‘Ghost ship’ washed up in Japan

 

The name given to a crew-less boats or vessels with dead bodies on board washing up on beaches in Japan is ‘ghost ships”.

This seems to be a regular occurrence in Japan, especially on its western coast, which faces North Korea.

Evidently, almost always it is a form of a fishing boat manned by ill-fated North Koreans because of some clues, like a pack of North Korean cigarettes and belongings indicating the country of origin.

It has been reported that Japan regularly sees North Korean fishing boats straying into its territory, and its coastguard has occasionally had to rescue fishermen.

In a latest incident, a 23-foot wooden ‘ghost ship’ was discovered on a beach near Oga without navigational devices and a missing rotor blade. Japanese authorities are trying to identify eight people whose badly decomposed remains were found on board.

The discovery is the latest in a string of similar incidents. Not too long before the grim discovery, it was reported that a wooden boat carrying eight men – alive and in reasonably good health – washed up at Yurihonjo city.

The men said they were North Koreans fishing for squid, who had ended up drifting into Japanese waters when their boat experienced difficulties.

Speculations are rife that North Korea has been calling for more seafood to be fished in order to feed a hungry population. The increased demand may be leading its citizens to take boats that are in subpar condition far off its shores.

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Hallmarks of ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims

 

The exodus of the Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)

You can consider this as still a sequel to the couple of blogs I wrote about the apathetic Aung San Suu Kyi which can be read at the following links:

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/aung-san-suu-kyi-a-laureate-she-is-not/ https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2017/10/05/aung-san-suu-kyi-a-laureate-she-is-not-part-ii/.

The title I am using is actually part of the descriptive statement issued by US Senator Jeff Merkly about the crisis in the Rakhine State, during his delegation’s visit to Myanmar, when he said: “Many refugees have suffered direct attacks including loved ones, children and husbands being killed in front of them, wives and daughters being raped, burns and other horrific injuries. This has all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing,”

More than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have left Myanmar’s Rakhine State since August 25, after insurgents attacked security forces and prompted a brutal military crackdown that has been described as ethnic cleansing.

Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s deafening silence and indifference to the plight of the Rohingyas caused uproar in the international community, especially that she is a recipient of the prestigious Nobel peace prize. Not only that. She herself suffered house arrest for many years and, thus, she would have clearly understood what injustice and persecution is all about.

Yet, her government has repeatedly rejected claims that atrocities, including rape and extrajudicial killings, are occurring in northern Rakhine, the epicenter of the violence that the United Nations has qualified as “textbook ethnic cleansing.”

It seems that Myanmar and Suu Kyi, for that matter, does not recognize the Rohingya and denies them citizenship, referring to them as “Bengali” to imply origins in Bangladesh, the country where the hapless people were escaping to.

“In the case of the Rohingya this is so severe that it amounts to a widespread and systemic attack on a civilian population, which is clearly linked to their ethnic (or racial) identity, and therefore legally constitutes apartheid, a crime against humanity under international law,” rights group Amnesty International (AI) said.

But China’s recognized power in Asia is the saving grace for the Rohingyas.

China’s entry and proposal for a three-phase plan for resolving the Rohingya crisis, starting with a ceasefire, has won the support of Myanmar and Bangladesh. A ceasefire should be followed by bilateral dialogue to find an immediate workable solution of the crisis and the third and final phase should be to work toward a long-term solution.

It is in this light that Suu Kyi expressed hope for reaching an agreement with Bangladesh on the return of Rohingya Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh in the past three months. She said both Myanmar and Bangladesh are working on a memorandum of understanding for the “safe and voluntary return” for those who fled.

“Nothing can be done overnight, but we believe that we will be able to make steady progress,” Suu Kyi said.

True, but the compelling question Suu Kyi has to answer first is: Do people, no matter how lowly they are in both social and religious stature in your country, deserve to die first before they become part and parcel of your community?

 

Of exemplary leaders and Trump’s absurdity

US President Donald Trump

It is both interesting and daunting times in the US, and the world in general, as the greatest country on Earth is slowly losing its grip in world leadership because of the absurdity of its leader, President Donald Trump.

