More From Alder's Ledge

January 29, 2014

Occupied And Exploited

The Silent Genocide Of Ogaden
(Voiceless series)

Endless Suffering 

Time has shown that an occupying force has few options outside of military force and the endless committing of war crimes while attempting to subjugate native populations. No matter how beneficial the relationship may seem at first, the desire for self determination and self governance will rise to the surface when oppressive foreign rule is applied. Once these aspirations manifest the occupying force will rapidly find themselves unable to cling to power without compromising their ethics (if ever there could be while occupying another peoples' land). Mass arrests often slide into mass executions. What happens behind jail walls then often makes it's way out into the streets. And with one death comes an ocean of blood. One drop must be paid for with another.

When the Italians took possession of the Ogaden region of Ethiopia their military conquest was meant to, rather perversely, rebuild a Roma Empire of sorts. Just as with the first Romans in Africa, the Italians took what they wanted and killed those who dared to try and hold onto their resources. The native peoples of Ogaden were not regarded as equals to the invading Italians but rather treated as slaves in their own homeland. Anything that could be used to benefit Italy was taken at will.

This exploitation by Italy came to an end as Mussolini's fascist rule fell to the allied forces of World War Two. Yet the colonialist minds of Europe did not dare to leave Africa's resources to her own people. Instead the British stepped in and took control of Ogaden's resources and people. Just as with the Italians, the Brits plundered what they wanted and killed those they didn't. Resistance was met with the same oppressive methods used against any other native peoples that England had encountered all around the world.

European conquest of the world has been defined by the exploitation of native peoples and their natural resources. In Africa the idea that the Europeans were somehow bringing the native peoples out of the stone age and into the modern age was encouraged just as it had been in the Americas. The white European occupier was painted in Europe as bringing civilization to undeveloped people who just happened to be black. This allowed a disturbing, and racially based, rationale for the crimes against humanity committed by European colonial powers.

In Ogaden this conquest was further complicated by the lack of foresight shown by European colonial powers as they carved up the map of Africa. When Britain decided to consolidate power in the region they made plans to annex Ogaden into Ethiopia (a well controlled region of British influence). In 1954 the Brits forcibly annexed Ogaden into Ethiopia, thus keeping it out of reach of Somalia to the East. This permitted Britain the opportunity to dissolve a portion of it's empire and lessen the cost of controlling the region through military force.

Today Ogaden's largely ethnic Somali population (around 8 million) cling to existence rather than living. They have survived European conquest, a Soviet backed invasion, countless armed and unarmed uprisings, endless war, and Ethiopia's oppressive occupation. Their villages have been destroyed routinely. Their men and boys have been subjected to mass arrests and executions. Their women and children are vulnerable to rape, torture, and violent deaths of all sorts. Today Ogaden's native population faces what many might call ethnic cleansing... what Alder's Ledge would call genocide.

Why Genocide?

Genocide is defined as:

Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948) as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."

Every time the word genocide makes it's first appearance in a conversation there is a rapid reaction amongst many to cringe. Images of death camps in Poland or streets filled with dead bodies in Rwanda come to mind. So it is needless to say that the word itself as certain emotional responses. Yet it is the legal liability the word carries that makes governments across the world uneasy when using the word. For if and when it is applied to a humanitarian crisis there are supposed to be very clear and decisive actions taken to stop it. This is, after all, the UN's legal response to what was an emotional response to the Holocaust... our promise of "never again".

In a perfect world application of the word genocide to such events would trigger an immediate response. In a perfect world there wouldn't be a need for such a vile word in the first place. Yet it is precisely the lack of response to every genocide (both recognized and unrecognized) since the Holocaust that has led to a lack of concern by those who perpetrate it. Impunity for their actions has led to a certain level of comfort for those who would exercise such heinous crimes.

For the regime in Ethiopia the practice of committing endless crimes against the people of Ogaden has been reinforced by the responses given by the outside world. When Ethiopia uses the excuse of "fighting the war on terror" they are given a pass for destroying entire villages. When the government in Ethiopia refuses to allow journalists access by labeling them terrorists the outside world looks the other way. These two responses alone create a vacuum in which Ethiopia's military is allowed to operate without criticism or accountability.

With impunity for their actions the government of Ethiopia has allowed it's military (of which nearly half occupies Ogaden) to utilize Ogaden's people as slave labor, kill civilians at will, commit forced evictions, demolish homes and villages, rape and torture, and otherwise keep Ogaden under Ethiopian control. Each of these actions can easily be classified as "crimes against humanity" by even the most casual of observers. These crimes can then be further scrutinized, and with intent proven, only to be labeled for what they are: acts of genocide.

The forced removal of villagers from their homes falls under the legal perimeters of genocide itself. The intent is obvious once looked at and can only be justified through the targeting of the villagers due to their ethnicity and perceived nationality. Since Ethiopia's military does not treat the Ogaden people in the same way as they do other Ethiopians, nationality is part of this discriminatory and exploitative practice. Their Somali ethnicity is on the other hand the major reason as to why Ethiopia's leadership shows no remorse or intent upon reconciling their actions with the people of Ogaden.

The mass arrests, the use of torture, rape, and especially the executions of ethnic Somali civilians all also contribute to the classification of the greater crime here as genocide. Each of these crimes either directly or indirectly lend themselves to the completion of ethnic cleansing (a form of genocide) within the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. Through mass arrest, torture, and outright killings of ethnic Somalis the government weakens the targeted community and creates areas in Ogaden where life is made impossible.

Within areas of occupation by Ethiopian military forces the conditions to which the people of the Ogaden are subjected can only be described as; "inflicting on the group living conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction in part or in whole..." This is made evident through Ethiopia's policy of confiscating livestock and other necessities that the native population must have to survive in Ogaden's desert climate. Access to natural resources vital to survival, such as water and grazing lands, is also deliberately hindered by Ethiopia's military presence in Ogaden. Conditions are only made more dire by Ethiopia's denial of adequate access to healthcare and humanitarian aid across the region.

When the sum of Ethiopia's crimes against the people of Ogaden are all put together there is reason to believe that Ethiopia's regime intends to either push the Ogaden Somalis out or drastically decrease their population. But why?

As with most genocides throughout history, those perpetrating this one utilize ethnic hatred to gain access to profit. In this case it is the exploitation of Ogaden's oil reserves. The fact that the Ogaden Somali community happens to set atop that oil does not seem to deter the leaders of Ethiopia. By killing the ethnic Somali community they gain both profit and rid themselves of an ethnic group they perceive to be undesirable.

The Cost Of Ogaden's Oil

The native population of any colonized area always pay the price for the gains made by the colonial power. Their quality of life, their national or social aspirations, their very existence; all of these are placed into question as the exploitation of their community and property is carried out. The lives they could have had are all stolen from them by the greed and lust of the occupier. Those dreams that all mankind has are all placed out of reach by the exploitation they suffer. 

