|Burma’s Rohingya people: no country wants them.|
Burma’s so-called opposition movement should care, but they don’t.
AUNG SAN SUU KYI THROWS BURMA’S DISENFRANCHISED ROHINGYAS
UNDER THE BUS IN ATTEMPT TO COURT WEST
Suu Kyi Throws Burma’s Persecuted Rohingyas under the Bus. The so-called hero of the Burmese opposition movement, Aung San Suu Kyi, told the British Broadcasting Corporation (B.B.C.) on November 3rd that she will not take sides in the ethnic violence between predominantly-Buddhist Arakanese (also called Rakhine people) and predominantly-Muslim Rohingyas in Burma’s western Rakhine (a.k.a. Arakan) state. Speaking after a meeting with the European Commission’s president, José Manuel Barroso, who expressed concern over her silence, Suu Kyi, who is Buddhist and has been on an aggressive campaign to court the favor of the West, said, “I am urging tolerance but I do not think one should use one’s moral leadership, if you want to call it that, to promote a particular cause without really looking at the sources of the problems.” Meanwhile, she is calling for more government troops to be sent to Arakan. Hundreds have been killed since June in religious-based violence in Burma (also known as Myanmar), but most of the Arakanese–Rohingya violence has been in the form of Buddhist ethnic cleansing of the stateless and disenfranchised Rohingya Muslims, which has, along with Suu Kyi’s despicable dissembling and silence, roused the ire of the Muslim world and of the international human-rights community.
... and elsewhere in Burma ...
10 Dead in Week of Violence between Burmese Military, Kachin Independence Army. 10 people were killed this week and others injured in the decades-old civil war between the Burmese military and the Kachin ethnic minority. Two young Kachin boys and one boy from the Shan ethnic group were wounded on November 2nd by shelling from government troops in the village of Nbala Hka in Kachin State. No fighters from the Kachin Independence Army (K.I.A.) were injured in that incident. On November 4th, a K.I.A. lance corporal was killed in fighting, along with a young boy caught in the crossfire. The next day, a Burmese army major and seven other soldiers died on November 5th at Dung Waw, in northern Shan State. In these clashes, the government troops have been backed by two local militias, the Mungbaw Militia and the Kutkai Militia.
[For the latest developments in Nigeria, including the Biafra and Boko Haram conflicts, see this week’s “Nigerian Separatism Update.”]
Libya’s Cyrenaican Nationalists Return to Streets; Leader Escapes Assassination. The movement for autonomy or independence for Libya’s wealthier, eastern region, Cyrenaica, took a back seat first after parliamentary elections earlier this year (as reported in this blog), and then more recently because Cyrenaica’s capital, Benghazi, became the focus of anti-terrorist activity after the United States ambassador was murdered at the U.S. consulate there. But this week a thousand or so demonstrators again took the streets of Benghazi to demand more federalism. A conclave of Cyrenaican nationalists urged the federal government in Tripoli to draft “a constitution on the basis of the legitimate constitution of 1951,” which was more heavily federal until Idris, king of Libya, centralized the government in 1963, leading eventually to a western revolt by Col. Moammar al-Qaddafi. Then, the head of the military wing of the pro-autonomy Cyrenaica Transitional Council (C.T.C.), Hamid al-Hassi, survived an assassination attempt on November 4th that left one of his bodyguards dead and two wounded. The assassins ambushed Hassi and his entourage in an armed vehicle while they were on the way to Hassi’s farm, in or near Benghazi, the Cyrenaican capital.
|Demonstrators with the flag of the formerly independent Emirate of Cyrenaica|
Mali Arrests French Terrorist Linked to Azawadi Separatists. The Republic of Mali’s ministry of defense reported the arrest this week of a radical Islamist named Ibrahim Ouattara, who is a citizen of France and is linked to the Islamist rebels that control the Azawad region of northern Mali. Ouattara, who is 24 years old, was traveling with false documents identifying him as a citizen of Senegal when he was nabbed in Sevare, in the disputed Mopti province in central Mali, not far from Azawadi-controlled territory. Ouattara was released from prison earlier this year in France, where he had served a two-year term for plotting to assassinate a Muslim cleric in Paris he deemed too moderate.
Zanzibar Police Arrest over 100 for Roles in Separatist Riots. More than 100 suspected members of “street gangs” blamed for last month’s sectarian violence in Zanzibar have been arrested, according to police on November 3rd. The suspects include members of Uamsho, the Islamist militia which seeks Zanzibar’s independence from Tanzania. Police said more than 60 of those arrested have been charged with crimes.
Moroccan Police Greet U.N. Envoy by Torturing, Urinating on Sahrawi Protesters. Protesters and police in Western Sahara, a territory illegally occupied by the Kingdom of Morocco, battled in the streets on November 1st during a visit by the United Nations’ controversial envoy to the disputed territory, Christopher Ross. According to reports from the Polisario Front, the main Sahrawi rebel group, several were injured in the fighting, which occurred in the city of Laayoune. Two activists, 26-year-old Benchri Bentaleb and 27-year-old Hassana Abba were arrested and tortured by police, according to the Polisario report, which stated, “The police urinated on both men, insulting them and wounding them with a knife near the heart with the purpose of engraving there the flag of Morocco on their skin.” Later, on November 6th, Moroccan authorities expelled 25 Europeans from Western Sahara, including four from Norway who belong to Sandfast, a pro-Sahrawi activist group. The other Europeans are from Spain and affiliated with the United Left Party. A Moroccan report said the four Scandinavians were from Sweden.
|Christopher Ross, the United Nations’ Western Sahara envoy, has an audience with Morocco’s king.|
Puntland Puts Out Arrest Warrants for Exiled Opposition Leaders. The government of the de facto independent Puntland State of Somalia on November 4th put out arrest warrants for opposition leaders living abroad (i.e., in other parts of Somalia, as well as outside Somalia), should they ever decide to return to Puntland. Those on the wanted list include Gen. Abdullahi Said Samatar, who lives in London. And on November 7th police in Bosaso, in Puntland, arrested a former secretary to a former president of Puntland, Mohamud Muse Hersi. It is not yet known why he was arrested. Meanwhile, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, the recently superseded prime minister of the Somali Republic (now Federal Republic of Somalia), of which Puntland is nominally a part, criticized the heavy-handedness of the regime in Puntland, saying, “Today there is no freedom of expression in Puntland.” Ali is himself from the Puntland region.
|Abdiweli Mohamed Ali has no kind words for the regime in Puntland.|
Who’s Who of Spanish Celebrities Sign Manifesto Urging Catalans Not to Secede. Several hundred Spanish public figures have put their names to a manifesto published November 4th in the Madrid daily newspaper El País asking Catalonia not to secede from Spain. The signatories include the filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar and the Peruvian-Spanish novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, the First Marquis of Vargas Llosa. The same day, a Catalan newspaper published a survey showing 50.9% of Catalans favoring a split.
|Pedro Almodóvar wants Spain to stay united.|
Catalonia’s Sikhs Back Independence from Spain, Drawing Punjab Parallel. Reports emerged this week that residents of Catalonia who are from the Sikh religious minority tend to support independence from Spain. Nearly three-quarters of Spain’s 21,000 or so Sikhs live in Catalonia. Said one, “I feel in harmony with the people here because we have been facing the same problems with India over Punjab”—referring to the state in western India which was convulsed by Sikh separatism in the 1980s.
79% of Scots Want to Keep Pound after Independence; Smaller Majority for NATO, E.U. A new opinion survey in Scotland this week revealed that 79% of Scots would like to keep the British pound as the nation’s currency if it secedes from the United Kingdom, but only a slight majority, 55%, favor keeping Scotland in the European Union (E.U.) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Only a minority want Scotland to adopt the euro as its currency.
Salmond Vows to Resign in 2014 If Independence Referendum Fails. On November 8th, the day that he became Scotland’s longest-serving First Minister, Alex Salmond, the 57-year-old head of the Scottish National Party (S.N.P.), said he would resign if the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence on which he has staked his career fails to pass. “You mustn’t repeat the mistake of some politicians and say you’ll go on and on,” he said, “but these are inspiring times and I’ve no immediate plans for retirement.”
Protesters Demand Accounting of Kosovo War M.I.A.s before Talks with Serbia. After protests in Pristina last month (as reported at the time in this blog) following a cursory meeting between the Serbian and Kosovar presidents, the streets of Kosovo’s capital were filled with protesters again this week, this time demanding that the de facto independent state’s government back away from negotiations with the Republic of Serbia, which still claims it, until the fate of 1,700 Kosovars missing since the 1999 Kosovo War are accounted for. The radical nationalist political party Vetëvendosje!, which favors Kosovo’s unification with the Republic of Albania, joined the protest.
Serbs Block Road to Protest Imprisonment of Serb by Kosovo. Dozens of Serbs blocked a road in the Serb-governed North Kosovo portion of the de facto independent Republic of Kosovo for an hour on November 6th, in protest over a Serbian dissident jailed by Kosovar authorities. The road blockage, in Rudare, a village in the municipality of Zvečan near the border with the Republic of Serbia, was organized by the Serbian National Council of Kosovo. The prisoner, Slavoljub Jović, is charged with attempting to murder a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Kosovo Force (KFOR) in Rudare in June.
|A Serb roadblock in North Kosovo|
Politician, Folk Singer Wants Jämtland Made a “Reservation” for “Indigenous Swedes.” A folk singer and member of Sweden’s right-wing populist political party Sverigedemokraterna (“Sweden Democrats”) wrote a half- (or perhaps three-quarters) serious letter to the kingdom’s prime minister this week, outlining what she called the “indescribable chaos” wrought by a generous immigration policy and proposing the establishment of “a ‘Swedish reservation,’ where we can continue to follow our traditions and our Swedish culture.” The singer, Marie Stensby, suggested that her home region, Jämtland, along the border with Norway, be made the site of such a reservation. Jämtland, said to be more egalitarian and laid-back (in short, more Norwegian) than other parts of Sweden, was its own peasant republic in the Middle Ages and has been the focus of a tongue-in-cheek separatist movement since the 1960s.
|The coat-of-arms of Jämtland|
BITS OF ASIA THAT LIKE TO PRETEND THEY’RE PART OF EUROPE
Ivanishvili Says Ties to Russia Can’t Resume While Abkhazia, South Ossetia Recognized. The Republic of Georgia’s new prime minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili, clarified his position on the secession of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in a news conference on November 1st, saying that Georgia would not restore diplomatic ties to the Russian Federation so long as Moscow continued to extend diplomatic recognition to the two breakaway republics. Most of the world regards Abkhazia and South Ossetia as part of Georgia, but Russia and a handful of minor nations have recognized the two areas as sovereign states after the 2008 South Ossetia War, in which the Georgian military tried and failed to reclaim them.
[For the latest developments in Kurdistan, including Turkey, see this week’s “Kurdistan Update.”]
[For the latest developments in Kurdistan, including parts of Syria and Iraq, see this week’s “Kurdistan Update.”]
|Pro-Palestinian demonstrators outside a courthouse in Istanbul|
South Yemen Separatists Wound 4 Policemen in Ambush. Separatist militants in the Republic of Yemen’s Lahij province, in the formerly independent South Yemen, ambushed a security patrol on November 4th, injuring four policemen. The gunmen fled and have not been located.
University Student in Hyderabad Hangs Self to Protest Delay in Creating Telangana State. At the campus of Osmania University in Hyderabad, which has been the focal point for advocacy for a separate state within India for the Telugu minority, a 20-year-old student hanged himself on November 7th to express support for the cause. The suicide note from the student, Darshanala Santosh of Adilabad, blamed the federal government for delaying in the creation of a Telugu state, to be called Telangana, out of part of Andhra Pradesh. It stated he hoped his death would “add fuel to the separate Telangana agitation.” Then there were riots on campus when police interfered with students’ attempts to take Santosh’s body to a Telangana martyrs’ memorial in Secuderabad. In the ensuing violence, buses and police vehicles were damaged by stone-throwers and a student was injured by a tear-gas cannister. Hundreds of Telugus have committed suicide in favor of the Telangana movement over the past several years, including five such incidents since 2009 on the Osmania campus alone. Some of the suicides have been by self-immolation.
|A student activist’s suicide sparks rioting in Hyderabad over Telangana statehood.|
Canadian Prime Minister Rejects Indian Demands to Crack Down on Sikh Separatism. The prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, was in Bangalore, India, on November 8th and in talks with Indian officials rejected pressure to more closely monitor Sikh radicals living in Canada. He said his government does monitor violent groups adequately, and he rejected the implication that there was something illegal or improper about merely expressing a desire for an independent Sikh state—to be called Khalistan—in India ’s Punjab region. “We can’t interfere with the right of political freedom of expression,” he said.
|Stephen Harper (right) tries to explain the Canadian concept of freedom of speech:|
“That’s right, even for unpleasant ideas. Fancy that, eh?”
7 Tibetans Set Selves Afire in China; Demonstrations Rock Eastern Tibet. Seven Tibetans set themselves on fire in the People’s Republic of China to protest ongoing Chinese oppression of Tibet, including six within a 48-hour span—marking a massive increase in such incidents. First, a Tibetan artist died from self-immolation on November 4th in Tongren, a monastery town in China’s Qinghai province. According to the exile group Free Tibet, the man was Dorjee Lungdup, age 25. Thousands of Tibetans gathered to pay their respects, and the Chinese government deployed security forces to control the crowds. Internet and telephone communications in the town were shut off. Then, on November 7th and 8th, came a cluster of six self-immolations, three of them in the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in China’s Sichuan province, which has been the center of such activity. At least two of the six had died, including a 23-year-old single mother named Tamdrin Tso and an 18-year-old former monk named Kalsang Jinpa. On November 9th, hundreds took to the streets in Tongren in response to Jinpa’s death and also timed to occur during the Communist Party of China’s ceremonial transition of leadership in Beijing.
