HOME | Genocides | Q&A | Media Coverage | Your Comments | Press Releases | Standing up for others |

FIRST EVENT | 2006 PICS | 2008 PICS | 2009 PICS |2010 PICS | 2011 PICS | 2012 PICS | 2013 PICS

NOTE: A few links are not working as we failed to transfer the information from our old site foundation for pluralism to the new Center for Pluralism. We are working on it and hope to restore the links to pictures and videos soon.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

U.S. Holocaust museum says this Muslim minority could face genocide

Rohingya Genocides | Buddhist Hate | www.HolocaustandGenocides.com 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2015/05/07/u-s-holocaust-museum-says-this-muslim-minority-could-face-genocide/  By Ishaan Tharoor May 7 at 5:00 AM 

Women and children wait in line for medical care at the makeshift Aung Clinic, which serves many Rohingya, with a few dedicated staffers providing free care. (Paula Bronstein for The Washington Post)

Women and children wait in line for medical care at the makeshift Aung Clinic, which serves many Rohingya, with a few dedicated staffers providing free care. (Paula Bronstein for The Washington Post)
The official American institution memorializing the Holocaust sounded the alarm this week on the threat of a genocide facing the beleaguered Rohingya of Burma, one of the world's most neglected communities. A report published by the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, a wing of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, charted the persecution, violence and systematic discrimination endured by this Muslim minority, and warned that it was a "population at grave risk for additional mass atrocities and even genocide."

The plight of the 1.3 million Rohingya is well documented, if not particularly well known. The majority live in Burma's Rakhine state, on the western border with Bangladesh and India. Even though many Rohingya can trace their roots in Burma, also known as Myanmar, through a number of generations, they are not recognized as citizens of the Burmese state, which has insisted on classing them as "Bengali" — a designation that suggests that they may be interlopers from across the border. They, therefore, struggle for access to basic state services in what is already an underdeveloped, fractious, multi-ethnic nation.

The partial democratization that has taken place in Burma, once dominated by a military junta, has not helped the Rohingya. In recent years, the climate of hostility has, as the report puts it, led to the Rohingya being "subject to dehumanization through rampant hate speech, the denial of citizenship, and restrictions on freedom of movement, in addition to a host of other human rights violations." 

Ethnic violence in 2012 led to tens of thousands of Rohingya fleeing to miserable, squalid camps; countless others have chosen to leave the country altogether, sometimes at hideous cost. The waters of the Andaman Sea and the jungles of Thailand still hold the unclaimed corpses of many Rohingya, whose vulnerable position on the margins of the Burmese state have made them prey to human traffickers.

The Simon-Skjodt Center's report was partly based on a fact-finding mission to Rakhine state in March, in which the researchers found what they deemed were "early warning signs of genocide." Earlier research and advocacy conducted by the Holocaust Memorial Museum has included studies on the violence in Sudan's Darfur region, as well as the Central African Republic.

"We’re very cautious when we invoke the term 'genocide,' knowing that it can be quite polarizing and sometimes even unhelpful," says Cameron Hudson, the center's director. "But there is a combination of factors — many of which you saw in 1930s Germany and 1990s Rwanda — that are quite concerning."

To be sure, slaughter and upheaval of the magnitude referenced by Hudson are so far not in the cards in Burma, but it is his institution's mandate to spot the roots of potential mass violence.
"What we're talking about here is the targeting of a specific group, based on their religious and national identity," he says. For the Rohingya, their continued denial of citizenship rights — a U.N. General Assembly resolution passed in December that demanded that Burma recognize the Rohingya was dismissed with derision by the Burmese government — has been reinforced by a growing Buddhist nationalism among some Burmese.

The report found the Rohingya to be the subject of "rampant hate speech" in Burma. It also documented widespread impunity for those carrying out violence against the minority, as well as worrying trends of local and national discrimination against the Rohingya, including restrictions on their movement and probably their ability to vote in elections expected later this year.

No wonder the United Nations recently described the Rohingya "as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world."

Questions that Hudson and his colleagues asked of local government authorities about the group's treatment were met with responses that "were not at all satisfactory," he says.

What has disappointed many outside observers, including Hudson and his team, has been the relative indifference of Burma's pro-democracy camp to the plight of the Rohingya. This includes Nobel laureate Aung Sang Suu Kyi, who's now a prominent opposition politician.

"One of the things that concerned us the most was that this pro-democracy segment has been largely silent on the issue," Hudson says. The Rohingya's desperate lack of wider support within the country leaves them particularly exposed in the febrile, fractious Burmese political scene.
"This [upcoming] election could be the flash point that sets off an episode of mass killing," Hudson warns.

Ishaan Tharoor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. He previously was a senior editor at TIME, based first in Hong Kong and later in New York.

# # #  

Why do these Buddhists hate these Muslims so much?


In 2009, Burma's then-consul general in Hong Kong sent a letter to local newspapers and fellow diplomats posted in the Chinese territory. It was addressing concerns over the treatment of refugees from Burma's Rohingya population, a Bengali-speaking Muslim minority long marginalized in the country. Incidents of shipwrecked boats bearing half-starved, desperate Rohingya from Burma had won wider attention in the region.

