(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
Partners Relief and Development