Oil could had been a blessing to the desperately impoverished region. It could had been used to lift the Ogaden Somali community out of life of just surviving from day to day. But alas it has been made a curse for those who rightfully have claim to it. 

With international oil companies pouring into the region the quality of life has been made worse for Ogaden's Somali community. Ethiopia defends the so called "right" of these oil giants to take what they want as long as Ethiopia's government profits from it. To maintain this source of income the government has utilized genocide and other crimes against humanity to assure their flow of cash survives. 

For the Somali community in Ogaden this means that life itself is not guaranteed from one day to the next. This has led to thousands of Ogaden's Somali community seeking refuge in Kenya, South Africa, and Yemen. Fleeing their homeland has become a better option for some than to stay and die at the hands of Ethiopian soldiers. 

This is the cost of oil in Ethiopia's Ogaden region. Each drop of petrol from the area is matched by the pools of blood spilled getting them. And yet, while Ogaden's Somali community pays in blood, the outside world has yet to ask if this price is worth "cheap gasoline". 

Source Documents
(not all listed)

MLA of South Africa


Somaliland Sun

January 27, 2014


Life After Abuse
(part of Lost Childhood series)

We all carry around parts of our past that no matter how hard we try to hide them they always find a way of coming to the surface. These scars are part of us. They don't go away just because we push the pain deep down inside. For some these emotional scars find ways of physically manifesting as over time we try to deny them any other outlet. And in the end we end up suffering from a cycle of torment we never wanted in the first place.

This is not the story of the abuse we suffered. It is not just accounts of what happened or why we think it happened to us. This is the story of what it is like living after the abuse itself has ended. These are our scars.

In reading this we ask that you, if you don't have the same scars, try only to understand why this subject is covered here at Alder's Ledge.


For nearly a decade now the team at Alder's Ledge has worked with team members that have come from every walk of life imaginable. We have had every profession we could think of represented on our staff at one point in time or another. Most of us aren't of the same religious or cultural background. And most of us wouldn't have ever really become friends if it wasn't for one thing we all tend to have in common...


The team members that have stayed with the team the longest are often the biggest misfits amongst us, myself included. We all come from backgrounds that often make our passion for this work rather strong and fiery. Between our scars and our passions, we really aren't fit for other lines of work anyhow. Yet for all we have in common there are these scars that often makes it difficult at times for us to get along. And at other times it's those same scars that bind us together.

Over the past month this part of our mismatched team has brought every still bleeding wound right back to the surface. Things outside our control ripped open the scabs we so viciously protect and left us once again vulnerable and exposed. And for the first time, for most of us, this was a chance to see what we all try to hide... the shame, the pain, the nightmares, the fear, this sense of being broken. 


When I first saw my beloved sister's eyes open for the first time since the attack I saw the same look I had in mine all those years when I was little. A look of pleading for someone to help. A look of pleading for someone to just be there. A look of fear that nobody would stay beside her as she fought for every last breath. It didn't matter that I was halfway around the world or that she wasn't my actual flesh and blood. I knew then that every waking moment would be spent making sure that look in her eyes, that fear, would fade away.

Over the years we had shared so much of our scars that I knew in that moment what was going through her mind. I knew that she had woken up far too many times with that look masking her beautiful eyes. I knew that in that mind were memories of years spent locked in a room after being beat nearly to death. I knew that those sights, those smells, that pain... all of those were flooding her mind as she gasped for air.

Every time I had woke up I knew felt it. I felt that rush of relief that at very least I was still alive. And yet with each breath there was a sense of fear that it wasn't over. A sense of fear that I was still fighting for life and no one could help me.

Offering words, since I could not physically touch her, I looked into the screen and fought back every tear. All I wanted was to take away that fear of being abandoned. All I wanted was to say that everything was going to be okay. But if you have been in that place before then you know that words don't dull the fear. The only thing that fades it to at very least a tolerable level is the fact that somebody is there. So all I could do was be there. There wasn't any fixing this. There wasn't any way of stopping the memories. There wasn't anyway to heal the wounds that time itself couldn't even keep from reopening.

No matter how long it has been since the abuse ended there will always be these lingering senses of fear. For some it is that of being abandoned. That was our shared fear. We had been left alone to lick our own wounds for years. And though we often felt like we had grown strong enough to do just that, we had this fear constantly.

Abandonment breeds in the mind more fears as time goes on. It brings to the surface ideas that we are somehow unlovable and unworthy of affection. It places in our minds this idea that we deserved the punishment of being abandoned by those who once claimed to love us. In time it makes us believe that we were the reason for our own abuse and neglect. Because in the time that it was first planted we weren't able to rationalize why it was happening. We weren't capable of understanding why we were being treated as though we were worthless or undesirable.

For me the sense of being abandoned bred a sense of worthlessness. For my sister it bred more so a sense of being unlovable. For both of us it created a barrier from behind which we hid from everyone else. Like the lepers of the Bible, we used it to tell the world that we were unclean in one way or another... that we couldn't be loved and there was no reason for anyone to try.

It is a scar that opens and closes without warning. When someone who has this wound lets another person come close to them they are risking having that scar ripped back open. This risk is never far from the mind of us who have it. Letting people close means living with this fear every moment that we are with that person. The fear that they will discover just how unworthy of their affection we truly are is always in the backs of our mind. And time doesn't heal this scar, it only magnifies it.

To live with it, both her and I alike, have had to accept that we are worthy of love. Though that fear will always linger, we had to accept that it wasn't rational. We had to finally understand that we didn't deserve what had happened to us in the past. That at some point those sins committed against us were not our fault. And that the people who hurt us may not deserve our forgiveness but they needed it so that their memory couldn't continue to kill us.


Once the reality of what had happened began to set in it was inevitable that she began to place the blame for her own attack not on her assailants but on herself. My sister had been viciously assaulted to the point of barely surviving it. Yet the scars that were left from a lifetime of abuse didn't register the events the same way the rest of the world would had. Instead of seeing the attack as unprovoked barbarism, her past assigned blame the same way she had been trained to through years of abuse. This was the scar that guilt leaves behind upon the victim.

There is no rational reason for why we do this. We find in the end that we need to blame someone for what has happened. And when there isn't a real reason for it, we find the first person we can to blame... ourselves. 

Just as with the fear of abandonment, this sense of guilt comes from believing that somehow we deserved what happened. For me it was an easy conclusion to come to since the abuse I suffered was often given the prefix of punishment. I could easily assume that I had done something to provoke such a violent response. Yet for my sister the abuse she had suffered was inflicted by men who had purchased the "right" to inflict these scars. And yet she had come to the same conclusion that somehow, in some way, she was responsible for the abuse she was made to suffer. 

