Burmese generals crackdown on journalists

Reporters Dec 14 2017

About three weeks ago, Rohingya activists reported the deeply tragic news that over 95-percent of the underground of Rohingya citizen reporters in Arakan state have gone missing since the genocidal assault began on August 25th. Since 2012, they have been sending videos, photos, & reports directly from the killing fields of Burma at great risk to their lives. It appears the murderous junta has finally caught up with them. They are not just a great loss to the Rohingya people but to all of humanity.

Now it is reported that two Reuters journalists stationed in Yangon have been arrested under Burma’s 1923 Official Secrets Act which criminalizes possession & distribution of information deemed classified by the government. The law carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the reporters were probably arrested for working on the “massive human tragedy” in Arakan state–by which he means the Rohingya genocide.

It’s noteworthy that the arrest of journalists Wa Lone & Kyaw Soe Oo was announced by Burma’s Ministry of Information in a statement which showed a photo of the two reporters in handcuffs & said they “illegally acquired information with the intention to share it with foreign media.” The Burmese Ministry of Information is a cabinet post in the quasi-civilian government headed by Suu Kyi, not an official appendage of the military junta. This is further documentation, if more were needed, that the so-called civilian government is a party to the genocide & not a powerless bystander wringing hands over the excesses of the fascist military junta which really rules Burma.

The coverage of the Rohingya genocide by Reuters (& by BBC) has been deplorable & deceitful. That is not necessarily the fault of the reporters so much as Reuters’ editorial policy. It isn’t certain what Reuters will do to defend Wa Lone & Kyaw Soe Oo other than issue protests. A few years ago, a Kashmiri Reuters photojournalist returned home to find Indian occupying troops had surrounded & vandalized his home & terrorized his wife & small child. Reuters never reported what action they took in his defense but it was likely back channel diplomacy rather than the international defense campaign required to protect journalists.

Photo is Wa Lone (left) & Kyaw Soe Oo at the Reuters office in Yangon on December 11, 2017.

(Photo by Antoni Slodkowski/Reuters)

Genocide is leading cause of Rohingya deaths in Burma

Causes of violent deaths among Rohingya chart MSF

Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders reports that based on interviews with Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, at least 6,700 Rohingya died violently just in the first month of the genocide from August 25th to September 24th. This includes at least 730 children below the age of five. Over 59% of the children were shot, 15% were burnt to death in their homes, 7% were beaten to death, & 2% died from land mine blasts.

Dr. Sidney Wong, Medical Director of MSF said, “The numbers of deaths are likely to be an underestimation as we have not surveyed all refugee settlements in Bangladesh & because the surveys don’t account for the families who never made it out of Myanmar. We heard reports of entire families who perished after they were locked inside their homes, while they were set alight.”

The accounting for this genocide has by no means been completed, not just in deaths, injuries, & psychological trauma, but politically before international tribunals where those governments who collude with Burma or remain silent & those political forces who deny the genocide are held to account.

Kashmiri human rights activists highlight issue of forcible disappearance

Misra, Kashmiri mother of Shabir Ahmed Ghasi, 21, disappeared in 2000 ((Lost Kashmiri History) Dec 13 2017

This Kashmiri woman named Misra is holding photos of her son Shabir Ahmed Ghasi who was 21-years-old on January 22, 2000 when Indian occupying forces took him into custody while he was selling fruits. He has never been heard from again. He is one of between 8,000 to 10,000 Kashmiris who have been forcibly disappeared since 1989. That’s about one person every day.

Kashmiri human rights activists, including family members of those disappeared, are playing a central role internationally in organizing against the monstrous use of forced disappearance which is used by up to 50 governments. You can support the parent’s group in Kashmir by liking, sharing, & following this page: https://www.facebook.com/apdpkashmir/

(Photo of Misra tweeted by Lost Kashmiri History‏ @LostKashmirHist)

Being Palestinian is not for cowards

Pal protester with gas mask & cigarette while IOF shoots tear gas  [Photo by Abdelrahman Younis : Reuters] Dec 13 2017

A Palestinian protester in a gas mask sitting on a chair smoking a cigarette while Israeli occupying forces shoot teargas:

Being Palestinian is not for cowards.

Long live Intifada. Protest US treachery & build BDS. Buy nothing with barcode beginning 729.

(Photo by Abdelrahman Younis/Reuters)

Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) grandstands with empty rhetoric about Trump’s provocation of Palestinians

Pal with slingshot REUTERS:Goran Tomasevic) Dec 14 2017

At a summit in Turkey, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) declared East Jerusalem the capital of Palestine in response to Trump’s treachery. The assembled diplomats called on other countries to “recognize the State of Palestine & East Jerusalem as its occupied capital”–a proposal of course based on the two-state solution–a bantustate, not a nation-state solution, which at this point in time has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be a pipe dream. There isn’t a reason in the world why we should applaud this empty gesture on the part of the OIC. It’s grandstanding just as odious as their inaction over the Rohingya genocide. Many of the OIC members are big countries with big economies, big militaries, & the resources to provide substantial political & economic support to Palestinians. But they don’t. We’re not talking going to war with Israel but using resources to build a powerful international movement against Israeli colonialism, apartheid, settlements, ethnic cleansing. But that isn’t what the OIC does.

A look at the composition of the OIC explains its crappy politics which are not inspired by Islamic solidarity, regardless of the name. The OIC is a coalition of 57 countries, 56 of which belong to the UN, with large, not necessarily majority, Muslim populations. Some of the member states are under military siege–like Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia. Palestine is occupied by a colonial power & is not a nation-state. Several OIC members are outright part of the problem: Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey. There isn’t one of the 57 members that could be called a bastion of freedom, which is why several regimes were subjects of the Arab Spring uprisings.

Every time some prominent individual like Pope Francis or organization like OIC offers a kernel of support for Palestinians–or the Rohingya or Kashmiris–we’re expected to respond with applause like a bunch of trained seals & talk about how things are improving, even if only in a discrete diplomatic way & at a snail’s pace. Palestinians would not still be facing the extremes of barbarism they have for 69 years if any of those 57 regimes were exercising the political power they possess on behalf of Palestinian solidarity. Stuff the incremental farce because it’s useless.

Palestinians like this young freedom fighter should not have to spend their lives fighting military occupation & for a free homeland. They could live free if the OIC used its power & money to build solidarity & apply maximum political pressure. Given the political character of the 57 regimes, that would be when pigs fly.

Stand with Palestinians in real solidarity. Protest Trump’s provocation & US treachery. Build the hell out of BDS.

(Photo by Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)

After almost three hours of chasing an abandoned dog, a couple in a cadillac blocked my car, got out to get the dog, & explained to me that he was theirs. I apologized, saying I thought he was abandoned & was trying to catch him so I could find him a home. The man handed him to me & said they had moved out of the area & couldn’t take him with so he was glad if I would find him a home because he didn’t think his old neighbor fed him. What a heart! What kind of thinking process leads one to abandon a tiny dog to scrounge instead of taking it to a shelter?