I have no idea to what extent this view will be controversial or seem misinformed, but after looking into the political situation of India and its surrounding borders, I’ve come to the conclusion that this woman is either willfully ignorant, a charlatan, deeply hateful of her country and her fellow people, or some combination of each of those contentions.
First, I’d like to dissuade any readers that might jeer at me for being some BJP street thug as I’m often accused of online when making any opinion on Indian politics – particularly on websites like Quora. I’m a US-born and raised Indian and I’m only looking at this from a political science lens. I had initially been swept up by the anti-BJP rhetoric that seems to be permeating throughout the mainstream US media as of now, but after looking into matters further, I’ve concluded that the US government and media are too dumb to adequately understand the dangers of this anti-BJP narrative and the Christian missionaries who are pushing for forced conversions are only going to cause an utter bloodbath between Muslims and Christians thanks to the age-old Abrahamic cultural hate that’s existed since Islam emerged in world history.
I’ve since changed my mind after researching the political climate of India and its neighbors. But I’d like to add that the BJP and so-called Right-wing of India’s political culture is overly sensitive to criticism and incredibly stupid in its responses. Thankfully, Modi and his administration are quite competent in deftly handling situations otherwise the corruption and anti-nationalist politics would continue dominating India. Instead of defending rapists, his government has pushed for reforms to punish child rapists, he’s pushed for job growth through environmental initiatives, he’s pushed for policies for child safety measures from abusive households, he’s pushed for women’s rights and celebrated International Women’s Day , and pushed for anti-corruption. The problem seems to be this overly paternalistic and frankly idiotic narrative towards college kids who want to protest for the rights of a convicted terrorist, a terrorist who clearly wants to kill the civilian public, and the college kids protest for that guy’s rights… for whatever reason. Nevertheless, admonishing them for drinking habits and sex is completely stupid. In a democracy, they should have the freedom to do as they please with their life choices. The BJP should have put more effort into the convicted terrorist’s criminal activity instead of personally insulting college youth.
I’m of the opinion that Arundhati Roy genuinely doesn’t give a shit about her fellow Indians based on her actions. The level of loathing and vindictiveness that this woman seems to have for India as a whole leaves me speechless at times. I don’t think any other democracy would have made her look like some activist fighting for human rights or presuming she has credentials where she really doesn’t since all she has offer is having written a best-selling novel once. I only speak harshly because it seems increasingly obvious to me that this woman, through her actions, deliberately tries to increase tensions and spur loathing and contempt among India’s civilian population. Under veneers of reconciliation and human rights, all she really offers is writing content that exploits scheduled castes, Muslim minorities, and so forth into hating their government and the majority population. I would actually contrast her with Amartya Sen, who I find gets just as much backlash from the BJP supporters but for far less justifiable reasons. Amartya Sen is ridiculed and lumped with Marxists like Pankaj Mishra, but having read his book The Argumentative Indian, I have not found this to be true. He’s further been criticized for wanting to “break India” by many BJP bloggers and Twitter handlers, but this is again untrue. Amartya Sen took extensive pains to celebrate the unity of India by pointing out the Heterodox tradition that foreign travelers independently detailed during ancient times. India is a heterodox culture which he feels proud to be a part of; from what I recall, he explicitly says this and suggests reading about great intellectual icons of India. I had assumed the BJP supporters had similar misapprehensions about Roy, but after looking at the evidence, I can only conclude that their criticisms about her are justified.
The reason being is that only someone willfully ignorant would ignore the devastating realities happening in each Muslim majority country around India’s borders and the selective narrative of the Rohingya refugee crisis that genuinely horrified me when I read more into it. I’d first like to begin with Afghanistan and detail what happened there when Islamic fascists consisting of the Mujahideen took over:
From journalist and Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at UCLA, Nushin Arbabzadah, in what was an attempt by a lecturer from a Liberal College to warn the US public about the dangers of Islam in an article about the Mujahideen and Islam:
28 April marks the 19th anniversary of the mujahideen’s victory over the Red Army forces in Afghanistan. The original mujahideen of the 1980s and today’s Taliban may use the same language of holy war, but their understanding of jihad is worlds apart. The key difference between the original mujahideen and the Taliban is that the former waged a traditional type of jihad. In a traditional jihad, if waged locally, a contest over control of resources takes place between rival strongmen who each run their own private armies. In this scenario, the ultimate legitimacy to rule draws upon military strength, but the contest itself is called jihad simply because Islam is the sole language of political legitimacy.
Crucially, in a traditional jihad, the victorious party has an unspoken right to pillage, rape and loot the conquered population. This is because militia fighters are not paid soldiers in a regular army and hence looting is the material reward they receive for fighting. The original mujahideen followed this traditional pattern of jihad upon coming to power in 1992. Since competition over resources rather than ideology is key to traditional jihad, the mujahideen’s war focused on Kabul where the nation’s wealth and the foreign embassies, another potential source of funding, were to be found.
