Books and Documents

Pakistan Press (13 Sep 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

How Should Muslims Respond To The Rohingya Crisis?: New Age Islam’s Selection, 13 Sep. 17

New Age Islam Edit Bureau



The century of terror

By Wajid Shamsul Hasan

Myanmar risking ‘pariah state’ status

By Shaikh Abdul Rasheed

Radicalisation of our universities

By Dr Raza Khan

Time to deliver on minority rights

By Shahid Jatoi

Rohingya crisis taking a dangerous path!

By Iqbal Khan

Myanmar’s unpeople

By Mahir Ali

The noble and the Nobel

By Rafia Zakaria

Compiled by New Age Islam Edit Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/how-should-muslims-respond-to-the-rohingya-crisis?--new-age-islam’s-selection,-13-sep-17/d/112506


How should Muslims respond to the Rohingya crisis?

By Qamar Cheema


Similar to the Rohingya crisis, the legitimate struggle of people of Kashmir and Palestine has been termed as militancy. Muslims need to see these crises from humanitarian lens rather a religio-theological framework

Rohingya are an ethnic group in Myanmar who have been stripped off their citizenship by a military government in 1982 when a law was passed revoking their right to travel, marry and acquire land. Out of 134 ethnic groups only the Rohingya have been denied citizenship in Myanmar. In 2014, they were excluded from the population census conducted after thirty years. 50 percent of Rohingya’s have been forced to leave Myanmar making them the world’s most persecuted minority. This stateless and impoverished community has been raped, murdered and abandoned and more than 270,000 Rohingya have crossed the border and entered Bangladesh. They have been victims of human rights violations, while the world has displayed criminal negligence.

Some Muslim states like Turkey have condemned the issue, but many are just offering lip service. Citizens in most Muslim countries are protesting against Myanmar and pressurising their governments to cut diplomatic ties with Myanmar. However, the only way to bring about change on the issue is by taking the case to the international community or an international tribunal.

Unfortunately, Muslims themselves do not have a good track records with human rights violations particularly with minority groups. Muslims have kept silent about human rights abuses in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Bahrain, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and many other countries. But what needs to be highlighted is how the international institutional framework could be of value to raise this crisis and why Muslims have not availed this opportunity.

Underscoring the Rohingya’s pleas of support are militant groups like the militant group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) which is damaging the law and order situation.

Unfortunately, Muslims countries themselves do not have a good track record with human rights, particularly with regards to minority groups. Muslims have kept silent about human rights abuses in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Bahrain, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and many other countries

Previously, the legitimate struggle of people of Kashmir and Palestine has been termed as militancy. Muslims need to see this crisis from humanitarian lens rather religio-theological framework.

All Muslim states are members of the United Nations so they have signed the UN charter. There are 111 articles which protect and respect sovereignty and integrity of all members and communities. It is the United Nations job to uphold international peace and security through its institutions like General Assembly and Security Council. But UN Secretary General Antonio Gutters claimed the organisation lacks resources to deal with the Rohingya crises. In this situation, Muslim states should call a special session of the UN General Assembly to deal with this crisis.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was signed in 1948 has been a milestone document for protecting human rights under the shadow of UN and Myanmar as members of it. While the UN accepts the failure to deal with this crisis its time Muslim states hold the International community and UN responsible of weaknesses of this institutional framework for not respecting Muslim lives in Myanmar. The UN accepts this state sponsored ethnic cleaning of Rohingya and the onus to protect them lies on the UN and its members. The international community invoked the universal declaration of human rights in 1948 when Muammar Gaddafi violated the basic rights of Libyans by using state force. Why cannot same international community and Muslim states in particular make Myanmar accountable for its human rights violations by speaking on the same forum.

The Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have a huge advantage for bringing change in this humanitarian crisis. So far, the response from both organisations has been mere condemnations. These multilateral forums need to use their influence for helping the people of Myanmar. The Arab League requested the Security Council to intervene in Syria when President Assad was violating human rights in his own country, and they should do so now as well. Perhaps there cannot be a moment better than this to pressurise the Security Council and international humanitarian bodies to influence the Myanmar government to grant Rohingya people their right to citizenship.

While writing this piece from Pakistan, it’s important to mention those who are raising Rohingya crises in Pakistan have been largely far right parties and groups. They have been engaged in Jihad directly or indirectly and if Rohingya humanitarian crises will be propagated by them it may get politicised because of their reputations. Jamat-ud-Dawa (JUD) is a banned organisation as government has banned it from collecting funds for social welfare from the society. Despite this it has been collecting 50,000 rupees for supporting each Rohingya family. Millions will be collected but no one knows how transparent the distribution of this money will be.

The Muslim world must know how international structures operate in this anarchic environment. So only by using institutional structures, the Muslim world can find remedies for its miseries. It must be clear to the masses because most of the time leadership and the masses find different solutions to issues. It is necessary to inform both the leaders and the public about international politics.



