Enote 99 – Continued ViolenceNovember 12, 2013
The appalling curse of the people of Burma, continues to hold them in its ugly grip. In last Sunday's NY Times we read that hatred in the form of three men brandishing machetes and knives killed a 94 year old woman. Why? Apparently because she was a Muslim. Moreover this slaughter took place in Thaybu Chaing, a community of Buddhists and Muslims who had lived together in peace for generations. Adding to the irony is the fact that this woman, originally a Buddhist, converted to Islam, the religion of her husband, and two of her daughters converted back to Buddhism, while the third remains a Muslim. This is a tragic setback in a country trying to find a route to peace and prosperity for its people. Surprisingly some Buddhist monks have been supportive, if not instrumental in the rise of Buddhist violence against Muslims. Ashin Wirathu a respected Buddhist abbot is a spiritual leader of a group called 969 which is responsible for fermenting anti-Muslim violence. Although he himself deplores violence, he does believe that it would be better for Burma to be rid of Muslims. The Irrawaddy magazine has a good article about him here. Swe Win, a Yangoon based journalist, says that, "the venerated Buddhist order, the Sangha, has become largely corrupt." Evidently many Burmese have joined the order, not for spiritual reasons, but simply as a way to escape the devestating oppression, poverty and hunger imposed by the military regime.
Also just today we read monks in Yangon are protesting an impending visit by the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation), on the basis that the OIC will "internationalize the issue of religious violence" in Burma. Pamaukkha, a monk says,"They will say [a] majority of Buddhists are abusing a minority group of Muslims". You can read the full story here.
Elsewhere the fighting still continues between the army and the rebels in northern Kachin state. The Kachin first signed a cease-fire in 1994, and that lasted right up until June 2011, just four months after Burma's election. They signed another last month, but according to an article from Radio Free Asia, it has been broken by fighting 21 times since then. The conflict has created an estimated 100,000 refugees in the last two and one half years.
We and our refugee friends continue to hope that peace will come to this tortured land, but the prospects look dim for any real progress soon.
In this email I have given you a very short summary of recent events in Burma as it struggles to find a way to peace and reconciliation between its many ethnic peoples. In doing so I have created a number of links to articles for further reading. I hope you find this enote interesting and informative. You are always invited to send an email to me at email@example.com with questions, comments, or suggestions.
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