Maksim Shevchenko: ''I do not believe in this organised hysteria concerning Myanmar''
By the end of August in Myanmar, where Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims have been in conflict for already several years, the conflict has seriously escalated. According to the authorities, the fighters of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, declaring Islamists slogans, attacked 30 military objects and police stations, having killed 15 people as a ''revenge act'' for persecution of their compatriots. In response there started a military ''retaliation'', which the international human rights organisations call a genocide of Muslim population. President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan agreed with such position, then Ramzan Kadyrov stated about readiness to act against the policy of Russia for the sake of Muslims in Myanmar. In Moscow, it was held an unauthorised rally against ''Buddhists-terrorists''. But is it known what is really happening in Myanmar? Will the Muslims get a second Syria? Should they say straight from the shoulder or it is better to calm down and look into details? Will the conflict affect the relationship between Russian Muslims and Buddhists? Realnoe Vremya asked to answer these and other questions a journalist, member of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights Maksim Shevchenko.
''I urge all Muslims to calm down''
Mr Shevchenko, is it known what is really happening in Myanmar?
If to type the question ''What is really happening to Rohingya Muslims?'' in a search engine, one will find at least two articles with links on experts for Myanmar. One article is given from the perspective of Buddhists, and other – from Muslims' perspective. There are two positions, the first one is that there is a terrible genocide around and ''damned Buddhists are killing Muslims''. To be honest, I do not even want to discuss this hysteria. We have already been through this with Syria – ''damned Alawites are killing poor Sunnis''. When the hysteria was in a full swing, nobody wanted to listen to, there were many fakes, invented information, and nobody could investigate this propaganda campaign, which apparently was financed by the Turks. Now, as I understand it, we are observing the same situation. The result in Syria – millions of people are killed, millions are exiled, the devastation of the only consistent opponent of Zionism in the region.
The second version – there is being an interethnic conflict that has political, religious and geopolitical components. That is, the conflict that is easily manipulated through media and terror from the both sides.
The Internet is full of fakes, even Murad Musaev (an Islamic lawyer, who visited Myanmar with human rights mission – editor's note) paid attention to this. Although it is only a fiction intended to support propaganda campaign it doesn't change the fact that alarm events are really happening here. The events are connected with the fact that this province, which borders with Bangladesh, has long become the place of resettlement of Muslims, and the Rohingya is not indigenous people of these territories – England began to bring them there during the colonies. As far as I know, the Rohingya are descendants of the Indo-Arabic mixing, Bengal, and they were very different from local people. There are two versions: either they are poor, little people, whom everyone offends and whom they hate because they are Muslims (I put aside this version) or the second version is that they are cool guys, they have serious fighting forces, including rebel ones, and they do criminal things.
Are there some crimes and atrocities? Certainly, there is some rebel movement, that is, counterinsurgency actions that are performed quite fiercely. I do not want to comment on what I see on the Internet because there are no clear information messages on this topic. Most videos show some refugees, how they are crossing rivers. But the presence of refugees is not an evidence of a genocide, it is an evidence of a civil war.
Behind the Muslims, the campaign there stood different Islamic states in different times. In particular, Saudi Arabia resettled on its territory 400,000 of these Rohingya, not for humanitarian purposes (Saudi Arabia never acts like this), but apparently in order to have free or low-paid slaves. Now Turkey is actively engaged in this topic, but I do not believe in humanitarian motives of the people in power and I treat it with suspicion.
Now I urge all Muslims to calm down. If we want to help, we need to go there and to see with our own eyes, and not to be a tool in the hands of politicians. Endless panic screams already led to the fact that Syria was destroyed and millions of people were killed. I remember how the war started: it was impossible to prove or explain something to anyone – around there were cries and stones that Sunni Muslims were being killed. In the result, 80,000 foreigners who came there with weapons in their hands were killed in Syria. Now it is clear even to a child that the Syrian war was conducted solely in the interests of Israel and America in order to destroy the only state that opposed Israel in the region.
''Most videos show some refugees how they are crossing rivers. But the presence of refugees is not an evidence of genocide, it is an evidence of a civil war.'' Photo: reuters.com
''I do not believe in this organised hysteria concerning Myanmar, but…''
A rally near the Consulate General of Myanmar has taken place in Moscow…
You should ask Kadyrov about this, it was his people. The main criers were Chechens, who referred to Ramzan Kadyrov.
But what do you think about the rally? Is it a deliberate aggravation of the situation or it is just a spontaneous rally of sincerely indignant Muslims, who as you have already said need to calm down?
Absolutely all Muslims should calm down and cease to be puppets in the hands of the people who have billions of dollars. You see, when two days ago Americans in Afghanistan killed several dozens of women and children, nobody exclaimed against this. There are terrible bombings in the region of Syria and Iraq, there are thousands of people, among whom there are also Russian citizens, but nobody will tell you about this, of course. Ziyad Sabsabi, Senator from the Chechen Republic, is the only one who withdraws children from there, including Tatar children, by the way. But I haven't heard that somebody raised their voice in Tatarstan yet.
Over these years in Afghanistan, thousands of people were killed, to say nothing of Saudis doing in Yemen. Yemen is blocked, there is hunger, punitive measures are used here, neither journalists nor humanitarian organisations are allowed there. The cadres who come from mountain Yemen testify about military crimes. But if Saudi Arabia do this, which generously squander money all over the world, then who will raise the voice against it?
Now Putin has given the go-ahead, as well as Kadyrov and Yevkurov, and all Islamic regions are given the instruction to ''defend the Muslims of Myanmar''. But who will defend the Muslims of Russia? I am not a Muslim, I stick up for, Memorial does, other several also do this.
I do not believe in this organised hysteria around Myanmar, but it doesn't mean that I do not believe in what is happening inside this country. I believe there is going a civil war between different groups – Buddhists and Muslims. I believe that there happen atrocity acts of civilians from the both sides like it was in Syria. But I this case I will never believe in the sincere defence of the Muslims, behind which there stands the government because I have seen a lot over these years. Rallies are not something that convinces me in the rightness of something, on the contrary, it makes me doubt in the truth of the problem.
''Rallies are not something that convinces me in the rightness of something, on the contrary, it makes me doubt in the truth of the problem.'' Photo: gazeta.ru
''The question is whether the Muslims want to get the same as Syria has''
It is true that the situation in Rakhine continues not for the first year?
Such ''wave'' of these Rohingya continues already for about seven years, and the blame is laid on Buddhists again. In Syria it is Alawites who are ''bad'', here it is Buddhists. The Syrian war has brought millions of deaths to Muslims, including from Russia, and apparently, they need to kill these children of these Muslims by forcing them to fight in Burma. In general, it is possible to resolve any such conflict at the initial stage without hysteria.
Humanitarian mission, Supervisory Council of the UN, the position of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on this issue… But no, it is absolutely the same as in Syria.
I can say with confidence that the policy of Erdoğan in Syria is the most terrible mistake he has ever made in his political experience. When the war began, he had two options. He called Assad his brother that time, and he could get Syria entirely, which, by the way, was selling itself with pleasure. But he chose the other way – he overthrew Assad and assigned his puppet. In the result, millions of Turks were killed, millions of people were killed, and Syria has become a terrorist enclave. Now Erdoğan is doing the same thing with Myanmar. In Syria, he was interested in controlling the end point of the Silk Road, but he didn't want to share with anyone. Erdoğan didn't want to divide it with Assad, whom he considered to be weak. However, I personally talked to different Turkish analysts and said, ''Don't be indulged in illusions, he is not weak. You take the talkativeness of the Arabs and their external mildness for weakness, which is a big mistake.''
The major result Erdoğan has received in addition to millions of refugees is the Kurdish state and Kurdish terrorism near his borders. It was a long-standing dream of the US and Israel. Now Erdoğan wants to take the attention of the Islamic public from his apparent fault on the Strait of Malacca. Let's look at the result of all promises of Erdoğan, who fuelled the flame of the Arab Spring: Morsi is in jail, the Muslim Brotherhood is shot in Egypt from the guns and jailed, in Libya the authority belongs not to Erdoğan's people, and he lost in Syria – the Kurd state was created. What he has done is a catastrophe. Instead of peaceful Middle East, where Turkey would dominate and invest money in all these countries, he received a flaming, full of anger and dead people region. If Turkey had not intervened in the Syrian war, there would not have been this horror that we see already for six years.
Now there is the intention to transfer the crowds of fanatics, who sit in Syria and Iraq, to Myanmar, but they are not fools as well – to move from oil to some moist jungles. Although they say there is also oil… The question is whether the Muslim want to get the same as Syria has. Do they really want to get a war that will involve hundreds of thousands of people from both sides? One should remember that it all happened in Syria because it is a strategic region, as well as Myanmar. Myanmar controls the Strait of Malacca, which is one of the most important natural economic stretches of water in the world.