More From Alder's Ledge

June 30, 2013

Myanmar's Schutzstaffel

969 - Making Buddhism Militant
(The Darkness Visible series)

(969 Monks in Myanmar - photo via Foreign Policy)

What began as the "Saal-Schutz" quickly grew out of control as Heinrich Himmler took the band of paramilitary fascist to the next level. True to the Nazi fashion, Himmler decided that it was vital for the socialist movement to have a military force of their own that could parallel that of Germany's standing army. This bold move on the part of a political party quickly brought strife to the organization as they attempted to take the place of the SA (Sturmabteilung). Through exploiting emotions, religion, and personal favors; Himmler killed those in the party he couldn't defeat with intellect. By the end of the 1920's the SS (Schutzstaffel) achieved everything that Himmler had imagined it would be. The SA were absorbed into the ranks and those who defied the command to fall in line were dead. The SS was a standing army in it's own right. 

For the nationalistic socialist in Myanmar there is a growing wing of religious zealots that are attempting to recreate the "glory" of the SS in Hitler's Germany. The radicalized organization calling itself Buddhist marches into areas just as the SA did in the 1920's. Like stormtroopers, these so called monks force their brand upon anyone who wants the protection of their saffron robes. This fascist approach to manipulating faith and patriotism brings these monks in line with the Nazi philosophies on governance and population control. All the group needed was a figure head... a vitriolic leader that could manipulate the message and make it palpable to the masses. 

Enter Myanmar's Himmler
  “If we are weak our land will become Muslim.”

Hitler fed the SS the hatred they needed to stay in the field and fight. Himmler gave them the directions on how to fight. In Burma the terrorist organization 969 is run from behind the scenes by cowards who dare not show their faces in the light of day. The man who feeds 969 with the hatred it needs to fuel the attacks (several occurring right now) that the group carries out is the less than honorable, Wirathu. This man willingly calls himself the "bin-Laden of Burma". And at no point has Wirathu backed away from the chance to spread this hate speech. 

From the moment that Wirathu was released from jail in 2010 (falsely labeled as a "political prisoner") he quickly reintegrated into the movement he helped give birth to. From that point on Wirathu's "sermons" became nonstop hate. With each rally (reminiscent of Nuremberg) Wirathu's hatred for Islam and the Rohingya has grown more pronounced. In his recent Time Magazine interview Wirathu didn't even bother to hide his hatred for Muslims even in the presence a foreign audience. 

This hate filled rhetoric was the fuel that created the Rohingya pogroms of 2012 and the current ones still taking place. It is through the constant stream of hatred from Wirathu's speeches that the 969 stormtroopers are capable of sustaining their campaigns across western Burma. Without the motivation the simplistic views of Wirathu would have died out long ago. For though an idea cannot be killed, every idea has a given lifespan based upon it's own merit. 

A Burmese Kristallnacht 

From the very beginning of Himmler's involvement in the SS the plan for a boycott against the Jewish population of Germany had took center stage. Himmler took the idea of a forced boycott to the next level. Encouraging violence against the Jews, Himmler organized SS units to join in the displays of antisemitism. And just as anyone could have guessed, the paramilitary organization brought all their hate and rage in one fiery night of total terror.

969 has been organizing boycotts of Muslim owned businesses and merchants all across western Myanmar. For the past three years these boycotts have been spreading as the hate group forces it's way into village after village. And just as anyone could have guessed, where ever Wirathu orders his paramilitary style fascist violence and total terror soon follows. 

November 9th, 1938 was the start of a nationwide pogrom. It was an attempt by the Nazis to internalize their hatred for the Jews and the Roma in the hearts of German people. The violence was immense and the hostile takeover of Jewish shops and Roma camps was almost absolute. Nearly all Himmler's intentions were carried out to completion. 

Wirathu's boycotts were planned to spread hatred. In villages where Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims had lived in peace for years the 969 extremists plant the seeds of hatred. Tearing apart the fabric of society in the Arakan, Wirathu creates a divide that cannot be passed as long as the 969 boycotts remain in place. For Meiktila this divide would be a fiery recreation of Himmler's intentions for the Jews of Germany. 

Targeting all Muslim minorities (not just Rohingya) the 969 boycott in Meiktila turned to violence as an argument in a gold shop spiraled out of control. By the time it was over the Muslim neighborhoods were torched and the number of Muslim IDPs increased. And yet Wirathu claimed immediately afterward that 969 is peaceful. 

The Final Solution
“You can be full of kindness and love, but you cannot sleep next to a mad dog."
~ Wirathu in Time Magazine

In many of Wirathu's sermons he has expressed a desire to create a religiously pure Myanmar. He has expressed the desire to push all Muslims out of Western Burma while also reducing the presence of other religious minorities (including Christians). The hate group has shown full compliance with his radical visions of Burma's future. And with the backing of politicians such as Thein Sein this vision of Burma has every opportunity for success. 

If 969's goals are to be achieved the violent expulsion of Rohingya and Kaman must be completed. This was expressed by the acting president Thein Sein last year and backed by Wirathu immediately. So one can only imagine what the government of Burma would have done had a "third country" had been willing to take Myanmar's "undesirables". 

Then when you look at the next targets on 969's laundry list of "undesirables" you only have to look at Thein Sein's record on dealing with them. Looking east into the Kachin region and the Karen state you can see how trustworthy the "civilian" government (Thein Sein being ex-military) is when dealing with the ethnic minorities. 

This version of national socialism is a replay of Germany's trip down the same road. With Thein Sein in charge one can only imagine what the future of Burma will be like. This is only more complicated by the relationship between government and hate groups like 969. If the incestuous relationship between hate mongers and politicians is not broken in Myanmar the Nazi final solution is not beyond the realm of reality.

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Source Documents
(not all sources listed)

Foreign Policy 

New York Post

PBS News Hour

June 29, 2013

When Will It Be "Never Again"

The Hidden Genocide Of Our Era
(Open Eyes series)

(Tamil Civilians In Sri Lanka Concentration Camp 2009)

It had been nearly 65 years since the last concentration camp constructed by the Nazis was liberated when Sri Lanka decided to give into international pressure. The camps that were in question by the world community were "squalid" by polite definitions. In reality these camps had been used in much the same way as the Nazi's had used their camps. The people inside were intended to die from exposure, disease, malnutrition, and direct abuse from Sri Lanka officials. The 26 year war that had been used as an excuse for these camps had ended and yet the non-combatants were still behind barbed wire. Nearly 65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz and Dachau, Sri Lanka was able to establish and run concentration camps without international intervention.

Never Again?

On July 23rd of 1983 the Tamil of Sri Lanka were targeted in one of the worst pogroms the region had witnessed in recent history. An estimated 3,000 Tamil civilians were massacred in what would become known as "Black July". It was an orgy of violence, looting, rape, pillage, and slaughter that would last for about a week. Yet the armed conflict it would spawn would drag on for 26 miserable years. Millions of lives would forever be altered by the horrific consequences of this pogrom. And from what began as an anti-Tamil riot would come the all out genocide of the Tamil people of Sri Lanka. 

