Nearly 60 people have been killed in the latest series of clashes between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in western Burma. The violence broke out over the weekend and has spread to several towns, including the commercially important Kyaukpyu. How many homes and other buildings have been destroyed is unclear, but Reuters reports that the number is in the hundreds. Security forces are in Rakhine, trying to stop the unrest and imposing curfews in some towns. Read More
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American Buddhist and Muslim leaders have issued a joint statement condemning recent violence between the two religious communities in Myanmar. The letter, written by William Aiken of Soka Gakkai International and signed by several other representatives of Buddhist and Muslim groups, condemns the recent sectarian clashes between the Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in western Burma, which have killed more than 80 people and displaced thousands more since June. Read More »
By Danny Fisher
Last week, I had the great honor and pleasure of attending Amnesty International’s town hall event with Burma’s Nobel Peace laureate and engaged Buddhist icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Held at the Newseum in Washington, DC, and moderated by MSNBC’s Alex Wagner, the event came only a day after “Daw Suu” met with President Barack Obama and received the US Congress’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal.
Suu Kyi is the leader of Burma’s National League for Democracy and currently sits in the lower house of the country’s parliament. Her election came after she had spent 15 of the 21 years between 1989 and 2010 under house arrest. During that time, she became the symbol for Burma’s struggle for democracy and freedom from the repressive ruling junta. In addition, she became the world’s most recognized prisoner of conscience during that time — thanks not only to her Nobel Prize and the international media, but also to the efforts of Amnesty International. The town hall, then, celebrated a special relationship between guest and host. Read More »
Writing in Foreign Policy, William McGowan reflects this week on what he terms “Burma’s Buddhist chauvinism.” In discussing the plight of the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority in the Rakhine state, McGowan sees “a nationalistic and at times hateful side” of Buddhism there. You can read the entire piece here.
In addition, the Bangkok Post‘s Assistant Editor, Sanitsuda Ekachai, offers an even more strongly worded editorial, “This is Racism, Not Buddhism.” The opinion focuses on the disparity between Buddhist teachings and Burmese monks’ leadership in anti-Rohingya demonstrations. Read More »
Voice of America reports today that two staff members with the United Nations and one United Nations partner have been sentenced to prison terms in Burma for their alleged involvement in the violence between Muslims and Buddhists in the Rakhine state. According to CNN, one is from the UN refugee agency, one is from the UN food program, and one is from a nongovernmental organization that works with the refugee agency.
Aye Win, a UN spokesperson in Burma, said the sentences were handed down on Friday, although the UN was never notified of the trial and the accused were denied legal counsel. Read More »
In honor of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a group of Buddhists has issued this open letter expressing their growing concerns about Islamophobia from governments and within the Buddhist community.
Organized by Joshua Eaton and Buddhadharma News reporter Danny Fisher, the letter points to examples of Muslims being targeted for hate crimes, police profiling, and basic human rights abuses — including recent attempts by Buddhist monks in Burma to block humanitarian aid from reaching persecuted Rohingya Muslims — and calls for them to stop. Read More »
The Independent reports that Buddhist monks in Burma are urging people not to associate with Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine state in the west of the country, and are trying to block humanitarian aid from reaching the Rohingya community. The news comes after weeks of clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in Rakhine that have left at least 80 people dead and displaced tens of thousands. Read More »
We reported on the violence and unrest in Burma’s Rakhine state about a week and a half ago—clashes between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims began after a Buddhist woman was reportedly raped and murdered by three Muslims. At that time, there were about 17 reported deaths, but that number has now risen to around 50.
A state of emergency was declared in the northwestern Burmese state of Rakhine on Sunday after violence between Buddhists and Muslims left at least 17 dead. The clashes are between Rohingya Muslims, who are denied citizenship in Burma, and Rakhine Buddhists, the state’s largest minority group. According to Voice of America, “The riots began after 10 ethnic-Rohingya Muslims were mobbed and murdered by ethnic Rakhines, in retaliation for the gang-rape of a Rakhine girl. ” Read More »