Myanmar: Rohingya Accused Of Islamic Terrorism


October 28, 2016: The government blames an outbreak of Islamic terrorist activity in the northwest (Rakhine State) on the RSO (Rohingya Solidarity Organization) in cooperation with local Islamic terrorist groups that have been financed by organizations and wealthy individuals in Arabia. Within a week of the October 9 th attack on three border posts four local Islamic terror groups released videos on the Internet declaring war (jihad) on the government and calling on Moslems in Rakhine State to join fight to force the government to give the 1.1 million Rohingya Moslems citizenship and put a stop to all persecution of Burmese Moslems. The four local Islamic terrors groups were AMM (Aqa Mul Mujahidin), FMA (Faith Movement of Arakan), Harakat al Yaqin and KMR (Kebangkitan Mujahid Rohingya). The government says AMM was the main instigator and was working closely with RSO and Islamic terrorist groups in Pakistan. The government also fired the local border guard commander and ordered the army to find and destroy the Islamic terrorists responsible. The government says there are as many as 400 Islamic terrorists operation in Rakhine State, most of them with AMM. Some Rohingya have left Burma and joined Islamic terror groups elsewhere. India has identified Rohingya Islamic terrorists trained in Pakistan who were killed once they crossed into Indian Kashmir. It is also known that Pakistan supported Islamic terrorist groups like LeT (Lashkar e Taiba) train non-Pakistanis in several of their camps in northern Pakistan. Bangladesh has arrested some of these Pakistan trained Rohingya who had come to reinforce the beleaguered Islamic terrorist groups in Bangladesh (which is majority Moslem and generally a hostile place for Islamic terrorists). But it would be unusual for four Islamic terror groups to get organized in the north without the military noticing. Like much of what goes on with the army in the tribal territories, something does not seem quite right.

Some events are easier to verify. Since the October 9th attacks over 3,000 local Buddhists and over 15,000 local Moslems fled their homes to avoid the ensuing violence (mainly by the security forces). Food and other aid for the 87,000 Rohingya Moslems in a refugee camps near the state capital was interrupted for over a week after the attack.

Not everyone in the national government is convinced that this is an Islamic terrorist uprising as the army and national police have not produced much proof yet. Many Buddhist and Christian Burmese oppose the treatment of the Rohingya and have been holding protests in most major cities against the decision to deny the Rohingya citizenship and classify them as Bengalis. But this is a minority attitude as most of the voters will not back any pro-Rohingya moves. Despite that senior government officials called for a proper investigation to find out exactly what is happening up there. One thing most Burmese can agree on is that the army can’t be trusted to give an accurate account of anything going on in the north. The military has considered the tribal areas, mainly in the north and along the eastern borders, to be their territory and to do what they want. That usually involves illegal activities, most of them involved with making money using corrupt practices. This has caused more problems with the locals (mostly non-ethnic Burmese tribes) and China.

In July the government released the results of the 2014 census, the first since 1983. It showed that the country had 51 million people and that most (87.9 percent) were Buddhist. The largest religious minority were Christians, who were now 6.2 percent of the population (compared to 4.9 percent in 1983). Moslems went from 3.9 to 4.3 percent. Actually that is misleading as the government has declared most Rohingya Moslems in the north to be Bengalis and thus not citizens. Subtract the Rohingya from the census data and Moslems are 2.3 percent of the citizen population.

Until 2012 about half the Moslems were ethnic Bengalis (Rohingya) who until the 1980s were considered Burmese citizens. The military took away that citizenship but at least prevented religious violence against the Moslems by nationalist Buddhist clerics. That changed after an elected government took power in 2011 and since 2012 over a quarter of the million Rohingya are believed to have fled Burma to escape the growing violence of radical Buddhist Burmese nationalists. About as many Rohingya are refugees within Burma.

Most Rohingyas are Bengalis, or people from Bengal (now Bangladesh) who began migrating to Burma during the 19th century. At that time the British colonial government ran Bangladesh and Burma, and allowed this movement, even though the Buddhist Burmese opposed it. Britain recognized the problem too late, and the Bengali Moslems were still in Burma when Britain gave up its South Asian colonies after World War II (1939-45). Any kind of peace deal with the Rohingya is unlikely as far as most Burmese are concerned. There is growing popular anger among Burmese towards Moslems in general and the Rohingya in particular. This is fed by the continuing reports of Islamic terrorism word-wide and especially in the region (Thailand, India, Bangladesh and China).

The wealthy Arab oil states have put their considerable diplomatic and economic pressure on the UN to make a fuss but the Burmese generals long insisted that this could be safely ignored as they have been ignoring UN criticism for over half a century and getting away with it. The Arabs don’t get a lot of sympathy outside the Moslem world because anyone who can count notes that there is a lot more oppression and violence against non-Moslems by Moslems than the other way around. As more Western nations joined in with the demands for granting citizenship for Rohingya the government checked the opinion polls and did nothing. Burmese officials are standing by their belief that granting Moslems citizenship would result in more anti-Moslem violence.

