China’s 9/11: Communists vs. Xinjiang

Asia, Regions, Uncategorized

1264420596_a9cf8500ba_oMany are hailing the recent March 1st terrorist attacks on a railway station in Kunming  “China’s 9/11”. And while this may prove to be the most grotesque attack, it is not the first instance of terrorism.

With 29 people stabbed to death and 140 others injured at the railway station attack, China can no longer hide the true issue. Government authorities have refused to take any responsibility on previous attacks, blaming outside sources or even withholding details from the public.

This attack, and most previous terrorist attacks, has been attributed to Xinjiang separatists. Xinjiang is a region in Northwestern China made up of Uighur Muslims. It makes of 1/6th of China’s entire empire.

China claims Xinjiang has been a part of China for 2,000 years, but history tells a different story.

In the mid-18th century the Qing dynasty attempted to incorporate these lands into the Chinese Empire, but Xianjiang, meaning “new frontier” fought back.

In the 1940s Xianjiang achieved a short moment of independence as East Turkestan, but in 1949 Communists forced their integration into China once again.

That integration developed into oppression when the Communists started restricting Muslims’ right to fast during Ramadan, teach religion to their children, and use the Uighur language.

Xinjiang isn’t the only Chinese colony facing oppression though; Tibet has long faced China’s discrimination. But the Dalai Lama’s influence has kept Tibet’s protests small, whereas Xinjiang’s are growing to branch out into Eastern China.

Up until the recent attack on Tiananmen Square, where a car plowed down tourists, most of the attacks had remained contained to the Xianjiang region.

My Map of Recent Terrorist Attacks in China

The most recent attack on the railway station shows another radical transition from attacks on government authority symbols to civilians, one that must be regarded as a serious warning sign.

The expansion of attacks into Eastern China locations like Kunming show the need for increased security, and more importantly a change in policy towards China’s minorities.

If China does not react to this recent, most brutal attack on civilians then it will only face another 9/11 in the future.


Central Africa Republic: “Never Again” Except This Once?

Middle East & North Africa, Regions, Uncategorized

Two decades ago the world made a vow to ‘never again’ let genocide like the Holocaust, Rwanda, or Bosnia reoccur. Organizations like the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International sprung up with missions to deter and stop future genocide.

And yet, genocide may be developing right under our noses. The situation in the Central Africa Republic has received media attention for the coup that removed the government in March 2013 and the lynching of a young Christian man by Muslims in February 2014. The news reports have hinted at the ethnic conflict developing into genocide, but no successful action has been taken.


Photo Credit: Breibart via Creative Commons


Why did the conflict develop?

Currently, 1 million of the C.A.R.’s 4.6 million population has fled their homes, and over 2,000 people have been murdered in the last 11 months.

At its heart, the conflict developed after a coup led by a Muslim militia disposed of former President Francois Bozize for war crimes and broken promises. But this wasn’t the first coup the C.A.R has faced. Since gaining independence from France in 1960, there have been 5.

The difference is this coup ensued an violent uprising of minority Muslims against the Christian majority. But the angry uprising stemmed from more than a corrupt leader.

The Central African Republic is a country rich in natural resources like gold and diamonds. Traders tend to be Muslims and miners tend to be Christians. The give and take bargaining relationship between the miners and the middlemen is the true friction that led to the current wildfire.

Photo Credit: Free Stock via Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Free Stock via Creative Commons

The antibalaka (antimachete) are the Christian militias who have the upper-hand out of sheer majority. They are hunting down Muslim rebels, or the Seleka, who target Christians. Unfortunately, since Seleka was dissolved by leader Michael Djotodia in September 2013, the antibalaka have just been killing Muslims. In response, Muslims have formed another militia group to defend themselves, the Organization of Islamic Resistance.

Interim President Catherine Samba- Panza, former mayor of Bangui, has less than a year to resolve the mess before the next elections are held.

Is it genocide?

No. At least not yet, but it has the potential. Currently, the situation in the C.A.R. can be classified as an “ethnic cleansing.”

Ethnic cleansing is a relatively new term, developed in response to the conflict in Yugoslavia. Refined and redefined, the U.N. Security Council defines ethnic cleansing as the

“Purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas”

While the conflict in the C.A.R. has all the catalysts the Rwanda Genocide displayed, it has not spiraled into the total annihilation of one ethnic group yet. But if the West does not join the French and the African Union peacekeeping forces, it may have to redefine it’s definition of “never again.”

The Buddhist Bin Laden

Asia, Regions, Uncategorized

Ashin Wirathu- AP ImagesAhisma, or nonviolence, is one of the core beliefs of Buddhism. But not all Buddhists adhere to it, especially in Myanmar (Burma).

Ashin Wirathu is a Burmese Buddhist monk at a monastery in Myanmar’s second largest city, Mandalay. He’s also the spiritual leader of  the anti-Muslim organization, the 969 Movement.

Wirathu is using his sermons to preach religious hatred against a sect of Rohingya-Muslims in Myanmar, a country that is 90% Buddhist. The face of this movement to oppress and expel Muslims, TIME Magazine labeled him ‘the face of Buddhist terror‘ last July. Unphased by all the criticism, he laughs at reports calling him the ‘Buddhist Bin Laden.

Although there are 135 ethnicities in Myanmar, Wirathu says these Muslim expats from Bangladesh want to take over their Buddhist land. He claims the movement is defensive, but the concentration camps beg to differ. Located in northern Myanmar, Rohingya-Muslims are forced to live in deplorable conditions. The government claims the camps are only for Bangladesh refugees, but many of the residents claim Burmese birth. In these camps marriage requires permission, food comes irregularly from the World Food Programme, and Burmese citizenship is denied per a law passed in 1982.

The situation is only metastasizing, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has begun to raise the question of genocide.

Most recently, the Arakan Project, a research based advocacy group, published reports that police killed 49 Muslims in Northern Rakhine from January 9-13th. The dead included Rohingya women and children.

As Wirathu’s hatred continues to spread to other parts of the country through his traveling sermons, he is also working to gain support of some dangerous legislation. He is working to pass the “Law for the Protection of Race, Religion, and Language”, a law requiring any Buddhist woman who wants to marry a Muslim to receive permission from her parents and local government officials. Any unions made without these approvals carry the punishment of up to 10 years in jail for the Muslim male and loss of his property. The amendment is currently up for debate within Myanmar’s legislative body.

Some government officials are going so far as to push for a ban on Rohingya women’s right to bear more than 2 children.

 Profile on Wirathu– VICE

Highlights of 2014 Munich Security Conference

Americas, Asia, Europe, Middle East & North Africa, Regions

John Kerry, Ban Ki-Moon

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (right) greeted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (left) before the 50th Munich Security Conference. Credit: AP Photo

Yesterday concluded the 50th annual Munich Security Conference in Germany. The Conference is a 3 day global platform used to discuss international security policy. A grueling and intensive 72 hours later, our world’s foremost policy makers walked away with these highlighted accomplishments and discussions:

International Cyber Security:

  • Prompted by the recent NSA security breaches, a debate on cyber security ensued. Participants agreed that a common effort for improvement must be implemented.

Peace in Southeastern Europe:

  • After 220 hours of dialogue, Kosovo and Serbia achieved a peace agreement.

More of the Same in Syria:

  • A discussion led by UN Envoy to the Middle East Brahimi on the Syrian Civil War revealed disappointment with the Assad regime, but no progress with Geneva II.
  • Prince Turki Al Faisal of Saudi Arabia accused Assad of genocide and the West (except France) of ignoring the Syrian people.
  • The debate concluded that the UN Security Council needed to increase its’ efforts and countermeasures.

Progress in Iran:

  • U.S. Senator Chris Murphy says the U.S. Senate will not vote on a new round of U.S. sanctions.
  • Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif says they should reopen human rights talks with the European Union.
  • Secretary of State Kerry and Secretary of Defense Hagel stand by disarmament deal with Iran.

U.S. Perspective:

U.S. officials who attended the conference used the platform to push their support for the Obama administration and certain agenda items.

Kerry’s speech called for the investment in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), a trade investment agreement meant to promote economic growth in the United States and the European Union. T-TIP aims to open EU markets, strengthen rules-based investment, eliminate all tariffs, and promote global competitiveness.

Kerry spoke in support of the chemical weapons deal with Syria, the arms deal with Iran, and the Israel-Palestine peace talks. He also voiced support for Ukraine’s protests, but pledged no U.S. involvement.

Hagel led with what he labeled a successful operation in Afghanistan, followed by support of the French in the Central African Republic. He also spoke on military partnerships with countries such as the U.K. and Spain, and echoed Kerry’s call for a transatlantic renaissance.

Hagel concluded with a defense of the U.S. shrinking defense budget, and a promise to further U.S. influence by working with international allies.

Quotes from Kerry at Conference:

“I was recently in Korea and reminded that 10 of the 15 countries that used to receive aid from the United States of America as recently as in the last 10 years are today donor countries. Think about that: 10 of the 15 and the others are on their way to being donor countries.”

“What we need in 2014 is a transatlantic renaissance, a new burst of energy and commitment and investment in the three roots of our strength: our economic prosperity, our shared security, and the common values that sustain us.”

“If we’re ambitious enough, T-TIP will do for our shared prosperity what NATO has done for our shared security, recognizing that our security has always been built on the notion of our shared prosperity.”

“Nowhere is the fight for a democratic European future more important today than in Ukraine. While there are unsavory elements in the streets in any chaotic situation, the vast majority of Ukrainians want to live freely in a safe and a prosperous country, and they are fighting for the right to associate with partners who will help them realize their aspirations.”

Quotes from Hagel at Conference:

“In reviewing U.S. defense priorities tempered by our fiscal realities, it’s clear that our military must place an even greater strategic emphasis on working with our allies and partners around the world. That will be a key theme of the Department of Defense’s upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review which will articulate our defense strategy in a changing security and fiscal environment.”

“All of us must work closely together with African nations in helping them build their security forces and institutions. A more collaborative approach to global security challenges will require more defense establishments to cooperate not just on the operational level, but on the strategic level as well.

Despite fiscal constraints, the budget that we will release next month fully protects our investment in European missile defense. Our commitment to Europe is unwavering. Our values and our interests remain aligned. Both principle and pragmatism secure our transatlantic bonds.”

“I would venture to say the United States is more present doing more things in more places today than maybe ever before. How we’re doing it is differently, and it’s what I talked about, what John talked about – capacity-building for our partners, working closer with our partners, being able to do more as we are more creative with these initiatives.”