Judging by a historical account from the 1920s, back then the women and girls of the conquered populations also belonged to the pillage package offered to militia jihadis. Hence, in the diaries of court chronicler Katib Hazara on the siege of Kabul in 1929, we read that the victorious mujahideen of the time had demanded to see the list of girls registered at a Kabul school so as to allocate female students to militia fighters.
Katib’s account might be exaggerated, but the story still reveals that there was an unspoken rule that women and girls were part of the conquest package. As such, the mujahideen’s struggle over Kabul was a continuation of traditional jihad complete with internal rivalries, pillage and looting. The mujahideen were part of the realm of traditional politics in which a conquered region is a turf that can be exploited by strongmen, who call themselves mujahideen so as to appear respectable.
Now, a Hard-Leftist may credibly argue that US foreign policy helped shape that situation. However, it doesn’t explain the utter catastrophe that is Pakistan, which a Pakistani government official has bravely spoken up about and extensively detailed in a book under threat to her own life. Pakistani Farahnaz Ispahani’s book, Purifying the Land of the Pure, goes into the extensive history and effects of the Islamic Republic upon Pakistani minorities who have been ruthlessly slaughtered by the Muslim majority country. The situation of Asia Bibi is only the tip of the iceberg for how destructive, violent, and outright murderous Pakistan is for Sikhs, Christians, and Hindus living as minority groups under Muslim rule. The vast majority of these groups have all fled due to a variety of reasons. From having hands chopped off for blasphemy offenses, to women in these religious minority groups being raped and then being forced to marry their Muslim rapists, to being murdered over a cup of water, being randomly attacked, and now that they’re a fringe minority, the majority Sunni Muslims have turned their sights on Shia Muslims and began murdering them en masse to continue these historic genocidal abuses.
The interview with Farahnaz Ispahani:
From 23% in 1947, Pakistan’s minorities today constitute a mere 3-4% of the population, says Farahnaz Ispahani, media advisor to the president of Pakistan from 2008 to 2012 in her book Purifying the Land of the Pure: Pakistan’s Religious Minorities.
She blames the successive Pakistan presidents and prime ministers for launching a slow genocide against minorities in the country to shore up their political base. She specifically blames Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the Pak army general who was the country’s 6th president, for creating a militant group to target Shias, Ahmadis, Hindus and Christians. Edited excerpts from an interview:
Could you tell us something about the title of your book Purifying the Land of the Pure: Pakistan’s Religious Minorities?
Pakistan itself means pure land. The reason I chose it is because I have traced in my book, using historical archives, how Pakistan which set out to be a secular albeit Muslims majority state, ended up becoming what it is today. When Pakistan was being formed in 1947, Pakistan’s population of non-Muslims was 23%, today we are somewhere between 3%-4%. So there has been a purification of minorities.
So my big question was where have they gone? What I have uncovered is quite devastating because it has not been one government or one man who has been culpable. It’s not only (former president) General Zia ul Haq. It has been from the time of Mr (Mohammed Ali) Jinnah, the Qaid-e-Azam of Pakistan, as he lay dying, already the political and bureaucratic wheels were moving towards a more Muslim state.
I am saying that for all religious minorities—Muslim and non-Muslim—there has been a purification. This is what I call drip drip genocide. Normally when people talk about genocide, they talk about Nazi Germany or they talk about Yugoslavia. In the case of Pakistan, this is slow genocide, this drip, drip, drip over 76 years.
You refer to the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) founder and ideologue Maulana Abul Ala Maududi in your book. Was this purification the handiwork of politicians only or did religious leaders and scholars also have a role?
Maulana Maududi did not support the formation of Pakistan; he did not think it would be Muslim enough. Mr. Jinnah, as he was dying, talked at length about Pakistan’s minorities and said no matter what someone’s faith was would not matter in Pakistan. But after he died what happened was, most of the people who were in leadership positions in Pakistan, in the Muslim League like our first prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan, were not from Pakistan. So they did not have natural constituencies as politicians.
You have a man like Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan who himself was very secular in most ways. He becomes the man who brings about the resolution which went into every single constitution we ever had, which was very clear in that it said that Pakistan was a Muslim state. And that the Quran and Shariat and Sunnah (verbally transmitted teachings of the Prophet) are to be part and parcel of the state. It was the ugliest form of realpolitik.
What people like Liaquat and Chaudhury Mohammed Ali (fourth prime minister of Pakistan), etc., did was that they revived “Islam is in danger” as the glue to keep them in their positions. Mr. Maududi and his fellow clergymen therefore became of great value to the political leadership of Pakistan to justify their decisions, to keep them in power.
And as you go on, when you have the first proper martial law in Pakistan when General Ayub (Khan) takes over, you see the nexus of the military with the mullahs and politicians who were acceptable to the military.
You have talked of the links between politics, religion and the military. How did militancy come to be linked with this?
The first well-known and well-organised terrorist militia that we know about that dealt with religious minorities was created by Zia-ul-Haq. It was called the Sipah-e-Sahaba and its sole job was to harass Shias. So, that is the first group that we see that is armed and trained and reasonably openly by the (Pakistani) government of that time.
