Professor Henry Srebrnik

Professor Henry Srebrnik

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Corruption Imperils Brazil's Democracy

By Henry Srebrnik, [Saint John, NB] Telegraph-Journal

Brazilian political, cultural, and economic future will be shaped by the October 2018 presidential election.

But the nation, plagued by crime and corruption, is fertile ground for demagogues, due to the widespread distrust of politicians.

President Michel Temer of the centrist Brazilian Democratic Movement took over after corruption charges drove former president Dilma Rousseff from office in August 2016.

He has been facing a stiff challenge in his bid for a four-year term from former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of the left-wing Workers’ Party.

But da Silva may himself be barred from running because of his own corruption conviction. He was sentenced to more than nine years imprisonment last July and it was upheld by an appeals court in January. 

A 2010 law bars candidates whose convictions have been upheld by an appeals court from running for office for eight years.

Other major hopefuls are right-wing politician Jair Bolsonaro of the Social Liberal Party, a former military officer who fulminates against corruption, crime and “moral decadence,” and environmentalist Marina Silva of the Sustainability Network, who combines an anti-corruption message with a centrist economic platform.

Officials from the judiciary and law enforcement are teaming up to try to prevent voters from being “misled,” arguing that freedom of speech cannot come at the cost of a tainted election.

They argue that the right to free speech cannot come at the expense of an illegitimate outcome. 

Judicial and law enforcement officials have called on Congress to pass a law establishing clear rules and penalties for “fake news.”

Maybe they’re just afraid Brazilians are less enamoured of democracy these days, given the stories of violence and corruption that fill the media. 

Brazil’s political scandal, known as Lava Jato (“Car Wash”), now in its fifth year, has reached an astonishing scale. Politicians, bankers, businessmen and judges conspired to steal vast sums from the state, regardless of who was in office. 

No fewer than 20 different political parties have had members implicated. More than 200 people have reportedly been charged with crimes, including two former Brazilian presidents, the heads of both houses of Brazil’s Congress, more than 90 lawmakers and one third of Temer’s cabinet. 

The value of bribes paid as part of this scandal is estimated at about $2 billion. Temer himself narrowly avoided being prosecuted on corruption charges. And he is running again, some suggest, to retain immunity from a criminal indictment. 

Meanwhile, crime has become so pervasive in Rio de Janeiro that the military has taken over security in the city until December.

Rather than view the move as an invasion, many violence-weary residents of the favelas, or shantytowns, welcomed it. 

There were 6,731 violent deaths in Rio de Janeiro State in 2017, a 7.5 per cent increase from the previous year. At least 120 police officers were killed, including many in confrontations with drug traffickers.

In 2016, the country registered a record rate of 29.9 homicides for every 100,000 people,  nearly six times that of the United States.

This has even led to some nostalgia for the military dictatorship that ruled the country from 1964 to 1985. Some Brazilians see them as champions of public order.

An estimated 43 per cent of the population supports a temporary revival of military control, according to a Sept. 9, 2017 poll by the Instituto Parana Pesquisas. The figure is especially high among young people. It’s come to this.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Why Are We Going to Mali?

By Henry Srebrnik, [Saint John, NB] Telegraph-Journal
Mali, a former French colony in the Sahel region of west Africa, is torn by religious and tribal conflicts that aren’t amenable to a quick fix – if at all. It is a failed state, one with various militant groups controlling vast swaths of territory. 

Yet Canada has now decided to join a United Nations peacekeeping mission in a place, unfortunately, where there is no peace to keep. 

Canada will send six helicopters to Mali to help with medical evacuations and the transporting of United Nations troops and supplies.

Mali’s problems go back decades. In the early 1990s the nomadic Tuareg in the north, a Berber people, began an insurgency. It gathered pace in 2007 and after the end of the Libyan Civil War in 2011 an influx of weaponry led to the Tuaregs gaining strength.

By 2012 separatists fighting to make the area an independent homeland called Azawad had taken control of the region.

Mali’s president was then ousted in an army coup, and Islamist groups took advantage of the chaos to impose their own rule in the area.

The government of Mali asked for French help and much of the north, including the fabled city of Timbuktou, was recaptured. But despite sporadic ceasefire agreements between government forces and insurgents, violence remains endemic. 

The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) was established by the Security Council in 2013. Some 12,600 UN peacekeeping troops officially took over responsibility for patrolling the country's north from France.

As of mid-February, MINUSMA had suffered 162 fatalities, and 80 per cent of the force’s resources are spent on self-protection from northern separatists and Islamic extremists. Things will get worse ahead of presidential elections scheduled for July.

Ottawa will also take the opportunity to increase the number of peacekeepers who are women among the 200 to 250 Canadian military personnel to be deployed to Mali.

Is this just virtue-signaling without regard for unforeseen consequences? Mali is the most dangerous UN mission in the world.

The country is “characterized by worsening human rights, food insecurity and daring attacks on mission forces,” Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the UN’s under-secretary general for peacekeeping, indicated in his Jan. 23 report.

Most of Mali’s armed groups today fall into one of two major coalitions: the pro-government Platform and the pro-separatist Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA). 

The CMA is mainly Tuareg, while Platform is anti-Tuareg.  Islamists have also created a new Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM), backed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Canada’s mission, aimed at the JNIM, may anger local populations that actually feel more secure under the Islamists.

Last October, four American soldiers were killed in neighbouring Niger, near the Mali border, by Islamists who attacked their convoy. They were hoping to locate an American who had been kidnapped in Mali.

Let’s hope Canadian forces don’t join the list of casualties in this volatile Sahel region.
Mali’s descent into chaos also demonstrates the overly optimistic view many academics take regarding the evolution of political tolerance in many states around the world.

In “Religion, Democracy, and the ‘Twin Tolerations’,” published by the eminent Columbia University political science professor Alfred Stepan in 2000, the country was described as having an “electorally competitive” system. 

“Rethinking Islam and Democracy,” written by Robert Hefner, an anthropologist at Boston University twelve years later, concurred with Stepan’s contention that Mali was an electoral “overachiever” relative to its level of economic development, and concluded that it had “no democracy deficit whatsoever.”

This is, as we now know, was very far from the truth.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Neoliberalism Led to Populism in Eastern Europe

By Henry Srebrnik, [Summerside, PEI] Journal Pioneer
The term “neoliberalism” has come to describe laissez-faire ideas in economic thought. It refers to the anti-tax, anti-government, and anti-labour union agenda that arose in western democracies in the 1980s.

It led to the global market economy that now dominates the world. Our politics and culture serve the needs of a global capitalism requiring the free flow of capital, goods, mobile labour, and market-friendly state policies.

Under this new international regime, as policed by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and global banks, getting the economy in order through deep cuts in public spending, elimination of state-owned economic enterprises, and open access for trade and capital became an inescapable necessity.

Today’s politics concerns itself less with justice than with growth rates, credit ratings, and investment climates, while equality dissolves into market competition.

So contends Wendy Brown, professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of the 2015 book Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution

This type of alienation among citizens has led to a “revolt of the masses,” bringing to power Donald Trump in the United States and resulting in the Brexit vote  in Britain to leave the European Union in 2016. Voters are losing faith in democratic institutions and norms.

The effects of neoliberalism in Eastern Europe, which only emerged from a Communist “command economy” less than three decades ago, has been even more severe.

As they emerged from Soviet domination, these countries were promised a “transition” to become prosperous free societies like Western Europe within a decade or two. Favouring anything less than open borders, they were told, was xenophobic and racist.

Instead they are now divided between the cosmopolitan and the national, between those who have benefited from economic globalization and those who haven’t, and between political elites and the citizenries who rage against them.

The “sudden rise and ignominious fall” of the liberal project is a central theme of a 2017 book by John Feffer, director of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington.

“The elite of eastern Europe now lives at the level of their western European counterparts. But the problem of underdevelopment in the region stems from the failure of the elite to pull the mass of people into prosperity,” he writes in Aftershock: A Journey into Eastern Europe’s Broken Dreams

Such economic disparities have disrupted, Feffer notes, “the conventional narrative of eastern Europe proceeding smoothly in one direction toward some steady state of market liberalism.”

Entire classes of people in the region -- pensioners, industrial workers, collective farmers – “were simply incapable of accommodating the profound shifts taking place in their society.”

After its post-communist transition, Poland cleaved into two parts that Poles refer to as “Poland A” and “Poland B.” It’s a term I heard when I visited Poland last summer.

After 1989 and the implementation of a series of economic reforms that many called “shock therapy,” Poland A, mainly urban, took off economically. 

But Poland B, encompassing the poorer, older parts of the population, many clustered in the countryside, fell further behind, unable to compete economically.

This was evident when I spent time in cities: Warsaw and Krakow seemed wealthy and youthful, and smaller cities like Czestochowa, my birthplace, seemed fine. 

Further east, though, this is not the case: Hence the rise of the Polish right-wing Law and Justice Party, which came to power in 2014. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, its leader, has called Poland’s entry into the European Union “self-annihilation.”

PiS Prime Minister Beata Szydlo contended in 2015 that the liberal elites criticizing PiS for its actions were doing so for “the defense of bank lobbies and foreign corporations” which “got rich at the expense of Poles.”

In Hungary we see Victor Orban, who became the country’s leader in 2010, transforming his once-liberal Fidecz-Hungarian Civil Alliance into a populist movement, in response to the failed promise of transition. To his right is Jobbik, an even more nationalistic party.

He has created an “illiberal democracy” of competitive authoritarianism. He rails against perceived threats such as the European Union, migrants, international economic institutions, and transnational NGOs.

Even in the Czech Republic, traditionally a model democracy, populists are in the ascendency. Recent parliamentary and presidential elections saw major gains by the right-wing politicians Andrej Babis and Milos Zeman.

Poland and Hungary are already considered to be on their way out of the democratic camp; now the Czechs will join them.

These fault lines seem to run through much of the region.

Russia's Jewish Autonomus Region Celebrates 90th Anniversary

By Henry Srebrnik, [Charlottetown, PEI] Guardian
On March 28, 1928, nine decades ago, the Soviet Union approved the choice of Birobidzhan, a sparsely populated area of 36,490 square kilometres in the Soviet far east, as a “national Jewish entity.”

On the border with China, it was seven time zones east of Moscow and a six-day journey away on the Trans-Siberian railway.

By May 1928 the first groups of Jewish settlers from cities and villages in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine arrived in the region. By 1932 25,000 Jews were living there. 

To encourage further settlement, in 1934 Birobidzhan was elevated to a Jewish Autonomous Oblast (Region), where Jews could pursue cultural autonomy in a “socialist framework.” As a Communist entity, religious Judaism was frowned upon. 

The capital city was also called Birobidzhan, and Yiddish was the official language. A Yiddish newspaper, the Birobidzhaner Shtern, was launched, and a Yiddish theater founded. 

The work of the police department, courts and city administration was carried out at least partially in Yiddish.

By 1939, almost 18,000 Jews lived in the region – some 16 per cent of the overall population.
This “Red Zion” was established partly as a Soviet alternative to the Zionist project in British-ruled Palestine. 

Another reason was an attempt to try to attract overseas Jewish financial support and investment. Some settlers came from places like Argentina, Canada, the United States, and even Mandatory Palestine itself.

This Russian rival to Zionism was short-lived, though. The region was shaken by Soviet leader JosephStalin’s purges in the late 1930s. Much of the local party leadership was executed and expressions of Jewishness were discouraged.

The region enjoyed another influx of Jews following the Second World War. These were people ho had escaped the Holocaust in the Europeanp o the USSR and had no homes to which to return. 

The local Jewish population peaked at some 50,000, but Birobidzhan was again hit by growing Soviet anti-Semitism in the late 1940s. The new purges were followed by decades of neglect.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, most remaining Jews left Birobidzhan, the majority for Israel.

Today the population of the area, still officially called the Jewish Autonomous Region, is barely one per cent Jewish, but the authorities cultivate the memory of Jewish customs and history and even hope to attract new Jewish migrants.

If the local government gets its way, more Jews would move to the region. Birobidzhan’s proximity to China could provide advantages for businesses wanting to penetrate the Chinese market.

