Tag Archives: Burma

Ethnic Cleansing Roils Burma’s Democracy Transition

Migrants collect rainwater at a temporary refugee camp near Kanyin Chaung jetty, in Myanmar June 4, 2015. Soe Zeya Tun: This group of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants were rescued from a boat carrying 734 people off Myanmar's southern coast. Those on board had been at sea for more than two months - at the end with little food or water. The men in this photo were part of a group of 400 crammed into a warehouse by Myanmar police. They had arrived the day before, but while the women, children and some men had already been moved, these men were left behind. There was no sign of the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR or foreign aid agencies. Just moments before this shot, the sky opened and the monsoon rains started coming down. The men were jostling with each other for space to catch water in their bottles and plates. The authorities were hesitant to grant us access at first, but as the morning wore on and the rains started, we were able to enter and start photographing and speaking to migrants. Just after taking this photo, the men were loaded into buses and trucks and driven to a camp where international aid agencies were waiting. I have worked on long and difficult assignments where I have gone days without a proper shower. But for these people it had been months without enough water. Everyone was dirty and had likely washed little while at sea. I could see just how meaningful it was for them to suddenly have a chance to drink and clean themselves with whatever small amount of water they could capture. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

Migrants, mostly Rohingya, collect rainwater at a temporary refugee camp near Kanyin Chaung jetty, in Myanmar June 4, 2015. For the full story, see 2015 Photos of the Year, by Reuters REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

JONATHAN MANTHORPE: International Affairs
November 26, 2016

Burma’s 50 million people languished under a most vile military dictatorship for 50 years, but that has not made them a tolerant and open-handed society.

The country’s military is in the middle of a scorched earth operation against the one million minority Muslim Rohingya in Burma’s north-western Rakhine state that United Nations officials and international human rights agencies have called “ethnic cleansing.”

Scores, if not hundreds of people have been killed by the army and police since an attack on three police outposts on the border with Bangladesh on October 9. Police claim the attacks were by an Islamic militant group called the Rohingya Solidarity Organization and that nine policemen were killed.

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An official of the UN refugee agency says that in their reprisals the Burmese army and police have killed not only men, but many children and that women have been gang raped. Tens of thousands of people have fled over the border into Bangladesh or taken to boats in efforts to reach predominantly Muslim countries in Southeast Asia, such as Malaysia and Indonesia. For more than six weeks, UN agencies have been unable to reach the 150,000 people in Rakhine State, who normally receive food and medical aid because their livelihoods are restricted by the Burmese authorities.

The international agency Human Rights Watch says satellite pictures indicate at least 1,200 buildings have been burned to the ground in the police and army sweep. International concern and condemnation of the Burmese security operation is likely to grow. The neighbouring government in neighbouring, majority Muslim Malaysia says it will take up the issue on the international stage. There have already been demonstrations against the Burmese military in Malaysia’s principal city, Kuala Lumpur, and also in Jakarta, capital of the world’s most populous Muslim country, Indonesia. Other protests have been held in Thailand, the exile home for tens of thousands of refugees from Burma’s long wars with ethnic minorities.

Burma has gone from military dictatorship to kleptocracy without drawing breath, writes Jonathan Manthorpe as fall elections loom.

Burma has gone from military dictatorship to kleptocracy without drawing breath, wrote Jonathan Manthorpe prior to Burma’s last elections.

Burma’s purge of the Rohingya has been going on for decades. According to the UN High Commission for Refugees there are 200,000 Rohingyas in camps in Bangladesh, including about 90,000 unregistered refugees in two unofficial camps. The Bangladeshi government is trying to close the border, fearing that if it makes it easy for Rohingya’s to cross, the Burmese military will take advantage and expel the entire population.

For outsiders, the difficult thing to comprehend is that most Burmese, who are staunch Buddhists, support the eradication of the Rohingya, very many of whom have lived in Burma – also called Myanmar – for several generations. Hatred of the Rohingya is so intense that they are denied citizenship, their movements within the country are restricted, they are banned from entering professions such as medicine and law, and they may not run for public office.

