(Andy Rowell) Human rights campaigners are warning that further ethnic cleansing in Burma, which is being exacerbated by land clearances due to economic developments surrounding the Shwe Oil/Gas pipeline, could be imminent.
The Shwe pipeline, which ironically means Golden in Burmese, is due to open later this year. It will allow oil from the Gulf states and Africa to be pumped to China, bypassing a slower shipping route through the Strait of Malacca. It will also ship gas from off shore western Burma’s Arakan State, to southwest China.
Last year there were two massacres against the Rohingya, an ethnic Muslim-minority population who inhabit Arakan state, including the strategic port of Sittwe, which is the start of the pipeline on the Burmese coast. There are credible reports that the Burmese military is involved in the ethnic cleansing.
Banktrack has repeatedly called on international banks such as Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland to stop financing the pipeline or the companies involved in it, until the protection of community rights along the route could be guaranteed, but this has not happened.
Described by the UN as being amongst the most persecuted people in the world, the Rohingya have been described as the “world’s most forgotten people“. The massacres against them occurred in June and then again in October, with over 120000 now living as displaced people in camps in the state of Arakan, and many more having left for Bangladesh and further afield.
After the first massacre in June, Human Rights Watch argued that “Burmese security forces committed killings, rape, and mass arrests against Rohingya Muslims after failing to protect both them and Arakan Buddhists”. At the time, they estimated that “many of the over 100,000 people displaced and in dire need of food, shelter, and medical care.”
Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch said last year that “recent events in Arakan State demonstrate that state-sponsored persecution and discrimination persist.”
Events worsened last October when another massacre took place. Again Human Rights Watch argued that “attacks and arson” in late October “against Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s Arakan State “were at times carried out with the support of state security forces and local government officials.”
Last week the London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission warned that “We are extremely concerned about the increase in propaganda against the minority Rohingya in Burma. It suggests that there is a high possibility of a third massacre against the Muslim minority”.
The Chair of IHRC, Massoud Shadjareh said, “There is a hidden genocide taking place in Burma, and we must speak out before even more of the Rohingya are murdered. The international community need to come together and stop a third wave of violence taking place.”
Speaking to Oil Change International this morning, leading human rights campaigner Jamila Hanan, who is based in the UK and is founder of Save the Rohingya, said: “We are anticipating a third massacre of the Rohingya on the same scale which took place in Rwanda. We have been informed that this will take place sometime between now and mid-April.”
Hanan continued: ““There is a definite link between the oil development and the elimination of the Rohingya. The Rohingya are being cleared out of Sittwe which is being developed as a deep sea port to take oil tankers from the Middle East. There is huge number of economic developments around the port of Sittwe as a result of the new pipeline.”
The strategic port of Sittwe, where many Rohingya are based, and where the pipeline starts, is just one factor. Another are lucrative oil blocks which have previously been off limits due to sanctions. Next month, Burma plans to launch a much anticipated bidding for 30 offshore oil and gas blocks April, which is likely to receive bids from oil majors such as Chevron, Total and ConocoPhillips, amongst others.
“Our politicians must put their own economic interests aside and act urgently to prevent this imminent human disaster, “says Hanan. “Never before has the public been so informed through social media that a massacre was about to happen – our governments must not be allowed to sit back and do nothing.”
(DN) The persecution of the Rohingya people is severe. The Burmese junta considers them to be sub-human and denies them almost all basic human rights. They are subject to torture, gang rape, starvation, slave labor, and forced to reside in the most dire camps in the world – some call these refugee camps but they are actually concentration camps. Over the past few months, thousands of Rohingya have been encouraged onto boats and sent out to sea with not enough food or fuel, and left there to die. Many boats were attacked and sunk, with women and children on board.
Already the violence in Burma has spread beyond the Rohingya to include all Muslims, with ‘warm ups’ to the anticipated massacre taking place against Burmese Muslims in Meiktila, Naypyidaw and Yangon. Dead and burning bodies, including children, are now lying in the streets.
The bombings at international hotels in Jakarta are the latest in a string of attacks to hit Indonesia
|At least 12 people were killed in a previous attack on the Marriot hotel in 2003 [EPA]|
The simultaneous bombings at international hotels in Jakarta on Friday are the latest in a string of attacks to hit Indonesia.
July 17, 2009: Twin explosions hit the JW Marriot and Ritz-Carlton hotels in the capital Jakarta, leaving several dead and injured.
October 1, 2005: Bomb blast rips through three restaurants on the resort island of Bali, killing 25 people and wounding more than 100.
May 28, 2005: Two bombs explode in a crowded market in the town of Tentena, killing at least 22 people and wounding 40.
September 9, 2004: A suicide car bomb explodes outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta, killing 11 people.
