Tag Archives: Islam

Will anyone protect the Rohingya?

 

Photo: Foreign and Commonwealth Office via Wikimedia Commons

Vincent A. Auger, Western Illinois University

Since August, the Rohingya, an ethnic minority in Myanmar, has faced what a United Nations official called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Recent reports describe a campaign by Myanmar security forces to drive the Rohingya from the country permanently. Hundreds of thousands have fled to camps in neighboring Bangladesh, creating a new refugee crisis.

This is exactly the type of atrocity that the United Nations vowed to combat in 2005, when it asserted a “responsibility to protect” civilian populations from genocidal violence. Yet, little has been done.

Why has “the responsibility to protect” failed, and can the Rohingya be helped?

Responsibility to protect

The “responsibility to protect” doctrine resulted from the humanitarian catastrophes of the 1990s: Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo and especially Rwanda. The world struggled to balance respect for state sovereignty with the imperative to prevent the slaughter of civilians. In 2001, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty issued a report redefining the problem. It stated that states had primary responsibility to protect their populations. But, if they could not or would not, then that duty could be exercised by the international community.

This concept was affirmed by the United Nations at the 2005 World Summit. However, my research on the origins and implementation of the responsibility to protect has demonstrated that this consensus was superficial. Many states, including the United States and China, gave lip service to a “responsibility to protect,” but were unwilling or unable to implement it. The conditions under which the responsibility to protect could be invoked remain deliberately ambiguous.

Words in action: Libya and Cote d’Ivoire

Despite this tepid support, in 2011, the United Nations authorized two operations in countries where civilians were at risk.

In Cote d’Ivoire, United Nations peacekeeping forces intervened to remove the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, who had lost an election and was using the country’s security force to attack civilians in an attempt to remain in power. U.N. forces helped oversee a political transition and maintain security. This intervention was widely seen at the U.N. as a success.

The other intervention was in Libya, after the country’s leader Muammar Gaddafi threatened to slaughter those who opposed his regime. The intervention – led by Britain, France and the United States – successfully prevented Gaddafi’s slaughter of civilians. But it also led to the collapse of his regime, his murder by rebel forces and continuing conflict in post-Gaddafi Libya.

Failure to protect

Despite humanitarian crises in Syria, Yemen and South Sudan, the responsibility to protect has not been used by the U.N. since 2011 to justify intervention. The Libya case helps to explain this: Once the intervening forces helped overthrow Gaddafi, Russia and China declared that the “responsibility to protect” was merely a pretext for the West to conduct regime change. Those countries have repeatedly vetoed U.N. Security Council resolutions on Syria.

Implementing the “responsibility to protect” faces other challenges as well. One is that an intervention to protect civilians may encounter armed resistance from those who are committing the atrocities, as would likely be the case in Syria. A larger, more capable international military force would be necessary to defeat them. Many states will be deterred by the greater costs and risks of such an intervention.

Another challenge is that states and international organizations have multiple goals and priorities. They may not wish to jeopardize relations with the offending regime, or risk other national interests, in order to stop violence. They may even help the regime that is committing the atrocities, as the Russian government has done in Syria, to advance those interests.

Finally, a successful intervention may lead to a costly commitment to provide long-term security and relief – a “responsibility to rebuild,” so to speak. For most states, these potential costs of intervention far outweigh their willingness to act to save lives.

What can we do for the Rohingya?

All these challenges to implementing the responsibility to protect are evident in the Rohingya case. Myanmar authorities have resisted any international role in the crisis, raising the cost of potential intervention. In any case, other states have little interest in taking action. China is shielding Myanmar from pressure in the U.N. Security Council and is trying to pull Myanmar into its sphere of influence. President Trump has not made Myanmar a priority for American foreign policy. Russia, India and other states prefer to work with the regime to further their own interests in the region.

What can be done, then?

Economic and political sanctions against the Myanmar military are a possibility. But without Chinese participation, they would have limited effectiveness. Sanctions might also lead the Myanmar military to reverse recent democratic reforms in the country.

