Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Interfaith Lecture on Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as Mercy for Mankind

Interfaith Lecture at St. John’s Wood Church on

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as Mercy for Mankind

Dr. Mozammel Haque

During last one month many important conference, symposium, seminar and lecture were held in London, among which the most important was Two-day Chatham House London Conference; One-day Interfaith Symposium on ‘Countering Fear and the Rise of Discrimination, Hate Speech and Hate Crimes in the UK’ and many talks, lectures, seminars and conferences on Balfour Declaration 1917. And lastly, an Interfaith lecture on Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as Mercy for Mankind was held at St. John’s Wood Church, Park Road, London.

I decided to pick up the last one on Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). There are three reasons; first of all, this is the month of Rabi al-Awwal, the month of the birth of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Secondly, I used to write on him in the month of Rabi al-Awwal every year without fail, like Khaled al-Maeena, the former editor-in-chief of both Jeddah-based Arab News and Jeddah-based Saudi Gazette. Thirdly, this time an interfaith lecture on the Prophet peace be upon him) as a Mercy for Mankind was delivered in a Christian Church.

Speech on Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) at
St. John’s Wood Church, Park Road, London
On Sunday, the 12th of November, 2017, an Interfaith Lecture on the Mercy for Mankind Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was organised by St. John’s Wood Church, Park Road, London and was held at the Church premises where the Director General of The London Central Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre, Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan, was invited to give a talk on Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).  The Vicar of St. John’s Wood Church, Fr. Anders Bergquist, introduced Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan who was the guest to give a lecture on the subject, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as Mercy for Mankind. Guests included Senior Rabbi Alexandra Wright – Liberal Jewish Synagogue and many others. The talk was followed by a Question and Answer session.

Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan
Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan, Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre, London started by saying, first of all, ‘bismillah hir rahman nir rahim’ this is the word meaning  ‘in the name of Most Merciful the Most Compassionate God.’ Then he addressed the gatherings by saying ‘Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullah,’ which again he explained, this is also the way that we greet in Arabic, that means ‘peace be upon all of you and with you all of you’. The nice lovely day thank you very much.

Then he said, “My friends and neighbours, thank you for this invitation. I am so happy to be here today with you and I am sure what is actually brought us together here this feeling that is we have; we have lot of things in common and that’s why I am happy to come here to speak and say to you. We are neighbours; always neighbours support actually well—connected time.”

Why I have chosen the Prophet
In the very beginning, Dr. al-Dubayan explained why he has chosen Prophet Muhammad as a subject to talk about. He said, “There are two reasons; the first one is really the highest personality for Muslims and in Islam. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the model for all Muslims; they try to follow, to learn from his behaviour as well as from his manners. Secondly, he is also a person, who actually in many ways misunderstood, sometimes misinterpreted, not only by non-Muslims but by Muslims themselves, some times. That’s why it is very important and I am sure, not sure, may be some never read anything about him; so that’s why I chose this personality to talk about.”

Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned that the talk will not be about his biography rather he has chosen all those things of his life which is related to mercy. He said, “I have chosen or picked up, lets say, about the dimension of mercy in Islam. This is very important. I have chosen this, particularly, actually mercy has spiritual value. It is one of the well-known qualities in Christianity itself; it is also one of the higher values in Islam. It is actually the Mercy when it is in your heart you will feel that is really if in peaceful time and peaceful life. It is also the value the thing that is asking from Allah Himself from God Himself. When we ask for mercy we have to give mercy first. We have actually asked for mercy itself.

“Also there is another reason for choosing mercy. Mercy; it is the value; may be one of the most, not only the most ever, important value for us to live in harmony in one society, to love each other to be actually well-connected to have better understanding. Because without this value of mercy things will be really miserable and life will not be good at all,” he mentioned.  

Then Dr. al-Dubayan talked about the social side of mercy itself. He said, “There is also the social side of the mercy itself. Today actually, in our modern life, mercy becomes even more important, with more this connection we have around, all this technology; with all this what we hear, what we do, and what we do every day now, we are very busy may be more than anybody else in the history in the past. Because of all these things we are having and we have in our hands. We have lot of overwhelming news coming from the media, from the internet etc; so this value is very very important which keep us in right direction of our campus where to go.”

About the Prophet peace be upon him
After giving introduction about mercy and its importance in today’s life and in today’s society, Dr. al-Dubayan started talking about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He said, “Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was born in Makkah. He actually was called to Islam when he was forty. He was not like Jesus Christ that he was young. He actually started calling to Islam at the age of forty. At the age of forty he received revelations, the Message. He was asked to call people. He stayed in his home town Makkah 13 years calling people, telling them and giving them guidance to give up all actually the old religion of the Arabs who used to worship idols and paganism all those things at that time. He actually suffered a lot. His first followers suffered here.”

First Generations of Companions to Abyssinia
Dr. al-Dubayan then mentioned the Hijrat or migration of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to Madinah. He said, “After this he moved to Madinah; this is another city which is 400 kilometres away; then he stayed there ten years only and then he died. So the whole actually the age of Islam with the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was 23 years only - 13 years in Makkah and ten years in Madinah. All these 23 years he actually used to tell people little by little, verse by verse, chapter by chapter the Qur’an the Holy Book of the Muslims.”

