Sunday, September 24, 2017

Rohingya crisis

Why am I writing about Rohingya crisis? It's in the news  but there are so  many atrocities taking place. Still, Are Myanmar’s Rohingya facing genocide or ethnic cleansing?
THE HAGUE: Muslim Rohingya fleeing their homes in Myanmar are facing “ethnic cleansing” but whether they are victims of genocide remains unclear, international justice experts told AFP.
About 422,000 refugees from the stateless Muslim minority have fled Myanmar’s westernmost Rakhine state to Bangladesh since August 25, alleging torture and rape by Myanmar troops and Buddhist militias.
Their plight has sparked UN accusations of military-led ethnic cleansing, but French President Emmanuel Macron has said the attacks amount to genocide.
September 22 – Seven judges of the Rome based Permanent People’s Tribunal on Myanmar have unanimously declared Myanmar guilty of genocide against Rohingyas and crime against humanity against other ethnic minorities.
Recently, however, I've seen too many "independent" journalists play loose with the facts, downplaying for ideological reasons, the scale of this tragedy. I hate this, because if reporters can't be trusted to report truthfully, what price democracy and a free society?
First, the lie the Rohingya are "Bengali immigrants". No, they've been there centuries Who are the Rohingya? 
The Rohingya are Muslims native to the northern Arakan region of Burma, which borders Bangladesh. The name Rohingya is taken from "Rohang" or "Rohan," which was the name used for the Arakan region during the 9th and 10th centuries. According to Rohingya history, the group is descended from 7th century Arab, Mughal, and Bengali merchants who settled in Arakan territory. The Rohingya live alongside the Rakhine, a people descended from Hindus and Mongols who make up the ethnic majority in the region. 
The Rohingya language is known as Rohingyalish and is linguistically similar to the Chittagonian language spoken in the southernmost area of Bangladesh bordering Burma. While the language has been successfully written in scripts including Arabic, Hanafi, Urdu, and Burmese, the modern adaptation uses a script based on the 26 letters of the Roman alphabet with two additional Latin letters. 
The Rohingya had autonomous rights till the military dictatorship of 1962 disenfranchised them all, and Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Prize winner is a figurehead unable to do anything to stop this. The West, with its eye on Burma's mineral wealth would like to normalize relations with Myanmar

The dirty fossil fuel secret behind Burma's democratic fairytale

but now that China has plans to develop an extension of its "silk road" to the Burmese coast there are all of a sudden competing geo-political interests, and, a lot of misinformation, sigh.

The Rohingya Of Myanmar - Pawns In An Anglo-Chinese Proxy War Fought By Saudi Jihadists

While the ethnic conflict in Rankine state is very old, it has over the last years morphed into an Jihadist guerilla war financed and led from Saudi Arabia. The area is of geo-strategic interest:
Rakhine plays an important part in [the Chinese One Belt One Road Initiative] OBOR, as it is an exit to Indian Ocean and the location of planned billion-dollar Chinese projects—a planned economic zone on Ramree Island, and the Kyaukphyu deep-sea port, which has oil and natural gas pipelines linked with Yunnan Province’s Kunming. 
Pipelines from the western coast of Myanmar eastwards to China allow hydrocarbon imports from the Persian Gulf to China while avoiding the bottleneck of the Strait of Malacca and disputed parts of the South China Sea.
Whenever people, even in this case with the best intentions, go on about "jihadists" I get annoyed and ask for sources. They certainly are the worst "Saudi-armed jihadists" I've ever seen, having to get arms by raiding police stations. Sure, the leadership of the resistance might ne based in Saudia, but it's a stretch otherwise. And the mistreatment began in 1962, with Buddhist mobs and police
attacking Rohingya villages since 2012, and the refugee crisis then. So resistance beginning in 2016 is cause for genocide?

His article and comment, and I generally enjoy them, is a pastiche of poorly sourced opinion, and the analysis particularly weak. Posted a reply which is still not up, so I'm writing here.

Hi, M of A,

Not sure where you get "minor ethnic violence in Myanmar" and "The refugee wave is quite small compared to other events" but UNHCR says "number of Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar edges towards half a million" so obviously it is a humanitarian catastrophe not excusable by the presence of a few poorly armed "Islamic insurgents" and "Tafkiris" attacking police stations and army outposts

Likewise, some quibbles about the Pakistani newspaper Dawn report there are more than 500,000 Rohingya in Karachi. Those, discredited figures by the defunct Pakistani agency NARA were based on "estimates by senior officials". Other estimates by the same agency say 200,000 but no one knows for sure, since, the agency never counted them. Indeed, a Sindh High Court judge censured them for not keeping track of foreign nationals and the President merged the agency into NADRA.

On the one hand, those born in Bangla Desh have a right to Pakistani citizenship, on the other, those falsely called Rohingya can be denied essential services in Karachi. Too many sources to link here, but there are competing interests to ensure those figures are inflated or underestimated.

Likewise, the Muslim presence in Myanmar goes back to the 9th century and since then, the Muslim Tatar armies of the Mongols also invaded Burma around the 13th-14th centuries. It is shameful that later immigration by Bengalis in the 19th century should be used to deny the Rakhine Muslims (Rohingya is a misnomer) their civil rights.

Now, your major, geo-political theme about nefarious interests trying to disrupt the Chinese silk road. Ataullah has already made peace overtures to Myanmar; stop persecuting Muslims, make peace. If Myanmar won't listen, and refuse to allow UN inspectors, fine. But the major plan by China is not to build a pipeline through Myanmar, but through the Pakistani port of Gwadar. The Iran/Pakistan gas pipeline's already well under way, and eventually carry up to China. This will be built along the China-Pakistan highway as part of the China-Pakistan economic corridor.

Gwadar - a port built by China - is the absolute key. It is the essential node in the crucial, ongoing, and still virtual Pipelineistan war between IPI and TAPI. IPI is the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline, also known as the "peace pipeline", which is planned to cross from Iranian to Pakistani Balochistan - an anathema to Washington. TAPI is the perennially troubled, US-backed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline, which is planned to cross western Afghanistan via Herat and branch out to Kandahar and Gwadar.--Pepe Escobar, "Balochistan is the ultimate prize," Asia Times, May 9, 2009 

So whoever "wins" Balochistan incorporates Pakistan as a key transit corridor to either Iranian gas from the monster South Pars field or a great deal of the Caspian wealth of "gas republic" Turkmenistan.--Robert D. Crane, "Baluchistan: Pivot of Asia, Revisited,", May 9, 2009

There is indeed, a hybrid war against China taking place, but that is in Pakistan. Why should oil tankers go around India to dock in Myanmar when Gwadar, a deep sea water port is a lot closer? The gas pipeline from Iran’s Pars field extend from there to China?

This is where the next battle between US and Chinese interests will take place. The Rohingya, sadly, are grist for the mill.  

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