More From Alder's Ledge

December 30, 2012

The Slow Walk Into Hell

A Look At Burma's Forced Famine
(part of The Darkness Visible series)

(Blockades Hold Back Food, Water, and Medical Aid)

As Burma prepares the Rohingya for "citizenship" the order of the day appears to be starvation and police brutality. Thein Sein has publicly claimed that any Muslim who is a citizen of Myanmar will be treated as such under the newly formed democratic regime. Yet Rohingya and other Muslim ethnic groups in Burma have been subject to ethnic cleansing since June of 2012. This sort of violence occurred under the old Junta control and prior to Colonial power in the region. However this time around the threat of a total genocide against the Rohingya appears more plausible than ever before now that neighboring countries are developed enough to prevent escape. 

In the months that followed the massive influx of ethnic violence in the region the Junta style authorities reappeared in the Rakhine region of Burma. Police and military leaders immediately began rounding up Rohingya and in some incidents mass executions have taken place. Rohingya who were able to fight back were dealt with through systematic roundups and disarming by government and Buddhist militia like mobs. Those who survived were forced into camps that greatly resemble the small concentration camps used by the Japanese during World War Two. 

For those who were taken to police run camps and prisons the stories of torture became a very real situation. Boys as young as their early teens have been taken to these "safe houses" and prisons where they have been subjected to torture without ever once being convicted of any crime. Piles of bodies have been reported near or behind these facilities so as to leave the Muslim bodies out and unburied well past the time allotted for such ceremonies given by the Koran.

Yet now that the outside world has shown even the most minimal amount of interest the Burmese government has pulled back on outright slaughter of the Rohingya. Instead of the mass executions that immediately followed the outbreak of violence, the Myanmar authorities have turned to their Communist teachings for inspiration in implementing the Rohingyas' "final solution". Following in the footsteps of Stalin, Thein Sien's government has begun expanding upon their original goal of starving out the Rohingya who they claim hide in the "illegal refugee camps". This method is meant to recreate Stalin's infamous "forced famines". 

(Wasting Away As The Outside World Watches)

The goal of this barbaric method of warfare is to force submission or extermination of a selected group by withholding the basics all humans need to live. In the case of the Rohingya the Burmese have decided to blockade the camps and keep all sources of food, water, and medical aid out of Rohingya hands. Police and military have been recorded going into the camps to fetch any source of food or water that the Rohingya may scavenge. The blockades also serve as a way to keep the Rohingya in the camps so that they have no hope of escape. In affect, the refugee camps within Myanmar have become death camps. 
Starvation is the new reality for the Rohingya who hoped this wave of ethnic cleansing would pass like all the rest. Their children are dieing at an alarming rate as malnutrition claims the weakest members of their community first. Without some form of help soon the Rohingya within Burma may face total hell at the hands of their tormentors. 
There are stories leaking out of Burma that the government is growing tired of waiting. That the regime wants the "final solution" sooner than later. Military personnel have been reported to have been growing in number in regions further away from where Western media normally has access too. These soldiers, as usual, carry only more ammunition and absolutely no aid for the Rohingya they are now harassing. Even with starvation claiming more lives every day... it appears the Buddhists in charge are looking to cleanse their land of all other religions once and for all. 

This is the face of genocide in the modern age. This is the face of genocide in Myanmar. How long till we act? How many more times do we have to watch this before our hearts begin to beat?

December 20, 2012

If They Were Christians Would We Help?

From Syria to Burma
(The Darkness Visible series)

(Just Another Funeral in Syria) 

Over the past few months I have found it hard to not ask myself if things would be different if the current genocide victims were not Muslim. From Syria (where Assad, an Alawi, slaughters Sunni Muslims) to Burma (where the Buddhist regime targets Muslims for extermination) the victims all have one thing in common. Their faith. 