Living with guilt is impossible over time. Once the abuse ends the guilt still remains. It is a corrosive emotion that slowly etches away every relationship we develop along the way. The only way to end it's destructive nature in our lives is to deal with the events that had led to the inflicting of this scar in the first place. 

For me this was something I had long felt was impossible. Instead of dealing with those memories I had pushed them down till they finally exploded. And when they came to the surface they came back with a vengeance. Memories that could be fought back while I was awake manifested into nightmares. And nightmares became the embodiment of that room where I had felt like a caged animal. Trapped inside my head, I had to face those memories over and over again. 

For my sister those memories came rushing back when anyone would dare to touch her in anyway that resembled intimacy. Every touch was like playing a game of dice between the responses of fight, flight, or freeze. Memories of what had happened to her replaced the responses of love or compassion that would had fit those moments. The reaction of fear, fear of being hurt again, pushed back against even the most sincere of gestures. It was a fear that isolated her over the years and left her trapped in much the same way she had been during the abuse itself. 

It was through talking to each other over the years that we both realized that we had to face what was done to us. We had to turn and fight our own past. All this running was only making us relive the abuse as we pushed away those who cared about us. And though we still are battling our own demons, in facing those memories we have at the very least learned from each other what trust feels like again. 

Yet the only way we have gotten to the point where we can even start to deal with these scars was with the admission that none of this was our fault. Guilt was like a chain that kept us bound to these memories. And it created even more scars the longer we lived with it.

Shame And Silence

Tears don't wash away the shame you feel when you bare these scars. The more you cry the more it feels like these scars grow deeper. This only continues till you reach a point where there aren't any more tears to shed and there isn't a cry left to be heard. Silence becomes your only friend as you try to hide your scars from everyone around you. 

Isolation becomes normal as guilt leaves you afraid that others will see what happened to you. Your mind warps that guilt into a state where you honestly start to believe that everyone else will blame you too. So the only real option you see at that point is to either withdraw and hide or become so outgoing that the obnoxiousness of it all drives others away. There really isn't much of a middle ground here.

When we did finally start talking, after so many years of isolating that part of our lives from others, the first question people ask is damning to us. 

"Why didn't you say something..."

It doesn't matter what the intentions behind that question really are... if there is actual concern or not doesn't make it past our defenses. That question makes every bit of shame we have felt for all that time come rushing over us like a tidal wave. The spirit that we have been working at mending, repairing, and holding together is broken with just one question. The strength it took to speak up is suddenly drained. It won't matter what follows next. That one question knocks the breath right out of us. 

Shame has a way of creating a defense that words can't penetrate. As long as we have not dealt with the guilt we have felt, we inevitably end up building those defenses. And once those go up; the longer they stay up, the harder it is to take them down.

I've never met anyone who suffered abuse that felt truly comfortable talking about it. Even those who suffered the same way I did don't always feel they can relate to my story. And I honestly don't always feel I can relate to theirs. Over the years I have come to the conclusion that much of this comes from the damage we suffered when it comes to trust. Even if the other person's story matches our own, we still feel that they will judge us. This is where guilt was left to turn to a lingering sense of shame. 

This scar is also why our stories in their entirety will not be shared. Speaking about these things takes time and trust for those who suffered abuse. For those who love and care about them there isn't much you can do to get those details out of them. If you truly care for them then all you can do is wait and offer them every reassurance that you won't judge them. But most importantly, you must always remember that just because they are holding back doesn't mean that they don't trust you.... it means those scars go deeper than you ever will really understand. 

Silence in the end can be far more dangerous to those of you have suffered any form of abuse. The longer you have to deal with those emotions, those memories, that indescribable pain... the longer you remain isolated then the longer you run the risk of depression and all that goes with it. We as a species aren't solitary animals. We need to speak, we need to share, with others that which is hurting us. We need the comfort of others. And even when the pain has taught us to withdraw... that is when we need it most. 

A Broken Spirit 
Putting It Back Together

It would be nice if I could give a list of things to do to heal those scars and take away this broken feeling we try to hide. It would be nice to say that there was a quick way to end the pain that didn't only cause you more problems. But the fact is that there isn't anyway you can just bottle up those emotions and walk away from the feelings that will forever linger in the back of your mind. However, there are ways to live with them. There are ways to deal with this brokenness so that you can feel whole again. 

For my sister and I it began with talking to those who love us. We started with each other and those closest to us. Through the tears, the fear, and the reliving of those parts of our lives we found our way forward. The feeling that part of our soul was still broken didn't go away. There is always a part of us that doesn't feel normal... doesn't feel like we are all better and everything is sunshine and rainbows. But we started to heal the scars and put back what was taken from us. 

My sister's sense of insecurity was restored through our little family here at Alder's Ledge. Relationships that will last longer than this blog will helped her feel that there was at least someone that could love her for who she was... that could love her no matter what she had been through. The vulnerability that came with this wasn't easy to adjust to. Those scars had provided her with a sense of false security and now the healing of them left her exposed. It was only through out persistent reassurances that she felt like this healing process was worth the pain that came with it. 

As for me... my healing came through faith, family, and therapy. As much as I have always said that I would never turn to that last one, I did. The pain of what I had been through, the pain I was living with, was driving me crazy whether I wanted to admit it or not. Thoughts of life beyond that pain were terrifying because for so much of my life it was what I knew. Yet those first two led me to the later choice. I couldn't live with the torment that was hidden in my soul... my broken spirit was bleeding me out. 

We can't tell anyone that there is a set path forward. We have watched over this past year as a close friend lost his battle with the scars he had lived with. As a group we buried a friend who fell to the same fight we all have struggled with. We knew that day that we all might be fighting different battles but the scars are the same. And the result of surrender in this fight could just as easily be the same if we didn't call out for help. 

Life after abuse isn't easy. Some people will and can bare the pain till the day they die. And it might very well be a "natural death", but the soul was broken long ago. As long as the pain isn't dealt with you will always feel that pain creeping around in the back of your mind and lingering in your heart. 

The only thing we can say to finish this post is that if you are struggling with issues related to abuse you have suffered... please seek out help. 

Counseling and therapy may be the first step. Perhaps a religious organization would work for you better than a therapist. But whatever the case, please talk to someone. Those thoughts and feelings that come with the scars that abuse leaves behind don't heal themselves. They fester deep inside till something triggers them and brings them back to the surface. And when they do there is often the immediate response of fight, flight, or freeze... none of which will be pleasant. 

Don't wait. 

Don't bury those scars.

If you have suffered abuse.... 


