Escalating anti-Muslim violence in Burma is leading to the disappearance of hundreds of people. Reuters reports:
The Muslims of Sit Kwin were always a small group who numbered no more than 100 of the village’s 2,000 people. But as sectarian violence led by Buddhist mobs spreads across central Burma, they and many other Muslims are disappearing.Their homes, shops and mosques destroyed, some end up in refugee camps or hide in the homes of friends or relatives. Dozens have been killed.
Burma isn’t the only place Buddhist-Muslim tensions are gathering steam. On Thursday, Buddhist monks led an assault on a Muslim-owned store in Sri Lanka. The BBC reports that five or six people were injured, and that the police stood by and watched, only intervening when the rioting starting spreading. And as the BBC notes, this attack is part of a larger Buddhist “campaign against the lifestyles of Muslims.”This new conflict could create troubles for India, which has built close relations with Sri Lanka over the years. The Tamils in the India’s south are already upset about the way the Buddhist majority treated the Tamil minority during and at the end of the long Sri Lankan civil war. Adding the anti-Muslim violence to this already tense situation raises the pressure on India and makes it harder for India to do nothing without potentially angering many of its citizens.But Sri Lanka has moved closer to China in recent years, and India’s goverment doesn’t want the two countries to get any cozier. India now needs to find a way to balance the domestic desire to see something done with the risk of alienating its neighbor and pushing it further into China’s arms.We’ll be watching to see how India handles this situation. In the meantime, we can only wonder at the tragic sectarian violence that still defaces our world. We’d like to think this is all part of the past, but the way things are going, sectarian conflict if anything seems to be both spreading and intensifying in the 21st century.