August 5, 2003: Car bomb explodes outside the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, killing 12 people and injuring more than 150.
October 12, 2002: Two near simultaneous bombs explode in a nightclub district in Bali just before midnight, killing 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.
December 25, 2000: Bombs explode at 11 churches across the country on Christmas Eve, killing 19 people and injuring more than 100.
September 14, 2000: A car bomb explodes inside the car park of the Jakarta Stock Exchange building, killing at least 10 people and injuring 16.
(AL JAZEERA) At least nine people have been killed and scores of others injured in near simultaneous bomb blasts at two luxury hotels in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.
The blasts tore through the Ritz-Carlton and the nearby JW Marriott hotels within minutes of each other on Friday morning, as many guests were having breakfast.
Indonesia’s president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has called the bombings a terrorist act and vowed that the attackers would be hunted down and punished.
“Those who carried out this attack and those who planned it will be arrested and tried according to the law,” he said in a televised address to the nation.
Widodo Adi Sucipto, Indonesia’s security minister, confirmed that the two explosions were caused by “high explosive bombs”, while police said initial investigations pointed to the blasts having been caused by suicide bombers.
A New Zealander was among those killed while 13 other foreigners were among at least 50 people injured, Sucipto told reporters at the scene of the blasts.
The first explosion went off at the Marriott at around 8am local time and the second hit the Ritz-Carlton about 1km away just a few minutes later.
Earlier reports had said a third explosion had occurred on a toll motorway in the north of Jakarta, but local police said that incident was a vehicle fire and was not related to the hotel bombings.
Arief Wahyunadi, the police operational chief, said the two hotel bombs had detonated in the Ritz-Carlton’s Air Langga restaurant and in the basement of the Marriott.
The blast had caused extensive damage to the lower levels of both hotels, with dozens of windows blown out on higher floors by the force of the explosion.
Witnesses at both hotels reported the buildings had shaken when the bombs hit, sending hundreds of panicked guests and staff running onto the street outside.
Police have since evacuated people from the area surrounding the two hotels located in the heart of the capital’s business district, our correspondent said.
British football team Manchester United who had been due to play an exhibition game in Jakarta at the weekend have cancelled their visit to the city.
The team were expected to stay at the Ritz-Carlton on Saturday and Sunday night, the Indonesian Football association said.
No claim of responsibility
No one has claimed responsibility for Friday’s blasts, which are the first attacks on high-profile targets in the country in several years and come just a week after Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was returned to power in presidential elections that passed of peacefully.
|No one has claimed responsibility for Friday’s blasts [Reuters]|
The blasts mark the second attack on the Jakarta JW Marriott, which was hit by a suicide bombing in 2003 that left 12 dead and injured more than 150.
That bombing and several other high profile attacks before that had been claimed by or blamed on the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) group, and many suspected members have since been imprisoned.
An Australian security report released on Thursday warned, however, that Jemaah Islamiyah could be poised to strike again.
The report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute said leadership tensions in the group and recent prison releases of several JI members raised the possibility that splinter groups might now seek to re-energise the movement through violent attacks.
Al Jazeera’s correspondent Step Vaessen said she had contacted a JI member who denied the group was responsible for the attack.
However, she added that while there are believed to be more than 1,000 active JI members in Indonesia, in recent years JI had become a highly fractured organisation.
Carl Ungerer, one of the analysts who wrote the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s study, said differing factions of JI vary widely in their outlook and tactics.
“There is a split between traditionalists who want to consolidate current efforts and other more hardline factions – who believe a campaign of political violence is both necessary and required,” he told Al Jazeera.
In the wake of Friday’s bombings Australia’s government issued a fresh travel warning for Indonesia, telling citizens to “reconsider your need to travel to Indonesia, including Bali, at this time due to the very high threat of terrorist attack”
|The 13-storey building toppled over almost intact on Saturday [Reuters]|
(AL JAZEERA) Nine people have been detained and urgent safety checks ordered after a nearly finished 13-storey apartment block collapsed in the Chinese city of Shanghai, state media has said.
The city government has ordered checks at other construction sites after Saturday’s incident in which the building at the Lotus Riverside apartment complex toppled over almost intact, killing one worker.
Reports on the city government’s website said nine employees of the real estate developer, the contractor and the supervisor for the project had been put “under control” and the developer’s bank account had been frozen.
Shanghai officials issued a notice requiring work safety checks at all construction projects in the city, with top officials warning of severe punishment for those responsible for the building’s collapse.
|An initial probe suggests digging under the building caused its collapse [Reuters]|
Initial investigations found that the building – one of 11 in the complex – fell over after workers dug underneath it to install an underground garage.
Earth removed from under the building and dumped in a landfill area nearby had caused the bank of the river next to the complex to collapse, the state-run Shanghai Daily reported.
