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Burma: what, those nice Buddhists?

September 30, 2012

Violence between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s Rakhine region erupted in June after the alleged rape and murder of a Buddhist girl by Muslim men. The scale of violence has led to scores of deaths and the mass displacement of tens of thousands of people. After a state of emergency was declared in the province, the entry of Burma’s security forces lent another dimension to this conflict. Amnesty International said in early August that Rakhine Buddhists, together with security forces, purposefully meted out devastating violence against the Muslim minority.

This violence is only the latest chapter in a long history of state-sponsored repression against the Rohingya. It began when Burma began its project of “Burmanisation” in the 1950s, with its lofty aims for racial purity and the nationalisation of resources following the end of British rule. The minority was targeted in pogroms in 1978, stripped of their citizenship in 1982 and became the perfect foil for rampant human rights abuse, including slave labour and torture, that led to a second exodus into Bangladesh in 1991-1992.

guardian.co.uk

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