Jack, Twitter and the word “Rohingya”

When Jack Dorsey tweeted about his birthday retreat, recommending we take a meditation holiday in Myanmar, it is hard to imagine what a slap in the face that must have felt to the Rohingya. As a human rights activist campaigning for the Rohingya over Twitter for much of the past 6 years, I was sorely disappointed. I found it hard to understand how Twitter’s founder and CEO could have missed what an essential tool Twitter has been in the fight to stop the genocide of our time. Had he really missed all of our tweets as we struggled to end the burning of villages, and the raping of thousands of women and girls, and tweeted to stop the horror of babies being thrown on to fires or hacked to death?

Had Jack not noticed when #Rohingya tags trended across the world? Even at the last minute, on the plane to his destination, surely he had looked up the #Myanmar tag for tips? Why then did he not realise he was heading straight into the country of a full-blown genocide, where bodies still lay decomposing in unmarked mass graves? Why did he not realise his mistake and turn the plane around?

Of course, Jack was living in a different world. I used to be oblivious to genocide once, several years ago before Twitter blew my own cosy life apart. I realised that human rights are not yet Jack’s concern, but I needed him to understand: For him to go about his holiday like nothing had happened in Myanmar, whilst thousands of Rohingya are still trapped in internment camps and others are hanging on to their existence by a thread, with their citizenship removed, education and access to healthcare denied, was unacceptable. We took to Twitter with the #JackIgnoresGenocide tag, to campaign for Jack’s awareness. We called on him to show some human concern.

The Rohingya have had all their rights removed, and even their name denied. In Myanmar the most you might hear an official call them is the ‘so called Rohingya’, but usually ‘Bengalis’ or some derogatory slur. International politicians and aid groups including UN aid agencies frequently avoid using the term Rohingya in Myanmar.

So when Jack did break his Twitter silence and I saw it there, that word, their identity, denied and ignored for so long, I found myself having to pause to take a breath. For a few moments I could read neither what came before or what came after as my mind tried to process his tweet; because there, in the timeline of Jack Dorsey, founder and CEO of Twitter, was the word “Rohingya” and it was beautiful.

He is likely unaware of the significance of his tweet. Just as he was unaware of where his spiritual journey to meditate in Myanmar would land him. He may have inadvertently lent his support to a genocidal regime, for a short time. But with the power of one tweet, that one word acknowledged the existence of a million unrecognised refugees, confined to bamboo huts without any rights, and the thousands of Rohingya still trapped in internment camps, or hanging on to their existence in Myanmar, stateless, denied access to education and healthcare, and living in constant fear of what will happen next.

For both Twitter, without which thousands more Rohingya may have perished unknown and for that single tweet where he wrote the word Rohingya, I say thank you.

But what now? Jack says he needs to learn more and that he is listening. But let’s not stop here. A few tweets are a good start, but a tragic waste of an opportunity if this comes to nothing more. Twitter is a tool for communication, just like the telephone, and Facebook; a tool. It is powerful, because it connects people who need to be connected, who would not have been otherwise. It can be used for good and for bad. If Jack wants Twitter to be that force for good, he can’t just provide the tools and then let what happens unfold. He must be proactive in claiming this space for all that is beneficial. Twitter works at its best when tweets extend to real life action. Where better to start than with the ending of a genocide?  Please Jack, learn about the Rohingya and visit the survivors in the refugee camps in Bangladesh. Consider how can Twitter be used to help make sure that the Rohingya genocide is #TheLastGenocide.

 

Read our open letter to Jack here.

Does Nestlé care? Consumers want to know

Nestle says, “The impact that we have locally has the potential to be felt internationally; the ideas that you bring to life today could shape our future”.  I couldn’t agree more.  The impact Nestle has internationally can also, of course, be felt locally.

Nearly half the entire Rohingya population in Rakhine state has been either murdered or expelled in what is the 21st Century’s most glaring case of ethnic cleansing; it is increasingly difficult to not characterize what is happening in Myanmar as a full-blown genocide.  Nestle is one of the biggest companies in the world, even without its significant investment in Myanmar, they possess the kind of global influence that could potentially persuade the regime in Yangon to not only halt its pogroms in Rakhine, but indeed, to reverse its policy of repression against the Rohingya.

It is absolutely essential for the most powerful players in the international business community to back up the United Nations’ and the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State’s recommendations for resolving the crisis in Myanmar if they are ever going to bear fruit.  We cannot talk about powerful players without talking about Nestle, the largest foods company on Earth.  Any word from Nestle weighs heavily on the scales of policy-making, not only in Myanmar, but around the world.  Their silence is just as significant.

