Friday’s release of 91 children and young people by the Myanmar military is a welcome step, but child recruitment remains an ongoing and persistent problem.
A synagogue in central Yangon testifies to the resilience of the city’s Jewish community despite the many setbacks of the past.
A Burmese government official pushes back against a UN statement in which its special rapporteur to Burma warned that the country risks backtracking on reforms.
To always be kept updated at this page. This is not necessarily a news page, just one of relevant commentary and historical context since not a lot of people know much. Main updates will go here. Individual post updates on my blog will go under tags for /burma and /myanmar.
Through both tags and under the “Read More” link, there is a content warning for violence, torture, rape, human trafficking (including children as child soldiers), drug trafficking, and genocide.
The name: is under a lot of dispute socially, the official name is “The Republic of the Union of Myanmar” for some reason, (Myanmar Naigoun). Burma is the name that was under British colonial rule and has people and holds that connection; in contrast Myanmar was a name given by a dictatorship that has and continues to wage war upon the indigenous ethnic populations. There are some people who reject “Burma” because it is off “Bamar” (the majority ethnic group), and, on the other side, people who reject “Myanmar” because it a name given by said group’s dictatorship government.
The capital city is Naw Pyi Taw and has been for a few years, changed from the older capital of Yangon (or Rangoon). The maps above reflect this, and specifically show:
- the capital and major cities in the country, as well as neighbouring countries
- a breakdown of the country into the states and divisions
- a map of some of the ethnic groups— based especially on indigenous placement and current demographical positions
- also an ethnic map, and specifically on the very main ethnic groups who are fighting for rights.
With the ongoing violent attacks against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and the silent treatment given to the massacres by the world, it is important to understand that Buddhist-endorsed violence is nothing new. The current political and ethnic chaos can be understood as resentment taking its toll on a community. From the article: “The constant fear and violence took a toll on them. Monks talked about the guns they had bought and now kept at their bedsides. Others spoke heatedly about the violent militant attacks on Buddhist civilians and monasteries. Although the cause of the violence is multilayered—owing much to corruption, drug trade, and corporatization—many monks also felt Islam was to blame. In their minds, the conflict was anchored to the larger discussion of religious violence: Muslims against Buddhists. […] To these monks, peacemaking requires militancy.”
In a recent article by The Independent: Buddhist monks have been found to block aid to Rohingya Muslims. ”In a move that has shocked many observers, some monks’ organisations have issued pamphlets telling people not to associate with the Rohingya community, and have blocked humanitarian assistance from reaching them. One leaflet described the Rohingya as “cruel by nature” and claimed it had “plans to exterminate” other ethnic groups. […] Aung San Suu Kyi has also been criticised for failing to speak out. Amal de Chickera of the London-based Equal Rights Trust, said: “You have these moral figures, whose voices do matter. It’s extremely disappointing and in the end it can be very damaging.”
The question is if Aung San Suu Kyi herself actually supports the Rohingya. The assumption was, since she opposed the regime, that she’d oppose the oppression of the Rohingya under them. But the only thing Suu Kyi’s said on them is that she “didn’t know” if the Rohingya are Burmese and little else, which doesn’t seem very promising.
Rohingya Muslims who fled Burma to Bangladesh to escape religious violence, sit in a boat after being intercepted crossing the Naf River by Bangladeshi border authorities in Taknaf, Bangladesh. Pic: AP.
They have been called ogres and animals, terrorists and much worse — when their existence is even acknowledged. Asia’s more than 1 million ethnic Rohingya Muslims are considered by rights groups to be among the most persecuted people on earth. Most live in a bizarre, 21st-century purgatory without passports, unable to travel freely or call any place home. Continue reading.
The anti-Rohingya issue isn’t really just a Buddhist vs. Muslim one
It’s a Burmese government/ethnic minorities issues. There’s two ‘major’ groups of Muslims in Burma- one’s the Rohingya, in the north, the other’s in the Ayawaraddy region (which is where I grew up).
And up in Arkan, there’s conflicts with other ethnic minorities too, who’re Buddhist and Christian and other religions but the issue isn’t their religion, it’s that the government doesn’t recognize them as Burmese and calls them illegal which is silly because they’ve been there a long, long time.
What’s interesting about the Rohingya in particular among all the ethnic groups is that yes, there certainly is a history of prejudice against Muslims, but really Islamophobia is pretty much everywhere. And since the Burmese government don’t recognize the Rohingya as Burmese- and ethnic minorities as well- they see the Rohingya as ‘taking over’ their land. Also silly. Again, the people have been living there. Not to mention that Aung San (Suu Kyi’s father) promised them a home, and they just never got what they were promised when Ne Win came to power and Ne Win really did hate the minorities. Which is where amyo barthar thartana comes in, and the movement against the Rohingya (and other ethnic minorities) became a matter of protecting amyo barthar thartana (race/nation). Nationalism, by the way, is a curse.
The history’s better explained here, and I strongly suggest you read it. I know it’s long. It’s totally worth it.
But the issue is a matter of land and nationality that got mixed in with religion. And it got mixed in with religion only because Burmese tend to only consider Buddhists as Burmese. But making the issue a “Buddhists hate Muslims” one is really inaccurate.
Time and again, it’s the same thing in Burma. Religious/Ethnic uprisings occur because one supremacist group said the other minority group raped their woman. Some time later "claims were later fabricated".
Two things: 1) I am wary of “rape claims were fabricated” reports. Women since forever have not been believed when it comes to the violence enacted against them. But then again, 2) isn’t it interesting how uprisings seem cued on protecting women? Patriarchy works in interesting ways. Violence in a patriarchal world seems justifiable only when it is protecting the women (who seems to just fit in within the box set by patriarchy) and also when patriarchy has to beat the women back into her pre-assigned box.