January 15, 2014

Rolling Thunder

(part of The Darkness Visible series)

In every pogrom there is a moment where the victimized community has to stop and ask themselves just how far this new wave of violence is going to go. Moments of terror crack like thunder in the hearts of those who wait to see if the violence will escalate further. These moments reverberate through the community in such a manner that one family's loss quickly becomes the sorrow of every household. As the blood continues to pour and the tragic losses continue to mount, the fear grows till it floods the hearts and souls of all those trapped by the violence.

At some point what starts as a one pogrom in one village or town tends to spread outward. With news of freshly spilled blood traveling faster today than ever before this tidal wave of terror rushes across the map. It breaks through every previous barrier that had once contained these outbreaks of savage violence. And the world now has no way of denying what we can all see so painfully clear.

Violence breeds more of itself. It feeds on the fear it creates within the communities it rips apart. With each outbreak it grows more brazen. Areas afflicted with genocide quickly become helpless to stop its spread as they buckle beneath it's weight. Unless those watching from the sidelines step in to break the cycle, this senseless violence will continue till it burns itself up and there is nothing left.

Rohingya Blogger has recently brought to light clear cases of pogroms that are rapidly spreading such terror across Maungdaw in the Arakan state of Myanmar. These incidents are brutal and savage cases of inhuman barbarism. They show the worst side of humanity as extreme elements of Burma's society work toward some of the darkest political and religious goals man could ever set. They show clear cases of genocidal intent to cleanse Burma of the Rohingya people through violent expulsion and/or outright slaughter.

On Monday (January 13th) Rohingya Blogger posted a piece by Democratic Voice of Burma that showed how the death of one man in Meikhtila had sparked "rumors that an outbreak of communal violence was imminent". Despite the police saying that this death was a family dispute and in no way connected to the racial divide within the community itself, there were concerns amongst some of Meikhtila's citizens. Only time, however, will tell if the spread of violence in other areas had anything to do with the spread of these rumors or if it is mere coincidence.

What we do know right now is that in the Arakan the thunder is rolling and the blood is spilling. There is no denying in these recent cases that the religious and ethnic divide is behind the new blood baths currently taking place. And despite Burma's best attempts to hide it's complete disregard to "restoring peace" the news of these pogroms is getting out. This is in part due to the diligence of dedicated screamers like those at Rohingya Blogger. 

On January 13th Maungdaw once again felt the first drops of blood as the pogroms began.

Rohingya Blogger reported (here) that on the night of January 13th, around 11pm, a police sergeant along with three police officers, the village administer, and five Rakhinese men entered Eastern Duchiradan village. Upon their arrival the group appears to have set out to spread terror amongst the Rohingya citizens. Their offenses included rape, looting of Rohingya property, and ultimately the killing of three Rohingya (including the rape victim). All of which was clearly meant to show the Rohingya that such acts are protected and collaborated with by the police themselves. There will be no legal reprisals or protection here.

This report by Rohingya Blogger was rapidly followed by even more detailed accounts of the extent of the pogrom in Duchiradan village. Reporting (here) from Rohingya Blogger spells out the atrocities that continued to mount in this now abandoned village. From the accounts given the Rohingya of Duchiradan have suffered mass executions, rapes, mutilations, torture, and mass arrests. Bodies of the slain, in customary form for Myanmar's officials, were taken from public view and buried in unmarked locations.

Today Duchiradan village is reported to be abandoned. The Rohingya who survived the pogrom have left their homes and joined the ever growing numbers of internally displaced peoples (IDPs) of Myanmar's Arakan state. Forced from their homes, these Rohingya were by all definitions ethnically cleansed from their village as the Rakhine (supported by Burmese police) take control of the area. This act is by definition genocide.

However this is not the only pogrom in the Maungdaw region.

Rohingya Blogger reported (here) that on January 15th in Baggona village tract a group of about 50 Rakhine attack Rohingya farm plots. The ethnic violence there has been growing as Rakhine from Kaye Myaing village reportedly carry out attacks against the Rohingya village of Baggona without intervention by Burmese police. The attacks are growing from property damage to physical assaults and prolonged torture of Rohingya caught by Rakhine mobs.

Terror is a weapon in and of itself. In Baggona the attacks not only deprive Rohingya of food security but also create a situation in which Rohingya farmers are terrified of returning to their fields. This lack of defense means that any Rohingya who wants to eat must risk violent attack or even death as Rakhine assailants attack with impunity. The terror that is created spreads as Rohingya notice both their vulnerability and a shrinking food supply (already minimal).

Yet the pogroms don't end here... after all, violence only breeds more of itself...

In another report Rohingya Blogger shared (here) a press release by BROUK about a pogrom in Kiladaung village on January 13th. In this press release are detailed accounts of Burmese military and security forces actively participating in the slaughter of seven Rohingya (including women and children) and the mass arrests of 100 Rohingya. It shows clearly that government forces within the Arakan state are actively participating in a campaign of ethnic cleansing intended to ultimately end their genocidal ambitions.

It is clear that the violence against Rohingya in the Arakan is once again reaching a flash point like those seen during the summer and fall of last year. And just as before, these incidents of government backed ethnic cleansing will not end without the direct and deliberate action by the world community and/or United Nations. If no external governmental organization intervenes this thunder will only grow into a raging storm... a storm that threatens the existence of a people, a culture, and their heritage.

For all you screamers who are reading this we are once again asking that you raise your voice in any way you can. Tweet, use status updates on Facebook, Instagram if you got it, Tumblr if you still use it, and any other social media site you can get your voice heard on. Yet we also ask that once you have screamed on there that you take that passion and start harassing your representatives in your respective government. Take that passion and petition your churches, your mosque, your temples and get them involved with organizations like Partners Relief and Development (info here). Use your outrage and get creative... if there is somebody who will listen (or that you can force to listen) then get out there and scream so that they will know.

Your voice is a weapon far greater than that of the terror these perpetrators of genocide are using. This indignant sense of moral outrage can be yielded just as effectively as any weapon of war. All it takes is for you to find your outlet and start applying yourself. It isn't always easy, it isn't always comfortable, but it is absolutely vital.

Come scream with us on twitter to learn more...

Find us at: @alders_ledge and @AL_Staff


Rohingya Blogger

Partners Relief and Development

January 8, 2014

Against All Odds

The Strength To Endure
(part of The Darkness Visible series)

Nowhere Left To Run.

Imagine for a moment that you have lost everything you have, everything you value, everything you cherish in this life. Imagine for a moment that the place you call home has been burned by your neighbors and all that remains is rubble and ash. Imagine that you have been driven from your house by people you once knew from what now seems like a previous life. Listen to their screams as they threaten you and your family. Listen to the malicious hatred they spew as they rip apart the life you at least felt comfortable living. Watch as they set your house to the torch and carry off any of your possessions they wish. Watch as they brutalize your family and friends as you run for safety. Watch as they turn into animals, engulfed in this barbaric orgy of violence, consumed by absolute hate. 