The campaigns against the Rohingya has been particularly problematic for the reputation of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate and leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD), who while under detention for nearly two decades, became the international symbol of resistance to the military dictatorship.

In response to the public distaste for the Rohingya, Suu Kyi has remained largely silent about their plight. When she has spoken it has been only in the most general terms. Those statements have usually been to express the hope that the transition to democracy will bring peace agreements with all the country’s ethnic minorities, several of which have mounted armed insurrections for three decades and more.

Suu Kyi’s careful politicking highlights the tenuous nature of Burma’s transition to democracy, which began when the military introduced in 2011 what it said was a civilian government. In reality, this was a government of soldiers in mufti, but that changed somewhat in November last year when the NLD won a majority of seats in the parliament.

However, the military remains in charge. A quarter of the parliamentary seats are reserved for the military. This gives the soldiers a veto over any constitutional changes, which would require support of more than 75 per cent of parliamentarians. The most high profile of potential constitutional changes is one that would allow Suu Kyi to become president. At the moment she is banned under a section of the constitution written by the military that prohibits anyone with foreign family ties from becoming president. She was married to Oxford University professor Michael Aris, who died in 1999, and she has two children who are British citizens.

The military also retains direct control over the key security ministries and departments of Home Affairs, Border Affairs and Defence.

It is clear that there is a tortuous path ahead in the relationship between the military and Suu Kyi’s NLD if Burma is to complete the transition to a fully functional democracy.

The conflict with the Rohingya illustrates a major problem. The military maintains and will continue to insist on its primacy in dealing with recalcitrant ethnic minorities, most of which have homelands in Burma’s border regions with China, Thailand, Laos and Malaysia as well as Bangladesh.

In the last few days fighting has also broken out again in Burma’s northeastern Shan state bordering China. There, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), one of the impoverished country’s most powerful militias, joined three smaller groups – the ethnic Chinese Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and its allies, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, and the Arakan Arm – to take on the government’s military. The fighting has pushed thousands of people to flee over the border into China.

After decades of being unable to conclusively crush the armed separatist movements among Burma’s 135 recognised ethnic groups, the military has pursued a campaign of bribery with some success. Most of the insurgents have made peace agreements in the last 10 years or so in return for being put on the government payroll and being recognised as peacekeepers within their regions under loose government supervision.

But these deals are tenuous, as the renewed fighting in Shan state illustrates. The NLD persuaded the military to agree to a broad-based peace conference, which was held in August. Another parley is due in February, but while there is upheaval in Shan and Rakhine states the military, led by flambouyant Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, will be reluctant to cede the file to civilians.

The generals do need to maintain a functional relationship with the NLD government, though. Not least of the pressures on the generals and other senior officers is to protect the vast fortunes that many of them have made during the decades of international sanctions imposed during the military dictatorship. There are also attractive prospects of being able to add to those fortunes now that sanctions are being lifted and investment is flooding into the country.

It was never going to be a simple matter for Suu Kyi, the NLD, and, indeed, other political parties to wrest complete control of parliament and government from the military. The NLD has an added problem that the party has an intensely hierarchical structure. This limits the experience available to middle-raking officials – and therefore usually the up-and-coming future generation of leaders – especially in dealings with the military. And because of the cloistering of Burma during the decades of military rule, which started in 1962, there is a good deal of political naivety among NLD members. There is a blithe assumption among Suu Kyi’s followers that constitutional amendments removing military political power are inevitable and that they will soon no longer have to deal with the generals as equals.

The military modelled the current Burmese constitution on the former system in Indonesia, where the military kept ultimate control and a veto over ostensibly civilian governments. That system lasted over three decades from when Maj.-Gen. Muhammad Suharto seized power in 1967 until he was forced from office in 1998.

