The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu talks during an interview at Inya Lake Hotel in Yangon, Myanmar
The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu talks during an interview at Inya Lake Hotel in Yangon, Myanmar, on Saturday, Nov 16, 2013. Mr Ihsanoglu said emotional visits with members of the long-persecuted Rohingya Muslim
community – chased from their homes in Myanmar by Buddhist mobs and arsonists – brought him to tears. — PHOTO: AP
YANGON, Myanmar — The secretary general of the world’s largest bloc of Islamic countries said emotional visits with members of the long-persecuted Rohingya Muslim community — chased from their homes in Myanmar by Buddhist mobs and arsonists — brought him to tears.
“I’ve never had such a feeling,” Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said late Saturday, as he and other delegates from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation wrapped up a three-day tour to Myanmar that included talks with the president, government ministers, interfaith groups and U.N. agencies.
But he said it was the huge, emotional crowds living in trash-strewn camps outside the Rakhine state capital, Sittwe, that made the biggest impression.
“I was crying,” Ihsanoglu said.
Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist nation of 60 million, emerged from a half-century of military rule in 2011, but its transition to democracy has been marred by sectarian violence that has left more than 240 people dead and sent another 240,000 fleeing their homes.
Most of the victims have been Rohingya. Though many of their families arrived generations ago, all have been denied citizenship by the government.
Many children in displacement camps have not gone to school for more than a year. Those who wish to leave — for medical treatment or otherwise — have to pay hefty bribes. Humanitarian aid workers face constant threats by Buddhist Rakhine, who accuse them of being biased in favor of Rohingya.
Ihsanoglu said that while visiting the Sittwe camps, he and other members of the IOC delegation were met by crowds of 5,000, but due to the language barrier, they were unable to communicate.
“They were desperate. They were afraid. They were happy we were there, but it was a happiness expressed in crying,” he said, adding that he was eventually able to offer the Islamic greeting, “Assalam Alaikum,” or “May God grant protection and security,” and the crowd responded in kind.
“I can’t explain the feeling I had,” he said. “It was very moving.”
The OIC visit to Myanmar was marred by frequent demonstrations, with thousands turning out to meet the delegates when they landed in Yangon and then Sittwe, some carrying banners that said “OIC get out” or chanting “Stop interfering in our internal affairs.”
Still, Ihsanoglu called it a success — mostly because it came at the invitation of a government that has largely remained silent about the repeated attacks on minority Muslims.
He said he received assurances that the government was seeking to resolve issues of citizenship for its 800,000 Rohingya, but gave no details.
“If this issue is not solved, it will be a big problem,” he said.
Rohingya, excluded from Myanmar’s 135 recognized ethnic groups, have for decades endured systematic discriminatory and exclusionary policies, restricting movement, access to education and jobs.
Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi — who has said little in defense of the religious minority — declined to meet with the OIC delegation.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
AUNG AUNG (SITTWE) (27/10/2013)
Our era of modern civilization is characterized as much by war and conflict as it is by peace and democracy. The twentieth century was the century of war. 21st century is full of Dictators’ mischief against democracy, human right and religion. 1000s of good people stand for reality, justice, and human right on Earth. Unfortunately some leaders support dictators, mischief, and injustice, and deny human dignity and human right. They are worse than cruel dictators, shame on those leaders!
A good leader should remains as humble as common people after accomplishment of admire, wealth, and fame; showing an impressive strength of character, morality, and virtue. The person who risk his or her life, wealth and reputation, and bear criticize for a lie in order to get higher worldly position, cannot be a good leader. History is full of people, who saying one thing and doing another can never change people. A good leader should be a good exemplar of high moral conduct and virtue. A liar cannot be a good leader. A good leader must know his people thoroughly to educate them and lead them to realize a great cause. We need to learn each other before we judge each other.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi became famous as democracy icon of Burma but she failed to tell the reality as she developed her grudge against her Muslim boyfriend of her youth. She uses her personal anger against all Muslims and started the destruction of humanity, human right and justice. She has been denying existence of Rohingya knowingly. When only 10 persons left to support her, a Rohingya leader, U Kyaw Myint was one of them. Today, she openly denies Rohingya’s existence, ethnic cleansing and human right violation because of her grudge against Muslims.
More than 300000 Rohingya left the country because of persecution in 1977-78. When Myanmar Government received those refugees under UN supervision, Dictator Ne Win accepted most of the refugees back as Rohingya, Myanmar citizens. I attached an official document of returning refugee in which the race of refugee was written Rohingya, not Bangali.
As denial of Sun’s existence by the whole humanity cannot remove the Sun, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s denial cannot cease Rohingya’s existence. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s stand for Dictators is a sign of future human right violation in Burma. We need World’s support to put pressure on Myanmar Government.
Union of Myanmar
President: Lt. Gen. Thein Sein (2011)
Vice President: Vice President Sai Mouk Kham (2011)
Land area: 253,954 sq mi (657,741 sq km); total area: 261,969 q mi (678,500 sq km)
Population (2012 est.): 54,584,650 (growth rate: 1.07%); birth rate: 19.11/1000; infant mortality rate: 47.74/1000; life expectancy: 65.24; density per sq km: 72
Capital and largest city (2009 est.): Rangoon (Yangon), 4,259,000
Naypyidaw (administrative capital)
Other large cities: Mandalay, 1,009,000; Nay Pyi Taw 992,000
Monetary unit: Kyat
National name: Pyidaungsu Myanmar Naingngandau
Languages: Burmese, minority languages
Ethnicity/race: Burman 68%, Shan 9%, Karen 7%, Rakhine 4%, Chinese 3%, Mon 2%, Indian 2%, other 5%
Religions: Buddhist 89%, Christian 4% (Baptist 3%, Roman Catholic 1%), Islam 4%, Animist 1%, other 2%
Literacy rate: 89.9% (2011 est.)
Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2011 est.): $82.72 billion; per capita $1,300. Real growth rate: 5.5%. Inflation: 8.9%. Unemployment: 5.5%. Arable land: 15%. Agriculture: rice, pulses, beans, sesame, groundnuts, sugarcane; hardwood; fish and fish products. Labor force: 32.53 million; agriculture 70%, industry 7%, services 23% (2012). Industries: agricultural processing; knit and woven apparel; wood and wood products; copper, tin, tungsten, iron; construction materials; pharmaceuticals; fertilizer; cement; natural gas. Natural resources: petroleum, timber, tin, antimony, zinc, copper, tungsten, lead, coal, some marble, limestone, precious stones, natural gas, hydropower. Exports: $9.543 billion (2011); note: official export figures are grossly underestimated due to the value of timber, gems, narcotics, rice, and other products smuggled to Thailand, China, and Bangladesh: clothing, gas, wood products, pulses, beans, fish, rice. Imports: $5.498 billion (2011 est.); note: import figures are grossly underestimated due to the value of consumer goods, diesel fuel, and other products smuggled in from Thailand, China, Malaysia, and India: fabric, petroleum products, plastics, machinery, transport equipment, construction materials, crude oil; food products. Major trading partners: Thailand, India, China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia (2004).
Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 604,700 (2011); mobile cellular: 594,000 (2011). Radio broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 3, shortwave 3 (1998). Radios: 4.2 million (1997). Television broadcast stations: 2 (1998). Televisions: 320,000 (2000). Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1,033; note: as of Sept. 2000, Internet connections were legal only for the government, tourist offices, and a few large businesses (2012). Internet users: 110,000 (2011).
Transportation: Railways: total: 5,031 km (2011). Highways: total: 27,000 km; (2011 est.). Waterways: 12,800 km; 3,200 km navigable by large commercial vessels. Ports and harbors: Bassein, Bhamo, Chauk, Mandalay, Moulmein, Myitkyina, Rangoon, Akyab (Sittwe), Tavoy. Airports: 76 (2011).
International disputes: despite continuing border committee talks, significant differences remain with Thailand over boundary alignment and the handling of ethnic rebels, refugees, and illegal cross-border activities.
Slightly smaller than Texas, Myanmar occupies the Thailand/Cambodia portion of the Indochinese peninsula. India lies to the northwest and China to the northeast. Bangladesh, Laos, and Thailand are also neighbors. The Bay of Bengal touches the southwest coast. The fertile delta of the Irrawaddy River in the south contains a network of interconnecting canals and nine principal river mouths.
The ethnic origins of modern Myanmar (known historically as Burma) are a mixture of Indo-Aryans, who began pushing into the area around 700 B.C., and the Mongolian invaders under Kublai Khan who penetrated the region in the 13th century. Anawrahta (1044–1077) was the first great unifier of Myanmar.
In 1612, the British East India Company sent agents to Burma, but the Burmese doggedly resisted efforts of British, Dutch, and Portuguese traders to establish posts along the Bay of Bengal. Through the Anglo-Burmese War in 1824–1826 and two subsequent wars, the British East India Company expanded to the whole of Burma. By 1886, Burma was annexed to India, then became a separate colony in 1937.
WWII Leads to Independence
During World War II, Burma was a key battleground; the 800-mile Burma Road was the Allies’ vital supply line to China. The Japanese invaded the country in Dec. 1941, and by May 1942, had occupied most of it, cutting off the Burma Road. After one of the most difficult campaigns of the war, Allied forces liberated most of Burma prior to the Japanese surrender in Aug. 1945.
Burma became independent on Jan. 4, 1948. In 1962, left-wing general Ne Win staged a coup, banned political opposition, suspended the constitution, and introduced the “Burmese way of socialism.” After 25 years of economic hardship and repression, the Burmese people held massive demonstrations in 1987 and 1988. These were brutally quashed by the State Law and Order Council (SLORC). In 1989, the military government officially changed the name of the country to Myanmar. (The U.S. State Department does not recognize the name Myanmar or the military regime that represents it.)
The Military Maintains a Tight Grip on Myanmar
In May 1990 elections, the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) won in a landslide. But the military, or SLORC, refused to recognize the election results. The leader of the opposition, Aung San Suu Kyi, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, which focused world attention on SLORC’s repressive policies. Daughter of the assassinated general Aung San, who was revered as the father of Burmese independence, Suu Kyi remained under house arrest from 1989 until 1995. Suu Kyi continued to protest against the government, but almost every move she made was answered with a counterblow from SLORC.
Although the ruling junta has maintained a tight grip on Myanmar since 1988, it has not been able to subdue an insurgency in the country’s south that has gone on for decades. The ethnic Karen movement has sought an independent homeland along Myanmar’s southern border with Thailand. In Jan. 2004, the military government and the insurgents from the Karen National Union agreed to end the fighting, but they stopped short of signing a cease-fire.
The economy has been in a state of collapse except for the junta-controlled heroin trade, the universities have remained closed, and the AIDS epidemic, unrecognized by the junta, has gripped the country.
The Junta Crack Down on Democracy
From 2000 to 2002, Suu Kyi was again placed under house arrest. In spring 2003, the government cracked down once again on the democracy movement, detaining Suu Kyi and shuttering NLD headquarters. The regime opened a constitutional convention in May 2004, but many observers doubted its legitimacy.
In Oct. 2004, the government arrested Prime Minister Gen. Khin Nyunt and charged him with corruption. He had angered the leadership of the junta with his recent experiments on reform, first by freeing Suu Kyi from house arrest and later for proposing a seven-step “road map to democracy.”
A series of coordinated bomb attacks in May 2005 killed about a dozen people and wounded more than 100 in Rangoon. The military junta blamed the Karen National Union and the Shan State Army. The ethnic rebel groups, however, denied any involvement.
Moving Toward a Modern Nation
On Nov. 13, 2005, the military junta—in a massive and secretive move—relocated the seat of government from the capital Rangoon to a mountain compound called Pyinmanaa in Naypyidaw. The move perplexed many, and the junta was vague in its explanation, saying, “Due to changed circumstances, where Myanmar is trying to develop a modern nation, a more centrally located government seat has become a necessity.”
More than 1,000 delegates gathered in December to begin drafting a constitution, which the junta said was a step toward democracy. The convention adjourned in late Jan. 2006 with little progress. In Sept. 2007, representatives to the convention, which has met on and off since 1993, released a draft constitution that ensures that the military will continue to control the ministries and legislature and have the right to declare a state of emergency. The document also limits the rights of political parties. Opposition parties were excluded from the convention.
Military Crackdowns Receive World Criticism
In a stunning show of defiance, widespread pro-democracy protests, prompted by a sharp increase in fuel prices, erupted throughout the country in Aug. 2007. Participation in the peaceful protests ballooned over several weeks, and Buddhist monks joined the throngs of protesters when government troops used force against demonstrators in early September. The monks emerged as the leaders of the protest movement and gained international sympathy and support. On Sept. 26, the military cracked down on the protesters, firing into crowds, raiding pagodas, and arresting monks. At least nine people were killed. The protests were by far the largest in the country in 20 years, with as many as 100,000 people marching. In a statement, the United Nations Security Council condemned the crackdown, saying it “strongly deplores” the violence unleashed on the protesters.
On May 3, 2008, Cyclone Nargis ravaged the Irrawaddy Delta and Yangon, killing 22,500 people and leaving up to a million homeless. Another 41,000 people were reported missing and feared dead. Most of the death and destruction were caused by a 12-foot high tidal wave that formed during the storm. The isolated military junta accepted international aid, a tacit acknowledgement that it is ill-equipped to handle a disaster of such enormous scope. But once the aid began to arrive, the government limited distribution of the supplies, accepting only about 10% of what was needed. In addition, it denied entry visas to relief workers, leaving the country crippled and vulnerable to widespread disease. The junta faced further criticism when it went ahead with a constitutional referendum on May 10 intended to cement its grip on power.
In September, the military government released just over 9,000 prisoners, including the longest-serving political prisoner, Win Tin. Most of those released, however, were not political prisoners. By most estimates, as many as 2,000 political prisoners remain in detention. These releases were followed in November by the sentencing of 30 activists to up to 65 years in jail. The activists include veterans of the 1988 students’ movement and other democracy advocates who participated in the thwarted monk-led protests in Aug. and Sept. 2007.
Suu Kyi Freed Shortly After Elections
Days after elections in Oct. 2010–the country’s first elections in 20 years–opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was freed after nearly 20 years in detention. Thousands of supporters gathered outside her home, where she gave a speech calling for a “peaceful revolution.” The elections, which the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party won in a landslide, were widely criticized as rigged and an attempt to further empower the military government. Nevertheless, the junta presented the elections as evidence that the country had completed the transition from military government to a democracy. Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, boycotted the elections, thus further diminishing the legitimacy of the results.
Dramatic Shift Away from Authoritarian Rule Brings Diplomatic Opportunities
The country’s first Parliament in 20 years convened in Jan. 2011 and elected Prime Minister Thein Sein as president. The military junta officially disbanded in March 2011. However, Parliament is civilian largely in name only. The military won about 60% of the seats in October 2010 elections, and another 25% are reserved for members of the military. In addition, the cabinet is largely comprised of former members of the junta. The National League for Democracy dismissed the transition to a civilian government, calling it a futile gesture that will introduce no real change in power.
