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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

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.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs