The Rohingya refugee crisis

Friday, September 22, 2017

The world has been in turmoil lately. Hurricanes and earthquakes have destroyed cities and lands on our continent. Hunger is threatening populations in East Asia. Civil war is still raging in Syria. Today instead of my usual Friday Favorites, I want to focus on a crisis which, until recently, was getting little attention in the US media: the Rohingya refugee crisis. 

The Rohingyas, considered one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, are a Muslim group living in the Rakhine state of Myanmar -on the Western coast of the country, just south of Bangladesh.

(Map from the BBC Website)

Myanmar is a majority Buddhist country and the existence of a Muslim minority within its borders has been considered an issue for decades. After gaining independence from Britain in 1948, the government fell to a military coup in 1962. The political system became oppressive and repressive, in particular to its non-Buddhist populations. In 1982 the Rohingyas were denied citizenship. As a result, they were denied basic rights, such as healthcare, education, and voting privileges. They became a stateless group within the borders of Myanmar. Over the years, many Rohingyas have fled the country as a result of violence, more recently in the fall of 2016, resettling in Bangladesh, Malaysia, or Saudi Arabia. 

On August 25, 2017 of this year, a Rohingya armed group, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), considered a terrorist group by the Myanmar government, attacked police posts in Rakhine State, killing 12 police officers. The response from the Myanmar army was, and continues to be, repressive and bloody, so much so that some UN officials have called it a textbook example of ethnic cleansing. More than 250,000 people (400,000 according to some estimates) have fled to neighboring Bangladesh as a result of their villages being burnt to the ground and their family members, including children, slaughtered by the military. Time magazine has published heart wrenching photos of the refugees arriving in Bangladesh, some carrying their old parents in baskets, some carrying their infants to shore -reminiscent of the arrivals of the many refugees arriving in the coasts of Southern Europe. 

Around the world, leaders were expecting Aung San Suu Kyi, the Myanmar State Counselor, position akin to that of Prime Minister, to publicly oppose the atrocities committed against the Rohingyas. Suu Kyi is considered the Nelson Mandela of Myanmar because she was held on house arrest by the military junta for more than 20 years before being freed in 2010, and received a Nobel Peace prize for her efforts to bring democracy to the country. During her political campaign and after winning the 2015 general elections, she never spoke about this crisis for fear of being ostracized by her own party or even rejected by the military, who still rule the country. Finally, this week, on September 19, she spoke mildly about the crisis, condemning the violence on all sides (which reminded me sadly of Trump's comments on Charlottesville).

This week, the United Nations General Assembly is meeting and the Rohingya refugee crisis is one of the main topics to be discussed. France’s president Emmanuel Macron called the attacks on the Muslim minority a genocide. The US Vice President Mike Pence addressed the issue at the UN and described the attacks a "great tragedy." There finally seems to be more and more attention to the issue in media outlet and in NGOs appeals.

So that can YOU do?
1) Read about the situation and talk to your friends and family members about it. Post about it on social media. 
2) You can call your elected official, either your Congress representative or Senator, and tell them they should take a stand against the mass murders happening. Your voice does make a difference.
3) You can donate to organizations that are on the ground and/or advocate against crimes against humanity 

To read more (on tops of the links included in this post!):
- A good background on the Rohingyas' status in Myanmar
- An in depth Analysis of what the world knew of the situation and why governments don't act to stop atrocities like these from happening.

Podcasts about this crisis:
- Global Dispatches has an interview with the Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch - Asia.
- Pod Save the World also published a great discussion on the topic -but it's not yet released online so fetch it wherever you download your usual podcasts.

Friday Favorites

Friday, September 15, 2017

This weekend, we're going to relax. Joe is going to watch a football game in LA and hopefully we're going to spend time with family. I'll also probably keep on watching my newest guilty pleasure: Outlander.
What are you to this weekend?

Here are some links I've found interesting:

Long but vital read about white supremacy in the White House. 

This humanitarian international crisis is getting attention - finally!

Communities of colors are some of the most impacted by climate change. Here is how you can help those affected by Harvey.

If you're freaked out about the Equifax breach, read this -and then maybe become more freaked out?

Win-win for this Frenchie living in So Cal!

I"m reading this book and it's really great. I'll review it when I'm done.

How cute and romantic is this bracelet?

My sister wears this shirt and it's soft and looks so comfy.

(Pic of Scotland by Sorin Tudorut. Because Outlander!)

Jude is 3!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Jude turned 3 at the end of August! Reader, you don’t know my family yet, so let me describe this little nugget of sunshine for you.

The first thing to say about him is that he’s joyful. He’s always trying to make us smile and loves to laugh at everything.

He has a gigantic imagination and is never bored. His brain loves made up stories for us to play or for his toys to interact with each other.

He loves to dance. He loves doing what we call the “butt dance” and as a matter of fact he’s pretty much the best twerker in the house.

He speaks so well and so much. His vocabulary surprises us sometimes! I’m sure he picked up most of it from school, and I love conversing with him. He also loves books and prefers to read all by himself these days.

