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Burma Burns as Sword-Wielding Buddhists Rampage Again


A town in northwest Burma was lit aflame by rampaging Burmese on Sunday. The rioters carried swords and sticks and attacked Muslim homes and businesses; dozens of buildings were burned to the ground but no one was injured. Rumors that a Muslim man had assaulted a young Buddhist woman sparked the violence. According to some reports, police were nearby but did very little to stop the rioters.

The riot is a reminder that Burma’s society is dangerously divided. During other similar riots, the police stood by while the ethnic Burmese attacked Muslims, and the state is accused of unfairly blaming Muslims for the violence. Burmese Muslims, even those who have lived in Burma for years, have been forced into refugee camps or have fled the country, often in dangerously rickety boats.

The violence on Sunday was also a reminder that Burma’s “opening” and “reforms” have not yet created a free society. Even Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, has said very little about the violence against Muslims. After it began to emerge from years of military dictatorship, Burma was praised by human rights activists in the West. Clearly that early enthusiasm was misplaced, as social divides have become increasingly violent, and the new “democratic” government of Burma has allowed rioters to burn and slaughter their way through Muslim neighborhoods.

[Ashin Wirathu, who once called himself the “Burmese Bin Laden” and who has urged Burmese to attack Muslims; photo courtesy of Getty Images]

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  • USNK2

    If Mr. Mead or one of his interns reads his commenters, please try to understand that Burma is not a religious conflict.
    The Rohyinga are the muslims left behind the messy dissolution of Britain’s “India”.
    The Burmese think they are Bengali migrants who belong in Bangladesh.
    And, fwiw, Obama made his historic state visit to Burma while the persecution of the Rohyinga was already in progress. He said nothing, so maybe the Burmese think that makes it ok.
    Too much drama in Mr. Mead’s blogpost titles.

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