The NLD’s predictions proved false, however. In his first year as president, Thein Sein initiated stunning changes in political and economic philosophy that saw a loosening of the tight grip the authoritarian junta held on the country. He initiated talks with opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; allowed her and her party, the NLD, to run in upcoming parliamentary elections; freed about more than 800 political prisoners; signed a cease-fire with ethnic Karen rebels, who for 60 years have sought an independent homeland along Myanmar’s southern border with Thailand; and suspended work on the controversial $3.6 billion Myitsone Dam on the Irrawaddy River. In response, the U.S. took dramatic steps to normalize relations with the formerly isolated and repressive regime. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the country in December 2011—it was the first visit of a senior U.S. official in about 50 years. In Jan. 2012 the U.S. restored full diplomatic relations with Myanmar. That was followed by an easing of sanctions that allowed U.S. companies to “responsibly do business” in Myanmar.
Opposition Dominates 2012 Elections
In April 2012 parliamentary elections, the National League of Democracy prevailed in 43 out of 45 districts that held races, including the capital, Naypyidaw. Suu Kyi, who in October 2010 was released after spending nearly 20 years under house arrest, won a seat in parliament and took office in May. It was a stunning victory for the opposition—and an equally symbolic defeat for the military. Observers speculated that the opposition’s victory would either prompt military rulers to respond to the will of the people and enact change or view the victory as a threat to its power. The U.S. rewarded Myanmar for its progress with a thaw in relations, easing a number of sanctions and allowing nongovernmental organizations to resume operations in the country. “The results of the April 1 parliamentary by-elections represent a dramatic demonstration of popular will that brings a new generation of reformers into government,” U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton said.
Ethnic violence broke out between Buddhists and Muslims in the western state of Rakhine after the rape and murder of a Buddhist woman by a Muslim man. Revenge attacks followed, prompting Prime Minister Thein Sein to declare a state of emergency in June. Dozens were killed, hundreds of homes were burned, and about 100,000 people were displaced. Tension between the Buddhist majority and Muslim minority, called Rohingyas, in Rakhine has been high for years. The government considers the Rohingyas illegal immigrants, discrimination against them is rampant, and they live in horrible conditions. On Aug. 1, 2012, the international organization Human Rights Watch published a 56-page report “The Government Could Have Stopped This” based on eyewitness reports of the acts of violence committed in Myanmar.
Small Steps Toward Democratization
In Aug. 2012 Myanmar’s government did away with the country’s censorship of private publications. While laws enabling the imprisonment of journalists for printing items that the government deems harmful are still in effect, the final two topics (religion and politics) were removed from the pre-publication censorship list on Aug. 20. Prime Minister Thein Sein continued his shift in political philosophy in September, announcing in a speech to the UN that the changes in Myanmar are “irreversible.” In response to the progress, President Barack Obama visited Myanmar in November—the first U.S. president to enter the country. He praised the drift from isolation as a “remarkable journey.”
In answer to two years’ worth of social, political, and economic reform, the European Union lifted the last of its trade, economic and individual sanctions against Myanmar. President Obama lifted the 1996 ban on entry visas to the former Burma’s military rulers, their business partners, and immediate families on May 2, 2013. At the same time, however, the Obama administration approved another year of the National Emergencies Act, which prohibits business transactions with anyone in Myanmar involved in repression of the democracy movement. This give-one, take-one approach was meant to encourage the democratization of Myanmar while simultaneously registering censure of the sectarian violence that erupted in March and has caused more than 40 deaths and has displaced an estimated 13,000. Radical Buddhist monks have been indicted in these attacks between Buddhists and minority (5% of population) Muslims.
ဒါေပမယ့္ ေသခ်ာတာကေတာ့ ဒီလိုလုပ္ရပ္မ်ိဳးကို လုပ္ေဆာင္ေနတဲ့ ေဆးရံုက ၀န္ထမ္းေတြကိုေကာ ဆိုင္ပိုင္ရွင္ေတြသာမက လာေရာက္စားသံုးသူေတြပါ ဥပေဒအရ ျပင္းျပင္း ထန္ထန္ကို အျပစ္ေပး အေရးယူသင့္ပါတယ္…။
အခုခ်ိန္မွာ သူတို႕ဟာ သူတို႕ရဲ႕ စီးပြားေရးအတြက္ ေသဆံုးၿပီးသား ကေလးေတြရဲ႕ အေလာင္းေတြကို အသံုးခ်ေနေပမယ့္ ေနာက္တစ္ခ်ိန္က်ရင္ အေတာမသတ္ႏိုင္တဲ့ လူ႕ေလာ ဘေၾကာင့္ လံုး၀ၾကားလို႕ မေကာင္းတဲ့ အရာေတြ ျဖစ္လာႏိုင္ပါတယ္…
ဒါေၾကာင့္ ေက်းဇူးျပဳၿပီး တတ္ႏိုင္သမွ် ဒီေမးလ္ေလးကို ျဖန္႕ေ၀ေပးၾကပါ…၊ ဒါမ်ိဳး လူမဆန္တဲ့ ျဖစ္ရပ္မ်ိဳးေတြ ကမၻာၾကီး ေပၚကေန လံုး၀ေပ်ာက္ကြယ္သြားေအာင္ သူတို႕ကို ျပင္းျပင္းထန္ထန္ အျပစ္ေပး အေရးယူသင့္ပါတယ္..။
over Human History“…And Attai begat Nathan, and Nathan begat Zabad, And Zabad begat Ephlal, and Ephlal begat Obed, And Obed begat Jehu, and Jehu begat Azariah, And Azariah begat Helez, and Helez begat Eleasah, And Eleasah begat Sisamai, and Sisamai begat Shallum, And Shallum begat Jakamiah, and Jakamiah begat Elishama…”
– The Bible, Chronicles
|01/04/2006||Format for printing|
In this lecture period, we wish to learn:
- How fast has the human population grown in the past?
- What is the world population likely to be in the future?
- What forces are responsible for the world’s human population?
- What is meant by the “Demographic Transition”?
- What can we learn from models of future human population growth?
(from NOVA on-line)
Past Human Population Growth
In previous lectures, we have described how human cultural development was closely tied to changes in the natural environment. Successive cultural revolutions, such as the agricultural revolution, have led to surges in population. Figure 1 summarizes again the historical record, typical of a “J-shaped” growth, with humans filling new niches and (perhaps) not yet reaching a limiting carrying capacity. One feature to note in this plot is the lack of huge fluctuations associated with famines or wars. In fact, the nature of J-shaped (exponential) growth is such that episodic reductions due to such catastrophes usually do not affect the inexorable and overpowering upward acceleration in population size. An exception is the period of the “black death” in Europe, which produced a noticeable but small downward spike in the curve. The wholesale loss of life due to world wars of the 20th century produced only small perturbations to the upward trend.
Figure 1: Human Population Growth over Time
The human population growth of the last century has been truly phenomenal. It required only 40 years after 1950 for the population to double from 2.5 billion to 5 billion. This doubling time is less than the average human lifetime. The world population passed 6 billion just before the end of the 20th century. Present estimates are for the population to reach 8-12 billion before the end of the 21st century. During each lecture hour, more than 10,000 new people enter the world, a rate of ~3 per second!
Of the 6 billion people, about half live in poverty and at least one fifth are severely undernourished. The rest live out their lives in comparative comfort and health.
The factors affecting global human population are very simple. They are fertility, mortality, initial population, and time. The current growth rate of ~1.3% per year is smaller than the peak which occurred a few decades ago (~2.1% per year in 1965-1970), but since this rate acts on a much larger population base, the absolute number of new people per year (~90 million) is at an all time high. The stabilization of population will require a reduction in fertility globally. In the most optimistic view, this will take some time.