The response given by the United Nations and the Western governments that help guide it has reminded me since the start of how the UN responded to Bosnia. In 1992 the Serbian forces within Bosnia decided that the Muslims had to die to help create a "Greater Serbia". The United Nations responded just as one might have expected. Their actions helped further the cause of the Christian Serbs while punishing the Bosnian Muslims. No arms were allowed to be distributed to the Bosnian forces so as to help defend themselves and their families. Aid to the Bosnian community was seemingly given under the conditions that Bosnian Muslims would not defend themselves but commit to damned attempts at "diplomacy". All the while Serbs were allowed to funnel arms and ammunition across the border from Serbia so as to fuel their war upon Islam. 

The entire time I spent studying Srebrenica I couldn't help but ask myself... if the dead weren't Muslims would the West care? 

In Syria today the Alawi, a minute percentage of the population, have taken every action to reduce the Shiite population while securing power for the Shia minority. Dehumanization began from the very start of the protest against Assad. But it wasn't the rebels who were comparing their opposition to cockroaches. Instead it was Assad who was laying the ground work for genocide. And it was Assad who began working his way through the steps of genocide as if reading them from a book. Yet in Syria today the UN and US can be seen as only helping the Shia die in a little more comfortable ways than Assad would wish. They do not seem willing to stop the bleeding. 

Children are massacred in waves of violence not seen in the region since Saddam's campaign to annihilate the Kurds. Yet the UN did nothing more than ask Angelina Jolie to come and visit the refugee camps... across the border in safety. Aid has been slow (it wasn't till recently that America secured 1.5 billion in aid... with vast restrictions on its use of course) and at times has been left rotting on docks in neighboring countries so as to never arrive. The only thing that the UN seems competent to deliver has been the dirty white tents that help cameras capture the appearance of UN aid. Most aid has arrived through private organizations that have stretched themselves to the limit so as to save at least some of the refugees who have fled. 

Those left in Syria have been subjected to mortars, artillery, jet and helicopter attacks, and scud missiles that may be used to deliver chemical weapons. The dead are buried wherever a spare patch of ground can be found. Water, food, and electricity are subject to Assad's desire to either starve a region out or reward a region for their loyalty. All of these are seemingly random since Assad has begun to see rebels behind every rock and around every corner. 

So why does the West not act to help end the genocide in Syria? 

(Humanitarian Aid Remains Behind Blockades While Rohingya Starve To Death)

In Burma the Buddhist regime has been praised almost religiously by the West as the governments of Europe and America prepare to race in and claim as much of the economy as they can before China gets it all. In doing business with the Myanmar government the governments of the West are funding genocide. For decades now, of and on, the Burmese have been attempting to slaughter the Rohingya minority and all other Muslim groups. Under the Junta regime the Rohingya were not only dehumanized but often massacred. This latest burst of genocidal slaughter was just an extension of the decades of systematic slaughter the Junta perpetrated. 

As the violence spread the Rohingya were rounded up into camps where the Burmese military was seen attacking the Rohingya who attempted to flee. When it wasn't the military killing Rohingya it was the Rakhine mobs that the police let through from time to time to keep the Rohingya terrorized. In effect the Myanmar government was establishing concentration camps like those the Serbs established for the Bosnian Muslims. Yet the West refused to call these "refugee" camps what they truly were. Instead we now find ourselves in a place where Rohingya are banned from leaving the camps and aid is blockaded from entering the camps. 

Food and water have been restricted while the Burmese Muslims are starved to death. Babies, some seen on previous post, are left forever harmed by this cruelty... if they survive at all. Yet the West fails to go beyond their business prospects in Myanmar. 

Once again I have to ask, if the Rohingya were not Muslims would the West care anymore?

Many "humanitarians" in the media and Western culture have spent years upon years trying to get governments to help the victims in Darfur and the Congo. The obvious difference in this post is that the victims in this case are predominately Christians. And the attackers are predominately Muslims. This is not to say that genocide in these two cases should not be protested or should not be stopped. But it is painfully clear that those speaking out for the victims share a fairly obvious link to the victims themselves. Their faith.

