Islamist rebels capture Syria’s largest oilfield: activists

A Free Syrian Army fighter aims his weapon as he takes a position in the old city of Aleppo November 22, 2013. REUTERS/Molhem Barakat

A Free Syrian Army fighter aims his weapon as he takes a position in the old city of Aleppo November 22, 2013.

(Reuters) – Islamist rebels led by al Qaeda-linked fighters seized Syria’s largest oilfield on Saturday, cutting off President Bashar al-Assad’s access to almost all local crude reserves, activists said.

There was no immediate comment from the government and it was not possible to verify the reports of the capture independently.

But the loss of the al-Omar oil field in the eastern Deir al-Zor province, if confirmed, could leave Assad’s forces almost completely reliant on imported oil in their highly mechanized military campaign to put down a 2-1/2-year uprising.

“Now, nearly all of Syria’s usable oil reserves are in the hands of the Nusra Front and other Islamist units … The regime’s neck is now in Nusra’s hands,” said Rami Abdelrahman, head of the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Assad’s forces have gained momentum against the rebels in recent months, partially due to support from the Lebanese Shi’ite Muslim milita Hezbollah and its regional ally Iran.

In the northern province of Aleppo on Saturday, army air strikes killed at least 40 people and wounded dozens, most of them civilians, the Observatory said.

But opposition fighters, particularly powerful Islamist factions, still hold large swathes of territory in northern and eastern Syria.

Foreign powers are trying to bring together the warring parties at an international peace conference, dubbed ‘Geneva 2’, planned for mid-December. Both the Syrians and their international partners are at odds over terms for the talks.

Syria’s peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi discussed the conference on Saturday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva. He is expected to meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry later.

FUEL FROM IRAN

The civil war in Syria has killed more than 100,000 people, according to the United Nations. The conflict is also destabilizing Syria’s neighbors, exacerbating sectarian and ethnic tensions that transcend borders and fuelling Sunni-Shi’ite tensions in particular.

The rebels are led by the Sunni Muslim majority in Syria and have drawn support from radical Sunni groups such as al Qaeda and other foreign militants.

Shi’ite countries and militias have thrown their weight behind Assad, who is from Syria’s minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam.

Until the reported insurgent capture of the field, a pipeline transporting the crude to central Syria for refinement had still been working despite the civil war.

Most oil reserves are now in the hands of rebels, local tribes or Kurdish militias, some of whom may be willing to sell oil to Assad.

Assad is also believed to be getting fuel from Shi’ite Muslim giant Iran, his main regional ally.

video posted on the internet showed rebels in camouflage and black scarves driving a tank under a sign that read “Euphrates Oil Company – al-Omar field”. The speaker in the video said the field was overrun at dawn on Saturday, but the authenticity of the footage could not be independently verified.

Syria is not a significant oil producer and has not exported any oil since late 2011, when international sanctions took effect to raise pressure on Assad. Prior to the sanctions, the country exported 370,000 barrels per day, mainly to Europe.

The conflict began in March 2011 as peaceful protests against four decades of Assad family rule but has degenerated into a civil war were more than 100 people are killed each day.

REBEL OFFENSIVE NEAR CAPITAL

Despite international efforts to launch peace talks, neither the rebels or Assad’s forces appear ready to lay down arms.

Activists near Damascus said a heavy battle was raging in the eastern suburbs outside the capital between the army and pro-government militias and rebel units, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an al Qaeda affiliate.

Rebels are trying to retake the town of Oteiba in order to break a heavy blockade on the opposition-held suburbs in the east that ring the capital. For months Assad’s forces have choked off the areas from both food, supplies and weapons.

The fighting caused dozens of deaths on both sides, a fighter in the area said.

In Switzerland, diplomatic wrangling continued as the international supporters of different sides of the conflict discussed a framework for talks.

Moscow, Assad’s main arms supplier, wants Iran to participate in the peace conference, which is opposed by both the United States and Saudi Arabia, a regional rival of Tehran and major backer of the rebels.

Brahimi is to hold “trilateral” talks with Russian deputy foreign ministers Mikhail Bogdanov and Gennady Gatilov, as well as U.S. Under Secretary Wendy Sherman, in Geneva on Monday.

