit will come at one of the most contentious periods of the country’s history.

In recent months, state-supported violence against Burma’s Rohingya Muslim community – an ethnic and religious minority– has reached staggering levels, causing the United Nations to declare the situation “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

“The scope of the humanitarian crisis is enormous and it’s ongoing,” said Daniel Mark, Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, in an interview with CNA at the end of September. “Once again we unfortunately have another terrible crisis that’s focusing people’s attention on something that’s already a terrible situation.”

“This is a deep and longstanding problem that we’ve been trying to call attention to for a long time, but it’s going to need an extremely long and concerted effort to address,” Mark told CNA. “Even addressing the immediate humanitarian crisis is not going to solve this profound underlying issue of the Rohingya Muslims in Burma.”

For years, the Rohingya, an ethnic group whose main religion is Islam, have faced grave persecution in the Burmese state of Rakhine, where the majority of them live. An estimated 1.1 million Rohingya live within the majority-Buddhist country. Members of the group have been denied citizenship since the foundation of Burma in 1948, and have suffered violence, and lack the freedom to move or access clean water since a military coup d’etat in 1962.

After a different military regime took control in 1988, with even harsher military crackdowns throughout the country, the country has been referred to as Myanmar.

Pope Francis will visit the country at the end of November, following stories of horrifying human rights abuses and a mass exodus of Rohingya civilians from Burma.

The most recent wave of violence began on Aug. 25, 2017, after which the Burmese military and local Buddhist vigilantes enacted a campaign of burning Rohingya villages and massacring the civilians within them. It is still unclear exactly how many people have been killed in the violence, but aid agencies estimate that thousands are dead and more than 600,000 people have been displaced since late August. Neighboring Bangladesh has accepted the majority of those refugees, and more people have been internally displaced within the country.

The military claims the violence is a response to attacks by a small group of Rohingya against border agents in the Rakhine province, which left 12 officers dead. However, the violence – which includes arson, sexual violence, and internal displacement – long precedes those attacks, and other demonstrations within Rohingya communities, said Olivia Enos, a policy analyst in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation, who specializes in human rights.

“Maybe some individual Rohingya are acting out in self-defense, but to place blame on Rohingya is misleading,” Enos said.

“The military has a long, long history of burning homes and villages, raping women and children. The track record is so long that to place the blame on any kind of radical agents within the Rohingya would be really inaccurate.”

While violence and discrimination against the Rohingya people at the hands of Burmese authorities have been ongoing since the 1960s, with increases in persecution in 2012 and 2015, the current crisis is of particular concern, Enos said.  She explained that the high levels of displacement and increased incidents of violence and destruction set this conflict apart from the ones that have come before.

Also concerning, she said, is the fact this conflict is occurring after democratic reforms which took place between 2011-2015. While the nation is becoming more democratic, she said, the military still maintains significant control within Burma. Furthermore, the country’s leader – Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi– has remained silent when asked about the persecution of the group within her country.

To add to the worries, Enos fears that by focusing on the ethnic element of the conflict, Western leaders may overlook its religious aspect. “The vast majority of people in Burma are Buddhist and they view the Muslim minority group Rohingya as a threat to the native Burman society,” she said. “It’s a religious conflict.”

Mark stated that the religious element of the conflict has been a concern of the Commission since its founding in 1998.  “As a result of this, we’ve been following this very, very carefully and for a long time,” he said We’ve recommended Burma is designated as a Country of Particular Concern every year,” a recommendation the U.S. Department of State has followed each year it’s made such designations.

The long history of the conflict means that while there are immediate steps that need to be taken to address the humanitarian situation, work to end the conflict will need to look at the long-term solution.

“This is all a result of the systematic exclusion of these people from Burmese society,” Mark explained. “All the things we’re saying now about the treatment of Rohingya Muslims going forward are the thing that we have been saying all along,” he continued.

“It’s been a tinderbox and that needs to be addressed.”

In the short term, Mark advocated for immediate humanitarian aid and assurance that humanitarian goods will get to those in need of them. He also called for accountability for human rights violations and a cessation of violence.

He noted the need for the international community to help support Bangladesh as it takes in tens of thousands of people a day, so a secondary crisis is not created there.

“Attacks need to stop and aid needs to start.”

An earlier version of this article was published Sept. 28, 2017.