With this we should all take a look at the reasons for why we get involved. And more importantly we should take a real hard look at the reasons why we tend not to get involved. Both are the sources for our inaction when faced with genocide. And both have effects that last for generations. By not taking action to help those in need we show our true selves... our greatest weaknesses... and most of all our prejudices.

December 17, 2012

With Eyes Wide Shut

The World Looks To Burma
(Part of The Darkness Visible series)

(Rohingya Boy Starving To Death As Aid Is Blockaded)

MTV Exit recently did a concert to help raise awareness of modern day slavery that plagues Southeast Asia. The use of sexual slavery and indentured servitude has been a horrific part of life for many around the world. But there is in fact a far worse reality than slavery for some in Southeast Asia. This reality is a systematic slaughter of a people based on their ethnic and religious background. This reality is the genocide occurring to the Rohingya people of Myanmar. 

Make no mistake, Alder's Ledge has written article after article depicting the horrors of slavery and human trafficking around the world. We do not discredit the drastic need for action to be taken to save those kept in bondage across the globe. But we do believe that the living should take backseat to those about to die. 

This is the Hidden Genocide. It is not a "humanitarian crisis" like that of slavery. This is murder. This is genocide. There is no tomorrow for many of the faces we have shown here on Alder's Ledge. There is no hope for many who are now dead after months of neglect. These are the faces of souls that are lost to genocide or about to die due to the ineptitude of the Western world. 

In Sittwe, Burma the genocide has taken on the characteristics of Nazi Germany. The "undesirables" are being kept in what can only be described as concentration camps. These are the Rohingya. These are the "ethnically unclean" that Burma and Bangladesh have denied citizenship to. These are the people that Thein Sein's government has marked for annihilation. 

On Myebon Peninsula (in the Rakhine State) the Rohingya concentration camp is kept isolated and blockaded from humanitarian aid. Meanwhile the Buddhist who had fled the summer fighting are allowed to come and go form their camp freely. Their camp is the only one on the peninsula that is open for humanitarian aid to come in. The Buddhist are given food, water, and medicine in excess while the Rohingya die daily from starvation and readily preventable diseases. 

 Phu Ma Gyi's home was destroyed in the fighting. She is Buddhist. For that reason she is given a home in the government camp for the "Burmese citizens". In her own words...

"The government is looking after us here," she says. "We have food, medicine and what we need."

 As for the Rohingya on that same peninsula life has given them no certainty. They are prevented from receiving food. Those who have any form of bartering material left or money are prevented from going into neighboring villages to purchase food. Water is all around them, but it is salt water. Those who are sick in this concentration camp are left to die from ailments that could be prevented. Communicable diseases are just as fatal killers as are the bullets and knives of Rakhine Buddhists. 

(Rohingya Baby Starved To Death As Blockades Hold)

There is no famine currently occurring in Myanmar. There is no shortage of food in the country, anywhere. This is forced famine. This is a method of systematic slaughter through attrition. And this is why Alder's Ledge remains relentless in presenting the tragic fate these innocent souls now face. This is a fate that could be prevented. It is a tragedy that could be stopped right now. 

In this modern age of mass media it is impossible to hide these crimes against humanity. With even the poor now armed with cell phones it is hard for dictators to silence the outcry of oppressed. Even with the best attempts, such as Assad in Syria, the ruthless tyrants have had little luck in preventing the images of genocide from making it out to the rest of the world. And yet the world seems helpless to prevent these tragedies from happening in the first place. 

December 9, 2012

Sometimes We Are All Nothing But Fleas

Trapped By Our Own Limitations
(Part of the Battle Cry series)

During an experiment on the behavior of animals a scientist once found that the common flea could be tricked into living its miserable life starving to death. Keep in mind that the common flea is as persistent a pest that even two fleas left untreated can reproduce into thousands of fleas withing weeks. With any source of food the flea can live on with the hope of finding a suitable meal. In this aspect the flea is driven by food more than anything else. Food is what keeps the little fleas hopping.