Some of these groups—not all—in some seasons cross borders and in some seasons there are at home purifying the land of the pure, whether it is blowing up Ahmadi places of worship or Christian worshippers at mass or Shia imambargahs.
So the state’s policy that goes back to the very beginning of mixing religion with politics and then religion, politics and the military together has resulted in a terrible situation not just from the point of view of Pakistan’s neighbours but for us Pakistanis as well. Over 60,000 Pakistanis have died due to attacks internally by terrorists.
Of all the politicians who have done their bit for the decimation of minorities, would you say that it was president Zia-ul-Haq who did the most damage?
Yes. Two things, he legalised Islamisation—whether it was bringing in the Hudood (ordinance in 1979 under which Sharia laws applied in cases of extramarital sex, theft and prohibition). From very little things like introducing prayer times in government buildings to very, very, very harsh laws of blasphemy. The other thing would be the birth of these jihadi groups in a very, very big way.
He attempted to alter our culture—Pakistani diplomats’s wives could no longer wear saris—they were considered Hindu and un-Islamic. You could no longer say Khuda Hafiz; you had to say Allah Hafiz.
These small things have now percolated down and they have shaped an entire culture. So that’s what he did, the small things changing the way people thought, the laws which were then impossible to get around and then the Jihadi groups.
How can this state of affairs be changed?
It has to be through political leadership, even though we saw in (Punjab governor) Salman (Taseer)’s case that in spite of everything when (his security guard) Mumtaz Qadri pumped his body full (in 2011) of bullets the other people stood there and watched. Later Qadri was garlanded and the judge who found him (Qadri) guilty, we had to send the judge and his entire family out of Pakistan. I was in government then. He’s never come back.
This book is like a death sentence for me. Civil society at that time had no leadership. And the reaction was don’t even talk about it. Don’t even mention Asiya Bibi (Pakistani Christian found guilty of blasphemy and sentenced to death. Taseer opposed her punishment). Look at Salman, he was so foolish. There was no one willing to bury him. I had to find somebody, beg someone to read his last rites. And then, I had to get that person and their family out of Lahore.
So is this the worst for Pakistan and therefore can one say that change can only make things better?
I could never say something like that because its impossible to be so categorical. Pakistan is a functional state still and there is a lot of room for change. I hope things turn around. But I think a big part of it is that jihadi groups have to be dealt with. They can no longer be good jihadi groups and bad jihadi groups. There should be no jihadi groups. Countries can have militaries and countries can have diplomacy. Unless we move past this kind of a situation, the world is losing patience.
Any point when this could be changed?
From the very start. Mr. Jinnah was still alive and they have the temerity to block his speech from the radio. That entire speech was about how important Pakistan’s religious minorities were and how absolutely vital it was for pluralism and to have a successful state for all citizens to have a place. Once you end up introducing a religious law it is almost impossible to amend it or to change it because they are seen as protecting Islam and feelings of Muslims.
In the book, I break this down into four stages – and I call stage one Muslimisation. This comes about between 1945 and 1951. There is a massive decline in Hindu and Sikh populations and therefore Pakistan became more Muslim demographically.
Stage two is Islamic identity. This is where you see from 1958 onwards state-sponsored text books reject pluralism, paint religious minorities very negative, highlight and glorify Islamic history with no South Asian basis. So an attempt was made to forge a Pakistani identity purely on the basis of Islam.
The third stage is Islamisation. This is where legislation in an attempt to make the country’s laws more Islamic resulted in creating a legal framework against the minorities. It started in 1974 and continues up to 1988. This was all done in General Zia’s time.
Stage four is militant hostility towards the minorities, which is the stage at which we are and we have terrorism and organised violence.
First Published: Tue, Jan 19 2016. 12 35 PM IST
Farahnaz Ispahani is a real human rights activist, and a real academic since she has the credentials and fact-finding methods to back up her research. Link here for her book.
Bangladesh, a country that suffered a genocide under Pakistan, has similarly continued persecuting Hindus, Sikhs, and Christians for slaughter. And, it never stopped:
In the wake of chaotic and disputed parliamentary elections in early January, the Hindu minority in Bangladesh finds itself in an increasingly perilous position in a country where they are overwhelmingly outnumbered by Muslims. Before the Jan. 5 parliamentary election, police arrested dozens of activists affiliated with theJamaat-e-Islami (J-e-I) Muslim fundamentalist party as well as the right-wingopposition Bangladesh National Party, allegedly for attacking Hindus and destroying their homes and property. According to reports, the Islamists damaged more than 100 homes belonging to Hindus and wounded scores of people inwhat may have been a coordinated series of violent acts across the country. Atleast two dozen people were killed.