Tags: Pope FrancisBurmaRohingyaPope in Burma

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Myanmar: The Civil War With All Of Its Ethnic Killing Continues With No End In Sight

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME)

‘This Will Be the Worst War’: Fears of Mass Displacement as Thousands Flee Conflict in Myanmar’s Northeast

1:27 AM Eastern

A steady stream of men, women and children arrive by the hundreds at Mansu Monastery in rural northeastern Myanmar. Each day brings a fresh wave of people fleeing a new outbreak of conflict that threatens to derail the country’s already fragile peace process. Powdered with red dust after hours on open-air flatbed trucks through mountain roads, they enter Lashio, the largest city in Myanmar’s Shan state. New arrivals walk into the monastery quarters carrying bundles of belongings and stories of violence from the streets and surrounding suburbs of Laukkai, capital of the Kokang Special Administered Zone bordering China.

Just before dawn on Monday, members of a Kokang-based armed group called the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) attacked a hotel in Laukkai and several outposts of Myanmar police and armed forces, known locally as the Tatmadaw. Government figures estimate that there were at least 30 fatalities, including at least five civilians, and about 20 of the deceased were burned beyond recognition. “I can’t live there anymore, there’s too much shooting,” Than Naing Tun, a 35-year-old sugar-cane farmer, tells TIME as he waits at the monastery to board a truck back to his hometown in Magwe.

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Most, if not all, of the displaced people arriving in Lashio — about 100 miles southwest of Laukkai— are migrant workers from Myanmar’s central plains. Attracted by the somewhat higher wages on offer in Kokang, many labor in the fields or work at recycling plants. “Our families found out from watching TV, and all of the phone lines [in Laukkai] were cut,” Than Naing Tun says, “they were so worried, they thought we were dead.” While the migrants try and make their way back to central Myanmar, the Kokang people, who are ethnic Chinese, have mostly fled across the border into Yunnan province in China. Humanitarian agencies and local aid workers estimate that more than 10,000 people have made their way over the border.

Read More: ‘We Cannot Believe Aung San Suu Kyi’: Why Many in Burma Are Losing Hope of Peace

Several of those who fled to Lashio tell TIME that almost everyone in Laukkai is attempting to leave, as the sounds of gunfire, and what they believe were mortar shells, have resumed each nightfall since the early hours of Monday morning. Myint Kyi, 44, seated beside her 14-year-old daughter, says she heard gunfire and explosions for several hours before daybreak on Monday. When the sun rose and the sounds died down, she walked to a nearby hotel about 50 m away from her apartment, where the fighting first broke out. There she says she saw four dead bodies — three men and one woman — still lying on the ground outside. She decided to leave with her family. “We left everything behind,” her daughter San San Maw says. “We left so fast we didn’t even bring our slippers.”

But leaving has not been easy for many. Unable to enter the town of Laukkai , convoys of trucks are waiting in nearby towns for the thousands of people trying to head towards Lashio and on into central Myanmar. Meanwhile, bus drivers in the town are charging passengers 10 times the normal fare to leave — about $73 instead of the usual $7.30 — several arrivals tell TIME, consistent with accounts in local media. Myint Kyi says that “almost everyone” wants to leave, but most do not have enough money to pay the exorbitant fare.

This week’s outbreak is the deadliest escalation of conflict in Kokang since early February 2015, when the MNDAA launched an attack on Myanmar forces in an effort to reclaim control of the territory. The group’s presumed leader, Peng Jiasheng, was ousted by the Myanmar government in 2009, forcing him and his supporters to retreat into the remote and forested hills of Yunnan. When they re-emerged, the Tatmadaw fiercely fought off their surprise comeback, imposed a four-month period of martial law and ultimately sent the MNDAA back into hiding.

Read More: David Miliband: How to Bring Peace to the World’s Longest Civil War

Monday’s escalation sparked fears of a repeat, and concerns about the humanitarian cost. Myint Kyi, the mother TIME met at the monastery, says the city’s residents worry that “this time will be worse than the last,” which left hundreds of soldiers dead on both sides of the conflict and caused an exodus of tens of thousands of civilians, mostly to China. “I heard that the Tatmadaw will take down all of the MNDAA, they will get them all, and this will be the worst war,” she tells TIME.

