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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Buddhist-Muslim Violence in Burma

For John, BLUFRiven—"split or tear apart violently".  Nothing to see here; just move along.

A colleague of mine wrote in an EMail this morning:

While we tend to think of religious violence as being associated with the Middle East, it is useful to recognize that there are Muslim-Buddhist tensions, not only in Burma, but also an active insurgency underway in southern Thailand. This is in addition to the ongoing insurgency involving Abu Sayyaf (commonly associated with al-Qaeda) in the Philippines.

Southeast Asia, and Asia in general, remains riven by a variety of tensions, religious, territorial, etc. As the recent Malaysia-Philippines fracas shows, these tensions often express themselves in use of force--perhaps not high intensity (at least initially), but with the potential for escalation.

This was in response to an article in The Washington Post on violence in Burma (Myanmar), where Buddhist mobs attacked Muslims in the City of Meikhila.  The article is here—"UN envoy to Myanmar visits ruined city after Buddhist-Muslim violence kills dozens".  Not a major event, but 32 human beings were killed, some burned beyond recognition.

The lede for an article on Muslim-Buddist violence reads:

MEIKHTILA, Myanmar — The top UN envoy to Myanmar on Sunday toured a central city destroyed in the country’s worst explosion of Buddhist-Muslim violence this year, calling on the government to punish those responsible for a tragedy that left dozens of corpses piled in the streets, some of them charred beyond recognition.
We, as the United States, either alone or as part of some international agency or authority, are not going to be able to end this sort of thing, except by the example we provide in the way we conduct our own affairs.  That said, we need to be prepared to stamp out such sectarian violence if it should ever appear on our shores.  At the same time, we need to recognize that such sectarian violence is often not so much about religion as it is about economics or job opportunities or oppression of minorities or the imposition of minority rule on the majority.  Sometimes things are not what they appear to be.

Regards  —  Cliff

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