Home buyers who had paid about $2,100 a square metre and had been preparing to move in, are now demanding their money back.
China’s construction sector has long been plagued with quality problems and the collapse of bridges, highways and buildings have often been linked to corruption, as officials and contractors skimp on construction materials or issue approvals without proper inspections.
Heavy casualties among students whose school buildings collapsed during last year’s earthquake in China’s southwestern Sichuan province raised complaints from parents and others who accused builders of cutting corners to boost profits.
In a separate incident in northeast China early on Monday, vehicles were sent plunging into a river after part of a road bridge caved in.
Zhang Yang, the mayor of Tieli, the city in Heilongjiang province where the bridge collapsed, said rescuers had saved all 16 drivers and passengers from the seven vehicles that fell into the river.
By: Tyler Durden Monday, June 01, 2009 3:57 PM
Ran across this article posted in Jumping In Pools. Not sure how credible it is, but allegedly Barack Obama will provide the blueprints for the B-2 stealth bomber to China in exchange for $50 billion in debt relief. According to author Richard Hogarty:
According to the Administration, this proposal will help the United States resolve its debt issues. They point out their belief that the B-2 bomber is “strategically obsolete”, according to a source in the White House Press Office. In addition, the source claims that the Chinese would be unable to create their own functioning stealth bomber fleet for “at least eight years.”
American allies Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea are very wary of the proposal. Koo Syi, a geopolitical analyst from South Korea, points out that this technology could be passed to China’s allies. This was the case when Chinese nuclear technology was transferred to Pakistan and North Korea. According to Koo, Obama has rendered US allies’ opinions as “irrelevant.”
While this proposal is controversial, it is not being presented to Congress, where it could meet with stern opposition. Instead, the State Department has been informed to assisted the Defense Department with the transfer of materials.
A little skeptical here as frankly $50 billion is less than a drop in the bucket of Chinese Treasury holdings which are easily well over $1 trillion. The economic impact of this transaction would be negligible to zero. On the other hand, if this ends up being true, it is quite frightening, as it merely demonstrates, aside from all the scary geo-political considerations, just how bad of a dealmaker our President is.
In other China-related news, Reuters reporting that Tim Geithner’s soothing words from his Beijing whirlwind tour that “Chinese assets are very safe,” drew loud laughter from the audience.
“Chinese assets are very safe,” Geithner said in response to a question after a speech at Peking University, where he studied Chinese as a student in the 1980s.
His answer drew loud laughter from his student audience, reflecting scepticism in China about the wisdom of a developing country accumulating a vast stockpile of foreign reserves instead of spending the money to raise living standards at home.
Alas, laughter is more and more the traditional response when other economies consider the sustainability of the ongoing economic fiasco developing before our eyes (and this author’s response to the continued market manipulation).
(TELEGRAPH) “In dealing with the subject, take care to leave no blood on the face, no wounds on the body, and no people in the vicinity,” states the manual, entitled Practices of City Administration Enforcement.
The book was reportedly designed as a training guide for the Chengguan, a type of police force that is charged with targeting anyone it feels is disrupting the peace, ridding China’s cities of illegal street hawkers and unlicensed taxi cabs, and checking permits.
The Chengguan are widely reviled in China, and their heavy-handed methods frequently result in serious injuries or death. At the end of March, several thousand people in Nanchong, in Sichuan, rioted after a Chengguan officer seriously injured a student.
Three years ago in Shanghai, Chengguan officers beat Li Binghao, a 39-year-old man who intervened in a dispute, to death, according to Xinhua, the state news agency. “Officials who use violence are rarely investigated or held accountable,” said the goup China Human Rights Defenders in reference to the Chengguan.
According to the Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper, an official with the Beijing municipal bureau of city administration and law enforcement confirmed that the training manual was genuine and had been used in official training sessions.
Several portions of the book were leaked onto the internet and have caused a furore. “Who put it up on the net? How did internal material come to be discussed outside?” the unnamed official asked the newspaper.
The published sections of the manual explain that officers must quell any dispute swiftly. “Without letting go of the subject, several officers shall act together and in a single move take the individual under bodily control,” it said. “Each action must be effective so as not to give the subject any pause for breath.”
The manual also told officers they should not consider whether they are a physical match for the subject or whether they could harm the subject. “You must become a resolute law enforcer staunchly protecting the dignity of city administrative regulations,” it reportedly said.
Zhao Yang, a junior officer in Nanjing told the Southern Metropolis Daily: “These things used to be spread by word of mouth, but now they’re out in the open. Things like how to protect yourself and how to hit people.”
