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Archives for : Burma

Women of Burma/Myanmar demand No Interfaith Marriage Bill #womenrights

Myanmar President Thein Sein and Speaker of Pyithu Hluttaw Thura Shwe Mann: No Interfaith Marriage Bill

 

To Myanmar President Thein Sein and Speaker of Pyithu Hluttaw Thura Shwe Mann,

We call on the Government of Myanmar to urgently reconsider and halt the drafting of the Interfaith Marriage bill, known as the Law on Protection of Race and Religion, which is currently being drafted by a President-appointed Drafting Committee for consideration by the Parliament.

This bill will have a dire and catastrophic impact on women’s human rights, is likely to polarize and ignite further violence between religious communities in Burma/Myanmar, will cause grave damage to Burma/Myanmar’s international reputation, and threatens to derail the democratic reform process.

This proposed bill includes four elements that contravene international human rights:

(1) The Religion Conversion Law forces a person to provide reason for conversion and undergo investigation from a registration committee to receive approval on what should be a personal, faith-based decision

(2) The Interfaith Marriage Law restricts the rights of Buddhist women who must get permission from parents and government officials to marry non-Buddhist men. This bill also forces non-Buddhist men to convert to Buddhism before marrying Buddhist women.

(3) The Population control law proposes discriminatory measures aimed at controlling the growth of the Muslim population in the country

(4) Monogamy law: this is an unnecessary law which will add to the large number of laws in Burma/Myanmar which restrict and regulate women’s sexuality, marriage and inheritance rights, and are in urgent need of reform to meet international human rights standards.

This bill violates basic international human rights standards and directly contravenes your Government’s commitment to the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). It restricts women’s equality and freedom, discriminates against Myanmar Buddhist women in Burma/Myanmar, women of other faiths residing in Burma/Myanmar, and indigenous women, and is based on discriminatory beliefs that deny women the inherent rights of freedom of survival and freedom of choice. Drafting the Interfaith Marriage Law, at a time when the Government is submitting a report to the CEDAW committee in August 2014, would demonstrate the Government’s violation of both human rights and women’s rights and would be a disgraceful act inviting international ridicule.

This bill also promotes faith-based extremist nationalism which can destroy state peace and incite conflict, and contravenes Article 364 of the Constitution that forbids the abuse of religion for political purposes. The country’s transition to democracy is being watched and supported internationally, and drafting laws which do not meet democratic ideals can damage the image of Burma/Myanmar and dignity and hinder democracy building.

This bill is widely opposed by civil society groups in Burma/ Myanmar with 161 leading women’s groups and civil society organizations nationwide endorsing a Statement against the Interfaith Bill in May 2014. It has also been opposed by civil society groups at the recent ASEAN Civil Society Forum in Burma/Myanmar and by leading organizations in the Asia Pacific Region.

We therefore request that you:

· Immediately halt the drafting of the Interfaith Marriage bill.

· Work towards a law requiring the compulsory registration of all marriages regardless of race, religion and sex.

· Support the effective implementation of existing public laws which are useful; amend laws which discriminate against women; and approve and implement the anti-violence against women law currently being drafted to international standards.

. Develop initiatives to raise men and women in Burma/Myanmar in a way that nurtures them to value and respect heritage, religion, culture and traditions rather than imposing the responsibility of preserving race, religion, culture and traditions of a country entirely on women.

PLEASE SIGN PETITION TO MYANMAR PRESIDENT- CLICK HERE

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Fair or unfair, Burma’s census will drive violence and discrimination

By  Feb 17, 2014 4:14PM UTC

Next month the Burmese government will begin the country’s first nationwide census since the early 1980s. As preparation for the start date on 30 March gets underway, several groups have highlighted their concerns about how the census could work to further inflame violent nationalism and exclude minority groups. The International Crisis Group released a strong briefing last week that covers various important issues associated with the census, focusing in particular upon the requirement to list religion and ethnicity – a real danger at present given the recent violence directed towards the country’s Muslim population, and the Rohingya minority in particular.

As the ICG briefing notes, the problems are manifold, and affect all of the country’s ethnic groups (the number of which is contested). It says that minorities will only be allowed to field representatives for local government if their population, as recorded by the census, is above a certain number. “Groups fear that if their communities are subdivided or misclassified, they may be denied that political representation. There is no possibility to report mixed ethnicity, forcing people into a single identity, to the potential disadvantage of some smaller groups.”

Smoke and flames billow from a burning building set ablaze during sectarian violence in Meikhtila last year. Pic: AP.

It also makes a key point on the issue of how the census, even if carried out accurately and fairly (namely, allowing minority groups to record their identity according to what they believe it to be), could fuel anti-Muslim sentiment. “Currently, it is widely believed that Myanmar’s [Burma] population is 4 per cent Muslim, a figure reported in the 1983 census. However, there are strong indications that the real figure collected then was over 10 per cent, but that a political decision was taken to publish a more acceptable figure of 4 per cent. The results of the current census could therefore be mistakenly interpreted as providing evidence for a three-fold increase in the Muslim population in the country over the last 30 years, a potentially dangerous call to arms for extremist movements [emphasis added].”