The century of terror

By Wajid Shamsul Hasan

With one stroke of brush and his use of the word crusade, Bush had divided the world into two camps. One billion Muslims became suspects overnight


We all observe in our own ways, the tragic anniversary of the 9/11. It is a moment for reflection. While I do not see any light at the end of the tunnel, I do have an apprehension that by the time there is yet another change of leadership in Washington, the wound inflicted on inter-faith harmony would become difficult to heal.

Whether it is ignorance or by design, successive American presidents having seen terrorism as Islamic fascism- have thrown cold water on the Muslim moderate forces trying to counter radicalisation. In this context American attitude towards Pakistan is utter contempt to history. Unlike them or other nations, Pakistan perhaps is the only country that has won its freedom without resorting to arms or violent struggle.

Its founder Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah established Pakistan through vote. He did not have an army or a militant group to back him. It was his people with ballot that gave him democratic strength to alter the course of history. To call his nation a provider of safe havens to terrorists is a travesty of history. With one stroke of brush and his use of the word crusade, Bush divided the world in two camps. One billion Muslims had become suspects overnight.

The Americans created Taliban, used them, once out of use, ditched them, passing them to us as their ugly legacy and a tool in the hands of dictators to deny or undermine democratic rights of the people

President Trump too has his own fundamentalist agenda. His condemnation of Muslims has a violent message, and then everyone who is a Muslim is a potential terrorist. The ugly manifestations of his utterances have visibly impacted Muslims the world over. Indeed, Samuel Huntington and his clash of civilisation acolytes seem to have won the ideological battle.

Terrorism is certainly not a Muslim monopoly. There are or have been terrorist groups among Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, and even Buddhists. Christian Hitler was responsible for exterminating six million Jews. Secular terrorists (anarchists, Maoists) too have been the biggest killers.

On the 16th anniversary of 9/11 Third World Solidarity-an independent think tank-held a conference in London to discuss ‘Lessons learnt from 9/11’. I found it to be a suitable forum to defend Pakistan in particular and Muslims in general. And I am of the view that no lessons have been learnt. Bush pushed the world into century of terror with no end in sight with a faceless enemy that holds the key.

I would refer here to a quote from eminent American scholar Selig Harrison which remains relevant since 9/11. “The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) worked in tandem with Pakistan to create the ‘monster’ that is... Afghanistan’s ... Taliban”. (Conference on Terrorism and Regional Security: Managing the Challenges in Asia” in March 2001). “I warned them that we were creating a monster,” and I quote: “The CIA made a historic mistake in encouraging Islamic groups from all over the world to come to Afghanistan.”

CIA did not listen. Its view was that Taliban are religious fanatics, they would fight until death to “oust the Soviet infidels” from their land. And to carry forward this agenda, they found an equally obliging fanatic in General Ziaul Haq who needed Washington’s ashirwad and money to sustain him in power against the wishes of his people who were seething in anger for the judicial murder of Pakistan’s most popular leader martyred Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

War against terrorism is a misnomer to begin with; wars are fought against countries, against nations, you cannot wage war against ideas — whether ideas are right or wrong, they are nevertheless ideas and these need to be fought by different means. You can destroy the forces of enemy, his assets, seize his land but you cannot destroy their ideas — even if wrong-by waging a physical war against them. This war has neither end nor achievable goals. It has only lead to greater disaster, more hatred, more alienation, more ghettos, more Jihadi recruits and more violence.

No doubt Americans might have succeeded in making the United States a citadel of security but at what cost — making the world unsafe for everyone. Its long term economic fallout inevitably means class war of a magnitude — between haves and have-nots — that even Karl Max could not foresee. The only way to get out of it is to declare victory and call it a day. Sixteen years down the road, there is more of chaos in Iraq and Afghanistan and less of democracy, more of violence than peace, more disorder than order.

What is the lesson learnt? I don’t know what lessons Americans and their allies have learnt, as far as Pakistan is concerned, I regret to say, that its stakeholders have developed vicious vested interests undermining democracy. The Americans created Taliban, used them, once out of use, ditched them, passing them to us as their ugly legacy and a tool in the hands of dictators to deny or undermine democratic rights of the people.

International financier — George Soros — in his article ‘Self-defeating War’ (published in the WSJ, 2006) described war on terror a false metaphor that has led to counterproductive and self-defeating policies. Indeed, sixteen years after 9-11 a misleading figure of speech applied literally has rendered world into chaos and anarchy. There is no count how many millions have been killed and how many trillions spent and yet al Qaeda has not been eliminated, more terrorist groups such as Daesh, ISIL have emerged as more lethal partners in terrorism that has come to be the fastest growing business after capitalism.

Gung-ho leadership in Washington is pushing the world to the edge of precipice. Only escape route is to repudiate war on terror as a false metaphor. If we persevere on the wrong course, the situation will continue to deteriorate. It is not our will that is being tested, but our understanding of reality. It is painful to admit that our current predicaments are brought about by our own misconceptions and lack of capable leadership. However, not admitting it is bound to be more excruciating ultimately.