His contact with Christians
Dr. al-Dubayan then mentioned the Prophet’s first contact with Christians. He mentioned, “Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself actually had the first contact with the Christians when he sent his Companions, the early generation of his Companions, the first Companions actually, sent them to African country where Christian king was ruling at that time. He said to them, ‘Just go there; there is a king, the Christian king; he is very just king; live here; it is more peaceful than Makkah in your people.’ And about 18 people - men and women with their husbands and with their children - sometimes went to Abyssinia, at that time; Ethiopia now or Somalia. They stayed there two years till the situation in Makkah becomes better. Later they came back. They stayed there as Muslims under the protection of Christian king in Ethiopia at that time. Ethiopia and Somalia they are now argue where that was actually.”

His contact with Jewish community
Speaking about his first contact with the Jewish community, Dr. Al-Dubayan mentioned, “When he moved to Madinah then he had contact with the Jewish community. There was a big Jewish community, lived and well in Madinah many years before the Prophet came to Madinah; they were living with some Arabs. The population of Madinah at that time was actually some Arabs who were not Christians but they were not Jew; but they followed their own religion before the beginning of Islam and a big Jewish community. When the Prophet peace be upon him came to Madinah, he signed a treaty which is called Madinah Treaty; it is a Convention between him and the Muslims and the Jewish community. In the text of this Convention it was said, “It is today Muslims and Jews are one nation. It means we defend you something happened to you and you defend us when something happened to us.”

Dealing with wives
After mentioning about Prophet’s first contact with the Christians during his Makkah period and then his contact with the Jewish community when he moved to Madinah, Dr. al-Dubayan was talking about the value of mercy in his actions, his relations and sayings. He said, “During his life, we can see the value of mercy in many aspects; in actions; in relations; in his sayings also. For example, he had more than one wife  but we don’t know about harm doings with his life; in fact, he never hit any of them; he never did anything harm to any of them; he never hit a child; he never raised his hands on animal or a child.”

Dealing with servants
After citing his mercy towards his wife, Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned how the Prophet (peace be upon him) dealt with servants. He gave an example, “When Prophet (pbuh) came to Madinah, a widow who has child ten years old, his name is Anas, came to the Prophet. She said to the Prophet – ‘Can I leave my boy to you to stay between my home and your home as servant to stay with you and then to help you if you need things whatever;’ then the Prophet said, ‘yes, okay’. The boy stayed there. He used to go between his home and Prophet’s home everyday serving the Prophet, bringing something, sending here and there; and after ten years Prophet died. The servant himself, Anas the boy said himself, ‘I stayed with him ten years, he never hit me; he never said to me why did you do this; or why didn’t you do this; that was really very good treatment I got from the Prophet’. Even people used to call him the companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him) of his life about 80 years; When the prophet died he was at the age of 20 years; he lived 80 years more to reach 100 after the prophet.”

“The Prophet (pbuh) used to walk on the street; then a woman stopped him to talk to him; he used to stop to listen to her; old ladies, young ladies sometimes even teenagers, they stopped him on the street and he used to stop to listen to them. To give hear to them, to listen to their some complaints; some needs they need from him; then he said, yes, I will do it; he tried to do it,”  Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned.

Dealing with children
Then Dr. Al-Dubayan mentioned about his dealings with children. He gave an example, “Once Prophet was actually sitting in his house; then his grand son al-Hassan who was about five years old; he was playing around him. He used to carry him from the floor and kiss him and put him back and play with him again and hug him as we all do it with children. A man from the desert, a Bedouin, came to visit the Prophet; when he saw this, that was something unusual to him; he said, ‘Muhammad, I never did this to my children that you were doing with him.’ It happened more than one time. The Prophet said, ‘what shall I do to you if Allah does not put mercy on your heart. Your problem; you have to have mercy’.”

Dr. al-Dubayan then mentioned about the first Hadith, the tradition of the Prophet (peace be upon him). He said, Muslims used to study the Qur’an and after this they used to study the Hadith, the sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The chief of the Islamic Cultural Centre (ICC) said, “The first Hadith tradition started always with is the Hadith when he said those who have mercy in their hearts Allah will give them mercy. Merciful people will have mercy from Allah. We have to have mercy on people on earth Allah will then have mercy.”

Dr. al-Dubayan also mentioned another incident when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shortened his prayer so that the mother can take care of her crying baby. He mentioned, “Once the Prophet was in the mosque praying; he decided at that prayer a long prayer. When he started, then a child took crying in the back with his mother; then the Prophet did the prayer quickly; the companions enquired what happened Rasoolullah that you prayed very quickly today. The Prophet said, ‘Have you heard the child crying? The mother was worried about him, so I made my prayer quickly; so that she can make her prayer quickly and go to the child to see.’ This is an example.”   

Adopting or fostering an orphan
Dr. al-Dubayan also mentioned another saying of the Prophet (pbuh) regarding adopting or fostering an orphan. He said, “The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said; ‘Anybody who adopts an orphan or fosters an orphan he will come with me in paradise the distance is like this two fingers together.’ That means together in paradise.”

The ICC Director General also mentioned another saying of the Prophet (pbuh) about taking care of children, especially daughter. He mentioned, “The Prophet said, ‘Take care of children, especially daughters. Anybody who had two daughters, three daughters or four daughters; then he takes care of them till they are adult; their life is okay; then I guarantee that you will be in paradise.’ Specially the daughters; why? Of course boys have mercy; but why daughters, because in that society at that time daughters and women they really need support in order to have their life in order.”