The region has an extensive border with northern China along the Amur River – about 600 kilometres. The first railway bridge across the river, linking the two countries, is being built and trade with China is what makes the local economy function.

I have published two books on the Canadian and American activists who supported the Jewish Autonomous Region from the 1920s through the early 1950s and so know quite a bit about the region.

In a way my research has come full circle. I recently sent my extensive microfiche collection, comprising about 400 microfiche transparencies, which I used when writing my books, to Nikolai Borodulin in New York, who works on Soviet Jewish issues. 

He is Russian-born, and now works n the United States, and he has sent off the collection, plus other materials , to the state library in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast. 

They will copy these and therefore have a complete set of the complete run of the three Yiddish-language pro-Birobidzhan magazines, published from 1924 to 1951, in the collection.

Stalin had destroyed most of the library’s holdings after 1948, when the second wave of anti-Semitic repression enveloped the region.  It’s nice to think they’ll be back “home.”

Friday, March 23, 2018

Ukraine Continues to Whitewash Wartime Crimes

Henry Srebrnik, [Calgary] Jewish Free Press
Professor Ilana Sabatovych, of the University of Canterbury, in Christchurch, New Zealand, asserts that “the revolutionary character of mass mobilisation movements, together with the uncertainty of the link between democracy and nationalism, may lead such movements to impact negatively on democratisation.”

In “Does Nationalism Promote Democracy?,” published in the April 2018 issue of the journal Contemporary Politics, she contends that the mass protests in Ukraine in 2014, known as the “Maidan Revolution,” did not lead to democratisation but rather to political polarisation and so to an increase in right-wing populism.

So anti-Semitism, too, has been on the rise. Although its 300,000 Jews are not threatened with destruction, Ukraine increasingly exhibits outbursts of anti-Semitism in its political culture and glorifies Second World War Nazi collaborators.

In its annual report on anti-Semitism, published in January by Israel’s the Ministry for Diaspora Affairs, Ukraine was singled out for the alleged increase in attacks there.

But the director of Ukraine’s Institute of National Remembrance, Vladimir Vyatrovich, told Radio Liberty that “It is a pity, but the results of the influence of propaganda are felt even by documents of certain Israeli institutions.”

In December, Israel’s foreign ministry condemned the “malicious” anti-Semitic graffiti daubed on Jewish institutions in Odessa, and urged Kyiv to take “decisive measures” against neo-Nazis.

The offensive markings were spray-painted on several Jewish sites, including a Holocaust museum.

All the graffiti were accompanied by the Wolfsangel symbol, widely used in Nazi Germany and popular among Ukrainian neo-Nazis today.

A similar symbol is used by the Azov Battalion, founded when war broke out in eastern Ukraine in 2014, as well as by several other Ukrainian far-right organizations.

Andriy Biletsky, founder of Azov, has a history of far-right activities. In 2016, he launched the National Corps, the political wing of the battalion, and he now sits in the Ukrainian parliament.

The country also continues to whitewash the massive collaboration of many Ukrainians with the Nazis in World War II.

Ukraine’s parliament in 2015 passed a law that in effect glorifies partisans affiliated with the Second World War Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and its military wing, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA).

The law states that those who “publicly exhibit a disrespectful attitude” toward them will be prosecuted.

It did not mention their xenophobic, anti-Semitic ideology, which described Jews as a “predominantly hostile body within our national organism.”

The law even bans books imported from Russia if they contain “anti-Ukrainian” content.

Nazi collaborators accused of complicity in the murder of Ukrainian Jews have received honors from state authorities for their fight against Russia.

On Oct. 14, thousands of Ukrainian nationalists marched through the capital to mark the 75th anniversary of the creation of the UPA.

It was supported by the right-wing Freedom, Right Sector, and National Corps political parties.

Journalists reported seeing some marchers giving Nazi salutes. Since 2015, the anniversary has been marked as the Defender of Ukraine Day public holiday.

In June of 2017 Lviv held a “Shukhevychfest,” an event named after Roman Shukhevych, featuring music and theatre shows. A celebration of the 110th anniversary of his birth also took place in Kyiv.

Shukhevych was head of a Ukrainian battalion called Nachtigall that began a series of pogroms in June of 1941that murdered approximately 6,000 Jews in Lviv. 

In 1942 Shukhevych established the UPA. Yet Viatrovych recently described Shukhevych as an “eminent personality.” 

Last October, the western municipality of Kalush was sued for deciding to name a street for Dmytro Paliiv, a commander of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, also known as the 1st Galician, comprised of Ukrainians.

Vyatrovich has defended the displaying in public of the symbol of the Galician SS division. 

Responsible for countless murders of Jews, Nazi Germany’s most elite unit was comprised of Ukrainian volunteers.

Displaying Nazi symbols is illegal in Ukraine but the Galician SS division’s symbol is “in accordance with the current legislation of Ukraine,” Vyatrovich has contended.

Desecration of Ukraine’s Holocaust sites and memorials has also become a problem. At Babi Yar, in Kyiv, the Nazis killed over 33,000 Jews in September 1941.

Now, Jewish leaders in Ukraine have criticised President Petro Poroshenko’s decision to involve two supporters of the OUN, Bohdan Chervak and Volodymyr Viatrovych, in plans to commemorate the Babi Yar massacre.

Earlier anti-Semites are also being honoured. A statue of Symon Petliura, a Ukrainian nationalist who is blamed for the murder of tens of thousands of Jews during the Russian Revolution, was unveiled last October in Vinnitsa. The city already has a street named for him.

The estimates of Jews killed in pogroms during Petliura’s 1918 and 1921 reign, run from 35,000 to 50,000.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

20 Years of Religious Freedom Act

By Henry Srebrnik, [Saint John, NB] Telegraph-Journal 

In November1996, President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, convened an Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad to study ways to “integrate religious freedom initiatives into U.S. foreign policy.” 

It would eventually result in the passage in October 1998 of the International Religion Freedom Act (IRFA) by the U.S. Congress, and amended in December 2016 as the Frank R. Wolf International Religion Freedom Act.