Myanmar risking ‘pariah state’ status

By Shaikh Abdul Rasheed


In February, the UN published a detailed report that found Rangoon most likely behind grave human rights violations, including extra judicial killing, rape and torture

Recent satellite imagery recorded at the end of last month paints a terrifying picture. Seven hundred buildings burned in just one village. We now know that this happened in Rakhine State, Myanmar. We also know that the name of the village is Chein Khar Li in Rathedaung Township. And that this was one of 17 sites razed. The combined devastation left at least 400 people dead across a five-day span. A gross human rights violation by any count.

Yet the regime in Rangoon is admitting nothing. It has accused Rohingya militants belonging to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), along with Rohingya villagers, of setting their homes ablaze. These accusations followed a series of coordinated attacks launched by ARSA against dozens of government offices, police stations, checkpoints as well as an army base. It was the same story back last October when the regime made similar allegations about the burning down of Rohingya villages during a two-month spree of violence. However, it was unable to bring forward any evidence to support these claims, leading Human Rights Watch (HRW), along with other humanitarian organisations, determining that it was Myanmar security forces that had deliberately started those fires.

The OIC must shoulder the primary responsibility of finding a way out of this humanitarian catastrophe. And Pakistan, being in a position of relative influence at the Islamic Military Alliance, must ensure that the matter of Myanmar’s state-sponsored terrorism rests at the top of its agenda

The Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar are the most persecuted Muslim minority group in the world. For centuries Rakhine State has been their home. Yet this community of some 1.1 million has never been recognised by the majority Buddhist Southeast Asian nation as one of its 135 official ethnic groups. The move or lack thereof, has meant that the Rohingya have never been granted nationality under the Citizenship Law 1982, which has long been viewed by the international community as discriminatory legislation.

Thus have the Rohingya been systematically rendered a stateless people. Despite Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) stipulating that everyone has the right to nationality. In addition, those without statehood are protected by the following: the 1954 UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons as well as the 1961 UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. The latter proscribes that the stateless be treated in same the way as nationals of any given country. Meaning the right to education, housing, access to justice and healthcare, among other fundamental rights.

Yet the Rangoon regime has flouted all such humanitarian norms.

Indeed, the Rohingya have witnessed the deadliest outbreak of violence in the last five decades. This has left 120,000 internally displaced while hundreds of thousands have fled to neighbouring countries. According to UN estimates Southeast Asia is now home to some 420,000 Rohingya refugees, with a reported 270,000 making it out of Myanmar in two weeks alone at the end of August. Bangladesh is said to have taken in 87,000, with 10,000 stranded between the two countries. Malaysia has taken in 150,000.

Following the killing of nine border policeman back in October, the violence has escalated at an alarming and disproportionate rate, following a retributive military crackdown. In February of this year, the UN published a detailed report into the atrocities. It found that the regime’s troops most likely were behind the aforementioned human rights violations in Rakhine State that included extra judicial killing, rape and torture, including of those of women and children. Today, Rangoon has barred all international humanitarian organisations from delivering essential food, water and medicinal supplies to the thousands of Rohingya who are still trapped there. This has led to HRW, Amnesty International and others slamming the Myanmar government. Yet this hasn’t changed the latter’s mind about refusing the UN fact-finding mission access to the country. HRW has warned that unless and until this changes — the regime risks being bracketed alongside North Korea and Syria a pariah state.

Pakistan, for its part, has seen both political and religious parties holding solidarity rallies nationwide. Ordinary citizens have taken to social media to protest what is being called ethnic cleansing. Islamabad has strongly condemned Rangoon, while pledging humanitarian relief. Yet this is not enough. We must look towards the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in close coordination with the UN and other international bodies, to shoulder the primary responsibility of finding a way out of this humanitarian catastrophe. And Pakistan, being in a position of relative influence at the Islamic Military Alliance, must ensure that the matter of Myanmar’s state-sponsored terrorism rests at the top of its agenda. And if Rangoon fails to cooperate with the world community — the latter should not think twice about having it declared a pariah state.



Radicalisation of our universities

By Dr Raza Khan

Published: September 13, 2017

The unearthing of the terrorist network of Ansarul Sharia Pakistan (ASP) by the country’s law-enforcement agencies is a major development in the war against terrorism. However, the revelation that the ASP’s top leadership has been associated with Karachi University (KU) has raised alarm bells. But those having some kind of insight of the culture prevailing within Pakistani universities should not be surprised by reports of a group of radicals emerging from these so-called seats of higher learning.

