The Vicious Cycle of Extreme Nationalism

Following the wave of anti-Muslim violence that swept through parts of central Burma late last month, 88 Generation leaders came forward with an important statement. At a press conference on March 29, Min Ko Naing said it was “very clear” that the riots did not represent a communal conflict between Buddhists and Muslims, but that they were instigated by “well-trained terrorists.”

I learned the same painful lesson in my own Bosnia in the early 90s. Ethnic cleansing is never done by the spontaneous violence of a “mob” or by grassroots communities that allegedly hate each other. It is usually the work of well-trained paramilitary groups organized by elements of the security apparatus. Their task is to do the dirty work without showing the direct link with the regular forces, officials and their political patrons.

What happened in the former Yugoslavia cannot be mechanically used to explain what is happening in Burma. But the role which paramilitaries (“well-trained terrorists”) played in the former Yugoslavia and the way they interacted with the regular army is a chilling warning for all responsible people in Burma, whether they sit in the government, Parliament, opposition, media or civil society.

Ethnic cleansing is a logistically and organizationally complex operation which cannot happen without the tacit involvement of at least some elements of the state apparatus. Nationalistic intellectuals, zealot religious leaders and “patriotic” media play their role as well, but it is the visible and invisible power apparatus of the post-authoritarian state which is an indispensable co-player.

I do not know who is responsible for the terrifying events in Burma and I cannot make any indications based on the parallels with the former Yugoslavia. But there are lessons learned which offer relevant warnings.

Nationalism as Authoritarianism’s Last Line of Defense

With democratization, tense ethnic relations are usually the first skeleton out of the closet. With political opening, the grievances and demands of the suppressed and discriminated groups surface in an open space characterized by a multi-party system, free media and freedom of association. Many of these demands and grievances fuel passionate nationalism which can create a lot of pressure on emerging democratic institutions.

But there is another type of nationalism that is much more dangerous for emerging democracies. In many places, nationalism, sometimes in its extreme form, became the last defense of the previous authoritarian structures. Allow me tell the story of how Slobodan Milosevic used nationalism to prolong the rule of the communist party and what price was paid by the nations of the former Yugoslavia.

Yugoslavia was not a part of the Soviet bloc, but it was a communist country. With the fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe in 1989, even the relatively soft communist rule in Yugoslavia could not hold any more.

Communist parties were basically confronted with two choices. One was to abandon their leading role and transform themselves into socialist parties. They could accept the rules of democratic competition and face a highly probable defeat in the first free elections. But by becoming part of the opposition, former repressive communist parties could clean their own ranks and put forward more competent technocrats and managers. Meanwhile, the new parties elected in the first free and fair elections would soon disappoint their voters. Former dissidents would prove to be less than capable, and daily politics would compromise their popularity. Then the former communist, now socialist, center-left parties stood a good chance of winning the second or third elections after the democratic change. If we look into the transition trajectories of many ex-communist European countries, this is what happened.

Another option the communist parties had was to cling to power at any cost. That was the road that Slobodan Milosevic and his Serbian Communist Party took. Communism had evaporated and gone, but the well-organized party machinery was still there and it had control over the economy and media as well as over the army, police and secret services.

Managers of the factories and agricultural farms, directors of banks, heads of trade companies, chief editors and general directors of television and national radio stations, generals in the army, heads of the police, spies and the secret police officers who had for decades persecuted members of the opposition were all afraid of what the change would bring for them. Milosevic offered them survival and ongoing positions in power, as well as a “piece of the cake” in the privatization. They were ready to follow.

The self-preserving interest of the former privileged class of mid- and higher-ranking party members and technocrats would not suffice to generate enough votes to win free multi-party elections. The “apparatus” still controlled all important tools of state power, but it did not have an ideology or any positive image to offer to the voters. The easiest and the most effective new ideology was nationalism.

The Role of Nationalistic Intellectuals and “Patriotic” Media

In order to unite people behind the president and the ruling party, it was necessary to create an atmosphere of fear and anger. The first move of the ex-regime, which still controlled the media and public space, was to let nationalistic intellectuals and religious leaders out of the shadow where they were kept for decades. Suddenly, people who were before persecuted for their nationalistic and religious beliefs started to appear on TV, make public speeches, hold debates and write in the print media. They talked mainly about old historic grievances, including all the injustices and crimes that the “others” had done to “us.”

The atmosphere in the society started to heat up. The revived nationalism of “one side” found the other side ready to respond with their own sense of nationalism. The “others,” too, had their own (his)stories and their own grievances. They had their own writers and intellectuals fostering their collective memory and identity. They also had their own aspiring politicians preparing themselves for the first post-authoritarian, “democratic” elections. Many of them were ex-communists.

Old injustices and crimes committed by “others” upon “us” and the stories of our past glory were successful in energizing the public because they were presented in large doses by the new and dynamic private and “free” media. The public was totally unprepared for such an onslaught. They were only used to the old type of dull socialist state propaganda. New private media offered them a magnetic mix of entertainment, showbiz, gossip, manipulative tricks of the yellow papers and well-dosed political messages packaged in a “patriotic” wrapping.

