RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

writing for godot

Plight Of The Stateless

Written by Jaron Pearlman   
Monday, 14 April 2014 05:33
As mainstream western media plods along with ‘coverage’ of the imposing wars with 
Syria or Iran, and the continuing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, it
 conveniently keeps ignoring any violence not associated with attempts to dominate 
Middle Eastern trade routes. Much of these unreported violations of United
 Nations Law, Geneva Conventions, and Human Rights occur in regions qualified as
 ‘Third World’, its original meaning as ‘in the process of industrialization’. 

The general model that creates a violent ‘Third World’ nation is as follows. An
 advanced/established economic group of regions discovers a new undeveloped land 
from which to harvest resources and products for export. In traditional 
colonialism, this suggests absorbing the local workforce and economy into
 larger, privatized trade- most times deflating worker pay/ product worth in the
 native country. In addition to this, environment also suffers greatly due to lowered 
standards of preservation. New currency and debt structures are created as well
 to force workers into the foreign export system, and keep the nation spiraling 
into a state of debt peonage owed to foreign entities (namely the ones
 establishing the new economy/ usurping the national resources). Most times an established
 regional economy will view a ‘Third World’ nation as a disposable resource- to
 be used until both currency value and intrinsic national worth is nonexistent.
Because of this vampiric model the term ‘Third World’ now
 represents countries with severe problems with debt, poverty, oppressive
 regimes, or modern development. Naturally this causes multiple military
 factions to form, including representation of the parasite colonial economy, nationalists, insurgent forces for new governance, civilian militia and
 religious zealots, relief forces from the UN /other nations, or mercenary
 weapon/resource runners.

One group living among all these unaddressed horrors are the Rohingya Muslims of 
Burma (Myanmar). Burma resides across from India, over the Bay of Bengal. It borders Thailand to the southeast, Laos, Vietnam, and China to the east and north, India 
and Bangladesh to the west. The border of Burma and Bangladesh is a small one-
the main Burmese region next to the border being the Arakan, now known as the
 Rakhine (the district of Chin borders Bangladesh as well). This is currently
 where about 3.5 million Rohingya Muslims are from (though many have been
 relocated). They share this state with indigenous Rakhine Theravada Buddhists. Muslim immigration to the Arakan region is thought to have occurred around the 8th
century CE (700 AD). Among the Burmese, Theravada Buddhism was the preferred
 religion- while neighboring Bangladesh had primarily Muslims- but also Hindus 
and Christians.

A good starting point to begin analyzing the Rohingya was the 
settling of Bengali Muslims in the Arakan (Rakhine) State under the Buddhist 
King Narameikhla.
 At the time Arakan was the independent Kingdom of Mrauk-U, a Dynasty based
 governance separate from other Burmese/Bengali states. In 1406 Narameikhla was
 driven from Arakan by the Kingdom of Ava in northern Burma, and sought refuge
 from the Muslim Sultans of Bangladesh. In 1429 he was able to regain control of 
Arakan, allying himself with the powers of the Bengal Sultanate military.
 In exchange for their help, Arakan became a province of Bangladesh, and the Buddhists 
became much more Sultan-like, implying royal divinity and further heightened 
rule of Narameikhla and more dramatic class divides. The Arakanese citizenry also became much more 
populated with Muslims immigrating from Bengal and the Middle East- mixing quickly
 with the local Buddhists. In the mid 1400s, the Arakan kingdom retook their sovereignty-
occupying parts of Bangladesh as well, including the costal region of
 Chittagong and inland trading area of Ramu. It wasn’t until 1795 that Burma officially 
took over the Arakan Kingdom, and assimilated it due to westward expansion by 
the Burmese King Bodawpaya.