Pakistani universities have been housing extremist and violent groups of various strands for decades. Most of these groups operating as part of ‘student wings’ of political parties of either side of the political divide, ‘left’ and ‘right’ or ‘secular’ and ‘religious’. For decades, these student wings of political parties have been involved in violence and outright terrorism, if the term means injecting fear and arousing feelings of intimidation among opponents or generally within the student community. Moreover, it is an open secret that students associated with one Muslim clerical political group took part for at least a decade in the anti-Soviet Afghan resistance (1980-1988) and even afterwards in the Afghan civil war in the 1990s. Then, members of the so-called ‘nationalist’ parties’ student wings, including the MQM, have been getting militant training in Afghanistan and are involved in militant and terrorist activities across Pakistan. Thus in our universities, militancy and violence have had a historical background and context, and this must not be forgotten when analysing the recent revelations of the association of members of ASP with KU. Albeit, it is still surprising that a banned terrorist organisation has spread its tentacles within our universities and among students of secular educational institutions and disciplines, more specifically of natural sciences and ICTs that have been found to be the moving spirits behind a wave of violent terrorism in the country.

Observers would agree with the argument that violence and extremism has been rising at these institutions. We have the example of Mashal Khan, who was ruthlessly killed by his own university mates at Abdul Wali Khan University, for his alleged blasphemous views. Those who killed him were ‘students’ and belonged to all shades of the political spectrum, including those parties currently championing the cause of ‘non-violence’, and the very university where the incident occurred has been named after one of their leaders.

From macro-sociological standpoint, violence in Pakistani universities is the result of influence of growing radicalisation and militancy in our society. Universities being part of the wider culture cannot escape the impact of trends in the society. Psychosocially, violence and extremism has increased in Pakistani society and many, if not most, people have internalised that employing violent and extremist tactics are the way forward and are instrumental in achieving their otherwise straightforward objectives.

Individual personalities develop through socialisation within the context of wider culture and social psychology along with social contacts with other societies and cultures. Personality development of Pakistani students has largely been influenced by these national and global trends and the outcome of which is extremism, militancy and violence. The institutional culture of Pakistani universities has been influenced by the absence of merit, group-thinking, prevalent nepotism, financial and moral corruption. Therefore, instead of these institutions playing their role in providing purpose and direction to society, they have been influenced by violent trends in society, and this is really alarming with no relevant institution having any deeper understanding of the phenomenon of extremism and terrorism. Resultantly, they are unable to come up with an effective counterstrategy.



Time to deliver on minority rights

By Shahid Jatoi

Published: September 13, 2017

If the state has to deliver on the issue of minority rights, it must start paying more attention to their personal laws for marriage and post-marriage arrangements. Christians who constitute approximately 1.6 per cent of the population suffer because of discriminate and somewhat obsolete marriage and divorce laws. For far too long the state has ignored its citizens’ demand for dignified solemnising of marriages and various other post-marriage rights and responsibilities. The family laws of Christians are administered by four colonial-era acts such as the Christian Marriage Act of 1872, Divorce Act of 1869, Succession Act of 1925 and Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act of 1886.

Throughout history, however, the issue of solemnising marriages has been the exclusive domain of religious leaders and clergymen. However, the modern state is believed to have intensified its role in regulating marital relations mainly based on issues concerning succession of monarchs that later expanded it to matters of succession of legal heirs of all citizens. With this historical development, the dominant role of clergy has been reduced to performing religious rituals of marriages.

Successive governments in Pakistan amended laws enacted by colonial predecessors to meet the current governance needs of its citizens. These amended laws also included the marriage laws regulating marital relations. In this background, Muslim Personal Laws were widely reviewed in 1961 and changes were brought to The Muslim Family Law Ordinance, 1961 and The West Pakistan Family Courts Act of 1964, however only limited progress was made to update or provide for marriage laws relating to religious minorities. The Christian Personal Laws also met the same fate. In 1949, the Indian Divorce Act of 1869 was enforced in Pakistan for Christians after omitting the word ‘Indian’ by an amendment and the law stood as the Divorce Act of 1869 (Act IV of 1869).

This law regulating the divorce of Christian couples was primarily based on the theological position and interpretation of the Church that divorce is not permissible in Christianity except on the ground of adultery or only in case either spouse changes his or her religion. Several amendments were made during Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s government through the Divorce (Amendment) Act of 1975 (4 of 1976), which got rid of several derogatory terms like “native” Christians. Similarly, the role of the high court as was the case before, was done away with. The jurisdiction to adjudicate issues relating to divorce and matrimonial issues was originally vested in district courts and the high courts. The Amendment Act omitted the former section 17 and conferred exclusive jurisdiction over the matters of this Act to the Civil Courts. The Divorce Act of 1869 also states the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 to apply on proceedings mentioned in the Act.

In a similar amendment, the deletion of sections 16, 17, 17A and 20 from the act led to consequent amendments to sections 18 and 19 as well as section 57 to make a clear provision for either party to the marriage to marry again after a decree for dissolution or nullity of their marriage has been passed and time for appeal has expired or an appeal being presented has been dismissed.