Human Rights Watch, the New York-based activist group, said of the recent turmoil: “Members of the [J-e-I] andits youth wing, [Jamaat] Shibir, alongside supporters of the [BNP] have engaged in countless attacks on security forces and others.” HRW added that the attacks included “throwing homemade grenades and petrol bombs at police, arson attacks to enforce a road blockade, derailing passenger trains, setting fire to the homes and businesses of the Hindus and the Awami League officials, and throwing grenades into crowded streets.”
The Awami League is the governing party.
Deutsche Welle, the German broadcaster,reported that the latest round of violence represented the second such wave of anti-Hindu attacks in less than a year. A few months ago Islamists wrecked hundreds of Hindu-owned homes and shops, apparently in retaliation for the country’s International Crimes Tribunal sentencing of several aging senior members of J-e-I to death for their part in war crimes committed during the War of Independence against Pakistan in 1971.
Dr. Michael Kugelman, senior program associate for South and Southeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, said the J-e-I views the war crimes trials as a politically motivated campaign by the Awami League to discredit the Islamists and nationalists, while appeasing Hindu-dominated India, which has quietly pressed for prosecution of suspected war criminals from the devastating 1971 civil war that created Bangladesh. “The Awami League appreciates Delhi’ssupport, given that India was one of the few countries to accept Bangladesh’s recent flawed election won by the Awami League,” Kugelman stated. “The [AwamiLeague] has done much already to crack down on extremism, though it’s hard to argue this was done simply to appease India — it was also done to reduce the possibility of a more destabilized Bangladesh.”
Meanwhile, Bangladeshi Islamists periodically target scapegoated Hindus as an expression of their frustrations and because Hindus tend to support Awami. DW reported that human rights lawyer and activist Sultana Kamal condemned the attacks on Hindus. “I strongly feel that what is happening to the Hindu community in Bangladesh definitely falls under the definition of crimes against humanity,” she said. A similar wave of violence against minorities in 2001, when the BNP was in power,prompted an exodus of Hindus out of the country; followed by yet another campaign during the 2008 election.
Hindus once were plentiful in Bangladesh and its predecessor state, East Pakistan. Prior to the 1971 war,Hindus comprised almost one-third (30 percent) of the population. They now account for only about 9 percent of Bangladesh’s citizens, partly due to the rapid growth of the Muslim population, but also due to the mass migration of Bangladeshi Hindus to India, the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and elsewhere over the decades.
Some observers fret that the Hindu community in Bangladesh may continue to dwindle in size and proportion. “I fear Bangladesh will become ‘Banglastan’ if things don’t change,” Rana Dasgupta, a human rights lawyer, told DW.
Another aspect to these assaults on Hindus involve the illegal seizures of their homes and properties. This practice dates back to at least 1965 when, after a brief war between India and Pakistan (which then included what is now Bangladesh), officials in Dhaka passed a law called the Enemy Property Act, which essentially allowed authorities to confiscate properties of people labeled as “enemies of the state.” That piece of legislation has been exploited by Islamists and others to take properties away from religious minorities, particularly Hindus. Even after the formation of the new allegedly secular, democratic state of Bangladesh, the law remained in effect, but was renamed the Vested Property Act in 1974. Not until 2001 did the government repeal this law and begin the process of returning seized properties to their rightful owners (or their descendants). DW noted, however, that Islamists continue to invoke this old law as a justification of taking assets from Hindus and other minorities.
Dhiraj Kumar Nath, a former secretary and adviser to Bangladesh’s caretaker government, lamented how social ills and divisions have been exacerbated by laws on the books. “The legacy of discriminatory laws has continued for the past 48 years, causing communal hatred and discontent between Hindus and Muslims,” Nath told DW. Indeed,the largely secular Awami League government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has repeatedly condemned the J-e-I for its violence, while the country’s Supreme Court has ordered police to probe anti-Hindu attacks. But these measures have failed to stem the tide of communal violence against Hindus. “It is the responsibility of the state to give them protection, to restore their trust as well as the belief that Bangladesh is a safe place for them,” Kamal said.
The Modern Tokyo Times reported that the rise of fundamentalist Islam in Bangladesh mirrors a similar emergence of militant groups in Pakistan and threatens hopes for stability in Bangladesh.“Jamaat-e-Islami is a continuing cancer that threatens society directly along with sinister political forces that manipulate Islamists for personal gains,”MTT wrote. “Islamist violence directed towards the Hindu community is all too familiar.”
Writing in The Diplomat, Sanjay Kumar said Bangladesh’s minorities are also subject to acts of arson and even rape byJ-e-I thugs. After enduring violent attacks and the loss of homes and businesses, many Hindus across Bangladesh live in a state of trauma and fear returning to their native villages. “Jamaat-Shibir has created a situation of panic in and around the village,” a Hindu grocer in Ramganj named Jaynto Mondol told The Diplomat. “They destroyed around 50 shops in my area and we had to flee to another village to take shelter.” Mondol said he thinks that J-e-Iand its allies want to turn Bangladesh into a “purely Islamic country by throwing the Hindus out. We can’t live in peace.”
