Contact: Roland Watson, roland@dictatorwatch.org


August 26, 2017

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Bigotry, the conviction that a group bears collective guilt for a perceived offense, can have many foundations. These include differences in skin color, ethnicity, and religious belief. For the last, the nature of the actual belief system is irrelevant. That others think differently is enough to justify persecution against them. Presently, there is widespread bias against Muslims. While it is true that certain fanatical cults such as ISIS and al Qaeda self-identify as Muslim (and which self-identification is false, even though they - supposedly - follow the Koran), this in no way implicates all Muslims. With a population over 1.5 billion, one out of five people on earth practice the faith. To think that all of them are fanatics is not only ludicrous, it is the most pervasive form of bigotry in the world today - other than on the basis of skin color.

There are many types of terrorism. There is the terrorism of cults such as ISIS, and on the opposite end of the spectrum the terrorism of right-wing extremists, who typically act as "lone-wolves," including followers of neo-Nazism, the Klu Klux Klan, and more generally who identify as white supremacists and anti-Semites. The worst terrorists of all, though, who generate the most fear, and who perpetrate crimes against humanity against the largest number of victims, are state actors. In this group would go the dictators of such countries as North Korea, Syria, China and Burma, who terrorize their populations every day and who have been doing so for many decades. Anyone who opposes in self-defense such state terrorism, and who limits their actions to armed rebellion against state agents, but not civilians - innocent targets, is a pro-democracy rebel, not a terrorist.

For Islam, the United States clearly does not consider every Muslim to be a terrorist. Many are in fact allies. U.S. soldiers from Special Forces up to larger units from the Army and Marines and also the Navy and Air Force are presently fighting side-by-side with anti-terror/pro-democracy Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and likely other countries as well. The U.S. also has bases in additional Muslim countries, including Kuwait, Djibouti, Qatar and Turkey.

The situation at the moment in Burma is very unusual. The regime's military and police are State perpetrators of terrorism. This has gone on for over fifty years, notably in the East and North of the country. Since 2012, there has been a State campaign of terror in the West, against the small Muslim group, the Rohingya. The Rohingya have been terrorized so severely that they are experiencing nothing less than genocide. Historically a peaceful people, now - one might say finally - they are beginning to stand up for themselves. They have established a self-defense unit, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). This group is essentially the same as the KIA, KNLA, TNLA, and Burma's myriad other ethnic armed organizations (and should likewise be invited to participate in the nationwide peace negotiations).

The military dictatorship is dominated by Buddhists from the ethnic group, the Burmans. (By no means are all Burmans racist.) The dictatorship hates Muslims, and has been slaughtering the Rohingya. It calls the ARSA "terrorists" (and also the EAOs that are active in Shan and Kachin States). The generals have been helped greatly in this propaganda through the words and actions of Aung San Suu Kyi, also a Burman Buddhist, who while formerly a democracy campaigner herself has now abandoned fundamental political change and indeed the idea of having any moral foundation at all, in her quest for personal power and self-gratification.

The United States has been put in a difficult position. It has opposed the Burma dictatorship since its bloody massacre of students and other activists in 1988, and supported Suu Kyi who came on the scene at that time. Now, both are bad, partners in crime. What will the U.S. do? Will it actually begin to cooperate with the military regime, and assist the genocide, out of loyalty to Suu Kyi; or, will it condemn the terror against the Rohingya and even potentially begin to help its, and the country's other, ethnic nationality pro-democracy armed groups?

If it is doing this in Syria and Iraq, why not Burma?