Monday, September 17, 2012

Here's How YOU Can Help

Burma Muslims, a very comprehensive website, has appeared in recent days, created by a consortium of agencies interested in providing humanitarian assistance to refugees in Myanmar.  One of the member agencies, the Pennsylvania-based Arakan Rohingya Union, is Dr. Wakar Uddin, of whom I have spoken in this blog.  I first contacted him in 2009 when we were in northern Aceh assisting 200 Rohingya who had fled Myanmar back then.  Another group had also landed in Aceh and were being assisted by the Indonesian government, but JMD was the only agency assisting these 200 men for a long time, until we began to receive (minimal) assistance from international donors.  The ARU was in its infancy at the time, and it’s both heartening and sad at the same time to learn how much it has grown, to match the increasing needs of this persecuted group.

Please visit their website; they are tracking the latest news and information regarding the provision of humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities in Myanmar and the region.

from the website:


To Stand with Rohingya Muslims!

National Call In Day: Sept 5 to Bangladesh Ambassador

National Call In Day: Sept 10 to Secretary of State

100 City Rally to Stop Genocide: Sat. Sept 22, 2012

100 City Rally

to Stop Genocide in Burma

Organizing Resources:

Even 10 people standing up for Burma is significant. Tell us how we can help you organize in your city. Send an email to if:

• Your city is standing against genocide on Sept. 22

• You need custom flyers, posters, placards or press releases

• When you sign up to hold a rally, we can provide you with a rally kit, masjid kit and a kit to contact Congresspersons.

Burma Task Force USA

Burma Task Force USA is a united effort by Muslim Americans founded by: Burmese Rohingya Association of North America, Burmese Muslim Association, Free Rohingya Campaign, American Muslims for Palestine, Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA NY), Majlis Shura of Atlanta, Majlis Ash-Shura of New York, Michigan Muslim Community Council; & Muslim Peace Coalition USA.

Rallies scheduled for Sept. 22

A number of rallies have already been scheduled for the weekend of Saturday, Sept. 22 all across the country.

The schedule can be found on our 100-City Rally page or on the Events page at

We're still working to have at least 100 rallies in 100 cities.
This united effort is being held in conjunction with the American visit of Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize winner and leader of the opposition party in Burma.

We have great respect for the leader who was under house arrest for many years, but we want to urge Ms. Suu Kyi to speak up about the plight of Rohingya Muslims.

If you would like to organize a rally in your city, email us at Download information for the rally at our "100-City Rally" page, which also includes tips on organizing and other useful tools, including publicity information, a flyer and sample placards.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Will a Second Visit Also be Whitewashed?

As I said to Dr Uddin of the Pennsylvania-based Arakan Rohingya Union, I hope they didn’t pretty things up for this second OIC visit as well.  He'd received first-hand reports of the Buddhist-led government officials painting and repairing mosques before the arrival of internationals, then taking them to those specific locations to show what nice places the Muslim minority had at their disposal.


Former RI VP joins Myanmar Peace Process

M. Taufiqurrahman, The Jakarta Post, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar | World | Mon, September 10 2012, 6:21 PM

Chairman of the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI), former vice president Jusuf Kalla traveled to Naypyitaw, the capital of Myanmar, on Monday, to join talks on finding peaceful solutions to the long-standing civil conflict in the country.

In the forum, Kalla shared some of the lessons learned from the Indonesian experience in striking a peace deal in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam.

“We told the Myanmarese government that the most important issue in the negotiation with insurgent groups is that the groups need to leave the past behind and start talking about future plans. A peace negotiation is about building a future and not history,” Kalla said after the meeting.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Just What a Starving Country on the Brink of Disaster Needs: A Basketball Team

This is really interesting and makes me embarrassed, on so many levels, to be an American. Someone should tell the State Department that people are starving and being killed in Myanmar and a basketball team and businessmen are not what is needed. One day I hope we will get our heads out of our asses.

YANGON, Myanmar -- The U.S. has appointed an ambassador to Myanmar and helped bring in American businessmen keen on doing business in the rapidly reforming Southeast Asian nation. Now, Washington is sending professional basketball players and coaches in a bid to boost cultural ties.

The U.S. Embassy said Sunday that four "sports envoys" will be in the country this week as part of a U.S. State Department-sponsored program "to emphasize the importance of academics, cooperation and respect for diversity."

The group will conduct several sports workshops with local youth before leaving Friday. Three of the envoys arrived this weekend and the last one is due to fly into Yangon later Sunday.

The group includes Charlotte Bobcats basketball team manager Richard Cho, a Myanmar native who migrated to the United States. Also traveling are Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Darvin Ham, former Women's National Basketball Association player Allison Feaster and former NBA player Marty Conlon.

Buddhist-dominated Myanmar has a national basketball team and courts are a common fixture at private and missionary schools. But the sport's popularity pales in comparison to soccer.

President Thein Sein's government has embarked on a series of dramatic economic and political reforms since a long-ruling military junta ceded power last year, prompting the United States and other Western powers to lift sanctions. Rights groups, however, say corruption and human rights abuses are still rife and bloody skirmishes between the army and rebels continues in northern Kachin state.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press