Another Hindu, Joy Debnath, who lives in the district of Bogra, put the blame on squarely on fundamentalists, not ordinary Muslims. “The problem is not the Muslims of Bangladesh; the problem is with Jamaat and their thought. Violence by the Islamic fundamentalist group makes me feel unsafe. The administration should protect us from such danger,”Debnath said.
Some civil groups want the government to prosecute members of J-e-I who have repeatedly perpetrated such violence.They also believe that the trials of suspected war criminals from 1971 will continue to exacerbate the current wave of criminality against minorities. “The rise in recent attacks is the sign of a reassertion of the communal forces led by the Jamaat-Shibir,” said Professor Nim Chandta Bhowmik of Dhaka University,who is also a senior member of the Hindu, Buddhist and Christian Unity Forum.“We have seen increased attacks on minorities by them. It is an attempt to use these minorities as pawns to bargain for the release of [1971 war] criminals facing trial under the tribunal. Such attacks are an attack on the character of the constitution and the spirit of Bengali nationalism.”
Many Hindus live in northern Bangladesh, near the Indian border, an area where tense relations with Muslims have worsened due to the infiltration of J-e-I elements. “I was sitting in the[Hindu] temple when some [Islamists] came and destroyed the idols and tried burning the place of worship. I just managed to escape by the grace of God,”Suresh Mondol, a Hindu resident of a Binakudi village in Nilphamari district,told The Diplomat. “We are now vigilant these days and have formed a group of people who keep watch on the village. Jamaat threatens our existence and wants to grab our property.”
Even some Muslims fear the rise of extremism. Mondol’s Muslim neighbor Naim Hossain lamented: “If Hindus are scared of a Jamaat-BNP alliance so are we. I might be Muslim but that does not mean I cannot exist with Hindus. They are as much a part of this soil as we are. The fundamentalists want chaos and want to destroy peace in the region.”
A report in Time magazine suggested that in Bangladesh, a deeply impoverished and overcrowded nation, scarcity of land is at the heart of the matter behind the communal violence. ”When we say it’s just political, it legitimizes the violence,” Jyotrimoy Barua, a Supreme Court lawyer in Dhaka told Time. “Most of the people’s houses they are burning are [those of the] poor. If you burn their house, they will leave the country,and you get their land.”
But Kugelman assures that J-e-I has no hope of ever gaining power in Bangladesh and achieving its aims of establishing a pure Islamic society based on Shariah law. ”The idea of the J-e-I seizing power in Bangladesh is a non-starter,” he said. “It’s not going to happen. That said, its links to the BNP, the chief political opposition party in Bangladesh,have strengthened in recent years. If the BNP were to return to power, the question of a J-e-I role in a new governing coalition would certainly come up.But the J-e-I will not be seizing power on its own.”
India, for a relatively slow-growing and economically weak country, does it’s damnedest to shelter persecuted people. Please click here and just look at the evidence; it is absolutely wrong to call India the bigoted one when it repeatedly shelters refugees who otherwise get persecuted, maimed, raped, murdered, and purged out of predominately Muslim-majority countries. And if you’re going to complain about their treatment, which is of course valid, then I’d like to point out that discrimination and half-assed shelter is still superior to outright genocide. India is wary of the Rohingya, what you don’t see on Mainstream news stations is the fact Paramilitary groups from the rebel organizations that war against the Myanmar government have traveled among the refugees . . . these paramilitary groups are known to have slaughtered an entire Hindu village:
Rohingya Muslim militants in Myanmar killed dozens of Hindu civilians during attacks last August, according to an investigation by Amnesty International.
The group called Arsa killed up to 99 Hindu civilians in one, or possibly two massacres, said the rights group. Arsa had denied involvement.
The killings came in the first days of an uprising against Burmese forces, who are also accused of atrocities.
Since August nearly 700,000 Rohingyas and others have fled the violence.
The conflict has also displaced members of the majority Buddhist population in Myanmar (also called Burma) as well as members of the Hindu minority.
Amnesty says interviews it conducted with refugees in Bangladesh and in Rakhine state confirmed that mass killings carried out by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa) took place in a cluster of villages in northern Maungdaw Township at the time of its attacks on police posts in late August.
The findings also show Arsa was responsible for violence against civilians, on a smaller scale, in other areas.
The report details how Arsa members on 26 August attacked the Hindu village of Ah Nauk Kha Maung Seik.
“In this brutal and senseless act, members of Arsa captured scores of Hindu women, men and children and terrorised them before slaughtering them outside their own villages,” the report said.
Hindu survivors told Amnesty they either saw relatives being killed or heard their screams.
One woman from the village of Ah Nauk Kha Maung Seik said: “They slaughtered the men. We were told not to look at them … They had knives. They also had some spades and iron rods. … We hid ourselves in the shrubs there and were able to see a little … My uncle, my father, my brother – they were all slaughtered.”
Arsa fighters are accused of killing 20 men, 10 women, and 23 children, 14 of whom were under the age of eight.
