India is complicit in the Rohingya suffering

India, as a member of the international community, must do its bit to safeguard the fundamental rights of the Rohingya.

by Bela Bhatia
Bela Bhatia is an Indian academic and human rights worker.

The stance of the Indian government regarding the Rohingya crisis is a source of consternation, to put it mildly. The central government has decided that ethnic Rohingya who are already in India – around 40,000 – should be deported and others should not be allowed to enter. The government stand is unconstitutional and violative of customary international law. It is biased, discriminatory and conservative. This unlike-India stand is a departure from previous practice and represents an abdication of India’s moral and political responsibility as a member of the international community.

On August 8, the central government issued an order to all state governments to identify and deport illegal immigrants, including Rohingya. Despite the escalation of the crisis after 25 August in Burma when counterinsurgency operations in the Rakhine State have led to large-scale killings, human rights violations, and an exodus of more than a half-million people to Bangladesh, the response of the government has remained obdurate. It has authorised border security forces to use “rude and crude methods” to block infiltrators. A Border Security Force officer recently admitted to media that they had started using chilli sprays and stun grenades. In some states, forcible removal of Rohingya refugees has begun.

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US call for arms ban to Myanmar faces UNSC hurdle

UNITED NATIONS – When US Ambassador Nikki Haley called for a virtual arms embargo against the repressive and much-maligned military regime in Myanmar, she took a passing shot at two of her fellow veto-wielding, permanent members of the Security Council – namely China and Russia – who are primary arms suppliers to the increasingly politically-isolated nation…..

Myanmar’s military clout and its political arrogance depend largely on the staggering array of Russian and Chinese weapons at its command. And any resolution imposing economic or military sanctions on Myanmar is likely to be vetoed either by China or Russia – or both.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), between 2010 and 2016, China reached agreements to transfer a variety of weapons to Myanmar, including anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile systems, frigates, and tanks.

During the same time period, Russia reached agreements to sell fighter aircraft, combat helicopters, light helicopters, and surface-to-air missiles.
Meanwhile, Israel’s longest running newspaper, Haaretz, has accused Israel of “arming war criminals”. In an editorial early September, the newspaper said the violence directed at Myanmar’s Rohingya minority by the country’s regime has intensified, including burning of their villages—“information that has been confirmed by satellite images”


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Mangala did what others should have done

What do Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and our yahapalanaya leaders have in common? A wall of silence that is what it is! When Myanmar’s military turned its guns on a community that has long been considered outcasts and denied any semblance of nationhood and went on a burning spree hand in glove with Buddhist hardliners, tens of thousands of Rohingyas fled to neighbouring Bangladesh.

It is well known now that a major humanitarian crisis had developed on our doorstep. While the world was crying out for help as it did when thousands of fleeing refugees from North Africa were dying to reach safety on European shores, Aung San Suu Kyi, that angel of peace and compassion, remained silent for days over the plight of the people to whom she had promised reconciliation.

Rohingya refugees pouring into Bangladesh with nothing but the clothes they were wearing.

For days nothing was heard from Myanmar’s civilian leader who the west had embraced for decades as the one who had the popular support to turn Myanmar around and establish democratic governance. Eventually when she did speak there was no condemnation of the perpetrators of what the world was beginning to identify as brutal ethnic cleansing. Nor were there any words of compassion, sympathy and hope for the victims who were pouring into Bangladesh with nothing but the clothes they were wearing.

While this tragic drama was unfolding to the Northeast of us, a sub plot was being played out in the outskirts of Colombo. Some 30-odd Rohingya asylum seekers, mainly women and children, accommodated in a safe-house by the UNHCR since April this year suddenly came under attack by a mob led by Buddhist monks (one presumes so as they were in saffron robes) who breached the gates and threatened the inmates with violence.

They had finally to be moved to the Boossa detention centre for their safety. Was our yahapalanaya government that is quick to preach ahimsa, metta and karuna moved to utter a few words of sympathy for the victims and prevail on the forces of law and order to act promptly? The silence of the government was deafening.