October 26, 2016: In the north (Shan State) a Shan man on a motorbike was shot dead by police at a checkpoint because he did not stop. The checkpoints had been set up because of increased tensions with nearby Wa and Shan tribal militias. Police feared even more threats of violence because the dead man was not connected to either militia.

October 23, 2016: In the northwest (Rakhine State) troops ordered over 2,000 Rohingya to leave their homes while the army conducted a search for Islamic terrorists. Several days later the Rohingya were still barred from their village. When allowed to return all the homes were found to be looted (by troops and local civilians) and 40 buildings were burned down.

October 22, 2016: In the northwest (Rakhine State) the army reports that they have arrested 19 more people in connection with the October 9th attacks.

October 21, 2016: There is more tribal fighting in the north. The dominant tribal militia along the Chinese border is the USWA (United Wa State Army) and today the USWA told the government and the other tribal militias in the north that they and the MNDAA (Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army) are not at war and can work out their current problems. Since late September there have been increasing reports coming out of Shan State about USWA and MNDAA troops fighting (or at least shouting) at each other. The main problem is that the USWA and MNDAA disagree over how to handle the 21st Century Panglong Conference that began on August 31st. USWA is trying some tough love to convince the smaller MNDAA to cooperate regarding the peace negotiations. The MNDAA, like the USWA, is largely composed of ethnic Chinese who have long lived in northern Burma (as have other Chinese tribes). MNDAA and the Wa used to be more political (communist) but that disappeared in 1989 when the Burmese Communist Party fell apart as a side effect of the collapse of communism in East Europe. MNDAA and USWA made peace with the government in 2009 but like most peace deals up north that did not last because the army kept operating in tribal territory. MNDAA subsequently turned to the drug trade, as did many of their tribal allies. These included the neighboring USWA and these two groups are making a lot of money producing and smuggling drugs. Opium and heroin production have been revived in the past few years. Production of methamphetamine is huge. Called "yaba" ("crazy drug") locally, most of it is smuggled out via Thailand. Over the last few years, production of yaba tablets has soared. The meth labs are easier to conceal than poppy fields (opium is the sap of poppy plants) and the meth labs are believed to produce several hundred million tablets a year. The tribal rebels, especially ethnic Chinese tribes (like the Wa and MNDAA) use the profits to buy more weapons for their fighters, and run their rebel organizations. The Wa have established good relations (bribed the right officials) with the Chinese while some other northern tribes have not.

Meanwhile the army faces increasing criticism for their cooperation with the tribal militias involved in the drug trade. It has long been suspected that the army got a cut of the tribal drug profits but since the end of military rule in 2011 it has been easier for investigators and reporters to go north and check out these suspicions. It turned out that the army was very much in business with “pro-government” tribal militias and at least doing business with tribal militias (like USWA) that were technically at war with Burma but were also making lots of money in the drug trade.

October 20, 2016: Burma and India signed several economic cooperation agreements to make it easier for firms in both countries to more freely operate across the border.

October 18, 2016: In the north (Kachin state) troops blocked food deliveries to over 200 refugees in an area where the army was fighting the KIA (Kachin Independence Army) tribal rebels. Soldiers guarding the road into the area said the food was being shared with the KIA.

October 17, 2016: In the northwest (Rakhine State) at least 29 Burmese Moslems have been killed and twelve arrested since three guard posts on the Bangladesh border were attacked on the 9th by over 200 men armed with a few firearms and, for most of them, swords, spears and clubs. This left eight border guards dead and four soldiers died during operations after the attacks. All the weapons (several dozen firearms and 10,000 rounds of ammo) and equipment at guard posts were taken as the attackers fled.

In the north (Shan State) four Chinese citizens were arrested or illegal silica mining. The four men were found with two trucks of silica ore. China gets upset when its citizens are arrested in northern Burma for doing what they have been doing for decades. The new elected government of Burma is under pressure to crack down on the illegal Chinese activities in the north and silica mining is one of the minor ones (compared the lumbering and jade mining).

October 3, 2016: In the north (Shan State) the army spent the last few days fighting with SSA-S (Shan State Army-South) over the operation of a drug addict rehabilitation center in SSA-S territory. The army set free several addicts who were being held at the rehab center until they got clean. The army has long worked with local drug gangs and tribal militias (like SSA-S) but those alliances are fluid.

October 1, 2016: In the north (Kachin state) army artillery fire (at least six shells) killed a child and wounded two others. The army fires artillery this way to persuade the tribal population to flee.

September 28, 2016: In the north (Shan State) UWSA troops moved into MNDAA territory and arrested 150 MNDAA troops. The MNDAA men were soon released but the USWA forces continued to occupy the captured MNDAA positions.


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