An alternative would be for the United States and other countries to sharply increase aid to Bangladesh, which is hosting the fleeing Rohingya civilians. They might also consider accepting some Rohingya as refugees. However, this could be problematic given the current debate on refugees in the United States and many other countries.

The ConversationIn the longer term, diplomatic and financial pressure, as well as the possibility of indictment for crimes against humanity, may convince Myanmar’s military leaders to cease the ethnic cleansing and allow some Rohingya to return. Unfortunately, no international cavalry is likely to ride to the Rohingya’s rescue.

Vincent A. Auger, Professor of Political Science, Western Illinois University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Amid Ongoing Israeli Crackdown, Three Palestinians Killed in Al-Aqsa Mosque Protests

Thousands of Palestinians and Israeli forces clashed Friday during protests against security devices recently installed at one of the world’s holiest sites

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-21-2017

Photo: @firstqiblah/Twitter

At least three Palestinians reportedly have been killed by gunfire, and more than a hundred injured, in clashes with Israeli forces on Friday, during large-scale protests against enhanced security measures at the Al-Aqsa mosque, according to reports from the Ma’an News Agency and Al-Jazeera.

“An Israeli settler killed an 18-year-old Palestinian man in the Ras al-Amud neighborhood,” Al-Jazeera reports. Hospital officials confirmed a second Palestinian was killed by live fire during the demonstrations after Friday prayer, and a third man died during clashes in the West Bank. Continue reading

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Love in a time of fear: an interview with Dashni Morad

‘The Shakira of Kurdistan’ discusses feminism, Kurdish unity, and healing the scars of war.

By Benjamin Ramm. Published 3-30-2017 by openDemocracy

Dashni Morad. (Credit: John Wright, February 2016)

As the battle for Mosul nears its conclusion, the fate of civilian survivors remains uncertain. The Kurdish singer and humanitarian Dashni Morad, whose youth was defined by conflict in the region, aims to highlight the psychological scars of living under a brutal regime. In 2014, Morad raised funds for refugee camps outside Mosul, where she witnessed the impact of three years of war on displaced children. Tutored only in fear, the children are aggressive even in play: “it made me so upset to see that a kid can be taken from its inner child”, she says. “It is the worst thing you can do to a human being – to take away that magical world”. Continue reading

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US Military Bombs Syrian Mosque During Evening Prayers, Killing Dozens

While rescuers continue to search rubble for civilian victims, attack widely condemned as war crime

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-17-2017

Civil defense team members and people try to rescue people who were trapped under the debris of a Mosque after an aerial attack on a mosque during prayer in the Cina village of Etarib district of Aleppo, Syria on March 16, 2017. (Photo: İbrahim Ebu Leys/ Anadolu Agency )

U.S. military officials have confirmed that a U.S. aircraft struck a mosque outside of Aleppo, Syria during evening prayers on Thursday, killing dozens of civilians, in an attack that many are calling a war crime.

Airwars’ Samuel Oakford reported that U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed that a raid “took place in the vicinity of al-Jinah village, which is located in western Aleppo governorate, just a few kilometers from the border with Idlib. CENTCOM spokesperson Maj. Josh Jacques said the target was ‘assessed to be a meeting place for al Qaeda, and we took the strike.'”

Jacques added that the target “happened to be across the street from where there is a mosque.” Continue reading

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How Somali Muslims are raising a 10,000-person anti-hate army

The refugee community in Minnesota is a big target for bigotry, but they have a plan.

By Christopher Zumski Finke. Published 2-10-2017 by openDemocracy

Photo: Fibonacci Blue / Flickr. Some rights reserved.

In November 2015, Asma Jama, a Somali-born woman living in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, was waiting for her pasta alfredo at Applebee’s, chatting in Swahili with her family, when she was confronted by Jodie Burchard-Risch. Burchard-Risch demanded that Jama speak English or go home. Then, she smashed her beer mug in Jama’s face.

