By Dr. Habib Siddiqui
An extraordinary event took place on Thursday (December 12, 2019) in The Hague, the Netherlands. An International Court of Justice (ICJ) panel wound up the first phase of a legal process aimed at determining whether Myanmar committed an act of genocide against the Rohingya ethnic minority. It is the first step toward justice for the Rohingya people: our world’s longest-suffering and most persecuted people.
In August 2017, under the pretext of counterterrorism operation, the Buddhist-dominated Myanmar military launched a genocidal campaign that killed tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims and drove nearly a million of them into the neighboring Bangladesh.
The case against Myanmar was brought about by the tiny African nation of The Gambia whose attorney general and justice minister, Abubacarr Marie Tambadou, urged the ICJ to impose protective “provisional measures” to prevent further killings and genocide of the Rohingya people in Myanmar.
Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Myanmar, appeared at the world court to defend the indefensible. She responded to the accusation by dismissing it as an “incomplete and misleading factual picture of the situation.” The violence had been triggered by terrorist attacks from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), she claimed. She argued that the UN court should not have jurisdiction: “Myanmar requests the court to remove the case from its list.”
Suu Kyi’s defense was simply farcical. When Suu Kyi rose to denounce genocide charges against her country at the “world court,” three victims of Myanmar’s genocidal campaign were sitting close behind her – disbelieving and seething with anger. The three – Hamida Khatun, Yousuf Ali and Hasina Begum – had travelled from the sprawling Kutupalong refugee camp outside Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh to sit on the legal delegation attending the ICJ’s emergency hearing.
Those Rohingya victims were not the only ones who were irritated with what they were hearing from Suu Kyi, once touted – rather wrongly – as the ‘democracy-icon’ by the international community. She has long proven to be a fake icon who is utterly immoral, a Bama supremacist and a bigot.
The Rohingya survivor – Ali arrived in The Hague with a treasured archive of personal Myanmar documents and photographs, which he displayed with pride. “They say we are Bengali immigrants, but these papers show we have a right to residency,” he said. “I brought these papers so that [Suu Kyi] could not lie about us not belonging. There should be equal rights for all the groups in the country. She has persecuted us, and we need to let the world know. It was very difficult to remain silent in court.”
Suu Kyi remains unrepentant and is in the denial of the truth to this very day. One may recall her interviews with the press during the European tour in June of 2012 when she said that she did not know whether the Rohingya people were Myanmar nationals or illegal Bengali immigrants. Her answer raised eyebrows in many quarters. Just as she demonstrated once again in her ICJ response, she would not even utter the ‘R (Rohingya)’ word, which has been a taboo in Buddhist Myanmar to deny the very existence of this very people. The Rohingya are wrongly depicted as outsiders simply because of their religious and ethnic identities that are dissimilar to the Buddhist majority living inside today’s Myanmar (formerly Burma). Deliberately ignored are the facts that their forefathers (the so-called Bengalis) were the first settlers to the coastal territories of Arakan (Rakhine) before the Mongoloids (the Tibeto-Burmans) moved in there in the second half of the 10th century C.E.
The experts have long shown that the denial of one’s identity is an egregious crime and is one of the key features of the tell-tale signs of genocide. The use of the Rohingya term is forbidden inside Myanmar, as if these people don’t exist or have no roots to the soil that they and their forefathers once lived. The international NGOs and even the UN officials (including Special Rapporteur Dr. Yanghee Lee) working inside were warned repeatedly by the officials of the Myanmar government not to use the R-word.
But the genocidal crimes committed by Suu Kyi’s government and its murderous and rapist security forces against the Rohingya could not be hidden. Thanks to the satellite images, the entire world saw the savagery of the Buddhist mob, monks and military as part of a highly sinister national elimination project while Suu Kyi ‘fiddled’ a la Nero-style. She neither visited nor allowed anyone from the UN and international NGOs to visit the killing fields to ascertain the gravity of the situation, let alone investigate the accusations. Rohingya dwellings were burned and bull-dozed to obliterate their very existence.