At the time of the act’s drafting, “scholarly and policy attention to religion in international affairs was still in its infancy,” as Judd Birdsall of the Cambridge Institute on Religion and International Studies at Clare College, Cambridge, noted in 2016

The act established an Office of International Religious Freedom within the State Department and a bipartisan panel, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

The Wolf amendment to the IRFA was passed in the same week that the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for a bombing at a Coptic Christian cathedral in Cairo, Egypt, that killed 24 people, and expanded its scope to include non-state actors such as Boko Haram and IS. 

The IRFA mandates the administration to provide an annual report to Congress that covers “the status of religious freedom in each foreign country, violations of religious freedom by foreign governments, and United States' actions and policies in support of religious freedom.”

It is required to designate any countries that have “engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom” as “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPCs).

The USCIRF researches and monitors international religious freedom issues and is authorized to travel on fact-finding missions to other countries and hold public hearings.

It issues recommendations as to countries it believes should be designated as CPCs, in two tiers, depending on the level of violations of religious freedom.

Countries that were placed on the 2017 Tier 1 list were Burma (Myanmar), Central African Republic, China, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

Being designated a CPC has provided grounds for punitive actions in the past. In 2005, the Bush administration issued sanctions specific to religious freedom in response to Eritrea’s CPC designation. Two years ago, the Obama administration maintained an arms embargo on Burma.

Thomas Farr, an associate professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, in a paper published last year referred to “a global crisis in religious freedom” with “catastrophic humanitarian dimensions.” 

The solution, he suggested in “Religious Freedom and the Common Good,” has many elements, “but at its core must be the advancement of religious freedom. The United States has for almost twenty years had this as a goal of its foreign policy.”

Today, U.S. foreign policy is more institutionally attentive to religion than at any time in living memory. 

On April 18, the USCIRF will be hosting a summit in Washington commemorating the 20th anniversary of the passage of the IRFA. 

The summit will include a plenary to discuss the state of international religious freedom, followed by panels discussing strategies for achieving positive change for religious freedom and prisoners of conscience around the world.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Forward March of Populism Continues

By Henry Srebrnik, [Summerside, PEI] Journal Pioneer
The forward march of populism in Europe continues. Its latest manifestation resulted in an almost complete breakdown of Italy’s party structures.

The parliamentary election held on March 4 was widely seen as a bellwether of the strength of populists on the continent and how far they might advance into the mainstream.

As it turned out, support for centrist parties virtually collapsed, as Italians handed a majority of votes to right-wing and populist forces that ran a campaign fueled largely by anti-immigrant anger.

Luigi Di Maio’s populist Five Star Movement and the far-right League (formerly the Northern League), led by Matteo Salvini, emerged as the two main victors, with 32.66 per cent and 17.37 per cent, respectively, of the total vote. 

Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia gained 14.01 per cent. The three parties have become the most potent forces in the country. 

The League’s strong showing – the party quadrupled its share of the vote from five years ago -- confirmed the depth of disenchantment with democratic institutions in the country.

As for Five Star, its result was even more remarkable. Founded by a comedian, a party that didn’t even exist a decade ago has emerged as Italy’s largest vote-getter. 

The party swept southern Italy by speaking to the region’s frustration with its economic marginalization over many decades, the persistence of corruption and the continuing influence of organized crime.

“Today, for us, the third republic commences,” Di Maio said after the votes came in. “At last, the republic of Italian citizens.” Alfonso Bonafede, a member of parliament from the party, declared that it “will be the pillar of the next legislature.”

Altogether, the three populist groups received two-thirds of the total vote. “Salvini could really invent or build a new right-wing coalition,” remarked Paolo Natale, a professor of political science at the University of Milan.

On the other hand, the principal centre-left party, former prime minister Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party, lost a quarter of its electorate and was routed, coming in with 18.72 per cent. 

Renzi had stayed at the helm of the Democratic Party even after he lost a referendum in 2016 that was about constitutional reform, and alienated many of the party’s core constituents.

The Northern League had been a separatist group that wanted to split the country’s rich industrial territories from the agricultural south.

But after Salvini took over four years ago he shifted the focus towards nationalism. Renamed the League, it has driven home its anti-migrant message.

Along with Greece, Italy has borne the brunt of recent large movements of refugees and migrants into Europe from places such as Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. 

Italians have felt that they got little help from the European Union in Brussels or from other member states. 

Consequently, the League, which wants to deport thousands of migrants who have arrived in recent years, surged from four percent of the vote in 2013 to almost 18 per cent, thanks in large part to the party’s campaign slogan, “Italians First.”

Salvini wants to close mosques, bolster Italy’s borders and take sovereignty back from the European Union. He has called for a “different” kind of Europe, one that gives more power to national interests over pan-European commitments.

In Italy, distrust in institutions, economic depression, and the crisis of identity brought by globalisation have come together in Forza Italia, the League and the Five Star Movement.

The League promotes a radical brand of xenophobia, while the more ideologically amorphous Five Star Movement attacks the corruption of mainstream parties. A new opposition is replacing the traditional polarity of moderate left and moderate right.

In the 2008 edition of his book Understanding Comparative Politics: A Framework for Analysis, Mehran Kamrava, a professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar, observes that when a disjunction or disconnect arises between those who rule a state and the majority of the citizens in the society that it governs, trouble follows.

A political class no longer ideologically congruent with the underlying political culture will invariably face major challenges by parties wishing to overturn the elite’s norms and values around matters such as immigration, which pertain to the very character and identity of the country.

Such an increasing incompatibility between state and society is plunging Italy, and much of Europe, into crisis.

Korea's Diverse Religious Revolution

By Henry Srebrnik, [Charlottetown, PEI] Guardian
Given the recent Winter Olympics in South Korea, and the tense relationship between North Korea and the United States, Canadians know quite a bit about Koreans, who together number almost 77 million people on the divided peninsula.