|Dorjee Lungdup, burning for Tibetan freedom|
Inner Mongolian Activist’s Wife, Son Have “Disappeared,” Rights Group in Exile Reports. The wife and son of a prominent Inner Mongolian political prisoner in China are missing, according to a United States–based group, the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (S.M.H.R.I.C.), which monitors the struggle of the Mongol ethnic minority in the People’s Republic of China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. For the past two weeks, the S.M.H.R.I.C. has been unable to contact Xinna and her son Uiles (who, like many Mongolians, have only one name). Xinna’s husband, Hada, has been imprisoned for years and is suffering from ill health and depression. Xinna and Uiles had recently given interviews to western media to raise awareness of their plight.
|The now apparently “disappeared” Inner Mongolian dissident Xinna, in 2009|
1 Activist Assassinated, 1 Beaten and Tortured, Say West Papua Separatists. The chairman of the West Papua National Committee (K.N.P.B.), a separatist group in eastern Indonesia, said that one of their senior members, Paul Horis, was killed by Indonesian special forces on November 4th. Meanwhile, the day before, a member of the region’s parliament was beaten and tortured by Indonesian soldiers in Merauke.
Republicans in Texas, Elsewhere Urge Secession after Obama Win. The Southern Poverty Law Center (S.P.L.C.), a non-profit organization which tracks hate groups and domestic terrorist groups in the United States, reported on reactions from the radical right wing after Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the U.S., was re-elected November 6th. The ugliest was at the University of Mississippi (“Ole Miss”), one of the battlegrounds of the desegregation movement in the 1960s, where an angry mob of white students chanted racial slurs, threw rocks at cars, and burned an “Obama/Biden” sign since no actual African-Americans, apparently, were available for burning at the moment. Many right-wing reactions focused on the changing demographics in the U.S. On the Infowars website, a commenter who incorporated a racial slur into his or her online handle, wrote, “They have brought about a communist takeover without firing a single shot. America will resemble Zimbabwe ... in a few years ... all because white people didn’t oppose political correctness 35 years ago.” “You will never see another white man occupy the White House,” another wrote. A commenter on the neo-Nazi web forum Stormfront lamented “a truly white minority world,” adding, “The only way to survive this war of annihilation is separatism. ... We have to choose regions or states.” In Texas, one Republican official and widely read Tea Party activist, the treasurer of Hardin County, Peter Morrison, urged Texas to secede from the “maggots” in the other 49 states who voted for Obama, including minorities who he said voted for him only on “an ethnic basis.” The S.P.L.C. has documented a sharp upsurge in white-supremacist recruitment and activism since Obama was first elected in 2008, much of it focusing on Obama and African-Americans in its rhetoric.
|Students at Ole Miss wish it were like the Ole Days, when you could burn more than signs.|
|A thin blue line keeps Anglophones and Quebec nationalists from each other’s throats in Montreal.|
Puerto Rico Chooses Statehood over Independence in U.S. Referendum. See this week’s full blog article on this subject.
Parties in Curaçao, Despite Separatist Win, Still Failing to Form Coalition Government. Two weeks after an election in the Country of Curaçao, squabbling parties, none of which won an outright majority, signed a “declaration of joint effort” this week in lieu of a still-elusive deal for a coalition government. The Pueblo Soberano (P.S., or Sovereign People’s Party), which favors independence from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, won a plurality, with 23% of the vote, and there were plans for it to form a coalition with the Movimentu Futuro Korsou (M.F.K., or Movement for the Future of Curaçao) and another party called Partido MAN (formerly standing for Movimentu Antia Nobo, or New Antilles Movement), but M.F.K., which won 21% of the vote in the October 20th election, since withdrew from the talks.
|Curaçao’s parliament. Despite the smiles, they can’t seem to agree.|
Falklands Government Finalizes Referendum Question on Remaining in U.K. The government of the Falkland Islands this week published the form of the question to be asked of the territory’s 3,000 or so residents in a referendum next year, which it is hoped will help put to rest the Argentine Republic’s aggressive claims on the archipelago. Voters will be asked to give a “yes” or a “no” to the following text: “The current political status of the Falkland Islands is that they are an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom. The Islands are internally self-governing, with the United Kingdom being responsible for matters including defence and foreign affairs. Under the Falkland Islands Constitution, the people of the Falkland Islands have the right to self-determination, which they can exercise at any time. Given that Argentina is calling for negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, this referendum is being undertaken to consult the people regarding their views on the political status of the Falkland Islands. Should the majority of votes cast be against the current status, the Falkland Islands Government will undertake necessary consultation and preparatory work in order to conduct a further referendum on alternative options. Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom?” After a consultation period, the ballot text is to be formally adopted on November 21st.
|Flag of the Falkland Islands|