As political power shifted from a Muslim friendly 
government to statist Buddhist regime the fate of Muslim Arakanese shifted. Chittagong
 and Ramu had already been taken over in the 1680s by the British East India 
Trading Company (creating a colonial Third World endeavor), and the Burmese 
Buddhist majority were not fond of the indigenous Muslims- or the more recent Islamic
 immigrants from Bengal, Pakistan, China, and India. Discrimination of the 
Rohingya began with social limitations, such as inability to own land or
 operate business, engage in marriage, or move freely about the country.
 Independent groups of both Muslims and Buddhists also engaged in full on
 conflict (often state sanctioned by Burma). Before full apartheid came about
 however, the British took control of Burma in 1886 after series of British-Burmese 
Wars that indebted the indigenous Burmese and took control of the national

As the years went on under British rule, violence 
between the Rohingya and Rakhine continued, only slightly curbed by British
 governance. The exports of Burma and Bengal were widely valued in the west and
 east- including poppy, rice, fabrics, beans, marine life, precious gems, teak, 
and rubber. In addition to this, the location of both countries provided
 opportunities for bustling trade routes along the Bay of Bengal- connecting
 Indian, South Pacific, and Chinese economies. The British control lasted well 
into the 20th century, when World War Two severed ties between the
 west and Burma.
 Japan invaded Burma in 1942 and pushed the British out of control- forcing them back into
 Bangladesh (still then considered part of British India). In order to prevent
 further Japanese occupation of British lands/assets, the UK armed Rohingyas in
 Arkan but put Burmese Buddhists back in control of the region- sparking further
 violence and chaos. Amidst the power vacuum left by the British, religious, 
nationalist, insurgent, foreign, and private forces clashed, preventing Japanese advancments. The Rohingya were
 massacred in massive droves. Many civilians retreated to the forests while
 attempting to avoid being shot on sight, cut down with swords, beaten and
 pulled by livestock/automobiles, or raped and murdered publicly. The assault on the Rohingya was spurred on by
 their newly armed brethren, and came from all sides- the Japanese attempting to
 clear the region for wartime assimilation, the Burmese Buddhists seeking
 cultural ‘cleansing’, and the western powers using Rohingya for a literal
 bullet shield. Approximately 40,000 had to flee to Bangladesh, losing family 
members and livelihood in the process.

After the war ended and the Japanese were ejected, Muslims in Arakan and
 Bangladesh sought to reinstate a Muslim nation in Arakan. This newly organized insurgency
(called Mujahid) aimed at rejecting the Buddhist state of Burma and creating a
 new country resembling old Arakan under King Narameikhla. 1978 saw an end to 
this, as the Burmese military retook control of Arakan and scattered the 
insurgency. Though some remnants of the militant Mujahideen still exist in the 
region, this was the beginning of the current plight of the civilian Rohingya.

The current Theravada Buddhist rule is one based around strict
 nationalization of most major exports and a military state. Though a growing
 private sector is in the process of establishment, the Burmese government is
 very strict in its control of economy and citizenry. This has created a long
 standing streak of state sanctioned violence against Chinese (Taoist,
Confucianist, Muslim), and Rohingya civilians. The publicized reason for this
(this is not a Burmese government statement) is a Buddhist fear of Muslims
 conquering Burma and ejecting Buddhists as done in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Malaysia.
 Rakhine and Rohingya tensions have come to a head in the past few years leading up to 2014.
Though the reasons for escalated riots and violence are not confirmed the widely accepted
 story began in May 2012.

Allegedly a group of (Rohingya/Mujahid) Muslim extremists
 raped and beat an ethnic Rakhine woman by the name of Ma Thida Htwe. This
 spurred a reaction from the local Rakhine Buddhists to stop a bus filled with Rohingyas
 and kill ten of them. Out of this circumstance widespread rioting and racial
 violence ensued, spreading from Arakan to the rest of Burma. As the summer 
continued the Burmese government declared a state of emergency and martial law,
 saying they were attempting to quell the rioting, destruction, and murders. Then in 
July, Burmese (Myanmar) officials did not include the Rohingya in their national
 census, where they had previously been classified as stateless Muslims from
 Bengal. With no national recognition full blown apartheid racism sprung into 
effect, backed by the Burmese government. With no official national identity
 the Rohingya became subject to abductions, physical and psychological torture,
 unsanitary living conditions in camps filled with human waste and fear, and
 unrelenting visceral murders.

