News / Asia

    After Rhakine Violence, Burma's Muslims, Buddhists Ponder Segregation

    After Rakhine Violence, Burma's Muslims, Buddhists Ponder Segregationi
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    November 21, 2012 4:57 PM
    Burma's communal fighting in western Rakhine state this year has led many Buddhists and Muslims to question whether they can live together again as neighbors. President Obama drew attention to the issue during his historic visit to Burma. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state.
    Daniel Schearf
    Burma's communal fighting in western Rakhine state this year has led many Buddhists and Muslims to question whether they can live together again as neighbors.  President Barack Obama drew attention to the issue during his historic visit to Burma. 

    The president pledged support for Burma's political opening during his speech at Rangoon University, but he also underscored the risk of ethnic and religious tensions.

    "No process of reform will succeed without national reconciliation," Obama noted.

    Communal violence between Buddhists and Muslims in western Rakhine state killed at least 170 people and displaced more than 100,000, crowding temporary relief camps.

    • A woman stands in front of a burnt Muslim neighborhoud, Kyauk Phyu, Rakhine State, Burma, November, 2012. (D. Schearf/VOA)
    • A woman balances scavenged wood in a burnt Muslim neighborhood, Kyauk Phyu, Rakhine State, Burma, November, 2012. (D. Schearf/VOA)
    • Stray dogs pick through a burnt Muslim neighborhood in Kyauk Phyu, Rakhine State, Burma, November, 2012. (D. Schearf/VOA)
    • Trucks of soldiers on Sittwe's busy main road, Rakhine State, Burma, November, 2012. (D. Schearf/VOA)
    • A Rangoon police officer guards a Muslim camp outside Kyauk Phyu, Rakhine State, Burma, November, 2012. (D. Schearf/VOA)
    • Baw Du Pha Muslim Camp, outside Sittwe, Rakhine State, Burma, November, 2012. (D. Schearf/VOA)
    • A boy with traditional sunblock on his face, Thet Kae Pyin Camp, outside Sittwe, Rakhine State, Burma, November, 2012. (D. Schearf/VOA)
    • A Muslim woman dries squid in a camp, outside Sittwe, Rakhine State, Burma, November, 2012. (D. Schearf/VOA)
    • Water is stored in makeshift pools at a Muslim camp outside Kyauk Phyu, Rakhine State, Burma, November, 2012. (D. Schearf/VOA)
    • Muslims distribute food aid at Thet Kae Pyin Camp, outside Sittwe, Rakhine State, Burma, November, 2012. (D. Schearf/VOA)
    • Muslim men look through the window of a food aid tent at Thet Kae Pyin Camp, outside Sittwe, Rakhine state, Burma, November, 2012. (D. Schearf/VOA)
    • Men pray at a mosque, Rakhine State, Burma, November, 2012. (D. Schearf/VOA)

    The vast majority are Rohingya, a stateless Muslim minority considered one of the world's most persecuted people.

    Manager of Thet Kae Pying relief camp, Shwe Hla, says they do not want to stay here, but are not sure if they can be neighbors again with Rakhine Buddhists.

    Entire neighborhoods were burned down in revenge attacks, including numerous places of worship.

    They are now guarded by military and police.

    Each side is blaming the other for the violence that has left the communities angry and living in different relief camps.

    Oo Kyaw Thein, the manager of Ywagi North relief camp said Rakhine also wish to return home. but many are too afraid.

    "We Rakhine people were bullied by them several times.  This is the end of our relationship," Oo Kyaw Thein said. "It is better if the two communities stay apart from each other."

    Rakhine state spokesman Win Myaing hopes a permanent segregation will not be necessary.

    "It depends on local authorities.  We need to wait and see," Win Myaing said. "As I said before, in the past there were small incidents of violence between two communities, but after one or two week or a month they could live together again.  But, the current incident is quite different from the previous ones.  Therefore, we need to wait and see."

    Authorities deny accusations that local security forces sided with Rakhine Buddhists in the fighting.

    For now, police sent from Rangoon have taken control of security in Sittwe while thousands of soldiers maintain a fragile peace throughout Rakhine state.

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Dayal Chakma from: CHT, Bangladesh
    November 22, 2012 11:45 PM
    In 1666 Mughals captured Chittagong from Rakhines and brought the Bengalis to Chittagong. Before the Mughal conquest, inhabitants of Chittagong were Rakhines. Francis Buchanan visited Chittagong in 1799 and wrote, inhabitants of south of the Chittaong city were Rakhines. During the Mughal and British rule, the Bengalis drove out the Rakhines from Chittagong. British brought the Bengalis to Rakhine after the first Anglo Burmese war.