Whom is Suu Kyi trying to fool now with her denial of the Rohingya genocide? Perhaps, only her mesmerized Buddhist countrymen! Bred and raised in an environment of unfathomed hatred and intolerance towards the non-Buddhists since the Ne Win era, these chauvinists are needed for her political ascendancy to the citadel of power, not as a de facto but as de jure leader of Myanmar. It is not difficult to understand that with the 2020 national elections in mind, Suu Kyi is keen to be seen to defend Myanmar against external criticism. She knows that the genocidal operations in the Rakhine State in 2016 and 2017 were popular with many of her Bama Buddhist constituents, who have long viewed the Rohingyas as illegal Bengali immigrants who follow an alien and potentially dangerous religion.
Not surprisingly, we are told that thousands of supporters of Suu Kyi thronged the streets of Myanmar’s capital on Saturday (December 14, 2019) to celebrate her arrival back from The Hague. While her reputation reached a new low outside Myanmar, at home however, the daughter of Burma’s founding father Aung San is still revered by many. Such is the sad reality in the ‘den of intolerance!’ The proceedings in The Hague have spurred the supporters to stage rallies across the country chanting “Stand with Suu Kyi” and waving flags. They are proud of the horrendous crimes of their fellow Buddhists and are looking forward to the ‘final solution’ to the unfinished Rohingya problem; they want them terminated or evicted from Myanmar. Blind racism has robbed them of their humanity and made them brain-dead!
As rightly noted by Dr. Shwe Lu Maung in his must-read book ‘Is Suu Kyi a racist?,’ the answer to the question in the title of the book is an obvious one. She is not only a racist but a Bama supremacist who believes in the supremacy of her Bama race that is at the apex of the ethnic national race triangle comprising of some 135 groups inside Myanmar.
The Myanmar national order was born in the concept of a master race – the ruling Bama (Burman) people to whom Suu Kyi belongs.
To quote Dr. Maung from his book: The Rakhine Violence (vol. 1: The Rakhine Revolution and 2: The Rohingya), “Myanmar national order is a Burmese variety of racial ethnocentric colonialism, in which the larger ethnic group rules the smaller ones with the sovereign power emanating from the Bama National Race.”
The Myanmar independence struggle was brought into force by the ‘We Burman Association’ or ‘Dobama Asiayone’ in the second decade of the 20th century. Their slogan was ‘We Bama The Master Race.’ At that time Bama was Myanmar and Myanmar was Bama. The Bama National Race, not surprisingly, constituting roughly 40% of the total Myanmar population, represents the First-Class Citizens and is the ruling class and colonial masters. Their powerhouse is known as the Burma Proper that consists of 7 administrative Divisions.
The Second Class Citizens or the Deputy Ruling Races, comprising of about 40% of the total Myanmar population, are made up of seven major national races, namely, (1) Kachin National Races (with 12 sub races), (2) Kaya National Races (with 9 sub races), (3) Kayin National Races (with 12 sub races), (4) Chin National Races (with 51 sub races), (5) Mon National Races (with no sub race), (6) Rakhine National Races (with 7 sub races), and (7) Shan National Races (with 34 sub races). They live along the frontier territories.
The Third-Class Citizens, constituting the 127 small sub races, make up about 15% of the total Myanmar population. Each of these sub races is less than 0.5% of the total population. They virtually have no political clout. [Note: The above three classes belong to three major racial groups (all part of Mongoloid races): the Mon-Khmers, the Tibeto-Bamars and the Thai-Shans. They are recognized as citizens; everyone else (see below for the 4th class) are depicted as the aliens with no rights.]
And then there are the Nameless Races, the Fourth-Class Residents, who are classified as the immigrants from the Indian sub-continent and China. They make up about 5% of the total Burmese population and are derogatorily known as the Kala and the Tayut, respectively. Denied citizenship, they are rendered ‘stateless’ or classified as the guest-citizens or outsiders. The Muslims of the Rakhine State strongly dispute this classification and they identify themselves as the Rohingya, natives of Arakan. Other Indian descendants like the Sikh, the Gurkha, the Bengali, the Tamil keep a very low profile in this artificial country of many races and religions, once controlled through the barrel of the British cannon, which is now forcibly maintained by the Bama master race where rape is used as a weapon to shame and subdue the non-Bama races.