Burma also probably faces a generation of transition until it can be called a true democracy. And, as is all too evident in the current upheaval, the country could easily slip back into military rule. That possibility is heightened by events on the international stage. The assumption of the United States presidency by isolationist Donald Trump appears to be a major victory for capitalist authoritarian states like China and Russia. Burma is already surrounded by Southeast Asian nations where the transition to democracy is stalled – such as in Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore and Laos – or where it is in reverse – such as in Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines. Ironically, it is only in Indonesia – once the bad boy of the region – that democracy is flourishing.

What becomes of the Rohingya in this scenario is anyone’s guess. To begin with, there is little agreement among historians and ethnologists about who they are and how they got to Burma. The political story promoted by the Burmese military and accepted by the bulk of Burma’s people is that the Rohingya were moved into Rakhine state when both Burma and what is now Bangladesh were part of the British Empire. However, some scholars say that Muslim Rohingya first began settling in Rakhine state in the 16th Century. This theory, dismissed as a fairy tale by some academics, says the community was established by Arab seafarers and was a monarchy for 350 years.

The British annexed Rakhine after the first Anglo-Burmese War in 1826. People from neighbouring Bengal, now Bangladesh, were encouraged by the British to move to Rakhine to work as farm labourers. The Muslim population of the area continued grow over the next 120 years, punctuated by many outbreaks of conflict with local Buddhists.

In 1982, Burma’s most famous military dictator, Gen. Ne Win, imposed a nationality law, which denied citizenship to the Rohingya, denied them freedom of movement within Burma, and severely restricted their economic opportunities. His action was in response to sometimes violent protests by Buddhists in Rakhine state against the influx of Rohingya’s from over the border in the Bangladesh liberation war from Pakistan between 1971 and 1973. Upwards of 500,000 Rohingya – or Bengalis as they are known disparagingly among Burmese – are believed to have settled in Rakhine in the 1970s.

The state has seethed with violence and discontent since Ne Win’s edict. There has been communal violence incited by both the Muslims and the Buddhists. The heavy-handed tactics of the police and the army have only added to the tensions that made Rakhine into a classic war zone of death and destruction.

Emotions and prejudices are so intense that it is hard to imagine that even if Burma were to find some accelerated path into a full democracy a peaceful and equitable solution to the Rohingya problem could be found.

Copyright Jonathan Manthorpe 2016

Contact, including queries about syndication/republishing: jonathan.manthorpe@gmail.com

Related in F&O’s archives:

Myanmar’s abuses yield ready supply of slaves. By Penny Green,  Alicia de la Cour Venning & Thomas MacManus.

Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi: The Image And The Reality  JONATHAN MANTHORPE: International Affairs
April 9, 2016

Generals in mufti still control BurmaJONATHAN MANTHORPE: International AffairsApril, 2015