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IDPs In Jaffna Still Facing Dire Issues

by Ifham Nizam

Muslim religious leaders point out that despite nearly 27 years have lapsed since the forcible eviction of the Northern Muslims by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 1990, overnight from their homes and traditional habitats and they have been living scattered in many places in the South.

They said that there is much needed to be done in this regard…it’s high time Muslim political leaders take up the matter with President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

“Most of the victims live in Puttalam, Kurunegala, some parts of Colombo Kalutara with a large majority of them not having their proper homes, regular professions to eke out a living or hopes of any future,” they said.
Earlier this week a government minister spoke about the dire issues faced by an already helpless Internally Displaced (IDP) Muslims in Jaffna is a humanitarian crisis and should not be enmeshed or tabled along with the calls of the Jaffna Tamil populace. Saying that IDPs too have dignity that should be respected, Minister of Industry and Commerce and Vanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen issued a direct plea for help to the reps of Tamil National Alliance (TNA), political parties and government officials in Jaffna at Jaffna AG’s office on July 1.
“Muslim IDPs in Jaffna are already facing a very pathetic, critical situation. Attempts to resolve their crisis together with and in light of issues faced by Jaffna Tamil populace will not help and only aggravate the plight of these IDPs further,” he said.

He added: “Jaffna Tamil population has a set of problems that needs to be solved. However, their issues are not similar to the crisis of Muslim IDPs in Jaffna whose situation is much worse and different. Our call is not for ethnic rights. Discussing and attempting solutions to the problems of these IDPs in light of (same) solutions given to Jaffna Tamil populace will not help -and will only make the conditions of Muslim IDPs much worse. These Muslim IDPs have already faced a disaster in their lives and are struggling survive and stand up on their own feet. On the other hand, issues faced by Jaffna Tamil population are at much higher levels and are different.
Therefore I plead the representatives of Tamil National Alliance, other political representatives and government officials in Jaffna here today to understand Jaffna Muslim IDP issue as a humanitarian crisis rather than a legal or an official discussion topic.”

Minister urged to assist the Muslim IDPs in Jaffna District to resettle in their Jaffna lands first. The Resettlement Office gave permission to allocate 200 houses to these Muslim IDPs in Jaffna but that was blocked.
“Then when we offered to build the 200 houses but received permission to build only 29 houses. In general, if we assume if these 200 families are resettled, still another 500 Muslim IDP families in Jaffna are in crisis since there are 700 such displaced families in Jaffna trying to survive. These IDP’s human dignity should be respected,” he added. Northern Parliament MPs Mavai Senathiraja, MA Sumenthiran, Angajan Ramanathan, Northern Provincial Councilors Ayoob Asmin, Emmanuel Arnold, and Nothern Resettlement Commission’s M Yasin were at this session on Resettlement of Jaffna Muslims at Jaffna AG’s office on July 1.


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The Saffron Googly – A Challenge To Yahapālanaya

By Granville Perera –

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” ~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama – Spiritual leader of the Tibetan Buddhists

Gnanasara‘s spittoon filling Mahanayakes have come out to dabble in politics and governance. Now, there is no need for a government, cabinet, or a parliament. They can dictate terms to the President and H E Maithripala Sirisena would bend backwards, oblige and implement their dictates. They have become dictators overnight to the government on policy issues that they do not posses an iota of knowledge of. Is it the Avant Garde funds of Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe that is doing the trick or a threat of a Sinhala military coup by Gotabaya and Mahinda Rajapaksa? The President turned chicken by this threat, rushed to Kandy and assured the head prelates that he will bow down and get their approval for any government action on constitutional reforms. Another of his January 8 hypocritical promises thrown in to the dustbin. It’s unprecedented in the history of Sri Lanka that the Mahanayakes have exerted such pressure and a government with 2/3 majority in Parliament has conceded. This may be the beginning of the dominance of the saffron robe in every aspect of our lives that needs to be censured by all citizens, the Buddhists included. Should we regret that Mahinda Rajapaksa is not sitting in the Presidential chair to bomb them as he threatened to do when they wanted to convene a Sanga Sabha meeting and issue a proclamation against the arrest of Sarath Fonseka. Remember that, anyone?? Where is Gota? Yahapalanaya needs him as a consultant for twisting arms or hold the gun to the head.