Extreme nationalistic parties were allowed to emerge as well, with at least some of them being led by former secret agents. Their inflammatory rhetoric just increased the level of what was allowed to be said. Communists-turned- nationalists let the smaller dogs bark first, and let them bark as loudly as they could. Mistrust between different ethnic groups started to grow even more.

Murky Rape Case as a Trigger

However, all of this would not be enough to win the elections. It was necessary to rub new salt into old wounds. What you need next is a trigger event, some ugly incident. Then you need to repeatedly broadcast images of that ugly, outrageous event through the media. Even normally cautious, reasonable and moderate people became blind to reality and ready to volunteer for self-defense or army units. They became ready to go and kill others and to burn their houses.

The alleged rape case of a Serbian villager Djordje Martinovic was one such trigger event used to bolster Milosevic’s popularity and mobilize almost the whole Serbian nation behind him. Allegedly, the Serbian villager was kidnapped by Kosovo Albanian radicals, who raped him with a beer bottle. The whole story was pretty murky and until today nobody knows what really happened. But for the Serbian nationalists and “patriotic” media, there was no doubt that the perpetrators were Albanians and that all Serbs were endangered.

International criticism of Milosevic’s discriminatory policies in Kosovo just helped to deepen the feeling among the majority of Serbs that they were a nation under threat, encircled by enemies from within and outside. Anybody who dared to criticize Milosevic’s policies or to challenge him in the political arena was simply branded as a “traitor of the nation.” There was no space for democratic competition or democratic dialogue between different opinions. What remained were only “they” and “us.” “Us” meant all people uncritically uniting behind the country’s leaders.

The Complementary Roles of the Army and Paramilitaries

Interaction between the regular army and paramilitaries played a crucial role in executing ethnic cleansing. For many foreign observers, it was easiest to conclude that the horrific acts that characterized this episode in late 20th century European history were the result of ancient hatreds between Balkan “tribes” that have always fought and slaughtered each other. But there was nothing irrational in the ethnic cleansing tested first in Croatia, and then applied on a massive scale in Bosnia and Kosovo. On the contrary, ethnic cleansing was a highly rational, planned and well-organized endeavor. Prominent members of the other community were targeted and horrific crimes were committed publicly, so that everybody else would flee en masse. Houses were burnt down or bulldozered, so that there was no property left to be reclaimed later on. All religious, cultural and historic monuments needed to be reduced to dust, leaving no trace of the “others” ever being present on what should be our and only our territory.

Paramilitaries were well-equipped and highly mobile units consisting of elements of ex-intelligence officers, former soldiers in foreign mercenary armies, criminals released from prisons, football fans and unemployed youth. The paramilitaries were often joined by the local mob, which was keen to take part in killing, raping and looting.

The army was also deployed, but at least in the beginning, it did not take part in the killing and burning. It was deployed to “bring security and protection,” to “calm things down,” as it was said. In reality, the role of the army was to control the militarily strategic points; to secure roads and other important infrastructure; to block the entrance of any unwelcome intruders, such as journalists, activists or observers (paramilitaries were free to move as they liked); to block any attempts to arm or organize the targeted minority population; to manage the mass flow of the people; and finally, to secure the territory once it was “cleaned” of “others.”

With paramilitaries doing the dirty work, the military, government and president Milosevic could always say to the international community and domestic audience that they were not responsible, that they were doing all they could to calm the situation. The “problems,” they said, were created by local self-defense groups, which were provoked by the attacks of others.

At a certain point, it was no longer necessary to fabricate stories about rapes and killings. Such occurrences became real and were happening on a massive scale. “Our” forces committed horrific crimes against the “others,” but the “others” did not remain passive victims. They organized themselves as well and retaliated with the same ferocity against “our” defenseless civilians. Domestic, “patriotic” media never reported about the atrocities committed by our own paramilitaries and our own drunken mobs. But “our” media were quick to report about the crimes committed by others. This created even more fear and anger, which meant even more readiness to “defend” our endangered nation by killing and expelling others.

This is how the vicious cycle of extreme nationalism rolled through the former Yugoslavia for a decade. In the meantime, Milosevic and his now “socialist” party won without any problems presidential and parliamentary elections in 1990, 1992 and 1997. For almost a whole decade, Milosevic was the popularly elected president. The price paid for former communists staying in power in Serbia for 10 more years was the break-up of the country and four aggressive wars. Two hundred thousand lost their lives, thousand of villages were burned, cities were shelled by heavy artillery, millions of people were ethnically cleansed from their land and homes and the economy was completely destroyed.

Finally, Milosevic was toppled in a popular uprising led by the Serbian youth movement Otpor (Resistance) and by a united opposition that reacted strongly when he tried to steal 2000 elections. He was handed over to the International Court in The Hague to be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He died in his cell from a heart attack before the court case against him came to a conclusion.

