What is really happening to Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya? Why is it significant?

A slow burning genocide of 36-years with periodic spikes of violence and killings followed by waves of exoduses of fleeing Refugees to nearby Bangladesh, as well as Thailand, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Australia and other Western countries.

How is it that Buddhist monks seem to be involved? I thought they were into peace and compassion?

While Buddhism as a philosophical system is about universal loving kindness, accepting impermanence through a non-essentializable or solid ego, some of Myanmar’s Buddhism and Buddhist monks are contaminated with the country’s racist nationalism. Monks’ involvement in anti-Muslim deeds and words is more to do with racism and nationalism than with Buddhism as a spiritual philosophy. Even in Theravada Buddhism, no true monks/nuns or laymen/women can claim to be both nationalist or patriotic as well as defenders of a path that seeks liberation from suffering.

So this is Buddhists against Muslims?

No, absolutely not.

Again as explained above, it is in fact Myanmar nationalists acting irrationally towards the manufactured enemy of Buddhist faith and Myanmar race, Muslims of all ethnic backgrounds. Because Rohingya are concentrated in the pockets in Northern Rakhine State, unlike other Muslim communities that are scattered across the country, Rohingya Muslims have become the easiest target for organized attacks and state-sponsored persecution.

Isn't this just a symptom of the reforms that the government is being praised for?

What solid evidence is there that the military and /or government are involved?

Virtually all human rights reports on the situation of Rohingya, including reports of the UN Human Rights Rapporteurs on Myanmar have noted both direct and indirect involvement of Myanmar’s security forces, which are centrally – not locally from Rakhine state administration based in Sittwe - commanded from the Ministry of Defence in the violence towards Rohingya. Rohingya affairs are under the direct command of the military government, now quasi-civilian government of Thein Sein, at the highest level.

If it was actually genocide then wouldn’t there be scenes like in Rwanda or Cambodia’s Killing Fields?

Popular perception of a genocide is about dramatic spikes of mass killings as in Cambodia of Khmer Rouge days (1975-79) or 1994 Rwanda. But a genocide is not simply about media-genic scenes of mass killings.

Wouldn’t the United Nations or US have done something if this was really important?

Decades of Rohingya persecution and destruction by Myanmar, a UN member state, are well-documented and well-known to all 5 permanent members of the Security Council. The OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) and its member states including Malaysia and Indonesia have repeatedly expressed grave concerns about the plight of Rohingya. But beyond rhetoric there has not been a concerted effort or a political will to bring an end to the slow burning genocide of Myanmar’s Rohingya.

And what about Aung San Suu Kyi and other Myanmar people? What are they doing about this?

Aung San Suu Kyi has not only maintained a willful silence over the persecution of Rohingya but she has categorically denied that the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Rohingya is taking place. Extremist Rakhine leaders who are her fellow parliamentarians are on the record stating that they have told her never to utter the word ‘Rohingya’, or lose any type of popular votes from 3 million Rakhine. In addition, she herself has proven to be an anti-Muslim Myanmar racist nationalist, not unlike the majority of the Burmese public.