(Source / 23.11.2013)

France Asks Palestinians to Give Up Right of Return

France Asks Palestinians to Give Up Right of ReturnJESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

French President François Hollande visited Israel and Ramallah this week.

Now joining us to discuss the significance of this visit is Shir Hever. He’s an economic researcher at the Alternative Information Center, and he’s a regular contributor to The Real News.

Thanks for being with us, Shir.

SHIR HEVER, ECONOMIST, ALTERNATIVE INFORMATION CENTER: Thanks, Jessica, for having me.

DESVARIEUX: So, Shir, can you just deconstruct for us what’s the significance of Hollande visiting Israel and Ramallah this week?

HEVER: I think his visit is part of a very interesting change in the French overall foreign policy, and it’s something that we should pay attention at because it’s not just France. France is taking a very dangerous kind of political direction, which I believe began already with the previous president, with Sarkozy, and has been manifested with the French very belligerent approach towards Libya. France was one of the first to call for a military action in Libya. In the French military action in Mali, French actually started a war in Africa. And recently, in the Geneva talks regarding the sanctions against Iran and the attempt to get Iran to give up its nuclear program, France has taken the most extreme position and has sabotaged the talks, prevented a deal from being reached. They’ve actually done this already twice over the course of these talks.

And now Hollande has visited Israel and Palestine. And I believe that this visit is a very symbolic attachment to this continual change of policy, because what we see is France, a very well established country, very old country, which actually has achieved peace and is part of the European Union and has no serious enemies. And it seems that the country’s very eager to create new enemies and to instigate conflict and war. And, of course, these things don’t just happen because of some bad temper or some whim of President Hollande, but it is because of economic interests, of military contracts, and also the prestige that France can gain by appearing to be such a strong state.

The problem is, of course, a problem of legitimacy. This is no longer the 19th century, and empires don’t just start wars whenever they want and send their army to attack other countries. And, of course, the French people themselves, who’ve elected Hollande as a candidate who was supposed to be on the relative left side of the political map and rejected his extreme-right opponents, they are now finding him making these deals with right-wing governments or promoting right-wing policies.

And what Hollande did in his visit to Israel-Palestine is to align himself with the country, with the state that symbolizes those kinds of right-wing policies as if they were part of the legitimate way to do politics in this world. And that is Israel. And Israel is a country that does certainly send its army to constantly attacking its neighbors.

And what Hollande did in his visit, he made a sort of token call on Israel to halt settlement construction, to halt the construction of the illegal colonies in the West Bank. This is something that may seem as if he’s criticizing Israel, but in fact it is exactly the kind of talk that Israel is very happy to hear, because it shifts the discourse from talking about the actual illegal colonies which are already there–600,000 colonists living on Palestinian land in contravention of international law. And instead of talking about evacuating these colonies, he’s saying Israel should stop constructing more. So that is actually something that was very well accepted in Israel. They of course don’t have any plans of stopping the construction, but they’re very happy that this is now the discourse.

And he did something even worse. He came to Ramallah and he met with the Palestinian government, and he told Mahmoud Abbas, the president of Palestine, that the Palestinians should give up on the right of return of Palestinian refugees or become flexible on that, on the right of return of Palestinian refugees, and in exchange Israel will stop building in the colonies.

And this suggestion to the Palestinian government is something that I think reveals a great deal about the mindset and about the kind of politics that France is now adopting. This is colonial logic par excellence. And it brings us back to 1947, when the United Nations, and especially the European countries, have promoted the Partition Plan of Palestine, awarding half of Palestine to the Zionist movement in order for–to establish a Jewish state. And they did this because they thought there should be some kind of solution for Jewish refugees after the Holocaust. And rather than rehabilitating these refugees in their home countries back in Europe, mostly in Europe, they’ve instead chosen to do that at the expense of somebody else and to have the Palestinians give up half of their land to the Zionist movement.

What Hollande is saying now is that the Palestinian government should just give up on the rights of about four, four and a half million Palestinian refugees who live around the world who have the right of return to their homes granted to them by the international community, by international law, in exchange for some minor gesture by the Israeli government.

Of course, President Mahmoud Abbas doesn’t did not agree to the suggestion. Nor does he have the authority to make any decision on behalf of the Palestinian refugees. He was not elected by them.