To avoid any misunderstandings, let me conclude that I do not want to draw a parallel between Milosevic, the Butcher of the Balkans, and President Thein Sein. What I wanted to share is that ethnic cleansing does not happen out of the blue and as a spontaneous eruption of communal violence. Ethnic cleansing—and what is happening in Burma with its Muslim population has all the parameters of ethnic cleansing—is usually prepared in advance through “psychological warfare” and cannot happen without the involvement of at least some elements of the state apparatus.

To break the vicious circle of extreme nationalism before it is too late, courageous and responsible initiatives by civil society leaders such as Min Ko Naing and his 88 Generation colleagues are not enough. Civil society, respected personalities, moderate religious leaders, responsible media and the opposition can and should help to reject violence and call for calm. But ultimately, it is the responsibility of the government and state not to let ethnic cleansing happen on its territory and to stop with quick and decisive action all state and non-state forces which are instigating it.

Igor Blazevic is a Czech-based human rights campaigner of Bosnian origin and the director of Educational Initiatives, a training program for Burmese activists based in Thailand.


19 Responses to The Vicious Cycle of Extreme Nationalism

  1. Thanks Igor. Excellent. Substitute Milosevic with Than Shwe/Thein Sein or more accurately the NDSC. Ultimately a more thorough regime change not a makeover we have witnessed is called for since the most virulent nationalist elements who will desperately cling to power reside in the military. Time to rid us of this military yoke once and for all.

  2. Excellent – It is complex and ethnic cleansing cannot be done without tacit and undercover help from authorities.

    This author has hit the nail on the head –

  3. Oh my God!! You have said every thing Igor. Nothing left to hide. What is happening in Burma s the exact ( I will repeat exact ) carbon copy what you have witnessed in former Yugoslavia.

  4. Dear IGOR BLAZEVIC and cheer ming ko naing for his brave remarks on ethnics issues.
    The following is my opinion.

    The excellent history and report in the respect of ethnic cleansing. It is real chilling how it is very cruel in low born, low educated paramilitaries from Yugoslavia, psychopath- Milosevic.
    U nu and ne win also set up paramilitaries to clean Karen, started from Insein, Rangoon ( Burma) in history for bamanization.
    Therefore , it is not strange or surprise story and report for than shwe. Than shwe learns it ( low born , low education , ethnic cleansing and bamanization, nationalism ) from his bama military school or training so than shwe is acting or testing his experiment ( in order to maintain power as well as to gain popularity by his ethnic cleansing ) from the support of admiration of US, UK, Aus, Germany, Noble peace organization) upon faked reform in Burma.
    Now, than shwe points the finger to Burmese communist supported by China because than shwe might not be happy with Chinese involvement in Kachin issue. Than shwe might not or does not know it is the litmus tests from both Chinese and US on than shwe. Than shwe thinks that he can use one stone ( unrest from ethnics’ cleansing ) to kill many birds ( brave monks, DASSK , Chinese , USA , UN and speedy democratic reform). Than shwe thinks UN is more apparent paper tiger than USA and Chinese ( see North Korea N threat to USA for their own right to express against economic sanction on them from US and UN ).
    If than shwe wants to cover his paramilitaries, than shwe needs to clean them now. Or than shwe’s paramilitaries must go extremely to the end ( killing all popular politicians-obstacles, all ethnics in Burma, prevention to delete 2008 nargic constitution, continuing to maintain full authoritative power ).
    Let see, who will win the game.

  5. Than shwe thinks he and North Korea are in the same boat in term of economic sanction on than shwe but North Korea is not terrorist except kidnapping Japanese for need of translators. Than shwe with Burmese Bin laden ( faked monk-wirathu) is terrorist to kill innocent Burmese ethnics.

  6. thanks igor belazevic, what happening in Burma today with rohingya ethnic,Myanmar Muslims are same what happen in Yugoslavia.slovodan Melosevic and president thein sein are parallel similar attitude toward minority Muslim.In Burma indeed genocide,ethnic cleansing taking place against Muslim.Muslim for Burma have no body to save their life,Rohingya ethnic, Myanmar Muslim who are stil alive are feel just waiting for killed in minute,hour or day.

  7. Nationalism is different from stupidity. We all love our country, but hating some one who is different from us is not nationalism. By killing, we cannot build our nation. Killing will divide us but only love and respect will bring unity which is the core of building nation to be a great one. Narrow-minded nationalism is dark stupidity.

  8. I wish someone would translate this article into Burmese and distribute copies to every Burmese, so that they won’t be duped by some section of the government still intent on going back to the past, and in the process destroying our country and our good name in the international community. If we Burmese ( I mean Burmese in the sense it encompasses everyone living in Burma) live by whatever religious teachings we’ve grown up with, and especially if the majority Burmese Buddhists were to practise what Buddha had preached — metta, karuna, mudita and uppekkha, the situation in Burma can still be saved despite the machinations of the old guards in the government and the army.

  9. A very informative and thoroughly written article indeed.

    There are reminders for everyone to reflect upon the vicious nature of humanity full of greed, anger, ill will and ignorance.

    A horrific ethnic cleansing which was methodically calculated and executed did happen in former Yugoslavia. There are lessons to be learned and points to ponder upon.

    However, this so called racial and religious conflicts between Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar do not come close to the atrocities that took place in former Yugoslavia. I believe the inherent nature is not the same.

    These occasional violences are not something new. It has happened in the past not only between Muslims and Buddhists but also between Chinese and Burmese, Burmese and other ethnic groups. It is an ongoing saga the leaders of our country are not able to come up with the solution.

    By the same token, the religious hatreds in Myanmar pale in comparison to the radical Islamists committing atrocities against the Infidels all over the world especially in the Western hemisphere. No one dared call these radical Islamists Neo Nazi and they are still continuing with the killing sprees. It is considered politically incorrect to criticize such atrocities.

    Anything is possible in terms of the conglomerate working behind the scene and it may have added more fuel to the fire.

    Since Myanmar is under the watchful eyes of the world community as she makes its way towards serious reform any kind of civil unrests albeit nothing new would be frowned upon or warned against.

    However, we need to move forward with our reform processes despite all the unexpected hindrances.

  10. This article is misleading – there is no parallel between the civil war in former Yugoslavia and present day Burma and the author’s erroneous account of the events that took place in that region will only cloud the issue further. Atrocities that occurred during the break up of former Yugoslavia took place in the context of a civil war in which all sides were guilty of perpetrating heinous crimes against minority groups living in the various regions of that country, including Serbs. Operation Storm for instance, which took place in 1995 in southern Croatia, ethnically cleansed over 200,000 Serbs with thousands of fatalities, most likely with American assistance, certainly with arms provided to Croats despite a UN ban (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2003/07/21/croatia_030721.html). In Bosnia during the early 90s Muslim Commander Naser Oric staged attacks on local Serb villages, showing videos of his exploits of murder and mayhem to Canadian journalist Bill Schiller (http://emperors-clothes.com/analysis/oric.htm).
    In addition, it is wrong to lay the blame for all such atrocities and campaigns at the feet of Milosevic. As Cees Wiebes eminent study of the manifold intelligence services involved in Bosnia during the war (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Intelligence-Bosnia-1992-1995-Studies-History/dp/3825863476/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1365938038&sr=8-2&keywords=intelligence+and+the+war+in+bosnia) describes, Milosevic had no knowledge that there would be an attack on Srebrenica, one of the most notorious events of the war. Further, according to Wiebes, the attack itself was unplanned and uncoordinated taking place in the context of continued attacks against Serb villages by the Bosnia-Herzegovina army heavily armed by C-130 flights dropping advanced military technology into a UN ‘safe haven’.
    This article is also misleading in describing Milosevic as having been handed over to the ‘international court’. Milosevic was handed over to the International Tribunal for Yugoslavia an ad hoc body having nothing in common with the International Court of justice, and it in fact failed, over a 4 year period, to find him guilty of anything, despite hundreds of witnesses and experts being called to testify against him. The International court of Justice itself found, in a 2007 ruling, that there was not enough evidence to demonstrate that the state of Serbia was responsible for genocide (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/news/2007/02/mil-070228-rferl01.htm).
    I could go on in further detail, space permitting, but this article falls flat on so many grounds – no doubt psyops were a feature of Serbian campaigns, as they were of Bosnian and Croatian ones, who hired American PR firms to bolster their cause. While the rape story may have been an example of such a campaign, similar stories were told on the Bosnian side – for example, the allegation that a Bosnian-Serb commander forced a Muslim inmate to bite off another inmate’s testicles, later shown to be false. Atrocities in Kosovo by the Serbs were also demonstrated to have been exaggerated, as an investigation by the late Daniel Pearl showed: http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/pearl123199.htm.
    To sum up, this partial account of the events of former Yugoslavia sheds no light on current events in Burma – as Donald Horowitz’ wide ranging study of ethnic riots observes (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Deadly-Ethnic-Riot-Donald-Horowitz/dp/0520236424/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1365938130&sr=1-1&keywords=the+deadly+ethnic+riot), such events may be organised by the state or political parties, but it is not necessarily always the case, and it seems unwise to draw conclusions on the basis of such little evidence.

    • Hi ,Sophie
      “On 26 February 2007 the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) found that there was no evidence linking Serbia and Milošević to the crime of genocide in the Bosnian War, not including other breaches of international humanitarian law. However, the court did find that Milošević and others in Serbia did not do enough to prevent acts of genocide from occurring, particularly in Srebrenica.
      Reference:^ Paul Mitchell (16 March 2007). “The significance of the World Court ruling on genocide in Bosnia”. World Socialist Web. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
      As a full authority in his hand , Milosevic failed to prevent the Genocide on own minority. There was no evidence he was involved in this genocide in law but it did not or does not mean Milosevic really did not know or was not involved in this genocide in what level. Milosevic was the strong suspect in this big, big issue. In criminal law, there is a benefit of doubt for the accused side. The court did not or does not want to punish the accused without strong evidence in law. The case can be opened anytime, anywhere, any reason if there is new evidence emerged.
      Do you believe Milosevic did not know that genocide as a supreme leader in the country he ruled? Bama military thugs are and were more authoritative than Milosevic in term of election style. This one fact implies that than shwe and thien sein know the whole picture of this killing Muslim in Burma ( why , what , when and where). Thein sein gave a rubbish that it was due to Burmese communist instead of telling it was due to late Ne win. Thein sein did not explain that why there are the well-trained paramilitary group actively and systematically involved in this mass killing without any further news in detail and without mentioning what action he would take on those paramilitary group. If than shwe and thein sein could kill all those paramilitary group or could destroy all evidence, both could escaped from court punishment in law, like Milosevic who refused to take medication for his poor health to let himself died. As a successful politician , Milosevic did not want to defense himself in this fair court and fair trial. Why? Milosevic might not or can not be able to answer some questions in the court although he was law graduate. Cheating one dollar and one million dollar are the same as a criminal. Killing and failure to being prevented from killing as a communist supreme leader in the country he ruled are the same as a criminal to be punishable dead penalty/ life imprisonment. I hope Sophie is not the law adviser to psy-than shwe and puppet-thein sein. Court needs evidence to punish the accused. I repeat again that in criminal case , if there is no sufficient evidence , the accused can entertain benefit of doubt ( full release). It is a difference between civil and criminal case. Milosevic case can be opened anytime if there is new evidence emerged.

      • Hi Norman, thanks for the reply – not sure I see what your point is though. You acknowledge that the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia failed to prove Milosevic guilty beyond reasonable doubt – he may have been a suspect, but was not found guilty over 4 years. The court needs evidence to punish the accused (find the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt) – does that not go without saying? Have I suggested otherwise? For four years and after hundreds of witnesses the burden of proof was not met. As I observed already, the most scholarly study of the atrocities in Srebrenica, Cees Wiebes’ ‘Intelligence and the war in Bosnia’ clearly demonstrates that Milosevic had no knowledge of events there. This was an official report ordered by the Dutch Government – it simply doesn’t get any more authoratative. I also don’t understand what you mean ‘Do you believe Milosevic did not know that genocide as a supreme leader in the country he ruled’ – Bosnia was ruled by Izetbegovic, an extremist following an ideology having more in common with the Wahabbis than a liberal democracy. If you watch this fascinating documentary by a Bosnian-Muslim journalist, both the former police chief of Srebrenica and a former Bosnian-Muslim army officer blame Izetbegovic for what unfolded there – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=RUuhSGnLvv8. In any case, the issue of my beliefs is irrelevant, I’m discussing evidence.
        ‘Milosevic did not want to defense himself’ – Milosevic DID defend himself! As he had every right to do. Your knowledge of this topic is extremely weak.
        As to the allegation that Milosevic did not take his medicine, please read this book which reveals how ridiculous those claims were, and also reveals what an extremely unfair sham of a court the ICTY was and is: http://www.scribd.com/doc/105150853/John-Laughland-Travesty. If ICTY was fair why did it not even consider the specialist in criminal law Michael Mandel’s complaint of NATO war crimes? possibly because of the vested interests NATO has in ICTY?
        You hope I’m not the legal adviser to Than shwe and Thein Sein? Why? Because my legal advice would be so good I would get them off the hook? You seem to imply that I don’t understand the law, so my advice would therefore be bad and they’d make an inadequate defence, so…. wouldn’t that work in favour of the prosecution?
        You haven’t really dealt with any of the points I raised in my initial comment apart from the ICJ judgment which conceded elements of original ICTY judgments without investigating them independently, but flat out exonerated Serbia of any responsibility for genocide. Even former ICTY president Antonio Cassese acknowledged that the judgment of the ICJ absolved Milosevic of the charge of genocide. The observation that Serbia failed to prevent genocide in Srebrenica could equally – if not more seriously – be applied to the Dutch peacekeeping troops who were meant to be supervising the ‘safe haven’. Therefore Wim Kok should have been on trial alongside Milosevic and is equally as strong a ‘suspect’?
        My original point was that what happened in former Yugoslavia happened in the context of a civil war in which all sides were guilty of crimes against minorities living within their territories, and thus provides no meaningful comparison with what is happening in Burma. It’s simply pointless to mention it in the same breath as Burma.

        • Hi
          Sophie wrote : he (Milosevic) may have been a suspect, but was not found guilty over 4 years.
          My opinion: it happens to some cases that many years will last in court proceeding but it could not find the court accepted evidence to punish the accused. Many raped accused is guilty after decade long of release from court punishment when the new technology of DNA test is available.
          Sophie wrote: “My (Sophie) original point was that what happened in former Yugoslavia happened in the context of a civil war in which all sides were guilty of crimes against minorities living within their territories, and thus provides no meaningful comparison with what is happening in Burma. ”
          My opinion: Yes, both sides are guilty of crime against minority whether it happens during a civil war or during without civil war. In Burma , in case of Muslim or Rohingya issue , there is no civil war at the time of incidence. If so, the crime against humanity upon killing innocent minority is not accidental killing. During civil war, the accused will argue that it is accidental or mistakenly or obeying order for wrong killing in their defense in court. This type of crime (killing with plan ahead ) is more serious than those without civil war ( intentionally or plan to kill the innocent minority). The issue is whether it is during civil war or not. The main issue is killing innocent minority or matter of ethnic cleansing with plan ahead or intentionally. I might say that killing the Muslim or Rohingya is for getting political gain or power consolidating or power struggling or aim of military coup from the 2008 nargic constitution.The final destination of the civil war is the same as above. Now ‘FOX” party unilaterally declares the war on Muslim or Rohyngyi who make or made self-defense ( majority) or revenge ( minority) for survival to fight back in few cases. Do you want to say it is not a small war or unfair war or civil war? Note: self-defense is not court punishable but revenge is punishable.
          The author, Igor B ( main objective ) just wants to say that it is the matter of ethnic cleansing as well as it can be capable to do so systematically and successfully with the help of paramilitary. The issue is not that on what condition or situation , the ethnic cleansing is or was happened in the author’s main objective. If this ethnic cleansing happened without civil war , the magnitude of the crime against humanity is too huge to be inexcusable.
          Sophie wrote:”You hope I’m (Sophie) not the legal adviser to Than shwe and Thein Sein? Why? Because my legal advice would be so good I would get them off the hook? You seem to imply that I don’t understand the law, so my advice would therefore be bad and they’d make an inadequate defence, so…. wouldn’t that work in favour of the prosecution?
          My opinion: I usually trust the court decision where the country government is democratically elected one. I am worry that if you give false legal advice to than shwe and thien sein, both will become arrogant and will kill more to have more innocent victims in the undemocratic country, Burma before international criminal tribunal for Burma takes action.

          • HI Sophie
            “This type of crime (killing with plan ahead ) is more serious than those without civil war ( intentionally or plan to kill the innocent minority). ”
            Correction: “This type of crime ( killing with plan ahead or intentionally killing ) is more serious than those happened during civil war” in general.

          • Hi Norman, thanks for engaging, however, again I don’t see that you’ve actually engaged with any of the points I raised or refuted any of my observations. You write: ‘My opinion: it happens to some cases that many years will last in court proceeding but it could not find the court accepted evidence to punish the accused.’ – your opinion is all very well, but it is just your opinion – is there any fresh evidence you have to offer to demonstrate Milosevic’s guilt? Otherwise it’s just baseless speculation on your part. Your DNA analogy regarding rapists is specious – by the same merit anyone accused of a crime could be found guilty – in fact EVERYONE accused of a crime would be found guilty if such reasoning applied. I can only note, for the third time now, that the most authoritative study of the attack on Srebenica, Cees Wiebes’ ‘Intelligence and the War in Bosnia, 1992-1995’ states that, according to intelligence officials working in FRY at the time and monitoring phone intercepts etc that Milosevic ‘had no prior knowledge of the attack on Srebrenica’. After four years and hundreds of witnesses there was no evidence produced to demonstrate Milosevic’s guilt – please provide an example of such a case ever occurring elsewhere – the Nazis were on trial for only 10 months at Nuremberg before sentencing.
            ‘Do you want to say it is not a small war or unfair war or civil war? Note: self-defense is not court punishable but revenge is punishable.’ My point regarding the civil war in FRY is fairly clear – Blazevic’s article paints a picture of an evil bad commie dictator who was a fervent nationalist ordering his minions to persecute and remove ethnic minorities from their homes – this is not what happened, at all, as I observed in my initial comment with copious counter-examples and documentation. There were fervent nationalists to be sure, Izetbegovic and Tudjman most prominently. I was responding to the analogy made between the present ethnic riots in Burma and the conflict in former Yugoslavia, a comparison which is weak, offers no relevant or pertinent information and because of the grotesque misrepresentation of events in former Yugoslavia is misleading. Ethnic cleansing in former Yugoslavia DID happen in the context of a civil war in which Bosnian Muslim paramilitaries ethnically cleansed Serbs from their villages, with the aid of covert assistance from Iran, Saudi Arabia and, with a high probability, the US – I assume you don’t believe that any such parallel thing is occurring in Burma, with Muslims ethnically cleansing Buddhists from their places of residence with major external support? In which case it is misleading to draw a comparison/analogy. I’ve demonstrated a number of serious flaws in this article which make it, as I have said, misleading. You haven’t refuted any of my points raised in response to this article, for which I provided evidence and references. A number of the references I provided are freely available online, please consider them carefully. I can only repeat myself – it’s pointless to mention the two events in the same breath, and the hackneyed platitudes voiced in this article do not stand up to the scrutiny of evidence based analysis.
            ‘My opinion: I usually trust the court decision where the country government is democratically elected one.’ – tell me, in which democratic country was the ICTY established – under whose sovereignty does ICTY operate?
            ‘I am worry that if you give false legal advice to than shwe and thien sein, both will become arrogant and will kill more to have more innocent victims in the undemocratic country’ – let me allay your fears Norman, I am in no position to give Than Shwe or Thein Sein legal advice, and it is extremely unlikely that I ever will be. As far as my uttering falsehoods goes, please demonstrate where I have done this.
            ‘The author, Igor B ( main objective ) just wants to say that it is the matter of ethnic cleansing as well as it can be capable to do so systematically and successfully with the help of paramilitary.’ As I’ve said, his argument is weak and doesn’t stand up. Serious scholarship, Donald Horowitz’ ‘The Deadly Ethnic Riot’ for one, belays the author’s contention here that ethnic cleansing is ‘usually prepared in advance through “psychological warfare” and cannot happen without the involvement of at least some elements of the state apparatus.’ Some ethnic conflicts have this feature, and a number don’t. It’s complicated, unsurprisingly. And, as I observed in the first place, psychological warfare was a feature of the Croats campaigns against the Serbs and the Bosnian-Muslims against the Serbs, as outlined in Peter Brock’s ‘Media cleansing: Dirty Reporting’ (http://www.scribd.com/doc/130506100/Media-Cleansing-Dirty-Reporting-Journalism-and-Tragedy-in-Yugoslavia?anchor=scribd_epub_anchor_11#scribd_epub_anchor_11). Unless you can seriously refute any of the issues I’ve raised, with reference to evidence, I can’t see any reason to change any of my initial observations. What’s not misleading in the article is just banal, more serious analysis is required to understand present events in Burma, I’m sure.

