Rakhine, Monks and Buddhist Extremists March against Rohingya Muslims

ICC Note: This article describes the political background for the ongoing persecution of the Rohyinga religious/cultural minority in Myanmar.  It also provides a glimpse of how radical Buddhist nationalists seek to intimidate the government into imposing discriminatory policies against all religious or cultural minorities, who are not viewed by the nationalists as ‘truly Burmese’.

By Asia News / Agencies

 

06/15/2015 Myanmar (AsiaNews.It)

Burmese Buddhist extremist movements, backed by a group of nationalists monks, yesterday launched a new set of anti-Rohingya demonstrations in the western state of Rakhine, home to devastating sectarian violence.

Demonstrators protested against the aid offered by the Naypyidaw government to hundreds of migrants belonging to the Muslim minority, rescued after weeks adrift in the open sea. In recent weeks in Asia, and particularly in the Pacific region, a migrant emergency has exploded with thousands of modern boat people off the coast of the Bay of Bengal.

Thousands of people, mostly Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, along with migrant workers from Bangladesh, have been rescued in the Andaman Sea and off the coast of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. A drama heightened by the crackdown imposed by Bangkok – the real trafficking crossroads – on the trade in human lives, after the discovery of a mass grave near the border with Malaysia where dozens of Rohingya were buried.

In recent years an anti-Muslim sentiment has spread in Myanmar, fueled by a group of Buddhist monks who foment sectarian tension. In this context, neither the government nor the main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi (also the subject of criticism) have intervened to calm tempers and defend the minority.

Tensions escalated in 2012 into real riots, which caused hundreds of deaths and the flight of tens of thousands of Rohingya from Rakhine State, in the direction of Malaysia and Indonesia, countries with a large Muslim majority. An exodus long ignored and one which, in recent months, has become a real regional emergency.

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