But when it comes to their religious life, that’s another matter. However, a number of faculty and students at the University of Prince Edward Island now are aware of a bit more, after attending a lecture on March 8 by Don Baker, a professor of Korean Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

A renowned scholar of east Asian history, especially Korea’s religious, intellectual and cultural history, in his lecture “From the Mountains into the Cities: The Transformation of Korean Buddhism in the Twentieth Century,” he outlined the transformation of Buddhism in modern Korea under the influence of Japan, changing Korean values, Christianity, and Western ideas.

Mahayana Buddhism, one of the three main strands of the faith, arrived on the Korean peninsula more than 1,600 years ago.

Roman Catholicism appeared in the late 18th century, and Protestant missionaries came a century later. Both were often persecuted by the Choson dynasty, a religiously Confucian monarchy, which ruled the country after 1392. Even Buddhism was marginalized.

Korea came under Japanese imperial control in 1910 and Japan occupied the country until defeat in the Second World War 35 years later.

While Korean Christians spearheaded the anti-imperialist movement, Buddhist monks were more inclined to collaborate with Tokyo’s governors. 

Japanese Buddhists had demanded the right to proselytize in the cities, lifting the five-hundred year ban on monks and nuns entering cities enforced after 1392, also benefitting Korean Buddhists.

With the division of the peninsula along the 38th parallel into the Communist north and non-Communist south in 1945, more than one million Christians, strongly anti-Communist, which had lived above the line, moved south.

South Korea’s first president, Syngman Rhee, who ruled until 1960, was a Methodist. Christmas became a national holiday.

More educated and urban than the Buddhists, Christian Koreans founded universities, newspapers and electronic media, and hospitals. Today 88 per cent of South Koreans live in cities.

There are twice as many Christians as Buddhists in Seoul, the South Korean capital and the country’s largest city. 

Christians were in the forefront of the democratization movements of the 1980s that opposed the military regimes of the time, especially the massive 1987 demonstrations that deposed General Chun Doo-hwan and led to free elections and civilian governments.

By then, Buddhists monks, traditionally less willing to confront authority, had also become involved.
In order to catch up to the Christians, Buddhists have created their own universities, radio and television stations, and hospitals, and are now more involved in civil society.

According to the national census conducted in 2015, 19.7 per cent of the population are Protestants, 15.5 per cent are Buddhists, and 7.9 per cent belong to the Roman Catholic Church; in total Christianity is the religion of 27.6 per cent of the Korean population. 

Professor Baker thinks the census probably undercounted the more rural Buddhist population.
Of the Protestant denominations, the largest are the Presbyterian churches. In North America, he also noted, 80 per cent of Koreans are Christians. 

A majority of South Koreans, 56.9 per cent, have no formal membership in a religious organisation.
Communist North Korea does recognize a few small “official” Buddhist, Catholic and Protestant groups, and allows them their houses of worship, but it’s mainly in order to show the world they allow freedom of religion; the Buddhist temples also serve as tourist sites.

South Korea’s current president, Moon Jae-in, elected last May, is a Roman Catholic. He has pledged to solve the North Korean crisis by diplomatic means.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Germany's Alarm Over One Word

By Henry Srebrnik, [Saint John, NB] Telegraph-Journal
A rising tide of nationalism in Germany has seen the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) vault into third place in the German parliament after last year’s federal election. 

Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats have formed a coalition with the Social Democrats to run the country, after both major parties lost seats. Her days as chancellor seem numbered. 

One indicator of the resurgence of national feeling is the increased visibility of the word “heimat,” a word with no English equivalent.

It’s interesting to note the differentiation in German between heimat and staat. The latter is a legal definition that identifies the political state, whereas the former refers to homeland, and is an emotional term.

The AfD harnessed the notion of home during its election campaign, under the banner “our country, our homeland.”

Perhaps in response, the new German coalition government is adding a “Heimatministerium” or homeland ministry -- it will be known as the Ministry of the Interior, Homeland, and Construction – to the cabinet. 

Horst Seehofer, leader of Bavaria’s Christian Socialist Union, the sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, will be the new federal minister. He is known for his outspoken views on immigration, and forced Merkel into agreeing to cap refugee numbers at 200,000 per year in 2017.

This has caused some pushback from those who worry that it will bring back the kind of ethnic nationalism that reached its pinnacle under the Nazis. 

Paul Nolte, a history professor at the Freie Universitat in Berlin, considers the word as being at “the intersection” of nostalgia and xenophobia. “In this case, heimat is a euphemism for border control and immigration policy,” he maintains.

Yet, long considered toxic, it is gaining traction, and now Germans of all stripes have begun to use the term in a positive light. Robert Habeck, a Green Party politician, has said that politics “must formulate an idea, an idea of heimat, an idea of identity.”

Jochen Bittner, a political editor for the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, published in Hamburg, describes heimat as not just a geographical place, but a state of belonging. It’s the opposite of feeling alien. 

“Heimat is about the landscape that left its mark on you, the culture that informed you and the people that inspired you when you were growing up,” he wrote recently in an op-ed in the New York Times.

Last Oct. 3, the anniversary of the official reunification of Germany, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in a speech remarked that many people cannot understand today’s world and yearn for “heimat.” 

It is, he added, “where we find meaning.” Most Germans associate the term with family, intimacy and a feeling of security.

Edoardo Costadura, a professor of romance languages at the University of Jena, explained to Deutsche Welle, Germany’s public international broadcaster, that individuals develop a longing for heimat when “they have gotten the impression that the world has become a village, but they don't want to live in that village.”

The German word has become part of a larger conflict in the world, that of identity versus diversity. In some ways, globalization has made many people yearn for that which we may call “local.”

Monday, March 12, 2018

Nigerian Politics Remain Tied to Ethnicity

By Henry Srebrnik, [Summerside, PEI] Pioneer Journal
Ethnic power sharing has never worked as intended in Nigeria, despite various federal and other formulas designed so that every one of its many ethnic and religious groups “get their piece of the national cake.”

Not long after the country attained independence in 1960, the Igbos, a majority in much of the country’s southeastern region, declared themselves the independent Republic of Biafra in May 1967. Several weeks later, the Nigerian civil war began. 

It lasted until January 1970. After early Biafran successes, the war became one of attrition, characterized by massive civilian deaths on the Biafran side, some from direct military action but most from starvation and disease. About one million people perished.