The current growth of population is driven by fertility. Figure 2 shows how total fertility rate is a strong function of region. It can be readily seen that the more developed countries (“the North”) have lower fertility rates than the less developed countries (“the South”). The fertility rates in the developed world are close to replacement levels (i.e., the population is roughly stable), while the rates in the developing world are much higher. Thus, population growth and level of development are clearly linked.
Figure 2: Global Total Fertility Rates, 1990-1995
Fertility is largely controlled by economics and by human aspirations. The high fertility of the developing world can be partially explained by the large number of hands needed to perform low-technology agricultural tasks. In these areas, families with large numbers of children realize an enhanced economic status. As technology improves, parents realize that having more children decreases rather than increases their standard of living. A dramatic example of this effect occurred in Thailand, where, as soon as parents realized that future economic status was linked to the secondary schooling (which is expensive in Thailand), the fertility rate dropped from about 6 to 2 in a decade!
While fertility rates are obviously useful, the demographics of the existing population are also important and can provide key information to predict future growth rates. An example of two such population-age pyramids is shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3: Population/Age Pyramids of the Developed and Developing World
The top figure shows the population-age pyramid for the developed world and the bottom figure is for the developing world. The figure illustrates the pyramids for the years 1975 (pink) and 2000 (blue). The population/age structure of the developed world represents that of a stable (or nearly stable) population. Here, the pyramid is more rectangular than for a rapidly growing population (bottom) where there is a much larger number of young people. The bottom figure (typical for countries like Mexico, Malaysia, India, etc.) is more triangular and shows how a rapidly growing population is dominated by young people. The female side of the diagram is particularly important in understanding future growth. This is because fertility is largely controlled by the number of females in their reproductive years (roughly ages 15 – 40).
In the developing world, not only are there many females capable of reproduction, but there are many more young females who are of potential mothers. Thus, the shape of the population-age pyramid for the developing world indicates that the population will continue to grow aggressively for the near future as the cohort of fertile females gets larger each year, fed from the lower parts of the pyramid. It takes many tens (perhaps hundreds) of years to steepen the slopes of the population-age pyramid. Such a steepening is essential before populations can become stable. Intensive efforts to control population have been implemented in various countries. In China, aggressive population control via a one-child family policy is bringing remarkable change to age structure and population size. Click here for a short case study and dynamic graphic representation of China’s future population and food security.
As can be seen, the aggressive population planning policies in India (discussed further in the next lecture) have served to steepen the pyramid – but only marginally so. The pyramid for 1991 has a long way to go before it resembles the stable structure seen in the developed world.
Figure 4: Comparitive Population Pyramids for India
Mortality, or the death rate per individual, is another determining factor of population growth. In the developing world, the death rate has dropped, more or less continuously, since the start of the industrial revolution. The following figure shows the slow, hard won, reduction in death rate in various European countries. Personal hygiene and improved methods of sanitation have played a major role and preceded the impact of modern medicine and, in particular, the development of antibiotics capable of reducing death due to infection. The downward trend of the death rate is common to most countries, although there are some countries (for example, Russia) where the death rate remains high and refuses to move appreciably.
Figure 5: Death Rates per 1000 over Time
The combination of decreasing death rate due to the march of progress in sanitation and medicine, coupled with the decrease in birth rate due to changes in the economies, has led to a profound change in the population growth curve in the developed world. This change is called the Demographic Transition.
The Demographic Transition
This is the name given to the process that has occurred during the past century, leading to a stabilization of population growth in the more highly developed countries. The Demographic Transition is shown schematically in Figure 6. It is generally characterized as having four separate phases or stages.
Figure 6: The Demographic Transition
Stage 1. In this early stage of the demographic transition in Europe, birth rates and death rates are both high. Modern medicine had not yet developed techniques to lengthen life substantially and standards of personal hygiene were comparatively low. Both rates fluctuated depending on circumstances.No demographic transition has occured.
Stage 2. In this stage, standards of hygiene and more modern medical techniques began to drive the death rate down, leading to a significant upward trend in population size. The birth rate remained high, as much of the economy was based on agriculture. Mexico is currently between this and the following stage.Stage 2 and 3 are indicative of a partial or first demographic transition.
Stage 3. Urbanization decreases the economic incentives for large families. The cost of supporting an urban family grew and parents were more actively discouraged from having large families. In response to these economic pressures, the birth rate started to drop, ultimately coming close to the death rate. In the meantime, however, the increased population in Europe led to tremendous societal pressures that caused large scale migration (e.g., to the USA) and extensive global colonialization.
Stage 4. The last stage of the demographic transition in Europe was characterized by a higher, but stable, population size. Birth and death rates were both relatively low and the standard of living became much higher than during the earlier periods. The developed world remains in the fourth stage of its demographic transition. A good example of a country in this stage is Sweden. At stage 4, we speak of countries having completed the second or a full demographic transition.
The demographic transition did not occur overnight in Europe. It is anticipated that a transition like this will occur in all countries as they become further developed. However, time (many decades) will be needed for the birth and death rates to equilibrate – during which time the population will continue to grow rapidly.
The demographic data from the various countries of the world has been analyzed by many separate entities, including the United Nations. Figure 7 shows the expected future growth curve. Most of the future growth will occur in the developing world as each country struggles to go through a demographic transition of their own. This particular projection shows a total population approaching 9 billion by the year 2050. The projected curve more closely resembles a sigmoidal (logistic) or “S-shaped” curve.
Because most developed countries have undergone a complete demographic transition, and have low population growth rate, their numbers increase little over the present. In contrast, developing countries with their high population growth rate will comprise a larger and larger fraction of the world populations.
Anyone who examines world population growth over the past two centuries certainly must be astounded, and quite possibly alarmed. The global population reached one billion in 1804. In 1927, some 123 years later, it passed two billion. Sixty years later, in 1987, the world population was five billion, and 12 years later, in October 1999, it is estimated to have passed six billion. Small wonder that many are concerned about what this bodes for our future. Due to the momentum represented by steeply pyramidal age distributions, population growth surely will continue for one to several generations. Most of that growth will occur in developing nations. An eventual world population of 8-12 billion is expected by the end of the century. But estimates change frequently.
According to a report from the United Nations Population Fund, based on 1998 analyses (see The State of World Population 1999), projections for the future global population are being revised downward. The projection for 2050 now is 8.9 billion (medium variant), substantially lower than the 1996 projection of 9.4 billion.
The major reason for the lower projection is good news: global fertility rates have declined more rapidly than expected, as health care, including reproductive health, has improved faster than anticipated, and men and women have chosen to have smaller families. About one-third of the reduction in long-range population projections, however, is due to increasing mortality rates in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of the Indian subcontinent. The most important factor is HIV/AIDS, which is spreading much faster than previously anticipated.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic is having a devastating effect on Africa. Estimates released in 1998 by UNAIDS and the World Health Organization indicate that global HIV infections increased 10 per cent in 1998 to 33.4 million people worldwide. In 1999 alone, an estimated 5.8 million people contracted the virus that causes AIDS. Fig. 8 shows the likely impact of AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa, comparing population projections with and without AIDS in the 29 most-affected countries, 1980-2050.
Populations in certain regions will grow; elsewhere, human numbers will stabilize or even decline. Within countries, populations will continue to shift from rural to urban areas, while becoming increasingly older and better educated. Migration between countries will be an increasingly important factor in international relations and the composition of national populations.
Fig 7 shows the regional make-up of the world population, 1950-2050. Clearly, the fraction that lives in less-developed regions will dominate, continuing a trend that already is well underway. In 1960, 70 per cent of the global population lived in less-developed regions. By late 1999, the less-developed regions had grown to comprise 80 per cent. Of the projected growth of the world population by 2025, 98 per cent will occur in these regions.