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Manthorpe B&WJonathan Manthorpe is a founding columnist with Facts and Opinions and is the author of the journal’s International Affairs column. He is the author of “Forbidden Nation: A History of Taiwan,” and has been a foreign correspondent and international affairs columnist for nearly 40 years. Manthorpe’s  nomadic career began in the late 1970s as European Bureau Chief for The Toronto Star, the job that took Ernest Hemingway to Europe in the 1920s. In the mid-1980s Manthorpe became European Correspondent for Southam News. In the following years Manthorpe was sent by Southam News, the internal news agency for Canada’s largest group of metropolitan daily newspapers, to be the correspondent in Africa and then Asia. Between postings Manthorpe spent a few years based in Ottawa focusing on intelligence and military affairs, and the United Nations. Since 1998 Manthorpe has been based in Vancouver, but has travelled frequently on assignment to Asia, Europe and Latin America.

~~~

Thank you to our supporters. To newcomers, please know that reader-supported Facts and Opinions is employee-owned and ad-free, and will continue only if readers like you chip in. Please, if you value our work, contribute via PayPal or find more payment options here.

Real journalism is not free. If you value evidence-based, non-partisan, spam-free information, please support Facts and Opinions, an employee-owned collaboration of professional journalists.  Details and other payment options here.

 

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on our free FRONTLINES blog; find evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

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Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi: The Image And The Reality

JONATHAN MANTHORPE: International Affairs
April 9, 2016

It has come as a shock to Aung San Suu Kyi’s international groupies and fans that the Burmese freedom icon is not the ethereal Princess in the Tower of their imaginations.

Aung San Suu Kyi in 2013 By Claude TRUONG-NGOC via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Aung San Suu Kyi in 2013 By Claude TRUONG-NGOC via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Instead of the pure visionary of a silken and untainted transition from nearly 60 years of military rule to the sunny uplands of inclusive democracy, Suu Kyi is proving herself an assertive and determined knife fighter in the merciless cut and thrust of Burmese politics.

Suu Kyi’s response to two events in particular have troubled many of her international fans and have spawn headlines like: “Aung San Suu Kyi: Colluding With Tyranny.”

One event has been her failure to conclusively damn the persecution of the Muslim Rohingya minority in north-western Burma, which is also known as Myanmar. The military regime followed the feelings of the country’s majority Buddhist Burmans, and refused to give citizenship to the Rohingya, even though many have lived in Burma for several generations.

Suu Kyi has been purposefully vague about whom she regards as citizens and has been largely silent on attempts at ethnic cleansing, which has seen thousands of Rohingya fleeing across the border into Bangladesh or by sea to predominantly Muslim Malaysia.

It has been unsettling for Suu Kyi’s international supporters, to whom she owes her Nobel Peace Prize and the sanctions that eventually persuaded the generals to embark on a transition to democracy, to contemplate that she might harbour racial and religious intolerance.

Equally troubling for foreign fans is what looks like Suu Kyi’s lust for power. Part of her appeal was that she appeared to be driven entirely by an innate sense of morality and natural justice. It seemed a fairy tale of chance that this very beautiful and appealing Oxford housewife – her husband Michael Aris was a professor of Tibetan and Himalayan studies at the British university – became the leader of the Burmese democracy movement and a prisoner of the military regime.

That was always a misreading of Suu Kyi, her steely toughness and blood loyalty to the visions of her assassinated father, Aung San, Burma’s first leader after independence from Britain in 1948.

Because of her marriage to a foreigner – Aris – and her two British sons, Suu Kyi was banned from assuming the presidency under Burma’s current constitution. But from soon after last November’s first reasonably free elections, when her National League for Democracy (NLD) won 59 per cent of the seats across the two houses of parliament, Suu Kyi made it clear she intended, President or not, to run the government of the country.

Migrants collect rainwater at a temporary refugee camp near Kanyin Chaung jetty, in Myanmar June 4, 2015. Soe Zeya Tun: This group of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants were rescued from a boat carrying 734 people off Myanmar's southern coast. Those on board had been at sea for more than two months - at the end with little food or water. The men in this photo were part of a group of 400 crammed into a warehouse by Myanmar police. They had arrived the day before, but while the women, children and some men had already been moved, these men were left behind. There was no sign of the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR or foreign aid agencies. Just moments before this shot, the sky opened and the monsoon rains started coming down. The men were jostling with each other for space to catch water in their bottles and plates. The authorities were hesitant to grant us access at first, but as the morning wore on and the rains started, we were able to enter and start photographing and speaking to migrants. Just after taking this photo, the men were loaded into buses and trucks and driven to a camp where international aid agencies were waiting. I have worked on long and difficult assignments where I have gone days without a proper shower. But for these people it had been months without enough water. Everyone was dirty and had likely washed little while at sea. I could see just how meaningful it was for them to suddenly have a chance to drink and clean themselves with whatever small amount of water they could capture. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