Nothing that drastic has torn the nation apart since then. Today, political elites cite the importance of segmental representation along ethnic, regional, and religious lines within a federal system, proportionality in all areas of government, and accommodation and cooperation. This is the “official” rhetoric.

But things look different behind the scenes. In fact ethnic mobilization and violence have both increased, fueled by demands for the allocation of federal resources and the reorientation of the federal structure around “ethnic nationalities.”

And while the military has kept in the political background over the past two decades, after running this fractious state for almost 33 years, the legitimacy of the civilian regimes that followed has been eroded by these tensions.

Here’s the problem: political entrepreneurs in Nigeria mobilize ethnic networks primarily to capture access to state resources. Therefore power-sharing institutions that define access to state office and federal revenues in terms of ethnic, regional, and religious identities reinforce the centrality of identity-based ethnic networks as a means to acquire political and economic power. 

Since that becomes the surest way to accumulate wealth and power, such ethnic networks are indispensible avenues for pursuing them. 

Political elites among the numerous ethnic groups establish clientelist networks to attract mass followings; these supporters see them as a means to gain access to patronage.

And this has led to the rapid expansion of quota systems across all branches of government.
The 1999 constitution that ended military rule incorporated the Federal Character Commission (FCC) to oversee the administration of a formal quota system in federal, and eventually state and local, employment. 

It monitors the hiring and promotion policies of “all bureaucratic, economic, media, and political posts at all levels of government” in order to ensure their compliance with “the principles of proportional sharing.”

In effect, the FCC administers one of the largest affirmative-action programs in the world, officially organized around the representation of states but in practice, through the use of the “indigeneity” requirement as defined in the legislation, around ethnicity. 

The system privileges ethnic origins over citizenship and enables powerful local patronage brokers to control jobs.

Meanwhile, there has been growing religious tension between Muslims and Christians. This has since been exacerbated by the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast.  In the states of Adamawa and Nasarawa, 40 villages have been destroyed since Jan.15. 

Last month at least 110 schoolgirls were abducted by the terrorist group in Dapchi, Yobe state. The attack came some four years after they kidnapped more than 270 girls from a school in the town of Chibok, in Borno state. Of those, 100 remain captive.

A new separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra, has sprung up. It wants a number of states in the south-east, made up mainly of Igbo, to break away from Nigeria. President Muhammadu Buhari declared it a terrorist organization last year.

The 2016 resumption of hostilities in the oil-rich Niger Delta by a group of militants, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), following years of relative peace, in a region that is the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy, has also become a problem. 

The sectarian violence has put a tremendous strain on the country’s political institutions.

Can Nigeria resolve some of its problems through power-sharing? These arrangements typically bring different political parties and conflict actors together, often in the form of a broad government of national unity. 

But this would require switching to a parliamentary system, and no one seems to be asking for that.

Hezbollah: It All Began 40 Years Ago

By Henry Srebrnik [Charlottetown, PEI] Guardian

The militant Shia militia Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, now has more than 150,000 missiles and rockets aimed at Israel. A war, which would cause incalculable destruction in Lebanon, as well as massive damage to Israel, seems almost inevitable.

Hezbollah is aided by Iran, which already virtually controls Iraq and Syria. It operates weapons production facilities in Lebanon, manufacturing guided missiles and drones that can carry explosive charges. 

The group’s Iranian backers plan to create arsenals for precision missile batteries that pose a strategic threat to Israel.

Hezbollah, which has played an important role in preserving the Assad regime in Syria, now has thousands of battle-hardened veterans.

Although Hezbollah’s intervention there did exact a heavy price in casualties, its position in Lebanon has not weakened, and the general elections in Lebanon in May 2018 will likely strengthen its political status.

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah has not been shy in boasting that his Shia movement now calls the shots – literally -- in the fractured Lebanese state, having pushed its once-prominent Christian, Druze, and Sunni political rivals to the sidelines.

The sequence of events that led to this existential threat to the Jewish state began 40 years ago, at a time when Israel’s border with Lebanon, a small and weak country, was relatively quiet.

On March 11, 1978, the worst single act of terrorism on Israeli soil since independence resulted in the deaths of 38 Israelis, including 13 children. Another 71 were wounded.

The coastal road massacre, as it came to be known, began when Palestinian terrorists, slipping ashore from the Mediterranean, hijacked two buses along Israel’s main coastal highway from Haifa to Tel Aviv, shooting along the way at everyone in sight, before it ended in a firefight with Israeli police.

The resultant furore led to Operation Litani. On March 15, Israel launched an attack against Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) bases in southern Lebanon. It killed approximately 1,100 people, most of them Palestinian and Lebanese civilians. 

Israel now became militarily embroiled in Lebanon. Though Israeli forces withdrew, they turned over their positions inside Lebanon to their ally, the South Lebanon Army (SLA), a largely Christian militia.

Israel launched another, far greater, invasion of Lebanon on June 6, 1982, after repeated attacks and counter-attacks between its forces and the PLO. 

Though the PLO was expelled, Israel continued to operate a “security zone” in the south until 2000. The depth of this zone varied between five and twenty kilometres. 

The number of Israeli soldiers deployed ranged between 1,000 and 1,500. But fifteen years of armed conflict, especially with the newly-formed Hezbollah, weakened Israeli resolve and sapped the public’s support for the occupation. 

By the time the last Israeli soldiers left southern Lebanon May 24, 2000, Israel had lost 1,216 soldiers in combat since 1982; of these 559 were killed while Israel occupied the security zone after 1985. The SLA was crushed and Hezbollah quickly gained control of southern Lebanon.

The second Lebanon war broke out in 2006 and lasted 34 days, after Hezbollah abducted two Israeli soldiers along the border. 

Israel suffered 121 military deaths, but 44 civilians in Israel were killed by Hezbollah rocket attacks. Another 1,500 people were wounded in rocket attacks in northern Israel, and 450 soldiers were hurt in the fighting in Lebanon. 

Some 300,000 Israelis fled their homes to escape rocket attacks on northern Israel. Israeli economists estimated direct war damage at $3.5 billion.