Africa, with an average fertility rate exceeding five children per woman during the entire period, has grown the fastest among regions. There are almost three times as many Africans alive today (767 million) as there were in 1960. Asia, by far the most populous region, has more than doubled in size (to over 3.6 billion), as has Latin America and the Caribbean. In contrast, the population of Northern America has grown by only 50 per cent, and Europe’s has increased by only 20 per cent and is now roughly stable.
A global trend towards urbanization also is taking place. The world’s urban population is growing by 60 million a year, about three times the increase in the rural population (Fig. 9). The movement of people towards cities has accelerated in the past 40 years, particularly in the less-developed regions, and the share of the global population living in urban areas has increased from one third in 1960 to 47 per cent (2.8 billion people) in 1999. Increasing urbanization results about equally from births in urban areas and from the continued movement of people from rural regions. By 2030, it is expected that nearly 5 billion (61 per cent) of the world’s 8.1 billion people will live in cities. (see Lecture on Migration and Urbanization)
Globally, the number of cities with 10 million or more inhabitants is increasing rapidly, and most of these new “megacities” are in the less-developed regions. In 1960, only New York and Tokyo had more than 10 million people. By 1999, the number of megacities was 17, 13 in less-developed regions. It is projected that there will be 26 megacities by 2015, 22 in less-developed regions (18 will be in Asia); more than 10 per cent of the world’s population will live in these cities, up from just 1.7 per cent in megacities in 1950.
As we have seen, the human population growth curve is currently following an exponential curve or a “J-shape” (fig. 1). Common sense tells us that such growth cannot continue – otherwise within a few hundred years every square foot of the Earth’s surface would be taken up by a human. Furthermore, experience with other species tells us that, ultimately, resource limitations and/or habitat degradation will force the human population curves to approach an upper limit or asymptote – the carrying capacity, often symbolized as ” K” by ecologists. It is very natural to ask the linked questions – does humanity have a carrying capacity and, if so, what is it – and when will we reach or overshoot this limit?
Joel Cohen’s recent book on human carrying capacity summarizes the continuing lack of scientific consensus on the subject. Estimates of the number still vary widely according to the specific assumptions used. In fact, the estimates are more scattered than before – indicating a quantitative field still very much in its infancy. One strand of thought, represented by the author Julian Simon discards the notion of a human carrying capacity altogether, claiming that the additional people will provide sufficient creativity and innovation to break through any possible natural barriers to human population growth. Most of the serious estimates of K for humans, however, lie in the range 10 -20 billion people.
There are no easy answers to the questions: “How many people can the earth support?”, and “At what level of well-being?”. Cohen suggests we think in terms of three possible (and non-exclusive) solutions:
- Make a bigger pie: Increase human productive capacities through technology and innovation
- Put fewer forks on the table: Reduce numbers and expectations of people through such means as family planning and vegetarian diets
- Teach better manners: Change the terms of people’s interactions through improved planning and government to enhance social justice.
What do you think of each of these approaches, and what is your reasoning?
- Human population exhibits an J-shaped growth curve, and is accelerating.
- Age pyramids are important descriptors of a population’s recent history and medium-term future. Population growth rates are highly dependent upon level of development.
- A decline in both death and birth rates is referred to as a complete demographic transition.
- Most current and future growth is taking place in developing countries, which have experienced only a partial demographic transition.
Take the Population Growth Self Test
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s interview with the BBC during her visit to the UK, has shocked many of her admirers. Despite being repeatedly pressed to do so, she repeatedly avoided giving a clear unequivocal condemnation of the anti-Muslim violence that is engulfing Burma.
As a Muslim Rohingya and an advocate for human rights who spent many years campaigning for her freedom, it is hard to express the shock I felt at her words during this interview.
She started by dismissing reports of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya Muslim minority. On what basis does she make this denial? Despite repeated requests, in the 16 months since the violence against Muslims began in Rakhine State, she has not once visited the area. In contrast, Human Rights Watch has been to the areas where attacks took place, gathered evidence, and had experts in international law examine it. Their conclusion is that there is evidence of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. Presented with such evidence, how can anyone who cares about human rights just dismiss this out of hand as she did?
Given the opportunity to clearly condemn attacks against Muslims, she repeatedly refused to do so. Instead she generalised by saying she condemned all violence and hatred. She has moral authority like no other person in Burma. When she speaks, people listen. If she strongly condemned attacks on Muslims it would make a difference. It could calm the situation. But she didn’t. Instead, she went beyond just trying to explain why the violence was taking place, and sounded like she was making excuses for it. First she did this by saying it was because Buddhists were also living in fear. How can this be true? Buddhists are by far the biggest majority in Burma. Secondly she talked about Buddhists also being subjected to violence and having to flee Burma. The overwhelming majority of violence has been Buddhists attacking Muslims, not the other way around. No Buddhists have fled Burma because of attacks by Muslims. They fled because of repression by the Buddhist led dictatorship. Even if there was real fear as she claims, that doesn’t justify people taking to the streets and burning alive their Muslim neighbours.
In the past 16 months alone, 140,000 Rohingya Muslims have been forced to flee to squalid temporary camps. This compares to less than five thousand Rakhine Buddhists who fled homes after tit-for-tat attacks when violence against Rohingya began in June last year. Why is Aung San Suu Kyi trying to portray this as two sides suffering equally, when the facts prove this is not the case?
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi also started talking about global Muslim power, as if this is some kind of threat to Burma? To hear a Nobel Peace Prize winner talking in the same way about Islam as bigots and racists is very disappointing. There are conspiracy theories about a global Muslim conspiracy to take over Burma, but these kind of things are spread by crazy people on Facebook. It is not what you expect from a University educated leader of a democracy movement. Instead of dismissing these claims as the dangerous nonsense they are, she gave them credibility in the eyes of many Burmese.
When Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was asked about the Monk Wirathu, who incites hatred and violence against Muslims, she also avoided criticising him, again just using generalisations saying she condemns hate of any kind. This hasn’t gone unnoticed in Burma.
Perhaps one of her most revealing comments was when she talking about Muslims integrating. She was not only talking about the Rohingya. She was talking about Muslims generally. How and why do people who are native to Burma, having lived there countless centuries, need to integrate? They are Burmese, and unlike most Rohingya Muslims, they have Burmese citizenship. Most have never even travelled abroad, and nor have any of their ancestors. But Aung San Suu Kyi doesn’t seem to see them that way. She sees them as different and needing to integrate. Seeing as the only difference is their religion, does she share the common view among many Buddhists in Burma that Muslims are not real Burmese?
In the west admirers might be shocked and disappointed by Aung San Suu Kyi’s comments, but in Burma the consequences are much more serious. Those who are inciting anti-Muslim hatred have taken great encouragement from her words, and we expect more violence against us. The United Nations has an opportunity to help by including the establishment of a commission of inquiry into this violence in the General Assembly resolution on Burma which they are currently drafting. This could establish the truth and make recommendations for action. We already knew the government won’t stop the violence, and it is now clear the democratic opposition won’t do anything either. If the UN also abandons us, we will be left without hope.
Follow Tun Khin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/tunkhin80
Burmese presidential spokesperson Ye Htut has said that Burma expects the USA to provide a “solid reason” as to why it used its embassy in Rangoon as a surveillance outpost to hack phone calls and electronic communications for Washington.
According to a recent leak by US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden, the US has 90 surveillance facilities set up around the world including its embassy in Burma.
“We only know from what we read in the international media, however we would like to second the remarks made by the EU and other US allies such as Brazil and Mexico that the US needs to provide a solid reason to have hacked into emails and telephone conversations by leaders and citizens of their countries otherwise it will signify a lack of diplomatic ethics,” said Ye Htut.