In pogroms this is how the hate needed for genocide manifest itself. It is a flash point where every last grudge, every vile word spoken beneath one's breath, every vengeful thought that has ever passed through their minds comes to fruition. In that moment the gates of hell itself fling open as the worse part of mankind is realized. It is in that moment that the savage side of our existence triumphs over our otherwise pacifist side. Love dies, if only for a moment, as hate replaces anything that once resembled civility.

In Bosnia the outbreak of war brought the opportunity for long held resentments to flourish as neighbor was pitted against neighbor. In Rwanda the machete felt it's first taste of blood as the long ignored warning signs faded beneath a crimson tide. In Burma... in the Arakan... this flash point was the exploitation of one tragedy so as to plunge an entire people into a far worse one. Yet in every case the reason for this spirally collapse of society was predictable. 

But this post isn't about pointing the blame... 

Today we look at what has happened since those flood gates were opened. 

Every year a tidal wave leaves the shores of the Arakan. Like clockwork, this human migration takes place without fail. Raggedy vessels that are barely seaworthy at all take to the waves as desperate souls hedge their bets upon uncertain means of escape. Each one of these Rohingya add to a collective that comprises a wave of refugees that risk their lives to run. But run to where?

Poseidon And The Dmōs

In the past the Rohingya had fished the very waters they now set out upon. Yet we should not fantasize that the Rohingya people now voyaging out onto the seas are seafaring individuals. These are people from all walks of life and with varying knowledge of what it takes to stay alive at sea. This act of bribing a vessel to carry them away from the Arakan is one of desperation. It is not one they seem to wish for or yearn for in any manner. This journey is a last resort for a broken people. 

Actual war, classically romanticized by the imagery of two sides battling it out, would be preferable to the hell that the Rohingya boat people are fleeing. Mass starvation and the constant threat of pogroms sends these people to the waves. Without the ability to find security back home they are forced to sacrifice everything for one last glimmer of hope. But what hope does the god of this ocean offer?

To first make it aboard a vessel the Rohingya refugees must pay their way. It is a heavy toll for a refugee that has either lost everything or sold everything in hopes of making this journey. They are either promised safe passage or a little light at the end of their tunnel. But any way about it they are taken for every last valuable possession they have just to leave their homeland.

Then the journey begins. 

Food, water, and fuel are not guaranteed. The owner of the vessel maximizes profits by offering nothing in the way of safety or comfort. The analogy between these vessels and slave ships of day past is not far from reality. Refugees on these boats are simply made to wait and see just how their luck will turn out. If the food or water disappears before a safe landing place is found... well, that is where prayers and a fading sense of hope fill the gap. 

For some the journey will end with the wrath of Poseidon himself. The seas upon which they travel can become treacherous for even the most experience sailors. And with the reality of their ship's limited seaworthiness made blatantly clear, hope for salvation must surely fade fast. For the sea is the least forgiving place on earth. It bears no mercy for mankind; it never has and never will. 

In 2012 there were an estimated 13,000 Rohingya who fled their homeland by sea. That year the UN High Commissioner for Refugees admitted to knowing at least 485 of these refugees had died at sea. Their deaths, no matter how unrecognized they might be, remain a testament to the harrowing journey their comrades had taken in fleeing Burma's grinding genocide in the Arakan. There is no justifiable reason why they had to die. 

As for those who live... for these hell may have just begun to open up.

If the vessel the refugees are aboard makes it's way to Thailand there are differing ways the journey could end. The devil beneath the waves gives way to the cruelty of man as the refugees watch their hope slip away. Either they will make it ashore and risk being sent back to Myanmar by Thai officials or something far more sinister awaits. 

Thai Navy ships in 2013 were reported to have opened fire on Rohingya refugees as their vessels raced toward the shore. These boats attempted to make their way to the beaches in hopes of slipping through the Thai defenses. When caught they were towed out to sea where they were left with little or no fuel. The intent on the part of the Thai Navy was clear... allow starvation and thirst to kill the refugees rather than let them make it back to the Thai coast. 

This strategy of "dealing with the boat people" has however given way to even more savage exercises by Thai officials and the Navy. In recent months the dirty secrets of Thai officials' involvement in the illegal trade of human flesh has come to light. Their open trafficking of Rohingya refugees was released to the world by brave journalist who risked their own freedoms on behalf of the beleaguered Rohingya people. The response to the boldness of their actions in this war against injustice was met immediately with retaliation by the Thai government. But the facts are already out there and the bell has already rang for all to hear. 

Where the Thai Navy had once dragged Rohingya back out to sea to die they are now handing them over to traffickers, for a fee of course. Where they had been shooting at Rohingya who dared to abandon ship and swim to shore they are now capturing them and selling them. The Thai officials had clearly discovered that there was a profit to be had if they only sold their own souls first. 

And then there are the Rohingya who make it ashore.

Hope must be a wonderful thing for those who can manage to obtain it and/or keep it through all of this. But I would be far to cynical to imagine that there isn't at least a few Rohingya who manage to hold onto that last glimmer of hope. Even after having survived more than most people could ever bare, I have to imagine that at least some Rohingya keep that hope alive. 

For those who come ashore there must be a moment where they feel relief. In that moment before the Thai military comes rushing toward them, that moment where the whole world lay stretched out before them... that must be the moment where hope still lives. 

If taken into custody by police in Thailand the Rohingya refugees are offered no sense of dignity. In cramp quarters with no access to toilets or a place to sleep, hundreds of Rohingya refugees are kept caged like animals by Thai police. They are considered illegal by the government of Thailand. They are given no opportunity to apply for asylum in Thailand. They are given no access to resources that other refugees would be granted. In Thailand the genocide that the Rohingya had risked everything to escape is alive and well. 

For many of these Rohingya the time in prison is a sort of limbo. They know that they are destined to be returned to Myanmar. They know that starvation and every form of indignity awaits them once they are taken back over the border. There really is no end the depravity that exist within the hearts and soul of the two nations actively participating in this genocide. 

In The Hand's Of Thanatos

Then there are those who cannot run. Those who are left to starve in camps, those who are left to wait for death at the hands of soldiers and mobs, those who are left to watch the world crumble around them. These are the masses of Rohingya who dare to simply exist upon the land of their ancestors. These are the Rohingya that take each breath with the hope that it wont be their last. 

Those who live in the camps wake up each day with the thought of where their next meal is coming from. They are left in a hellish condition of endless hunger. Mothers watch their children slowly dwindle before their eyes. Food, such a precious commodity, is not guaranteed from one day to the next. It is a resource that must be guarded and protected at all cost in a place where so little of it can be obtained. 