Take care of three things, the Prophet said
Dr. Al-Dubayan mentioned, “One of the last word the Prophet said, ‘Take care of three things; number one prayer, never forget it; number two, you have to treat woman very well, very good way; number three, do it the best with the servant; the people who worked; stay most of the servant slaves sometimes; let them to eat from your food; let them have clothes like yours clothes; whenever you cook something or they help you to cook have them first because they are the one who cook it; they are the one who serve in the fire, in the smoke; and you just come in and eat it and they don’t. These are some of the practical things he used to have doing in his daily life.”

Mercy on Animals and Birds
What about animals? Animals are also important. Dr. al-Dubayan spoke about the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) mercy on animals. He gave an example. He said, “I will give you a story which shows how much mercy he had. Once when he went to Makkah about ten thousands people was going towards Makkah that time and when they returned back in one of the valleys between the two cities they found a dog actually with puppies in one of the valleys; when this ten thousands people or the armies come it will destroy all of them. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) saw the female dog; he advised people, ‘hold on’ and then he changed the direction of the army all of it ten thousands people and he asked one of his friends ‘to stay there to guard the dog and their puppies till everyone was moved from that area’. Think about the change of direction of the whole army because of the dog in the way.”

The ICC chief mentioned another instance to show Prophet’s mercy on birds. He said, “Once the Prophet (pbuh) was sitting with one of his companions; then he saw a bird there flying around from this wall to that wall in this area. The Prophet said, ‘anything have happened to this bird; someone has taken the chick of this bird’. One of the men sitting there said, yes. The Prophet said, ‘Put the chick back and children or something.’ All these stories and others show that this man had mercy for everything around him.”

Earlier Dr al-Dubayan mentioned one of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, wherein the Prophet said, ‘Those who have mercy Allah will have mercy on them’. In order to elaborate that, Dr al-Dubayan gave an example, he said, “Once a woman who used to be working as a prostitute profession or word in Arabic which shows that this woman is working or doing this work. She was walking happily. She found a dog. This story was told by him. She found a dog, the dog was so thirsty; there was a well; you know the wells were too deep; and then the dog was going around the well because she was so thirsty trying to find a way to quench thirst; or access to the water but the water was so deep down. The Prophet said, ‘When the woman sees the dog; she thought my god; the dog is very thirsty; then she took her shoes, went down to the well, put water into the shoes and give it to the dog’. Actually, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Allah thanks for this and everything she has done’; compare between the sin itself is very big and see the action for which she was forgiven is very small compared to that, just giving water to the dog. How merciful is Allah. God Himself is very Merciful.”

Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned another story which was said by the Prophet peace be upon him. The Prophet (pbuh) told the story: “A woman actually was put in fire because she locked a cat in her home. She did not feed the cat, she did not release the cat out; she locked the cat that is a very big sin of the woman.” Another example was: “A man said, ‘I wanted to slaughter a goat for food, when I saw her, the goat, I had mercy on my heart. He hesitates to slaughter. He has mercy; because of this mercy Allah will have mercy for him.”

That’s why, because of this, in the Qur’an Allah Himself told us that ‘We only send you, Muhammad, as Rahmatullil Alamin, Mercy for Mankind.’ The Prophet (peace be upon him), all his life, he never treated people in his house or Companions, or children or women in a bad way at all. This is actually always encouraging people talk in the mosque because for everybody the value of mercy is very important. This is very important for all of us or for all religions and all religions by the way talk about mercy,” mentioned Dr. al-Dubayan.

The ICC chief said, “The problem comes always in the practice; when it comes to implement this actually into in our daily action, in our daily communications; in our daily sayings what we say; what we talk; it is not easy. We have to remember this value. I believe Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself throws this aspect that I have mentioned to you in his life; is a very good model or the best model actually with the value of mercy.”

Dr. al-Dubayan also mentioned, “We connect this, of course, with Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) who also well known for his mercy; his messages on mercy; of course I am not going to preach Jesus Christ in the Church. If we connect also to other Prophets - Zakariyah, Jacob, Joseph, Abraham, Moses (peace be upon them all) - all of them we will find actually this aspect - taking care of other people - is always there; and always valid and always available; you may see it here, you may actually hear here very clear; see it here; no way hidden or written but need some interpretations. It is always there. Because we believe Allah chosen these people; God chosen all these Prophets because they have the ability; they have actually spread this message; they can deliver this message to us; firstly the value is the only thing that we really need today in connection with other people. This is not only, the Prophet said, this is not only for Muslims; this is for everyone; it is for mankind; for any human being; for all the mankind.”

“This mercy is not only for human beings, not only for animals; but of course for everybody; it is even for nature around itself; there are rules in Islam about nature; how to protect natural resources; not wasting things,” said Dr. al-Dubayan and mentioned one of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), “If anybody kills a bird or small bird (sometimes people do it just for fun), who kills a bird without any need a small bird like the small sparrow as we see in the garden, whatever that may be, he will be asked in the day of judgement, ‘why you kill this bird.’ We have to remember this in our communication in our relation.”

The Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre said, “That’s the message of today and that’s the message I have taken today only particularly from the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him); of course there are lots of stories, there are lots of sayings by him besides the verses of the Qur’an about mercy; how beautiful how important how must do we have all these things are around everything.”

Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned another Hadith. He said, “In another Hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘Allah will reward you for anything, even if you have one date and you cut it into two and then you give it to somebody;’ just half of a date can you image; something very cheap; sometimes we think it’s a easy thing, a silly thing; but Allah counts everything; everything is counted. Any soul you feed or give it is a charity; even the good words you say it to somebody; it’s a charity. Even the smile when you meet somebody in the street, you just smile to make other people happy; this is a charity. This the Prophet (pbuh) said. Even when you take a food and you give it to the mouth of your wife to show her your love; to show her that you love her and appreciate everything that she did for you. This is a charity. Allah will also give you reward. Even the small thing we sometimes forget. All time all that somebody wants to be remembered how value the charity is for the cause of God. That’s why I am doing it.”

Questions & Answers sessions
After this, there was a Questions & Answers session when many questions were asked for more elaborate discussions and clarifications; these included about definitions of Mercy and distinctions between mercy, generosity and compassion. Dr. Al-Dubayan was also asked to explain charity and its distinction and differences between charity and sadaqa and also the differences between sadaqa and Zakat. There was a lively discussion on many other related topics.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Chatham House London Conference - Part - One

The 2017 Chatham House London Conference at St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London – Part One

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Two-Day The 2017 Chatham House London Conference was held at St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London on Monday and Tuesday, 23rd and 24th of October, 2017 respectively.  The report of this Two-Day conference will be covered in two issues – this is part one report of the conference to be followed by Part Two report.

Why this Conference held at this time?
The organiser of the Chatham House London Conference explained why they thought this conference should be organised. According to them, the followings were the scenario for which The 2017 Chatham House London Conference was organised to work together to build a sustainably secure, prosperous and just world.

“In the Balance: A Future World (Dis) Order
World Order is fundamentally changing. The Trump Presidency has left a vacuum in global leadership; developments in the Middle East are intensifying the struggle between Gulf states and Iran; Russia persists in reasserting power while Europe remains preoccupied with its internal recovery; the North Korean threat become thornier; and China seeks to balance its growing international ambitions and internal dilemmas. This is all taking place against a backdrop of accelerating technological advances and ever-expanding flows of information, bringing unprecedented change and uncertainty to how we work, compete and relate.

The 2017 Chatham House London Conference will focus on how world order is shifting under these pressures and how societies and leaders can best adapt. This is a vital moment to convene leading thinkers and actors from across the world to compare best practices and chart ways to work together to build a sustainably secure, prosperous and just world.”

There were two Keynote Speeches: One on the Day One. Topic: A Vision For Global Britain by Rt. Hon. Boris Johnson, MP. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, UK and another Keynote Closing Speech on Day Two: By His Excellency Adel al-Jubeir, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Saudi Arabia.

Similarly, there were five Plenary Sessions: three on Day One; such as Plenary Session One was on America First – America Alone: The End of World Order;  Plenary Session Two on People VS Politics: Building and Breaking Trust Plenary Session Three – How Can States Navigate the Global Disruption? Take Aways From Day One

And there were two Plenary Sessions on Day Two, they are as follows: Plenary Session Four – The Liberal Economic Order: Will the Centre Hold? Plenary Session Five – Alternative Views on Future World Order, chaired by Robin Niblett, Director, Chatham House.

Besides the Keynote speeches and the Plenary sessions, there were two Break-Out Sessions-Round One and Break-out Sessions – Round Two.

Proceedings of the Conference
The Conference was started by Robin Niblett, Director of Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, an International Think Tank, welcoming the guests, delegates and dignitaries on behalf of the Chatham House. The Agenda of the Conference was as follows:

Day One, Monday, 23rd of October, 2017
After the welcoming address by Director of the Chatham House; it was followed by Brain Storm: What is on your mind? By Nik Gowing, Visiting Professor, Department of War Studies, King’s College, London.

Keynote speech:
A Vision For Global Britain was delivered by Rt. Hon. Boris Johnson, MP., Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, UK.

Plenary Session One was on America First – America Alone: The End of World Order; 
Plenary Session Two on People VS Politics: Building and Breaking Trust

There was a lunch break and after the lunch break, following sessions were held.

Break-Out Sessions – Round One
Session on Beyond Oil: New economies in the Middle East and North Africa took place in ‘The Quarters’;
Session on Hacking Elections: Politics and Cyber Security took place in the ‘Ladies Smoking Room’ and
Session on Fear the Future? What’s Next for International Trade took place in ‘Hansom Hall’.

Break-Out Sessions – Round Two
Session on New Business Models: Disruption and Opportunity took place in ‘Hansom Hall’;
Session on Agendas and Agency: Africa’s Influence in an Uncertain International Order took place in the ‘Ladies’ Smoking Room’, and
Session on Lessons from Latin America: Conflict and Co-existence took place in ‘The Quarters’.

Plenary Session Three – How Can States Navigate the Global Disruption? Take Aways From Day One

Day Two – Tuesday 24 October 2017 – St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel
Open Round Table Discussions
Table A – Why Does Ukraine’s trajectory matter for Europe and the whole post-Soviet space; Host: Orysia Lutsevych, Manager Ukraine Forum, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House.

Table B – What are the challenges tomorrow’s leaders see themselves confronting and what capacities do they need to address them? Host: Andrew Swan, Assistant Head, Queen Elizabeth II Academy for Leadership in International Affairs, accompanied by Academy Fellows.

Table C – Rethinking the state in the Middle East; Host: Neil Quilliam, Senior Research Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House

Table D – Developing Businesses of Scale in Sub-Saharan Africa; Host: Chris Vandome, Research Analyst, Africa Programme, Chatham House

Plenary Session Four – The Liberal Economic Order: Will the Centre Hold?

In Conversation with Armando Iannucci.
Armando Iannucci, writer, producer and Director, The Thick of It, Veep, Saturday Night Armistice, The Day Today and The Death of Stalin. Chair: Robin Niblett, Director Chatham House.

Closing Keynote:
His Excellency Adel al-Jubeir, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Saudi Arabia

Plenary Session Five – Alternative Views on Future World Order, chaired by Robin Niblett, Director, Chatham House.

Report on the Keynote Speech of Boris Johnson, MP,
Secretary of State for Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs,
Rt Hon Boris Johnson, MP, Secretary of State for Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs, UK said in his keynote speech as follows:
The Foreign Secretary highlighted the success of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in limiting the spread of nuclear weapons.

He pointed to the success of the nuclear deal with Iran and expressed his confidence that the deal can be preserved despite President Trump’s announcement of decertification.

He urged North Korea to change its current course, and rejected the examples of Libya and Ukraine as cautionary tales for Kim Jong Un of giving up his nuclear programme. In contrast, he argued that Kim’s current course is the biggest threat to his regime.

He cited the willingness of China to adjust their policy and bring economic pressure on North Korea as the biggest reason to be optimistic about a diplomatic solution – though he supports the US in keeping a military option on the table.

When asked about Brexit, he reiterated his support for the Prime Minister’s Florence speech as the basis of a way forward in the negotiations with the EU.
When asked about the annexation of Crimea, he admitted that an adequate response has not yet be found, but emphasized that the UK has strongly insisted that Russia must continue to pay a price. He said he regrets the deterioration with the relationship with Russia but expressed his hope for constructive talks when he visits in December.

Key Quotes from Secretary of State
for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Followings are the ket quotes from the keynote speech of Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, UK:

‘When you consider that every previous military development – from firearms to fighter jets – has spread among humanity like impetigo, you have to ask yourselves: why? Why have nuclear weapons been the great exception? …the answer is partly that many countries wisely decided, after the war, that they were going to take shelter under the nuclear umbrella provided by the US… it was that American offer – that guarantee – that made possible the global consensus embodied by the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty… It was an effort in which the UK – as one of the leading upholders of the post-war rules based international order – played a crucial role... That diplomacy has helped to make the world safer, more secure, more confident and therefore more prosperous… That far-sightedness is now needed more than ever, not only to keep the NPT, but also one of its most valuable complementary accords, the nuclear deal with Iran.’

‘That is the model – [the Iran deal model] of toughness but engagement, each reinforcing the other – that we should have at the front of our mind as we try to resolve the tensions in the Korean Peninsula. It is right that Rex Tillerson has specifically opened the door to dialogue. He has tried to give some sensible reassurances to the regime, to enable them to take up this offer.’

‘This is the moment for North Korea’s regime to change course – and if they do the world can show that it is once again capable of the diplomatic imagination that produced the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – arduously negotiated – and that after 12 years of continuous effort produced the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran. It won’t be easy, but the costs of failure could be catastrophic.’

‘The NPT is one of the great diplomatic achievements of the last century. It has stood the test of time. In its restraint and its maturity it shows an unexpected wisdom on the part of humanity, an almost evolutionary instinct for the survival of the species. It is the job of our generation to preserve that agreement, and British diplomacy will be at the forefront of the endeavour.’                                                
[To be continued …] .

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Genocide in Rakhine state - Rohingya Crisis

Genocide in Rakhine State
Rohingya Crisis Could destabilise the Entire
Region – says United Nations Secretary General

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Rohingya crisis could destabilise the entire region – says United Nations Secretary General on the basis of the reports, information received from the different agencies of the United Nations. Though the situation in Myanmar and the condition of the Rohingyas deserve to be taken attention but the UN Security Council has failed to speak out. It is reported that two human rights groups are accusing the UN Security Council of ignoring the “ethnic cleansing” taking place on a large scale against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International representatives said at a joint press conference at UN headquarters that the UN’s most powerful body has failed to speak out and immediately demand an end to the violence. About 370,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh since Aug. 25 and thousands are arriving every day. Louis Charbonneau, the UN director for Human Rights Watch, said, “This is an international peace and security crisis” and there is no excuse for the Security Council “sitting on its hands.”

The United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, said the government clearance operations in Rakhine “risked” ethnic cleansing. A Change.org petition to revoke Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel peace prize had reached 390,000 signatures by Friday.

Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing
The attacks on Rohingya villages on 25 August, 2017 appear to many to have been a systematic effort to drive them out. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has described it as ethnic cleansing. The UN human rights chief has described the systematic attacks against the Rohingya minority by the security forces of Myanmar as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” Amnesty International regional Director James Gomez accused Suu Kyi of “a mix of untruths and victim-blaming.” “There is overwhelming evidence that security forces are engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing,” Gomez said. The top UN human rights official, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, said. "The situation seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing."

Heads of States of different countries also said there is genocide in Rakhine state. French President Emmanuel Macron said attacks on Myanmar’s Rohingya minority amounted to “genocide.” Macron said in an interview with the French TV channel TMC. Macron’s use of the word “genocide” marks his strongest verbal attack yet on the military drive against the Rohingya. France will work with other members of the UN Security Council for a condemnation of “this genocide which is unfolding, this ethnic cleansing,” The Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a statement: “You watched the situation that Myanmar and Muslims are in. You saw how villages have been burned … Humanity remained silent to the massacre in Myanmar.” Turkish President Erdoğan has accused Myanmar of “genocide” against the Rohingya Muslim minority, who have fled in the tens of thousands across the border into Bangladesh to escape ethnic cleansing. There is a genocide there,” Erdoğan said in a speech in Istanbul during the Islamic Eid al-Adha feast. “Those who close their eyes to this genocide perpetuated under the cover of democracy are its collaborators.”

His Holiness Pope Francis said that he is following the “sad news of the religious persecution of Rohingya community… he asked that the members of the ethnic group be given full rights.”

Bangladesh's Foreign Minister said “genocide" is being waged in the country's violence-hit Rakhine state. "The international community is saying it is genocide. We also say it is a genocide," AH Mahmood Ali told reporters. “The international community is saying it is a genocide. We also say it is a genocide," AH Mahmood Ali told reporters.

UN Secretary General
The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, is pushing hard for concerted action and warns of the risk of ethnic cleansing (several Nobel peace prize laureates say that point) has already been reached. But Myanmar has said openly that it is working with China and Russia to prevent a Security Council rebuke. The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, warned that the violence in the country verged on ethnic cleansing and could destabilise the wider region.

United Nations Report
United Nations Report released this year detailed what happened to those that stayed. The report described mass killings and gang rapes by the armed forces in actions that “very likely” amounted to crimes against humanity. A security crackdown launched last October in Maungdaw led to the U.N. report on human rights violations by security forces that indicated crimes against humanity. Al-Jazeera reported, “The U.N. documented mass gang-rape, killings -- including infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances. Rohingya representatives have said approximately 400 people have been slain during the crackdown.”

While writing petitions to stop the genocide by Hussein Mohamed and Najma Maxamed of London UK, said, “Upon the documentations of the crime against humanity being conducted in Myanmar by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in a ‘flash report’ which was released on 3 February 2017, no serious action seems to have been taken to end this genocide since then. This is regardless of the fact that another recent report made on the 30th August 2017 seems to have found that indeed the violence being shown towards the Rohingya population in Rakhine State throughout this protracted crackdown could “very likely” amount to crimes against humanity.”

“According to OHCHR more than half of the women its human rights team interviewed reported having suffered rape or other forms of sexual violence. Many other interviewees reported witnessing killings, including of family members and having family who were missing.”

United Nations Human Rights
The top UN human rights official has urged Myanmar to end "brutal security operation" against Rohingyas in Rakhine state, calling it "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing". Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, addressing the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva said, "I call on the government to end its current cruel military operation, with accountability for all violations that have occurred, and to reverse the pattern of severe and widespread discrimination against the Rohingya population." Zeid also said. "The situation seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing."

“A spokeswoman for the UN high commissioner for refugees, Vivian Tan, told Agence France-Presse, “The numbers are so alarming. It really means we have to step up our response and that the situation in Myanmar has to be addressed urgently.”

It is clear by now that there have been serious human rights laws both local and international that have been violated by the Myanmar government through its security forces. It is also clear that these violations which have resulted in approximately more than tens of thousands of people murdered from a specific community alongside the displacement of even more people certainly amounts to genocide as opposed to just being termed as being “very likely” to amount to crimes against humanity.

OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation)
The world’s largest Muslim body, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), condemns abuses of Rohingya in Myanmar. It was urging Myanmar to allow in UN monitors so they can investigate what it alleges is systematic brutality against the Rohingya ethnic minority. “The Organization of Islamic Cooperation issued its statement Tuesday after an emergency meeting on the sidelines of a technology conference in Astana, Kazakhstan.”

Heads of States
Besides the United Nations and its different organs and agencies, the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the heads of states of different countries such as the United States, France, Iran and Saudi Arabia, were concerned and wanted the United Nations to take immediate action.

United States of America
US President Donald Trump wants the United Nations Security Council to take “strong and swift action” to end the violence, Vice President Mike Pence said. Diplomats say the Security Council could consider adopting a formal statement if the situation does not improve, but China and Russia are unlikely to agree to stronger action that would require the adoption of a resolution they could veto, it is reported in Arab News.

The US has dispatched an envoy to Myanmar to express its “grave concern” with the violence in Rakhine. Patrick Murphy, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Southeast Asia, will meet with government leaders and travel to the state capital of Rakhine but not the conflict zone further north, the official said.

French President Emmanuel Macron said attacks on Myanmar’s Rohingya minority amounted to “genocide.” France will work with other members of the UN Security Council for a condemnation of “this genocide which is unfolding, this ethnic cleansing,” Macron said in an interview with the French TV channel TMC. Macron’s use of the word “genocide” marks his strongest verbal attack yet on the military drive against the Rohingya. “We must condemn the ethnic purification which is under way and act,” Macron said. “Asking for the violence to end, asking for humanitarian access... progressively enables an escalation” under UN auspices, Macron said. “When the UN issues a condemnation, there are consequences which can provide a framework for intervention under the UN,” Macron said.