When major companies like Nestle do not take a stand against genocide, it is interpreted by the regime as permission; and it will be interpreted by consumers as either indifference at best, or actual complicity and collusion at worst.

Nestle has been admirably responsive to public grievances in many instances, such as the recent campaign by Greenpeace over the company’s use of palm oil from Sinar Mas.  They took many steps to address the concerns; steps that no doubt came at a considerable expense for Nestle.

Condemning genocide costs nothing.

What Nestle stands to lose by speaking out is negligible compared to what they stand to lose by their silence; and indeed, to what they stand to gain by taking a stand.  The people in the Southeast Asian region care tremendously about the Rohingya issue; tempers are running high as the pogroms continue while the international community seems to remain largely ineffectual.  A “Day of Anger” has been announced for November 5th, with protests planned in Malaysia and around the world.  But directionless outrage and frustration can lead to very negative and even destructive consequences.  It is time for the global business leaders like Nestle to take the lead in reining in the Myanmar regime by letting them know that multinational corporations and foreign investors do not approve, and will not tolerate the crimes against humanity being perpetrated against the Rohingya.

It is time for Nestle and other leading companies to align themselves with the call for peace and justice in Rakhine.  It is time for Nestle to declare that “We Are All Rohingya Now”.

The necessity of the moral corporate voice

From a Public Relations perspective, I can’t think of an easier way for a company to show its humanity than by condemning genocide and endorsing recommendations for a peaceful resolution in Myanmar.

The United Nations, the official body representing international consensus has already characterised the situation in Rakhine state as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing“.  The Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, which issued a detailed report about the repression and violence against the Rohingya and offered solutions, was a project of the Kofi Annan Foundation, headed by the former UN Secretary General who initiated the Global Compact with big business in the year 2000.  There is no controversy in the international community about the nature of what is happening in Myanmar, and companies risk nothing by taking a stand consistent with the position of the UN.  On the contrary, reluctance to do so sends a very negative message making people wonder if companies invested in Myanmar even care that crimes against humanity are being committed; or worse, if they might actually approve of the genocide.

Western multinationals may feel that their foothold in Myanmar is delicate, and that they are at a disadvantage compared to China.  They may believe that if they take a stand on the Rohingya issue, Myanmar will simply rush into the arms of Chinese companies and investors, and they will lose their position in the country.  But the truth is, if they do not take a stand, they run the risk of alienating the broader market of 600 million consumers in Southeast Asia, not to mention people worldwide who are concerned about this issue.

Myanmar is extremely interested in diversifying the sources of its Foreign Direct Investment, and by definition, investment by Western companies brings more value than investment by Chinese companies.  The value of investment is not always derived from the amount of capital, but by the importance of the source of the capital.  And Myanmar is struggling to move away from dependence on Chinese financial support.  Furthermore, the core cause of the violence in Rakhine state is based on the economic ambitions of the government, with a view to improving its position for collaboration with foreign investors and corporations.  A public statement against the violence, and calling for implementation of UN recommendations would be far more likely to result in a cessation of ethnic cleansing than a rejection of Western companies.

Companies like Unilever, Nestle, Shell Oil, Chevron, and so forth, are the targets of almost continuous negative campaigns by human rights and environmental activists who portray them as ruthless, inhuman and corrupt entities that care more about profits than people.  Obviously, this is unfair and simplistic and overlooks the many positive initiatives these companies undertake for the populations where they operate.  But keeping silent about something as horrific as genocide will make it very difficult for any average person to view a company as socially responsible no matter what else it does to prove that it cares about humanity. And, of course, this negative perception will have detrimental market implications.

If taking a stand against crimes against humanity is not the lowest standard of corporate social responsibility, I don’t know what is.  It is becoming more urgent by the day for the international business community to align itself with the consensus of the broader international community and let their customers know where they stand before their silence is interpreted as either indifference or complicity.

We sincerely urge all major corporate investors in Myanmar, and even those who have not entered Myanmar, to join with their consumer constituents, with the United Nations, and with companies like Unilever and Telenor, to publicly declare “We Are All Rohingya Now”.

Teach a man to fish, then kill him

Something to consider…

Oil and gas companies are increasingly interested in exploration off the coast of Rakhine state. Companies like Woodside Energy, Shell, Total, and Chevron are already operating several fields offshore, and are confident that more discoveries are likely following the biggest natural gas discovery of 2016 off the coast of Rakhine.