And I think French citizens most of all should be asking their president, if he’s willing to negotiate basic rights of people away and to suggest that Palestinian refugees should forfeit their rights under international law as part of the negotiation leading nowhere between the Israeli government and the Palestinian government, who’s next. What other minorities in the world, what other groups who are currently not politically strong could be just swept aside in the name of political expediency?

DESVARIEUX: Alright. Shir Hever, thank you so much for joining us.

HEVER: Thank you, Jessica.

DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

(Source / 23.11.2013)

4900 Palestinians Currently Being Held In Israeli Gulags

 

Palestinian Researcher specialized in detainee’s affair Abdul-Nasser Farawna stated that the Israeli occupation army is still holding captive 4900 Palestinians in 17 prisons, prison camps, detention and interrogation facilities. Among the detainees are children, disabled, elderly and legislators.

                   File - Gamatv.ps

The researcher, who also head the census department of the Ministry of Detainees, said that Israel is currently holding captive 190 children, and that the total number of children kidnapped and imprisoned by Israel since September 2000 exceeded 10.000.
In his report, Farawna said that there are 14 women held by Israel, facing continuous violations and bad treatment. One of them is Lina al-Jarbouni who has been jailed for more than 11 years.
He added that Israel is still using its illegitimate policies of arbitrary Administrative Detention, currently imprisoning 142 Palestinians without charges, and that thousands of Palestinians faced Administrative Detention orders throughout the years, some spending years behind bars.
The study also indicated that there are 495 detainees who are serving at least one life-term, including the longest serving detainee Abdullah Barghouthi who was taken prisoner on March 5 2003, and was sentenced to 67 life terms and an additional 250 years.
Farawna said that Israel continued its violations against democratically elected legislators, currently holding captive 14 legislators, and 1 former minister; all held without charges.
Israel kidnapped and imprisoned more than 60 legislators and ministers over the last ten years.
As for detainees who have been imprisoned since before the Palestinian Authority was established on May 4 1994, Farawna said that the number is currently 52, including 48 who have been imprisoned for more than 20, and 17 who have been imprisoned for more than 25.
The oldest amongst them is Karim Younis who was kidnapped 31 years ago.
Farawna said that ailing Palestinian prisoners are facing very harsh conditions deprived of their basic right to essential and specialized medical treatment.
There are more than 1500 ailing detainees, including 20 permanently held at the Ramla Prison Clinic that lack basic equipment and supplies.
Those detainees suffer with various conditions including paralysis, heart diseases, cancers and other conditions. The Palestinian official further said that 205 Palestinians died in prison since 1967, some of them were tortured to death, while others died due to lack or medical attention, and others were shot and killed after being captured.
The latest casualty was Hasan Toraby, 22 years of age, who suffered with several serious health issues, and died at the Al-‘Affoula Israeli Hospital after being denied essential medical treatment. He was merely moved to a hospital after a serious deterioration in his condition.
Dozens of Palestinians died after being freed from prison due to numerous health issues they faced in prison but never received the needed medical attention until after they were freed. Among them are detainee Morad Abu Sakout, Hayel Abu Zeid, Ashraf Abu Threi’, and Zakariyya Issa.
Farawna denounced Israel’s illegitimate policies depriving hundreds of families from visiting with their detained loved ones.
Children of Gaza Strip detainees are completely denied their right to family visits, an issue that has serious impacts on their psychological conditions, and the conditions of their detained loved ones.
Farawna urged all international human right groups to support the detainees, especially amidst the ongoing and escalating violations against them in direct violation of International Law and all related international resolutions.

(Source / 23.11.2013)

De lobby en de bom

By Engelbert Luitsz                     ©           (http://www.alexandrina.nl/?p=2780)

atoombom

De lobby waar we regelmatig van horen als het over Israël gaat heeft verschillende namen. Van gewoon “Israël” tot “pro-Israël” en “zionistisch”. De meningen zijn verdeeld over wat pro-Israël betekent. Is dat wat de zionisten daaronder verstaan, namelijk een land exclusief voor joden, op “Westerse” leest geschoeid en zonder behoefte deel uit te maken van het Midden-Oosten? Of is pro-Israël juist het tegenovergestelde? Het werken aan een land waarin iedere stem even zwaar telt, waar joden, christenen, moslims en seculieren van allerlei komaf kunnen samenleven?

