Category Archives: South East Asia

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.

 

It’s a dog’s life

Shelter Manager’s office at Soi Dog, Phuket

I recently visited Soi Dog in the north of Phuket, Thailand. I wanted to find out more about the non-profit organisation that alleviates the suffering of animals by sterilising and vaccinating dogs and cats. Soi Dog treats sick, injured and abused animals. It also fights the cruel and illegal dog meat trade and shelters and re-homes street dogs and cats. Continue reading It’s a dog’s life

How did ’15 WEEKS’ become an Amazon No.1 best seller in ONE day?

15-weeks-2017
15 WEEKS  has been republished and is NOW available as a FREE eBook. The 2017 edition was only released today and it is already topping rankings at Amazon.

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,523 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Travel > Asia > Thailand
#4 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Travel > Specialty Travel > Budget Travel

I am using Pronoun to  publish the 2017 editions of Thailand Diaries – 3 eBooks. Continue reading How did ’15 WEEKS’ become an Amazon No.1 best seller in ONE day?

Fires already?

I have written many times on the subject of atmospheric pollution and although I am taking a break from blogging for a while I cannot contain my emotions when it comes to being exposed to deliberately started forest fires.

While I am managing a building project in Northern Thailand I am staying on the hill slopes of Huai Kaew village, 30 kms north of Chiang Mai, bordering the forests. The climate at this time of year is comfortable. Cool at night and early morning rising to 30c + in the day with no rain except the occasional shower.

But now the burning season starts when the monsoon rains have gone and farmers burn off the dry dead grasses and stubble to stimulate new growth next year around May/June’; then Cutting back excessive growth, clearing land and deforestation for fruit and vegetable farming.

Unfortunately making a living takes preference over self- health and the health of others. The natural environment, habitat and animal life are hardly a consideration.

Despite the annual government warnings and penalties, seldom imposed, slash and burn techniques continue unabated. Ask the locals and they will tell you ‘This is the way it has always been.’

Ask if they think it is OK and you will probably get a shrug of the shoulders or, at best, ‘What can I do’.

In other words, total apathy.

Having nearly choked to death in Phuket, due to the horrendous forest fires in Sumatra, in September/October I have a more than a vested interest in finding a solution to the Global air pollution problem.

Apart from helping to raise awareness in a small way I am virtually powerless.

And so the global problem of Global warming continues on its merry way and we all suffer the consequences.

You may say ‘The Sun will eventually destroy us so what does it matter anyway.’

I say I am thankful I have no grandchildren!!!

I leave you with this hurriedly written poem induced by indignation and wine and would like you to look at my picture of the beautiful forest I am looking at tonight which is burning as I write.

 

Why are you killing us?

Burning our land.

You have no rites of passage.

You have no right to stand

 

I watch in despair,

Each night as I laze.

Your fires that destroy us;

My lungs are ablaze.

 

The world is at war

With natures reaction,

To warming the globe

And our interaction.

 

The ice caps are melting.

The land is enveloped.

Species facing extinction.

No chance to develop.

 

I ask you again,

Please consider your brother.

Remember your learning and

How you treat your mother (Earth).

 

 

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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