Reuters coverage of the Rohingya genocide & refugee crisis is contemptible

Rohingya refugee boy Nov 14 2017

Reuters’ coverage of the Rohingya genocide & refugee crisis has been deplorable but their recent article on child labor among refugees in Bangladeshi camps takes the cake for contemptible. It’s titled “$6 for 38 days work: Child exploitation rife in Rohingya camps” & manages to blame child labor primarily on Rohingya parents. The article claims they’ve done interviews with Rohingya refugees but they don’t appear to have gotten off their asses to really investigate what’s going on beyond a few phone calls to UN officials, most of whom are just as clueless & many of whom are completely compromised.

Of course Rohingya children are working in & outside the camps & of course this is appalling exploitation. Worse than that, they are subject to violence, including rape. But why Reuters finds this shocking is curious when Bangladeshi economics are rooted in sweatshop economics & child labor. According to the central bank, the ratio of millionaires & billionaires has tripled in the past decade based on the exploitation of child & sweatshop labor. But then when it comes to Rohingya refugees, Bangladesh has plumbed the depths of child exploitation. The government has made it extremely difficult for refugees to register for UNHCR benefits, paltry as they are, leaving tens of thousands with no means of support. It denies access to legal work for Rohingya adults & education to children beyond primary schooling. If Rohingya parents send their little kids out to work, it is based on necessity, not parental irresponsibility.

In the article, Reuters says that based on UN interviews with refugees, “life in the refugee camps is hardly better than it is in Myanmar for Rohingya children.” Consider that. Rohingya parents think life in Bangladeshi refugee camps “is hardly better” than living in Burma where they are under threat of genocide.

The response Reuters should be making to this horrific situation is investigative reporting on the lack of refugee rights in Bangladesh. It should show some elementary human decency by telling the truth about genocide in Burma instead of talking through its ass about Suu Kyi & the fictional civilian government. It might even suggest–we wouldn’t dream of saying “objective” media should demand–that other governments provide immediate & massive humanitarian aid to the refugees so that their kids don’t have to work. Or does that sound too much like socialism to them?

The photo is a very stressed little Rohingya refugee boy. The last thing this child needs is to go to work where he may be abused or violated. He needs food, housing, healthcare, education, social services. That he doesn’t have any of that is the fault of governments, not his parents.

Stand with the Rohingya people in demanding the end of genocide & full human, democratic, civil, & refugee rights.

(Photographer unidentified)

“Kashmir is a paradise on earth only that our summers are blood-spattering, our autumns are fear ridden, our winters are traumatic and our springs are archives of longings. In spite of all this you are invited to come and see the kinship, the laughter, and the merriments. I am not saying this for the sake of spouting cliches but because this is a universal truth arousing within.”

–Zafar Iqbal

My brief but terrifying encounters with military occupation in Northern Ireland & Mexico

Kashmir occupation (Rising Kashmir) Nov 14 2017

This photo from Rising Kashmir was posted on Twitter with just the caption “Kashmir in one picture.” It appears that the truck was stopped on the highway by the Indian occupying soldier & the passengers interrogated. Being from an aggressor nation, I have never lived under occupation but I traveled in Northern Ireland in the 1980s during the military occupation by English troops. It was absolutely terrifying to me to see armored vehicles with guns mounted on turrets pointed at civilians & moving in caravans patrolling at regular intervals. I have also traveled several times to Mexico (the border is only five miles from here). Mexico is occupied by its own military who guard the border crossings, patrol the highways, are an ubiquitous presence in every city & small town. On one occasion, the bus I was traveling on from Mexico City was stopped on the highway by Federal police & searched, most likely for immigrants traveling north. On another occasion, I was traveling with a young mother & her small children to visit her parents about an hour south of the border. Soldiers stopped us on the highway & made us get out of the car while they searched it & questioned us. At this point, the situation in Mexico is so fraught with danger that I no longer travel there beyond a few of the border towns.

My limited experience with military occupation was terrifying to me & it cannot be said I was ever in any real danger though it felt like I was when soldiers pointed guns at me while I stood on the sidewalk with others. So I have only a wee hint of what it must be like to live under occupation throughout ones entire life, 24-hours a day, & when the occupying army engages in frequent shootouts & hunt to kill operations. A wee hint is enough to convince me that military occupation in Palestine, Kashmir, Mexico, Arakan state, & elsewhere must be internationally opposed. Every human being has the right to live free of this kind of harassment & threat to their lives. Every human being has the right to freedom.

(Photo from Rising Kashmir)

Protests against Trump & Duterte during ASEAN summit

Anti-Trum & Duterte banner (Manila Today) Nov 14 2017

A banner at the November 12th protest in Manila giving the bum’s rush to Trump & to Duterte who did not allow Duterte’s death squad war against the urban poor, martial law & war against Muslims in Mindanao, the Rohingya genocide, or the US remilitarization of the Philippines to interfere with their bonding rituals at the ASEAN summit.

