Tuesday 24 October 2017

Meanwhile in Myanmar: The Genocide of the Rohingyas

I have never been one of those taken in by Aung San Suu Kyi.

Back in the late 1980s, when she first came on to the international media scene, she was the hot new sensation. The so-called left, including the communist parties in India, idolised her. When the Myanmarese military junta annulled the election that she apparently won, and put her under house arrest, the “left” couldn’t get enough of her. And the then government of India couldn’t bend over backwards enough for her, either.

I remember that when a Myanmarese commercial plane was hijacked to India, the Indian government, instead of arresting the hijackers for terrorism, gave them political asylum – thus setting a precedent that came back to sting India in the arse years later when an Indian plane was hijacked from Nepal to Afghanistan. And I remember the adulation that the Western media had for Aung San Suu Kyi, who was held up as a beacon of freedom and democracy.

Even then, and I was only a teenager, this seemed to be something strange.

After all, I live only a couple of hundred kilometres from the India-Myanmar border, and Myanmarese goods (including clothes and a violently sour and red fruit) are openly available in shops in this town. This part of the country is overflowing with narcotics from the South Asian Golden Triangle, and the Indian insurgent groups that then held this part of the country in a death grip had bases all over north-western Myanmar. More than obviously, it seemed to me, Indian support for Aung San Suu Kyi – unless India was willing to invade Myanmar to put her in power, something nobody ever pretended was going to happen – would achieve nothing except possibly provoke retaliation from the Myanmarese. And they could retaliate effectively simply by making no attempt to hinder Indian insurgents based on their territory, and by allowing the drugs to flow into India unimpeded.

Some of this thinking finally seeped through to the gravel-filled skulls of Indian officials eventually, and from the early 1990s there was a slow but perceptible shift away from Suu Kyi and towards the junta, then self-titled the State Law and Order Restoration Commission, SLORC, if I recall correctly. But of course that made no difference to Hollywood, which continued to make her, and the Myanmarese Buddhists, the symbols of “resistance” against the brutal regime.

There were many things wrong with this.

First, far from being innocent “victims”, Buddhists, whenever they have been in a position of power, have been brutally violent racist jingoists, more than almost any other religion. By the late eighties there was really no excuse for any reasonably informed person to be unaware of this. In 1983, the Sinhalese Buddhists in Sri Lanka had turned on the Hindu Tamil population of Colombo, massacred thousands in a days-long pogrom, and forced the survivors to flee. Those with money and skills marketable in the West fled to Europe and Canada; the rest made their way to squalid refugee camps in India, there to languish for decades. Not long afterwards, the Buddhist Bhutanese decided to impose Bhutanese cultural customs, including dress, on all Bhutanese citizens, regardless of ethnicity – and expelled the Hindu ethnic Nepali population when it was reluctant to comply. Those Bhutanese Hindus of Nepalese ethnic origin still eke out an existence in refugee camps in Nepal, but nobody ever talks about them.

Lest anyone think this is a uniquely South Asian phenomenon, that this is something that only South Asian Buddhists do, the Buddhist population of Cambodia has been brutal in its treatment of ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese; and the Buddhist Tibetans, before the People’s Liberation Army occupied the territory in 1950, were a serf-owning theocracy which existed only for the benefit of the parasitic lama hierarchy. And yet, as it still does to this day, Hollywood kept pretending that the Buddhists of Myanmar were “peaceful” and “oppressed”, presumably awaiting only the arrival of white American heroes on a mission of liberation.

These were the same Buddhists who had provoked the Christian and native religionist tribes of Myanmar – the Kachin, Karen, and Shan, for example – into rebellion. These were the same Buddhists who were, at that very moment, ethnically cleansing the Rohingyas and driving them into exile.

Oh yes, the Rohingyas. I am going to talk about them.

The Rohingyas are a people of Bengali origin, who have lived in Myanmar for centuries. More had been brought in by the British during their colonial rule of Myanmar, in line with the charming British habit of taking Indian forced labour with them wherever they went – from Guyana to South Africa and Mauritius to Fiji. The majority, though not all, of them are Muslims, and this fact is of extreme importance in understanding what has happened to them in the last few decades. Most of them settled in Rakhine State, along the Bay of Bengal bordering what is now the country of Bangladesh.

During the Second World War, the British – just as they had with Arab militias in the Ottoman Empire in the First World War – armed the Rohingyas to fight the Japanese and their proxies, in this case the Burmese National Army (BNA) of Aung San. This Aung San happens to be the father of the aforementioned Suu Kyi, and is sometimes called the “father” of the Myanmarese state. This fact, that the Rohingyas fought for the British against the Japanese, is still dragged up as “proof” that they cannot be trusted.

I would like to ask a question at this stage. Let’s assume that the Rohingyas are British “imports” from Bengal, and that they – over seventy years ago – fought for the British against the Japanese. Let’s also pretend that the Japanese were “liberators” and not imperialist colonialists who were in many ways even worse than the British they supplanted. Let’s claim that the modern Rohingyas are guilty of these “sins” of their forefathers, and therefore need to be punished.

So how, exactly, is this different from the story of the Sikhs in India?

In the early 1800s, the Sikhs had an empire in the Indian subcontinent, almost all of which lay to the west of the Indus river, in what is now Pakistan. The British conquered them in the 1840s, and then recruited them in huge numbers into the colonial British armed forces. These Sikhs enthusiastically served their new masters, and helped defeat the Indian Independence War of 1857. They continued to serve the British for the next ninety years. In 1919, when the British massacred hundreds of unarmed Indian protestors in Jalianwala Bagh in Amritsar, the Sikh clergy in the Golden Temple honoured the perpetrator of the massacre, Brigadier Reginald Dyer, and called him the “Saviour of the Punjab”. And in the Second World War, these same Sikhs fought for the British against the Japanese, who were, presumably, the “liberators” of India as well.

So, my question is this: if the Rohingyas should be persecuted for the sins of their forefathers, should not the modern Indian state massacre the Sikhs, burn their cities and towns and villages, mass-rape their women, and drive them into Pakistan, and take steps to make sure they could never return?

Of course, going by this logic, and no matter how ridiculous it sounds, it should.

Now, unlike the Indian National Army (INA) of Subhas Chandra Bose, which fought the British to the end, the BNA changed sides as soon as it became obvious that the Japanese were going to lose the war. So, if the Rohingyas are guilty for aiding the Japanese, so is Aung San himself – and the Rohingyas, unlike him, never turned coat. They never betrayed anybody.

For some reason the same people who charge the Rohingyas with aiding the British against the Japanese are careful to never mention this fact.

When Pakistan came into existence on 14th August 1947, what is now Bangladesh was East Pakistan, and some sections of the Rohingyas demanded that Rakhine should be included in the new state. This demand was summarily rejected by the Pakistani government itself, which made no attempt to consider it. And yet, the British, who were still the colonial overlords of Myanmar (or as it was then, Burma), might well have agreed to Pakistan asking for the territory. Whether they would or wouldn’t, in any case, they were never asked about it.

And yet the modern Myanmarese claim that the Pakistanis were trying to foment secessionism among the Rohingyas by 1949 in order to annex the territory. Why on earth would they do so, if only two years earlier they had turned down the opportunity?

The beginning of the end for the Rohingyas began in the early 1960s, when the then Ne Win dictatorship instituted a formally discriminatory policy towards them. Until then, through the 1950s, the Rohingyas had been allowed to live like anyone else, and had achieved a fair degree of integration. The Ne Win government, however, confined them to Rakhine state, restricted them to have no more than two children per couple, and – in a country with virtually no private enterprise at the time – blocked them from government employment. Basically, the Rohingyas became subsistence farmers in a Bantustan, allowed to exist only on sufferance.

This wasn’t enough for the Ne Win regime, which in 1982 instituted the explicitly racist National Races Policy. Under this, only members of eight particular select “national races” could be Myanmarese (or, then, Burmese) citizens. Obviously, the Rohingyas were carefully excluded from the list. In a moment, they were not just a discriminated against minority – they became stateless as well. Even the name “Rohingya” was banned, and the people called “Bangladeshis” or “Bengalis”, a terminological trick pioneered by the zionazis in Occupied Palestine, when they pretended that the Palestinians do not exist.

Anyone familiar with the Nazi policies regarding Jews in the 1930s, will realise that this has been done before: identify a helpless minority to target, call them “foreigners” and “traitors”, bar them from employment, confine them to ghettoes, and then force them out or, if that fails, exterminate them.

Because of the explicitly and formally racist, and implicitly fascist, nature of the Buddhist Myanmarese regime, I shall, from this point on, refer to it as the Buddhist-fascist racist Myanmarese regime, or BFRMR in short.

This extermination of the Rohingyas had already started in the late 1980s, when this account opens. I remember watching videos on Indian television of Rohingya refugees – old men, women, children, emaciated and ragged – arriving on Bangladeshi territory and being interviewed by a Bangladeshi journalist. Over the next two decades, over half the Rohingya population of Myanmar was forced out and into exile.

And yet these days people pretend that the Rohingyas were never targeted before they began to “terrorise” the poor innocent Myanmarese Buddhists a couple of years ago!

Given the decades of constant atrocities, and the systematic ethnic cleansing, it’s in fact fairly amazing that it was only circa 2012 that the Rohingyas finally made attempts to defend themselves. The main resistance group they set up is called the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, or ARSA. 

Despite the impressive sounding name, this is what ARSA looks like:

Not particularly fearsome looking, are they? Nothing like Obama’s cannibal headchoppers of the “Free Syrian Army” who swept over Syria in 2011, murdering and looting all they could? And yet the story is that they are fearsome jihadis who are fighting to establish some kind of mini-caliphate in Rakhine.