Israel started building a new wall along its border with Lebanon last month. It won’t stop a new conflict with Hezbollah, a battle which may herald a larger Middle East war involving Iran and Syria as well. It will make 2006 seem like a garden party.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Poland's Anti-Zionist Campaign of 1968

By Henry Srebrnik, [Calgary] Jewish Free Press
There has been much controversy in recent months regarding Poland’s complex history regarding the treatment of its Jewish population, particularly during the Holocaust.

Of course Poland was an anti-Semitic country at various other times in its history. For example, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the state-orchestrated “anti-Zionist” campaign in Poland, then under Communist rule. At the time, Jews numbered no more than 30,000 members out of a Polish population of 32 million.

Cold War politics and a power struggle within the Polish Communist party would result in a purge that would force at least 20,000 Jews, themselves ironically mostly Communists, to leave the country.
Organised by the Polish United Workers’ Party (PZPR), the CP’s official name, the anti-Zionist campaign destroyed a Jewish community which had only just re-established itself after the Holocaust. It was a classical example of left-wing anti-Semitism.

The backdrop was Israel’s victory over its Arab enemies in the Six-Day War of June 1967. The defeated countries included Soviet-backed Egypt and Syria and in response the member states of the Warsaw Pact, with the exception of Romania, on June 9 cut diplomatic ties with Israel.

On June 19, Wladysław Gomułka, the first secretary of the PZPR, accused some Polish Jews of sympathising with the enemies of socialism, thus forfeiting their claim to be loyal Polish citizens. “Israel’s aggression in the Arab countries was met with applause in Zionist circles of Jews – Polish citizens,” he declared. 

A well-organised international Zionist conspiracy, whose centre was to be found in the Jewish community, was trying to undermine the Polish socialist state. These people constituted a fifth column in the country, which had to be eradicated before it could gain strength. He compared them to the German minority living in Poland that supported the Nazi invasion in 1939.

Gomułka was in a power struggle with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, under the command of General Mieczyslaw Moczar, a fervent anti-Semite. (It did not escape his notice that Gomulka’s wife was Jewish.)

Though Moczar and his faction, known as the “Partisans,” failed to topple Gomułka’s government, it resulted in an expulsion from Poland of thousands of individuals of Jewish ancestry, including major figures in the military and state offices.

It all started on January 30, 1968, some 300 University of Warsaw students protested the decision to ban further performances of the anti-Russian play Dziady by the 19th century author Adam Mickiewicz. Though it was written in 1824 and set in tsarist times, Polish authorities viewed the play as targeted against the Soviet Union. 

The protest leaders, known as the Komandosi (Commandos), included Adam Michnik and Jan Litynski, both Jews, demanded a cessation of censorship. For this, they were expelled from the university.

In response, about one thousand students gathered on the campus on March 8 demanding their reinstatement. This rally began the mass student protests throughout the country known as the “March events.”

The protests were brutally suppressed and the anti-Semitic campaign was now stepped up. A March 11 article in the newspaper Slowo Powszechne made the link between the student opposition and the “Zionist fifth column.”

Within the next ten days, 250 articles were published, a good portion of which endorsed the anti-Zionist conspiracy theory. In more than 100,000 public meetings throughout Poland, anti-Zionist resolutions were passed. As the attacks on the Jewish community intensified, some Communists produced documents confirming that they were baptized as proof they did not have a Jewish background! 

“Polish citizens who are emotionally and in their thoughts connected to the State of Israel” would have to leave the country, Gomulka announced in a speech on March 10, as he emphasized the Jewish origin of the instigators.

“Loyalty to socialist Poland and imperialist Israel is not possible simultaneously,” Prime Minister Jozef Cyrankiewicz declared on April 11. “Whoever wants to face these consequences in the form of emigration will not encounter any obstacle.” 

Entire academic departments were dissolved, while thousands of members of the country’s intelligentsia, including outstanding scientists, artists and academics such as Zygmunt Bauman were driven out of the country. 

Almost 9,000 Jews lost their jobs and hundreds were thrown out of their apartments. Of the 8,300 members expelled from the PZPR, nearly all were Jewish. 

The regime allowed Jewish citizens to leave the country under two conditions: they must revoke their citizenship; and they must declare Israel as the country of their destination. They were made stateless upon leaving Poland while their possessions were confiscated.

Since few of these Jews were actually Zionists of even the mildest variety, fewer than 30 per cent of them ended up in Israel, with the rest going to other countries, including Norway, Sweden, France and the United States.

In June 1968, the Central Committee decided to discontinue the campaign. By the Fifth Party Congress in November, Zionism was no longer on the agenda.

One memorial to the expulsions is a small plaque on the wall of the Warszawa Gdanska railway station on the north side of the city off Highway 637. 

It was from there that many Poles of Jewish origin departed. It bears a tribute from the Polish-Jewish writer Henryk Grynberg: “For those who emigrated from Poland after March 1968 with a one-way ticket. They left behind more than they had possessed.”

Visitors to Warsaw can also see a commemorative plaque at the university for the students demanding freedom of speech in 1968 on the wall of one of the buildings surrounding the courtyard. The university entrance is on Krakowskie Przedmiescie (the Royal Avenue) in Warsaw’s Stare Miasto (Old Town).



Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Problematic Nationalism of Ethnic Minorities

By Henry Srebrnik, [Saint John, N.B.] Telegraph-Journal

In Central and Eastern Europe, the idea of the nation, on the part of the majority population, came to have a particularly strong ethnic connotation in the 20th century. 

In response, self-conscious minorities in these states often expressed their desire to belong to their own ethno-cultural nation, often one residing in a neighbouring kin state. 

At the least, they demanded state recognition of their separate nationality and the cultural and political collective rights that come with it.

This has been particularly true of Hungarian communities, especially in the case of the more numerous Hungarian populations in Romania and Slovakia. 

Following the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after the First World War, Hungary lost a very large amount of its pre-war territory. 

Almost one-third of the Hungarian-speaking population, some five million people, became minorities in Romania, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.

For these Hungarians, the emotional tables were suddenly turned: their former identity, that of belonging to a majority ruling nation, was replaced with a minority status, and they found themselves in a politically subordinate position.