However, the matter related with divorce grounds remained unattended. In Pakistan the situation was further worsened during 1981, when the then president, General Ziaul Haq, removed section 7 from the Divorce Act of 1869 through an ordinance called the federal laws (Revision & Declaration) ordinance 1981. This section provides Christian couples the right of divorce under the UK Matrimonial Causes Act of 1973. Currently, under the act, Christian marriage can be dissolved absolutely by divorce (Divortium Perfectum). It can also be dissolved by seeking decree of annulment of marriage that has consequence of marriage being void ab initio. The divorce law also provides for judicial separation which is not absolute divorce. Married couples are parted under it nonetheless the bond of marriage remains intact and the separated spouses cannot remarry.

Nevertheless, the existing grounds for seeking divorce provides unequal grounds of divorce to a husband and wife. For that reason, a husband can pursue divorce by accusing his wife of adultery and then also prove it. The wife can also seek divorce through a petition on the grounds of change of religion by her husband or if the husband has contracted another marriage under some other law. She can also supplicate for divorce on the grounds of adultery by her husband coupled with incest, or bigamy, or marriage with another woman, or of rape, sodomy or bestiality, or of cruelty, or of desertion. It is important to note that a wife cannot petition for divorce on the ground of her husband’s adultery alone. She cannot make a plea for divorce on the ground of cruel behaviour of her husband.

The other forms of dissolution, meaning nullity of marriage or divortium imperfectum, stipulate invalidating the marriage on grounds of impotency, prohibited decree relationship, lunacy and idiocy, existence of former marriage and vitiated consent. The decree of dissolution is in fact based on the declaration by a court that a marriage was void ab initio. Legally, the parties in wedlock are entitled to remarry when a marriage is annulled by a district judge.

Additionally, the spouses may look for judicial separation on the grounds of adultery, cruelty and desertion. This judicial separation shall have the effect of the ecclesiastical divorce and can be reversed. The spouses are not allowed to remarry any other individual.

In order to get separation, the parties in wedlock usually level false accusations of adultery to assert divorce and that too is often succeeded to get decree ex-parte. In 2015, a writ petition was filed by Amin Masih before the Lahore High Court wherein the he challenged the law of divorce for being “offensive and insulting” to women and requested the court to provide him and his wife a dignified way of separation without levelling adultery charges and change in religion. After due deliberation and seeking legal and citizens’ views, the LHC decided in the petitioner’s favour and restored section 7 of the Divorce Act of 1869 providing relief to Christian married couples to part ways, if they desire by invoking the UK Matrimonial Causes Act of 1973.

Many other marriage and post-marriage arrangements still need to be considered by the state through amendments to existing laws. The Christian Marriage Act permits marriages where either of the parties is minor (a person who has not attained the age of 21 years) with the consent of a father, mother or guardian. However, in case of marriage of a native Christian, the age at marriage was fixed to exceed 13 years for females and exceeding 16 years for males with the consent of a guardian. If the parties are getting married without the consent of a guardian, they must have attained 18 years of age. On the other hand, the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929 applicable in Punjab and The Child Marriage Restraint Act of 2013 applicable in Sindh set the minimum age of marriage for females and males at 16 and 18 years, respectively.

Another important issue is the absence of appropriate measures to register marriages of Christians. At the moment, due to the order of Supreme Court, the union councils are under duty of registering marriages, but there are still issues being observed in registrations. There should be some mechanism for registration on the part of a state department with clear rules. Likewise, the churches should also be bound to deposit marriage registers and marriage records in relevant union councils by bringing a legislative amendment.

On the occasion of International Women Day on March 8, 2017, the Punjab government took the initiative to include amending Christian Personal Laws into women empowerment package for the year 2017. In this background, the government mandated the Strategic Reforms Unit, the Punjab Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Department and the Women’s Development Department to consult stakeholders and make all-inclusive amendments to the centuries-old personal laws enacted by the British. However, there seems no significant development in this regard. A similar exercise is going on at the centre where the human rights ministry is holding a consultative process with community members, clergy and rights organisations to propose amendments to the said acts.



Rohingya crisis taking a dangerous path!

By Iqbal Khan

SINCE the beginning of political liberalisation reforms in 2011, Myanmar has been tense due to an unwarranted uptick in extreme Buddhist nationalism, and phenomenal rise in the frequency of anti-Muslim hate speeches. Analysts had long been warning that Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya Muslims would lead to homegrown militancy as well as support from international terrorists. Yet international community displayed apathy. The UN acknowledges that Myanmar’s army “may have committed ethnic cleansing”. A last year’s anti-Rohingya security crackdown in Maungdaw, invoked a UN report on human rights violations by security forces that indicated crimes against humanity. This report UN documented “mass gang-rape, killings – including infants and young children – brutal beatings, and disappearances”.