From the outbreak of the this latest wave of genocidal "ethnic violence" thousands of Rohingya have been forced into these ghettos. Burma has worsened their plight by labeling these refugee camps as illegal and therefore attempting rationalize the military's blockades of Rohingya camps and villages. Putting up barriers and posting guards, Myanmar almost immediately transformed refugee camps into concentration camps. The places where Rohingya had taken refuge from the violence became prisons.

In 2012 CNN reported upon the starvation that was (and still is) running rampant in Rohingya camps within the Arakan. In a report that consisted of kissing President Barack Obama's boots, CNN managed to at least point out that Rohingya citizens had been made homeless through pogroms (though CNN calls it "communal violence"). They managed to show the world that once placed in camps the Rohingya were being denied access to basic needs. And yet that is where the world community left off. 

In the months that followed the world ignored the plight of starving Rohingya as Burma continued to flirt with the Western powers. The promise of economic gains by appeasing Myanmar's rabid appetite for the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya has stunted any response by outside governments. Agencies that are supposed to record and report such atrocities appeared to turn their eyes away as the world community gawked at figures like Aung San Suu Kyi. The desire to recognize genocide where and when it is occurring once again failed as we forgot those two words... "never again".

Once the camps were quarantined off by Burmese military and police the conditions for starvation were established. Having killed countless Rohingya in often staged pogroms, the state forces had permitted themselves an excuse to sell the world. This method of siege warfare was now "justified" in the eyes of the Burmese government due to the "threat of communal unrest". Death by starvation and disease was somehow preferable to actually reinstating the rule of law.

In many ghettos the blockades have not lifted. What little aid makes it to the Rohingya behind the barricades is not secure and can be taken away at any given time. Those living behind these barriers are subjected to every indignity the Burmese security forces wish to cast upon them. Organized rape of Rohingya women and girls is apparently permissible within the ranks of Myanmar's police and military. Forced labor is a common method of deteriorating the health and well-being of Rohingya men and boys. The goal here is the same as it was in Warsaw... a slow grinding death that lingers at the gates as those trapped inside pray for relief.

And then there is the threat of liquidation.

Warsaw had the option of resisting. It was an enigma in the ghetto system the Germans had established across Europe. But it did take that option. And for what little time those brave souls could... the fought like hell to survive the inevitable.

Places like Aung Mingalar had no such option. The ability to fight, the ability to resist, had been stripped away the moment the Burmese police established Aung Mingalar ghetto. Barbed wire and armed checkpoints were put in place and the residents of the ghetto searched for any weapons. Total totalitarian rule was put in place as Myanmar allowed conditions within the ghetto to rapidly deteriorate.

In August of 2013 Aung Mingalar's ghetto took the first steps toward liquidation. There may not have been and Auschwitz to which the Rohingya could be sent, but there were larger concentration camps away from the Buddhists inhabitants of Sittwe. Thus the hundreds of Rohingya forcibly moved from one hellish confine to the next could do little to stop the abuses they would endure.

Myanmar has received no real international condemnation or sanctions for it's abuses against Rohingya citizens. If a ghetto is to be liquidated in the same way the Nazi's did with Jewish ghettos, it is hard to believe at this point that the UN, EU, or United States would even bother to speak out. The behavior of treating the Rohingya like cattle has already been rewarded by the resounding sound of silence that has wafted across the globe in response to Burma's excesses. Since the events at Aung Mingalar were not punished it is likely that in the near future Myanmar's government could escalate it's offenses and move closer to the 1940's definition of liquidation.

As for now, those Rohingya still living under the oppressing weight of Myanmar's blockades must cling to life in any way they can manage. Water, food, medicine, and the basic needs of daily life must be scavenged or gone without. Children who should be in school will now grow up without any knowledge of what life should be like. Parents who should be providing for their families must now watch as what is left of them falls apart before their very eyes.

This isn't living...

It's simply existing from one day to the next.

Astraea's Death

In cases of ethnic cleansing during the 21st century the use of sexualized violence is often overlooked yet remains a hallmark of this barbaric crime. Bosnia and Rwanda showed the world that during acts of genocide women and children are particularly vulnerable. They not only suffer from outright killing but also from acts meant to leave permanent scars upon the targeted community as whole. And this is what rape, especially when used as a weapon, does to a community already fractured by genocide. 

Myanmar's use of rape has spread across every state where the military has engaged in what it calls war. In the Kachin the use of rape was implemented as a method of pushing the Kachin people off their homeland and thus giving access to the government to the resources upon which the Kachin sat. When used against the Shan it was unmistakeably utilized as a method of ethnic cleansing. And when put into practice in the Arakan state, this method of dehumanization was intended to allow troops to fragment what little sense of community the Rohingya people had left. 

Rape leaves the community vulnerable. This is especially true when the victims' families and community have no means of defense or access to legal reprisals against the assailants. When committed in this manner it violates the sense of security that both the woman and her family feel. This insecurity often manifest in distrust amongst members of the targeted community. And thus the fractures left by the initial crime begin to multiply.

For the Rohingya rape has been utilized in multiple ways. In many incidents it is used spontaneously as security forces come in contact with Rohingya trapped behind blockades or in camps. At other times it is used against Rohingya women who are already being used as forced labor. While in more sinister cases, becoming more frequently reported, it is used by the Burmese military in "rape camps" where Rohingya girls are abducted and forced into sexual slavery by the Burmese government. 

Rape camps were nearly perfected by the Serbian forces during the Bosnian Genocide. The use of these camps was meant to kill women through both physical and sexual abuse. Those who survived were intended to be rejected by their community. The potential offspring would be outright killed or allowed to live as a reminder to the Bosnian community of the crimes committed against them. It was in it's essence an absolute manifestation of the perverse nature of genocide and the complete lack of humanity it embodies. 

Burmese use of this crime once again highlights the world community's lack of teeth when dealing with violence committed against women and children. Our countless resolutions come up short when we never bother to put muscle behind the vague words we so often apply to worthless paper. And in the end it is the women of victimized communities that pay the highest price for our indifference to their suffering. 

"A man from NaSaKa [Burma’s border security force] came to my house. He kicked the door and told me I had to go and work as a sentry instead of my husband. I had to go immediately with my young child and without food. Later in the evening while I was at my post someone else from NaSaKa came. He told me "your husband is not there, I will stay with you; I want to live with you." That night the man raped me in the shed in front of my boy.

We [women] feel at peace in Bangladesh. There is no food and some problems, but there is no rape, we have peace."
~ 26 Year-old Rohingya Female Refugee In Bangladesh

These accounts are sadly the normal tales that come out of the Arakan. Rapist within the government's forces are not punished. Their crimes are encouraged by a country that wants to devalue the worth of an entire ethnic group. Their abuses are rewarded by a military that promotes excessive violence as a means of progress for Myanmar's future as a country. 

