Saturday, 12 April 2014

Myanmar: Building a Legacy of Genocide

One of the first video clips I saw of the Rohingya genocide was this one in June 2012:

As a mother of a boy of similar age, his cry pierced my soul and compelled me to act.

Further amateur video coming out at that time alerted me to something extraordinarily wrong that was happening in Burma.

I had no knowledge of genocide or Burma then, but after hurriedly contacting those I could find with experience of Burma, its politics and its history of similar such crimes against minorities, I came to understand that it was indeed plausible that a genocide was taking place. I was stunned to find Genocide Watch had issued a genocide emergency alert for the area, yet it was clearly being ignored by the international community who were busy with the world tour of Aung San Suu Kyi, praising the Burmese government for reforms and dropping sanctions.

My research led me to this documentary, Genocide: Worse than War, an exploration of the nature of genocide, ethnic cleansing and large-scale mass murder in our time. It is by Daniel Goldhagen, the award winning author who has devoted his life to researching genocide in the hope to find ways that would put an end to stop such killing, which he argues claims more lives than war.

Genocides follow standard patterns. Here Genocide Watch lists 10 stages of genocide. Goldhagen's key finding explained in this documentary is that genocide is always politics, and it is always planned and organised by one or just a few people. This conclusion comes from deep research of just about every genocide he could find over years of work. One would be a fool to dismiss such findings. The type of people who organise genocide are those that have risen to power through careful calculated decisions where pros and cons of actions are weighed up. Genocide is a carefully calculated decision. Key to stopping genocides therefore is changing the balance so that the consequences of committing a genocide outweigh the benefits.

A video of the Rohingya exodus that took place in June 2012 was leaked out and published on YouTube in October 2012. This shocking video shows clearly the way in which thousands upon thousands of Rohingya were forcibly driven from their homes and marched into remote camps in the countryside, never to return to their homes again.This was not an operation that happened suddenly to protect people in a hurry, amidst violence that had organically broken out - this was  well planned, well organised, and led by the military. This video should leave no person under any illusion as to the lack of state involvement (and control) in this genocide.

With this understanding I had two questions in mind:
1. Who is the person (or maybe few people) organising the Rohingya genocide?
2. How do we change the balance so that the consequences for those people who are planning and organising this genocide outweigh the benefits?

I do agree that there is a huge amount of hatred and tension between ethnicities in Burma, especially in the state of Arakan/Rakhine. However, this hatred is driven by propaganda and encouraged through state policies of persecution. Whatever efforts to build peace (and I know there are many, and they are important) will always struggle, because behind everything that is taking place, there is a mind set on eliminating the Rohingya from the land, calculating, plotting, and this mind has power, lots of it.

Not knowing much about Burma I started to research previous leaders. I was interested to see that the efforts to remove the Rohingya had started in the late 70s/early 80s, with removal of the Rohingya's right to citizenship in 1982, and then further clearly defined elimination campaigns taking place in the 90s led by the military junta. It therefore seemed logical that whoever is behind this current campaign was involved with previous persecution. In addition, whoever it is must have influence over all arms of the security forces, since all had been implicated in crimes. The mastermind had to be at the top of the hierarchy, the very top.

Was Thein Sein the mastermind behind the genocide? Everything I had read led me to doubt this. It seems that his time as president is already numbered. Previous dictator Than Shwe has already spelt that out. Behind the scenes people tell me that Thein Sein is a puppet.

The real puppet master, it seems, is still Than Shwe. Apparently 'retired' in 2012. I've never heard of a dictator that retires. They die. Sometimes they are removed. But retiring? Not unless they are forced too. It just doesn't happen. Everything I read about his character appears to fit the description of a genocidal mind. But all this is just speculation, without proof, and I can say this, because I'm a nobody - don't expect anyone in any organisation to mention such a name for fear of repercussion.

I may be wrong about the person, but still, I am convinced, there is a mind planning, organising, giving orders. Genocide simply does not happen by chance.

So here is my message to that person organising the Rohingya genocide:

"You may not believe it now, since you have largely gone about all of your previous atrocities with complete impunity, but there will be consequences to your actions. Gone are the days when you can eliminate 1 million of your people unnoticed. If the Rohingya genocide goes ahead:
- It will become very difficult for businesses to carry on as before. Whilst organisations may be happy to do business now, they will not afterwards.
- Your position as a member of the international community will change. Whilst you may be getting away with crimes now, after you eliminate the Rohingya, you will not be accepted as before.
- You will be pursued personally at the ICC. You got away with previous crimes, just, but your days are numbered, and advances are being made in international prosecutions. A nail in the Rohingya coffin will seal your fate.
Most of all, consider this: You will leave behind a legacy, like Germany, like Bosnia, like Rwanda. Burma/Myanmar will be forever known as that blood stained place of the Rohingya genocide. You will never eliminate that memory. Is that what you want to leave behind for your children?"

Of course, the dictator genocidal mastermind might change his mind. I have hope in that, because he is a calculating person, and the sums don't add up. And what then? Will the Rohingya be saved?

I have a campaigning friend that describes big planned projects as being like huge oil tankers. Once they get going, they take a long time to stop, because they start to carry their own momentum. To stop the Rohingya genocide, the brakes need putting on, direction needs changing, the genocidal mastermind can change his mind, but even then it will take a huge amount of work to rebuild the damage done and stop the hatred, build peace, heal wounds, and everyone will have to play their part in that.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Double your Donation for the Rohingya

Over the past few years many people have asked me which organisations they can donate to that would ensure aid reaches the Rohingya. The answer has always been a little muddled, since getting aid in to the hands of the Rohingya has always been a difficult operation with few NGOs operating in the area and those that have been have generally had to keep a really low profile.

Partners Relief are one charity however that have managed to do some fantastic work for the Rohingya. They have actually operated in and around Burma for years working with different ethnic minorities wherever the need has been greatest. They operate through building trusted friendships with those people who need help and assisting them in whatever ways they can as the opportunities arise.

Here is a video from some of the wonderful work they were doing in 2012 after the attacks started:

This is how the Partners Relief story began:

Is that not beautiful?

Partners relief is founded by a truly wonderful couple, Steve and Oddny Gumaer.
This is Oddny talking about the Rohingya:

I'm posting all these videos to help you understand how much I trust and love these wonderful people so you might be encouraged to support a wonderful opportunity we have this week.

Oddny has written a beautiful book Picking Flowers on Dusty Roads which includes short stories from their work in Burma over the years. I'm in the middle of reading it at the moment, and every word is an inspiration.

Oddny also writes a blog. This is the most moving blog post I have ever read in my life. It is about a Rohingya lady who lost nearly all of her family.

Steve is equally amazing. When a tropical cyclone threatened to wipe all the Rohingya out last year, and the rest of the world had let these people down, Steve was on the beach with them, risking his own live to feed 5000 people who had not eaten in days!

A few weeks back my Rohingya friend in Burma was giving me updates over Facebook as a fire approached his own home and they gathered their belongings in case they had to leave. Thankfully the fire was put out before it reached my friend's house. He sent me these photos, you can see from them how terrible it was and how desperate the situation is now.

Can you imagine watching this fire approach? Trying to put it out with a small bucket and no protective clothing? Can you image running to save everything you have and to keep your family from danger?

Can you imagine looking at this, where once stood your village?

Can you imagine the fear of these children as they waited to see if their parents returned and wondered where they were going to live now?
What will become of these people now?
Is this where they will live now, start again, and with what?

I contacted Steve and Oddny at Partners Relief to ask if we could set up a fund to try and help the victims of the fire (and those before). They told me of a fantastic opportunity that has just arisen. For every donation received to the Rohingya this month, a generous donor has agreed to match the amount, up to $50k USD!

This is too good an opportunity to miss. We can actually DOUBLE OUR MONEY for the Rohingya! But we only have one week left to make the most of this chance. Please help! UPDATE AS OF Thursday 4th April, we have an extension until the END OF THIS WEEK to donate to this fund (just a few days left - please help make the most of that).

To give please follow this link and make sure to select 'Emergency Fund' to ensure it goes to the Rohingya:

Please be assured that Partners Relief are doing everything they can to make sure all donations reach the Rohingya.

Please ask your friends and family if they can donate also. Thank-you!!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Rohingya Podcast Interview

This is my second podcast interview with Walid Darab on Greed for Ilm.

I give an update on the situation with the Rohingya, talk about the science of genocide, and give some tips on what anyone can do to get involved in the campaign to stop it.

My first interview was here.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Long Night - poem for the Rohingya

Rohingya women and children exactly like this one in the camp at Manzi were brutally slaughtered by Burmese security forces and armed thugs following a raid on their village at Du Char Yar Tan on Jan 14th 2014

I tweeted this poem last night from bed, as I lay there waiting for news from my Rohingya friends who I knew had been awake all night, wondering if their homes were to be raided following an order to arrest all Rohingya men and boys over the age of ten.

We feared that the men would be taken away to be killed, and that the women left would be raped and their children hacked to pieces, as they had done so previously the week before at the village of Duchiradan (also known as Du Char Yar Tan as well as Kiladong). Indeed all the warning signs were there for an imminent massacre following a period of propaganda, visits by the infamous 969 group to the area, a call for militias who were understood to now be in training, and an official meeting where Rohingya village leaders had been warned of their fragile existence.

Long Night

Rohingya no more
Rwanda once more
Never again
Over and over again
Sit and contemplate
Can we change fate?

The advice we received
During this hour of need:
Avoid the word genocide
When you plead
That would oblige them to act
They don't like that 

A long night
Of extreme fright
All you can do is pray
They said
My children in bed
May all soon be dead

Take my tears
My fears
Save us
We have nothing left
Heart aches
Heaven shakes
Morning breaks
World wakes

by Jamila Hanan

The last line I wrote with hesitation. Should I have put a question mark at the end? This morning, my Rohingya friends are still alive, and people are coming together it appears. Officials behind the scenes are holding urgent meetings and in the media today we have official confirmation from Fortify Rights of the massacre we know took place. Pressure is on to stop the genocide. I am hopeful.

Please feel to publish the above poem with link to
For verified information about the massacre, just released today, please see this statement by Fortify Rights.

For media interviews regarding the Rohingya, please contact who has a list of people available for interview.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Brutality Beyond Belief - Rohingya hunted like vermin

Remains of fire at Rohingya IDP camp in Pauktaw, 16 Jan 2014
Authorities report as an accidental fire. Husband and wife arrested.
Every time police commit atrocities, a fire is started elsewhere as a distraction.

After years of propaganda and dehumanisation, the acts of brutality towards the Rohingya are almost beyond belief.

A story is beginning to piece together of terrible atrocities that have happened this week in the village of Duchiradan (also known as KilaDong) in the township of Maungdaw, beginning on Sunday 12th December, that includes amongst other things reports of Rohingya taken as slaves, tied up, killed, chopped into pieces and dumped in the gutter, then starting the night of 13th and running through 14th January, women who were raped and had their breasts cut off before they were killed, a grandmother age 103 years old and her grandchildren slaughtered before the eyes of the police, as well as sweeping arrests of men, women and children of all ages. Now we are hearing many more people were indeed killed in that village and there are reports of dead bodies being taken away by the secuirty forces in trucks to be buried.

The full details of the story are here:

SHOCKING UPDATE HERE (out on 17th Jan needs investigating):

Authorities burying dead bodies:

Other villages threatened:

I have checked on sources. They are credible. Can't say more here as we need to protect them.

News is now emerging of sitings of lorries taking corpses away, no doubt to bury quickly in a mass grave well hidden somewhere (as has taken place before). We are investigating the exact location.

The Rohingya are still being hunted even now by security forces. Women, children and the elderly have taken shelter in nearby villages but the authorities have ordered that shelter not be provided.

The exact number of dead is difficult to quantify. We know there are many Rohingya now in prison, of all ages, both men, women and children, where they will be undergoing further unimaginable brutality even now as they are tortured into making false confessions.

Following the attack village leaders of surrounding villages were arrested for a short period and threatened:
On the 17th February we heard news that the village of Baggona was to be raided that night.
Farmland had been destroyed there two days before:
In the evening security foces and thugs carrying swords surrounded the area, but after much publicity it appears that the raid was called off and the Rohingya were spared, for now.

Further reports from earlier, as the story was emerging, are below:

The build up of hatred in the Maungdaw area, including the 969 group visiting to spread their propaganda at the end of December, can be seen here:

On the 15th January the well known government propaganda newspaper Eleven Myanmar put out a call for militias in the area: 

I write that the brutality is almost beyond belief, but we know very similar acts happened before in June 2012, in October 2012 and in March 2013 (the March event happened to Muslims in Meiktila, not the Rohingya, but was very similar in nature). In addition, there have been other smaller but still horrific acts over the past year of villages being burnt, property destroyed, women raped and men hacked to death.

On the 16th Januarya at the Rohingya IDP camp at Pauktaw, a huge fire broke out. Apparently this was accidental and as always the police were quick to arrest a Rohingya man in whose shelter it began. There are now hundreds without shelter and burn injuries too. Although this fire has been clearly reported as accidental, the feeling is that this has happened too many times now for it to be coincidence. On previous occasions when news has been breaking of clear atrocities committed by the Burmese security forces, similar accidental fires have broken out which have acted as a huge distraction.

The photos of the fire were stunning. We feared that they would take all the media attention and every effort from the ngos in the area to clean up, ensuring little attention was paid to the ongoing crimes taking place elsewhere. I have added one photo to this post to capture your attention, but the fire is not the real story, the ongoing crime against humanity taking place at Duchiradan (Kiladong) is the real story, and we have ensured that is where they eyes of the world are watching..

The Burmese government are denying all allegations. This was to be expected, the eighth stage of genocide is denial.


Government Statements 


Media Updates

16 Jan

17 Jan 2014


The world knows this is happening.

The media has actually reported on what is happening to the Rohingya, although it has not been given prime time viewing slots nor made main headlines. There are 76 videos here that give you an understanding of how this genocide has evolved:

Human Rights Watch have produced a number of reports documenting crimes against humanity.

Physcians for Human Rights produced a detailed report on the violence at Meiktila in March 2013.

The world knows what is happening, yet absolutely no action has been taken to stop this genocide since June 2012 when these attacks began, despite the Rohingya frequently calling for UN peacekeepers on the ground and international commissions of inquiry to be undertaken. This genocide has to end. The UN must act, but will only do so when we all raise our voices.

Please call for an urgent UN inquiry here:

Please also write to your local politician and media to alert them to this matter. Every voice is needed and makes a difference. Thank-you.

For more information and contacts to interview please tweet the following people:

You can find me here:

Please also follow for updates direct from Burma:

Monday, 6 January 2014

Rohingya Boys Being Tortured

Rohingya boy tied up by police in the Arakan state of Burma in October 2013.

Two Rohingya boys were arrested on 31st December under the false accusation of murdering a police officer. It is known that some Rohingya did get involved in a fight during that period but they deny hitting the policeman who allegedly died from the attack (it was previously reported by the Rohingya that the policeman who is reported as being killed was actually a good man who was liked by the Rohingya, so there is some suspicion over this reported death as to how it actually happened), however those people involved in that incident have since fled and these boys are in no way related to them or the incident.

The two boys are Muhammad Karim age 14 (originally reported as age 13 but later confirmed as age 14) son of Elyas and Amir Husan son of Shukur age 16 (originally reported as age 12 but later confirmed as age 16) . They are understood be be from Thichaung Village. They were visiting family in Bodhuba village, very close to the cemetery where an incident with the police occured, which they had nothing to do with.

They are being held at Sittwe (number 1) police station. It is reported that they are being tortured and are left alone in a cold room without clothes. They need urgent help.

Details received over Twitter from @aungaungsittwe are as follows:

We are requesting urgent help to save these two boys. If you are an authority please do what you can and also call Sittwe police station to request the urgent release of these boys. If you are a member of the public please contact your own politicians, media and organisations to ask them to raise an urgent alert to release these boys and call for an inquiry, and also to call the Burmese government to cease their state persecution of the Rohingya.

You may also wish to contact the UN to call for an urgent commission of inquiry into the genocide of the Rohingya by filling in the form here

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Letter to the OIC: Evacuate the Rohingya from Burma

24th November 2013

Dear Members of the OIC,

I am writing to you regarding the Rohingya in Burma/Myanmar. I have been campaigning for them every day since June 2012 when they experienced the first round of terrible violence, when many were killed, thousands of homes were burnt and thousands of innocent people were driven from their land.

During that time my friend and I interviewed a Rohingya village leader via telephone. His village was surrounded by devastation and he pleaded with us to save his people and to send food as they had completely run out, and to send medical help as people were dying from untreated injuries.

We tried desperately to get the world to wake up to what was happening. When I told people that a genocide was taking place, I was warned that I was going to ruin my reputation, because that is not a thing you can go around saying.

In October 2012 I made friends with another Rohingya on the ground who had managed to acquire a phone and was learning how to use Twitter. He tweeted daily events from a camp, since he had just been driven from his home, which was not actually destroyed but authorities said he had to leave and he was never allowed to return. In the weeks that followed he tweeted details of terrible events as they unfolded. He sent reports of thousands more homes that were burning and thousands more innocent Rohingya fleeing to sea, where hundreds drowned or died in boats as they were not allowed to land for days.

It has been a traumatic time since then. Almost every day I have learnt of new atrocities. Hardly a day goes by when we don't hear of another innocent person wrongfully arrested, tortured, never to be seen again, or brutally slaughtered, or raped, or drowned at sea, or dying from starvation or untreated disease. The level of persecution is unimaginable and it is relentless. Day after day, month after month, the attempt to eliminate the Rohingya entirely from their country continues.

Delegations have come and gone. Politicians and ambassadors have expressed words of deep concern. Millions of dollars have been handed to the Burmese government to assist with the situation. However, very little of this funding actually gets through to the Rohingya. Still they are starving and dying from disease, not due to lack of aid, but due entirely to blocked aid and prohibited care.

Should you think to research the topic of genocide, you will quickly come to realise that what is happening in the state of Arakan towards the Rohingya (although Kaman Muslims and Burmese Muslims across the country have also been targeted) has all the characteristics of a textbook case of genocide. Professor William Schabas, former president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, says (with regard to the Rohingya’s position):

"When you see measures preventing births, trying to deny the identity of the people, hoping to see that they really are eventually, that they no longer exist; denying their history, denying the legitimacy of their right to live where they live, these are all warning signs that mean it's not frivolous to envisage the use of the term genocide."

Something else you will also learn is that genocide is always political, and does not happen by chance, it is planned.  I encourage you all to watch the documentary 'Genocide: Worse than War' by Daniel Goldenhagen for greater insight into why and how genocide takes place, and what, if anything, you can do to stop it.

The elimination of the Rohingya from Burma is not a simple case of an escalation of hatred. The escalation of hatred is a result of carefully planned and targeted propaganda. The rise of the 969 group is not a simple case of rising intolerance but rather a criminal organisation that is paid to carry out the work of the genocidal masterminds.

The situation for the Rohingya, despite the many delegations, deep concern, and no doubt bribes (ie. aid), has not improved. Rather it has got worse, and continues to deteriorate. The level of persecution against the Rohingya is such that no human being on this earth could tolerate and so increasingly they are faced with no option but to try and flee the country. Thousands are taking to rickety boats knowing that there is a high probability that they will drown, but that is preferable to staying on the land to suffer a long drawn out death through starvation, or disease, under constant fear of torture, slaughter or rape, to themselves, or worse still to their loved ones.

Muslims around the world are horrified at the unfolding of events and feel powerless as we hear and see many reports of intolerable affliction. Everyone is looking for leadership and decisive action to alleviate the  suffering of these desperate people. The concept of the 'Muslim Ummah' has sadly become little more than a topic of ridicule.

When I began campaigning for the Rohingya I had hope that when the world saw what was happening, UN forces would be sent to protect these people, who are officially the world's most persecuted minority. Yet not one country has called for such protection, instead choosing to believe the lies of 'reform' since that sits more comfortably with 'national interests'.

It is now apparent that no-one is going to protect the Rohingya. The Burmese regime  is well aware that they can continue their crimes with impunity. The Rohingya are therefore being left to die, fast or slow, one way or another, they are being wiped from the land. They are under the very real threat that a third wave of violence will be unleashed against them any day that really could see the Rohingya suffer complete and total destruction. But the alternative to a wave of violence is that of deprivation of food, medicine, education and access to communications which would eventually result in the same outcome.

This week I called a Rohingya man in Burma, who I had been told spoke English, but when I called him I could not understand his words, nor him mine. So I just listened to his heart instead. He cried like I have never heard anyone cry in my life. He begged for help. I searched desperately for some words that he might recognize, and so I recited Surah Al-Fatihah so that he might understand we are one, and his suffering is also mine. What he was pleading, I learnt afterwards, was for the 57 countries of the OIC to take them away from there, because that would be better than what they are suffering now. You can listen to the recording here:

The Rohingya belong in the state of Arakan in Burma. They have lived there for centuries. They deserve to stay there and be protected. But no one is going to protect them, that fact is now clear. I therefore request that you give careful consideration to the possibility of evacuating all of the Rohingya from their homeland, as that is perhaps the only option left, should you really wish to save these, our brothers and sisters.

When considering the protection of a child at risk, it is always desirable to leave children with their parents wherever possible. The exception comes when that child's life is at extreme risk. In this case all other considerations must come second - the removal of the child from the immediate danger is the priority. Right now there are literally hundreds of thousands of children's lives at very serious risk of death. At any time now a third attack may be unleashed and at that stage the opportunity to act will have passed.

I therefore recommend that all member countries of the OIC act with urgency to send large naval ships to evacuate all of the Rohingya that wish to do so. I would expect the Burmese government to welcome such a proposal, as that was Thein Sein's original and only 'solution' when this started in 2012. I realise that the Burmese regime may then think that is their victory. But firstly I would like to point out that saving the Rohingya lives should be the very first consideration. Secondly, the matter of justice can be addressed once the Rohingya have been removed from the immediate danger. Thirdly, I must emphasize that the removal of the Rohingya, a very gentle and peace loving community, would actually be a great loss to Burma and a gain to any country that would welcome them. The Rohingya have so much to teach any society regarding endurance, perseverance, and gratitude of the simple things in life that we all take for granted.

Since the Rohingya are surrounded by people who hate them and want them dead, and the Burmese government would clearly not co-operate with a peace keeping force even if any country might suggest such (which they haven't), I do not think that protecting the Rohingya whilst they remain in Burma is now feasible.

Official figures suggest that there may be up to 1 million Rohingya living in Burma. I suspect that many more Rohingya have either died or have been driven out to sea over the past year than people realise so the actual figure may not be anything like that number now.

If each OIC country was to take in 10,000 Rohingya and offer them help to relocate and restart their lives, that would accommodate 570,000 people. I suspect this may suffice. Some people will naturally want to stay, but at least Muslim nations should give those that want to leave a way to do so? Surely that is better than watching them die?

I am pleading with you on behalf of the Rohingya man who pleaded with me on the telephone to take this request to the OIC. Please give this option careful consideration, urgently, before it is too late, as it may be the only option if the Rohingya are to be saved. Thank-you.

Yours faithfully,

Jamila Hanan
Human Rights Defender