Myanmar: Rohingya Manipulated for the West’s Drive to War

Myanmar: Rohingya Manipulated for the West’s Drive to War

05-09-2018 – If genuine anti-war activists have learnt anything over the last few decades, it is to be supremely skeptical the moment the US Empire and its corporate media apparatchiks start to chant in unison on the latest “human rights” violation which urgently needs attention. It usually means that a “humanitarian intervention”, read – regime change war, is on the way. So it was in Libya, so it was in Syria, and so may be in Myanmar. Some of the actors are the same, some are different, but the effect is familiar – the West poses as the defender of civilisation against Third World barbarians. The hypocrisy becomes immediately apparent to anti-imperialists, but deludes many who should know better.

One year on from the alleged genocide of Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine state of Myanmar, there has been a round of demonstrations called by some ex-pat Rohingya community groups throughout Australia, which have been backed by liberal political forces and “NGOs” such as Amnesty International. Some misguided left parties have joined the fray. And this time, these actions have the backing of none other than the Donald Trump administration of the US government !  The US government has seen fit to sanction several Myanmar military commanders for allegations of ethnic cleansing, massacres, sexual assaults and extra-judicial killings.[1] It takes one to know one. The US Empire, with its blood drenched history, is itself an exponent of the crimes of which it accuses others.

What happened in the Rakhine state in August 2017?

A report released several weeks ago in London, titled Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience, claimed that from August 25, 2017, around 24 000 Rohingya were killed, and 18 000 Rohingya women and girls were raped during the forced migration from the Rakhine state into Bangladesh.[2] The report claims, amongst other things, that 43 000 Rohingyas were shot, 36 000 were thrown into fire, and 116 000 were beaten – all at the hands of the Tatmadaw (Myanmar military). The writers of the report were from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, the Philippines and Norway. The absence of anyone from Myanmar immediately raises suspicion. And, given that for the last seven years at least, the West’s war on Syria was replete with incessant claims from the West that the Syrian government was slaughtering its own civilians wholesale, and given that this turned out to be abject lies – we are entitled to smell a rat. Generally, people do not flee from their homes and attempt to enter a neighbouring country without fearing for their lives, and it seems the estimated 700 000 Rohingya who took flight certainly were motivated by fear. But fear of what, and of whom? The West claims, over and over again, that the Rohingya were fleeing from Myanmar’s army. For them, this is a convenient narrative.

In reality, the Rohingya were fleeing from the threatened or actual extreme violence from two sources, neither of which were the armed forces of Myanmar. The first were the ultra-violent and ultra-racist Buddhist “monks”, who were the key protagonists of the “Saffron Revolution” which brought Aung Sung Suu Kyi into government. These “monks” had been whipping up lethal hatred against Rohingya Muslims for years before 2017, which is why there was already Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar. The “monks” are the key support base of Aung Sung Suu Kyi, and of her party, the National League for Democracy – which has in turn been almost wholly funded by the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, and billionaire regime change specialist George Soros.[3]  These openly imperialist forces knowingly do this despite the leading figure of the “monks” being Ashin Wirathu, known as the “Burmese Bin Laden”. Reportedly in response to a question over whether he was the Burmese (Burma is the previous name for the country of Myanmar) Bin Laden, Wirathu said he would not deny it.[4] Fuelling ultra-nationalism, Wirathu has incited and led what are effectively racio-religious purges of Rohingya in Myanmar for years. Yet there are no headlines about Buddhist monks driving Rohingya into the seas.

The second force the Rohingya were also fleeing was the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, or ARSA. Why would a so-called liberation army containing the name “Rohingya” actually turn their guns and swords against Rohingya people themselves?  For the same reason that ISIS, with Western governmental funding, gruesomely slaughtered other Muslims (and Christians and other “apostates”) in Syria. That is, ARSA does not represent Rohingya people any more than ISIS represents Muslims. ARSA was originally Harakat Al Yaqin (the “Faith” movement), with many of its fighters having been trained in Pakistan by the notorious Lashkar E-Taiba (LET). Some Rohingya have been jihadists running with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Chechnya and the Middle East, and have now been encouraged to return to Myanmar to continue an insurgency with the aim of an Islamic state.[5] It should be stressed that only some Rohingya join terrorist groups such as ARSA, but the precarious state of the Rohingya given their mistreatment at the hands of ultra-nationalists tends to lead to a situation where young Rohingya men might be persuaded to take up arms in response.