The difference from Obama’s “freedom fighter” headhunters is much more than clothing-deep. Anyone who knows about the origin of the 2011 terrorist attack on Syria will be aware that the headchoppers were active right from the beginning, and that they were heavily armed; they had instant Amerikastani and EU backing, and were awash in Turkish and Saudi/Qatari money. In contrast, the terrible terrorists of ARSA are so badly equipped that even this year, five years into their existence, they had to launch human wave attacks on BFRMR military positions, armed with iron rods, machetes, and crude bombs, to capture the few weapons they have. They literally had to pay in blood to get the weapons they needed to fight.

Not, of course, that this will continue. Inevitably, as the BFRMR continues its depredations and refuses to treat the Rohingyas as human beings, ARSA will either become further radicalised, and infiltrated by jihadist elements – or else it will be pushed aside by competing and openly jihadist groups, including ISIS and al Qaeda franchises. I could almost suggest that as the BFRMR continues to massacre, rape and burn out the Rohingyas from the villages they have inhabited for generations, this is exactly what Suu Kyi and her fellow war criminals are hoping for. It will give them the perfect cover for the genocide they are already committing.

I am in blood
Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o'er.

-       Macbeth, Act 3, Scene 4

In the course of this article I have, as I am well aware, gone against the majority opinion of my fellow leftists. They can be grouped into two broad sections. One still idolises Aung San Suu Kyi and refuses to admit that she can do wrong. These people are beyond help, and I have no time to waste on them.

The other group is more important. They are the ones scarred by the experiences of Serbia and Libya and Syria, and assume that anyone supported by the West - or, in this case, as we shall see, paid lip service by the West - can only be evil. Therefore they are instinctively anti-Rohingya. This next section will be especially addressed to them:

Having read this far, one needs to ask a question.. Why is it that, all of a sudden, after so many decades of being wilfully ignored, the plight of the Rohingyas has made news in the West? I cannot believe this is accidental or coincidental. The media in the West is part of the propaganda arm of the Amerikastani state; it will never dare to say a word without orders from the masters in Warshington.

So what, exactly, lies behind the sudden concern for Rohingyas? The desire to save Muslim lives? That’s a laugh, as any of the Yemenis, Afghans, Pakistanis, Iraqis, Syrians, Somalis, Libyans or Malians – just to name a few – blown to pieces by American bombs or missiles can certify. So what can it be?

I believe the answer lies in the fact that while the Western media has been screaming about the Rohingyas, except for some utterly token acts like renaming students’ halls they have done absolutely nothing to put any actual pressure on Aung San Suu Kyi to mend her ways. We all know that the West imposes sanctions at the drop of a hat on anyone, even on totally fictional grounds like the nonexistent Russian “invasion” of Ukraine. Yet this same West has done nothing, not a single thing, to put a single sanction on Myanmar. It hasn’t even reimposed a single one of the last few sanctions the blood soaked war criminal Barack Hussein Obama lifted in 2016.

So what is the West up to?

Aung San Suu Kyi was always meant to play a role in the plans of the imperialists of the West. After all, they don’t lionise the political prisoners held by, for example, the zionazi pseudostate in Occupied Palestine. Nor do they give out Nobel “Peace” Prizes to people who actually deserve or have earned them. No, Aung San Suu Kyi was always supposed to be a Western rubber stamp and puppet who, when in power, was supposed to hand over Myanmar to Amerikastani military and economic exploitation, lock, stock, and barrel.

Only, once she got into power, Suu Kyi began getting ideas above her station. She began to get cosy with China, maintain and even expand Myanmar’s links with its northern neighbour, and signally failed to hand over bases or mineral rights to her Western benefactors. She had to be brought to heel, and the Rohingya issue provided, and continues to provide, a good excuse.

Just as the West ignored the existence of the Rohingyas and their genocide for thirty years, the moment Suu Kyi learns her lesson, comes to heel, dumps China and assumes her role as dutiful Western rubber stamp and puppet, the Western media will in an instant forget that the Rohingyas ever existed.

But of course the killing will go on.


  1. Outstanding article. I learned a lot. However, the Rohingyas do not play a big part in the Western media. Page 3, maybe. They are front page news in the Islamic World. Saudi wants America to do something, and the Rohingyas are front page of the Saudi news (along with Iranian atrocities). They are on every broadcast by the Persian propaganda channel and the rogue GCC state propaganda channel (the channel Saudi says must be shut down, or else). But the New York Times? Little or nothing (Trump's latest faux pas is top of the news). BBC? Little or nothing (Brexit is top of the news).

    Under pressure from Saudi, a few words from Trump, but nothing more.

    And speaking of Nobel Peace prizes, the US says they MUST give one to the brave, noble, selfless White Helmets, but the Norwegians have shown more sense than that. A fact I find amazing, given the Norwegians past record.


  2. Yes, I know, I'm late with this comment.
    But, Bill, this woman has one of them Nobel peace prizes. Oh, maybe hers is just like the one the drone king has, yeah, that's it. She has an (ig)Nobel piece prize.
    As for not trusting her, well, for myself, any time the US MSM push somebody, that raises my suspicions to a higher level. The 'Merikkkan media only really push those who are useful to the 'Merikkkan ruling class. Any bets she is an old time CIA asset?


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