This bloodbath of 1983 was just the spark. It found it's fuel in decades of prejudice and the hatred which permeated Sinhalese culture. The divide between the Sinhalese and Tamil people was one that needed only a few drops of innocent blood to create a tidal wave. In 1983 it was the successful ambush of a Sri Lanka Army by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). For the deaths of 13 national soldiers the Tamil people would pay endlessly in their own blood. This was the depth of the hatred that infested Sri Lanka. 

Once the violence began that July the signs of organized effort in establishing and sustaining mobs showed up for the world to see. The mobs were well equipped and supplied by local officials and military personnel. Leaders of the mobs were given voter registration list that highlighted Tamil homes and businesses. If the Tamil family fled the mobs would make return trips to try and capture anyone returning to gather their belongings. Ammunition, knives, and kerosene were supplied by police, politicians, and Sri Lanka's criminal networks. Everything about this violence showed the foreign onlookers that it was premeditated and well organized. Yet no media outlet, foreign or domestic, dared say as much. 

The government of Sri Lanka showed it's willingness to allow the massacres of Tamils most blatantly with the Welikada Prison Massacre of 1983. Following the influx of rumors from the outside, the Sinhalese inmates were allowed access to Tamil prisoners by Sri Lanka's prison guards. The prison, which had been separated into four distinct units, had made habit of segregating the two ethnic groups. However on the two days where 53 Tamil inmates were killed, the prison guards did next to nothing to stop the violence. On the first day of the attacks 35 Tamil inmates were killed by a Sinhalese mob. The next day 18 more Tamils were killed before prison guards decided to separate the inmates once again. No guards or even the prisoner assailants have ever been charged over the deaths of these 53 Tamil inmates. 

By the time Black July came to close the divide between Sri Lanka's majority and it's Tamil minority appeared to be impassable. Open conflict between the rebel militants and the Sri Lanka Army were being conducted as Sri Lanka told the world these were "efforts to end rioting". Those who dug deeper past the lies that Sri Lanka's politicians put forward could see clearly that what was happening was far more sinister than just mere riots. The sustained effort on the part of Sri Lanka's government to crush the spirit and culture of the Tamils was on full display... but only if you were watching. 

In slow grinding genocides like that of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka the flash points which trigger events like the Black July riots are the only parts of the genocide that gain media traction. When several thousand innocent lives are stolen by ethnic hatred the world media churns out a handful of their best reports. Then within days, or even hours, the stories stop and the consequences of these violent acts are widely ignored. The ethnic violence that followed Black July was the unreported consequences of the 3,000 estimated Tamil deaths. Instead of reporting the atrocities that became the hallmarks of the 26 years of war, the outside world largely looked the other way. In slow grinding genocides like this one we tend to forget our promise of "Never Again". 

In the case of the Tamil genocide the world exploited the fact that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam were well known for committing war crimes of their own. We largely ignore however the reason for the formation of militant groups like LTTE in the first place. By overlooking the abuses and repression inflicted by Sri Lanka's government we tip the scales in favor of one side over the other without any real level of critical thinking. While no excuse can be given for the excesses of the Tigers, no excuse can be given for a national state committing genocide. 

And yet today, after nearly four years of relative peace, the world continues to put it's finger on the Sri Lanka side of the scale. By ignoring the countless lives lost through direct actions taken by the Sri Lanka government we white wash the genocidal efforts of a government and it's leaders. This results in the lost opportunity to cease war criminals and charging them with crimes against humanity. It means that we fail once again to bring those who perpetrate genocide to justice. 

We gave the victims of the Holocaust a taste of justice at Nuremberg. We have tried to restore a sense of justice to the victims of the Serbs in the ICC. So why is that we ignore the opportunity to bring some justice to the victims of Sri Lanka's crimes against humanity? 

In future post we will be taking a more in depth look at the crimes committed by the government of Sri Lanka and the leaders which helped create the genocide of the Tamil people. In this new series we will attempt to "open eyes" to the genocide itself and the crimes committed while the world looked the other way. This is just the start of Alder's Ledge's attempt to understand this genocide and raise awareness of it. This is just the first "scream" in a long series of screams. 

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Source Documents 
(note: not all sources listed)

The Guardian 

Tamil Guardian 

June 28, 2013

The Work Of A Screamer

Never Ending...

Today Alder's Ledge will be taking to the field... a local one... to help raise awareness of the plight of ethnic minorities across Burma. Our main focus will be that of the Rohingya people and the genocide happening in their homeland. This has been a focus of our blog and local outreach for a year now. It is the heart of our work and the reason for this month's blitz campaign of daily updates. It was the reason we began handing out fliers at our local farmers' market. And it is the reason we will continue our work here without end.

Along the way we have come across wonderful friends and new contacts. Our supporters have made the work of "screaming" a much lighter burden. With their voices they have amplified our efforts to a degree Alder's Ledge had not imagined possible. And for this we would like to take a moment to thank all of you who read our work and share it. Your help has meant more to us than words can fully express. For this we are deeply grateful.

We have also been introduced to an outstanding organization that is helping to alleviate the suffering of the Rohingya and other minorities in Myanmar. Please take a moment to watch the video and learn a little about Partner's Relief and Development...

Alder's Ledge would like to invite you to visit to Partner's Relief and Development's website;

Please take the time to learn more about Partners and their work in Myanmar. Once you learn how they help refugees and the oppressed minorities of Myanmar please also consider donating to their cause. As always, Alder's Ledge doesn't ask anything of it's readers that it wouldn't do itself. So please join us in our support of Partners and all the work they do to bring "free, full lives to the children of Burma".

Already a supporter of Partners Relief and Development?

Take a moment and consider donating to the Arakan Relief effort:

Once again we would like to thank all of you for your help in spreading the work Alder's Ledge does. And we would like to invite you to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to learn more. You can contact the author directly through direct messages, tweets, and on Facebook anytime.

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June 27, 2013

The People From Nowhere

With Nowhere To Return To
(The Darkness Visible series)

(Rohingya Men In Thai Detention Center)

Where Is Nowhere?

If anywhere on the planet could be described as "the middle of nowhere" the Arakan in Burma could very well be it. Since Myanmar was created it has been one of the most neglected places on the planet. Aid organizations and NGOs have long been working in Thailand to help refugees fleeing violence and war, but that is on the other side of the country. The Arakan remains isolated as it is tucked between Myanmar and Bangladesh. There it rest as a small sliver of land filled with rivers, mud, and hills. For most of the world it is might as well be on another planet.

So it is of little surprise that when genocide reappeared in the Arakan that most of the world didn't realize it... many still don't. When I ask people if they have heard of the plight of the Rohingya in Burma they often first ask where Burma is. The next question is who are the Rohingya. This is the extent of Western knowledge of Myanmar and the people it oppresses. It is one of the reasons that few in the West are taking action to stop this genocide.