The act which precipitated the armed response from the Tatmadaw was a series of pre-dawn armed attacks by ARSA on 30 police stations, which took the lives of some 13 police officers, and seems to have been also used to gather weapons. These pre-emptive murderous assaults took place just two days after United Nations (UN) special representative Kofi Annan issued his report on the Myanmar government’s actions towards the Rohingya.[6] Firstly, it is just too convenient for the proximity of these two actions for it to have been a coincidence. Secondly, if armed attacks by jihadists on police stations sounds familiar, it is because such attacks also took place in Syria, by Western backed terrorists looking to ignite their gruesome insurgency against the Syrian Arab Republic – which was almost universally rejected by Syrians. Just as the Syrian government had little option to respond to an armed attack by terrorists on its infrastructure, the Tatmadaw likewise had no choice but to militarily respond to a terrorist attack on their state. Thus, the Rohingya who fled were fleeing fighting between the terrorist ARSA and the Tatmadaw, NOT the Tatmadaw only, as Western misled refugee rights activists claim.

Humanitarians enlisted for war drive

During the US led war on Syria, imperialism learnt how to skillfully manipulate human sympathy for refugees for its own ends. This has now been replicated in Myanmar in the case of the Rohingya. Most first world refugee rights activists, although motivated by wholesome concerns, unfortunately end up stumping for the very force which creates refugees in the first place. Imperialism with its vast corporate media apparatus can spin the story to fit their aims, but left-leaning activists should have been aware that something was up when tabloid former 60 minutes reporter Ray Martin pops up out of nowhere to fly the flag. In April, Ray Martin visited Myanmar and returned a shallow report on the work of the Fred Hollows Foundation who were assisting Rohingya with eye operations.[7] Working people of course should not oppose aid offered for any refugees, but the propaganda point was clear – Rohingyas are suffering at the hands of the evil Myanmar government, and “we” (read: Washington and Canberra) need to “help”.

Of course, the “help” the US Empire is itching to offer is that of sending in its own troops into Myanmar, so as to eventually have troops on the border with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). If it is not able to do this, armed proxy terrorist forces such as ARSA will do for the time being. The chaos and insurgency of terrorist groups in Myanmar can also only benefit Washington, who is seeking to disrupt the growing trade and investment ties between Myanmar and Red China. Washington is furious at this, as China becomes more and more an ally to more and more countries in Asia. In the first eight months of the current financial year, trade between Myanmar and China totaled 7.42 billion in US dollars. Myanmar’s rice, peas, sesame seeds, rubber and fishery products were exchanged for machinery, plastic raw materials and electronic devices from China.[8]  Indeed, Myanmar is a part of the billion dollar New Silk Road (One Belt One Road) infrastructure development plan the Chinese government seeks to enact in order to fulfil its demand for more raw materials to fuel its booming socialist economy, AND economically aid surrounding developing countries.

While not minimising the issues the Rohingya face in Myanmar, Western liberals are almost universally unaware of the role of US and British imperialism inside the country over many decades. Their active empathy is then manipulated by the different arms of Western capital, to further ends which will in effect make things worse for the very people they aim to assist. For example, the notorious National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a US State department entity which claims to be a private entity, is funded by corporations that could hardly be described as “progressive”, including Boeing, the Ford Motor Company, McDonalds, Exxon Mobil and Goldman Sachs. The NED has literally created putative “news outlets” in Myanmar such as The Irrawaddy, The New Era Journal and the Democratic Voice of Burma radio.[9] These US state backed outlets operating inside Myanmar strongly oppose many infrastructure projects being built with the assistance of China, even if such projects would contribute to the development of Myanmar and the alleviation of pockets of poverty. They then double as “refugee rights activists” when issues such as the situation in the Rakhine state arise. It is no coincidence that China operates a port in Sittwe in the Rakhine state, as a part of the New Silk Road project linking China, Myanmar and Bangladesh. Myanmar should not be left in a state of underdevelopment just to spite Red China.