It is in this light that I am sharing with you this enlightening article written by Allan S.B. Batuhan under the Business Section of Cebu Sunstar Daily, dated October 23, 2017.

The new normal

Leaders of men used to be looked up to by their constituents as agents of inspiration. In the darkness of moments when there seems to be no hope, they manage to lift up the spirits of their people.

 IT IS for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work, which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. (Quote 1)

 Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. Henceforth Hitler’s Nazis will meet equally well armed, and perhaps better armed troops. Hence forth they will have to face in many theatres of war that superiority in the air which they have so often used without mercy against other, of which they boasted all round the world, and which they intended to use as an instrument for convincing all other peoples that all resistance to them was hopeless…. (Quote 2)

 And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man. Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own. (Quote 3)

You know that this could happen when you signed up for it … but it still hurts. (Quote 4)

It is almost too easy to guess which one of the quotes above does not belong with the others. Because while the first three inspire, and move the audience to greater passion, the last one unfortunately causes nothing but despair. The first three are the noble language of leadership, the last the crass pronouncement of the rogue.

But believe it or not, all three quotes come from leaders of men. The first one, of course, is from President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The second is from Prime Minister Winston’s address to the people of the United Kingdom, following the fall of Dunkirk. And the third is excerpted from President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address. And the fourth, well that is what President Donald Trump is supposed to have said in his call to the mother of Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in Niger by Islamist militants this month. Four leaders, three of whom lived to unite, and one of whom who rules to divide.

Leaders of men used to be looked up to by their constituents as agents of inspiration. In the darkest of moments when there seems to be no hope, they manage to lift up the spirits of their people, and allow them to dream – if only for a brief moment – that better times are ahead. Gandhi, Mandela, Martin Luther King – along with the three quoted above – these were leaders whose lives were like beacons of hope, whose every public word was awaited with baited breath, because they were always measured, and calculated to arouse only the noblest of emotions in their people.

Today, it seems, this tradition of inspiration is no more. Voted into power by the people of the United States, President Trump has defied all manner of definition, in terms of what a leader should be. When once they were expected to lift and inspire their people, today, sinking them to the depths of despair seems to be the new normal.

 

Church protection for EJK witnesses

 

We had been hearing and reading in the news lately that the Catholic Church is offering protection to policemen and other characters that are willing to testify on extrajudicial killings (EJKs) they have witnessed in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

Actually it was Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates “Soc” Villegas who first offered the sanctuary of the church to the policemen whom he described as “conscience-stricken” because of their participation in the war of drugs. Now this move is being supported by other ranking officials of the church.

Why these policemen are “conscience-stricken” and fearful of their lives is something that we still have to fathom and I don’t think the church is the right place for us to be able to understand and extract the truth about what their real involvement is.

I understand that the church is a universal refuge for the oppressed and the maltreated, but for a scourge of epidemic proportion that the government is relentlessly fighting to eradicate to save the country and its citizens from perdition, what could the church do to competently determine whether or not the church officials are just being used for the ‘refugees’ hidden agenda?

What I am just saying here is that the fight being waged by government against drugs, corruption and criminality are all state functions and the policemen are members of the civil authority tasked to run after the criminals. The police organization has its own parameters to follow in law enforcement and the church just has to respect it.

In other words the church officials have the responsibility to tell and enlighten the policemen and others seeking refuge that they could not accept them for the simple reason that their problem and concerns are matters of government and not of the church.

In the first place the church officials have already a stand on the government’s war against drugs and for them to embrace the ‘refugees’ to their fold without any questions only shows their prejudice against what the government is doing, and this to me is tantamount to interference or meddling which could only worsen the situation in the country.

What the church officials must understand is that it is the government and not the church that has all the tools and resources to generate intelligence reports about who the people are linked to drugs, corruption and criminality, one way or the other, and if they are running away towards the church sanctuaries it is because they know that the church officials are against EJKs, but more than anything else, these witnesses also know that the church officials do not have an iota of information who the people are seeking protection/sanctuary from them.