Amnesty said the bodies of 45 people from the village were unearthed in four mass graves in late September. The remains of the other victims, as well as 46 from the neighbouring village of Ye Bauk Kyar, have not been found.
The investigation suggests that a massacre of Hindu men, women, and children in Ye Bauk Kyar happened on the same day, bringing the estimated total number of dead to 99.
Why scepticism over a mass grave?
Jonathan Head, BBC News, Bangkok
Last September, as international alarm was growing over the scale of the Rohingya exodus to Bangladesh, and over the horrific accounts of atrocities by the Myanmar security forces, the government in Nay Pyi Taw announced that it had discovered a mass grave.
But the victims were not Muslims – they were Hindus, killed, said the government, by militants from Arsa.
Journalists were taken to the site to see the grave and the bodies. However the government’s continued refusal to allow independent human rights researchers into Rakhine left lingering doubts about exactly what happened in the village of Ah Nauk Kha Maung Seik, and a neighbouring village, Ye Bauk Kyar.
The fact that the Myanmar government refused to acknowledge any serious abuses by its forces, in the face of huge amounts of testimony, undermined its credibility further.
At the time Arsa denied any involvement in this massacre – the group has made no public statements for four months. Myanmar has complained of one-sided reporting of the conflict in Rakhine, but many foreign media, including the BBC, did report the killing of Hindus back in September.
Amnesty also criticised what it said was “an unlawful and grossly disproportionate campaign of violence by Myanmar’s security forces”.
“Arsa’s appalling attacks were followed by the Myanmar military’s ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya population as a whole.”
- Myanmar Rohingya: What you need to know about the crisis
- The truth about Rohingya militants
- Seeing through the official story in Myanmar
The human rights group says its findings are based “on dozens of interviews conducted there [in Rakhine] and across the border in Bangladesh, as well as photographic evidence analyzed by forensic pathologists”.
The investigation “sheds much-needed light on the largely under-reported human rights abuses by Arsa during northern Rakhine State’s unspeakably dark recent history,” Amnesty’s Tirana Hassan said.
“It’s hard to ignore the sheer brutality of Arsa’s actions, which have left an indelible impression on the survivors we’ve spoken to. Accountability for these atrocities is every bit as crucial as it is for the crimes against humanity carried out by Myanmar’s security forces in northern Rakhine State.”
Arsa has denied such accusations in the past, saying that claims of its militants killing villagers were “lies”.
The Rohingya – a stateless mostly Muslim minority – are widely despised in Myanmar, where they are considered to be illegal migrants from Bangladesh, despite the fact that some have been in Myanmar for generations.
Bangladesh also denies them citizenship.
I genuinely cannot make sense of how India is the bigoted or wrongful actor here, when it’s clear that giving Kashmir to Pakistan (it’ll never be independent with Pakistan, China, and India all vying for power) would result in the wholesale slaughter of Hindus in Kashmir. And guess what? That has already been happening and continues to be a pressing issue that Roy and her ilk don’t seem to care about at all:
In a room opposite an ancient temple in Srinagar, four men – two Hindu and two Muslim – are hotly debating the “forced” exodus of hundreds of thousands of Kashmiri Hindus from Indian-administered Kashmir in the early 1990s.
The two Muslims sympathise with the Hindu migrants, also known as Kashmiri Pandits, calling them victims of circumstance. They admit the Hindus were wronged, but are quick to add that they were helpless to stop the mass migration.
For the Hindu men, temple keeper Maharaj Pandita and his friend Sanjay Tikku, the “absence of the Muslim community’s collective guilt” over what happened is a familiar frustration.
It has been 27 years since a violent armed insurgency erupted in Kashmir, completely paralysing its politics and crippling its economy.
It also tore apart the centuries-old harmony that existed between the majority Muslim and tiny but influential Hindu communities, after the latter was terrorised into leaving.
Muslim militant groups targeted Hindus by killing their men, burning their homes and damaging their places of worship. Mosques would make calls for them to leave the valley.
Saifullah, a former militant, tells the BBC that he regrets participating in driving Kashmiri Hindus out. “We want them back. We want them to live in peace. Kashmir is theirs too,” he says.
The bulk of Kashmir’s Hindus are now settled in neighbouring Jammu city and the Indian capital Delhi.
Some, like Mr Pandita and Mr Tikku never left, though more out of compulsion rather than defiance.
The number of those who stayed, however, is insignificant. Finding Kashmiri Pandits in the Muslim-dominated valley is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
According to one estimate, 3,000-5,000 Pandits are left in the valley today – a far cry from the 300,000 who used to live there. These few thousand are scattered over 185 places in the valley, where seven million people live.
Today the Pandits are condemned to live a life of anonymity in their own homeland.
Mr Tikku and Mohan Lal Bhat, like most Hindus who did not leave Kashmir, lived nightmarish existences during the initial phase of the conflict.
“In the beginning there was a lot of fear, nights were eerily silent. If a cat jumped on to the roof we thought militants had come to kill us”, Mr Tikku tells the BBC.