Encirclement and lily pads

While not doubting the genuinely humanistic motives of many Western refugee rights activists, their reform oriented politics makes them vulnerable to playing the role of cat’s paw for the aims of the US Empire. For decades, the US state has aimed to land US troops on the border with Red China. Now, with the socialist state led economy of China leaving the West in its wake, imperialism is desperate to “contain and roll back communism” to use a phrase from the first Cold War. This means military encirclement of China, and the constant attempts to establish areas which can be used as a stepping stone, or lily pad, for US forces. In Myanmar, this means using any means at its disposal to create chaos, ethnic conflict and even full scale war. As in Syria, the US and the UK governments will work with and alongside Al Qaeda linked jihadists aiming for a breakaway “Islamic State” – which, if achieved, would be an ideal location for a US military installation. This is what is behind some calls for an “independent”  Rohingyan ethno-state.

Some Australian left parties have fallen hook, line and sinker for the US/UK orchestrated “Save the Rohingya” psy-op. Socialist Alternative whitewash ARSA’s links to Al Qaeda, by claiming that ARSA is little more than a “poorly armed group of Rohingyas seeking to resist displacement from their land”.[10] In reality, ARSA is well funded and armed from amongst the governments of Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Pakistan. ARSA even reportedly has a leadership council based in Saudi Arabia.[11]

The Socialist Alliance appears blind even to the role of ARSA, and last year called on the Australian government (!) to “bring charges of human rights violations against senior Myanmar military officials…..” (!!)[12] The Australian government, fresh from human rights violations in wars such as those on Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, is hardly a temple of virtue on this front. Moreover, as mentioned previously, the Donald Trump administration in the US has done just this, sanctioning some Tatmadaw personnel over allegations of ethnic cleansing. When the Commander in Chief of US imperialism effectively carries out your demands, it should at least be apparent that your politics is off-beam. Meanwhile, both Solidarity[13] and the Communist Party of Australia[14] join with the US state department in condemning Myanmar for allegations of “ethnic cleansing”. One wonders if they are aware of the company they keep.

If it is genuinely the aim to assist the Rohingya’s integration into Myanmar, working people need to demand the withdrawal of US and UK government interference in its internal affairs. Myanmar must have the sovereign right to engage in trade and investment deals with whomever they choose, including Red China and its New Silk Road. While the politics of the leadership of the PRC falls way short of a struggle for international revolution, China must be defended, along with the working class internationally, against the West’s moves to ignite a predatory war. Our lives may just depend on it.

 

WORKERS   LEAGUE

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

Map showing the China-Myanmar oil and gas pipeline, which began operations in early 2017. This mutually beneficial development is what the US rulers lose sleep over. Image from http://www.ramree.com

PO  Box   66    NUNDAH   QLD
http://www.redfireonline.com

[1] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-rohingya-usa/us-imposes-sanctions-on-myanmar-military-over-rohingya-crackdown-idUSKBN1L21KL (05-09-18)

[2] http://www.newagebd.net/article/48675/24000-rohingyas-killed-18000-raped-intl-research (05-09-18)

[3] https://journal-neo.org/2015/05/30/who-s-driving-the-rohingya-into-the-sea/ (05-09-18)

[4] https://eurasiantimes.com/ashin-wirathu/ (05-09-18)

[5] https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/geopolitics/article/2109386/myanmar-has-new-insurgency-worry-about (08-09-18)

[6] https://jamestown.org/program/myanmars-tatmadaw-making-arakan-rohingya-salvation-army/ (08-09-18)

[7] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-24/giving-life-back-to-a-people-who-have-no-hope/9682150 (08-09-18)

[8] http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-01/22/c_136914463.htm (08-09-18)

[9] https://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2014/11/us-struggles-to-keep-asia-in-dark-age.html (09-09-18)