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US protesters rally against Zionist lobby, AIPAC

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Hindu India: a complexed polity in the making

By Mohammad Adeeb, The Milli Gazette

Published Online: Mar 31, 2017

The unprecedented BJP victory and Adityanath becoming CM has triggered different reactions in different sections. Staunch Hindus feel that they are going to see the fulfilment of the Hindu-Rashtra dream; for the secular Hindu it’s a worry that the constitution are secularism are in danger. A third concern is for Muslims: whether their choice for opting for secular India was correct.

In 1947, the Muslims who opted for India because of their respect for the “ganga jamuni” tehzeeb they had nurtured on this land for the past 1000 years or so. The “Hindustan” they had dreamt of is very different from what is the present day Hindu-Stan! [Advertisement link for Books from India Visit }

Today’s RSS-ideology following Hindutva is different from those who follow the Nehru and Gandhi Hindu philosophy.

I feel the RSS’s Hindutva concept is filled with a complex and it’s very hard to fight it. An example being when in 1960s, when I had gone to Australia as the all India students union head, it was too difficult to find any Indian anywhere. When my trip was advertised then people started to come from different areas because it was a big deal that some Indian had come there to visit.

Today after 50 years if you go in any country, you will find Indians working in top positions everywhere and in every stream. Indians have proved their mettle repeatedly in these past decades.

While we should feel proud that we have carved a niche for our country all over, our PM is of the opinion that before 2014 we didn’t know anyone and didn’t do anything.

The IITs, AIIMS, Atomic energy centres and agricultural institutes were all established before 2014.

They reject this development but at the same time try to date back rockets/”udhan khatolas” thousands of back in the distant past. They also claim that Lord Ganesha was a result of plastic surgery invention.

We are now changing history books for our kids: the lie that Akbar lost to Maharana Pratap at Haldighati is to be the main event in history textbooks with, I guess, the aim to show that basically the latter was far greater a ruler than the Great Mughal. In Rajasthan, girls are being taught about ladies to get inspired from and barring one Kalpana Chawla, they’re all mythological characters. How will we fight this inferiority complex?

The Hindu religion, which I had understood all these years, was one that had a lot of adjustability and universal approach. It was not how it’s being preached today.

This is a new type of religion being spread today on feelings of hatred based on concocted history. It takes refuge in its majority and todays Sanghi Hindu is trying to make himself look superior by running down others.

If Salman Rushdie writes against Muslims, he is applauded because it hurts the sentiments of Muslims. One Pakistani-origin crazy man Tarek Fateh is called daily on TV shows to abuse the Indian Muslim for cheap thrills.

Every religion has evolved and has its own controversial views and issues. After all Hindu women have faced Sati to dowry to agni pariksha. They’ve even been put as bets in the past. This is never mentioned but months of discussion on triple talaq gives them pleasure.

Best is that Arnab Goswami launches a new channel and calls me for his first-ever debate (which I obviously denied since his shows are his own interpretation of the news) and no prizes for guessing the topic: Triple Talaq! That’s the only topic that deserves attention not the absurdities that we are facing daily. May be because these days media doesn’t have the spine to stand up to injustice.

This is a new Hindu mazhab. This was not our history! Till date I haven’t been able to realize why this hatred for us, the minorities!

We didn’t take your jobs. We didn’t take your fields. We are not ahead in any stream! Then why this bitterness? Is it because Muslims take part in the electoral process? If so, in in this new “Hindusthan” they should be told to refrain from exercising their right to vote. After all BJP has not been fielding any Muslim candidate and yet gets such remarkable results which has already made it amply clear where we stand as a country. It’s definitely a sad day for the Muslims but I think it is even more stressful for my secular Hindus who don’t know what path to tread in the future.

One more issues against us can be that Muslims are increasing in numbers. If so, it’s not our fault alone. Lack of education and more hands to do menial labour does lead to more numbers in families. But frankly another reason is that if Dalit is not given equality then he can adopt Chritainity, Buddhism or Islam. So reform should be started within all religious communities as well rather than only pointing fingers.