 February 13  

Ye Myint Aung, the Burmese envoy in Hong Kong, hoped to dissuade others from feeling sympathy for the Rohingya. His method for doing this was by revealing his shocking racism. The Rohingya, he said, "are as ugly as ogres" and do not share the "fair and soft" skin of other Burmese ethnic groups.

Therefore, the Burmese consul general concluded, "Rohingya are neither Myanmar people nor Myanmar’s ethnic group," using the other name for Burma while trotting out his government's long-standing contention that the Rohingya are interlopers in Burma and don't deserve citizenship rights.

Burma to revoke minority ID cards(1:15)
The government in Burma, also known as Myanmar, is set to revoke temporary identification cards for minorities including its 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims. (Reuters)
More than half a decade has passed since then, and the situation in Burma has changed for the better. The country has opened up. The secretive, dictatorial military junta that once held sway has allowed the advent of a fledgling, albeit heavily curtailed democracy. Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was freed from decades of house arrest and is now a main leader of the opposition.

But the miserable condition of the Rohingya, a forgotten, stateless people, persists. The United Nations deems them "one of the most persecuted minorities in the world." There are some 1.3 million Rohingya, the majority of whom live in Burma's Rakhine state, on the western border with Bangladesh and India, and struggle to access basic state services. As WorldViews reported last year, around 140,000 Rohinigya eke out a squalid existence in ramshackle camps, displaced by ethnic and sectarian strife in 2013 and neglected by the Burmese government.

Recent U.N. calls on the Burmese government to grant the Rohingya full citizenship rights, including a General Assembly resolution passed in December, have been received with hostility. Angry anti-Rohingya marches this week persuaded the government to scrap tentative plans to give Rohingya carrying temporary documents the right to vote in an upcoming referendum.

Much of the ire is fanned by a hard-core of nationalist Buddhist monks. Certain groups play an outsize role in fanning sentiment against the Rohingya, whom they like to characterize as "Bengali" illegal immigrants rather than a distinct Burmese ethnic group. (Never mind that many generations of Rohingya have lived on Burmese soil.)

Ashin Wirathu, a Buddhist monk notorious for his xenophobic rhetoric, even earned a spot on the cover of TIME magazine's international edition, with the cover line: "The Face of Buddhist Terror." The saffron-clad Ashin Wirathu dubs himself the "Burmese bin Laden," and indulges in frenzied, un-monk-like speeches calling for tough action against Muslims. He raises the fear of forced conversions and terrorism. Last year, he addressed a gathering of nationalist monks in Sri Lanka, another nation with a Buddhist majority, warning of "a jihad against Buddhist monks."

But critics say Ashin Wirathu and his ilk, more often than not, are the ones inciting mob violence against Burma's Muslims, including non-Rohingya Muslims. Hundreds have died in recent years amid riots and tit-for-tat attacks.

It's a worrying development in a diverse nation that's just emerging from the straightjacket of authoritarian rule. Perhaps the most depressing indication of the Rohingya's plight is the relative silence of Suu Kyi, a global icon for democracy and human rights. The Nobel Peace Prize winner, in keeping with Burmese government policy, refuses to even say the word "Rohingya" — which in Burma's polarized context would be an act of recognizing the community's rights, let alone its very existence.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

8th Annual Holocaust event held in Dallas

Dallas Morning News, Jan 26, 2015 issue
Event at Unity Day. 

Report will be added later

Mike Ghouse, Chair
8th Annual Holocaust and Genocides event

A Holocaust pledge by Justin Amler

 Justin Amler, I will take that pledge with you.

"So I pledge in this moment, of this day, in this time that no matter how rough the seas will get, and no matter how strong the storm will blow or how hard the rain will fall, and no matter how dark the night will become, I will be there, holding up a candle and honoring the memory of my family and my people." 

And as a Muslim, along with several other Muslims, we will continue to light the candle in the memories of Holocaust and genocide victims at our annual (just passed the 8th) Holocaust and Genocides event. God willing some day, I would like this interfaith event to be organized in every place by non-Jews as a part of understanding the tragedy - to remind ourselves to see the inhumanity in us, each one of us, and learn to say never again. 

When you talked about the dignified way in which they endured the death, it reminds me of my own story that I have shared before, how those images have been a part of my life and made me a devoted human rights activist. I will include this piece at our site www.HolocaustandGenocides.com 

Thank you for sharing this. 