[10] https://redflag.org.au/index.php/node/6041 (09-09-18)

[11] http://www.atimes.com/article/foreign-support-gives-rohingya-militants-lethal-edge/ (09-09-18)

[12] https://socialist-alliance.org/news/stop-killing-rohingya-no-cooperation-genocide (09-09-18)

[13] https://www.solidarity.net.au/mag/back/2017/107/australia-complicit-rohingya-ethnic-cleansing/ (09-09-18)

[14] https://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2017/1796/11-ethnic-cleansing.html (09-09-18)

 

No To Racism, Xenophobia, Austerity and War!

No To Racism, Xenophobia, Austerity and War!

08-09-2018 – According to federal minister Peter Dutton, citizens of Melbourne are too afraid to go out to restaurants at night in public, in fear of “African gang violence”.[1] Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull weighed in, attempting to whip up extreme racism in an effort to stave off the Labor Party in the lead up to the series of by-elections that took place on “Super Saturday”. Thankfully, voters in these electorates appeared to ignore the racist dog whistling, but neither did they sufficiently rush behind the Labor Party either. The vote for major parties fell, reflecting an ongoing trend in Australian elections going back years. At the same time, several of the MPs who were caught out by a nationalist interpretation of Section 44 of the Constitution, and found to be dual citizens – were returned to office by their constituents. Both racist and xenophobic attempts to instill over the top nationalism amongst voters failed.

Regardless, the hidden or open racism that African-Australians face continues. People born in Sudan and South Sudan account for only 0.14% of Victoria’s population,[2] yet these citizens face ongoing criminalisation by association, often being referred to as “gangs” simply for appearing in public with similar friends. As for the alleged tendency for those with Sudanese or South Sudanese background committing more crimes than others, this is abjectly false. The overwhelming majority of crimes committed in Australia are carried out by those born in Australia, at over 70%. Other ethnicities, including Sudanese and South Sudanese, usually make up a derisory 1%.[3]  Irrespective, the dire economic conditions the “free” market delivers continually results in the creation of more scapegoats by the corporate media. Channel 7’s tabloid racism about supposed “African Gangs” is a demonstration of their loyalty to a wealthy elite who live in luxury while the majority struggle to get by from day to day.

Why South Sudan?

The federal government rails against South Sudanese allegedly running rampant in Melbourne, without of course explaining why some South Sudanese have fled that country to others seeking a safe place to live. In the end, South Sudan today is a construct of yet more nefarious US Empire “creative chaos” which serves only their ends at the expense of countless lives. The US state, to which the Australian political elite are deeply enmeshed, has backed the separation of South Sudan from Sudan not for any romantic notions of “democracy” or “self-determination”, but to drive out the influence of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and disrupt and eventually destroy the massive New Silk Road integrated infrastructure projects it offers on favourable terms. Even though historically the area of South Sudan was cobbled together with Sudan by British colonialism, today’s US led imperialism – with Canberra as a vassal – seeks to Balkanise many African states, in the same way in which it attempted to Balkanise Syria through the arming and funding of barbaric Al Qaeda and ISIS operatives. For example, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir’s signature black cowboy hat was given to him by none other than former US President George W Bush when he visited the White House in 2006.[4]  The aim is to undermine, and eventually sever the ties that Khartoum (the capital of Sudan) developed with the Soviet Union in the past, and now it’s increasing trade and infrastructure ties to Red China.

Oil is a factor in the US Empire’s villainous intervention into South Sudan, with one aim being to open the oil fields of South Sudan to exploitation by Western oil companies. This is easier said than done, as both Sudan and South Sudan already is reliant on the extensive Chinese holdings in their oil facilities, including pipelines. Oil is not the only interest of the US deep state, however.  With assistance from pro-US leaders such as Salva Kiir, any US presence in South Sudan could easily be used to prop up AFRICOM (the US military’s Africa command), which has worked with Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni in the process of waging US proxy wars in Africa for years. US presence through its cultivated allies such as Kiir and Museveni would be another beach head from which they could pressure the Central African Republic to the east, Ethiopia to the West, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the south.[5] The US Empire would not be averse to unleashing Boko Haram or ISIS or their own troops, for which they have a track record. The loss of countless human lives and destruction through war of parts of Africa does not even register as a concern. They will pay any price – potentially even their own destruction – in an attempt to counter the economic power of China’s gigantic state owned enterprises.

Bourgeois and proletarian multiculturalism

Understandably, some South Sudanese flee this violence ultimately created historically by British colonialism, and now by US imperialism – and end up in Australia. There is a certain irony with Canberra backing all the dissolute ends of the US Empire in Africa – and ending up taking in Africans seeking a better life as a result. This is one reason why the racism of Turnbull and Dutton cannot be fought with the multiculturalism of the Labor Party or the Greens, or that of “civil society” NGOs. Turnbull and the Liberal Party say they are for multiculturalism – even at the same time as spouting racism. Bill Shorten and the Labor Party, along with the Greens and other liberals also say they are for multiculturalism and, in words, state opposition to racism. Yet they are also vociferous backers of the economic base which maintains and sustains the ultimate source of racism: “free market” capitalism, which is generating staggering inequality in Australia, the US and Europe.

Moreover, some forms of multiculturalism imagine they are devoid of any political basis, but in practice end up fueling political reaction. Despite the protestations of some on the left, a person’s ethnic or cultural background is no guarantee of progressive politics, let alone being anti-capitalist. Take the example of former Family First and now Liberal Party Senator Lucy Gichuhi, who claimed in an interview that her $200 000 salary is “not a lot of money”[6] !!  The Kenyan born African-Australian had also been a part of a politician’s travel expenses rort, as many other federal politicians have been. Any multiculturalism which includes these antics self-evidently cannot be backed by working people.

As the economic crisis becomes worse, right-wing “opposition” and racism becomes more extreme – which is one reason for the resurgence of One Nation and the racist outbursts of MPs from Katter’s Australian Party. Struggle against this racism is essential, but it can only be effective through an independent working class political basis. In other words, the bourgeois multiculturalism of the Labor Party, the Greens, NGOs, Refugee Action Coalitions, etc., must be countered with the proletarian multiculturalism of the working people linked in struggle against the baneful effects of the profit system. For example, a workers’ struggle for public ownership of electricity, gas and water to drastically reduce skyrocketing utility costs could garner huge support amongst working people. If this was combined with a Union led struggle for a shorter working week with no loss in pay, in order to undercut high unemployment, as well as lift incomes for those employed, it could spark the desperately needed fightback working people and those struggling have been waiting for. Even if there was, on its own, a large scale movement against the privatisation of education and health care, for more public housing, and decent and affordable public transport,  led by workers and their Unions, it would at largely fill the political vacuum which is currently being filled by the far-right. Racism and xenophobia increases in direct proportion to the extent of the crisis of the stock-market economy of the corporate magnates, which affects working people in the form of austerity. Or, more specifically, racism and xenophobia spikes in response to capitalist crises AND the absence of a strong, left-wing workers movement. Not to speak of the absence of a politically sharp workers’ party.

The multiculturalism of the “community” or the “society”  has no aim to end the hardships facing the masses. This is why the only multiculturalism which is worth a damn is that which emanates from actual labour. Under capitalism, it is only the workplace which is truly integrated. Labour, which has been socialised by the process of generalised commodity production, cannot take place without the co-operation of all workers. Racial, cultural, religious and other differences have to be put to one side in order to enact even the simplest of work processes, let alone more complex ones. This is one reason why it is only the working class which has a material interest in the elimination of racism and xenophobia. Racism and xenophobia not only seriously impedes the labour process, it prevents workers from uniting against the real source of economic failure.