There is also the issue of whether Rohingya will be allowed to label themselves as Rohingya. Various rights groups have said the census should be suspended until this category is included, or until the government agrees to remove the demand that ethnicity be listed, lest it inflame an already tense situation. But some worrying comments on this matter have been made by Khin Yi, who is heading up the census (and who, incidentally, played a key role in orchestrating the military crackdown on protestors in 2007, when he was police chief in Yangon). He has already said that “Rohingya” will not be an option on the ethnicity list. Here he is quoted recently in local media:

“They say that their race is Rohingya. When a person says that his race is “B”, because he doesn’t want to mention his race as “A”, that means that race “A” no longer exists, but the race “B” is a new race. Since race “B” is a new race, there will be questions, such as “how did the race enter (the country)?” or “are they encroaching here?” When things become radical, I worry that it could harm peace and stability …. We will record what the person says. If he says “A” then we will fill the form as “A”. The result will be, like I said before, that even if that term “A” is Rohingya, we will not recognize Rohingya as one of the 135 ethnic groups in Myanmar [emphasis added].”

(MORE: Crisis group warns against Burma census)

It’s not just minority Muslims who stand to lose out in the census. On a recent trip to southern Chin state I met a young Baptist man who had been struck off the family registration list in his remote village by Buddhist elders who demanded he convert to Buddhism. He has already been blocked from using services in his village – including buying food and water – and has been told by the elders that he’ll be prevented from taking part in the census, of which he said family registration is a requirement. His experience, and that of hundreds of thousands of others, shows that religious persecution isn’t just about religion – one’s beliefs are being used to determine who and who isn’t Burmese.

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA), which is providing assistance for the census, is now in a tricky position – its involvement ostensibly lends support to a project that could soon institutionalize and make official a policy of discrimination towards minorities that the UN itself has criticized. The UN spokesperson said in response to a journalist’s recent question on the issue that it was “supporting the Government to ensure that the census is fully inclusive and conducted according to international standards”. But still, as Khin Yi made clear, even if respondents are allowed to record the identity of their choosing, it will ultimately matter little – the Baptist man in Chin state may not even be allowed to fill out the form, and the Rohingya will still be regarded as non-citizens, and therefore stateless.

As the ICG further notes, “some extremist Rakhine political actors undoubtedly fear that the census would establish a baseline Rohingya population that would make it more difficult to sustain the narrative of recent migration in the future.” In light of all this it’s clear that a suspension of the census is necessary, given that carrying it out now in any form will worsen a fragile situation – if it is done fairly, it could antagonize ultra-nationalist Buddhists who see other religions, whether they be Muslim or Christian, as non-Burmese, and likely spur greater violence; if done unfairly, in its current form, it will disenfranchise minority groups and deny them political and civil rights for the foreseeable future.

Read more here — http://asiancorrespondent.com/119666/fair-or-unfair-burmas-census-will-drive-violence-and-discrimination/

 

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#India- Rohingyas – When There’s No Place Called Home

The Rohingyas who fled from Burma to Jammu are living their lives in transition. If you come from nowhere, is there somewhere you can go?

2013-11-09 , Issue 45 Volume 10

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No future in sight There are over a thousand, mostly unregistered, children under the age of five in the camp. Photo: Rudra Rakshit
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The celebrations begin A wedding tent erected on a clearing in the Rohingya settlement. Photo: Rudra Rakshit

“Sometimes I weep when I hear Saare Jahan Se Achcha. It’s hard for us here, as it would be anywhere else. We want to go home, but how do we go back now?” asks Mohammad Yunus, the representative of the Burmese  called the Rohingyas, who settled in  five years ago. A natural diplomat, his narration of the stark facts of their lives seldom betrays emotion. We are sitting in his hut in the Rohingya settlement in Kassim Nagar in Narwal on the outskirts of , along with several other men from the community who are unobtrusively squatting on the floor. One of them turns to us and says, “When you’ve been exposed to police interrogations and molestations so many times, the fear sinks deep. That’s why we let Yunus speak on our behalf, though he is much younger. The fear hasn’t got hold of him yet.”

Nearly 1,700 families are believed to have settled in and around , with several more settlements spread across Punjab, Delhi and . The huts in the Kassim Nagar camp are made of wooden panels, metal, black nylon covers and jute sacks, all put together in a way that can protect the residents during heavy rains. There is no communal bathroom, but next to every other hut, a tiny space is curtained off and used as a toilet. The government supply of water comes once a day for half an hour on two taps (the government, Yunus says, has completely shut down the water supply since 4 October). Two buffaloes and a white horse are tied to wooden poles at the farthest end of the settlement. They belong to the owner of that piece of land, which is being rented out to the Rohingyas for a monthly payment of Rs 500 (or more) per hut.

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“When you have no nationality, you can’t even book a train ticket. There’s nothing to write in that little blank slot,” one of the Rohingya men says, as Yunus’ wife cooks omelettes. Meanwhile, his nine-year-old son serves us cups of hot water with two packets of Burmese instant coffee mixture placed neatly on the saucers. Since nationality, or a defined identity, is the prerequisite to securing civil rights, the Rohingyas, having been granted none of the above, have become a vulnerable and legally invisible ethnic group. When  gained independence in 1948, Rohingyas were not formally recognised as one of the country’s official national groups. The 1982 Citizenship Act left them further marginalised, officially classified as stateless Bengali Muslims from present-day Bangladesh.

