If you are reading this article to see which religion is called out as more blameworthy or which one will be projected in a ray of light as most righteous, then you will be disappointed, and perhaps your own identity acts more as bias rather than liberator of prejudice.
Gandhi & MLK as “global citizens” – As Gandhi helped shape struggle through civil disobedience against colonialism and oppression, MLK broke the silence that implicitly legitimized racism and bigotry in “free societies.” After exploiting colonies for commodity and human resources (slavery), the withdrawal of the colonial power was projected as delivering a fresh start and a relationship of equals. Of course, the exploitation continued in the former colonies and nothing equal about the relationship. More directly though, the disenfranchisement and/or marginalization of the former slaves, indentured servants and new immigrant labor extends into today – certainly neither as oppressive nor perceptible, but still persistent.
Self-determination in most of developing world has come through rebellion. Revolution is still not particularly an appropriate description as new elites have combined and/or substituted for old. “Self-determination” of states and people is a process of the last century – with collapse of Soviet and communist states bringing in the 1990’s the largest block of new UN member states in several decades.
Competing Claims Based on Race, Ethnicity, Religion History to Shared Respect:
It is easy to argue that many new states need to “realize their freedom” when observing from perspective of continued injustices and arbitrary borders drawn by colonial powers. However, that could unfold into an ever-expanding vicious cycle with competing tribal, ethnic, religious and national claims to the same land(s). What do minority populations do when their stake to any contiguous territory cannot be sustained, as for example in the case of the Roma? How about the “negro” or African/American? Presumed progressives of the 19th century encouraged sending back the African to Africa – that is how Liberia came about and by the way many of its problems. However, the African-American is as American or more than any – in his/her blood representing the greatest mosaic including Native Americans and having toiled the fields and mines.
The Voluntary/Involuntary Migrant:
The Arab, African, Turk, Asian in Europe is no less European or at least deserving of being afforded the opportunity to mark their own contribution. If descendants of Europeans mark the land and culture of Africa (for example Afrikaners) and Asia, then why does it not incorporate economic opportunity and social opportunity also in the other direction? The globe is increasingly borderless, and it is neither a battle that can be won by those who assert xenophobia as a national/political goal nor is it a benefit. Too many Caucasian Americans forget that from Texas to California to Colorado, the country was Mexico and most those denigrated as illegal’s are overwhelmingly Native American by genetics.
MLK’s “dream” has come true, but not exactly maybe as foreseen – it is dynamic and the struggle is ongoing. As the Holocaust’s legacy also is not just limited in its future meaning to Jews, MLK’s dream reflects global aspirations and an affirmative responsibility toward fellow man/woman. Malcolm X underwent his most substantive transformation when during his Hajj and global travel he recognized his place first among one indivisible human family which progressively affected the development of his views on race and equality in one America. (Photo Above of MLK & Malcolm X)
I prefer to see MLK as one of first “global citizens” helping shape the standard. Being the architect of change, he remodeled America back to the vision of the Founding Fathers who were before their time and thus hoped to put this country in the forefront and sometime unwilling service of shared global values of tolerance and judging people for their inward rather than superficial appearance.
By, Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey
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1992 and 2012, Bosnia & Myanmar are connected by also the person most directly in authority over UN operations in the two countries, then and now. In 1992-93 General Vijay Nambiar was in command of UN troops (UNPROFOR) for the former Yugoslavia – now he is the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative on Myanmar. Just a few weeks earlier, General Nambiar characterized the situation in Myanmar as a “glass half-full rather than half-empty”. However, I’m concerned that once again he may be missing, some would argue deliberately ignoring substantial evidence of ethnic cleansing, as his command did in 1992 when most of the killing, expulsions and concentration camps occurred in Bosnia & Herzegovina – and the momentum for more conflict and genocide was set into motion for another 3 years.
Concealed Evidence of Systematic Abuses of Humanitarian Law/Genocide?
In August of 1992, I received two documents from internal sources directed from UNPROFOR field commanders in the region who were alarmed by evidence of mass executions in one and evidence of brutal detention camps, concentration camps in the other. The UN command had failed to make such evidence/documents available to the public or even to most members of the UN Security Council. In a tense exchange with a high-level UN official, I was queried on how I obtained the “secret internal documents,” but I asked why the information had not been made available for deliberations of the UN Security Council. A UN spokesperson offered that the evidence had been made “public” to those who should have the right to know within the UN Security Council – but this appeared to be only a select group of Permanent Powers.
Within days, several courageous journalists on the scene, (including Roy Gutman, Ed Vulliamy, Penny Marshall, Ian Williams, A), confirmed the atrocities on a large scale. It took half a year for the UN to acknowledge the breadth and systematic nature of such atrocities when preventive action or more transparency may have saved lives and at least to degree stemmed the conflict. The most notable consequence though of the August 1992 crush of evidence of ethnic cleansing was the call for another conference, (in London with Milosevic representing Serbia and whose hollow promises only bought more time for more crimes), and finally the initial steps for the establishment of an international war crimes tribunal (eventually a year later being realized in form of the ICTY).