I can say that the RSS is a Brahmanical organisation but it has tried making reforms. Sadly they’re simply taking refuge in hatred and the future of the whole country is in danger. If the reforms extend beyond minority bashing then there is hope and scope for improvement!

Lastly, I would like to reiterate that we should be proud that when others did lot of development, Indians were nowhere but in the last 70-80 years we have made our mark. This is a moment of pride, not complex.

The author is a former Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha)

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The Wilpattu Controversy: Open Letter To The President

By Prof. Shahul Hasbullah

Appeal to withhold the Gazette notification (Friday, 24th March 2017) declaring as forest area vast tracks of traditional lands owned by the people of Musali in Mannar District

Hon. President Maithripala Sirisena Presidential Secretariat,

Your Excellency,

Appeal to withhold the Gazette notification (Friday, 24th March 2017) declaring as forest area vast tracks of traditional lands owned by the people of Musali in Mannar District

I write this appeal to you to revoke the gazette notification which declares as forest area the vast tracks of traditional lands owned by the people of Musali in Mannar District, knowing that you will protect the rights of the displaced people. You have already proven this by similar actions, giving relief to thousands of war affected people, elsewhere in the conflict affected areas of the country.

I support my appeal based on my intimate knowledge and personal experience about the people and the land of Musali. As an academic, I have written a document titled Denying the Right to Return: Resettlement in Musali South and the Wilpattu Controversy, which was based on intensive research and observation, and providing factual information about the claims made in this appeal.

1.The people of Musali (Muslims, Tamils and Sinhalese) have been living in this area for more than 500 years as historical evidences indicate, except for a 30 year absence when they were living elsewhere, because of forcible expulsion by the LTTE in 1990.
2.The people are peasant farmers and fully dependent on a land based economy that includes paddy, chena and cattle farming.
3.Recently declared forest boundary denies the access and use of their paddy lands, chena lands and areas of cattle farming located in “declared forest area”.
4.Recent forest demarcation is done in a manner that is disconnected from the historical continuity of the communities of North and South Musali, of both Tamils and Muslims. It artificially creates enclaves which would restrict mobility and social interactions of the people of the region.
5.With the forest demarcation, returnees are living in fear as to what would be their future in a place where watchful forest guards and other security activities may take place.
6.The forest boundary goes along the fences of the houses of the people and make them feel like living in a cadged situation.
7.A forest reserve going along the settlement invites human-elephant conflicts closer to home. Settlers would be affected by the treats of other types of wildlife.
8.The action by the state has already caused a negative impact on the returnees and displacement from their homes again.
9.Future IDPs returning to this and other areas will be hampered by the declaration and implementation of the newly declared forest reserve.

I would be grateful if you would kindly consider the above appeal and take a wise decision that will give justice and durable solution to the people of Musali, who have been affected by the three decade long war.

Thank you, Yours faithfully,

Professor Shahul H. Hasbullah

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The Political Hypocrisy Of President Maithripala Sirisena – Muslim IDPs Tossed Out

By Hilmy Ahamed –

A Tamil saying goes thus “Stealing the neighbour’s chicken for the mother’s almsgiving“.

President Sirisena in his total betrayal of the Muslims did just that with one stroke of his pen from Moscow on 24th March, 2017, when he signed the gazette notification declaring Mavillu, Weppal, Karadikkuli, Marichchikadi and Vilaththikulam forests as Mawillu Forest Reserve under 3A of the Forest Conservation Ordinance. He satisfies his ego and is pampering to extremist Buddhists by taking over Muslim agricultural lands, which have belonged to them for generations.

Rishard Bathiudeen, the current Minster of Industry and Commerce and leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress crossed over with his party members in November 2014 to the Opposition and supported Maithripala Sirisena as the common candidate of the Opposition at the Presidential Elections in January 2015. His crossover was with two Parliamentarians, 4 Provincial Council Members, 63 Pradeshiya Sabha members, totaling 69 elected representatives. No other member crossing over brought in so many elected representatives to the common opposition against Mahinda Rajapaksa. Its time for Rishard Bathiudeen and other Muslim political leaders to rethink their support for Yahapalanaya, without sticking to their selfish motives of perks and privileges. They should reconsider their support for Yahapalanaya, not because the IDPs who are being discriminated against are Muslim, but the injustice meted out to a group of innocent Sri Lankan citizens. I also remind here that these people were ousted from their homes as they refused to join the LTTE in their cause, and stood for one Sri Lanka. No other community who was not part of the warring factions had to pay such a heavy price.