Aung San Suu Kyi: a laureate she is not – Part II

Aung San Suu Kyi with Archbishop Desmond Tutu

I am not over yet with the appalling Aung San Suu Kyi, the much talked about democracy activist who earned a global reputation as a symbol of defiance and strength in the face of a brutal military junta in her country Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Suu Kyi’s stoicism and her refusal to leave her country, even though it meant forgoing a life with her sons husband, who lived overseas, became, likewise, a symbol of sacrifice, inspiration, hope and freedom for all the peoples in Myanmar.

For leading a non-violent resistance movement, even while under house arrest, Suu Kyi was aptly compared to Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Evidently and subsequently she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, but received it in person only in 2012, after her release in 2010. Her party swept elections a landslide victory in 2015, making her the de facto civilian leader of her country.

Now her reputation is rapidly disintegrating because of her refusal to speak out about — or take meaningful steps to prevent — the military crackdown targeting the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority. An estimated 400,000 Rohingya refugees have streamed across the border to Bangladesh running from what appears to be a crackdown on their villages by the military that still controls crucial aspects of Myanmar’s government, including the state security apparatus.

Because of her silence, insensitivity and indifference to the plight of the Rohingyas, dismal things are happening to her and I am citing two here for your information – one is a copy of a letter from Archbishop and former Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu and the other is a reprint of an article published in the BBC News, dated 3 October 2017, titled Aung San Suu Kyi’s stripped of ‘Freedom of Oxford’:

My dear Aung San Su Kyi

I am now elderly, decrepit and formally retired, but breaking my vow to remain silent on public affairs out of profound sadness about the plight of the Muslim minority in your country, the Rohingya.

In my heart you are a dearly beloved younger sister. 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. In 2010 we rejoiced at your freedom from house arrest, and in 2012 we celebrated your election as leader of the opposition.

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. The images we are seeing of the suffering of the Rohingya fill us with pain and dread.

We know that you know that human beings may look and worship differently – and some may have greater firepower than others – but none are superior and none inferior; that when you scratch the surface we are all the same, members of one family, the human family; that there are no natural differences between Buddhists and Muslims; and that whether we are Jews or Hindus, Christians or atheists, we are born to love, without prejudice. Discrimination doesn’t come naturally; it is taught.

My dear sister: If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep. A country that is not at peace with itself, that fails to acknowledge and protect the dignity and worth of all its people, is not a free country.

It is incongruous for a symbol of righteousness to lead such a country; it is adding to our pain.

As we witness the unfolding horror we pray for you to be courageous and resilient again. 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.

God bless you.

Love

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

Hermanus, South Africa

Aung San Suu Kyi’s stripped of ‘Freedom of Oxford’

An honour granting Aung San Suu Kyi the Freedom of Oxford has been withdrawn by the city’s council because of her response to the Rohingya crisis.

The de facto leader of Myanmar was granted the honour in 1997 for her “long struggle for democracy”.

But a motion to Oxford City Council said it was “no longer appropriate” for her to hold it.

More than half a million Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh following recent violence.

The trouble erupted on 25 August when Rohingya militants attacked security posts, triggering a military crackdown.

Ms Suu Kyi spent years under house arrest in Rangoon as a campaigner for democracy while Myanmar (formerly Burma) was ruled by a military dictatorship.

She became a worldwide figurehead for freedom before leading her National League for Democracy party to victory in open elections in November 2015.

‘Absolutely appalled’

But her failure to denounce the military or address allegations of ethnic cleansing has been criticised by world leaders and groups like Amnesty International.

Other organisations are now reconsidering honours given to Ms Suu Kyi, BBC world affairs editor John Simpson said.

“I think it is perfectly natural to look around for ways of saying we disapprove utterly of what you are doing,” he told BBC Radio Oxford.

Oxford City Council leader Bob Price supported the motion to remove her honour and confirmed it was an “unprecedented step” for the local authority.

People are “absolutely appalled” by the situation in Myanmar, he said, adding it was “extraordinary” she had not spoken out about reported atrocities in the country.