He loves his friends -and we have a bunch his age around- and his family. He’s a bit of a mama’s boy.

After months of refusing to hug or kiss us, he’s finally getting super cuddly. He hugs me when I pick him up from daycare (he just entered their pre-school class- what!) and he always sits right next to me when we watch tv. And yeah, ahem he watches a LOT of tv and phone apps.

And since we’re talking about bad habits, he still sucks on his pacifier. Like all day if we let him. We just got rid of the bottle at night (it’s so cringe-inducing to admit!) and we’ll start on the paci soon. Ish.

That’s it. That’s our brilliant boy in a few words. Here are a few pictures that summarize who he is really well.

(All of these were taken by his teachers at school!)

A letter to my boys on their mamie's life

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

My darling sons.

On the night of July 7, my mom, your "mamie" died. You didn't really know her (a few visits, some Skype calls) so I will tell you about her now. She is your French grandma and I want you to cherish and honor her memory.

She was born in December 1955 in Normandy. Her mom's name (my own mamie) is Odette and her dad, who died a few months after I was born, was Albert. She had 3 brothers and 2 sisters -but 2 of them, her full siblings, were her closest confidants, Pierre and Margot, whom you met 2 years ago.

She was beautiful, boys. She was so beautiful. Her smile was radiant. She had a splendid sense of humor. She also had an amazing sense of fashion. She dressed really well. She never finished high school yet she had a great intellect. She was smart. She was a strong feminist and raised me to be one as well. She believed in the teachings of Buddha -she even saw the Dalai Lama speak a few times! She wanted justice, solidarity, and integrity for the world. She had an irrational fear of prison and scarcity (that fear was not so irrational as she grew up rather poor).

When she was 15 years old something really bad happened to her and in her mind she remained a teenager. She had issues with food, drugs, and alcohol. She suffered from depression and anxiety. I am telling you that not to make you focus on these dark facets and moments of her life but to give you a full picture of who she was and why she was... well, the way she was. The truth is that it was not always easy to live with or around her. But I also want you to know how good-hearted, passionate, and loving she was.

She loved you so much. Apart from Vlad and me, you two were her world, her sun, and her stars. She wanted to know everything about you, every mundane detail of your daily life. It was terribly hard for her to live far away from you and not see you often -maybe once a year, on average.

So for now remember this, my boys: she was love and light. She loved social justice. She loved you. She lives in you.

(I wrote this entry in the journal I keep for the boys a few weeks after I came back from France. This is such an incomplete description of who she was, but this will do for now).

Friday Favorites

Friday, August 25, 2017

Happy Friday! This weekend we're going to Léo's ice hockey game, then we'll celebrate Jude's 3rd birthday with a low key party on Sunday. I hope you have a restful weekend!

Well, that's an interesting list.

What it means to grow up in the shadows of confederate monuments.

Happy birthday to this genius -and belated one to this mega talented woman.

Waiting doesn't make things easier.

A bit of organizing advice.

Great points on spiritual autonomy- especially as Léo has been really curious about God lately.

I'm inspired to write one of these letters.

I cannot wait for this event!

(Photo by Braden Barwich)

This is 37

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Hello readers. Did you notice my new blog template? Isn’t it beautiful? I had wanted to change the old one and then a technical glitch forced me to switch for good and I couldn’t be happier about the results. This change also corresponds to a new stage in my life: I just celebrated my birthday! As you may recall, I was not super happy to be 36. Well the year turned out to be quite traumatic indeed with the elections, a bout of depression, and the unexpected and absolutely heartbreaking news that my mom had passed in July. In other words, 36 could go suck on a toenail and 37 couldn’t come fast enough. On top of that, I have held from a long time the (weird- don’t judge!) feeling that I have a great year every 7 years and 37 is IT. So bring it, 37 - I have high expectations for you!

As if it were the new year (which it is in a way: MY new year!), I am making resolutions -my spring goals, by the way, were all failures, so off with their heads and on to new ones. I haven’t quite defined my vision for 37 yet, but you can be sure I’ll write about it when I do.

I am so thrilled about this new year and hope you will follow along! Onward, friends.

(Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov)

Friday Favorites

Friday, June 30, 2017

Hey there. Last week I had a huge migraine that completely wiped me out but I feel way better now, thankfully. This weekend, we're going to a little girl's birthday party, then to a story time in the park (topic is Liberty for All). On Monday, we're going out of town for the night and we'll return for our neighborhood's 4th of July celebrations and I'll remain on vacation for the whole week. I'm looking forward to 1-on-1 time with Leo! What are you plans for the weekend? I hope you have a relaxing and fun one.

Here are a few links I liked:

"White America would rather be broke than be woke."

Yet more evidence that the state of foreign affairs in this country is in shambles.

I want a church like this one. Le sigh.

She was and remains a hero to many French people -especially French women.

Yay Germany!

An online movie club that focuses on social justice? Sign me up!

This game might be fun for long (and short!) drives.

This recipe looks yummy and easy. Perfect for Tuesday!