1901 Old-deed
Rishard had one simple request- that a Government elected under Maithripala Sirisena would ensure the right of his people to return to their former lands and to treat the Northern Muslims as equal citizens in the Northern resettlement process.

The brutal terrorist force of Velupillai Prabhaharan, the fascist leader of the Liberation Tigers of Thamil Eelam (LTTE), forcibly evicted the entire Muslim population of the North in 1990 in the biggest ethnic cleansing exercise in Sri Lanka. Some were given 24 hours to leave while the others had just two hours. They left minus all their assets, cash, and wealth as they were allowed to take with them just Rs. 500.

They trekked through jungle, took risks with tiny boats in the mighty ocean, and walked hundreds of kilometers to reach safety in Puttlam and other parts of Southern Sri Lanka. They have been languishing in refugee camps for over 25 years with dreams of returning to their former homes and lands. To this day, the Government has treated them as a “FORGOTTEN PEOPLE”.

The Muslims were forced to abandon their lands with their eviction in 1990 and there was obvious jungle growth in the 25 years of their displacement. The LTTE and the Army which occupied thousands of acres of farm land did not allow the Muslims to go to their lands until the end of the war in 2009. With the resettlement of the entire 300,000 Tamil Internally Displaced Population by 2013, the Government under Basil Rajapaksa’s Presidential Task force for Northern Development started allocating 1/2 acre of land to the Muslim IDPs. The local government officials in the districts undertook this task, fulfilling all necessary Government criteria for resettlement, but no infrastructure or other support was provided to them. Some benevolent Sri Lankan Muslims and a foundation from Qatar build some houses, but there were no schools, health facilities, or transport provided by the State.

Extremist Buddhists, with the jubilation of winning the war in 2009 started targeting the Muslims. They started with Halal food, attacking their businesses and the resettlement of the Muslim IDPs. They found a willing ally in Mahinda Rajapaksa with his deep-rooted racism and hatred of the Muslims when he lost the Presidential elections.

The Buddhist extremists led by some monks started a campaign along with some Environmentalists to halt the resettlement or allocating the former Muslim lands back to them. Now, they have found a new ally in Maithripala Sirisena.

The forest reserve controversy started with the prospect of a humiliating defeat at the 2012 Provincial Council Elections, upsetting the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his fascist regime. They foresaw the damning defeat of the Sinhala backed politics in the North to the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) led Tamil National Alliance (TNA). Due to this, with a single stroke of Anura Priyadhashana Yapa’s pen, thousands of acres of Northern arable lands were declared as forest reserves or watershed areas. This included thousands of Muslim lands in the Mannar District in the Musali South. This was mainly done to prevent the Northern Provincial council having jurisdiction over vast tracks of arable land.

While the President has declared Muslim lands as a forest reserve with the stroke of his pen, there has been organized colonization along the Wilpattu Reserve on the Welioya road by Sinhalese from Hambantota and families of armed forces personnel. The following are the available statistics for the Sinhala settlements:

1 Veratenna – 520 families

2. Bogaswewa 1- 500 families

3. Bogaswewa 2 -560 families

4. Namalgama – 470 families

5. Senaleenigama – 450 families

6. Nandamitragama -360 families

There are no protests or challenges by the Environmentalists or the President for clearing thousands of acres of virgin forestland for the resettlement of the above. None of these settlers are from the area. These 2860 families who have been settled in these new townships have been provided with three acres of land each compared to the half an acre for the Muslims. From where did the land for these settlers come? Large extents of jungle and forest reservations have been cleared and handed over for their resettlement, grants and allowances disbursed, and all other facilities including schooling have been provided by the State. Neither land kacheries were held nor deforestation undertaken with proper approvals. It is also alleged that the Army built the houses for these alien settlers from Hambantota, Suriyawewa and elsewhere. Further, over 500 acres of these lands has been taken over by the Navy and are planting cashew nuts. Derana TV’s Health camp of 25th March 2017 (Manushath Derena) showed visuals of a large road built across this virgin forest territory. The highly developed infrastructure including schools, hospitals etc., in the once virgin forest is evidence of the destruction that was caused to this land by Sinhala settlers from the southern most part of the country. Our Environmentalist President, the racist Buddhist monks and the terror Environmental organizations are blind to these developments.