The attack was shocking and made national news. This past December, Jama spoke at the sentencing hearing for Burchard-Risch, who pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and will serve six months in jail. Jama recounted the fear she lives with after the attack, saying she no longer goes anywhere alone. Still, she spoke words of kindness to the woman who showed her none. “In front of everybody here,” Jama told the packed courtroom, “I forgive you. And I hope that you choose love over hate.” Continue reading

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Trump “Not Fully Briefed” on Order Elevating Bannon to Security Council

New York Times reports the lapse was a ‘greater source of frustration to the president than the fallout from the travel ban’

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-6-2017

Steve Bannon. Photo: Paladin Justice/flickr/cc

President Donald Trump reportedly did not realize he was promoting chief strategist Steve Bannon to the National Security Council (NSC) Principals Committee when he signed the executive order dropping intelligence and defense officials from the top government panel and elevating the former Breitbart News chair in their place.

The New York Times reported over the weekend that Trump had not been fully briefed on his own executive order, which became “a greater source of frustration to the president” than the protests and legal actions over his travel ban blocking immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries. Continue reading

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Taking Weapon Out of Trump’s Arsenal, Obama Finally Kills Bush-Era Muslim Registry

ACLU applauds end of “completely failed counter-terrorism tool and massive profiling program that didn’t yield a single terrorism conviction in nearly a decade”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-22-2016

“With this action,” says ACLU, “the U.S. is on the right path to protect Muslim and Arab immigrants from discrimination.” (Image: ACLU)

With a President Donald Trump on the horizon, civil liberties advocates applauded President Barack Obama on Thursday after his administration announced the end of a federal registration program for Muslim and Arab immigrants.

Established by the George W. Bush administration in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) was criticized since its inception as regressive attempt to profile individuals based on their national heritage and religion. Continue reading

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Refugees Welcome: Thousands March for ‘Humanity and Human Rights’ in UK

Amid global crises that have seen people forced from their homelands in unprecedented numbers, citizens call on UK government to open doors to those in need

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-17-2016

Photo: Refugee Action/Twitter

Photo: Refugee Action/Twitter

Pushing back against a tide of xenophobia which has gripped portions of Europe in recent years, thousands marched in central London on Saturday as they demanded the British government do more to help those forced from their homelands amid endless war in the Middle East and economic crises across Africa and beyond.

Under an overall message declaring “Refugees Welcome,” many of the estimated 30,000 people marching carried signs reading “We Stand with You”; “No to Islamophobia. No to war.”; “Safety is a human right”; and “No Human Being Is Illegal.” Continue reading

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30,000 Muslims Just Slammed Terrorism — Media Silent

By Carey Wedler. Published 8-15-2016 by The Anti-Media

Photo: AMC UK

Photo: AMC UK

Hampshire, United Kingdom — Like clockwork, when a Muslim commits an act of violence, right-wing politicians, pundits and millions of Westerners insist all Muslims must condemn the attacks. While this standard hardly ever applies to Christian, Jewish or Buddhist terrorists, there is another inconsistency in right-wing reasoning: they claim Muslims refuse to condemn terrorism.

But Muslims do oppose radical Islam. In fact, every time an Islamic extremist commits an unthinkable act of violence, protests and renunciations ring out around the world. Muslims issue these condemnations even though they believe anyone who commits violence in the name of Islam is not Islamic at all. Continue reading

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Failed US Policy in the Middle East

By Ellen Rosser. Published 2-29-2016 by Common Dreams

(Photo: Mark Holloway/flickr/cc.)

(Photo: Mark Holloway/flickr/cc.)

The United States has been involved in the Middle East for almost one hundred years because of the vast oil reserves there, and the US has been militarily involved since 1967, when the US began supplying Israel with weapons with which to defend itself. However, the US has only been involved in the “quagmire” of Middle East wars since 2001. Continue reading

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