While dynamics at play in Rakhine are mostly driven by local fears and grievances, the current crisis has led to a broader spike in anti-Muslim sentiment in Myanmar, raising anew the spectre of deadly communal violence, not only in Rakhine state but across the country. This has further amplified fears that the situation is spinning out of control. Bangladesh and India—have displayed a hostile attitude towards fleeing victims of violence. Turkey’s foreign minister has urged Bangladesh to open its doors for Rohingya Muslims and offered to bear their expenses. Mevlut Cavusoglu said on September 02, “If Bangladesh opened its doors for Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar, Turkey was ready to cover their expenses”. “We have also mobilized the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. We will hold a summit on Arakan [Rakhine state] this year. We need to find a decisive solution to this problem,” he added.

Leader of Myanmar, Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, is under intense criticism about her indifference over the plight of the Rohingyas. The arrival of Suu Kyi as a genuine political force through elections last year had raised expectations that a solution could come by. So far, she has only been a disappointment. She is one of the few people with the mass appeal and moral authority to swim against the tide on the issue. Myanmar’s current political system is a power sharing arrangement between the military and the elected political parties. Defenders of Suu Kyi say she has limited ability to control Myanmar’s notoriously abusive military, which is effectively independent of civilian oversight. Luke Hunt in his September 07 piece, “Myanmar’s Rohingya Crisis Escalates”, reports: in ‘The Diplomat’ commented: “With another humanitarian crisis beckoning, Suu Kyi has done little to curb her military from (use of) excess force… In Rakhine, stories of children being shot at point blank range, women raped, and satellite photos clearly showing swathes of villages ablaze have become the stuff of daily headlines.”

Growing crisis threatens worsening of Myanmar’s diplomatic relations, particularly with Muslim majority countries. Malaysian Foreign Minister has questioned Suu Kyi’s silence. “Very frankly, I am dissatisfied with Aung San Suu Kyi,” adding, “[Previously] she stood up for the principles of human rights. Now it seems she is doing nothing.” Indonesia’s Foreign Minister met Suu Kyi as well as Myanmar’s army Chief General Min Aung Hlaing in Naypyidaw on September 04, in a bid to pressure the government to do more to alleviate the crisis. “This humanitarian crisis has to stop immediately,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo commented. The Maldives has also announced on September 03 that it has severed all trade ties with the country until the government of Myanmar takes measures to prevent the atrocities being committed against Rohingya Muslims. Iranian Foreign Minister added: “International action crucial to prevent further ethnic cleansing – UN must rally.” There were also protest rallies in Russia’s Chechnya region. In Pakistan also people took to streets on September 08, earlier its foreign ministry had issued a strong statement urging for ending violence against hapless Rohingyas.

Aung San Suu Kyi made her first public comments on the fate of her country’s persecuted Rohingya minority on September 06. She claimed during a phone conversation with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan a “huge iceberg of misinformation” about the Rohingya crisis was being distributed to benefit “terrorists.” She added her government was fighting to ensure “terrorism” didn’t spread over the whole of Rakhine state. And that her government was already working to protect the rights of the Rohingya. “We know very well, more than most, what it means to be deprived of human rights and democratic protection…So we make sure that all the people in our country are entitled to protection of their rights”, Suu Kyi said, according to a publicly released transcript of her call. Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs has expressed its concerns over reports of increasing number of deaths and forced displacement of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and urged its government to take action to ensure their safety.

“Such reports, if confirmed, are a source of serious concern and anguish on the eve of Eidul Azha,” the statement said on September 03. The foreign ministry has urged authorities in Myanmar to investigate reports of massacre, and hold those involved accountable and take necessary measures to protect the rights of Rohingya Muslims. In line with its consistent position on protecting the rights of Muslim minorities worldwide, the ministry assured that “Pakistan will work with the international community in particular the OIC to express solidarity with Rohingya Muslims and to work towards safeguarding their rights”.

As the Rohingya crisis attract global attention, Al-Qaeda in Yemen has called for retaliatory attacks against Myanmar while the Afghan Taliban have urged Muslims to “use their abilities to help Myanmar’s oppressed Muslims”. According to Luke Hunt: “One senior Al-Qaeda leader in Yemen has called for attacks on Myanmar authorities in support of the Rohingyas. It was Khaled Batarfi, who urged Muslims in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Malaysia to raise arms in support of their Rohingya Islamic brethren and go to war against what he says are the enemies of Allah. ‘So spare no effort in waging jihad against them and repulsing their attacks, and beware of letting down our brothers in Burma,’ he said in a video message, released by Al-Qaeda’s al-Malahem media foundation”. A legitimate struggle for political rights within Myanmar is taking a dangerous direction, it may be at the threshold of getting hijacked—and thus getting delegitimised.

—The writer is a freelance columnist based in Islamabad.




Myanmar’s unpeople

By Mahir Ali

September 13, 2017

WHAT are the chances that the appalling humanitarian crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine state could readily have been resolved had Aung San Suu Kyi at least attempted to live up to the ideals she so eloquently articulated during her decades of victimisation at the behest of the nation’s military junta?

Given that she eventually entered into a power-sharing arrangement with the military, which continues to exercise considerable control, not least in matters related to ‘security’, speaking up for the human rights of the Rohingya would in all likelihood have made precious little difference on the ground.

