Keith Preston, the chief editor and director of attackthesystem.com, has said that “the present the situation with the Rohingya is one of the most serious humanitarian crises in the world.”
“The situation with the Rohingya is one of the genocides that are presently occurring in the world today, along with genocides that are occurring in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Yemen, Iraq and Syria,” he told Shia Followers in an exclusive interview.
Following is the full transcript of the interview:
Some analysts say that the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya in Myanmar is a result of the global powers’ greed to control the region. What’s your take?
Keith Preston: The Rohingya are an indigenous population that has been located in the region that is now Myanmar since at least the eight century C.E. However, the Rohingya have rarely been recognized as citizens, or even as a non-citizen minority group, by the military dictatorships that have traditionally ruled Myanmar. Until the recent ethnic cleansing, there were over one million Rohingya in Myanmar, located primarily in the state of Rakhine, which is also the most impoverished region of the country. The government of Myanmar has used the military to engage in the full scale ethnic cleansing of most of the Rohingya population at this point. Most of the Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh and other surrounding nations, and over 100,000 Rohingya are in concentration camps in Myanmar. The purpose of this massive act of ethnic cleansing was to remove the Rohingya who were seen as an obstacle to economic development in Rakhine. The region is very rich in natural resources such as timber and minerals. The government of Myanmar wishes to attract foreign investors from multinational companies in India, China, and elsewhere by granting them land in Rakhine. However, the Rohingya were considered to be in the way and were consequently subjected to ethnic cleansing.
How relevant is the rise of Aung SanSuu Kyi to the worsening condition of the Rohingya? What’s your opinion about her actions regarding the conflict?
Keith Preston: Aung SanSuu Kyi achieved a certain amount of international status, including a Nobel Prize in 1991, because of her role as an opposition figure under the former military governments in Myanmar. However, Myanmar’s transition to democracy under the leadership of Aung SanSuu Kyi as a civilian head of state has been very fragile. The military remains very powerful, and she needs to retain to support of the ethnic majority who are very hostile to the Rohingya. Therefore, she is not in a political position to act on behalf of the Rohingya because if she did she would lose the support of the military and the popular majority. Aung SanSuu Kyi has been criticized for her silence in the face of the ethnic cleansing that has been taken place. She has simply blamed both sides for the violence, although the evidence is overwhelming that the violence primarily consists of ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya by the military.
How should we describe the conflict? Is it a religious conflict between Muslims and Buddhists?
Keith Preston: Religion is only one of many factors that are the source of the conflict. The majority of Myanmar’s population is Buddhist, and an ultra-nationalist Buddhism has emerged in Myanmar in recent years. The Rohingya are primarily Muslim, though some are Hindu. The Rohingya are also an ethnic minority as well as a religious minority. The military and the power elite in Myanmar exploit these traditional social cleavages in order to incite the Buddhist majority against the Rohingya minority. They do this with claims that heavily populated Bangladesh is going to flood Myanmar with Muslims in order to destroy Buddhism, but these are merely unsubstantiated claims that are used for purposes of incitement. The real objective of Myanmar’s ruling elite is to expel the Rohingya from Rakhine in order to seize the resource rich land in the region.
Is there a link between the conflict and the teachings of Islam?
Keith Preston: No. The efforts by the military in Myanmar to inflame anti-Muslim hatred on the part of the Buddhist majority merely represents a tactic that is being used to justify the ethnic cleansing of a religious and cultural minority that is regarded as a political and economic inconvenience.
How important is the Rohingya cause?
Keith Preston: The Rohingya cause is extraordinarily important because at present the situation with the Rohingya is one of the most serious humanitarian crises in the world where nearly a million people have literally been subjected to ethnic cleansing and genocidal persecution by the government of Myanmar. The situation with the Rohingya is one of the genocides that are presently occurring in the world today, along with genocides that are occurring in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Yemen, Iraq and Syria.
Keith Preston was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, United States. He received degrees in Religious Studies, History, and Sociology from Virginia Commonwealth University. He is the founder and director of American Revolutionary Vanguard and the chief editor of AttacktheSystem.Com. He has also been a contributor to LewRockwell.Com, Antiwar.Com, Anti-State.Com,Taki’s Magazine, Radix Journal, and AlternativeRight.Com . He is the author of six books, and was awarded the 2008 Chris R. Tame Memorial Prize by the United Kingdom’s Libertarian Alliance. Keith has been a featured speaker at conferences of the National Policy Institute, H. L. Mencken Club, and Anarchapulco. He has been interviewed on numerous radio programs and internet broadcasts, and appeared as a guest analyst on Russia Today, Press TV and the BBC.