Mr Bhat, a retired policeman, also recalls the “painful times” he used to be up all night “in case someone came to kill us”.
“I would look out of the window to see if an intruder was coming to kill us,” he says.
The Bhats never left the valley and poverty never left them. A young son was killed in a terror attack. The other is unemployed. Like many others in the valley, they have their own homes, but ready cash is scarce.
For the community, the scars undoubtedly run deep, but it seems that time has nearly healed their wounds. They now enjoy healthy relationships with their Muslim neighbours.
But relative peace comes with its own set of problems.
Many complain about a lack of priests. This becomes an issue during occasions like weddings, and also during deaths, when priests are needed to perform the last rites.
Another problem, according to Mr Tikku, is finding partners for their children.
He estimates that there are around 900 Pandit boys and girls of marriageable age in the valley. Mr Pandita himself has three daughters, none of them married yet. “We would like to get our daughters married in the valley but it’s not easy to find the boys in our community,” he says.
Children’s education is another worry.
Many young parents are unwilling to raise their children in a predominantly Muslim Kashmir, where all children “have to learn Arabic and the Koran”.
Sonica Bhatt is 30 and has three children. The oldest is six. She says she has not told them about their Hindu background yet, because their friends are all Muslim. “We want to send them to Jammu where they will be raised as Hindus,” she says.
Writer Manoj Pandita, a police officer, doesn’t think education is a problem for Hindu children. He says he went to a local school where he had to learn Islamic tenets.
Journalist Manohar Lalgami, who is the only Hindu employee in an Urdu newspaper, agrees.
He says he is not scared of speaking his mind to his fellow Muslim journalists. “I am loudmouthed and forthright. That has earned me my colleagues respect,” he tells the BBC.
Mr Lalgami is among many internally displaced Kashmiri Hindus. He had to abandon his ancestral home and settle in Srinagar in a cluster of flats built by the federal government under a scheme that has seen more than 2,000 members of his community return to the valley.
To him, the real problem for the valley Pandits is official apathy.
“Unfortunately neither has the government paid attention to us nor has any political party raised our problems,” he says.
“You can say we have been overlooked by everyone,” he says.
Given the sheer magnitude of violence, and mass killings, which go beyond the horrid human rights abuse of Asia Bibi, to the extent that Christians killed over a cup of water in Pakistan , I genuinely am left in disbelief that this horrible person tries to actually argue in favor of people who have both a historical and contemporary record of wanting to slaughter Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, and other religious minority groups. Even in the Middle East conflict, Christians were persecuted, Christian and Yazidi women were kidnapped into sexual slavery, and men were slaughtered.
This has to be said: Islam is not a religion of peace and never has been either historically or in contemporary times. If you’re a Christian missionary in India, seriously rethink aligning with Maoists and Islamic groups, because both have historically persecuted and committed genocides against Christians. And, by the way, that persecution and slaughter of Christians — as well as Sikhs and Hindus — continues to happen right across the border in Muslim majority countries. What does that tell you? Is what you’re doing really moral? What do you think is going to happen, once Islam begins to dominate India as it did Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and the Middle East?
The only way to stop this madness is to criticize Muslims out of their Islamic religious faith; a faith that teaches them a pedophile warlord who took sex slaves was a perfect human being.Reform is pointless.The way the Sharia of Islam works is that the Torah, the Psalms of Daniel, the“lost” Gospels of Jesus, and the Quran are all taken as unquestioned and unchangeable fact and have all answers to all problems, essentially imposing this utopian ideal of going back to the 7th century and slaughtering anything that isn’t the same as a “pure” Muslim. Now, since Quranic verses are unquestioned, the texts like these are likely followed as “morally good” by impoverished Muslims in third-world countries:
Chapter (4) sūrat l-nisāa (The Women)
Sahih International: And [also prohibited to you are all] married women except those your right hands possess. [This is] the decree of Allah upon you. And lawful to you are [all others] beyond these, [provided] that you seek them [in marriage] with [gifts from] your property, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse. So for whatever you enjoy [of marriage] from them, give them their due compensation as an obligation. And there is no blame upon you for what you mutually agree to beyond the obligation. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.
Pickthall: And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess. It is a decree of Allah for you. Lawful unto you are all beyond those mentioned, so that ye seek them with your wealth in honest wedlock, not debauchery. And those of whom ye seek content (by marrying them), give unto them their portions as a duty. And there is no sin for you in what ye do by mutual agreement after the duty (hath been done). Lo! Allah is ever Knower, Wise.
Yusuf Ali: Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess: Thus hath Allah ordained (Prohibitions) against you: Except for these, all others are lawful, provided ye seek (them in marriage) with gifts from your property,- desiring chastity, not lust, seeing that ye derive benefit from them, give them their dowers (at least) as prescribed; but if, after a dower is prescribed, agree Mutually (to vary it), there is no blame on you, and Allah is All-knowing, All-wise.
