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Formerly known as Myanmar, the South-Asian country of Burma has had some horrific activity taking place within its borders, and even spreading beyond. Genocide has been taking place there for a while now. The ethnic group, Rohingya, is predominantly Muslim and under fire. Rohingya people are fleeing Burma and subjecting themselves to poor refugee conditions. However, conditions are already bad for the Rohingya people, and there are few options left for them. Burma has started a genocide movement against Muslims in the country without an end in sight.
About 800,000 Rohingyas live in Burma’s Rakhine State, while another million are spread throughout Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand, and other places. The Rohingyas have been recognized as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world by the United Nations. They are cramming onto boats to sail away from the horrors that plague them in Burma, even knowing that they may die or be lost at sea.
The Rohingyas have been the subject of dehumanizing speech, and attacks on their communities. Several of them are being killed, and others are forced to live in squalor. Myanmar’s 1982 Citizenship Law declares Rohingyas as noncitizens. Other atrocities include state-sponsored discrimination, physical segregation, revoked voting rights, denial of necessary services, and hate speech delivered by government actors and religious leaders. Their existence is even denied. They are often referred to as “Bengalis” which forces the implication that Rohingyas are just people who leaked into Myanmar from Bangladesh.
Who is behind these atrocities though? Burma is 80 to 90 percent Buddhist, and believe it or not, one of the biggest perpetrators of action against Muslims in the country is none other than a Buddhist monk. Though the typical images of monks show them as peaceful and disciplined people, which many of them are, it is a reality that terrorism can sprout from any human. Monk Ashin Wirathu has been dubbed “Buddhist Bin Laden.” His rampant hate speeches call for boycotting Muslim-owned businesses, and a refusal to socialize with Muslims. His “969” campaign movement has led to the widespread antagonizing of Muslims. The Buddhist Bin Laden often meets with powerful politicians, which indicates that the government is in on the discrimination against the Muslims in the country. Burma is perpetrating genocide and there appears that this will continue without an end in sight.
Why would a Buddhist monk take such strong actions though? There are complicated issues that have sparked the tension, but some of the problems stem from religious myths. Many people believe a “scripturally shaky” prophecy that says that the Buddhist faith will disappear in the arriving millennia. Fears have been spread that there will be Muslim domination in the 21st century. This fear is backed up and fueled by the numerological abbreviation that many Muslims use, 786. The logic behind the fear is that seven plus eight plus six equals 21, hence Muslim domination will occur in the 21st century. 786 is an Arabic abbreviation of “Bismillah Ar-Rahman Ar-Rahim,” which translates to “In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.” Muslims state the phrase before eating, praying, and carrying out other activities.
What is being done about this? Not much is being done actually, compared to how much should have been done already. A two-day conference held in Oslo called for a halt to the actions that are being taken against the Rohingyas, and in response, the foreign ministry of Myanmar said that remarks made about the conditions in Burma ignored the efforts of the reconstruction of trust between Muslims and Buddhists in the Rakhine state. There was even a claim of “granting citizenship through the national verification process to those Bengalis living in Burma for many years.” Basically, Burma is not ready to cease its actions. Furthermore, Burmese politician and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is not standing up for the atrocities against the Rohingyas, in spite of being a human rights activist. BBC Urdu commented that Suu Kyi wants to maintain her strong Buddhist electorate for upcoming elections. Ultimately, Burma is carrying out genocide against Muslims, without even a hint that there is an end in sight.
The Huffington Post- Who Are The Rohingyas And Why Are They Fleeing Myanmar?
Daily Times- Genocide of Muslims in Myanmar
OnIslam- Burma’s Bin Laden Stokes Anti-Muslim Hatred
PRI- Holocaust museum researcher finds early warning signs of genocide in Myanmar
Featured Photo Courtesy of Austcare- World Humanitarian Aid’s Flickr Page- Creative Commons License