Being rendered stateless, the Rohingyas have been exposed to all sorts of maltreatment, partly because no international law is breached if a criminal act is committed against a stateless person. The mistreatment, as confirmed in various United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports as well as by the Rohingyas themselves, includes forced labour, restriction on freedom of movement, extortion, the absence of residence rights, inequitable marriage regulations, land confiscation and limited access to secondary and tertiary education and other public services. Rohingyas have become one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.

Their ancestry — originating, according to a 2011 UNHCR report, in people who have immigrated or passed through  from the seventh century onwards: Arabs, Moors, Turks, Persians, Moguls, Pathans and the local Bengali and Rakhine — is a bone of contention constantly gnawed at by both the Rohingyas’ advocates and political adversaries. The former tend to assert the immemorial link that the Rohingyas have with , while the latter dismiss any such claims and see them as Bengali Muslims from the Burmese British era. The somewhat obscure arguments on the community’s origins shed little light on why it continues to remain stateless and without rights.

“These men gathered here,” Yunus says, “form a committee that meets once a week to discuss current issues or prepare for the pan-Indian meetings that take place once a month, mostly in Delhi.” The committee’s full name is the Myanmar Rohingya Refugee Relief and Rehabilitation Committee, of which Yunus is the vice-president, and its aims are “to unite, solve day-to-day problems, provide food, water, shelter, education, medication, legal aid, solve social issues, have good contacts with NGOs and like-minded people who can help this cause”. Though its registration with the Ministry of Home Affairs failed, it continues to be the Rohingya ’ primary political body.

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Brusquely getting up from his chair, Yunus goes to an adjoining room and returns with a pink plastic purse. He pulls out a fat pile of documents and hands over a photocopy of a newspaper article from the Daily Excelsior,  and Kashmir’s largest news daily. The headline reads: “BJP demands probe into foreigners residing in J&K”. The party’s state convenor Rajeev Charak is quoted as saying, “These people are suspected to be indulging in many types of criminal activities like robbery, kidnapping and killing… [they] even harm the integrity of the State as well as India.”

To avoid possible deportation, the Rohingya committee petitioned the UNHCR’s Chief of Mission in a letter stating that they had valid asylum-seeker cards. They further said that none of them had been involved in any of the criminal cases listed. They are often visited by the police, the CID and the IB, and found to be guilty of nothing. They live on rented land, and request “that as per international laws and agreements, to which India has also signed, we who have lost everything in our home country, should not be ill-treated and harassed in a democratic country like India”.

“There have been papers written about us,” one of the Rohingya men says, “that we have come here to join hands to fight, so we are being followed and tracked to know where we go and what we do.” He feels helpless, ignored. “How will you put any pressure on the  if you have no strength? It’s been five years since I’ve applied for refugee status, but they’ve only given me an asylum-seeker card. They have been giving rights to other , like the Afghans or the Somalis, but not to us.”

“Back in 2005,” Yunus tells me, “an English reporter came to . This was at a time when people from Geneva were also visiting to assess the situation. I gave her a letter that spoke about the conditions of our life in . There was a lot of security surveillance back then. Someone heard about this and had people sent out to kill me. I fled my . First, I went to Bangladesh and from there to Saudi Arabia. In 2008, I brought my wife and child to India with me. Since then, nothing has moved ahead for us. Every time I’ve been at the UNHCR headquarters, I’ve requested for facilities for the children, for their education. Not to this day have the UNHCR officials raised their voices against the government on our behalf.”

Suddenly, it begins to pour outside. Several children strip themselves naked and run out in the open to dance around the newly formed puddles. The men inside the living room are silent. For a few moments, the water is the only audible sound. “This Ramadan, during the rains,” Yunus recalls, “a snake crawled into one of the huts and bit two kids. A six-year-old and a nine-year-old died on the spot.”

For a long time, the Rohingyas did not have a burial ground. Until many men in the settlement agreed to clean a Kashmiri cemetery because they were promised that they could use the land for burials. When a three-year-old passed away, they buried her there. After three days, however, they were forced to exhume her body and carry her back to their camp. The Rohingyas have now found a small burial ground in the forest. Apparently, local people took up the Rohingyas’ cause and stood up to the forest guards.

Read more here-  http://www.tehelka.com/when-theres-no-place-called-home/

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Manipur – 3 commandos suspended for beating up a patient

PTI  Imphal, June 04, 2013

Three police commandos were suspended for allegedly beating up a patient and five others, who were accompanying him, on the way to a hospital in Bishenpur district of Manipur, police said on Tuesday.

The suspension order of sub-inspector Bung Singh and two constables (all commandos) was issued by the Superintendent of Police of Bishenpur district Radheshyam Singh on Monday.

Khwairakpam Paka (32), under acute pain following detection of stones in his kidney, and his five companions including a woman, were beaten up by the three policemen in an inebriated condition when Paka was being taken from his home at Thanga to a private clinic in Imphal at around 10 pm on Saturday, police said.

Different social organisations had complained to the police about the incident. Three Manipur Rifles personnel and one jawan of India Reserve Battalion were also allegedly involved in the incident.