The abbot of Mansu Monastery, Padanna Pone Nay Nanda, tells TIME that well over 1,000 migrants have already passed through his compound since Monday. Upon our visit on Wednesday morning local time, hundreds were loading up on trucks and leaving, while more trickled in. Another 300 were expected to arrive throughout the day. The Mansu complex is known far and wide as a refuge, having welcomed displaced populations many times over Padanna’s 28 years as a monk there, and he coordinates with local aid workers to provide for the displaced. “This is only the start, it’s hard to know what will happen over the next week,” he tells TIME, recalling the thousands that transited through during the previous conflict.

Read More: Burma’s Transition to Civilian Rule Hasn’t Stopped the Abuses of Its Ethnic Wars

Myanmar, which was ruled by a brutal military junta until 2011, has suffered one of the world’s most protracted and complex civil wars, with more than 20 nonstate armed groups fighting the Myanmar army for political autonomy over the course of nearly six decades. The new civilian government, led by Nobel laureate and now State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, has pledged to make peace a priority as it struggles to rebuild a nation devastated by conflict, corruption and poverty. In late 2015, a cease-fire was reached between government forces and eight of the rebel armies, though several groups abstained and others were categorically excluded from the process. Among those denied a seat at the table were the MNDAA, along with three other armed groups with which the Kokang have now formed a coalition. The Brotherhood of the Northern Alliance, as it is known since its inception last year, includes the MNDAA, the Arakan Army, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, and some parts of the Kachin Independence Army.

Suu Kyi released a statement condemning Monday’s attack and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, warning that continued attacks can bring “nothing but sorrow and suffering on the innocent local tribes and races,” urging actors to join the national peace dialogue. The Tatmadaw, however, has repeatedly stated that it will not allow the concerned groups to participate in the peace process unless they immediately disarm. Having withstood previous cease-fires with the Myanmar army that later disintegrated, their leadership is disinclined to do so.

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After 1962 war, CIA feared China could attack India through Nepal, Myanmar

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

After 1962 war, CIA feared China could attack India through Nepal, Myanmar

INDIA Updated: Jan 26, 2017 23:01 IST

Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Highlight Story

File photo of Indian and Chinese soldiers during the 1962 War.(Archives)

Months after the brief but bloody India-China border war of 1962, American intelligence were worried about the possibility of further strikes by Chinese troops through Tibet, Myanmar and even Nepal and Bhutan.After a string of skirmishes along the disputed frontier led to a spike in tensions, Chinese troops mounted an offensive in October 1962 and advanced into Ladakh and the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA, now the state of Arunachal Pradesh). A month later, China announced a unilateral truce and withdrew its troops.

By January 1963, wary US intelligence officials began studying the possibility of China “giving the Indians another black eye”, according to declassified documents recently posted on the Central Intelligence Agency’s website.

The CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency and United States Intelligence Board conducted several assessments over a period of months, including possible attacks through neighbouring countries. They estimated the Chinese could mobilise a little more than 120,000 troops for such attacks and also assessed the air threat to India.

A DIA document, titled “The Chinese Communist ground threat to India”, drawn up less than six months after the 1962 war, concluded China had the capability to carry out attacks in Ladakh, through border passes between Ladakh and Nepal, across eastern Bhutan and NEFA into Assam.

“It is estimated that the Chinese could support indefinitely operations in Ladakh, Nepal, Bhutan and eastern NEFA,” the document stated.

Among the military objectives of such attacks would be extending Chinese control to the town of Leh, seizing the territorial claim north of Joshimath, the “eventual occupation” of Nepal to forestall Indian intervention and the “effective occupation” of NEFA and the part of Assam north of the Brahmaputra river. The occupation of Assam, the DIA estimated, would require a “strong and permanent lodgement” in the Guwahati area.

Both the CIA and DIA concluded that Chinese advances would be impeded by Beijing’s lack of logistics capabilities and the weather.

A May 1963 top secret memorandum from the CIA and USIB concluded the “government of Burma (now Myanmar) would not resist the movement of Chinese troops” for a possible attack on India and would even “acquiesce” in the use of Burmese transportation facilities and airfields.

Both the CIA and DIA believed a possible Chinese attack through Burma would be mounted through two routes – the Kunming-Dibrugarh road via Ledo and the Kunming-Tezpur road via Mandalay and Imphal.

However, the CIA concluded that China posed only a “limited air threat” to India because of the weakness in “equipment and combat proficiency” of the air force and the lack of adequate bases in the Himalayan region.

Almost a year after the 1962 war, CIA deputy director Ray Cline informed McGeorge Bundy, special assistant to President John F Kennedy, that there were “several reasons to be concerned about the possibility of a Chinese Communist attack on the Sino-Indian border”.