For those left to pick up the pieces after these attacks there are lasting affects of rape (no matter what the context). 

Rohingya women and girls who have been victimized will often remain silent in fear of the stigma that comes with the crime itself. Their willingness to speak up would bring direct condemnation from others in the community at large. In many cases the victim is blamed for the crime as the community itself seeks an answer why an unjustifiable crime was committed in the first place. And thus more motivation is created on the victims part to remain silent. 

Depression, anxiety, and withdrawing from others are all symptoms that hamper the victim's ability to help their community survive the stress of the overall genocide itself. If by chance these reactions to the rape culminate in the death of the victim the end goal of genocide is also achieved. 

For those who survive to carry on there is the question of why? Why did they have to suffer this wretched offense? Why they were left to carry on in silence? Why nobody cares and why nobody will help?

The Strength To Endure

When we set down to write up this piece we knew that this post would only be able to touch upon a portion of what the Rohingya people are suffering in Myanmar. We picked these three portions of the story so as to help those reading realize just what genocide looks like in Burma. You wont get the complete picture from us, we would never dream of being able to tell it all... it is just too vast a subject for any one post. But we did set down with one thing in mind; and that was to create a scream that the world will not be able to ignore. 

The Rohingya people are suffering a tragedy in slow motion as the world watches somewhat blindly and with a muted sense of outrage. We want to change that. We want to restore the hope that Myanmar is stripping from each and every Rohingya trapped under it's crushing weight. We seek to bring our voice like swords, cutting to the bone without remorse, so that those left defenseless have at least one ally on their side. 

Alder's Ledge is seeking to motivate our readers to get involved. For the past year this has been a struggle on our own part. We took some time away from this subject because we felt it was gaining traction amongst those who could help. Sadly, this hasn't happened yet. The Rohingya's plight is still worsening and our so called "activists" are losing the strength to keep up the fight. 

Our hope comes from individuals we have met along the way. 

In Thailand we have friends who live in just as much poverty as anyone here in the states could ever imagine. They struggle to keep their phones turned on as they work any given job to pay the next bill. Yet they give every spare bit of cash to the cause. And more importantly, they give every spare moment to the fight. 

In China, where the subject is barely ever spoken about, we have team members that take material we provide them into their communities and literally scream. They risk their own reputations in a country where that is almost 90% of their personal value within society. In their schools, in their work places, and in their neighborhoods they take our motto of screaming to it's most direct extent... making sure nobody can say they didn't know. And all this because the genocide which we speak of is happening just across their border and yet nobody around them bothers to wake-up and recognize it. 

Then there is twitter... 

For those reading this twitter may be the only way you feel you can reach out to the world and scream. It may be the last refuge for you to feel like somebody is listening. And if that is the case then we encourage you to scream... scream till your energy is gone, and then scream even longer. Your voice counts. Your effort will not go unnoticed. 

On twitter we have watched as people like Jamila Hanan (@JamilaHanan) toil away on behalf of the Rohingya people. Within the network that encircles great people like Jamila are others who take their voices and apply them to actions on and off the Internet. We have seen over the past year beautiful souls that have purchased food and other necessities that otherwise would had never made it to the Rohingya. We have watched dedicated warriors for the cause organize efforts to petition governments and agencies around the world on behalf of the Rohingya.  And all this because it's simply the right thing to do. 

So if you are reading this we aren't asking you to do these things because nobody else is. We are asking you to get involved because those already on the field are more than ready for reinforcements. We are asking that you contact us on twitter (@alders_ledge and @AL_Staff) so that we can point you toward people who are actively engaged in this struggle. We are asking that you lend yourself to the cause along with us.

Ready to do more than tweet or email?

Money is the root of all evil.

Or so that is what they say... In Myanmar it has been the driving force behind the silence of the world community at large. It keeps the Burmese military in the field as foreign investors pour cash into the genocidal government's back pocket. And yet it is the one thing that can make the difference between whether a Rohingya family eats or starves.

Chances are if you are reading this you have some of that said cash available after all your bills are paid each month. Chances are you spend some of that on things you really don't need. For example: name brand coffee, movie tickets, music downloads, or maybe even fast food. None of this really has to be purchased. And if you could spare any of your "wants" for some of what the Rohingya need... well why wouldn't you?

We here at Alder's Ledge make monthly donations to organizations that directly help the Rohingya people of Myanmar. Our team members are asked to provide whatever they can in our effort to put our money where our mouths are. We know that our words have power, but we also recognize that at times... this being one of them... cold hard cash speaks louder than good intended words.

One of our favorite organizations to provide our support to is Partners Relief and Development. You can learn more about Partners and how they help the Rohingya by clicking: here.

Once you have researched what organization you want to provide your financial support to we ask that you make this a habit. However often you can donate, please do so. Whatever you can give, please do so. Make it a part of your day to day life.

"A screamer is somebody who witnesses genocide and refuses to remain silent. 
How wonderful it would be if there were more screamers in the world today."

Want To Learn More?

Contact Alder's Ledge on Twitter: @AL_Staff

Source Documents
(note: not all listed)

Press TV

Radio Australia 


Phuket Wan Tourists News

January 2, 2014

Savage Peace

Enduring Myanmar's "Ceasefire"
(part of The Darkness Visible series)

Praying for peace, praying to live.

When every meal is a blessing, and never guaranteed, you don't take a single grain of rice for granted. Every morsel, every last bite, is a step toward survival for the Kachin people of Burma. Their way of life was stripped from them. Their homeland laid to waste as the military of Myanmar grabbed up land and expelled the people it belongs to. Their homes were burned as the hellish minions of Myanmar's leadership trampled their fields and slaughtered their livestock. Where children once played there are now landmines and men in uniform to who the laws of war do not apply.

When every day you get to breath air free of smoke and ash is a blessing you don't take the little things in life for granted. Holidays that were once sacred may come and go without notice for many, but for those who have nothing else, they never pass without the offering of some faint sense of hope. Christmas was once a time of blessings for the Kachin people. It was celebrated in their own unique way. Now it is cherished for it's sweet, if only momentary, release from the cruel monotony of war. Celebrations that may only mirror what they once were are now the moments that Kachin children, born to this hell on earth, will remember for a lifetime. And yet these bitter sweet memories will have to be stored alongside ones that leave scars that time may never fully heal.

Peace is a lofty idea for a nation that has been at war with itself for nearly six decades. It's almost like a carrot at the end of a stick. Persistently dangling just beyond the reach of the people these wars have oppressed for so long. It is a sign of hope that they would continue to look forward towards it. Yet it is a miserable reality that the nation holding that carrot just out reach is the very reason for their suffering in the first place.