Shakir: And all married women except those whom your right hands possess (this is) Allah’s ordinance to you, and lawful for you are (all women) besides those, provided that you seek (them) with your property, taking (them) in marriage not committing fornication. Then as to those whom you profit by, give them their dowries as appointed; and there is no blame on you about what you mutually agree after what is appointed; surely Allah is Knowing, Wise.
Muhammad Sarwar: You are forbidden to marry married women except your slave-girls. This is the decree of God. Besides these, it is lawful for you to marry other women if you pay their dower, maintain chastity and do not commit indecency. If you marry them for the appointed time you must pay their dowries. There is no harm if you reach an understanding among yourselves about the dowry, God is All-knowing and All-wise.
Mohsin Khan: Also (forbidden are) women already married, except those (captives and slaves) whom your right hands possess. Thus has Allah ordained for you. All others are lawful, provided you seek (them in marriage) with Mahr (bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) from your property, desiring chastity, not committing illegal sexual intercourse, so with those of whom you have enjoyed sexual relations, give them their Mahr as prescribed; but if after a Mahr is prescribed, you agree mutually (to give more), there is no sin on you. Surely, Allah is Ever AllKnowing, AllWise.
Arberry: and wedded women, save what your right hands own. So God prescribes for you. Lawful for you, beyond all that, is that you may seek, using your wealth, in wedlock and not in licence. Such wives as you enjoy thereby, give them their wages apportionate; it is no fault in you in your agreeing together, after the due apportionate. God is All-knowing, All-wise.
I am not saying this to dehumanize Muslims. Most Muslims are frankly better than the Quran and the pedophile Prophet Muhammad. I make these objections because of human rights:
Muslim gunmen have killed people who argued in defense of her human rights and her lawyer had to flee the country. Enough is enough. The BJP is completely right about Islam. You may not like it, you may hate me for saying that, but you are fundamentally dehumanizing the victims of Islam in order to not offend the “feelings” of a religion that is literally committing genocide across your borders. I can’t help but feel angry here: Where the fuck is Arundhati Roy, Noam Chomsky, and Sheldon Pollack’s priorities? Like, holy shit. How do they all put their heads in the sand to ignore this? How can the Congress Party ignore all of this and act as if its not relevant; when refugees who have been harmed are literally living in your country and praying to their respective deities in thanks to your country for protecting them against genocide? Like seriously, where are your priorities? How can you place more emphasis on the feelings of Muslims over the lives of your people? You should get rid of any blasphemy protections and start criticizing Islam throughout India. It’s a hateful ideology that has killed too many already.
Arundhati Roy isn’t some brave activist putting her life on the line; she’s a bigot, a charlatan,and someone who clearly doesn’t care about literal genocide happening repeatedly around India’s borders.
India has issues and the Indian army certainly should put more emphasis on human rights; but India is a great country, a great culture, and a great civilization that does try its best to commit itself to non-violence, peace, and freedom of religion. In fact, don’t ask me: go ask the refugees living in India, whose voices I’ve heard from interviews they’ve given to domestic Indian media and Western media, and who repeatedly affirm how grateful they are for India’s compassion and protection. No seriously, if you’re in India, go talk to them and listen to what they say and what they went through to be part of India. They seem quite grateful for India’s hospitality and compassion. It’s a compassion that Arundhati Roy clearly doesn’t appreciate and doesn’t share for her fellow Indians or the country in which she’s made a career for herself in vilifying.
Here’s a podcast interview with a journalist who actually cares about Lower-Caste Indian peopleand wants to help improve India for all the people of India.
Rediff.com India News, http://www.rediff.com/news/2006/nov/02aziz.htm.
The Quranic Arabic Corpus – Translation, corpus.quran.com/translation.jsp?chapter=4&verse=24.
Ahmed, Zubair. “Kashmiri Hindus: Driven out and Insignificant.” BBC News, BBC, 6 Apr. 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-35923237.
Arbabzadah, Nushin. “The 1980s Mujahideen, the Taliban and the Shifting Idea of Jihad | Nushin Arbabzadah.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 28 Apr. 2011, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/apr/28/afghanistan-mujahideen-taliban.
“Christian Persecution in Pakistan.” Open Doors USA, http://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/pakistan/.
Ghosh, Palash. “Banglastan: Do Hindus Have A Future In Bangladesh?” International Business Times, 19 Feb. 2014, http://www.ibtimes.com/banglastan-do-hindus-have-future-bangladesh-1556463.
“Myanmar Rohingya Militants Massacred Hindus, Says Amnesty.” BBC News, BBC, 22 May 2018, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-44206372.
Roche, Elizabeth. “Slow Genocide of Minorities in Pakistan: Farahnaz Ispahani.” Https://Www.livemint.com/, Livemint, 19 Jan. 2016, http://www.livemint.com/Politics/F4r3Tmf51k8Sm6DGjPRaEN/Slow-genocide-of-minorities-in-Pakistan-Farahnaz-Ispahani.html.
Solnit, Rebecca. “Why Feminism Needs Men.” The Nation, 8 July 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/why-feminism-needs-men/.