Reuters’ 2015 Photos of the Year —  Migrants collect rainwater at a temporary refugee camp near Kanyin Chaung jetty, in Myanmar June 4, 2015. Soe Zeya Tun: This group of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants were rescued from a boat carrying 734 people off Myanmar’s southern coast. Those on board had been at sea for more than two months – at the end with little food or water. The men in this photo were part of a group of 400 crammed into a warehouse by Myanmar police. They had arrived the day before, but while the women, children and some men had already been moved, these men were left behind. There was no sign of the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR or foreign aid agencies. Just moments before this shot, the sky opened and the monsoon rains started coming down. The men were jostling with each other for space to catch water in their bottles and plates. The authorities were hesitant to grant us access at first, but as the morning wore on and the rains started, we were able to enter and start photographing and speaking to migrants. Just after taking this photo, the men were loaded into buses and trucks and driven to a camp where international aid agencies were waiting. I have worked on long and difficult assignments where I have gone days without a proper shower. But for these people it had been months without enough water. Everyone was dirty and had likely washed little while at sea. I could see just how meaningful it was for them to suddenly have a chance to drink and clean themselves with whatever small amount of water they could capture. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

That left a bad taste in the mouth of many of her fans. Did this paragon of political virtue actually lust for power? Well, yes, and for good reasons.

And so it has come to pass. On March 15, Suu Kyi’s handpicked surrogate, Htin Kyaw, a long-time close supporter and loyalist, was made president with a clear majority of votes in both houses of parliament. On April 1 the new government came into office and on Tuesday this week a bill was passed creating the position of “State Counsellor” for Suu Kyi.

The most charitable interpretation of this position is that it is akin to a Prime Minister. The reality is the position allows Suu Kyi to be the effective President and to speak with Htin Kyaw’s voice.

Adding to the perception that Suu Kyi wishes to be mistress of all she surveys was her assumption of three ministerial position in addition to that of State Counsellor. But earlier this week she gave up the posts of Minister of Energy and Minister of Education. She retained only the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. That, of course, allows her to be the international face of Burma, despite not being President. This week she met a string of visiting foreign ministers, including Canada’s Stephane Dion.

One of the justifications for Suu Kyi operating through a puppet president is that the vast majority of Burmese undoubtedly want her to be their country’s political leader. That she is not points to the tough, complex and dangerous campaign she and the NLD must wage if Burma’s transition to a full civilian democracy is to be achieved.

The danger here is that by end running the constitution with the creation of the post of State Counsellor, she and the NLD have fashioned a precedent that may come back to haunt them. For one thing, constitutional sleight-of-hand tricks like this tend to make foreign investors nervous.

Beyond that, the truth is that at the moment Burma remains a country where the military still has its hands on the critical levers of power. The generals can close down this experiment with civilian rule any time they please or feel threatened.

Some of the military’s power remains overt. Twenty-five per cent of the seats in parliament are reserved for the military. As the current constitution requires a parliamentary vote of over 75 per cent to approve changes, the military has a veto, including on Article 59 (f), which bars Suu Kyi from being President.

The military is also guaranteed a third of the seats in provincial and regional legislatures.

The constitution requires that only serving military officers can lead the three most powerful national ministries — Defence, Home Affairs, and Border Affairs — and prevents legislative scrutiny of the military’s budget.

In addition, the National Defence and Security Council, which includes the civilian President, vice presidents and speakers of the two house of parliament, but which is dominated by the military and its ministries, can declare a state of emergency and re-impose military rule.

Less obvious as international sanctions are lifted and Burma returns to the world of global commerce, is how much of the country’s economy is now in the hands of military leaders. Over the decades of military rule the generals and their senior officers have taken control of all elements of the economy. Even though civilian private enterprises and foreign enterprises have sprung up since the military began the transition with the appointment of a “civilian” government – in reality military officers in civilian clothes – in 2011, the key elements of the economy remain in military hands.

A critical element in the progress of the transition will be whether Suu Kyi and the NLD can make the generals feel confident that she does not intend to rob them of their ill-gotten wealth or hold them to legal account for their past atrocities.

There are many in the NLD who suffered greatly under military rule. They nurse the very human thirst for revenge after years of imprisonment, mistreatment and torture or the abuse and killings of family members. Suu Kyi and other senior members of the NLD know full well that nothing will shut down Burma’s tentative steps along the path to civilian democracy more quickly than thrusts for retribution from the party or the people.

It is a very skittish horse she is riding. It can be easily spooked. She needs firm and sensitive hands on the reins and a watchful eye on the pitfalls in the road ahead.

Of one thing there is no doubt. She is her father’s daughter.

Suu Kyi went to Burma from Britain in 1988 to care for her elderly mother. She was swiftly caught up in politics and was soon appointed leader of the NLD at a time when the military was contemplating holding elections, which it believed its candidates could win. But the generals feared the ghost of Aung San, and Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest before the 1990 election. Much to the military’s disgust and alarm, the NLD won 80 per cent of the seats in parliament. The generals swiftly disavowed the entire process.

I was one of the first foreign reporters to interview her in the crumbling family villa at 54 University Avenue in Yangon when her house arrest was lifted and she was permitted to have visitors in 1995. We met in her large living room, shaded from the tropical sun and torpid air. There was no furniture – we sat on a built-in bench in a bow window. Suu Kyi said she had had to sell all the furniture except essentials to buy food during her more than five years of confinement.

Yet on the wall opposite where we sat was a massive poster painting, perhaps 10 feet square, of her father, Aung San. There could not have been a more unquestionable statement of what had inspired her to set aside her comfortable life as the wife of an Oxford don and to separate herself from her husband and young children.

General Aung San started his political life in the 1930s as a student activist and founder of the Burmese Communist Party. Early in the Second World War he fled Burma and went to Japan, where he received military training. When the Japanese captured Burma, Aung San was made War Minister. However, he became disillusioned with the Japanese, whose promises to give Burma true independence or ability to win the war he began to doubt. In 1944 he contacted the British, and after receiving assurances that Burma would receive independence after the war, in 1945 he turned his Burma National Army on the Japanese occupiers.

Thus Aung San is seen as the founder of the Burmese military and he continues to be held in reverence by the generals, which has undoubtedly held their hand in their dealings with Suu Kyi.

After the war, Aung San became a civilian politician, the chief minister in the colonial administration, and negotiated with the British the terms of the 1948 independence. But on July 19, 1947, six months ahead of independence, armed paramilitaries loyal to a political rival, broke into the government offices, and killed Aung San and six of his ministers.

With Aung San gone, Burma stumbled into independence. The military took over in 1962 and are still a fixture in government.

It has often been said that the English have set up federations all over the world, but have never actually had to run one. Well, the Scots, Irish and Welsh might have comments to make about that. But it is certainly true that the Union of Burma is one of the most challenging mish-mashes of peoples, cultures and religions the British put together anywhere. Although 68 per cent of the country’s 52 million people are ethnic Burmans, there are 135 distinct ethnic groups recognized by the government.

For much of the last half century of military rule the army has been at war with many of them, especially the hill tribes in Burma’s mountainous border regions with Thailand, China, India and Bangladesh. The Shan, Karen, Rakhine, Wa and Mon have fought with dogged determination for the autonomy they were promised at the founding of the Union of Burma.

A camp near Sittwe can only be accessed by sea with boats transporting supplies . Photo: Mathias Eick, EU/ECHO, Rakhine State, Myanmar/Burma, September 2013

Myanmar’s abuses yield ready supply of slaves —  A camp near Sittwe can only be accessed by sea with boats transporting supplies . Photo: Mathias Eick, EU/ECHO, Rakhine State, Myanmar/Burma, September 2013

In recent years the military regime has negotiated cease-fire agreements with most of these armed groups, usually by making them paid paramilitary adjuncts to the national army. But in almost all cases, the peace agreements remain tentative and there is abiding hope among the minorities that Suu Kyi and the NLD will bring them the substantial self-rule they were promised.

Suu Kyi has always said a political solution for the aspirations of the minorities is a priority. However, she does not control internal security and the military continues to dominate provincial and regional administrations. The generals have their own views on the sanctity of Burmese nationhood, and they don’t include handing substantial autonomy to the hill tribes. Suu Kyi needs to make significant progress in the transition at the national level before her or any civilian government can effectively come to grips with the problems of the ethnic minorities.

And that brings us to the Rohingya and Suu Kyi’s refusal to categorically condemn the persistent violence against them by both the security agencies and local Buddhists.

For over 50 years – more than two generations – Burma has been a closed society whose main economy has been peasant agriculture. Schooling has been minimal. Forced labour akin to slavery for road and other construction projects has been habitually used by the military. Burma has always been a superstitious society where unfounded suspicions easily grow. With all forms of open communication blocked or censored, inflammatory and exaggerated rumour has been the fuel of public discourse. In this destructive communal climate, fear and mistrust of the ethnic minorities, especially the Muslim Rohingya, has become embedded among the majority Burmans. It is widely believed that the Muslims, who make up four per cent of the population, are bent on turning Burma into an Islamic state. Suu Kyi’s stature and personality alone are not enough to overcome or sweep aside these ingrained prejudices.

By keeping silent on the persecution of the Rohingya, Suu Kyi is trying to be seen as remaining impartial so that both sides respect her when the time is ripe for negotiations.

It is the same kind of role Suu Kyi is trying to play in the big game of getting the military to relinquish power. It is a part that requires strong nerves, but above all a superhuman capacity to know how far to push without knocking the whole project off the rails.

So far, she has played her hand superbly. Her father would be proud.

Copyright Jonathan Manthorpe 2016

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Jonathan Manthorpe is the author of “Forbidden Nation: A History of Taiwan.”

Contact: jonathan.manthorpe@gmail.com. Please address queries about syndication/republishing this column to jonathan.manthorpe@gmail.com

 

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By JONATHAN MANTHORPE, F&O International Affairs, July 18, 2014

Myanmar’s abuses yield ready supply of slaves.

By Penny Green,  Alicia de la Cour Venning & Thomas MacManus, November, 2015

Myanmar’s historic election raises both hopes for democracy, and fears for worsened discrimination and violence bordering on genocidal against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims.

 

Manthorpe B&WJonathan Manthorpe is a founding columnist with Facts and Opinions and is the author of the journal’s International Affairs column. Manthorpe has been a foreign correspondent and international affairs columnist for nearly 40 years. Manthorpe’s  nomadic career began in the late 1970s as European Bureau Chief for The Toronto Star, the job that took Ernest Hemingway to Europe in the 1920s. In the mid-1980s Manthorpe became European Correspondent for Southam News. In the following years Manthorpe was sent by Southam News, the internal news agency for Canada’s largest group of metropolitan daily newspapers, to be the correspondent in Africa and then Asia. Between postings Manthorpe spent a few years based in Ottawa focusing on intelligence and military affairs, and the United Nations. Since 1998 Manthorpe has been based in Vancouver, but has travelled frequently on assignment to Asia, Europe and Latin America.

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Real journalism is not free. If you value evidence-based, non-partisan, spam-free information, please support Facts and Opinions, an employee-owned collaboration of professional journalists.  Details here.

 

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on our free FRONTLINES blog; find evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

 

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A finding, and F&O’s lineup

A camp near Sittwe can only be accessed by sea with boats transporting supplies . Photo: Mathias Eick, EU/ECHO, Rakhine State, Myanmar/Burma, September 2013

A sea change is underway in Myanmar/Burma. Watch for our coverage of the election in this weekend’s edition; following up on the report now on F&O, Myanmar’s abuses yield ready supply of slaves. Above, a camp near Sittwe can only be accessed by sea with boats transporting supplies . Photo: Mathias Eick, EU/ECHO, Rakhine State, Myanmar/Burma, September 2013

From our Findings file: for thinky types and policy wonks, the Disruptive Innovation Festival — site here — might be of interest. From November 2 – 20, mostly online but also in physical locations around the world, the annual festival “brings together entrepreneurs, designers, industry, makers, learners and doers to explore and respond to the changing economy.”

Sponsored by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in the U.K., topics range from the sweeping, such as the circular economy, to the specifics, such as energy-efficient cooling with charcoal.   The videos remain online for anyone to watch, free, at their leisure. Here’s a taste from 2014, of previous festival highlights:

In case you missed it: our latest lineup of new works on Facts and Opinions:

Last but not least, don’t miss the Google Doodle today, on Hedy Lamar.

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