China had about 120,000 troops in Tibet “capable of launching an attack on the scale of last fall with little or no warning” and Beijing “may have a political or psychological urge to demonstrate…their lack of fear of their enemies by giving the Indians another black eye right in front of both the Russians and Americans”, Bundy wrote.

To read more stories on the CIA files, click here

When Is The Best Time To Assassinate Your Country’s Dictator?

 

When is the best time to actually go through with pulling the trigger to end the life of another person? Is there ever a time to kill that God would forgive us for doing it? When you personally live in a country where you have a dictator who runs your country with an iron fist against the public, is it ever okay to eliminate them from the land of the breathing? Most of these leaders usually tend to call themselves by titles like ‘President or Prime Minister’ in an effort to make themselves look more legitimate to the rest of the world. There are cases that some of these mass murderers stick with their military titles like General or in the case of the former ruler of Libya where he kept his title of Colonel. Fair open and honest regular scheduled elections tend to be something that dictators may use to get into power in the first place but once in power decide to not ever have honest open elections ever again. But still the question begs the answer, is it ever okay to stoop to the level of a mass murderer for the purpose of putting a little gray pill between their eyes? Do you ever feel that it is okay to kill another person? What if a person or persons are breaking into your home and they are armed and they start shooting at you and your family, would you shoot back at them?

 

Today in this world we all live in we have countries where many millions of people live in fear of their own lives being taken by evil leaders who only use their citizens as pawns of labor. Some will say that we here in America today are living in such a situation with our current two-party political system. There is no doubt that we the people have almost no actual voice at all with the political elite and that our nations security agencies are a danger to all of the population. Even with the evil that does permeate many agencies and politicians I do feel that we here in America have more freedoms than the people of most countries. I personally would not consider putting a round into any of our current leaders, at least not at this time. This issue of any government who wants the people helpless against the government itself shows their evil, not your evil. The American Constitution was drawn up by people who had just come from Nations where the governments had all the weapons and all the power and the people were run over like they were of less value than a rabid dog. The Founding Fathers of our country knew the importance of the people being able to defend themselves from the government in case the Government became evil. Killing these traitors (the ability to be able to if it became necessary) was and is necessary for any society to be able to remain free. Also being able to be armed is/was a central issue for the public to be able to be a “National Guard” to back up our nations military if our nation came under attack from a foreign nation.

 

The center theme of this blog is and was about Dictators like the people in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Burma had. The world is still full of these mass murderers in countries like Syria, North Korea, Iran, and Russia just to name a very few. I used these bigger nations as examples because their names are better known to the general public but there are dozens more around the world. I know that some people are balking at Iran and Russia being on my short list and that is certainly okay for you to disagree with me, so I will explain why I included these two on my list. With Iran and Russia they both have elections just like Syria and America do, so why should they be included you may think. When you have an election like the one they just had in Syria where the current President (Dictator) won 99% of the vote you must realize the impossibility of such a human event ever happening. Do you remember Saddam when he was ‘President’ of Iraq how he would win all the elections with around that same 99% mark? In the country of Iran I said they are ruled by a tyrant (Dictator) whose name starts with ‘The Supreme Ruler’ Khomeini. The elections for the Presidents office and all of the lower offices mean nothing at all to this man, after all he is ‘The Supreme Ruler’. Nothing happens in that country unless he signs off on it. Now let’s go to the great country of Russia. Russia is great because of the same reason that America is still great, it is because of our people. President Putin took power over Russia in 1999. He was only allowed by law to be in power for two five-year terms as President so after those ten years he just created the position of Prime Minister so he could keep power for that five-year stent, then he simply ran for the office of President again after that five-year break. Mr. Putin is now 63 and his domestic policies are destroying the economy as he and his closest friends have made billions for themselves. Sounds a lot like why American politicians try to stay in office/power for decades.

 

Still the meaning of this article today is do we/you/I/or me, do we have the right to kill another person even if that person is a Dictator? Think about the nation of Turkey today, in my opinion the ‘President” of Turkey is a Dictator whom is constantly putting the population of his Nation in harm’s way because of his political and military actions in that region of the world. Do the people of Turkey have the right to kill him? How about in Iran? How about when a Nation has a totally insane person in a position of total domination like in North Korea? Should those people have the right or even the obligation to kill this mass murderer? This post is in the same format as I use on this blog regularly, to get the readers to think for themselves, so what do you think?

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