The integration of these Hungarians in successor states proved difficult, and between the two world wars, these minorities focused on preserving their Hungarian identity.

After 1945, Communist regimes enacted assimilation policies, particularly in Romania and Czechoslovakia. These affected matters of religion, economy, culture (especially language), and political and legal rights. 

The disintegration of Communist regimes allowed for greater political freedom. Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia split apart, and the minority policies in the new countries of Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine became more tolerant. 

Several linguistic and cultural rights were incorporated in new constitutions adopted at the beginning of the 1990s. 

This would affect Hungarians in the Transylvania region of Romania, southern Slovakia, the autonomous province of Vojvodina in northern Serbia, and Transcarpathia in western Ukraine.

Hungarians form the largest ethnic minority in Romania, consisting of 1.22 million people and making up a little more than six per cent of the total population. Most live in Transylvania, in areas that were, before the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, parts of Hungary, and where they constitute a very large minority.

They are also are the largest ethnic minority in Slovakia, with some 700,000 people – almost 9.5 per cent of the overall population – declaring Hungarian as their mother tongue. 

The 254,000 Hungarians in Serbia comprise just 3.5 per cent of the total population, but 13 per cent in the Vojvodina. 

Much smaller numbers are concentrated in the far western border regions of Ukraine. All of these geographic regions are very close to, or border, Hungary itself. 

With the democratization of Eastern European countries, parties that appealed to ethnic identity became more frequent players in electoral politics. Often referred to as flanking or outbidding parties, they often adopted radical strategies to maximize support among voters of an ethnic group.

But ethnic Hungarian parties in Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine have cooperated, rather than competed, with each other during elections, to maximize their political power.

Meanwhile, after its own regime change in 1989, non-Communist Hungary assumed a so-called national policy, and stated that it would improve the situation of the Hungarians living outside its borders. 

Nationalists consider them part of a pan-Hungarian nation. Budapest has encouraged many Hungarians to apply for Hungarian citizenship even while living outside the country, and in 2010 introduced preferential naturalisation together with voting rights as a new political-legal tool. 

The reaction from the surrounding states has varied though clearly there has been some consternation. But Romania and Slovakia, as EU members, must show restraint in their treatment of their Hungarian minorities.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Fiji Will Soon Go to the Polls

By Henry Srebrnik, [Summerside, PEI] Journal Pioneer

Later this year, Fiji will hold its second election under its new 2013 constitution.

Has the ruling FijiFirst Party, created just four years ago, managed to transcend the country’s deep ethnic tensions, or just papered them over?

A South Pacific archipelago, Fiji was bitterly divided between an indigenous ethnic Fijian population and the South Asian descendents of indentured labourers who arrived during British colonial rule.

Fijian nationalists contended that independence in 1970 should have been a reversal of the 1874 Deed of Cession that turned the islands into a British colony, returning the country not to all the people of Fiji but to the Fijians alone, as it was before the arrival of the Indians. 

Race was institutionalized in the post-independence politics of Fiji, under a constitution that preserved communal representation and indigenous rights. 

Fiji was an ethnocracy, a type of political regime that facilitates the control of a dominant ethnic group within the state.

In the lower house all 52 seats were reserved for one racial group or another. Variations of this communal-based “first past the post” electoral system would remain in place until 2013.

While the moral claim of the Fijians was based on their prior occupation of the Fiji Islands, stretching back thousands of years, that of the Indians was on their presence, as individuals, in a polity that ought to support rights of equal citizenship. 

This was a circle that couldn’t be squared. Instability, turbulence, division and hatred became the norms of political life.

By 2014, Fiji had already weathered four coups: two in 1987, the third in 2000, and the fourth in 2006.

The perpetrators typically claimed they were motivated by the fear of an “Indian takeover,” politically, economically, and territorially. 

Those who overthrew the government in 2000 erected a sign outside the parliament that warned: “Fiji Indigenous Rights are Paramount in Fiji. We Will Fight to Uphold Them.”

An election held in 2001 had returned a government which stood for advancing “indigenous rights.” This was to remain a sacred political principle.

But it hasn’t turned out that way. In 2006, following further turmoil, Fiji’s military commander, Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, seized power.  

Although he, and almost the entire military, are ethnic Fijians, Bainimarama depicted his coup as aiming to save Fiji from destruction at the hands of the ethnic-Fijian civilian government. 

He began to shape the identity of the army as the guide for a multi-ethnic nation. The new political class that emerged was based on an alliance between the military, progressive indigenous Fijians, and Indo-Fijians.

The military implemented de-ethnicisation strategies and dismantled many of the aboriginal structures of governance in Fiji, including, in 2012, the once-powerful Great Council of Chiefs. 

It had met yearly to discuss native Fijian concerns. The council, which was formerly responsible for appointing Fiji's president, was composed of 55 Fijian chiefs selected from the 14 traditional provinces.

A 2010 decree also shifted the word “Fijian” from being a marker of ethnic identity to one of national identity, and so now also describes Indo-Fijians. The indigenous population are now referred to as iTaukei.

In 2012, Bainimarama discarded Fiji’s race-based single-member constituencies. Elections would now be held through party-list proportional representation open to all. 

In the 2014 election this system delivered a clear victory for his FijiFirst Party, which gained 59.2 per cent of the vote in the new 50-member parliament, giving him 32 seats. (One seat has been added for the 2018 vote.)

The Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA), a successor to earlier indigenous Fijian parties, won 28.2 per cent, good for 15 seats.

Indians now saw no need to remain loyal to Indo-Fijian groups, and the National Federation Party received just 5.5 percent, electing three members. 

As for the Fiji Labour Party, once the dominant force in the Indian community, it did not even manage to cross the five per cent threshold needed to elect members, providing an obvious indication of one key source of FijiFirst’s new support base.
While aboriginal peoples in settler societies such as Canada are seeing redress for past wrongs, in Fiji the iTaukei have lost the supports that had managed to protect them.

Bainimarama has created a “multicultural” country, to the benefit of the Indo-Fijians, but also in order to please neighbouring liberal Australia and New Zealand, and global capital.