August 29, 2013

Physicians group blames government for Burma religious strife

(RNS) Buddhists are killing Muslims in Burma with impunity because the government failed to stop the attacks, New York-based Physicians for Human Rights reported amid fresh assaults that left more Muslims homeless.

During the past year, scattered clashes across Buddhist-majority Myanmar, also known as Burma, have left more than 240 people dead, most of them Muslims.

A mob of about 1,000 Buddhists burned more than 35 Muslim homes and a dozen shops on August 24 in Kanbalu in Burma's central Sagaing Division after hearing rumors that a Muslim man sexually assaulted a young Buddhist woman, police told The Associated Press.

Police arrested a male Muslim suspect but refused the mob’s demand to hand him over, sparking its arson attack against his innocent Muslim neighbors, police said. The fires also destroyed a mosque.

“The Burmese government must make a concerted effort to allow an effective investigation into these abuses and hold perpetrators accountable,” the physicians group wrote in its report.

More ominously, the report concluded: “While such massacres are not sweeping the country at present, the brazen nature of these crimes and the widespread culture of impunity in which these massacres occur form deeply troubling preconditions that make such crimes very likely to continue.

“If these conditions go unaddressed, Burma may very well face countrywide violence on a catastrophic level, including potential crimes against humanity and/or genocide.”

The U.N. special rapporteur for human rights, Tomas Quintana, investigated Buddhist attacks against Muslims in another central town — Meiktila, in Mandalay Division — during a 10-day trip that ended on August 21.

Residents accused Quintana of bias against Buddhists involved in the Meiktila clashes, which occurred in March, and the government denied his claims.

Quintana’s experience gave him “an insight into the fear residents felt when being chased down by violent mobs.” Police allegedly stood by as angry mobs beat, stabbed and burned to death 43 people, he said.

Rakhine state’s Muslims describe themselves as citizens who are persecuted because they are minority ethnic Rohingya competing with Buddhists in the impoverished region.

Buddhist militants and the government insist the Rohingya are not citizens but instead are Muslim ethnic Bengalis who have illegally migrated from neighboring Bangladesh during past decades.

When Buddhists rampage and torch Muslims’ homes and businesses, driving them off their land, there are “multiple instances where police and/or the army attacked Rohingyas and other Muslims, or watched as they were attacked, instead of protecting them,” the physicians’ report said.


Alex Schwab/Flickr

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Waikamachi's picture

"No water for him. Let him die"

Links above provide evidence in support of the main article.

Waikamachi's picture

Hktony: "Why the fundamentalism in Ceylon?"

Here is a scholarly article published by the Journal of Buddhist Ethics that may answer your question:

It talks of "Just-war Ideology in Buddhist Sri Lanka" and the
"…overwhelming amount of evidence pointing to the centrality of violence in Sri Lankan Buddhism…"

And another produced by a USA think tank: :

Quote: "...Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist ideology is now fully embedded and institutionalized as state policy. A fundamental tenet of that nationalist ideology is the belief that Sri Lanka is the island of the Sinhalese, who in turn are ennobled to preserve and propagate Buddhism. The ideology privileges Sinhalese Buddhist and justifies subjugation of minorities…"

Hktony: "Yes the ICC a Christian organization from Washington have reported a spike in attacks you claim. They seem a creditable organization with courageous people."

Yes. Their website points out that even in Buddhist countries there are high rates of anti-Christian incidents:

Hktony: "For a Buddhist magazine people seem quick to blame Buddhism."

It is not a question of blame. It is simply a matter of reporting Buddhist violence in a magazine that is about Buddhism.

Hktony: "Buddhists are not perfect but from my experience they are generally kind and not prone to violence. If they are badly behaved something pretty bad may be happening to them."

The violence and murder in Burma committed by Buddhists is absolutely appalling. There is no justification for it:

Hktony's picture

Islam is not (in its heart) a negative force. It is a deep striving for justice and for virtue.... in relation to our Creator. Very nice words sir.

I wish you were right and real dialogue could be built between Islam and other religions. And I am pretty sure bridges have been built and common ground found at times. But in the long run how can Muslims talk about justice and peace when the Koran sees women, there own women as lesser people, children as objects to be married ASAP , white women as sluts, Christian and Jews as second class citizens and others such as Buddhist even lower. Where jihad is an accepted method of living for Allah and sharia law overriding govt laws.

How on earth can bridges be built when almost every Muslim country is riddled with poverty and people's human rights abused. Let me ask you what will you bring to the table?

We are always asked to see things as they really are. But my hope is Islam will change and reform but I am not holding my breath.

