Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Islamophobia and the Fear of 'the Other' in Myanmar

Al Jazeera
Francis Wade
June 11, 2012

 Chiang Mai, Thailand - The mob that set upon and killed a group of Muslims riding a bus through western Myanmar on June 3 displayed a depravity normally the hallmark of the country's military. News reports that emerged in the wake of the incident, allegedly in response to the gang rape and murder of a Buddhist girl by three Muslim men days before, described the ten victims of a frenzied beating being urinated upon before the bus was set ablaze.

Comments that circulated the internet in the wake of the massacre were almost as shocking. "Killing Kalars is good!" one person said, using the pejorative slur that has become a popular and casual way of referring to Muslims of South Asian decent (one that state media also regularly employs). It mattered little that the men accused of the rape had already been arrested.

The attack was a rare incident; the reactions suggest however that heightened levels of resentment towards the presence of Muslims in Myanmar society exist on a much wider scale. This animosity is shared by senior figures in the government - current representative to the UN, Ye Myint Aung, once described the Rohingya, a Muslim minority in Arakan state who are singled out for particularly savage treatment, as "ugly as ogres", while since 1982 the government has denied them citizenship, claiming they are "illegal Bengali immigrants". Persecution of the group has been so protracted and debased that Medicins San Frontieres describes them as being among the world minority groups "most in danger of extinction".

While Myanmar's myriad ethnic groups have all suffered egregious treatment at the hands of the military government, which has sought to bring the country "under one flag", the fear of Muslims is a particular one. On the website of The Voice journal, which issued an apology after being bombarded with threats following its coverage of the massacre, one visitor wrote: "We should either kill all the Kalars in Burma or banish them otherwise Buddhism will cease to exist".

Read the rest here.

Comment:  This is an extremely sad situation that has not crossed the radar of too many folks on my side of the rainbow delusion.  The first time I read anything about the onslaught against Muslims in Burma it was in a recent article that Kweli sent on to me.

So why you think Tom and Killary ain't said a damn thing about this situation or is more of the same genocidal indifference?

Undoubtedly the most important question is what is Aung San Suu Kyi's position on the Rohingya situation? 

As of this writing she has been cautiously avoiding becoming embroiled.  But is this a realistic position?

I don't think so and look to her for a more principled confrontation.

See this article for more discussion:  "The Rohingya: Myanmar's Outcasts" by Professor Akbar Ahmed (January 30, 2012).


No comments: