Category Archives: Human Rights

What is the truth behind the continuing persecution of the Rohingyas?

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. (Ghandi)

Myanmar chief of general staff Mya Tun Oo  said at least 160 people were killed in the conflict between the armed forces and ethnic armed groups in Shan during the last three months.
Myanmar security forces are “very likely” to have committed crimes against humanity against Rohingya Muslims in recent months, U.N. human rights investigators said.

Myanmar’s democratic reforms will not be helped by the continuing humanitarian crisis regarding the Muslim Rohingya minority in the western state of Rakihine (Arakan) bordering Bangladesh. Arakan was neither part of Bangladesh or Burma until 1784 and the Rohingya are natives of that region (approximately 2 million) It is estimated that 1.5 million Rohingyas live in exile around the world.

Violent confrontation between the Rohingya Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists has displaced 140,000 and killed 200+, most of them Rohingya. International aid agencies were expelled from Rakhine (Arakan) in March 2014. It appears the situation has not improved since then.

Rohingya
Rohingya (Photo credit: AK Rockefeller)

I found it difficult to know who or what to believe after watching Al-Jazeera’s 2012 documentary video about the Rohingya Muslims living in Rakhine (Arakan) in 2014. The UN said Rohingyas are deprived of citizenship and the most basic liberties (which Myanmar denies) They are classified as illegal immigrants and are denied identity cards which are essential for work, housing and travel.They claim they are Myanmar citizens and are arguably one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.

Is the persecution of the Rohingyas ethnic cleansing, a form of hidden genocide, religious or a human rights violation which has had little exposure internationally? Neither Myanmar, neighbouring Bangladesh or Thailand want these ‘stateless’ people or appear to recognise that they have any rights. How can this be?

It looks increasingly like  the intention of Myanmar is to destroy the Rohingyas as an ethnic group. Taking measures to restrict movement, marriage and births; denying peoples identity, denying their history and denying the legitimacy of their right to live where they do are all indications of genocide and of great concern.

Former Myanmar President Thein Sein considered most Rohingyas to be illegal immigrants (as does Bangladesh) who should be deported or sent to refugee camps.

English: Aung San Suu Kyi greeting supporters ...
English: Aung San Suu Kyi greeting supporters from Bago State on 14 August 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Myanmar icon Aung San Suu Kyi has refused to support the rights of the Rohingya, to citizenship and still remains silent about their problems. Why?

Whatever your views or feelings about the Rohingya and this long running conflict may be, denial of basic human rights can never be acceptable.

The Guardian’s expose on the Thai fishing industry’s exploitation of the Rohingyas makes for sad reading.

This is just another example of how difficult the human race finds it to live together in harmony. When there is no trust we live in fear, paranoia sets in and we believe everyone is a threat.

 

Nomads of the sea

No one wants us

For we are Moken.

Long time here yet

Still not broken.

 

Three hundred years and more,

Stateless nomads of the sea.

Skilled seafarers far from shore,

We had no home but we were free.

 

No schooling now for our children.

In sickness, we have no care.

Nomads still, we carry on.

Tourists, they just stop and stare.

 

Poorer now and losing face;

No basic rights in any land.

Exploited by this venal place;

We are just a one man band.

 

They used our skills for gain;

They made us dive too deep;

‘Nam neeb’ and dynamite destroyed us;

Now we’re just a crippled heap.

 

Poor man, rich man, beggar man, thief.

Seldom do we our stories write.

We are but nothing in this land.

But this land is ours by our birthright.

 

Even where we’ve lived for years

They will not let us call home.

Ancestral bones are buried deep

In land that we can never own.

 

Fish and forage;

Land or sea.

Shelter scavenged we accept.

Never discerning, we were free.

 

When we were young

We dived and dined.

Our great sea gave

Fish and shells and lobsters fine.

 

From Koh Phuket to Surin Islands,

Free to fish on natures patch.