De twee grote Amerikaanse lobby’s, AIPAC en de ADL, steunen het oorspronkelijke doel van de politieke zionisten, het creëren van een joodse staat in Palestina door het te ontdoen van alle Arabieren. Er zijn talloze joodse en/of zionistische organisaties betrokken bij deze lobby’s. Sommige op nationaal niveau, andere op Europees niveau en zelfs op wereldniveau, de meeste joods, maar er zijn ook invloedrijke christelijke handlangers. Mijn voorkeur gaat dan ook uit naar zionistische lobby, in navolging van een felle criticus van deze ideologie, Alan Hart.

Over de macht van deze groepen op de Amerikaanse politiek zijn twee belangrijke visies in zwang. Noam Chomsky claimt dat de lobby alleen werkt zolang ze Amerikaanse belangen in het Midden-Oosten dient en dat ze in een handomdraai buitenspel gezet kan worden indien ze belangen najaagt die strijdig zijn met die van de Verenigde Staten. De andere visie is die van de professoren John Maersheimer en Stephen Walt. In 2007 publiceerden zij The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, een boek waarin zij betogen dat het buitenlandbeleid van Washington bepaald wordt door de zionistische lobby, met name wanneer het gaat om het Midden-Oosten.

De pogingen van zionisten om een vinger in de Amerikaanse pap te krijgen is niet nieuw. President Woodrow Wilson had er al mee te maken in het begin van de vorige eeuw. Een studie over de situatie in het Midden-Oosten uit 1919, het King-Crane-rapport, werd bijvoorbeeld pas in 1922 openbaar gemaakt, nadat het Huis van Afgevaardigden en de Senaat akkoord waren gegaan met de Britse intentie om te zorgen voor een “joods thuis” in Palestina. De reden was dat het rapport duidelijk was over het belang van zeer beperkte joodse immigratie, en omdat het voor een geïnformeerde opinie zou hebben gezorgd in Amerika, iets waar de zionisten niet op zaten te wachten.

Counterpunch publiceerde gisteren een artikel van de Israëlische vredesactivist Uri Avnery, waarin hij ingaat op wat er op dit moment gebeurt met betrekking tot Iran. Er is veel gespeculeerd over de eerdere invloed van de zionistische lobby, bijvoorbeeld bij het betrekken van de Verenigde Staten bij de Eerste Wereldoorlog. Dit zou dan een dienst aan de Britten zijn geweest, in ruil waarvoor de zionisten Palestina zouden krijgen. Nooit eerder werd er echter zo openlijk gesproken over de macht van Israël op Amerika als de afgelopen tijd, in verband met de onderhandelingen met Iran.

Premier Netanyahu is al jaren bezig de aandacht zoveel mogelijk op Iran te richten. Met de bekende kreten “existentiële dreiging” en “holocaust” probeert hij de aandacht af te leiden van de voortgaande etnische zuivering van de Palestijnen in de West Bank en de meer dan catastrofale situatie voor de 1,5 miljoen Palestijnen in de Gazastrook.

Deze “gimmick” kan, zoals Avnery opmerkt, ook meerdere doelen dienen. En het meest spraakmakende daarvan is wel dat Netanyahu de Israëlisch-Amerikaanse betrekkingen op het spel lijkt te zetten. Dit dus ondanks de gigantische financiële en militaire steun die Israël ontvangt, plus de verzekering dat de V.S. Israël zullen beschermen in de Veiligheidsraad, wat ze ook uitspoken. Avnery:

Wij hebben geen enkele andere onvoorwaardelijke vriend in de wereld, behalve dan misschien de Fiji-eilanden.

De insteek lijkt te zijn dat de zionistische lobby in staat wordt geacht via het Amerikaanse Congres de zin van Netanyahu door te drijven, waarbij Obama wellicht moet sneuvelen. Netanyahu lijkt dus meer op een lijn te zitten met Maersheimer & Walt dan met Chomsky. Zelfs Israëlische commentatoren verbinden hem met de – naar men aanneemt fictieve –  Protocollen van de wijzen van Sion, een pamflet uit 1897 waaruit zou moeten blijken dat joden uit zijn op de omverwerping van de christelijke cultuur.

De Amerikaanse politici doen in ieder geval hun best om te bewijzen dat die Protocollen toch een kern van waarheid bevatten. Avnery:

AIPAC heeft herhaaldelijk laten zien dat ze in staat zijn elke senator of congreslid af te zetten die zich niet strikt houdt aan de pro-Israëllijn. Eén zinnetje dat als kritiek zou kunnen worden opgevat is voldoende om een kandidaat te veroordelen.

Nogmaals, het is niet nieuw. Wat er nu zo anders is, is dat het schaamteloos aan de wereld wordt getoond. Het Amerikaans publiek is fel gekant tegen weer een zinloze oorlog, iets wat door verreweg de meeste landen wordt onderschreven. Alleen Frankrijk stelt zich openlijk aan de kant van Israël op. Ook bij de socialist Hollande kruipt het koloniale bloed waar het niet gaan kan. Het roept herinneringen op aan de goede oude tijd toen Frankrijk Israël aan een kernreactor hielp, als dank voor medeplichtigheid aan een van de meest cynische koloniale operaties in de Israëlische geschiedenis: de Suezcrisis.

Of Barack Obama en John Kerry hun poot stijf zullen houden en zullen aansturen op een confrontatie met het Amerikaanse Congres is nog niet helemaal duidelijk. Wat wel als een paal boven water staat is dat deze nieuwe “Iran-affaire” extreem veel meer aandacht krijgt dan de dagelijks verslechterende vooruitzichten van de Palestijnen. Misschien zal het achteraf allemaal bluf van Netanyahu blijken te zijn, alleen bedoeld om het Palestijnse probleem op zionistische wijze op te lossen, terwijl de grote media van de wereld gericht zijn op een mogelijke aanval op Iran.

“Een onherstelbare vergissing” noemde de historicus Chris van der Heijden Israël eens in een bondig boekje. Een andere historicus, Howard Zinn, vond dat ook. Zinn, zelf joods, zag aanvankelijk vanuit het verre Amerika de staat Israël als een goede optie voor joden die daar behoefte aan hadden, ook al had hij zich nooit zo verdiept in de ontstaansgeschiedenis van het land. Maar ook hij zag later in, met terugwerkende kracht, dat Israël “een grote vergissing” was.

Met of zonder (atoom)bom op Irak, de situatie wordt alleen maar erger. In Libanon dreigt voor de zoveelste keer een Israëlische aanval, geruchten over Israëlische samenwerking met Saoedi-Arabië doen de ronde, Syrië blijft doelwit, in de nog verder doorgevoerde blokkade van de Gazastrook is er bijna geen elektriciteit, het rioolwater loopt door de straten, er is een enorm tekort aan medicijnen en binnen enkele jaren is er geen drinkwater meer.

Wat de wereld nodig heeft is een lobby met een geweten, een Rothschild met een moraal, maar de krachten van het kwaad hebben zich altijd beter weten te organiseren dan de strijders voor een betere wereld.

“Rouw niet, organiseer je!” luidde de kop van een necrologie van Howard Zinn. Het is de beste raad die je kunt krijgen, wanneer je je weer eens laat overmannen door medelijden met de slachtoffers van de zionistische terreur. Als het Amerikaanse volk de president van een oorlog af kan houden, moet de volgende stap ook mogelijk zijn: doe gewoon of Chomsky gelijk heeft, draai die knop om en stop de zionistische lobby.

Syrian Muslim rebel groups form new alliance

The Syrian opposition, which is locked in a deadly civil war with the Syrian government, has always been regarded as a loose coalition of opposition forces fighting the Bashar al-Assad government. This coalition includes very disparate groups from civilized organizations to more extremist groups who are believed to have links with terrorist organizations such as al-Qaida.

Now several Islamic rebel groups have announced that they will be banding together and operating independently, possibly even from the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) and the Free Syrian Army, a move which is being regarded by analysts as potentially significant.

Seven rebel groups announced today in a video address that they would be forming their own coalition, the Islamic Front, that would operate as an “independent political, military and social formation” aimed at bringing down the Syrian government.

The groups in question, Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam, Suqour al-Sham, Liwa al-Tawhid, Liwa al-Haqq, Ansar al-Sham and the Kurdish Islamic Front said that they had agreed to a “gradual merger” in what is at present the largest rebel alliance so far in this 30-month-long conflict with the Islamic Front now commanding at least 45,000 troops.

“This independent political, military and social formation aims to topple the Assad regime completely and build an Islamic state where the sovereignty of God almighty alone will be our reference and ruler,” the group declared in a statement published to Facebook.

The Islamic Front is being organized in such a manner that leaders from all seven groups are given key positions with Ahmed Issa al-Sheikh of Suqour al-Sham being appointed as leader, Abu Omar Hureitan of Liwa al-Tawhid as deputy leader and Hassan Abboud of Ahar al-Sham heading the political front of the coalition.

The group said that it was willing to extend its own merger to other groups, adding that its doors were wide open to them. Liwa al-Tawhid spokesman, Abu Firas, issued a statement, saying a committee would be formed to “study the entrance” of new groups into the Front’s folds and that all groups presently in the coalition would see all their organs eventually merge into one.

“This is an extremely significant development, both in terms of symbolism and the military effect it will likely have on the ground,” IHS Jane’s Charles Lister said, adding that the Islamic Front now appeared to be in a stronger position than the exiled leadership of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.

(Source / 23.11.2013)

Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims Wait in Refugee Camps as Buddhist Leaders Dismiss ‘Genocide’

 

2013-06-21-UWirathu.JPG
GlobalPost-Open Hands Initiative reporting fellows interview the Buddhist monk U Wirathu, founder of the anti-Muslim 969 movement, in Mandalay, Myanmar. 
YANGON, Myanmar — As an estimated 140,000 Rohingya Muslims sat captive in squalid refugee camps in Rakhine State and across the border in Thailand and Bangladesh, a group of red-robed Buddhist leaders gathered here in Yangon last week, dismissing what human rights groups have called a genocide as “illusions created by the Arab media.”

“I really take pity on [my critics],” said the Buddhist monk U Wirathu, founder of Myanmar’s 969 movement, accused of mobilizing a campaign of murder, arson and displacement against Muslims in Rakhine and across the country. “They are under the influence of media backed by the Arab world. Europeans and Americans are educated people, but sometimes certain illusions are created by the Arab media.”

Myo Win, who in 2007 founded an organization in Yangon to promote peace between Buddhist and Muslims, called 969 a “countrywide racist movement” with roots in the Burmese government’s rising Buddhist nationalism and three-tiered citizenship laws. Though crimes against humanity committed against Rohingya are overt examples, ethnic and religious biases strongly shape all facets of life here.

“Wirathu is one of the actors of that hate speech movement,” Myo Win said. “But the responsibility falls on the government authority. Where is our constitution? Where is our rule of law? Where is the law enforcement? Where is the responsibility of Buddhists?”

The answers to some of these questions, said long-blacklisted Swedish journalist Bertil Lintner, may exist in the fact that Myanmar is experiencing “the emergence of a new nationalism.”

“Suddenly many people are proud about being Burmese,” he said. “Five years ago this country was an international outcast, a pariah of the world…The new nationalists, they put up a picture of the three warrior kings, and they’ve got the new army, not the old ragtag army that had to fight in the army against ethnics and communist rebels, but the modern army, the tanks, jet fighters, frigates, and then the third symbol is Buddhism. So the interpretation of this that in order to be Burmese you have to be Buddhist.”

But Myo Win, though born in Yangon, is Muslim. His Smile Education and Development Foundation operates from within a spartan low-rise in downtown Yangon, not far from a mosque, a Hindu temple and St. Mary’s Cathedral — the largest Catholic church in the country. The organization offers English classes, interfaith educational programs and women’s empowerment courses among other initiatives.

“My school was majority Buddhist and three or four Muslims out of thousands of students,” said Myo Win, who became an imam after training in Pakistan. “I faced some discriminations since I was young. People always joking, looking down on the color of my skin. I realized why there was that kind of discrimination. Education is the most important thing.”

Myo Win cited Myanmar’s 1982 Citizenship Law, a stratified system that favors those of an “indigenous race” as part of an apartheid-like structure felt acutely by ethnic and religious minorities like the Rohingya, who are not recognized as one of the country’s official ethnic groups and therefore have no path to citizenship and the benefits that go with it.

“There has been violence and discrimination against Muslims since independence,” he said. “And not only the Muslims, but the non-Buddhist people.”

Myo Win said he saw a nationwide spike in anti-Muslim sentiment in 1997, when a mob of more than 1,000 Buddhist monks rampaged against Muslim homes and holy sites in Mandalay. Myo Win and a group of his colleagues sent formal letters of concern to the Ministry of Religious Affairs and to the Sangha Association, the Buddhist seat of power in Myanmar.

“We noticed it very early and said to the government, ‘Please, do something. If you don’t stop it, it will be a bigger problem soon.’” he said. “But they neglected, they didn’t take care of it at all.”

Now, Myo Win says, a civil rights movement is underway among some progressive Buddhists and Muslims that rejects the new Buddhist nationalism.

As Burmese journalist Swe Win wrote in The New York Times in April, “The general public in Myanmar, which is largely Buddhist (about 90 percent) and ethnic Bamar (over 65 percent), would like to believe that the Buddhist monks who allegedly participated in these brutal incidents aren’t real monks. That’s easier than contemplating the painful reality that the venerated Buddhist order, the Sangha, has become largely corrupt.”

Last year Rakhine State erupted into brutal ethnic and religious violence that killed more than 160 people, and mobs have assembled in locations across the country at various times so far in 2013, with victims predominantly Muslim.

“So many Muslim mosques and Muslim houses have been burned down in the middle of the night by so-called Buddhist men,” Myo Win said. “And the people have not been able to come back up to this day.”

The monk Wirathu and his supporters are now pushing a new law that would impose strict limits on Buddhists’ ability to marry outside of their own faith. And in Rakhine, the western coastal state that borders Bangladesh, Rohingya are limited to two children per couple and must undergo an extensive application process to marry.

Human Rights Watch has called on the Burmese government to end the genocide in Rakhine and to repeal the two-child law there. Meanwhile opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said she believes the 1982 Citizenship Law should be reviewed.

Many members of parliament have objected to amending the law, reported Eleven Myanmar, and it is unlikely to come up for debate during the current session.

“This law was to protect State’s security and stability and ethnic affairs. The ’82 law does not need to be amended,” said parliament member Ba Shein of the Rakhine National Development Party. “The amendment to the law is aimed at changing illegal immigrants into legal ones. It is unnatural.”

One of Myanmar’s government-run newspapers, The New Light of Myanmar, ran a long response to Eleven Myanmar on Wednesday in support of the law under a banner reading, “The Earth cannot swallow a race to extinction, but another race can.”

(Source / 23.11.2013)

Breaking News: Rakhine Terrorists Burn Down Two-Century-Old Mosque in Maungdaw

Maungdaw, Arakan: At 9:30PM on 23rd November 2013, Rakhines terrorists burnt down a two-century-old mosque called Hakim Ali Masjid located at the village tract of Myo Thu Gyi (Hain-Da Fara) andnearby the monastery of “Three-Mile Quarter,” Maungdaw. The terrorists torched the mosque on their way back home after torching Maungdaw Municipal Market. (Earlier Report: HERE).

“The Rakhine terrorists who had earlier torched Rohingya shops at Maungdaw Municipal Market were apparently going back home. There is a two-century old mosque called Hakim Ali Masjid located at the southern part of Maungdaw-Buthidaung Highway and nearby the monastery of “Three-Mile Quarter.” It falls under the tract of the village of Myo Thu Gyi (Hain-Da Fara), Maungdaw.

The terrorists were discontented as they were unable to burn down all Rohingyas’ shops at the Municipal Market due to the arrival of Military and taking in charge of the security. So, they were apparently going back home. On the way, they torched and razed the mosque.

It is a lonely mosque and has not been in use for long because the authority didn’t allow Rohingyas to repair it (the mosque). And the nearest Rohingya village is 1km away. However, there is a camp of Security Force (Hlun Htein). And they allowed the terrorists to burn down the historical mosque” said a Rohingya from a nearby village.

(Source / 23.11.2013)

Egypt official: Muslim Brotherhood backs unrest

CAIRO — Egypt’s interior minister says his forces have foiled several attempted terror attacks and arrested leading militants, accusing the Muslim Brotherhood of mobilizing and financing some of the country’s most violent groups to cause unrest.

Minister Mohammed Ibrahim’s comments Saturday were the first detailed examples offered by a senior Egyptian official to back claims that the Brotherhood, the group of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, is responsible for attacks against security, government institutions and the country’s Coptic minority.

The Brotherhood repeatedly has denied government claims that it uses or condones violence.

Ibrahim told reporters that five senior militants were detained from two pro-Morsi sit-ins which authorities broke up violently in August. Ibrahim accused sit-in participants of stockpiling weapons. He said other militants arrested were released from prison by Morsi’s government.

(Source / 23.11.2013)

Egypt, Turkey downgrade mutual ties

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has backed the Muslim Brotherhood and is seen in this picture waving the Raba’a hand gesture, used by Brotherhood supporters.
Egypt on Saturday expelled the Turkish ambassador and downgraded diplomatic relations with Turkey, prompting Ankara to declare Cairo’s ambassador a “persona non grata” in a tit-for-tat reaction.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said his country took the step due to Turkey’s continued “interference” in Egyptian internal affairs.

The spokesman also accused Ankara of backing unnamed organizations bent on spreading instability, in an indirect reference to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

Turkey was “attempting to influence public opinion against Egyptian interests, supported meetings of organizations that seek to create instability in the country,” said Abdelatty on Saturday.

Turkey has emerged as one of the fiercest international critics of President Mohammad Mursi’s ouster, calling it an “unacceptable coup.”

Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which has been staging protests calling for his reinstatement, has close ties with Turkish Prime Minster Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party.

In response to Egypt’s decision, Turkey declared Egypt’s ambassador “persona non grata” and downgraded diplomatic relations to the level of charge d’affaires.

A foreign ministry said statement said the decision was taken “in line with the reciprocity principle that forms the basis of international relations.”

Both Turkey and Egypt had recalled their respective envoys in August for consultations, but while the Turkish ambassador eventually returned to Cairo in September, Egyptian Abderahman Salah el-Din stayed home.

The foreign ministry held Egypt’s military-installed interim government “responsible” for the current tensions.

“We hope that friendly and brotherly Egypt will regain stability and democracy as soon as possible and relations between our countries will return to normal,” added the ministry.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul spoke live on state run TRT television, saying: “I hope our relations will again get back on track.”

The escalation came after after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan renewed his criticism of Egypt’s military-backed rulers, criticizing the trial of Mursi and describing the situation in Egypt as “humanitarian drama.”

Erdogan previously criticized Mursi’s ouster, calling it a “coup,” prompting Egypt to announce the cancellation of a planned military drill with Turkey. Ankara said it was the one who cancelled the drill and that Egyptian officials claimed the announcement in public.

Egypt accuses Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) of being part a secret international alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood to revive the Islamic caliphate.

(Source / 23.11.2013)

Israel confiscates more land in Hebron and Bethlehem

Israeli soldiersIsraeli bulldozers razed agricultural lands in Al-Khader village south of Bethlehem.

Yesterday Israeli occupation forces notified the Palestinian residents of Al-Dairat town, east of Yatta in the West Bank, that thousands of acres of their land will be seized to construct a new road that will service the region’s illegal settlements.

According to the coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Hebron, Ratib Jabour, “the so-called Israeli planning authority has distributed maps to Al-Dairat’s residents, showing the new street that will divide the village into two parts. As a result, dozens of Palestinian homes, considered by the Israeli authorities outside the planning chart, will be demolished. The authorities notified the residents that thousands of acres of their private lands will be confiscated to complete the road.”

Jabour denounced Israel’s assaults against the Palestinians and their properties and appealed to national, humanitarian and international authorities to pressure the Israeli government to retreat from its unilateral actions, which contradict with international laws and customs.

Meanwhile, the Israeli bulldozers razed agricultural lands in Al-Khader village south of Bethlehem. According to Ahmed Salah, the coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Al-Khader, “the Israeli bulldozers have razed at least ten acres of the village’s agricultural lands in Batin Almasi area, south of the town, which belongs to Salah family.”

Salah explained that, “the Israeli authorities aim to expand Htmar settlement to connect it with the Gush Etzion settlements bloc.”

(Source / 23.11.2013)