There are 21 Muslims in the current Parliament. The Muslim community expects them to act without compromising the land rights of these Forgotten people.

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The Islamic Hijab & Veil

By Prof. Charles Sarvan

A Quiet Revolution (Yale University Press, 2011) is by Leila Ahmed, an Egyptian-American; Professor of Divinity at Harvard University. Unless otherwise made explicit, what follows is from this study. The work’s focus is mainly from the 20th century onwards, with much of the reference being related to Egypt (to a lesser degree to Saudi Arabia) and the USA. The hijab and veil are emblems of Islam (p. 132) though, of course, there are pious Muslim women who don’t wear the hijab. Equally, to be a Muslim is not necessarily to be an Islamist: ‘Islamism’ is a very political form of Islam (ibid).

Women’s rights have been used as a cloak to attack Islam and the Muslim world in general; to denigrate and dominate (pp. 223-4). For example, the British Occupation of Egypt began in 1882, and Lord Cromer was appointed consul-general, a post he held for twenty-four years. Cromer who repeatedly decried the position of women in Islam was a fierce opponent of women’s rights in England. Indeed, he was for a time president of the ‘Society Opposed to Women’s Suffrage’ (p. 31). The presence of the veil was taken to be an indicator of the level of the backwardness of a society (p. 20) – isn’t it still? The Oxford historian Albert Hourani in The Vanishing Veil (1956) predicted that it would soon be a thing of the past (p. 19) but the veil reappeared in the 1970s (p. 8), and today we live in a world where veiling steadily gains ground across the globe (p. 305).

The Caliphate which had existed under the Ottoman Empire was abolished in 1924 by Kemal Ataturk. In 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood was founded by Hasan al-Banna whose ideal was to work for humanity, particularly for the poor and oppressed. Their clinics, health-care centers and hospitals were open also to the needy who didn’t belong to the Brotherhood (p. 51). A Muslim Sisterhood was established in 1937 (p. 136). The Brotherhood was dissolved in 1948 and al-Banna murdered. Fleeing persecution in Egypt, members of the Brotherhood found refuge in Saudi Arabia which from the 1950s saw a massive increase in its oil-based wealth. The Kingdom, established in 1932, followed the teaching of Abd al-Wahhab (1709-92), and sought to Wahhabize Islam (p. 97). Members of the Brotherhood offered their experience and expertise, and it is they who ran Saudi projects, including publications and missions. (In the past, wealthy Egyptians had taken to wearing European-style dress. Now women returning from Saudi Arabia with money to buy houses, property or businesses imitated the Saudi dress-code: Saudi chic, p. 101. Besides, wearing the hijab a woman could leave the home, go out to work and yet signal that she was a good wife and mother: p. 122. This is particularly relevant in the context of over-crowding in buses, trains and offices.) A university was set up in Medina in 1961 to train Muslim missionaries (p. 61). The word jahiliyya (jahl = ignorance) referred to the pre-Islamic era in Arabia but Egyptian Sayyid Qutb (leading intellectual of the Brotherhood, hanged in 1966) asserted that most so-called Muslim countries were in fact not Islamic but rather were jahiliyya societies (p. 69). To Qutb, the Islamic confession of faith, “La illaha illa Allah”, was revolutionary: sovereignty lay not in governments but in Islam (p. 71), and the true path was through dedicated and selfless labour and struggle. Of the four types of jihad (jahada = to strive): the first and the greatest is the struggle with oneself. I am reminded of one of the sayings attributed to the Buddha, very much in line with Stoic philosophy: Greater than conquering others is the winning of control over oneself.

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