Last week it emerged St Hugh’s College, Oxford, had removed a portrait of Ms Suu Kyi from display.

 

 

Aung San Suu Kyi: a laureate she is not

 

I have written a couple of blogs in the past about the predominantly Muslim ethnic group called the Rohingyas, in majority-Buddhist Myanmar (formerly Burma), and about human-rights icon and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, which you can read at the following links: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2009/02/08/the-plight-of-the-rohingyas/

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2014/11/14/myanmars-suu-kyi-fails-on-the-plight-of-the-rohingyas/

As I am writing about Suu Kyi now I didn’t realize that, incidentally, I am simply and truly answering the question I posed in the last paragraph of my 2014 blog that, indeed, the lady that is always seen to have fresh flower tacked on her hair is far from being a laureate.

I need not write anymore who the Rohingyas are as I think I have adequately described them already in my 2009 blog. Suffice to say that since I wrote about them in 2009 until today their hellish plight has not gotten any better.

Many, including myself, thought that the Rohingyas predicament would change for the better, especially now that Suu Kyi has become the de facto (in reality/in effect) leader of Myanmar’s civilian government, but unfortunately the more they continue to be persecuted and dehumanized because of Suu Kyi’s utter silence and indifference.

Even Pakistani human-rights activist Malala Yousafzai said “the world is waiting” for Suu Kyi to speak out.

The hapless Rohingyas are at present facing a crisis as people which the United Nations human rights head called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

Just to give you a better, but somber, perspective of the life of the Rohingyas now and the absolute insensitivity of Suu Kyi, I recommend that you get hold of the October 2, 2017 issue of Time magazine where a report written by Ms. Elizabeth Dias about them is simply unconscionable, as it is uncivilized.

Or you can just open this link and read more about the heart-breaking story that continues to plague the Rohingya people: https://thediplomat.com/2017/09/the-shame-of-myanmar/.

 

 

Espinedo is Duterte’s lethal weapon against drug lords

 

Police Chief Inspector Jovie Espinedo and President Rodrigo Duterte

“Your next assignment is Iloilo,” President Rodrigo Duterte Duterte said after Ozamiz police Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido was conferred the Order of Lapu-Lapu award during the National Heroes Day commemoration at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

With this words and ominous warning perhaps, if you may, Duterte no doubt has serve Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog notice to shape up and clean his city of illegal drugs so he could clear his name among the mayors in Duterte’s ‘narco-list’.

It must be remembered that Duterte has called Iloilo the “most shabulized” province in the country.

For Mabilog what is important to remember also is that the latest award conferred by Duterte on Espinedo is the third that he has received this month, a confirmation of the President’s support for his  accomplishments in the war on drugs.

There is no need to specify anymore what Espinedo’s accomplishments are. Suffice to say that the bemedalled police inspector’s transfer to Iloilo comes after two mayors linked to the illegal drug trade were killed in separate police operations where he was chief of police.

Who can ever forget the controversial killing of Albuera City Mayor Rolando Epinosa Sr. while in detention at the Baybay City jail on November 2016?

With Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and 14 others killed in a July 30 shootout after being served search warrants at the Parojinog’s properties for their illegal activities, who can now question that Espinedo is indeed Duterte’s lethal weapon against drug lords?

Thus, it was only proper and sensible that Mayor Mabilog welcomed the announcement of Chief Inspector Espenido’s new assignment, saying he looks forward to working “side by side” with the police official in addressing the illegal drug trade in the region.

Espinedo on his part said that Mayor Mabilog has nothing to fear and all he is asking is for the mayor to cooperate. He is even advising the latter to surrender if indeed he is what he is – a drug lord.

“He should cooperate what he is willing to cooperate so that his name would be removed from the list of narco-politicians, which is for the best. We are pro-life. Look at my record.”

Pro-life, indeed, for Espinedo is a preacher in his church Seventh Day Adventist.

But in asking Mabilog to look at Espinedo’s record, the former has to think twice as hard choosing which record is it that he has to be concerned most about – his record as a preacher or his record as a police officer.