That is, of course, an inadequate excuse for not speaking up. The fact that far too many people in Myanmar tend to regard the Rohingya as unworthy of any rights only serves to underline the imperative to provide moral leadership. Far more troubling, however, are persistent indications that Suu Kyi really does not give a damn. All her comments in recent months conform with the unsustainable official narrative of ‘fake news’, even ‘fake rape’, and the egregious lie — undermined by the BBC’s Jonathan Head — that the Rohingya are burning down their own villages before fleeing to Bangladesh.

Her attitude is not all that far removed from that of the army colonel who responded to a query about the military’s sexual violence by lashing out with the comment: “Look at those women who are making these claims — would anyone want to rape them?”

Suu Kyi is not the only leader who can be accused of hypocrisy.

Suu Kyi’s stance has widely been condemned internationally by fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureates including Desmond Tutu and Malala Yousafzai, as well as many others who unequivocally stood by her during her tribulations and welcomed her elevation two years ago to the post of state counsellor and foreign minister, which made her the de facto prime minister of Myanmar. In reprimanding his “dearly beloved younger sister”, Tutu pointed out: “If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep.”

Most of the critics are entirely justified in calling out the person who admitted in her book Freedom from Fear, “Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it.” And in the acceptance speech she was able to give long after receiving the Nobel, she declared: “Wherever suffering is ignored, there will be seeds of conflict, for suffering degrades and embitters and enrages.”

That sentiment certainly helps to explain the emergence of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army whose terrorist actions in recent months seem to have provided an excuse for accelerated ‘ethnic cleansing’. Not much is known about Arsa, although some reports suggest its leadership has Saudi roots, Pakistani training and Afghan experience.

That may prove hard to verify, but it’s not implausible. After all, Islamist militants are adept at insinuating themselves into situations where they become part of the problem. Nonetheless, the question of who created the space for Arsa to become a part of the equation points straight back to the authorities in Myanmar, who have gained another excuse for their atrocities.

Meanwhile, the charge that some of the international solidarity for the Rohingya comes from sources that are themselves guilty of persecuting ethnic, religious or sectarian minorities is perfectly valid, not least in the case of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose attitude towards Turkey’s Kurdish minority echoes that of the Myanmar authorities towards the Rohingya. Suu Kyi is certainly not the only leader who can be accused of hypocrisy.

It’s not just Turkey, by any means. Several other Muslim countries where popular mobilisations against the maltreatment of the Rohingya have occurred also have a great deal to answer for, not least Pakistan. In the latter case, in fact, there are direct parallels. The plight of the Rohingya has been compared with that of Bosnian Muslims and Rwandan Tutsis in the 1990s, but it is also reminiscent, albeit on a relatively limited scale, of what the people of Bangladesh endured at the hands of the Pakistani armed forces in 1971.

Suu Kyi is among those who have sought to deny the Rohingya their nomenclature alongside various other rights, notwithstanding evidence that they have been part of the Burmese ethnic mosaic for centuries. As The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof points out, they featured in ethno-linguist Francis Buchanan’s Asiatic researches as far back as 1799. He referred to Muslims “long settled in Arakan … who call themselves Rooinga” and “call the country Rovingaw”.

The nation’s ethnic diversity was accepted by newly independent Burma’s founding fathers, who prominently included Suu Kyi’s dad, Gen Aung San. Its denial 70 years on reflects sadly on Myanmar’s evolution. But the priority for the moment must be to offer as much succour as possible to the ruthlessly brutalised, the displaced and the dispossessed, and so far there is not enough evidence of that.



The noble and the Nobel

By Rafia Zakaria

September 13, 2017

“SUFFERING degrades and embitters and enrages.” The words were spoken by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in 2012 in a speech delivered in Norway. Things have changed, it seems, and so has Suu Kyi. As newspapers around the world have decried, Suu Kyi along with the rest of Myanmar’s government are now presiding over a massacre of Burmese Rohingya Muslims.

On Monday, the UN secretary for human rights called it “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. Suu Kyi and her ministry, however, stayed quiet. If they did speak it was to push the propaganda that the Rohingya, almost 400,000 of whom are now fleeing to save their lives, were burning their own homes.

Suu Kyi’s fellow Nobel laureates, including our own Malala Yousafzai, have questioned the silence. Surely, being honoured with a peace prize is meant to impute a certain moral standard, some moral duty to speak when others are undergoing the suffering that, in Suu Kyi’s words, degrades and embitters and enrages. Surely, the heartrending accounts of children being killed, of fleeing peasants being shot, of everyone running, of villages burning, can, regardless of political posturing, have some effect on the human soul.

Then again, one is forced to consider that this is no ordinary human soul; it is a woman who endured with great patience and fortitude years of house arrest, who refused to capitulate to the junta that imprisoned her. Even when her husband was dying abroad, Aung San Suu Kyi did not leave Myanmar. She stayed. Now others are being forced to leave and she is silent.