The experiment was simple really. It was so simple that it almost doesn't seem real. But it worked, and it worked so well that all the fleas died while food was just on the other side of the glass.

Placing a dozen fleas in a glass jar the scientist shut the lid and watched the fleas hop like crazy. For some time after shutting the lid the scientist could hear the constant pop of the bugs hitting the tin lid. Pop, pop, pop... the little fleas would not stop till they were free. Pop, pop, pop... or so it would seem.

All at once, as if in unison the fleas stopped. Somewhat surprised, the scientist looked inside to see if the bugs had all died. For it seemed odd that the ever persistent flea would ever stop trying to escape. And yet the scientist was in for a treat.

Hopping just below the level of the lid the fleas continued to jump. Like sad clowns performing the role nature had cast for them, the fleas jumped with no hope of ever being free again. Yet despite the realization that they could not be free the fleas jumped straight up and down. Tiring themselves out without reward.

Taking the lid off, the scientist fully expected his little pest to jump to freedom. A gust of fresh air pacified the fleas for a moment. It almost seemed as though they were thinking about what had just happened. It was almost as though they could sense that their little world had dramatically changed.

So what happened next? Was the scientist just inviting these little pest to infest his work station?

One by one the fleas hopped up and down once again. Without the lid the fleas could easily jump to freedom. Without the lid their prison was now unlocked. The barrier that had prevented their escape was clearly gone. And once again their chance to find food was readily made available to the little pests. So what happened now that the lid was gone?

Not one flea jumped any higher than they had before the lid was removed. Instead the fleas continued to jump up and down in the apparent safety of their jar. It appeared now that the little pests had learned to accept the limitations the lid had imposed upon them. It appeared that even without the presence of the lid the fleas would remain within its confines.

In many ways we as a society have become like the fleas of this study. In many aspects of our lives we have come to accept the limitations imposed upon us by obstacles that either do or do not exist. Some of these "lids" in our lives are very real indeed. For example we know that law keeps us from doing things we might otherwise want to do. Other "lids" however only exist in our minds.

For months now I have asked for those who read this blog to step out of their comfort zone... or jar, if you will. And yet time and time again I am presented with the question "what can I really do?" The question is presented in many ways. It is asked with a sense of defeat before the person asking it ever really begins to fight. It is asked with the idea that our lives are lived within the confines others impose upon us. And yet when we stop to think about it these limitations are more often than not brought upon us by our own fear.

The flea fears hitting their little bodies against the tin lid overhead. This is what keeps them locked inside the jar even when the lid is gone. For us the fear that limits us can arise from many things. When it comes to Alder's Ledge it seems that the fear that stops many from sharing these post arises from the fear of breaking with conformity.

Despite our modern notion of the beauty of the individual our society still prizes above most other qualities the ability to fit in to the crowd. Sure, sharing these post can make you look big hearted, but it also makes you appear far to serious.... perhaps preaching. And with the frequency of these post pushing the share button could even make you appear annoying on FaceBook, Twitter, or any other social media site.

This is where stepping outside the comfort of your jar comes in. This is where the sense of morality that keeps people reading these posts should trump the fear of stepping on a soapbox. But it seems far to many of us are still stuck in our jars.

As the Hanuka continues and Christmas approaches I would like to take this opportunity again to ask Alder's Ledge's readers to step outside their jars. It is a custom for many to give to charity during this season. And for most the act of giving these donations is an act meant to be done in silence. Yet we here at Alder's Ledge would like to invite our readers to share on their social media sites and with their friends the fact that you have donated. And in doing this we would ask that you invite them to do the same.

Alder's Ledge has decided to give a gift to World Vision. This is a charity that is helping Syrian refugees and Congolese refugees as genocide ravages their homelands. You can find the links for this below.

In closing we would like to ask all who read this to take time this holiday season to step out of your comfort zone and help those in need. Take a stand with Alder's Ledge and help those who are suffering most during this holiday season.

