Press TV has talked with Reza Kazem, with the Islamic Human Rights Commission from London, to discuss the systematic persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
Below is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Reza Kazem that is an accusation leveled against the military on more than one occasion, that they are not receiving punishment and I like to move on to another case involving actually hundred cases of which the military has been accused of using rape as a weapon of war; based on a group by the name of the Woman’s League of the Burma., one hundred cases of rape, some involving children as young as eight, have occurred.
So this puts into question the military, this puts into question how this government was touted to be a democracy and accepted by the West at the same time.
Kazem: I think that that question is well posed and the issue is also, what the role of Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been, you know, as it was said in your clip, has been much heralded.
The problem is Aung San Suu Kyi and the junta are complicit. It is not a case as it was said. I want to take issue with what was said there that she is turning a blind eye to what is going on. She has confirmed that these people are stateless, this community which has been in existence in that country before the current state of Myanmar even existed, you know, let us not forget that these people are being told that they do not belong to here and this is something that Aung San Su Kyi is confirming. So she is not turning a blind eye, she is actually complicit with the junta in terms of making sure that these people are going to be targeted.
I think the fact that these reports are actually coming out with these rapes being carried out, Aung San Suu Kyi bears responsibility, she has been heralded by the international community when in fact these things are going on under her watch and it is important for the international community to hold Aung San Suu Kyi accountable for what has actually happened and how she has been complicit in this. It is awful that, you know, the Nobel Peace Prize seems to be awarded, in recent years, to people who are involved in these atrocities that are, actually, taking place and allowing atrocities to take place under their watch.
Press TV: Well, Reza Kazem, “politicians cannot speak on behalf of the people”, is what our guest there has said.
Kazem: If I can come in there, I mean one of the concerns is that, you know, even the UN with all its limitations, has actually said that these people should be given citizenship by the government of Myanmar and yet despite that, Aung San Suu Kyi is not saying anything to that effect, in fact she is opposing that and that in itself is problematic. I think the fact that she is a politician, well, of course she is a politician but that does not mean that she can become complicit in the policy of the junta and putting, you know, kind of the acceptable face of the worst exercises of the military by putting a face in front of it. It is t just putting a face in front of it, she is, actually, saying what the junta is saying; and just because she is saying it, is not what should be the judge or the criterion of the problem.
The fact that she is a politician and the fact that she is involved in this makes her even more culpable and even more answerable to these accusations. What is going to be done about the fact that her statements are legitimizing in that country, what the junta is doing and what these Buddhist monks, so-called, are actually doing in that country.
They need to be held responsible. The politicians… including Aung San Suu Kyi should be held responsible for the atrocities that have been committed as a result of actions that have been carried out by her legitimizing that.
You know, even the UN, as I stated earlier, has said that these should be given citizenship, that these people are citizens of this country, that have been around before, long before the state of Myanmar has been around and they should be given this citizenship.
So why is it then not being done? Why is it that the international community is allowing this to happen? When this policy of discrimination, this policy of oppression is being continued against a minority?
I mean this is almost being seen that the Muslims who are one of the most oppressed, the Myanmar Muslims are one of the most oppressed groups in the world, who are powerless to defend themselves, are being targeted, being killed, being raped and the world is staying silent, in particular the powerful nations are involved and they are sidling up to Aung San Suu Kyi and continuing to legitimize it. It is continual policy of the Western governments to carry on this oppression as long as they can get what they, actually, want from this.
Press TV: Well, let us look at how the West is viewing Myanmar, in terms of the advantages that it sees in Myanmar, and again I have to bring in the United States here. the reason I am bringing in the United States again, is because well, I could talk about Pivot to the South East, of which it is trying to take away Myanmar, take away Bangladesh from the sphere of China and it is said that if the United States is going to place their military and strategic interest inside Myanmar and inside, for example Bangladesh, that it is going to then look the other way perhaps where some of these crimes that are going on. Do you think that that is the case?
Kazem: I think it is not just the case of looking the other way. I mean, yes, of course, the United States throughout its history has used violence and bloodshed to project its power and use its influence. What is going on here on a local level is this idea that the junta and Aung San Suu Kyi are using the rape, torture, killing of Muslims as a tool of bonding with each other and trying to use that as a common enemy and something that can actually be done to make sure that it is going to continue.
I mean let us face it. Ethnic cleansing is going on here. You know, we have got potential genocide in the making and really the people need to wake up to this.
The fact that the United States wants to have a pivot and moves towards this. I mean, I think it is more than that. I mean there are things that they can actually do. The Myanmar Muslims are not exactly in the powerful elite where they can actually influence whether the US is going to be able to have influence in that region or not. This is just killing of a grand scale going on and people are doing it because they can get away with it and it is about making sure that resources, etc, all of those things can actually be taken and redistributed according to how these so-called Buddhist monks and the junta and Aung San Suu Kyi wish to have that being done. And I think that we need to keep that perspective in mind as to what is going on with regards to that.
Press TV: Reza Kazem, there was a quote by one of the local TV stations and one of the personalities there. I am going to refrain from using which TV station and whom. Who said the government is using Aung San Suu Kyi’s image as a democracy icon to promote and protect their way of reform. The government’s strategy is using your enemy’s good name to reach your own objective.
What is the strategy there, in terms of reaching their own objective? What is their objective? Using Aung San Suu Kyi’s name, who is their enemy, to promote their own agenda?
Kazem: Well, I wonder how much of an enemy she is. I mean she is joining hands with the junta, is not she? And if she has joined hands with the junta and saying the kind of things that she is saying, then how is it any different?
The lady from the United States mentioned that there are reforms actually underway. Well, I do not think that the Myanmar Muslims are actually seeing any of these reforms in action. It seems to be that it is pretty much the business as usual and a lot worse in fact, than what it was before.
So it is a case of, how many people can we get over or buy over our side, to actually make sure that we can continue this terrorism and this ethnic cleansing process and continue to keep the power; and the issue is that the people, the Western governments, have signed up to this agenda that these people will be given legitimacy and once they are being given legitimacy they can carry on whatever it is that they are doing because they have got Aung San Suu Kyi bought over to their side and so everything is ok now. Whereas actually what is happening on the ground seems to have got a lot worse for the Myanmar Muslims and the question is that how is that in any way going to… you know, I do not see enemies conversing or saying anything politically and the statements by Aung San Suu Kyi and the junta are not much different.
So when they say we are using Aung San Suu Kyi, she is saying the same thing and we need to stop legitimizing this. And we need to stop thinking that there are reforms going on. We need to start saying that this is ethnic cleaning. You know, I have said this before, it is ethnic cleansing and this is looking like the making of a genocide. These people are the most oppressed, they are the most powerless people in the world. They have got no means to defend themselves, people are running rampage and torturing, raping, killing, etc, and they have not got any way to defend themselves and I think that it is necessary for people to start thinking about what can be done for those people to be defended and how they can actually start perhaps tools by which they can start defending themselves.