God bless you.
Mike Ghouse

A Holocaust pledge
Courtesy of Facebook/Progressive Zionism and Jerusalem Post

Over the last few days, I have seen pictures and read stories and watched videos of people who once lived on this earth.  People who played and laughed.  People with goals and dreams.  People who worked hard to make a living and to make a life for themselves – only to have it all ripped away by the evils of man. 
And as the 70th commemoration of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp rolls away, the memories of that time do not roll away with it.  Because those faces that stared up in wonder from faded black and white photographs, and decaying film strips with scratches and white patches of overexposure, were my people and my family.
In America they speak about the Greatest Generation – those who grew up among the depression, but we too have our Great Generation who for many did not grow up, but remained forever young, and whose dreams did not die with them, but passed on to those who came after.
They were all my heroes, and who I am today is shaped from who they were yesterday.  Because behind the hollow eyes and the broken bodies, there were souls.  Souls that burnt bright.  Souls that yearned to live, in a time where life itself was a scarcity.  A time where a slice of bread was the difference between living and dying, and a potato was worth the combined fortunes of an entire country.
I think about the boys who once might have played with an old soccer ball in the streets behind their homes.  I think about the girls who dressed up small dolls and held tea parties.  I think about the children who never even got to play, or the babies whose time on this earth was as short as the taking of a small breath.  I think of the fathers and the mothers who tried their hardest to look after their families and give them a good life.  And I think about the grandparents who watched as the entire world they had known and grown up with was destroyed before their eyes.  I also think about those whose faces will never be known, and whose photos along with their bodies were burnt in the fiery pits of hate. 
I think of all of them and the fate that would have been my own, if not for my grandmother who at the tender age of 12, along with her brother just one year younger was forced to leave her small town of Ponevez and everything she had ever known to board a ship that traveled to the less dark continent of Africa.  Two small children traveling alone across the world.  She survived, not because of the world, but in spite of it.  She lived, but her aunts and her uncles did not.
They are all my family – those who survived through the horrors and those they didn’t.  And even as the last of those survivors begin to fade away and return to the heavens from whence they came, and those dark forces that tried to smother them before begin to gather again, I will stand here tonight and make a pledge.
My pledge is directed to you and to me and to the entire world.
To those who try to tell me these heroes who are my family didn't exist and their memories are false, I will stand before you as proof.
To those who want the memory of the Holocaust to disappear like the fading mist of a winter’s morning, I will hold up their testimonies for all to see.
And to those whose desires are filled with darkness and their hearts with evil and somehow want to revisit that period in history, I will fight you.  And by doing so I will fight for my own survival just as those who went before me fought to stay alive - even as their last breaths of life slipped away.
So I pledge in this moment, of this day, in this time that no matter how rough the seas will get, and no matter how strong the storm will blow or how hard the rain will fall, and no matter how dark the night will become, I will be there, holding up a candle and honoring the memory of my family and my people.
The human body is frail, but the human spirit is not.  And the spirit of their generation will live on through mine and forever more.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

8th Annual Holocaust and Genocides commemoration

The purpose of this event is education, information and activism. We hope to learn and acknowledge our failings and make a personal commitment to do our individual share of saying “Never Again”. 

We hope you will walk out of the event with a genuine feeling of being a contributor towards building a cohesive world where no human has to live in apprehension or fear of the other. 

The Holocaust event has been commemorated by the Jewish community since 1953 for the loss of  6 million Jews during the Holocaust, known as
 Yom HaShoah in Synagogues around the world. The general public learns it by visiting the Holocaust Museums and educational institutions.

We at America Together Foundation are committed to spread the knowledge of Holocaust and Genocides through interfaith and public events.

Our format has been simple and consists of four parts: interfaith prayers, the Holocaust, Genocide (one or two each time), a Massacre, action items for individuals and the pledge of peace. Silently we acknowledge all suffering, but physically we are limited to a Genocide and a Massacre at one time.  

I believe, when we acknowledge each other’s grief and participate in each other’s commemoration, we connect with the humanness within ourselves and seed the relationship of understanding and caring for each other. 

There is a shameless cruelty in us, either we shy away or refuse to acknowledge the sufferings of others, worrying that it will devalue our own or somehow it amounts to infidelity to our own suffering, and every community and nation has suffered through this.

The purpose of this event is education; we hope to learn and acknowledge our failings and make a personal commitment to do our individual share of saying “Never Again”.

Our mission is to create awareness of the inhumanity within each one of us and hope to find the solutions.

The goal ought to be respecting the otherness of others and accepting the God given uniqueness of each one of us, anything short of that will leave unattended-sparks ready to flare up at short notice with the whiff of oxygen.

It is a bridge building event and we sincerely hope the attendees will walk out with the following understanding:

  • Other people’s suffering is as legitimate as mine;
  • It is easy to see ourselves as Victims, we must also see the perpetrator in us;
  • When we strip the politics out of a conflict, we see hope;
  • We can value others suffering without lessening our own;
  • The overriding desire to highlight our own blinds us from other’s suffering.
  • A sense of responsibility for creating a better world is awakened.

A initiative of American Muslims, organized by the Foundation for Pluralism, World Muslim Congress and America Together Foundation.

We are looking for participating organizations, sponsors and volunteers. Please text or call me at the number below.


Our first event: Hon. Roslie and William Schiff, the Holocaust survivors delivered the key note, while people from many faiths participated in sharing scriptures from their holy books: .http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Images_HolocaustDay/HMD2006_ProgramReport.asp 

Holocaust and the Muslim guy: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/holocaust-and-the-muslim-_b_4629509.html 

United Nations proclamations:  http://www.un.org/en/holocaustremembrance/docs/res607.shtml

Mike Ghouse, Event Chair
(214) 325-1916