Is General Nambiar now committing the same mistake and/or omission in Myanmar?
Having met General Nambiar at that time, I was not disposed to see him as either evil, incompetent, or lacking courage. Rather, my conclusion is that he was part of a mindset that was hopeful in seeing Milosevic as peacemaker even reformer while not wanting to see crimes for which some would have to be held accountable under international law. I’m not particularly familiar with the array of actors in Myanmar, including Rakhine and Kachin states; however, I cannot help but sense that a too rosy a projection of both events and so called reformers is being projected in view of ongoing failures to remedy or even confront the most recent abuses of ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, and perhaps other minorities. The glass is certainly worse than half empty for the victims of ethnic chauvinism within the new Myanmar where the regime is repositioning itself as more defender of the majority religion/ethnicity in order to rationalize and perpetuate its absolute hold on power, (another similarity with the image projected by Milosevic’s Belgrade two decades earlier).
Most critically, all the big power capitals want to see “reform” within the Myanmar regime. Myanmar’s resources and new markets are in play now. As in Bosnia, evidence of systematic abuses and complicity of authorities would ruin a rosy projection but also undermine in Myanmar the rush to capture greater trading opportunities and profits.
For UN News Centre’s 3 January 2013 Interview with Vijay Nambiar, Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Myanmar, see: http://www.un.org/apps/news/newsmakers.asp?NewsID=74
Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey
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UN PHOTO/JC Mcllwaine : Vijay Nambiar, Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Myanmar
Our article on Vuk Jeremic and “Marsh Na Drinu” has aroused much commentary and debate. https://diplomaticallyincorrect.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/did-serbias-unga-president-violate-diplomacy-peace-and-dignity-of-united-nations-by-ambassador-muhamed-sacirbey/ Some Serbian citizens have referred to it as a “patriotic” song reflecting Serbia’s brutal conflict during WWI with the Austro-Hungarian border (much of it fought along Bosnia & Herzegovina’s borders). Some have also pointed out that it was “misused” by ultra-nationalist forces during the more recent aggression and genocide conducted against Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Regardless of whether “Marsh Na Drinu” (“March to the River Drina” in English) is a patriotic Serbian song or provocative to the victims of genocide, it cannot be reasonably disputed that this militaristic march is an odd choice for any celebration and especially New Year’s at the United Nations, a house where peace is promoted in theme and art regardless of sometimes unfortunate reality of a multitude of conflicts. It is also noteworthy that this militaristic march was ultimately rejected as Serbia’s anthem due to the offense it could engender particularly during the war and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia & Herzegovina in the 1990’s. So, the question again, why was it selected for a UN peace event celebrating each other’s traditions, including Christian Orthodox New Year?
—Vuk Jeremic has given up hope that Moscow will succeed in pressing his candidacy as the next UN Secretary General, and he has decided to play the nationalist card to secure his next public office among more nationalist parties in Serbia; or
—Mr. Jeremic intended to project his selection as the UN General Assembly President as a legitimization of Serbia’s more recent ultra-nationalist past (for which many of its highest officials have been prosecuted including General Perisic – Military Chief of Staff, Radical Political Party Chief Seselj, Security Chief Stanisic, as well as former President Slobodan Milosevic); or
—Mr. Jeremic was oblivious to both the potential insult to victims and contradiction with the theme of the UN in opting for a militarist march.
Of course, it could be a bit of all, but it is reasonable that the United Nations as well as victims and peoples from the ex-Yugoslavia would receive some explanation for this odd selection.
Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey
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PHOTO Credit: VESTIonline (Vuk Jeremic – New Year’s)
Presumably celebrating New Year in event at United Nations, the current President of the UN General Assembly apparently was responsible for the playing of an ultra-nationalist militaristic march, “March on Drina,” (or “March upon the River Drina” in English). This militaristic song was employed as the anthem by Serb forces who committed genocide in Srebrenica (which is on the Drina River) as well as a campaign of aggression and ethnic cleansing through much of Bosnia & Herzegovina.
An overwhelming number of Bosnian/Herzegovinian organizations as well as individuals have reacted, many with letters of formal complaint to the UN Secretary General labeling the actions of former Serbian Foreign Minister and current UNGA President Vuk Jeremic as promoting a fascist, insulting song that adorned genocide over the last century, and less than 20 years earlier in the Drina valley towns of Zepa, Gorazde, Visegrad and many others, as well as Srebrenica. However, I would start with a simpler question: In the building of peace, the United Nations, why would someone opt for a militaristic march to mark any holiday, but especially New Year’s? Did Mr. Jeremic’s actions also insult Orthodox Christianity by associating this great religion’s celebration of New Year (on January 14) with such a militaristic and nationalistic song? Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Agnostics, Atheists and persons of other religious identities within the framework of the United Nations and as a matter of goodwill have made it habit of celebrating with their fellow global citizens and diplomats each other’s holidays. Transforming a New Year’s event into one that celebrates militarism in the least and genocide/aggression at worst undermines a longstanding tradition of mutual respect.
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PHOTO Credit bbc.co.uk : Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic in Srebrenica