Burmese Monks and Groups Oppose Rohingya

I’m a few days late with this; from the Independent:

Monks who played a vital role in Burma’s recent struggle for democracy have been accused of fuelling ethnic tensions in the country by calling on people to shun a Muslim community that has suffered decades of abuse.

…The outburst against the Rohingya, often described as one of the world’s most oppressed groups, comes after weeks of ethnic violence in the Rakhine state in the west of Burma that has left more than 80 dead and up to 100,000 people living in a situation described as “desperate” by humanitarian organisations. 

…The Young Monks’ Association of Sittwe and Mrauk Oo Monks’ Association have both released statements in recent days urging locals not to associate with the group. 

…Aid workers report ongoing threats and interference by local nationalist and religious groups. Some monasteries in Maungdaw and Sittwe sheltering displaced Rakhine people have openly refused to accept international aid, alleging that it is “biased” in favour of the Rohingya. 

…Monks’ leader Ashin Htawara [var. Ashin Htarwara] recently encouraged the government to send the group “back to their native land” at an event in London hosted by the anti-Rohingya Burma Democratic Concern. Ko Ko Gyi, a democracy activist with the 88 Generation Students group and a former political prisoner, said: “The Rohingya are not a Burmese ethnic group. The root cause of the violence… comes from across the border.”

Htarwara is General Secretary, All Burma Monks Representative Committees (ABMRC).

Human Rights Watch reported on the general background on 5 July:

Burmese security forces have responded to sectarian violence in northern Arakan State with mass arrests and unlawful force against the Rohingya Muslim population, Human Rights Watch said today. Local police, the military, and a border security force known as Nasaka have committed numerous abuses in predominantly Muslim townships while combating the violence between the Rohingya and ethnic Arakan, who are predominantly Buddhist, that broke out in early June 2012.

…Burmese security forces have been implicated in killings and other abuses since the sectarian violence in northern Arakan State began, Human Rights Watch said.

…The recent sectarian violence began after an ethnic Arakan woman was allegedly raped and killed by three Muslim men on Ramri island in southern Arakan State in late May, which was followed by the June 3 killing of 10 Muslims by an Arakan mob in Toungop. On June 8, thousands of Rohingya rioted in the town of Maungdaw, destroying Arakan property and causing an unknown number of deaths. Groups of Rohingya subsequently committed killings and other violence elsewhere in the state, burning down Arakan homes and villages. Arakan groups, in some cases with the collusion of local authorities and police, committed violence against Rohingya communities, including killings and beatings, and burning down Muslim homes and villages.

According to the International Business Times, the three men were convicted and sentenced to death in June (one of the three had committed suicide, and so his sentence was handed down posthumously).

Burma Democratic Concern has a somewhat chaotically-organised website here, and it includes an article called “Prominent 8888 [sic] Generation Students Leaders Spoke on Rohingya and the Current Riots in Burma”. It’s difficult to judge the overall tone; on the one hand, one statement calls for calm:

It is the most important to prevent the incitement that would cause riots and bloodshed among citizens. Therefore, I don’t want anyone to name the current events as riots between Muslims and Buddhists… . It is time to protect each other. It is time to protect the minority by the majority. If they not only protect each other and if they not only threaten each other, if they even take lives and destroy the public property, do not save any face.

Another, however, claims that:

The killing and arson have been done a clearly deliberate plan to drive out the native people from their national home after fighting a genocidal war. For that reason, we are advocating your attention and appropriate action from the international community.

The current violence they incited has been very tactful too. It occurred a few weeks before Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s departure for European trip. Their intent is to create an access for their activists in Europe to see Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and put her under a pressure with the help of their European supporters and to ask on Rohingas problem. But there was no success.

The site also draws attention to several photos unrelated to the conflict that have been used on social media as examples of Rohingya suffering (somewhat over-dramatically, the site claims that these have “tricked” the “world’s media”).

Also based in London is the Arakan Rohingya National Organisation, which has its website here. According to an “Appeal” page on the site:

…The Rohingya and Rakhine are indigenous to Arakan and therefore to present day Burma. Before 1785 AD, Arakan existed as an independent nation for many centuries where Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya coexisted peacefully. We will work to re-establish the traditional relationship of peaceful-coexistence that existed in the past between the Rohingya Arakanese and the Rakhine Arakanese peoples, and to promote a shared sense of being Arakanese among all peoples of Arakan.

…We are not part of any struggle outside Burma and are committed as a community within Arakan to rebuild the State. Our vision for the future is a diverse, tolerant, multi-ethnic, multi-religious Arakan society.

In the USA, news that the riots had been triggered by a crime by Muslims was met with pyromaniac glee by Pam Geller, who declared the killing to have been an act of “jihad”; a week before that, she opined that the violence was the inevitable result of “Muslim immigration”. No surprises there, then – and I noted her similar support for militant anti-Muslim monks in Sri Lanka in May.

4 Responses

  1. The Rohingya language is a variety of Bangla (Chittagong dialect). They are immigrants to Burma a couple of centuries ago.

    After Burmese independence the communities elders launched a Jihad to create a seperate state but were crushed.

  2. […] Raheem has a Facebook page, consisting for the most part of jpegs of urdu documents. His group also has a Facebook page, under the spelling “Namos E Risalat Lawyers“, where a booklet in support of Pakistan’s blasphemy law has been posted. Hypocritically, both pages carry material condemning the violence of militant Buddhist monks in Burma (a subject I looked at here). […]

  3. […] Raheem has a Facebook page, consisting for the most part of jpegs of urdu documents. His group also has a Facebook page, under the spelling “Namos E Risalat Lawyers“, where a booklet in support of Pakistan’s blasphemy law has been posted. Hypocritically, both pages carry material condemning the violence of militant Buddhist monks in Burma (a subject I looked at here). […]

  4. […] to the reality of current events (even though her source material is a joke). However, as I noted last July, Geller takes the view that violence in Burma is the inevitable result of “Muslim […]

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