Multiculturalists for regime change

The ruling elite, however, do not just deploy racism and xenophobia to divide workers domestically. It is also used to imbue working people in the First World with the notion that the economic, political and diplomatic plunder and exploitation of the Third World is natural and normal, and that this must occur for “our own” living standards to be upheld. Crucially, it is also used to rally workers behind, or at least not oppose, the heaviest fist of finance capital – imperialist war. Imperialist war simply cannot be waged without hefty doses of racism, regardless of the official justification. Yet many of those who advocate multiculturalism are also some of the strongest backers of the wars of Empire, albeit wrapped up in noble-sounding rhetoric around “democracy”, “human rights”, and the “need” for regime change.

For example, when NATO bombed Libya to smithereens in 2011, all bourgeois political parties voiced their approval, as well as some misguided left parties. Black slavery being restored in Libya was one result,[7] while many multiculturalists applauded the assassination of Muammar Gaddafi, the leader of green Libya, and the African state which until that time had one of the highest standards of living. Yet this pious First World saviour complex was just a precursor to what was to unfold over the next seven years, when the US Empire launched arguably the dirtiest war in the history of civilisation against the Syrian Arab Republic. From 2011 to the current day, tens of thousands of unhinged ISIS and Al Qaeda lunatics were armed, funded and assisted by the West in an effort to overthrow Syria through barely describable levels of violence. The governments aiding mercenary “Islamic” jihadists included the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and other Gulf Monarchies. NATO allies such as the UK, France, Australia, Canada, Denmark and others joined the slaughter of more than 500 000 innocent Syrians. Iran and Hezbollah intervened, and together with Russia’s superior air power, this ensured the defeat of ISIS and the reversal of the regime change war. And yet political forces which not only failed to oppose this war, but loudly backed it by denouncing the Syrian “regime”, included those who flag wave for multiculturalism. The Liberal Party, the Labor Party, the Greens, NGOs, right through to some “socialist” parties, to a man and woman, cheered on the US backed “moderates”, i.e. Al Qaeda proxies.

Dismissing the elected government, whatever its form, of a country targeted by the US Empire, contains inherent racism, even if not couched in those terms. It is not only in relation to Libya and Syria where liberal multiculturalists display their own form of xenophobia – this also occurs in relation to heavy hitting opponents of Western imperialism, specifically Russia and China. Mainstream parties, Greens, NGOs and pro-war “socialists” oppose racism in their own minds, yet practice a distorted form of it when they rally behind Washington and Canberra provoking potential nuclear war with Russia, China, Iran and the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – “North Korea”). The latent racism contained within Russophobia is generated at extreme levels, due largely to Russia’s effective defeat of US imperialism in Syria. Liberals and the pro-war left swear blind that they are not Sinophobic, and yet chime in with a hysterical and irrational corporate media and government furphy about “Chinese influence”.

For working class integration

It scarcely needs to be said that one cannot be for multiculturalism and anti-racist, while applauding imperialist war in the Asia-Pacific or internationally. In addition, the multiculturalism of the cross-class “community” can only serve the forces of capital which are not only preparing for, but waging, imperialist wars. The only multiculturalism which is worth anything is that which involves the multiracial working class waging a struggle for their liberation from the banks, the stock exchange and the mega-corporations which grind living standards into the dust. This struggle for socialism can only be waged effectively if led by an integrated Marxist vanguard party, combining the most committed and class conscious workers from all cultural, ethnic and national backgrounds. Racism and xenophobia will barely stand a chance against a revolutionary government with workers at the helm.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/victorians-scared-to-go-to-restaurants-at-night-because-of-street-gang-violence-peter-dutton-20180103-h0cvu4.html (08-08-18)

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/jan/06/were-not-a-gang-the-pain-of-being-african-australian (11-08-18)

[3] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-22/african-crime-stats-overestimated-victorian-crime-agency-says/9348882 (11-08-18)

[4] http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/03/15/suda-m15.html (12-08-18)

[5] http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-plundering-of-south-sudan.html (12-08-18)

[6] https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2018/06/18/lucy-gichuhi-senate-wage/ (28-08-18)

[7] https://www.theroot.com/libyan-slavery-is-wrong-and-it-s-partly-america-s-faul-1821863389 (25-08-18)

Corporate media is enlisted to whip up a racially charged scare campaign, with little or no basis in fact. Image from http://www.policeaccountability.org.au