mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Sectarian Clashes Kill 4 Before Presidential Visit in Burma


Buddhist mobs killed 4 Muslims, including a 94-year-old woman, and torched more than 100 homes this past week in the restive Burmese province of Rakhine. The Guardian reports:

The latest clashes began in Thandwe on Saturday after a Buddhist taxi driver told police he had been verbally abused by a Muslim small business owner while trying to park in front of his shop, according to a state government spokesman. Police took the Muslim man in for questioning. But when he was later released, people became angry and started throwing stones at his home.

The state’s powerful military junta has always persecuted various ethnic and religious minorities in Burma, and after the democratization process began last year they began a re-energized drive for autonomy and civil rights. This has led to bitter ethnic strife in various regions within the country, especially the western Rakhine region where the violence took place.

The Rohingya Muslims who reside here are considered outcasts by their own government, despite possessing Burmese passports, and have been particularly vulnerable to attacks from the predominantly Buddhist population.

Earlier this year we said that managing the transition from repression to equality for minorities would be the big test for Burma’s leaders. With the Rohingya population in particular, they seem to be failing.

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

Features Icon
show comments
© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service