Speaking to DVB, he added: “If you want to peep into someone’s house, you need a solid reason for doing so.”
He also said it was “no surprise” to learn that the US was spying on other countries.
“It is not surprising to find out that the US has been spying on us given that they have the technology to do so. However they need to consider whether it is an appropriate thing to do or not,” he said.
Responding to DVB, a US embassy spokesperson in Rangoon, Sarah Hutchison, said, “We know these matters have created significant challenges in our relationships with some of our closest foreign partners. As the [US] President has said, the United States is reviewing the way that we gather intelligence to ensure that we are properly balancing the security concerns of our citizens and international partners with the privacy concerns that all people share. We want to ensure we are collecting information because we need it and not just because we can. We are going to continue to address these issues with our partners in diplomatic channels.”
Akyab is one of the 3rd largest Muslim population after Maungdaw and Buthidaung. It reached to two third prior to and during British emperor and Rohingya dialect became a main language for social and commercial dealings. Presently, there are 72 muslim villages consisting Rohingya, Kaman and Rakhine muslims and the rest about 50 Rakhine villages.
Apart from destructions and causalities in 1784, 1942, 1949 and 1978, list of confiscations & demolishings after 1978 are as follows;
1) Rohingyas who resided in the town, near by market areas and along Mawlake and Ambalar main roads were moved to farer places for various concerns including requirements such as zinc roofing, fence, taxes and other huge legal responsibilities.
2) The old Thatkaybyin (Sakki Fara) village demolished in 1990 when Win Myint promoted as a Rakhine state command-commander who later became the third secretary of Burma and died in an accident in Mawlamyine. The village was replaced by Military Missile Force, (818)-Military Camp, Military Communication Camp-(4) and Training Field.
3) The old Santole village was demolished in 1990 and relocated at the back side of Sittwe Lake (Kandawgyi). And fishery factories and stored ports was replaced there and named as industrial park.
4) Some houses of Holtaung (Buhar fara), along the both sides of the Mayu road, were seized in the late 1990 and built there Buddhist Museum completed in 1997 and Lawkananda Pagoda completed in 1999.
5) Half of the both West and East Sanpya (Baasara Fara) were relocated in new Thatkaybyin in 1990 including some farming lands seized for the Golf Mart expenditure.
6) Rohingya farming lands of Daapaine (Thae Chaung) were used to expend local Rakines village of Shwe Min Gan in later of 1990.
7) The half land of the biggest central Mosque was seized and built the Cultural Museum completed in 1997.
8) The areas today called Ye new Su (Derum fara), located police residential area, was Rohingya farming lands confiscated in 1978, and utilized later of 1990.
9) The area of New College completed in 2000 was the lands of Bumay (Furang fara) village. And the new GTC college area was belong to the Fyalikchaung villagers. Most of the farming lands between Fyalikchaung Fara and Shabok Fara were seized for further.
10) In 2001 Feb 5, Four houses had been burnt down in the riot between Rohingya and Rakhine in Aungmingala (Mole fara). The next day on 6 Feb 2001, about 22 houses along Nazi road side of Konden ward, were fired into ashes. Military had introduced Martial-law for both area before the riot but it did not stop aggression behaviors. And arrested about hundred of Rohingya youths including acting leaders. Those burnt down areas were seized and villagers were relocated in Santole and New Thatkaybyin.
11)All of environmental creeks were seized since 1990 and used for military income and tender back to Rohingya in every year.
12) The area today built up there City Hall was seized during Nagamin Operation but the building was completed in 1998.
13) A shrine mosque Buddar Mukan (Bodumuhun), which was built in 1756 for the memory of Saint (Fakir) according to The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland © 1894 Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. ( http://www.jstor.org/pss/25197219 )
It is situated near by East Sanpya (East Basara Fara). The two rocks lap each other found in front of the shrine and two caves used for meditation by Saint. They were seized since 1978 but not demolished yet. But, the farming lands near by there were Rohingyas and located Navy camp before 1990. Now, replaced military training school and the building is locked in the compound. Muslims were allowed to worship until 1990.
14) Another shrine Baziaraa mosque, tomb and pound are situated the southern part of Sittwe Lake (Kandawgyi) and muslim village near by it was Sanggana fara. According to Rohingya villager, this mosque was also built in a bit later time of Bandar Mokan. Despite the village and this mosque were seized in about 1985, muslims were allowed to pray until 1990. later it was locked and used as Military Camp. Authority also do not dare to destroy this mosque as it was built after that area appeared as a sign of the edge of Sittwe.
2. Kyauktaw: Confiscations, Destructions and Muslims Locations Up to Year 2010
The population of muslim before 1942 in Kyauktaw was about 70% of total population of Kyauktaw but now dropped at less than 25%.
Distruction and Confiscation;
1) Manaegya fara (market area) in the main of the town, muslim houses were reduced slowly by replacing Rakhines, monasteries, and expansion of market lots. The progress started since 1967. Now, no Muslim allow to hold shop unit in the market area, but some shops exist at the outside of the market area, even though the earlier business establishers were originally
muslim. Now, no more Rohingya remained in this main village.
2)Rungsu fara in Dok-kan-chaung Rakhine village and Borgua fara in Boseingya village with mixed of a few Hindhu residents, were replaced by Rakhines in 1967. And many farming lands in Dokkanchaung, Ambare, Boseingya were confiscated but retained later only half of the Ambare lands in about 1969-70 after one of the villager met with president general Saw Maung.
3) Sangadaung village was demolished in 1976 and built there the Sugar Mill in 1982. The villagers were relocated in Falom fara. Again in 1995, both new settlers of Sangadaung and the villagers of Falom fara were forcefully moved to 7 miles farer area. But, all villagers came back and settled near by the edge of the old Falom-fara.
4) Kanpaw fara in Rakhine Paik-tay-yet was destructed to pave space for new bridge project but Rakhines are still allowed to stay. The villagers were relocated near by Futakhale fara where is a creek call Kanta Chaung.
5) Between 1992 and 2006, many irrigation farming lands both in table areas in; Falom fara, Khondol Barwa fara (Khaungdok Alay Kyuan), Bazar fara, Nai-raung fara (Radanapon) and beach side areas in Aapawa (Aa-fok), Foeyda fara, Haine fara, Guu-taung bazzar, Ambare fara, Boseingya fara, were confiscated for Sugar plant plantations. The owner of animals got fine for their animals entering into these plantations and many animals were seized as well.
3. Mrauk Oo @ Mrohaung: Confiscations, Destructions and Muslims Locations Up to Year 2010
Mrauk Oo (formerly known as Mrohaung). There is another a small town call Minbya township situated opposite side of Mrauk Oo, was also counted Mrauk Oo territory. But at the present the sate Rakhine/Arakan is expended up to 20 towns from 17 towns. So, Minbya is considered as separate town.
22 Muslim Villages of Mrauk Oo Territory:
In Mrauk Oo: Pound Dok @ Fun-du-kul, Pa-rein @ Bolti Fara, Fee-fa-runk, Desh Fara @ Tha-rak-cho, Zula Fra and opposite Ze-zah- Fara, San-daung, Kum fara, Shi-sha-reit, Fu-tha-lon, Fu-Le-yaung,
In Minbya: Fike Mraung @ Pann mraung- mix of Hindunisms and Rakhines, Faw-sa Fra, Lom-bow-shaw, Taw-daine @ Aung Daine, Fok Fara, Saam-ma-lee, Zai-la fara (fishery village), Khim fara, Halim Fara, Sai-Tha Fara and some sparsely in Minbya town.