The Kachin people seek only for themselves what any other nation of men have sought out throughout all of time. They want the right to self-determination as a people, the right to preserve their heritage and culture. They seek to be recognized as a distinct culture and not forced into assimilation into an amalgamation designed by politicians who detest them on an ethic basis. But more importantly, they seek a better life for their children and a future free from the threat of war and starvation.

No people on the this planet will ever accept for their children a life worse than the one they have already endured. No mother would wish to remain silent as she watches her children waste away from hunger and disease. No father would want to live with the reality that his wife and daughters could be taken away and raped at any moment. And though these may not characterize the politics behind the war, these are the driving fears that fuel a society to resist the heavy hand of a brutal government. These are the sorts of fears that keep militias in the field and a savage military constantly beating at the door.

However despite the natural inclination of man to resist tyranny, Myanmar continues to push for more of it as they tell the world how wonderful this "ceasefire" is for the Kachin State and it's people. Behind the fog of war, which never really left, the military continues it's campaign of rape, pillage, and ruthless slaughter. The intent to intimidate what they view as the underdog is clear once the government's lies are stripped away. No amount of propaganda can hide the scars left upon the victims of this barbarism. Missing limbs and protruding ribs don't speak to peace. Children playing in squalid camps while parents wait for rations that never come doesn't indicate peace. Only the lies coming from Burma's leadership speak of this.

This is made evident when soldiers from Burma's military invade internally displaced peoples' camps (IDPs) and use what little resources these people have for their own profit.

"The FBR (Free Burma Rangers) lists and dates the Burma Army took over a camp for displaced people. On 21 November 2013, Burma Army soldiers – from Battalion 47, 56, 240, 276, and 319 – occupied Nam Lim Pa clinic, in Nam Lim Pa IDP camp, using the building to store weapons and ammunition."
~ Burma News International 1-2-14

Organizations like the Free Burma Rangers, a front line humanitarian group, have helped strip away the lies that Myanmar attempts to portray to the world. Their people on the ground record every movement the Burmese soldiers make against the Kachin civilians. Their atrocities are recorded in detail and accounts from the victims, whose voices would otherwise be silenced, are smuggled out of Myanmar. These records show where Myanmar's official party line and reality so dramatically separate from one another.

When Burma's military sets IDP camps to the torch the world is told that there are million reasons why these squalid camps go up in flames. Myanmar blames anything from a camp fire getting out of control to the refugees themselves. Yet when Nam Lim Pa went up in flames the Free Burma Rangers provided the world with photographic evidence of Myanmar's military's involvement. Unexploded mortar shells and spent rounds proved that the camp was savagely attacked and the refugees driven off as the Burmese soldiers approached in such a manner as to flush the camp entirely.

Civilians are not mentally prepared for combat in the way that soldiers are. Attacks like these are carried out to amplify the confusion and fear that sets in as the military takes camps by surprise. Though the goal is usually to simply drive off the refugees the military takes no measures to prevent casualties amongst civilians. It rather appears that the intent is to maximize the numbers of Kachin refugees killed so as to keep refugees from returning once the soldiers have moved out.

Once the attacks are over the Burmese military takes to exploiting Kachin civilians who can't escape their advance. Taking resources the Kachin people need to live, Myanmar's military deprives desperate refugees of their basic needs. In Nam Lim Pa the soldiers took rice from villagers before opening fire to drive the civilians back as the soldiers carried off their food. Helpless, the Kachin villagers had no way of hiding their rice or keeping it from troops that are still being resupplied from central Burma.

For the outside world these sorts of actions should indicate the end goal of Myanmar's war against the Kachin people. This is not a war to bring the Kachin people into the ranks of Burma's "culturally diverse" society. This is not a war to push the Kachin rebel factions into submission. This is a war to ethnically cleanse as much of the Kachin state as Myanmar possibly can before so called peace is established. The ceasefire is Burma's way of holding up a blank sheet of paper and proclaiming to the world "peace in our time".

There can be no peace with between a government and a people it wishes didn't exist. The carrot at the end of this stick is an illusion. For the actions of the Burmese military more directly reflect the intent of it's government than the words that fall from perverse lips back in Myanmar's capitol. Every drop of blood spilled on behalf of this savage peace speaks volumes to the reason the Kachin people still suffer.

Until the world is forced to realize that genocide needs not war or conflict to be effective then the peoples whose lives it claims can never be saved. The value of their existence amongst us is no more than that of the breath we exhale while proclaiming "never again". Our promise to uphold that vague proclamation falls more rapidly to the grave than the Kachin people themselves.

As a world community we must look past our hope that peace can be achieved without pain. We must realize that as long as there are men who would sacrifice entire races of men to their insanity there will always be a reason to fight. We must realize that those words, never again, so desperately need action to make them a reality.

Putting pressure upon your own government is just a start.

The most direct way to help those who need it most, the Kachin civilians who endure this tragedy, is to put your own resources into the fight. Time, money, and your voice go further than you might realize.

Two organizations to partner with in this fight for the Kachin peoples' future, and two organizations you should research for more info on this topic, are:

The Free Burma Rangers


Partners Relief and Development

When every meal you eat is just another part of your day, you have it better than most of the rest of the world. When every dollar you spend doesn't make you decide between life and death, you have something to spare. And when every breath you breathe is free from fear, you have a voice that can be used to ease the fears of others.

We here at Alder's Ledge make regular donations to Partners Relief and Development. We will never ask that you do something that we ourselves would not. When we ask you to "scream" we will always be there to help amplify your voice in any way we can. When we ask you to donate we are pleading with you to join us in our effort to put our hard earned cash behind our voice. We know that everyone of us is working hard, and those dollars probably have been dogeared for something else, yet when we ask... we ask also that you give it thought (and prayer if need be) to decide what it is you could sacrifice so that those in need don't have to.

On 22 November 2013, Burma Army soldiers from MOC 21 took 5 sacks of rice from the IDP rations at Nam Lim Pa IDP camp. While Burma Army troops were taking rice rations from IDPs, 23 villagers from Man Dau village were walking to Nam Lim Pa IDP camp. When they encountered the Burma Army troops in the area, Burma Army troops began shooting at the villagers, causing the villagers to turn and run back to Man Dau. - See more at:
On 22 November 2013, Burma Army soldiers from MOC 21 took 5 sacks of rice from the IDP rations at Nam Lim Pa IDP camp. While Burma Army troops were taking rice rations from IDPs, 23 villagers from Man Dau village were walking to Nam Lim Pa IDP camp. When they encountered the Burma Army troops in the area, Burma Army troops began shooting at the villagers, causing the villagers to turn and run back to Man Dau. - See more at:

Have questions for us?

Contact the author on Twitter - @alders_ledge
Contact a team member on Twitter - @AL_Staff

Source Documents
(note: not all listed)

Burma News International

Myanmar Times

Burma Free Rangers