Saturday, June 6, 2015

2014 report: “Burma could be the site of the world’s next genocide”

And it seems that finally, the world is getting the message, although those chickens came home to roost long ago.

The January 2014 in-depth article in the New Republic, called “A Countryside of Concentration Camps,” reiterates what I’ve spoken about in this blog regarding President Obama’s less-than-forceful visit to Myanmar in 2012.
The president praised the country’s “remarkable journey” towards democracy and civil rights, but realpolitik notwithstanding, had to sound “a brief note of concern, expressed in the mildest language.”
‘There is no excuse for violence against innocent people,’ Obama said. ‘And the Rohingya hold within themselves the same dignity as you do.’
“But he mentioned the Rohingya by name only once before returning, sunnily, to the subject of reform and Burma’s “potential to inspire” other formerly oppressed countries. Nice place, he said in effect, except for the attempted genocide.”
  More than 100,000 Rohingya were displaced after the riots of 2012.  (Photograph by Greg Constantine)

Democracy in Myanmar, it seems, has now allowed for some freedom of ethnic hatred that under military rule was at least kept to a dull roar. “The Rohingya are, so far, unlucky casualties of progress, and their ongoing ethnic-cleansing hasn’t been enough to sour Obama’s rapport with the Burmese president, Thein Sein. Nor, it seems, has it managed to stir the outrage of Aung San Suu Kyi, whose lack of comment has made activists, once piously reverent, now treat her as something between demoness and fool.”
Remember, this was written a year ago.
Plus ca change . . . 
“Obama closed his Rangoon speech in 2012 on what he no doubt meant as a cheery note: ‘I stand here with confidence that something is happening in this country that cannot be reversed.’ Increasingly, it sounds like a prophecy of doom.” 
If you are coming new to this discussion of Rohingya refugees and the policies of Myanmar, this article is a great place to start, outlining the beginning of the latest genocidal wave against Muslims in 2012, and the history of Buddhist violence in Myanmar, dispelling the notion of all Buddhists as peace-loving souls who teach love for one’s fellow man and respect for all creatures.
“Buddhists have, in some circles anyway, received a free pass from skeptics of religion, largely because of the good p.r. and fine examples of the Dalai Lama and his herbivorous Western celebrity proxies (Richard Gere, Uma Thurman). The last few years of resistance to Chinese occupation of Tibet have seen 124 self-immolations by protesting Tibetan Buddhists, and zero burnings of Chinese soldiers. By now the average American thinks that Buddhist extremists are less dangerous than Buddhist moderates (a pleasant contrast with certain well-known types of extreme Christians and Muslims) and that the most violent living Buddhist is Steven Seagal.
“But violent Buddhist wack-jobbery is real—just ask the victims of Japanese fascism, which the Japanese Buddhist clergy supported rabidly—and in Burma it is flourishing.”
The article also gives some background on Ang San Suu Kyi and her perplexing silence regarding the Rohingya.
All in all, and article just as relevant today as it was over a year ago.
Maybe now someone will do something about it.

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