    So called Rohingyas are descendents of the Bengali immigrants. After the British left the Bengali immigrants are refusing to go home.

    Rakhine people have no option but to drive them out by force. I admire and salute their courage.
    In Response

    by: Tina from: UK
    November 26, 2012 8:09 AM
    You have internet access, why don't you google it. You will learn something rather than writing rubbish.

    Below is some history lesson for you!

    The Kingdom of Mrauk-U was the kingdom that ruled Arakan from 1429 to 1785.[1]

    King Narameikhla (1404-1434), or Min Saw Mon, ruler of the Kingdom of Mrauk U in the early 15th century, after 24 years of exile in Bengal, regained control of the Arakanese throne in 1430 with military assistance from the Sultanate of Bengal. The Bengalis who came with him formed their own settlements in the region.[2] Narameikhla ceded some territory to the Sultan of Bengal and recognized his sovoreignity over the areas. In recognition of his kingdom's vassal status, the kings of Arakan received Islamic titles, despite being Buddhists, and legalized the use of Islamic coins from Bengal within the kingdom. Narameikhla minted his own coins with Burmese characters on one side and Persian characters on the other. Arakan remained subordinate to Bengal up until 1531.[2]

    Even after gaining independence from the Sultans of Bengal, the Arakanese kings continued the custom of maintaining Muslim titles.[3] The kings compared themselves to Sultans and fashioned themselves after Mughal rulers, despite remaining Buddhist. They also continued to employ Muslims in prestigious positions within the royal administration.[4] From 1531-1629, Portuguese pirates operated from havens along the coast of the kingdom and brought slaves in from Bengal to the kingdom. The Bengali Muslim population thus increased in the 17th century, as they were employed in a variety of workforces in Arakan. Some of them worked as Arabic, Bengali, and Persian scribes in the Arakanese courts, which, despite remaining mostly Buddhist, adopted Islamic fashions from the neighbouring Sultanate of Bengal.

    by: Lstmohican from: USA
    November 21, 2012 3:07 PM
    Since only recently have we seen the publication of the news from Myanmar and Rakhine state, a brief geopolitical background of the region appears to be in order:

    1) Rakhine state is part of Myanmar. Rakhine are about 3 million (270/ sq. mi.) indigenous minority people in Myanmar. The Rakhine people trace their societal history back to as far as 3325 B.C.E. and have given a lineal succession of 227 native monarchs and princes down to the last ruler in 1784. At their height the Kingdom extended to Dhaka, the current capital of Bangladesh.

    2) The neighboring country to the west is Bangladesh (about the size of Wisconsin) with a population of over 160 million ( 1,800 / sq. mi) got its independence from Pakistan in 1971. During the independence war with Pakistan, about 10 million left Bangladesh to neighboring countries and many returned back after the war.

    3) Due to overpopulation and scarcity of resources in Bangladesh, people have been migration to neighboring countries with the majority going towards Rakhine state, as it's population is sparse.

    4) About 90% of the population in Bangladesh are Muslims and well armed Islamic Terrorist organizations are abound particularly in the country side. Besides the rape and murder incident in the Rakhine state, the Islamic Terrorists are so brazen that as recently as last week, three soldiers from Myanmar were abducted in broad daylight by the Islamic Terrorists from Bangladesh and it was reported that a body one of the soldiers was found mutilated. Islamic terrorists from Bangladesh and Myanmar are linked with a common goal with worldwide Islamic terrorist organizations including Taliban in Afghanistan.

    Based on the above background, it appears that the 3 million indigenous Rakhine people are trying to defend themselves from + 200 million worldwide Islamist Terrorists.

    In Response

    by: Tina from: UK
    November 26, 2012 8:03 AM
    Burmese government didn't report anything about a Burmese soldier being killed or kidnap by Muslims. There is no ties to Muslims in Rakhine state to Muslims in other countries let alone any terrorists. You won't get simpathy from anyone by telling lies. Since you have internet access, google for any info you need, including origin of Rakhine people.

    Below is some history for you to learn!

