It’s 1935 All Over Again In Myanmar (The Darkness Visible series)
June 13, 2013
Myanmar’s radicalized Buddhists movement 969 appears to be out of step with Nazi Germany as it jumps around in its systematic plan to eradicate Burma of Rohingya Muslims. What had begun decades ago is now amplified as the 969 movement falls back in line with its rabid leader Wirathu. Where they had instigated liquidations of Rohingya villages they now seek to enact laws that are remarkably similar to Hitler’s Nuremberg Laws. So even though the hate group in Burma is out of order in its genocidal efforts, they aren’t letting a single step that Hitler took pass them by.
People in the West will have read that first paragraph and have become offended by the comparison to Nazi Germany with that of a “newly democratic” Myanmar. Let alone the direct comparison of a “democratic” society’s laws to that of Hitler’s Nuremberg race laws. So if you’re still with us, lets take a look at just why and how Burma is revisiting the 1935 Nuremberg Laws.
Prevention of Rassenschande
“The Laws For The Protection Of German Blood And German Honour
Section 2: Extramarital sexual intercourse between Jews and citizens of the German state or related blood are forbidden.”
In Nazi controlled Europe the act of procreation was strictly legislated so as to prevent the “racial defilement”, or “rassenschande” (defilement of blood), of the mythical Aryan race. This meant that Jewish individuals were restricted in who they could marry, who they could have sex with, and how many children they could have and with whom they would be created with. Any child that was created out of sexual relations between a non-Jew and a Jewish individual was considered to be “mischling” or a “half-breed”. These “half-breed” offspring were thus considered Jewish by default in the eyes of the Nazi law.
For Rohingya in Burma there have long been laws restricting who they could marry, when they could marry, and if they are allowed to marry at all. These laws are then intertwined with other laws that have long regulated the number of children Rohingya families are allowed to have. These offspring are then supposed to be registered with the state so that the children can be tracked and monitored. Any Rohingya child created out of such incidents as rape (a common crime committed by Rakhine and Burmese soldiers) is then considered Rohingya by default in the eyes of Burmese law.
On June 10th, 2013 in a discussion with Reuters the Minister of Immigration and Population in Myanmar told the world that he backs a two child law targeting the Rohingya. This was the first of Myanmar’s new Nuremberg Laws to be introduced to the West. For the outside world it was shocking that a minister like Khin Yi would back such a racially provocative law as this one. Yet across the board the leaders of Myanmar’s government have unanimously supported the two child limit for Rohingya families in Burma.
This law, fully supported by the more vocal elements of 969, is targeted not only at reducing the number of Rohingya through attrition but is aimed at impoverishing Rohingya even further. With a lack of children to help in daily activities in areas where agriculture still remains the backbone of society, Rohingya are left at a severe disadvantage. Though not practiced as much in the West, children in Burma are put to work to support the family and help grow and harvest the families food supplies. Without the extra hands the food supply diminishes and any extra jobs that can’t be completed go undone. Thus showing the intent of this law to both prevent the birth of another generation of Rohingya but to also deprive the currently living of food and security.
Mixed Faith Marriages Banned
“The Law For The Preservation Of German Blood And German Honour
Section 1: Marriages between Jews and citizens of German or kindred blood are forbidden. Marriages concluded in defiance of this law are void, even if, for the purpose of evading this law, they were concluded abroad.”
Nazi Germany had already taken away the citizenship of German Jews prior to the Nuremberg Laws. This meant that marriage between Jews and non-Jews was already hard to achieve in a country where state sponsored discrimination was law. Yet in September of 1935 Hitler’s party of devout fascist still saw the need to make the act of marriage between Jews and “Germans” officially illegal. Thus came the ban and annulment of any existing interfaith marriages in Nazi occupied Europe.
For the Rohingya the threat of a law forbidding the marriage of Buddhists to Muslims now lingers as radicalized Buddhists monks draft a new law stating exactly that. Such a law would leave Rohingya women and girls even more vulnerable as the government still practices a strategy of removing men from Rohingya villages randomly. If mass executions of Rohingya men takes place, for any reason, the women and girls left in the targeted village would be abandoned and vulnerable. Without the ability to seek out support from Buddhists neighbors or other Rohingya villages, these women and girls would be ready targets for rape and exploitation.
The possibility for rape, and organized mass rape, are very real threats for Rohingya women left vulnerable due to the deliberate actions of Burmese military and police. It has been a long standing practice for boy and men to be called upon for slave labor operations by the Burmese military. Then when rape occurs the victimized woman or women are blamed for the crime and the perpetrators are either let go or even at times rewarded.
It can only be speculated as to why these 200 monks want this law to be passed. One can argue that they are simply trying to stem an imaginary tide of Buddhists leaving Buddha for All-h. Or perhaps they don’t want their Buddhists girls being forced into marriage to Muslim men (once again, imagined threat). Yet the most likely reason is that these 200 monks have been listening to the preaching of 969 organizer and leader, Wirathu.
Expulsion From Politics
April 7th, 1933
The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service
All Jews Banned From Government Office
Nuremberg made it official yet two years prior the Jewish population of Germany had been banned from holding public office in any German governmental agency. Almost immediately the “Jewishness” of dissenting German politicians came into question. Anyone who dared speak out against the actions of the Nazi party ran the risk of being framed as a “Jude”. Thus removing them from the political landscape of Hitler’s Europe.
The Union Election Committee orders that Democracy and Human Rights Party expel six of it’s members that had listed themselves as Rohingya. The example is established for all other parties in Myanmar. The government makes it clear that if a party is going to allow Rohingya they must list their ethnicity as anything other than Rohingya. This move by the Union Election Committee however only restated the long held legal precedent that allows parties to bar Rohingya from holding office within Burma’s government.
Every since Myanmar became a nation it has banned Rohingya from participating in governmental affairs. Rohingya are not permitted the right to self-determination and are subject to laws created for them (and often about them). Since their collective voice is barred from the “democratic” system they are therefore kept outside the realm of what it means to be a modern day Burmese citizen.
Nazi Germany’s July 14th, 1933
All of Germany’s Jews were officially stripped of their citizenship during the infamous Nuremberg rally. However all Jews in Germany had been denied their citizenship two years prior when Germany passed the Denaturalization Law. This revoked citizenship of any Jewish individual who had recently immigrated to Germany and denounced the citizenship of Jews who had been born and lived in Germany for generations. It was one of Hitler’s earliest victories in attacking the entire Jewish population of Germany all at once.
Officially Rohingya are not citizens of Burma. The government of Myanmar has never recognized the Rohingya as a given ethnic group and therefore often denies that Rohingya even exist. This policy of denial has led to and upheld the policy of forcing Rohingya to denounce their own ethnicity and register as “Bengali immigrants”. This permits Myanmar’s government the opportunity to ethnically cleanse their country of Rohingya by simply renaming the Rohingya as “Bengali“. It also allows for Burma to deny citizenship rights and a clear nationality to the Rohingya by adding the term “immigrant” to the Rohingya.
The process of “denaturalization” may be convoluted in Burma, yet it is happening at an alarming rate. With increasing ferocity, and savagery, the Myanmar government is pushing Rohingya to sign away their heritage. Those who refuse to sign away their names are subjected to beatings, torture, and imprisonment.
In affect, the very act of forcing signatures is ethnic cleansing.
Bringing Burma To It’s Own Nuremberg
On November 20th of 1945 the Nazis were dragged back to Nuremberg. Many of the worst of the Nazi leaders would commit suicide before being dragged out before the world at Nuremberg this time around. They knew rather well what they had done. They knew all to well what had come from the laws they had passed on that same spot ten years before. But for those who did face their trial there, this was not the Nuremberg they had left in 1935.
If the United Nations and world as a whole is to seek justice both during and after acts of genocide are committed then we must learn from Nuremberg. We must learn from both 1935 and 1945 Nuremberg. We cannot pick and choose the lessons that history is trying to teach us. The laws that came out of 1935 led us to the trials of 1945. Therefore we must learn from the mistakes of that rally and apply them ever increasingly harshly to the trials we face today.
Burma must be brought to its own Nuremberg. It must be forced to face the sins that have been committed in it’s name. The world community must challenge the actions that still come out of Myanmar’s hate. We cannot overlook the laws that Myanmar is passing. We cannot overlook the actions that arise from these state sponsored dictations of discrimination. If even a single word hints at the intent to violate the human rights of any minority group in Burma, we must apply the same wrath we showed Germany’s criminals.
We must always keep in mind that history does not relent in it’s attempts to teach us from our own mistakes. If we fail to learn from Germany, if we fail to learn from Myanmar… we will face these same crimes, these same sins, over and over again.
“So grotesque and preposterous are the principle characters in this galaxy of clowns and crooks that none but a thrice double ass could have taken them for rulers.”
~ Officer in the Allied Control Commission, Nuremberg Trials 1945
~ Officer in the Allied Control Commission, Nuremberg Trials 1945
(note: not all sources listed)
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Democratic Voice of Burma