by Nafeez Ahmed
New evidence has emerged that the systematic violence against ethnic Rohingya in Burma -
"described as genocidal by some experts" - is being actively supported by state
agencies. But the violence's links to the country's ambitions to rapidly expand fossil
fuel production, at massive cost to local populations and to the environment, have been
Over 125,000 ethnic Rohingya have been forcibly displaced since waves of violence swept
across Burma's Arakan state last year, continuing until now, according to the New
York-based Human Rights Watch's (HRW) latest sobering report. The "ethnic cleansing"
campaign against Arakan's Muslim minority, although instigated largely by Buddhist monks
rallying local mobs, has been the product of "extensive state involvement and planning",
according to HRW's UK director David Mepham.
The group found:
"All of the state security forces [in Arakan] are implicated in failing to prevent
atrocities or directly participating in them, including local police, Lon Thein riot
police, the inter-agency border control force called Nasaka, and the army and navy."
Burma's Rohingya minority has resided in the country for decades, but been formally
denied citizenship by the government, subjected instead to forced labour, arbitrary land
confiscations, and routine discrimination. Although the latest violence raises urgent
questions about the integrity of Burma's ostensible democratic reform process, the west
has refused to allow the campaign against the Rohingyas to interfere with efforts to
integrate the regime into global markets.
The last two years has seen first the US, then the UK and the EU, lift decades of
economic sanctions with a view to "open a new chapter" in relations with Burma. . . .
Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq
Ahmed is executive director of the Institute for
Policy Research & Development in London. He has taught courses in contemporary
history and international relations theory at the Department of International Relations,
University of Sussex.
Peter Beaumont, "Burma's Leader Admits
Deadly Attacks on Muslims," Guardian, October 27, 2012
Eric Draitser, "Race on for
ports, pipelines in Myanmar," atimes.com, March 28, 2013
Joseph J. Schatz, "White House visit by Burma's Thein Sein a sign of changing times,"
washingtonpost.com, May 17, 2013
[Separate branches of the Myanmar state, including the executive office of President
Thein Sein, the parliament, and the judiciary, have all tolerated or tacitly backed the
neo-Nazi Buddhist movement known as "969".--Maung Zarni, "Neo-Nazi denial
atimes.com, May 24, 2013]
[Myanmar gets income, investment and integration into the world economy, while the US
hopes to reassert its presence in a region that is crucial to the rebalancing strategy.
The strengthening of ties with Myanmar helps Washington to contain China, which
visualizes Myanmar as a vital communication link connecting the Indian Ocean - a route
that bypasses the Malacca Strait.--MK Bhadrakumar, "Petty burglars of the
Malacca Strait," atimes.com, June 4, 2013]
"Burma census is not counting Rohingya Muslims, says UN agency,"
Associated Press, April 2, 2014
[Hundreds of thousands have been driven from their homes; their towns and villages razed
to the ground by rampaging mobs. In 2014, the government even banned the use of the word
"Rohingya", insisting the Muslim minority, who have lived in that country for
generations, be registered in the census as "Bengali".--Mehdi Hasan, "Aung San Suu Kyi's inexcusable silence,"
Associated Press, May 24, 2015]