By Maung Zarni
January 18, 2015
Myanmar’s great commercial opening, talked up as “reforms”, triggered Rakhine nationalists and democrats’ loud demands and agitations for 3 things – up until the state’s manufacturing of the Rohingya-raped-Rakhine woman story (the body of the victim Ma Thida Htwe had absolutely no trace of having been assaulted sexually – according to the medical doctor who performed the medical examination of her body – ask Mr Maung Thura (a.k.a Zargana. He is not telling the country or world, the real truth he knows for a fact because he interviewed the medical examiner on video camera)
1) more equitable revenue sharing (or greater control over Rakhine’s economic life)
2) greater political and administrative autonomy of the Rakhine people (the Bama king named Ba Dun or popularly King Grandfather, invaded, destroyed their kingdom, annexed the Rakhine territory into the present day Burma in 1785. The colonialist Bama feudal rulers used Rakhines as Prisoners of War and slaves in temple building and irrigation projects). Rakhines feel and remain a colonized people in their own land, truth be told).
3) resurgence of ethno-nationalism not allowed to express itself peacefully until after the opening up began
Myanmar regime has dealt with all 3 objectives of the Rakhine rather brilliantly – by diverting the Rakhines nationalist anger towards the Rohingya – most vulnerable, without any revolutionary or radical movement or organization to defend their own people or territory.
To date, Rakhines are perceived around the world as Nazi-like genocidal lot: the new perception serves the military leaders’ interests in multiple ways.
First, it helps erase their finger-prints on the 37-years of systematic genocide of the Rohingya.
Second, Rakhines are no longer in a position to demand anything successfully from the central colonizer – Bama ruling class EXCEPT the greater repression of their down-trodden and more oppressed Rohingya co-habitants of Rakhine land and denial of the Rohingya rights (such as identity recognition, which early military leaders including Ne Win and his deputies accorded the Rohingya – that the Rohingya would be known, recorded and referred to by their self-chosen identity Rohingya because they were borderland people like Wa, Karen, Chin, Mon, Shan, etc. whose presence in their ancestral land predates the creation of new nation-states such as Burma, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, China, etc.)
Rohingya continue to be subject to the central military’s genocidal policies albeit this time through Naypyidaw’s strategy of OUTSOURCING DIRECT VIOLENCE AND DESTRUCTION.
Rakhine nationalists, who wanted to full independence and/or greater autonomy from Rangoon/Bama rule, had never forgiven the Rohingyas for always siding with the Burmese rulers in Rangoon against the wishes of the Rakhines.
Bama rulers neither welcome the Rohingya presence nor like the Rakhine (for their ethno-nationalism, which is the result of their colonial status as a people).
Third, the military rulers and their spin-masters like Dr Kyaw Yin Hlaing, who is involved in formulating, articulating and selling the Rakhine Action Plan (Myanmar’s equivalent of Final Solution) are telling international visitors and others in Burma policy circle to provide more development aid to addess the lack of development and resultant POVERTY needs to be tackled as a long term strategy!
and the Development Industry loves this b/s.
It even serves the Pentagon as it is placed in a position to discuss beefing up security capacity of the Burmese armed forces – both the Navy and the Army in Rakhine coastal region – where China has twin gas and oil pipeline and wants to have access to the port! (The American ‘strategic communitications adviers’ – then based in Naypyidaw, on and off, were known to have helped Kyaw Yin Hlaing and the government Rakhine Inquiry Commission in formulating the right spin. Read the recommendations – it reads like a blue print for the defence cooperation between the Pentagon and Burmese Ministry of Defence!)
Boy, genocide pays!
So, the current strategy of the military is paying off handsomely. Rakhine are used as local proxies to pursue the central regime’s long-term genocidal policies towards the Rohingya and will take the fall for the crimes of the Bama rulers. Rohingya, whom the regime has long come to view, rather out of its national security paranoia, as a security threat to Burma (because it is the only Muslim population concentrated in the 171 mile-long Burmese-Bangladesh border with linguistic and ethnic ties to the populous Bangladesh.
The Rakhine nationalist leaders, as in effect, finished as far as their demands for autonomy and economic control of Rakhine. Rohingyas continue to be destroyed as a community.
This is not simply a conflict between two religious and ethnic communities settling scores as the result of “the great transition” as morons and dishonest Myanmar experts and researchers have made it out to be.
There are those who those who think the United States Government is going to help rescue the Rohingyas from the slow genocide they need to think and look harder at the below-the-radar politics.
Twice Obama went to Burma and defended publicly Rohingya’s right to dignity, identity, etc.
His UN Rep Samantha Power makes mentions of Rohingya in her pronouncements.
At the same time, the Pentagon and its men and women plays a different game – vis-a-vis China.
The American ‘Strategic Communications advisers/specialists’ – in plain language ‘propaganda specialists – - then based in Naypyidaw, on and off, were known to have helped Dr Kyaw Yin Hlaing and the government Rakhine Inquiry Commission in formulating the right spin. Read the recommendations in the Inquiry Commission Report (released in Spring of 2013): the list of recommendations reads like a blue print for the defence cooperation between the Pentagon and Burmese Ministry of Defence!