The one term that brings a connection to in the minds of people I talk to is that of "boat people". The images of Burmese refugees taking to rickety boats and braving the waves to hopefully reach safety in Malaysia or Indonesia still rest in the minds of Westerners today. However most of the people in my area of the world don't make the connection between Muslim Rohingya and "boat people" right away. Usually it takes a good deal of explaining to convince people that the Muslims are not the ones committing genocide and creating "boat people" but rather are the refugees. It is this awkward connection between the name Rohingya and "boat people" with which I have been able to describe what "nowhere" is like for these fleeing refugees.

I have come to view the Arakan as being somewhat of "the middle of nowhere" for Rohingya because they aren't legally part of it. Though they have lived there for countless generations and have a strong heritage in the Arakan, the government of Burma claims they are "Bengali invaders". For this reason the Rohingya are homeless in their own homeland. Without citizenship in their own country the Rohingya might as well be anywhere else on the globe than right there at home. And yet they have nowhere else to go.

Those who flee from decades of oppressive rule and modern outbreaks of organized violence are left without a place to which someday return. Due to their lack of Burmese citizenship they have nowhere left to call home. Countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Indonesia have nowhere to send them home to once they arrive. Those who flee this new wave of genocide enter a state of limbo... a state of unlawful existence according to the countries in which they end up.

The country from which these Rohingya refugees flee is a country where they are targeted for mass executions, slave labor, starvation, and exploitations of all the usual deviant ways. They cannot return to Myanmar with any hopes of a free and dignified life. With hate speech readily preached against them across their homeland, with the threat of more pogroms, and with the reality of starvation and isolation; the Rohingya who flee Burma become people with nowhere to call home.

“They should go to Bangladesh, where they came from, or they should be killed,” Hla Moe Thu, Rakhine Buddhist.

What is Nowhere Like?

For the Rohingya the place that has driven large numbers of them to flee as refugees the place they called home is hellish at best. In June of 2012 their Rakhine neighbors seemed to suddenly realize that Myanmar's "civilian" (an ex-general is President) government was just as xenophobic as the junta had been. Only now the civilians in charge were less likely to stop violence against minorities than their military predecessors had been. All it took was one spark for all hell to break lose.

With the excuse of one Buddhist woman's death the radicalized sect of Buddhism in the Arakan region took to violence instead of the preachings of their Buddha. Arming themselves with guns, knives, and machetes the mobs began to target all Muslim minorities in the region. The Rohingya were prime targets since their typically darker skin and religion made them distinctly different from the Rakhine Buddhists. These few minor differences meant that entire Rohingya villages were easily targeted by torch wielding mobs intent upon slaughtering any Muslims they could catch.

"When the wife of Mohamed Salam was found dead floating in a river, her body carried a sinister message. She was abducted along with two of her children in June, and Salam was later told by sympathetic Buddhists how they had died. According to them, her captors said her breasts gave milk to Muslim babies and her womb gave birth to future generations of Muslims. Her breasts were then hacked off and her genitalia mutilated with sharpened bamboo. Her teenage son was tethered to a motorbike and dragged across a rocky road. Salam would not elaborate on how his daughter met her end." ~ As reported by Brendan Bradly of The Daily Beast.

An eye for an eye. Tooth for a tooth. The Rakhine extremist would exact revenge for the unconfirmed death of a Buddhist woman with such ferocity that no Rohingya person was or is safe today. The need to defend "their people" from "Bengali invaders" was forced upon the rest of the population of the Arakan. People who had been neighbors for years were now enemies due to nothing more than their ethnicity and religion.

This unimaginable hatred is what makes the Arakan a place worthy of being considered "nowhere". When violence is justified through the simplistic view of "us verses them" nobody is safe. When one house is burned, when one life is stolen, there will always be a victim's relative, or friend, or neighbor who is willing to take it upon themselves to exact revenge. It is in this cycle of violence that the Arakan has become a place where no one can truly consider it home.

When the government did show up it rounded the Rohingya up into concentration camps. Taking the opportunity to deal with it's "Rohingya question" once and for all, Burma laid siege to the Rohingya community. Government officials allowed for Rohingya in internally displaced peoples' camps (IDP camps) to be blockaded and refused international relief. Only the most presentable camps, considered wretched and squalid by NGOs, were allowed visitors from the outside world. And even in these concentration camps the Rohingya were found to be starving to death.

This is what nowhere is like for the Rohingya. It is a country where their homes have been burned, where those still left in their villages are kept prisoners by the government, where their children starve due to neglect by Burmese officials... this is nowhere for them to call home.

Life On The Outside...

"Thailand should respect the basic rights of Rohingya ‘boat people’ and stop detaining them in horrific conditions. The government should immediately allow them to pursue their asylum claims with the UN refugee agency"
~ Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch

For the Rohingya who make it out of Burma there is often no time to breathe a breath of freedom. In Thailand the Rohingya are vulnerable to human trafficking, at times at the hands of Thai officials themselves. Those who evade exploitation are more often than not captured by Thai police and taken to detention centers. Instead of being allowed to seek legal asylum in Thailand, these Rohingya are treated like common criminals with little regard to the tragedy that made them refugees in the first place. 

Organization like Human Rights Watch have noted the horrific conditions in which Rohingya are kept in Thailand. Detention centers where 10 to 15 immigrants are supposed to be held now hold upwards of 250 men at a time. These Rohingya are kept in cages like animals. There is little room for them to sit down let alone move about. In these facilities there is no bathroom for the Rohingya men to use. They are simply locked up and forgotten about. 

For nearly six months now these Rohingya have been kept caged in Thailand. In conditions that many pet owners wouldn't keep their dogs or cats, these Rohingya are made to live the most undignified of lives. They are not allowed to be leave. They are simply made to wait till their "temporary stay" in Thailand expires and the government can ship them back to Burma.

Yet these are just a handful of the 20,000 estimated Rohingya who fled so far this boat season. For the rest there is still the threat of exploitation at the hands of human traffickers. Many of which are subjected to trafficking before they even leave Myanmar itself.

Growing concern for these refugees has been fueled by reports that ethnic armies in Burma have engaged in trafficking of Rohingya trying to flee the violence in Burma. This was reported in the Trafficking In Persons report by the United States this year. It stated that the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army had willfully trafficked Rohingya refugees in both Thailand and Myanmar. Other groups have been known to traffic Rohingya along the borders with China and Bangladesh as well. All of these victims are extorted of money and valuables before being either abandoned or sold to traffickers across the border in the destination country. 

Then there has been the issue of Rohingya women being trafficked across Southeast Asia as mail-order brides and sex slaves. Many of these women and girls are taken from the areas hardest hit by the genocide back in Burma. They are sold by "brokers" who then ship them to Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Thailand. From there it is anyone's guess where the Rohingya girls end up. One can only imagine the life these girls are forced to live once they are snatched up from the middle of nowhere and sent away from what family they have left.

