“There are no shortcuts to changing the system” “When they distort  articles I have written…” “We just have to stop looking to our ‘leaders’ and start looking to each other” “Most of us are poor” “You will not liberate yourselves by toppling a puppet government” “There is possibly nothing more alienating than violence” “No one owns ideas”

“There is possibly nothing more alienating than violence”

Even if you are advocating perfectly justifiable grievances, even if you are promoting the most virtuous of ideas; if you pursue your goals through violence, even the people you intend to help will distance themselves from you...

I’ve never seen him as a hero, as many people do. He’s a thinker…

“But this does not, in any way, imply that he lacks the qualities of heroes, which he doesn’t. Heroes (according to Malek Bennabi) work on ridding peoples of oppression, whereas thinkers work on ridding them of the very foundation upon which oppression was based. If thinkers are not allowed the chance to obliterate and eradicate the deeply rooted foundation that had formed with the decline of Muslims centuries ago; and upon which our peoples got oppressed, plundered and manipulated...

“No one owns ideas”

If you understand it, it is yours as much as mine. If you can see something through the fog and I can’t, and you point it out to me, the thing you are pointing to doesn’t belong to either of us, it just IS...

Rohingya issue can make or break Unilever’s image

“In 2014 the United Nations passed a resolution calling for the reinstatement of Rohingya citizenship, so, if Unilever is backing the United Nations on this issue, there should be no reason why they cannot publicly and explicitly call for Rohingya citizenship themselves. Frankly, such a statement by Unilever would carry more influence with the Myanmar government than a non-binding UN resolution.” In this blog post, Shahid encourages people to register to join the...

Corporate culpability is hard to avoid in Myanmar

“The systematic violence and repression in Myanmar, quite frankly, is of such a nature that any corporations doing business there do put their executives and staff at risk of becoming accessories to Genocide, crimes against humanity, and gross abuses of human rights.  And it should be noted that there is no statute of limitations on these crimes; prosecution could occur years, even decades after the fact, once investigators have access to more complete information. The ethnic cleansing...

Unilever’s future tied to Rohingya issue

“The point here is that Unilever is a political entity.  They are actively involved in political advocacy and lobbying.  And with annual revenues higher than the budget of the United Nations, Unilever has enormous economic and political influence, and they use it. The selection of Unilever by the #WeAreAllRohingyaNow Campaign was not random.  We are reaching out to CEO Paul Polman only partially because of Unilever’s considerable investments in Myanmar, which total more than half a...

Unilever’s Catch 22

“More than half of Unilever’s profits are coming from so-called emerging markets, and Southeast Asia is of tremendous importance to them.  This is one of the reasons for their investments in Myanmar.  It is geostrategically positioned as a crossroads country, with convenient access to a number of regional markets.  It is understandable that the company does not want to estrange its partners in the Burmese government by condemning the genocide they are perpetrating against the...

Systematic genocide needs a systematic response

“What is happening to our Rohingya brothers and sisters is heartbreaking, and our emotions can push us in the direction of radical action; but we have to adhere to discipline and patience. If we go about this the wrong way, we will just make matters worse. I have received comments and messages from people ready to take action against companies like Unilever, to impose consequences upon them for their silent complicity with the genocide in Arakan. But I urge all of you to work in...

Real causes, realistic strategies for Rohingya

“Superficially, the conflict in Arakan, Myanmar appears to be a clear-cut case of religious hatred.  And it is natural for Muslims to react with outrage.  The images of atrocities and the stories of the Rohingya are incitement enough to stir religious anger; Buddhist monks murdering women and children for no reason except that they are Muslim.  But this is such an over-simplified narrative that it is actually deceptive, and if we do not understand the situation more deeply, we will...

Unilever’s fatal silence

“It is worth clarifying that the strategy being undertaken by the #WeAreAllRohingyaNow Campaign is not aimed at forcing multinationals to divest from Myanmar. On the contrary, it is precisely because they DO invest in Myanmar that they therefore have considerable influence over the behaviour of the government. We do not want them to withdraw, we want them to stay, even to increase their investments, because that is what gives us leverage against the regime. No one needs to tell the...