Hktony's picture

There seems I be a lot about the terrible Burmese and Muslim victims in this magazine. All well and good but do you report on the deaths of Buddhists in Thailand? Or the problems they have in the Maldives . Of the Christian problems globally where Islam exists ? Or the rapes of Sikh girls in Britain by Muslims .
I could go on but the terror caused by Islam would be endless. Cannot we simply stick to Buddhism and leave politics aside. Or report it without bias!

Waikamachi's picture

Hkony - you are completely wrong. The article is not biased and there should be more articles like this in Tricycle. In fact, the article does not go far enough.
Much of the violence in Burma is being lead by Buddhist Monks. This is something that we should all know about.
It may come as news to you, but Christians in Sri Lanka are also being targeted by Buddhist Monks.
Do some research, do some reading and stop trying to say that articles about Buddhist violence are biased. They are not.

Hktony's picture

Yes the ICC a Christian organization from Washington have reported a spike in attacks you claim. They seem a creditable organization with courageous people.
But given that this religious magazine keeps discussing politics It always appears that a story is half told or not told at all. Why the fundamentalism in Ceylon? Why so little reporting from southern Thailand on the deaths of Buddhists at the hands of Muslims. The pressing down of Buddhism in Malaysia . The claims by the D L that Islam is peaceful (13 July 2008) when at its core is Jihad and sharia law.
At the core I believe is mindset shaped by political correctness which protects Islam from criticism. A sort of wooly lovey thinking where we defend the one religion whose aim is to take over the world. Yes I wrote that correctly.

Buddhists are not perfect but from my experience they are generally kind and not prone to violence. If they are badly behaved something pretty bad may be happening to them. On a trip to India years ago a prominent Buddhist teacher I looked after told me that his small centre there was constantly on the defense from a take over by Hindus as well as issues between Hindus and Muslims . These pressures are rarely reported but result in bad blood. Living in asai and having visited them for years Buddhists tread carefully in other asian countries too. When I hear of Buddhists behaving badly my reaction is to ask what caused peaceful people to react this way if in fact the story is accurate in the first place. For a Buddhist magazine people seem quick to blame Buddhism.

iamourhaj's picture

I think it is good to report on all violence against anyone and anything. This is the challenge we face as people who wish to promote Islam/conform to Dharma and do not close our eyes to the suffering around us in this world.

I think it takes us away from the path of peacemaking when we use labels and repeat "knowledge" that we have absorbed through media or from literal minded interpretations. As a Muslim I do not wish to wish away the violence and imperfections in my community. However I do hope for honest dialogue willing to examine all sides and willing to be skeptical of all historical memory and political claims.

Freedom can start with non-reactionary questioning. There are many with sincere intentions in all our communities who perhaps believe too much of what they are told. They may be willing to engage in more positive ways, without tribalism or nationalism.

Islam is not (in its heart) a negative force. It is a deep striving for justice and for virtue.... in relation to our Creator.

So let's not try to deflect responsibility from any action, but patiently stay in front of the quite serious issue in Burma and (separately) in Thailand and Bangladesh. No one should be oppressed. This is NOT an attitude of blame.

If readers are interested in building Buddhist-Muslim dialogue on this basis I would be interested in hearing from you.

Hktony's picture

Dear iamourhaj you are right it is good to report violence against anyone and anything.
Here are some quick facts; nearly 22000 muslim terrorists attacks sinec 9/11- many against their own people.
Toady and yesterday;-1 At least thirty Shia worshippers are torn to shreds by a suicide bomber at the entrance of their mosque. 2. A Fedayeen suicide car bombing leaves eleven dead. 3. Ten people at an outdoor market are sent to Allah by al-Qaeda bombers.4. Three children are among seven civilians blown to bits by the Taliban.5. (in Thailand)
Two people are killed when Muslim 'rebels' set off a bomb at a school. 6. In Pakistan- Religious extremists behead three members of a peace committee.
I could go on to Buddhist terrorists attacks but having problems finding any. the issue is this liberal magazine is not comparing apples with apples. You cannot seriously compare budhist and muslims. The issue is that Islam has a huge problem globally and here at this magazine it would appear that buddhists are the terrorists. Yes there are isues with buddhism in ceylon in burma but why did they arise. What was the common factor.
Everywhere the religion of peace goes violence follows. Yet liberals are blinded by political correctness.

In 2007 Islam and Judaism's holiest holidays overlapped for 10 days.
Muslims racked up 397 dead bodies in 94 terror attacks across 10
countries during this time... while Jews worked on their 159th Nobel Prize.(The religion of Peace)

I give up with this site.

DB's picture

I Definitely wish you all the best in helping to find security for Burma's Muslim minority Muslim population.

Hktony's picture

Good luck!