These operations, and the expansion of these operations will profoundly impact the fishing industry in Rakhine, which disproportionately employs Rohingya. As found in a study on small scale fishing in Myanmar:

“…Rohingya made up a disproportionate numbers of fishermen since Rakhine Buddhists have historically shunned fishing businesses…”

Typically, major oil and gas companies, though not legally obliged to do so, initiate development projects in affected communities to offset the harm caused to their livelihoods.  All of the aforementioned companies have extensive community engagement programs designed to ensure as much as possible that their operations do not negatively impact the livelihoods of affected communities.

At present, as we know, the Rohingya are being ethnically cleansed from Rakhine state; which is to say, the affected community is being erased. This means that any development projects initiated by oil and gas companies will instead exclusively benefit the Rakhine; although they are not, by and large, engaged in the fishing sector.

This can be seen both as a manifestation of the government’s ethnic hatred for the Rohingya (wanting to ensure that their fellow Buddhists alone reap the benefits of development), and as a management tool for placating the Rakhine with material opportunities to abate their hostility over the exploitation of their state’s resources.

http://www.osjonline.com/news/view,comment-deepwater-myanmar-could-create-longterm-growth_49282.htm

The role of history in the Rohingya genocide

What this article provide you with:

A very good historical background on the ethnic and religious enmities in Myanmar

What this article does not do:

Refute the argument that economic interests are driving the ethnic cleansing in Rakhine state.

There is nothing reductionist about explaining the conflict in terms of economics. If you think it IS reductionist, then you do not understand the argument. Perhaps it is a mater of confusing the modalities of the conflict with the objectives.

The fact that this long history of ethnic and religious tension and suspicion exists is precisely why the strategy of redirecting the hostility of the Rakhine away from the central government and towards the Rohingya was chosen, and why it is working.

Is it necessary to ethnically cleanse Rakhine state of Rohingya in order to pursue economic interests? That is not the right question. A more apt question would be; is it useful to distract and divert the Rakhine with their long despised nemesis while the army seizes land and resources over which just last year the Rakhine people en masse demanded to have local control?

Is it “Marxist” to recognise that the government needs to establish absolute control over Rakhine’s resources as an existential imperative? When 60% of FDI is in the oil and gas sector, which is entirely located in Rakhine, is it reductionist to suggest that the primary objective of the regime is secure control of the land, the access, and the complete domination over that sector? Can Yangon afford an uprising by the Rakhine? This is not Marxist or reductionist thinking, it is real politik. This is a practical necessity for the central government, and pursuing such domination outright would very likely lead to an unmanageable conflict with the ethnic majority of the state; something that would be extremely costly in more ways than we can mention. Without the Rohingya conflict, the government would have no pretext; and selecting the most viable pretext in this case was quite straightforward, again, because of the history elaborated in this article.

Is it possible that hateful ideology has, or may, run amok , and the government could lose sight of its prime economic objective, and become fixated on a mission to do nothing else but exterminate the Rohingya? Of course. People certainly can go mad with ideology to the point of self-destructiveness; the Nazis certainly did. And, yes, the massacres are being carried out within the framework of hate; the Rohingya were selected as a diversion because, yes, the government views them as sub-human and eligible for genocide; and they likely derive satisfaction from killing and expelling them. But none of that contradicts with the fact that the primary motive in the conflict is vital economic interest.

http://www.newmandala.org/better-political-economy-rohingya-crisis/

Using corporate logic for social change

It is not really viable for society to impose accountability on some powerful institutions and not on others.  That is the basic issue with corporations.  But the onus of responsibility for imposing accountability, of course, is not going to fall upon the institutions themselves; it has to be undertaken by the people.  Just as it is the case with democratic government, if you want to impose accountability, you have to turn up at the polling booth and vote; we also have to actually utilize the existing mechanisms for imposing accountability on institutions of private power.  For corporations, that means utilizing market forces; it means, in fact, becoming a force in the market.

The completely transparent and binary decision-making process of companies makes this very straightforward. They are concerned with whether a policy is profitable or unprofitable, and no one, ultimately, determines whether a policy will be profitable or unprofitable except consumers.  This is entirely our responsibility. Companies learn from our behaviour and they follow whatever the market tells them; they have to.

It is possible for us to create a new dynamic whereby companies will actually compete with each other to be more responsive to public demands on how they use their political influence, if the market rewards them for this responsiveness; if it is actually more profitable to be responsive, and if ignoring demands leads to financial loss.

Major corporations have no problem whatsoever pressuring governments for legislative changes if they believe laws are detrimental to their business interests; they are not the least bit reluctant to push for laws and policies that they believe will make it easier and more profitable for their companies to operate; and more often than not, they get what they want.  So there is no question about whether or not corporations have the power to affect change when their own interests are at stake; they do it all the time.  Our challenge is to create a scenario in which what we want companies to do for us is also something they will want to do because it benefits them.

Corporate giants affirming support for Rohingya

An ongoing military operation in Rakhine state which the government claims targets militants, but which has caused at least 30% of the Rohingya civilian population to flee the country, and left possibly thousands dead; is raising ethical questions about foreign investment in a country accused of committing genocide.

The #WeAreAllRohingyaNow Campaign, an initiative by independent activists around the world, has been highlighting the role of the international business community in contributing to a solution to the crisis. “If you compare the world news coverage of Myanmar and the reporting in the business press, you would think they are talking about two different countries,” says Jamila Hanan, the campaign’s director.  “On the one hand, the United Nations is saying that Myanmar presents a textbook case of ethnic cleansing, and the Security Council is condemning the scorched-earth policy of the army; and on the other hand, Myanmar is being touted as a great destination for foreign investment, with no reluctance being expressed about mass killings, gang-rapes, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Investors are increasingly going to have to take a stand on this issue unless they want their brands to be associated with crimes against humanity.”

#WeAreAllRohingyaNow has been reaching out to multinational corporations invested in Myanmar and urging them to publicly commit to the protection of the Rohingya, often referred to as “the world’s most persecuted minority”, and to endorse United Nations recommendations for resolving the crisis.

The first company to respond to their call was Unilever, the third largest consumer goods company in the world.  “CEO Paul Polman replied to us immediately, and after a brief social media campaign, Unilever did indeed publicly affirm its support for the Rohingya,” Hanan explains.  “After a much longer campaign, we were able to help Norwegian telecom company Telenor, also a major investor in Myanmar, understand the urgency of the issue, and they too pledged their commitment to the human rights of the Rohingya”.

The campaign’s strategy seems to be turning the tide in favour of a business-led effort to end the genocide.  On Saturday, Paul Polman joined the #WeAreAllRohingyaNow hashtag on Twitter, in a tweet emphasizing the importance of reviving empathy in international relations, and presumably, in business as well.  As major corporations are beginning to doubt the wisdom of doing business amidst ongoing ethnic cleansing, even governments are becoming more sensitive about pursuing trade agreements with Myanmar.  On 14 September, the European Parliament Committee on International Trade decided to postpone indefinitely its visit to Myanmar due to the deteriorating human rights situation in the country. The Chair of the Committee, Bernd Lange said in a press statement “It is clear that under these conditions, the ratification of an investment agreement with Myanmar is not possible”.

“Rakhine state holds much of Myanmar’s untapped resources,” says Shahid Bolsen, the Campaign’s chief strategist.  “It is going to be extremely difficult for investors to benefit from the development of those resources without being regarded as complicit in the crimes of the army; particularly since there are development plans in precisely those areas where massacres are taking place.  Furthermore, even companies that have no direct interests in Rakhine state are, nevertheless, starting to be viewed as enablers of the army’s crackdown because the regime is facing no economic backlash from investors, which seems to embolden the government to defy international criticism”.

The government in Yangon still believes that its iron-fisted policy in Rakhine state will not alienate investors.  U Aung Naing Oo, director-general of Directorate of Investment and Company Administration said on Friday, “Ongoing conflicts do not have an impact on foreign investment, so we have nothing to worry about”.  However, his further contention that businessmen “care more about their business opportunities” than about human rights violations and political repression, seems to run counter to what was expressed by Paul Polman when he tweeted, “We have forgotten how to rescue each other. Human empathy is key to our survival”

The #WeAreAllRohingyaNow Campaign has highlighted the role of the private sector in resolving the crisis in Myanmar, and more and more companies are likely to follow the moral leadership of giants like Unilever and Telenor to use their considerable influence to stop what many observers are calling the 21st Century’s worst full-blown genocide.

Corporate Social Responsibility and Genocide

On August 25th, 2017, the government of Myanmar launched a large-scale military operation in Rakhine state ostensibly to combat a small group of Rohingya militants.  By all accounts, however, the Rohingya civilian population has suffered what amounts to collective punishment as the army pursues a scorched earth policy throughout the area; burning entire villages, and displacing hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and some estimates of the casualties run as high as 3,000 civilian deaths.