    The Kingdom of Mrauk-U was the kingdom that ruled Arakan from 1429 to 1785.[1]

    King Narameikhla (1404-1434), or Min Saw Mon, ruler of the Kingdom of Mrauk U in the early 15th century, after 24 years of exile in Bengal, regained control of the Arakanese throne in 1430 with military assistance from the Sultanate of Bengal. The Bengalis who came with him formed their own settlements in the region.[2] Narameikhla ceded some territory to the Sultan of Bengal and recognized his sovoreignity over the areas. In recognition of his kingdom's vassal status, the kings of Arakan received Islamic titles, despite being Buddhists, and legalized the use of Islamic coins from Bengal within the kingdom. Narameikhla minted his own coins with Burmese characters on one side and Persian characters on the other. Arakan remained subordinate to Bengal up until 1531.[2]

    Even after gaining independence from the Sultans of Bengal, the Arakanese kings continued the custom of maintaining Muslim titles.[3] The kings compared themselves to Sultans and fashioned themselves after Mughal rulers, despite remaining Buddhist. They also continued to employ Muslims in prestigious positions within the royal administration.[4] From 1531-1629, Portuguese pirates operated from havens along the coast of the kingdom and brought slaves in from Bengal to the kingdom. The Bengali Muslim population thus increased in the 17th century, as they were employed in a variety of workforces in Arakan. Some of them worked as Arabic, Bengali, and Persian scribes in the Arakanese courts, which, despite remaining mostly Buddhist, adopted Islamic fashions from the neighbouring Sultanate of Bengal.
    In Response

    by: Tina from: UK
    November 26, 2012 7:20 AM
    The Kingdom of Mrauk-U was the kingdom that ruled Arakan from 1429 to 1785.[1]

    King Narameikhla (1404-1434), or Min Saw Mon, ruler of the Kingdom of Mrauk U in the early 15th century, after 24 years of exile in Bengal, regained control of the Arakanese throne in 1430 with military assistance from the Sultanate of Bengal. The Bengalis who came with him formed their own settlements in the region.[2] Narameikhla ceded some territory to the Sultan of Bengal and recognized his sovoreignity over the areas. In recognition of his kingdom's vassal status, the kings of Arakan received Islamic titles, despite being Buddhists, and legalized the use of Islamic coins from Bengal within the kingdom. Narameikhla minted his own coins with Burmese characters on one side and Persian characters on the other. Arakan remained subordinate to Bengal up until 1531.[2]

    Even after gaining independence from the Sultans of Bengal, the Arakanese kings continued the custom of maintaining Muslim titles.[3] The kings compared themselves to Sultans and fashioned themselves after Mughal rulers, despite remaining Buddhist. They also continued to employ Muslims in prestigious positions within the royal administration.[4] From 1531-1629, Portuguese pirates operated from havens along the coast of the kingdom and brought slaves in from Bengal to the kingdom. The Bengali Muslim population thus increased in the 17th century, as they were employed in a variety of workforces in Arakan. Some of them worked as Arabic, Bengali, and Persian scribes in the Arakanese courts, which, despite remaining mostly Buddhist, adopted Islamic fashions from the neighbouring Sultanate of Bengal.
    In Response

    by: OngZoMin from: USA
    November 22, 2012 12:37 AM
    1948: Burma became an independent country with Arakan as one of its Divisions. all Rohingya Muslims also became Burmese citizens according to the Constitution of the Union of Burma.

    1962: General Ne Win established military rule by a coup d'état and started a systematic Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Muslims.

    1982: General Ne Win passed new racism-based Citizenship Laws in Burma, declaring all Rohingya Muslims as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and deprived them of Burmese citizenship.

    1982-present: Systematic state-sponsored Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Muslims is in progress, rendering them refugees in their own homeland. The use of vocal forces of the civilized world has not yet been able to halt the continued slaughtering of Ronhigya Muslims in Occupied Arakan.