  11. Heartiest congrats Igor you have precisely exposed the scourges involved. I crystal clearly re call it was in the early 1970s anti-Chinese Riots conducted by the Tatmadaw guys,nakedly en gaged in killings & arson attacks in the Chinatown, in the heart of Rangoon in broad daylight! Pl do exercise utmost caution in your next visit to Rangoon.

  12. Sophie wrote (10th May2013) : is there any fresh evidence you have to offer to demonstrate Milosevic’s guilt?
    My reply: I am not in the position to answer this kind of question. If you are not satisfied my reply , see the OJ Simson murder case where the new evidence comes out from his confess. For detail , you can follow up if you are the scholar of this kind of subject. Can Sophie promise there is no new evidence will come out for the ethnic cleansing involvement of Milosevic in future? Sophie must count that Milosevic is guilty of lack of responsibility in the ethnic cleansing issue because of his failure to prevent its happening. The police ( well-trained Milosevis ) can say in the court that “I can not see the thief because I am rubbing my both itchy eyes although stealing is happening in front of me.” The police also presents a letter from doctor in court that he is suffering from common cold with itchy both eyes. If court accepts the doctor’s opinion, Milosevis will not be guilty in ethnic cleansing. Court emphasizes evidence letter than anything else-logic, guessing, layman understanding .
    Sophie wrote: Ethnic cleansing in former Yugoslavia DID happen in the context of a civil war in which Bosnian Muslim paramilitaries ethnically cleansed Serbs from their villages, with the aid of covert assistance from Iran, Saudi Arabia and, with a high probability, the US – I assume you don’t believe that any such parallel thing is occurring in Burma, with Muslims ethnically cleansing Buddhists from their places of residence with major external support? In which case it is misleading to draw a comparison/analog.
    My question is that” does Sophie want to say that Muslims in Burma has external support ( eg Muslim paramilitary ) to kill or clean Buddhists from the place of residence ? If so, Sophie should give the evidence from her claim if she is in the position to know it clearly with strong evidence.
    Sophie wrote : “tell me, in which democratic country was the ICTY established – under whose sovereignty does ICTY operate?
    My reply: ICTY was held in the Hague , the Netherlands as far as I know. Do you want to say that Netherlands is not democratic country, like Communist China or North Korea?
    The issue is ethnic cleansing needs external support ( paramilitary ) for systematically acting out to get success. Muslim fighting back to the Buddhist thugs is clearly self-defense in 99.99%. Revenge out of anger is less than 0.1% because they are minority too weak to revolve Buddhist thugs in order to get success. I have not seen any evidence of external support ( Muslim paramilitary )to Muslim to kill Buddhist thugs.