Respective commanding officers of the Manipur Rifles personnel and IRB jawan have been informed to take action against them, the sources said

 

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Two child limit imposed on Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya #Vaw #WTFnews

New measure, which applies to Muslim Rohingya families in western Rakhine state, does not affect Buddhists in the area.
Last Modified: 25 May 2013 14:34
Authorities in Myanmar‘s western Rakhine state have imposed a two-child limit for Muslim Rohingya families, a policy that does not apply to Buddhists in the area, and comes amid accusations of ethnic cleansing in the aftermath of sectarian violence.

Local officials said on Saturday that the new measure would be applied to two Rakhine townships that border Bangladesh and have the highest Muslim populations in the state.

The townships, Buthidaung and Maundaw, are about 95 percent Muslim.

The unusual order makes Myanmar perhaps the only country in the world to impose such a restriction on a religious group, and is likely to fuel further criticism that Muslims are being discriminated against in the Buddhist-majority country.

China has a one-child policy, but it is not based on religion and exceptions apply to minority ethnic groups.

India briefly practised forced sterilisation of men in a bid to control the population in the mid-1970s when civil liberties were suspended during a period of emergency rule, but a nationwide outcry quickly shut down the programme.

‘Overpopulation causes tension’

Rakhine state spokesman Win Myaing said the new programme was meant to stem rapid population growth in the Muslim community, which a government-appointed commission identified as one of the causes of the sectarian violence.

Although Muslims are the majority in the two townships in which the new policy applies, they account for only about 4 percent of Myanmar’s roughly 60 million people.

The measure was enacted a week ago after the commission recommended family planning programs to stem population growth among Muslims, Win Myaing said.

The commission also recommended doubling the number of security forces in the volatile region.

“The population growth of Rohingya Muslims is 10 times higher than that of the Rakhine (Buddhists),” Win Myaing said. “Overpopulation is one of the causes of tension.”

Sectarian violence in Myanmar first flared nearly a year ago in Rakhine state between the region’s Rakhine Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya.

Mobs of Buddhists armed with machetes razed thousands of Muslim homes, leaving hundreds of people dead and forcing 125,000 to flee, mostly Muslims.

Witnesses and human rights groups said riot police stood by as crowds attacked Muslims and burned their villages.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has accused authorities in Rakhine of fomenting an organised campaign of “ethnic cleansing” against the Rohingya.

 

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Handbook for Bloggers and cyber- dissidents #mustshare

via @ConQueso1

Bloggers cause anxiety. Governments are wary of these men and women, who are posting news, without being professional journalists. Worse, bloggers sometimes raise sensitive issues which the media, now known as “traditional”, do not dare cover. Blogs have in some countries become a source of news in their own right.

Nearly 120,000 blogs are created every day. Certainly the blogosphere is not just adorned by gems of courage and truth. It is also often the source of confusion and dis-information and not all bloggers have the souls of reporters. That is why this handbook contains advice on creating and updating a blog, with no other ambition than that of free expression. For others it will be a struggle to draw attention to a particular issue. The first concern therefore is to make a publication visible (see the Jotman article). This hand-book also suggests ploys to get your blog well referenced online (see the Olivier Andrieu article) as well as “editorial” recommendations (Get your blog to stand out, by Mark Glazer).

Let’s acknowledge that blogs are a fantastic tool for freedom of expression. They have unloosed the tongues of ordinary citizens. People who were until now only consumers of news have become players in a new form of journalism, a “grassroots” journalism, as expressed by Dan Gillmor (Grassroots journalism — see the chapter What ethics should bloggers have?), that is “by the people for the people”. Blogs are more or less controllable for those who want to keep them under surveillance. Governments that are most up to do date with new technology use the most sophisticated filtering or blocking techniques, preventing them from appearing on the Web at all. But bloggers don’t just sit back and let it happen. The essential question becomes how to blog in complete safety. With a normal IP address, a blogger can be tracked down and arrested. Anonymity allows them to keep their freedom (See “How to blog anonymously).

In countries where censorship holds sway, blogs are sometimes the only source of news. During the events in Burma in the autumn of 2007, pitting monks and the people against the military junta, bloggers were the main source of news for foreign journalists. Their video footage made it possible to gauge the scale of the protests and what demonstrators’ demands were. For more than two months, marches were held in the streets, then a massive crackdown was launched against opponents that only the Burmese were able to show, so hard did it become for the few foreign journalists who managed to enter the country to get back out with their footage. And bloggers could not get the footage out without getting round online censorship imposed by the government.

This handbook seeks to help every blogger to fill in the “black holes” In news. The second part is devoted to techniques which can thwart filtering technology (Choosey our method to get round censorship by Nart Villeneuve). With a little good sense and persistence and above all finding the technique best suited to the situation, every blogger should be capable of shaking off censorship.

