Erdogan accuses Myanmar of ‘Buddhist terror’ against Rohingya

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of the Republic of Turkey. (AFP)
Updated 25 September 2017
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Erdogan accuses Myanmar of ‘Buddhist terror’ against Rohingya

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the security forces in Myanmar of waging a “Buddhist terror” against the Rohingya Muslim minority in the country, hundreds of thousands of whom have fled to Bangladesh.
Erdogan, who has repeatedly highlighted the plight of the Rohingya, again accused the Yangon government of carrying out a “genocide” against the people in Rakhine state.
In a speech in Istanbul, Erdogan lamented the failure of the international community to lay sanctions against the Myanmar government over its campaign.
“There is a very clear genocide over there,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan, who has held talks by phone with Myanmar’s key leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung Sang Suu Kyi, added: “Buddhists always get represented as envoys of goodwill. At the moment, there is a clear Buddhist terror in Myanmar... I don’t know how you can gloss over this with yoga, schmoga. This is a fact here. And all humanity needs to know this.”
Erdogan takes a sharp interest in the fate of Muslim communities across the world and notably sees himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause.
Returning for a key personal theme, he lambasted the international community for being quick to denounce “Islamic terror” but not “Christian terror,” “Jewish terror” or “Buddhist terror.”
Erdogan’s remarks came as UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Bangladesh must not force Rohingya Muslims who have fled Myanmar to move to camps on a desolate island.
Authorities have stepped up moves to house the Rohingya on the island in the Bay of Bengal since a new surge which now totals 436,000 refugees started arriving on Aug. 25.
Grandi said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had mentioned the relocation plan when they met in July. There were already 300,000 Rohingya in camps near the border at Cox’s Bazar before the latest influx started.
But he insisted that any move from the camps to Bhashan Char island — also known as Thengar Char — “has to be voluntary on the part of the refugees.”
“We cannot force people to go to the place. So the option for the medium term, let’s say — I don’t want to talk about long-term — has to be also something that is acceptable to the people that go there,” he said.
“Otherwise it won’t work. Otherwise people won’t go.”
The UN has praised Bangladesh for taking in the Rohingya, who fled a military crackdown in Myanmar. It has appealed for international help for the authorities.
“It is good to think ahead. These people (Rohingya) may not be able to go back very quickly and especially now the population has now doubled,” Grandi told a Dhaka press briefing.
The UNHCR chief said his agency was ready to help the island plan with a “technical study of the options.
“That’s all that we are ready to give. We are not giving it yet because I have not seen any concrete options on any paper.”
The small island in the estuary of the Meghna river is a one-hour boat ride from Sandwip, the nearest inhabited island, and two hours from Hatiya, one of Bangladesh’s largest islands.
The government has tasked the navy with making it ready for the Rohingya. Two helipads and a small road have been built.
The authorities first proposed settling the Rohingya there in 2015, as the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar became overstretched.
But the plan was apparently shelved last year amid reports that the silty island, which only emerged from the sea in 2006, was often unhabitable due to regular tidal flooding.
In recent weeks, Bangladesh has appealed for international support to move the Rohingya to the island as the impoverished nation struggles to cope with the influx
More than 436,000 refugees have crossed the border from Myanmar’s Rakhine state since August 25 when a military crackdown was launched following attacks by Rohingya militants.
There is not enough food, water or medicine to go around. Roads around the camps are littered with human excrement, fueling UN fears that serious disease could quickly break out.


Apartheid, the race-based system ended 25 years ago

Updated 3 min 59 sec ago
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Apartheid, the race-based system ended 25 years ago

PARIS: South Africa’s first all-race vote 25 years ago turned the page on an oppressive system of racial segregation called apartheid that for roughly 50 years privileged whites over blacks.
Here is a reminder.
Apartheid — an Afrikaans-language word meaning the state of “apartness” — became official government policy in 1948 when the conservative National Party took power.
It formalized a system of white-minority domination in place soon after European settlers started arriving on the southern tip of Africa more than 300 years before, most coming from The Netherlands and Britain.
Apartheid was built on laws that classified people as black, colored (mixed race), Indian or white.
The races were separated in every aspect including at school, work and hospitals, and where they could live and shop.
Jobs were reserved for certain races; marriage and sex across the color bar was forbidden; even beaches, buses and park benches were allotted according to skin color.
Whites — who made up less than 20 percent of the population — had ownership of more than 80 percent of the land. They controlled the economy, including the lucrative mining sector, and all political levers.
Blacks had no right to vote and were relegated to inferior jobs, education and services.
They were made to live in neglected townships on the outskirts of urban areas or in various disadvantaged ethnic-based homelands called “Bantustans.”
Until 1986 black South Africans were obliged to carry a passport-like document called a pass book which restricted their movements.
To maintain the system, the apartheid government imposed severe censorship and relied heavily on its security forces, with compulsory conscription for white males between 1967 and 1993.
The African National Congress (ANC) led the resistance to apartheid, first adopting non-violent tactics such as strikes, boycotts and civil disobedience campaigns.
Among the first major protests was a boycott of government buses in the Alexandra township in 1957.
In 1960 a march in Sharpeville against the hated pass books became a massacre when police opened fire on the crowd, killing 69 blacks.
In 1960 the government banned the ANC and other black opposition, and imposed a state of emergency. Underground and in exile, the ANC turned to armed struggle.
In 1964 one of its leaders, Nelson Mandela, was sentenced with others to life in prison for sabotage. He was behind bars for 27 years, becoming the world’s best-known political prisoner of the time and an icon of the anti-apartheid struggle.
The Sharpeville massacre brought world attention to the regime’s brutal repression, leading to the start of its international isolation.
South Africa was excluded from the Olympic Games, expelled from the United Nations, put under arms and trade embargoes.
Internationally renowned personalities became activists against apartheid, with a major rock concert at London’s Wembley Stadium in 1988 honoring Mandela.
It came as a shock when in 1990 President F.W. de Klerk, in power for just five months, announced the legalization of the black opposition.
Within days Mandela walked free after 27 years in jail; within a year and a half, apartheid was over, its discriminatory laws undone.
Its dismantling was celebrated with the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Mandela and de Klerk.
The transition to democracy was not without hurdles with white extremists violently resistant and rivalry between ANC militants and the Zulu party Inkhata breaking into deadly violence.
The first all-race elections were held in 1994 and black South Africans queued for hours to cast a vote for the first time in their lives.
The ANC won by a landslide and Mandela became the country’s first black president. Apartheid was over.