World Vision Emergency Relief



Video For the Congo Relief Effort

December 3, 2012

Assad's al-Anfal

Syria's Inevitable End Game
(Part of The Darkness Visible series)

(Iraqi Kurdish Children Killed in Gas Attacks)

As the fighting worsens in and around Damascus the West has begun to realize that Assad has no way to leave the battlefield with any honor left intact. This fight to maintain control of Syria has left the dictator helpless as the country has descended into the abyss of war. It is in this sense of desperation that has become nearly palpable in the heart of Syria. A sense of desperation that is leading to more hopeless means of combat. Helping fuel the fear of another al-Anfal genocide within the region. 

In 1986, toward the end of the Iran-Iraq war, Saddam Hussein launched the worse campaign of genocide since the Nazis conquest of Europe. Attacking the Kurdish villages in northern Iraq, Saddam targeted all minority populations as well, the dictator embarked upon a war of annihilation. This was a barbaric battle to rid Iraq of those who Saddam deemed to be "non-Iraqi" or "non-Arabic" populations. 

"... Allah willed to justify the Truth according to His words and to cut off the roots of the Unbelievers..." Koran 8:7 

Saddam took the name of his genocide from the Holy Koran. Yet his war was far from holy. It was so barbaric and ghastly that not even the Western world couldn't look the other way. This was a war that would scar the minds of world leaders for decades to come. 

For the first time since the world wars the West would watch as gas was used to kill off thousands of people in just a matter of minutes. Men, women, and children died where they were standing as the shells carrying the gas fell from above. The images of children gasping for air were suddenly seen around the world. All were victims of Saddam's al-Anfal. 

Today Turkey joined the United States in warning the world of the lingering threat of Assad's vast chemical weapon stores. The United States State Department managed to piece together strong words of warning for Assad as they talked about the "red line" these unconventional weapons presented. Turkey on the other hand has a very real fear of these weapons being used along the border with Syria. After all, chemical and gas don't know the limits of the battlefield and rarely behaves as the murderers intend. 

Yet for all the warnings and all the nervousness surrounding the use of chemical weapons the Syrian government has already begun deployment of chemical weapons to the embattled areas. In Aleppo the West believes that enough chemical shells could already be in place to kill the local population without warning. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians could be at risk as this post is being written. Even an upwards of a million civilians could be at risk as chemical weapons make their way across the country.

“Today I want to make it absolutely clear to Assad and those under his command: The world is watching,” President Barack Obama. 12/3/2012

It is clear now that Assad has every intention to use some measure of chemical weapons on his own citizens. It is also clear that Assad will use these weapons without warning and without relent. Once the gas begins to flow it will not stop till the UN or US step in to stop it. A level of commitment that the White House has finally begun to show it is willing to take on. 

But the question remains... just how many Syrians will have to die before the West starts to take military action to stop the genocide in Syria? 

A spontaneous offensive with the use of chemicals as it's spearhead will kill hundreds of thousands of Syrians in a matter of days at best. With Syrian civilians clustered together, so as to avoid the fighting, their populations are gathered in small areas. Gas will allow their numbers to be drastically decreased in the first few hours of the attacks. This appears to be what Assad is hinging his bets upon as his chemical weapons are now being deployed. 

“This is a red line for the United States,” Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. 12/3/2012

We may be watching. We may have plans to take action to stop the attacks. But as of now the United States can not nor will not be able to prevent the gas from being used. Once again the West has put themselves in a position where they can not protect those in the most need of it. We have failed the Syrians. 

This will be Assad's end game. 

The final stages of his rule are falling in place. The rebels are closing in upon their old master's stronghold. Assad is now nothing more than an animal... an animal that has been backed into a corner. Yet like most beast, Assad won't go down without a fight.

If the West wants to declare checkmate it should had already entered the fight and prevented this scenario from ever taking place. Now we have little we can do but attempt to limit the number of civilians Assad can take to Hell with him. Yet even this depends upon men like Barack Obama who have done nothing to stop us from getting to this point to begin with. 

How much more of this wretched war can Syria take?