Clothilde Le Coz
Head of the Internet Freedom desk

Note Anonymiss Express: contains

46 HOW TO BLOG ANONYMOUSLY WITH WORDPRESS AND TOR by Ethan Zuckerman
54 TECHNICAL WAYS TO GET ROUND CENSORSHIP by Nart Villeneuve
71 ENSURING YOUR E-MAIL IS TRULY PRIVATE by Ludovic Pierrat
75 THE 2008 GOLDEN SCISSORS OF CYBER-CENSORSHIP by Clothilde Le Coz

Read it on scribd and download

 

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Outbreak of Violence of in Mumbai – ASSAM AND BURMA KILLING OF MUSLIMS- #mustread

 

English: , a prominent Indian muslim scholar i...

English: , a prominent Indian muslim scholar in a seminar in Pune University. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

OUTBREAK OF VIOLENCE IN MUMBAI – ASSAM AND BURMA KILLING OF MUSLIMS

 

Asghar Ali Engineer

 

(Secular Perspective August 16-31, 2012)

 

The way things were happening for last few weeks it was not surprising that violence on such scale took place. It was, as if, in store, large scale propaganda was going on that Muslims are being killed all over the world. There is conspiracy to kill Muslims everywhere and on Bodo-Muslim clashes and about Rohingiyah Muslims in Burma prayers were being organized in every mosque and SMSs were circulating about it. Urdu papers were carrying articles saying there is world-wide conspiracy to kill Muslims. Articles simply appealing to emotions, not to reason.

 

I have not seen any sober and analytical article in the Urdu press in Mumbai. The Muslim leadership was creating a psychology of victimhood in the minds of Muslims and pent up emotions were waiting to explode with some triggering event. The photographs about killing of Muslims in Burma had greatly disturbed the Muslim youth. All photographs, I must say, were not authentic but they circulated on large scale and ignited emotions.

 

Muslim leadership which hardly does anything for the real welfare of the community always has an eye on such sensitive situations and wants to grab the opportunity to enhance their own interests. Also, mosques were used to announce about rally giving it further religious colour. For those who go to mosques to pray, in large numbers, particularly in the holy month of Ramadan, are gullible and the moment religious colour is given to an issue they become extra-sensitive.

 

These religious leaders and also some non-religious leaders of Muslims neither fully understand the problem what is the conflict about nor they care to know the facts what is going on the ground. They simply make it a case of conspiracy against Muslims. In Azad Maidan too where rally was organized despite knowing that huge crowd is there with all sorts of people, including anti-social elements, the speakers made highly emotional speeches especially attacking media for not covering killing of Muslims in Burma. Then what more do you want to incite emotions for anything to happen.

 

It was not only question of managing the crowd; it was utterly irresponsible act on the part of leadership of the rally. If they had expected only 1500 persons to come and 50,000 turned up the leaders should have clearly understood that situation can get out of control any time as they were simply dealing with raw emotions. A wise leadership would not have allowed highly emotional speeches in the midst of such huge crowd and fuel emotions further.

 

It is also not correct to say that they expected only 1500 people to turn up as they were making announcements inside the mosque on Friday and also posters were put up. It means they aimed higher and made efforts to mobilize large number of people and succeeded in it. Ideal thing would have been to have a dharnaby about 1000-1500 seriously interested people for a day long dharna and then they could have met Chief Minister or Home Minister. There was no need at all for such a huge rally.

 

And if at all such a huge rally was organized why such emotional speeches were made? They should have understood the sensitivity of the problem. But then if they did, how can they be Muslims leadership without arousing religious sentiments? In fact as far as Assam is concerned hardly any one of those who actively organized the rally knew anything about the nature of conflict except that Muslims were killed.

 

What was the history of Bodo-Muslim conflict in Assam? Bodos are not killing Muslims because of their Muslimness but the fundamental problem is of land. Bodos are in conflict with other communities also like Adibashis, Santhals and others and they have come in conflict with all these communities. Though it is not true that Bangla Deshis are migrating in large numbers (this is largely the Sangh Parivar propaganda) by unfortunately Bodos, in order to fulfill their ambition of Bodo-land and for evicting Bengali Muslims and other ethnic communities from the 4 districts of Bodo Territorial Council, are using this propaganda for their own purposes. One can of course blame the Congress Government for giving Bodos BTC to buy peace with militant Bodo outfits. They should not have without taking other ethnic communities in confidence and giving them proper representation. We have dealt with this issue on our last article on Bodo-Muslim riots in Kokrajhar and other districts.

 

As for Rohingiyah Muslims it is the Military Government of Myanmar which is to be blamed. I visited Rangoon after the recent riots and interviewed large number of Rohingya Muslims. No such problem existed until 1981. They were treated as regular citizens and had voting rights. It was the Military Government of Myanmar which suddenly and without any proper reason, took away their papers from them and tried to expel them from Rakhine district of Western Myanmar.

 

It treats these Muslims as foreigners and wants Bangla Desh to settle them in its territory which is totally unjust. Rohingya Muslims have been in that province for centuries and there is no case to describe them as outsiders. Most of them had settled there with Muslim rule. But the Military Government of Myanmar has been killing Burmese of other provinces too and killed several Buddhist monks also during pro-democracy demonstrations.

 

It is true that some Buddhist monks have issued pamphlets against Rakhine Muslims to show solidarity with their co-religionists which they should not have done. But then like others Buddhists monks also are getting politicized as their pro-democracy demonstration also shows. But in both cases (i.e. Assam and Rohingya Muslims) it is not part of any world wide conspiracy to kill Muslims as it is being propagated.