Collective punishment is a war crime, and many observers characterize Myanmar’s severe persecution of the Rohingya as ethnic cleansing.  The Rohingya population in Rakhine state has been reduced by approximately 30% in the less than 3 weeks since the military operation began.  It is difficult to not view what is happening as full-blown genocide.

Yet, multinational corporations and foreign investors from all over the world continue to flock to Myanmar hoping to benefit from that country’s untapped resources, many of which are found in precisely the same areas where military atrocities are taking place.  Indeed, the government in Yangon announced plans to build a Special Economic Zone in Maungdaw township, even as Rohingya inhabitants were being driven out, and their homes being burnt to the ground.

Does the international business community approve of what is happening in Rakhine?  Are they satisfied to extract oil and gas and minerals from Rakhine’s soil covered in Rohingya blood? Will they develop tourist resorts tomorrow on the beaches where today thousands of displaced families are huddled fearing for their lives?  Can they, in good conscience, erect their factories and warehouses and office buildings on land from which innocent Rohingya have been driven out by horrific violence? When every dollar of investment they pump into Myanmar inoculates the government from censure, how can the international business community avoid the charge of willing complicity with genocide?

We call upon major corporations and investors to display moral leadership in this time of urgent need; to refuse partnership with a government actively engaged in ethnic cleansing, and to use their considerable influence to turn the regime away from the path of genocide.

We say to those companies investing in Myanmar: Do not let your brand become associated with war crimes; do not let your company become complicit in crimes against humanity; do not let your shareholders become accomplices to genocide.    In Myanmar today, the price of profitability is innocent blood, and no business should be willing to pay that price.

Repressive “Peace” and Investor Security in Myanmar

The situation in Rakhine state is deteriorating rapidly and all signs indicate that a new pogrom against the Rohingya is imminent.  United Nations fact-finding investigators have been banned from the country.  The army has deployed heavy artillery, armored cars and helicopters, for “clearance operations”  in Northern Rakhine, and there is speculation that Buddhist civilians will be organized into militias with arms and training by the military.  Already in the Western township  of Zay Di Pyin Rohingya have been blocked by Buddhist civilians from leaving the village.  There is every reason to fear that ethnic cleansing operations this time around will be broader and more brutal than ever before.

Meanwhile, the World Bank has awarded Myanmar $200 million credit, the first allotment of which has already been delivered.  The World Bank supports the iron-fisted approach of the central government towards ethnic conflicts throughout Myanmar, including in Rakhine state, saying “The current peace process represents the best chance for peace in a generation”.  The Bank has also “initiated an active dialogue with the Rakhine State authorities” in particular in the context of supporting the “peace process”.

It should be obvious, but it is worth stating that “peace” is a relatively empty term which can be applied to either a conflict-free and tranquil society or to a society where repression is so severe, and conflict so one-sided, that unrest is literally impossible.  Insofar as they regard Myanmar’s brutal military crackdowns as a “peace process”, it is clear which definition most appeals to the World Bank.

By July, over a thousand foreign companies had invested roughly $74 million dollars in Myanmar this year, about 60% of this was in the energy sector; a sector to which control of Rakhine state is vital.

Aside from the Shwe pipeline which will allow oil from the Gulf States and Africa to be pumped to China, bypassing a slower shipping route through the Strait of Malacca; there are significant natural gas wells situated off the coast of Sittwe; and the biggest natural gas discovery of 2016 was found a bit further north.  Multinational energy companies like Shell and Woodside are currently competing to grab acreage in Rakhine.  One cannot help but notice the connection between this scramble for land and the army’s “clearance operations”.

Stirring ethnic and religious violence in Rakhine sets the groundwork for the army occupying the state under the pretext of providing security for the population, when in fact, they are providing security for investors, and for the central government againstthe population.

Armed Struggle and Common Sense

In certain situations and under certain conditions, armed struggle is sanctioned by both Islamic and International Law.  No one can rationally be opposed to armed struggle when these conditions are met, though there are those who may oppose armed struggle in principle; that is a moral argument, not a rational one.

The conditions for the permissibility of armed struggle in the Shari’ah are stricter than those in International Law, though many Muslims may believe otherwise.

