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Old wisdom (Hillel the Elder): “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I?  If not now, when?”



Reference Image: LiveLeak.com – Myanmar Muslim mutilations alarm world: Analyst (comments) – 1/21/2014.

Note 5/8/2014: after so many months with this post live, I’ve elected to remove the image of two children hanging from rafters allegedly victims of the persecution of of the Muslim Rohingya in Burma.  As agitprop or testament, the picture had a visceral impact in real time and space — i.e., it was not bounded in the long ago of historical artifact — and in part because they are someone’s children, nephew and niece, cousins, playmates, and so on, I thought it time to leave the picture at its central vector.

There are some other pictures published on BackChannels that I would regard as “war porn” — the artifacts of conflict-linked violence, from bombing to stoning to firing squad to beheading: how much do you need to see?  How much do I need to inadvertently promote in relation to commentary?

For visual impact, there’s plenty for finding online, but here I hope to generate insight beside observation in politics and political psychology.


I fear to tread.

As noted (ftac) to the Pakistani friend who shared the image in a forum:

I’ll share this image. Although it seems natural for Muslims to view what is happening in Burma as a Buddhist-on-Muslim genocide, the state itself remains a military junta (with cosmetic reforms, if that much) hostile to Buddhist political power — its suppression of its own “Orange Revolution” was brutal — and otherwise cultivating through neglect the fears and resentments attending primitive tribalism. The Burmese leadership is holed up in its own paradise, basically, and the country as a country and culture have been left to go to hell, which is where they are today.

Parlayed in the way of other special interest religious press that plead their own victimization in the world, the above obscenity has at least as much to do with the global reserve of primitivism and tribalism as it does with Buddhist aggression, not that Buddhists and much of the rest of the world have not been pissed off by the destruction of the Bamyan Buddhas (and only Buddhists would have the discipline to take that kind of aggression in stride).  However, this is not to suggest that whatever is working within some portion of the Burmese Rakhine People does not conflate with their religious identity.

Dark Space

The photograph as downloaded from Live Leak seems to have no EXIF or IPTC data.  Somebody made the recording somewhere, and it can neither be authenticated nor denied as recent or valid.

Remarks on Burma from the Committee to Protect Journalists: Burmese journalist jailed for three months – Committee to Protect Journalists – 12/20/2013; Burma falters, backtracks on press freedom – Reports – Committee to Protect Journalists – 6/13/2013.

Dark space — censorious, cordoned, private — abets autocrats, dictators, malignant narcissists.  Whether geographically convenient — distant from airports, communication centers, and roads — or enforced in back rooms in the mafia way, informationally “dark space” hides evil.

President Obama may come away from Burma with the pasted on rictus telling nothing about what he’s thinking, apart from choosing his battles carefully and disengaging from most, but, lately, it seems that was has been happening in Burma isn’t staying in Burma.

Local people and senior police officers, speaking off the record, told us the southern section of this beautiful island is gangster territory – the hood of human traffickers, who run a number of secret prisons from the jungle floor.

Nightmare island where traffickers imprison Burma’s Rohingya – Channel 4 News – 8/8/2013.

Harrowing stuff.

Secret prisons.  Human trafficking.  Slave labor.

And not really out of the “back of beyond.”

In fact: Thailand.

However, one may call the true region Thailand’s dark space and, perhaps, corrupt edges.

It’s hard to tell.

While “The Majors” in the news business dip their toes in the bloody waters, for the most part, there seems to be some up-to-the-minute coverage in the blogosphere (I’ve been working with this post for a couple of hours and am surprised that it took the search string “Burmese military Royhinga genocide” to find it: Rohingya Blogger

* * *

Since the second Rohingya massacre in October, the Burmese people have watched the world ignore or misrepresent what many experts are calling a genocide. President Thien Sein has been on a world tour, where he has been met with open arms, receiving a 21-gun salute in Australia and getting $5.9 billion of international debt canceled. Canada has opened its first-ever Burmese embassy, and multinational resource corporations are queuing for contracts. No one is in the mood to bring up genocide, even when a third massacre was openly planned for this month.

The Rohingya Movement, as Seen by a Journalist in Burma | VICE United States – 3/27/2013.

▶ Bangladesh: Rohingya Refugees – YouTube – 4/9/2013.

Related (50 minutes): ▶ ROHINGYA in Arakan, Burma! Al Jazeera Investigates – The Hidden Genocide – YouTube – 12/9/2012.

The initial enthusiasm surrounding recent political reform in Burma has recently given way to reminders of the dark legacy of the nation’s past. Among the most notable of these expositions was a July 2013 cover story published by Time Magazine in which journalist Hannah Beech showed that the specter of past crimes against humanity, including genocide, have resurfaced in Burma and that extremist forces in the country have focused their attention upon the Muslim minority within the Buddhist-majority state.

New report: High risk of genocide in Burma – 9/9/2013.

In Relation to Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today happens to be the Jewish Holocaust Remembrance Day, which I have been following via Facebook, but while it’s rightly a day for the Jews, my people, to honor the memory of the dead, to reflect on unimaginable suffering, to rejoice in life and statehood in the possession of the Land of Israel, it is also perhaps not the day to leave the next day to rest on the laurels of the last one.

This day, while reflecting on the murder of six million Jews and the miraculous survival and recovery of Jewry worldwide and the jewels that are Israel and Jerusalem that have stood symbolically and in real space and time against despotism for thousands of years,perhaps we should look again and with dogged persistence into the inhumanity displayed in the despicable photo that tops this post and the mentality in Burma, its government, and then in southeast Asia that has so brutalized and demeaned the Rohingya.

Additional Reference

Thai police rescue hundreds of Rohingya in raid on suspected traffickers’ camp | Reuters – 1/27/2014.

The UN had “credible information” that 48 Rohingya Muslims had been killed in violence in early January.

BBC News – Burma violence: UN calls for Rohingya deaths inquiry – 1/24/2014.

Burma: Investigate New Killings of Rohingya | Human Rights Watch – 1/23/2014.

It is estimated that there are currently 800,000 to 1 million Rohingya living in Burma. Since the 1970’s the regime in Burma has been trying to drive out or restrict the Rohingya.[5] This sentiment was put into law in 1982 when it created a Citizenship Law, which mandates that a person must prove their Burmese ancestry dating back to 1823 in order to have freedom of movement and access to other basic rights such as education in the country.[6] (Recall: Armenian Genocide and Nazi Germany). This law is one of the prime reasons why the Rohingya have become “stateless.”

The ICC: Protection for the Rohingya? | – 1/6/2013.

Rohingya Arakanese faces genocide in Burma, n.d.

Burma — United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Rakhine people – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BBC News – Rohingya Muslims feared killed in new Burma Rakhine violence – 1/17/2014; Myanmar frustrated by U.N. criticism of Rakhine violence – World Report – World – Dalje.com – 1/24/2014; Violence in Northern Rakhine State – Financial and Business News – MENAFN – 1/24/2014; Violence in Northern Rakhine State – U.S. Department of State – 1/24/2014.

Genocide Emergency – Myanmar: The Rohingya

Wood, Graeme.  “A Countryside of Concentration Camps.”  New Republic, January 21, 2014.