Some Rohingya fled to neighboring Muslim countries, while many of those 
who stayed in Burma face confinement in IDP camps (around 100,000 people). In
 these camps widespread reports of rape, murder, and human rights violations are
 abundant- despite the severe lack of journalism permitted. Media showing 
children engulfed in flames, charred remains of dozens of people thrown in mass
 graves, families being torn apart at gunpoint, and boats full of sobbing,
 shattered families still make its way into the public eye via alternative news- but are
 not reported in western mainstream media.

Rohingya that chose to flee to Thailand and Bangladesh (the easiest 
countries to reach by sea) face two common outcomes. As they arrive in overcrowded,
 barely seaworthy boats, Thai and Bengal military force the Rohingya to turn 
around and face the open sea or Burma. The reasoning being both countries do
 not wish for the responsibility of caring for displaced/stateless people. Alternatively
, both nations have been known to purposefully remove Rohingyas from border camps 
and deliberately tow them far into to Bay of Bengal with no food, water, or
 means to survive. Many die in the Bay from malnourishment, thirst, or drowning 
in storms at sea. Should they return to Burma, they are subject to harsh mortal
 threats- and the inability to work, visit family, see doctors, or be involved 
in daily communal activity. Ironically, despite having no citizenship many are
 still taxed on what little they have-often in the form of labor under penalty 
of death.

What is happening in Burma reflects a common problem seen in a country with various 
interests and regular economic upheaval. As Burma struggles to join an effort for globalized 
trade it is being forced to accept an ever-widening private sector while trying
 to maintain its sovereignty. The Theravada Buddhists there are wary of such 
things, and for good reason seeing how Burma (especially Arakan) has been 
possessed and repossessed repeatedly. This, in conjunction with the ever
 present Burmese distrust for Muslims, has created an environment where it is
 acceptable to persecute the Rohingya minority.

What is noteworthy is that neither Buddhist nor Muslim civilians are at 
fault. Rather, the factions that persist in fueling these atrocities are to
 blame. The Buddhist ‘969’ anti-Muslim movement, and remnants of the Mujahideen 
insurgency are both very active- as is the overt political racism and agendas 
surrounding Burmese affairs.
One such example is in the eastern Shan state of
 Burma where international pressure for a Chinese oil/gas pipeline has been 
opposed greatly by the local population. Recently the nationalist anti-Muslim
‘969’ movement has picked up support in the region- potentially prompting the 
Burmese military to take control to ‘prevent’ riots. This would make 
international acquisition of oil/gas from the Shan much more difficult. For
 nationalists in Burma a conflict in this region could prove to be useful in 
killing/driving out Muslims and keeping international hands out of the Shan 

Considering all the interests at work, its hard 
to pinpoint who is benefiting from the plight of the Rohingya and how. What is
 clear though is the nature of almost every conflict. Under the veil of
 religious occupation and cleansing, world/ Burmese economic powers are laying 
stake to Burma at the cost of its most helpless minority. The Rohingya
 civilians are left with no place to flee, nowhere to contribute to community,
 and nowhere to grow. What is also unclear is the fate of Arakan (Rakhine). It
 seems to be afflicted with the same perpetual war we see in the Fertile
 Crescent- a long standing hatred of religious diversity disguising a struggle 
to control trade.

This plight of the stateless begs the questions:
 What is suffering worth to the world? Is genocide worth rubber and rice? What
 is it worth to the governments? Is immolation of a community worth teak and 
gems? What is it worth to the individual? Gas, Oil, beans and poppy?
We must ask ourselves: What is it worth to you? your social media marketing partner
Email This Page


THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.