 

In Mumbai violence media came under attack for no reason except that provocative speeches were made against media. It was quite ill-advise. A wise leadership would rather try to win over media rather than antagonize it this way. Also, one cannot tar the media with the same brush. Both print and electronic media has different ideological and commercial approaches. A blatant attack is totally wrong and even if a section of media is ideologically against or indifferent to Muslim problems, solution does not lie in attacking its journalists, or OB vans. It is at best foolish.

 

Urdu papers often write that let Ulama-kiram (Honourable Ulama) guide the Muslim ummah and give it a lead. How can one expect Ulama who hardly have knowledge of the modern world and for whom provoking religious sentiments is part of their orientation, can provide leadership. It is not to say that all Ulama are like this but a large number of Ulama – and this has been proved repeatedly in political matters – behave either in opportunistic or emotional way.

 

And let us remember all this happened in the holy month of Ramadan. The ulama never tire of telling us that this month of fasting so that we become more patient and able to control our anger and we must devote us entirely to ‘ibadat i.e. acts of worship, compassion and charity. What was then hurry to take out this rally in this holy month when no fresh incidents were taking place. The Assam situation had come under control and what was urgently needed was to collect money, clothes, shoes and medicines for those in relief camps in those four districts.

 

In this holy month of charity they could have concentrated on collecting relief for those unfortunate 4 million people who are rotting in relief camps in most unspeakable conditions. Many Bodos also have been killed in retaliatory actions and quite a few Bodos are also living in these relief camps in as bad a condition as Bengali speaking Muslims. As a good and compassionate Muslims, in this month of charity they should adopt inclusive approach and collect relief for Bodos too. This is what the Holy Qur’an also requires of them.

 

If instead of making it a conspiracy against Muslims, if they had condemned killing of Bodos too and prayed for all it would not have acquired such emotional proportions. Also the rally also should not have been exclusively a Muslim rally but a rally with the support of all sections of Indian society i.e. Hindus, Christians, Buddhists and all others – besides Muslims – to strengthen our secular character. It was not only exclusively Muslim but organized by Raza Academy – representing Barelvi Muslims. What a sectarian approach. Deobandis were to organize separately a day after but was postponed because of violent turn which the rally on Saturday took.

 

If we have to be against violence and it should be our serious commitment – we have to be more and more inclusive. When ever sectarian approach is adopted, it becomes easier to resort to violence and if it is inclusive of all sections it is not only more democratic but also likely to be more non-violent. Sectarian approach also results in competitive approach and inclusive approach is also cooperative approach.

 

The police is now saying the violence was pre-planned which may result in harassment of many Muslim youth. It is shameful that some rallyists molested women constables and seized revolvers from them. The police may take revenge for this. Let us hope police does not. But one must say the police had shown lot of restraint and Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik himself had come and spoken from the platform appealing Muslims to show restraint in this holy month of Ramadan.

 

Let us hope wiser counsel will prevail and peace would not be disturbed.    

————————————————-

Centre for Study of Society and Secularism

Mumbai.

E-mail: [email protected]

 

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How to start a riot out of Facebook: Yousuf Saeed

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

AUGUST 13, 2012

Guest post by YOUSUF SAEED, http://kafila.org

I am utterly shocked and pained to read about the violent rally that many Muslims took out at Azad Maidan in Mumbai on 11 August 2012 in protest against the recent communal carnage in Assam and Burma. More than the accidental death of two men and 50 injured in yesterday’s protest, what alarmed me was the public anger targeted on the media for “not reporting about the violence against Muslims in Assam and Myanmar”. Several vans of TV channels and their equipment were smashed or burnt besides a number of police vehicles destroyed. Of course, the authorities are still probing as to who really began the violence in an otherwise peaceful rally (and we are open to the results of such a probe). But my worst fear came true with this assertion of one of the protesters in a newspaper report: “Why is the media not covering Burma and Assam? We learnt about the incidents from videos posted on the Internet.” This seems to be a very disturbing statement on various accounts. Of course, the media can sometimes be biased, and the Muslims do feel victimised by it all the time. But are the random videos and images posted on the Internet any less biased or misleading?

Some of you may have recently noticed a number of gory and blood-soaked images being forwarded and shared on various social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter that claim to show the dead bodies of “20,000 Muslims butchered in Burma in the hands of Buddhists” along with the assertion that the world’s media is silent about the plight of Muslims in Burma and so on. Most of those images are really disturbing, capable of making anyone’s blood boil. Some show mounds of rotting dead bodies and a few Buddhist monks standing near them. Some even looked digitally tempered with to enhance their anti-Muslim violence. But there was no sign of where these images were sourced from. A couple of them even had Jama’t-e Islami, Pakistan, stamped on them. But if, as the people posting them claim, the world’s media is silent about the Muslim carnage in Burma, how did these images and the disturbing news come from Burma in the first place? Where did they find them before posting? I asked this question to many friends sharing these images and they didn’t have a clue. They simply believed in what they saw. In fact, from the Internet these pictures were picked up by many Urdu newspapers from Mumbai, Hyderabad and Delhi and printed with inflammatory titles and headlines. Many new caricatures and info-graphics started appearing on Facebook ridiculing the “peaceful” image of Buddhists or the “silence” of Burmese leader Aung Suu Kyi on the carnage of Rohingya Muslims and so on.