Nowhere Left To Run.

“The government should help Rohingya who escape from oppression and hardship in Burma – not worsen their plight.”
~ Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch

For most of the civilized world it is obvious that if a refugee manages to escape the repressive hold of a tyrannical system they should be given an opportunity to taste freedom. However the government of Thailand (along with others) remains of the opinion that Rohingya refugees should simply be "helped along" to their next destination. For many of the Rohingya in Thai custody this means that they will either be sent back to Burma to suffer once again or introduced to a new and equally terrifying version of hell. The willingness to purchase and sell fellow human beings will forever remain a blight upon Thai society as long as the Rohingya are trafficked by Thai officials. And the over eagerness of the Thai government in sending Rohingya back to the torment of genocide will never be forgotten.

If the Rohingya are to have any hope of a better future they must first be granted a glimmer of hope in neighboring lands. The perilous journey that many take to only be once again rejected by the world must be brought to an end. Governments however cannot be expected to alter their current stances upon the issue as long as prejudices against the Rohingya remain ingrained in the societies which they govern. People across the region in which the Rohingya find themselves must find it within themselves to set aside minor differences and take the opportunity to bring relief to a hurting people.

Though it would be ideal for Rohingya to be granted the ability to remain at home in the Arakan the current situation in Burma makes this impossible. If Thailand, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and all other host nations want to end the tidal wave of Rohingya refugees they will first have to pressure Myanmar to end this genocide. Any economic engagement with Myanmar will need to be done through the scope of how it will affect the genocide for better or worse. Governments around the world should rethink what it means to the oppressed minorities of Myanmar for them to take advantage of Burma's opening up to foreign investment. Sanctions should be reinstated and pressure should be applied both economically and militarily before Burma is allowed to return to the world stage.

As long as state sponsored genocide is being conducted in Burma there will always be Rohingya who find themselves with nowhere left to run. The waves of refugees will only increase for as long as the pains of hunger stab at their sides. This refugee crisis will only end when the genocide of the Rohingya is forcibly concluded... either the outside world or by Burma itself.

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Source Documents
(note: not all sources are listed)

Voice Of America 

The Daily Beast 

Human Rights Watch

The Democratic Voice of Burma

Al Jazeera 

BBC News

June 26, 2013

The Devil To Pay

A Generational Sin
(Devil's Due series)

"We can kill anyone for anything. We are accountable to no one." 
~Pakistani Captain

The Arrogance Of Power

The birth of Bangladesh as a nation occurred in 1971 when the territory of East Pakistan broke free from the repressive rule of West Pakistan. It was a brutal and bloody war that threatened the annihilation of ethnic Bengali people. Through a genocidal campaign the rulers of Pakistan had decided to crush the spirit of a nation. All "kafirs" were ordered executed while the government of Pakistan planned to empty East Pakistan of all ethnic groups outside that of Pakistanis. In this sense the nation of Bangladesh was born from blood. And as with all blood violently spilled, this innocent blood still to this day demands retribution, justification, and recognition.

Every since the partition of India in 1947 the Pakistani government had encouraged discrimination and racism against the Bengali people of East Pakistan. Over the next 24 years this obsession with racial superiority would infest every aspect of the relationship between Bengali society and Pakistani rule. President Yahya Khan responded to the split that his racial laws had created by telling his troops to "kill three million of them" so that "the rest will eat our our hands". This was the extent of Pakistani desire to retain power while holding it above the heads of their victims.

Thus with the creation of the Mukti Bahini (Bengali separatist guerrillas) the desire to crush the spirit of the Bengali people came to a head in Pakistan. A movement to liberate the people of East Pakistan from exploitation, rape, pillage, torture, and massacre could not be tolerated by the Pakistani army. For this reason the military in Pakistan decided to launch "operation searchlight" in 1971. This was the move that would bring Pakistan to shake hands with the devil. This was the decision by the leaders of Pakistan to fully engage in genocide as a means of keeping control of Bangladesh.

The Ottoman Route To Hell

Within the first few days of military occupation of Bangladesh the Pakistani army set out to recreate the Armenian Genocide. Raiding the Dhaka University, the Pakistani army utilized collaborators to round up top Bengali intellectuals. Wasting no time to "cut the head off the snake" the Pakistani generals ordered the executions of all Bengali academics they could find. Anyone who could organize an intellectual offensive against the brutality of Pakistani occupation. Those who were best fit to record and report on Pakistani atrocities were removed or killed. This was exactly the same move the Ottomans had made in Armenia.

The intention to kill intellectuals shows a desire on Pakistan's part to destroy the culture and social abilities of the Bengali people. Through killing off the intellectuals, Pakistan intended to cripple Bangladesh's society for generations. Without intellectual leaders the society was supposed to decay and loose it's own sense of identity. Therefore making it more likely to accept the concept of racial inferiority through which Pakistan already viewed Bengali society.

In addition the targeting of intellectuals meant that any future attempt to organize would be done by individuals that Pakistan viewed academically inferior. This motive is driven out of the idea that people like Che Guevara are the exception. It ignores the reality that many of history's greatest catalyst have been people of modest upbringing and not generally associated with academia or politics. However, regardless of this aspect, the slaughtering of intellectuals was a progression from mass oppression toward mass extermination.

"The Bengalis will have to be re-educated along proper Islamic lines."

Though the majority of Bengalis were Muslims it was clear through official Pakistani stances of the day that the difference in adherence to Islam was a source of prejudice on the Pakistani side. Though most of the differences are not listed the desire to "re-educate" the Bengali people is often stated by the government of Pakistan throughout 1971. Yet despite this supposed desire for education the Pakistani military often used "re-education" as a synonym for massacre.

Just as the Turks "re-educated" Armenians through "turkification" the Pakistani army employed the same tactics. Rounding up Bengali men and boys, the Pakistani commanders would clear out entire villages and neighborhoods. Once the men were separated from the females the women in the targeted village could be raped and murdered with impunity. Gang-rapes were common in areas where the males had been evacuated.

This method of genocide was encouraged for multiple reasons. The architects of the genocide believed that any children born from rape would be susceptible to influence by the Pakistani government due to a blood bond with the rapist. This perverted desire for power meant that Pakistani soldiers were given a green light when using their lust as a weapon of war.

Rape was also tolerated by Pakistani commanders since it was seen as a cheap way to increase moral amongst troops in the field. It could also be utilized as a method to break the fighting spirit of rebels in and around the areas where it was deployed. In addition, rape could create more casualties in the fact that women were at times raped till they died of the trauma inflicted during the abuse.

Re-education was achieved for the Bengali men and boys through mass executions. This form of re-education was not intended to educate the victims but to educate the families and communities from which they came. It was designed to show the viciousness of Pakistani rule while intending to deter future questioning of it.