Even when her husband was dying abroad, Aung San Suu Kyi did not leave Myanmar. She stayed. Now others are being forced to leave and she is silent.

Great suffering, it is assumed, imposes a degree of nobility of character and in this case also leads to an actual Nobel Prize. The first slice of this assumption, the one that relates to nobility of character, may require a bit of rethinking. The incredible obstinacy that is required to continue to make a grand political statement and endure hardship in a way that imposes moral shame on the oppressor also requires a sort of hardness that can drown out the pleas of parents or spouses or even children.

The principle comes first for those who make a statement of fortitude, and sticking to it requires no small sum of ruthlessness, no regular allotment of egotism. Suu Kyi, who belongs to the political elite of her country, possessed all of this. Only a woman who believes she is important, imagines her stand, her position, herself as the emblem of her nation. An emblem of suffering then, she is now an emblem of silence, of complicity and of cruelty. The determination with which she refused to capitulate to her oppressors then, is now the material of her refusal to have mercy, to impose the suffering that degrades, embitters and enrages. She is a Nobel Peace Prize winner who is devoid of nobility of character.

It is a convenient time for her to do so. The world is eager to point fingers at Muslims, particularly in countries where they are minorities. Leaders near and far have devised their own methods of persecution: the American president has tried a number of times to ban them from coming to the US, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to visit every form of exclusion and degradation on them. Like perhaps Suu Kyi herself, Modi is unashamed of his derisive and xenophobic views; he has been first among world leaders to offer ‘help’; assistance, one imagines, in the task of killing off the Rohingya Muslims who do not run away. In either case, the cruel underlying logic is the same and much of the world agrees with it: all Muslims are potential terrorists and hence none can truly or really be victims. All the persecution they undergo is hence deserved, never culpable and always entirely justifiable.

But there is more to it than that. While there are over 400,000 signatures on a petition demanding that Suu Kyi’s Nobel Prize be revoked and an impressive assortment of former laureates and leaders have either demanded action or seconded the assertion that the prize is no longer deserved, she will keep her prize. As an article that appeared in the New York Times noted, the Nobel Committee has never in its history revoked a prize and they will not do it now. Their inaction is less a matter of bureaucracy and lack of precedent and far more an indictment of just how shattered the mechanisms of international human rights, be they Nobel prizes or international advocacy, have become.

What worked so well for Suu Kyi — her adoption as the darling of the West, the frail and luminous woman whose stand was so courageous — and made her so famous, no longer works. With unjust wars being waged everywhere, human rights abuses proliferating thanks to the world’s most powerful, and rights and tolerance — even the possibility of peace — discarded under the guise of fighting terrorism, no international consensus on anything exists.

With all hands dirty, rich countries watching and turning away as innocents die trying to reach their shores, with poor countries shrugging and looking away as mobs burn villages and lynch minorities, no one is good and so everyone is quiet.

The Nobel Prize, the awarding or even the revoking of it, cannot cure that. The massacre of the Rohingya will not stop. The Nobel laureate who pretended to speak for justice will not intervene on their behalf, nor will she stop the massacre. Having drunk long and deep from the intoxicating cup of power, Aung San Suu Kyi no longer cares what the enfeebled international community now thinks of her; quite possibly, she knows they can do nothing, and so the killing continues, the villages burn and hundreds of thousands run.


URL: http://newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/how-should-muslims-respond-to-the-rohingya-crisis?--new-age-islam’s-selection,-13-sep-17/d/112506


  • Just a bit more for Dr Anburaj:

    Dr Rita Pal shared an update on UN Human R... Check it out and leave a comment:


    If fighting against oppression and for independence, Indian or any other is supposed to be noble, why can’t the Rohingya then do the same?

    By Rashid Samnakay - 9/14/2017 5:48:14 AM

  • Is it not reported that these people are treated less than second class and are not considered as citizens even. The so called military action is again said to be as a direct result of that policy!

    The East India Company/the British had a lot to do with various large population shifts during their Raj and colonial rule; the consequences of those times the world suffers. Yes, there seems to be a parallel with Kashmir. As always there is a question as to what came first, the chicken or the egg?
    By Rashid Samnakay - 9/14/2017 1:41:53 AM

  • Mr.Qamar Cheema

    You  have  foolishly grouped Rohingo Muslim issue with Kashmir.I register my strong condemnation.

    Kashmir is part and Parcel of Hindustan.Kashmir is ruled by  a democratically elected government-remember.Are you blind ? deaf?

    You are tactfully gloss over the rude and misdeeds of Rohinko Muslims.Arasan Rohingo Liberation Army has killed 12 security persons.They had wanted their area to be partitioned from Myanmar and annexed with Bangaladesh  and they are trying their luck through Military actions - naked violence. 67000 Hindus and Buddhists have vacated that area and are provided shelter in schools elsewhere.We cannot support an Military Organisation that seeks to partition Myanmar,

    By dr.A.Anburaj - 9/13/2017 10:14:33 AM

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