International Law, for example, does not consider predictable outcomes as a factor in determining permissibility.  International Law permits people to take arms to fight for their “right to self- determination, freedom and independence” when they have been “forcibly deprived of that right, particularly peoples under colonial and racist regimes or other forms of alien domination”, regardless of whether or not such a struggle has any realistic chance of success.   The Shari’ah, however, is not so careless about likely outcomes, and is far more common sensical; if armed struggle can reasonably be expected to result in a situation of greater harm, then it is prohibited; even if all other conditions are met for its permissibility.

Islamic Law does not recognize as a rebuttal to this condition the possibility of miracles.  In other words, the “Allah will Help us against impossible odds” argument is not legally valid.  No; you have to make a realistic assessment of relative strength, power dynamics, strategic options, access to support, and review relevant historical precedents to determine as objectively as possible whether or not armed struggle will conceivably succeed in its goals, or whether it will simply spread greater chaos and suffering.  In this respect, the Shari’ah illustrates greater concern for the safety and security of the oppressed than does International Law; and any armed group that does not share the Shari’ah’s concern can only be viewed as reckless and insincere in their stated goals of liberation.

If we are to believe what the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) says about itself; that it receives no support from foreign organizations, groups, or governments, and that they are nothing more than a small, largely untrained, unfunded, group of volunteers armed primarily with farming tools, knives, and occasionally guns and homemade bombs; then the predictable outcome of their struggle is quite clear.  Indeed, the outcome of their operation last October against a military checkpoint saves us the trouble of pondering.  The result of that operation was a brutal pogrom by the army against innocent villagers; horrific murders, gang rapes, and a massive exodus of refugees.  There is no reason to suppose that any future operations ARSA undertakes will lead to different results.

Indeed, the mere existence of ARSA substantiates for the government their long held claim that the Rohingya pose a security threat; that they are terrorists or harbor terrorists among them.  Now, again, according to International Law, ARSA has the right to exist, and their operations; so long as they adhere to legally permissible targets; cannot legally be called acts of terrorism.  There is perhaps no population on earth with a greater justification for armed struggle than the Rohingya.  According to International Law, ARSA not only has the right to exist, but they also have the right to seek support.  They have the right to recruit fighters, solicit funding, and seek training from any group or government around the world, so long as these are not designated as terrorist groups or sponsors of terrorism.  That is the official rule in International Law.  However, the official rule, we have seen time and time again, is not universally applicable.

According to International Law, the Palestinians have the right to engage in armed struggle against Israel; the people of Iraq and Afghanistan had the right to engage in armed struggle against US and NATO occupations; the people of Kashmir have the right to engage in armed struggle against Indian occupation, and so on and so forth; yet in all of these cases the liberation struggles have been designated as terrorist.  It is also worth noting that none of these struggles succeeded in anything except increasing the devastation for their respective societies.

The government in Myanmar has been saying for years that the Rohingya are militants, are terrorists, are a security threat.  Up until last October, this claim was extremely weak.  Today, the government does not have to ask the public to imagine the existence of armed Rohingya militants, they actually exist; the pretext for either preemptive or retaliatory “security” crackdowns in Rakhine is now an established fact.  That profoundly increases, not decreases, the danger faced by the Rohingya; and any operations ARSA may carry out will predictably open the gates for an escalation of atrocities.

If ARSA is, in reality, receiving foreign support, for instance from Saudi Arabia or Pakistan; this does not make the predictable outcome any less clear than if they were a strictly indigenous group.  The possibility of a military victory against the Myanmar army is zero.  In this particular scenario, having greater access to weapons, funds, and training, would simply increase ARSA’s ability to provoke even more brutal reprisals by the government.  Foreign support would only intensify and prolong the strife in Arakan, not end it.  In the view of the Shari’ah, this constitutes greater harm, and it is therefore prohibited.

If you are sincerely committed to achieving and protecting the fundamental rights of the oppressed, your strategy for doing so must not actually worsen their condition; this should be obvious.  And you cannot rationalize the use of arms by simply saying “nothing else has worked” when taking up arms will predictably increase the horror.  Nor can you say “armed struggle has worked in other places” unless you have intricately studied those rare successes, understood why they succeeded, and can prove that the conditions under which those struggles occurred are similar enough to your own to warrant comparison.

Having said that; the Rohingya have been unforgivably ignored by the world, and yes, all efforts to help them have miserably failed.  The resort to armed struggle is entirely understandable in desperate and hopeless situations.  There is no doubt that ARSA was born from the neglect of the international community, and the only way to dissuade them from the path of suicidal armed struggle is for all of us to do more and to genuinely strive to achieve real results on the ground.