Deepest respect to Filipino activists who never disappoint when it comes to protesting US militarism in the Philippines.

(Photo from Manila Today)

Protests against Trump in Philippines

Ban Trump in Philippines (Manila Today Nov 14 2017

There isn’t a single visit to the Philippines by a US president or official in the past many years that hasn’t been confronted by thousands of protesters. They always defy water cannons & phalanxes of riot police to march to the US embassy where they have burned effigies of Obama & other US presidents. The Filipino antiwar movement has been uncompromising against US presence in the Philippines & does not make lesser evil equivocations when it comes to the remilitarization of the Philippines going on nor has it been taken in by the loud-mouthed protestations of Duterte.

There are many photo albums of protests against Trump’s visit during the ASEAN summit because thousands began protesting even before Trump arrived & continued after he got there. According to media reports, this protest on November 12th included not just Manila political activists but activists, students, working people, urban poor, farmers, tribal leaders, & school children from Mindanao where the Duterte regime imposed martial law & in alliance with US forces has been bombing Marawi city to smithereens in a war against Muslims. While rightwing forces around the world blither on about ISIS in Mindanao, it is extremely significant that the people of the region came to Manila to protest US presence & Duterte’s war.

Our fullest solidarity with the people of Mindanao & with the Filipino antiwar movement.

(Photo from Manila Today)

The photojournalism of Kashmiri Bilal Ahmad

Child of Kashmir (Bilal Ahmad) Nov 14 2017

Children will probably always be what inspires adults grown weary of struggle to keep shoving past impediments, conflicts, discouragement. Even those grown jaded see not just the potential in little kids for a humane world but the imperative.

This Instagram album is photos by Kashmiri photojournalist Bilal Ahmad of little kids who deserve to grow up with freedom. It also includes photos of the funerals of young men who lost their lives fighting for freedom.

A tribute to photojournalists who are uncompromising in reporting war, occupation, genocide

Kashmiri photojournalists (Wasim Nabi) Nov 14 2017
There is a noticeable decline in the quality of news photojournalism published in major media. It’s an extremely dangerous profession because photojournalists put themselves on the front lines of social conflict & war. They are also targeted by regimes who do not want ugly truths exposed. One picture is often worth a thousand lies.

The decline in war photojournalism has to do with censorship & compromised journalists willing to embed themselves up the ass of the military, thus reducing themselves to propagandists. There has been no meaningful photojournalism from Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Libya for years. There are however still many daring & committed photojournalists who place themselves at risk to report via social media what Reuters, the Guardian, & other major media avoid. Palestinian & Kashmiri photojournalists have distinguished themselves in this regard–as have those like Shafiur Rahman who is reporting from Bangladesh on the Rohingya refugee crisis.

This wonderful photo is three Kashmiri photojournalists (I think the middle man is Basit Zargar) who are playing an extraordinary role even though one fellow was recently arrested by Indian occupying forces. We should take a moment to honor the invaluable contribution they make to educating people around the world & to building solidarity with one of the most important freedom struggles in the world.

(Photo by Wasim Nabi)

Political polarization & the rise of fascism

Because I’m not familiar with the politics of Poland, I’ve been reluctant to report that last Saturday an estimated 60,000 nationalists & supremacists marched chanting slogans against both Muslims & Jews & calling for a white Europe. Since fascists from all over Europe converged for the march, it’s not certain what their strength is in Poland. Whatever it is, it’s a threat & a political problem to all of us. But of course, the rise of fascist forces requires full analysis, not glib scaremongering.

There is growing political polarization internationally, not just in Poland. Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, & fascist forces gained strength in that polarization with obfuscations about Syria. They convinced many antiwar activists, Palestinian supporters, & most socialists to support the Assad dictatorship & Syrian & Russian bombing of civilians in the name of defending Syrian national sovereignty. The most fundamental principles of solidarity & opposition to war were abandoned & replaced by repugnant, simple-minded but mostly Islamophobic & anti-Semitic scare tactics denying the Syrian revolution against Assad. Drawing on the most hateful stereotypes, fascist ideologues twisted a social revolution against brutal dictatorship into Islamist head-choppers & scheming Zionists & thereby joined forces with the counter-revolution which includes the US, Syria, Russia, Iran, Israel, Hezbollah.

Now these same fascist forces that support Assad’s dictatorship are supporting the Burmese junta in the Rohingya genocide, Duterte’s death squads & war against Muslims, Maduro’s repression against dissent in Venezuela, the Sri Lankan military against the Tamils, & they mock all protests against Trump’s policies as just liberals–as if there is something politically lowbrow about being liberal rather than libertarian or outright fascist.

There is only one way to reverse the growth & increased confidence of these social forces based on hate & that is to out-mobilize them & chase their cowardly asses back under their rocks. We have nothing to fear if we stand steadfast with the oppressed; if we accept no racist apologetics for war & oppose all military interventions; if we are willing to stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone, regardless of their politics, who is willing to fight for justice.