  13. Hi Norman – thanks for replying. Again, I can only repeat myself – I don’t see how your speculation that in the future evidence may be discovered to prove Milosevic’s guilt may be found – in law the principle of ‘Idem est non esse et non probari’ holds – not being and not being proven are one and the same. I might point out to you that if you are speculating on evidence that may appear in the future with some bearing on the case you could just as easily speculate that evidence will be found that proves the INNOCENCE of the accused – why assume that it will prove their guilt? Yes Milosevic failed to prevent ethnic cleansing, and I asked you, did not the Dutch peacekeepers also fail? So why is Wim Kok not on trial? Inquiries into intelligence failure after 9/11 demonstrated that the intelligence services failed to prevent 9/11 in the US, so therefore are they guilty of the 9/11 bombing? No, of course not, therefore I don’t see what your point is. Milosevic was never found guilty, a substantial body of evidence demonstrates that he was innocent of the charges – ‘For detail , you can follow up if you are the scholar of this kind of subject.’ – I provided a link to the most scholarly analysis of the subject I am aware of, did you read it? http://www.scribd.com/doc/105150853/John-Laughland-Travesty – This goes into great depth in its analysis of the ICTY and Milosevic’s trial.
    I think you misunderstood my point regarding Muslim paramilitaries conducting ethnic cleansing of Buddhists in Burma, deliberately or otherwise – it’s clear from what I wrote that I was NOT saying that that is happening in Burma, Muslim paramilitaries are NOT conducting ethnic cleansing campaigns in Burma. Bosnian Muslim paramilitaries WERE conducting ethnic cleansing campaigns against Serbs, as I said originally. Therefore, there is no comparison between events in former Yugoslavia and what is happening in Burma, as I stated originally and clearly – if you wanted to make a comparison between the two then you would need to show that similar events happened, which neither you or Blazevic have done. In Bosnia, Bosnian Muslim Paramilitaries DID conduct ethnic cleansing campaigns – In Burma Muslims DID NOT do this – therefore there is no comparison and this article, and you, are mistaken in making one, as I stated in my previous comment.
    ‘ICTY was held in the Hague , the Netherlands as far as I know. Do you want to say that Netherlands is not democratic country, like Communist China or North Korea?’ ICTY resides in the Hague but my question was, which country established it and under whose sovereignty does it operate? You did not answer my question – the ICTY was not established by the Netherlands and does not operate under the sovereignty of the Netherlands. Are you saying that the ICTY was established by the parliament of the Netherlands and is subject to Netherlands sovereignty? It most certainly wasn’t and isn’t.
    ‘I have not seen any evidence of external support ( Muslim paramilitary )to Muslim to kill Buddhist thugs.’ In which case you agree with me – there is no serious comparison to be made between former Yugoslavia where Bosnian Muslims were getting major external support in a civil war, and Burma where Muslims don’t. Which was my original point. I’ve provided copious references, links, evidence to support my arguments and I don’t see that you’ve refuted or engaged with any of those. All of my initial observations on this article still stand – it’s erroneous and does not make any serious comment on what is happening in Burma, or former Yugoslavia for that matter. All it does is repeat redundant platitudes. Until you provide any serious evidence or counter-examples to anything I’ve written here, providing references to support your claims I see no point in engaging any more on this. Fare thee well….

    • Hi ,
      Sophie wrote :”Therefore, there is no comparison between events in former Yugoslavia and what is happening in Burma, as I stated originally and clearly – if you wanted to make a comparison between the two then you would need to show that similar events happened, which neither you or Blazevic have done.”

      My reply: i repeat you again that Igor B , author wants to say and emphasize about how Buddhist thugs could easily, readily and systematically plot and kill local Muslim in order to wipe out their business, status as well as helping USDP’s political gain ( to favor Buddhism for previous than shwe’s killing Buddhist monks in 2007).

      It is the issue of ethnics cleansing and it is not the issue of on what condition or on what event the ethnic cleansing can happen. I never say that there is a civil war ( like Yugoslavia) between Buddhist thugs and local Muslim before one sided Muslim ethnic cleansing by Buddhist thugs supported by bama paramilitary.

      Do you want to say that the event must be the same or author Igor B can not make reference on the success and effectiveness of ethnic cleansing?

      A kills B in the event of business dispute with sniper. C kills D in the event of love affair ( jealousy) with sniper. I am talking about effective killing with sniper by Buddhist thugs. Do you want say that i can not make comparison in this effective killing by use of sniper? Do you want to say that both dispute must be the same in the event of Business dispute or jealousy ? Or author Ignor B and I can not make comparison in this effective killing method. If your understanding from author Ignor B is different from me , i have no point to argue with you anymore.

      Sophie wrote: ” ICTY resides in the Hague but my question was, which country established it and under whose sovereignty does it operate?

      My reply: If Sophie knows which country established it, Sophie should tell me and why it should be held in Hague. From my understanding , democratic Hague might have reasons why Hague accepts other country to hold this court proceeding. Do you want to say that Hague was under pressure ( nuclear threat ) from that concerned country? I am sure that if the other country is China or North Korea, democratic Hague will not accept those countries for international court proceeding.

      In common sense or in general, any foreigner ( except diplomats) must totally abide the residing country laws. In one ancient teaching , if you are in Rome , behave as a Rome people to avoid in breaking their laws. If you are talking about the ” white” ( event causes ethnic cleansing) and i am talking about the “Blue” ( success of ethnic cleansing) , we should not continue to argue this and that.
      It is not surprise to me that there are different meaning and understanding among us or any readers in the aspect of author’s aim in his writing. If you emphasize more on what event , ethnic cleansing can happen, go on. In short, anybody can make reference from this author’s writing in the aspect of event or success of ethnic cleansing. The author Ignor B himself or herself can make reference for the area he wants to emphasize if there is incident of ethnic cleansing anywhere and anytime if appropriate. If you are interested in the aspects of any fair trial or on what event ethnic cleansing could be happened, you might be in the wrong track in this forum.

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