Every Last Drop

By the time Bangladesh declared independence there were an estimated 3 million victims of the Pakistani perpetrated genocide. These victims had been killed just as President Khan had ordered. And yet the "others" did not eat out of the Pakistanis' hands. Instead the violence and blood spilled had given birth to a nation. From the suffering of a people came a country they could call their own. 

It is from here, halfway around the world, that one might look at Shahbag square and wonder why then the nation has not moved past this wretched crime? Have they not suffered enough? Why this desire to open up a wound such as this one? 

The answer is yes, they have suffered more than enough. And it is for this reason that the protest at Shahbag began. It was not simply to pick at the wound that genocide left behind but to force the world to recognize the wound exists in the first place. Without reconciliation, without justification, without recognition there can be no moving forward from this crime. Genocide must be recognized, it's perpetrators must be brought to justice, and the anguish it left upon Bengali society must be reconciled. That is the only path forward from Shahbag... it is the only path forward for Bangladesh. 

As long as men like Salauddin Quader Chowdhury (just one example) are allowed to avoid true justice there will always be a Shahbag. Every drop of innocent blood must be accounted for. The devil's due is required when a nation suffers his folly. Genocide cannot be ignored. It cannot be forgot. And it will never fade far from the minds of those whom it has most affected. 

A look at those fighting for justice...

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Source Documents
(note: not all sources listed)

The Financial Express

Bangladesh Genocide Archive

June 25, 2013

The Slow Bleed

Is Burma Intentionally Creating Refugees?
(Part of The Darkness Visible series)

“The population is decreasing year over year.  We are losing our entire young generation.  Eventually, we will lose our identity."

Not far from the Arakan region of Myanmar lays the homeland of the Chin people. It is so tied to the Chin people themselves that it has long bore their name as part of Myanmar's history. Unlike the Rohingya, Myanmar cannot claim that the Chin don't exist. Their blood is in the mountains of their homeland. Their sweat is in the fields of their farms perched on hillsides and in dry valleys. Their youth however is being lost from that sacred soil. For unlike with the Rohingya, Myanmar appears to have employed the method of a slow bleed to ethnic cleanse the Chin homeland. 

While brutality is still common when the Burmese army ventures into the Chin villages, the method for clearing out the village has been economical in nature. Through deprivation and isolation, Myanmar has kept the Chin locked outside the economy that has slowly begun to gain traction. Like with the Kachin, Myanmar only allows economic investment in the Chin state where and when the Chin people have lost ground to the centralized government. Thus the Chin themselves do not profit from the investment but rather suffer in the shadows of it. 

Chin families are quickly coming to the realization that money isn't coming to the Chin state. Or at the very least, if and when it does come, it isn't coming for them. This has left the Chin with one option and one option alone. Seek a better life elsewhere... become a refugee. 

This slow bleed of the Chin population in their homeland has left the fragile peace agreement the Chin National Front made with Myanmar even shakier than before. Nobody is eager to return to the days of state sponsored oppression and brutal combat. Yet the Chin families are left with little options as they watch their children fleeing the country for yet another reason caused by the central government. 

“We must change the system in Myanmar."

How it was before...

Prior to the peace agreement the Chin people were openly subjected to military campaigns that were intended to drive ethnic Chin up into the mountains. Burmese military forces frequently entered the region in attempts to route the Chin National Front and other ethnic militias. Civilians, as always, paid the price of ethnic war as they were often forced into slavery to the Burmese military forces. Farmers were targeted for forced labor in the vital months of planting and harvesting so as to decrease the food supply of the Chin people all together. Women were rounded up and used as sex slaves to keep Burmese soldiers on the battle field longer. Prior to the peace agreement the genocide being conducted against the Chin people was blatant. 

Even in times of relative peace prior to this brutal peace today, Chin people were used as slaves to build roads upon which the military could bring in larger equipment. Chin women and men were made to work till they died or the government's project was complete. It simply came down to which one would happen first. 

Food and supplies to keep the military in the field was taken directly from Chin farmers. Families gardens were the supermarket for the Burmese military. This made forced famines a reality for Chin civilians caught between the Chin militias and the national army. Those who tried to flee starvation were subjected to torture and execution. 

Then came the use of landmines. Just as with the Kachin and Karen people, the Chin learned not to return to villages that had been razed by the Burmese military. Those who attempted to return were greeted with landmines and vulnerable to abductions by patrolling Burmese soldiers. This was the breadth of Myanmar's genocidal ambitions in the Chin state.

“There are no jobs here."

A Peace Worse Than War...

Hunger is a wretched thing. It can separate us from things and places that prior to it we may have never abandoned. It is a force that drives us to expand from what we know and seek out options that are foreign at best. Hunger is a form of torture in and of itself. It cannot be escaped from no matter how far we run. It is a parasite that saps us of our motivation while stripping us of our inhibitions.

For the Chin people in Burma it is a constant threat as the Burmese continue to alienate the Chin in their own homeland. Denying access by refusing to build roads and power-lines to the Chin, Myanmar maintains it's campaign of genocide in the Chin state. Where there have been options to make the remote region of Burma more accessible, Myanmar has refused to put forth effort. And what little roads are being built are being built by Chin workers who are paid considerably less than their Buddhists neighbors. 

Thein Sein's government has reduced the outright repression of the Chin people yet has not done anything to combat the discrimination against them on a state level. By allowing the government the option to neglect the Chin people, Thein Sein's regime has prolonged the genocide against the Chin. With the intent to drive out the Chin through economic pressure the government picks up where the outright killing of Chin civilians left off. What the bullet could not achieve the dollar threatens to complete.

“We need people who are part of the ‘brain drain’ to come home and help us."

Brain Drain

This method of genocide was has been utilized time and time again. In Armenia the Turks targeted educated members of the Armenian community first. Those who were fit to lead the Armenian society and expand upon the Armenian culture were rounded up and sent to prison to be executed while others were put up on gallows for the world to see. This was meant to decapitate the culture and destroy the leadership of the targeted community. 

In Myanmar the move to slowly bleed the Chin community dry shows more directly in it's willingness to allow Chin children to leave Burma. Unlike the families that they leave behind, the Chin children receive far less scrutiny when fleeing to Malaysia and the West (especially the United States). This process of allowing children to readily leave their families behind gives Myanmar's regime the ability to leave the Chin community without "the next generation". 

Today there are more than 50,000 estimated Chin seeking refugee status in Malaysia. Of these many are seeking immigration or refugee status in the United States. This would add to the 30,000 plus Chin refugees currently living in places like Idaho, Indiana, New York, and Colorado. It is important to note that these 80,000 are a sizable portion of the Chin worldwide. Unlike ethnic or refugees of given nationalities from elsewhere, this 80,000 number can be contrasted to the 500,000 Chin living in their homeland in Myanmar. 

These numbers will only continue to change as President Thein Sein utilizes military dominated branches of "civilian" government to openly discriminate against Christian (Chin) and Muslim minorities along the border with India and Bangladesh. There can be no expected change in the pattern as long as Myanmar's government is permitted to continue violating the basic human rights of ethnic minorities within Burma. 

So for now the question remains; is Burma creating refugees of the Chin people intentionally? And if so, will the world admit that you can perpetrate genocide without bullets, gas, or machetes? When will we admit that economics, hunger, and isolation are just as affective tools of genocidal regimes as are bullets and chemicals? 

The Chin people deserve the right to remain in their homeland. They deserve the right to share in the economy their blood, sweat, and tears helped build. They deserve to raise their children on the same land upon which they were raised and their ancestors were raised. These are basic desires of all ethnic groups. These are the dreams that all peoples across the planet hold for the society in which they are born. 

The Chin deserve to preserve their identity and way of life. They deserve the opportunity to propagate their culture and preserve it for the next generation. They deserve the right to return home as they wish and to a land that resembles the one from which they were forced to flee. But none of this can be achieved as long as Burma continues to violate the basic human rights of the Chin people.

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Source Documents
(note: not all sources are listed)

Radio Free Asia

Asia Times Online

Nuvo (Indy's Alternative News)


June 23, 2013

Are You Not Entertained?

The Thin Line Between Entertainment and War
(Screamer Post)

 Are you not entertained Mr.Obama?
Is this not what you wanted Mr Putin?

War does not take from one more or less than it takes from another. All those who are subjected to it's wrath are forever changed. Those who see it's face and walk away with their lives will forever bare it's wounds. It is a crime that makes no distinction between combatant and civilian. It only seeks it's pound of flesh, it's ounce of blood. Once invited... once provoked, war takes us further than we could have ever dreamed possible. Where we give an inch, war tends to take a mile. For the innocent civilians in Syria this has been a war that refuses to end. It was invited through the excesses of a few and yet claims far too many. The wounds it has left may never truly heal. 

The West has sat on the sidelines of this war. Like so many cases that came before it, we told ourselves it was acceptable for a barbaric regime to kill it's own people in any way it saw fit. Then, with the images of children being killed playing on our screens, we made a bloody line in the sand. Our leaders, in all their so called wisdom, decided to play a game of chicken with the enemy of all free peoples. We told a sadist that there was a form of torment that we would not tolerate. We expected that our entertainment with his downfall would continue, that Assad would refrain from provoking us. 

Assad showed that he was far more than capable of crossing that line. 

Bombing bread lines, using cluster munitions, utilizing chemical weapons, and firing SCUD missiles upon his own citizens; Assad showed the West where his line in the sand was. It is a thin line between his own ego and total war. It is a line that he is happy to dance around while the West remains shocked by the brazen arrogance of Syria's tyrant. All the while Putin and China try their best to drag Assad well past the point of no return. 

For three long years we have dictated to the rebels in Syria what we wanted of them. We criticized them for allowing extremists into their ranks while refusing to answer their pleas for intervention. We told them to avoid acts of barbarism that parroted Assad's own abuses while refusing to ship them weapons with which to defend themselves. We told them to avoid shooting prisoners of war while refusing to provide them supplies with which to keep the captured Shabiha alive. For three long years President Obama has used the Syrian resistance as pawns in his games with Russia. 

When was the last time we seriously attempted to bring the war to an end? When was the last time we honestly asked the Syrian people what they actually want? Why can't America and Russia back down and allow the Syrian people the right to self-determination that we all claim for ourselves? 

If we were to strip the radical mercenaries from both sides of the battle lines, if we were to send the Hezbollah thugs back home, if we were to make the Iranians leave the front lines; what would Syria have to say about it's own fate? 

If Putin was to back down from his support of a tyrant he is attempting to make into a puppet, if Obama was to honestly back away from his supposed support of the rebels; what would the civilians in Damascus want the world to hear about this war? 

(Female rebels prepared to fight alongside their male comrades)

Would we hear stories of families being forced to surrender their sons and daughters to a fight they didn't want in the first place? Or would we hear tales of entire communities sending all able-bodied men, women, and youth off to the front? Would we see families torn between loyalist dedication to Assad and open rebellion against the dictator? Or would we see the battle lines drawn strictly between communities and religious factions?

War has a way of fogging the reality that rest just beneath the surface. It creates a barrier between what is real and what we want it to be. Once the line between the two is erased we are left with a brutal realization of where we failed to act and where we overreached. Syria has not broken that barrier in the eyes of Western onlookers. It remains shrouded by the haze that war brings with it.

For the time being we are not able to see the complete picture of what is happening on the ground in Syria. Yet we find ourselves fixated by the carnage that peeks out from beneath the fog. For some it is heart wrenching. For others it is a perverted form of entertainment as they cheer one side or the other.

In the politics of the West verse East Syria is a form of perverse entertainment. Even though it threatens to force us over the thin line between entertainment and proxy war, Syria remains a chess game for politicians who act like dictators in their own right. While the people of Syria face one of the worst humanitarian disasters of our time our world leaders use their suffering to gain political capital.

(Syrian Refugees Fleeing For Turkey)

When this is all over will we be able to look the victims in their eyes? Will we be able to tell ourselves that we did our part in protecting the vulnerable? Will we be able to say before the world that we took a stand against this hedonistic slaughter? Or will the world have to hang it's head and apologize in the same way we did after Rwanda... after Bosnia... after Cambodia... after the Armenia?

As for our leaders, for those who hold the power to call off the dogs of war, are you not satisfied? Have these past three years not been entertaining Washington? Moscow? London? Beijing? Tehran? Have the people of Syria not suffered enough for your selfish desires? Or have they not paid enough in blood to satisfy the divide between the West and East?

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A Legacy Of Mere Existence

The Fate Of A Displaced Generation
(The Darkness Visible series)

Scars of the previous generation are the building blocks for the next...

Thirty plus years have passed since the last massive wave of Karen refugees crossed the border to find safety in Thailand. Those who made the journey faced landmines, mortar bombardment, militias and brutal soldiers on both sides, starvation, thirst, and the reality of being homeless and without a homeland. These Karen would be the one of the first generations to raise their children in foreign lands. These Karen would be the some of the first to sacrifice their youth for the hope that one day they might return home. It was these Karen that had watched their homes being burnt as they ran for their lives. It was these Karen that had seen their fathers, husbands, and sons being slaughtered so that the junta could satisfy it's blood lust. 

Thirty years have passed without much recognition by the outside world. Nobody seemed to care when the Karen were driven off their lands under military bombardment. Nobody seemed to be willing to seek peace with the reclusive regime in Myanmar. Instead the world wrote off the suffering of the Karen. We failed to recognize their needs then just as we now seek to satisfy our wants at their expense today. 

Sixty years of civil war have left many Karen internally displaced in Myanmar. For the first half of the erratic war the Karen were largely able to stay within their own homeland. Slowly they lost ground as the Burmese central government pushed it's forces into the Karen villages. Over the years the Burmese military increasingly became more brutal in it's tactics of ethic cleansing. Deploying landmines around villages, the Burmese assured their forces that the Karen civilians would not return. By attacking refugee camps the Burmese forces assured their government that the Karen would have no choice but to flee the country all together. For sixty years the Karen civilians have bore the brunt of Burma's aggression. 