In Shanghai, hawkers said they had heard of several cases of abuse by the Chengguan, who they described as generally uneducated thugs. Chen Juan, a 28-year-old hawker who sells trinkets and hairbands, said: “They are different throughout the city. The ones near the centre of town are very violent. They do not always beat you up, but they intimidate us and usually confiscate and stomp on our goods. I was once chased down the street by a gang of them and that left me quite rattled.”
However, another vendor, who asked not to be named, said it was easy to “play the game”, suggesting that casual bribery took care of most problems.
“The problem is that many hawkers are doing this because they have nothing else. So when the Chengguan confiscate their goods, they put up a fight. That’s why they get beaten up.”
(YAHOO NEWS) BOAO, China – Action star Jackie Chan said Saturday he’s not sure if a free society is a good thing for China and that he’s starting to think “we Chinese need to be controlled.”
Chan’s comments drew applause from a predominantly Chinese audience of business leaders in China’s southern island province of Hainan.
The 55-year-old Hong Kong actor was participating in a panel at the annual Boao Forum when he was asked to discuss censorship and restrictions on filmmakers in China. He expanded his comments to include society.
“I’m not sure if it’s good to have freedom or not,” Chan said. “I’m really confused now. If you’re too free, you’re like the way Hong Kong is now. It’s very chaotic. Taiwan is also chaotic.”
Chan added: “I’m gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we’re not being controlled, we’ll just do what we want.”
The kung fu star has not been a vocal supporter of the pro-democracy movement in his hometown of Hong Kong. Since the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997, voters have not been allowed to directly elect their leader. Several massive street protests have been held to demand full democracy, but Beijing has repeatedly said Hong Kong isn’t ready for it.
The theme at Saturday’s panel discussion was “Tapping into Asia’s Creative Industry Potential,” and Chan had several opinions about innovation in China.
He said that early in his career, he lived in the shadow of the late martial arts star Bruce Lee. He said that during his first foray into Hollywood, he struggled to establish his own identity, so he returned to Hong Kong. After spending 15 years building his reputation in Asia, Chan finally got rediscovered by Hollywood, he said.
Chan said the problem with Chinese youth is that “they like other people’s things. They don’t like their own things.” Young people need to spend more time developing their own style, he added.
The action hero complained that Chinese goods still have too many quality problems. He became emotional when discussing contaminated milk powder that sickened tens of thousands of Chinese babies in the past year.
Speaking fast with his voice rising, Chan said, “If I need to buy a TV, I’ll definitely buy a Japanese TV. A Chinese TV might explode.”
(THE INDEPENDENT) Over 1,500 farmers in an Indian state committed suicide after being driven to debt by crop failure, it was reported today.
The agricultural state of Chattisgarh was hit by falling water levels.
“The water level has gone down below 250 feet here. It used to be at 40 feet a few years ago,” Shatrughan Sahu, a villager in one of the districts, told Down To Earth magazine
“Most of the farmers here are indebted and only God can save the ones who do not have a bore well.”
Mr Sahu lives in a district that recorded 206 farmer suicides last year. Police records for the district add that many deaths occur due to debt and economic distress.
In another village nearby, Beturam Sahu, who owned two acres of land was among those who committed suicide. His crop is yet to be harvested, but his son Lakhnu left to take up a job as a manual labourer.
His family must repay a debt of £400 and the crop this year is poor.
“The crop is so bad this year that we will not even be able to save any seeds,” said Lakhnu’s friend Santosh. “There were no rains at all.”
“That’s why Lakhnu left even before harvesting the crop. There is nothing left to harvest in his land this time. He is worried how he will repay these loans.”
Bharatendu Prakash, from the Organic Farming Association of India, told the Press Association: “Farmers’ suicides are increasing due to a vicious circle created by money lenders. They lure farmers to take money but when the crops fail, they are left with no option other than death.”
Mr Prakash added that the government ought to take up the cause of the poor farmers just as they fight for a strong economy.
“Development should be for all. The government blames us for being against development. Forest area is depleting and dams are constructed without proper planning.
All this contributes to dipping water levels. Farmers should be taken into consideration when planning policies,” he said.
(TELEGRAPH) The man’s arrest follows the detention last week of two other citizens of Azerbaijan, a majority Muslim state in the Caucasus, who confessed to murdering the girl, a university medical student.
“They admitted to being paid 100,000 rubles (£2,000) by the girl’s father. They said he wanted to punish his daughter for flouting national traditions and wearing a mini-skirt,” a police source told AFP.
The girl was abducted on the street in Russia’s second city on March 8, taken to the outskirts of Saint Petersburg and then shot twice in the head, the source said.
Russia has experienced a revival of conservative religious tradition ince the fall of the Soviet Union, both within its Russian Orthodox and large Muslim communities.
The Saint Petersburg mosque – the largest and northernmost in Europe when it was built in 1913 – now counts mostly migrants from ex-Soviet Azerbaijan among its worshippers.