Now from Surin we are banned;

No turtles, cucumber, clams to catch.

 

Without the sea we cannot live.

Sell a photo for a buck.

Embarassed, begging for some food.

Does any tourist give a fuck.

 

Thai, Burmese, Rohingya, Moken.

In the big dream many others

See the world for what it is,

Because forever we are brothers.

 

Still no one wants us.

We are Moken.

Long time here yet

Still not broken.

21st century wars

Century after century bloody war prevails.

Still it goes from Iraq to Ukraine.

Hope has not defined the new millennium

As on and on we fight in vain.

 

Self-styled demi-gods puff out their chests

With primal policies that lead to war

And scatter troops who may come home

Not to a hero’s welcome any more.

 

Thunder flashes light the smoke-filled sky.

I shudder as I look around.

The smell of cordite fills the air.

My world is burning to the ground.

 

I drag my broken body home.

In smouldering heaps my brothers lie;

The home that was now lies in ruins.

Perchance to dream one may not die.

 

What kind of world is this?

Where all mankind appears deranged,

And history has taught us nothing.

Change we must or we’ll be changed.

  

21st century wars

Featured image: Syrian refugees’ camp | Credits: © Nikolay Doychinov/AFP/Getty Images

Are we human?

As Koh Phuket suffers from deliberate crop burning in far-away Sumatra and Northern Thailand prepares itself for the same treatment in February and March each year, I wonder are we obsessed with fire?

Rawai Sunrise – September 2015

Air pollution drifting in from Indonesia changes the landscape in Rawai Bay, Phuket
Air pollution drifting in from Indonesia changes the landscape in Rawai Bay, Phuket

Rawai Sunrise – August 2015

Sunrise in Rawai Bay - August 2015
Sunrise in Rawai Bay – August 2015

We are human after all – or are we human at all?

Do those who cause the problems feel guilty that 50% of the people of Northern Thailand suffer from respiratory problems? If they don’t care for their own health then the answer is obvious.

In March 2014 I posted on this topic in ‘Is North Thailand a Health Hazard’  In the light of the recent fires in Indonesia it seems appropriate to air the issue once again.

In that post I wrote:

“Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai only have populations of between 2 and 3 million. Pollution is mainly caused by subsistence farmers employing outdated ‘slash and burn’ techniques used for hundreds of years to clear forest and scrub land and grow crops. The government is well aware of the dangers to health but is failing the people miserably. Together with the many ‘Forest Fire Control Centres’, throughout the provinces, the authorities are once again proving to be either unwilling or powerless to prevent the recklessness of ignorant rural people. It would seem that most have little or no concern for their own or others health and safety.”

We know that the very star that gives us life will eventually destroy us; consuming us in a fire of cataclysmic proportions.

Surely this cannot be the reason we are committed to prior self-destruction by the constant burning of our planet?

Is the knowledge that the Sun will take away the life it gives reason for our own pre-emptive strike on the World.

Forest fires, wars and crop burning rage across the world with never-ending regularity.

Despite the fact that laws are in place governments are powerless to stop the destruction of the planet by its inhabitants. Ignorance prevails and prosecutions are few and far between.

Have we such disregard for our neighbours that we continue to burn our lands and stand by as the smoke drifts on the wind thousands of miles across the seas to choke our brothers?

And let us not forget the never ending environmental problems and the silent suffering animals, birds, sea creatures and insects affected by our actions.

Despite all the knowledge at our disposal it seems we still fail to understand that we desperately need nature but nature does not need us.

 

 

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Will the DARK ACT get past the Senate?

Neil Young, 22/06/2008 Firenze, Nelson Mandela...
Neil Young, 22/06/2008 Firenze, Nelson Mandela Forum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apart from enjoying his music for nigh on 50 years I have been so impressed with Neil Young’s environmental work and contribution to ‘Farm Aid’ over many years that one day recently I was inspired to write;

Ode to Neil

Continue reading Will the DARK ACT get past the Senate?