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia said the issue of the Muslim minority in Myanmar is a top concern for the Kingdom and calls on the international community to intensify its efforts to stop the apparently systematic ethnic cleaning campaign against the Rohingya Muslims.
It also stressed the need to intervene to find a humanitarian solution to protect the Rohingya minority from acts of violence and collective punishment they experience.
This came in the Kingdom’s speech before the 36th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) during the interactive dialogue with the independent internationally mandated fact-finding mission on Myanmar.

The Kingdom’s speech was delivered by Saudi Ambassador at the UN in Geneva Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed Al-Wasel. Al-Wasel strongly condemned the recent violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority. He stressed the Kingdom’s position that the UNHRC should address these violations and alleviate the suffering of the Rohingya Muslims and compel Myanmar to respect its international obligations to promote and protect human rights without discrimination based on race, sex or religion. “Myanmar is asked to cooperate fully with the fact-finding mission to look at human rights violations there and to promote tolerance and peaceful coexistence in all sectors of the state,” Al-Wasel said.

Iran’s Supreme Leader has strongly condemned the killing of Muslims in Myanmar by the government. It is reported in Arab News, “Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the killing of Rohingya Muslims is a political disaster for Myanmar because it is being carried out by a government led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, whom he called a “brutal woman.” He urged Muslim countries to take practical steps to stop the violence and said they should “increase political, economic and commercial pressures on the government of Myanmar.”

Human Rights Groups
The Human Rights Groups are very much critical of the Myanmar’s brutalities on Rohingyas. “The government has to stop this offensive,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch. “It has to allow humanitarian assistance and let journalists into this area. We have to actually see what’s happened because quite clearly human rights violations have taken place.”

An Amnesty International report this month, based on extensive interviews with Rohingya as well as analysis of satellite imagery, claimed that actions by Myanmar’s military may constitute crimes against humanity.

Nobel Prize Laureate
More than a dozen fellow Nobel laureates have criticised Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader, for a bloody military crackdown on minority Rohingya people, warning of a tragedy “amounting to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity”. It is reported in The Guardian, “The open letter to the UN Security Council from a group of 23 activists, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Malala Yousafzai, warned that the army offensive had killed of hundreds of people, including children, and left women raped, houses burned and many civilians arbitrarily arrested. It was delivered as Bangladesh announced around 50,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled the violence across its border.”

“Access for humanitarian aid organisations has been almost completely denied, creating an appalling humanitarian crisis in an area already extremely poor,” reads the letter, whose signatories include current and former political and business leaders and campaigners such as Yousafzai, the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. “Some international experts have warned of the potential for genocide. It has all the hallmarks of recent past tragedies – Rwanda, Darfur, Bosnia, Kosovo,” the letter reads. “If we fail to take action, people may starve to death if they are not killed with bullets.”

But the signatories to the letter said the army’s response had been “grossly disproportionate”. “It would be one thing to round up suspects, interrogate them and put them on trial,” the letter said. “It is quite another to unleash helicopter gunships on thousands of ordinary civilians and to rape women and throw babies into a fire.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu
The Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu joined the growing list of voices calling on Aung San Suu Kyi to do more to protect Myanmar’s persecuted Muslim minority. He issued heartfelt letter to fellow peace prize winner calling for her to speak up for Rohingya in Myanmar. He has called on Aung San Suu Kyi to end military-led operations against Myanmar’s Rohingya minority. It is reported in The Guardian, “The 85-year old archbishop said the “unfolding horror” and “ethnic cleansing” in the country’s Rahkine region had forced him to speak out against the woman he admired and considered “a dearly beloved sister”.  “I am now elderly, decrepit and formally retired, but breaking my vow to remain silent on public affairs out of profound sadness,” he wrote in a letter posted on social media. “For years I had a photograph of you on my desk to remind me of the injustice and sacrifice you endured out of your love and commitment for Myanmar’s people. You symbolised righteousness.”

“Your emergence into public life allayed our concerns about violence being perpetrated against members of the Rohingya. But what some have called ‘ethnic cleansing’ and others ‘a slow genocide’ has persisted – and recently accelerated. “It is incongruous for a symbol of righteousness to lead such a country,” said the anti-apartheid activist. “If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep,” reported by Naaman Zhou and Michael Safi in The Guardian.

Tutu used his open letter to urge Aung San Suu Kyi to “As we witness the unfolding horror we pray for you to be courageous and resilient again,” he said. “We pray for you to speak out for justice, human rights and the unity of your people. We pray for you to intervene in the escalating crisis and guide your people back towards the path of righteousness again.

“Every time I see the news, my heart breaks at the suffering of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar,” Yousafzai, who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban, said on Twitter. “Over the last several years I have repeatedly condemned this tragic and shameful treatment. I am still waiting for my fellow Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to do the same.” The Malaysian foreign minister, Anifah Aman, said: “Very frankly, I am dissatisfied with Aung San Suu Kyi,” he told Agence France-Presse. “She stood up for the principles of human rights. Now it seems she is doing nothing.”

Peaceful protest and demonstration
Besides the reaction of the UN agencies, Human Rights groups and the Presidents of USA, France, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey against the Myanmar’s brutalities towards the Rohingya Muslims; there were peaceful demonstrations, protests and petitions in different countries.