Read more here

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Truth behind the Violence- Mumbai Police’s mature handling of Saturday’s protest #mustshare

Citizens for Justice and Peace met the Commissioner of Police Mumbai to express our concern over the fallout of Saturday’s violence. His mature  handling of a potentially explosive situation on Saturday did ensure that matters were brought under control. Most of all his immediate presence at the venue within minutes of the situation spiralling out of control, his direct appeal to the protesters and organisers, his reference to the bloodbath of 1992-1993 worked to calm the crowd and draw apologies from many sections of the Muslim community.

We have also shared details of the misuse of certain photographs from the internet claiming that these are about atrocities on Rohingyas in Burma when in fact they belong to different tragedies and protests. CJP would like to express deep sorrow at the loss of lives on Saturday and also deep regret at the injuries –some serious caused to several police men and women last Saturday.  Enclosed is a copy of the memorandum that contains the manipulated photographs.

CJP would like to state that while photographs about the situation in Burma have been doing the rounds since mid-June 2012, it was a Pakistani blogger who has pointed out the misuse/manipulation of some of the images.CJP would also like to urge that restraint and maturity continues to govern not just the law and order machinery but also the political class. Among the wide use of SMS for Saturday’s agitation, politicians have also been sending out provocative text messages. (we have some of these). Unlike what has been put out, we would also like to state that while the media may not have highlighted the situation of the Rohingyas in Myanmar as much as say they have the Hindu refugees of Pakistan, this needs to be highlighted by enlightened debate. As far as the Assam issue is concerned there have been as always mixed reportage in the media. The Open Magazine calls it on e3 sided provocation against the Muslim settlers. It would also be worth remembering that clearcut efforts to communalise the situation in Assam have been spearheaded by our largest opposition party that speaks of the violence against the Bodos but not against the Muslim settlers who’s citizenship issue has been long settled.

We enclose the memorandum with a request that this is given wide coverage.

Teesta Setalvad
Secretary, CJP

 

August 13, 2012

To

Commissioner of Police

Mumbai

Shri Arup Patnaik

Dear Sir,

As citizens of Mumbai committed to the rule of law and human rights for all, we would like to place on record our appreciation for the manner in which the Mumbai Police under your stewardship handled the potentially explosive situation at Azad Maidan on Saturday. Though better preparedness and bandobast before the protest would have undoubtedly helped, once violence broke out, the mature and handling by the police without being further provoked by the behavior of the protesters ensured that the situation was brought under control, and that a potentially volatile situation did not spread to other areas. Sir it is critical to ensure that there is no further fallout of Saturday’s violence.

We would also like to condemn of the use of provocative slogans and resort to violence by some of those on the stage and in the crowd assembled to protest, as reported in the media. We strongly condemn the attack on policemen and misbehavior with women police officers as has been also alleged alleged in media reports that must have caused deep anger among the law and order enforcement machinery. The attack on the media is most deplorable, as also the destruction of public property. Any issues that any individual or group has with the media, selective portrayals or biases—if any– need to be furthered through discussion and dialogue not violence and instigation.

While the right to protest is a democratic right, the duty and responsibility of peaceful protest must lie with not just the authorities but responsibility must also be taken by organizers. (Justice Srikrishna in his report on the 1q992-1993 violence, had, relying on the earlier recommendations of the Justice DP Madon Commission report that were never implemented, recommended that  deposits need to be obtained from organizers of protests to ensure that damages for any losses could be recovered from this deposit). We suggest that the Mumbai police immediately apply this recommendation.

There have been reports that some provocative photographs of the situation in Burma were shown or talked of and the appeals to the media made. In this connection we would like to offer the following information. Since mid-June 2012, photographs allegedly depicting the horrific plight of the Rohingyas,­ who happen to be Muslims of Burmahave been widely circulated on the internet. (Annexure A)

Yesterday, after Saturday’s violence, as we were checking the authenticity of these out, we found, that some, though not all of them were actually not of authentic and were altered/morphed on the computer. This information has also been put out by a blogger who appears to be from Pakistan.

We attach some of these below for your consideration.

We would also like to humbly state that reviving the vibrant and collective effort of the Mohalla Committee—with ordinary citizens not politicians—is critical given that misconceptions and misgivings must have been caused across communities after Saturday’s incident. This is also necessary to ensure that there is no spill over resentment and anger with other, ordinary Muslims following the conduct of a handful of compatriots of the community on Saturday. The month of Ramzan, followed by Eid after which the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi will be both a strain and challenge to the Mumbai police. We hope that under your leadership, maturity and calm governs public behavior, not retaliation by the police or provocation by any other sections of society.

Yours Sincerely,

Teesta Setalvad                                           Javed Anand

Secretary                                                      Trustee

Other trustees:

IM Kadri (President), Nandan Maluste (Vice President),

Arvind Krishnaswamy (Treasurer), Alyque Padamsee, Cyrus Guzder, Anil Dharker, Javed Akhtar, Ghulam Pesh Imam, Rahul Bose, Cedric Prakash

Annexure A

Social media is lying to you about Burma’s Muslim ‘cleansing’

Faraz Ahmed July 19, 2012

Social networking sites are abuzz with news about Muslims being killed in Burma.You can see the sporadic posting of pictures by different people with captions like ‘Muslims killing in Burma’, ‘Muslims slaughtered by Buddhists in Burma’ and so on.