Alam Lashkar Mosque built by Mrauk Oo King’s army officer during Mrauk Oo dynasty, in Pann Mraung (Fike Mraung) village of Minbya. It is still only one existing ancient mosque.
( yet to be located)
Posted by NDPHR at 6/06/2011 08:36:00 pm
Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu , ” accompanied by six foreign ministers of the visit to Burma within the next two weeks
Rohingya news agency : The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation , ” Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu , ” accompanied by six foreign ministers of the visit to Burma within the next two weeks , so as to continue with the government of Burma to stand on acts of violence against Muslims there.
Said Professor ” Ihsanoglu ” after the special session to be held in the United Nations Security Council : he will visit Burma to focus on the rights of ethnic Rohingya Muslims and the issue of citizenship in their own country .
In the meantime ; said the Permanent Observer to the United Nations of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation ” approved Gokcen :” Apart from the project drafted by the European Union , a project of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to put an end to the violence in Burma ; it should be up to the Security Council of the United Nations by 1
– See more at: http://www.rna-press.com/ar/news/24306.html # sthash.4qJn0fCd.pg0TuPb6.dpuf
By Jason Szep
SITTWE, Myanmar (Reuters) – A 16-year-old Muslim boy lay dying on a thin metal table. Bitten by a rabid dog a month ago, he convulsed and drooled as his parents wedged a stick between his teeth to stop him from biting off his tongue.
Swift treatment might have saved Waadulae. But there are no doctors, painkillers or vaccines in this primitive hospital near Sittwe, capital of Rakhine State in western Myanmar. It is a lonely medical outpost that serves about 85,300 displaced people, almost all of them Muslims who lost their homes in fighting with Buddhist mobs last year.
“All we can give him is sedatives,” said Maung Maung Hla, a former health ministry official who, despite lacking a medical degree, treats about 150 patients a day. The two doctors who once worked there haven’t been seen in a month. Medical supplies stopped when they left, said Maung Maung Hla, a Muslim.
These trash-strewn camps represent the dark side of Myanmar’s celebrated transition to democracy: apartheid-like policies segregating minority Muslims from the Buddhist majority. As communal violence spreads, nowhere are these practices more brutally enforced than around Sittwe.
In an echo of what happened in the Balkans after the fall of communist Yugoslavia, the loosening of authoritarian control in Myanmar is giving freer rein to ethnic hatred.
President Thein Sein, a former general, said in a May 6 televised speech his government was committed to creating “a peaceful and harmonious society in Rakhine State.”
But the sand dunes and barren paddy fields outside Sittwe hold a different story. Here, emergency shelters set up for Rohingya Muslims last year have become permanent, prison-like ghettos. Muslims are stopped from leaving at gunpoint. Aid workers are threatened. Camps seethe with anger and disease.
In central Sittwe, ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and local officials exult in what they regard as a hard-won triumph: streets almost devoid of Muslims. Before last year’s violence, the city’s Muslims numbered about 73,000, nearly half its population. Today, there are fewer than 5,000 left.
Myanmar’s transformation from global pariah to budding democracy once seemed remarkably smooth. After nearly half a century of military dictatorship, the quasi-civilian government that took power in March 2011 astonished the world by releasing dissidents, relaxing censorship and re-engaging with the West.
Then came the worst sectarian violence for decades. Clashes between Rakhine Buddhists and stateless Rohingya Muslims in June and October 2012 killed at least 192 people and displaced 140,000. Most of the dead and homeless were Muslims.
“Rakhine State is going through a profound crisis” that “has the potential to undermine the entire reform process,” said Tomás Ojea Quintana, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar.
Life here, he said, resembles junta-era Myanmar, with rampant human-rights abuses and a pervasive security apparatus. “What is happening in Rakhine State is following the pattern of what has happened in Myanmar during the military government,” he said in an interview.
The crisis poses the biggest domestic challenge yet for the reformist leaders of one of Asia’s most ethnically diverse countries. Muslims make up about 5 percent of its 60 million people. Minorities, such as the Kachin and the Shan, are watching closely after enduring persecution under the former junta.
As the first powerful storm of the monsoon season approached western Myanmar this week, the government and U.N. agencies began a chaotic evacuation from the camps, urging thousands of Rohingya Muslims to move to safer areas on higher ground across Rakhine State.
Some resisted, fearing they would lose all they had left: their tarpaulin tents and makeshift huts. More than 50 are believed to have drowned in a botched evacuation by sea.
“THEY ALL TELL LIES”
Sittwe’s last remaining Muslim-dominated quarter, Aung Mingalar, is locked down by police and soldiers who patrol all streets leading in and out. Muslims can’t leave without written permission from Buddhist local authorities, which Muslims say is almost impossible to secure.
Metal barricades, topped with razor wire, are opened only for Buddhist Rakhines. Despite a ban against foreign journalists, Reuters was able to enter Aung Mingalar. Near-deserted streets were flanked by shuttered shops. Some Muslims peered from doors or windows.
On the other side of the barricades, Rakhine Buddhists revel in the segregation.
“I don’t trust them. They are not honest,” said Khin Mya, 63, who owns a general store on Sittwe’s main street. “Muslims are hot-headed; they like to fight, either with us or among themselves.”
Ei Mon Kyaw, 19, who sells betel nut and chewing tobacco, said Muslims are “really dirty. It is better we live apart.”
State spokesman Win Myaing, a Buddhist, explained why Aung Mingalar’s besieged Muslims were forbidden from speaking to the media. “It’s because they all tell lies,” he said. He also denied the government had engaged in ethnic cleansing, a charge leveled most recently by Human Rights Watch in an April 22 report.
“How can it be ethnic cleansing? They are not an ethnic group,” he said from an office on Sittwe’s main street, overlooking an empty mosque guarded by soldiers and police.
His comments reflect a historic dispute over the origins of the country’s estimated 800,000 Rohingya Muslims, who claim a centuries-old lineage in Rakhine State.
The government says they are Muslim migrants from northern neighbor Bangladesh who arrived during British rule from 1824. After independence in 1948, Myanmar’s new rulers tried to limit citizenship to those whose roots in the country predated British rule. A 1982 Citizenship Act excluded Rohingya from the country’s 135 recognized ethnic groups, denying them citizenship and rendering them stateless. Bangladesh also disowns them and has refused to grant them refugee status since 1992.
The United Nations calls them “virtually friendless” and among the world’s most persecuted people.
BOAT PEOPLE EXODUS
The state government has shelved any plan to return the Rohingya Muslims to their villages on a technicality: for defying a state requirement that they identify themselves as “Bengali,” a term that suggests they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
All these factors are accelerating an exodus of Rohingya boat people emigrating in rickety fishing vessels to other Southeast Asian countries.
From October to March, between the monsoons, about 25,000 Rohingya left Myanmar on boats, according to new data from Arakan Project, a Rohingya advocacy group. That was double the previous year, turning a Rakhine problem into a region-wide one.
The cost of the one-way ticket is steep for an impoverished people – usually about 200,000 kyat, or $220, often paid for by remittances from family members who have already left.
Many who survive the perilous journeys wind up in majority-Muslim Malaysia. Some end up in U.N. camps, where they are denied permanent asylum. Others find illegal work on construction sites or other subsistence jobs. Tens of thousands are held in camps in Thailand. Growing numbers have been detained in Indonesia.
Rakhine State, one of the poorest regions of Southeast Asia’s poorest country, had high hopes for the reform era.
In Sittwe’s harbor, India is funding a $214 million port, river and road network that will carve a trade route into India’s landlocked northeast. From Kyaukphyu, a city 65 miles southeast of Sittwe, gas and oil pipelines stretch to China’s energy-hungry northwest. Both projects capitalize on Myanmar’s growing importance at Asia’s crossroads.