    CONCLUSION:
    Thus the Rohingya are the original people of Arakan, who inhabited the land of Arakan from time immemorial. The Rakhine came to illegally and forcefully occupy Arakan in 1044 AD. The Bamar came to illegally and forcefully occupy Arakan in 1784. The Rakhine and the Bamar must, therefore, voluntarily vacate Arakan (which they continue to illegally occupy by use of brutal force), so that the Rohingya Nation can live peacefully in their native land. They should go respectfully back to the land they came from originally in 1044 AD and 1784 AD, respectively.
    In Response

    by: OngZoMin from: USA
    November 22, 2012 12:36 AM
    1799: Francis Buchanan-Hamilton, in his 1799 article “A Comparative Vocabulary of Some of the Languages Spoken in the Burma Empire,” stated: "I shall now add three dialects, spoken in the Burma Empire, but evidently derived from the language of the Hindu nation. The first is that spoken by the Mohammedans, who have long settled in Arakan, and who call themselves Rooinga, or natives of Arakan" (tap on the right of the pages to page 237-240, http://www.scribd.com/doc/99047980/1799-Rohingya-or-Rooinga-Name-in-Fifth-Volume-of-A-Comparative-Vocabulary-of-Some-of-the-Languages-Spoken-in-the-Burma-Empire). Thus the Rohingya are not Bangladeshis, who recently illegally migrated to Burma after its independence from the UK in 1948, and that the term Rohingya was not invented by Bangali immigrants in 1950s.

    1784: Third invasion of Arakan by Burma; King Bodawpaya invaded and colonized Arakan.

    1824–1826: The First Anglo-Burmese War ended in a British victory, and by the Treaty of Yandabo, Burma lost territory previously conquered in Assam, Manipur, and Arakan. In1852, the Second Anglo-Burmese War ended in the British annexation of Pegu province. In1885, the British conquered the remainder of Burma in the Third Anglo-Burmese War resulting in total annexation of the country to British India.
    In Response

    by: OngZoMin from: USA
    November 22, 2012 12:34 AM
    1044 AD: Rakhine people (Tibeto-Burman) came into existence after Burmese King Anawrahta’s invasion of Arakan State (First Burmese Invasion of Arakan by Burma).

    1406: Invasion by Burmese King Min Khaung Yaza (Second Burmese Invasion of Arakan by Burma).

    1430: Arakanese king Narameikhla (aka Meng Soamwun, son of King Rajathu) was the founder and first king (reigned 1404–34) of the Mrohaung dynasty in Arakan. He was forced in the first year of his reign to flee to Bengal, where he became a vassal to King Ahmad Shah of Gaur. He regained control of Arakan in 1430 with the help of King of Bangal. He built a new capital at Mrohaung (in 1433), which remained the capital of Arakan until the 18th century. As a vassal of the Muslim kings of Gaur, Narameikhla used Muslim title, Sulaiman Shah.

    1732: Arakanese Muslims were called by different names, Muslims, Mohamaden, Muhamedan, Bagalis, Chittagonian, Rohan, Roshan, but the word Rohingya (derived from Mrohaung, meaning the inhabitants of Mrohaung) was used in 1732 for the first time (Churchill, collection of voyages and travels, London 1732, Vol-6, page-697), (The Classical Journal for September and December 1811, vol-4, London, Page-107).
    In Response

    by: OngZoMin from: USA
    November 22, 2012 12:32 AM
    CURE FOR IGNORANCE IS EDUCATION: If you have not heard of the Rohingya, educate yourself about the Rohingya:

    THE ROHINGYA IS THE OLDEST INDIGENOUS NATION OF OCCUPIED ARAKAN:

    INTRODUCTION:
    A detailed study of the recorded history reveals that both the Rakhine and the Bamar races are illegal immigrants in OCCUPIED ARAKAN, the homeland of the Rohingya Nation, who are the earliest known original indigenous people of the land of OCCUPIED ARAKAN.

    ROHINGYA NATION'S TIMELINE IN OCCUPIED ARAKAN
    The Rohingya Are The Oldest Indigenous People of OCCUPIED ARAKAN And Also The World's Most Persecuted In Their Homeland.
    (http://www.salem-news.com/articles/july272012/rakhine-arakan.php)

    Before the 8th century: The area now known as Occupied Arakan had been the seat of Hindu dynasties of Indoy-Aryan people. They were the very first ancestors of the Rohingya people.

    788 AD: a new dynasty, known as the Chandras, was founded in the city of Vesali. Arab and Persian seafarers after the advent of Islam carried on trade by the sea-route with many parts of the world including Arakan and Burma since 7th century AD. Arab Muslims settled in Arakan and Chittagong coasts in the eight century. Centuries-long intercourse of the original Indoy-Aryan people of Arakan with Arab Muslims gave rise to a unique group of people, who are now known as the Rohingya Nation.

    957 AD: Amyathu, the chief of Mro tribe (Mongolian) of Arakan hills invaded Arakan, destroyed the Chandras and seized the throne of Vesali.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora