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Rohingya Ethnic Cleansing and anti-Muslim Pogroms are good for Myanmar: Rationales and Gains

By Dr. Maung Zarni
July 29, 2013

More substantial links between Chinese interests, Rakhine neo-Nazis, Wirathu, the Home Office, Uncle Tom and hate crimes

Ex-Ambassador U Hla Maung is connected with Myanmar Peace Center, if not officially, but through close personal ties. I know this for a fact. 

He has been worked on, very clearly. Myanmar Peace Center is headed by ex-military Aung Min. 

A Chinese in ethnic background, Aung Min blatantly denied that there was anything that could be considered 'hate speech' 'hate crimes' towards the Muslums in Burma.

The denial was made by him in their meeting (Union Minister and US-trained ex-admiral Soe Thein was with him) with select Muslim leaders not long ago, according to the Muslim leader from Mandalay and Wirathu's 'friend' who attended the meeting and attempted to confront Aung Min right on the spot.

Thein Sein's main handler in the disguise of Union Minister in the President Office, ex-admiral Soe Thein jumped in and corrected Aung Min saying, 'we do have a problem of that nature'. But that was window dressing because there was nothing else. (A weak, mild-mannered and robotic president is paired with a slick, US-trained ex-naval officer by Than Shwe himself to serve as the brain and the spine for the puppet President)

The fact is the Ministry of Home and Religious Affairs has been disseminating through its own publications of anti-Muslim tracts many of which were authored by the regime's propaganda officials with monks' pen names. 

In some books the 3 Objectives of the State (Doe Tar Wun Gyi Thone Bar _ were explicitly linked to the promotion of "Buddhism" at the costs of other religious communities, specially the Muslims. The stories the Ministry of Home and Religious Affairs published fall under the category of anti-Muslim 'hate speech'. 

In Wirathu's speeches, he would use some of the stories from the religious affairs publications, which are popular with the fellow monks. 

The official and popular narrative is always the Burmese woman victims of abuse, rape, and torture, preferably nieces of monks - Hpone Gyee Tuu Ma Mya (HGTMM). The informed Burmese joke about this narrative 'always HGTMM. 

Each time there was a popular outrage against the regime or the Chinese interests, this narrative in the form of rumors would be in circulation.

Some concrete incidents and contexts:

1) the famous Mahamuni Image, with a few tons of gold leaf on it, was partially buglarized; the monks in the governing body were outraged, and looking at some military elements as potential thieves. all of a sudden the HGTMM rape rumor spread like wildfire. the rapist, alleged, was of course ' a Muslim man'! Kyaw Yin Hlaing, then Hong Kong-based Burmese academic and now President Thein Sein's adviser, openly wrote that this was the work of the military intelligence. (Curious, why the Presidential adviser is not saying a single word about the prospective, actual or historical direct involvement of the State in spreading hate speech as a strategic tool to divert public attention from any real issue of substance and public importance to the most vulnerable community in Burma. What got in his mouth which no longer spoke truth??).

2) lest we forgot the popular resentment, and yes, hatred of Chinese commercial interests and China, was at its highest around the campaign to stop Myit-hsone Dam project, particularly in places like Mandalay - before Thein Sein announced its 'suspension' of the dam during his presidency. 

Prior to that there were small scale incidents indicating the local hatred of Chinese was going to boil over, and it was just a matter of time before that happened.

At a local gem market in Mandalay there were sparks between the Burmese locals and the Chinese gem traders. The authorities nipped the potential hate mass violence in the bud. For Naypyidaw simply can't afford to risk the anger of Beijing by letting the anti-Chinese bloodbath in Mandalay and other Chinese interests-controlled localities in the countries such as Lashio or Taunggyi or Myitkyina.

3) the ultra-nationalist Rakhines, who are also scattered and established in places like Mandalay, Moulmein (969 has a lot of Rakhine monks), Rangoon, etc., were beginning to ask for greater devolution of political power to the Rakhine and for the greater revenue sharing between the Rakhine admin and the central Naypyidaw (as Rakhine Coastline was about to become one of the most lucrative and strategic corridors - which will house the twin "Rohingya Genocide Pipeline or China-Myanmar Gas and Oil Pipeline), deep sea port, Special Econ Zone, etc. 

4) Suu Kyi's domestic popularity as evidenced in the NLD's by-election landslide sweep and her international influence as evidenced in her 'victory laps' in Europe and later USA drove chill down the spine of the old regime which manages the new regime staffed with handpicked elements from the former from behind the scenes as they were aware of the 2015 election contest

So, here is the regime's strategy to kill at least 5 birds with one stone: let the Rakhine to be the local instrument of the Rohingya genocide -- the mass violent phase of it as the State has long adopted the ehnocidal and genocidal policy towards the Rohinga already since Feb 1978 - and then unleash the long-Home Office incubated 969 via Wirathu, Rakhine monks, etc. against the Burmese Muslims as a whole community

Its gains:

1). internationally, the Lady is no longer this powerful icon whose words will be taken biblically;

2). ultra-nationalist Rakhine could find themselves dependent on the State's impunity to do their ethnic cleansings of the Rohingya - and all Muslims (that is to say, the Rakhine could no longer be making noises about their rights and wants vis-a-vis the Burmese controlled Naypyidaw);

3) the Burmese public came to be consumed by their popular prejudices against the Muslims and words like human rights, communal solidarity, democracy are rejected even by Islamophobic activists from the 1988 uprisings, considered, rather frighteningly to me personally, the second line leadership of the civil society (this 8888 group shows neither intellect nor heart);

4) the whole reform process got automatically held back as the popular discourse shifted from democracy and reforms to who can legally sleep and produce babies across religious and ethnic lines;

5) the regime benefits massively from the desperate West, including the UN agencies, which want to increase their 'footprint' and bureaucratic interests, which is determined NOT to frame the unfolding Rohingya genocide a genocide in order to avoid massive embarrassment about their genocidal business and strategic partners (UN is not innocent and neither is ASEAN or EU or powerful national governments) - a double impunity is in play: the regime offers anyone who serves as major instruments of genocide and mass violence against the Muslim - for instance, Aye Maung of RNDP and his neo-Fascist Rakhine colleagues, Wirathu and 969 monks while the international community offers the regime international impunity;

6) the regime also gets 'intellectual' cover from its certifiable apologists such as the International Crisis Group and Indonesian leaders who keep framing the pogroms and the State-adopted Rohingya genocide as 'communal violence which is not uncommon in democratizing countries' - forgetting that ethnic cleansing is an exception, not a norm or an inevitable feature of all democratic processes - guys like Michael Mann from UCLA would write books with misleadingly stupid title "Ethnic Cleansing: the Dark Side of Democracy" ignoring the fact that it was authoritarian and colonial regimes - USA, Australia, Burma, former Yugoslavia, Stalinist USSR, Mao's China, KMT's Taiwan, Suharto's Indonesia, etc., irrespective of the regime type that have engaged in genocide, colonial and post-colonial; 

7) while the world is busy worry about the Rohingya which they will not do anything to stop it the regime also fought and won on the Kachin war front, another strategically located community which need to be brought on its collective knees.

Maung Zarni is a Burmese activist blogger ( and visiting fellow of Civil Society and Human Security Research at the London School of Economics. He can be reached via Twitter @drzarni. 

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