That promise has been interrupted by communal tensions that flared into the open after the rape and murder of a Buddhist woman by Muslim men in May last year. Six days later, in retribution, a Buddhist mob beat 10 Muslims to death. Violence then swept Maungdaw, one of the three Rohingya-majority districts bordering Bangladesh, on June 8. Rohingya mobs destroyed homes and killed an unknown number of Rakhines.
The clashes spread to Sittwe. More than 2,500 homes and buildings went up in flames, as Rohingya and Rakhine mobs rampaged. When the smoke cleared, both suffered losses, though the official death toll for Rohingya – 57 – was nearly double that for Buddhist Rakhines. Entire Muslim districts were razed.
October saw more violence. This time, Buddhist mobs attacked Muslim villages across the state over five days, led in some cases by Rakhine nationalists tied to a powerful political party, incited by Buddhist monks and abetted at times by local security forces..
U.S. President Barack Obama, on a groundbreaking visit in November, urged reconciliation. “The Rohingya … hold within themselves the same dignity as you do, and I do,” he said. The week he visited, Thein Sein vowed to forge ethnic unity in a letter to the United Nations.
But the violence kept spreading. Anti-Muslim unrest, whipped up by Buddhist monks, killed at least 44 people in the central city of Meikhtila in March. In April and May, Buddhist mobs destroyed mosques and hundreds of Muslim homes just a few hours’ drive from Yangon, the country’s largest city.
Thein Sein responded by sending troops to volatile areas and setting up an independent commission into the Rakhine violence. Its recommendations, released April 27, urged meetings of Muslim and Buddhist leaders to foster tolerance, Muslims to be moved to safer ground ahead of the storm season, and the continued segregation of the two communities “until the overt emotions subside.”
It sent a strong message, calling the Rohingya “Bengalis,” a term that suggests they belong in Bangladesh, and backing the 1982 citizenship law that rendered stateless even those Rohingya who had lived in Myanmar for generations.
The Rohingya’s rapid population growth had fueled the clashes with Buddhists, it said, recommending voluntary family-planning education programs for them. It suggested doubling the number of soldiers and police in the region.
Rohingya responded angrily. “We completely reject this report,” said Fukan Ahmed, 54, a Rohingya elder who lost his home in Sittwe.
Local government officials, however, were already moving to impose policies in line with the report.
THE HATED LIST
On the morning of April 26, a group of state officials entered the Theak Kae Pyin refugee camp. With them were three policemen and several Border Administration Force officers, known as the Nasaka, a word derived from the initials of its Burmese name. Unique to the region, the Nasaka consists of officers from the police, military, customs and immigration. They control every aspect of Rohingya life, and are much feared.
Documented human-rights abuses blamed on the Nasaka include rape, forced labor and extortion. Rohingya cannot travel or marry without the Nasaka’s permission, which is never secured without paying bribes, activists allege.
State spokesman Win Myaing said the Nasaka’s mission was to compile a list identifying where people had lived before the violence, a precondition for resettlement. They wanted to know who was from Sittwe and who was from more remote townships such as Pauktaw and Kyaukphyu, areas that saw a near-total expulsion of Muslims in October.
Many fled for what Win Myaing said were unregistered camps outside Sittwe, often in flood-prone areas. “We would like to move them back to where they came from in the next two months,” said Win Myaing. The list was the first step towards doing that.
The list, however, also required Muslims to identify themselves as Bengali. For Fukan Ahmed and other Rohingya leaders, it sent a chilling message: If they want to be resettled, they must deny their identity.
Agitated crowds gathered as the officials tried to compile the list, witnesses said. Women and children chanted “Rohingya! Rohingya!” As the police officers were leaving, one tumbled to the ground, struck by a stone to his head, according to Win Myaing. Rohingya witnesses said the officer tripped. Seven Rohingya were arrested and charged with causing grievous hurt to a public servant, criminal intimidation and rioting.
Compiling the list is on hold, said Win Myaing. So, too, is resettlement.
“If they trust us, then (resettlement) can happen immediately. If you won’t even accept us making a list, then how can we try and do other things?” he asked. The crisis could be defused if Rohingya accepted the 1982 Citizenship Law, he said.
But doing so would effectively confirm their statelessness. Official discrimination and lack of documentation meant many Rohingya have no hope of fulfilling the requirements.
Boshi Raman, 40, said he and other Rohingya would never sign a document calling themselves Bengali. “We would rather die,” he said.
Win Myaing blamed the Rohingya for their misfortune. “If you look back at the events that occurred, it wasn’t because the Rakhines were extreme. The problems were all started by them,” the Muslims, he said.
In Theak Kae Pyin camp, a sea of tarpaulin tents and fragile huts built of straw from the last rice harvest, there is an air of growing permanence. More than 11,000 live in this camp alone, according to U.N. data. Naked children bathe in a murky-brown pond and play on sewage-lined pathways.
A year ago, before the unrest, Haleda Somisian lived in Narzi, a Sittwe district of more than 10,000 people. Today, it is rubble and scorched earth. Somisian, 20, wants to return and rebuild. Her husband, she says, has started to beat her. In Narzi, he worked. Now he is jobless, restless and despondent.
“I want to leave this place,” she said.
Some of those confined to the camps are Kaman Muslims, who are recognized as one of Myanmar’s 135 official ethnic groups; they usually hold citizenship and can be hard to tell apart from Rakhine Buddhists. They fled after October’s violence when their homes were destroyed by Rakhine mobs in remote townships such as Kyaukphyu. They, too, are prevented from leaving.
Beyond Sittwe, another 50,000 people, mostly Rohingya, live in similar camps in other parts of the state destroyed in last year’s sectarian violence.
Across the state, the U.N relief agency has provided about 4,000 tents and built about 300 bamboo homes, each of which can hold eight families. Another 500 bamboo homes are planned by year-end. None are designed to be permanent, said agency spokeswoman Vivian Tan. Tents can last six months to a year; bamboo homes about two years.
The agency wants to provide the temporary shelter that is badly needed. “But we don’t want in any way to create permanent shelters and to condone any kind of segregation,” Tan said.
Aid group Doctors Without Borders has accused hardline nationalists of threatening its staff, impairing its ability to deliver care. Mobile clinics have appeared in some camps, but a U.N. report describes most as “insufficient.”
Waadulae, suffering from rabies, was treated at Dar Paing hospital, whose lone worker, Maung Maung Hla, was overwhelmed. “We have run out of antibiotics,” he said. “There is no malaria medicine. There’s no medicine for tuberculosis or diabetes. No vaccines. There’s no equipment to check peoples’ condition. There are no drips for people suffering from acute diarrhea.”
State spokesman Win Myaing said Rakhine doctors feared entering the camps. “It’s reached a stage where they say they’d quit their jobs before they would go to these places,” he said.
The treatment of the Rohingya contrasts with that of some 4,080 displaced ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in central Sittwe. They can leave their camps freely, work in the city, move in with relatives in nearby villages and rebuild, helped by an outpouring of aid from Burmese business leaders.
Hset Hlaing, 33, who survives on handouts from aid agencies at Thae Chaung camp, recalls how he earned 10,000 kyat ($11 a day) from a general-goods stall in Sittwe before his business and home went up in flames last June. Like other Muslims, he refuses to accept the term Bengali.
“I don’t want to go to another country. I was born here,” he says, sipping tea in a bamboo shack. “But if the government won’t accept us, we will leave. We’ll go by boat. We’ll go to a country that can accept us.”
(Edited by Andrew R.C. Marshall and Bill Tarrant.)