Thus, I took on the mission to sort the truth out for myself once and for all and researched some pictures that I felt were dubious. Below are a few pictures and their original copies. You can evidently see the gross difference between them and how they are thrown out of context.

This was a picture shared on Facebook.


I have found the original version which reads differently to the the one posted on the social networking site.

This picture was taken in 2010 after an earthquake in China and captures the efforts put in by the Tibetans to help rescue the victims. Now, Islamic political parties and some other elements are sharing this image as Muslim killing and their slaughter in Burma.

Another widely circulated  picture captioned “More then 1,000 people killed in Burma” is also fake.

The original, as you can see below, is taken in Thailand in the year 2004. This picture shows protesters that were tear-gassed outside the Tal Bai police station in Bangkok. This is roughly 1,409.9 km away from Burma! What is grossly negligent about these photos is the factual ignorance of the hate these misleading photos can culminate.

Below, please find another image which was posted online, this time with an imprint of Jamaat-e-Islami on the top left . It reads ‘Terrorists of Budhism of Burma kills 500 Muslims’.

As you can guess, this is also a fabricated picture.

In reality, this image belongs to a Human Rights violation incident by the Thai authorities against the Rohingya ethnic minority of Burma. These refugees were detained for a few weeks and then sent off drifting into the sea.

Here is another instance of such fallacy spreading across the social media sites regarding the massacre of Muslims in Burma.

This picture is extremely misleading considering that the original image was about the riots in Thailand that took place in 2003! Now, take a look at the image below and observe how it is blown out of context.

Now, view the original.

The original picture is not even remotely close to what the picture above states. In fact, a Tibetan protester had set himself on fire in protest prior to the arrival of Chinese president Hu Jintao and that too in Delhi.

I do not deny the killings of Muslims in Burma – not even for a minute.

 

I think it is horrific and I am sympathetic towards the immense loss being suffered by my Muslim brothers and sisters abroad.What I am against is being lied to.

Imagine the amount of lies we are being fed through these pictures. How can one trust any image online if such drastic manipulation and editing is being done to cater to someone’s political or personal agenda?’

Social media and networking sites, if used properly, can be an impressive tool in spreading awareness amongst its users, but it can be an equally dangerous median as well if misused.

These images are false and are only igniting hatred and prejudice in our youth.

We need to become more vigilant and aware of the credibility and authenticity of  pictures we browse through. It only takes one wrong image to push us over the edge towards extremism.

Who do you think is more misleading?

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Myanmar lifts BAN on journals after protests #CENSORSHIP #GOODNEWS

Journalists pose with a shirt during a protest along the streets of Yangon, August 4, 2012. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

YANGON | Mon Aug 6, 2012 6:51pm IST

(Reuters) – Myanmar‘s government has agreed to lift suspensions on two weekly journals within two weeks, their editors said on Monday, just days after rare protests by journalists in two cities to demand more press freedom.

Editors of the Burmese-language Voice Weekly and The Envoy told Reuters that Myanmar’s censorship board had informed them they could resume publishing by August 18, without giving a reason for why the suspensions would be lifted.

Publication of the journals was halted indefinitely late last month, promoting an outcry among journalists who are enjoying freedom to publish not seen under the five decades of authoritarian military rule that ended in March last year.

The quasi-civilian government has loosened its grip on the press as part of a surprise reform drive. But some press censorship still remains and journalists pushing the boundaries of the restrictions have complained that suspensions are tantamount to intimidation.

Nearly 100 journalists rallied against the suspension in Yangon on Saturday and about 60 protested in the second-biggest city, Mandalay a day later, most wearing black T shirts saying “stop killing the press”.

“The reason for lifting the suspension, I think, would be because of the rallies by the journalists,” said an editor of another journal, who asked not to be named.

Monday’s edition of the Messenger journal blacked-out its entire front page and cited a line from the constitution that guarantees freedom of expression.

The Nation journal went a step further, uploading on its Facebook page what it said was a censored copy of its front page story of the protest, which was covered with crosses in red ink.

It was not known exactly why the two publications were suspended. The Press Scrutiny and Registration Division, as the censors are called, said they had “violated rules and regulations”, without elaborating.

The Voice is also facing a lawsuit, lodged by Myanmar’s Ministry of Mines, after it published a report alleging graft by ministries under the previous government.

Myanmar’s government has insisted it will scrap censorship as soon as a press law is promulgated, but journalists are concerned some restrictions will remain and recommendations for the legislation might be ignored.

The government’s mouthpiece, the New Light of Myanmar, carried an editorial in its Sunday edition, apparently in response to the protests, calling for patience and reiterating that censorship would soon be abolished.

It said the country was “not still accustomed to the freedom we have not enjoyed before” and to “rush could ruin results.”

(Reporting by Thu Rein Hlaing; Editing by Martin Petty and Ed Lane; Editing by Ed Lane)

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