As noted by Dr. Maung, the present Myanmar national order is a form of racism since its nationalism and citizenship is absolutely confined to the 135 national and sub-races who are considered to be indigenous prior to 1823 CE, the year before the First Anglo-Burman War. All others (including the Rohingya whose existence to Arakan is older than the cutoff year of 1823) are excluded and denied any human rights.
This toxic ethno-religio-fascist ideology of Myanmarism derives its legitimacy from its past imperialism. In this cherished concept, the imperialism is an accepted means of unification of the tribal, feudal, and small national kingdoms into an empire or a greater nation. As of today, it is equated with modern nationhood of the Union of Myanmar. The Burman (Bama) ruling race selects three most significant kings out of more than one hundred as the source of the ‘imperial order’ and devolution of state and national legitimacy. Their statues grace and bless Nay Pyi Taw, the nation’s capital.
King Anawrahta (1044-1077 CE) was the first person who, with pragmatism and militarism, institutionalized the Myanmar Way and Myanmar Style. He is the central figure in this triune, flanked by Kings Kyansittha (1084-1113 CE) and Bayinnaung (1550-1581 CE). It is said that Anawrahta started, Kyansittha consolidated and Bayinnaung glorified Myanmar.
Every king after King Anawrahta tried to follow his footsteps. Bayinnaung and Alaungphaya (1714-1760 CE) came in par with him and were recorded as the founder of the Second (1540-1599 CE) and Third (1753-1885 CE) Myanmar Empires, respectively.
Since the days of General Ne Win’s rule (1962-1988) the official historians have called the independent Union of Myanmar the Fourth Myanmar Union. The First, the Second, the Third Myanmar Empires are now labeled as the First, the Second, the Third Myanmar Union. After Ne Win, his successors Saw Maung and Than Shwe asserted that the Fourth Myanmar Union was founded by Aung San, the father of Suu Kyi.
A perusal of Burmese history makes it quite evident that all those empires – past and present – were built on murder, subjugation, exploitation and rape of ‘others.’ Back in 2011, Suu Kyi herself made the point. She said, “Rape is used in my country as a weapon against those who only want to live in peace, who only want to assert their basic human rights, especially in areas of ethnic nationalities. Rape is rife. It is used as a weapon by the armed forces to intimidate the ethnic nationalities and divide our country.” [Ref: Is Suu Kyi a Racist?]
Interestingly, she made those remarks not inside but outside Myanmar. She deliberately downplayed the racial and religious aspects of the Bama and non-Bama conflicts. For example, the rebel Kachins and Chins are all Christians. Nearly a quarter of the Karens are Christians. The Rohingyas are Muslims. As a true Bama supremacist, Suu Kyi tried to hide the identity of her own Bama race that is responsible for perpetrating much of the ethno-religious wars towards establishing its supremacy over the non-Bama and non-Buddhist people.
Shamelessly, Suu Kyi had no qualms now about defending the same Tatmadaw that killed and raped so many Rohingyas! [It is worth noting here that according to a report , titled “Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience” by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA), since Aug. 25, 2017 nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces. More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report. Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized.]
Not to be forgotten is the fact that Aung San, Suu Kyi’s father, was the founder of the Tatmadaw (the Myanmar military) that has been guilty of genocidal crimes against the Rohingya. Her father is well-known for the Bama proverb, “If you meet a viper and a Rakhine, kill the Rakhine first.” If this be the attitude towards a non-Bama, and yet a fellow Buddhist (Rakhine), what chances do Rohingyas have in Suu Kyi’s Myanmar where race and religion are increasingly used as the litmus tests for one’s very survival or non-existence?
It was not too long ago that Suu Kyi said, ‘I am a politician, not a human rights activist‘. Her appearance in the ICJ has made it clear that she has not evolved into a genuine human being yet. She truly never cared about human rights of non-Buddhist races like the Rohingya. She has been a sly politician all along with no moral reservations. Her ICJ appearance is further evidence of her sense of duty towards her own supremacist Bama race (and its Tatmadaw) that has been ruling Myanmar since its independence. Thus, she is not only an integral constituent of this Bama supremacy; she is, in essence, its mouthpiece, savior, and governor.
Shame on her!