The Border Consortium, “by the age of five, nearly half of all children were found to be stunted,” due to poor nutrition.

For over thirty years life in refugee camps has left the Karen in a constant state of fear and repression. They can't get the food they need to keep their children strong an healthy. They can't get the education that Burmese or Thai children get. The health care available to children in Bangkok isn't available to the Karen children. For over thirty years the life of a refugee has been all that many Karen children have known. It is the life that their parents were likely born into. It is the life that the previous generation was forced into and the legacy that they now pass on to the next generation.

Karen children grow up with parents and grandparents (if they are lucky) that bare the scars that war has placed upon their rail thin frames. People without a leg or a foot are not unusual. The war takes a little from some and everything from all. A life of constant fear of deportation. A life of persistent fear of hunger. A life where the littlest change in luck can spell disaster. Karen children grow up with all these things.

In the 80's the Burmese government stepped up it's campaign to purge the Karen from it's borders. It shelled areas where Karen civilians believed that they were at peace. Targeting the weak and vulnerable, the Burmese attempted to push the death toll upward at a rate that would crush the Karen peoples' will to fight. This blitz was meant to cripple the rebel militias. It was meant to make the civilians suffer. And by the end of the 80's both of these objectives were achieved.

For the next thirty years the Karen militias lost land at a steady rate. Civilians who had avoided the war for the first thirty years had suddenly found themselves evicted from native lands. Their homes were burnt, their land laid with landmines, and their fields laid to waste. These new victims would add to the refugees crossing into Thailand. By 2009 there would be 120,000 plus Karen refugees in camps dotted all along the border with Burma.

In 2009 the Burmese watched as Sri Lanka launched a genocidal effort to drive the Tamils out. Learning from the lack of international response, Myanmar stepped up their attacks on the Karen. By January of 2013 there would be 20 to 30 thousand more Karen pushed across the border into Thailand. Thus bringing the current estimate of Karen refugees in Thailand to 150,000 plus.

In 2011 there were 381 documented casualties from land mines, the majority of those maimed – around 200 – were civilians, according to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).

Today the Karen can only boast the longest running modern day civil war, the longest running modern refugee crisis, and the largest rate of landmine deaths among civilians annually. It is at this point in time that the world should ask if this is the legacy that the Karen should be forced to pass onto their children? It is now that the world should take a look at the plight of one of the largest refugee communities (given refugee ratio to total ethnic population) on the planet and ask ourselves if this is tolerable in the modern era? Are we to accept the crippling of an entire generation due to the war crimes of government that claims to be moving toward democracy? Are we to forget the past transgressions of a regime simply because they appease our desire for liberty for all while at the same time they oppress minorities? 

President Obama once said of child soldiers

"It is barbaric, and it is evil, and it has no place in a civilized world. Now, as a nation, we’ve long rejected such cruelty.”

And yet President Obama has done little to discuss or condemn Myanmar for it's failure to end the use of child soldiers in the Karen state. This is in spite of the fact that Burma signed an agreement with the UN in June of 2012 to end all forms of child exploitation by the military by December of 2013. We are now in June of that very year and Myanmar has failed to reach any of the initial goals or show any effort to end the practice.

Is this the legacy we want the children of the Karen people to be inheriting? Exploited by a government that has attempted for sixty years to expel their ancestors from their native lands. Used as weapons of war by a regime that seeks to cleanse it's borders of their own people. Is this the legacy that Karen children should be given while the world sets idly by?

We are investing as a nation into a regime that has committed the same atrocities we fought against in World War Two. Our government has lifted the sanctions that kept Burma from gaining meaningful income as a nation. This means that a government (which shows no change from the military junta) that targeted the Karen people for extermination and expulsion has more money to purchase weapons an equipment to complete it's end goal. This means that Thein Sein's masters in the military have more resources to draw upon as they wage war against a crippled people. Our government (and those of the EU also) have made possible the completion of the Karen peoples' holocaust. Yet we cling to promises by the Burmese government that they want to repatriate refugees from Thailand?

Where are these refugees to return to? Their villages are still pot-marked with landmines and artillery craters. Their fields still bare the scars that jet fighters left behind, not to mention any unexploded bombs or shells (live ammunition from both world wars are still found by farmers all across the world). The places they called home have often been sold off to foreign investors and local land grabbers. Resettlement only brings fear and angst to the refugees in Thailand due to a deep-seeded distrust of Myanmar's so called democratic regime.

If the next generation of Karen are to be spared the wounds of the previous generation then the history they share with Burma must be set straight. The aggressors that issued atrocities to be carried out against Karen civilians must be brought to justice. The government that oversaw the war and created the crimes it produced must be reformed till the previous leaders are no longer present. Men like Thein Sein must be made to leave the realm of relevance in Burma before the ethnic minorities have any chance at peace. Generals who profited from Karen suffering cannot be left to in a position from which they can propagate more.

This is the nature of war torn legacies. The chance for peace is only increased when the monsters who created the strife are removed. Once their legacy is removed from the forefront of the society the next generation can begin to create their own. It is only through the absence of divisive figureheads and old tyrants that the victims of tyranny can restore themselves and the world in which they once thrived.

There can be little doubt that the children of the Karen would rather live in a place they can call home. A place where their families' histories are embedded in every acre, every house, every village, and along every well worn rode. There can be little doubt that the children of the Karen would rather not live in a place where the only well worn path is that which has been formed by desperate feet of a refugee. The difference between the two worlds is the difference between a legacy and mere existence.

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Source Documents 
(note: not all sources listed) 

Irrawaddy News


June 22, 2013

Revising History

Revising History
Contributed by Heathergems 

"If we don't learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it."  But what if the lessons being taught do not reflect the whole story?  If history is only written by the victors- how do we know what is being shared is the full truth?

In some spheres of research and education- the quest for the whole picture is being pursued.  Looking at Columbus Day for example.  Less than 20 years ago the whole view of the Columbus Day landing was painted in only positive colors.  Christopher Columbus is a hero who discovers a new land, who brings Christianity to a savage world and opens up new trade.

While he may have been heralded as a hero in his homeland- the natives have a different view.  From recent studies and discoveries of contemporary excerpts- a fuller picture of the name and times is revealed. The land was not known to the European world- but was truly not newly discovered since it had inhabitants who had an established society- the Arawaks natives.  From different backgrounds and ideologies, it in turn today can be seen as a clash of cultures.  One of image of Columbus viewed as a heroic adventurer claiming the land in the name of God, King, and Country and opening up a new world, but this same name brought enslavement and genocide to a native people, ravaging an already living world.  One should not be presented as the full truth without the other.

This is just one example of revising history.  The term revisionism has different connotations.  It can be applied to those who wish to manipulate facts to fit an agenda.  Giving a "white-washed" and obscured view of the past in denying events.  Such as those who try to rewrite the Holocaust and it's atrocities.  Admittedly rewriting history has been going on since the ancient Egyptians writing over the hieroglyphics of their predecessors to accredit themselves with the deeds. The other side of the coin of revisionist history is the pursue for that entire truth.  To view the event from more than the victors lens, but the full impact of the incident seen from all sides.  

In teaching history to the next generation- the education field must embrace the full aspect of the events.   Educational curriculum should not be as biased as it has been, nor should it paint it in one shade.  Too many times, texts books try to emphasize patriotism and ethnocentrism while trying to give a veneer cover of it's own historical blemishes.  Instead there should be an honest attempt to capture the truth.  Some steps today are trying to incorporate a more intercultural  and diversity exposure to the educational field.  Studies show teachings reflecting these shortfalls have a wider impact. The views taught in school leave impressions in young minds that they then carry out into the much larger and complex world. Demonstrating how they were either educated or misinformed.

There is a short walk from ethnocentrism to prejudice and hate.  It robs these impressionable minds of the reality of diversity and the complexities of human relationships and consequences.  If the wounds of the past are never examined- there can be no healing.  By elevating one's perspective to diminish or conceal the honest truth, there is so much to lose and so little to gain.  

There is more than just the view of Columbus Day.  This happens today in other countries as it has happened in the past.  The Nazi's rewrote the education for their Hitler youth.  The cold war taught us to demonize the other side of the "iron curtain."  Myanmar is currently trying to remove ethnic minorities from recognition entirely.  An ugly trend, an erroneous doomed repetition.  Unless there are those who demand the "whole truth and nothing but the truth."

As parent's, one should examine what is being taught to our children.  Demand from the educational realm- the removal of political and ethnocentric agendas from tainting the lessons being presented.  Education should encourage questioning and exploration- not the memorization of rhetoric and hollow facts.  Critical thinking and conscientious questioning should be stimulated for when one is no longer under the supervisor of the academic realm- it is up to the individual.  One must take responsibility and ownership of the knowledge they possess or lack there of.  It is up to the individual to be either internalize the information presented as the entire truth or explore the curiosity, and delve into wholeheartedly to discover what the past is waiting to teach.  

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Source Documents
(note: not all sources listed)

Columbus's Genocide



Marmara University

Council of Europe- Human Rights educational Resources

United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization

Thomas Teo -York University and Angela Febbraro- Defence R&D Canada- Toronto

June 20, 2013

A Liar's Promise

Fate Of Kachin Still Hangs In Thin Air
(The Darkness Visible series)

"A lasting solution, the possibility to begin a new life, is the only dignified solution for the refugee himself."
~ Poul Hartling

What is the value of a promise made by somebody who has lied to you time and time before? How much weight do those words carry with you? Trust is not a measure of how much that person is respected by others but by how much they have earned it from you personally. It cannot be purchased through goodwill gestures offered at the expense of someone else. It can't be manipulated by the assurances of others. It must be earned by the person who has betrayed you in the past. For history is the best indicator of future behavior. It cannot be ignored even by the most credulous of individuals. And it most certainly is never ignored in the heat of battle.

For two years the Kachin people have been fighting a brutal war against the aggressive Burmese military. In June of 2011 a 17 year old ceasefire fell apart as war returned to their lands. Children who had been born into the uneasy peace were now ripped away from the homes they once knew. Their families, their neighbors, their villages; all was put in jeopardy by the callousness of Myanmar's generals. For two years the Kachin have simply been trying to survive.

This month a rickety agreement was reached and for the time the Burmese government seems willing to hold back it's old military rulers. In the meantime the Kachin people are forced to hold out on the other side of battle line. 100,000 internally displaced peoples remain under the fog of war. Food remains scarce and water is still a daily struggle for most. Despite agreements, these internally displaced peoples cannot return home.

Two years of war has meant that Kachin children have had no real access to an education. Some 40,000 estimated Kachin children have not received a formal education since the fighting broke out two years ago. Those who have received any form of schooling have received only minor support from NGOs and charity organizations who work around Myanmar's restrictions on the Kachin people. And yet even with the peace plan still holding, these 40,000 (est.) children are still suffering from a lack of teachers and schools in the Kachin region.

The outbreak of war in the Kachin region has led to increased vulnerability of Kachin women and children to the crime of human trafficking. With a price tag running up to $6,500 USD for each victim, the traffickers that operate along the Burmese-China border have stepped up their operations since June of 2011. Utilizing illegal trade routes the criminals transport Kachin women and girls as far as the eastern shores of China, selling them into slavery or forced marriages. Those who manage to escape are at times assisted by Chinese authorities in their attempt to return home to the Kachin region. Myanmar on the other hand does nothing to help Kachin victims, the Burmese anti-trafficking liaison office along the border does not even appear to be manned. Thus not one case of a Kachin trafficking victim contacting Myanmar authorities has yet to be reported.

Continued occupation of Kachin lands has led to confiscation of Kachin farms and villages by the Burmese authorities. These plots of valuable land have been turned into state sponsored mass agricultural projects (plantations), unregistered and unregulated gold mining operations, and foreign investment projects. One NGO even managed to document cases that have led to around 3,500 Kachin people being evicted forcibly by the Burmese military in the past few years alone. These villagers now have very limited options on how to provide for their families and future. All as a result of the seemingly lawlessness of the Kachin region under Burmese military occupation.

All of these things are promised to end soon. That is if we are to believe the government of Myanmar. This would mean that we are to believe a government that has continuously lied when talking about the Kachin region and it's people. Where the Burmese government has promised peace it has delivered unmitigated brutality and aggression. When the government promised to combat the exploitation of minorities, especially when dealing with human trafficking, it has created the "perfect storm" for criminal enterprise. To those Burma promised protection, education, and social services it has offered only homelessness, helplessness, and neglect in the worst degree.

The only token of goodwill that Myanmar has given the people of the Kachin in two years was the small gesture of allowing a UN convoy to pass through the front lines of the Kachin conflict zone. This week members from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), UN Children's Fund, UNICEF, and World Food Programme managed to break the siege for the first time in over a year. Delivering food, water, medical aid, humanitarian supplies, and urgent care the United Nations convoy pushed into the Kachin region unmolested. This was the first sign that Myanmar could tolerate some form of compassion being shown to it's enemies. It was the first token of goodwill shown by Burma in two miserable years of fighting in the Kachin.

But once again, what is the value of a promise when it comes from a liar? How much weight can one put to the words of a bitter enemy? Can trust be earned by flimsy documents and cheapened promises? Or will only time be capable of telling whether or not the government of Myanmar is lying once again?

"It is not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man the oath."

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Source Documents
(note: not all sources listed)

Democratic Voice of Burma

United Nations OCHA

Mizzima News

Thomson Reuters Foundation

Kachin Women's Association Thailand

Irrawaddy News

Open Society Foundations