In Oxford, Oxford Information Centre organized a peaceful demonstration in support of Myanmar Rohingya people. Sheikh Ramzy said: "We calling on our government to save the Burma's Rohingya community from further persecution, ethnic cleansing and genocide, and exodus. UN described Rohingya Muslim as the most 'persecuted minority on earth', Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim community have been victims of mass murder - including of women and children - rape and torcher. Burma's de facto political leader, the Nobel laureate Aung Sun Suu Kyi, who herself was feted in our Parliament for upholding human rights, now dehumanizes the community by denying them their right to be citizens of their own land.

In South Asia, Massive protests are reported in many countries, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India among others against the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar (September 2017). There were protesters in Kolkata, India, burning an image of Aung San Suu Kyi. This time around violence seems to have been triggered due to the attack by militants (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) on police and military posts. United Nations has said that the extent of violence indicates that it is crime against humanity.

Tens of thousands of people rallied in the capital of Russia’s mainly Muslim republic of Chechnya in support of the Rohingya. The Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, told the crowd in Grozny that the world was watching in silence while the Rohinghya were “torn to pieces, burnt on fires and drowned”. 

UN Aid Agencies
In spite of all these protests, petitions and reactions to the Myanmar’s brutalities towards Rohingya Muslims, Myanmar government has not stopped its ethnic cleansing. Rather Myanmar has blocked all United Nations aid agencies from delivering vital supplies of food, water and medicine to thousands of desperate civilians at the centre of a bloody military campaign against the country’s Muslim Rohingya minority, the Guardian has learned. The office of the UN resident coordinator in Myanmar said deliveries had been suspended “because the security situation and government field-visit restrictions rendered us unable to distribute assistance”. “The UN is in close contact with authorities to ensure that humanitarian operations can resume as soon as possible,” the office said.

It is also reported, “The UN World Food Programme said it also had to suspend distributions to other parts of the state, leaving 250,000 people without regular access to food. Sixteen major non-governmental organisations including Oxfam and Save the Children have also complained that the government has restricted access to the conflict area. Humanitarian organisations are “deeply concerned about the fate of thousands of people affected by the ongoing violence” in northern Rakhine, said Pierre Peron, a spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Myanmar.”

Humanitarian Aid.
However, on the other hand, Muslim countries have taken decision to send humanitarian aid to the worst affected Rohingyas in Rakhine state. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has ordered the payment of $15 million aid for the Rohingya refugees fleeing from Myanmar as a result of genocide and torture. The announcement came in a statement to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) following a meeting of the Saudi Cabinet, which was briefed by Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabiah, general supervisor of Riyadh-based King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid on the situation in Myanmar with the Muslim minority Rohingya refugees that have been forced to flee.

Indonesia has despatched from Jakarta two Hercules aircraft carrying humanitarian aid for the Rohingya community in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. “The two planes carry tents, water tanks, blankets, family kits, five tons of instant food and nearly a ton of medicines,” said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency. The aid will be handed to Myanmar’s government in Yangon for distribution. Nugroho said Indonesia previously sent eight sortie missions to help the relief effort in Bangladesh.

Former Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told Arab News: “The developments in Myanmar, the plight of the Rohingya, have moved the conscience of nations and people throughout the world.” The crisis constitutes a litmus test for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to present itself as part of the solution, said Natalegawa, who dealt with the issue during his 2009-2014 tenure, and visited Rakhine in 2013.

Turkey has called upon the Bangladesh government to open its doors to Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state. In terms of humanitarian aid in the world, Turkey ranks 2nd after the United States with $6  billion and $6.3 billion respectively, Cavusoglu added. Dr. Altay Atli, a research associate specializing on the Asia-Pacific region at Sabanci University's Istanbul Policy Center, said, Turkey’s leading role in the Rohingya issue has two components: Humanitarian aid, including an open check offered to Bangladesh to cover the costs of the refugees, and diplomatic initiatives, such as taking the issue to the UN and mobilizing the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). “These two components, implemented together, can be effective,” he said.

Britain’s International Development Secretary, Priti Patel in a statement released on 8 September said, “The appalling violence in Rakhine must stop now. Britain urgently calls upon the security forces to de-escalate the situation in Rakhine and the Government of Burma to allow immediate and full humanitarian access and support for the people and communities affected.”

Britain is immediately releasing a further £5 million from existing funds to provide additional critical life-saving assistance such as food, shelter, water and sanitation to those who are fleeing the violence. In addition, Britain is ready to support the recommendations of the Kofi Annan led Rakhine Advisory Commission to assist the long-term development of all people in Rakhine state, but right now the immediate action is for the security forces to end the violence and the Government of Burma to allow humanitarian access.

The Rohingyas are a minority of about a million people who, despite living in the country for generations, are treated as illegal immigrants and denied citizenship. They have been persecuted for years by the government and nationalist Buddhists.

Fact Finding Mission
Under the present circumstances, four immediate actions should be taken before the Myanmar government became completely successful in ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas. Firstly, there is a repeated demand for a UN-mandated fact-finding mission established this year.  The Myanmar government is also asked to allow the fact-finding mission to visit affected areas to carry out its assigned role.

Impose sanctions
Secondly, sanctions should be imposed immediately on Myanmar’s military. Pressure also grew on Myanmar as rights group urged world leaders to impose sanctions on its military.

Humanitarian aid
Thirdly, Humanitarian aid should be allowed to enter and reach the worst affected Rohingyas immediately.

Return of Refugees to Rakhine
Fourthly, Return of Rohingya refugees plan should be made immediately. Repatriation of the refugees who went to Bangladesh and other neighbouring countries to their home in Rakhine state.